Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Nope Chuck... er .. Winter

The title is a reference to what may have been the shortest lived meme in internet history: Nope Chuck Testa


Winter this year decided to be rather mild. Not to cold and the most snow we got was about four inches. Spring on the other hand decided to show winter how to do it.
The warnings began a couple of day before the storm. Eighteen thousand metric tons of snow per square inch are coming!!!!  Having many times been the victim of over zealous weather people, maybe it spices up a boring job, I maintained skepticism. A day early I did stock up on some food just in case. Being March though I didn't expect to be snowed in for long.

Given my skepticism I was not shocked when I woke up and saw this

not a snow storm

I mocked the snow gods impotence :)  Living in Illinois I should know not to mock the snow gods.

About two pm in started again.


ok so we are getting some snow
Rut Roh. It kept snowing.  I braved the elements at one point to get you my dear twelve readers a picture.


snow tree

As it grew dark I watched the snow pile up.  My neighbors kept me entertained by more than one of them getting stuck in the middle of the parking lot. They abandoned their cars there.  Which made it hard when the plow showed up at five in the morning. I watched as a brave pizza delivery driver came in, got stuck,delivered the pizza, and then managed to get his car free.

Final snow fall after I woke up the next morning was about twelve inches.


a foot of snow on march 25

So after a winter of disappointments spring decided roar my way with a reminder that I still live in Illinois.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The disturbing beautiful sense of not knowing the future

I live so much of my life in a safe routine. Go to work, come back to work, eat the same things and do the same things. Living this way life seems to be going faster and faster. But sometimes life throws in a curve where things change and so does our outlook. For me, vacations have been good at causing this. Even if I have a good idea of the itinerary I’ll still be thrilled by the unknown. Will the flight be fine, what will the place be like, will the tour guide be good. So for those few days I am totally in the moment. A five day vacation seems to stretch on. For that period of time I want to experience so much of what is going on. During the day to day, I seem more eager to just let time pass as quickly as possible. I am always looking for something in the future.


I had this same feeling just the other week.  I wondered what I would have for dinner. Than I remembered I had a doctors appointment that afternoon. I was finally visiting the specialist to learn about a problem I have had for a long time.  I'll spare you the details.  Being a hypochondriac, I convinced myself at the coming horrible news. I wondered what my mental state would be? What sort of phone calls would I have to make? Would I even want to eat?  Silly to think that I know what the future holds. 

I read a fair amount of blogs. It amazes me how much change and transition I see people going through in a just a few short years.  People move, change careers, have children.  Their lives, though I am sure are full of the mundane, seem to constantly be going somewhere.  My life has just been years of the exact same thing.  Might be time to start embracing more of the unknown.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cat and accordian


I used to be skinny

In this one I post embarrassing pictures of myself. So you have that to look forward to.

I used to be skinny.  Looking back at old pictures of me from only  years ago I am so skinny and young.  
Exhibit 1:
Circa spring 2005 160 lbs

I then got fat.
Exhibit 2:

Spring 2012 212 lbs

I have to admit the second photo was staged for maximum guttness. I'd never wear that shirt out in public and the camera angle is just right.

So how did I get fat. Simple story really.  I grew older, and slower, and ate too much horrible food. Over a four year period I gained fifty pounds. At one point a couple of years ago I became determined to lose the weight and get in shape.  So I began working out fairly regularly.  I did not as it were change my eating habits.  After a workout I would convince myself it was ok to eat a tub of wings because I had just burned so many calories. The endeavor was not really successful. Without reducing the input I couldn't keep up with the working out.  And then I injured myself so that was the end of that.

I can honestly say I am coming to you twenty pounds lighter than in the picture above.  How did it happen?  Well it wasn't any complex diet or exercise plan. It has happened in two stages.

First I went on a vacation. No way, you exclaim. People gain weight on vacations.  Well, I went on a ten day solo trip to London and Paris. Trust me I plan to blog about this trip someday and it will be way more exciting then the usual boring stuff I have been putting here. Three things combined to make this a weight loss excursion. First , I am cheap.  I didn't want to spend money on cabs or too much on food.  Second, When in a city I like to walk.  I like to be on the ground  with the people, hearing the sounds and taking in the sights of a city.  So I walked a good ten miles every day. Finally, when I am really into something, such as enjoying exploring two wonderful cities, and no-one is around to remind me of such things, I tend to forgot normal things, like eating. I hardly ever ate lunch and even a couple of nights I arrived back at my hotel at eleven or so and realized I hadn't eaten dinner.

I got home from that trip and happily stepped on the scale to find that for the first time in years I was below two-hundred pounds.  I plateaued at 198 for several months and then started to lose weight again.  How did I do it the second time?  Easy, on most days I cut a hundred to two hundred calories out of my diet.  I didn't even worry about having a day here and there were I completely pigged out.  Slowly but surely the pounds came off and I lost another 10 pounds over about four months.

I am intentionally plateauing at this new weight for a couple of months. I read in an article about losing weight that it can be good to plateau every ten pounds or so. It lets your body adjust to its new weight.  I've noticed this to be true.  When I first hit my new weight my waste was an inch bigger than it is now after a month at the new weight. It seemed my body did need to some time to adjust.

Hooray for success.

And just to embarrass myself some more here is another picture from years ago.

Hey Ladies wanna go to a cubs game








Sunday, March 17, 2013

Le Grippe or how being sick wasted four days of my life

Warning: boring post about being sick ahead.  I warned you this blog would be boring.

It all started innocent enough on Wednesday. I had a tickle and a small cough all day but it never got worse. Then the alarm went off thrusday morning. I instantly knew something was not right in wonky land.  My throat was killing me, my cough was worse, and my head felt stuffed with fluid.  Worst of all I was the most tired I think I have ever felt.  I quickly texted the boss I would not be in and crawled back into bed.  I did not leave it until after noon.
I stumbled around in a haze for a few hours and managed to make a lunch.  About three o'clock I could not keep my eyes open. Yep I had been up for almost a total of three hours.  I took a shower hoping the hot water would kill of the vile body invaders and climbed into my warm bed.  After a couple of hours of added rest I felt a little better.  I ventured forth for sustenance and a run to the pharmacy for drugs and immune system boosters.

With a supply of echinacea, zinc, vitamin C and D,  as well as Nyquil and cough drops, I settled down to fight the good fight.  I went to bed at the unheard of time of ten thirty.I woke up hours later still not feeling very well.  Remember my plans for this weekend were to head up to Chicago to see my Dad and my friend.  Well I couldn't be sick and see my dad so I knew I needed to do everything I could to get better.  So it was another day of plenty of fluids and rest.  I hoped a nice long Friday night sleep would finally bring relief.

Not to be.  I had the worst night sleep of my life up to that point.  I tossed an turned, coughed and sneezed and got almost no sleep.  I finally stumbled from my bed ten hours after laying down feeling miserable. After a nap later in the day I checked my temp 101.  A couple of aspirin and by the time I went to bed it seemed to be gone.  Perhaps Saturday night would be the night I would get a long sleep and beat this.

You guessed.  There was a reason I had said Friday night was the worst night of sleep up to that point.  Saturday was even worse.  I hardly slept at all.  I am writing this Sunday morning on St. Patrick's day, which I will be celebrating by lying around watching premier league and the F1 race.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Don't like the weather, wait an hour

I live in no-wheresville Illinois. We have a saying around here.  Don't like the weather, wait an hour. It describes the unpredictability of weather around here.  I've seen the temperature change 40F 22C in one day.

So yesterday Illinois decided to remind us of its unpredictable nature.  I am sitting in my office when I look out the window and see it start to rain. It rains for about two seconds then switches to snow. It snows for about fifteen minutes. Ten minutes later it's sunny as can be outside.

A little bit later I look out the windows and see

not fog snow. looks like the end of the world outside

That is not fog.  That is some serious snow squall white out action.  It lasted a couple of minutes and then snowed for  a bit and before I knew it we were back to sunny skies.  Just for good measure it did it again about an hour later.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My weekend without social media

My original plan for the weekend involved driving up to Chicago to see my Dad and friends.  After those plans changed, I sat around Friday night trying to plan my weekend.  I decided not to do much at all.  I accomplished this goal in an exemplary manner.  I also decided to take a social media, or as I prefer to call it online community, break.  This allowed me to take stock of my current online life.  So in what way do I currently interact with people online?

Email: I actually kept doing this over the weekend.  I have to read email in case something goes wrong at work.  Email is one of the oldies but I still really like it.  You can be as short or verbose as you want.  An immediate reply is not needed so you can read at your own pace and respond when  you want.

Twitter: Probably my most common online interaction.  I use it on my phone, my tablet, and on my computer when at work or home. When I wake up in the morning one of my rituals is to look through all the tweets while I was asleep. Disconnecting from twitter for the first time in probably a couple of years I learned something I don't like about it.  The immediacy of twitter requires you to almost constantly be looking at it.  I follow enough people that if I don't check about every hour it gets daunting. The first day I wasn't reading twitter I got anxious.  What was a missing?  Did someone just announce something important.  Yeah you can scroll back(I didn't go back and read my feed after I came back online).  It helped me confirm my love for email and blogging.  They let you proceed and your own pace.

Blogs: I've rediscovered my love of blog reading.  Like I said above, I can approach them at my own pace.  I know it will still be there when I am ready. I read a lot of personal blogs and I love catching up on peoples lives. Once my weekend was over there sat all my blog friends in my reader just waiting to start my week.

Message Boards/Forums: Another old technology but also one of my favorites. I've been active on message boards since the mid nineties.  I still frequent a few message boards, mostly around sports teams. It was hard this weekend because there were two big loses and nothing is better than going on a message board and seeing all the fans panicking and complaining.

IRC: IRC is one of the oldest if not the oldest form of online chat.  I first logged onto an irc chat in 1991. There are a couple of rooms I still somewhat frequent.  My irc time has continued to drop over the last few years.  I didn't find it hard to give this up.

Reddit:  A warning up front: Don't ever go to reddit, EVER!  It's s horrible place.  I like to call it the greatest collection of morons humanities ever produced.  And yet for some reason I am addicted to looking at it almost constantly throughout the day.  What I mostly get from reddit are laughs.  I sometimes laugh at the content but I mostly laugh at the people.  After this weekend I realized I am just a happier person if I don't read reddit.  So back on the banned list it goes.

Google+:  Google+ is interesting.  It's basically facebook for people I don't actually know but find interesting.  If you are a geek it's a fun place full of interesting people.  But even with that my use has steadily been growing less of the past months.  I hardly post anything there anymore and I don't really read that much.  I've actually put a lot of people I follow into a list where I don't really see any of their stuff.  I dutifully open google+ every morning and then hardly look at it.

pinterest:  I joined pinterest to have a place I could just put recipes I found on the web.  In a world of snark and negativity, pinterest soothes with its nice community and pleasant  pictures. The truth is I don't pin much and only go there about twice a day.  So not using it was easy.

Facebook:  You probably wondered when I would get to it.  I have a facebook account but I don't use it or post there.  To be blunt, I hate facebook. I am writing a long post on why I think facebook is evil and should be destroyed in a glorious cleaning fire :)

What where my take aways?  I love blogging, but already knew that.  I hate reddit but already knew that.  I just decided to block it from my laugh.

Cross posted on my tech blog http://www.tech-surge.com/2013/03/my-weekend-sans-social-media.html

Friday, March 08, 2013

Why the switch back to blogger



Yes I've switched from self hosted wordpress to blogger. Why? I did not have any problems with Wordpress. In fact I really love it. I highly recommend it.  I consider it the best blogging platform out there.  Continuously maintained with a long list of useful addons it tends to kick bloggers patutty. If you are planning any sort of professional blog I would use wordpress. If you know web programming you can really modify it and get an exact theme you want.

In 2006 I purchased a hosting package from 1and1 http://www.1and1.com it included five domains and some hosting with access to ftp and mysql.  My plan at the time was to invent the next big internet sensation.  I never did. All I ended up with were a couple of Wordpress blogs.  Recently I checked out how much the plan was costing.  It had escalated to almost four times what I was initially paying.  None of this was underhanded by 1and1.  They had been sending me invoices the entire time and keeping me informed.  I just didn't pay attention.

I realize now that I will never build a great internet phenomenon. All I really want is a couple of blogs. So back to blogger I have returned. As you can see I am just using a standard theme at this time.   I could put up a header to represent my life.  But that would just be pictures of a messy apartment, a cat, and me sitting at a computer.

After a couple of weeks I can tell you a few thins about blogger vs wordpress.  The android app for wordpress is better than the blogger one.  And blogger seems to be more social centric. 

I still have tweaking to do so if you see changes don't panic.  I need to get up a sidebar of links among some other things.  Probably will toss my twitter feed on here.  So stay tune for the rare blog about my cat.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

All the old things are new again

In the ancient annals of the internet past I started a blog. This blog in fact.  Let me take you back to 2003 in internet land.  Our phones where not smart, heck they didn't even all have cameras.  People often still had film developed. Many people still connected via dial-up and used email or aol IM to interact.  The up and coming trend was blogging.  Which at the time was not about leveraging your brand to co-op mind space for product viability. Predominately bloggers talked about their lives and what interested them.

Into this maelstrom stepped wonky73.blogspot.com. Never an overly thriving blog, read predominately by friends real and online.  I only blogged about 40 times a year and kept no steady schedule.  All those posts are actually still here.  They have been set to drafts.  Looking back it's funny.  They mostly deal with video games and my rather comic attempts to be intellectual.  I didn't think so at the time, but I was so so young.  In 2006 I got a deal on my own hosting and switched to my own domain and set up wordpress.  I blogged even less over there.  After a few iterations of templates and deleting and redoing posts that blog died off.

So I am now back on blogger.  My recent failed attempts at blogging have involved either my censoring myself so as to not turn anyone off or themed blogging, such as self help.  This time I am just going to write about whatever I want.