Thursday, February 23, 2017

Not Dead... Just Whelmed

Well, it appears a few of you have noticed my absence, so I decided perhaps I should write and let you all know that I'm alive and well. I'm fine... really. Just in a funk of sorts. I keep trying to write posts, but I can't seem to get beyond the first few sentences before I give up. Not sure what's up with that.

So perhaps instead if trying to craft something coherent, I'll just blather incoherently about what's on my mind and what I've been up to.

First off... a dear friend of mine from college died suddenly. Apparently he was diagnosed with some sort of horrible aggressive cancer a few months back, and went downhill really quickly. He kept it quiet so it came as a total shock when FaceBook suddenly erupted with RIP messages.

So that sorta threw me for a loop, but it did put me back in touch with some old friends, and I've been busy catching up and reminiscing.

Then there's the tummy stuff. This is a really long story that I tried to write a post about. Basically, I'd been having all sorts of problems with heartburn and acid reflux. I'm doing much better now, and I'm a bit unsure about how I got there.

I tried all of the normal stuff - cutting out foods that are supposed to trigger attacks, smaller meals, no food before bedtime... and honestly, nothing seemed to help much. But along the way I kept running into testimonials about people treating heartburn with apple cider vinegar.

I know, I know... it sounds completely ridiculous, but one night when I couldn't sleep because of the reflux I decided that I really didn't have that much to lose. I figured if it made it lots worse I could always just take more Tums. So I got out the ACV, mixed a spoonful in a glass of water and to my complete and utter amazement, before I'd even downed half of the glass the heartburn and reflux disappeared.

At first I thought it must just be a coincidence, but each time I'd get the heartburn I tried it again, and each time it worked.

Long story short, my working theory is that the tummy troubles were being caused by some sort of imbalance in intestinal flora, which the ACV apparently helps to rectify. I've been using both the ACV and also some oil of oregano, along with eating enormous quantities of yogurt & kefir, and the tummy troubles are almost completely gone.

As a bonus, my chronically stuffy sinuses have also cleared up - I'm even off of my nasal steroid!

So I dunno.

It's completely plausible that my problems were all psychosomatic to begin with and what I'm experiencing is nothing more than the placebo effect, but even if that's all it is, I'm quite pleased with the results.

Speaking of pleased. We've had incredibly warm weather here in the Mile High City - seriously, we're talking 60s, 70s, and even one day when we hit 80 degrees (around 27C) - in FEBRUARY! So this has meant that I've spent a lot of time on my bike, which is great...

It's also meant that I've been freaking out just a tad bit about climate change. I know, I know... weather is not climate, but still. This is NOT NORMAL.

And speaking of not normal... well, I'm still having a bit of a hard time adjusting to the new political reality here. My 77 year old stepmother has become a protesting & rallying queen - seriously, she's attending several per week. She's quite an inspiration to me, but for some reason I haven't been able to get up the gumption to join in. I've been more focused on my own survival...

Which has meant that I'm trying to bump up my income in case my health care costs skyrocket (which seems inevitable.) It hasn't exactly been going smoothly - I've destroyed 4 virtual servers in my efforts to cut my business costs... I really HATE Linux.

But I think I'm finally... almost... maybe there... this time for reals. Just a few more tests before I can switch the DNS and move to a server that will cost $10/month rather than $110.

In other news, I've gone completely off the deep end.

I know this all is gonna sound absolutely, totally, 100 percent nuts, but I really feel like with the political situation here, anything could happen. I'm not entirely sure what "anything" would look like - war? revolution? death camps? Russian invasion? totalitarian rule? Honestly, every day you turn on the news and it's sorta like getting hit in the face with a bunch of barbed wire.

So I decided that instead of just worrying myself into oblivion I'd try to at least get a few ducks in a row.

So I am now the proud owner of a new passport, and I've pretty much memorized which countries you can travel to without a visa and how long you can stay.

And I've also decided that it would be prudent to have some emergency food on hand just in case. In case of what, I don't really know - but with both the climate and the country in crisis it doesn't seem beyond the scope of possibility that we could see disruptions in the food supply sometime in the next who knows how many years.

But since I've been down this road before with spectacularly horrible results, I decided that I needed to do it in a more organized fashion this time. So I've basically re-organized (and expanded) my entire pantry - creating a system to more effectively rotate my stock. I've also bought some "long-term" stuff that's designed to be stored for 20-30 years. CatMan thinks we should have enough food for a year... which is a LOT of food! I'm not anywhere close yet, but I'm working up to it and have spent lots of free time researching shelf lives of various products. Perhaps I'm just channeling my Mormon ancestors.

And... I've also decided to try some new things gardening-wise. I've pretty much given up on growing greens because they always just get hopelessly infested with bugs, so I'm trying something new and I'm gonna see if I can grow them indoors. I bought some really cheap LED grow lights that only use about 12 watts, and I'm giving it a go. We shall see...

OK! So that's about all of the news from the funny farm. If you didn't think I was crazy before, you surely do now!

But hey, you should always go with your strengths, right?

So there you have it... long, rambling, incoherent and... well, at least you know I'm not dead!

So how are things in your neck of the woods?

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Annual Odometer Reset

Happy New Year Everybody!!

I hope y'all had a safe and happy celebration. I spent New Year's Eve mostly working on setting up a new server for my websites. Midnight came and went in the midst of a lengthy tutorial from CatMan on Secure Socket Layer and https Security Certificates - he's a hopeless romantic, that one.

Over the past few years I've developed a little ritual on New Year's Day of resetting the odometers on both my bike and car. (Well, for the car you don't actually reset the odometer, just the little "trip tracker" thing, which I use to track my annual mileage - but you know what I mean.)

Anyhow, resetting the bike odometer generally involves a somewhat lengthy and drawn out battle with the bike computer.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the smaller the device is, the more complicated the instructions are?

Truth be told, I'm not really very goal oriented when it comes to tracking things like mileage, but I do find it fun to look back and see how many miles I rode and compare it to the number I drove.

So, without further ado... I present my miles for 2016:

I logged 2,645.4 miles on my bike last year... that's about a hundred more than 2015 and not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

Meanwhile, I drove only 537.9 miles... which is about 100 less than the year before. Yay!

And yes, that's the total mileage on my 1990 Honda Civic. I can't decide if that's evidence of great frugality and environmentalism, or simply a person who has no life! Either way, I think it fits nicely with my goal of keeping my little car alive until such time as the internal combustion engine becomes obsolete.

As I'm writing this, it occurs to me that resetting the odometer is a good metaphor for the new beginning that this time of year offers. While I certainly didn't accomplish everything I wanted to, I did make great progress on many fronts, and now it's time to start anew with a clean slate.

And since it's a gorgeous day out there, I'm hoping to start writing on that slate right away with a nice bike ride before the cold weather returns tomorrow! Maybe this will be the year that we'll finally work our way up to the big 65 mile loop!

So I'm curious, do you have any metrics that you track from year to year? And what do you hope to write on your slate this year?

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Transcendent Christmas Experience

I hope that everyone has been enjoying a peaceful holiday season. All of my celebratory gatherings took place before the actual holiday, so I spent the weekend enjoying quiet time - mostly cooking, and eating, and watching silly Christmas movies into oblivion.

I wonder... exactly how many times can a person watch White Christmas before they'd have to admit that they had a problem? 😉

I can't help myself. I just melt when Bing sings the "Blessings" song to Rosemary.
And you know, somewhere between the mashed potatoes, the Brussels sprouts and Danny Kaye's antics, I had a realization. This is the first Christmas in 7 years that I haven't been either grieving a recent loss (family, friend or feline) or anticipating one in the very near future.

Just writing those words down is like heaving an enormous sigh of relief. I dunno... it almost feels like years of tension melting away or something.

Of course, it's not like everything is nice and rosy. I mean American democracy is hovering on the brink, the climate situation in the Arctic is getting really alarming, and honestly, the renewed talk of nuclear tensions has me reliving fears that I haven't felt since childhood, when I was quite convinced that nuclear Armageddon would arrive long before I ever got the chance to grow up.

But somehow, I seem to have turned a corner, and I'm feeling much more at peace with it all.

In a funny way it started at the solstice dinner with my parents.

We had a quiet celebration this year - and at one point the conversation got quite introspective. We're all very concerned about the political situation, but my dad has made a decision to disengage from the news and stop filling his psyche with a daily dose of doom when there's nothing he can do about it.

Instead, he's immersed himself in a book about the Permian extinction - that's Dad's version of light reading. Anyhow, he's found great comfort in the fact that even though the majority of species died out, some survived, including a few "proto-mammals" which eventually evolved into humans. Apparently they survived by living largely underground... hunkered down as it were, and that seems to be Dad's plan for surviving the next four years.

That got my stepmom to talking about her childhood in Nazi Germany. She was quite young during the war, but the memories of both her own experiences and her family stories seem very fresh. She basically said that even when your country gets taken over by a fascist, and horrors are unfolding all around you, life still goes on.

Even when they had to run to the basement several times a day because of the bombings, and when you had to be extremely careful because expressing the "wrong" political opinion could end up being a death sentence... they still had to get up every morning, wash the dishes, do the laundry, put dinner on the table and basically go on with life.

She talked about how a lot of people found solace through gardening. I think it was partly a survival thing since food shortages were common, but she said there was also something very life-affirming about it. Even when the world is falling apart around you, spring still comes, seeds still sprout, and life continues.

Maybe it was the wine, but somewhere between the proto-mammals and the gardens of Nazi Germany, I had an amazing experience. I was suddenly overcome by the sense that all of these problems are temporary, and that we (meaning we as spiritual beings, not necessarily human beings) have existed long before all of this, and that we will continue to exist long after it's all been forgotten.

Honestly, I'm not really sure how to explain it, it was almost an out of body sort of a feeling - like I was floating through the cosmos or something.

It was incredibly comforting - like a sudden insight that even if the worst happens, I mean even if human beings were to completely destroy themselves and/or the planet, everything will be still be OK.

I know this sounds corny, especially coming from a person who isn't a Christian, but maybe that's what Christmas celebrations (or solstice celebrations in general) are really all about. It's not necessarily a celebration of today, but a promise of light and life to come.

Anyhow, that's my little transcendent Christmas experience... and boy, did I need it! I have to say that I'm feeling much better than I have in a very long time.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and may the returning of the light fill each and every one of you with love, peace, and joy for the year to come.