26 February 2015

Swimming, 6 weeks in

So, Maria and I are swimming.

Maria tends to take after me, in that she can look at food and gain weight, and she rather enjoys food.  We both eat our emotions, and emotions we have aplenty.

Right after the new year, I noticed just how crotchety I felt, even at 36 years old.  My back hurt constantly, I had little energy, I couldn't deal with stress, etc.  Maria was enrolled in swim classes last year and we found out she had limited range-of-motion in her right arm, basically from atrophy.

Atrophy at 8 years old.  Yikes.

The doctors recommended swimming as a low/no-impact full-body aerobic workout, and I readily agreed.  Every morning from 6:30 to 7:30 or so we're at the local rec center swimming.

I've got to admit: The first week nearly killed me.  Between getting up at 5am again and just the activity of swimming < 50m was exhausting.  Right before snowpocalypse 2015, I was really questioning if we were making any progress at all.  My weight was actually up, not down, and M was improved, but not much.

Then we got back in the pool this week after laying-off the previous week.  Holy crap have things changed: M can do half-laps of the pool by herself in half the time she did when we started.  We're actually diving to the bottom of a 4.5' pool for rings and stuff, where before she was barely competent to tread water.

And me?  I did a full lap of the pool today, for the first time ever.  I'm putting my head down in the water for a forward crawl and it's just...easy.   As in, natural.  Sure, it's exhausting and a great workout, but it's getting fun, much the same way running got fun for me 10 years ago.

I'm very encouraged.  This started as a lark, now it's quickly becoming a habit.

22 January 2015

Quickshot: Joey Humor

It's been a stellar couple of days for Joey's sense of humor.  Representative samples.

"Yo' momma so fat, Arnold Schwarzenegger tells her to GET AWAY FROM DA CHOPPA!"

* * *

[Interior: The Combs Clan sits around the table]

Whitney (to Harold): You know, when you lie, you get spots on your face.

Harold: O RLY?  Tell me something and I'll lie in response.

Whitney: Yeah, say 'I like titty-twisters.'

Harold: I...like...titty-twisters.

Joey: Now tell us a lie.

20 January 2015

Swimming with M

Contrary to popular opinion, I can swim.

I actually took snorkeling lessons in 3rd grade and was utterly "into" SCUBA-diving.  I loved the water.

However, I got awfully used to having swim fins, a buoyancy compensator, and a mask on.  Read: I got lazy.  Free swimming just didn't interest me, so I never learned to swim properly: diving, the basic 4 strokes, etc.

So, serendipity arrived this new year when Maria's PT announced that she needed to work-out, every day and that she needed to swim.

For the past two mornings, I've risen before 6am to take my daughter to our local parks and rec facility to swim.   It's been great, but my whole body aches in a way only an atrophied 36-year-old can.  It's not one specific joint; it's much of my chest and legs.

But hey, it's something.   Since changing my brain chemistry, I'm up 10 pounds.  I'm up an unbelievable 45 pounds since summer 2012, and I feel every ounce of it.

19 January 2015

On Engineers

  • Bad engineers try to convince you don't have a problem
  • Good engineers solve your problem
  • Great engineers help you understand the problem that caused your problem, then solve that.
Yes, I'm trying to create those little office placards in my spare time.   I'm sure someone, somewhere has said this better, but it does seem to be true.  

I was thinking about some senior people, and what seems to differentiate the goods from the greats is that capability of seeing the heart of an issue and keeping perspective.

16 January 2015

Update: 1 Month in

So I resolved to change part of my regimen about 4 weeks ago.  Let's chart the changes.


  • I'm "me" again.  This is how I remember myself feeling and behaving prior to 2011.
  • Coding (once I'm in "flow") is so...much...better.  Like "lightbulb coming on" better.  I've felt like my mind has been shackled for the past few years, and those fetters seem gone.
  • My sense of humor and general perspective is much better.   My family genuinely seems to like who I'm being at home.
  • I have actual emotions again.  As we'll see, that's also a 'con', but the world seems to be in color again, not Black-and-White.
  • I can be "present" once again.  Fully, wholly, don't-care-what-the-clock says present.


  • I've gained like 10 pounds.  Yes, in 1 month.  I have appetite like a man starving, but yet I'm full.
  • I have no idea what time it is, nor can I measure its passage accurately.  Like, time dilates into one hyper-focus session and hours can evaporate in what seems like minutes.  
  • I have an insatiable appetite for caffeine.  I'm constantly pounding coffee, espresso drinks, Coke Zero.  With enough of it onboard, I can feel normal.  Without it, I'm as listless as a drunken manatee.
  • It's simple to saturate me with stimuli.  I don't have the accompanying anxiety, but I do have the shutdown-effect so common to folks with my brain chemistry.   The bar used to be so high, but now it's laughably low.  Imagine your kids running towards you squealing when you come through the door and you curling up in a little ball with you hands over your eyes and your thumbs in your ears.
  • Dealing with interruptions is hard.  Getting back into a "flow" state, especially in our open floorplan offices, is harder since any sort of visual or auditory stimulus can knock me out of flow.
  • Emotions...suck.  I've had things I'd ordinary slough-off really impact me, almost to the point of breakdown.  On the other side of it, I've known real joy and laughter in ways that I just couldn't channel before.
So basically, things aside from work are going great.  Things at work requiring me to be a poised, ready-for-anything, tactful, considerate individual are not great.