As I've mentioned before, I have been dealing with a weird nervous system issue for most of my life, but getting worse in the last 3 years.

Last September, I had an EMG, which is short for ElectroMyoGram. It's a procedure in which neurologists can evaluate nerve health and (hopefully) form a diagnosis. In this procedure, based on my experience, a technician will apply sticky electrodes to your skin, much like a TENS unit. Then, they will use some sort of a probe that is connected to the same system those electrodes are. Gradually increasing the current, they will apply a shock and read how quickly it travels up the nerve and how much attenuation (signal loss) there is. After that, a doctor will come in and do almost the same thing, but this time the probe is replaced by a needle that is inserted into the flesh at the site of the nerve. They will then apply a small current to it, much like the technician did, but will move around until they have found the nerve. In order to verify that they found the nerve, they might watch a monitor or listen to the signal in an amplified audio form. Once the signal has been found, the doctor will instruct you to activate the muscle in a certain way, and will read the signals that come naturally. The results of all of this poking and shocking are recorded in a digital form, and will be sent to the doctor who ordered the test.

In my case, at least today, the shocking phase wasn't too bad. What was unpleasant was when the doctor had me activate the muscles with a needle in the nerve. I remember that being unpleasant last time, but this time it was more than unpleasant. In addition to the basics of that part of the test, the doctor also worked hard to trigger a cramp in my foot so she could read what was going on. I remember last time I was uncomfortable after, but this time It was almost enough to keep me from driving home.

When I got home I took some medicine to try and calm the pain down, and it's done a good job of that. However, my ability to focus and problem solve is gone, and I'm ready to fall asleep. Back to that lyric I quoted before: the medication just numbs the brain.

The doctor today seemed very happy with the results. Not necessarily in the sense that it was a good report, but that it was a very useful report. I'm hoping so, because I don't really want to have to go through another test like that any time soon.

EMG Testing Room
 

In the recent decade, the internet has moved away from written articles with figures and whatnot in them, in favor of things like YouTube videos. This cultural change has spread beyond YouTube and the public internet, though, and even includes major corporations, including the one I work for.

What I've found is that I am unable to really process anything that's presented in a video.

I am a decent reader, and over the last couple of decades or so, I've been able to cultivate a form of speed reading, which I use almost always. This allows me to take in loads of information rather quickly, not constrained to the limits of my ability to process spoken word, or another's ability to speak it. But when I am presented with either recommendations to watch a YouTube video to learn how to configure a piece of flight simulator software, or when I am issued mandatory education at work in the form of a video, I get incredibly frustrated, and I find that I'm unable to retain whatever it is that I observe.

When it comes to important things, where a certain set of steps must be followed precisely, or when it's a thing that I am required to do, PLEASE, I beg of you, don't throw a video at me.

 

We've lived in this house long enough to have experienced 2 tropical storms: Harvey and Nicholas.

Last night, Nicholas was approaching us at bedtime, and the wind and a bit of rain kicked up. Sometime around 2:30am the power went out. I left it alone, then a little while later it flickered back on briefly, then back out. When the power comes on in our house, several things make a fairly loud beep sound. When the power flickers in the middle of the night, that beeping can be disruptive to my already-light sleep.

I wasn't wearing my watch most of the night to see how I slept, and I didn't take my typical medicines that would assist in my ability to stay asleep. I figure I got segments of sleep lasting about 20 minutes each, with a period of 15-20 minutes awake in between. The awake was partially due to the storm noise, but mostly due to how my body was responding to the weather and the lack of medication. Then when the power went out, those physiological responses got worse, leading to an all around shoddy night, sleep-wise.

I got up around 7:30am and decided that 5 hours off electricity was approaching the maximum for the refrigerator, and it was starting to get warm in the house with the sun peeking through the southern bands of the storm. I somewhat robotically marched out to the garage, flashlight in hand, and laid out the extension cords, wheeled the generator to the back porch, gassed it up, and got everything running. Then I got into the house to get the portable air conditioner going, and Emily helped me with it. Then I sat for a bit to try and recover some energy before I went to boil water on the grill for coffee.

We went for a walk at one point, just to see how the neighborhood faired, and afterwards I decided it was safe to take the meds that I had skipped last night. After I did, I laid down to attempt to sleep, which was interrupted repeatedly by a wound up nearly-six-year-old, until I finally got what felt like 10 hours of sleep (it was maybe 1 hour) and felt better.

At that point, Emily had fixed me some lunch and we sat and enjoyed our food together as a family.

We had some errands to run after that, and while we were out the neighbors sent a text message declaring victory against the lack of power. When we got home, the air conditioner had already brought the house down to the "cold" we like, and we went about getting things back to status quo.

Damage-wise, all I have been able to see so far was one branch off a rotted Japanese Wax tree, which I'm already planning to cut down. The loose bark on the Crepe Myrtle trees was blasted clean off the trees as well. Some neighbors didn't do as well: One reported an uprooted, large tree. Others had fences blown over. Some neighbors reported on Facebook that they heard a tornado blow through the neighborhood overnight. That was probably when I was either actually asleep, or just almost asleep and tuned it out completely.

Total time without power was almost exactly 13 hours. The longest cycle I ran between fuelings on the generator was from 7:30am to 10:30am. I think I only refueled it twice after the initial fueling. I've decided to not take storage actions with it just yet, as there's another storm on the maps that I am unsure about for this next week or so. With that in mind, I prefer to just leave everything ready to go, and refill my fuel supply sometime in the next few days.

All in all, it looks like the area did well, and we did well here, so it wasn't really that bad from our perspective.

 

There are certain times that mindlessness is understandable, but here lately I have been getting rather irritated with the complete lack of intellect people are putting into things. Before I get into the details about what's getting under my skin, I'll warn you, some of this may seem very trivial and like a dumb thing to be upset about, but there are some much deeper reasons behind why it bothers me than what you'll see at the surface. If you want to understand those more, feel free to reach out to me and ask.


Working in an internet business, I'm acutely aware of what proper customer communication means, and what the lack of it can result in. When we have to restart a service, apply an upgrade, even if it's remotely possible that it's a disruptive action, we have to plan, review, schedule, notify, wait, then act. Except in the case of emergencies, this is the well understood pattern, and failure to adhere to it can result in customers getting frustrated and leaving.

Where I'm starting to see issues with it are in a variety of things I use on the internet. First and most importantly, my home internet service. Perhaps having been working for a top 5 cloud provider for the last 10 years, I've become conditioned to expecting to be notified when my service is going to be interrupted. I've sat on the other side of the modem and issued those notices, so why am I not getting them on this side from my ISP? Last week alone I had 3 days where Xfinity (I really dislike their rebranding, but that's another topic for another day) had disruptive maintenance during my working day. Given that so many people are still working from home during this pandemic, that's just absurd that they'd take such actions. All they need to do is have a subscriber notification system by which they can send messages (email, text, Twitter, whatever) and give a heads up of an upcoming service disruption. Instead, they play the "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission" game, and start taking the service offline before they even throw an outage notice up. I know that this is how it's going because my cable modem sits on my desk, just to the right of my work computer screen, and when the lights flicker I know they're poking at things.

If my internet service is online, other things suffer. For example, I have been using online Minecraft gaming as an outlet for my fidgety hands during meetings, and as a means of keeping social during a time when the world frowns on face-to-face time, or my own health keeps me from it. There have been a few communities I've joined, and a couple that I've basically left because while they want players to give them money for features (I've paid a couple), they nerf the game, conduct service restarts, or somehow disrupt gameplay in another way. If it wasn't a thing that I put money towards (total I'm at about $30 spend, so it's not a lot to grumble about, I know), I'd expect the unstable service and the Mickey Mouse management. But alas, I can't even expect to have a relaxing time to enjoy what I put money and time towards, and it causes me to reconsider why I even gave them $0.01 in the first place.

At least in one of the communities I've thrown money at, they've asked me to help keep the service stable, so that's worth something at least.

I'm going to probably write another private entry about another case, but for this particular entry I'll just say that I'm starting to see laziness on these topics everywhere, no exclusions.

I understand we're all exasperated at the shape of the World today, and we just want to get back to "normal", whatever that was. I just want people and businesses to use their brains, and to approach things as if they were the customer and what the impact would be.

Maybe the transit providers need to gimp Xfinity to get that point across, and just say "oops, we have a guy working on it and it'll be back in now + 12 hours , be patient." Sure, the rest of us downstream from there will be feeling the pain as well, but I'm willing to bet money that Xfinity doesn't expect that sort of behavior, and they need 90+ days notice before a link is disrupted.

 
I know you're clinging to the light of day To tell you everything's a-okay And medication don't do much Yeah, it just numbs the brain

Shinedown - Get Up

This lyric paints the picture nearly perfectly. Suffering with Ankylosing Spondylitis and now suspected Multiple Sclerosis, I can't even begin to say how true this is.

I spend most of my time either in extreme pain and discomfort, or I spend it really doped up from whatever my doctors have me on at the given point in time. It's not a good balance, and it's very demoralizing. I have a nice bike that I would love to ride. I have a number of tools that are collecting dust/rust. I have a 3d printer that hasn't budged since February. I have 3 bass guitars that are rarely played. I have a mountain of reading material in the form of magazines and books that haven't moved hardly at all since they were placed on the surface where they currently reside.

I just want to be not what I am today I just want to be better than my friends might say

William Fitzsimmons - Passion Play

I want to do more. I want to be more. I want to be healthier. I want to be more social. This all feels like a giant stone tied around my neck though, and the stone is my health.

While I am writing this, I am dealing with both the AS and the MS symptoms. It's a wonder I can even put words together because I'm medicated to try and ward off the pain enough to function. I'm about to fall over the edge of consciousness though and just sit here, staring at my screen and drooling on myself. There's almost no way for me balance it on the edge of that tipping point and function without pain.

 

I know I have mentioned some things in past posts about what I'll blog about, but I just haven't felt up to the effort it will take to write things on those topics. That said, I would like to know what you think I should blog about.

Post a comment, let me know what you think. If I like the idea, I'll blog about it and give you credit for the topic suggestion.

 

I was going to post a rant here about a thing that I recently experienced at work, but decided against it after writing it all up.

Instead, here's a gif.

Blep.

 

I have started a Spotify Playlist of songs that I think have a very distinctive bass sound. A lot of this revolves around the technique, rather than the tone, and I feel it's a lot of very fundamental bass styles that most strong bassists are able to base nearly all of their playing from. Granted, a lot of these songs are pretty new, and they're probably influenced by others for similar reasons.

The songs that I started this list from are:

The last two in this list were very influential in my desire to play bass when I was a teenager. Now that I've got almost 20 years of dabbling with the bass under my belt, I figure it's time to get serious and refine my skill. Studying these songs, along with the (currently) 15 others on the list I think will be a great place to start with that.

I don't really know what my schedule for this effort will be, but I think I will start with sharing the outcomes here on my resurrected blog. Maybe they'll even be helpful or interesting for others!

 
Daddy, do we have a yard stick?
-- Jr

It came to my realization that this ubiquitous instrument of metrology doesn't exist in our house, and likely doesn't in most houses of people around here. When I was a kid, growing up in the Midwest though, it seemed like everyone had one.

In reflecting on why we don't have one, I came up with a few plausible reasons for the lack of it:

  1. We haven't ever gone to the county fair to get a bunch of swag like that. In Indiana, it seemed like the county fairs I visited (Newton, Jasper, and White) all had the pole barn or tent of local businesses trying to drum up more revenue by offering such things for free to whoever wandered by.
  2. They're not as common among our generation. This is fodder for another post later on, but whether you look at Gen X or Millenials, it's probably fair to say that neither really has one in their possession. Possibly due to the trauma of being swatted with one as a reprimand in their youth, it's a passive protest now.
  3. That's just a Midwest or rural area thing. Here in the greater Houston area, it's very city and those sort of things are just not common.
  4. We have tape measures now! Sure, they're not rigid and of a constant 3 foot length, but they're compact and handy. I think I have at least one in my desk right now, and probably no fewer than 5 in the garage.

It's a funny thing, but a thought-provoking observation to share.

 

One of the many reasons I built GrumpLog is because I got so tired of having to walk on eggshells with what I posted here or on Facebook.

I don't understand why the world can be so pro-first-amendment and yet ridicule and judge someone for the open expression of things that frustrate them. In my case, it was often my health, my political views, or frustrations about work. It all came to a head when a friend approached me and asked if I was doing okay. They said that their spouse saw something I shared on Facebook and was concerned that I might be suicidal or homicidal as a result.

All I wanted was a place that I could vent and not have someone try to fix it. That's why GrumpLog exists today. I'm not allowed to post in my own sites, on social media, or talk to others about the things that frustrate me or make me angry because they'll either tell me I am whining too much or they'll try to fix it. I don't want either. If I'm sharing my frustrations with you, I want either a shrug or a nod. That's it.


I do want to mention that I am not [sui|homi]cidal. While I do often struggle with depression (caused by the mountain of medical issues I deal with), it's not so severe as to make me take action with it. The next part was redacted because of the frustration that lead to the bit above.

 

I still have to get the responsive/mobile layouts done, but for now this will suffice.

Use the comments to let me know how you like it!

 

I decided it was tim(e) to modernize the site a bit. I'm working on another layout that doesn't use tables for things, but instead uses Twitter Bootstrap's 12 column grid layout.

I haven't started with making it mobile friendly yet, but I will after I get the basic layout done. As I mentioned here, I am making it not-white-on-black. For me, this is a bit harder on my eyes, but I think for most others it will be a welcome change.

Stay tuned and maybe you'll get to see the results here!

 

In the past years, I've developed a couple of things that I want to make known as sites that y'all might find usefulness or entertainment in.

First, let me mention GrumpLog. This is the key site that I think would be useful for people, as it allows you to either publicly or privately get your frustrations out in a place where it's encouraged and doesn't lead to arguing or judgement from others.

On GrumpLog, you can post your frustration and flag it as public or private. If it's private, only you will be able to see it. I've established a commitment that I will not view your private Grumps, and I will hold to that commitment. If you want an extra layer of security though, you can set an encryption phrase in your profile, and all your private Grumps will be encrypted in such a way that makes it even harder for me to view. But the same commitment holds up here: I will not exercise any of the tools or technologies I have to dig into your private content.

If you post a public Grump, or if you share a private share link to your private Grump, others can see the content and can (if registered) cast an Apathy vote, or they can cast an Empathy vote.

  • Apathy (noun): lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.
  • Empathy (noun): the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

All in all, GrumpLog is a great place to get your frustrations out any time you need to.


The other is a newer thing, DazeMaker. Simply put, DazeMaker is a platform of worker nodes that take a user submitted phrase (77 characters or less) and uses neural networks to "imagine" a picture that would relate to what was submitted.

It often results in some really odd things, but it also can provide some very thought provoking imagery for your given phrases.

The generated images, or Dazes, are presented in a thumbnail view, and can be enlarged for full 512x512 views of the things. In either case, users can vote a thumbs up or thumbs down on them and share them with others.

DazeMaker also has a Discord Community where a variety of users gather to talk about the images, gaming, investing, or whatever else happens to be going on.

I encourage you to check out both of these sites and consider participating in them. One is a therapeutic outlet, while the other is just a bit of fun and oddity.

 

I have been struggling with whatever the heck this is a lot these last few weeks. Back in April, a good friend took me up in a Cessna 172 and allowed me to spend time in the left seat, departing from KLBX, flying down to the northern end of Matagorda Bay, then back to KSGR. I did the takeoff and downwind pattern departure, flying south/southeast, fighting turbulence and heat the whole way. Just as we approached the Gulf coast, the cramping started in. I had to tell my friend to take the controls again. A while later he handed them back to me, but it was short lived and I had to return control of the aircraft to him.

The remainder of the flight was quite unpleasant for me, and made me second guess my qualification and desires to become an actual pilot, not just a sim pilot.

This was a demoralizing blow, but I've been trying to come to terms with it. But since then, things have continued to be really rough.

I haven't been able to do much in the garage, as you all know me to do. I haven't been able to ride my bike at all this year. I haven't felt up to spending time with friends and family. All because I'm in so much pain that it limits my ability to function, I can't trust my own muscles to not cramp up or spasm in such a way that could lead to injury, or because I'm medicated such that all I can do is recline in my chair and watch something online.

Whatever this condition is, it's limiting my ability to set a good example for my son, and to spend time with him doing things that I remember my own Dad doing with me when I was young. It's also causing my car to develop flat spots on the tires, my 3d printer to collect dust, and my bass guitars to be nothing more than wall art. It's not a good way of life and I hate it.

I have an appointment scheduled with another neurologist, as the one I saw shortly after the last post about this was dismissive and ignorant to the new symptoms and only wanted to treat me for a thing he wasn't even certain I had. I'm praying that the next neurologist will listen to it all, not attach their diagnosis to one aspect of it, and help me find a means of getting back to being a functioning member of society.

 

For most of my life, starting in my early teenage years, I have dealt with general joint discomfort and pain. It wasn't until my late 20's that I learned I had a condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS for short.

AS is an autoimmune condition, which is believed to attack soft tissues in the body, thinking they're broken bones. In response to this, the body generates new bone growth, causing joints to fuse or develop other things like bone spurs. Typically it attacks the spine, but also can affect other major joints such as the hips and shoulders. A lot of people who have AS also suffer from things like inflammation of the iris (the colored part of the eyes), known as Iritis. AS also brings with it a somewhat random cyclical pattern of feeling good and not feeling good. The not feeling good part is usually filled with pain, stiffness, intense "brain fog", and intense fatigue.

I can say that I have experienced all that I have mentioned above at some point throughout my life. If you look at the older posts here, you'll see some of my grumbling about my health, and that's been mostly due to AS.

AS is a degenerative condition. That means it gets worse progressively over time. While it can't be stopped, there are things that can slow down the progression. I've been on some of these treatments over the years. The first treatment was Celebrex and Plaquenil.

Celebrex is an anti-inflammatory, working similarly to Ibuprofen. In fact, it's in the same family as Ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Plaquenil is something that has gained visibility recently as some people claim it to be an effective treatment against COIVD-19, but it was originally designed to be an anti-malaria drug. When it was prescribed for me, Plaquenil worked really well at keeping the AS at bay, in an off-label use scenario. I was on it for a long time, but it eventually started to show up during my routine optometrist visits. First it looked like I had early glaucoma signs, but as technology improved and my optometrist got new equipment, she was able to determine that it wasn't glaucoma, but was instead the Plaquenil building up in my retinae. She made an immediate call to my rheumatologist (the doctor who diagnosed and was treating my AS) and had my Plaquenil treatment stopped immediately. This started a roller coaster of other treatments from a family of drugs called "biologics".

First, I was put on Humira. Humira is a Tumor Necrotizing Factor (TNF) inhibitor. The TNF factor is something that the body has that responds to inflammation. In AS, this is an attempt to stop the autoimmune response to suspected inflammation. For me, Humira seemed to work initially, but after about 6 months or so it stopped working. My dosage was increased, which seemed like it was going to help, but then it stopped helping and I went back to the other dosage. After another long span of this not working, my rheumatologist decided it was time to switch.

Second, I was put on Enbrel. Enbrel is another TNF inhibitor, but is a different formulation from Humira. While I was on Enbrel, I got two severe colds with fevers. Fevers while on a biologic are pretty serious, as they can lead to fatality if not controlled. Also, I developed warts on the soles of my feet. The warts were uncomfortable enough that I sought medical professional treatment for them, and the dermatologist (which I often typo as derpatologist) first hit them with liquid nitrogen, then had me use a chemotherapy cream on them. My body responded very aggressively to the cream, and I ended up having to get one of those knee scooter things to keep from having to walk on that incredibly sore foot all the time. I'd share pictures of it, but they easily qualify as "not safe for life". It was a miserable time, and I finally told my rheumatologist something needed to change.

For the third treatment, she tried to get me started on Simponi, but my insurance sent me and the doctor both a very angry letter saying they wouldn't approve it and that we had to exhaust their listed treatments before they would approve Simponi. So, my doctor put me on Cosentyx. Cosentyx is a IL-17 inhibitor. IL-17 is a genetic response which has similar function to TNF inhibitor, but is a different thing that fires in response to inflammation. When I started Cosentyx it didn't do anything for a while, but after about 6 months it started to work GREAT. I had a period of about 4 months where I was able to be very active, doing 10-20 mile bike rides several times a week, but then it all fell apart. It was like I hit a wall and the Cosentyx stopped working. By the end of the year I had to tell my doctor it wasn't an effective treatment anymore.

At this point, the rheumatologist decided it was time to try Simponi again. She fought with the insurance company and got it approved. Simponi is another TNF inhibitor, similar to Enbrel and Humira. I've been on it since February, and it's hard to say yet if it's going to be effective. At this point I haven't seen any evidence that it will be, but I need to give it a bit more time.

I can say that I'm glad that I saw a doctor for this, as the condition would have likely crippled me. But at the same time, I'm not confident that my current quality of life is up there and I've essentially been a lump on a chair. I have other things going on that contribute to it, but I have yet to figure out what they are and what the right treatment is. I want to do more, but I can't. I either spend my time in a lot of pain and discomfort, or I spend it drugged up to the point of wanting to sleep all the time.

 

I was going to write something here, but it was just me whining and complaining. All you get is this placeholder.

 

Last year I was dealing with a sinus infection that took a long while to shake. Since I am immunosuppressed and since the wife and kid were still going out and about somewhat, I figured it was wise to sleep in the other room for quite a while. I probably slept in there from April to July, if not longer. At some point though, I ended up back in there.

Later in the summer if not early autumn, I woke up one morning to this. It may not look like much in that clip, but it was an aggressive twitch that lasted well after I got up and moved around.

Since then, it's happened off and on quite a bit, but getting more frequent as time goes on. Somewhere along the way it also started bring really off-the-charts intense muscle cramps.

My diet, exercise (or lack thereof), and medication routines have been pretty much the same for the last few years. However, in late 2019 I started dealing with what I determined to be called "transient aphasia", mentioned in the previous blog entry. When I sought medical attention for that, about 4 MRIs revealed some areas of interest in the white matter in my brain, and the report suggested a 6 month follow-up.

Well, after that, the whole COVID lockdown thing happened and I pretty much didn't leave the house for 9 of the 12 months of last year.

This twitching has me concerned enough that I decided last month that I should get an appointment with my primary care doctor. I finally went in to see her this last Friday and she said it was either a thyroid issue or that it was multiple sclerosis.

Fun.

The thyroid thing, she said, could be treated and I could expect a full recovery from it. That is, if that's what it was. Labs were drawn and I'm still waiting to receive the results.

If it's MS though, that's going to be a fun ride. She told me to go ahead and schedule with the neurologist I saw last year, as he was an expert with MS diagnosis and treatment. So today, I finally got through to the neurologist's office and have an appointment scheduled for the end of the month, the soonest they could fit me in.

I was just sitting here, about to go to bed, and all of a sudden my hand cramped up really hard. It held that way for about a minute, and has since been feeling really stiff, sore, and kinda crampy but not. I wanted to shout as loud as I could in pain, but the wife and kid are 10 feet from me, sound asleep, and I didn't want to disrupt them.

I suppose now that I've brought y'all up to speed on that, I should go medicate and get myself to bed.

 

Here's another post after a long tim(e) of nothing. I need to be better about these things.

Life has been hectic for me, even though nothing major has been going on. Work is incredibly busy, as usual, and this whole pandemic thing has everything feeling like an introvert's dream. In the past, I would have said that I'm an introvert, and that I like my solitude, but as I've aged and grown my family, I find that I'm not a full-tim(e) introvert. I need interaction, apparently.

It's not been made known to this view of my life (this blog) that I have been on a bit of a roller coaster with my health over the last 10 years or so. As some of you may know though, I have an auto immune disorder called Ankylosing Spondylitis (pronounced ang-ki-low-sing spon-duh-lie-tis). Very vaguely, it's a disorder that causes the body to identify soft tissues (like cartilage between joints) as broken bone, and the body responds by growing new bone there, leading to fused joints. Some people without AS will have surgery to have certain joints artificially fused, and in those cases it can give them great relief. For people with AS though, the fusion takes a long tim(e), and the partial fuse can cause great discomfort. Another thing about that partial fuse is that it's not as strong as actual bone, which means that certain things can cause it to crack or break.

Over the years, I've had a couple instances of a fuse cracking, and it's incredibly painful. I had one just the other day though, and I'm still dealing with the effects of it. It wasn't debilitating, but it really hurt, and it did this weird thing where the pain radiated down my leg, then up my back, over my shoulder, and into my chest. The way it happened though was I tried to shift my weight while I was standing to pop my left knee, but my right sacroilliac (SI) joint popped instead, which it shouldn't have given the fusion.

I have tried to do some research to see what happens when you break a bone, in terms of enzymes or whatever being released into the blood stream, but I haven't been able to find anything that describes that. I posted on /r/ankylosingspondylitis about it, asking if anyone else has experienced the radiating pain, but the only response I really got was "Go to the hospital." Not helpful.

Aside from that, the medicine that I'm on to try and keep this autoimmune thing in check has been giving extra drama. These medicines are typically immunosuppressants, and that means that I get sick easier than most people. So far this year, I've dealt with:

  • Transient Aphasia (sudden inability to read/write/speak)
  • Sinus infections (no fewer than 3)
  • Colds (2, I think)

On the other hand, there was a period of time from April to June when I was feeling great, and I got back to riding my bike. I put on something in the neighborhood of 100 miles (maybe more) during that period, then I got sick and it all came to a halt.

I've since been dealing with more joint pain, zero energy, and mild to moderate depression. I don't even feel well enough in general to make use of my 3d printer these days, though some of that has to do with needing to dry my filament.

I think that's all I have brain for right now. If you want to know more about any of this crap, let me know in the comments.

 

After spending some time away from this and doing some things with Imgur, a friend has suggested that I start a blog. I don't know if she knows that this site exists, but it does suggest something.

Maybe I need to take this site seriously again, and improve the functionality of it. I mean, maybe I need to put some effort into making it look more modern, and add features like image embedding, similar to the way Imgur does it, blended with standard blog layouts.

In the meantime, check out the Imgur thread that prompted the recommendation.

 

This is a revisit of an old post from 2008, Re: Moving

Back when moving to Houston to work for The Planet was a mere prospect, I was in a much different stage of my own life and maturity than I am now. As you can probably either guess or recall, I did take the offer and I moved to Houston on the company dime. Since then, a lot has happened though.

The first major thing that happened was in 2010, when I learned that I'd actually be moving into a proper software development role as the company merged with SoftLayer and assumed their name and culture accordingly. At the time I was quite overwhelmed and didn't really see any way that I'd get far with it because of all the new things and the culture that I (at that time) wasn't really getting along with.

As time went on though, I was able to get my feet planted firmly and I got my work ethic going again. I was relatively quickly identified as a strong developer and I was quickly promoted from a Software Engineer II up through Software Engineer III for a couple of months, then on to team lead for a little bit, eventually landing at a manager title and role. While I was in team lead role and into my management role, I took on the task of interviewing candidates and hiring the best ones for positions within my team. At the time I really didn't know it, but later on I found out that these people I hired were the best of the best, demonstrated by other teams demanding that I transfer them "on loan" to help with their projects, only to struggle to get them back.

Shortly after getting the management banner on my resume, a much bigger acquisition took place: SoftLayer was acquired by IBM. Yes, you read that right: IBM. I remember a few years before this happened, I looked out across the street from my apartment and saw the IBM campus near the Houston Galleria. As I looked out, I decided to see what sort of job opportunities existed at IBM, only to find that I wasn't quite up to par with what they were looking for. Heh, or so I thought.

Let me fast forward to the current day and age and tell you what's going on.

That rash of hiring-the-best carried on and I got a pretty stellar team of software engineers under me. I now have 18 employees under me, including one manager and the team of his direct reports. Last year, my total management responsibility grew to 20 direct reports, but at the end of the year I lost 7 of them due to restructuring in the organization I'm part of, but at the same time, I gained 5 with room to hire another 10. It's been crazy, but I share all of this to point out that I have made a huge leap from not feeling like I was management material to having a large team that I manage.

In the middle of all of this, I bought a brand new car, met my wife, bought a house, had a kid, then bought another (used) car. I've flown more times than I can count. I've been on 2 western Caribbean cruises, and so much more than I can fully recall.

I feel as though it's my requirement to share all of this for a couple of reasons.

First off, the incredible nature of all of it makes most people say, "wow, great job!" when I'm not the one who deserves the lauding. All of this, every last bit, has been because of God and the immeasurable blessings he's given me. Looking forward is a huge sea of unknowns, but I do know that if I trust God through all of it, he'll continue to bless me in this way (and more).

Secondly, I want everyone who is in a similar position to read the older post I linked to at the beginning of this, then compare it with what I've said here. Yes, it's possible for you to go about and beyond where your highest dreams are today.