Ten years of losing it

I was taking a break this morning and updating my WordPress install (as one does), and noticed a couple of posts in my “on this day” sidebar: Losing It and Five years of losing it. So, if my math is right, that means it’s been about ten years since I started trying to lose weight.

I started out (in 2013) at around 230 pounds. And, as of five years ago, I had hit 135. Somewhere during 2020, I started going back up again, and I’m now around 155. I’ve been trying to stop going up and maybe course-correct to get myself back down to 150. And then I want to see if I can stay there. I think that would be a nice healthy weight.

But I’ve been having some trouble with discipline. I’ve been snacking a lot, often on stuff that I know has more calories than I want to acknowledge. (For instance, the nice peanut butter cookies from the coffee shop across the street from my apartment…)

I may continue to have trouble with snacking, given that there’s a fancy French bakery opening up on just downstairs from my apartment soon. But maybe being back in the office three days a week will help me out. There’s no good coffee shop or bakery near enough to the office to tempt me, so my afternoon snack when I’m in the office is usually just an office coffee and a granola bar.

Well, either way, here’s my weight graph over the last ten years. If nothing else, I’ve stayed consistent about weighing myself every day and recording all of my meals and snacks.

a graph of my weight over the last ten years
a graph of my weight over the last ten years

Get Back to Work

From Tom Tomorrow, via The Nib: Meet the Old Boss. This is from 2021, but I stumbled across it again today, and thought I’d link to it here, just for yuks. I guess the deluge of “work from home” vs. “return to office” articles that I saw in the news back in 2021 and 2022 has mostly died out. I don’t recall seeing much about it lately, but I’ve been thinking about it, since we just hit the three-year mark on the start of the pandemic WFH period.

I’m still on a hybrid schedule, two days in the office and three days from home, and I hope I get to stay that way. Today was a work from home day, and I had no meetings today and no tech support emergencies, so I actually got a lot done! And I can stop working and go straight into cooking dinner right at 5 PM!

See also: work from wherever, from 2022.

 

well-being day

I’ve had a few things on my mind this week that I wanted to blog about, but I just haven’t had the time and/or energy. I think I’ve finally gotten to a point now where I can sit down and ruminate a bit. It’s Saturday, and my chores are all done, and I’m not so tired that I need a nap yet.

Last Sunday was the Somerville St. Patrick’s Day parade. A lot of people came out for it. I watched parts of it out of my window, but I didn’t really pay too much attention. I spent most of the day reading comics and watching TV.

And Monday was my birthday. It was definitely a low-key birthday. I got a lot of “happy birthday” messages on Facebook, as usual, but I didn’t do anything to celebrate. It was a normal work day. I’ve realized that I’m now closer to 60 than 50, which is a bit alarming, but I guess it’s OK.

Friday was St. Patrick’s Day, and I took that day off as a “well-being” day. That’s a new thing we have at work this year. We can take two days off as well-being days. There’s a whole different workflow for requesting a well-being day, vs a regular vacation or sick day, for some reason. We’re supposed to use these days for “mental health” or charity/volunteering work. And we have to select which one we’re using it for. I put down “mental health.” I had some ideas about stuff I could do with the day, but most of those got tossed out the window. I got up late. I walked to the mall, ordered a new pair of glasses at LensCrafters, and walked back. That pretty much killed the morning. All I did in the afternoon was watch TV and take a nap. I guess that qualifies as useful to my mental health.

Ordering new glasses turned out to be surprisingly difficult. For the frames, I just asked LensCrafters to get me the same ones I have now. I’m not sure if we found the exact same frames, but they’re close enough. But the salesperson couldn’t figure out how to order my prescription in those frames. It kept coming back as impossible. Now, my new prescription isn’t that different from my previous one. But I guess it was different enough to cause a problem. So, after nearly an hour of futzing around, involving both the salesperson and an optician, we settled on plastic lenses that are cheaper than the ones we were trying to order, which were the same material as I have now. I’m honestly not sure if they’ll be better or worse than my current glasses, but there’s a 30-day guarantee, so I guess I can return them if they’re no good.

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with my vision lately. I guess I’m still not anywhere near the “legally blind” stage, but I’m definitely having some problems. The next thing to tackle is my hearing. I’m overdue for another visit to the audiologist. I last went in March 2021, and should have gone again in March 2022, but never got around to it. So now it’s two years, and I should really get back there, and see about maybe finally getting a hearing aid.

Another topic I wanted to mention in passing is the third anniversary of the start of the pandemic. My company is still letting us work from home three days a week, which is good, but there’s some talk that they might want to get people to come back into the office more often. I’m honestly having some trouble with the current schedule, mostly because I don’t always have enough energy to deal with commuting and working in a cubicle anymore. By the time I get home after a day in the office, I’m often quite exhausted. I’m not sure how I used to commute into the office five days a week. And I’m not sure if something is wrong with me, or if this is just how I’m supposed to feel at 56 years old.

Anyway, at least I appear to have gotten through the last three years without contracting COVID at any point. (Or, if I did, it was post-vaccination and mild enough that I assumed it was a cold.) I’m still masking up at the grocery store. And I still wear a mask at work, but only when I’m moving around the office. I’m one of only a few folks who still do that. I’ve slacked off a lot with regard to masking when I’m going out to pick up take-out food or coffee. I used to wear a mask all the time for that, but now I’ll skip it sometimes, if I know I’m going into a place that won’t be crowded, and where I know I’ll be in and out quickly. I actually haven’t gotten sick in a while, at least by my standards, so that’s good. (I was a bit sick on Presidents Day, so it’s been almost a month. And I wasn’t that sick, then.)

Reading this post back, it sounds a bit bleak. But I didn’t intend it to sound that way, and I’m actually doing pretty good, all things considered. Maybe I should write another post later, talking about all the cool stuff I’ve been reading, listening to, and watching. Oh, and I have another post to write about Microsoft certification, and probably some other tech stuff, so that’ll be more fun than this one.

New Year’s Day 2023

It’s 8 AM on New Year’s Day, and here I am again writing my traditional New Year’s Day post. I have a bit of a headache today, not because I was up late partying, but because I had trouble sleeping. I went to bed at 9:30 last night, and slept reasonably well until around 11, when nasal congestion and random noise from outside woke me up and pretty much ruined my sleep until around 4 AM, when everything quieted down and my nose cleared up, and I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep. I got out of bed at 7. I guess I have enough coffee in me now that I can get through the day, but I think I’ll need at least one nap today, and I’ll probably need to go to bed early again.

I’ll start this post out with links to some previous posts:

  • Last year, I blogged on Jan 2.
  • And here’s 2021, 2020, and 2019.
  • And probably my earliest New Year’s Day overview post, from 2008.

And I’ll break this post down into sections, since it might get a bit lengthy.

Health, Weight, and Sleep

I started seeing a new doctor this year, and she wasn’t interested in seeing me more than once this year, so I only had a single doctor’s visit in 2022, in May. My blood work was fine, and I guess my general health is fine.

I got two COVID booster shots this year, in April and September. The second one was the bivalent booster. As far as I know, I still haven’t gotten COVID. I might have gotten a mild case once or twice; I’ve certainly been sick a few times. But never bad enough to see a doctor. (And I usually test myself for COVID if I’m sick, and I’ve never had a positive test.)

I do feel like I got sick more often than I’d like last year. I’ve noticed that doing pretty much anything that involves being out in a crowd for a nontrivial amount of time results in me getting sick the next day. I’ve always been like that, to some extent, but I think it’s getting worse.

My sleep has been good and bad this past year. In the last couple of weeks, it’s been more bad than good. but for a few weeks prior to that, I’d been sleeping quite well. So I’m not sure what’s going on there. I think that a lot of it is sinus problems.

My weight has gone up a bit this year. I started 2022 at 140 pounds, and I’m now at 150. I’d intended on drawing the line at 140, but I’ve just crept up to 150, and I haven’t really cared enough to commit to getting it back down. I’m not sure if I need to, really, if I can actually draw the line at 150. I think that’s a reasonably healthy weight for me. My problem over the last year is that I’ve been eating a lot of cookies, to be honest.

I’ve done well with exercise this year, I think. I’ve been pretty consistent about getting a lot of walking done. In fact, it’s nice enough out that I should probably take a break from this blog post and go out for a walk right now.

Work

…and now I’m back from my walk and it’s a little after 9 AM. So my next section is going to be about work. I’m still working for SHI, and I’ll hit my ten-year mark this month. My longest time at one job was NMS, where I worked for around 13 years. So SHI is in second place, and may surpass NMS, if I manage to stick around for a few more years.

After being in pretty much the same position, with the same manager, for most of my time at SHI, there were a lot of changes in 2022. In April, there was a bit of a shake-up, and my group got moved under a different manager, in a different group. Then, in July, we had the data breach. And in August, there was another management shake-up, and I got moved back under my old manager. And in November, I was promoted to “IT Solutions Manager” and am now responsible for managing three programmers. Additionally, these programmers work on our CRM system, so I’m (gradually) moving from working primarily on AX to working on CRM.

And that’s a simplified timeline. There’s a lot more going on than what I described there. I guess it’s mostly good, and we’re on a good path for growth in 2023? I’m not really high-level enough to have a good picture of the company’s overall health, and whether or not we’re on the right path. I guess I’ll stick with “cautious optimism.” I’ve updated my resume, but I’m hopeful that I won’t need it in 2023.

In terms of professional development, it’s good that I’ve been promoted into management, I guess. I’m still basically a hands-on programmer, and my three reports are doing their own thing, for the most part. I may take more of an active hand in 2023, but that’ll depend on how things shake out.

Looking at the books I’ve read and courses I’ve taken in 2022, I put a fair bit of effort into learning scrum earlier in 2022. There was a big push for scrum that went along with the April management changes. That kind of fizzled out after the data breach and the August management changes, but we’re still (kinda) doing scrum. I also put some effort into working on programming fundamentals, reading a few books related to “Clean Code” and refactoring. And, for specific technologies, I’ve been trying to learn a bunch of random stuff that’s all directly related to projects I’m working on. I could get into all that, but then this post would get way too long.

The New Normal

…for lack of a better title. COVID is still a thing, regardless of whether or not people want it to be. SHI has us working in the office two days a week now. For me, that’s Tuesday and Thursday. It’s not too bad, I guess. I wear a mask when I’m not at my desk. There aren’t too many other people who still do, but there are a few.

They might let us keep to the two day schedule through 2023, but they also might try to get us to come back full-time, or maybe four days a week. I’m not sure. I’m really hoping they stick with the two day per week plan. I’m not ready to go back to the office full-time.

I don’t go out nearly as often as I used to. My only trip to NYC this year was in March, when I took the train to Albany for a funeral. (I switched from NJ Transit to Amtrak in NYC, so it was just a brief visit.) And that trip was really my only trip out of NJ. I almost had my E-ZPass canceled this year, because I haven’t used it since 2019. I got them to keep it active for another year, but I should probably give it up. Similarly, I should probably give up on my memberships to the Met and MoMA. I haven’t used either this year.

I had bought a badge for NYCC in October, but I decided to skip it and got a refund. I’m pretty sure that was a good idea, and that I would have gotten horribly sick if I’d gone. I may be done with comic conventions entirely now. I’m really not sure.

Books, Movies, TV, Music, Etc.

So this is the fun part of the post. (Maybe.) I’ll start with a link to my Goodreads Year In Books for 2022. I read 76 books this year. A lot of them weren’t really books, per se. I started the year with a bunch of Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas, for instance. Looking at the list, I think I read around 20 actual novels in 2022.

I gave up on trying to read any classics in 2022. Instead, I put some effort into putting a dent in my backlog of random Kindle books, reading stuff that I got from old Humble bundles and stuff like that. There was some good stuff in there, but also some stuff that was OK but forgettable. I also got back into a couple of my favorite book series, The Dresden Files and The Laundry Files. I’d last read a Dresden book in 2015, and a Laundry book in 2017. I didn’t read a lot of comics in 2022. Probably my favorites were the two Hilda books I read.

For movies: I still haven’t been back to a theater, since 2019. So I only watched movies at home. From my Letterboxd stats page, I can see that I watched 84 films in 2022. That’s less than 2021, when I watched more than 100 films. My highest-rated films from 2022 were My Father’s Dragon, Turning Red, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. My highest-rated re-watches were Howl’s Moving Castle and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, both of which I bought on Blu-ray in 2022.

For music: I mostly listened to music via Apple Music this year, so (in theory) my Apple Music Replay ’22 page should be pretty accurate. In practice, it’s a little weird. My top track for the year is the first track on Max Richter’s Sleep, which is probably because I put it on sometimes when I’m taking a nap on my sofa. My second most-listened track is Heavy Heart, by Bartees Strange, which makes sense, I guess. I do like that song.

Beyond that, I’ve listened to a lot of Bombay Bicycle Club, Bibio, and a few others. If I was going to pick my favorite album from 2022, it would probably be Bibio’s BIB10. Replay doesn’t tell you how many albums you’ve added to your library during the year, but I keep a list of those in Evernote, and I see I added over 50 albums in 2022. So I’m definitely listening to a lot of new stuff. (And old stuff too.) I guess I’m getting my money’s worth out of Apple Music.

For TV: I don’t keep track of the stuff I watch on TV the way I do with books and movies. I’ve definitely watched a lot of TV in 2022, but I can’t think of anything in particular that stands out. I’m still subscribing to Netflix, Disney+, and Paramount+. I switched to the Disney Bundle in 2022, so I get Hulu and ESPN+ too now. I’m not particularly proud of the amount of TV I watch these days, but there are times when I’m just too tired to do much else.

Summary

I feel like there’s more I wanted to write about here, but it’s almost 11 AM now, and I’m running out of steam. I should wrap this up, and maybe go out for another walk. I’m not making any resolutions for 2023. I’m planning on just playing it by ear. If I can manage to lose a few pounds, that’d be nice. If I can move forward on some professional stuff, that’d be good too.

Not at NYCC

Well, it’s Saturday, and I’m keeping an eye on NYCC, but I’m not feeling like it was a mistake to skip out on it. I’m feeling a bit better today, after just staying home and resting on Thursday and Friday. I’d probably be in pretty bad shape if I’d tried going to NYCC this week.

It sounds like mask compliance and enforcement at NYCC hasn’t been great. I’m not really surprised at that. But it’s another little indicator helping to convince me that staying home was the right decision.

There’s plenty of news coming out of NYCC. Popverse has a lot. (They’re owned by Reedpop, so they’re kind of the “official” place for NYCC news, I guess.) The Beat has a lot too. I’m so far behind on my reading and watching that there’s just not much point in me watching any of these panels. The Star Trek panels might be fun, but I still haven’t watched the second season of Picard or the fourth season of Discovery yet. The LoTR: The Rings of Power panel might be fun, but I still haven’t started watching season one yet. (If I were going, by the way, this article from space.com has a good list of interesting panels.)

Back on the subject of COVID, Dr Fauci seems to be doing a little interview tour through New York and New Jersey. He was on Colbert’s show on Thursday, and he actually went and got his bivalent booster shot as part of his appearance there. The segment was kind of corny, but if it convinces anyone to go and get boosted, then it was worth it, I guess.

Fauci also appeared on NJ PBS’ Chat Box with David Cruz this week. I was kind of surprised to see someone at his level show up there. I don’t know how many viewers Chat Box has, but I can’t imagine that it’s a lot. Anyway, it was a pretty good interview, though of course most of Fauci’s answers are fairly predictable at this point. Cruz, at one point asks him “Are you optimistic that we can avoid, just, destroying ourselves?” which is a pretty depressing question, but one I keep asking myself too. (Spoiler: Fauci’s answer isn’t that reassuring…)

A Busy Day

As previously mentioned, I got my COVID booster shot today. I also picked up my new iPhone 14 from CVS, though I had to make a separate trip for that, since it hadn’t arrived yet when I went for the booster. I guess the phone had gone back to the depot on Friday, then sat there all weekend, then got put on a truck this morning for delivery to CVS. Sigh. Well, I’ve got it now, so all is well.

This booster is my fifth shot, overall. The last shot was in April. I’m hoping I don’t get any side-effects from this one, since I’ve got a pretty busy week at work, and I don’t want to have to take a sick day. (But I will if I need to.)

The iPhone setup was relatively easy. I think the only major thing I still need to do is the MS Authenticator setup, which I’ve previously complained about. I’ll try to do that in the office tomorrow, where I’ll have access to my work desktop PC and my office phone, just in case any of my accounts still have the office phone number as a backup. I’m anticipating that’ll take about an hour.

Meanwhile, I had also ordered a new router this weekend, and that showed up today. I ordered this one, from Amazon. It was $80. I didn’t do a ton of research, bit it seems to be a successor to one that had been recommended by Wirecutter. I also found a good CNET review of it. I don’t have much to say about it yet, since it’s still in the box, and will likely remain there until this weekend.

I bought my current router in 2017, so it was time for a new one. The old one still works, but it doesn’t support some of the more modern features and standards. Honestly, I haven’t kept up with all that stuff, so I couldn’t even tell you which ones are which, at this point, but I know I was time for a new router. So I’ll try to get that set up over the weekend, probably, and I’ll have more to say about it then.

On another subject, there are a lot of changes going on at my job right now, and it looks like one of them may snowball into a pretty big change for me. (Or not. Hard to tell.) Either way, I think I need to learn a lot more about Dynamics 365 and Power Platform and stuff like that. I’ve made some efforts at learning that stuff in the past, but I never wind up actually working on anything real with it, so the knowledge doesn’t stick. And of course everything changes, so the stuff I picked up two or three years ago is different now anyway.

A lot of the changes we made in April are getting, well, changed. I wouldn’t say “rolled back,” but I am back under the boss I had before the big changes in April. But she’s under a different boss. And we seem to be backing off on our enthusiasm for scrum a bit. And, as mentioned above, I guess I’m going to need to learn more about the Dynamics 365 side of things. Which is good, I guess, but right now, my head is spinning.

COVID boosters, iPhones, and NYCC

After dithering back and forth on whether or not I should get another COVID booster shot, I decided today that I should. I read this article in the NY Times this morning, and I guess that’s what convinced me. That, plus reading the replies to this tweet from Tom Tomorrow, where he asked about people’s recent experiences with COVID. Yikes, yeah, I don’t want that. I made an appointment for Monday, at the CVS in Bridgewater.

Meanwhile, my iPhone should have shown up today. The UPS guy came and went and just left a sticky note. I’m pretty sure he didn’t ring the doorbell, though my doorbell is a little iffy so maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt. The sticky note says that I can pick it up at… the CVS in Bridgewater! So maybe I can pick up the iPhone and get my booster shot at the same time!

Honestly, if the iPhone is available there tomorrow, I’ll make a special trip and go get it. But I know it might not be available until “next business day,” so that would be Monday.

Monday is about two and a half weeks before NYCC, so that should be a reasonable amount of time for the shot to take effect. So if I decide to go to NYCC, I will at least be as vaxxed as possible.

COVID, and NYCC, and iPhones, and other stuff

It’s been about a month since I’ve last posted here, and I have a backlog of stuff in my head that I’ve been meaning to post about. And a number of things came up today that seem like they might be worth mentioning.

Also, I might be a little jumpy from my afternoon cappuccino, so this post might go all over the place…

NYCC announced their mask policy for this year today. In short, they’re requiring masks, but not vaccination. The con is happening in about a month (October 6-9) and I still haven’t decided if I’m going or not. I’ve been keeping an eye on the news, with regard to whether or not there will be a fall surge, and how bad it might be. I just don’t know… I know they mailed out badges this week, so I’ll have those soon. If I decide not to use them, then that’s OK.

I listened to a bit of Andy Ihnatko’s Material podcast today, and he started it out with a bit of a “sermon” on masking and COVID. He mentioned something in there about his own decision-making regarding an upcoming comic con in his area (Boston?), and his thinking seems to be pretty much the same as mine.

I was sick all of Labor Day weekend. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t COVID, and I’m not sure where I picked up… whatever it was. At work, I’m one of a very few people who are still wearing a mask around the office. I did go to a couple of large in-person meetings recently, so maybe I picked something up in one of those. But I also went out for a beer and a burger with an old friend Friday night, so maybe that’s where it came from. (Though we were sitting outside for that, so there should have been less chance of picking up anything airborne, vs. being indoors.)

I honestly think I’m getting sick more often lately. The prevailing wisdom on that seems to be that spending too much time alone, indoors, has left my immune system unprepared for normal levels of airborne… stuff. Maybe that’s true. Maybe I need to spend more time with other people?

On another matter entirely, I paid some attention to Apple’s iPhone event today, though I was too busy at work to catch everything. My iPhone XR is now over three years old, so it’s probably time to replace it. The iPhone 14 looks… fine. If I stick with the standard iPhone 14, then I don’t think it’ll be that much different from my XR. It’s the same form factor (I think) and still has the notch. It seems to have a much better camera though, which is nice, I guess. The iPhone 14 Pro has some snazzy features, though I don’t think I really need them enough to spend $200 more than for the regular 14. (Yeah, that “Dynamic Island” thing is cute, but I don’t need it.)

I also have a bunch of work stuff I want to blog about, but I really need to organize that all first. So I guess this will just be an NYCC / COVID / iPhone post.

COVID exposure

I got a notification from the NJ COVID app that I was exposed to COVID recently. I’ve had the app on my phone since October 2020, and this is the first time it’s actually notified me of anything. The exposure was more than a week ago. Not sure why it took so long to get to me.

I’d pretty much forgotten that the app even existed. When I first installed it, I was “checking in” on the app on a semi-regular basis. These apps were a pretty big deal when they first came out. But they’ve really faded to the point where it doesn’t seem like anyone bothers using them anymore. But I guess some people still do, otherwise I’d never had gotten that notification.

At this point, I guess it’s a pretty useless notification though. If I was exposed more than a week ago, I’ve had plenty of time to spread it around. I went out to dinner with a friend Saturday, and to lunch on Sunday. That’s unusual for me, and I wouldn’t have done it if I thought I might have COVID.

The date shown is May 16, which was a Monday. Looking at my Day One entry for that day, I barely left the apartment, so I’m not sure how I could have been exposed on that day. It does say that it’s “estimated” though, so maybe it happened the next day, at work, in the office? (I work from home Mon, Wed, and Fri, and in the office Tue and Thu.)

Oh well. I did an at-home COVID test this morning, just in case. It came back negative. At this point, I’m not even sure if I’m supposed to report a “near miss” to work or not.

second thoughts, and other distractions

So after spending $300 on NYCC tickets yesterday, today I stumble across this article: Coronavirus wave this fall and winter could potentially infect 100 million, White House warns. So, yeah, that October con in New York is sounding like less of a good idea.

I found that article while going down a slight rabbit hole at work. I took a quick break to look at Hacker News, which led me to this notice on Jason Kottke’s blog that he’s taking a sabbatical. That led me to follow a couple of links at the end of his post, to Dave Pell’s and Craig Mod’s sites. And something at one or the other of those led me to the aforementioned CNN article.

I say all that to illustrate the fact that I’m easily distracted, and I’m trying to get better about that. I’m finding a little guidance on that in some of the stuff I’m reading right now, and in some of the guided meditations I’ve been doing recently. But I’m still really distractable. I think maybe I need to get back to using a pomodoro timer. I blogged about distraction about a year ago, and did the pomodoro thing for a while, but didn’t stick with it.

Oh, and to follow up on the financial stuff in yesterday’s post: that’s getting even worse too. See here: Wall Street, dragged down by tech stocks, racks up more heavy losses. So, yeah, maybe I should just live in the moment?