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Middle-Age and Exams? Pfft, I’ve had my fill…

11/02/2016 Comments off

Entry 11/02/2016 08:00:45 AM – Mentat 1204

Welcome to Babylon 5, the last best hope for a quick buck.” – Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5

While I’m not sure whether or not this entry’s going to be going out to the world, I think that quote is rather apropos for at least one of the subjects that I’m going to be covering in this entry.  However, as I’m sitting here breakfasted, caffeinated — mostly, more to explain there — and the happy little Hell-beast is up on the desk gingerly flicking its tail, I’m wondering how to approach everything in an orderly fashion…  Yeah, the usual sort of chaos that comes from the fact that there’s much to cover in the wide, wide world of the Baldelli Homestead.

My annual physical has come and gone.  I’ve gained about 17 pounds mainly due to laziness and more than unusual intake of junk food in the form of chips, crackers and candy.  So much so that after the blood work had been processed, the doctor’s office called me to tell me the usual that my sugar’s a little high and the unusual that my triglycerides are of a concern and that I should change my diet a bit more.  Yeah, sure no problem there.  So at the time of this entry, I’ve cut out all sorts of junk foods from chips to crackers to anything that would be chocolate (yeah, that part’s killing me at the moment, but at least the jonesing hasn’t really started yet).  Instead, I’ve been doing my best trying to eat more healthy snacks — raw fruits and vegetables, less pastas and that sort of thing.

I’ve also cut down on my caffeine intake with my morning coffee, either picking up decaf iced coffee if I’m out of the house or drinking half-caf when I’m lounging about the house in the morning.  While my sleep might be a bit knackered if only because of other influences — like middle-aged — at least I’m learning that if I’m working I need 7½ of sleep a night and when I’m not working 6½ is more than adequate.  At least the good thing is that I’m more than happy about mid-afternoon naps when I can have them just in case.

Oh yeah, and thanks to the more temperate autumn, I’m more than happily picking up my habit of walking at least 3 miles (4.8 Km) during the afternoon.  The good thing about this is that couple this with both quick galivants in the morning and the usual walking of my mother’s Monster Child™, I can average more than 10,000 steps in the day; which I’m sure my doctor’s going to be happy about the next annual checkup.

Then yesterday, I had the pleasure of the other-half of the annual checkup/preventative measure that come with Middle Aged:  the dreaded colonoscopy examination.  Pfft, I say to that.  While I might understand the need for such things when it comes to people from families that have histories of various forms of cancer to even smoking in one’s life — for someone like me I’d prefer to perform an enema with Dranō especially after that gallon of swill consisting of Gatorade and MiraLAX with a Dulcolax chaser.  The day before fast can also go.  I made mention to the doctor an enema with distilled water would have been less of an annoyance than the pre-prep that’s handed out to all patients, but he explained to me that with a cleaned out system they also do checks between the large to small intestines, so that suggestions for that discomfort are out.

While I can barely remember the post-operative conversation because I was still loopy from the anesthesia they used, I do remember that the doctor had explained to me that they had found a couple of polyps — although my mother being present at the time explained they also found them on her and had confirmed they were benign, so I’m playing the waiting game at the moment until it’s confirmed they’re benign from me as well.  I do also remember something about the doctor saying something about looking forward to the next exam in 3 to 5 years.

Thinking, fuck that, I nodded, shook his hand and hobbled my way out to the car.

Yeah, no…  As I said to my mother, if they ever confirm the possibility of cancer, I would rather die than go through the chemotherapy and the various other horrors that await someone trying to get their cancer treated.  Besides, I have other concerns that might be happening later in my life, from the possibility of Parkinson’s Disease from my mother’s side of the family, Alzheimer’s from my father’s side of the family, a stroke in my later years from both sides of the family up at least 5 generations, just to name the ones I’ve seen in my years on this planet.

As a side note, the first thing I did was completely cheat any dietary restrictions and bought a Chicken Ranch and Bacon Calzone from my favorite local restaurant: Vasilio’s, apparently screwed up my maths between cost and tip by at least $0.20 cents, ate that while watching Xmeagol’s stream has he was playing something, passing out in my chair in the office and then hobbling to bed to sleep another couple of hours with the cat on my chest.   It was surprising how I was able to function in spite of being in a post-anesthetized state.

The homestead has been in a state of chaos, disrepair and blackmailed repairs when the issue gives me the feeling that I’m not living in a house, but out in the forest like the Radical Faeries I knew used to in Atlanta, GA.  Starting with the roof, apparently there had been water damage to parts of the roof on the eastern side of the house.  I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it publicly, but I’ve made quite a bit of noise on it privately as there was one night when it was seriously lashing out that when I took a break from whatever gaming I had been playing, went to the toilet and heard that the facet was leaking in the kitchen.  Without turning the light on, I checked the faucets and when I got dripped on, realized that the dripping water was coming from the third floor. Investigating, it turns out that the water dripping was coming in from the roof above the third floor with it running down the walls and straight onto the floor on the third and as gravity is a harsh mistress, was coming into my apartment in the process.

I can put up with a lot of things going wrong in my part of the shelter, but water in my apartment is definitely not one of them.  I talked with the landlord and his temporary solution while he was dealing with things in his life was to put a basin down  in the hopes of catching the water before he had to call out for someone to work on the roof.  Turns out that his temporary solution was as useless as a screen door on a submarine, and I was forced to hold back the month’s check as a means of blackmailing him to getting someone to work on the roof.   And so before the next rainstorm that we had, he got someone to work on the roof and since it’s rained more than few times in the following weeks — my apartment (and the third floor apartment) — have been bone dry.

Then yesterday, as I was prepping for the colonoscopy exam, I was entertained with a very lukewarm shower.  Without my morning coffee, by entertained I actually mean tortured.  After investigating the problems in the basement, I encountered water from one of the three sewer outlets in the basement (seriously three of them for a three by three apartment building).  Seems to be the front one that deals with the sinks (for the kitchens) in the front of the house.  After relighting the pilot on the water heater and checking it a couple of times between last night and this morning — so far it’s remained lit (knocking on wood) — and while the water’s definitely warming, it’s not the piping hot that I’m used to…  I adjusted the temperature upwards a bit, it’s significantly warmer, though not as piping hot as I remember, but then I just changed it less than an hour ago, and it’s a large tank so I’m not sure.  Let’s hope that ends the problem, but if not I might need to look into a new water heater sometime in the future.  More on that I’m sure.

On my off time, I’ve been playing the usual games and added one more game to the repertoire.  First and foremost ties into the reason for the quote that opened this entry:  Star Trek Online.  While I play games my way and solo, I often watch chat (and sometimes the exchange/auction house) the price gouging in that particular game has been astronomical.  With the introduction of Tier-6 Kelvin Timeline Constitution Class Cruiser  (otherwise known as the JJ Abrams’ Enterprise), pricing for starships has gone from the rather insane 500 million energy credits to well over 1.2 billion (there’s an EC cap on players that’s only to 1 billion) and have incorporated exchange of Master Keys as necessary for the purchase from sellers.  While I had no issues on the Energy Credit Costs, going into real-world money — upwards between $270 to above $300 USD — for an in-game item seems to be  the epitome of greed.

Perfect World/Cryptic  seem to well aware of the greed and seemed to have instituted Energy Credit requirements for Fleet/Clan projects, but the truth of the matter is, this instituted method of greed control is too little and much too late as the price gouging and greed going on within game, as the sellers have now completely moved onto Master Key exclusively for exchanges for sellable ships.   PW/Cryptic’s solution is too little and much too late and I’ve suggested that PW/Cryptic look into a solution this morning, but I’m pretty damned sure it’ll go ignored.  The game is making more money now than when it was subscriber based.

Then there’s Warframe.  I’ve covered that game’s ongoing issues in this forum thread.  While I’ve made my peace in that posting (and pretty much ignored the comments that were made on it), I’ve pretty much said my piece and made my piece with the imperfections of the game.  I continue to play the game in spurts — what I like to call burst playing (playing missions in a burst of one to three per run) — either based on the alerts that I see, or for the grind for leveling up weapons (and later warframes).  After that I wander off to do whatever else it is I want to do during that time.

As of the last time I paid attention to the developer news (through their weekly Live-Streams on Twitch), I was moderately pissed-off that I lack one of the many requirements for doing the recent story about to be released next week (The War Within), but also made my peace on it as I’ll be able to check it out sometime in the future.  Hell, thinking about it, it almost took me six months after the release of Second Dream to actually play and finish it, so I shouldn’t be too miffed that I won’t be ready for the newest part of the saga on release.

In place of Rift that I’m dumping again, for two reasons; in its place I’ve picked up and starting playing Elite: Dangerous. Unlike Warframe (which also gets called Farmframe from the amount of grind in the game), E:D is clearly grind from the time you start playing the game (either in Solo or Open area Modes).  I’ll definitely playing this game much like I do Warframe in burst mode to prevent the potential burnout that can occur from playing a game with more than a little sameness.  I still haven’t figured out how I want to play this game, given I’ve seen some pretty impressive Twitch streams covering aspects of taxiing for money to YouTube for bounty hunting and from what I’ve been reading on the wiki there are other choices and combinations thereof.  I’m still trying to make up my mind on that, although knowing me I’ll probably go with something Privateer and legal.  I don’t like fines and I hate the thought of being hunted down by other players.

And that’s about it for the time being.  Tomorrow it’s the 0400 laundry run and then it’s back to life as usual.  Until the next time.

Twenty-Three Years in the Field: Is it too late to change careers?

08/24/2016 Comments off

Entry 08/24/2016 01:57:57 PM – Mentat 1159

 

I don’t normally like to talk about work or the work necessary to networking myself into a new position in a new company.  Well, not publicly and not for years because honestly there’s only just so much whinging and hand-wringing that even I can put up with from the likes of me.  However, since starting the carousel of finding a job that I might like (once again), my tolerance of the contracting field has not only soured but definitely creates the wrong sort of ire whenever I think about it.  Looking back over the years, I can see the path in the sand on just how much the life as a contractor has changed from the time when I entered it and receiving offers hand-over-fist, to today where I’m fighting between the feelings of eye-rolling myself into a seizure to seriously slapping the ever living shit out of some of these bottom-feeders that storm my cell phone like it’s a game of capture the flag.  While I understand that perhaps they’re a necessary evil to getting your foot in the door of some of these places in the area — I would prefer to even use them sparingly to if ever at all.

The fact is, I despise all contracting companies since the late 90s.  Part of it has to do with the high level of turnaround you can have as a primary contact at the contracting agency.  A person that seems to have their act together quickly shuffles off to a better position leaving a vacuum at the desk they had been sitting in the week before.  With that power vacuum first came the lack of knowledge necessary to matching the contractor with the position, and then later with the Special Snowflake Syndrome that slowly came to inflict the younger work-force, it created the unfortunate necessity to lying to the contractor what sort of position they were filling at the company in question.

I remember the second aspect vividly during the first part of the 00s when I was still living in Atlanta, where a contract (short or long term temporary) was made to sound as glamorous as possible, only to discover within the first three hours of being at the job site was nothing like it was described over the phone as to the work and responsibilities that it would entail.  The one contract that I recall off the top of my head as an example had to do with the agency told me that it was an administrative sort of position that required filing and clerical skills for a department of ten.  It was billed as a Librarian sort of position that required to be filled while the person originally hired for the position was on maternity leave.  What it was, was filing claims in a closet about 15′ x 15′ (4.5 x 4.5 meters), in a hodgepodge of misshapen filing cabinets that looked like they were saved last minute from the trash compactor with each drawer stuffed with files in a haphazard manner and at least 5 – 10 Stick Ups in each.  Let me tell you — after an hour of opening and shutting those drawers my sense of smell was completely burned out.  A refusal to return to the position the next day, it took almost a week to recover my sense of smell without constantly smelling artificial lilac or lavender.  I think to this day, if I never smell Airwick Lilac or Lavender will be entirely too soon.

Moving north hasn’t been much better for the contracting circuit.  One of my first contracts involved me working with a 20 year veteran from the nursing field that was given the opportunity to change careers and low and behold was given the cushy desk job as an IT Manager over several IT-related departments in healthcare.  Interviewing with the woman — it was damned clear the woman was a Troglodyte.  She had the voice of someone that spent 20 or more years smoking that had just given it up.  While she seems fair on the surface and her idea of cross-training was sort of on the mark when it came to ensuring everyone on the helpdesk knew how to cover the desk during all contingencies; this great idea came to down in a crash and burn when that training would involve the same sort of schizophrenic and frenetic scheduling that nurses go through in a hospital.  Looks good in theory, but when you realize entry-level IT people make on average $15-17/hour as opposed to nurses that make $29-$36/hour; this was a catastrophically bad idea and sleep hours are seriously and severely being cut when you’re finding your work schedule for three days are 23:00 – 07:30 and then the next four would put you at 11:00 – 19:00…

Yeah…

In my 40s at the time, I’m not a spry just-starting-IT type…  Not to mention this isn’t the sort of thing I’d ever been used to — even when serving on-call — as I’m more than sure, I would bounce like a brick if I continued that sort of schedule.  And like it or not — even though I had to have my contracting agency step in to remind them I’m a fill-in (and not a full-time employee), the retribution that came for not being “cooperative” was in fact borderline harassment and denigrating.

I would like to say before I continue that not all of the contracts I’ve had have been progressively worse since the late 90s as there are some good contracts out there that I can say were not only enjoyable but thought provoking as well.  Working with the kids at Providence College, performing lessons for how to program in Access and SQL to someone that was on the verge of understanding OOL, opportunities to speak with people that remembered the times before NAFTA and so on…  The fact remains that it’s not looking much better now than it did 16 – 18 years ago.

It’s just…  it looks pretty damned bleak at the moment that even the closet optimist hidden deep inside is having a hard time trying to maintain a positive outlook through the current environment.  Let’s see if I can draw pictures in the last month alone that have dealt with that has either left me rolling my eyes so hard I about had a convulsion in the process.

I have received calls from places like Maryland (using a 617 Boston Area Code but the return call number started 410), New Jersey, Manhattan, NYC and Colorado, trying to find technicians to work for a company that has a negative reputation of underpaying and cutting the workforce in a way that prevents anyone working there from being able to claim unemployment benefits.  While I won’t mention the name of the company in question, I can tell you I had once interviewed for the position and couldn’t keep a poker face when I was told the starting salary was $7/hour less than the competition (that subsequently had more responsibilities for less pay).  When I was told I should be “thankful for being hired by this company…”  any semblance to a poker face was completely obliterated when I told him the starting pay at the three companies in competition against them was more offered to a janitor than a tech support specialist.

Yeah, they called me 10 minutes after that interview making up some excuse that the hiring manager had an emergency meeting and wouldn’t be available.  I never heard from that company again.  But that doesn’t stop the bottom-feeders in contracting agencies to contact me about the “opportunity”.

I received a call from another agency with a Metro-Boston area code that I remember submitting my resume (CV) to for a third shift position.  That resume fell into a black hole that a month later – I finally received the “we received your resume…  are you still looking for a job?  We have something in the Boston area…”

Uh, that was a month ago.  This type of call is a bait and switch.  No thanks, I don’t like companies that don’t have the decency to send an e-mail or make a quick call confirming that the position has been filled.

Then there’s the agency I used to work for prior to being hired full time.  Let’s talk about their tactics a moment, shall we?  First they call but don’t leave voicemail.  This usually occurs at least 3 – 8 times a week.  When they do leave voicemail on around the ninth time, it’s the sort of nattering on like they’re your best friend, “oh just touching base see how you’re doing…”

Uh…  Have I ever made an effort to call you since I was hired full time at Lifespan?  No.  Are any of you my friend?  No.  And given that I warned them of the mess that was being generated, which was blatantly ignored in an effort to kiss as much ass as you could to make the management happy by providing fresh bodies…  Well, I’m not going to be rushing back to work for a company that doesn’t listen to first-hand eye-witnessing…  That and let’s just say while this agency might be doing something legal, it isn’t remotely ethical…  And I’m not about to sacrifice my upstanding attitude for that approach to business.

I know that’s convoluted.  I wish I could say more, but the repercussions make me a bit…  edgy.

Finally comes the call I just got from Woburn, MA.  Seems that this agency is trying to get people to both companies with the notorious reputation of having extremely high turn around.  Told him about that and the fact that I’ve talked with ex-employees from both companies and they tell me the same stories…  Mass firing of employees before they can collect unemployment, burning out the contractor pool for years…

How do you know this? He asked

How many contracting agencies do you think have called and contacted me about job opportunities with them in the last ten years?  You’re the fortieth.  Do you think you have a chance to keeping their business?  Nope….  I refuse to work for those companies.

He stammered out some professional comments and got himself off the phone .

The fact is, they’re so bad they’re reaching out to agencies outside of their state because those in the state know they can’t get people back in there.

So the question I’m asking myself now is — it is too late to change careers and make macramé plant holders, selling them on the corner in front of City Hall?  Heh, then again, I’m not too sure it’s a good choice, given this news article recently.  If the Mayor’s Press Secretary was almost mugged — who’s to say I wouldn’t be…  again

With that, I need to wind down for the night.  Early day tomorrow as I have laundry to do and that means up at 04:00.  Until the next time.

The Throes of Summer

08/08/2016 Comments off

Entry 08/07/2016 05:00:00 AM – Mentat 1147

Having failed to take a nap for a second time this afternoon, when I shambled my ass out of bed a little while ago, it had dawned on me that I couldn’t for the life of me remember the last time I wrote a diary entry that would go out to the world.  The first question that came to mind was, “has it been that long?”  followed closely by the stampede of, “if I can’t remember, it must be that long…”  with, “nah, it couldn’t be…”, mixed with feelings that old age has begun to get the better of me, through the fleeting thought of Alzheimer scares.  It was promptly concluded with checking one of the two sites that I routing visit (though rarely post to) confirming it was almost three months since the last time I had the gumption to posting anything to the world.  Though you can tell by the numerical system I have traditionally used for my entries that it’s been a mere 59 entries since then.  Eh, I’m not surprised really.

Some of the events that have occurred since the last time I sat down to write includes some of the following insanity:

For Emancipation Day, I have deleted my account from Deviant Art.  The straw that broke the camel’s back on that was watching the management of a chat area I used to frequent either tripping over their tampon string or channeling the worst possible elements of Scorned Woman Syndrome.  I watched with horror as my perspective of the place transformed to a niche area for sanity and artistic good nature to exactly as it’s been laid out on the Encyclopedia Dramatica entry.  While it was a good 8 years there which I had been introduced to the site thanks to Damion — after that incident of ban-hammering people for the slightest transgressions — I felt it was long since time I moved on.  While I’m in a lull when it comes to fractal art at the moment, my art can typically be found on WordPress and Flickr where I continue to maintain my presence even if it’s a shadow of my former self.

Thanks largely to the media circus of the Presidential Elections here in my country, I’ve been avoiding sharing my opinion on any of the normal sites that I still frequent as well: namely Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  There have been times I’ve considered completely deleting my account from Facebook given my family and at least 1 friend has gone of their rockers and posting/re-sharing based on ad hominem feelings against the candidates.  And there have been more than a handful of times none of them have done any fact checking their re-shares, which is enough to get my knickers in a twist as I’m sitting there and having to perform the fact-checking necessary for peace of mind.  What’s funny is that I tend to either respond to completely superfluous wall-entries, or food if only to prove I’m still alive.

I think this dour attitude of mine started on Twitter when a former work-mate had been blasting tweets in a deluge fashion neither fact checking either, or worse, simply whinging for the sake of it, about government, about freedoms curtailed and even about first world problems.  There had been numerous times during his tweet spamming that I thought about commenting sharply in his direction, “…if you want change in government, become an activist…  don’t blast your woes in 140 characters hoping others will make those changes for you…”  Instead, I tried out the feature of Muting and have been happier with the clear lack of noise and friction from that part of the world.

Consequently I’ve been doing the same on Facebook with moderate success.  Still, the impulse to delete my account there exists even if it’s a bit quieter.

I have (once again) lost complete interest in television.  While I don’t tend to watch too much I think I’ve completed watching to the last series finale two shows since the beginning of the year:  Shadowhunters and The FlashDaredevil I gave up after episode 3 into the second season because while Jon Bernthal was believable in his role of Frank Castle (Punisher), there was something off-putting about the intensity.  I believe it had something to do with just how bloody angst-riddled the character was.  I never got back into Jessica Jones because every episode I watched of that, I felt like I needed a bath…  in Clorox… to get over the feeling of just how dirty I felt watching it.  Anything else, I stopped my re-watches to try to get back into the shows after a long hiatus from them…  All because of the amount of tropes I was catching in them snapping the back of my ability to suspend my disbelief with a sickening crack.

The biggest disappointment out of my television woes goes to Legends of Tomorrow having bailed on that show after the second episode.  While I was sort of looking forward to seeing Arthur Darvill again since his departure from Doctor Who, the reality distortions of him playing Rip Hunter — (ex-)Member of the Time Masters — were just too much for me to separate the juxtaposition from Time Lords and Doctor Who.  Well that and watching (Wentworth) Miller and (Dominic) Purcell being together since Prison Break also utterly distorted my ability to suspend disbelief as well.

Movies have suffered worse since March.  While I found myself morbidly enjoying Henry Rollins’ performance in He Never Died, remember liking the humor of Deadpool, and waiting patiently for Brenton Thwaites to being shirtless in Gods of Egypt (it didn’t happen); my interest in Allegiant disappeared within the first five minutes when the movie had to establish that the outside world announced those living in Chicago to come out of the walls (which never happened in the book).  Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice within 10 minutes where they had to retcon Affleck in the Metropolis destruction scenes from Man of Steel.  I shut that movie off when there Affleck is, squatting down giving the girl a hug and looking all angry at the fight between Zod and Superman that recalled this skit from Jack Whitehall.  Yep, I bailed faster than you can say, ‘off like a kelly-green, polyester prom dress…’ And as far as I can tell — there’s nothing on the horizon at the moment that I would want to see — and that’s not going to be changing in the months to come.

The deskside has been converted to Windows 10…  finally.  Two days before the deadline to boot.  I wanted to do a clean install on the system drive without taking up more space with the messy conversion from Windows 7.  I also wanted to confirm that with the Product Key I have for Windows 7 Ultimate would convert to Windows 10 Pro.  It did.  Well that and I wanted to ensure all the bugs I had experienced with Windows 10 on my laptop would have been completely smoothed out by the time I got it on the deskside.  With it, I still have more than one language pack loaded in (English and Japanese based on my experience with both), Bitlocker, and the Policy Editor for passwords and password control (among other features too numerous to mention based on Active Directory skills I’m familiar with).  Since installing Windows 10, I’ve also set the password locally (in spite of the mistake of installing an app from the Microsoft Store that had changed my login to my Hotmail account).  So we’ll see if the password change reminder is working correctly with Windows 10 as it stopped working in Windows 7 a long time ago.  Now all I have to do is get all the specialized words in the custom dictionary loaded back up…  Something that never made the backup from the old system to the new.  Eh, a small loss on the whole if I do say so myself.

My UPS of 8 years is beginning the slow process of dying the slow death and the battery is no longer working according to spec.  While I’m sure that I could get a replacement battery for the thing (and install it on my own), the fact is that at least 2 of the plugs in the back (on the surge suppressor side) have suffered damage of some sort or another and are no longer operating properly so, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  While the replacement UPS (same make and model) should be in sometime this week, I need to play extra-carefully running the PC and Air Conditioners in this house ensuring I neither brown-out or blow a fuse.  When the house has a brown-out and tries to draw power from the battery as a boost, it will shut down the UPS (and the computer) abruptly; pretty much the same as a blackout.  The alarms will sound, I will check to ensure it’s not a blown fuse and then I have to take 20 minutes to reset the UPS and then bring the PC back up.  Not fun.

Summer has been annoying here in the Tundras of New England.  There have been a few moments where the weather’s been beautiful for the summer months, there have been more times where the raging humidity has made it impossible for me to either sleep or exercise.  While it hasn’t been as bad as I remember living in the South more than a decade ago, as I’ve become acclimated to the weather of the north — there have been more than a few moments where I felt like I should be melting onto the sidewalk because the heat and humidity.  Since taking the medications for Hypertension, I swear I’ve become far more irritable with the high humidity than I used to be last year as I seem to want more comfortable temperatures around the house.  Hence the want for running the A/C whenever possible.  In fact, since I’ve become more used to taking these medicines and being more aware of the body changes, I could swear I can tell the difference between a Northern Thunderstorm and a Southern.   Northern storms are wet, cooler and don’t have half of the amount of heat and ambient humidity as they are in the south.

Because of this and the fact that I’m warned against prolonged exposure to strong direct sunlight, walking has become a more difficult now than during the Autumn through Spring Months.  Because of it, I’ve done my best to keeping busy when I can, and definitely adjusting my intake when I can’t.  I’ve slacked more than I should and while I’m not getting 10,000+ steps a day, I try my best to keeping as active as possible with the 250 steps/hour challenge currently being offered.  This has been making Moe pretty damned happy as he seems to like being picked up and  held over my shoulder as I walk around the house.  About the only thing he doesn’t seem to like is being in the rooms with A/C on.  Something about it being cooler than usual along with the noise that they make seems to be off-putting to him, so off to the un-air conditioned bedroom he goes during the day.  Doesn’t seem to mind the heat other than the occasional loneliness of me not being around so he’ll make his way out of there to check up on me.

And with that, I’ve covered everything — pretty much — for the last couple of months.  Off to meet the day as I always do..  On the bridge of the USS Retrospect fighting enemies of the Federation or being a Tenno checking out the Origin System of the Orokin.  I haven’t decided which as both entertain me more than television ever could.

A message out to the world

05/21/2016 Comments off

Entry 05/20/2016 06:41:43 AM – Mentat 1088

Truth be told I’ve had positively no gumption to posting anything about me, my life or anything else publicly since the beginning of the year. Part of the reason is that with the exclusion of one incident, I’ve been remarkably and incredibly superfluous in the months since both the incident as well as since the new year. While I sort of miss the fact of my being rather intense and laser-focused about this or that, the fact is that I’ve come to learn that laser-focus was part of the price of having incredibly high blood pressure… To the tune of 220/117 and higher (as I’ve no doubt said before). Once I began the regimen of diuretics and blood pressure medications (which according to the doctor were originally used as a means of anti-anxiety), other than the more than occasional rage flare ups, I’ve been remarkably sedate about everything. Sure it’s still a bit high at my last doctor’s check-up… 140/84.. But both he and I agree that it’s significantly lower than it was when I first started coupled with the fact that I usually had it checked no sooner than 5 minutes after my walking both to the bus center (Kennedy Plaza) and then to his office… And believe me when I say I never walk casually anywhere. He believes me when I say that when I’ve checked it at home — when I’ve been rested — it usually hovers around 130/74. Still a bit high — but as I continue to lose weight he believes it should continue to go lower. And with that he’s chosen that the next time I see him is for the annual examination this October.

About the only thing that I’m not really liking about the diuretics (Chlorthalidone) is the fact that because my blood’s been thinned, I’m finding temperatures below 60 F (15.5 C) to being chilly. And by chilly I mean I need to be putting on a sweater/hoodie if I’m wearing a short sleeve shirt. It’s quite the shocking change for me given that I got used to being able to brave through the 40s F (~4 C) and not remotely considering shutting windows and turning on the space heater for a bit of warmth. People are telling me it’s because I’m middle-aged, except that I didn’t have that problem for the last 7’ish years.

Moe and I have reached a wonderful understanding about his time on the desk in the office: he can sit there all he wants, but if he sprawls and causes the NAS or speakers to get knocked down, then he’s off the desk without a warning. This seems to have worked out for the best as he’s liking the thought of sitting on my lap (or on the chair’s backing) whenever he can instead. That’s rather difficult given that he’s usually trying to get on my lap when I’m in the middle of game play, but seems all right when I’m watching a video or six. About the strangest thing I’ve come to find though is that he seems to hide whenever he’s puked up his food — or in the case this morning — seemed to have painted the bathroom floor like a toddler — and that’s to hide under the bed like he knows he’s done wrong. The funny thing is that I’ve always had the policy that there’s really no need to punish or scold cats for this as it’s usually out of their control. So leave ’em there under the bed until I’m through cleaning and then sort him out with a little loving so that he knows he’s done nothing wrong.

Funny thing is that he’s even more squirrelly about loud noises than ever. Be it the vacuum, me dropping something, or anything loud and he’s gone faster than the dust he’s kicked up. It was rather funny this morning as the garbage trucks were out there doing their weekly pick up and when I came up behind him (on my way to the sink), he reacted much like this. In spite of the usual dust-ups between he and I — something I’m still trying to figure out — I guess I’m a lot quieter than I thought. So that’s not helped his skittishness since we’re being here on Federal Hill.

Oh and one more thing about Moe… As I’ve said before he usually doesn’t have much interest in human food and the most enticing I’ve found is the remains of a tuna can as I’m having something with that. Ham? Nope, no interest. Beef? The same. Chicken? Eh he loves the smell, but can’t be bothered other than to smell it… Nope… His love seems to be blueberry muffins and strawberries off the bush. Seems he’ll go out of his way to have those instead even right out of my hand of off the dish. Strange that given that cats by nature don’t have the taste buds for sweet as they tend to stick to salty and meat… thanks to evolution. But I’ll just chalk that up to Moe’s eccentricities and move forward from there.

During my off-time, a friend of mine has been trying to convince me to get into World of Warships and I’ve been hesitant about it. Sure, from what I’ve been watching from The Mighty Jingles and my watching the various tutorials from the MMO; gaming in it is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from Star Trek Online with most of the controls… But what makes me hesitant about going into the game has entirely to do with the cooperative and team playing missions.. Yeah, you know me — if I can’t play with other people, I’m more than merry about keeping to myself and playing with my toys because I just play my way like I did when I was in kindergarten… and I’m more than happy about that. Put me in with other people — especially complete strangers — and I become this raging psychotic yelling at my screen and systematically ignoring people so that I’ll never have to play with them again. Better to stay in my own sandbox instead… I might eventually go into it — but that’s not quite right now.

Warframe I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone and have been doing missions that I was hesitant to do. I still haven’t gamed with other people (see above about that), but at least when I do play — there are at least a small handful of people I can play with if I need to do some mission that I can’t solo through. Well up until a couple of months ago — I don’t get on early enough for most and one has taken a break from the game to pursue other games — like World of Warships and War Thunder.

I’ve given up entirely on Rift for two reasons. The first and foremost reason is that it’s broken on both the Guardian as well as the Defiant sides of the RPG portions of the leveling up story-quests… On the Guardian side it seems to go all right, but then you get this really steep leveling mission that you’ll end up getting killed numerous times. There seems to be some sort of progression break from what I remember of the questlines and it seems to be lacking the adventuring through the various regions and seems to jump ahead in places I don’t remember being able to jump ahead to. The second reason is that it seems to be hell-bent on advertising Subscription Access for the “added benefits”… So much so that that much advertising in a game is off-putting to someone that I did put money into through the years.

And finally Star Trek Online is just something mindless and grind-like that I don’t mind doing for a couple of hours. I think I had a meltdown a couple of months ago when I realized that I was having shit-luck building up the FED-Engineer and FED-Science Captains and in a fit of rage deleted them. After all, I’ve been having better luck and success grinding and getting things with my FED-Tactical and ROM-Tactical… I did rebuilt the FED-Science Officer along with launching a Klingon Tactical Captain — but truth be told they’re sitting in my pick-list collecting dust for the last couple of months. Part of me is sort of loathing the thought of learning that the Science Captain is as clapped-out as running an Engineering Captain, most of me is wondering whether I should reroll it when the new season rolls out called Agents of Yesterday. I’m not sure yet, though it almost sounds enticing.

As for the rest…. Yeah well, other than the occasional blatant, up-front and completely unsuccessful pull from the folk in the area, I’m enjoying my sabbatical from the rest of humanity. Seriously the mind boggles at some of the things gay men say to one another in order to get a tryst, date, whatever. At least the good thing is that I’ve stopped getting the “will you be my daddy?” messages because of my Four Rules. And in case you can’t find those rules; I’ll post them once again here:

The Rules:

1. They have to be over 6’4″ for me to consider eligible.
2. They have to be older than my combat boots (33 years) for me to actually ask them out for coffee.
3. They have to be older than how many years I’ve been out of the closet for me to consider dating regularly. (37 years).
4. They have to be mature, vivacious and so at peace with their issues for me to consider breaking any of the first three rules.

The 20-somethings in the area see that first rule and apparently they’re all appearance intimidated. A good thing all around given that I’ve reached the age in my life where I’m tired of having to train tweens (Tolkien’s use of the word, not Urban Dictionary’s) to being mature adults. And the adults? Well, they’re man children… They’re appearance intimidated more often times than naught, so only the truly ballsy will try messaging me. Or cat-fishing. Either or, it’s win-win.

And that’s about it for the time being. Off to slink back to the quiet, which I’m enjoying. Until the next time.

The New Year

01/07/2016 Comments off

Entry 01/07/2016 02:16:30 AM – Mentat 1036

The great thing about a computer notebook is that no matter how much you stuff into it, it doesn’t get bigger or heavier…” – Bill Gates

I’ve gotten into the first week of the new year and in spite of the fact that I’ve been more than diligently writing personal diary entries, it’s been some months since the last time I had written publicly was about the time of the mugging. In the following three months since then I’ve been inordinately quiet online while happily producing various Mandelbulb and (mostly) JWildfire fractal work. While I’ve been more than happy about keeping my diary private (offline), the primary reason hasn’t been because of the frivolousness of the entries. Not at all really; after all I’ve been well known for taking the most frivolous and dog-eared end of any element in my life and turning into a melodramatic moment of story-telling proportions. No, the ongoing issues that I’ve been having since starting this job has been the ability to focus on any one thing and staying with it from beginning to middle to end. Instead of focusing and staying to that course, I often find myself going in a hundred different directions at any given moment. Further, the more intense the issue — the more frustrated I become when trying to describe the issue — the more likely I am to run away from it, finding something else to distract myself from that frustration. I have since gotten a little better about this at least privately — whether this will extend publicly remains to be seen — but I’ll endeavor to do my best one way or another.

I got hired at the contract I’ve been working for the last 9 months. In spite of the anger issues that I had been going through because of that mugging, the delusional pats-on-the-back the manager (only in the position 3 weeks longer than I’ve been working there) that firmly believes she’s changed things for the better, and the host of other issues I’ve seen, witnessed, experienced both just prior through to just after the hiring process. As I’ve said before (around the end of September) I’ve never been in a department that completely lacks the ability to reading (and comprehending) e-mail sent to them personally as well as a blast to the whole department. The icing on that cupcake came a couple of weeks later when I was pulled into the manager’s office and was chastised for the “scathing” e-mail I had sent QA coordinator (a contractor barely into his 30s) and how much he cried to the manager about how harsh that e-mail was to his feelings. After about 15 minutes of being berated not only by the manager but also the witness (because she’s female and I’m not, it’s common practice to have a witness — usually of management — to ensure nothing goes afoul. This witness is also a team leader for the department), I decided to go onto the offensive to shut the meeting down when the manager said, “if you got an e-mail like the one I wrote, I’m sure you’d had been crying in my office about it.” I looked at her and said, “Uh, no I wouldn’t. I would have handled that criticism like an adult and not a spoiled child.” And then went on to state the apparent issues that continue to plague the department, including how no one reads e-mails, no one seems to be able to take any criticism and how everyone cries foul for any slight that might come out or inferred. I got loud enough in the meeting that the window on her office door rattled and when I left that meeting people in the department were unusually quiet like they thought I was getting fired.

The fact is, I could go on and on (and on and on) about it, and the more that I do the more I’ll feel my blood pressure once again rising and the more aggravated I’ll be about it. And while it’s true it might get a bit of frustration that I’ve had pent up over the months — I suspect more than it’ll just torque me up in ways I don’t want to cope through. And I’m rather liking having my attention to coping through health and fitness issues more than work-related issues. With that I keep reminding myself that there are some places that have it well established on how to handle such situations and such issues and there are places that don’t. This is just one of those sort of places that doesn’t. And the bottom line is that I’m just riding it through to see whether the changes are going to be for the better, or for the worst.

After all the zaniness of getting hired and getting the Golden Ticket to allow being hired at this place, I’ve continued with my regimen from my doctor as he balanced out my medications for high blood pressure as well as dietary changes because of these medications (low sodium mostly); I come to find out the main medication for controlling high blood pressure — Metoprolol — is also used to control anxiety. This was after the second month of the medication adjustments; of which two of those months I was seriously crotchety as I was fighting the near constant fatigue I was experiencing. By the third month — I had gotten used to the medications and whatever hostility I had been feeling just washed away and disappeared. Because of this, I’ve learned to take advantage of the medication and allow most of the aggravating instances at work to wash away and deal with them if I can deal with them. Or to leave them be until I can handle or not.

The other drug that I take — Chlorthalidone — reminds me vividly that I am middle-aged. Seriously. Because of one of the side-effects of regularly taking it, I’ve had to include taking Metamucil (AKA, The Radioactive Sludge) as part of my diet. I think the most annoying part of about it is that if I miss so much as two doses of Metamucil — my bowels stopper up faster than you can say, “Screaming Jesus on a Ferris Wheel”.

All I can think on this is — so this is what Middle Age is all about? And I thought the first six years were going to be a cake walk through to retirement. Nope, this is where the true “fun” begins.

The second part of this middle-age is the amount of fun I’ve been having in the kitchen trying low-sodium and more healthy alternatives to the things I’ve been eating most of my life. While it’s true that I had learned my cooking from my three grandmothers (maternal, paternal and step-father), I never did take advantage of that experience on just myself. While it’s true that I normally cooked such meals for boyfriends & partners (or for special occasions) it was rare to do so for myself. Further I’ve been expanding upon it thanks to places like All Recipes, Food and Food Network as well as Epicurious just to name the few off the top of my head. While I might not post the pics on WordPress, DA or Blogger — I do on occasion post them to Twitter and Facebook. And if you’re curious enough — you can always ask me what I’m trying out at the moment.

Couple this with the exercise/keep busy routine that I’ve had going since October last year and I’m happy to say that I continue to lose weight. I’ve currently gotten to my first goal weight of 185 lbs. (83.9 Kg) and I’m currently working on my second goal weight of 170 lbs. (77.1 Kg). I’m optimistic (but not overly hopeful) given that it’s winter and I’m not overly enthusiastic about walking in sub-freezing temperatures. It’ll definitely be happening over the spring to fall of this year though, rest assured.

Next up for 2016 is finally getting around to redecorating and renovating the Homestead. That’ll start in the spring when it warms up. Heh, unlike the douchebag ex-landlord that I worked for — I am NOT doing any interior painting in the winter. Not now and especially not ever again. I guarantee there will be pictures coupled with the potential for the mis-adventures that will and can occur.

Overall, I’m getting rather used to it just being Moe and me. At least Moe and I have come to an agreement about certain things; namely his not kneading the duvet when he comes to bed and clawing up the rugs instead of his scratcher. Though it took me a while to realize one of his habits is actually love bites, even if he doesn’t do head-butts. While he hasn’t ever drawn blood, he tends to clamp down a bit harder than I’m used to. And while he’s not as friendly as any of other cats, because of it he’s a perfect alarm for people coming into the house and when noises are too clamorous outside. If it’s too noisy he’s gone… disappears… and runs immediately for somewhere in the bedroom. He’ll only come out after they’re gone or it’s quiet in the neighborhood once again. Which is perfect when I’m unconscious and drooling into a pillow.

While I’ve set about 25 goals for this year, three of which are currently sitting on my desk: publicly posting (some more) of my journal entries, trying to write a short story without the necessary muse for writing and whether to continue posting fractal work for 2016. So the operative question I’ve had since the new year is will I add them to the list of goals or not? Well, it remains to be seen.

What’s little time off without a heaping bowl of DRAMA?

11/27/2015 Comments off

x-x-everywhere-meme-generator-drama-drama-everywhere-ea7b40-1

(Thanks to a good acquaintance for inspiring me to post an update with a meme).

And on a more pleasant note — I would like to give a hearty thanks (read: Fuck you) to the boys and girls at ESET for keeping up with the holiday spirit I remember from 5 years ago by creating a virus definition download that:

1. Knackered websites like Hotmail, Amazon’s Order Page(s), YouTube, and Flickr (just to name a few off the top of my head) and render them in 1995 standards (i.e., no graphics whatsoever).

2. Had Netflix spit out an Error Code: M7083-2107 that prevented it for being shown on the desktop (and laptop).

3. This really bizarre error code in Outlook 2016 indicating the client couldn’t establish an SSL socket connection.

4. Gave me this even odder error message in Chrome when trying to pick up my pay stub from work telling me the SSL server was obsolete.

5 Also gave the consistent and non-stop error trying to load up Facebook Games by telling me “the Connection was reset” but Armor Games and the card game I play on I-Am-Bored.com loaded up without issue or incident.  And finally,

6. Giving me these really bizarre server time outs in games like STO making me think traffic was over-loaded because of the holiday.

Without all of this “fun”; I would have actually enjoyed my day off for Thanksgiving instead of spending 1/2 my day troubleshooting what was going on with my connection.

“Thanks!” He says dripping with post-caffeinated sarcasm.

And there might be a mini-novel coming along soon enough.  Stay tuned.

The Bad Juju that comes with the Aftermath

09/23/2015 Comments off

Michael’s First Blog on the Net | One of many blogs, this one dates back the farthest

Entry 09/23/2015 09:19:17 PM – Mentat 993

As of yesterday morning I’m through with all the things that I need to order and/or replace. The iPod was completed on Monday night (being in sometime the beginning of next week. The phone Tuesday Morning. The retractable baton is still in the wish list until such time as I have the money to pull from a new check rather than off of the current saved funds for the replacement windows rather than out of it and then shoveling the money back into it… Then again the other hesitation is that in carrying the weapon it opens myself up to different retaliation. Stopping by my mother’s house yesterday morning (I couldn’t remember whether today was included in the first of the morning walk), she tells me that my uncle’s promising to buy me a Taser. Uh, that’s going to be quite a problem during my walks and especially having it on me while at work. Hopefully the message will be received and if not, it’ll be happily laid off to the side at the house. Uh, yeah… No I don’t think so. Lovely sentiment but I’m having problems enough with the thought of arming myself given I’m a pacifist by nature. Even if the roughest thing out of me comes from my mouth.

I’m noticing as well that while the mouth is no longer bleeding and the ear isn’t looking like it lost a cage match; the rest of me is still feeling sore as hell. I think it has to deal with post adrenaline stress as the hoodlums were very specific with where they hit me… Legs, and parts of my abdomen. Just one of those things, I guess. That and apparently my resting pulse is up back to the stress-time I had during the desk moves that happened a couple of months ago. Seems like I might be going through some of post-traumatic stress of some sort or another… Which also probably explains the weird up and down feeling I’ve had going on through the night (and part of the morning), today.

So I’m sitting here at my desk, slouching for the moment while I’m brewing my coffee (I can smell some of it through I’m upwind from the pot), watching the folk chatting on dAmn, I’m pondering whether I want to take a break for the moment to get dressed up and walk the 800 or so steps to hit my daily 10K. I know I still have a little time… As I should also make the bed and take a shower. Perhaps even try cleaning myself up a bit in the shower. Yeah, slouch day for the weekend and I’m definitely slouching.

I know that I have one of those reality intruding in on my dream states thanks to my wonderful pain-in-the-ass cat. Seems that sometime during the afternoon after getting out of bed, when he came back in, he decided to knead around my buttocks. I remember it hurting a little bit, but in all honesty I think it was just some sort of unconscious reaction to his incessant kneading at me while he was getting comfortable. At least for the moment since getting up — he’s stopped sucking up to me and is sitting in the bed as usual. Good thing too, given that while I love his company, he’s making it a point not to sit anywhere on my lap, but instead on the back of the chair. But then again I digress from the original points that I was making.

All right, so this morning as I’m getting into the shower, I come to find out that the band on my FitBit is coming apart. Checking through the help forums, it appears that this was an issue with the earlier versions. I was just in time to put a call into support (they close at 23:00 pacific) and after explaining the issue, was able to get a replacement given the unit is under warranty for a year (and I’ve only owned this for just over 3 months). I should have that sometime at the beginning of next week.

Seriously, is there going to be anything else thrown in my direction when it comes to technology? And looking at the Ephemeris for 2015 it would appear that once again, there is some sort of bad juju going on since Friday night. Oh joy of joys there *sighs*.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, showered and dressed. Even got rid of the preamble for No-Shave November (or as most call it Movember) Chugging on the remains of my lukewarm coffee. Puss is sucking up for some love now that I’ve come back to the house to top off my 10,000 steps for the day… Just over sure, though with a quick trip around the block, I’m happy to have gotten the steps in for the day (to make up taking the day out of work Sunday night).

Work has been sort of all right. The manager who’s e-mails seemed to have changed approach from department first/employee health & safety second, seems a hell of a lot more sincere than the call that I mentioned in the last entry. Though, I have to say it’s confusing the wording of the correspondences. At first she seems to be asking for the details of the assault including whether or not I filed a police report because the company’s security was inquiring about it. When I supplied all the information; the very next correspondence seems to indicate that they never asked for that information and whether or not she had permission to forward it to security. Of course, was my response. Anything to assist Security come up with contingency plans for that to never happen to another employee works for me.

One of these days I think I’m going to have to completely sequester myself and try to sort out all the confusing and conflicting things I’ve learned about this job and the people I work with. There’s so much that I’ve learned about the environment and while there’s some really positive things, there’s a whole lot of other things that need to be addresses and/or improved.

And with that, I’m done covering the rest for the moment… Off to perhaps spend some time with the cat and ponder what I’m cooking for lunch today. Until the next time I surface from the underground world I often live in.