johnpalmer: (Default)
I'm still here. I'm 50 years old now. I'm trying to keep up but I'm short on time due to training, stress, and general tiredness.

My hip's reshaping and unless I'm very wrong, I'm working on the last 2-3 tight/short muscles now. This is kind of exciting, though I'm not sure what one does with a working hip (besides hurt less), when one has chronic fatigue. (Still, I imagine walking and jogging on a sore&suboptimal hip is more tiring than otherwise.)

I'm trying some of this and that to help manage the fatigue, and it's not working well yet, but there are brighter spots.

The new job is still fun and exiting and I'm even starting to do some work, which is good.

Here's hoping you're all happy, well, living in peace and with prosperity, seeking and finding the great joys of living. And now, back to trying to catch up; I'm about a week behind (still!)
johnpalmer: (Default)
...I wanted to report to you all that Amazon Web Services made me an offer to be a database guru, for a 30% pay increase, and a promise that overtime won't be needed. (There's plenty of references to solid work while in the office - but this has never frightened me.) There's also a signing bonus, though it needs to be repaid if I leave for any reason before I've worked there a year. (Still, suddenly having a huge chunk of money in the bank is awfully nice - no more worries about too much month at the end of the money, or worries about a home repair emergency.)

In fact, it was the kind of "here's a lot of money, we REALLY want you working for us!"-style offer that I'd dreamed of from Microsoft. Then again, if Microsoft had made that offer, leaving would have been far harder.

Friday, the 8th, something odd happened. About 2pm, I suddenly realized that while I had 20 cases to hand off (hey, it had been 35 the week before!) they were not going to be my problem. And because of this, I suddenly felt more relaxed and free than I had in months. The weekend was wonderful - and so was Monday, until I tried driving into downtown Seattle!

I also learned a valuable lesson about speaking up. I was late, so I didn't get issued a laptop or get my picture taken for my badge. Amazon doesn't have a "campus" - it has a lot of disticnt buildings where I'd have to go to get those things taken care of - and there were other folks starting that day who needed to be met post-orientation. This meant a lot of walking... and since I was responsible for part of it, I didn't feel I had a right to complain. But I should have.

We walked over 3 miles that day. I'm a bit embarrassed by this, but I can't do that. I mean, I can, I did, but by the end of the day, I was completely wiped out due to my CFS.

And I realized that not wanting to be a "special snowflake" or to stand out really hurt me. Yesterday was terrible (but the kind of terrible where I'm kicking myself for putting myself through this - not the kind of terrible where I go into grenade watch), and if I had at least called out my inability to handle even low key physical exertion, we could have tried to work around it on Monday. Maybe we couldn't have - but we could have at least tried. And it would have set the stage to avoid similar problems in the future.

There are a lot of changes - silly things, like soda isn't free, and bigger things like, instead of a 30 minute drive to Issaquah, it's a 60 minute bus ride to Seattle - OR a drive that might be 38 minutes, or might be 70 minutes, who knows? That makes the bus far more attractive. (It's not the time - it's the certainty that I won't have to be staring at the (ahem) ass-end of cars as we creep down a highway that has speed limit signs for the sole purpose of mocking us.)

Speaking of which - gotta run! Time, and buses, wait for no man.
johnpalmer: (Default)
In an ADHD support forum, I would sometimes have discussions with people are angry that doctors don't do anything but give kids medications. (Well... they didn't say "medication" - they always said "Ritalin". At the time there were at least four different front-line meds for ADHD but Ritalin was and remains the one that's name-ganked.)

(PSA: while they used to believe that children grew out of ADHD, it's more likely that the symptoms and signs changed - and for some adults, coping skills were enough, and for others, they were decreed to have problems for other reasons, because grown-ups clearly didn't have ADHD, because it was a childhood issue, because children have it, not adults. I'm sorry - but that really does seem to be the "logic" (technically "reasoning") they used.)

People had all kinds of ideas of what doctors should do. Encourage children in sports! Meditation! Meaningful Spiritual Practices! Focusing Exercises! Careful Habit Creation!

Because, yeah!!! Doctors get to be responsible for children and their upbringing 24x7, from the moment the mommy doctor gives birth... uh... wait, no, that's the *parents.

My argument was, no, doctors should work their magic where they could, and that was the physical, and that meant they should restrict themselves to prescribing medications and providing advice about other well established treatments, while noting that other methods may work too. A doctor who pooh poohs the idea of meditation, rather than merely pointing out that it's not proven to work - but it seems like a reasonable idea - deserves to be admonished, at the least.

(I was going to state that as "doctors should fight their battles on the field that they are knowledgeable" - and the thought jumped into my head that violent metaphors aren't apt here, and are probably far too overused.)

Anyway: I don't know how you, the reader, might feel about the Black Lives Matter movement, but I consider this post spot-on:
http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2016/04/should-black-lives-matter-compromise-no

What it's saying is, some people exist to build a fire, and hold people's feet to it, to try to force action. Other people - and good, wonderful, effective people like a community organizer named Barack Obama - should then try to make things happen. And neither side is *wrong*. A younger Obama wasn't wrong for compromising and working the art of the possible, and Black Lives Matter aren't wrong for being angry and demanding.

The one thing I will say is: they do need to be tightly controlled and disciplined (in the sense of ensuring no one in the organization is committing actions of violence or property destruction)... but they don't need to be quiet, or calm, or compromise. Anger is good, if kept in check.

I do think that it's important for activists to be gracious when winning, of course, even if the win is minor. Not *too* gracious - but enough to let the people who fought on your side know that, while it wasn't *enough*, you do appreciate the efforts they made, especially if sacrifices were made.

Anyway: there's lots of work to be done, and I firmly agree that we should be careful not to disagree with someone who's chosen an acceptable job to do - even if it doesn't fit our notions of how the overall project will be completed.
johnpalmer: (Default)
So, I saw this long article on Vox about how us EEEEVIL Libruls (in the US, naturally - but I know that "liberal" in the US is often pretty darn conservative in a lot of other parts of the world) are so, so SMUG and condescending and awful.

And I can't deny there's a bit of that. I see people at Trump rallies, and I know some of them are foolish and wrongheaded. Do I feel smugly superior to a lot of them, thinking I know what's better for them, than they do?

Shrug. Yes, I do. Guilty as charged, but I want to point out there are mitigating factors.

long, political, and slanted against the US Republican party - read at your own risk.  )

Texas...

Mar. 27th, 2016 11:21 am
johnpalmer: (Default)
So, tomorrow I'm flying out to Texas. Las Colinas/Irving, for training at the Microsoft offices out there. It's near the DFW airport - and not too far from Dallas.

Microsoft is flying me out - but they won't rent me a car. And honestly, I'll have Monday night, and Wednesday night, to use the car anyway - so going carless is probably best anyway.

I don't think I'll have time for touristy stuff but - anyone know of any good cuisines to look for, and any good places in that area? I have a generous meal budget. I wouldn't mind trying Texas chili or barbecue while I'm down there. (There's a good barbecue place near me that calls itself "Texas barbecue" but how can you trust Texasness in Washington?)

Of course, I wouldn't mind just finding a good restaurant of any type. It's just, I'd hate to pass up an opportunity if it presents itself. I'm not likely to travel to Texas all that often for other reasons.
johnpalmer: (Default)
Medical testing came up blank. And I picked up the cold-from-hell. I'm not the only person - my cube-wall has been referencing it, something that migrates to your lungs and then stays there. Just this morning - four weeks since I first showed symptoms? - I had more lung-coughing that wasn't quite unproductive but wasn't quite productive either.

This is driving me buggy, because whatever cold I have, my body should have its number and viruses should be getting served up cold, on toast. But I'm not the only person who isn't feeling 100% recovered after way-too-damn-long.

But when I'm too exhausted to have any real emotional reactions, I'm also too exhausted to have any huge, wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth episodes of despair. Just the ordinary, day to day stuff, which I can mostly handle.

You know - without having to ask - that it's been an unusually busy time, right? So I've been doing a lot of work, pulling the normal "more than 40 billable hours in a week" for the past few weeks, right?

But I've also been too tired to talk to my boss about this. And next week, I'm out in Texas for training. Microsoft now has a special on-boarding training for all support engineers (and other folks too - all parts of the services team) and one of the things they go over is forging a career path. So, that's a good thing. I'm hoping I can learn what a person can do with fatigue issues holding them back. I might end up having to take a shot at management positions. It might not be as much fun as being a troubleshooter, but it might be what I can do for a living.

And who knows? It might not be boring management - it might be leading a technical team and helping them actually solve problems. So I have to keep pushing for more information, and not despairing because my first two months at work are ending in a really bad, exhausted, and almost-despairing state :-).

(Yes, that's a smiley. I have a real sense of humor about this. But you wouldn't see it today. There's a joke about how it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, but it takes none at all to have a completely blank expression....)
johnpalmer: (Default)
...and I'm not trying to be scientific or anything, but some social scientists have been measuring what happens when economic opportunity leaves a place, and they find broken families and drug use and increases in crime and, well, basically, all of the things people use to blame black people for causing their own problems.

So, go figure. Human beings who are robbed of economic activity aren't the perfect "Leave It To Beaver" families imagined earlier.

And it's come full circle. I saw a conservative rag attacking these people for having these problems. And I couldn't help but wonder if there's some added anger, at the thought that they're acting like "those people".

I also had the ugly thought that some of these folks may have been staunch "conservatives" and yet liberal folks still have to fight to try to make their lives better. And if it worked well, in one location, they might go right on back to hating "those people" and scorning folks who have problems with broken families and drug use and crime... something about "no good deed goes unpunished" comes to mind.

But I've also been pondering. Do you know, since NAFTA was signed, Mexico's done a lot more manufacturing? But their GDP per capita hasn't really risen. Someone's making money - but it's not spreading to the people. How does a nation advance, these days?

That's a more important question than it might seem, because the next question could well be "how do we bounce back?"
johnpalmer: (Default)
So, there was a bit a while back about horrible waits at the VA. I followed this link - I'm not sure where I saw it.

This is really bothersome. "Privatization" is a big thing, and the reason it's a big thing is that any time there's a big pile of money involved in some service - like education, or medical care that's not already private - there's a relatively natural desire to try to pick up a piece of the action. This feels a bit dirtier; data deliberately being manipulated to make the splashy headline, and as always, follow up investigation is never quite as headline-grabbing, or as widely seen, heard, and discussed. As the article points out, Bernie Sanders can be said to look bad for sticking up for the VA, in spite of having been correct.

Context...

Mar. 9th, 2016 09:23 pm
johnpalmer: (Default)
"Context is important. A favored rule of chemistry teachers is 'do as you oughta, and acid to watah (water)', but that rule does not apply to Neti pots. Trust me on this."
johnpalmer: (Default)
So, I went into the office. One rule: no critsits. I'm sick, I'm at the "coughing the gunk out of the lungs" stage, I need *rest*. So I need to go home on time.

You know where this is going right?

A case gets transferred to me - and immediately gets raised in severity because of a completely unrelated problem. (Yes, really. This case was raised in severity by the equivalent of a Pointy Haired Boss decision.)

Part of this is my fault - when I was told the conference call had disbanded and no one was getting through to the customer, I knew that they'd soon reduce severity, and I could go home. They didn't as I waited patiently for them to do so... then the customer called me. And although there was nothing useful we could do, he's not allowed to reduce severity on his own.

9:15 - three and a quarter hours late - I finally got out. I know part of this was my fault; even though I knew they were going to reduce severity, I should have demanded a handoff. That part was in my control, and I might not have gotten it, but I could have asked, at least.


I need to talk to my boss about this - the worst part is, if it's invisible, and cost free, ain't no one going to care.
johnpalmer: (Default)
So, there's this idea that's in the ACA. There should be a tax on high-value health care plans. It never made sense to me - but I finally tracked down the reasoning.

It basically comes down to this: if you take your typical employee, and offer them a selection of health care plans, and you'll pay for the most expensive one - but give them the difference in cost if they pick any of the cheaper ones - the odds are high that they'll pick a plan that's below what's called the "Cadillac plan" limit.

So what? What's the big deal? The big deal is, if you pay $10,000 for an employee's health care benefits, it's totally tax free. It's a deduction to the corporation (or the partnership/sole-P), and it doesn't get counted as employee income. If you pay $5,000 in health care benefits, and give them $5,000 in cash, that's instead $5,000 in income, possibly subject to Social Security taxes, and so forth. So, there's a lot of revenue lost by people parking part of their pay in their health care plans instead. (In fact, this is a reason why *Democrats* negotiated a one-year delay on the Cadillac plan tax - a lot of unions had plans at that level or higher.)

There's also an idea that if people have more "skin in the game" - if they are affected more by the health care costs they rack up - they'll make more careful choices. If you can take X_New_Drug for a condition, or Y_Old_Off-Patent drug, you'll pick Y over X. And if you have a severe abdominal pain, starting in the lower side quadrant, radiating out toward your entire abdomen, and a high fever, you might decide to tough it out, rather than go to the ER and have an appendectomy.

Yeah, I was being a bit facetious there, obviously. The thing is, so far, all the studies I know of say that when there are higher imposed costs, there's lower quality of care and poorer outcomes. Economists say that, over time, people will make more rational economic decisions, in line with their desires, and there's some truth to that, but people don't have the medical training to make good health care decisions based upon cost.

There was a story going around the web of a person with a severe infection given a prescription for antibiotics and pain killer, and who, having the money for just one, chose the painkiller. I'm not sure if this was a fatality or not - and while a lot of educated folks might say something about the Darwin awards, remember that person might have needed to work to make the money to get the antibiotic - and the painkiller might have been what they needed to try to tough it through a work day.

Anyway. If you want to control costs, you need to control it at the medically trained level. If there's a higher copay, or just some hoops to jump through, for the newest, most expensive treatments, versus old treatments that work just as well, those can be good. But I don't agree that people shop for medical care like they shop for groceries, and pile up costs for no reason, or refuse to take adequate substitutes of lower cost.

Mind you: I'm not saying these aren't annoying. I have a friend with severe sleep apnea issues, and s/he was considering surgery, but was diverted first to a - 12 week? - CPAP class. Now, I can see this really easily from the insurance company's perspective. If some people never even go to the class, that's 0 cost. If the class costs $5k (a made up number!) and the surgery costs $25k (similarly made up...), and half the people who finish the class don't get the surgery, that's a massive savings - $20,000 saved from those who don't get the surgery, versus the extra $5,000 for those who got the surgery; that's $15,000 per person saved!

That said: from what my friend said of the apnea, I was pretty darn sure that a CPAP class wouldn't do a damn big of good, and I wished doctors could submit cases to skip the class. Done right, it saves the insurance company the class cost with minimal loss. But, alas, it's human nature to find and empathize with special cases; I wouldn't be surprised if the insurance actuaries found that there were too many special cases that might have been diverted from surgery.

Where was I? Right: Cadillac plans. Microsoft is well known for having very generous benefits, and their health care plan was likely to hit the limit. So they've changed tactics. They have an HMO which I believe I tried for a bit, and I've heard good things about. A well run HMO, if used by some subset of VIPs at Microsoft, can be inexpensive and have high satisfaction ratings. But I have some long-term investigations, and some prescriptions that I'd hate to have to fight for again....

So, I'm in one of the newest goodies, the belle of the Republican Ball for controlling health care costs, the high-deductible plan with a health savings account.

This is a great plan for me. I'm well-off, and even though there's a chance I'll max my out-of-pocket expenses this year, even if I do, if I contribute enough to my HSA, I can have a big start on the deductible for next year. Or, if I want to pay my own health care costs, I can let the money in the HSA grow - there are options to invest in mutual funds.

I can see why this is so beloved by the Republican Party. It's a great deal for people who want to park their money somewhere tax free, and let it accumulate with tax free earnings, and, as above, there's a widespread claim that it only makes sense that people would become savvy shoppers for health care if it's their own money being spent. But there's something I hadn't realized.

You don't need to use your HSA money. Ever.

You can max your HSA contribution, and if you can still cover all your health care expenses out of pocket, you get to keep the entire amount collecting earnings. Those of you who don't understand the power of compound interest might not realize how big a deal this can be. But money invested can double in value every 7-10 years, even if invested in index funds. (In fact, especially if invested in index funds - it's extremely rare that anyone can beat the indexes consistently.) So: a 30 year old can see that 3350 invested today turn into 30,000 or more before retirement. It's a nice bit of change, and it might happen quite a few years in a row.

I'm not sure this is a horrible thing; there are many things that the rich gain more advantage from than the poor. But it still annoys me, maybe a bit irrationally. I'd known that HSAs were a way to be of benefit to the well-to-do, but I hadn't realized how much of a benefit they were intended to be.

Anyway. Today, I had to prime my HSA with an up-front injection, and that's when I realized/learned about the possibilities. Well, it's nice to think about, though it's annoying that it's such a big part of the "Repeal!" crowds' plan for "replace!"

And, more importantly, I finally got the time and energy to do it. My heart monitoring is done for closing in on two weeks now, and I should be back to normal, but... but, I caught a cold. Life's funny that way, isn't it?
johnpalmer: (Default)
One of Scalia's famous bits was how, the Constitution doesn't actually forbid the execution of the factually innocent if due process was followed.

And this is one of those things that's both better and worse than it sounds.

It's better than one might think, because really, the law doesn't give a damn about reality - it can and must be cared about what can be properly established. If the police use an illegal search, and find perfect evidence of criminal behavior on my part, and the courts toss that out, and toss out everything that they derived from that evidence (under the "fruit of the poison tree" doctrine), it's *true*, it's a *fact* that I've engaged in criminal behavior - but as far as the law is concerned, I'm perfectly innocent.

And, yes, if I'm convicted of a crime, by a jury finding, having had all of my rights respected, in the law's eyes, I'm guilty and under the state's authority... even if there's evidence that I'm perfectly innocent. (This is far stronger if that evidence was introduced at my trial and the jury disregarded it - or if the prosecutor discovered it, handed it to my attorney during discovery, and we chose not to follow up on it.)

The Constitution really shouldn't muck around with truth, because what is obviously, objectively true to some people will be an obvious fraud to others. Instead, the Constitution can and should deal with human institutions in a way that's fair, and with transparency - so everyone knows what's going on. For example, jurors should be aware of their duties, and their powers, and what it will mean if they return a finding of fact that isn't true. Similarly, those who provide information to those jurors should be constantly aware of what it means, and be in proper awe of their power and responsibility.

Because the Constitution can't - and won't - make guarantees about evidence or truth, so long as due process is followed A statement to this effect is both accurate and true, and it's hardly nasty to point it out... most of the time.

Ah, but there's the rub. Scalia is not just writing about the Constitution for a lecture or a presentation. He was, in fact, seated as a justice who was given the power and authority to decide if a potential injustice should be reconsidered, and possibly reversed.

The Constitution can't care about abstracts like truth - it must leave that to people. And he, in essence, stated that he was willing to lay down that duty, and instead, do only what the law required.

I'm never *glad* about a person's death. The closest I'd come is being glad that someone's suffering has ended. But I am glad that Scalia will no longer judge my country's laws, or its people.
johnpalmer: (Default)
So, Tuesday - 40 minute workout, followed by a second. Wow. That was fun, and cool, and I got to watch 80 minutes of TV (well, Netflix, DVDs, etc.), without having even a hint of a reason to feel guilty.

I've been jogging between buildings, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, buying some sweets for pre-exercise munching... hell, if I'd wanted to, I could have had a pancake breakfast and hiked back home.

And today... I have to remind myself to rein it in. No more exercising.

Well... some history.

Tuesday, 80 minutes of work triggered my symptoms - frequent palpitations, clumsiness, my brain was... well, impaired *for me*.

Wednesday, I did a more-intense workout -nothing that left me panting mind you, but one I knew was going to push my heart rate up. Thursday, I hit my "reactive only" state. I could imagine writing up a blog post or a short story, but it wouldn't happen. Ask me a question? I'll answer it. Show me a problem to solve? I'll solve it but with a lot more brute-force than normal.

So, I rested yesterday. Today, I feel a bit better. But I'm intensely aware that if I went for a good, brisk walk to clear my head which is feeling a bit foggy, I'd feel worse tomorrow. So I can't.

And you know something? That sucks. Yeah, you could mock it a bit. "Oooh, poor boy can't run a marathon. You know who else can't? Paraplegics. A lot of amputees. Quadriplegics. Folks with severe RA. Folks with actual CFS and fibromyalgia. You could have it a lot worse!"

You could mock it a bit, and it wouldn't be wrong, if I was being continuously melodramatic about it.

But it's important to validate it. It's important to admit it sucks. It's important to accept that there's some mourning associated with this loss. It's okay to moan a bit that my feet hurt, because I have no shoes... so long as I'm willing to volunteer to do a bit of fetching for the guy who has no feet.

It's important to validate my feelings and my losses. And yes, it's also important to maintain perspective. It could be far, far worse.
johnpalmer: (Default)
So: this heart monitor is supposed to stay stuck on for up to 2 weeks. But I sweat. A lot. That's one of the things that convinced me this was all something *physical*. So the sticky stuff over the monitor (intended to shield it from the elements) has been peeling up. I've had to snip away bits, and cover it with more. But now I'm constantly afraid the monitor will fall off. And while I've had some symptoms, I'm not sure if it's enough to show what's happening.

So, today, I did a major workout - 80 minutes. And, yes, I'm getting some irregular heart beat and other symptoms. And the monitor is still on. If it sticks around for another 24 hours, that should be enough.

And oh, dear, lord, do I feel tired.

Here's hoping you're all having some victories of you own - but more comfortable ones than this!
johnpalmer: (Default)
Okay, so, I'm on a two week heart monitor. I'm deliberately trying to over-exert my body and trigger my symptoms.

It's... validating. Yesterday, I was all buzzy and anxious and showing a higher than expected heart rate. Today, I'm feeling icky in a dozen different ways, and a lot of them are "oh, wow... there's *that* symptom (or sign, or "response to how I feel")!"

Cut for length )
johnpalmer: (Default)
So, I started working at Microsoft - and now, I have my first case. It's fun to be back in the saddle!

While I was off work, I did manage to do some studying... not as much as I wanted, maybe not as much as I "should" have (see, I also binged on the Twilight Zone - got through 3+ seasons!) but I did learn a lot about Python.

If you're like me, and have heard enough about Python to want to know what the fuss is about, I think I know enough to tell you.

It's very, very simple. It allows you to do things that are normally complicated, in a very simple way. It's really easy to re-use a function (or set of functions) from your library. And because of some design choices, it makes certain problems easy to catch. Of course, due to its simplicity, it makes other errors very tricky to find.

I can see why some people say "it makes programming fun again." It just gets out of your way, avoiding a lot of the overhead of other languages. You can make something meaningful, and get it working quickly.

Now, I have to see if I can start using it, and I have a project where I think it'll help - reviewing some of the standardized data collected by SQL Server.

Here's hoping life is treating you all well, and giving you interesting things to do.
johnpalmer: (Default)
So: at the absolute end of the year, I went through the interview process. Good news: I burned through the technical part to the point that they were running out of questions to use to probe deeper for my knowledge.

Then came the management interview - not a problem since I had a good record established already. So our next step was waiting.

Things got a bit more fun when I found one of my contracting firms had gone out of business! To prove I worked for them, I needed some W2s, and I'd worked for them in three calendar years, all about 3-5 (well, technically, 4-6) calendar years ago.

That happened and then... whoops. They hadn't gotten *re-hire* approval.

They'd gotten approval to hire someone in Washington. (The job was supposed to be in Charlotte NC, Fargo ND, or Los Colinas TX.) They'd gotten the background check approval, which was a relief since it means no one has forgotten to remove seen fit to insert any information about membership in any secret societies.

But they hadn't gotten rehire approval. Which I suspected might be the case when, late in the game (about two weeks ago?) I heard from a higher level manager who needed to speak to me. Well... I consciously didn't panic and kept to my line. ("Well, sure, there might be causes for concern... but let's not review the *history* - let's talk about addressing those concerns going forward!")

Finally, I got my start date - February 1. And I made it to orientation *ON TIME!* Yes, indeed, I conquered Washington traffic and I got to building 92 with plenty of time... to circle the parking lot for 8 minutes and realize there was NO PARKING.

Thankfully, I knew there was a parking garage close by, and I drove there, and, even more thankfully, knew that I MUST NOT hurry to the building (because that would trigger fatigue). I got there 10 minutes late, which meant everyone else had already gone through initial processing (picture taking, I9-identification presentation (having a passport card really speeds this up and means you can keep your ratty, 30-year-old social security card safe at home!), and such), but no problems - I wasn't the first person to get caught in traffic (or parking), and soon I was watching a presentation about how wonderful it is to work for Microsoft.

(It can be a good, nay, great, place to work - but my natural cynicism drums its metaphorical fingers at these things. At the same time, I recognize it's a darn good way to introduce people to the workplace. Still... if I'd had a choice, letting me dive into a few SQL Server configuration or performance issues would have made me happier.)

And then... because my hiring manager is in Charlotte, and my reporting manager is in Issaquah (just a big lake away from Redmond (the Microsoft "mother ship")), my network access was MUNGed. ("MUNG" is a recursive acronym. It means "MUNG Until No Good.")

That got set up yesterday, and... listen. I know everyone MUNGs a password once in a while, but... I created a twisted password, but one twisted in a very precise manner, one that I could identify to me with very brief mnemonic. And I keyed that password in very carefully, and... I was told it was no good. My password needs to be reset.

On the plus side, I had had a chance to set up my new laptop. (32gb RAM! SSD boot disk, and 1tb hard drive! quad core i7 processor! I feel shamed at having bought a new laptop for fear they wouldn't give me adequate computing equipment!) It should be mostly ready for me this morning.

Sending my love to you all (in a seemly, masculine way to you gents, of course....), and here's hoping the universe is treating you well.
johnpalmer: (Default)
So:
Microsoft made an offer. It wasn't *great* but it's a tiny bit better than my contract rate when you consider that I'll get health insurance without paying a significant chunk of money each month with after tax dollars, plus vacation, paid sick time, and other benefits.

It's a bit scary going back - but this time, I'm ready for a lot of the things that could go wrong. And I get to do a job I love!

I'd considered taking calcium channel blockers, in hopes that they might fix an arrhythmia. Near as I can tell, they make me worse... and this *might* be good news. See, calcium channel blockers make it a bit harder for current to flow through the normal path on your heart, to cause it to beat. Thus, CCBs should slow your heart rate down - it should take longer to build up the charge to actually fire. But if you have a secondary path - which is a cause of some arrhythmias - the charge might more readily fire down that pathway. I have an appointment with a cardiologist to discuss options - and hopefully, there are some. That'll happen in early February.

I'm a bit nervous here. Will we find something?

If we find the right thing... well, sometimes you can fix these things with a catheter procedure that basically burns out the incorrect pathway using microwaves. It sounds like it's often outpatient and low risk. I'd want to know more (how *do* they target this?), but that's my biggest hope. But even if it can't be fixed, it might be treatable. I might step back a bit closer to normal (in certain limited areas).

Interestingly, my left hip is also playing an interesting new game - I'm hoping it's the last (or penultimate or at least antepenultimate!) game. It feels like it might be. So it's like I've got a whole bunch of possible good things converging. I'm trying to remain detached, but it's hard not to get a bit excited :-).

Sending my love out to you all - I hope life, the universe, and everything, really, is treating you well.
johnpalmer: (Default)
I've been fascinated by blades of various sorts, and I've always kind of wanted to be the kind of guy who knew how to care for a good knife.

This year, I had a weird sort of "oh, what the hell!" and bought a kukri-machete. It was cheap - about twenty bucks. See, if I mess this thing up, who cares? The big question is, can I recycle the metal?

But there was something unexpectedly nice. The edge... it *sucks*. There are burrs on the edge!

Why do I have a hard time learning to sharpen? Well... because some of the knives I have are already possess of a very nice edge. I don't want to muck up the sharpening and then end up with a knife *less* sharp than I started with.

But here... shoot, this is not only a *cheap* hunk of metal, it's also already in need of actual work. Otherwise, it won't be ready for the zombie apocalypse it won't be a worthy attempt to learn more about a skill I'd like to have.

A thumbs-down just turned into an unexpected thumbs up for me.
johnpalmer: (Default)
I spent hours working on a note for my doctor, and realized I was being an idiot in thinking I had to write down most of what I did. So I decided to focus, and consider what needed to be said, and then say it - think of it as a verbal communications exercise.

So: I made an appointment. And when she came in, I said

1) A few weeks back, I'd done some walking, saw my heart rate go up to 130, and not drop below 100 for over 10 minutes.

2) I found out about Supraventricular Tachycardia. WebMD says it can cause dizziness, fatigue, chest pain, blahblah... and increased sweat and urination. Sweat is one of the things that convinced me there was something physical going on with my body's issues - I sweat a lot more once the problem is triggered. And yeah, if I exercise, especially before bed, I'll be up 3-4 times during the night.

3) First treatment is beta blockers - on a normal dose, they kept my heart rate low (max 110, dropped back to 70 in under 10 minutes) but I still felt awful the next day. So:

4) next treatment is calcium channel blockers - relatively safe drug, flip a coin, heads, your doctor likes beta blockers, tails, calcium channel blockers, for a first-line hypertension med. So can we try that? If it works, great - if not...

5) time to circle back and find out where we can go with this, if anywhere. The other treatments are a bit more esoteric and risky. But I have some old ECGs - and, you know, SVT is one of those things that's often innocuous, and it sounds like it can be hard to see unless you're looking for it. The normal presentation is "patient comes in with crazy-high heart rate," not "patient comes in complaining of fatigue and a relatively normal heart rate - maybe a bit high, but well within normal limits."

So, my doctor's prescribed varapamil (a common calcium channel blocker), and I realized that, with a job interview tomorrow, I'd better not start it yet. Blood pressure meds can make a fellow loopy, and the tech interview is with some people who may well have forgotten more than I know!

Oh, yeah. Job interview tomorrow.

And the manager 3-4 levels up sent me a thank-you note today. This might work out....
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