May the 4th

…be with you, and all that.

There’s been a lot going on but the two biggest things would be that I got a new job, and that I started seeing a psychiatrist. It’s taken a bit of trial and error but I think we’ve hit on at least one useful medication with minimal side effects, something that has been more trouble than it has a right to be. One of the reasons I suspect it’s working is that I’m getting a renewed interest in things that I previously enjoyed, like writing. I have a ways to go and some more motivations I need to pick up, but for the first time in quite a while I feel like my mental health is trending in the right direction. When that’s happening in the face of a global pandemic I think it’s worth a lot more.


Leaving Earth

It was 107 degrees today, and this evening I had the closest thing to a spiritual experience I’ve had in at least 15 years.

My weight as of late has been yo-yoing between “almost there” and “good lord, put the burrito down you absolute unit.” The triggers on both sides of the yo-yo have been really consistent. I will diet, exercise, do all of the stuff you need to do, and make awesome progress. Better than a pound a week in general. This has managed to proceed all the way to about 147 pounds (my first weight goal is 142, the second is 135, and the third is 128, each time stopping to see how I feel at that weight or if I should keep going). Somewhere along the way, I will either get sick or injured. Ankles, knees, shin splints, calf strains, flu bugs; whatever the culprit, I put things on hold. Then the yo-yo starts back up until some thing makes me realize I’ve let it get away from me again.

This time, it was those hard-fought belt loops. I’ve had the same belt for a decade, and this year for the first time I totally ran it out of holes and had it still feel loose. Now, I’ve legitimately been dealing with tendonitis in my right ankle, initially brought on by running for my life after Dad died despite not knowing how to run. That was two years ago now, maybe to the day. It still flares up every few months and then any little aggravation really weakens the stability of the ankle and also hurts like hell. One of those flare-ups put a stop to my newfound, still fledgling interest in distance running. It drove me absolutely crazy, and then it just annoyed me, and then it was the way it was, and then the comfortable complacency kicked in and the yo-yo started it’s ascent. The belt loop went from loose to okay, to tight, to having to move to the next one. That’s about an inch and a half between holes.

This Tuesday I reaffirmed everything, four weeks from the reinjuring of the ankle and a week cleared from the podiatrist. Committing to a lot of changes. New ergonomics in the office. A new commitment to bodyweight workouts in addition to just the walking and running. I told myself that day to do as many push-ups as I could physically do in one go without totally losing form. That number was only 20. That’s “poor” by most measures. So the next day, I did 21. Yesterday, 22. Today, 23 and it felt easier than ever.

Since I last wrote here, I started a podcast that is managing over a thousand plays a week and is on popular charts in a dozen countries any given week. Those are recorded Fridays from about 4:30 to 7:00. I committed tonight, about an hour ago, to eliminating one loophole I’d been leaving myself. Exercise on recording days. Do the shit you’re supposed to be doing on recording days. So, after eating, 8:20 at night, I’m still short about 6,500 steps from my step goal of 11,111.

Let’s get after it.

This was supposed to just be a walk, getting the steps in, making the habit feel natural again. Go do it outside now that it’s cooled off to about 80. So out I go, these summer nights are incredibly well-lit even that late in the evening. I don’t really have a set idea of where I’m even going. Left, right, right, left again, straight, whatever. It’s a small neighborhood, I’m not gonna get lost anywhere in it.

Spotify has other ideas regarding this “walk” and the generated playlist I’ve chosen due to the artists listed is instead more of a running playlist, hitting BPM ranges that normally work pretty well. The first song is perfect.

This has been perhaps my single favorite song Spotify’s ever discovered for me. By a minute ten, I’m running at 170 steps a minute. I feel awesome. I’m not really distance running yet, more going for a minute, 90 seconds, and getting back into a walk until I can go again in a few more minutes.

I find myself on the outside edge of the neighborhood, a long straight stretch of a little over a quarter mile.

I’ve never had this song come up in the context of running before. The long, ethereal build-up occured as I look out to the west. There are mesas, yellow-brown grass, green cholla dotting the landscape near and far. A splash of color from the 8:35 sunset. The warmth still radiating from the asphalt.

I am, for a fleeting moment, moved nearly to tears.

You see, this is a moment I’d envisioned somewhere around the age of 16.

That song, with it’s arpeggiated synthesizer, simple acoustic line and native-inspired vocals had given me a visceral, implacable compulsion to live in the desert, drive its roads, see it at speed, too hot to think. Now, there are a few differences. I know now that the exact sort of desert I’d envisioned is more of an Arizona or Nevada desert than New Mexico. And the mental image, which I can recall as viscerally as though I had actually lived it, was during the day, probably close to 1 in the afternoon.

But the other side of that vision, that compulsion, was that I’d live alone. Not so much as an acquaintance for a thousand miles in any direction. And the reality of the situation, of this little town in the middle of New Mexico, and this scene with its heat and cholla and mesas and storm clouds in the distance, and the unmistakable parallax of it going on for a hundred miles with nothing but a raven or coyote to break it up, and that I’d feel so absolutely loved and cared for that the timid teenager that originally envisioned it would call me a spiteful liar…

It was very nearly more than I could bear, the sheer exuberant joy. And off I ran, 186 steps a minute, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3. Breathe in 2 3, out 2 3, in 2 3, out 2 3. Do you have any idea how good you’ve got it, how many people have killed for a chance at a situation that still wouldn’t even compare?

Even thinking about it now, over an hour later, with the same song playing, has me almost hyperventilating with the sheer feeling of it.

I only hope that if there’s any justice, that my memory which admittedly isn’t as good as I’d like it to be will hold this small, visceral moment as tightly as any formative memory I’ve ever held. My father’s laugh, the smell of incense and cake in the basement of Diana’s house, the regretful mistakes and accidents and triumphs that shaped my being, this brief moment was as important as any of them. It felt like an affirmation in return. That this moment was a reward for making the right decisions when they were most pivotal.

That song now has a meaning, an emotion attached to it that few have. I’ve dumped a lot of emotions into one other song.

Good times and bad have both had that song as the soundtrack. Losing my job and the death of my father. My 5-year wedding anniversary, 10-year anniversary of the relationship, new cars, new house, new job.

I am utterly drained. Heh. I was so compelled to sit down and write this, here, the first thing in almost 18 months. It’s just me, and that’s okay.


I’m so used to balancing good news with bad, that I’ve spent a couple minutes trying to think of bad news.

  • The good news is I’ve made it to 30 in reasonably good health.
  • The good news is I had the best birthday of my life.
  • The good news is we both have stable, well-paying employment.
  • The good news is the bills get paid every month, uneventfully.
  • The good news is I’m working through many issues in my life and I feel like I’m making good progress everywhere.

Now, here’s a thing.

  • The good news is I don’t have a plan at this point.

I really had no plan for what I should be doing at 30. Everything kind of led up to age 29 and stopped. This is a good thing. I’m left with the ability to write my own script, and it’s a feeling I’ve never really had before. I can set my own priorities, set my own goals, and it’s more than that. I can explore the things I’m passionate about, or things I think I would be passionate about if I gave them a try.

Astute readers may point out that I could do that whenever I wanted. I’d argue that’s not true though; there are expectations placed on you from every direction. Right now I think I am meeting or exceeding those remaining expectations from work and home.

There’s a psychological theory called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I don’t recall where I first heard about it, but the idea is that certain needs are more important than others, and as those needs are met, like a pyramid, loftier goals at the top become feasible to work on. The base is physiological needs: Food, Water, Shelter, Clothing. Then you have safety: Personal Security, Financial Security, Health, and what I’d round up as Insurance. At the middle of the pyramid is social belonging: Friendships, Intimacy and Family. Above that is esteem or respect, with self-respect considered more important than respect from others.

Once all of those things are met, you’re left with two related needs at the top. Self-actualization, the idea that what a man can be, he must be. This gets into self-improvement, bettering yourself in whatever ways seem best to you. It also manifests as a creative spirit, to make your best self through effort and creating.

For thirty years of the hierarchy’s existence, that was the top. But Maslow revised his work in the ’70s and decided there was something more accurate to place at the top of the pyramid, and that was the idea of self-transcendence. Now you’re getting into turning yourself into a force for good, through volunteering or other altruistic efforts. It represents, to him, the pinnacle of human nature, and it is only sustainable once all those things below are met and satisfied.

Right now, I’d put myself, pretty solidly, in the self-actualization camp. My resolutions this year all revolve around that category. To be more athletic by losing weight, to write more, to cook new foods, to read more. It’s all a part of a concept of expanding myself, to become the best version of myself, through incremental progress. I think that last bit, incremental progress, is something I didn’t always have sight of. Particularly in my late teens and early 20s, I was altogether too likely to abandon something when I didn’t master it immediately. Age has brought a little wisdom, and a lot more patience.

So, not having a plan in the strictest sense of the word isn’t really a bad thing. Living seems to be a bit too free-form of a thing to try to impose an over-regimented structure to it. I need a little more than I’ve got right now, and finding that balance will be useful, but if I can manage that concept of “get a little better every day,” I think I’ll end up doing much better than I had in the past.

604 Days Later

Write something.

There’s been no lack of time, opportunity, or content. And yet this is feeling like an immense struggle. I’m having to really pull the words out from myself.

My dad used to read this, it was the way he followed along with what was going on in my life. Learning that he was still following along was first concerning, then comforting.

Dad died on June 22nd, and I suspect that brought the readership numbers back down to zero.

Is it strange to have the wind taken out of your sails thus? That the writing might seem less valuable for lack of an audience? Who am I writing for, here?

I never really thought about an answer to that question.

It’s always been that I just write, and then I’ve written and then it’s over.

You know what, that’s not true. Diana reads this when I update it. In fact, the times that the blog has gone the longest without updates coincides with the absolute lack of people that might give a shit to read it. So that’s interesting. The content doesn’t really change with the readership, but the lack of readership makes this feel like a waste of time.

This is getting a bit easier.

I launched three websites today, and I’ll probably talk about that some other time. But the net result as it relates to this place as a writing space is that I can use it to work through problems and generally heal. The fragrance-related stuff is going to another blog. The sysadmin stuff is going to another blog. The DDR stuff is going to another blog. The diary stuff is…here. And it’s perhaps the sensible way to go about it.

Or it’ll be a huge mistake when some future employer (or, hell, my current employer) Googles me and reads through the struggles.

Know what? I started seeing a therapist after Dad died. I contemplated suicide and scared the hell out of myself and decided that it was time to ask for help. I said I would, 653 days ago. The first session…

Well, it’s worth it’s own article.

In looking back to see exactly when I acknowledged I was going to get help, I realize just how much I was writing when I was working for Environment.

I haven’t updated the blog since I lost my job. Well, until today. I don’t know if there’s anyone out there at this point. I don’t know if this has been a major cliffhanger.

The house is wonderful. I haven’t updated the blog since we moved in.

Anyway, I said that the diary is here. While I’ve always had a bunch of ideas and things that I think are worth working on, I’ve really come to think that there needs to be a more open discussion on mental health. The embarrassed silence that people struggle with needn’t be. Everybody hurts, and everybody needs a little help sometimes.

If I can do some piece, some tiny thing that helps normalize those discussions, make them a source for growth and not shame, then I’ll consider myself worthy of the compliments I’ve been given.

That can’t start without interrupting the silence.

I was gonna call this Regularly Scheduled Interruptions but it turns out I used that title…604 days ago.

Terminal Tennis Elbow

Despite best efforts this morning, Diana and I got to the train station later than we hoped. All the open tables were gone, and now I’m using the new MacBook in a position that the Surface Pro was really having trouble with. Huge improvement, and this was just the test it needed with a couple of days to go in the return period.

Normally I’m working on websites in the morning. Honestly, the past few train days it was more planning and getting various tools installed, like Laravel Valet. I decided on two projects, one to be worked on at home and one to be worked on while on the train.

The home project I’m calling Rings, after the Aesop Rock song of the same name. It’s a wheel reinvention, but a necessary one. It is meant to reproduce much of the functionality of the CoreManager package, which is a web package used to manage private World of Warcraft servers. CoreManager does work, but it’s pretty ugly, very insecure, and generally in need of a full rewrite, and I’m happy to give it a try. So far I’ve got the ability to register a new account for the server, and you can log in on Rings and be taken to a dashboard that, currently, doesn’t do squat. But that’s fine, the logon was a heck of a thing to figure out since I had to replace Laravel’s authentication stack with a setup that would work with my WoW server.

The project I’m working on while on the train is called Kirby, also after the Aesop Rock song. This is a project that Diana and I discussed months ago, and was sort of tabled without a resolution. Now that she’s on a new career path, and I’ve had a change of heart with regards to web design, I’m happy to take it on. Essentially, it’s a thing to manage Diana’s sewing projects, with pictures, tags, measurements, comments, and so on. I can see a long-term plan with it that’s really social and interesting.

There’s a third project brewing in my head, a second attempt at a site I tried to build in 2007 or 2008 and failed, aimed at the perfume-maker and aromatherapy community. The framework I’m building with seems perfectly suited for this project, and now it can be done in a much safer way too.

I’m having this internal debate on whether or not “going easy on myself” is actually doing myself any good. From a mental standpoint, sure, I should probably not give past me (or present me) so much shit. But physically it’s probably not a good thing.

The walking every day ended abruptly when I had an object thrown at me on the sidewalk from a vehicle doing about 40 miles an hour. Three guys, they threw a little red ball, like a stress ball. Soft, but less soft when traveling at that speed. Knocked my headphone out of my ear. It still pisses me off because it killed my enjoyment of something I was really into. Much as I said I would not let it affect me, I have not walked down that street since. That’s been a couple of months, now. My weight has gone back up slightly, though not a full reversion to where it was. Diana and I have been playing a fair bit of tennis. We both had to get new racquets since the car was broken into. I got to pick up my new one on Saturday and it’s just what I was looking for.

There is, after a long radio silence, progress being made on our house. The pad and plumbing are in, and the slab will be poured his week. Then things are going to start moving rapidly. I was shocked to hear during our construction meeting, that they are still targeting the house to be finished before the end of the calendar year. They’re actually targeting late November, which means about two months end-to-end. That seems aggressive to me, but what do I know? I suspect it will be mid-to-late December.

I think my review on Friday set me up in good shape to get stuff done today. The first half of the day is wide-open, too. I’m envisioning a good day, here. It’s been about three straight weeks of spinning my wheels between outages, long weekends, and being sick. There are about 6 really productive weeks left in the year, and I need to make the most of them.

Stole a Mac, Call that an Apple Jack

I’ve been out sick for the last two days, and I’m pretty sure whatever I got was contagious because there’s been a ton of people out. It’s been a lot of sitting with the dog, half-watching nature documentaries and half-hoping my head would stop pounding. Not sure what it is, but I feel mostly over it today and I’m mostly just irritated I had to burn two days of sick leave.

Went ahead and grabbed a 13” MacBook Air last night. I was hoping Diana would make use of the Surface Pro 3, but it doesn’t sound like she’s terribly interested, so I’m gonna put it up for sale I guess. I think I’m going to try to get her to use it at least a little bit, see how she likes the stylus and such before committing to that. If she doesn’t want it, it’ll offset almost all of the cost of this machine. Initial impressions are really good, I’m really happy that it’s got an SDXC slot, that simplest route to expandable storage.

I have no regrets about buying the SP3, it was the nicest laptop I’d ever owned, except for its inability to actually sit on a lap. Now that using it in that manner is more and more likely, and given the change in workload, it’s just not the right tool for the job. Not getting hung up on buying new gear to help me either be productive or relax on my own time is important. Diana pointed out that this could be seen as an extension of keeping work at work. I have a very good test lab setup on my computer at the office. There’s no reason anymore to extend that to what I’m doing on what little off-time I am afforded.

I also spent a little time playing the FIFA 17 demo and my theory that the odd-numbered years are the ones to pay attention to has held true for the seventh consecutive year. It feels really incredible. I played a match with all the assists off and won 4-1. I’m gonna play the hell out of it when it drops, Tuesday after next.

I’m getting a bit disgusted with not only the lack of progress on the house, but the sheer lack of communication. I get that to them it’s just work, but for me it’s the biggest purchase I’ve ever made in my life, by far. It deserves more than three phone calls over as many months. So far I haven’t had a single person on this home-buying process that committed to weekly communication with me even come close to doing so. What has happened to the value of a person’s word? These are all people older than I. They are, by some measure or another, professionals. If you aren’t going to come even close to honoring a commitment, maybe you shouldn’t have made it in the first place. I think I’m going to call today and raise a little Hell.

There’s a book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog! that is some 130 pages on the concept that procrastination is bad, and you should get the least desirable task out of the way first. Right now, my frog is my email inbox, which badly needs processing. Not doing it is interfering with my weekly review. Not to mention, one of the applications which is now available to me with the switch to OS X, Omnifocus 2, is very much reliant on keeping up with that weekly review schedule. I don’t have high hopes for today, but if I can get that out of the way, I’ll call the day a success.

It seems like our ISP’s network finally stabilized yesterday. We had a solid week of sporadic packet loss, sometimes dropping out entirely, the worst of which lasted an hour in the middle of the work day. At least it wasn’t just us, pretty much all the agencies were affected. The post-mortem on this will be a lot of fun.

Going to be an interesting day today, but I very much need to get a lot of stuff accomplished and close out the week strong. Let’s get after it.

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel this chair…

We’ve managed to catch the train for about three weeks straight. Time that I’d spent in the past writing or doing malware research has instead been used to sharpen my web development skills. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur, I’m not looking to change jobs, I just enjoy it and I didn’t like that I’d eliminated it from my life.

Earlier this year, Aesop Rock released a new album, and one of the tracks really connected with me.

The drifting away from the things that you used to enjoy, used to consider part of your fabric of being, part of your soul, and that initially that drifting away was temporary, then a protracted hiatus, then you’re saying “Well, I used to do that.”

I don’t want to overdramatize my love-affair with web-design, but I built my first webpage in 1997. That’s almost 20 years ago. For comparison’s sake, I played guitar from my 13th birthday on to my first semester in college, so about five and a half years. I derive too much enjoyment from it to deny myself of it on some weird professionalism issues.

Whether I’m doing the work for myself or someone else is really secondary to the creation element. I’m learning how to do things the right way in my language of choice, and I’m building little applications that exist only on this tablet I’m writing from. They’re built for an audience of one, and they do exactly what I need, and want, and nothing more or less. At some point I’ll expand that scope, but making peace with the fact that I enjoy it for the sake of creation, has been useful. I’m not getting hung-up on justifying the hobby with being able to monetize it. If I come up with a million-dollar idea, fantastic. Those probably won’t happen unless I’m creating in the first place.

One of the problems I’m having with the new train situation is that Diana and I have been sitting together every time, which highly restricts the seating options. Sometimes I don’t get a seat with a table, and it makes for a very awkward setup, trying to use my knees as a table and having my legs and feet go to sleep. I’m debating getting a different laptop to accommodate. The Surface Pro 3 has been about the best laptop I’ve ever owned, but for the lap part of laptop, it fails spectacularly. Since I’m no longer doing any really specialized Windows work, I’m strongly considering a MacBook Air or Pro. I really enjoyed by Early 2008 MBP, and about all I am going to be using it for anymore is writing, web development, and general surfing. Most of the “gee whiz” stuff on the SP3 is stuff I haven’t really used. And it still holds most of its value. I could get in for not much more money and probably be much happier on the commute. As I’m currently crunched up with pretty much my whole lower body going numb, it’s very intriguing indeed.

Single Entendre

So we came down on the side of taking the train. I had to admit that the stress incurred by driving was exceeding the enjoyment I was getting of being home a little earlier. And costs are in favor of the train, too.

This comes just as I’m starting to get creative urges again. I have one project I’ve committed to, getting a new website going for a childhood friend that’s become a popular stand-up comic. But that’s going to be a collection of off-the-shelf software, and I don’t see it being terribly involved in the long run.

I’m not sure what the project is going to be that wins the battle of attracting my interest. I think it’s going to be something with The SCP Wiki, but it’s not going to be Project Foundation, the name that was given to a full wheel reinvention of the website, all functionality. I indicated to them that I’m not willing to put in that much effort until they at least begin the process of incorporating, to reduce the liability I would have of being associated with it.

But there are other things that could be done that don’t involve the full commitment of that wheel reinvention. Honestly, I think it would be a wise mental separation to make this creative outlet something that is not tech-centric. I wrote a post back in April that laid out a plan for a new site, and that is the most intriguing thing to me at the moment. I like the name SCPrompt, as it works two ways. I think I’m going to pitch that to staff in a more concrete manner, and I can build up some of the infrastructure regardless. So there’s a bit of a tech element, but it’s largely peripheral to what the actual creative endeavor is.

On a related note, one of the technical staff wrote a pretty incredible program to save essentially all the information from a Wikidot site, which Wikidot itself doesn’t even fully allow for. This has some pretty major ramifications for the feasibility of an eventual migration. It’s one important piece accounted for, but there’s a ton of logistical ground to cover, and I don’t currently believe there’s enough discipline from the administration to do everything that will need to be done.

Over the long-term, there will probably be a successful implementation of Project Foundation, either through the Russians finishing their Starforge project or me finishing the Redpool project. The Russians and I have entirely different skillsets so it’s not really a waste to have both of us working in two different directions.

I think that is easily enough decided. Work on my friend’s new site in the short term, build up SCPrompt as a short-to-mid term thing, and if nothing happens with regards to incorporating, I might just do it my damn self.

It’s been a little bit, hasn’t it?

Today has Diana and I both taking the train instead of driving to work, a statement that indicates how much has transpired over the intervening months.

Diana’s job search concluded successfully in late June. She’s working with me again, in Santa Fe. Her desk is about a 30-second walk from mine. It’s a significant pay raise, plus a full 40 hours a week. Combine the effects of both and her pay has doubled. But so far, from my position, it’s well more than double the work for double the pay. It’s been a bit difficult to watch. Even if the last job was overall a crappy gig, she was at least able to largely leave work at work. That hasn’t happened with any consistency since. She tells me not to worry about it. That’s, uh, difficult.

With the increase in pay, as well as the fact that we’re now both commuting, I insisted that we get an apartment in Santa Fe to reduce commute time, while we try to find a house. We put a deposit down on a really nice 2-bed deal north of the city, and the house search began again in earnest as we waited for a spot at the apartments to open up. Then I made a mistake, or so I called it at the time.

I saw what houses go for in Albuquerque.

Diana and I will occasionally go to a good-sized park a couple miles away. It’s got a tennis court, basketball hoops, and a nice big area for the dog. It’s a good combination of open and shady. It’s a really nice park.

I could get a 4-bedroom monster of a home, with a front door that faces that park, for less than a dilapidated 1-bedroom in Santa Fe. Seriously. There’d be enough money left over to buy a new car.

At that point, it became a question of balance, cost versus commute with a vague idea of “quality of life” being at its highest at some point in that balancing act. Unfortunately, if you’re not familiar with the area, there isn’t much immediately around Santa Fe in three directions. We looked around, but choices were slim and still overpriced for what they were.

Rio Rancho became an option, it knocks about 15 minutes off the commute each way, and several friends, current and former coworkers had all recently bought there because of what you could get for the money. I found some listings and we headed over there on a Saturday to look around.

Way up on the northern border of the city is the established community of Enchanted Hills, with a lot of good offerings for the money, and just northwest of that is a community so new that if you drop in with Google Street View, it’s all dirt with some roads roughed in and a construction office trailer. What it is now, is one of the few places in this part of the state offering affordable build-to-suit homes.

We drove in because one of the homes was for sale, but we ended up stopping in with the home builders office and they gave us a little walkthrough of what they could provide. This was a game-changer. I hadn’t given building our first home any serious consideration because I thought it would be about $300,000, not half that.

Long story short, we had the design appointment a couple weekends ago, picking out paint and carpet and all those things for our new home. It’s happening, and in the intervening time with Diana’s pay increase, we’re able to save up quite a bit of money. The mortgage payment will work out to an increase in living expenses equal to about one of Diana’s new checks, but now she gets paid weekly instead of bi-weekly. The other new check can go to savings, or paying credit cards, or all the other stuff we’ve been able to do at an accelerated rate. We’re hoping to be in the new place before Christmas, but it’s going to be close.

The builders, incidentally, told us that we could get the same plan that we really liked built in Santa Fe…for an extra hundred thousand dollars. That was really the last straw. The only place still building in Santa Fe is about 20 minutes from work. So shaving 25 minutes off the commute for $100,000? I can’t make that trade-off in good conscience. The extra cost would be a significant burden, and have us back to treading water.

I feel like we’ve made a good decision there.

I’d thought work was going well until about two weeks ago. Apparently my boss had a different opinion for months, and I wish I’d known. Now I have to struggle to make things right between now and early November, or we’re in real danger of every happy thing I wrote above being taken away.

I’m toying with the idea of us taking the train every Thursday. We’ve both been working 7:30-4:30, but Diana is expected to be able to stay late on Thursday for a meeting. Right now, the time to sit and write would be put to good use. I’ve been driving two hours a day every workday for over a month straight. It’s a better commute than some people have, but it still stresses me out. It would cost $20 a day, though. So $80-100 a month, which is a tough sell for something in which I have to leave ten minutes earlier, but get home a full hour later.

On the other hand, it’s a rather therapeutic time. It’s hard to quantify the value of it. Would it be “money well spent?” Debatable, but then again I have a hard time determining such things.

What if I need it to work through the problems that will make the difference in keeping the job? Then the train becomes worth quite a lot of money. I know we’ll be taking it tomorrow, as well; there’s some construction going on that reduces I-25 to one northbound lane, and we saw the traffic jam span over a mile yesterday on the way back home. I really don’t need the stress.

I’m starting to question if I need the stress of driving at all. It was one thing when it was occasional, once a week or so. Doing it for a month straight has rather taken the charm out of it. But is the stress worth it to be home relaxing an hour earlier? Probably. Even if I’m not doing much of anything with the extra hour, the feeling I was experiencing of only having about an hour to myself was pretty rough.

There’s no reason it needs to be an all-or-nothing, right-now decision. I’m going to have to think about it for a bit. The fact that I’m already approaching 1200 words means it’s probably worth doing more frequently than what’s been happening lately.

I haven’t talked to a mental health professional. Haven’t even tried. I said I would, and lately, not doing it feels like I’ve been unfair to myself. I should make the call, at least to get a referral. It’s not going to be immediately available anyway. With how I’ve been feeling lately, I’m even reconsidering my aversion to medicating the problems, which is a major personal paradigm shift. I’m not sure if it’s just a desire for escape from the way I’m feeling.

I need to do whatever it takes to keep this job, to prove I can do what’s desired. The future of more than just myself is depending on that.

I know that if I can hang in and prove to be the right choice, Thanksgiving is going to be pretty spectacular. But I need to improve every day between now and then.

I’m going to be writing again on the way home, but since it’s going to be largely about work and topics I can’t discuss freely, I won’t be posting it. But it’s going to be useful to me, just the same.

It’s Been a Long Time Coming

I got to disclose the SNSLocker ransomware fully to the FBI last Friday. I caught a late break in research when someone pointed me to a software package that could decompile the virus, reversing it back to source code. So I was able to give them the attacker’s name, age, email address, IP address, password, and the source code to the virus, website, and database. They were quite impressed, and now I’ve got a point of contact there where I can quickly disclose just about anything going forward, and said agent will also be able to quickly acquire warrants to put us on the right side of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. I meet with them again in three weeks, and in the meantime I’m going to do a partial disclosure on going over the tactics used.

One thing I was not factoring in while becoming more active: Becoming more tired, which leads to sleeping later, which leads to missing the train. I missed it for quite nearly two solid weeks. It’s cost me one badly cracked windshield from being on the interstate so much more. Sorry about that.

On the health front, things are going quite well. If I wasn’t drinking quite so much water, I might have a better idea of what I actually weigh right now. I got below 170 quickly, but since then I’ve hovered right around it. However, with logging food on the Fitbit app I can get a rough idea of how much fat has burned off. And I can feel a difference physically; squishy parts are becoming less so, my calves have put on a lot of muscle mass. That thing I said about hitting 10,000 steps for three out of three days, when I’d only hit it once in the prior six months? Since then, it’s gone up to fifteen out of the last seventeen days.

In the past, I’ve always tracked only one half of the weight loss equation. I would set a calorie limit on the day without the context of how many calories I’ve burned in the day. I’d used the FitDay software which had an activity tracker, but it was required to be all manually input, and was based on averages. Now with the Fitbit that can track calories burned in real-time, I’m able to get that critical second half of the story without really having to do anything. It thought it over and came up with a number of calories to burn in a day, which it set at 2,722. How many I should consume in a day is just a matter of how quickly I want to lose weight. If I’m fine with losing a pound a week, the number to eat would just be 500 calories less than what I burned. Some days I’m burning 3100+ calories, and I’m not really interested in eating 2600. All good, I’m just losing a bit more fat that day.

Diana may well have a new job starting next week or the week after. The new job may well be with my agency, about a hundred feet from my desk. The new job may well be a 50% pay raise. Needless to say, we’re both pretty excited about this. She and I have worked together in the past and we work well together. This also has the chance to be a big step forward for her professionally, she’ll be able to learn from some very intelligent, successful women. It’s also going to significantly kill the cost-savings of staying in Albuquerque. I get a discounted train ticket. But both of us together would be $200 a month. Then it becomes a question of about $300 a month for three hours of commuting a day. I value my time above a dollar an hour, personally. One of my coworkers let me know about a really nice apartment on the north end of Santa Fe, the price is about where all the apartments are, which is high. But the pay raise will help with that too, and start to make the business of commuting more than a little foolish.