Five Green Rings and Two Dead Doves

So, let’s get this out of the way. I exceeded expectations yesterday.

Crushed yesterday, for real. #fivegreencircles

A photo posted by @bluesoulsez on

I’m making use of every function of the app now. I went ahead and bought the Aria scale as well, it’s not too overpriced for including body fat percentage (even if only a rough approximation) and I know myself well enough to know the integration with the app will make me actually use it. I’m using the food log and tracking water consumed. I’m pretty sure it’s everything the app offers outside of run tracking because I’m not running yet.

With all the extra walking yesterday, I consumed 2100ish calories, but that’s fine because I burned over 3,000. That’s a significant deficit, enough to average 1.3 pounds of fat burned in a five-day work week.

I was talking to Diana about this yesterday, from an evolutionary standpoint, we’re good at a lot of things, but out biggest strength might be walking. Early man would bring down a yak or a goat or what have you by walking behind it, never letting it rest, pelting it with stones and throwing spears until it got back up and the chase began again until the animal finally keeled over from exhaustion. We’re not the best runners, but we’re the best walkers on the planet.

So when I got the scale set up (hey Fitbit, make your applications respect Windows text scaling, please.) I got my first number back. 173.2 pounds and 24.7% body fat percentage. I did some mental arithmetic on where I wanted to be, which is 135 pounds as I was when I was about 18, and let out an audible “Fuuuuuuck.” That’s like 40 pounds. But I did a little more math, 173.2 less 24.7% is 130.4 pounds of “lean mass”. 135 pounds would be 3% body fat which is a great number if you’re a hypertrophy bodybuilder. I’m actually looking for something around 14% body fat. That works out to about 149.4 pounds. So a little under 25 pounds to lose assuming lean mass stayed the same. That seems much more doable not only from a mental standpoint but from a physiology standpoint. I couldn’t figure out where 40 pounds would come from. That’s like, a leg.

I feel pretty good this morning, could’ve used some more sleep. Still fighting heartburn and general stomach discomfort in the evenings. That’s one of the things I’m hoping gets solved along the way.

I received a reddit message this morning that I was made a moderator of /r/ransomware, which I requested about a month ago. That’s exciting, I have big plans for it since /r/malware isn’t really suited for discussion on removal. I’m gonna work on that for the rest of the morning ride.

Dead Dove Dot Jpeg

I don’t know what I expected. I didn’t expect it to go well, this thought of exercising at work. I’m fairly blown away at how well it went. I had a few things I wanted to accomplish.

I wanted to walk at least 250 steps each hour. I almost accomplished that, I did so in 7 of the 9 hours. One hour was entirely taken up by a meeting, and the other was where I had substituted additional resistance band exercise. I don’t think there’s honestly much that can be done for those hour-long meetings, call it a necessary evil.

I wanted to do my exercises, the full 3 sets, 15 reps each, six exercises. That didn’t happen, I only managed one set. It’s going to take a little balancing of my time to manage more. Also, dress pants are not condusive to doing squats. Impossible.

I wanted to try incorporating Pomodoro better in my day. I’d bookmarked Tomato Timer a while back but never really got into it in earnest. Oh, I’ve got way too much to do, I can’t be splitting my day into 25-minute chunks. I used Pomodoro all day today, and I was far more productive than a typical day. During those 5 minute breaks, I figured out a path in the building that not only involves just over 250 steps, but also incorporates four flights of stairs. All total, I climbed 29 flights of stairs today, and I’m going to end the day at about 33 flights. The exercises take about three minutes, so I can actually fit both the walk and the exercise in one five-minute break. I also managed two walks between 15 and 20 minutes.

I need to remember this day, remember how I’m feeling right now, 9400 steps into the day. Because I’m not going to feel this optimistic some days, hell maybe even most days. Ten thousand steps sounded unreasonable not even twelve hours ago. Now I’m going to hit 11,000 before all is said and done. This is coming off of short sleep and bringing earplugs to the train thinking I was going to sleep. I can do this. I can look forward to this. I feel really good. And I wish I could bottle up the sensation.

It’s going to work just fine in these warm months, that Florida upbringing has me saying the hotter, the better. I’ll have to figure something else out in the winter for the long walks. Maybe I’ll be able to do some sort of routine within the office building. Even if I was willing to face the cold (I’m not), there’s the matter of typical pileups of snow and ice around the route.

My GTD article was seemingly finished when this revelation of Pomodoro actually working well came to pass. I’m going to review the article tomorrow and see if it makes sense to include. Then I need to double check all of the links and make sure they work and are sufficiently useful without leaking any data. I’ll end up posting it in a couple of places when it’s ready to go.

Any Place Aimed, Go

Ever have your stomach bother you so badly that you ended up reconsidering your life choices?

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Sometimes I feel like I just pinball from one illness to the next. At least on this one, I don’t have to worry about being a hypochondriac. You don’t imagine almost throwing up, having that acid climb all the way up into the back of your mouth.

I’ve been thinking it over and my best guess is it’s a combination of two things. One is acid reflux, brought on from being overweight and overly sedentary. The other is stress.

Isn’t that odd? I don’t feel like I have all that much to be stressed out about. And yet I notice it, carrying way too much tension in my head and my shoulders. The logical place to look for sources of stress would be my job, but I have trouble coming up with much. We finished one big project, the next one is going to be much slower to roll out by design (we don’t get to start in earnest until August). Maybe it’s impostor syndrome. I feel like I’m over that, though.

Maybe it just has to do with getting up earlier than I ever have in my life. The thing with that, I’ve thoroughly acclimated to getting up by 5:15 and certainly no later than 6. Two weeks ago I worked out of the Albuquerque office for two days, meaning I didn’t have to leave the house until 7:35. Contrast that with my 6:05 cutoff to leave most days. I could not bring myself to fall back to sleep that morning.

I think I’ll solve a lot of problems by losing weight. I also remember that common advice, which is don’t announce that you’re going to lose weight. The idea there is that your brain isn’t terribly clever and will substitute words for actions and reward you with dopamine, even though you haven’t actually done the work yet. At the very least, don’t write about it until you’ve started, which I did last week, adding multiple breaks from my day to get up and take a walk. The long one is about 20 minutes, and there’s a shorter one that’s about 10 minutes.

Fitbit recently updated their app and added a couple of new metrics. They want you to get up and take at least a short walk (250 steps) every hour, from 8 to 5. (I may integrate this with [Pomodoro](, doing two pomodoros and then going for a walk, then repeating.) They also want 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. I’m pleased to say I managed that last week. 10,000 steps per day seems quite far away still, which is funny because it was effortless when I worked at Best Buy and I was still overweight then.

I also have some resistance band exercises I’ve picked that I can do in my office. I don’t have the paper handy but I believe it’s six exercises, three sets of 15 reps each, three days a week. I need to figure out the best way to incorporate them into the day.

This is one of those things that should be simplified by moving, as I currently leave the house at 6:05 AM and don’t get back until 6:35 PM, and I’m in bed by 9:15. That doesn’t leave much time. If we were up here, I wouldn’t have to leave the house until 7:30, I’d get home by 5:15 and not have to be in bed until 10:45. One way or another, that’s an extra 2 hours and 50 minutes. I could do an awful lot in that time. I still think we’re making the right decision in the short term by staying in Albuquerque, but I’m aware of what I’m giving up for low rent.

The Department of Clever Ship Names

I finally got over the hump of one of my harder games, beating FTL Advanced Edition, and did so with only four points in weapons. It took 33 hours on Steam and probably another 10 from the “extended demo” prior. It took probably 40 attempts. Maybe I’m just not very good, and surely if I’d broke down and read a guide on the game and some weapon comparisons, I’d have had a better record up to this point than 1-40something.

Diana and I got some tennis in over the weekend, which did more to make it feel like a weekend than beating FTL did. I’ve got some soreness in my index finger, hopefully from too tight a grip rather than old bad habits involving running the index finger down one face of the handle.

The slowdown in writing isn’t really one, it’s just a question of who is seeing it. I’m about 2500 words into a guide on my new GTD implementation, and it’s been quite helpful to write it out, too. It gives you an opportunity to stop and ask yourself why you did something a particular way.

I really don’t have much this morning, pretty tired even with coffee. It’s just as well Mondays aren’t too demanding.

The Richard Simmons of Productivity

I ended up not being able to get a seat on the train with a table at all yesterday morning, hence no writing. Then on the way back, I had the table and was putting my own spin on a GTD system. ZenDone isn’t going to work out. They gave me a beta pass for their new site and app. It’s an improvement but it’s not going to work. I indicated that the next step was going to a paper-based system, but I lied. There’s one more option, which is Trello.

This will be my 4th attempt at building a GTD system, and each one has been more successful than the last. The big thing this iteration gives me is the ability to task my employees straight from my system, and we are in constant sync on where each of their tasks are. This was the biggest thing I was missing before.

The full article will be a separate blog post. I’m not 100% finished with the plan, I’m about 85% done, the rest is brainstorming if I’ve left out any tags or contexts. The post will go up after I’ve had a few weeks with the system and made any necessary changes. But I’m really excited for it.

Isn’t that a weird grown-up thing? Being really excited about a project management system? Maybe, maybe not. At the risk of badly paraphrasing David Allen, the work has changed. Fifty years ago, most work had a clearly defined beginning and end. Now a lot of what I do, it’s not obvious when I’ve actually started working on something, and it’s even less clear when I can wash my hands of it. Having a trusted system to track the work is, I think, mandatory to be the most efficient, and all the time put into architecting that system can absolutely pay itself back in less stress and easier use.

In hindsight, having a trusted system would’ve helped me years and years ago. (I’m calling my time in college years and years ago. What is happening?) So often I felt buried because there was so much going on, I felt like I’d just be able to mentally juggle all the stuff I needed to do. A full-on solution like GTD would’ve been ideal, but even just using a basic list or two would’ve helped a lot. That was adolescent pride. Those disorganized days happen to be some of my worst from a mental standpoint. Really bottomed out, full breakdown/shutdown stuff. I think that’s why I’m so eager to build and follow those solutions now. I’ve tried the alternative and it was really miserable.

Assprints In The Sand

I think we’re all creatures of habit, when you get down to it. I was bummed this morning because someone was in my usual morning seat. And I get that this isn’t school, there are no assigned seats…but if that’s not my seat, whose assprint is that?

We’re off to a much better start to the week, despite being on the wrong end of this train car. I feel altogether healthy, and ready to get to work. I’m ready to start working with ZenDone and see if it’s the answer or not. I’m cautiously optimistic about it.

Speaking of feeling altogether healthy, I wonder if I can convince myself to do this all the time, like a reverse hypochondria. Might save more sick leave that way.

I’m sad to report the loss of 0.201 bitcoin, which probably happened in 2013. I didn’t care when they were $17/BTC. Now that they’re at about $450/BTC it’s an irritation. That’s 90 bucks, man. If I’d bothered to keep mining I’d probably have a couple thousand dollars from it. I did cash out some Dogecoin, about six bucks worth. I’m on to a new cryptocurrency, Ethereum. I’m gonna stay with it this time. Every time I’ve gotten into mining, I’ve backed a good horse. The currency appreciated in value. And if I had bothered to stay with it, I’d have more money than I have now for roughly the same amount of work.

My presentation on the new file server infrastructure is finished up and approved by the sysadmin that’s actually going to be in charge of building the thing. I think we’ve got a good handle on how it’s going to go. It’s gotta go to the other managers now. This is their first time seeing me present an idea of my own outside of my second job interview with them. All I can say is that this wasn’t born out of one panicked planning session. This has been over two months of research, test labs, and discussion. It’s a good plan. It’s gotta support the whole agency for at least five years, it had better be a good plan. I’ve gotta live with the results for at least five years, it had better be a really, really good plan.

One day I might write about why I seem to be drawn to music with lyrics that are generally nonsensical (or “deep” if you want to justify their existence) but right now it sounds like the sort of pseudo-intellectual navel-gazing that makes me want to slap the shit out of 16-year old me. Maybe I just don’t want to think too hard. They don’t generally get the scrutiny they deserve.


Partial credit is being issued today. I spent most of the day feeling ill and the resulting work and effort kind of reflected that. I should be better about that, but I’m a simple creature sometimes. Just like I don’t regret staying home yesterday, I don’t regret going in today. I was far more capable, but it just didn’t amount to much. I could’ve accomplished an equivalent amount in probably two hours any other day.

One of the odd things I’m wrestling with is a note that came out in my first evaluation. I need to delegate more, more managing of the work and employees and less technical involvement. That’s a totally reasonable request, but it’s a tough transition. In the last gig, I was doing most of the technical work at this tier, most of the time. At the same time, I resented not getting some assistance, though honestly most of the time there wasn’t anyone else available that was capable of doing the work. Now I’ve got guys that can do the work, but I don’t want to bother them with it. I’d rather keep them fresh and relaxed for those times where I need 100% out of them. I’m fine with taking on the intervening stuff myself. But that’s counter to the direction I’m being asked to go.

It’s part of that professional transition that I summarized as “making it.” Now that I’ve got a pretty good idea of how everything here works, I need to step back and let the sysadmins work. My focus needs to be in keeping track of all the work they’ve been tasked with, triaging the severity thereof, and letting them know what should get worked on at what time, and that’s the primary responsibility. The secondary responsibility is being the “Tier 4” they can escalate to, being able to pinch-hit for them on their days off, and generally keep the peace. Somewhere in-between is planning and architecting new solutions and project management.

Similar to what I was saying this morning about there being no improvement without challenge, I’m not really doing my admins any favors here by taking work off their plates, not in the long run. It has the potential to be rather career-threatening if they go years without picking up anything new or being exposed to routine problems to solve.

What’s irritating about this is that it sounds for all the world that I’m trying to get out of doing work that I could be doing myself. Like someone rationalizing some awful thing as “for the best, honestly.” The pragmatic view of it is, that’s not what they hired me for. They weren’t looking for another sysadmin. They want an IT manager. Am I delivering on that? Perhaps I am the right person for the job, but am I performing the right duties?

I’m going to have to improve at that.

Regularly Scheduled Interruptions

It hasn’t been a great week. I ended up running late on Monday, missing not only the regular train but the late train. I was having a lot of abdominal pain Monday night and yesterday morning so I called in sick yesterday. It got a bit better throughout the day but worsened at night. So I woke up this morning feeling ill again, and missed the train. I’m on the late train. Saying I still don’t feel great is quite an understatement, but I’ve gotta go. I really need a few months of good health here, it’s a real pain to be right on the cusp of no sick leave all the time.

Since I was home yesterday, and I just got my 27″ monitor in the day prior, I spent most of the day gaming on it, running through a bunch of games. I ended up spending quite a bit of time on Rocket League and the new Hoops mode. It’s always fun to get in on the ground floor of a competitive game, when everyone’s on about the same footing as far as experience. The 2v2 setup is ideal for such a small court, and it leads to some very intense matches. Two of the first three games went to overtime, the first one being sent to OT with a bank from three-quarters court with no time left on the clock.

I also decided to try some ranked 1v1 play. When you’re playing an evenly matched opponent, 1v1 is a blast. For reference, I’ve been playing Rocket League a bit longer than most. I picked up the predecessor game, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars on release day in 2008, and I’ve got about a thousand hours logged on it. Rocket League plays pretty much identically in every manner. The thing is, the crowd that played multiplayer SSARPBC were incredibly skilled. Most of the game happens in the air. At the top tier of Rocket League the same is true. But if you didn’t have a top-class aerial game, you weren’t playing multiplayer SSARPBC. Play single-player against bots, or perhaps try a new game. I chose to play single-player.

So as you transition to ranked play, it first has you play 10 unranked matches to determine your skill level. These are generally against players in the bottom 3 tiers (of 15 possible tiers). Bear in mind, I haven’t played 1v1 at all in probably two years. My first few games were wins by scores of 8-3, 9-1, 8-7, and 6-1. I ended up going 3-3 in the remaining six games which was sad but 7-3 over ten games was a good enough performance to place me in the Prospect 3 tier, which let me skip the bottom two tiers entirely. I was hoping to skip this one as well and go straight to Prospect Elite. I think the loss in the last game is what prevented that.

There aren’t many games where I feel like I have the potential to be one of the better players in the world. I certainly never feel that way with any shooters. It’s never going to happen with chess or go, not Scrabble nor Boggle. As a pre-teen and teenager, I thought it might happen with soccer. That ended up having more to do with the quality of opponents than my skill. I feel like it could be the case with Rocket League. The biggest factor in improving at something is to constantly be challenged, having peers at your skill level to analyze your work and offer feedback and a test. If you’re sandbagging your way through a game, it reinforces bad and sloppy habits. And there’s always temptation when you’re sandbagging to stay there. It’s like Mitch Hedberg said, “I wish I could play little league now, I’d kick some fuckin’ ass.”

I played a fair bit of XCOM: Enemy Unknown over the weekend. This is where that sandbagging and sloppy play comes up. I started a game on Easy mode, and played far too aggressive and loose. My squad was scattered all over the map, triggering tons of aliens, but they didn’t hit hard enough to make me change my playstyle. Until the first terror mission, that is. Full squad wipe. Rage quit. Like it’s the game’s fault that I played like an idiot. I started up a new game, and played it proper. Moving as a group, not dashing unless it’s a must, using overwatch. I’ve incurred one loss, a support that could’ve been saved if someone else in the squad knew how to work a fucking medkit. I’m all the way through the alien base assault and the first abductor landing. I have high hopes.

I really have no idea how today’s going to go. I still feel quite ill. There’s a lot to do. At some point I’m going to be asked to think. I would much prefer to be back in bed, honestly. I feel on the edge of throwing up. I think I should cut out the coffee for a few days, I think the acid is making things worse.

I’m only now questioning why Santa Fe is as expensive as it is to own a house. Speaking objectively, there’s not much to do here. No nightlife to speak of, not so much as a bowling alley to be found, no beer scene outside of Santa Fe brewing. More than half the homes don’t even have air conditioning. Traffic is a huge pain in the ass at rush hour. Why can’t you find a house for under $200k worth living in? That’s some crap. Is it strictly because it’s a state capitol? There was a listing for a house for $165,000. The first sentence in the listing? “Some say the house can be saved.” And I want to meet the person that said that, because they’re crazy. You couldn’t open all the doors at the same time or the fucking house would collapse.

Maybe the answer really is “Because have fun driving an hour from Albuquerque every day.”

Ready Up

I really couldn’t ask for a better Friday. No alerts in the morning, couple emails to plan stuff for next week, got my evaluation from the boss, got my one-on-one meetings with my direct reports done, and nothing broke or caught fire in that timespan. It left me from 1:00 to 5:00 to plan and do a thorough weekly review.

It’s a really good feeling knowing that you have tracked everything going on at work, and know exactly where everything is at. That you don’t have to think about those things just for the sake of remembering them. You can actually relax.

So, the evaluation. I indicated it would have a lot of influence on how I felt going into the weekend and in general. I’ll just read off the relevant line out of the eight paragraph evaluation:

Daniel is a very skilled technical supervisor. The right person for the job.

The right person for the job. Validation. It’s a wonderful world.

I was initially joking about bringing decaf coffee with me on the train on the way back instead of gross lightly coffee-flavored cold water. I had a decaf pod in a variety pack. Guess what I’ve got today? It would be better if it wasn’t quite so warm out. But it was still a good idea, I stand by it.

All the Nutanix migrations so far have either been flawless or invaluable learning experiences on non-production boxes. My systems guy has done about a dozen machines, and we have about two dozen to go. If we can get about another dozen done in four days next week there’s a half-day off on Friday there for the taking. There actually is a train that leaves at about the right time, 1:07. I think we want this.

I ordered some replacement Gunnar glasses. My go-to model was discontinued, but a pair appeared on Amazon for about half price. I also bought a Google Cardboard kit. For 10 bucks, I’m quite curious how it actually works. They’re not terribly adjustable and this is a fairly exact science. But for an approximation of technology that’s currently going for $600-1000, it’s worth a shot. It would be funny as hell if it actually worked well enough to not need to bother with the Oculus Rift, Gear VR, HTC Vive, etc.

I’m gonna play the hell out of some vidya this weekend. Damn shame the new monitor won’t arrive until Monday. I know the new Hoops mode for Rocket League is next week, and I’ll be playing the shit out of that when the time comes. I think it’s going to be Dark Souls this weekend. I only have the first one and started with a rather cheesy minmax (Drake sword). I’ve heard from a number of people that it really does detract from the balance of the game, so no Drake sword this time. It’s a full-on franchise at this point, and my policy on franchises is that I have to play through the first before playing any of the rest. I know in this case there isn’t a ton of plot I’m messing with, but that’s the plan just the same.

So, you know. Praise the Sun. \[T]/

I perform better while drinking out of a coconut.

Closing out the week is less arduous than it felt last time around. I feel more fresh than last week, despite (or, because of?) more booze being drank this week than last. I did get a full 8 hours of sleep last night, and I’ve gotta say, I’m at a point in my life where I really appreciate sleep. It’s the best.

Today I get my first evaluation from my boss. The timing is pretty good, Nutanix is ready for production as of yesterday and that’s one of my deliverables for the year. There is one more interim evaluation some time in July or August and then the final evaluation in November. I feel like this could put me in a great mood for the weekend, if nothing else. I want to be told I’m on the right track so far. I think that might just happen.

I finished reading Time Management for System Administrators yesterday on the train, hence the no new articles. All in all, I’m not terribly impressed. I thought it was going to be a GTD clone, but it doesn’t do any of the things GTD does as effectively. It boils down to “capture everything, and make a new schedule every day with all the stuff you have to do, then prioritize each item and estimate how long it will take.” The problem with the second half of that is that it doesn’t solve the problem the book set out to do. Limoncelli mentions “The list of doom,” which is a book where you write your tasks in and cross them out when they’re done, and eventually you end up with open issues scattered throughout the book. So instead, you’re to build the list up every day, rewriting the same junk every morning until it’s completed. Also, he wants you to set a finite amount of time aside for “distractions” and tickets. If I knew that yesterday’s distraction would keep me busy from 10 to 3, I’d have planned my day differently. He also suggests writing scripts and programs to automate things. I don’t think the target market really needed to be told about the potential for automation in their job.

I can’t recommend the book.

In honor of it being both Earth Day and Read-Only Friday…

Diana and I are trying out the Wunderlist app, there’s always an awkward wait at the end of the day when she’s asking if I need anything from the store and I’m busy trying to get on the train and might miss the message entirely. With a shared list, there shouldn’t be any need for such a wait.

We’re supposed to get to pilot Google Apps very soon for possible deployment to the agency. I’m pretty excited about that, between the collaborative editing tools, hangouts, and an IM platform we can standardize on, it’s got a lot to recommend for it. It would be awfully nice if we could leverage some of that stuff. I don’t really want to set up an IRC daemon on the network. Well, I do, but I don’t want to have it be the option for people outside of the IT department.

Here’s to a quality Read-Only Friday, everyone. Get some documentation in, testlab some new ideas, and try not to make too much work for yourself.