Just Peachy

I’m pretty much a zombie today. At about 2:45 am this morning, our dogs went insane. They started barking a bark of immediacy, so I had to get up to make sure everything was all right.  Was it an intruder?  A fire (God forbid).  Something wrong with one of the children?

I looked the house over from end to end, and found nothing out of the ordinary.  but my dogs would not stop barking.  Then I noticed that our oldest dog, Missy, was “speaking” with a bark that was rather strange:  mixed into about every third yelp was a snort.  Even in my Ambien-induced stupor, I could tell that her heightened sense of smell was setting off an alarm in her.

So I stopped using my eyes, and started using my nose.  And sure enough, it was unmistakable: Pepe Le Pew had left a calling card in our front yard.

It’s a good thing I didn’t let the dogs out during all of this.

The dogs were inconsolable; we couldn’t stop the barking.  We don’t have a huge house, but the rooms are quite big, and have hardwood floors.  Every noise echoes, and it is impossible to ignore barks. 

So this went on for about 30 minutes.  It’s a good thing our neighbors didn’t call the police on us.

So, now we have not only coyotes and a fox to worry about (along with a groundhog we don’t worry about – he’s too fat to hurt anything), we have a skunk setting up residence in our neighborhood.  Great.

Our dogs do not do leashes well (neither do we), and invisible fences might keep our dogs in our yard, but they don’t keep critters out.  Looks like we’re going to have to put up an unsightly chain-link fence this spring, if not sooner.

Living in West Meade is wonderful, but sometimes being surrounded by little mini-forests, and the critters that live in them, is a little rough.

I Did What?

I used to really ride Patrick Kennedy about his Ambien-induced accident a few years ago. Based on family history, I assumed he was driving drunk and had the Capitol Police cover up for him.

As of this morning, I can tell you I believe his story, 100%.

It all stated a few days ago when Southern Beal posted this cute but annoying post.  My wife overheard the irresistable song, and asked for the link.  I sent it to her, and she came to me later that day and asked me to make it her ringtone.

Now, I just don’t believe in paying that big “V” wireless company everytime I want to change ringtones, so a couple of years ago, I found a work-around which involves sending a message with a sound attachment to your phone.  With the big “V” company, you have to do it a certain way, or it won’t give you the option of making that sound your ringtone.

Anyway, I found a ringtone version of that oh-so-cutesy song, and last night I sent it to her phone.  I knew it would be a while, because I didn’t convert the sound file to a lower bitrate.

So I waited.  And waited.  And then it was time for bed.

I told Lintilla to put the phone by the bed, and if the file arrived before my Ambien kicked in, I’d take care of the technical parts.  I took my Ambien, and went to sleep.

This morning I called her to tell her I’d install the ringtone, and she answered saying that her co-worker really enjoyed her new ringtone.

“It’s installed?”, I asked.

“Of course it is, you did it.”

“Last night?”

“Yes.  I handed you the phone, and you made the song my ringtone.”

Folks, I have absolutely no recollection of doing this.  Not even a sleepy, hazy memory.  I do not remember it at all. 

I don’t know if you know what it’s like to have people tell you about things you did the night before that you don’t remember (no matter how drunk I got in my 20’s, I always remembered it).

This is freaky-deaky.

Miller Time

Remember that scene in Stand And Deliver, when the testing service demands the kids re-take the AP Calculus test because their grades were near perfect (and the teacher Escalante also thought it was because his students had Spanish surnames)?

 Well, that’s how well I did on my Microsoft certification exam today.

I didn’t just pass it, I kicked its butt and left it for dead.  By my calculations, I missed two questions out of 43.  In three of the six areas of study, I got a perfect score.

I’m so excited; I’ve got two more to pass to get my MCAD, three more to get my MCSD (at which point Bill Gates will own my soul).

I’m not bragging, I’m just sitting here in shock.  I was an idiot last night, and didn’t take my Ambien (worried about being cloudy-headed today).  Well, whenever something’s happening the next day, you can be rest assured that my mind will be running a mile a minute ALL night, which happened.  I’m running on zero sleep.

So, I ingested so much caffeine and sugar, I came close to running around screaming “I am Cornholio!” at some points during the day.  So, that, along with the fact that all my studying didn’t seem to be “sticking” — I thought that would be a recipe for disaster.

Wow.

Now, I’ve come down from the high of both the caffeine and they joy of still being able to kick butt on exams.  I am exhausted.

I know I owe a few of you some communications, but I think I’m going to take a cat nap, then go get a beer.  I’ll see y’all on the other side.

Things Always Get Better

Did anyone see the 20/20 special on “luck” last night?  It was fascinating.  Apparently, optimists generally are luckier, because they are more open to luck.  We Chistians would probably substitute “blessings”and “blessed”, but we’re really talking about the same thing; the only difference is whether the luck is directed or just happenstance.

Anyway, I found it intersting and timely.

Like I’ve whined about over and again, I’ve had a really bad week.  I’ve just about decided that I’ve taken my current position just about as far as I can.  Since I’m in the middle of a mid-life crisis (newscoma, we should write a book together – kind of a he said / she said of mid-life), it won’t hurt to start looking at my options.  Do y’all know I’ve been in IT for 19 years?  Holy crap.  Anyway, that kind of experience is worth something.  There are several positions within my company that I’m going to look at first; I REALLY like working for this company, I just don’t think it’s worth the stress anymore to remain in the position I’m currently holding. Brittney’s kind of inspired me; I know I don’t have to take this crap. 

But I’m much older than Brittney, and have some pretty steep financial obligations, so it makes more sense for me to find another job before walking away.  But just thinking about walking away is a big step for me.  I’ve become far too comfortable, and my personality is not built for comfort. 

Speaking of comfort, I woke up unwillingly at 4 this morning.  I’m already pretty loopy.   I’m coming down with a summer cold.  And I don’t care.

I’ll be heading out soon to our big show tonight at New Beginnings.  It is going to be something else, and I hope we raise a lot of money for this very small but wonderful and daring church.

And I sold enough stuff on eBay to get the DX-40 I’ve been Jones’n for!  Chris Wage was right; I’ve only had the thing a day, and I’m already eyeballing more lenses.  But this camera is absolutely awesome.  Here’s a photo I took this morning of some lovely ladies, and I’ve yet to take any training:

Mom and Daugher

OK, it’s a little washed out on the right, but Trillian and Lintilla look wonderful.
Check out the one Trillian took:

Lilly

You have to admit, not bad for a 9 year old.

And here’s something else that’s cool. At the Habitat For Humanity build on Thursday, I left very tired but very excited. I used a circular saw all day! You must understand, that when I was a kid, my Dad sized all of his boys up, and he quickly decided that my job would be to “go get that” and “measure this” and “hold this”. Which was OK, power tools scared me, and just like with guns, a tentative operator is a dangerous operator.

But, I got volunteered to be the “cut man”, and it was scary and exciting at the same time. Once I got over my fear, it was almost as if 40 years of feeling inadequate melted away. I wanted to call my dad right there and say, “Guess what I’m doing???” I wouldn’t let anyone else near the saw. I exhausted myself, but when I left for the day, I felt a pride I’ve never felt before.

The future owner of the house hugged me as I was leaving to thank me, but I said, “No, thank YOU!” I really can’t explain what a thrill it was to finally, finally feel the pride of being a carpenter. It may sound silly to you, but it means the world to me.

So, things altogether aren’t any better than they were before the week started, but they ain’t too bad, either. And that’s worth something.

Now, I’m going to go make a joyful noise, and bask in the reflection of that joy from Heaven.

I Want It All, And I Want It Now

There is no way I should be as frustrated as I am right now.  Maybe it’s the fact that I had reverse insomnia: I woke up at 4:45, and couldn’t get back to sleep.  That’s 5 hours of sleep (ugh).  That can put you in a bad mood.

Why am I frustrated?  I lost 2 more pounds this week.

I needed 3.

I am now 1 pound short of 40 lost for the year.

One lousy pound.  I worked my butt off this week.  I wanted to get to 40 so bad I could taste it.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  One, it’s the milestone.  Hitting milestones gives you an extra shot of energy to continue the battle.  My ultimate goal is 50, and I have 6 weeks to get those 11 pounds before our anniversary trip.  That’s two a week (do-able), with 1 to give.

There’s no room to slip up, though. 

Now, I know that it would still be easy to say I’ve lost 40 lbs, in the way I say I’ve been married twenty years, even though that milestone won’t come till July 10.  But weight loss is 80% mental, and once you get to the point I have, you have to approach it like an athlete.  You have to dig deep, push beyond what you think you can do, light the competitive fire.

So, 39 it is.  Just doesn’t have the “flash” of 40.

And if my doctor is reading this, no, I’m still not anorexic.  I’ve moved to emphasising the exercise side of the weight loss equation.  I’m still getting 1400-1800 calories a day. I even had Monell’s last Saturday, and Chinese takeout last night (probably why I didn’t get that 3rd pound).

Anyway, back to the grind!

First Weird Ambien Reaction

That was bizarre.  If it happens again, I’m going to have to quit taking Ambien.

A primer: because I get up so early, and because I don’t like to get up that early on the weekends, and because I had a bad bout of insomnia a couple of weeks ago, I take Ambien, but only on Sunday and Monday nights.  By Tuesday, I’m pretty much back  on rhythm, although not always.

Anyway, last night, I took it a little early (I’m still toying with when to take it, so I get to sleep exactly at the time I wish to).

Y’all.  My Lord.  30 minutes later, I felt stone dead drunk. (Don’t ask me how I know what that feels like).  I was stumbling, I couldn’t stand straight, I was a little dizzy, cloudy headed.  I was perfectly aware, though.  I was no more incoherent than normal;  my body just wasn’t working right.

Lintilla had to help me up the stairs and into bed, or I wouldn’t have made it.

I’m wondering if I accidentally took 2; those things are tiny and maybe I popped two out of the bottle by accident.  I slept OK, though, and feel fine today.

But if it happens again, well, like they say in the Viagra commercials – “see your doctor” – that’s what I’m going to do.

Wow. Just, Wow.

Well, last night, thanks to my wonderful doctor, I reluctantly joined Ambien Nation.  You have no idea how much I didn’t want to do this.  One day, I’ll write a longer post about my family and how I inherited its weirdness, but for now, I’ll give you the short version:

My family has the worst damned luck in the history of the western world.  Through the generations, our history is one of death, pestilence, destruction, unemployment and a general suckiness of life.  Somehow, we’ve eeked through and still managed to set up the next generation in a situation better than the last.

So, two survival skills have been passed down from generation to generation: industriousness, and stoicism.  The industiousness part comes because, for some reason, every male member of my family, throughout our history in America, chooses a career in which he will be the least educated person in his field.  We get in with minimal qualifications.  Then, we outwork and outsmart everyone else in the industry.  My grandfather did it, my dad did it, my brother is doing it, and I’m trying my darnedest to do it.

The stoicism?  Well, this goes back to the bad luck part.  It’s going to happen.  I’m sure my mother had a long talk with Lintilla before we wed, warning her what she was getting into.  And if you’re part of my family, you’re going to suck it up and work through it.  Be brave, and you’ll go down in the annals of a long line of men who kept their chins up even though their lives sucked.  And the number one rule of all: no cheating.

No bariatric surgery, no therapists, no riding mower unless you’ve paid your sweat equity with years of push mowers.  No “diet pills”.  No sleeping your way to the top.  No shortcuts, whatsoever.

And no medication (especially mood altering medication), unless its purpose is to keep you alive so you can continue in your stoicism.

Quit laughing.  This is not your family.

Compounding this was an episode where I broke the mold and went on antidepressants for anxiety attacks.  Long story short, I became a devoted Christian, started exercising, and, gasp, went off my meds without consulting my doctor!  A bigger gasp: it turned out great.  Later on, I discovered I had been misdiagnosed; this doctor was insane.  He prescribed antidepressants for almost every person with any condition that came into his office.  He no longer practices medicine .  (Please kiddies, don’t try going off your meds at home.  My story is extremely atypical)

So, I have an aversion to medication whose purpose is to “cheat”;  certain maladies are meant to be trials.  Up until last night, I assumed my insomnia was one of those.  That being said:

Best. Sleep. Ever.

Good Lord, I feel good this morning.  Can’t you tell by how I’m rambling on?

Anyway, thank you doc!  I scheduled my yearly exam with her as well, it’s long overdue.  Yes, I said “her”.  Gentlemen, I have a word of advice.  As you know, when you turn 40, your yearly exam will change somewhat, the prostate check awaits.  Man or woman doctor, it doesn’t matter;  somebody is going to put on the gloves, lube up, and, well, you know…

If you can get over your embarrassment (which you’ll have, regardless), I’ve got two words for you:

Smaller Fingers.