Tag Archives: About Me

Is there something wrong with me?

Feeling like I’m from another planet is something I’ve experienced repeatedly ever since I was a kid. Especially when I see people upset about something and I can’t understand what it is they’re upset about. I’ll spend more time than I probably should analyzing whatever it is to try and figure out what the issue is and I always end up confused.

Take, for example, the reaction to a new cover for Roald Dahl’s classic kid’s book Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Penguin Books is re-releasing the title as part of their Penguin Modern Classics range of books aimed at adults — it being one of the first kids books to be released in that line — and as such they came up with a new cover that they felt “highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life”. 

It didn’t go over well with fans of the book. On Penguin’s Facebook page the reaction was mostly negative with several folks saying they won’t be buying it. So what has everyone’s panties in a bunch? Here’s the cover:

charliechoc

So, yeah, it’s pretty creepy looking and I’m not entirely sure how it represents what the book is about, but I’m not sure it deserves comments like this:

I’m not sure why adults need a different cover anyway, but who was it who decided that “adult” meant “inappropriately sexualized”?

Inappropriately sexualized? Really? The kid looks a little China doll zombie-ish, but I don’t see anything particularly sexualized about it. OK, there’s a bit of a JonBenét Ramsey vibe to her, I’ll give you that.

OMG It looks like a cover of Lolita, and it’s the cover of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory??NONONONONO

Again, not seeing it. If anything it looks like a badly cropped shot of a couple of mannequins from a 1950′s J.C. Penney sale ad.

The inescapable, sexualised, subtext of this cover really does need to be reconsidered by the publishers. I struggle to understand how the executive decision was reached to choose this image. Bad mistake Penguin.

Again with claims that it’s sexualized. Is it the hair? The feather boa? What is it that’s saying SEX to these people?

This looks more like a cover for Valley of the Dahls.

OK, that one was funny.

Clearly a lot of people are seeing something in this cover that I am not. As someone who literally does judge books by their covers I completely agree that it’s a bad choice, but mainly because it doesn’t really have anything to do with the story. It turns out, according to the BBC, there’s a good reason for that:

The image is taken from a French magazine shoot by the photographers Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello, for a 2008 fashion article entitled Mommie Dearest.

Yeah, I can see that. It definitely looks like something from Mommie Dearest, which is a completely different sort of story than Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

So I’m left to ponder: Is there something wrong with me that I’m not outraged by this supposedly hyper-sexualized image of a zombie girl?

Creeped out a bit? Sure. She’s got a death stare on her that’d fit in any horror movie. Not seeing the “sexy” in it though.

A small update on what I’ve been up to.

funny-thought-pleasing-everyone-cakeI’ve not blogged in awhile so I thought I’d at least get something up to say why. Mainly it’s because I’ve been pretty busy at work and have actually been spending more time than usual away from my computer once I get home. As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re also home hunting at the moment which has proven to be a lot less fun than I already thought it wouldn’t be.

In fact, this past Sunday we found a condo that we really liked and we decided to put a bid on it and things were going OK until a few hours later when our mortgage guy called to go over what our closing costs would be as well as the monthly payments. We’re trying to do this on my income only at the moment and the upshot is that the closing costs would’ve been about a grand and a half more than we actually had set aside for the downpayment/closing and then the monthly payment would be almost half of my net monthly income. Thus began my panic attack that evening. I won’t bore you with details, but suffice it to say that we withdrew the bid the next morning and decided to try looking for homes under $100,000, which there aren’t a whole hell of a lot of these days outside of cities we’d rather not live in. I’m sure at this point our Realtor, Mike Mazurek, is ready to pull his hair out, but he’s been incredibly patient with us.

Beyond driving our Realtor nuts, I’ve managed to get my dad’s computer upgraded to Windows 7 as my parents were still running Windows XP and support for that just dried up. Mom is supposed to get my old Win 7 Home license as I upgraded my machine to Windows 8.1 and moved my 7 Pro license to Anne’s machine, but when I went to upgrade Mom’s it was clear it wasn’t up to running it. I ended up bring it home so I could figure out what I need to do to get it to work and she’s currently sharing Dad’s PC. So if she’s not blogging quite as often as she used to, it’s my fault.

The only other new thing with us is Anne and I made the switch from Virgin Mobile to T-Mobile yesterday and upgraded our phones to a pair of Nexus 5s in the process. Took awhile for our numbers to port over, but we’re up and running and it’s nice to have a decent smartphone close at hand.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Nothing particularly exciting other than freaking out over trying to buy a home. I’ll try to get back into posting more regularly. Now that I have the Nexus I may even try blogging from that. Maybe put up some pictures. Maybe even a vlog. Though I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that.

We are officially looking for a home to buy.

CalvinonAdulthoodIt’s taken entirely longer than I ever imagined it would, but Anne and I are finally in a position to start looking for a house to buy. Having read umpteen million horror stories of first-time buying experiences over the years it goes without saying that we are a little intimidated by the whole process, but we’re jumping in with both feet because there’s really no other way to get started.

Ironically enough, our opportunity springs from Anne becoming unemployed. Her previous employer had an Employee Stock Purchase program as its form of retirement savings and as she is no longer employed there she had to option cash it out, which she did, and after taxes and penalties it’s just enough to make a 5% down-payment on a house of $150,000 or less. So that’s what we’re looking for.

We started browsing homes online Wednesday night on Zillow.com and I have to say that it’s amazing how quickly a real estate agent will get back to you even after 8PM. The first three homes we filled out “we’re interested” forms on called or texted me within 10 minutes of us hitting send. One of them already has a pending offer on it, which is a shame because it looked perfect online and was close to work. Another one had just listed that day and already had 11 offers so if we were pre-approved (we’re not) and ready to make a fast decision (we’re not) then it was an option. We passed on it. The third one in Whitmore Lake we’re scheduled to go look at this evening after work. Of the three, it’s the one we were least excited about — it’s an old house built in 1940 — but we figure it doesn’t hurt to look so we will.

All of the agents are, of course, trying to lock us into using them for any additional searches and that brings up the first problem we’re facing: How do you know which agent is willing to put up with us long enough to find a good deal on a home? A coworker suggested I ask each one how many homes they would have to show us before they got annoyed. I have a feeling we’re going to be a particular pain in the ass because A) we need something that’s ready to move into as I’m far from a handy man and I won’t be able to afford a contractor anytime soon, B) being that I’m buying a home so late in life I have every intention of making it the only home I ever buy… unless I win the lotto, C) I’d prefer to have city water/sewer and a finished basement, though that’s not a deal breaker if it’s a really good buy, and D) I’d prefer to avoid places with Home Owner Associations.

Our lease comes to an end in May and we need to let the apartment complex know if we intend to renew it a month ahead of time and that’s the second problem we’re facing. Rent is likely to go up (jumped nearly $200 last year) and if we try to do a 6 month or a monthly it’ll be even more ridiculous. So do we sign up for a year and then break it when we find a home? I think our agreement includes a clause allowing us to do so if we buy a house, but I’d have to double check it to be sure. We’re going to go into the office and discuss it with management soon.

So, yeah, the next weeks and/or months are sure to be filled with joy and peace as we undertake what I understand to be one of the more stressful life events you can engage in. Change is always fun, but if we don’t do it now I don’t think we’ll ever own a home of our own. Feel free to leave your horror stories of first-time home buying in the comments and, if you have any advice, that would be good too.

The secret to prolific blogging is small, bite sized chunks.

I’ve been trying to get back into blogging more regularly in part so that the folks who still come here often have something to read and in part to try and build up an audience again. So I decided to take a look at my archives at the early months where I had lots of entries such as March of 2002 (50) and January of 2003 (71). What struck me about the vast majority of those entries is that they are very small. Often just a handful of sentences in a single paragraph with a few consisting of as little as two sentences. There’s also a dearth of pictures of any kind and when I wanted to point out an interesting article I’d read someplace else I often just linked to it saying “go read this” instead of quoting sections of it.

This picture has nothing to do with the article. I just thought it was funny. Expect more shit like this.

This picture has nothing to do with the article. I just thought it was funny. Expect more shit like this. It’s hard to see, but that’s Christopher Walken. Get it?

I skipped around over the months and could slowly see how my blogging style morphed into longer pieces filled with blockquotes and pictures, but fewer and fewer entries overall until we get to the situation we have today where I’m lucky if I have more than 7 entries in a month. There’s a couple of factors that contributed to this that I can see.

First is the fact that the longer a blog post is the longer it takes to write. It’s not uncommon for a post like the one I did on the so-called atheist megachurches to eat up several hours of effort spread out over the course of a day. I might start writing it before heading into work, adding pieces during short breaks at work (over lunch or while waiting for a laptop to stage), and finishing it off in a couple of hours after I get home in the evening. Part of this is rewrites and editing in an attempt to get my message across clearly and part of it is research that I’ll do while writing the entry itself. Sometimes I’ll destroy whole sections after coming up with a new point to make during the periods when I’m not actively working on the entry. The atheist megachurch entry flowed out of me pretty smoothly taking a mere four and a half hours total to write, but those hours have big gaps between edits.

The second factor is the rise of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ which are perfect for blurting out a couple of sentences about something you thought other people would be interested in knowing, but that you don’t have a whole lot to say about. While my Twitter and Facebook accounts don’t tend to be particularly active (I find 140 characters to be very limiting and I generally just don’t like Facebook), my output on Google+ is as prolific as ever. I posted 10 items yesterday alone; almost all of which fit the style of blogging I did in the early days. The vast majority have a sentence or two and then the link to whatever it is I’m sharing. If I’m really worked up there might be a full paragraph and, rarely, there’ll be a posting that has three paragraphs of ranting. In fact, looking over my G+ timeline it’s clear that I’m sharing on average 10 to 15 items a day there. Even my Facebook sharing has gotten more frequent with items I think friends and family members would want to know about, though most of what ends up on my FB profile is still just Tweets imported in. My blog ends up being left to the longer posts which I write much less frequently due to amount of time they take. I tried to solve this problem in the past by using a plugin that would import my Google+ entries into SEB so folks could see and comment on them, but some folks thought they had to be Google+ members to see the entire entry (they didn’t, it was all imported into SEB) or leave comments (they didn’t, the comments worked the same as before) so I dropped it. These days my shortest SEB posts tend to be for YouTube videos I found that I think my mother would love to see so I post them here instead of Google+ where I would normally share them. My mother reads my blog, but she refuses to join any of the social media websites so anything I share on G+, FB or Twitter she’ll never see.

Looking back at the archives I’m amazed at some of the very short entries I wrote. There’s more than a few that are a single sentence consisting of some random thought that would’ve fit perfectly into Twitter. There’s even a few that consist of sentence fragments that tie into a sentence fragment used for the title of the entry. I can remember a time when I felt a little guilty about those short entries because folks would come by the site and there’d be a couple of tiny entries and I’d worry they’d felt it wasn’t worth the effort of launching their browsers, but it seems most folks didn’t mind. So I’m going to try and regress back a bit and start sharing some of the stuff I’d toss up on Twitter or G+ here on SEB instead. SEB is my home base on the Internet and there’s no good reason I shouldn’t do the majority of my sharing here. I’ll still probably post a shit ton of stuff on G+ with occasional spurts on Twitter and Facebook, but I’m going to make more of an effort to share stuff here at my virtual fortress of solitude. So expect more frequent, if smaller, content on SEB. Some of the entries might even be tiny or consist entirely of a funny picture. It worked in the past and perhaps a return to my blogging roots is just what SEB needs.

I am (probably) not the Les Jenkins you’re looking for.

funny-quote-nice-person-meetI don’t know about you guys, but I tend to think of my name as being somewhat unique. The truth is that it really isn’t. Well, in its full form it’s somewhat unique, but I don’t tend to use that form much opting for the briefer “Les Jenkins” that you’ve all come to adore. On one level I know that it’s really not that unique, but I still tend to think it is because sometimes my brain is stupid.

So when I suddenly get emails like the following:

Good Morning,

Thank you for your offer on 309 Mignon Ave.  The seller has chosen to go with anther offer.

Thank you for your consideration.

A Random Person

It’s a little confusing. What offer? I don’t remember making an offer. I’m glad they went with a different offer because I’d hate to have bought something I don’t recall making an offer on. Just where the hell is 309 Mignon Ave anyway and what is there that I made an offer on? Did I try to buy a crackhouse in my sleep or something?

It’s at this point that I remind myself that, as much as I’d love it to be so, I’m not the only Les Jenkins in the world. So I send a reply saying something like: Dear Random Person. I don’t recall making an offer on anything. Are you sure you have the right Les Jenkins? Sincerely, A Les Jenkins. 

When I did that today I got a reply back letting me know it was for a house somewhere in Alabama that someone had submitted a bid for on my behalf and it included scans of the documents and of a check written for the sale. The documents revealed that this other Les Jenkins has an email address of LesJenkins32 and he happens to be a real estate agent down in Alabama. Yeah, that’s definitely not me. I’m not that young or attractive anymore. (As an aside, it’s very weird to stare into the face of someone else with your name.) I replied once more to let Random Person know that there’s no 32 in my email address. Because I’ve been on the Internet for a helluva long time and am often an early adopter of new services, I managed to net plain old les.jenkins as my gmail account name.

Needless to say, this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten email meant for some other Les Jenkins. A couple months back, I’m not sure if it was the same email address or not, but I suddenly found myself in the middle of a conversation about someone’s funeral arrangements. Someone was trying to contact that Les Jenkins, whoever he/she was, to let them know about a family member’s death. That’s an awkward thing to be accidentally included on. Considering the importance of the situation I replied as respectfully as I could that I wasn’t the Les Jenkins they had intended to contact.

There are a lot of us out there including a trombonist with the same name who was a part of Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra, an affiliate marketing guy, a “Goal-Setting and Achievement Guru” out of Colorado (who, coincidentally, is originally from Detroit), and a seemingly infinite array of others including a surprising number of rednecks.

So, yeah, my name isn’t all that unique. Kind of a bummer, but I’m sure I’ll forget that fact in a short while. At least until the next email for one of those other imposters shows up in my inbox.

My appearance on the West X Midwest podcast.

For those of you who didn’t watch it live, which is probably the vast majority of you, here’s the YouTube video of my appearance on the West X Midwest podcast:

If you prefer to listen instead of watch you can do so either at Libsyn or on iTunes. However you go about it, I make my appearance about half-way through. Don’t skip ahead, though, as the whole thing is worth a listen. In fact, if you’ve spent much time around SEB you’ve probably heard (read) most of what I say anyway. Still, for those of you in love with the melodious sound of my voice, this should fit the bill.

Time for another “Les isn’t dead yet” update.

exercisemotivationI last wrote about my state of health back on August 2nd so I figured it was time to give those of you who are interested an update on my current status.

The short version: I’m not dead yet.

The long version: I’m doing better. I still haven’t lost any weight — in fact I shot up to 308 pounds at one point which was a first — but I am doing better. We still don’t know for sure exactly what my chest problem was, but it’s gone away and hasn’t been back and I’m no longer taking Prilosec for it. I’ve been trying to exercise and count calories since that incident flared up and I started off really strong managing to do 15 minutes on our elliptical every weekday morning for near three weeks until my back flared up and I took a week off. Since my back got better I’ve only managed two to three times a week for reasons including sore legs and back twinges. I’ve also given up on trying to accurately track my calories as the MyFitnessPal app only worked occasionally on my smartphone and figuring out dinner counts was way more of a hassle than it was worth. Not that it matters as even with over-estimating how much I was eating I was still coming in under what it said was my limit that should have made me lose a pound a week and yet, as you’ll recall from the first sentence, no weight loss has occurred.

I saw my doctor this past Monday and told her about how demoralized I was getting with the whole process. I’ve been told repeatedly the exercise will get easier. It hasn’t. I’ve been told to expect a little weight gain at first, but after a couple of weeks I’d drop below my starting weight. I haven’t and it’s been almost three months. I still can’t make it more than 15 minutes without risking my legs giving out. The only indicator I had that there was any improvement is that it now takes almost 10 minutes before I start sweating profusely whereas it was just a couple of minutes at the beginning. Other than that I’m making myself miserable and not seeing any positive results for it.

My doc is a smart lady. She knows I need something to show me I’m making a difference so she orders me to have blood work done right then and there without bothering to fast first as you’re supposed to. So I do as I’m told and yesterday we got the results back.

I mentioned last time that almost all the bad stuff was too high and the good stuff too low. I specifically mentioned that my sugar was 254 and this time it was 247 which is still high, but my HbA1C, which is an average of my blood sugar over the past few months, had dropped from 9.8 to 8.2. The goal is to get it to 7.0 or under and I’m headed in that direction. My total cholesterol has greatly improved dropping from 235 to 140 with the goal being less than 200. My LDL (bad cholesterol) went from 151 to 79, the target is 100 or less, but my HDL (good cholesterol) also dropped from 36 to 27. She says that happens sometimes when you lower the bad stuff and not to worry about it just yet. Finally my Triglycerides were 169 down from a high of 241 last time and the goal for that is less than 150. Considering this was a lab done without fasting that’s seems pretty good to me.

So the upshot of all that is I am far from perfect healthwise and I’ve not lost any weight yet (I was 299.6 on Monday), but I’m definitely getting better. She wants me to keep exercising for as long as I can managed it every other weekday (Mon, Wed, Fri) and if I can squeeze one in on the weekends that’d be gravy. I’m still trying to pay attention to calories and portion sizes and she’s pointed me to a couple of other possible apps to help with that. I go back for another lab and followup in three months.

I’m happy to see that at least something about my health appears to be improving, though even a tiny bit of weight loss would go a long damned way to helping my motivation. I don’t think I’ll ever be thin again, but losing at least a few pounds would be really nice. So I’m keeping at it. I’m not particularly good at it, but I’m managing it in my own way.

On Sunday I will turn 46 years old…

… and, for the first time in my life, I finally feel like an adult. At least partially.

I’ve written many times about the various ways in which I don’t feel like a real adult. Be it because of my lack of artsy home decor or finding myself in various situations I have no knowledge of how to handle because life doesn’t come with a How-To manual, there’s plenty of times that I’ve been left wondering when the adult switch in my head would flip and everything would change. I’m slowly realizing it doesn’t work like that.

imagespeople-personOddly enough, the one thing that has made me feel like an adult for the first time in my life is tied to the ongoing rift in the atheist/skeptic community over feminism and sexual harassment. I stopped paying much attention to the atheist/skeptic community quite some time ago in part because I felt that people on both sides of the ‘debate’ were acting like assholes, but there are still a few people that I follow on Google+/Twitter and as a result I occasionally allow myself to get sucked back in when the next big drama flares up like a virtual hemorrhoid. The latest controversy has arisen from a blog post by PZ Myers in which he accuses prominent professional skeptic Michael Shermer of raping a woman at a conference at some unspecified point in the past based on an email he got from the alleged victim who neither wants to be named nor to press charges (supposedly because it was long enough ago that it’s no longer possible).

That’s a pretty major accusation to be tossing around and Shermer has already threatened to sue PZ for defamation if he doesn’t take the blog post down and apologize. PZ (obviously) has not complied and has added in further statements from other anonymous women that seem to bolster the claims made by the first anonymous woman. That’s about as far as I’m going to bother describing the situation because it’s really not the point of this entry, but rather the catalyst that led me to realize that I’m an adult in at least one fundamental way. As for my opinion on it: Fuck if I know if Michael Shermer is guilty of rape. I don’t know the man personally and have only read a couple of his books on skepticism and how the brain works. His books are pretty good reading. He may very well be a sexual harasser for all I know, but until someone has the gumption to come forward with some evidence beyond anonymous emails sent to a prominent blogger, I’ll continue to give him the benefit of doubt as I don’t know him, or the other people involved in this mess, to make any value judgements about their character or honesty.

That said, what there is no doubt in my mind is that there is a huge problem with men — in a number of communities I care about — that can’t seem to grow the fuck up and treat women with a modicum of respect. While I’m unwilling to commit to the idea that specifically Michael Shermer is a rapist (or even a harasser) without more to go on, I don’t doubt that women at skepticism/atheism/video game/anime/business/underwater basket weaving conferences are routinely sexually assaulted/harassed. It’s been years since I last attended a con of any kind, but even back when I did it wasn’t uncommon to see women being harassed by idiots who somehow thought that being in the presence of a breathing woman was an open invitation to cop a feel. So I know this shit does happen because I’ve seen it. It seems to become more prevalent with alcohol consumption, but I’ve seen plenty of sober dickheads who couldn’t keep their hands off of someone else too.

Still, I always thought (believed?) that these guys were the exception to the rule and were limited in number. These days with the Internet giving all of them a means of voicing their ‘opinions’ worldwide it’s become clear to me that they are not the small minority I thought they were. In perusing the various blog posts about Myer’s bombshell I eventually stumbled across one that linked to a YouTube video by Ashley Paramore wherein she describes a recent sexual assault she was victim to at a conference. It’s lengthy, but worth a watch:

Some guys seem stuck in this line of thinking.

Some guys seem stuck in this line of thinking.

As I listened to Ashley describe how someone she considered a good friend repeatedly assaulted her in an attempt to get her to sleep with him all I could think to myself was how the fuck does anyone think that’s an appropriate approach to take. It’s like Jim-Bob, her friend, was somehow stuck in the first grade where the height of romantic thinking was that pulling a girl’s hair somehow indicated that you liked her. Except instead of pulling her hair he was grabbing her ass and reaching for other personal areas.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m your typical white, middle-aged, heterosexual male who occasionally looks at attractive, naked women on the Internet because, hey, it’s attractive, naked women. And there have been plenty of women over the years as I grew up – that I’ve known personally and that I’ve never met — whom I have fantasised about and whom I would have given my left arm to bump uglies with. That right there probably rules me out of being considered a feminist,  but not once did I think the right way to try and make my dreams come true involved just assuming she wanted me and going for it. Maybe I’m exceptional in that way.

I can clearly remember an event in Junior High when most of the boys had noticed that most of the girls were suddenly developing new and interesting shapes on their figures and there was a rash of uninvited gropings that prompted the principal to haul all of us guys down to the gym one afternoon to tell us not to touch the girls without permission. A few days later he had to haul us all down to the gym again to revise his statement to just don’t touch the girls because apparently all of the idiots who had been groping them were now endlessly pestering them for permission to grope them. I remember being amazed that anyone had that much chutzpah to begin with, despite desperately wanting to touch a boob myself.

Not that I was a paragon of virtue. In high school I’d often remark to my male friends about a passing female that I would love to “bend over a table” because I thought it was a funny thing to say and I was a stupid teenager, but there was always the unsaid coda of “but only with her enthusiastic permission.” There were many times I tried my hardest to convince someone that fooling around with me was something they’d regret missing out on… and I got really good at handling rejection. All without deciding that I should just go ahead and show them what they’d be missing.

Perhaps it’s because I was bullied so much as a kid. I am well aware of the helplessness that comes from someone forcing their will upon you. Though in my case it was an ass kicking instead of a groping. Still, a lot of the power dynamics behind it seem similar to me and that’s enough to keep me from doing it to someone else.

I’ve grown up and I don’t worry about being bullied anymore, but lots of women — too many women — still wake up every day wondering where the next sexual assault will be coming from. Too many men haven’t grown the fuck up. They’re still acting like the selfish, entitled, spoiled brats they were as kids thinking they have the right to do what they want with the opposite sex. I just don’t understand it. I also don’t understand what it is they hope to accomplish when they respond to a woman speaking up about feminism or rape and sexual assault by threatening to rape and/or kill her.

wtfcat

How the fuck is that supposed to change her mind? I know, I know. It’s not supposed to change her mind. It’s supposed to intimidate her into shutting the fuck up. I guess I just answered my own question.

I’m far from being an example of the perfect male, but I’ve always tried to keep my baser instincts in check. I’ve also spoken out when I witnessed someone being harassed. I can recall one example from my early 20′s late at night at a Denny’s where my best friend and I had stopped for a late supper. A couple of drunk rednecks wandered in and took a seat at the table next to a pair of women and started to “flirt” with them. The women clearly weren’t interested and said as much to the men in no uncertain terms. The men didn’t take the rejection well and redoubled their efforts by physically touching the women on their hair and clothes and asking how much for a lap dance. My friend and I looked at each other and then spoke up. The dunks told us to mind our fucking business and we suggested they take their own advice. The sized us up as they threatened to kick our asses and then opted to leave deciding that us being sober probably gave us the advantage. We weren’t trying to be white knights, we just thought it was the right thing to do.

So, yeah, watching that video and trying to understand how anyone above the age of 10 could think it was the proper approach to wooing a woman made me feel like an adult for one of the first times in my life. I may not have completely grown up in many other ways, but as I approach my birthday I feel that I’ve grown up in one of the more important ones. Now if only more of us could do the same.

A small update on my health.

youarewhatyoueatI’ve had a couple of folks ask me for an update on my health so I thought I should post an entry about it. Here’s the short version:

We’re not 100% sure what the hell the problem was, but it appears to have gone away.

My doctor seems pretty confident that it was esophageal muscle spasms and I’m inclined to agree, but at the time I wrote the last blog entry they felt a lot like heart palpitations. I continued to experience whatever the hell they were for the next week and a half. They only stopped recurring a day or so ago. I was due to have a heart stress test today just to be on the safe side, but the place she originally recommended was out of my network so we’ve postponed it until I can find out from my insurance company of an in-network place I can go.

That said, the results from the blood work I had done show I’m in terrible shape. All the bad things are too high and the good things are too low. For example, my glucose level was 254 when it should have been (after a 12 hour fast) below 140. Bad cholesterol is too high, good cholesterol is too low along with vitamin D. It’s not all bad news as my electrolytes, liver, and kidneys all seem to be in good shape. Still, the whole experience scared me enough to motivate me to make some changes.

So a week ago Thursday I dusted off the elliptical and hauled my fat ass up onto it and did 15 minutes of exercise, which is about all I could handle before my legs gave out. I managed to crawl back on it last Friday and do another 15. I also installed the MyFitnessPal app on my phone and started trying to track calories. I put in my stats to the app (weight, height, amount of moving around I do at work) and it calculated out how many calories I could eat a day and still lose a pound a week before taking into account any exercise I did. Then the weekend hit and I fell off the wagon. Didn’t track calories. Didn’t get on the elliptical.

This week I’ve managed to do 15 minutes of exercise every day except Tuesday when I only managed 5 minutes due to some other events taking place that morning. Tracking calories hasn’t fully recovered. It’s a stunning pain in the ass to do and the app has been having trouble connecting to the servers and any of a number of other excuses I can make up, but I am still paying closer attention to the calorie count of the things I’m eating and trying to make better choices.

My legs are ready to mutiny and I’m starting to tire of all the folks telling me it’ll get easier as time goes on because it’s not getting any easier fast enough. It’s also somewhat disheartening to look down at the display on the elliptical just before my legs give out and see that after 15 minutes of vigorous exercise that has left me a panting, sweaty mess (which is why I’m doing it in the morning before my shower) that I’ve only managed to burn a pathetic 113 calories. My enthusiasm isn’t helped any further by the fact that last week when I stepped on the scale we have here at work (good for upwards of 2500 pounds) I came in at 298 and maybe a half pounds  – the scale couldn’t settle on whether that .5 was legit or not and kept flopping back and forth — and today, a week later, when I stepped on the scale it read a solid 299.5. Which means I’ve gained one to one and a half pounds since I started trying to control my calorie intake and exercise.

Needless to say I’m feeling pretty fucking pessimistic about my success at the diet and exercise thing, but at least my heart isn’t about to fail. I will trudge on and attempt to expand my daily exercise to 20 minutes a session by the end of next week and I’ll redouble my efforts to track my calories, but I’m going to be an a piss-poor mood for some time to come. And, yes, I realize it took me a long time to get myself into this situation and it’ll take a long time to get myself out of it, but it would help if the initial attempts to start doing the right things didn’t seem to make the situation worse. I would’ve been thrilled if I’d managed to lose .2 pounds, but nooooooo.

Once again I fall victim to a mystery ailment.

So this past weekend was exciting for all the wrong reasons. After unloading groceries from the car I was struck by heart palpitations. Or at least I assumed they were heart palpitations. Not sure what they were now because… well, that’s getting ahead of the story.

It’s not like I’ve never had heart palpitations before because I’m overweight and out of shape, but usually they last about 5 or 10 minutes and then they go away. This felt like the same thing as in times past, but they didn’t go away after I had regained my breath. They didn’t go away after 20 minutes, or 45 minutes, or the rest of the night. They kept flaring up over and over and I wasn’t entirely sure after a while if they were palpitations or not. Until I went to bed that night.

I tend to sleep on my sides because I’m too fat to sleep on my stomach. Laying on my sides Sunday night, however, resulted in very strong palpitations that were definitely from my heart. Strong enough that at a couple of points I wondered if I should wake Anne and go to an ER because I might actually be having some form of a heart attack. I didn’t have any of the other symptoms of a heart attack though so I waited it out and eventually I feel asleep. In the morning I felt back to normal until I got up to do my morning routine and the palpitations returned.

Figuring that 14 hours or so was an awful long time to have palpitations, I called into work and sent an email to my doctor who advised that I come into the office and have an EKG done. Never one to ignore my doctor’s advice that’s what I did only to find that my heartbeat was just fine. “Textbook” is the word she used. So whatever the hell the problem is it doesn’t appear to be my heart. So the doc ordered up some blood work to be done, but I had to fast for 12 hours first so I hit the lab on the way into work this morning and had blood drawn. So far it’s indicating that my only real problems are 1) high-ish cholesterol and 2) glucose levels way higher than they should be. Electrolytes, liver, and kidneys were all OK. Just to be sure, the Doc has me going in for a heart stress test a week from this Friday.  Right now she thinks it might be my esophageal muscle spasming so she’s put me on Prilosec to see if that gets it under control. Since Sunday night I’ve continued to have the sensation in my chest, though less intense and less frequently as time has passed.

This whole experience has been both somewhat disturbing (my heart’s freaking the fuck out) and highly annoying (I’m not experiencing any of the other heart attack symptoms). If you think you might be having a heart attack and you check online to remind yourself of the symptoms you find that they’re amazingly vague:

The most common heart attack symptoms are chest discomfort or pain, which lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back; upper body discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach; shortness of breath with or before chest discomfort; nausea; vomiting; lightheadedness or fainting; and breaking out in a cold sweat.

I wasn’t in any pain, the sensation wasn’t comfortable but I wasn’t sure it qualified as discomfort, it was going away and coming back, no problems with upper body or arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. I could breath just fine. No nausea to speak of, no vomiting, lightheadedness or fainting. I did break out in a sweat after unloading the groceries, but it was a hot sweat and probably the result of the effort. Of course they tell you you may only have a few symptoms and if they last more than 5 minutes you should call an ambulance. I only had one symptom, what I thought was heart palpitations. I’ve never experienced a heart attack before so I wasn’t sure if what I was experiencing qualified. So do I call an ambulance or not?

Obviously I decided not to and probably saved myself both an unnecessary expense and a red face in the process and it turns out I’m probably not experiencing anything all that life threatening, but it has served as a great wake up call to get my shit together and start doing something to lose weight and get my blood sugar under control. It was more than a little scary on Sunday night. I think this may just have been the nudge I needed to get my act together. I’m signing up for Weight Watchers Online as I type.

Man, this is going to suck…