Here I Go Again

I’m embarking on yet another weight loss journey. This morning I weighed 261 pounds. Based on my height and branch of service, my maximum weight according to Uncle Sam is 160 pounds. So, my goal is 159 pounds. And I want to be there by the end of the year. That’s almost exactly two pounds per week, sustained for an entire year. 

My plan is to consume 1,000 calories less every day than I used the previous day. But it’s not just about calories. I’m cutting meat and animal products to ten percent or less of my calorie intake. I plan to eliminate refined sugar from my diet completely, and keep my saturated fat intake to a minimum. Sodium consumption must also be minimized, and balanced by potassium. Fortunately, I can have all the starchy vegetables that I want – since they are pretty much the only ones that I like. 

According to my fitness tracker, I used 2,796 calories yesterday. So, today’s maximum is 1,800 calories. 

Breakfast was salad with a homemade salad dressing, a cup of buckwheat with the entire spice rack and a splash of bone broth thrown in, and 200 grams of fresh pineapple. Total, 330 calories. 

I’m taking another two cups of buckwheat, two cups of boiled wheat berries, and two cans of light fruit cocktail with me for lunch and dinner. Assuming that I eat it all, that will put me at 1,745 calories for the day. No refined sugar, negligible animal products, and maybe one gram of saturated fat. Minimal sodium, too – all from the bone broth. 

On my way home, I plan to stop at the gym and do something cardio-ish for 45 minutes.  

Then I have to repeat for 363 more days. This is going to suck! 

EDIT: I couldn’t do the wheat berries. I’ll have to make them a supplemental ingredient in another dish. Too bad, because I have gallons of the things.  Couldn’t finish the second round of buckwheat either. Also, the second can of fruit cocktail was a no-go. The gym didn’t happen – too much foot pain. This is going to be a huge challenge. 

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New Favorite Pen And Ink

Greetings, everyone! I would like to apologize for my scarcity of late. Simply put, life has interfered. I am alive and well, despite any rumors to the contrary. 

It is no secret that I am a fan of fountain pens. It is also no secret that I pretty much loathe everything Parker that I have ever touched. Brace yourself. 

A few years ago, based on a good friend’s recommendation, I bought three plastic Parker Vectors. I despised them. The fit and finish sucked, even considering the price point. The end where the cap should go when you are using the pen was too small and not tapered, meaning that you had no secure place for your cap while the pen was in use. And, despite a supposed fine nib, they left a LOT of ink on the paper. 

I successfully modified the barrel ends with clear fingernail polish so the cap would post securely. I attempted to modify the nibs to decrease the line width and ink volume, but that didn’t go nearly as well. So, I deemed them work pens, used them regularly, and didn’t care if they got lost or damaged. They were boringly reliable, and thus well-suited for the role. Over time, all three got lost or damaged. 

I’ve been trying to find a replacement since the last one disappeared a few months ago. I tried some of my less-favorite existing Chinese pens. Then I bought a multi-pack of Jinhao 599s, which are a Lamy Safari knockoff. I even risked my genuine Safari. Every single one of the aforementioned pens dried out between uses. Since I am not regularly running machines every day, which requires hourly log sheet entries, I only need a pen a few times per day. None were up to the task. 

I bought a couple of budget models from Fountain Pen Revolution, but they leaked badly with every change of the weather. Or temperature. Or almost anything else. I trashed one and am contemplating the same fate for the other. 

My trusty Nemosine kept unscrewing itself in my pocket, which made a hell of a mess several times. And there’s no way I’m risking my Platinum Century 3776 for work. 

So, I went Vector shopping. I found a “stainless steel” version with a fine nib for eleven federal reserve notes. (I’ll bet a day’s pay that the metal used doesn’t meet even the most liberal definition of Stainless Steel, but it looks the part.) I ordered one. I find it attractive, even elegant in its simplicity. The finish is very similar to my Sonnet, which would be a great pen, but it costs about seven times as much as the Vector and is about seven hundred times less reliable.  

This Vector posts securely, and because of the slight extra heft from the metal, I like the feel better than the plastic ones that used to have.  I inked it with the rest of my Noodler’s Dostoevsky sample. Dostoevsky is a pretty, blue-green (almost turquoise if applied lightly), water-resistant ink that is on the edge of blue enough for professional use. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have full bottles in stock at the moment, at least not at the usual cost of one ounce of silver. I like it, but not enough to pay 20FRN for a bottle. 

As seems to be the norm for Vectors, mine is very wet. If you apply any pressure to the tip or pause for more than two nanoseconds with the nib in contact with the paper, it will bleed through any paper that is not at least Moleskine quality. However, it does write smoothly, and is as reliable as the sun.  As long as you are aware of its quirks and adapt your style to compensate, it is a good choice. 

Yes, I just recommended a Parker pen. The end is nigh!

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CPAP Adventures

In a few hours, I will be heading to a local Durable Medical Equipment company to pick up my Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine. Hopefully it will help me have more restful sleep and prevent me from waking up gasping for air as has happened twice in the last year.

I’m pretty sure my sleep doctor is more focused on the business side of being a doctor than he is on the efficient treatment of his patients. I say this because this adventure started seventy-six days ago. First of all, the sleep clinic wouldn’t see me without a referral, even though my insurance has no such requirement. Fortunately, I was able to get in to see my family doctor the day after I was told about the need for said referral.

They were able to get me an initial appointment fourteen days later, which I felt was reasonable. The doc evaluated my symptoms, and said that I needed a sleep study. Insurance pre-authorization was required, and would also dictate whether the study would be at home or in the sleep lab. They got the answer from the insurance company and got me into the lab for sleep study number one seven days later. This, too, was promptly enough for my liking.

Then shit went sideways. Doc required that I come in for a follow-up to discuss treatment after spending the night in the lab, and the earliest appointment was twenty-one days after I spent the night in the lab. On the day of this appointment, Doc spent less than five minutes with me. He said that I have severe sleep apnea, and that I stopped breathing an average of one hundred six times per hour. Treatment options were limited to a new treatment that I did not qualify for because of my BMI, surgery that he did not recommend, or a CPAP. Obviously, the only real option was the CPAP. Which required a second sleep study. Why the fuck couldn’t he have looked at the lab results and have someone call me and tell me that I need to get my ass back in for another sleep study as soon as fucking possible instead of making me delay treatment an additional three weeks, just so he could collect for another office visit?!?

Well, they got me back in four days later for sleep study number two, during which they played with the pressure on the CPAP to determine how to set my machine once they prescribed it to me. But wait.

Yes, you guessed it. I had to wait another seventeen days for yet another follow-up to find out my magic number before they would send over my prescription to the DME company so they could get me a machine and configure it. And it’s not like Doc needed this extra time to review either lab result, because when I went back for my second follow-up, he asked which room I slept in so he could go look at the file. Three minutes later, he was back. “You need eighteen centimeters of pressure. We will call over to the DME company today. Expect them to call you within the next few days to set up an appointment to pick up your CPAP.”

Motherfucker, there is no reason for yet another two and a half weeks of waiting for treatment. You kept throwing around the word urgent, but instead of taking five minutes to review my sleep lab data and having one of your flunkies call me and then the DME company, you had to make me wait so I could pay you for another office visit.

As promised, five days later, the DME folks called me and told me that they could get me in seven days hence to pick up my machine. That is in a few hours.

I’m all for capitalism and making an honest dollar. I would’ve happily paid for an office visit and never shown up for either follow-up.  Just have someone fucking call me the next day so my treatment can move forward instead having to wait thirty-eight days longer than necessary, just to work me into your schedule.

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​I Really Should Know Better

I hate to throw anything away. I have a color laser printer that I bought years ago, just as they were becoming affordable-ish. Some time ago, it started printing shadows from previous pages. The wisdom of the internet at the time said that the drum was almost certainly the culprit, despite the fact that I was nowhere near the page count that was normal end of life for the model. A new drum cost half as much as the printer, so I let it sit for years, using my inkjet instead. 

A couple weeks ago, I decided it was time to toss it. However, before doing so, I rechecked drum prices. I found that one could be had for slightly more than half of what they were bringing when I initially looked into them. I decided to order one. 

You guessed it. The new drum didn’t fix the problem. Additional research indicates that the issue could also be caused by part X or Y. Sometimes, part Z will do it, too. 

Fuck it. Its final ride will be on this week’s trash truck. 

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How Did We Get Here?

A friend of mine is having problems with her air conditioner, and it looks like she’s going to need to replace the indoor unit part of the unit. She was going over the estimate with me, and three line items stood out. It seems that the county requires two permits and an inspection fee to replace a part of the original home that’s been there long enough to have failed. 

So, not only did the county require multiple bribes (permits) and even more bribes (inspections) during the construction phase of the house, but when a repair is needed on a component that was already the subject of a construction-era bribe, more bribes are required. 

And that’s not all. Only a person or company who has paid the necessary bribes to receive both a contractor’s license and a “normal” business license can perform said work. 

Still think we live in a free country?

Then you’re a dumbass! 

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Goodbye S6

Yes, I’m still alive. Obviously. I’ve been too busy to post of late, but I’m fine.

In April, 2016, I purchased a used Samsung Galaxy 6 to replace the severely underpowered LG Power that I had been using for several months. Last week, I switched back to the LG. 

It was about six months before I started noticing a significantly shortened battery life with the S6. I was going to replace the battery until I got quotes north of a hundred federal reserve notes for the privilege. Then I considered attempting the replacement myself. A couple of instructional videos later, I understood the reason for the price. I wasn’t venturing down that path. 

I carried portable power packs (batteries with a USB output) for a while to supplement the failing onboard battery for times when no electrical outlet was available. Then I learned that cases that have batteries made into them are a thing.  I bought one rated at about one and one-third the capacity of the original battery. 

Four months later, I couldn’t get through a ten hour shift with maybe one hour of active use and the rest standby time. On average, the battery would drop about one percent for every minute of active use and about twenty percent per hour of standby. When the battery hit about 30% remaining, I would turn on the battery in the case. It would drain in about an hour and leave the onboard battery at eighty-something percent. 

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that either the onboard battery and case battery are both shit, or something about the phone is causing it to use an obscenely high amount of power. I loaded a power usage monitoring application, and it reported normal readings. 

So, do I assume that the phone itself is fine and shell out for a new internal battery, buy a better case batttery, continue using this frustrating LG, or pony up for a new phone? I’m not sure I like any of those choices. 

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