Chris Miller


The Winter of Our Discontent

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The wheels began to fall off somewhere around Thanksgiving, if memory serves. Omicron had just made it’s debut and people were starting to have second thoughts bout the upcoming holiday parties they’d been invited to. I was no different. The further we got into December, the less I looked forward to holidays. Actually, it’s more complex than that. I held out come for a normal holiday season full of family, but each day the news of the virus seemed to make it less and less likely.

On 12/14, we were all ready to gather with friends and family.

On 12/20, we were still hopeful.

On 12/22, everyone was sick with something. Some tested positive for Covid, others the flu. Christmas, with all families was cancelled. Very, very disappointing.

By 12/24, we’d noticed a cough that I’d had for a while was getting worse. I started to have aches and such. On 12/28, when the full body rash came, it was time to get tested for Covid.

Negative.

What? Ok. Sure.

On 12/30, the ER trip happened. 1am, rushed in. Not Covid, they said. Not the flu. Not RSV. None of the above.

It was pneumonia. And I’d had it for a while. Based on conversations with the doctors, looking at the severity, and guaging my own health, I’d likely had some form of it since October.

It was bad. Put me flat on my back for almost two weeks. Antibiotics, steroids. Coughed so hard I managed to throw my back out (which I have a PT appointment for later today. FML.)

I’m almost over the pneumonia now. Cough is lingering. But I’m well and truly over being sick. It’s been a long time, and I’d like to be well again.


During this time, my body and I have been having a conversation. It’s gone something like this:

Me: Ok, body, what lesson are you trying to teach me here?

Body: You don’t know how to rest. Your mind is running the show and it needs to stop. Your expectations of yourself are totally out of whack.

Me: But I WAS resting!

Body: No. The second you retired you built a work day for yourself complete with new anxieties and stress to replace the old. Dummy. So I pulled the emergency brake.

Me: You did, at that.

Body: Now you HAVE to rest. You HAVE to reset. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO OVEREXTEND YOURSELF.

Me: Hold my beer.

Body: Oh no. No beer. Yoou think you can get around the pneumonia? COUUGHCOUGH CRACK

Me: OMGWTF?

Body: Now your back is done. You cant do anything by lie down without pain. Go. Meditate on this truth while you rest.

Me: Damn it.


And so, PT later today, if they plow the roads.

Because I coughed too much.

Good grief.

Quake

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a poem about how I experience an anxiety attack

It starts small, with a feeling
The animal notices it first
The unsettled heart
The shifting of the self
Then the rumble
And something falls
Shattering with a crash
The moment has passed but the expectation remains
Waiting for the next crash
Waiting for the quake
When it all comes
Tumbling down

And then the running,
Get out get out before the house falls on you
Get in your car, drive far far away
Until you cannot feel it chasing you

Maybe you lost it
Maybe you outpaced the aftershock
Maybe
But maybe not

Unsubscribe Day

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Public Service Announcement: Friday is Unsubscribe Day! Huzzah!

On (and the week leading up to) Black Friday, marketers that desperately want you to buy stuff, many you could not give a shit about, will bombard your mailbox with offers. This is a tremendous opportunity to clear out all these unwanted bottom-feeders in one swell foop. UNSUBSCRIBE! UNSUBSCRIBE!

In our house, we started this a few years ago, and our email boxes are happier for it. You’ll get all of these emails all at once, and while you scan them, unsubscribe to the ones that have no value to you.

Watching the game? UNSUBSCRIBE!

Chilling before leftovers? UNSUBSCRIBE!

YAY!

P.S: There is a second piece to this: some of your favorite independent creators will reach out to you as well. Go buy stuff from them. Put your money where your heart is.

Hello World #1

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Hello world.

Probably about time for an update.

At this point, I’ve been gainfully retired for about five weeks. In that time, I’ve only sat at a computer to play games.

Mostly.

There was six hours about two weeks ago where I sat and tried to troubleshoot the problem with a Raspberry Pi appliance I’ve been running. After six hours, I sat up, reminded myself that I had better things to do, and haven’t touched it since.

That was liberating. Haven’t worked on any technical stuff since.

What have I been doing?

Cooking

I’ve taken on all the cooking duties around the house, and for the most part I love it. A couple of things I have learned:

Fermenting

No, I’m not fermenting myself. I’ve not given up on hygeine.

Gaming

Health

This is the thing that is taking up most of my concentration, but I’m making good progress. At this point I am working with a team of doctors that include:

Improvement is slow but steady. I’m doing all the things: lower carbs, logging food, etc. It’s helping. The biggest help right now is the continuous glucose monitor that I use. It attaches to your arm and has a tiny pipette that constantly measures my blood glucose level. I scan it with my phone and I can see how different foods and activities affect my sugar levels. It’s kind of neat…I’m doing science to myself and seeing good results.

Other good news: I’m completely off my anxiety and depression meds, and I feel a lot better. I’m engsaging with the world in the way I used to before I worked in the always-on-fire IT situation I was in. Between mediation, exercise, and a good therapist I’m getting my anxiety under control. No doubt leaving the work world is instrumental – I recognize most people cannot do this. I am extremely lucky.

Once I have more of my mental and physical health sorted, I’m hoping to get off the meds I take to sleep at night. One step at a time, though. The fact that I am finding a (mostly) predictable routine is a godsend.

Finances

Other than the house, we are now completely out of debt. Living on one salary will be tougher (unlearning a bunch of bad financial habits), but the reality is that we were spending so much money on consolation purchases once we eliminate the majority of those, we are able to deal pretty well. My job, along with the cooking, is household management. Managing the budget is part of that, and I’m enjoying the challenge of spending less.

And yes…as I reread that, I recognize how very much privilege is in there. But this is where I am. I…don’t know how to say it otherwise.

To Sum Up

I’m happier than I have been in years. Special thanks go out to my reitrement plan, my wife, who made all this possible.

Week Three

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So far my favorite thing about this retirement thing is having time to cook decent meals for my family. Nothing too fancy yet (though I do have some fun cookbooks I want to dig into) but solid all-day soups and stews are my favorite. It’s great that the house smells like good food instead of Doorfash and exhausted frustration.

Speaking of negative vibes, on Samhain (that’s Halloween to you mundanes), I dated the house from top to bottom. Cat required a little more than incense to get rid of the negativity, so she and our friend Amanda ran about three house banging pots and pans and shouting at the negative spirits to Get Out. We all felt better afterwords.

It wasn’t until 10/31 that I felt like I’d several all my ties to my old career. For the intervening time, I had the dread that I was only on vacation and would need to go back. Something about changing from October to November cleared that up, and I feel more free than I have in years.

Planning. Planning is a thing I haven’t done for real in years. Planning meals, schedules, days out, fun stuff…none of that happened. Reason is that between working in tech and being a single dad for many years, no plan ever survived contact with reality. So why plan? Why open yourself up to disappointment?

That’s slowly changing. I’ll admit, I’m still working through a lot of stuff (and will be for a while), but if I want to take my laptop and go work on the household budget…or even just Go Out for a few hours and just be in the world, that feels much more possible now.

Otherwise, I’m reworking the inventory of my coffee business, slowly working through the backlog of home projects I’ve been meaning to get to for years, and READING. It turns out when work isn’t pinging you 24/7, you can concentrate for long periods at a stretch. Who knew?

OK Computer

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One of the weird side effects of leaving my job is that I have no idea what to do with my computers.

Besides my iPhone and iPad, I have a Windows machine for gaming and a Linux laptop for…coding? Vanity? Something?

I remember how vital it was to me to keep alternate environments going, for all the creative projects I would be working on – but specifically NOT working on them on my work computer. I spent a lot of mental cycles planning out my Python coding environment, learning a minimal amount about Docker, planning, planning, ever planning.

Now I have the time and I want nothing to do with them. For now, anyway.

One of the things I internalized over the course of my career is that if you are not sitting in front of a computer, you are not working. During the pandemic I’ve been wresting with that bit of malformed logic. Now that I don’t HAVE to be at a computer, my monkey mind is throwing a tantrum, screeching and flinging…self-doubt.

I’m not concerned about it. Not really. I’m still in the “letting my mind unspool from many years of SNAFU” and getting used to what it means to just be working on home stuff.

I can grocery shop from my phone. Still weird. Still leave me with more time than I expected. Not a complaint, just an observation. My new job is mostly about me improving my health and keeping the house running. Trying to figure that out is it’s own challenge.

I’ll work it out. Just a strange feeling, is all.

Morning, Midland MI

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Journal entry for Sat 10/16

Traveling is harder than it used to be. I was exhausted after the drive up here yesterday. I’m up in Midland visiting Rob, and today is our big day to hang out and catch up.

I’ve got an ear infection which is making it hard to hear on my left side. This morning, I woke to my right ear feeling itchy and swollen…hopefully that will clear up soon. I’m not looking forward to a double infection.

It is true autumn up here. It’s not going to get above 55 degrees today. Glad I brought some pants.

Pants. Ugh. Living at home for the last two years have made me sloppy, lazy, and slovenly. I need to make personal care part of my self care routine.

Monday I start going to the gym in the morning. I have two hours blocked off for it, just to give myself permission to go slow and be present. I hope to get some swimming in, but I’l admits, I’m worse off than I thought I was. I’ve been using caffeine to push through the massive discomfort ad feebleness that has come of being seated for most of the day.

And that’s something to talk about, for sure. Physical activity. Since I quit, I’m definitely moving around more. Thursday along I got 7500 steps in. On a normal day working from home, I used to get 1500. It’s all a step in the right direction. Ha ha ha.

(Mmmmmm. Crappy hotel coffee.)

I have so many ideas. So many plans. Taking the time to NOT do and NOT plan is really difficult. Being present is my goal right now…allowing myself to process this life change and get ok with being whomever I am now it my prime goal for the next two weeks. Followed by light but consistent physical activity.

And that’s hard, because my brain interprets exertion as distress. WHereas my body, after a time, revels in it. The disconnect there is a big problem I need to address. And thinking about it will not fix it.

Back to current maladies: I fucked up my left knee taking off my compression socks. Goddamn it. Seriously?

Yoga. Gotta do some yoga.

Making Lunchmeat

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Decided to make my own lunchmeat today. Came out pretty well.

Deli-Style Roast Beef

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Line a sheet pan or roasting pan with foil. Put a roasting rack in the pan on top of the foil. Set aside.

Grab your roast out of the fridge. Give it a quick rinse under cold water. Pat it completely dry.

Drizzle the meat with a little olive oil. This is imprecise. Use enough oil to coat your roast completely.

With your hands, rub the meat on all sides to coat with oil.

Sprinkle evenly with freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Rub it around to coat evenly.

Dust all sides with garlic powder and onion powder.

Place your roast on the rack in your prepared pan.

Pop the pan into your preheated 500 degree oven.

Roast at 500 degrees for 20 minutes. Then drop temperature to 300 degrees for another 30 minutes.

For a medium rare roast, your meat should be in the oven for a total of 50 minutes cooking time. If you’d like it rare, pull it out sooner. If you’d like it more well done, leave it in a little longer.

Loosely tent a piece of foil over the meat for about 20 minutes when it comes out of the oven.

To serve, slice it thinly across the grain with a very sharp knife. Enjoy!

Source:https://www.thehungrymouse.com/2009/03/09/make-your-own-deli-style-roast-beef/

About

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Hey there! Thanks for visiting.

It’s so hard to know what to say on these things, but here we go.

I’m retired now, but when I had a career, I was a web developer. I got started in 1997 on a site called Bookstacks Unlimited, which was the first online bookstore. From there I moved into consulting, then startups, then a large corporation when I moved into management. I was a development manager for fifteen years.

Back in 2005 as podcasting became A Thing, I worked with Evo Terra and Tee Morris to found Podiobooks.com. I wrote the initial code in a weekend, then refined it for a few years before handing off the project to a group of great devs. I also hosted a number of podcasts you’ve never heard of before.

I have a great fondness for role-playing games, especially D&D and Savage Worlds. Worldbuilding/running games is one of my core hobbies.

I also run a little side thing called Chris’s Pretty Good Coffee. I roast in small batches for friends and select clientele.