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21 January 2013 @ 12:12 pm
Last night, I read some stuff about being an adult that really changed some things in me personally. I have never been "fine" with being an adult for a few reasons. One, I don't feel like one. Two, as a kid, adults frequently let me down. The second I more or less got over as the years went by: I learned for forgive the frailty of the human experience and how the people I may have looked up to were flawed, and sadly I had the intelligence to see this at far too young an age and felt cheated by the experience.

But the first one has always been a problem. I hang out with kids, and I don't feel any more or less like they do. I just control my reactions better. I have been told by many my age, "I don't feel like an adult, either," but the devil's advocate in me asked if it was just because I hung around fandom and in the mundane world, there were "real adults" roaming around who think and act mature. Maybe they are the real adults and I am still that 16 year old broken kid who had a shitty childhood and never left the Peter Pan stage. I am president of a non-profit, have a great job, a nice house, married 23 years with a kid. How did that happen? Someone will surely find out and boot me out of the party and I'll wake up back in my old bed in McLean, screaming in terror about the illusion. Certainly being an adult age has been far better than being a kid, was that because I was a kid?

Then some people discussed the concept of adulthood following along a similar paradox to Theseus' Ship. I didn't know what this was, so I looked it up. The ship of Theseus, also known as Theseus' paradox, is a paradox that raises the question of whether an object which has had all its component parts replaced remains fundamentally the same object. The paradox is most notably recorded by Plutarch in Life of Theseus from the late 1st century where Plutarch asked whether a ship which was restored by replacing all its wooden parts, remained the same ship.

When we were children, we saw adults as a constant. They were adults because we never experienced them transitioning into adults. As such, we were unable to discern how it happened, and we have no precedent for what it looks like when an adolescent turns into an adult; we can't mark that exact point. Just like marking the points when the ship stopped being the same ship as parts were replaced individually over time. The people who were adults when we were kids are still adults, and the people who were teenagers when we were teenagers are still teenagers. Like Theseus' Ship, small things were changed, but they remained the same person as we observed them. To make things even more obscured, many of us were never given an absolute threshold to cross, or conditions that ascertained adulthood, and it was impossible for us to derive them growing up, so we simply don't know where (following the Theseus narrative) we stop being the same ship. This has always been one of my concerns as a male; our modern society had not male ritual. Women had a demarcation of having their period, which is a little more concrete before and after. For guys, what is it? Losing our virginity? Our first wet dream? I am not sure. I know a lot of my friends who went through their Bar Mitzvah hadn't even hit puberty yet when "they became a man," so even that custom Jewish tradition isn't really a good line, either.

If this is true, the only reason your elders were "adults" was because you perceived them as being more responsible and capable than you. They saw themselves the same way you see yourself now. If you want to be an "adult", all you have to do is be responsible, capable, and self-reliant and the rest will follow.

This has given me a lot to think about.
My new job has me learning a lot of new bash stuff by neccessity. Here's some new stuff I have learned, and wanted to jot down.

I am using awk, but I need to use more than one field separator

awk -F "=|," 
I wish I had found this earlier, and I searched for it, but never found what I was looking for because my Google-fu was weak. I stumbled upon it quite by accident. Here's what I used to do: cut for brevityCollapse )

I have this long-assed command, I'd like to put it in an editor but not save it as a script

This brings up whatever editor your shell has. I found vi to work the best, but some clown inists on nano for Debioan distros, so...

How do I change my default CLI editor?

export EDITOR=/usr/bin/vim 
(put in .bashrc to make permenant)

I want to replace a whole line based on one match string

sed -e "s/.*FARISLAND.*/###########/" cland.txt
In your sed statement, put "dot star" at each end of the search string. It will replace that line with the replacement. In that example, anything line that has "FARIS" in it will be replaced etriely with ########### My termian gives me a lot of " â " when I try and draw lines
 set your terminal to UTF-8
The ISO standard emulation fonts mess up ASCII 256 graphics.

Maybe this will help others.

On May 1st of 2012, I decided to take an "endurance challenge" to go off all refined sugars. No sweets, no cake, no candy, no chocolate. In addition, there would be no honey. The only sugars I have ingested since that day are:

- The ones provided in fruit juices, but sparingly, as they are high in sugar
- Natural fruit (oranges, bananas, apples, pears, etc.)
- Where sugar occurs as a *minor* ingredient (like wheat/whole grain breads), except anything with HFCS is completely banned.

Have I lost weight? Yes. First I went from 335 to 341, stopped, and then lost weight gradually until about 2 months ago where I plateaued at 315. I am sure if I exercised, which I had planned to do, I'd be about 310 or so. Sadly, I got this new job where I went from walking 2-5 miles a day to about less than a mile a day. I have tried to take advantage of the gym here, but my work is literally I get here at 8, work straight through until 4:30 to 5:30, occasionally stopping for lunch a few times a week. I am hoping to balance this better as time goes on, but this company is meeting-crazy, where I have 1-2 meetings of 90 minutes each A DAY on average. Most of them are completely unnecessary.

Do I feel different? Well, for the first 3 months, I had a severe lack of energy with a feeling of about 30% less energy for daily tasks than I used to have. Then that settled down as my body got used to the new energy levels. I have noticed a severe reduction in craving for carbs (pasta, bread, and the like). In fact, I have no feeling at all whatsoever about them.

But the most surprising thing about this is I have had almost no cravings for sweets. It was like May 1st, it just shut off. I have been through multiple conventions, various parties, had free sweets offered to me, and while this Halloween would have been the most stressful, it's only been the usual chocolate cravings I used to get for migraines and SAD that have been the hardest to deal with. And even so, it's been manageable.

I wish I could pass along some kind of worldly wise experience, but that's about all I have. Part of this has been mysterious to me, and the rest hasn't been very impressive.
06 October 2012 @ 01:30 pm
Well, day 158. Thought I'd tell you how it was going.

My first big hurdle was Balticon at the end of May, which came and went with little fuss. I did eat a "Men in Black III Commemorative Donut," and accidentally someone gave me a Caffeine Free (but not sugar free) Coke, but that was the first indication my body got over HFCS. Since then, I have only ingested a few sugar items, both recipes Scarlet made because, well, I wanted to see how good a cook she was (and she's good). She did hit me both times, though. I have been to several events where danishes and cake were served since May, and I avoided them. My new job has been the first real test, because there's a public candy bowl right near my desk that is constantly refilled, and twice a week, due to the huge amount of meetings and demos my company does, leftover catered food. Plus, they have this "sorta-mandatory health program" for fat employees such as myself, which I have been told by my boss "is not enforced." Good thing, that coach (who only comes in twice a month) is a bitch. First time I ever bought gym clothes since I had to buy my gym uniform in high school.

Anyway, the biggest test is coming: the holidays. Pies, cakes, cookies, candy, and other sweets loom on the horizon like a dark storm. This is where the rubber meets the road, as most people on diets know. But for me, I use "diet" in the original sense, "what one eats" instead of what it's turned into, "I eat less for an unspecified amount of time." And really, [i]I am doing fairly well[/i]. Recently, the SAD I have is coming, which I need to manage, and I have had some cravings of up to 5 on a scale of 1-10 far more frequently. But a few days, ago, I was in Wal-Mart, walking down a candy aisle that was so epic in scale, it seemed like out of a cartoon. I really should have taken photos. Rows and rows of orange boxes, filled to overflowing with large bags of candy, and not just the ghetto kind: GOOD candy like brand name chocolates and sweets. Kit-Kats, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Tootsie Pops, Hershey Bars, Kisses, M&Ms... you all know the names. I walked down the aisle like I was walking down some holy land of candy. I marveled at the opulence and spectacle of sugar and happy memories afforded to the good people of this land. Just one $3-$5/bag could buy a chocolate coma-like bliss that would last for hours as the salty-sweet aroma of cocoa and peanut butter swirled in my skull and led me to a happy land of good dreams.

And yes, despite all that poetry I just spewed forth... I didn't feel the need to grab a bag. There was no wanting, no whimpering, no pangs of regret, nor a lustful craving of what once was. I appreciated it for its beauty, but didn't have a desire to have it. Kind of like being in a museum of fine art. Part of my mouth "remembers" the metallic tang it got the few times I did have HFCS or lots of sugar, and that seemed to switch everything off since I also get the same tang with migraines. I have the same reflex with vinegar; it reminds me of vomit, so I never crave it and gag when I taste it.

Maybe by November, I'll be elbow deep in a bowl of hot fudge, cackling like a crazy person as the sweet chocolaty goodness dribbles down my chin and fills my veins. I cannot say "oh, this is for good" with any certainty. I don't understand what made me decide May 1st was "the day" and why it's not been nearly as hard as I would have guessed in April if I had any warning I'd be starting such a journey. I don't know what "switched off" so I can't say it wouldn't just "switch on" 10 minutes after I hit the "Update Journal" button. Or happen tomorrow. Or October 31st, when I make the Trick or Treat goodie bags. Or Christmas Day, when there is always a lot of food.

I will say one thing: people say I am brave.

They also call food high in fat or sugar, "junk food" or "bad food" like something is wrong with it. I think those are both wrong. "Junk food" is fucking delicious. Don't lie to yourself or others. Understand excess of candy is a poor health decision, but don't label it as evil and then hate yourself for succumbing to sin; it's not mentally healthy to do so. These food just are what they claim to be. They don't hide the fact they are high in calories and carbs. If they did, then they might be evil. But there's an awful lot of "health food" out there that isn't. Bottled water, "diet foods," and artificial sweeteners. That's what you have to watch out for, IMHO.

Also, stop picking on fat people because they are fat. We all have our own struggles. What a LOT of people do is hate fat people because they are some projected image of one's own desires unfulfilled. "They are allowed to have a pint of ice cream in one sitting, not me... and I HATE THEY FLAUNT THIS EXCESS I CANNOT HAVE!" You can have a pint of ice cream like anyone else. You just chose not to, because you have a different diet than the fat person does. Stop picking on them, and focus on you. Do not hate or pity the overweight. It's just harmful for you, because they will more than likely continue to be fat and you'll have to deal with it. Let them manage.
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29 August 2012 @ 12:12 pm
It's been almost a third of a year since I decided to not eat sugar anymore. I am still not very tempted, and sailing has been fairly smooth. There have been a handful of mistakes: someone gave me some popcorn that has sugar in it (kettle corn), more issues with Gatorade, and I ate a piece of banana cake Scarlet made because, well, she made it.

There have been a few cravings. My carb craving has shot down as well. The need for breads, pasta, and such have been very low. I find my body craves more fruit juice and sugar-free ice cream than ever. I have been reducing the fruit juice, because it almost as bad as soda, and the sugar free ice cream is a new issue; I never used to eat even regular ice cream before. I am trying to build up my tolerance to beans, eggs, and dairy. I used to be allergic to the first two, and the dairy allergy started when I was 20-21 or so. So far, the "magic number" of when my stomach decides to stab me with razors is about 4 eggs (up from 2), and beans has not been measured effectively. The ice cream thing has led to me drinking up to 2 cups of milk without bad side effects.

Weight loss is steady and slow. I have mostly stayed at around 319 for the last week, which is 12 lbs lower than when I started. I am not sure if it will plateau, but I am concerned about the lack of exercise now that my job has moved from Silver Spring to Alexandria. Yes, I got a new job, more on that in another post. To be on the Metro to DTSS was about 2 miles minimum, with up to another 3 miles depending on data center work, which was pretty scant in the last few years to be honest. Now, I get dropped off in front of my office in the morning by Christine, and walk about 3 blocks to a bus which drops me in front of Christine's work. During work orientation, I was asked to report to a fitness test next Thursday because... well, being fat here is not a good thing. Note, they don't FORCE me to exercise or lose weight, they just STRONGLY ENCOURAGE a healthy lifestyle. This company sucks if you're a smoker, fat, or want to eat unhealthy snacks. They are also mega-germ-phobic for a non-medical company. But it's so far been a good job. But as I said, more in another post.

Other than that, not a whole lot to report.
I have these tacked up in my pod. But I am leaving my company after 7+ years, and packing up. For some reason, I can never remember the following, so I have them tacked up to remind me and save some significant time. I will most likely lose this slip of paper. Doh.

I started a vi session, forgot to do it as root, and now I can't save it
:w !sudo tee %

Dammit, this became a real issue when I started implementing sudo in my daily life. You need sudo (with correct permissions to the current account) and tee installed, which these days, is real common.

I want to run a long, complex-assed command again, but with one minor change

I found myself doing this with some complicated for-while loops at the command line during DNS dig queries. !! (pronounced, "bang bang" ...really) is also useful for "run last command" when you get into sudo problems.
[you@localhost]$ make sandwich
You do not have permissions to do this.
[you@localhost]$ sudo !!
Enter sudo password:

All set! Note: ^foo^bar also works on MOST systems, but it only works on the FIRST match, and the rest are ignored.

I did an ls to a directory, now I want to cd to it
cd [esc] .

That's the command, the escape key, and a period. It will fill in the last parameter. !$ (bang dollar-sign) also works.

How to I write to dev null again? Fucking hate crontab reports.
 [command] > /dev/null 2>&1

I forget the order of the 2 and 1 and & symbol all the time

Maybe this will help others.
... and it's creepy.

Yesterday, I was trying to shop in the supermarket, and I heard this horrible reminder of while I intensely disliked music from 1988-1991.

I am not a fan of ballads. Most of them are insincere, and are the Hallmark cards of love songs. I'm sorry, I have a list of these which includes "Wind Beneath my Wings," but "Into The Night" is one of those musical tragedies that Benny belches out like a drunken frat boy thinking if he fakes sincere romance, he's gonna get laid.

I know the song is way old, like from 1980, but thanks to a "Where are They Now" segment in 1989, he got famous again right around when I got married. A one hit wonder that should have died with disco, it snuck into the pile of dying heavy metal ballads that dominated the airwaves in the late 1980s and was found washed up on a dozen "Lite Rock" stations ever since.

First, Benny's voice is just terrible. Gravelly and full of sinus resonance, it has the musical range of a crying child reduced and octave or two. He might be more suited to blues music, but instead, he sings this "from the heart" schmaltz that is almost too desperate.

The piano that starts in seems to be played at a much different tempo, like the guy they hired was told it was a different style of song altogether. Right off the bat, I wonder if I played two sound files that are overlapping.

"She's just sixteen years old... Leave her alone, they say..."

Uh, yeah. Unless you are also 16. Now, in anime fandom, I know some people who are 16. Most are decent, smart people, but I wouldn't want to date one at 43. I probably wouldn't have wanted to date one when I was 21, either, and not because I was already married, but because there's just a level of relationship immaturity that I would have been incompatible with. This opening lyric is creepy, because they tell you to "leave her alone" for a reason, dude. "Dirty Dancing," would have ended differently in real life. Nobody puts baby in a corner indeed.

Anyway, most of it is this older guy belting out his lust-filled hopes and dreams to a teenager. But okay, maybe he's also 16 or 17. But what does he know about love, then? Or as an adult? The lyrics are terrible, I can't even make sense of them:

"It's like having a dream where nobody has a heart. It's like having it all
and watching it fall apart and I would wait till the end of time for you."

Kind of like a zombie apocalypse, maybe? Maybe he meats heart in a metaphoric sense, like, "It's like having a dream where no one has any feelings of decency for fellow human beings. It's also like having a lot of stuff, and then losing it which leads to waiting out the rest of my days hoping you'd ... see me?" What a pathetic loser. I can't figure out what he's trying to convey to this teenager, or fellow drunken roommates about how much he wants this 16 year old to love him. This makes even less sense, because in the lyrics before these, he wants to fly in like fucking Superman and take her up high and show her "a love you've never seen." The mile high club? Having sex in an airplane toilet?

Okay, so some of Lady Gaga's stuff isn't that great, either. But she puts it in a pop beat that doesn't try to be anything else but uplifting and making you want to dance and sing the chorus. This guy... gees.

But I didn't even try and decipher the lyrics until this post. What I really wanted to complain about is the desperate, whiny, belching form this song has. It has shitty pentameter, and the lyrics don't really match the tempo. It's like he didn't rehearse, and was reading from a cue card. "Just put any old white bread and unoffensive music in the background," he seemed to say, "I got got these slick lyrics that will make the teen cashier at Shop-Rite show me her boobs." Like he recorded it at one of those country fairs. "Look, I am the white Marvin Gaye," he seems to want to say. And Marvin would have said, "Uh, no. You wish." Marvin was awesome. Benny is like the kind of music you pay cheap royalties for as part of a "mood catalog."

This song should be thrown out like Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby."
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06 June 2012 @ 02:30 am
Like I said in my last post, I am not sure where I am going with this. I kind of expected this to be harder. That being said, I kind of don't want to go back to sugar. Now that I don't seem to have had much weight gain (in fact, last I weighted 2 lbs less than when I started 35 days ago), I could do this for a while. But then what?

While I figure that out, let me explain why I did this to start off: just to see what happened. I had no idea. last time I went 27 days in 2007 before I broke, and I don't even remember why. I recall I gained 5 lbs, and felt miserable. I had cravings that built up and just got to be too much. Probably one of those. I felt 5 years was good to try again. I thought I'd make it to 20, maybe 25 before I felt like crap. But I am on 35 and not feeling as crappy. I have been doing a lot of pondering on this, and I think it's because I am now taking Metformin for my type 2 diabetes.

Eventually, I'd like to resort to a very simple diet of meats, veggies, some dairy, and fruits. A very simple diet of fresher and basic stuff. But I didn't want to give it all up in one go. I felt that being off sugar would be a decent test to study the effects of cravings. But that didn't work out as being so tough as I expected. Next, I am going to try and cut back on processed foods or high carbs (like vastly reduce bread and potato intake). I am going to try and increase roots and berries.

I'd also like to mention this is my test, not yours. Nothing in what I am doing is licensed by a physician; my doctor has no idea. In fact, I just started it on May 1st on a whim. I could have also gone bowling. I am also weird. My body does not react like others do in may cases. Vitamin C (in doses over 200mg) makes me sick. I cannot taste the difference in artificial sweeteners and real. Pepsi and Coke taste the same to me. Lobster has no taste. I see colors and halos around people which may or may not be synesthesia. I am mildly allergic to eggs, corn, and beans. I am immune to poison ivy. And so on. So, don't look to me for guidance and inspiration like I know what the heck I'm doing. I'm nuts.

Now, one fear I have is... say I'm at a party, and all they have is chips, cookies, soda, and a veggie platter with stuff I don't really like. I will starve. Or be miserable as fibers of supermarket celery and rubbery cheery tomatoes hurt what teeth I have left. Not sure what to do there.
05 June 2012 @ 04:54 pm
I have had odd cravings. Like pineapple juice. I used to hate pineapple juice as a kid, and only barely tolerated it as an adult. Sour and bitter, I found myself wanting it really bad. The store was out, so I ended up getting a "sugar-free" (fruit juice from concentrate) orange/banana/pineapple.

I drank two glasses, and probably only needed 1.5 glasses as my craving satiated, I suddenly really hated pineapple juice again. Man, I got a whole half a carton left.

In 35 days, I have only had a few HFCS/refined sugar bumps, and I feel a little lost as I didn't expect to get this far, or if I did, I expected to be miserable like the last mile of a marathon. But still no real significant cravings, and no fantasies about eating brownies or anything. I was going to post something funny there like, "hot gooey brownies smothered in hot chocolate and ice cream and cookie dough..." in some angst-fueled frustration with exaggerated adjectives ... but it made me feel a little ill. That's... a little weird for me.

What next? 60 days? Then what? Why am I doing this?

Still the biggest thing is finding things that taste good with no sugar. For instance: sugar free ice cream is simply horrible. I have tried many brands, and they either have no taste or are just drab and awful. It's not the aspartame or sucralose that does it for me, it's... just taste and mouth-feel. Sugar free chocolate candy is equally as bad.

I think diet food is what makes people stop diets more than anything. I have this theory that people diet less to get better, but more to punish themselves. Like they say, "I am trying to lose weight," but think, "Fatty fat fat fat loser I hate you..." and that is reflected in diet food. Well, it's just a theory.
So, I am day 29 of the sugar-free endurance test. Just to reiterate the goals:

1. See how long I can go without *intentionally* ingesting refined sugar that does not occur naturally, which inlcudes surcrose, frutcose, high-frutcose corn syrup (HFCS), or sugar from beets, cane, or corn.
2. Admit when I made a mistake and why as part of my ongoing personal study
3. Sugar substitutes are allowed (like Stevia, saccharine, aspartame, etc)
4. Things with naturally occurring sugar, like fruits, are allowed but not artificially over-sweetened like fruit juices, which while they claim "100% juice" are artificially sweetened with concentrates of fruit juice, which is essentially sugar.

Maybe this will help others.

Now, yesterday, I had a mistake and an intentional ingestion, which I am not admitting to be all martyr on anyone, but to illustrate something I discovered.

So, I was sitting at Balticon Ops, and asked if they had a sugar free soda back there, and someone said, "We have caffiene-free diet Pepsi." That sounded fine, as water can only be used so much before you kind of get sick of it as your only drink. I was handed a can, and shortly after I took a few sips, someone behind me slipped on a cart and smacked me HARD in the head right on an old head injury. I have a bump on my skull from an old injury I got when I was 17 and hit my head when I fell on my friend's foot locker at the foot of her bed. This produced a crack in my skull that just seems to geet getting re-injured because it protrudes a bit, and so anything that grazes my head slides into the groove and hits the crack again like a speed bump attracts low bumpers. Almost immediately, I had an electric shock of a migraine, and I tasted metal in my mouth. Now, when I get migraine attacks, sometimes this happens: a horrible, teeth-squeaking feeling of copper or rusty metal, followed by a similar smell. This time, the taste was brutal but no smell occurred, which I was grateful for. After I made sure no blood was seeping from my head, I continued to sip my diet drink, and the taste got WORSE instead of better. Normally, if I suck on a mint or something, the taste goes away. I had to suck on several to get this horrible, metallic taste out of my mouth. When my soda was halfway done, I noticed I was smelling metal; but it was coming from the can, and not a usual migraine symptom. On a hunch, I looked at the side of the can to see the ingredients.

High frutcose corn syrup.

It was "caffiene free" but not diet. After a short discussion with others, some confirmed that people not used to HFCS often hate the taste, and it's gotten steadily worse over the last 10 years. So I dumped the rest of the soda, and after rinsing my mouth out in the restroom, most of the metallic taste went way. I had to eat a few Altoids, though. Looking online, there are connections between HFCS and mercury, but I seriously doubt my mouth could really tell those kinds of minute levels.

I wondered if this was my brain and/or mouth "waking up" to detecting the sugars. So later that night, I ate a "Men in Black III" donut (I wanted to try one since they are limited time only) to see if I got the same reaction. And I *did*. I felt like I was eating salted aluminum foil. So I looked up the nutritional info online. The "Brownie Batter Buttercreme Filling" has both sugar and HFCS listed, which was so strong and salty (these donuts are really high in sodium too, apparently, 330mg), that is actually was rivaling the chocolate flavoring. And those who study confectionery know chocolate flavoring is so strong, it's often used when a cake batch goes "bad," because it covers up pretty much every mistake, including burnt sugar. So... that's like saying another ingredient in a grilled cheese sandwich is so strong, it overpowered the caramelized onions or something.

I am not sure if I am reacting to the sugar or the HFCS, though. I may have to test this further, but I don't have the reaction to artificial sweeteners.

This is sort of good news, because obviously, cutting out sugar and HFCS would be beneficial, but concerns me because I hate being "a fussy eater." For instance, this weekend, I was graciously offered half a dozen candy bars, sweet drinks, and the like... and I had to decline. "I am abstaining from sugar," I'd say, explaining the endurance challenge I had set up. I already don't drink alcohol, which has caused some problems in social events as it is.

The hardest thing to avoiding sugar is not the cravings, but that it's in practically every processed food out there: yogurt, ketchup, pizza crust, chicken fingers, fish sticks, hot dogs, and so on.

I am glad I am having an easy time with "cravings." To be honest, the cravings for sweet things are not nearly as bad as last time, and hardly even worth mentioning. With the memory of the "metallic taste" now, it makes reduces the cravings even further. In addition, the weight gain seems to have stopped, and I am back to my starting weight to boot, although some of that may have been all the exercise I got at Balticon combined with skipping meals due to time, scheduling, and just remembering to eat (I usually have Scarlet for that). Thank goodness Tiger took up the slack and asked me if I time every time she passed by me.