I Love Being Human

We are the Universe. Observing itself. Observing itself.
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  • Breaking Point

    Posted on November 4th, 2014 admin No comments

    We all have a point at which we say “enough is enough”. I suppose a few days ago I reached that point. Sometimes it’s with a job, maybe it’s a friend that’s driving you insane or it’s your pencil sharpener that’s gone dull. For me, as it is with many, it’s my weight and overall health. After I reached the 300lb mark I painfully realized several things. I felt bad overall. No self confidence or very little. I don’t like going out much as it is but at this weight, it’s even worse. I also have a bum foot and another that’s threatening. You can read ALL about that in the previous post though.

    When it’s painful to cross your legs it’s gone far enough. When you can’t get your wedding ring off or back on comfortably, it’s gone far enough.  How did it get this bad?  Well that’s 10+ years of backstory so I won’t bother you with it. I’ll just chalk it up to not taking care of myself. I’ve had a few diet ups and downs in that time period but it’s been many many years since I weighed in less than 200lbs.

    So here I sit with at least 100lb to lose. It’s a daunting thought. The thing is, giving up just isn’t an option. I expend so much energy wanting or wishing for something to happen vs actually making things happen.  When all of that stuff added up, I reached the breaking point and I don’t want to look back.

    This past weekend I told my wife that I’d had it with my health and that I’m doing something about it. I’ve toyed with the idea of a low carb diet before but I always hear of the fad dieters that say “I ate 10lbs of bacon and 17 wheels of cheese today. Topped that off with a cup o’ lard to wash it all down”. Frankly that sounds horrible. I realized it wasn’t like that though. For me, it’s just cutting out bread and not adding sugar to coffee. I realized I only need to make a handful of changes to facilitate this lifestyle.

    I didn’t even need to make a list of things TO buy I just had a mental list of what NOT to buy. No bread. No sugar. No bananas. No candy. The wife and I went shopping together (date night!) and we were very mindful of the labels and how much sugar was in each item. Kind of shocking to read some labels but in retrospect, it’s not terribly surprising. Sometimes a food maker will add sugar to something to make it more palatable. Cranberries anyone?

    Sunday night I said a fond farewell to sweets by eating every. single. fucking. sweet thing I could get my hands on. I wasn’t joking. Once Monday rolled around, that was behind me.  It’s kind of scary to embark on something like this because you don’t know how your body will react or if it will even work. After seeing/reading some of the amazing transformations I wanted to give a go. This isn’t zero carb. It’s just low carb; enough to start ketosis. The plan is that after a few months and upon reaching my goal, I’ll add a few more healthier carbs back in as I get more active.

    Right now the focus is just getting 10, 20, 30lbs off.  I’ve taken to grilling foods which is awesome as far as taste goes. I’ve gone back to seeing food for what it is, energy and nutrition.

    I want to be around for my kids and my wife. I want to feel good and what the hell, even look good. I want to get back the person I was a decade or so ago.

    This won’t be a pretentious daily diary but just an occasional musing about life in general. For now, it’s just one day at a time.

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  • Rantfest: Doctors (Especially Foot Doctors)

    Posted on July 25th, 2014 admin No comments

    Ok, so let me start by saying long time no see! Yeah, a year almost? It’s been a long, long year at that. A lot has happened and a lot of it has to do with this post.  I’m going to let some steam off about doctors. I want to say that I’ve had some amazing doctors with great bedside manner but on the whole, well, I’ll get to that point.

    foot-pain-1024x943There are great doctors out there

    To start with, I’d like to thank the doctors that attempted to help me with my foot problems.  While most of the fixes were temporary at least they were legitimate attempts to alleviate the pain I was (am) in.  To those few, thank you.  Now, for the rest of you lot; get ready to get roasted.

    Bring out the flamethrowers, the gasoline and the matches!

    Podiatry, foot medicine, right? Maybe? In the past three years I saw three podiatrists. I think I hit the lottery on ‘crappiest podiatrists ever’. I’m serious.  The first one I saw before my condition was diagnosed. He had absolutely no idea what was wrong. Naturally they x-ray though I knew that was pointless. I also had an MRI for him to look at. From the x-ray, MRI and physical examination all I got was a numbing injection (a literal shot in the dark) and some NSAIDs.

    deer-in-headlightsYou are a foot doctor right?

    He actually looked like a deer in headlights. If he’d only scratched his head to top off the confusion. He’s a foot doctor, right? He offered zero possible explanations for my pain apart from it being inflamed. Wow. Thanks for nothing.

    A diagnosis at last but all is not well

    It wasn’t until I saw an orthopedist that my condition was diagnosed as Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.  After some conservative treatments for a few months, surgery in mid 2012 was the last resort.  I won’t get into that story but overall, not pleasant. Could have been worse but could have been better.  The following months seemed to be ok as far as my foot pain went. I was optimistic.

    Early in 2013 though the pain started to creep back in. I went back to the ortho but pain management was their solution. I wasn’t ready to try that so I tried another, wait for iiiiiit, podiatrist.

    Surely this one knows his stuff, right?

    We’ll call this guy Derpalong Doodiddly. I swear, this was the worst one of the lot. I went in post-op. So I knew what I had been dealing with. I explained it ALL to him. Guess what? X-rays.  I’d also had another MRI done. Also looked at that. All I got out of that out of the way visit was “Lose some weight and take this NSAID”. Really? Jerk. I could have figured that out on my own. I’m having nerve pain. At least refer me out to someone else? Again, a case of deer in headlights. So far, two podiatrists seemed utterly clueless as to what TTS is.  I expect a GP to not be in the know but a FOOT doctor… no, you need to know your crap. Even if you don’t treat it, you should at least be able to give a preliminary diagnosis and refer out to a specialist.

    Only do it if you have to

    After that I went into pain management. I’ll only say this about that ordeal: six months of hell. One other thing; it’s not fun to get treated like a drug addict. Pain management is probably the difference between hell and relief for some but for me it was ruining my life. I stopped and now we’re on to podiatrist #3.

    Here we go… again

    We’ll call this one Smerp Ferp of Flarbeville. I told him my past experiences. The surgery, the outcome, the everything. The best part though was when I said I’d been referred into pain management. The doctor and his cohort, we’ll call her Derpetta, looked at each other with a smugness that could strangle a thousand Donald Trumps. I mean, I’m right here. I can see you berating me right in front of me. I normally watch my language but hey, an asshole is an asshole. Ok, so why did I try this doc knowing quite certainly it was a lost cause? A new treatment.

    A new kind of injection involving your own blood plasma/platelets etc is a hot new item. I figured, hey I’ll look into this. The doc shut me down pretty fast saying it was best for this or that but not for my condition. I was rather shocked that he seemed to even know what TTS was. Maybe he didn’t and was just BSing his way through the appointment since I’d filled him in on it anyway? Nonetheless, I was given a brace and some inserts (which came out of pocket) and sent on my way.  They said to come back if I wanted to try that injection but at this point I’d had it with foot doctors.

    Don’t be a dumbass

    Lets wrap this thing (not my foot) up

    I will close out by saying I actually spoke to a podiatrist recently that was very well versed in my condition. I guess some know more than others? I just wish that my initial visits had been positive and constructive.

    Now I’m dealing with the condition in my other foot. I’m so very skeptical about who I see or what treatment to choose. I won’t get burned again.

    So to conclude: To the doctors that know their stuff; you rock. To the ones that should know their stuff; go back to school you morons.

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  • Science. The Real Why… For Me

    Posted on June 16th, 2013 admin No comments

    I love science but I am not a scientist.  I’m not one of those cliché guys/gals that just says they like science because nerds and geeks are the “in” thing.  I was well into it before that.  I will say that I do like that movement and hope it lasts.  The reason, for me, runs very deep.  I will explain.

    Science is not some mystical subject.  It’s not some unobtainable understanding for the layman.  It isn’t for the elite few with lots of money, luck or both.  Science, unlike Justice, is not blind.  It is, or can be, all seeing and best of all it is one simple word: understanding.  You see you don’t have to have degrees and PhDs to get it.  It’s true that science and it’s inner workings require a lot of discipline to know and understand but fundamentally it does not.  I’ll explain.

    The Sun's WorkingsTo know

    As I said, it’s about understanding.  Here’s an example:

    How does the Sun work?  If you’re not sure that’s ok.  If you’re an astrophysicist then I should hope you’d know.  The thing is, it’s simple to explain how it works.  That is, you can tell the average citizen how it works and you’ll see the light bulb go off in their head. Pun.

    I won’t leave you hanging so here’s a rough explanation:

    So the Sun works on a basic principle; nuclear fusion.  It’s some 75% hydrogen, 24% helium and 1% other stuff.  The intense (26,000,000F) heat and pressure are perfect conditions for hydrogen atoms to fuse into a heavier helium atom.  To simplify this a little, imagine that hydrogen weighs 1 and you add another 1 to it.  You might expect the helium to come out as weighing 2 but it doesn’t.  It weighs a little less.  So what happened? That mass it lost was converted into energy.  That energy is the heat and light we feel and see everyday.  The fusion process is in harmonious balance with the gravitational forces that would otherwise cause the Sun to collapse in on itself.

    See? It’s pretty a pretty simple concept.  Yes, it’s way way more complex on a deeper level but that’s plenty easy for anyone to understand.

    Boy is that cat pissed!Lifting The Veil Of Uncertainty

    The thing is, people have to be willing to learn this stuff.  Some people are extremely narrow in their views and some view science as irrelevant.  That is a dangerous position to take.  Why?  Our world is more and more dependent on technology.  We cannot let the advancement of science and technology take a back seat to primitive tendencies that humans have an amazing knack for.

    Ok, so the real why.  I’m at that point you see.  It’s not about “I know this and you don’t so neener neener!” No, absolutely not.  If anyone boasts on their intellectual superiority then they’re no better than the very people that I loathe.  Science gives you a broad view on the world.  It gives you a broad view on every single thing in the Universe.  You don’t look at a person and think “they are different/inferior to me…” you think “they are different and that’s fascinating…”  With the idea and concept of science, your view becomes unbiased.

    You suddenly realize that you’re comprised of particles; that make up atoms; that make up molecules; that make up organic compounds; that form cells; that form our bodies to start living in a town; in a county; in a state; in a country; on a continent; on a planet; in a solar system; in a galaxy; in a galactic cluster; in a super cluster in the Universe.  While we’re each unique, we’re also so very, very tiny.  I mean VERY tiny.  It’s humbling and it opens ones eyes to the reality of the world beyond literal imagination.  It’s so big and vast that one might argue “Why bother anyway?”  The answer is “Why not?”  If we stop now, then the human race is done for.  If we want to progress as a species (yes, that’s right, people from ALL walks of life) then we must progress towards a grander understanding.

    The Elusive Utopian Dream

    nevergonnagetthereI know, it’s a fools dream.  I tend to believe that most people are good at heart and maybe they do stupid things under pressure of a small number not so good people.  Even the people that aren’t so good would probably benefit from just a basic understanding of why “knowing” is important.  That’s what science is; to know.  It’s the understanding of the natural world of which we are all a part of.  There’s no escaping it.  If you’re reading this, you’re a part of something really big, even if you’re just a tiny piece of the puzzle.

    It’s our duty as human beings to try and be kinder to each other and for that matter the Earth upon which we live.  It can be scary to stray from old and comfortable ideas but we’re all in this together whether we like it or not.  Degrading someone because they’re different does not advance our species in any way imaginable.  The same goes for putting yourself on a pedestal above others.

    Where Do We Go From Here?

    All of this was spurred on by reading comments/tweets on the web regarding young children that were either of a certain ethnicity or had a disorder.  The most vile stuff spewed forth from the fingertips of these people.  Stuff that, if they had to say in person, they’d never be able to do.  The ‘man behind the curtain’ effect gives people an increased audacity.  Don’t even GET me started on cyber bullying.  I’ll stop there for now.  This was just a big late night rant but I firmly stand behind this reasoning.  I don’t ‘believe’ or ‘think’ that an understanding of the natural world would be enlightening to our species; I know it would be.

    As always, keep looking up.

     

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  • The rock that stopped my world (for a few hours at least)

    Posted on March 10th, 2013 admin No comments
    Calm, they say...

    Calm, they say…

    Friday was like any other day for me at work.  Everyone was glad weekend was approaching and around 4pm I’d started to wind my day and week down.  This usually means finishing up any minor projects that might have gotten overlooked during the week.  It could include polishing up a larger project or just getting a project to a good stopping point.

    Everything was going as planned and as 4:30 rolled around I had started thinking about what the evening would hold for me.  I had originally planned to help a friend assemble a bed from Ikea.  That was put on hold though.  I was also invited to go to a concert / help a friend celebrate a birthday.  From here on out I’ll post events in a chronological suspense thriller type fashion.

    4:35 – The Burning

    I had to pee for lack of a better term and as I attempted to go I noticed a burning sensation with some mild shooting pains.  Nothing terribly alarming I thought.  Maybe I was just dehydrated?  I’m prone to not drinking enough water anyway.  So I get a large cup of water and proceed to down it.  It wasn’t 5 minutes later the urge to urinate had come back.  Again, burning and more shooting pains.  I still wasn’t alarmed but I was very annoyed.

    4:45 – The Pain

    Around this time I felt like I had gas pains creeping in.  I felt as if I needed to use the bathroom in more ways than just #1.  I took care of that and hoped that it would ease the cramped feeling I’d started to get.  Alas it did not.

    4:50 – Decision Time

    I go back to my desk and see it’s 10 till 5:00.  At this point the burning is burning and the pain has really set in on my left side.  It’s getting worse by the second and I made an alarming realization; this had to be a kidney stone.

    Anyone who’s had one will testify as to just how mind numbingly excruciating they can be.  Now I had one when I was 19 and it required a visit to the ER.  Since that time I’d actually passed a couple without any pain at all.  Suddenly I’m at work and I’m faced with this stark realization of being at least 25 minutes from a hospital.  I knew time was not on my side.

    I grabbed my keys and left without telling anyone so much as “bye”.  I’m now in a slight panic as I headed to my truck.  The pain is now really setting in and I’m frantically trying to figure out my best option.  Do I go to the nearby med center? Can they even administer something strong enough for THIS kind of pain?  Do I attempt to go up the interstate to Henry Medical center? Do I drive to Griffin and go to Spalding Regional Hospital?  I didn’t want to lollygag and hang around to make that decision.

    4:55 – In Route

    I jumped into my truck and left work and took Hwy 155 to Griffin.  My thinking was that was the least crowded way to go and that route would take me to the side of town where the hospital was located.  I called my wife and explained to her I was in a lot of pain and that “I’m dying” and was headed to the ER.  Mind you, I wasn’t dying.  I felt like I was and felt like I’d rather be dead.

    I think she was upset that I was even attempting to drive and in hindsight it was dumb but also I knew that time was of the very essence and that minutes would make the difference.  I had to make this drive to the hospital despite the borderline gut wrenching pain.

    Half my trip was spent arguing if the hospital was the way to go or a medical center.  I kept saying that hopefully I’d get moved ahead of people with less serious ailments.  I was an optimist even in one of my darkest moments, so that counts for something right?  Thankfully all the back and forth kept my mind off of the pain just enough to get me to the hospital.

    5:15 – Checking In #AtTheHospitalLOL

    From here on in, time was blurring together for me so I’ll try to be accurate as possible.  I walked into the ER and noticed on a few people which was a relief.  I asked the lady if this was the ER and she directed me to fill out a form.  I wrote as fast as I could and the reason for the visit was “I think I have a kidney stone!”  I handed the form in and pleaded my case that I was in a lot of pain.  They said I’d be called shortly.  I had to keep it together and it was getting increasingly difficult.

    The wait is how long??

    The wait is how long??

    5:25 – Triage

    A nurse called me back for vitals and asked calmly what I was in for.  In my contorted and twisted body position I calmly replied “Pretty sure I have a kidney stone”.  Followed by “so here I am, hurting, just need some help, yep, need to get seen…”  I was yammering on about how bad it hurt when she asked about pain on the 1-10 scale.  This scale is funny because docs use it a lot.  I’ve been asked a few times and the thing is, pain is such an arbitrary thing from person to person.  Most of the time I just pick an arbitrary number.  This is one of the two times in my life that I can say with absolute assuredness that it was a 10 of the highest magnitude.  I was later asked about pain and asked if I could answer “11”.

    I was done with triage and sent back to my seat to wait.  At that time my wife and two sons had showed up.  The ER was the last place I wanted my kids to hang out in and honestly I didn’t want my kids seeing me like that.  Here’s dad, this guy we look up to, to be strong and courageous and he’s nearly in the fetal position.  I gave them a hug and said I was hurting but did my best to put on a happy face.  She decided she’d take them to her moms house only a mile or so away.  I said goodbye and now I waited

    5:30 – The waiting

    It was at this point that I was out of thing to keep my mind preoccupied.  I could only sit and wait.  Sitting was amusingly hard to do.  I was nearly sitting on the side of my head, it felt like.  Strangely enough standing up seemed to alleviate the pain slightly.  My wife had made it back a few minutes later and I was complaining that it seemed like more people were leaving than were going in.  I was angry at everything at that point but the pain kept me from lashing out.  Nearly half an hour would roll by before I asked the receptionist ( is that right? ) about the wait time.  She told me that the person in front of me had waited almost an hour and a half.  Wow, I was going to die (ok I wasn’t but seriously I felt like I was!).

    I pleaded my case that I didn’t mind waiting but that I would much rather do it in less pain.  She told me to ask the nurses if they could help.  I was desperate and didn’t care what kind of fool I might have looked like.  I knocked on the door to triage and asked if they could help me in any way.  They said I was about to be called.  At that point I saw the door open and heard my name.  Finally, one step closer to relief and an answer.  I had only assumed kidney stone and was 97% sure but the other 3% lingered on my mind.

    6:00 – The Room

    I walked into my room and was left there alone much to my dismay but I was happy to at least have my own room.  I attempted to lie down but couldn’t sit still long enough.  Also, my wife had stepped out to make a phone call so she hadn’t come back with me.  I felt quiet lonely and wanted to see her face as seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours.  She finally came back and said she’d called another medical center when she overhead the wait time.  I think perhaps they saw the shape I was in and bumped me up and I’m very grateful for that.  The condition I was in constituted an actual emergency.  While not life threatening, the pain is just about second to none.

    6:15 – Shot in the arm

    A couple of nurses walked in and started to ask questions.  I kept as calm as I could while answering.  I was injecting questions about an IV and getting the pain reduced, nonstop.  The head nurse said he was on it.  He put the IV in and the doc walked in and ordered the medicine; Zofran for nausea and Dilaudid for pain.  The nurse stepped out to get the medicine, which they understandably keep locked up.  I told him to run, no, fly.  They were doing their best.

    I had to wait a few more minutes for the nurse to come back and in that time I had started to unravel a bit.  I was moaning in pain at this point and honestly I didn’t have a care in the world about how I appeared to anyone.  Nausea had settled in an I felt like I was on the verge of passing out.  Not a moment later the nurse walks in and goes right to administering the Zofran.  Next the pain medication.

    Anyone catch the number of that train?

    Anyone catch the number of that train?

    6:20 – We have liftoff

    As the dilaudid is being injected into my arm I felt this intense rush come over me.  It was a sense of flying right out of my bed and this intense “whoooosh” feeling swept over me.  It was intense and I even said “whoaaaaaa” to which the nurse said yeah, that’ll pass in minute or so.  I was almost instantaneously transported from a world of pain into a world of serenity.  While the medicine did not 100% rid the pain, it went from a 10 to around a manageable 3-4.  I felt human again.

    6:30 – The Hulk That Never Was

    Shortly after that a radiologist popped in and said a CT scan had been ordered to look for a stone.  Wow, this was fast.  The last time I had a stone I had to drink that stuff that cleared your bowels out (ew!) and get injected with dye.  That was well after the fact also.  This was much easier and faster.  I got wheeled around the annals of the hospital and felt quite good I must say.  I was my old self, joking and bantering on about nonsense.  The scan took 2-3 minutes and I was whisked by to my room to await results.  The next hour or so passed fairly uneventfully save for urinating into a bottle which felt like it took an act of congress to approve.

    I was secretly hoping for a gamma radiation accident so I could go all Hulk up in there.  Well, ok, I know that’s not possible but still, the idea was entertaining!

    7:45 – The Return

    After giving a urine sample, much to my dismay, the pain seemed to creep back up and steadily intensified.  Seriously?  I was doped up and the pain was already coming back?  I hit the call button and they asked if I needed anything.  I said the pain had returned and they said they’d be in shortly.  I was now moaning again and was quite upset.  How could I go from feeling good and loopy back into this pain?  I think what happened was after I urinated, the stone began to move again since my bladder was empty.  That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.

    Oh yeah, I should also mention that the doc had popped in and confirmed the stone at nearly 6mm.  That’s a HUGE stone, well, huge for me.

    8:15 – The Calm After The Storm

    For whatever reason, around this time, the pain suddenly dropped off.  I didn’t know why but didn’t care.  I went from 9-10 to a sudden 0 on the pain scale.  I wasn’t sure if the medicine had a second wind or if the stone actually made it to the bladder.  I was just glad the pain was gone, for now that is.  The nurse came back in and said she had pain meds to give.  I wasn’t in pain anymore but in my mind it could return at any time.  She gave me another dose of the dilaudid and once again, I was off to the Moon.  Now I was nearly 100% carefree and painfree.

    8:45 – Kthxbai!

    The doctor came in and said they were releasing me and gave me all the info I needed for a follow up with a urologist.  I said that’s great and all but lets talk about this pain.  I said these exact words to her, “Give me the strongest medicine for pain that you’re legally allowed to give.”  She laughed and said not to worry, it was strong.  Ok, good.  See, I don’t want to end up back in the ER at 10pm or 3AM.

    9:00 – Home Sweet Home

    I was finally home and was able to see my two boys and they were so glad I wasn’t dead. Ha!  Hey, me too for that matter.  Thus ended my drama but the drama for my wife getting my medicine had only begun.  Over the next three hours she would have gone to three pharmacies only to find that no one in Griffin had Percocet-10.  She had to go to McDonough (20 miles away) and only then did she find out the prescription was NOT signed.  Damn!  Percocet is highly controlled and you must have a hard copy signed by the doctor to get it.  It’s strong stuff for sure.  She had to come BACK to Griffin then go BACK to McDonough but alas was able to finally get it filled.  Thank you my love! The story isn’t quite done though.

    12:20 – Who’s Our Special Guest Tonight?

    indiana-jones-boulder-chase-scenes-1980s-80s1

    Run!!!

    I was waiting up for Jen to get home with the medicine and figured I’d be better off sleeping.  I wasn’t hurting so I better make the most of it.  One last task for the night was to pee again.  I felt a sudden strong urge to do so.  I had been given a strainer to catch a stone but left it in the car.  Oops!  An empty coke bottle would do and believe me it wouldn’t be the first (nor probably last) time I’d peed in a bottle.  So I walk in, assume the position and went to take care of business.  I can only describe the sensation I felt by referring you to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  You know, where Indy is running for his life from the giant boulder.  Yes, that boulder was rolling down on the inside of me.  That little bastard rolled right out and into the bottle.  *plunk*

    Wait, what?  Did I just pass this stone? That fast?  I held up the bottle in disbelief.  Sure as hell, there it was; the rock that stopped everything for a few hours.  This thing had me on my head in pain.  I wanted to murder it and burn it.  All I could do was stare in amazement and this sudden relief swept over me.  That was it.  It was done.  I’d thrown the ring into the fires of Mount Doom.  It was only moments later that Jen walked in, with my medicine.  She asked if I was in pain, to which I didn’t reply but only showed her the stone.  We were both amazed.

    The actual culprit.  Penny is for size reference.

    The actual culprit. Penny is for size reference.

    She said “Well, take one of the pain pills anyway because I went through hell to get them.”  No argument here my dear.  Though I was still more than medicated enough from the hospital.  I would sleep very nicely on this night now that I had that little devil out of me.

    Thus ended the weirdest Friday I’ve ever had.  I’m glad I didn’t go to put together a bed and so very glad I chose not to go out that night.  Although I was stricken with it well before any of that would have happened.  I was just glad the evening unfolded the way it did because it could have been worse for sure.

    I’m now the proud father of a rock.

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  • ALL THE SLOW MOTION

    Posted on February 7th, 2013 admin No comments

    Ok I have a love affair with something… it’s not another woman; not chocolate; not a beefed up truck with boat in tow either.  It’s high speed cameras and the footage they gather.  Always been fascinated by it because it allows a glimpse into a world that is unknown to us.

    Now I have nowhere near the money to buy one of the fancy high speed cams.  You know you can’t afford it if the price isn’t even mentioned on the website.  By the way, just list the damn price anyway.  I’m looking right at you Vision Research.  I digress.

    So I went and bought the cheapest thing I could find that shot actual high speed.  It’s a Casio Exilim and while the photos and such are mediocre, the real magic lies in the 240fps mode.  It also does 480fps but at a very low resolution.  At any rate I’ve compiled some footage and I’ll post my latest video here.  I’ll post more in the future but this is a nice little start.  The fire and the wine are my favorite ones.  Music is by yours truly as well. :)

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  • Aliens are not here; not proven at least

    Posted on February 6th, 2013 admin No comments

    Ok, this one is kind of fun.  Aliens. Where are they?  I mean they’re here right? Not so fast.  Lets get this science lesson out of the way right here and now.

    Science!

    This is the Milky Way:

    Here you are and most of everything you can see in the night sky

    Here you are and most of everything you can see in the night sky

    So there you have it. That’s us tucked away in a tiny corner of that galaxy.  What is a galaxy? Ok, more science so strap in.  Here goes…

    We live on Earth, which orbits a star we call the Sun.  Our entire solar system is a few billion miles across.  Pretty damn big but paltry compared to the big stuff.  So our solar system is what is orbiting the center of the milky way.  Now, Earth goes around the Sun once every 365 days.  Our Sun orbits the galactic center once every 250,000,000 years (give or take. I mean really, what’s million years here or there).  So in comparison, our solar system is a spec of dust.  The galaxy we live in is some 100,000 light years across.  That’s the distance light travels in ONE Earth calendar year.  It’s around 10,000,000,000,000km.  So to get the distance across the galaxy, add six more 0s to that number for a whopping 10,000,000,000,000,000,000km across.  Ten quadrillion kilometers (or 6 quadrillion miles).  Yes.  It’s a very very big place.  Even so it’s tiny compared to the Universe.  We’re done with that stuff for now.  We’ll focus on the local area around Earth.

    Tinfoil hats at the ready!

    Aliens, right?  They’re here, right?  Ok, like I said before – hold the phone.  Think about this.  The nearest star to us is 25 TRILLION miles away.  Traversing interstellar space would be a mind boggling feat.  We can’t even begin to comprehend the technologies that would have to be employed for such a journey.  The space craft would be massive, supporting generations of their species perhaps.  It’d also move very fast I imagine.  So that’s why the stories of bizarre lights and little zippy dots caught on camera really make me roll my eyes.  Think about it.

    A vastly superior species shows up and they flit around in the sky at break neck speeds then disappear.  Uh, no.  Hell no.  I’ve traveled trillions of miles at the very least – I’m going to land and get shit done.  It doesn’t make any sense at all.  Ok, people that are abducted right, that’s a good one.  They recollect the entire story and what one thing is missing? The evidence is missing.  The actual physical evidence isn’t there.  NDT (Neil deGrasse Tyson) said it best “take an ash tray!”.  His point was that ANYTHING on a ship capable of interstellar travel would be worth looking at.  Where is this stuff? Oh it doesn’t exist.  Just like the aliens that took them in the first place.  Moving along to my final peeve.  Aliens were here long ago and vanished.

    We’re awesome, screw this place and screw YOU!

    Whoaaaaaa

    Whoaaaaaa

    So, yeah, they were here a long time ago and left.  In the process of leaving they also took every single bit of their technology with them.  Oh but they were nice enough to leave us stone carvings the vaguely depict that technology.  Gee, thanks, asses.  By the way, thanks for scaring the shit out of everyone with your damned outdated calendar.  Looking at you, Mayans.

    Get on with it…

    So that leaves me with this final note: I believe life exists elsewhere.  Mathematically speaking it just has to be true.  Hydrogen, Helium, Carbon and Oxygen are extremely abundant in the Universe.  We just happen to be made of those elements (minus the helium because that’s just for silly voices, duh).

    Nope, nope, nope!

    LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU

    So in a Universe chock full o’ ingredients with hundreds of billions of stars JUST in our galaxy, we’d be fools to assume we’re special enough to be alone.  We are special as I think everything is special in its own way.  We’re amazing because we actually CAN understand the Universe if we open our minds to it.  That’s the real trick though.  Some people refuse to let that knowledge in or deny it.

    I’m not saying you can’t have faith and all.  Sure, have it and let it better your life and those around you.  Just don’t suppress information.  Don’t feel you’re better or above someone else because your belief is better.  Just be a nice person, ok? Also, don’t deny that the study of the natural world is a good thing.  Of course it can be a double edged sword as can anything but most scientists have one common goal: to know.

    Aliens might one day show up.  I can’t know that and no one can but I have a feeling we’ll HEAR them before we see them.  Even then, they won’t be talking to US but to themselves.  The profound thing is that if we listen in on a civilization that’s even 100 years more advanced than we are, imagine the implications of that.  Us + 100 years of advancement.  It’s exciting and a little scary to think about.  I’m optimistic that we’ll hear or observe something that indicates life elsewhere in the Universe but I think you can feel safe that the men in black won’t show up to zap your brain and make you forget the whole thing.

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  • Leave God out of the school shooting

    Posted on December 15th, 2012 admin No comments

    I haven’t posted in a long, long while but I figure I’d get something off my chest.

    Yesterday, a man walked into a school and proceeded to kill 26 people.  20 of them were children ranging from ages 5-10.  It’s a nightmare scenario and particularly troubling to deal with when you have children at that same age.  Our boys are 5 and 9.

    So I imagine kids just like them scared out of their mind as a deranged man points a gun at them and pulls the trigger.  It’s gut wrenching and having an imagination that’s particularly vivid, it’s a thought I can’t let go of.  It’s absolutely maddening and I want to scream.  I want to inflict the terror of all those that suffered onto that one man.  Sadly, he took his own life.  Sad because he took the easy way out and left the ruin for us to endure.

    In the aftermath there’s the usual feeling of outrage and sadness.  It’s absolutely warranted.  I can’t even begin to put myself in the shoes of the families that lost their children.  Of course there are immediate political arguments brought up about gun control.  There are arguments made over video games being too violent.  There are arguments over mental health care.  Somewhere the system is broken and probably broken in more than one place.  What happened was simple: a man took a couple of weapons, walked into a school and opened fire.  The solution is all seemingly all but impossible.

    I don’t know what the answer is and none of us do.  Anyone who claims to know is a fool because it’s too complex to have one simple answer.

    The last thing I want to touch on is a particularly touchy subject for some.  I’ve seen several cartoons or posts on Facebook with this basic message:

    Why would God allow this to happen in schools. – Student
    Because I’m now allowed in schools anymore. – God

    That one just outright pisses me off.  It’s a complete copout and while everyone can have their opinions so can I.  So here’s the logic: Government says no prayer in school.  God doesn’t stop massacre of teachers and students.  Of all the bullshit I’ve seen and heard, that’s pretty close to the top.  Ever stop to think that maybe some of the victims were God fearing people? Maybe they were praying? Maybe they were asking where God was in all of the chaos.  Maybe the heroic actions of some teachers saved even more students from dying.  Wouldn’t that be a small miracle in itself?  It was horrible but it could easily have been worse.

    newtown-shooting-600x401Would you actually look the victims in the face and say “God didn’t care about you because he wasn’t allowed in school.”?  I’m going to say the answer to that question is a resounding “No.”  I’m tired, downright exhausted about where God belongs in our lives.  Look at the images of the children being taken out of the school.  Look at the fear on their faces.  Be a human being and show some compassion.  Leave religion out of it.

    Here’s a reality check for you: not everyone shares the same beliefs.

    Egyptians had gods, Vikings had gods, Greeks had gods, Romans had gods.  Every major civilization or large culture on this Earth has a God or Gods.  Stop being so narrow minded.  The world is a big place full of nearly 7,000,000,000 people.  I write that number out because people seldom grasp how BIG of a number that is.  That’s 7,000 Million. Yes. It’s a big number.  No, we don’t all believe in the same things.

    Again, I’m ok with people of faith.  Do what makes you happy.  What I’m not ok with is people saying that children were murdered because God wasn’t allowed in school.  That statement contains a level of cruelty and stupidity that make people question God in the first place.  Just stop.

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  • New year, new domain

    Posted on December 31st, 2011 admin No comments
    DNA Art

    DNA Art creates customized canvases out of your DNA

    So, payingpeterback.com was finally retired.  I had owned it for nearly 4 years.  The original idea was that sometimes you have to rob Peter to pay Paul.  Well, we were going to pay him back.  The blog quickly turned into my blog where I rambled on about this and that but mostly science related things in recent years.

    That’s where this new domain comes in: ilovebeinghuman.com.  Think about it.  Sure you can be proud to live in your state or your country.  Maybe you have pride regarding where your ancestry lies.  That’s all fine and dandy but at the end of the day it’s about being a human being.

    I chose this name because of a campaign I saw about loving your ethnicity.  That’s a double bladed sword really.  I think everyone should be proud of who they are but careful not to boast their superiority over anyone else.  A football rivalry? Sure.  Battle of the bands? Yep!  When it comes to saying you’re a better person than the next because of race, gender or religion then I draw the line.  That’s nothing but asking for trouble.

    So, enjoy being a human being as we all are.  If you’re reading this you’re human (and a googlebot). Love it because in the cold, vast enveloping darkness, all we have is each other to see it through.  Love being a human because we’re so very lucky to have this opportunity at this point in time to understand the world around us in such great detail.  No other animal is capable.

    So, join me in love for the human race.  We could be our own greatest enemy but we are also our own greatest ally.

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  • Space Shuttle: All Systems Go

    Posted on November 3rd, 2011 admin No comments
    Atlantis sits on the pad in the early dawn hours

    Atlantis sits on the pad in the early dawn hours

    I really hoped I wouldn’t be tired when I woke up to get on the road but I wasn’t even a bit tired.  My son handled the 3:30am wake up call rather well.  It was my mother that woke us both us.  I don’t think she slept very well.  Our first destination was a local mall parking lot to get my son’s KSCVC (Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex) ticket.  We made the stop only to find out we had to travel to KSCVC to get the ticket.  We were given a name to ask for and off we went, again.

    It was dark and following my GPS didn’t seem as reliable as following the signs since millions had been here before me.  I took the first exit that read KSC.  Upon taking that exit I realized it was the back way into KSC.  With such a high profile launch would it be closed off?  I was nervous and irritated but still followed the signs.  We got to a checkpoint and the guard was as happy as he could be.  He told me to keep the placard in the window and which way to go.  He said not to make any wrong turns and then laughed again.  Do not make any wrong turns: noted.

    As we drove down a few winding roads we could see lights just on the horizon.  I knew that was the shuttle as it was always very well lit when being prepped during the night.  A couple of turns later we were pulling into KSCVC and we were routed to a parking spot.

    We were here.  Would the weather cooperate?

    We made our way to where we had to pick up our extra ticket and completed that transaction with no problems at all.  We then had to stand in line for security checks.  The air was soupy thick with humidity and I wondered how we’d stand waiting for launch.  It was nearing 5AM at this point and we were inside the Visitor’s Center.  After a bathroom break we made our way out towards the Rocket Garden and we would set up camp there.

    It was so bizarre seeing so many people wide awake at such an hour.  I should say that most people were wide awake.  I saw more than a few people completely laid out trying to catch a snooze.  Once again, the question was if the weather would improve enough.

    I would like to note that my phone had next to no service, despite having full bars.  The only thing I can pin it down to would be that some half a million other people were trying to get onto the same network.  A text here and there would make it through but it was folly to try and do anything else.  Phone was useless at this point but it would come in handy later.

    The waiting game began as soon as we got there.  While we had plenty to do we were all there for the main event.  It seems there were the ones that weren’t very concerned with what was going on, how I do not know, and the ones that were obsessively trying to figure out what was going on.  I fit into the latter.  I had my phone, which was useless as a source of info due to the data network but the biggest info updates came via the P.A. system.  A couple of guys behind us had a scratchy radio that would cut in and out.  We mostly just sat and waited.

    As T-0 drew nearer, we began to look at the sky more and more.  It was looking promising and given that the previous 12-14 hours looked terribe, we’d take it.  The clouds seemed to be pushing out over the ocean and a clear patch was directly above us and to the west.  Weather forecasters were still unsure if any rain shows might pop up inside of the 15 mile radius.  We crossed our fingers and to lighten things up we went and ahead and gave our go for launch.  Would they listen to us?  Doubt it!  T-0 was 11:27AM EST and it was fast approaching.

    It’s strange how the atmosphere began to get really charged at around 30 minutes to T-0.  Whereas people had been wandering and exploring, they began to flock to their camped out areas and wait contently.  Add us to that bunch but I couldn’t sit still and just wait, so I kept popping over to the nearby PA speakers to listen to the commentators on NASA TV.  The polling of all the groups is one of the most exciting parts for me.  That signifies that it’s really about to go down, assuming  no one says “no go”.  Mike Leinbach was the launch director and he was the one that made the final call.  After having made the rounds he finally got to Houston Flight.  They said to keep going around to poll others and to come back to them.  That made my heart skip a beat but when Mike came back to Houston they said that for the record they were “go”.  I little voice in my head silently shouted “yes!”  I felt like I was on the team that had scored the touchdown to give us the lead yet with time still on the clock, the game wasn’t over!

    Now we found our way back to our spot and waited.  The next big event would be coming out of the T-9 hold.  Once the countdown from there began it was a fully automated process and no other holds were built in.  For all intents and purposes, once it started, you’d see a launch in 9 minutes.   I held my breath as it drew near and just like that the clock read 8:59, 8:58, 8:57… It was really happening.  I could hardly contain myself I was probably blabbering like a fool though I don’t recall acting that way.  During this part of the countdown we would encounter several milestones.  A few being retracting of the arm that fuels the external tank, switching to internal power, pressurizing tanks and having the astronauts close and lock their visors.  Everything was going as planned until T-0:31.

    The damn thing stopped

    At 31 seconds until liftoff the clock suddently stopped.  My stomach sank and a groan eminated from the crowd.  All this way, all this time and all for nothing?  It was the nightmare scenario of it coming down to the final seconds and it being scrubbed because maybe a bird landed on the tank or something obscure and unforseen had happened.  We could hear controllers rambling on about something but I couldn’t hear what they were saying.  Before I could really catch on a cheer erupted from the crowd.  Ok, that’s good, I’m assuming that’s good, right?  At that point I could hear the controllers saying they’d like to resume the countdown.  At that point I was nearing being in tears from joy.  I didn’t know why the clock had stopped but who cares as long as it goes up!  The slight delay pushed the launch time back by about 2 minutes to 11:29AM.

    Tunnel vision

    The controller came over the PA and said the countdown would resume on his mark; 3, 2, mark!  The clock was moving again and whereas it had seemed to drag on and on for hours, the final few dozen seconds were flying by.  My mind was racing, my heart was racing.  I had no idead how I would react to what I was about to see.

    10 seconds

    The igniters start up to burn off excess hydrogen that might have gathered under the vehicle

    7 seconds

    Go for main engine start.  We all watched the three main engines roar to life on the big screen television near the rocket garden.  My heart was pounding and we had all started to count down with the commentator, George Diller.

    6

    5

    4

    3

    2

    Suddenly everyone stopped counting as maybe we all held our breath…

    0

    Lift off of Atlantis!

    Atlantis lifting off one last time marking the final space shuttle launch ever.

    LIFTOFF!

    Cheers erupted and I think we all lost our minds momentarily as we watched it jump off the pad with a jolt.  We were 8 miles from the pad so the sound would take some time to reach us but we’d easily be able to see Atlantis clear the building in front of us.  We were all straining our eyes looking…looking and finally, there she was.  Atlantis came out from behind the IMAX building.  My first thought was “WOW that thing is hauling ass!”  though I think I only said “WHOA!”.

    There it was.  There we were.  We had finally done it.  We gazed upon the shuttle in flight one last time with millions of other people sharing one common goal; to witness history.  It was short lived though as the low cloud deck would soon swallow her up and allow to to ride into the heavens with a bit of privacy.  The show wasn’t over yet because shortly after going into the clouds, the sound came.  What a sound it was.  It’s hard to describe, really.  It wasn’t loud so much as it was deep.  It was the deepest, lowest sound I’d ever heard and felt.  It shook everything from the buildings to the ground to your ear drums.   My grin stretched from ear to ear and my mom and I hugged each other.  My son wasn’t quite 8 years old yet and he hadn’t fully understood what he was witnessing but he was into it and carrying on with everyone else.

    Our view of Atlantis

    It wasn't long before Atlantis vanished into the clouds. Snapped this by just pointing and clicking. Not bad!

    Relax and enjoy the show

    We watched Atlantis ride into orbit on the big screen.  Most people had started to scatter before then but I traditionally watched all eight and a half minutes of the ascent.  Today was no different.  It was only after that we began to call people and text people.  My cousin had texted me and said he heard it was going up and wished the best.  My wife said she was crossing fingers as well.  I was so glad it went up so I could offload my excitement to them.  I hadn’t relaxed in so long it was like taking a deep breath.  At that point, nothing mattered to me.  Life was good, despite the lingering possibility of having to have my gallbladder removed.  I would let nothing rain on my parade.  It was a great day and I was going to relish it.

    I’ll make one more blog entry to sum it all up and also I’ll explain what caused the T-31 hold in the first place.

     

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  • Space Shuttle: A Reality Check

    Posted on September 20th, 2011 admin No comments

    I had made every list and checked it twice.   I poured over best routes to take, places to sit at KSC and just otherwise how to have the best experience.  With everything all set, we were good to go barring something going wrong.

    Something went wrong

    Late June I noticed a peculiar pain in my abdomen.  I thought it was a pulled muscle at first and shrugged it off.  Days go by with no real improvement and perhaps a slight worsening.  I finally decided to head to the doctor one Saturday morning.  I expected to hear the usual “Looks like a pulled muscle.  Here’s a shot and some medicine.  Give it a few days.”  Instead, the NP was pressing and pushing around that area asking where it hurt.  I pointed at one spot and she came back with “Gallbladder”.   A what-what?  I mean I’ve heard of it but never even knew what it did.  Suddenly I was terrified.  Not from having a bad gallbladder but from potentially missing the launch.  To hell with my vital organs, I want to see a rocket!

    I was given some advice and medicine for pain if needed.  I was told to avoid fatty foods and was scheduled for an ultrasound.  My Ultrasound was to take place the day before we left out for Florida.  I was not a happy camper.  Internet research was less than helpful as you only read people’s horror stories there.  My only wish was that this thing stayed quiet long enough to get down to Florida and see Atlantis go up.  If they had to cart me off from KSC into the OR, fine.  I wanted to see a launch.

    All systems go

    Thursday, July 7th; packed and ready to go.  We leave out around 1pm in hopes of making Titusville by 8-9pm.  My nagging pain was ever present but I pressed on, bound and determined.  The trip was mostly smooth with the usual casual banter and the sounds of my son playing his 3DS.

    Mom, wife and son

    My mom, wife and oldest son in 2006 for our first attempt at Atlantis (STS-115).

    Our first big stop was the welcome center in Florida.  I love that place for the free orange juice.  I could stay all day.  Actually, the bugs were horrible.  Still, free orange juice!   This is also when I discovered something horrifying: I had forgotten my camera and camcorder.  We were halfway there.  No way on Earth were we going back to get it.  A snap decision was made to buy a new camera when we got to our destination and then we’d give that camera to my mom for her school work.  Problem solved!

    Now that we were back on the road we headed deeper into gator country.  Literally, we passed within miles of University of Florida!  This is also when we encountered rain.  It kept raining.  It rained some more.  In fact it just decided to rain all the way to Titusville.  This did not bode well for a launch.  A stray cloud grounds the shuttle it seems.  Nonetheless, we had the place for 2 days if needed and we had dibs on a better locale if it went on more than that.  I was going to go broke if I had to; a statement that likely gave my wife the shivers.  She’s an accountant.

    I checked NASAspaceflight.com all the way to Florida in case something wacky happened.  Wacky?  Yes, something like a bird flying into the insulation or a spare bolt being found that couldn’t be identified.  If a scrub were to occur at any point – we were making a U-turn.  This did not happen fortunately but it was always on my mind.

    T is for Titusville

    We arrived at our destination, finally.  As I recall we got there around 9:30pm.  The owner informed me that she was a night owl so getting there late was not a problem.  We chatted with the owner for a bit and she showed us to the guest house.  I love Florida.  The air is so humid you can almost swim in it.  It was still drizzly at this point and we were exhausted.  We made the camera run and got a few snacks as well at a local Wal-Mart.  It was pushing 11:30 when we finally got settled and we had to be up in 4 hours.   Now for my next trick: sleeping!

    It seemed like it would have been hard to do but honestly, I passed right out.  I was awakened by my mother at around 3:30am.  Just as easily as I had fallen asleep – I was now wide awake and I was in full on GO mode.  I slapped my clothes on, got the kid dressed, got our gear and we headed to the truck

    A quick check to the NASAspaceflight.com indicated all was still go for launch, pending weather.   Off we went.

    Today would be the day.

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