Food jail, backups, the death of facebook, etc.

I miss being able to write here on a daily basis on everyday topics that have nothing to do with my writing, in a style not like my writing. It’s caused a problem in that people read stuff here and assume my books are like this writing, and either say I should write more like this in my books (no) or make this blog all absurd stuff like my books (no). I do like when I look back at a random entry from 1997 and see what existential crisis I was having over buying CDs or something.

I’ve been in food jail for the last few weeks. I should be at about 170-175, but I’ve been just north of 200 for most of the year, and need to get past that. So I’m on plan, and I’m hesitant to say which plan, because everyone is a fucking expert, and I don’t need yet another goddamn person telling me I need to intermittently fast. I know what I need to do and what I need to eat, but it’s a slow process. If I could lose a pound a week, there are only 20 weeks left in the year, so that’s almost my goal. But it’s been slow. When I did this ten years ago, I would eat about 1500 calories a day, keep at a good ratio of protein/fat/carbs, and eat clean(ish) and I’d always lose 1-2 pounds a week, without fail. Now, not so much. There’s certainly something metabolic there — higher cortisol from stress, lower testosterone from being ten years older. And when I get too much into reading this junk, diving into various pseudo-science blogs about insulin response and carbohydrate conversion and whatever else, my ultimate response is to say fuck it and start eating again. So I’m going to have to stick with what I’m doing, keep exercising, and slowly carve away at it.

Went to the GP last week, partly because it’s just time for my annual, partly because everyone is dead and dying and there’s some paranoia there. Everything’s fine. All the blood numbers are fine. Blood pressure is borderline, but between the day job and all the caffeine, that’s understandable. I need to lose weight, although this doctor doesn’t hassle me about it that much. I have mixed feelings about fat acceptance – if you’re into it, whatever, but I know I felt better and my numbers were better when I weighed less, so it definitely has health consequences for me, and it’s something I need to work on. Anyway, why am I telling the world all of this?

Spent yesterday burning too many cycles dealing with my backup solution. I have used CrashPlan for years, and they decided to get out of the home game, and told everyone to switch to their pro/small business plan, or go screw. I stuck with it, and then found out my machine hasn’t been backing itself up for weeks. I futzed with their program for a minute, and it said it had to re-upload everything, which would take a week or two. Or maybe it didn’t – their new UI is very opaque and tells you nothing. I spent all day poking around with alternatives. They gave me a “deal” to switch to Carbonite, but the “deal” was roughly twice as expensive. I looked at rolling my own solution, using a tool like Duplicacy to back up my stuff to an Amazon S3 bucket, and then using Wasabi, which is a cheap-o S3 substitute. I couldn’t really get that to work, so I gave up and switched to BackBlaze. I like the UI and the performance of BackBlaze, and the price is right. I am not entirely into the recovery method – instead of just being able to browse the archives remotely, you either request a monster ZIP of your entire archive, or pay to have them ship you a drive. I suppose that is okay for a full-machine failure, but doesn’t address when I need to go back and grab a single file from backup. I do also back up locally, on an external drive and to a NAS, so that’s okay for now I guess.

Facebook keeps removing features. I keep wanting to write some big “the death of Facebook” article but I have no inertia there. The first thing that went – they had this thing, and I can’t remember the name, but it showed you a feed of posts that might interest you, things from feeds friends followed or whatever, just a firehose of things that weren’t in your friends feed. I really liked this idea, because it might show you things out of your orbit that you could then follow. (Instagram does something similar.) So that vanished. Then the news items, which is probably good, because that just raised my blood pressure, but I don’t read news anymore, so that was my only exposure to current events. The “friends activity ticker” also got pulled, which ceased to be useful after I had more than like fifty friends, but still. And now, the concept of friend feeds is gone. I don’t even know that most people knew about this, but you could make lists of friends, like “school friends” and “work friends” and “annoying friends who post too many pictures of their kids” or whatever, and then you could unfollow those people, but go to that feed to see those posts. I found that helpful because when my main feed would get fucked and have a ten-hour gap in posts, I could go to a close friends feed and still read their posts. I think with the combination of news feed fuckery and people just losing interest, FB is going to become MySpace soon. Which is bad, because it’s the only way I sell books (not that I’ve been selling any books lately) and it’s the only way I keep in touch with people, since nobody reads this anymore. And no “what’s next after Facebook” replacement has gained any traction. So, who knows. There was a weird dark ages after college for me, because everyone in college emailed and chatted and was on the computer constantly, and then from the mid-90s to the mid-00s, people just dropped off the map completely. I sort of see that happening again. Maybe I need a new hobby.

I have a book 99% done that I can’t seem to get out the door. It is completely written, has been through like three or four editing passes, and I’m at the point where I can’t even look at it anymore, let alone write a snappy description and tell the world it is the greatest thing ever. I have someone working on a cover for it right now. Maybe that will make me get off my ass and finish it.

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Milwaukee

I had to make an emergency trip to Milwaukee last month – haven’t had time or energy to write about it yet, but I probably should put something here. My wife’s stepmother passed away suddenly, and there was much chaos behind the whole thing. I don’t want to go into too many details here, except to say like 19 things were wrong with this story. And if you smoke, quit.

I’m not sure how I managed to get out of work for an entire week, but I did. (Well, almost — I still got pulled into two or three different problems via email while I was gone.) Sarah left the week before me, and tried to handle the pure chaos of the situation: no will, nothing planned, separate finances, lots of people in limbo, coming in to town and trying to help but it was like throwing ten decks of cards in the air and trying to sort them before they hit the ground. The funeral was gigantic, something like a thousand people, even the mayor of Milwaukee, and the will and the probate and the finances will probably drag on for months. So, don’t smoke, and get a will and write all that stuff down.

It’s unusual that I visit the midwest during the summer. The annual trip usually happens over the holidays, when everything is frozen. I haven’t been to Milwaukee in the summer since I think 2007, when we did a big IL/IN/WI trip. And I was there in the spring of 2008, for our wedding reception. I wrote about this phenomenon when I went to Indiana in 2015, and it still holds true – that change in temperature and sunlight and the ability to be outside for more than ten minutes without losing fingers and toes really changes things, sets off a completely different nostalgia profile.

My only real summertime nostalgia for Wisconsin is from 1993, when me and Ray and John Woods drove out for the Milwaukee Metalfest. That’s a whole other story, which we covered in the episode of the podcast with Ray. The bit that reverberated with me, at least on this trip, wasn’t Ice T or Cannibal Corpse, but was a brief moment in the morning. We drove to Milwaukee the night before, and slept in Ray’s car, on North 24th Street, next to the Eagles Lodge. Or tried to sleep, anyway — I think I got about 90 minutes of fitful rest in the back seat of Ray’s Oldsmobile, crunched between boxes of shirts and tapes and zines and whatever else.

At five or six in the morning, unable to sleep anymore, I got out of the car, left behind an unconscious Ray, and went for a walk in the neighborhood, looking for caffeine. It was oddly quiet, almost vacant, the calm before the storm. And the midwest in summer always has this atmosphere property early in the morning, when the sun hasn’t heated everything up, and the humidity is still dew and not a swamp of unbearable mugginess. There was such a peacefulness and stillness to the air, and I enjoyed that feeling of tranquility in my half-awake state.

For this trip, we stayed in a hotel, one of the only places we could find because of Irish Fest. It was out in this tech center area of Wauwatosa, which I guess used to be filled with old hospitals and asylums which went vacant after new hospitals were built, and during the Y2K-era tech boom, the area was sort of reinvented as a tech hub, with lots of low-slung office parks that looked like the generic office buildings in places like Denver’s tech center, or the east side of Lake Washington in Seattle. The hotel was pretty meh, but I got a place that had a gym, which I usually do. But I usually do that because it’s like zero outside, and I have to treadmill it; this time it was actually nice outside (in the morning at least) and I was able to walk around in the morning. And I got that same feeling of the air, that I had back in 1993. The walks each morning, although they were through an area that looked like a copy of Palo Alto research parks, still was tranquil and enjoyable, a nice break from everything else.

The week of the funeral was chaos. The service and the reception went well, or as well as these things can go. And aside from losing an exceptional person, and having to deal with all the bullshit of the death (or in my case, feeling like I really could not help enough), there was the usual sinking feeling of a major existential crisis, the “what the hell am I doing with my life” trip. And the “what the hell is going to happen to my life.” I have so many family members who have cancer, heart problems, everything else, and I look at that, and start mentally calculating my own glide slope, then start wondering what I’m going to get done, and of course, I don’t even know what I want to do. So that’s a lot to process, and part of me would rather not.

Usual travel junk. They lost my luggage on the way out, and I almost got stuck in Las Vegas. Had to sprint full speed from one terminal to another to make my flight. The way back was uneventful. I spent an hour in Los Angeles, and my old familiar Terminal 1 has been completely re-skinned and redone, so even though I was less than a mile from my old apartment, it wasn’t the same. Spent a lot of time at malls. Did an amazing amount of walking. Ate way too much. Every time I turned around, someone else was bringing over a fresh pie. It was wonderful, and I hope it never happens again, for several reasons.

Anyway, usual thing about how I need to write more here. Trying to get another book out, trying to get healthy and lose weight, trying to not think about this whole life thing too much.

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The Death of IFTTT

I recently wrote in The Death of NetworkedBlogs about how I needed to switch to a new service to post links of new posts on this site over to Facebook. In that post, I mention that I switched to using IFTTT to accomplish the same thing.

So, of course, two months later, and IFTTT has announced they will no longer allow their applets to post to Facebook. Or maybe Facebook won’t allow them. Adding a bit more wall to the walled garden. That’s a whole other conversation, but long story short, I don’t have a way to post new posts from here directly to Facebook.

I could manually paste the URL into a Facebook post, but then it would get zucc’ed down and nobody would see it. Well, nobody sees these anyway. Whatever.

If anyone has any wise ideas on how to do this, let me know. I should probably not worry about this until I start posting more than once a month, though.

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