A Positive Attitude is a Healthy Attitude

At my annual checkup this week, my eye doctor was very impressed with my continued recovery from the stroke.  These kinds of appointments are fun for me because I exceed their expectations and they see more apparent progress than I do because they only see it a few times a year where I see it every day.

I respect Dr Smith a lot – she is very observant and pays attention to everything that can affect my health.  While I may not adopt all of her suggestions, I do appreciate her pointing them out and I seriously consider how to incorporate them into my life.

Dr Smith observed my positive attitude at my checkup (which wasn’t surprising given the praise I was receiving) and pointed out how important a positive attitude was to recovering from any serious trauma in life.  I was surprised that Dr Smith considered my stroke recovery an uncommon success story.  I don’t think that I’ve done anything unusual or heroic.  I’ve just remained determined to regain as much of my self-sufficiency as possible.  My expectation is that I will eventually be a contributing member of society again, just like everyone else.

November Fitness Update

This is just a quick update on where I am at with my fitness program.  I don’t feel like I am fully underway with it.  There are signs that I need to more seriously pursue a fitness program and a few that I’m starting to make progress.

Under the heading of “Signs that I Need to Get Serious About Fitness”, Joe and others have observed that I’ve gained weight.  Kathy is not overly concerned – I think that she shares my memory of losing all that weight in the hospital.  Dr Smith, my eye doctor, at my annual checkup was worried about my blood pressure and suggested that it would be good to lose some weight.  I was going to replace my snacking on m&m’s with chex mix and pringles but she suggested that I cut down on salt.  🙁

More importantly, my experience at the reunion and haircut last Saturday demonstrate that I need to improve my walking endurance.  I was so wiped out at the end of the reunion that I almost stumbled down the stairs leaving and was still tired the next day.  Tiring out returning from Domenico’s indicates that walking to and from the bus stop might still be beyond me and I need to train more before attempting to use the regular bus.  On the positive side, I had a good session walking intervals around the court Tuesday.  If I can do 3 sessions of intervals each week, I should be ready to try the regular bus for my next haircut.

On a less important note:  I need to get a picture showing my November fitness.  I wanted to take it today but I was distracted and also forgot that Julia was at her cousin’s house until bed-time.  Hopefully Thursday…

5 Signs You Are Going to the Reunion for the Wrong Reason

  • You print new business cards just for the reunion so that other attendees will notice that you have a fancy job title.
  • You spent your rent money to buy a smoking hot dress to attract the attention of your old boyfriend, crush – or the whole football team.
  • You spent your mortgage payment on a new watch or other bling to demonstrate how much “disposable” income you have to throw away on trinkets.
  • You didn’t invite your spouse along because you didn’t want anyone to get the idea that you weren’t available.

It’s normal to want to make a good impression but when that desire becomes so important that you lose your perspective and damage your finances or your family, you need to get a grip and return to reality.

Reunions are tinderboxes for your emotions – It’s where a bunch of people who you shared aa significant experience with are gathered together all in one place.  So you have strong ties to these people.  They also represent “where” you came from so that also evokes strong feelings.  On top of that, time has softened your memories so they appear much better than the people you’re faced with today.

I went to my recent reunion to show people that I wasn’t dead.  I had a stroke 3 years ago and if I didn’t show up at the reunion, the rumor mill would’ve leaped to the conclusion that  I was dead or dying.  I get enough pity because of the stroke, I don’t need people consoling my family after my supposed tragic end.

I don’t know if going to a reunion to show you’re not dead is a good reason or bad.  But it did get my butt in gear and got me to the reunion.  And once there, I had a good time, heard some interesting personal stories, saw some people who face much more difficult physical challenges than what I have to put up, honored some worthy teachers, reconnected with old friends and proved to myself that I can handle these sorts of social events (barely.)

Independent Rehab

Sooner or later, you will be “discharged” from your formal outpatient rehab, either because your insurance has run out or your therapists’ interest has.  At that point, you have to decide what you’re going to do:  live with your deficits as they are or find a way to get more rehab.

Once you’ve been discharged from outpatient rehab, you’ll need to go back through the justification process with your doctors and insurance.  Although I have a fairly generous insurance plan, I have still found that it works better if you present a specific deficit that you want to improve and a plan that needs only 3-6 therapist sessions to develop the rehab plan, check on progress mid-way and evaluate the results.

With most of the work being done by you on your own, you need to be prepared to arrange any equipment or materials necessary and disciplined to carry out the exercises on the schedule you devised with your therapist.

When I created rehab programs that included activities that were part of my regular life, or directly enabled stuff that I wanted to be doing, those efforts were more successful.  For example, when I was working on being able to walk more than just from one end of the house to the other, I used my wife’s trips to the library as exercises where I focused on extending my stamina to go further.   To help get back to driving, I will be riding a tandem bike with a friend.  This will increase my stamina so that I’ll be more alert when driving and give me practice with the kinds of thinking that driving requires.

I have had good luck with this approach in a couple of different areas.  If you create your own independent rehab program, please let me know how it works for you.

Self-Reliance Versus Accepting Help

Ever since I was eight, I was self-reliant.  My mother was a single mother and an alcoholic, which pretty much ensured that was how I would turn out… I realized recently that one of the reasons that I have trouble asking for and accepting help is that I learned at an early age that the only person that I could rely on was myself.  And ever since then, I was always there when I needed me.

One of the lessons from the stroke was that I needed to learn how to ask for help, and how to accept it when offered.  I’m not sure that I’ve fully learned that lesson yet but at my reunion tonight, I let Flora help me fill my dinner plate at the buffet and didn’t object when Tom helped get my coat off and get me arranged in my chair at the table.

It doesn’t sound like much but it seemed much more natural tonight than before.  Maybe I am learning my lesson.  🙂

New Publishing Schedule

Starting in November I will change my publishing frequency from three times a week to two.  If I run across something that I can publish sooner, I will.  But readers should find a new article every Tuesday and Friday, California time.

My recent posting fiasco convinced me that I’m trying to do too much too quickly.  I need more time to develop and write articles that are worth your time reading.  In the future, as I learn how to write faster and more efficiently, I will adjust the schedule accordingly.

Thanks for your patience while I fumble around publicly learning to blog.


Knowing How Long It Will Take is the Mark of a Professional

When the mechanic or plumber can tell you how long it will take to fix your problem, you are instantly more confident that they will do a good job.  If they know how long it will take, then they must already be familiar with what needs to be done…

As a software engineering professional for 30+ years, I have listened to countless programmers trying to convince others that there’s no way to estimate how long it will take to write a program.  The only thing they convince me of is their lack of competence.  When somebody tries to tell me that there’s no way to know long it will take to do something, that’s the surest sign that they don’t know what they’re doing and I need to get as far away from them as quickly as possible.

I guess it takes a certain amount of hubris to say this after screwing up the schedule of my blog posting so emphatically recently.  All I can say is that it’s obvious that I’m not a professional blogger (yet.)  And it becomes a case study in why it’s a necessary skill for a professional to be able to estimate how long it will take to do something.  For bloggers, it’s important to set a posting schedule for their blog and then meet that schedule.  Even if you don’t blow it as spectacularly as I have recently, being rushed will lead to crappier writing and just generally worse articles.

Returning to our blog writing process…

  1. We’ll start by making a single page list of the steps with plenty of room to add blogger hours and elapsed time next to each step.
  2. Before starting our estimating, we need to first verify we haven’t left out any steps.
  3. Now let’s make a best guess estimate at how long it will take to complete each step.  It doesn’t have to be very accurate as we will test and refine our estimates as we go along.  We just need a starting point.  (Of course, the more accurate our best guess estimates are, the quicker we’ll finish our testing and refinement. 😉 )
  4. For each step, try to think of any information that will help you refine or qualify your estimate.  For example, non-technical articles don’t need much, if any, research, so we can eliminate the time needed for research for non-technical articles.  I also know that “Person of Interest” articles take longer to outline than “Site of Interest” articles.  More generically, I believe that writing a draft of an article takes about 3 hours.  Reviewing a draft takes an hour, so if I need one draft to write an article, it’s 4 hours.  Two drafts will take 8 hours and so on, if even more are needed.
  5. Try to write a post within the best guess estimates and adjust the estimates as needed.  Repeat until the estimates match the actual time it takes you to write a post.

Once you have an accurate estimate of how long it takes to write posts, file it with your style and topic guides so you can refer to it when planning posts.  The time you invest now in understanding how long it takes to write a post will come back to you many times over during your blogging career.





Tweaks For Gmail

Testing… testing…  Is this thing on? <thunk> <thunk> Ahh, folks, I’m still testing my gmail stuff so the article isn’t quite ready.  I’ll update it as soon as it’s done.   It should be soon…

Uhh, this article must be cursed.  Today I was trying to test creating filters and the “create a filter” link had disappeared!  Others have reported seeing (or not seeing) the same thing.  And the Google help is not very helpful about it.  More info when I learn more…

Thanks for your patience.


I apologise for not posting for 11 days

It’s ironic that while I’m working on an article on setting a schedule for posting to your blog that I should utterly fail at doing so.

At this point, I don’t know for sure why I stopped for so long but I do recognize some patterns in my behavior that leads me to think that there may be something in how my brain was rewired by the stroke that makes it difficult to (re-)start something that I stopped working on.  I’ve seen this happen in the middle of tasks that I’m working on, like washing the laundry, and during my day as well as things that I’m working on over days or weeks.

It makes it really difficult for me to be successful because one of the necessary skills is being able to handle the unexpected and compensate or adapt.  It’s also difficult for me to maintain relationships where I don’t have a regular schedule or external trigger that reminds me to reconnect with the other person.  Before I know it, it’s days, weeks or months later and nothing’s happened in all that time.

There are strategies that I can employ to help me deal with my wiring… For the blog, I will make the schedule a requirement for me.  I will work on articles with their publication date in mind and if I can’t get an article done in time to make a publication date, I’ll juggle articles and find one that can be published then.  And if I miss a schedule date completely, I will sit down the next day and post an acknowledgement that I missed a schedule date and when the next article will be posted.  (Today, I expect my next article to be posted on Friday, in two days.  And I expect to continue posting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from then on.)

Once again, my apologies.


Richard Bach (Person of Interest)

I only know Richard Bach through his books but several themes come up so consistently that I’m sure they represent Richard Bach’s point of view.  And since many of his books are set as autobiographical, it’s difficult not to think that we know him.

I’ve recently reread Richard Bach’s “Illusions” and “Bridge Across Forever” and they present very intriguing ideas about our existence beyond our mortal lives.  For someone considering the meaning of life, they provide a lot of fodder for consideration.  I first ran across Richard Bach when I read “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” for the first time many, many years ago.  I then read “illusions” and “Bridge Across Forever” when they first came out.

While I believe that it’s possible that we create the realities we live, I don’t go so far as saying that they are all illusions.  We can’t just think about something and it will magically appear in our lives.  But at some level, we do influence what happens in our lives.  For us less advanced souls, we can’t float a wrench in mid-air or make clouds disappear, but we can steer our lives in directions that we want.