September 22, 2005

Getting over

Posted in Health, Life, Me at 10:23 pm by mj

After two years of not being able to eat much of anything without feeling nauseous (or nauseated), and needing medicine to feel even halfway normal, I started recovering earlier this year. It may be linked to my trying some Chinese poison herb medicine, or drinking ginseng tea every morning, or just to intentionally reducing my stress. Or maybe whatever was causing my problems basically ran its course (though I still have occasional recurrences). Whatever changed, it was welcome.

Now I’m battling a different problem: I gained too much weight!

This time last year, I was joking that if I ever did recover, I’d be in an excellent position to pursue my dream of becoming a hunk: I was waif thin, I had developed a taste for consistently eating bland foods, and, most of all, I had promised myself that I would never, ever treat my gastrointestinal tract poorly again. I was willing to give up spicy hot pot, satay, sushi, even cooked seafood, if only I could eat regular food again.

But a funny thing happened on my way to the bank… food.

Part of it is understandable. My symptoms first appeared in February 2003, but it wasn’t until a week before Easter that it hit me that I wasn’t going to recover so quickly. I had bought tons of Easter candy (I have a thing for peanut butter eggs), but every bite had me on my knees. This year, I started recovering, slowly, in January, and it wasn’t until around Easter that I was confident enough to become more adventurous with my diet. You can guess what happened next. Uh-huh. I had waited two years to get a taste of Easter themed candy, and this year that’s practically all I ate for a month.

Once I’d had my fill of chocolate, I started eating normally, but just more of it. I guess I was afraid I was living on borrowed time, and any day I’d be back to chicken noodle soup and homemade chicken salad and dry pasta and water. Every. Single. Day.

It was made worse because exercising seemed to bring on bouts of mild to severe nausea. Or so it seems. Every time I’ve had a recurrence since April, it’s been shortly after I started “working out.” I can control my eating pretty easily. I know it’s not a matter of willpower, it’s a matter of intelligently controlling what you bring home from the grocery. Creating a budget also helps prevent excessive dining out. That part is easy. But not being able to even do sit-ups? That’s just crazy. But then, I guess I’d rather double my weight than go through life not being able to eat anything. (Though I have trouble imagining myself as a 320+ pound behemoth. Instead of a hunk, maybe I could be a mobster. I have that “look” about me already.)

Do the problems never cease? Wasn’t there a paragraph in the Life Passage contract I signed on my way out of the womb–maybe around paragraph 42, subsection 8–about all life’s problems ending once I finish puberty???

I’ll admit, though. I am much happier now–even with all the zaniness at work–than I have been, well, maybe ever. Getting off that creepy medicine that sucked my energy like a vampire…finding out that I really do still love what I do for a living…holding my wife who’s stuck with me even when I was sick, depressed and frustrated…I guess I can deal.

Now, what do I do with all that money I allocated to my FSA at the beginning of the year, in anticipation of having thousands in hospital/doctors expenses?

September 4, 2005

Obligatory Introduction; or: BS, BS, BS.

Posted in Lessons Learned, Me at 3:35 am by mj

I’m a software engineer in a smallish team acquired last year by a large media company. I haven’t had anything resembling a public blog for six years, and at that time I just felt weird writing about myself. (I’m not comfortable being the center of attention in any context.)

I was looking for a cheap place to get myself into the habit of writing regularly when a co-worker offered a invite. Bribes were proffered, and here I am, two weeks later.

So… “Better software. Better science. Better sex.” It’s a challenge to myself. Lke a lot of people at some time in their lives, I’ve fallen into a period of directionlessness. There’s been this nagging feeling that I’m not accomplishing what I could. After a couple years of coping with a persistent health issue, which has recently abated, and some turmoil at work, I’m looking for–or looking to create–interesting challenges. But the first part of meeting any challenge is gearing up, getting psyched, finding motivation. Hence, I’m challenging myself to be more professional and more critical of the world around me.

My original motto was, “Better software. Better philosophy. Better life.” But, like all good, true, mundane mottos, it suffered from a lack of vigor and charisma. So I chose the most interesting–and maybe provokative–subsets of my interests (software, science and sex), realizing that not only was it sensationalistic and, just perhaps, might lead to some readers…but it offered a great comeback for any detractors. So, remember, when you disagree with me, just proclaim: BS! BS! BS!

My interests vary. From search (very dear to my heart) to chinese politics (an interest I developed after meeting my wife); aging research (not that I’d be very good at living forever) to epistemology (particularly as it relates to political and scientific systems); social networking (and its applications to search/feedback/filtering) to theology (which you might consider odd if you knew I was an agnostic); I could rattle on in a vague manner, but it’s better if I save it for actual posts.

So that’s it in a snail’s shell. I am now ready to identify my first lesson learned in blogging: be more freaking specific!