Caffeine, Depression, Sugar, etc

I gave up caffeine about a month ago.    Its been a bumpy ride.

Here is where I’m at:


I’m about 1 month plus into caffeine withdrawal.. and supposedly it takes that long for a body’s sleep cycles to adjust.  I’m definitely feeling better this week, but part of that could also be:  I cancelled most of life.  I’m not going to try to train for the Half Marathon anymore, I’m not trying to be productive in the evenings, I’m just going to work getting it done, get home, and zonk out to some PC games.


  • Not to be confused with life-crippling, stay-in-bed, I don’t want to live depression that some of my friends have. 
  • Also not to be confused with “I want to sit in my pity pot and whine” whine-pression.
  • But a definite marked “down-ness”, nothing feels “exciting” anymore, I have no desire to do anything, I’d rather just sleep and watch TV (be entertained) all day.

Also leading to: “what if I change this will I feel better” and “what if I change that will I feel better” — see last two posts on sleep schedules. (note: neither one really worked).


Always fun when it dawns.  In this case, I did my standard exercise when faced with something not feeling right inside me:   I took a blank sheet of paper, drew a big box on it, and gave myself permission to be as negative as I wanted to be, within that box.     Out came a ton of little messages like “I’m worthless”, “I’ll never be able to do X”, “I’m not useful”, etc —  maybe in a bit harsher language, but along those lines.

After that past, I was able to look at the box with a clean, calm mind, and pose the question: what now [God]? What do you need me to know and/or do?

And the answer came back rather easily:

  • Maybe I have been subsituting sugar for caffeine in an attempt to cope.
  • And maybe I am currently in adrenal fatigue.  [Note: I don’t mean the medical term.  I just mean that my body ain’t right.  the “feel” of the words adrenal fatigue matches my emotion]
  • I may need to change my sugar intakes.


Never jump straight from awareness to action – especially not against well-entrenched habits like what you eat, sleep cycles, and stuff like that.  Sit with it a while, let it sink in, collect data – see what the reality is.  Then the decisions are made from “it has to be this way” (certainity) rather than “I’m going to try my hardest” [and fail] (ego/intent).

Part 1 – collect data on sugar habits.

Eating Habits

I started on Saturday.   I’m taking to getting out of bed (when the cat wakes me), turning on the S.A.D. light, and entering my food for the previous day.. and looking at finances and other stuff like that. (and facebook).  Here is what I’ve logged:


Because I am actually logging it, that does affect my decisions on what I eat.   Its less than what it has been in the weeks past, but as I can see, them sugars are crossing the 100 mark all the time.. and a lot of fuel is coming from carbs rather than fat.    Now, I’m not a dietician, but I know I can do better than two donuts for breakfast in the morning (Sunday, Wednesday) and a crap-ton of bread (wheat) (I don’t do well with wheat).

But why?   I’m not feeling as bad as I once was.  For that, I need to look out to the future:  What do I want to do?


Somebody I looked up to, once clued me in that if I’m envious of somebody or something, it probably means I want to do that .. that’s a dream inside me.  Maybe I’m scared of doing it and thus I won’t recognize it, and instead I’ll be annoyed at those who do actually do it.  Avoidance things like that. 

What has been pinging me lately?  Let me count the ways:

Dream Extent How do I know this to be true?
Run a Marathon. 26.2 miles, at least once. Every time I see a 26.2 sticker on a car.
Every time I hear of people I know doing it.
Run a 5k faster Under 25 minutes.  Currently at 30.  My best ever was 24:50.  Listening to people talking about running them in 22 or so – I would like to do that.
Bike decently. A century, at 15mph or better. Every time RAGBRAI gets mentioned. (I have biked a century before, but more at 8-10 mph avg).
Triathalon The smallest possible one.
Swimming is my weakness.
At least two friends whom I am slightly envious of.
Lose Weight down to 155 lbs, which is the weight at which I can easily take my shirt of, and there’s no pot belly. I was at 159.5 once.  It was wonderful.  Currently at 175.
Finish some damned fun coding projects. Facebook catcher-upper
Chore-Ban (new)
Burn-it (shelved)
Envy when I realize I couldn’t get to the local monthly code mash-up. 
Envy when I hear my co-workers talk about the fun code they’ve been working on.
Travel First the USA – out west, mostly. Whenever we realize we can’t go somewhere because of X,Y or Z reason
Whenever I look up how much time off I have available for the rest of the year.

Road Map

The nice thing is, a lot of these dreams are completely realizable and doable.  But not all right now.   There is a stepping order to it:


Now is not the time for me to work on the “larger” time sink items – but I definitely can make it a point to join my beautiful wife in going to the YMCA.

  • We get to spend time together!   I’m not robbing relationship time for workout time.
  • Currently on Tuesday, Thursday, and once over the weekend.
  • Last night I ran a 28’ 5k, though it was on a treadmill.

I’m not saying anything about the nutrition yet.  I’m not there yet. 

One More Aspect

A lady I respect pulled me aside, and told me that her husband asked his doctor about his lack of energy.  Turns out.. testosterone levels.  I am 42 (almost).. there maybe be a component involved; maybe I’ve been trying to mask that with caffeine and sugar all along.  Will ask doctor to check next time. 


Last Tuesday I went to

I might have been the only guy who would profess to knowing .Net there.  I felt out of place.

A guy from the other group, came over and asked if anybody knew C#.  I raised my hand.  I’m glad I helped him.  But it also felt like I revealed myself.. a .Net developer amongst a community of Ruby, Rails, Java, etc..

Its probably all in my head, but it felt like nobody would give eye contact when I came back from helping Joe.  (Btw, He has a nice business model.  But that’s his, not mine to talk about).

What was my intention anyway?   To be famous?  That’s a bad intention.  I went there, that night, to find time to work on a problem that I had, about getting time-per-task out of Harvest when the task was encoded in the comments for each time entry (each task is a user story, effectively).  To compare story points vs actuals.  That’s another topic.

Anyway, its got me thinking.  Here’s this resource of not-.Net people.  A world I know little about. Maybe my next little project, just to shake up my .Net mold a bit, should be in.. something else.

What else? Where the fudge do I start?   Gah!  Ubuntu is probably a good spot.  I have that on a laptop.    Java? Ruby? Python?  Node.js?   What am I trying to solve?

But why?  I already don’t have very much time available.  Do I want to solve a problem, or do I want to “investigate cool new stuff and build new skills”?

Is it even a problem?  Really, keeping track of car metrics is a VERY 1st world problem.  And I have enough other (boring) projects that I have (externally) committed myself to doing, that I really need to finish, that have nothing to do with Coding.

I want to be the kind of guy who can easily grab another language and go do something else.  I know I used to be that guy.  Am I still?  Its been 13, 14 years since I’ve stepped out of the ecosystem that I work in (C#/.Net).  Why should I ? Is it worth it?  To whom?

Possible Answers

The answer is to table it all, for now.  First, I need to finish the last two running video’s, so I can cancel my subscription to Adobe ($30/mo), and I have another household project in the works that is going to take some time and energy.    Let it sit, till next month first Tuesday.

Define my goal.   I want to compare my different routes to work:

  • by Time taken
  • by Fuel consumed

I could get to my end goal in about 3 hours using Powershell and Processing, slightly modifying stuff I’ve already written and hand-editing a few files.    What I guess I’m choosing here is to investigate a different world.. and see what tools there are.

Possible:  I could learn Java & Eclipse the next time I go to @OpenHackLVL.   Java has what I need –  libraries for reading CSV, a local database, and 3D support.   My goal could be made incremental like this:

  • Read in a single file, draw a simple chart (lat+long)
  • Read in multiple files, draw a simple chart (lat+long)
  • Draw a 3D chart.  (lat + long + fuel consumption)
  • Read multiple files into a database (the local kind, that could be embedded within the app)
    • Must be able to grow to the concept of a trip with start/end locations
    • Must be able to grow to the concept of a meta trip which is several shorter trips back to back. (to cover turning engine off at stoplights)
    • Must be able to trim off idle time (engine running, not moving) at the start and end of a trip.
  • Draw the chart from the database.
  • Draw a chart from the database of only those trips which start/end at certain locations
    • Compare different routes from Home to Work.  
  • Up till now, everything has been a console app (I think).   Investigate a Gui App with:
    • import trip(s) that have not yet been imported
    • filter by start/end
    • rendering different types of charts.
    • This would be a “product” that I would consider “releasable”.

I don’t think I’ll get all the way to the end, but this could be a roadmap of something to play with.  

Are there other ecosystems I should consider instead?   I need the ability to process text files, write/read from a (local) database, and render charts.    What could I do?

Nostalgia: Thank you Computerphile

There’s a channel that I enjoy watching called “Computerphile“.   Its a guy, Brady, interviewing all these computer-science related people at the University of Nottingham.  For the most part, its all stuff that I know, but I enjoy listening to it explained carefully.  If I ever have the need to explain something to a lay person, I would certainly send them to this channel.  Occasionally I learn something new, for example, Pick’N’Place machines.

I saw this video last night: 

Nostalgia Caption!

I remember learning Unix on the Iowa State University graduate student unix box.. my older brother was a grad student in 1983 .. and it *was* running on a PDP-1175 or something like that. (I think).   I have direct experience with what this dude is talking about.  And he has no hair.  (Give me 10 and I’ll catch him)

Took a while for the emotion to work its way through my system.   Then I remembered:  I was borrowing access.  I wasn’t actually a grad student.  So, perhaps I was 5-10 years ahead.  Comparatively, “my” generation (if i had become a grad student) would have been Windows 3.1 heading on to Windows NT 3.5.1, and the birth of Linux and perhaps Java.

Still old.  damn.

Compare/contrast with

They are probably feeling:

  • the excitement that I used to feel when I was learning Turbo Pascal and figuring out the math to do 3D rendering of a spaceship.  
  • Or the fun that I had writing in an autopilot into a lunar lander game which landed the ship safely every time, with obstacle avoidance.
  • Or the macros I wrote into my TTY program to keep regenerating a character till I got one with at least 3 18’s .. for the game that was like NetHack but was on the VAX/VMS cluster.

I think, if i can get my courage up, I might go to that open hack thing.  It would be an opportunity to work on my car logging scripts and visualizations. 

Also, come to think of it, my memory of the CS program at Iowa State University is stale.   I wonder what they do now?   (Goes off to find somebody to ask)

Backup, Balance, and Cross Apply

My goodness, the weeks have flown.    I haven’t had the time to properly devote to any one geeky project.. but there’s been a bunch of smaller things going on.   I’ll try to sort them from Geeky-est to Meta.

I used Cross Apply for the first time

Its hard to do better than Stack Overflow, so here:

My use case was pretty simple:

  • I had a sproc which would return inventory of stocks held.
  • Anybody who had more than 100 stocks,  I was trying to create an option from those stocks (100 stocks = 1 option) (for scale testing purposes)
  • However, to create an option, I needed a valid combination of symbol, expiration date, and strike price (so that web service lookups against the market would return valid data)

The lookup of what is valid is something like SELECT TOP 1 EXPIRATION, STRIKEPRICE from <stuff we already know about> where SYMBOL=@symbol

The cross apply becomes something like this:

INSERT INTO (new thing) 
FROM inventory of stock S
CROSS APPLY (  select top 1 ... ) AS LOOKUP

I had to reformat my W7 box at home

2013-07-12 09_30_12-IGNEW - dev.mycareernetwork.com_4156 - Remote Desktop Connection
Something went haywire, and the computer would freeze every time a video played on a web page.  Even ads.  I tried all kinds of stuff around uninstalling and reinstalling drivers…  SAFE mode worked ok, but coming out of safe mode = kaboom.

So I decided to restore my machine to a previous known good version, thanks to Windows Home Server.

But I forgot that my machine had a RealTek integrated network adaptor, which the WHS restore CD doesn’t know about.. so no connection for restore!   I tried looking for the drivers CD, couldn’t find it in 5 minutes

So I reinstalled Windows 7 from scratch.   And still no Network driver.   I had to go get the drivers on a different machine, and bring ’em over by sneakernet.   At this point, i was committed, so I continued the reformat.

I currently have a robocopy going from my WHS backup to my new working directory.  My incredibly awesome nomenclature is:   “c:\2013“.  That’s where I put my stuff.    If a project spans years, it gets copied from one year to the other.   One folder per project.

Life Balance

  • Family Reunion Road Trip
  • 2nd swim time with Father in Law.. I’m getting better at this treading water stuff.
  • Not much running.. 5 miles here, 0.6 there, 2 more squeezed in
  • Fourth of July = dogs went crazy while we were not home = broke through drywall to get out of basement and tear through the house
  • Dryer motor getting repaired, thanks to a shoe.   And a dryer vent, thanks to a dog (it was next to the drywall above)
  • Crazy dogs led to walking the dogs in the morning.  I am not a morning person.
  • Today is door replacement day, thank you Lowes
  • Back deck is done!  Thank you Steve Ader.  He does good work.
  • 3 birthday parties … ages:  30, 33, 1.. and an upcoming 86.

Looking forward

  • I’m hoping to get my Android + OBDII set back up again.  I want to see how much gasoline I’m spending over a 2D map.
  • I could write about tracking down some performance problems in EF .. mostly around context.Attach() .. and how I replaced it with a single update statement.
  • I could write about my current project, the “feel” of it, as it went from “we don’t trust the system” to “hey, this is working pretty good”.
  • I need a different home backup solution.    If I upgrade one more hard drive, my WHS will be at reasonable-capacity, and honestly I just use it as a NAS.  I have a 1 year old off-site backup, which is not automated enough for me.    I have only used WHS’s restore the way it was meant ONCE – when my laptop got unstable, and i restored it to itself — and that was a beautiful thing — but once in 6 years?   Compared to 7 or 8 reformat’s (changing OS’s usually, or new owner for a machine)?   … contemplation is needed.

peace out.


Meta: Spread too thin, like a little butter, over too much bread

Derek Sivers wrote a blog post – “Seeking Inspiration?”  – which talks about the ratio of consuming to creating.  My interpretation — Some people consume a lot, don’t create, and end up constipated.   I think what he was actually saying is, the moment of their inspiration is lost, because they don’t turn it into action.  

I’ve been looking at my life lately, and best I can figure:  I’ve been creating too much – in areas of my life that, while they are important (mostly, videos and songs), they don’t apply to my work (security) – and as thus, I’ve had less “bank” available for creating at my day job.

So, while I have a list of projects that I would love to work on:

  • Cam’s last baseball game of the season ..  I have some awesome footage!!!
  • The Color Run 5k – I had a front and back camera through the race.  I suspect people were being goofy behind my back.   I have not reviewed the footage yet.
  • Song for family member #1 – definitely high energy – June 19th
  • Song for family member #2 – them requested is “Motown” – June 21st
  • Song for family member #3 – theme as yet undecided – early July (5th?)
  • Find, and hook up, and create, some DVD’s that have been requested since January
  • Old Family Photos from the 1950’s thru 80’s – interview and create adjoining commentary – create family video

I also have some other things that are important for me to do:

  • Visit mom next weekend
  • Start swimming.  To build core muscles.  I have a weekly date with my father in law and his pool that we need to start taking action on.
  • Get back to being regular on nutrition
  • Get back to being regular on working out & running (superset of #2)

And then there’s the thing that (I feel) has been lost:

  • Be creative and awesome at work, rather than just reacting.

There’s some things that I really don’t need to spend any time on, other than as brain-rechargers:

  • Play Firefall the Game – this usually takes up more time than I intend to allot to it.

So, I have to put my non-work creative efforts on hold, and do maintenance actions for a while.   At least a week, maybe two.   Then phase them back in, one at a time.