July 12

A Confusing Murder

“I think you’re lying.”

Those were the last words that John Sylvester would hear. A moment after the words touched his ears, he grew a large hole right in the middle of his face, with a much larger hole in the back of his head.

“WHAT IN THE BURNING HELLS?!?”

“What?”

Alex’s eyes opened wider—though it seemed nearly impossible that they could get any larger—as he shook his head and his hands in exasperation. “What do you mean, ‘what’? You blew a hole in John’s face!”

“Yes,” Owyn said matter-of-factly.

Alex shook with some combination of confusion and exasperation. “Why?” He looked at the body laying on the floor, just below the splatter of gray matter on the wall.

“He was sweating.”

“WHAT?”

Owyn’s brow furrowed slightly. “I do not understand your confusion. The man was sweating.”

Alex shook with confusion and frustration. He threw his hands in the air. “WHY WOULD YOU SHOOT SOMEONE BECAUSE THEY WERE SWEATING???”

Owyn nodded in understanding, giving a slight smile. “Liars sweat.”

Alex began a slow nod in mock understanding. “Ah, I see. So you shot him.”

“Yes, of course. I don’t know why we’re still talking about this.”

“Well, first,” he said, throwing a passive-aggressive finger in the air, “dead people don’t flaming TALK.” Another finger in the air, counting the transgressions. “Second,” he said, pointing at the man’s ruined face, “there’s another kind of person that sweats.”

Owyn’s head turned sideways very slightly, almost like a dog.

Fat people sweat!” He slapped the massive belly of the dead man, not breaking eye contact. “And this fat bastard is about five pounds short of a flaming BUICK!”

June 30

Relationship Tree

So I heard this analogy once. I don’t remember exactly where, or the exact quote, but I know the gist of it.

Relationships are like a tree. Now, you, you’re the tree. The trunk.

You’ll meet people that are like leaves. Some fall off right away, some hang out for a while before falling away. But they all eventually fall away.

Then you’ve got branches. Branches are tougher stuff, they bring some leaves with them, but they stick around longer. But after a while, branches can fall away, too.

Sometimes you get somebody that’s like a trunk. You end up a tree with two trunks. Like when you get married, your significant other becomes that other trunk. But sometimes, after a long time, that extra trunk can fall away too.

Then you’ve got roots. Roots connect you to the earth. They hold you down, keep you rooted. They’re the ones that are there when all the leaves and branches and extra trunks fall away.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll have a lot of roots in your life. Hold on to them.

May 19

Anxiety

Super real. Ultra real. That’s what it felt like.

Everything was heightened. Not like some sort of superhero thing. No… but a lot of things were heightened.

During the day, everything was frightening. I’d have that feeling in the pit of my guts, that feeling like something terrible was about to happen. A loved one was about to get crushed under a semi. Or fall victim to an elevator that fell from the top floor of the tallest building, never to be caught by the emergency brake.

Waiting was torture. Was I going to lose my job, because I just wasn’t good enough, just like I’d always thought? Or get yelled at because there was some little thing I did in that program I wrote that was against what the client really wanted? Or get judged because of something I posted on Facebook a year ago, something that was racist, or angered somebody, or was one of a thousand different things that felt like a crushing weight.

Not having something to do was pure agony. Like putting a fishing line into my stomach and pulling this way and that, enough to hurt, but somehow not quite enough to rip out my entrails. Do I write the code this way, or that? The first way was clearer, but it might cause problems in the future, and bring down the entire company, bankrupt the whole lot, and I’d be responsible for so many people losing their jobs. Or the other way? The less clear way, but the way that would work, the way that would do exactly what it was supposed to do, even though it somehow felt like it was immoral? I felt like I was being impaled on the scales, driven down into a spike while holding those two platters, each holding a choice.

Running away felt like the only option. Run before they saw me. Before they could judge me. Before they could decide my fate. Before I found out about the latest thing I did that was wrong, the latest thing that would eventually destroy me.

The walk to my car was a hurried one. What if somebody saw me? What if they said something Jesus, WHAT IF THEY ASKED ME WHAT I WAS DOING? What would I say? The possibility was terrifying. I moved as fast as possible, looking far ahead to try to avoid anybody whenever possible. Saying “hi” meant acknowledging that I wasn’t at work. It meant acknowledging that I was fleeing.

At home, it felt terrifying as well. I had left work early. I wasn’t getting paid for those hours. I was taking food out of the mouths of my loved ones. Not making the money I needed to pay those bills that needed to get paid, the ones that would destroy me financially, if not physically.

Sleep. Sleep was the answer. Turn off the world, let time pass by, time that I didn’t have to be terrified about anything. Switch off my brain, so nothing was scary anymore. But sleeping…

During the day, naps were okay. I’d feel a little better, sometimes. Most of the time. It would make the dread go away, the sense that he world was about to melt around me, or come crashing down on top of my head.

Ideas were strange. Any idea that was based upon reality would grow, its roots reaching deep into the depths of my brain, becoming something so close to reality as to become indistinguishable from it.

“The outside world is a reflection of your insides,” or something like that. If you were angry on the inside, the world around you would seem to reflect it. Seem to reflect it. That turned into a world that was malleable, a world that could be changed on a whim. Zombie apocalypse? Just stare at those skies long enough, and the canisters of zombie virus would fall. The world revolves around me? Speak out, tell them you’re the messiah, and the world will fall in order, and God himself will condone your existence as divine.

Bringing a “show and tell” to work became a nightmare. At first, it was to show off my zombie survival kit. A machete the size of a sword, a survival knife, and all kinds of other gear. But bringing it to work turned into something terrifying. My coworkers would be scared of me, and I would not be accepted. Bringing it to work would mean that I’d be cast out, shunned, blocked from ever returning, because how dare I bring such weapons into a place of business?

I sat in my car, the gear sitting in the passenger seat. And I cried. I was terrified of the possibilities that I’d manufactured. I howled, literally howled in anguish, crying like I’d never cried before. I had to go to the hospital! I had to be committed again, had to be brought before the doctors again, so they could tell me what was wrong with me.

I couldn’t take it anymore. No way I could go home in defeat, unable to present my show and tell. But I couldn’t go to work either. So there I sat, in horrifying anguish, sitting in that terrible place between decisions. I put my car into gear and let it go. I’d slam into the side of the parking garage, go through that cement, and the end would take me as the car slammed into the asphalt below.

But when nothing happened, everything changed. I sat there, howling in agony, screaming and crying. The radio told me to roll the window down, because that’s what Florida Georgia Line meant when they talked about cruising. Leave the window down; my savior would find me that way, ask me what was wrong, and I would end up in the hospital, where all they cared about was that I was okay.

I was rolling down the hallway, then. Laying on one of those gurneys, the kind that folded up when pushed into the back of an ambulance. Somebody asking if I was okay, all while urgently bringing me to safety.

But going to the hospital made it worse. Because they didn’t really listen to me there. They heard the words I said, but they didn’t listen. They twisted my words into something else. Stress had become depression, which had become bipolar disorder. They would give me drugs that would make me worse… or maybe they’d turn me into what I was right then, in that moment, the crazy man that howled at the roof of his car in tears of anguish.

Sleep. A nap helped. Laying in my chair, in the afternoon, made things better. Made them bearable. Playing a game, or watching Netflix, was finally okay. Nothing terrible happened. I didn’t will the End of Days into existence.

Night came, and things changed again. I’d take my pills, and things would go bad again. My legs felt like they were being attacked by a thousand hot needles, sending jolts of electricity into my calves. A maddening sensation. I would sit, head thrown back, mouth wide open, while reaching toward my legs with my hands as they thrashed about.

Rubbing them made them ache in a way I’d never felt before, like they’d been cramped for an hour. Walking around made the shocking faster, or maybe less shocks and more needles. Laying down made it that much worse, but standing was nearly impossible. An hour of this madness finally left me too exhausted to stay awake.

But then the fear of suffocating. Because I couldn’t breathe unless I consciously did it. I stopped trying, and then stopped breathing. The fear of drowning in a room full of air was horrifying. I’d start to relax, then I’d stop breathing, and the fear of suffocation struck hard.

Category: Health | Comments Off on Anxiety
May 14

About William B. (McLean) Falconer

This is the preface to a series of posts I will be making about my Grandfather, William B. (McLean) Falconer. They are direct excerpts from the book, “Rhymes of a Pioneer, A Burleigh County Pioneer” that he wrote.

William B. (McLean) Falconer, son of Daniel A. Falconer, an 1871 Dakota Pioneer, and Effie McLean, also a Pioneer, was born on April 23, 1889, on Section 26 in Lincoln township, Dakota Territory, where he has lived for over 70 years.

He was married to Kathryn Lewis in 1918. He voluteered for service with Company A in 1917, but was rejectd.

Father of three boys and one daughter, three of whom served their country in the last World War, and one son in Korea.

Attended grade school in Lincoln school District and high school in old William Moore school in Bismarck.

He served ten years as a member of the North Dakota State Legislature, where he made a vigorous effort to support legislation that would do the greatest good for the greatest number.

He was state purchasing agent for two and one-half years. Served as clerk and director of Lincol School District for thirty years and as Burleigh County Judge since February 2, 1949.

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November 20

The Thing About the Apocalypse

A thought struck me last night, about the apocalypse.

It seems like there’s a fair number of people that would “like” to live in a world with zombies. Or something like the world of Mad Max. Where things are simpler, albeit more brutal.

But those are post-apocalyptic settings. After the apocalypse hit.

Nobody wants to live at the start of the apocalypse. Or during it.

Because the apocalypse means lots of people die. It means watching friends and family get sick and die. Or become monsters of one sort or another.

Getting to the post-apocalypse means people had to live through it. It means people had to witness the apocalypse happening, survive through it while everybody was dying, and come out the other side.

But hey, maybe I’m wrong. It’s not like this pandemic is really an apocalypse. Right?

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October 22

Updating an Old Blog

It’s pretty clear I haven’t updated this site in a long time. Time to change that.

There’s a couple of things that I need to do. On this site, on my server, and maybe in life: limit the things I’m using, and use those things more often.

I’ve removed a couple of my websites. Not very well, honestly, but they’re gone now. I’ll work on giving them a more graceful “death” when I have more time. I don’t think they were getting that much traffic anyway.

More updates!

I’ve been writing a bunch of sh*t in my journal (a.k.a. diary). Which is fine, whatever. But a lot of that stuff could have instead been posted online, because it’s interesting, and it’s not really what I consider journal-worthy.

It’s clear I need to get back into programming on the side. I’m not sure how I’m going to get that done yet… but I’ll figure it out.

Category: Rant, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Updating an Old Blog
March 13

Impending Server Changes

I’m going to be making some changes to the server.  I recently had my server “hacked”, which was basically just some skiddie finding a way to post one of those pharmaceutical spam ads on a couple of my WordPress sites.

Hacked - I do not think it means what you think it means.
Hacked – I do not think it means what you think it means.

I’m taking this time to figure out a couple of things.  The plan is:

  • figure out how to use Let’s Encrypt for HTTPS (for TTORP, the Story Teller Forum, and my Fitness Forum).
  • find a way to deploy + update WP sites via git (including initial setup)
  • work on a better CMS for Crazed(Sanity) sites
  • update my “deploy” system to work with GitHub and generic git (not just BitBucket.org)

That’s actually quite a bit of stuff.  It’s going to take a while to get this all setup.  It’s equally possible that I’ll post about impending downtime as I am to simply just do it: pretty much all my sites are (extremely) low traffic.  So, there, I said it.

Category: Code, PHP, Rant, Software Development, System Administration | Comments Off on Impending Server Changes
October 26

The Truth About Family

There’s two kinds of family. There’s the kind that you’re forced into at birth, and there’s the kind that forms out of close relationships.

Some people think that “real family” somehow are more important than anyone else. They believe that the family you’re bonded to through DNA–your blood relatives–should be held in the highest regard, forsaking everyone for them.

Sometimes blood relatives have a strange sense of entitlement.  They think that because DNA connects you, that somehow they’re automatically more privileged.  They deserve more from you, and should be given more slack.  That they automatically have a place in your inner circle.

But here’s the truth, at least the way I see it.

The family that has formed around you are sometimes more important.  They don’t have the same sense of entitlement: in order to get into your inner circle, they had to prove themselves.  They fought for you.  Bled for you.

So who is more important?  Hmm.

Category: Rant | Comments Off on The Truth About Family
October 5

Fixing Pidgin’s Missing System Tray in Linux+Cinnamon

I love using Pidgin for… well, pretty much all my IM’ing needs.  And I’ve come to depend on the little icon in the system tray to show me what’s going on.

For a long time, though, the icon has only sporadically worked.  To “fix” it, I killed & restarted it a bunch of times until the icon finally showed (or until I finally gave up).

Well, here’s the real fix, from an old post I found:

As root (or via sudo):

root@laptop:~$ cd /usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/tray/hicolor/
root@laptop:/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/tray/hicolor$ mv 16x16/ _OLD_16x16
root@laptop:/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/tray/hicolor$ ln -s 22x22 16x16
root@laptop:/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/tray/hicolor$

Boom.

UPDATE [October 6th, 2015]: Halt the presses.  This doesn’t seem to work all the time, at least not on an alternative machine… I should have known not to publish based on a single success.

Category: Living With Linux | Comments Off on Fixing Pidgin’s Missing System Tray in Linux+Cinnamon
September 30

How I Got Here…

I posted something on Facebook the other day, with a couple of pictures (last year vs this year) and a brief statement that I’d gone from 324 lbs to 287 (37 pounds lost). A co-worker asked me how I’d done it, and I gave a short answer… which later I realized was far too short.

So what has changed?  What did I do to get here?

That’s a good question.  And there’s a lot to think about, and I probably won’t give credit where it’s due, but I’ll try.

First, I drew my line in the sand.  I was in the fight of my life, for my life, a fight just to survive.  My health was spiraling out of control, and I needed to do something, not just plan and think, but DO something.

I started going to the gym.  I got a membership at the YMCA, went there with a buddy (thanks, Prophet), and put my nose to the grindstone.

I logged every trip to the gym, with very few exceptions.  The only way you can see change is if you track it.

I started seeing some changes, added some muscle and lost some weight…. but I needed more.

I added racquetball to the mix, because it was fun and got me moving.  Even though Prophet (and later my son) kicked the snot out of me, I had fun.

I learned to sweat, and to enjoy sweating.  I learned that it was okay to huff and puff, to have to stop to catch my breath, because that pounding in my chest was my heart telling me I was still alive.

Nerd Fitness - Join the Rebellion
Nerd Fitness – Join the Rebellion

I found this awesome website jam-packed with information, called Nerd Fitness.  No pushy sales, no need to buy anything to get help.  It actually took me a while to figure out what there was to buy.

I started investing in my health: I gave up going out to eat every morning so I could afford a gym membership.  I asked for–and received–a membership to the “Nerd Fitness Academy”, a one-time fee that’s turned into the best investment I’ve made.

Logging stuff was a huge thing, so I finally took an interest in an awesome little app called My Fitness Pal.  I used it to track food intake, and to track carbohydrates, so I knew how much insulin to take.  Insulin and blood sugar levels have all been logged religiously in a cool little app called OnTrack by Medivo.

gallery_5603_173_202964 gallery_5603_173_125417

The graphs above show what tracking progress really means.  The one on the left has all the individual readings, while the one on the right uses daily averages.  They cover slightly different time frames, but that little gap–the funny little line between October & January–is when I started caring.  When things started turning around.  That was the end of 2013, into the beginning of 2014.

I started walking more.  I embraced the Walk to Mordor challenge, going so far as to start work on my own app to track it (yeah, it’s still in the works).

When my knees started giving me problems from walking too much (especially with stairs), I got myself a bike.  When I started, I could barely get around the block… now I feel like I’m slacking if I only get 15 miles a week.  I only feel really accomplished when I hit the 4 mile mark on a single ride, though I generally limit myself to an hour a night.

So that’s what I’ve got so far.

It wasn’t a simple thing.  It wasn’t some crash diet.  No “juicing” or 90-day crash diets.

I hope you enjoyed reading about it.  Feel free to ask questions or whatever in the comments below.

Category: Health, Rant | Comments Off on How I Got Here…