jayfurr: (Default)

Dad's cremains


Not to be unduly morbid, but there’s something weird about sitting down at the dining table in your deceased parents’ house and going “Huh. What’s in that bag over th… oh, it’s Dad’s cremains.”


Mom’s are in a cabinet a few feet away. At some point both sets of ashes are going to be mixed together and scattered under the big oak tree at the house in Virginia I grew up in. Apparently the current owners are okay with some strangers showing up and scattering their parents’ ashes around; I think I’d find it odd if former residents of my house in Vermont made the same request.


At least my parents made a semi-reasonable request instead of asking to be scattered off the top of the Empire State Building; I hear building security gets pretty cranky when people try that.


jayfurr: (Default)

Thanksgiving at St Paul'sLast Thanksgiving, I decided to treat myself to a spontaneous, random trip across the Atlantic to London, England. Just me. (Carole has been to London already — she spent a few weeks there when she was an undergraduate at Harvard.)


I had an awesome hotel just around the corner from Westminster Abbey and Parliament. I spent a lot of time just walking around, visiting parks and the Tower of London and the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. It rained a good bit, but that was okay. It was late November in England; what else would you expect?


There were two high points of my trip.


One was that I got to sit in the Visitor’s Gallery in the House of Commons during a debate over British policy toward ISIS in Syria. Normally, foreigners don’t get to sit in the Visitor’s Gallery during Question Time when the MPs are grilling the Prime Minister, but for whatever reason the session that day didn’t count as Question Time. Members of both sides of the aisle took turns peppering Prime Minister Cameron with policy questions, and unlike our own deliberative body, Congress, everyone was actually polite. And educated. A member of the opposition referenced the Kantian imperative during a question and everyone knew precisely what he was talking about. I doubt the same would have been true of Congress.


IMG_1602


The second was that I got to attend a Thanksgiving service for Americans at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s an annual event and from what I could see a beloved one — the sanctuary was full of American expats and tourists. The choir was wonderful, the message (delivered by the American ambassador) was funny in parts and solemn in parts, and above all, whenever one got bored, the incredible architecture of St. Paul’s was there to be marveled at.


IMG_1609


But the best part of the service came at the very end. After everything was done and people were standing up to go, the massive St. Paul’s organ launched into what someone must have thought a very proper American piece of music: Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March”.



Yes, the Monty Python theme. That Liberty Bell March.


No, at the end, they did not end with the usual loud flatulent “splat” at the end. But that didn’t stop me from laughing anyway.


jayfurr: (Default)

Green tea latte


So there I was, sitting in a very crowded Starbucks in terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport. If you’ve been there, you know the one — right next to the United Club just after security. It’s typically a scene of complete pandemonium as travelers, flight crew, and TSA employees pack the line trying to get their caffeine fix on. It’s not easy to just relax there, but you can if you really try.


I was sitting at one end of the long bar-height table that runs the length of the store, drinking my drink and not thinking much about anything. I had about 90 minutes to wait until my connecting flight boarded.


A twentysomething woman came up to me and asked, apologetically, if she could put her stuff down to my right, at the end of the long table. I said “But of course. All the cool people sit here.” and scooted over a bit.


She stood at the end of the long table next to me, chatting with a friend she was apparently traveling with, drinking her drink. When I heard her comment that she was just about the only person she knew who ever ordered the Starbucks green tea latte, I looked owlishly at her and lifted the lid off my own drink, revealing that to be precisely what I was enjoying.


“Ohmigosh,” she exclaimed. “Someone else who likes that!”


I nodded urbanely. “All the cool people do.”


They went on talking and I went on ruminating and drinking my drink.


Then she happened to glance at my cup, which as per Starbucks normal practice, had my name scrawled on it. “Is your name Jay? My dad’s name is Jay!”


Imperturbably, I nodded. “All the cool people…”


She laughed. I smiled.


Sometimes it is possible to connect with another human being, even in the unlikeliest of places.


 


 

DNE

Apr. 12th, 2016 05:25 pm
jayfurr: (Default)

“DNE” written on a whiteboard or chalkboard is supposed to mean “do not erase”. When I was a student at the University of Georgia, I saw it only infrequently, but it seems to have been more common elsewhere, or in any event, become so subsequently.


Randall Munroe, of XKCD fame, called attention to “DNE” usage with this strip several years ago:


I've seen advertisers put their URLs on chalkboards, encircled with a DNE. They went unerased for months. If you see this, feel free to replace the URL with xkcd.com.


Recently, I decided to test for myself how sacrosanct something marked with “DNE” would actually be in practice:


DNE


When I added that, the board was full of random gibberish from various meetings that had been held in the room. Now it’s blank — except for my circled mystery code.


Two weeks and counting.


 


jayfurr: (Default)

Screaming baseballI know most people on my friends list aren’t sports fans, and most of you consider a day without me saying anything on social media “a good day”, but I’m sorry, I just have to let loose a virtual primal scream here.


I know the Atlanta Braves are “rebuilding” with plans of being competitive again around 2017 or so, but … damn, do they ever suck right now.


I remember the 1988 season where the Braves had so little to show on the field that they simply used the marketing campaign “ONE CRAZY SUMMER” (and went 54-106 just to pound home what they were talking about). The Braves drew only 848,000 fans in that year, last in the majors by a wide margin.


2016 is starting to look like a repeat. The Braves went 0-5 at home the first week of the season … and now they head off to Washington to face the Nationals and their line-up of All-Star pitchers. As Jeff Schultz put it on the AJC Braves blog, “The Braves lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 12-7 Sunday. This allowed them to complete a perfect homestand to open the season — at least considered perfect in the infernal regions way, way south of here. They went 0-5, so they remain on a pace to go 0-162. That somehow seems appropriate in the same season the franchise created the deformed offspring of a hamburger and a pizza.”


I have to keep reminding myself that three years after that monstrosity of a 1988 season the Braves went worst-to-first and came one Lonnie Smith base-running screw-up away from winning the World Series.


Sigh.


My prediction for this season, by the way, is that the Braves lose over 100. I won’t be more specific — I have an ugly feeling that the Braves will exceed my projections of doom, no matter how grim they are.


jayfurr: (Default)

I grant you that the following blathering would have counted for more if I’d said it on Thursday or Friday, but I never got around to it until now.


I filled out five NCAA men’s basketball brackets this week, mostly because I’d taken part in various pools last year, or the year before, and got reminders to keep participating this year. It’s not as though I know anything about college basketball (with one exception, for which, keep reading), but I fill out a bracket or two (or five) anyway out of misguided curiosity to see how long I can go before all my Final Four picks are knocked out.


I said there was one exception to my “not knowing anything” about college basketball rule — and that is “Don’t Pick Pittsburgh”. I used to pick Pittsburgh to advance, sometimes even to make the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 (one year they did, but I picked them to make the Final Four, since they’d gone in as a #1 seed). I don’t know why. On some odd level, I guess I thought they were good. They’re certainly better than either of my almas mater, Virginia Tech​ and the University of Georgia​, but in any event, without fail, Pittsburgh would always get knocked out in depressing fashion just in time to wreck what was left of my bracket.


So this year, as I hopelessly clicked random teams in hopes of dumb luck winning out for once, I kept repeating one mantra: “Don’t pick Pittsburgh. Never pick Pittsburgh. Don’t pick Pittsburgh. Never pick Pittsburgh.” Over and over.


I was fairly sure that by not picking them I was all but ensuring that they’d win the whole damn thing, but for once, Fate smiled on me. They got knocked out by Wisky in the first round.


So I do know one thing about college basketball. Never pick Pittsburgh, my friends, and you’ll avoid complete immersion in the Slough of Despond.


jayfurr: (Default)

Yesterday I had occasion to place a call to the membership/enrollment arm of my health care insurer, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama.


I work for a very large Fortune 500 company. Our HR department insures us via an ever-changing network of health insurance plans. It’s actually kinda rare that I have the exact same carrier for more than a year or two, and as of the beginning of this year, my fellow Vermont employees got switched this year from MVP (a New York and Vermont insurance provider) to BC/BS of Alabama. For all I know, next year I’ll be enrolled with Cosmopolitan Health Insurance of Pago Pago.


Still, it’s not that big a deal: the actual benefits remain the same from insurer to insurer. This is the advantage of working for a megacorporation who can say “Here’re the benefits we wish to offer, what rate will you give us? Low bid wins.”


So anyway: I placed my call to the customer service number on the back of my member ID card and promptly got through to a friendly female employee whose voice couldn’t have been more Deep South/Heart of Dixie if she’d tried. Let’s put it this way: there was no question of this being an offshored call center employee somewhere in Hyderabad.


I had the mad urge to ask her where in Alabama she was and make some random reference to the giant statue of Vulcan in Birmingham, but a voice inside me said “Confuse her after she’s helped you, not before.” So I told her what I needed to have changed in my records; she promptly made the change and asked if she could help me with anything else.


I said “No, thank you so much!” and then the Devil got a hold of me: against my better judgment and the good solid values I learned during my undergraduate years at the University of Georgia, I betrayed all that is right and proper and said … “Roll Tide!”


The nice lady on the other end of the call paused for a second, then, sounding surprised but very pleased, responded “Well, Roll Tide to you too!”


I feel so dirty. I think I’ll go hide somewhere now and conceal my shame.


 


Ennui

Jan. 14th, 2016 09:56 pm
jayfurr: (Default)

You know you’re depressed and down and out of good ideas when you actually stop and contemplate mailing a letter to the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, to ask him what he thinks of Donald Trump.



And then think “… and how the Kardashians fit into his societal analysis. I should ask him about that too.”



I’m bored and depressed in part because two consecutive out of town work trips got called off. I like to keep busy. A bored Jay is a sad Jay.



On the positive side, our efforts to save electricity have worked so well that Green Mountain Power just mailed us back $245 because we’d built up such a balance with our set-in-August annualized monthly “budget plan” payments. I suspect our next budget amount is going to be a lot lower when next August comes.



And we just got a heat pump installed today for our enormous living room. That will definitely help lower our heating oil bill and the air conditioning and dehumidifying will be great come the summer. So we have that going for us, which is nice.


Heat pump


Music

Jan. 13th, 2016 05:00 pm
jayfurr: (Default)

I don’t know how those of you who live outside major media markets stay in touch with current music — since I don’t watch TV or listen to commercial radio and am not exposed to it on the subway and so on, I’m kind of in a vacuum.


I’ve been working at home the last two weeks because absolutely nothing I’ve had to do has required me to be physically in the office, and so I’ve been trying to keep music playing to keep from being absolutely despondent with wintertime depression blahs.


Today I’ve been playing the 2015 Grammy nominees for Best Folk Album — starting with Eliza Gilkyson’s “The Nocturne Diaries”. I’ve never heard of Gilkyson before now (she evidently has managed to get along just fine without my notice; she has been releasing albums steadily since 1969), but so far, I like what I’ve been hearing.


I’m fond of our Amazon Echo and Amazon Prime subscription. I can just speak clearly and tune to whatever suits my mood, adjust the volume up or down, skip to the next tune, whatever. If out of a clear blue sky I decide I really need to hear Devo performing “Whip It” or the Ramones doing “Blitzkrieg Bop” I can, just by speaking clearly and loudly and bam, instant gratification. The Echo can also play music from Pandora, provided I can provide a decent ‘seed’ song to work from, or play radio stations from around the world via IHeartRadio or TuneIn. I can’t say that I’ve ever wanted to hear the local Catholic radio station in the French Pacific island possessions of Wallis and Futuna, but if the urge strikes me, it’s all a clearly enunciated request to Echo away.


But today isn’t a punk kind of day. Electric folk seems to be what’s working, and I’m not gonna argue.


Music

Jan. 13th, 2016 12:01 pm
jayfurr: (pic#632144)
I don't know how those of you who live outside major media markets stay in touch with current music -- since I don't watch TV or listen to commercial radio and am not exposed to it on the subway and so on, I'm kind of in a vacuum.

I've been working at home the last two weeks because absolutely nothing I've had to do has required me to be physically in the office, and so I've been trying to keep music playing to keep from being absolutely despondent with wintertime depression blahs.

Today I've been playing the 2015 Grammy nominees for Best Folk Album -- starting with Eliza Gilkyson's "The Nocturne Diaries". I've never heard of Gilkyson before now (she evidently has managed to get along just fine without my notice; she has been releasing albums steadily since 1969), but so far, I like what I've been hearing.

I'm fond of our Amazon Echo and Amazon Prime subscription. I can just speak clearly and tune to whatever suits my mood, adjust the volume up or down, skip to the next tune, whatever. If out of a clear blue sky I decide I *really* need to hear Devo performing "Whip It" or the Ramones doing "Blitzkrieg Bop" I can, just by speaking clearly and loudly and bam, instant gratification. The Echo can also play music from Pandora, provided I can provide a decent 'seed' song to work from, or play radio stations from around the world via IHeartRadio or TuneIn. I can't say that I've ever wanted to hear the local Catholic radio station in the French Pacific island possessions of Wallis and Futuna, but if the urge strikes me, it's all a clearly enunciated request to Echo away.

But today isn't a punk kind of day. Electric folk seems to be what's working, and I'm not gonna argue.
jayfurr: (Default)

My wife Carole says my sense of humor is incredibly annoying and irritating, and consequently, I’ve tried to rein it in somewhat. But once in a while I do or say something that I find amusing enough to share, even if most people will just look at it and go “how pathetic”.


Yesterday one of our two cars was at the mechanic getting its annual Vermont inspection. Carole had the other car at work in Montpelier, which meant that I was more or less stuck at home for the duration. (We don’t live near public transportation and the mechanic is 15 miles from our house).


I got a call from the mechanic’s wife/office manager mid-afternoon letting me know the car was all ready to be picked up; they’d tried calling Carole’s number but she had her phone on do-not-ring for some reason. Since calling her wouldn’t work, I pinged her on Google Hangouts:


Google hangout chat 12-28-2015


I dunno why, but that just tickles me. Perhaps it’s because our mechanic, Alan, is a famously laconic and dry New Englander, and I can totally hear him going “Yeaaah, we got a bit of a problem. See, your car split into one evil car and one good car like in that one Star Trek episode. The good car’s here, it’s fine, but it won’t start or go anywhere. Ann’s off chasing down the evil car, I’ll give you a call if I hear anything.”


(Winooski, by the way, is a small city just west of our mechanic’s office in South Burlington.)


jayfurr: (Default)
My wife Carole says my sense of humor is incredibly annoying and irritating, and consequently, I've tried to rein it in somewhat. But once in a while I do or say something that I find amusing enough to share, even if most people will just look at it and go "how pathetic".

Yesterday one of our two cars was at the mechanic getting its annual Vermont inspection. Carole had the other car at work in Montpelier, which meant that I was more or less stuck at home for the duration. (We don't live near public transportation and the mechanic is 15 miles from our house).

I got a call from the mechanic's wife/office manager mid-afternoon letting me know the car was all ready to be picked up; they'd tried calling Carole's number but she had her phone on do-not-ring for some reason. Since calling her wouldn't work, I pinged her on Google Hangouts:

Google hangout chat 12-28-2015

I dunno why, but that just tickles me.  Perhaps it's because our mechanic, Alan, is a famously laconic and dry New Englander, and I can totally hear him going "Yeaaah, we got a bit of a problem.  See, your car split into one evil car and one good car like in that one Star Trek episode.  The good car's here, it's fine, but it won't start or go anywhere.  Ann's off chasing down the evil car, I'll give you a call if I hear anything."

(Winooski, by the way, is a small city just west of our mechanic's office in South Burlington.)

Volleyball

Jan. 9th, 2012 10:03 am
jayfurr: (Badwater)
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, we had to take five credits' worth of physical education classes. You could achieve this by taking single-credit classes like "Volleyball I" and "Volleyball II" (or perhaps it was "Introduction to Volleyball" and "Intermediate Volleyball"), and so on, and so on. Or you could take a class called "Fitness for Life" that would knock out almost all your physical education requirements in one class... a class that consisted of running, running, and more running. (And a bit of dry heaving into the bushes at intervals during and after the running.)

I stupidly signed up for "Fitness for Life" in the winter quarter of my second year and almost didn't get credit for it -- I was routinely staying up until 2 am playing poker and such and the class called on me to be at the PE building at 7:50 in the morning three days a week to run. I slept right through my alarm on enough occasions that technically I should have been booted out of the class, but a pathetic appeal to the instructor got me one last chance. I never did get to be a good runner but I survived.

This left me with one credit left to take (if I recall correctly), which I satisfied by signing up for whatever they called the first-level volleyball class. I'd been playing volleyball now and then with friends and had moved on from "totally awful" to "not 100% bad" and figured I might as well take a class I wouldn't completely embarrass myself in.

Our class was led by a graduate student who had been on the UGA volleyball team, a blond Amazon who frankly looked like she could crush beer cans against her forehead with one hand. It was a coed class and sometimes met indoors and sometimes met on the outdoor courts over by the lake. There were plenty of nice-looking members of the opposite sex in the class, but then as now I had no real idea how to make a good impression on an attractive woman. I tended to show up for class wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, unshaven, and as far as the volleyball went, I'd do about as well as anyone and better than some.

My one skill in volleyball was serving; unlike our instructor, who did a booming overhand serve that was extremely hard to return, I developed a little 'dink' serve where I would just bap the ball over the net with an underhand strike -- going fairly high up and then dropping back down just on the other side of the net.

I knew I wasn't totally awful when I took my turn serving at the start of a match and served fifteen consecutive times -- three or four times the other team got the ball back to us, only to fail on the ensuing volley, and the other times they didn't manage to return it at all. The ball would come dropping down on the players standing facing the net and they'd almost invariably swat at it and send it right into the net. Twice they didn't even manage to lay a hand on it and it landed right between two of 'em.

Bit by bit the score crept up: "10 serving 2", "11 serving 2", until finally "14 serving 2". They sent that ball right into the net and the game was over -- and people stood around going "what? the game's over? what happened?"

I don't think anyone in our class had seen that happen before -- a game that went so quickly with nary a spike or a set. I had to say "No, really, the game's over."

I'm quite sure that I'd have been eaten for lunch by any moderately competent women's rec league, but as far as our gaggle of UGA undergraduates went, I was, as our Amazon of an instructor came over to tell me after the match, "not half bad."

I kind of miss the opportunity to get involved in team sports like that. When I worked in Blacksburg as a graduate student at Virginia Tech, we had some incredibly popular co-ed volleyball leagues at the town community center and I kept going "I should sign up." Never did, though. Pity. Now that I'm in a job that involves so much travel, week in and week out, I can't really get involved in a rec league. Wish I could.

Hemoglobin

Jun. 29th, 2011 02:24 pm
jayfurr: (Screaming Yellow)
I'm anemic. I have thalassemia trait (a.k.a. thalassemia minor) -- a hereditary blood condition that means that I'm always going to be low on iron. My blood cells look weird, too -- tiny little cells. Microcytosis.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I also have O negative blood. So I get calls and emails constantly from the American Red Cross asking me to come in and save the day, but when I do go in, they measure the grams of hemoglobin per deciliter of blood and inform me that I'm slightly, very, or SERIOUSLY below the 12.5 g/dcl threshold that they require to donate.

However, there are factors that can affect hemoglobin other than my type of anemia. One is caffeine, which apparently can interfere with iron absorption. Others include the foods you eat WITH the iron in your diet. Being a vegetarian doesn't help, as the iron that your body absorbs best is only found in animal sources. Taking vitamin C can help. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I'm hoping that my having given up coffee and almost all other sources of caffeine may have raised my blood iron. On the other hand, as a vegetarian I'm fighting an uphill battle.

Today at work the local Red Cross came and ran a blood drive. I would have gone up to try to donate, but they started shutting down at noon and I was too busy to get out of my office until about 12:30. Drat.

But now that the thought's in my mind, I'm contemplating going to the Red Cross after work and trying anyway. They're open until 6. Who knows? Maybe the caffeine thing may tip me over.

Hemoglobin

Jun. 29th, 2011 02:24 pm
jayfurr: (Default)
I'm anemic. I have thalassemia trait (a.k.a. thalassemia minor) -- a hereditary blood condition that means that I'm always going to be low on iron. My blood cells look weird, too -- tiny little cells. Microcytosis.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I also have O negative blood. So I get calls and emails constantly from the American Red Cross asking me to come in and save the day, but when I do go in, they measure the grams of hemoglobin per deciliter of blood and inform me that I'm slightly, very, or SERIOUSLY below the 12.5 g/dcl threshold that they require to donate.

However, there are factors that can affect hemoglobin other than my type of anemia. One is caffeine, which apparently can interfere with iron absorption. Others include the foods you eat WITH the iron in your diet. Being a vegetarian doesn't help, as the iron that your body absorbs best is only found in animal sources. Taking vitamin C can help. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I'm hoping that my having given up coffee and almost all other sources of caffeine may have raised my blood iron. On the other hand, as a vegetarian I'm fighting an uphill battle.

Today at work the local Red Cross came and ran a blood drive. I would have gone up to try to donate, but they started shutting down at noon and I was too busy to get out of my office until about 12:30. Drat.

But now that the thought's in my mind, I'm contemplating going to the Red Cross after work and trying anyway. They're open until 6. Who knows? Maybe the caffeine thing may tip me over.

Energy

May. 10th, 2011 08:31 pm
jayfurr: (Glern)
Four weeks ago today I had my last cup of coffee. I don't know how long before that I had my last caffeinated soda, but I definitely haven't had any since.

Many people have asked me: "why???" Or "Dear God, why????" As though life without caffeine is life not worth living. I've answered the question before in more detail, but I'll briefly answer it again: when I tried going cold turkey the withdrawal symptoms were so severe that I realized I had a serious addiction. I don't know if giving up tobacco would be this hard, not as hard, or even harder, but in any case, if the two are even in the same ballpark I'm glad I never ever started smoking. I had to wean myself slowly off caffeine instead of going cold turkey and finally felt ready to go the rest of the way ... four weeks ago. Even then, I had rotten withdrawal symptoms, but I stuck with it, and after, I dunno, three or four days I felt mostly human again. I'm staying off caffeine because I don't like the idea of being held hostage by such a strong chemical dependency.

I don't feel like my head is stuffed with cotton balls, I don't feel sick and dizzy, I don't feel like you used my head as the ball in a rugby match. I'm even proud to say that when I'm training (I work as a technical trainer), I don't stumble and stammer my way through class. I like to think I'm still fairly eloquent and glib. That used to be my excuse for drinking so damn much coffee, anyway: have to be perky and enthusiastic about whatever the heck is I'm training on, even if it's something I've trained on so many times that I can just about put my brain on idle and just mouth the words.

I'm very, very glad to find out that I can do my job without caffeine. I'm pleased that I can get up in the morning, drink a cup of water, take a shower, and be more or less at 100% efficiency without a slow booting up process.

But I'm not so happy about one aspect of my 'recovery' from caffeine addiction. I have no imagination and no creativity. I get by fine during the day so long as I have meaningful work or activities to do, but come the evening, I just have ZERO get-up-and-go. I don't want to go to the gym or work out in a hotel fitness center. I don't want to sit down and blog or write -- and that's a shame, because it used to be a source of some self-esteem that I could write about the Breast Cancer 3-Day (or, as it's now known, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure) and later on find out that half the paid staff of the 3-Day were sharing my blog entries around and acting like I was some kind of celebrity when I showed up at local Get Started meetings. But I haven't written any blog posts at all in weeks -- and my LiveJournal would be moribund if it weren't for the daily "My Tweets" summaries of my activities on Twitter. And I have to say, I'm only posting on Twitter so people don't think I'm dead. I don't have any urge to roll up my sleeves and gibber incoherently on Facebook and Twitter and similar places as I once did.

If it strikes you, gentle reader, as weird or banal that I'm bemoaning the lack of my normal gormlessness, I ask for your forgiveness. I've never claimed to be a great blogger or Tweeter -- but I used to enjoy doing that sort of thing nonetheless. Now I don't. Each evening after work, I either sit around at home web browsing while doing loads of laundry and dishes and so on, or, if I'm on the road traveling, I have to fight like crazy the urge to come back to the hotel, grab a bite to eat, and then just ... go to bed.

So, in conclusion, I'm functional -- I can work, do my 3-Day training walks, get chores done, and so on -- but anything that requires creativity is just ... gone. I hope like anything that this, too, shall pass.

jayfurr: (Mount Olive Balloon)
I'm all but giving up caffeine for Lent. The "all but" part comes from a grudging acknowledgement that I felt sick the days I tried to go completely cold turkey on coffee. The last two days I've had one (1) cup of coffee upon first getting up, and none at all the rest of the day. And I've had no caffeinated soda nor chocolate nor anything else containing caffeine or theobromine. And I just loaded up my arms with my boxes of K-Cups and Via packets and cans of Coke Zero and even some lightly caffeinated Crystal Light drink packets and took them off to the break room and left them.

Do I think this will draw me closer to God? No. I don't have a weird idea that God is sitting up there in heaven ticking off, each day, whether I drank coffee or not. If people make a big fuss of giving something up, but otherwise IN NO WAY try to be more thoughtful and kind and Christian and so on, it's not really accomplishing anything, is it? If you're religious, you should be spending the Lenten season in contemplation of Christ and what he did for us and what he tried to teach us, NOT acting like someone who's just embarking on a new fad diet. So, no, I don't have that motivation. Christ doesn't care if I drink two cups of coffee instead of one.

So: the real reason "why" is actually pretty simple: I drink WAY too much coffee. I used to say "Naw, I don't overindulge, I don't get a headache on the weekend if I don't have a cup." Well, sure, maybe I could make it ONE DAY without feeling too rotten, but I just had it painfully demonstrated that I can't go multiple days on absolutely no caffeine without feeling like death warmed over.

If I'm going to try to get healthy (by going vegetarian, by losing a lot of weight, by exercising more, and even by trying to become a halfway competent runner), it makes no sense to go on crippling myself with an addiction that leaves me feeling sick and awful on days I try to cut back.

Perhaps this will even help with the nodding-off-behind-the-wheel urge I've been fighting for years on long car trips. If I sleep better at night because I'm not always coming down from the pot of coffee I had before noon that day, I might be more rested and functional ALL THE TIME.

So that's the vow: one cup of coffee per day, in the morning, and then nothing else containing caffeine. That means no caffeinated soda, no chocolate, no caffeinated energy drinks, and definitely no caffeinated tea or coffee.

And if I can, in a week or so, or maybe sooner, I'm going to try another no-coffee-at-all day and see if I still feel rotten. One way or another, the goal ultimately is not to need that morning cup of coffee at all.

jayfurr: (Mount Olive Balloon)
I'm all but giving up caffeine for Lent. The "all but" part comes from a grudging acknowledgement that I felt sick the days I tried to go completely cold turkey on coffee. The last two days I've had one (1) cup of coffee upon first getting up, and none at all the rest of the day. And I've had no caffeinated soda nor chocolate nor anything else containing caffeine or theobromine. And I just loaded up my arms with my boxes of K-Cups and Via packets and cans of Coke Zero and even some lightly caffeinated Crystal Light drink packets and took them off to the break room and left them.

Do I think this will draw me closer to God? No. I don't have a weird idea that God is sitting up there in heaven ticking off, each day, whether I drank coffee or not. If people make a big fuss of giving something up, but otherwise IN NO WAY try to be more thoughtful and kind and Christian and so on, it's not really accomplishing anything, is it? If you're religious, you should be spending the Lenten season in contemplation of Christ and what he did for us and what he tried to teach us, NOT acting like someone who's just embarking on a new fad diet. So, no, I don't have that motivation. Christ doesn't care if I drink two cups of coffee instead of one.

So: the real reason "why" is actually pretty simple: I drink WAY too much coffee. I used to say "Naw, I don't overindulge, I don't get a headache on the weekend if I don't have a cup." Well, sure, maybe I could make it ONE DAY without feeling too rotten, but I just had it painfully demonstrated that I can't go multiple days on absolutely no caffeine without feeling like death warmed over.

If I'm going to try to get healthy (by going vegetarian, by losing a lot of weight, by exercising more, and even by trying to become a halfway competent runner), it makes no sense to go on crippling myself with an addiction that leaves me feeling sick and awful on days I try to cut back.

Perhaps this will even help with the nodding-off-behind-the-wheel urge I've been fighting for years on long car trips. If I sleep better at night because I'm not always coming down from the pot of coffee I had before noon that day, I might be more rested and functional ALL THE TIME.

So that's the vow: one cup of coffee per day, in the morning, and then nothing else containing caffeine. That means no caffeinated soda, no chocolate, no caffeinated energy drinks, and definitely no caffeinated tea or coffee.

And if I can, in a week or so, or maybe sooner, I'm going to try another no-coffee-at-all day and see if I still feel rotten. One way or another, the goal ultimately is not to need that morning cup of coffee at all.

jayfurr: (Coffee at Nickels)
On Sunday I randomly decided to skip having a cup of coffee. When I got up that day I felt awake and rested and didn't really see why I'd need one. And at first, there were no consequences... I felt fine. But partway through Sunday afternoon I began to feel kinda... weird. Like I'd stuffed my head with cotton balls. But I said, "Well, I'm probably just dehydrated," and drank a lot of water.

I survived. In fact, I felt well enough that I started thinking seriously about giving coffee up for Lent. I'm not Catholic; I'm a United Methodist, and we're not required to give something up for Lent. Some people do as a way of focusing their spiritual discipline on a closer relationship with God; cutting out something that might have been a distraction, as it were. Others do it simply because it's a good time to try to get a particular monkey off your back: alcohol, coffee, dessert, television, smoking, whatever. I suspect I drink too much coffee: as a trainer, I drink black coffee all day to stay perky and engaging... or bouncy, or whatever you want to call it. And I probably drink too much. So, I thought "Let's try this for a couple of days and see if it'd be something that I'd have a hope of doing for six whole weeks."

Then Monday happened. We got TWO FEET of snow late Sunday night and Monday morning. The snow was so bad that Interstate 89 through our area was closed due to jackknifed tractor trailers and cars that had run off the road. Conditions were just about as bad as they could be: the swirling and drifting snow made the road almost, but not entirely, impassable. At times the visibility was near zero. Unfortunately, I had to clear my long driveway with a snowthrower and then drive all the way to the office anyway to fetch my laptop, which I'd left docked at the office on Friday after looking at the weekend forecast and seeing rain. Yes, I should have swung by on Sunday to get the laptop when I was at church near my office, but I didn't think ahead. Dumb of me.

So the round-trip to my office on Monday took two hours and change, taking surface streets the whole way and staying off I-89. No one was at my office when I got there -- the big parking lot had been plowed but the place was deserted. Our inclement weather policy tells people to work from home if the weather is bad enough, but no email was ever forthcoming officially saying anything like "The office is closed." I guess people just checked the weather, called their managers, and told them "I can't make it in." But I got my laptop and headed back out, feeling really, really, really cranky and wrung out. And the cotton-balls-in-head feeling was worse than ever. How much of this was due to the snow and the stress, and how much was due to the lack of coffee, I can't authoritatively say. But I do know that I felt rotten.

So, when we stopped on the way home at the one gas station we saw open to fill our gas cans so we'd be able to keep our snowthrower running, I gave in and purchased a cup of coffee. I added enough 1% milk so I could quickly drain it and get back on the road heading home, and as I drove home I quickly started to feel a bit less cranky and wrung out and woolly-headed. I never got to feeling all better, but felt better than I had. And that didn't make me feel good about the whole giving-up-coffee thing. If, 36 hours into my coffee fast, I was already feeling miserable, and only felt better after giving in, what did that say about my ability to make it for six weeks?

So today, I woke up again feeling fairly awful. I decided not to torture myself and just had done with it and made a cup of coffee for myself before my morning shower. But that's it for the day. If I can't go cold turkey, at the very least I had better work on limiting my intake. As rotten as I felt yesterday, snow or no snow, that tells me that my body was really not happy about my trying to go cold turkey. And that tells me how bad my problem really is. I've got to scale back so I'm not absolutely poisoning myself. Your body isn't supposed to feel that bad after you go ONE DAY without coffee.

So am I going to give coffee up for Lent? No, I don't think so. But I'm going to try to limit myself to one cup a day and see how that works for a couple of weeks, then maybe go to a half cup, and so on. I really don't like the idea of being this dependent on the stuff.

jayfurr: (Coffee at Nickels)
On Sunday I randomly decided to skip having a cup of coffee. When I got up that day I felt awake and rested and didn't really see why I'd need one. And at first, there were no consequences... I felt fine. But partway through Sunday afternoon I began to feel kinda... weird. Like I'd stuffed my head with cotton balls. But I said, "Well, I'm probably just dehydrated," and drank a lot of water.

I survived. In fact, I felt well enough that I started thinking seriously about giving coffee up for Lent. I'm not Catholic; I'm a United Methodist, and we're not required to give something up for Lent. Some people do as a way of focusing their spiritual discipline on a closer relationship with God; cutting out something that might have been a distraction, as it were. Others do it simply because it's a good time to try to get a particular monkey off your back: alcohol, coffee, dessert, television, smoking, whatever. I suspect I drink too much coffee: as a trainer, I drink black coffee all day to stay perky and engaging... or bouncy, or whatever you want to call it. And I probably drink too much. So, I thought "Let's try this for a couple of days and see if it'd be something that I'd have a hope of doing for six whole weeks."

Then Monday happened. We got TWO FEET of snow late Sunday night and Monday morning. The snow was so bad that Interstate 89 through our area was closed due to jackknifed tractor trailers and cars that had run off the road. Conditions were just about as bad as they could be: the swirling and drifting snow made the road almost, but not entirely, impassable. At times the visibility was near zero. Unfortunately, I had to clear my long driveway with a snowthrower and then drive all the way to the office anyway to fetch my laptop, which I'd left docked at the office on Friday after looking at the weekend forecast and seeing rain. Yes, I should have swung by on Sunday to get the laptop when I was at church near my office, but I didn't think ahead. Dumb of me.

So the round-trip to my office on Monday took two hours and change, taking surface streets the whole way and staying off I-89. No one was at my office when I got there -- the big parking lot had been plowed but the place was deserted. Our inclement weather policy tells people to work from home if the weather is bad enough, but no email was ever forthcoming officially saying anything like "The office is closed." I guess people just checked the weather, called their managers, and told them "I can't make it in." But I got my laptop and headed back out, feeling really, really, really cranky and wrung out. And the cotton-balls-in-head feeling was worse than ever. How much of this was due to the snow and the stress, and how much was due to the lack of coffee, I can't authoritatively say. But I do know that I felt rotten.

So, when we stopped on the way home at the one gas station we saw open to fill our gas cans so we'd be able to keep our snowthrower running, I gave in and purchased a cup of coffee. I added enough 1% milk so I could quickly drain it and get back on the road heading home, and as I drove home I quickly started to feel a bit less cranky and wrung out and woolly-headed. I never got to feeling all better, but felt better than I had. And that didn't make me feel good about the whole giving-up-coffee thing. If, 36 hours into my coffee fast, I was already feeling miserable, and only felt better after giving in, what did that say about my ability to make it for six weeks?

So today, I woke up again feeling fairly awful. I decided not to torture myself and just had done with it and made a cup of coffee for myself before my morning shower. But that's it for the day. If I can't go cold turkey, at the very least I had better work on limiting my intake. As rotten as I felt yesterday, snow or no snow, that tells me that my body was really not happy about my trying to go cold turkey. And that tells me how bad my problem really is. I've got to scale back so I'm not absolutely poisoning myself. Your body isn't supposed to feel that bad after you go ONE DAY without coffee.

So am I going to give coffee up for Lent? No, I don't think so. But I'm going to try to limit myself to one cup a day and see how that works for a couple of weeks, then maybe go to a half cup, and so on. I really don't like the idea of being this dependent on the stuff.

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