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Weight Watchers diet experience Tue, Aug 02, 2022
I turned 40 recently, and I decided I wanted to lose a few pounds.  My wife had done Weight Watchers a year ago and had a good experience with it, so I decided to give it a try.  The thing about my normal "diet" is that it's not hard to point to the foods that have caused me to gain a little weight over the years:  pizza, bacon cheeseburgers, alcohol, etc.  I work out regularly, but as the adage says, "Losing weight starts in the kitchen." 

So I signed up for Weight Watchers and started tracking my food intake.  Instead of tracking strictly calories or even fat/carbs/protein, Weight Watchers uses a points system which assigns you a certain number of points per day, with each meal or snack deducting from that point total.  Except that certain foods count as zero points, such as vegetables, fruit, lean meat, eggs, and a few other things depending on your particular plan.  Fatty foods, pretty much all carbs, and alcohol count as points, depending on their type and amount.  What this means is that you're incentivized to eat a bunch of zero-point foods while carefully choosing where you spend your points budget.  For example, a whole grain wrap for a chicken burrito costs about as much as a beer, so if I want to eat well, I might have to skip the beer. 

This was not a starvation diet.  At no point was I ever really hungry.  There were times when I was unsatisfied, but I was able to find some foods like apples and carrots that took away my cravings. 

The points system sounds like it won't work because you're not directly tracking calories, but it sort of works like magic.  It's a little annoying to have to trust a system whose internals you don't fully understand, but at the same time it's mentally easier to understand the cost of a 4-point beer in a 20-point program versus a 130-calorie beer in a 2200-calorie diet.  The math is just simpler. 

Long story short, I lost two pounds per week for about two months straight, and I'm down 18 lbs and counting. #lifestyle

Active mind wandering Wed, Jun 22, 2022
I've been doing a lot of hiking recently, and one thing I like to do is let my mind wander.  Usually when I'm walking or hiking or doing some activity that doesn't require brain power, I listen to music or podcasts, or I think about what I need to get done, or how to solve a problem I've been working on.  But lately I've been going out, leaving my electronics at home or in the car, and just letting my brain do what it wants.  It's kind of a cool sensation, almost like observing my brain in third person.  I can see an idea appear, and I just let my squishy computer go with it.  There's no objective or end state or anything I need to remember or write down.  It's just low-level mental processing, turning the gears and cranks, for no other reason than it's enjoyable. #psychology

Quitting caffeine Mon, Jun 20, 2022
I quit caffeine as of a few weeks ago.  I had been drinking up to 8 cups of coffee per day (only 2 scoops of grounds though) for the past few years, and I had developed a slight sweating problem.  I'm not completely sure the two things were related, but I had been thinking about giving up caffeine anyway.  I don't like the idea of being dependent on something.  What if I'm somewhere where I can't get a fix?  And really that's what caffeine has become for me.  It's long since stopped being a morning pick-me-up or anything like that.  It's a substance, that if I don't ingest on a daily basis, I'll get a miserable headache and feel like garbage. 

I'm really not sure what to believe about the health benefits of caffeine.  I've heard it can be good.  I've heard it can be bad.  My thought is that our ancestors existed just fine without it.  Plus it's certainly not an essential vitamin or mineral or anything like that.  There's nothing in coffee or tea or any caffeinated beverage that's necessary for our bodies to function, that we can't get from eating regular food.  We can live without caffeine. 

So anyway, I slowly decreased my coffee volume consumption while also slowly decreasing the strength of the coffee itself.  The last couple weeks were a cup or two with more than half decaff grounds.  AND YET, when I quit completely I still had a stupid headache and felt crappy. 

Now that I'm caffeine-free, I'd like to say I'm sleeping better and feel great.  But honestly I feel exactly the same as I always did, albeit a little less sweaty. #food

Hybrid work Wed, Jun 15, 2022
We've entered the era of hybrid work, which is a combination of on-site work and remote work, and I gotta say, it's literally the worst of both worlds.  The benefits of on-site work are that you see people face-to-face and run into people in the hallway for impromptu chats.  The benefits of remote work are that you can concentrate distraction-free while not wearing pants.  Hybrid work, as it's currently implemented, is left to the worker to decide how to manage their on-site and remote days.  So some people choose to be in the office Monday and Wednesday; other people choose Tuesday and Thursday, etc.  What this means is that on any given day you're in the office, you have absolutely no guarantee that the people you want to see will be there.  Which means that not only is your presence completely wasted, you're also working in a distracting office and you had to put on pants to do so.  And to get in contact with people, you have to call or message them anyway, which is the exact same thing you would've done if you weren't in the office. #business

Older coworkers Tue, Jun 14, 2022
I was talking to some coworkers and we were all noticing how certain people we work with have a hard time adopting new technology.  Here we are a few years into a pandemic-fueled remote work world, and some people are still learning how to share their screen in Microsoft Teams.  One coworker said it's because our generation (born in the 1980s) were the first generation with internet in our homes while we were in high school.  We're used to adapting to the ever-changing landscape of technology.  We remember a time before the internet, before smartphones, before social networks.  And as these new things came about, we (sometimes grudgingly) adopted them and incorporated them into our daily lives.  People who are even a few years older seem to have been almost left behind in the pre-digital age.  They write things on paper; they cold-call people without messaging them first; they have trouble with copying and pasting and emails.  It's weird how there's almost a generational gap in technological proficiency, and the age difference is sometimes less than 10 years.

Trunk lock issue Thu, Jun 09, 2022
My current car's trunk has two methods of entry:  An electronic switch near the steering wheel, and a keyed lock on the trunk door.  Most normal cars also have a latch on the back seat, but mine doesn't. 

A few months ago, my battery died due to the interior light being left on overnight.  What happens when a car has a dead battery?  The electronic trunk release button doesn't work.  What happens when you live in a cold climate with road salt and a seldom used keyed lock?  It seizes.  So in the middle of winter, with a dead battery, I was unable to get the jumper cables from my trunk because the idiots who designed my car couldn't envision a scenario where this series of events could happen. 

It wasn't a huge deal because I borrowed my wife's car to go to a store to buy jumper cables, which she needed anyway.  But if someone, perhaps a small child, got stuck in my trunk, I have a hard time imagining the success rate of convincing said child to follow my instructions in locating and operating the glow-in-the-dark emergency trunk release lever (which thankfully my car does have).

Ownership Tue, May 31, 2022
Ownership is kind of a made-up topic (side note:  everything is sort of made up because that's how society and culture work).  You can say you own something because you bought it from somebody, but why did they claim ownership?  Did they buy it from someone else?  Who was the original owner, and how did they claim ownership?  We don't typically ask these questions because we all collectively believe that if you claim to own something, you own it.  If someone creates something, they can claim they bought the raw materials from someone, but then they created something new which didn't exist before then.  So that new thing is owned by the creator of it. 

This isn't the case for something like natural resources or land, especially undeveloped land.  A person can claim ownership, but the person who originally owned it merely stated a claim.  In that sense, I don't think land can really be owned.  It can merely be borrowed, to plant crops or build houses.  Which begs the question, if you're not using your land for some purpose, do you really own it?  Should you?

Vacation mode Fri, Apr 29, 2022
If I could define vacation mode for myself, it would be this:
Instead of going to a specific place at a specific time for a specific activity, I like to go in a general direction at an approximate time to maybe do something or maybe do nothing.
As a couple with kids once said to a childless me while laughing nostalgically, "We'll decide between now and then."  That's my goal when I'm on vacation. #travel

Project names Thu, Apr 14, 2022
I work at a place that's bad at naming things.  We use a lot of acronyms, and project titles are handed down to us from higher up.  So we receive a project title which is usually a string of buzzwords, and due to our collective lack of creativity, we're left with a bunch of unpronounceable acronyms for project names like ERPM, ACGMT, and JEGL.  And even when our acronyms are pronounceable, we still screw it up.  Some people pronounced our project PEFM as "PIF-M," instead of HOW IT'S LITERALLY SPELLED, JERRY YOU IDIOT. 

A good project name should be a single pronounceable word, probably short, preferably two syllables or less.  A name like Quarterback is kind of long and awkward, but a name like Tailback just has a good ring to it.  If the name absolutely must have two words, it should be easily and nicely abbreviated.  And this should go without saying, but neither the word nor the abbreviation should be an obvious reference to a sex act. 

The name can either be relevant or irrelevant.  For example, the Air Force has the Eagle (F-15), the Falcon (F-16), and the Raptor (F-22), which are all named after birds of prey.  They chose a theme and stuck with it.  On the other hand, I've worked with organizations who chose project names like Deadlock or Override, which are literally just arbitrary titles which have no relation to anything.  But when you say, "I finished the Deadlock analysis," your coworkers know what you mean. 

The name should be decided upon as early as possible, and it should never change.  I just need something to call the folder that's storing all my files associated with this project.  I need a word to put at the beginning of my email titles. 

I've always been impressed by groups and companies that name things well.  I don't know if it's due to their marketing department, or simply having creative people around.  Oh well, back to work on PLOMPH. #business

Common symptoms Tue, Apr 12, 2022
I feel like too many illnesses have the same symptoms.  If you have a running nose, sore throat, headache, cough, sinus pressure, and/or a fever, you could have:  (a) the common cold, (b) COVID, (c) allergies, or (d) cancer.  The human body is like, "I don't know what to do about this, so I'm just gonna produce some mucus." #health

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