March 6, 2014
At my recent breathing test, the operator and I were chatting. She was being very descriptive with the answers to my questions about the test. I was discussing protocol and the numbers as they showed on the screen. She tells me that she expected this from me as she saw "engineer" as my occupation prior to the test. In their staff training for giving these tests, the instructor told them to be weary of engineers. They try and understand all aspects of the test to maximize their score she was told. Yes, please.
I never knew this was a thing I did for the longest time. I just always did it. I liked to tear stuff apart to see how it worked. And put it back together. I liked to analyze things and understand their roots, their motivation, their purpose. One time at my Dad's shop, I tore apart this thing and put it back together. I went to my Dad and one of his employees and was like "I have all these parts left over". The guy says to me, "That's the sign of a good mechanic. You can put it back together with less parts than the guy that designed it." Huh. I always liked that one.
So in my personal life with my family and kids, this sometimes becomes the curse of Dad. If you get me involved, I need to know a lot of stuff. I want to know. Take my wife for example, she is an accountant. She thinks way different than I do about a ton of stuff that would make interesting blog posts yet to come. But one thing is that depth of inquisition on things. Honey, explain to me exactly why I would debit retained earnings in that situation? She says something to the effect of "because that's how it's done". She is right. It's done that way. But that is not satisfying to me. I feel like I just cheated on a test. I need the real answer.
In this day in age, the Internet is the greatest thing ever for the engineer. The power of the information is usually out there somewhere. And especially in my field. Everything is documented online. We have open source! Back in the day, I would have to just trust my wife and feel unsettled for the rest of my life on that point. Now, I can go do some research and try and understand the why of this mysterious question. Later on, I usually go back to her and say "I figured that out and it makes sense to me now". To which, she rolls her eyes.
In contrast, if there is an issue that comes at her that isn't in the type of accounting experience she has, I find that she gets roadblocked. Telling me she doesn't know anything about that. I then turn my skills on the problem. I am not formally trained in accounting, but I know how to break down problems and deduce reasonable conclusions.
This whole thing I describe has become an issue between us over the years. It wasn't until a few years back in a big argument session that we broke this down and tried to understand how each other thinks. It's easy to think she is just stupid or lazy with her thinking. "My god, woman, why would you NOT want to know what firmware version this car stereo is updating to?" I just put it in Evernote.
While in turn, she thought I was being stubborn or an asshole or not trusting. None of that was true. Just different brains working in different ways. But I didn't get that for a long time.
I had this same battle with a friend recently. Not seeing each other for how we operate differently. It causes confusion. Creates separation. Not good.
When I can't get a core understanding of something, I fail. This happened to me many times over the years. Incidents at school always were the worst. High School Honors English. I just could not get the "formula" for how that teacher wanted me to write the papers. I don't really think she could explain it to me either in my terms. I finally gave up and dropped down to regular English and aced everything. Same me. Same writing. Same teacher, even. Weird. Again in college advanced chemistry. I worked hard as anything. I just could not grasp something. I threw in the towel. I didn't need chemistry anyway as I pointed my self towards electrical engineering instead.
When you work with engineers all day, we just do this ball breaking on a daily basis. Why is that design better? What if we did that instead? It's all part of the plan to design and validate. I love the word "iterate". It became popular with the rise of agile software development. But its how I work and live.
At prior jobs, we always had consultants come in and do the famed Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This always felt like a fun diversion but quite bullshit. I was not a person in touch with their feelings. That may have changed some over the years. Now, I find myself specifically trying to categorize people so that I know what might work better in dealing with them. It's not always that straightforward. But it's much easier if you try and work with them, then write them off as uncooperative because they march to the beat of a different drum.
At the end of the day, I usually feel some validation if I can answer yes to one of two questions. Did I learn something today? Did I build something today? Alternating between the two of those. That defines my profession. It defines me.
Get to know yourself.
March 2, 2014
It was only about 10 degrees when I left the house around 10 AM to hit the hill today. I didn't think it would be fun. But upon arrival, the hills were shrouded in fog once again. Inversion? Saw TK in the parking lot and he confirmed it. Something fun about charging through the cold uphill in search of warmer temps.
The Flatties were being particularly difficult on the photos today. I really wasn't sure how they would come out. It was like shooting in fog. This was my favorite of the day. A couple people crossing from the right. Gives you a nice sense of scale.
The dogs are never cold. Always raring to go. They love the snow like this. Constantly running circles around me through the fresh powder.
That shot continues to perplex me. Its Longs Peak the distance. I snap it about every time I go and it always comes back looking crappy. I can't adjust it either. But see the white fog going across the lower 1/3 of the frame. That's the inversion layer of fog hanging out down below. Thought it was cool to see the edge.
And a selfie. Why not? See the blue sky? You had to be up there to catch a glimpse this morning. Up top it was almost balmly. No wind and totally warm. We sat for a while and hung out. Then ran back down. I was frozen when I reached the car. Thank god for seat warmers. I will be in shorts tomorrow.
February 28, 2014
Another appointment at the pulmonologist. A few different things on the docket for today.
First up, another breathing test. Same deal as last time. Breath normal and then you take a huge fast breath and then exhale painfully long.
Then you do it again after sucking on some albuterol as seen above. Well, here are the numbers for this round. They actually improved over last time, which surprised me. You see I was 112% of my age's control group. Last time, I was 106%. The other thing to notice is the difference in the pre and post scores. The albuterol was administered for the post test and the scores went down. Not by much. But pretty much shows that albuterol isn't effecting me a bit. However, the doctor was quick to point out that this test is at rest and albuterol not at rest might have an effect.
So the jury is out if the Singulair got me the extra points this week. Or it was just a better day. Or I finally knew how to breath in the test correctly. Doctor thinks there was improvement. However, the "at rest" thing is how they diagnose and treat this but its when I expose symptoms. So its time to do it in action.
The next step is a VO2 Max treadmill test like I did in 2010. The sweet part? Insurance is paying for it as part of the treatment. So we have data from that year when I was pretty fit -- ran a sub-3 Boston Marathon a month after that test. Then we will have this new data. I don't have that speed fitness today. And I didn't have symptoms then. So who knows what this will produce. But they should be able to get some good air flow numbers as we work through the test. Maybe it will show that as stress increases, airflow goes down. That's kind of my hope -- meaning it would correlate with how I feel.
I had been complaining about the coughing, mucus and flem I get on runs. Maybe some part of all of this is triggered from my head draining as the run begins. I am dry at home but after 2 miles, you would have thought I was getting over a cold with all the ejection of fluids. So he told me to get on some over-the-counter sinus and allergy stuff. See if we can dry that part out during a run and then see what the effect is.
So the treadmill test is in a few weeks. Going to keep playing with my horde of drugs and see what combinations seems to work as we hope.
The journey continues...
February 18, 2014
With a 4 day weekend and Natalee and Chad in town, the girls got some more time on the slopes. I got my first pair of new googles in like a decade so I was excited to be sporting my new iridium lens. Nobody can see my eyes now. Kayla said its creepy.
This was my ski buddy. We have a good time together. Lots of chatter on the lift as we eat Starbursts and play games. This weekend was all about making up stories on the fly kind of like Mad Libs.
The next day we went over to Copper for bigger terrain. I left Kayla at the cabin so we could get some more runs in.
Reagan and I got separated from the group so we went to a new spot to grab food. Reagan was nervous as she wasn't sure what she would be eating. Turns out they have the staple. And it was pretty good! Fun to hang out with just one of your kids at a time. Reagan found a run that she absolutely loved flying down. I couldn't catch her.
Meanwhile, Sydney was out trying to see what the half-pipe is all about on skis.
February 15, 2014
After what was likely the longest TO Leadville commute ever, we arrived late last night to find more snow than we have seen in years. My driveway entrance was piled as high as the windows in my Hummer. There was no way I was driving in tonight. So I spent from 12:00 AM to 1:30 AM with the snowblower making enough room to get 2 cars off the street. I was pretty whipped after the combination of the drive and the late night snow removal.
The next morning, I took the dogs for our usual winter run. We take snowmobile trails for portions of it. Unfortunately, there are no tracks to follow! The snow is so deep up through the area that the snowmobiles seem to be staying away for a bit until it compresses. As we left the neighborhood, I found myself sinking in powder up to my belly button and then my nipples at one point. I think I started to cry. I ended up crawling on my hands and feet about 100 yards just to make it back out to the Boulevard for some solid ground.
Upon returning home, I had to finish the driveway which is no small feat. I broke 2 pins and a belt in the process. I was working the machine. The big task was trying to get snow off the roof. There was an emergency order this week to get your room cleaned off or suffer the fate of the store in town that just plain collapsed recently. The snow is heavy right now.
The dogs were in heaven all day as they made mazes through the snow. They could basically jump up on top of it and run quickly without sinking. Humans were instantly waist deep wherever they went.
This was Lizzy's first time here and I am not sure if she knew what was going on with all this snow.
More scraping. After the driveway and the roof, my hands are just raw and I have blisters everywhere. Ouch.
The big reason we are here is that my sister came into town for the long weekend. They played with the kids outside in the deep snow for hours and built this monstrous snowman. Again, these usually are hard to build here because the snow is so dry but not right now.
Here's to winter! And the end of it...in due time.
February 13, 2014
I started into my daily routine of suiting up for my run. Then something was wrong.
The band fell off my watch. The rubber had ripped around the clasp. Damn. It almost felt rewarding for a second. This watch goes on all adventures and daily grinds with me. Its the only consistent thing I take that I don't have backups for anymore. Its been a tried and true companion.
Usually, I would take the opportunity to justify a completely new overblown purchase of the latest gadget in the category. However, this time, I am not going to.
This 310XT has been solid and I don't feel like there is a better watch out there at this time. I did not do extensive research though. I just hear people bitch about their fancy new watches and how the bevels suck in the rain or whatever. This thing never messes me up or slows me down.
For the next few days, a twisty tie seems to do the job. Amazon Prime will have me a new replacement band in a few days for cheap. Then she will be all good once again.
It continues to amaze me that these watch companies are not innovating in the direction that everything else is. The smart phone running apps are loading up the social run features. Then from the other direction, you have the fitness monitors (Jawbone, Fitbit, etc.) becoming the wearable monitor. And watches themselves are expanding, like Pebble, to integrate with your smartphone.
I really want all of those in one. I will wear a watch all day that can do all of these things for me. I envision:
+ Waking up and having the watch monitor sleep patterns
+ Getting some calorie counts while I move about during the day or play with kids
+ Flipping on a mode and having the watch move to run GPS mode to do what I am used to
+ Showing me texts on my wrist while I am running so I know if the server went down and I have to get back sooner than I thought
+ Returning home and having it upload the necessary data to share, analyze, and amaze everyone on Facebook
I guess a lot of that depends on having the smartphone with me on the run. I do this a lot but its not in my field of view. Its in my shorts or my pack. I bought a few pairs of shorts that have a special pocket placed right on the side for the phone. Gives me some comfort knowing I am connected if and when I need to be during any issues that arise during a run -- which seems to happen more and more. Some might not be into such things..."I run to get away". Well, yes. But its nice to know that while you are away, things aren't exploding. And maybe snap a picture now and then. Or call 911.
February 12, 2014
Today was the next visit to the pulmonologist. It started off with a breathing test. They had me stop all drugs 24 hours before. I put a tube in my mouth and she clipped my nose and had me sit and breath normally. Then when she said go, I had to breathe in real fast and then exhale as long as I could. The computer was drawing waveforms of my breaths. Here was a shot of my baseline numbers.
Then I did a nebulizer with albuterol in it. Pretty much like an inhaler but quicker. So then we retested. The goal being that you would see a positive change in the numbers because the drugs helped control your asthma. And...
No change. Numbers were the same. I was not surprised at all. To me, this either means that albuterol does not effect my symptoms or that nobody knows what's wrong with me just yet. Doctor says the former. Albuterol usually works on asthma but for some folks it just has no effect. We are going with the theory that I fall into that group. It matches my daily findings that I really didn't feel any different with the drugs.
So now what?
We moved to a pill instead. This is called Singulair, or Montelukast (generic). The description says it "helps prevent and control asthma attacks, including attacks caused by exercise". Also treats seasonal (short-term) and perennial (long-term) allergies. I like that. My symptoms do range during the year depending on cold and dryness a bit. That could be something allergy related. And interesting that it says "exercise" right in the description. So I am on this stuff for 2 weeks then another follow-up. Apparently, this stuff is quick to react -- no build up needed.
If we don't hit a home run on this, its going to be a stress-inducing breathing test next time. Like on a treadmill. I have done those before when I had my VO2Max done years ago. It kind of claustrophobic. But I am game.
So not better yet. Working through the treatment playbook it seems. I guess the positive news is that we ruled out some set of things. Unfortunately, those were the easy fixes.
February 11, 2014
Other than a mountain excursion last weekend, my running has been limited to the treadmill for the past 10 days or so. Its keeping me warm and healthy. But finally got out today because there was a spark of sunshine and heat. They scraped the roads around us so the snow was like ice. Wasn't pretty. Reminding myself to take an alternate route for the next few days as the melt begins.
February 9, 2014
I hooked up with JP this morning for a run up Green. It was much colder than yesterday because we were sitting beneath a layer of fog. The dogs were along and enjoyed crashing through the crunchy snow. When we started up the stairs beyond the Ranger Cabin, we instantly walked into a heat wave. It was like you walked into your house after a run. Apparently, it was warmer up high than down low. However, that tranquil feeling was ruined as the wind started ramping up as we got to the top. JV caught up to us after the summit. I think he was all stoked because I talked to him while he was still at work and he must have been motoring to catch us. Saw a bunch of Boulder folks out there this morning as well.
February 3, 2014
The Ogden Theater is the smaller neighbor to the Fillmore. And when a band you love plays there, there is nothing better! So I was really excited to hear that Stone Sour was coming back again to Denver to play another show in support of their latest album. Stolen Babies opened the show. Metal lead singing female on accordion. They did a good set but didn't quite get me moving. Next was Pop Evil. They seemed unusually flat tonight. They played a lot of their louder stuff and skipped the classics like 100 in a 55, which I didn't mind. But it felt off from other times I have seen them. Oh well. But the big guys were up next!
The real draw for me is Mr. #8, Corey Taylor. He is the frontman for this band as well as Slipknot. He actually did Stone Sour first, went on hiatus and joined Slipknot, and restarted this years later. Now, he leads 2 of metals best bands and he is always a thrill to see live -- with or without the mask. I am not sure if you want to call it a man-crush, but Corey is on that short list of current day musicians where I think, "yeah, I would be proud to be that guy".
Corey always gives props to Denver when he comes. Some type of bond here. But tonight he was on fire with the crowd. I think the small venue helps but the people were almost overwhelming the sound system at times. We were loud. Corey likes to talk too. So at one point he comes and and says we all have to address the elephant in the room. Everybody knew what he meant. He didn't mention it by name. But to paraphrase, all he said was -- As long as you have a team, and there is another game to play, there is always a chance to win. And that's all that matters.
This guy defines metal and I have never seen him play in anything other than a button down shirt when he is being Corey and not #8. They have been doing a cover song every night of the tour and for our show they unveiled Creeping Death. It was fantastic. "None of us would be here tonight if it weren't for Metallica", he said. So I whipped out my phone for a little video to commemorate.
My daughter, Sydney, loves Through Glass. So I grabbed some of that too for her. This venue is 16+. I am about to make my kid a fake ID so she can see these great shows there with me.
Fabulous show. Really enjoyed it! Never a dull moment with Stone Sour. Cheers, Corey!
Figured out a new iPhone photo trick too I think for better concert pics. Used it on those first few. To be tested again next time...