WordPress is failing me. This showed up in my RSS feed but REFUSES to show up on the site. So, sorry if you’ve already seen this. (This bodes POORLY for the WordPress class I’m teaching in less than a month…)  Anyway, on to the post…

(Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to bug Dale to write a post all about himself and what he’s been up to, when his Alaskaversary happens, in January. Or sooner. He’s been up to cool stuff, but it’s all his story to tell.)

Brewing SuppliesFour years ago last week, I was driving a car full of stuff (and I love how neither the Canadian nor the Alaskan border gave me trouble about all the buckets and tubes and graduated cylinders I had; I suppose they all recognized brewing equipment when they saw it), including small cuttings from some house plants (now grown quite big, some of them with babies in other pots) and three birds. Both cockatiels were a little bit injured, when I entered the state, and all three birds were prone to night frights for months after the move. (That might have been that Dale wasn’t here, yet [flock animals], and my upstairs neighbors were noisy at night, too.) On the last couple of days of the drive, we all listened to AM radio when we could get it, because my iPod fell out of the car somewhere in Canada, and I couldn’t stand the CDs I had with me anymore. I was all freaked out about the crack in the windshield, which, by the way, is still there and has been joined by several others. We’re thinking of replacing it sometime soon, probably. Maybe. It’s weird to look back and remember all that. Even though 4 years isn’t that much, a lot’s changed. We’ve made and lost friends, gotten married, watched friends get married, bought a house, and generally grown up a bit more. (Adulthood will come, eventually, right? :))

readings_on_self-reflectionThis post comes about because I’ve been very reflective, these past two weeks. I had to do my yearly activity report for work, and as part of that process I realized that this has been an insane year. I have accomplished multitudes. (I had been beating myself up for not updating my library’s website’s front page. Which is a dumb thing to beat myself up for, in general, and even dumber when you take into account all of the other things I got done. I’ve really stepped up my game and led a bunch of initiatives and generally gone above and beyond, this year. I’m proud of myself.) I’ve also started gearing up for my first-ever solo national presentation (well, sort of solo–I’m presenting for half the time, and I’m getting the audience to interact for half the time), which has required a lot of thought about everything I’ve been doing, and my coworkers have been doing, for the last four years. My job now is very, very different from the job that was described in my interview and that I did when I first arrived. And that’s kind of cool.

In my personal life, I’ve been balancing my service overload—which is academia speak, meaning “the volunteering I want to do, plus the volunteering I have to do for work adds up to too many hours to get very much of it done at work and still do my job”—with my desire to learn Python (that’s a programming language) and play with a Raspberry Pi (a tiny computer that, if I can get it set up right, will let me write code in Python to control LEDs and other cool stuff—if I can’t get the Python libraries loaded, I’ll still be able to do cool stuff, but I’ll have to write in C, which I haven’t done for 10 years). I feel like I’m constantly busy, but part of it is…

House-Its-not-lupus-Its-never-lupus…my doctors have all agreed that there’s probably some underlying issue going on with me. (The rest of this paragraph is boring medical stuff. Skip to the next one, if you like!) I’ve got a foot with “inflamed bones” in the third and fourth metatarsals, as confirmed by an MRI. Weirdly, I should be getting better, and I’m not. (We’re trying a new thing with the orthotic, but…) I damaged one joint in my right thumb, back in May(?), and that’s turned into pain all the way down into other joints and tendons, even my wrist. That, at least, is getting better, now that my hand therapist has me doing exercises with it every day. The pain in my hips, that I’ve been complaining about since December or January, is not going away, even though I’m no longer really limping (that was the working theory: limping for months on end threw something out of balance). I can’t walk up stairs or get out of a chair without pain (sometimes severe pain), which, as you can imagine, is inconvenient. Oh, and my body eats cortisone shots, so that within two weeks it’s as if they never happened. Nobody I’ve talked to knows what this all means, but I’ve been referred to an excellent diagnostician who will no doubt interrogate me and drain me of several vials of blood, helping her to hopefully put it all together. As my PA (who is excellent) says, if they know what it is, they can treat it—although I’m on a daily anti-inflammatory, there are better medicines available for many of the possible underlying conditions. (Podiatrist thinks it’s some kind of arthritis, PA thinks maybe it’s some kind of -algia, but probably not the one everybody always talks about and nobody believes is real. Both agree that this diagnostician will help me out. And, no, I don’t think it’s lupus. :)) In the meantime (and I really mean “for MONTHS, now”), I’m avoiding sugar, alcohol, aspartame, and most carbohydrates (even fruit and some carby veggies—again, for now) and generally doing my best to decrease inflammation and lose weight (with my PA’s blessing and, you know, monitoring). Losing weight without the ability to exercise in any meaningful way is a challenge; I can stationary bike, a couple of times a week, without irritating the foot or hips too much, and I do, but that’s a pretty small burn. So it all just means I have a very limited menu, for now. But I’m doing well: I’ve burned off more than 15% of my initial body weight, and I’ve sent a lot of clothes to charity. My PA is super pleased with me. The fact that I am not experiencing the major energy surge that’s supposed to come with that kind of weight loss—I seriously need 10 hours of sleep every night, or I’m tired all the time—is definitely one of the things causing her to worry. I should be feeling awesome, and I’m not.

So I need a lot of sleep, I have a lot of projects, I’m slower at some of the things I just kind of need to do to live, and I’ve got a lot going on at work. It’s a little stressful. But that’s OK!

Garfield went to HI tooDale and I are finally taking part in an important Alaskan tradition: going to Hawaii. (Non-traditionally, we’re not waiting until the dead of winter. That’s mostly a financial decision.) Neither of us has been before. I’m excited to see all of the birds and lizards, hopefully some magma from the volcano (depends how long a hike it is, on what kind of terrain), a vanilla plant, a coffee plant, maybe a baby seahorse, maybe a sea turtle, some rays, and some coral reef. I didn’t used to like Kona coffee, but I’m giving it another try. And I’ll probably cheat a bit on my diet with a little fresh coconut, because fresh coconut! (I’ll be good, mostly.) We rented a car, so we can drive all over the island and experience various micro-climates. And we’ll both do some reading (NERDS!) and hang out by the pool and by the beach. It should be a great time!

Anyway, I know this post was all over the place. I’d say “If I posted more often, this wouldn’t happen,” but I didn’t really want to post about any of these topics by themselves. I think you’re all caught up, though, at least on my end. Once again: bug Dale! Get him to post! :)