I Drank The Kool-Aid

Yes, that is my new(-ish) Fitbit Flex on my wrist.

If you have spent any time at all here on Misdirected, you know that I have been pretty resistant to the idea of spending money on an item that performs functions that my cell phone handles adequately. In short: I am cheap. However, the arrival of Lor’s new Fitbit Surge, courtesy of her sister, left us with an unallocated Fitbit Flex that we had received from my Mom a few weeks back. So, on Saturday, I linked it to my phone and strapped it on.

For those that don’t know, Fitbit not only tracks your physical activity and sleep, but it also plugs you into the community of other Fitbit users around you. (In my case, Lor and my parents.) And it starts making comparisons between everyone’s physical activity, to act as a motivational tool. For me, it was concrete evidence that I am not moving nearly as much as Lor is. Or my Mother. Or my Father. I am losing the physical activity war not only to my lovely wife, but to my retired parents as well. Not good.

How well am I doing? With two days worth of data, I can determine that I am apparently managing about 7,000 steps a day: roughly 3 miles a day. I was admittedly surprised to see how much of my physical activity is tied up in things like cleaning house and washing dishes – more than I would have expected. But, still, about 3,000 steps a day short of the 10,000+ steps that Fitbit wants me to be achieving on a daily basis.

My initial reaction is resignation – I am a disabled gamer, for goodness sake. Who the heck expects me to manage 5 miles a day? But, I then compare my numbers to my father, who is also sedentary, also suffers from physical issues, and has got 20 years on me to boot. He is managing this level of activity, why the hell can’t I? Humbling is a good word. Never mind comparing with my Mom who is apparently never ceasing to move. I can’t manage 10,000 steps in a day, while my Mom can regularly manage over 20,000? Unacceptable.

Today is gym day, so I am very curious to see how the Fitbit Flex converts weight lifting into “steps”. (Lor’s shiny new one includes things like a heart rate monitor and multiple exercise modes, so she should be all set.) I am hoping that the combination of walking to the gym, then a workout, then walking home gets me in the ballpark of the golden 10,000 step goal that this demanding device is asking of me. But, if not, I think I have a plan. The Fitbit tracks “steps” actually by monitoring arm movement, not leg movement.

And I have a perfectly good guitar sitting in the corner, just waiting to help me game the system.

Maybe I Will Learn Some Thrash Metal,

– Hawkwind

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Barbershop…

What happens when your post-surgery hair loss gets the best of you...

On Saturday, I took one look in the mirror and decided I could take it no more. The thinning crown, the receding hairline – the hair loss had to stop. So, I walked into the home office and made my announcement.

Me: “Today is the day.”

Lor: “What day is that?”

Me: “The day I shave my head.”

Lor: “If you think that’s what you want…”

Lor has been dead set against me shaving my head for quite a while now. However, her own recent haircut and the positive effect it has had on her appearance and her personal outlook had softened her opinion on me making my own drastic change. However, one detail remained…

Lor: “Where are you going to get it done?”

Me: “We are BROKE. I am doing it myself!”

Lor: “I don’t think that is such a great idea…”

The Adventure Commences…

Undeterred by spousal concerns, I headed into the bathroom to begin work, armed with a normal facial razor and this:

For those of you reading on a smaller screen: Yes, that is a battery powered beard trimmer.

What was it that led me to believe this would be a great tool for prepping a head full of (admittedly thinning) hair? I would like to say “hope” but, in truth, it was “impatience”. The sight of my hair loss in the mirror drove me to temporary madness. Nothing less than a shaved head would cure my affliction  I began my work about 11 AM. At Noon, I emerged, looking for a new set of batteries for the beard trimmer.

Lor: “Why are you wearing a beanie?”

Me: “I don’t want to scare you.”

By 12:30 my head was maybe 25% trimmed. The problem? It was trimmed unevenly, with random growths sticking out in all directions thanks to the unruly cowlicks that populate my head. And this was just the front of my head. The top and back were thinned, but still largely covered in hair. In desperation, I hopped into the shower with my razor and a set of scissors.

30 minutes later, the drain was clogging due to randomly removed hair and I had dulled both my scissors and my razor.

I emerged, water dripping from the ceiling over the shower due to the length of my hair-removal adventure. Looking in the mirror, I noted that I now looked like I had been exposed to radiation or chemical warfare, with random patches of hair growing from various locations on my scalp. I dressed, put my beanie back on, and went to the bank to withdraw $20 from our Emergency Fund to get the mess repaired professionally.

No One Shaves His Own Head Without Paying The Price

The area around my stylist’s chair was full of laughter and levity as I described my hours-long ordeal. 2 stylists and three people waiting for haircuts all had to crowd around to see the grand unveiling when I pulled the beanie off.

There was a moment of silence, broken by my stylist: “Thank you for keeping the beanie on until now.”

10 minutes later, I was shorn professionally, and left with a long list of scalp-care instructions and promises that the story of my “do-it-yourself” attempt would be a featured entertainment at Thanksgiving gatherings all over the city. I smiled and bore the teasing as best I could, knowing that I still had to face the “I told you so.” moment at home. It wasn’t bad, as these things go, but I may never be allowed unsupervised in a bathroom again.

Ah, well. If we truly learn from failure, then I have earned the equivalent of a college degree in how to make a mess of yourself.

Oh, the final result? Here you go:

Boy, Does That Scalp Need Some Color,

– Hawkwind

Holiday Prep

Now that that is over with, we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming.
We seem to have our holiday planning put together – juggling two sides of the family who live 90 miles apart is always challenging at holiday time. I must admit to a certain amount of apprehension. This will be, after all, the first time several family members have seen us in almost a year – since well before we even started the surgical process. What are they going to think of our surgically improved selves? I don’t really care about the opinions of many, but I will be seeing the majority of the people on that list in the next couple months.
For years now, this is traditionally the time when my winter “weight creep” starts. I am not alone in this – a large percentage of the country suffers from the same cycle. An already low activity level grows lower, we start making the rounds of food-filled family gatherings, and we begin to over-eat because everything is so darn good. By the time March rolls around, we have gained some weight (usually 10 or 15 pounds for me), some remnant of which stays with us throughout the next year.
So, it is exciting to think that this should be the first winter on record where I lose weight between November and March. My weight loss has been slowing down, as I have commented on here, but it has not ever stopped – even on weeks when I have only lost a fraction of a pound, I am still losing. And don’t even get me started on the physical changes I am undergoing. I have empty dresser drawers and a half-empty closet currently, due to my stubborn insistence on not spending money on clothing I will only be able to wear once and then give away. I suppose I will have to do a little shopping before Thanksgiving and Christmas – I can’t imagine Lor will allow me to attend family functions in tank tops and baggy sweats. Which brings me to my weight-loss goal for the end of the year…
Though it becomes less and less likely I will hit 200 pounds before the end of the year (darn it), it does look like I might be able to hit another one of my weight-loss goals: I may be able to get myself into a set of 38-inch waist pants by Christmas. This is a BIG one for me, folks – it was the final item on my original weight loss bucket list from 10 years ago. For those that don’t remember, the other two were to get below 225 pounds (rear-view mirror) and to be able to walk 5K in the yearly Run For The Zoo (next May.) 38 inches means quite a bit for someone who was at a 50-inch waistline in January. I am just now able to get into some 40s, so here’s hoping!
Though if I have to choose between tamales and a 38-inch waistline by Christmas, I must confess I will still choose tamales.
Just Sayin’,
– Hawkwind

Stunned

So, that just happened.
I am awake at 2:30 AM, unable to sleep any longer, no longer recognizing the country I live in.
I thought I lived in a country where we were moving away from racism, oppression, and religious persecution. Apparently, I was wrong.
I thought my nation was going to continue to work towards getting a handle on climate change. Nope, not of interest to the majority of my fellow constituents.
I thought that the Trump-ian dream of Making America White Again appealed to only a few scattered malcontents. Guess I was mistaken about that too.
Almost half of my fellow Americans have just voted into power a man who stands, by his own admissions, for nationalism, religious persecution, mistreatment of women, oppression of the free press, and for locking up his political opponents.
I am, quite frankly, terrified this morning. I understand our political processes. I agree that an election was held, not a revolt or a coup. Accordingly, I am forced to recognize the fact that a majority of Americans desired these qualities in their next President.
I went to bed last night hoping fervently that this was all a bad dream. I awoke this morning realizing that, to the majority of those who voted, I am the enemy. I am Latino. I am disabled, and therefore a “burden on the taxpayers.” I am a person who has benefited from Obamacare. I firmly believe in the rights of gay couples to marry who they want, of members of other religions to practice their beliefs freely, of women to control their own bodies. And, according to last night’s polls, I am what is despised and rejected by the majority of voters.
Today, at 46 years old, I no longer recognize my place in the country I grew up in.
Saddened and Frightened,
– Jeremy

Bleah…Monday

So. Monday. I never could get the hang of Mondays. Even the fact that I no longer get up and head into work has not released me from the malaise and disinterest that seem to go along with “Day After Football” day.
This particular Monday, though, has some very special soul-crushing components attached to it. For example:
1. The Time Change: I really, really, really hate this time change. There is nothing worse than waking up at what feels like 5 and discovering it is only 4 AM. Or, worse yet, falling asleep at my desk and discovering it is only 8:30 PM. Whoever decided this time change was a great idea should have all their body hair removed with duct tape.
2. The Elections: Oh, God, please make it stop. I’ve done my job, Lor and I went and exercised our democratic duty last week, now can this just be over? I have never been impressed with our political system, but this election season has made me feel like I am constantly covered in slime. No amount of bathing will remove this hideous residue.
3. Weight Loss: Or lack thereof. Despite the fact that I know that everything is moving along as planned, I feel as though everything has slowed to a crawl. I have been dropping no more than a pound a week for almost 2 months now. I had originally hoped to be around 200 pounds by the end of the year. Now, it is looking more like that number will arrive around my birthday. Which is next June.
Hopefully heading back up to the gym today will revitalize the system. Right this minute I am ready to go back to bed to try again tomorrow.
Never Thought I Would Look Forward To Election Day,
– Hawkwind