Posted on 4 March 2014 | No responses
Behold the whirlwind.
Where to begin? I’ve posted photos of the drama related to my dining-room window. The broken pane is from a century-old window, so the glass repair is taking some time. The storm window is in place — the A/C unit is now in front of my bedroom fireplace — so it’s not terrible, but I do occasionally feel a draft. Ugh.
Two weeks ago, I went on a casino trip to Detroit (MGM Grand, Motor City and Greektown) as well as Caesar’s Windsor and Hollywood Casino Toledo. Tony and Roux attended. It was a great time — we covered it in a podcast last week — but regrettably expensive.
Last Friday, a six-hour board meeting of the Michigan Association for Healthcare Quality. In Mount Pleasant. The board accepted my proposal, endorsed by the MAHQ education committee, to hold our annual conference in early October in Traverse City. Can you say “wine tour?” Lots of good planning, though — I think we have a real opportunity to coordinate more with leaders in Lansing about state health policy, and the board endorsed my fuzzy proposal to deliberately cultivate contacts in state government.
This coming weekend, I’ll be in Chicago for a state-leaders conference sponsored by the National Association for Healthcare Quality. Should be a good networking opportunity. The folks at NAHQ asked me to help moderate a speed-networking event on Saturday morning.
Life has been busy, but good. My normal routine still hasn’t recovered from NaNoWriMo, though. I’ve done a bit of writing, mostly Saturday mornings with Brittany. Caught the Lego Movie with Duane on Sunday.
I’m really excited about some upcoming scuba trips. I had dinner two weeks ago with Jen, Dave and Tawnya. T is my new dive buddy; she just got certified and just bought her gear. Woohoo. We’re planning a weekend trip to Gilboa, Ohio, for late June. Of course, we’ll have to do some local lake diving in late May and early June to get Tawnya some logged dives. I’ve already paid for a advanced cert course through the dive shop. I think I’m going to target “Level 4″ status in SSI by the end of the season. That’s basically 50 dives and four additional courses, plus Stress and Rescue training. If I can get that nailed, then next year I can work toward Divemaster in 2015. I’m thinking maybe I’ll do deep diving, Nitrox, navigation and wreck diving. We’ll see.
The feline overlords are doing well. One of them has decided that I make a great elevator, so when I’m crouched over or kneeling down, he sometimes hops on my back/shoulders and expects a pony ride to whatever shelf or cabinet he cannot otherwise access. It’s cute.
I have officially loved this winter. We have the second-snowiest winter in Grand Rapids history this year, and we’re like #2 nationally for snow cover. Yay. I have 4WD and my landlord shovels/snowblows, so for me, it’s just been fun. I grow weary of everyone bitching about how much they hate the winter.
Although, come to think of it, drivers do piss me off. I’m glad you treehuggers out there buy your Priuses and Civics, but in Michigan, those vehicles aren’t exactly prudent between Nov. 1 and April 1. Sheesh. And since so few people are shoveling their on-street parking curbs, I’m having fun counting how many cars have a smashed driver-side mirror. In some stretches of road, every fourth or fifth car has a missing or damaged mirror.
Writing has been slow. I’m still pleased with my novel, but I’m hung up on Chapter 4. To me, it’s obviously an addition that stuffs in material that counterbalances content in the second half of the novel. I think I need to remove it and find other ways of addressing plot continuity deficiencies.
I’m woefully behind on a bunch of chores, though. All the travel and events I’ve been doing in January and February have conspired to deprive me of time to get stuff done at home. I’m behind on routine paperwork, and the re-launch of some of my business properties is delayed thanks to some tax/legal considerations. Oh, and I need to pay Abbi for her excellent design work so far.
I might have some time in late March. I’ve got a long-planned return trek to Las Vegas scheduled. I’ll do three nights in Sin City. Knowing my travel companions as I do, I figure my mornings will be free to work on stuff. Since I’m the only person who seems to arise before the sun begins to set.
Lent begins tomorrow. Interesting perspective on the Lent/Easter cycle given my time this year as an RCIA sponsor. I think I will, for the first time ever, attend a Chrism Mass at the Cathedral. Maybe I’ll get to meet the new bishop.
All for now.
Posted on 19 February 2014 | No responses
Last week’s icicle of doom decided to kiss the living-room window. At 6:45 a.m.
via Tumblr http://ift.tt/O9R0qP
Posted on 10 February 2014 | No responses
Note to self: Don’t use the side door.
via Tumblr http://ift.tt/Nv5SzG
Posted on 1 February 2014 | No responses
I might ordinarily say, “gosh, I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last blog post,” except this time that little introductory spiel would be a big fat lie. I haven’t posted because I’ve been so busy and so behind that I even took a day off, yesterday, just to unbury from the mandatory stuff. Like laundry.
Tidbits, in no particular order:
- Work has been insanely busy. I’ve been responsible for the technical training for two new analysts we hired at the beginning of the month, in addition to launching a new project related to inpatient readmissions analytics. I co-recorded an ICD-10 webinar for the National Association for Healthcare Quality, to be released this month, and have been up to my eyeballs as the president-elect of the Michigan Association for Healthcare Quality. The MAHQ P-E is responsible for conference planning, so … yeah, this is my busy time, including setting the date/venue for the conference and adopting a theme. And on top of it, I was at work until roughly 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday to sit behind the glass for four focus groups related to diabetes self-management. Today’s public service announcement: You do NOT want to get diabetes. So drop the cupcake and head to the gym before it’s too late. Seriously.
- I am now an RCIA sponsor. A friend of mine wants to join the Catholic Church, so I’m his sponsor. He selected St. Robert of Newminster as his home parish. The team there has been quite engaging. I had been poking my head in at the Cathedral, since I live a scant 10-minute walk away, but the experience at St. Robert ironically makes me more eager to return to St. Anthony after my tour of duty ends during the Easter season.
- My social calendar has been full-to-overflowing. With the monthly write-in and cigar night, plus a day of podcasting and the infamous Game Night, plus the Vice Lounge best-year-yet retreat, in addition to RCIA meetings and one-off cups of coffee with friends, my schedule has been full. Which is good — it’s always nice to stay connected with people — but also bad, insofar as my time available to myself for my own goals has pretty much plummeted to zero.
- My 2014 travel schedule is getting fuller. This month, I have the Detroit/Windsor/Toledo casino trip with Tony and Roux. In March, it’s a two-day healthcare-quality state-leaders convention in Chicago, as well as a Vegas trip that’s already paid for. I’m confirmed for another Isle Royale trip in May, then Europe in July, Boston in August, Nashville in September, Vegas again in October, and potentially a road trip to Florida in early December.
- The snow has been fun. Although people have been kvetching about the below-normal temperatures and above-average snowfall — we’re officially at 80.2″ for the season as of today, with much more predicted for the coming week; we had 66″ last season and average 71.6″ — the benefits of having a 4-wheel-drive vehicle are apparent and I haven’t really had much trouble with the weather. I’m actually enjoying it. I like strong seasonal variation, which remains one of the distinct charms of Michigan. Especially when shoveling is the landlord’s job. But really … where else can you go from having 18″ of snow and wind chills of minus 20 in the winter, to summer swells of 100-degree days at 95 percent relative humidity? And don’t forget those perfect spring and autumn days of temps in the upper 60s with clear skies and low humidity and abundant wildlife sans mammals that can eat you or insects that can sting you to death.
- I ordered scuba gear last week. I’m getting an Aqua Lung Dimension i3 BCD, an Apeks XTX-50 regulator, an alternate air source that’s optimized for the i3′s low-profile design, a standard pressure gauge with compass plus a Suunto Zoop computer, an Aqua Lung Alu Trio 3 light and a roomy dive bag. I also ordered a dive skin separately online. Everything should be delivered by Friday, and I’ve also booked both a scuba refresher course plus a specialty course through the dive shop. Andy, the owner of Moby’s, has been awesome to work with.
- … So I’m fully equipped! The dive gear finishes the acquisition of my sporting gear. I am already fully geared out for backcountry hiking and for kayaking, and now I’ve got diving done, too. Yay. I’m looking forward to this summer. I’ve got at least one significant hiking trip planned, and I already know I can get my friend Jen to go diving with me (better yet, her husband can come and we can needle our friend Tawnya to take the plunge), and I’m pretty sure I can get Tony to go kayaking with me. So yay.
- The novel is progressing. I’ve tweaked through Chapter 4, but still don’t like how the chapter looks. I haven’t gotten as much done as I wanted in January — too many other things have popped up — but I’m still plugging away at it. The Write On! gang has offered nice comments to aid with revisions.
- I bought a telephoto lens for my camera. The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor arrived last week and plugs in nicely with my Nikon D3100. The camera body isn’t exactly a top-of-the-line model, but it works for my relative level of amateurism. I’ve done some trial shots to make sure the new lens works as it should, so my SD card is filling with at-a-distance close-ups of cats behaving badly, but I look forward to the chance to take the new lens for a spin outside. I might have to coax my friend Melanie to take me out on a photo shoot if I promise to buy her lunch.
- The cats continue to change behavior patterns. Which is funny, really. Lately, Fifi has been sleeping with me. She wants to curl up under my right arm about 20 minutes after I go to bed, and she stays there for an hour or so. Prior to last week, the cats never slept on my bed at all, ever. What’s with the change? Heck if I know.
- I had to replace the starter in my Jimmy. On the 10th, the beast wouldn’t start. Had to have it towed, and it was out of commission for four days. The cost of repair, plus inspection, plus an oil change, plus the towing, plus daily cab fare to/from work clocked in at just under $1k. Expensive, but the Jimmy has treated me well and has been a heck of a steal, all things considered.
I shall redouble my efforts to post more consistently. If I can find the time.
Posted on 1 January 2014 | No responses
Welcome to 2014.
I write this post from my home office, overlooking a quiet, snowy street. To my right, a coffee mug with fresh-ground Starbucks and a splash of Irish cream steams in the cool air. To my left, both cats sleep peacefully upon their pillows. Things around here are still. Serene.
The last 12 hours provided an excellent segue between calendar years. Last night, I made a pan of my spicy Andouille jambalaya, with which I paired a lovely white Michigan wine — the bottle was a gift from my neighbor, whom I helped get un-stuck from a snowbank yesterday afternoon. I built a roaring fire in the fireplace and wrote a new chapter in my novel, bringing the total now to just under 56k words. I chatted on Skype with some friends and traded celebratory text messages, then went to bed shortly after midnight. This morning, all is calm and the outlook is bright.
In retrospect, 2013 was a year of “two steps forward, one step sideways.” Let me elaborate:
- On the health front, despite some ups and downs, I’m in fundamentally the same place as I was a year ago, and the year before that. I’ll take a “step sideways” instead of a “step backwards” any day, but this year, it’ll need to be “two steps forward.”
- I finally got my mind wrapped around a long-term personal finance plan that will get me debt-free and ahead of the game (relative to the median of my peer cohort) for retirement savings over the next few years.
- I competed in, and “won,” National Novel Writing Month, and I’m still working on the manuscript with the hopes of shopping it to an agent or publisher in the next few weeks or so. Much of this growth as a writer came with the support of my WriteOn! friends in the West Michigan area.
- The podcast has grown by leaps and bounds, aided by the support of a handful of friends across the Western Hemisphere as well as the key learnings we took away from our two Las Vegas trips (the 360Vegas Vacation and the Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic). I peg our current listenership at between 3,000 and 5,000 per episode, based on file-touch data from my file server.
- I swapped jobs, moving from a somewhat personally unsatisfying role as a report writer for the hospital to being a full-fledged data scientist in the insurance company’s Quality Improvement team.
- I have grown in professional service, being asked to stay on for another three-year term as a section officer in the American Statistical Association as well as bumping up a notch in volunteer leadership within the National Association for Healthcare Quality. And … drumroll … I was the only nominee for 2014 president-elect of the Michigan Association for Healthcare Quality.
- I finally made the Isle Royale trip last Memorial Day, knocking off a bucket-list item.
So the year just past was good to me. I had goals — many of which I met or exceeded — and I made some good life choices. I’m satisfied with the outcome. But mere satisfaction isn’t sufficient; you have to embrace change and create growth opportunities to meet your fullest potential. Herewith my goals for 2014:
- Return to 2009-levels of fitness. Technically, not a big deal. I have incentive — my 20-year reunion, summertime trips, etc. — that provide motivation. Plus, I finally (as in, just last week) cracked the code about scheduling my day to make a dedicated fitness program work like it used to. Surprisingly simple after it dawned on me that I can walk and chew gum at the same time.
- Get active in church/volunteering again. I’ve been “off duty” at church for the last five or so years. I’ve also been church-hopping, a practice made easier given that I live almost in the shadow of the cathedral. I’m sponsoring a friend into the Catholic Church this year, and his chosen parish has an involved RCIA program, so I’ll work with him through that, then probably meander back permanently to St. Anthony during the Easter season.
- Take next step in higher education. I’ve already got the application paperwork for a particular Ph.D. program I’m interested in and will file it this month. And, I do have a Plan B if that doesn’t work out.
- Get the novel published. This goal looks like a win for before Valentine’s Day, at least in terms of getting the final MS ready for distribution. I intend to give it a bit of time to circulate among potential agents and publishers, but I’m aware that the odds of being snagged are vanishingly small. So I’ll probably self-publish in early summer after a sufficiently large number of rejection letters arrive.
- Upgrade my station license. Easy win for late winter. I have the study materials, I just need to prep for the exam and take it. At a minimum, I want my radio license at General class, but if the mood strikes — and if I get involved in the Kalamazoo group, which seems more with-it than the Grand Rapids group — I might push for the top-level Extra class.
- Compete AOW + Rescue diver certification. I am friends with two certified divers, but I haven’t been under the water in years. That needs to change. Over the next few years I want to get divemaster certification, but for 2014 I’ll settle for Advanced Open Water and Rescue, which are the foundations for most other specialty certifications anyway. That means I’ll need to invest in gear, but … I need to anyway.
- Build an emergency fund. I’m usually so focused on doing things that my income is like a conveyer belt, going in one side and out the other without really stopping in the middle. I need a fund for emergencies — car window smashes, cat vet trips, etc., so I’m not caught S.O.L. if disaster strikes. I’m aiming for $2,400 by the end of the year, just $200 per month into the secret envelope.
- Run in the 2014 Metro Health Marathon. Finishing a marathon is part of the bucket list. With a renewed emphasis on diving and hiking and fitness, targeting a marathon in 2014 makes sense to ensure I’m at adequate cardiovascular levels for all the other things that require, you know, breathing.
- Return trip to Isle Royale. Looks like this one is already pretty solid for the Memorial Day holiday week, too. Some of my writing friends are contemplating a trip (probably to stay at the lodge at Rock Harbor), and my brother is strongly interested in going too.
- Hard-book a 2015 hiking trip to Denali. This will probably be the big trip of 2015 — two weeks in the Great Wilderness. The commute isn’t actually bad — just two days by road, mostly through Canada, if you want to avoid the pain of flying into Fairbanks. Denali is a different class of hike than Isle Royale; both are remote, but Denali has bears and (in most places) no trails at all. You’re just blazing away but still carefully honor Leave No Trace principles.
- Visit Europe. This one should be easy, too, since I’m technically committed to attend a conference in Utrecht, July 23-25. The only real challenge is that I technically need to be in Boston on August 2 for a different conference. So I might fly into Amsterdam, do the conference, take a week’s vacation, maybe Eurorail it from Utrecht to, say, Paris or London via Paris, and then head to Boston directly or back home for a day or two before Boston.
- Continue growing the podcast. Tony and I are planning a pair of return trips to Las Vegas, including one for the 2014 VIMFP, so that networking helps. Plus, we’re working through a long-term plan this coming weekend, thinking through ways of monetizing the show and expanding our reach through alternative distribution channels.
So. A lot on the plate, but it’s all doable, and much if it is already teed-up.
I had a good 2013, and I look forward to a good 2014. And I hope and pray that your 2014 is your best year yet.
Posted on 29 December 2013 | No responses
A recent conversation with a friend about encouraging better health choices prompted me to reflect on the advice I’d give to people about the best way to live a long and healthy life. Although I’m not a licensed clinician, I’ve worked in various clinical quality improvement roles in the health care industry for more than a decade. You learn some stuff along the way by reading the literature, interviewing the docs and diving into public-health data.
Anyway, here’s my list of rules:
- Watch what you eat. Forget the special diets like South Beach, Paleo, etc. The one and only surefire way to manage your weight is to assess your current resting basal metabolic rate and adjust your daily net calorie intake accordingly. If you need 3,500 calories each day to maintain, and you want to lose one pound per week, then aim for net calorie intake of 3,000 per day. A deficit or surplus of 3,500 calories equals one pound of weight. You adjust your weight not by exercising, but by moderating calorie intake. So although you should aim for the obvious — don’t overdo sodium, avoid saturated fats, get fiber through veggies, etc. – the best bet is to eat a variety of foods from the various food groups and keep careful eye on your calories.
- Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. Do your steps. Run or cycle a bit. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Just move.
- Eliminate your stressors. Stress raises your blood pressure and encourages you to splurge on comfort foods. Stress is a subtle fiend; it attacks your resolve and prompts you to act defensively without really thinking. Find out what’s gnawing at you from within, then squash it without mercy.
- Track your biometrics. Every week, record your blood pressure and weight. If you’re diabetic or closing in on pre-diabetes, track your fasting blood glucose. Get your labs done annually — cholesterol, etc. Look for things in your family history; if thyroid disorders run in the family, for example, get your TSH tested with every lab draw. Know what’s going on inside so you can make changes before things get out of hand.
- Beware the latest fad. Lots of people publish research or findings that simply cannot be validated by other researchers. A new drug trial, a special diet plan, a new surgical procedure — things get hyped and then cannot be demonstrated in peer-reviewed literature to actually have a statistically significant benefit. Diet and supplements are the worst of the lot; overwhelmingly, claims aren’t supported by valid, double-blind research trials. So if you see some new innovation that sounds great, hold your horses. Give the industry time to catch up. Even things like the barefoot running craze have seen some significant reversals and re-reversals in the clinical trials. The folks who produce documentaries about food are often the worst offenders at presenting misleading information about the benefit or organic or local or “sustainable” food choices, relying on emotional tugging instead of hard science, so think twice before you make changes based on the propaganda pieces of professional activists.
- See your providers regularly. Visit your doctor annually for a physical with labs. See your dentist twice per year. See your eye doctor annually. If you need a specialist, keep up with your recommended appointment schedule. Just do it.
- Develop a life goal and a support network. People who have a sense of purpose and a support network to help them during difficult times are more likely to self-manage chronic disease more effectively and recover from injury or illness faster. Plus, they’re significantly less likely to develop depression, a comorbid condition that’s truly a silent killer. So get a plan, get a group, and get going.
- Drink enough water. A majority of Americans are chronically dehydrated, leading to lower immune response, less restful sleep and more difficult kidney function. Just drinking adequate amounts of water — so you urinate roughly every three hours, at very pale color — helps with appetite control and feelings of energy.
- Get enough sleep. A majority of Americans also consistently fail to get adequate rest. Adults, usually, need 7 or 8 hours of restful sleep per night. Chronic sleep deprivation leads to lower immune response, reduced impulse control, slower mental reactions and irritability. Ensure you get a restful slumber, and remember — shut off the glowing screens an hour or more before hitting the sack. Exposure to bright lights can disrupt your sleep cycles.
- Moderate your vices. Don’t drink alcohol to excess. Don’t pig out on truffles every day. If you smoke, consider e-cigs or nicotine patches to step down the habit. Don’t spend all day watching porn or playing video games. In short: If you indulge, indulge responsibly.
It’s not hard to stay healthy, really. There are no secrets or tricks. Just exert the daily effort to maintain and grow. Anyone who tries to sell you on a magic formula or secret shortcut isn’t doing you any favors. Health is a choice, not a product. Choose wisely.
Posted on 25 December 2013 | No responses
Today is Christmas. Ho3.
Once upon a yesteryear, the last six weeks of the calendar marked a magical period of fun, family and festivity. The season kicked off with the trek up the hill to my grandparents’ house on Thanksgiving Day. We’d enjoy a feast that would put any Edwardian glutton to shame –assembling in the White Dining Room, a twice-a-year event, with non-casual attire and rare delicacies stretching as far as the eye could see – then cap it off with the thrill of defeat known as the “Lions’ game.” Heaven help us when it was Detroit v. Green Bay; battle lines formed ’round the TV, with the Michigan Delegation duly singing Nearer My God to Thee as the defense sunk beneath the waves while the Indiana Delegation surged with a wild-eyed ferocity that would make Mel Gibson look as sedate as Ben Stein.
Then, we’d embark upon that Great Interregnum known as Advent, when the spiritual side of Christmas received its due accord. The ancient Christian fathers knew what they were doing when they introduced seasonality into the liturgical calendar; moreso, when they pushed the cycle of readings to three years on Sundays and two years on weekdays. Advent became a period both familiar and yet ever new; in my youth, at a Franciscan parish, by the time a new three-year Gospel cycle began we’d have new friars and thus new perspectives on that year’s narrative.
Times change. My parents divorced, my grandfather died, everyone’s moved to different domiciles, schedules swapped as in-laws proliferated, food lines slimmed down from “extravagant fare on china with silver” to “grab a paper plate for appetizers,” sweaters and ties gave way to pajama pants … and I’m in my mid-30s living with a pair of cats. Over the last few years, the holiday season has crumbled a bit. It became a duty to buy gifts. It became rote to do the same things at church. It felt odd that “family” occurred twice per year, in the Snowy Season.
The last few years haven’t been especially merry. Acedia set in, I suppose. Christmas became just one more thing to plan around, like a doctor’s appointment or annual performance review. One more thing to spend money on. One more reason to sit down with family you see almost never and pretend like things are a happy, healthy whole. Indeed, my favorite part of the last six weeks of the year is the anticipation over my annual two-week vacation, a time spent not on others but rather myself.
Yet. Yet. Yet. It’s tempting to catch yourself judging today by the impossible standard of yesterday. It’s the fate of mankind — graced, as we are, by mortality; cursed, however, by relentless novelty — to never step in the same stream twice. The things that used to excite us eventually lose their wonder. The things we used to tire of, now bring delight. The challenge of Christmas, then, is to resist treating the holiday like a repeat, but instead to find new meaning every single time, even when there’s no lodestar to compare against.
This year, I kicked off the holiday season with Thanksgiving with my mom and brother. Then I had a second feast with friends at Brittany and Steve’s. We’ve had snow consistently in December, and little things — a gift here, a card there, a party with friends somewhere else — made a huge difference. We had a fun party at my grandmother’s condo last Saturday, and last night at my mom’s was great — especially chucking indoor snowballs at my young nephew. Today I’m drinking coffee with Bailey’s, writing, while the cats sit peacefully on their pillows. I think tonight I’ll make a fire and watch the Doctor Who special.
Christmas isn’t about gifts, or decorations, or cookies or anything else. More than anything, it’s a state of mind that says two things simultaneously. First, in that ancient Christian tradition, we are invited to reflect on the miracle of life and the saving power of innocence in the face of worldly adversity. Second, we are called to impose our own meaning on the world around us, to choose to find reasons for joy … or not. Our call.
Choose wisely. For myself, this year, I choose to enjoy the blessings of Christmas, and I pray that you do, too.
Posted on 24 December 2013 | No responses
The productivity trek for this two-week holiday is off to a rousing good start:
- I got all my Christmas stuff done and wrapped. A day early, even.
- I deep-cleaned the house and did laundry … even all the blankets I never use.
- I did my annual goals list, tweaked my fitness plan, cleaned out my OneNote folders and set up the bedroom TV to stream Netflix for when I sit on the exercise bike.
- Got caught up on news and did some free reading about novel writing.
- Weighed in at a nice number lower than where I ended up on Nov. 30.
- Spent some time socializing with friends on Skype, aided by a tasty, tasty martini.
I have most of the next two weeks hard-booked with tasks. That should help. I’d like to start the new year with a clean slate, the lingering debris of 2013 having been resolved.
So far, so good.
Posted on 22 December 2013 | No responses
Today is day No. 2 of a 16-day excursion into vacationing excellence.
The time-off period started well enough. Yesterday I started the day with coffee with Abbi then a family Christmas party (held at the Cathedral of St. Dorothy the Matriarch), then a trip to the mall for a bit of shopping and then food-court dinner and a movie — Anchorman 2, which was hilarious — with Liz and Brian, Julie, Nichole, and Lianne. Today features a bit of housekeeping — cleaning, podcast production, grocery shopping, last-minute gift-buying — to settle me for the week.
Then … nothing.
Well, not nothing. I have quite a bit planned. It’s better to say that apart from another Christmas party on Tuesday, and a possible planning visit with Tony on Jan 2/3/4, that I’m not leaving the house. Instead, I’ll remain cocooned at home, with the feline overlords, performing sundry tasks:
- Polishing the novel
- Reviewing 2013′s achievements and planning 2014′s goals
- A buttload of cardio
- Soliciting contract writing work
I’m looking forward to it.
The last few years, Christmas hasn’t been much about the holiday; instead, it’s about the time off to hunker down and re-center myself. A period of end-of-year renewal, as it were.
And I’m way past ready to get to work.
Posted on 14 December 2013 | 2 responses
I can kinda-sorta hear the infamous DQW’s iPod singing faintly, “Life is a yo-yo; I want to sling it all night long ….” Then again, the sound is muffled so my apprehension of the lyrics might be off a bit.
But geez. What a week. First the good.
- I received the electronic notice for the pending balloting for offices within the Michigan Association for Healthcare Quality. I’m the sole nominee for president-elect, so barring some unforeseen difficulty, I’ll soon begin the three-year cycle of P-E/president/past-prez within that august organization.
- I was appointed the national co-leader of the SIG Team for the National Association for Healthcare Quality, by the 2014 NAHQ president. NAHQ has several special-interest groups — clusters of professionals aligned along some sort of common interest. I spent the last year as facilitator of the Ambulatory Care and Care Transitions SIG; now, I’ve been asked to help at a higher level, providing leadership and coordination to the SIG facilitators.
- The email for the VI European Congress on Methodology came out this week; my session, about surveying chronic-disease patients to ascertain barriers to effective self-management, is on the final roster. Looks like I’ll be off to The Netherlands this July!
- I enjoyed a lovely Christmas party with the full complement of my writing group last night. We had desserts, a book exchange and a Secret Santa event. We even Skyped in Mary from PA, which was nice.
- My boss bought me lunch this week. We had our fourth-quarter birthday celebration, so those of us with birthdays in the latter part of the year were treated on Tuesday. We ended up walking to Gus’s. The place was chock-full of sheriff’s deputies on lunch break, which was rather amusing.
- I fired up Mint on my Windows Phone. First time in a year that I actually used the site or its services. Turns out, I had a nearly 25 percent increase in my 403(b) account total since last year. I’m actually closing in on the retirement-savings level that industry professionals say is the “gold standard” for my age bracket. Geez.
- My “post-NaNo” diet is working, it seems. Down about 4 lbs. (or so) in two weeks.
- People seem to know me. I got the gift of alcohol from my Secret Santa, plus my landlord. And a director at work very generously provided me with a gift certificate to Founders Brewery. Yay.
Now the bad.
- For the second time in less than six months, a local thief smashed a window on my Jimmy and stole something from the cab … while the vehicle was parked in my driveway, under a bright light. A bag of miscellaneous gear — my first-aid kit, my travel showering bag, my waist pack with some essential hiking gear — was snatched. About $250 in loss for the equipment, plus another $175 or so for window replacement. And it happened on Thursday morning and I couldn’t get an appointment with the glass guys until Saturday morning. Which means lots of driving in 20-degree weather without a window. Yay.
- Getting over a long-running but fairly mild cold.
- It dawned on me just how much my monthly insurance and utility payments are, since I paid them in one fell swoop yesterday. All told, my average monthly costs come to roughly $800. Not inclusive of rent, food, gas, savings, etc.
- I’ve been unusually tired, which means my productivity has plummeted. I spent most of the week coming home, building a fire in the fireplace, uncorking a bottle of wine, and reading the news — usually with a cat on my lap. Peaceful, yes. Productive … not so much.
- One of my more lucrative clients is on a two-week hiatus at the end of December, so my revenue will take a hit. Right at the same time I’m paying for window repairs, equipment replacement … and a notice that my rent is increasing $100 per month effective 1/1. Yay.
Win some, lose some.