Nothing To Worry About

Song: “Particle Man” by They Might Be Giants

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

Now it’s half past midnight and I already can’t focus or type properly.

Sorry, folks. It’s far too late, I’m far too tired, and I’m making a ton of mistakes,

I will post about today sometime tomorrow.

Syau

Keeping My Brain Occupied

Song: “A Little Respect” by Erasure

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Pack

Blugh… I just looked at the clock and it’s already midnight. Guess this’ll be a short post.

I’m afraid to say anything, but things aren’t too shabby. No nightmares for a little while now, I’ve only been worrying about things three or four times a night, and I’ve only had to get up to check in on things a handful of times. I’ve also been quite busy the last couple of days, doing a lot of thinking and actually getting some things done.

Okay, I just wrote five paragraphs about a print that failed yesterday and my attempt today. In the interest of not boring everyone and trying to avoid getting carpal tunnel (I was only about halfway through the story), I decided to replace it with this helpful bullet list:

  • Mark start print
  • Print take much time
  • Mark check back nine hours later
  • VERY BAD. PETG EVERYWHERE. VERY VERY EVERYWHERE. PRINTER VERY BAD, FANS VERY BAD, WHEELS VERY BAD. BAD BAD BAD.
  • Mark take two hour taking printer apart and chipping, tweezing, snipping, brushing plastic away
  • Mark check Internet for help. Internet NO MAKE UP ITS MIND. Mark give up on Internet and steps out on his own
  • Mark find and change settings he never seen before and not know how work
  • Mark try print again next morning. Mark sit by print all 11 hours just in case.
  • Mark watch old episode of Captain… CAAAAEEEVVVEEE MAAAEEEAAAEEEAAAEEEAANNNN!!!
  • Print work perfect. Mark no understand. No glob, no web, no nest, no hair, nothing. Maybe Mark lucky. Maybe Mark genius! Maybe printer lonely and want Mark nearby.
  • Unga bunga

One of the nice things about working in the basement with the printer and some music on is that it drowns out a lot of the indoor and outdoor sound that I’d normally hear and couldn’t figure out. So, ghosts weren’t too bad today, which was a nice treat.

Being downstairs gave me some time to get a bunch of other things done that I’ve been waiting for, and I have some appointments tomorrow that I need to get some things ready for.

Tomorrow will be a good day – J has the day off and I am eager to talk to Dr H about test results and things like my arm/hand and get back home, although depending on how things go, J and I may stop at a store for a few minutes. Don’t know which one, don’t really have anything to buy, I should just get out of the house more, especially with this wonderful weather.

Stay safe.

Interesting Article About Childhood Anxiety And Possible Treatments

I was going through my usual morning RSS feeds while eating breakfast, and I came across this article from Science News:

“When anxiety happens as early as preschool, treatments can help”, by Sujata Gupta for ScienceNews.

Do you know one of those kids who’s afraid to try anything, thinks that everyone is going to hate them or make fun of them, or can’t tolerate being unable to see their parents? It seems there is no lower limit to the age where excessive anxiety or an anxiety disorder can appear. The article mentions that there have been experiments done that have identified children that are overly cautious or anxious, and the researchers discovered that many of those children grow into adults who have anxiety disorders.

Researchers also think they have identified the parts of the brain involved, and what about those parts causes the problem.

The great news is that a particular kind of CBT that’s customized for kids appears to work in almost two-thirds of cases. A combination therapy with CBT and an antidepressant (they used sertraline) seems to work about 80% of the time. As it’s still a new and somewhat experimental approach, it’s not widely available yet, but the researchers’ success so far bodes well for being able to help children and potentially keep them from suffering from anxiety disorders as adults!

Stay safe.

The Flop Sweat Experiment

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a fan of hot weather. Not to be any more disgusting than I have to, but I sweat. A lot. Yes, I’m fat, and yes, I have an armoire full of black shirts, pants, and shorts, but there’s something else going on, too.

I remember one New Year’s Eve when I was in high school. I was driving friends home from a party (I was always the designated driver). Some of them lived out in the country, so there I was, squinting through thick clouds of blowing snow. It was so cold (below -33C) and so windy that my car wasn’t warming up, and to keep the breath of five people (four yelling and joking around) from fogging up the windows, I ran the defroster on full blast. It felt like my eyes were going to freeze in their sockets. I was cold – very cold, and nervous – very nervous. Despite the cold, I could feel sweat running down my chest in little icy rivulets. Once I finally dropped off my last passenger and made it home, I took off my jacket and was surprised to find my shirt was soaked with sweat.

Fast-forward to my first year of university. My vector mechanics final exam. I knew I was unprepared but had crammed as much as I could into my brain over the previous day. I made my way into the gym and sat down on one of those crappy metal folding chairs, staring at a very thick pile of exam pages turned face down. The TAs supervising the exam called out, telling us we could start and we had three hours. I flipped my exam over.

At the top, it said “IMMUNOLOGY”.

In hindsight, I probably would’ve done better on the immunology exam than I did on the vector mechanics exam, but at the time, I thought I was going to throw up. My skin felt prickly everywhere and I started to sweat like crazy. It only took maybe 30 seconds for me to get mildly scolded by a TA and moved to a table with the correct exam, but it really knocked me for a loop. As I tried to concentrate on the exam, I had to keep wiping my forehead and I could feel the sweat running down my chest, back, and sides.

Three hours later, they announced the end of the exam. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. I stood up, felt something kind of weird, looked down, and sat right back down, fiddling with my pencils and staring at my watch until almost everyone else had left. Turns out I had sweat so much that I’d soaked right through my shirt and jeans and there was a puddle on the chair. I got up again, cleaned it up as best as I could, dropped my exam off at the front table, and ran as fast as I could to get back to my room so I could change. It was humiliating.

A few years later I was dating J and her parents came into town. They took us out for dinner and as we sat around talking, I said something (I don’t remember what anymore) that I was worried that sounded wrong or dumb. Nobody said anything or acted any different, but I felt that familiar prickly sensation and I started getting the sweats. I had to excuse myself from the table four or five times so I could go to the washroom and run cold water over my face and hands, and use the hand dryer to dry the sweat out of my hair.

So yeah, I’ve got a history of the flop sweats, although they used to only show up when I was in some kind of high-pressure situation. Since I got sick, though, I get a good flop sweat going for almost any reason. Getting ready to go for a walk? Flop sweat. FA coming over? Flop sweat. My parents coming into town? Flop sweat. Dr C appointment? Sitting in the truck? Setting something up? Measuring something important? Threading my sewing machine? Getting into a cab? Installing a new app on my phone? Walking through the hardware store? Taking a shower before going out or someone coming over? Waiting for a package on the day it’s supposed to be delivered?

Flop sweat.

Something that really gets me about this whole thing is that I may only be a little anxious about something in the first place and just get a little sweaty, but then I start worrying about the fact that I’m visibly sweating and what are they going to think when they see this and why is this happening… I sweat because I’m sweating! It’s stupid and annoying and embarrassing.

A little while ago I decided to try and figure out if there was anything I could do to lessen the frequency or magnitude of sweaty armpits. Two things came to mind for me to try that could possibly make a big difference: flop sweat when I’m getting ready to go out or have someone over, and lessening the visibility of the sweat after it happens.

For the first thing, I needed to figure out why just taking a shower would get me nervous. I thought about it for a while and realized that one (or more) of four songs play in my head:

The theme from the Commodore 64 game Zarjaz. Speed it up to about 50 percent faster than usual. This is the one that gets stuck in my head the most. I have no idea why – I haven’t played Zarjaz since 1992 or so.

“Rockin’ Robin” – the original Bobby Day version, but about 25 percent faster than it’s supposed to go.

The theme from the Commodore 64 game Commando, bumped up 50%. Again, no idea why. I remember the music from a lot of C64 games, but this and Zarjaz are the only two that get stuck in my head. What I would give to get Hover Bovver stuck in my head sometime.

“The Circus Bee”, by Henry Fillmore. I was in a band that played this back in… 1992? 1993? It’s already pretty fast, but bump it up 25% and that’s more like what plays in my head. It’s a great song, but at the wrong time it definitely contributes to my anxiety.

I like uptempo music, but for whatever reason, those four songs play extra fast, get stuck in my head, and make me nervous. The good news is, all I had to do was play another song loud enough that it drowned out anything I was thinking and my brain fixated on the song that was coming from OUTSIDE my head. So far, it’s been “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO. It’s a great song, uptempo and happy, and it’s one of those songs where so many things are going on that I don’t think I will get tired of it for a long, long time. It’s been over a month now and it’s been pretty consistent with keeping me from going back to those four songs and getting nervous.

As for hiding the sweats when they happen, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do. I’ve been wearing black clothes pretty much exclusively for the last 18 years or so because they don’t show sweat as much as, say, a red shirt would. Nowadays, though, that’s not enough. It could be because my confidence and self-esteem vary from ‘nonexistent’ to ‘maybe tomorrow’, it could be because I have the kind of complexion where someone can look at me and tell if I’m lying or embarrassed or any number of emotions, it could be that I’m disgusted and embarrassed at the idea of being the only person sweating in an air-conditioned room.

Since I got sick, I’ve carried a handkerchief around with me whenever I go out, just in case I need to dab (or swab) my forehead, neck, or even if I have to squeeze some extra sweat out of my hair (I’m sorry, I know it’s gross). Sometimes, the hankie doubles as a fidget toy and I fold and unfold it over and over. Most of my worry in this department is about beads of sweat forming on my forehead or the top of my head and running down my face.

My experiment for this problem? A hat. I have a big floppy one that I wear outside when I’m doing yard work but I needed something a little less… silly. J bought me a baseball cap a while ago and, while I’ve never really been a baseball cap person, I find that wearing it while I’m out (and sometimes when people come over) helps tremendously when it comes to ye olde flop sweate. Not only does it hide any sweat that shows up on my forehead, it also absorbs and keeps the sweat from going anywhere. It doesn’t do anything about sweat getting into the hair at the back of my head, but with the other things minimized, I feel a lot less uncomfortable so I sweat a lot less and my hair stays dry.

Jeebus… I’ve gone on about this for two and a half pages. I guess the takeaway from this is that there are aspects of my behaviour that I seem to be able to do something about, and it doesn’t take a huge investment of time or effort. Being able to break out of that loop where I’m nervous about getting all sweaty and gross, then I start sweating, then I get more nervous, then I sweat more… breaking out of that loop helps me in a few ways. Sure, I’m still going to get nervous and sweat like crazy when I’m at the dentist, but at least I won’t have had sweaty pits two minutes after I got out of the shower, and I won’t have to worry about people seeing me sweat in the waiting room.

So yeah… I’ve figured out how to lower the number of times I have to change shirts during the day. I know it sounds silly, but every bit helps.

Stay safe.

A Very Brain-y Two Days

Song: N/A

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

Just a quick post since it’s getting late. Yesterday and today went pretty well; J had today off and it was wonderful that she was around.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and figuring about all kinds of stuff. Making lots of progress in some areas, not so much in others, but it’s all good. My brain keeps trying to do that spiralling thing where I overthink something to a ridiculous degree; fortunately, I’m getting better at noticing when that happens and stopping, short-circuiting, or redirecting it.

I think I mentioned a while ago how some of my fingers get tingly and go numb once in a while. My right hand in particular has been annoying – sometimes I don’t notice anything, but sometimes the area between my elbow and the tip of my pinky finger is all tingly and weird. I’ve been wearing the brace that Dr H prescribed but it doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. Ah well… I have an appointment next week.

J got a reward for working with the company she’s at for X number of years, and she picked a bluetooth speaker/FM stereo/aux jack player. We set it up last night and it’s been pretty great so far – much better and easier to use than the old system I kludged together.

Tomorrow I think J and I are going to watch some more shows, and I plan to continue working on the projects that I’ve been thinking about and puttering with.

Stay safe.

Forgot To Post Yesterday

Song: “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

I realized last night as I stumbled toward bed that I’d forgotten to do a post. The evening got away from me, I guess. Not a big deal.

I think the biggest thing that stands out about yesterday is how warm it was. I went for a walk, wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and my faithful but tacky Crocs. I got a couple of odd looks but the air and sunlight felt very good. I also went and stood out on the deck and enjoyed the feeling of the decking warming up my feet. I also spent a lot of time working on the PIC stuff and I made a lot of progress. It’s nice but a little depressing when I finally manage to figure out something that I knew pretty well 10 or 15 years ago.

I woke up quite a few times last night to worry about things, mainly the garage door and whether the fridge door was closed. The pictures I took during my evening rounds were enough to let me get back to sleep within 10 or 15 minutes. I also woke up with a pretty nasty headache at some point, and had a very strange dream about the dishwasher door falling off and water going everywhere. It wasn’t a nightmare, though, and it didn’t wake me up.

Today went by very quickly. J was working from home today but she had to go out and do some work-related stuff around 11:30AM. With the less than stellar sleep that I’d had, I didn’t really accomplish all that much in the morning and when J got home from her work thing, I was sitting on the upstairs couch, half zoned-out.

I had an appointment with Dr C this afternoon. J dropped me off as she was on the way to an appointment of her own. The appointment was quite tiring but between some anti-flop sweat things I’ve been trying, taking some PRNs a little while before leaving, J driving (instead of me taking a cab), and being able to sit there alone in the waiting room and do mindfulness exercises while waiting, I was able to pay much better attention and actually make some eye contact with Dr C today. She is very encouraging about me trying to keep my brain momentum going and she wants me to pay attention to and enjoy the successes that I have while doing things. She also has a colleague that she is going to consult with about some different approaches for OCD treatment; she mentioned some things about memory confidence. I think Dr P and I worked on that stuff for a while but I am happy to try anything to make more headway.

Dr C just moved offices recently and this past week the whole floor got new furniture. It’s… nice… I suppose. I mean, it looks fine, but it’s not the same as the old, comfortable chairs. Things are also positioned differently and that will take a bit of getting used to. The waiting room is different now, too, but I think that’s a good thing – the way it was set up right after they moved was pretty cramped, drab, and it felt weird.

After my appointment was done, I sat out in the waiting room, put “Get Over You” by The Undertones on repeat, closed my eyes and did mindfulness exercises for about 40 minutes until J swung by to pick me up after she had finished her appointment. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to sit there for that long (calling a cab was always a possibility) but things worked out and I saved almost $40 by not using taxis at all today. Not bad.

This evening, J and I watched more Brooklyn Nine-Nine. We’re getting close to the end of what’s available online… I suppose we’re going to go back to iZombie after we’ve run out. Or maybe we’ll start at the beginning again. Or watch Community again. God, that’s a great show.

Tomorrow I will be home alone again with no appointments to worry about. I plan to go for another walk (I started wearing shorts on Monday and intend to keep wearing them until Fall), see if I can make more progress on my water detectors, play around with that Arduino that FA gave me, listen to some records, do some sewing, putter around in the truck, maybe go for a drive, tidy up the garage… there’s no way I’ll do most of those things, and even doing some of them might be a stretch, but if I don’t set any goals, I won’t get anything done.

Stay safe.

Go Ahead And Ad-Block My Site

I’ve been having an email conversation with FA about ad-blocking software, and it reminded me that I haven’t gone and changed my WordPress theme yet. I meant to do that a while ago but for some reason or other I didn’t get to it.

Anyway, I hate online ads. I didn’t mind them so much when they were off to the side, or the occasional inline ad. Nowadays, though, with the auto running videos that play sound, or being forced to watch a 30 second video before being able to watch a 12 second video, or the various other annoying pop-ups that get in the way… it gets old pretty quick. And I don’t like when company A hears from Company B that I was looking at Product C on Website D.

All that being said, please go ahead and block the crap out of my site. I don’t make any money from this site, and unless it suddenly becomes some sort of Internet juggernaut (which I’m really, REALLY not expecting), I plan to keep things the way they are. If anything changes, I will make sure to make it very obvious in a future post.

Block adverts, don’t accept cookies, block trackers… go nuts. It’s fine by me. In fact, I encourage it.

Stay safe.

Irritated

Song: N/A

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Lots

Today was an odd day. It started out with snow on the ground and by early evening it had all melted and some lightning and thunder moved through the area.

I didn’t get a lot accomplished today. My fancy new fitness smartwatch arrived and it immediately became obvious why it was twenty bucks. Plus, the app that it syncs up with is dicey at best. Ah well, I guess that’s how it goes. At least it looks nice.

I also took another run at a PIC and got it working without setting it on fire. There are still some things that aren’t working right but it’s been so long since I looked at a datasheet that I shouldn’t be surprised. Took the time to inventory my midrange PIC inventory and I have a lot of them, a few of which are actually still in production.

Talked to my mom briefly today, she very enthusiastically said how good a time she and Dad had yesterday. They’re planning to visit again but not sure about the timeframe.

I’m in a foul mood. I should probably end this here.

Stay safe.

What A Great Weekend!

Song: “Absolutely Right” by The Five Man Electrical Band

Mood: 8.5

Nightmares: 1

Ghosts: Several

This past weekend was fantastic. I didn’t sleep particularly well and was a little more tired than usual, but everything from Friday to Sunday was wonderful. I had a great time hanging out with FA on Friday, and after J got home, we hung out, watched some more episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and puttered around the house. There were no crises, no deadlines, nothing… we just hung out and had fun.

On Saturday morning I woke up from a nightmare (tent), but instead of waking up in the middle of the night like usual, I woke up around 8AM, so there was more than enough light to see where I was and that everything around me was okay. I still got out of bed for a bit, but it’s sooooo much nicer when I wake up almost in a panic and I can actually see what’s going on. I was even able to go back to bed and get some more sleep.

J went out to an art show with her mom and aunt, and I stayed home and did some more puttering. FA gave me an Arduino on Friday and I played around with it for quite a while – I wish they had been around when I was in college! I’ve decided that I’m going to make two of those water detectors that I was talking about a few days ago. One will go at the big drain in the basement, and one will go under the dishwasher. The big drain will catch the hot water heater, the laundry room, the downstairs bathroom, and eventually everything in the house if the leak is bad enough. Since we’ve had leaks under the dishwasher, I think I’m justified in putting one under there. They’re not going to be complicated, just a little microcontroller hooked up to a piece of cloth with salt in it, a 9V battery, and a beeper. The cloth gets wet, the salt turns into salt water, makes a connection, and the beeper sounds.

I decided I was going to go back to using a PIC for that, so I hooked one up, programmed it, and promptly cooked it. It’s been a while since I’ve done this stuff and I’m apparently quite rusty at it… at least I know what I did and I can try to avoid doing it again.

When J got home, she brought along some information for a 3D printer project request from my mother-in-law, and I got to work. I sure do enjoy working on this stuff, from the initial staring-off-into-the-distance phase, to scribbling out ideas on a piece of paper, making a model in the design software (which I am learning more about every day), the test prints, and then finally ending up with something that (hopefully) does the job. I was hoping to have it done by the time she left for home but I don’t think it’ll be ready – it’s been printing for 27.5 hours and still has a way to go.

J and I were both pretty tired Saturday evening. J went to bed early and I took my medication, played some STO, and watched some DS9 until I was ready to go to bed.

A bit of history… FA and I had met while we were living in the same on-campus residence at university, and we quickly became friends. When part of FA’s studies involved doing some work in the city my parents live in, they offered to let her stay there, and while she was there, they got along very well (as most people seem to do with FA). We made a couple of other trips out there, they made some trips here, and FA was part of J’s and my wedding, so my parents and FA kept in touch. After the wedding, though, things didn’t sync up very well and… I don’t think FA and my folks were in the same room for the next 17.5 years. She would ask about how my parents were, and my parents would ask how she was, but for whatever reason, the lot of us just didn’t get together.

All of this to say that Sunday was a big day – my parents were coming into town for a day visit, and FA and DM were going to come over too. I started the day off by sleeping through my alarm again, then stumbling around the house in a strange fog that was thick with dumbness and anxiety, trying to tidy up things that, really, probably didn’t need tidying. It was family and good friends, after all – people who have seen dirty plates or a table covered with junk before and still talk to us – but I couldn’t help it. I hopped into the shower to get pretty and by the time I was out, my parents had arrived and were sitting in the living room, chatting with J.

We had a very good conversation and got up to speed on how everyone is doing (the odd thing about my relatives is that quite a few of them are doing poorly but are in great spirits). It was very good to see my parents again. We talked about all kinds of stuff, J made a really amazing lunch and Mom made a fantastic apple crumble and some other kind of dessert square that I need the recipe for, and Dad and I did some investigating into a couple of house and yard projects to get an idea of how to go about it and what we’d need.

While Dad and I were out in the back yard, we met the new neighbour over the back fence. He’s not particularly new – I think he’s been there for almost a year. J met him a while ago but I’d never seen him. There’s been a chain-link fence separating our yards there since we moved in, and J was thinking about putting slats in the fence to give a bit more privacy (we had another neighbour back there up to about five years ago who we were friends with and we’d talk through the fence all the time). I was hoping to ask what the neighbours thought about it (no sense putting them in if they turn out to be the kind of people who just take them back out). We introduced ourselves, met his cute little kid and happy dog, and I asked about the slats. It turns out he was looking to do the same thing. So that worked out well!

Around 4:30PM, FA and DM arrived. Because of my own silly brain I was a little nervous, but everything went swimmingly. Lots of stories, lots of laughs, and before we knew it, the clock showed 6:30PM. I interrupted the conversation to ask if anyone wanted supper, but unfortunately, my parents wanted to hit the road and get home before it got dark. I still feel bad about that – I wasn’t trying to kick anyone out – but my folks did say earlier that they wanted to be home before nightfall. After a quick set of good-byes, my folks were backing down the driveway and drove off down the street.

J and I asked DM and FA if they were interested in staying for pizza and they agreed, and the four of us continued gabbing and having a great time until they headed out a little after 9PM.

What a day! I didn’t realize it until after their car drove out of view, but I was pooped. It was that good kind of tired, though – that fuzzy, “things are good” kind of tired. Everything had gone so well, I had such a good time, and it was wonderful to see FA and DM swapping stories with my parents. Once again, I feel kind of foolish about being nervous about everything, but that feeling is getting kind of mowed down by how good I feel about how things went and how good a time I had.

I am very, very lucky to have such amazing family and friends, and it was a wonderful thing to have family and friends together like that. I hope we can all get together again – and in less than 17.5 years this time!

Stay safe.

Let’s See What This Sphygmomanometer Can Do!

Song: “Mr Blue Sky” by ELO

Mood: 7.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

I bet that’s not a title that you see every day, eh?

I got to bed a little later than usual last night. I know I woke up three or four times worrying about things – twice was because of the dishwasher, which I was able to deal with just by looking at my normal nightly picture on my phone. Another time is a little foggier, but I think it was because of the front door and I was able to get back to sleep pretty quick. The worst one was me worrying about whether I’d left the soldering iron on, and despite not using the soldering iron at all yesterday and knowing I’d been in the room quite a few times and hadn’t noticed anything, AND knowing there’s a smoke detector in the room, I stewed and ground my teeth in the dark until I got out of bed and accidentally woke J up (I’m very sorry sweetie), and went downstairs to check in on it.

Of course it was off, both at the switch and at the power bar.

So I didn’t have the greatest sleep, but there were no nightmares or panic attacks so I still count it as a decent night.

Unfortunately, it took me a while to build up enough steam to do anything this morning. I did a mental triage on the things that I wanted/needed to get done before FA arrived, and got my priorities in order. Proud of my success in coaxing 30 or 40 brain cells to make a three-item list, I sat down on the chesterfield and promptly zoned out.

Even when I’m still half in the bag from my nighttime meds (I hate using that word but I also hate using “medications” or “pills”), a little jolt of adrenaline can get me going. Wondering why my watch was wrong… and why the clock on the shelf was wrong… and why my phone was – OHCRAP IT’S NOT THEM IT’S ME, gave me a nice kick that got me off the couch and into the shower to de-stink and get all pretty. That zap of adrenaline doesn’t last forever, though, and it certainly doesn’t make me any smarter, so I stared, mouth agape, at the kitchen and dining room for a while, before I unloaded the dishwasher, stuffed it full of dirty dishes, and went around tidying up and finding spots I could sweep crumbs under.

It wasn’t long after that that I got a text from FA saying she was going to be about half an hour late, which actually worked out pretty well for me today.

Anyway, by the time she arrived, I had the various tools and electronics and computers and wires and all kinds of stuff ready to go. FA, as always, brought delicious, delicious burritos (thank you again!!!) which we devoured after a short chat about the differences we have seen between Server/Network management and Platform Development/Support. Interestingly, had FA and I worked in the same place, we would’ve probably been the ones butting heads. Or not. Who knows!

After lunch, we talked some more about quite a few things. She brought her project device over; while it couldn’t get on the $@^&^!* network at the conference room, it did get quite a bit of attention and conversations started because of it, which is exactly what FA had hoped for. So no, it was not the utter failure I had feared, which made me feel pretty good.

The we did a little geek swap – she gave me one of her spare Arduino Leonardos and showed me how to connect it and upload programs to it (I’ve used PICs for two decades now and thought they were the bee’s knees) and I was gobsmacked at how easy it was. No dedicated programmer, tons of examples come with the software, and there are approximately eleven billion people on Earth who use Arduinos. I don’t think they’ll entirely replace PICs for me, but Arduinos are getting a drawer in a parts drawer on the workbench. As for me, I offered her two Olimex boards, which she wisely declined, and some older Raspberry Pi kit, which she took. I’m also going to replace the Pi 2 in the project device with a B+ because it doesn’t need to be fast and I don’t have a lot of the faster stuff. So that went well!

We also had a conversation about how much we had both enjoyed working on her project. I mentioned that I would be tickled if she would be interested in having me tag along on some of her other projects and I think she seemed receptive to that. It’s nice to open up my brain and geek out with FA on this stuff. And even if we’re working on our own stuff and not talking much, it’s still much more enjoyable to be in the same room where we can interrupt each other with brain farts, bad jokes, questions, or any number of other things. I do really enjoy working with FA, our brains are similar in some ways and very, VERY different in others, but I think we complement each other pretty well when it comes to generating a problem statement and coming up with a solution to satisfy that statement.

Due to my inadvertent muscle flex and subsequent blood pressure cuff explosion, J and I had a spare sphygmomanometer (minus the cuff, of course). It was eight or nine years old so we decided to get a new unit instead of just replacing the cuff. I’d never taken one apart, and I was wondering if FA hadn’t either. Plus, I had an idea last night about another project that she was hoping to do that needed a way to pump air into (and let it out of) something. We bolted downstairs to grab a bunch of tools and then went to town on the poor little Omron. Eventually, we had it broken down to the motor and valve, which we tested on the bench in the basement and they worked like a charm!

Despite the numbers on the chips being wrong/useless, FA found the datasheet for the pressure sensors that are in the meter; based on the application notes, I think we will be able to desolder one from the board, build a little circuit around it, and use it to check the pressures. Pretty cool stuff.

J got home at around 4:30PM and the three of us talked for quite a while.

Okay, I’m crashing really bad right now, I need to get to bed. Bottom line – day was good, evening was good, I enjoyed hanging out with FA, I enjoyed hanging out with J, and I rebuilt one of the RPis this evening. Not sure what’s going on tomorro yet but my parents are still coming out on Sunday. Will keep you posted.

Stay safe.