Hiatus – A gap or interruption in space, time, or continuity; a break

There has been a short gap in my blogging – assuming you can define three weeks as short. Normal service will now be resumed. Please fasten your seatbelts, place trays in the upright position.

It amazes me that airlines used to also say “Please extinguish cigarettes”. Really? You could smoke on a plane? In an enclosed space, speeding through the atmosphere thousands of feet above the ground.

Not only that, but back in the day, the medical profession actually recommended that people smoked. The Journal of the American Medical Association published its first cigarette advertisement in 1933 only after careful study, claiming that its cigarettes were “Just as pure as the water you drink… and practically untouched by human hands.”

Wow, it is amazing how things have changed. And I hasten to add, I am not really that old, the quote was located with the help of my friend Google.

Spare a thought for a moment for what life was like back in 1933. The first world war had been the “war to end all wars”. The roaring twenties had been a time of great prosperity. And then the great depression had hit, unemployment reached new heights (up to 25% in the US, 20% in the UK). People were struggling to feed themselves across the globe.

Germany was in no position to repay the incredibly high and unrealistic reparations and fascism took hold. But not just fascism. Socialism was in full swing and the working men and women across the world were swayed by the ideals of communism.

It was a tumultuous time.

Can you tell I just finished reading “Winter of the World Part 2” by Ken Follet? I read the first installment last year in hardback. This year, I happened across part 2 at the ripe old price of 20p for the Kindle version on Amazon. I damned good read, though I felt a bit bad for Ken. After all, he writes a very good yarn and no doubt spent a long time crafting the story.

All the above puts my own struggles and strife in perspective. We have never, ever, had it so good materially. We have freedoms and technology unimaginable by our forefathers. And we have a duty to make sure those freedoms are not chipped away, eroded, by increasing attempts from politicians to turn democracies into police states, with every thing we do recorded and monitored. These freedoms were hard won.

Hmmm. That was a bit heavy for a Monday morning! I suggest you go have a smoke or a very strong coffee, laced with caffeine and sugar. You might need it.

The long weekend

The urge is strong this morning. Two, mutually exclusive urges. I feel like smoking. Smokers know what I mean. The sort of thing where you strike up and inhale each time like it was your last. And I feel like firing up the bike and going for a blast. Not a potter around town. The type of ride where you take the bike through the twisties at the limits, the limits of the bike, with pegs scraping, and the limits of your ability. This weekend though, I’m going to be doing neither.

I dont remember the last time taking some time off work. In fact, we are in the second half of the year and I have four weeks of untaken leave. I had been saving them for the transplant operation, but that isnt happening. So last night, I set my out of office notice, shutdown the laptop and started my long weekend.

We are shooting off later today (in the tin can, not on the bike) for a weekend away. We both need and deserve it. My wife is tired, work has been tough on her too these past few months.

First though. I have an appointment with my doc and then a trip to hospital to see the consultant.

Then we are out of here.

Hiatus…changes….and I slipped

When I started this blog, I intended to blog about the process of donating a kidney to my sister. As time went on, I found myself blogging about different things that life presented me with. I started to record my thoughts and feelings which isn’t something I would normally publicly air, though this medium provides a degree of anonymity. And as part of the living donor process, I blogged about my research on giving up smoking, along with the daily happenings as I gave up after nearly 30 years of smoking every day. This latter part had to happen really. I was up to between 30 and 40 a day and had began to feel short of breath when climbing stairs and other similar activities.

Over the last four or five days, I’ve took a hiatus from blogging. After finding out that I could not donate and sharing the news with my family, I had something of a downward spiral. But life goes on. Chin up as my Dad used to say when we were kids. Her preparation for dialisys will continue and there are a few possible donors.

I had a few cigarettes too. Perhaps this was a little dumb, but I found myself craving a smoke even more that when I initially gave up. That caught me unawares, after nearly five weeks I hadn’t anticipated that. So over the course of a day I smoked three. Less than half of three actually. Part way through each one, I asked myself what was I doing. They werent particularly nice, or foul, and certainly werent making me feel any better. That was a few days ago now, so I am back on the wagon so to speak.

I did some research for my sis. She doesn’t use the internet and had a question about whether someone close to her would be in a position to donate. So I read alot of things about being a living donor. Stuff I had purposefully avoided in the past. Which included the risk and chances of different illnesses happening to the donor. I hadn’t been completely blind to them. At my initial session at the donor clinic the nurse went through all the different risks, some of them were surprisingly high, but it was information overload and frankly, I didnt want to know the percentages. I’d made the decision and had to trust that they new what they were doing, that they wouldn’t be proceeding if the risks became untenable. During my research the night before last, the thing that stood out for me was the chance of a stroke or heart related problem. The NHS page states 1.8%. That seems pretty high. And it makes sense of why they are not willing to proceed with my donation.

This blog will continue. As my sister begins dialysis and searches for another donor, I will record what I can here, along with other thoughts. I do want to thank everyone for their kind wishes, it is been heartwarming and uplifting to receive them.

Chin up.

Cigarettes and alcohol

Friday I went to the docs. I’d been earlier in the week for the nurse to take even more blood. I was surprised, as I had expected to see the doctor then and I thought the medical profession had ceased the practice of leaching patients some years ago. The nurse told me there where some concerns over my liver function, so I had to make a fresh appointment for Friday to see the doc. She didn’t know why she was taking blood, thought there might have been some kind of mix up, but took some anyway.

Fast forward to Friday. The doc is new to the surgery, a pretty young asian woman, who tells me I have enzymes in my liver which are causing it to work way too hard. She asks me what medication I am on. Strange, I thought she would know that. We go through the list of tablets and the doc starts leafing through a medical book, presumably looking for any mentions of side effects that might cause this liver issue. I guess it was inconclusive, as she asks me how much alcohol I drink. One to two bottles of red wine over a weekend, I reply. So she asks me to abstain for a fortnight.

I wasn’t particularly happy, first cigarettes, now alcohol. I may have to find myself some new vices! Did I mention that giving up smoking can be hazardous to your health.

Friday and Saturday evenings have been drink free. I’d like to say I feel better each morning for it, I don’t.

No worries though, I took the bike out a couple of times yesterday. The first outing was a short trip around my local town. The second, 60 mile round trip to see a relative. Hence my Oil and Petrol post. I’m feeling a combination of my age and some wanderlust I guess.

I read this on Four Corners Bike Ride blog this morning and it is one of the things I love about riding – a lot of cars will ease over to let a motorbike past. I do it myself when in my tin can. Whether it is motivated by people being polite or just not wanting to have a bike sat behind them, it’s a nice feeling as a rider. Though it does encourage you to zip along a little faster.

Speaking of the Four Corner Bike Ride blog. I’m watching this fella’s endeavours closely. It’s something I’d like to do next year. Perhaps camping with the occasional hotel or B&B when I need a little luxury. The wife is up for it. I can’t see me doing it on the kwaka though. It has no fairing, only the flyscreen that I’ve added. It does help, but not enough for long distances at speed (not that I ever go over 70 officer, honest!).

So I am continuing to put my cigarette money to one side towards a newer bike, preferably a Suzuki V-Strom. It seems like my weekend wine money ought to go into that fund too.

Sometimes SharePoint smokes….

or sometimes I wish it would, in a nice little funeral pyre, dowsed in petrol! That I can light a cigarette from! Ok, I will forgo the cig.

Today has been just a tad frustrating. There are some requirements for my app to integrate with Microsoft SharePoint (also known as MOSS). I knew this would be needed when I started on the application, though I expected it to be necessary after version 1.0 was rolled out. Requirements change though and it looks like we need our own backup strategy to supplement the company one.

The challenge with SharePoint is there are many different ways of doing this, depending on what version you are working with, which development environment you have installed, and which SDK tools you have. Most appear mutually exclusive and the documentation is pretty awful, which is unusual for Microsoft. It reminds me of MS Site Server which I have programmed applications for before and I suspect that’s part of the problem here. It feels like an evolution of MSSS, something that has grown in an organic way, rather than designed from the ground up with a clean application interface.

With all the different versions of tools and SDKs, even the forums provide little help.

Still, I have the skeleton code working now, it didnt take a few hours, it took all day and isn’t quite as far along as I had hoped. But we persevere. I made progress and got it doing what it needs to do.

Take that SharePoint. And I know, that a month ago, I would have burnt through a full pack of smokes today. Easily. Staring intently at the screen, not even acknowledging how many I lit up. This is pretty impressive actually. I got my head around the interface. And I haven’t really had the burning yearning for a cigarette. Despite the headache it has been, today has been another good day.

Me and SharePoint will have a rematch one day soon I am sure.

Quickie at the clinic

In and out. Quickly. This is exactly how it ought to be.

Arrived at the cessation clinic at (high?) noon. Quick chat, carbon monoxide levels at 2ppm (for which I blame the bus belching out diesel fumes that I passed on the walk down), new prescription for another week of Nicorette patches. Left at 5 past the hour. Job done.

Life as a non smoker. What do I do, now that I have all this extra free time? I am so much healthier for it too. I feel a cooked breakfast coming on to compensate.

Happy Friday

Thank crunchie it’s Friday.

What does Friday mean to you?

The weekend approaches. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, mostly, when I am not having to work so hard to convince people that certain things are good things – people really do get precious about what “belongs” to them. Yesterday was a good day catching up with a number of people who I enjoy spending time with at the office. It was great seeing them. I had a couple of very productive meetings and although there are some challenges ahead, I have some clear definition of how we plan to overcome them.

My two week stint of staying off my motorbike for medical reasons are almost over. I admit, I took it for a quick spin last week, but it was just that, a quick spin and for the majority of it, on a private road.

And I’m almost through my fourth box of Nicorette patches – the cravings come and go, but still smoke free. Mental note to self – need to go to the cessation clinic in the morning and get a repeat prescription.

These things make me happy. Though I keep it well hidden.