Saturday, February 28, 2015

When It Feels It Is All Crashing Down Around You...

This past weekend, my group had a major deployment.  Over all, I take my hat off to my group.  The project was fast tracked from the April date we all agreed to this past weekend.  There are still some issues here and there that need to be ironed out, but seriously, this huge project needed the additional time.  Therefore, what the team was able to do and test, it was amazing.

At the same time, Mother Nature decided to give North Texas one last shot at winter with several days of very cold, nasty weather.  Now, honestly, I prefer the cold to the hot.  In Texas, you experience both.  Those that love the heat, love the summer months.  I love the fall, winter, and spring months, but despise summer.  Sunday started the freezing rain and sleet, so that on Monday, the roads were icy.  You can bet I stayed home and worked.  I was thankful for having a job that allowed me to do that.  I would have taken a vacation day, otherwise.

During the course of the past couple of weeks, my laptop has had one problem or another.  During deployment, my mouse would not allow me to "focus" on various window areas.  I spent Monday with tech support trying to sort out that issue.  Yesterday, I ran into the issue where the system said the trust between the laptop and the domain had failed.  Next, Outlook was hosed.

Since the weather was nasty most of the week, I worked from home.  The dogs were pretty happy about that.  However, there were those times I dreaded having to walk them.  I have no idea who designed this apartment complex, but I have to scratch my head.  The streets are not flat.  As you drive around the complex, you notice that many of the driveways slope downward.  When the driveway gets iced over, I do not dare try to back out of my garage.  I have seen people struggle with trying to get their vehicles into closed in driveways with the roads are icy.  Probably the most amazing - watching cars come around the sloped downward road corner where my apartment resides.  The cars slide from the top of the road right into the corner.

So, that is why I dread walking the dogs - sloped streets and ice mean a good possibility of sliding.  That was exactly what happened last night.  Bo and Chloe were in a hurry to get back to the apartment and had not realized I lost my traction cleats during our walk.  I slid and fell right on my knee.  I had trouble just getting traction to get up - I kept falling down.  Sadly, no one in my neighborhood came out to help.  I scooted across the road to the corner where my apartment is, then there was enough snow for traction to get up.  I put the dogs back into the apartment, then went in search for my traction cleats.  

I found the cleats and returned home.  My left knee was telling me how bad that fall really was, so I tried to sit down and give it some rest.  Yeah - that was not happening.  Bo jumps in my lap and starts licking me like there is no tomorrow.  That is usually his signal to you that he needs to go back outside and poop.  Yep - that was exactly that and I just broke down.

I got my clothes back on and ran him outside to do his business.  I came home and tried to eat my dinner.  That was an ordeal due to both dogs acting like my soup should be their meal.

What upset me was that the things I really want/needed to get done were not getting done.  Next Friday, I will get U-Verse installed and I seriously need to work on the apartment.  Between work and the dogs, nothing is getting done.  As I sit here writing this, I am looking around at where to start.  

Sometimes, everything builds up and overwhelms me.  Last night, I took a friend's advice.  I fixed myself a small drink and just sat in silence.  I am not saying alcohol solves problems - that is not the point.  The point for me is just relax and reflect.  Realize that sure, it seems like everything is falling apart, but be thankful for what you have.  

It is just time to put down boundaries and get stuff done.  Also, I want to get a house, but I doubt it will be this year.  I need to stop thinking negative about that and my weight.  I may have to wait, but as I work towards it, the wait will be worth it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

*Whine* Back Problems Stink...

Since June 2014, I have all sorts of different back problems.  Initially, the glutes and back would tighten up so much that walking was impossible.  Just the idea of the pain involved with walking the dogs was horrendous.  

Now, my problem is that the glutes and quads get so tight that it hurts.  The back is not so much involved and I try to figure out ways to stretch out those muscles and take Bayer Back and Body Extra Strength.  The medication does not work, really.  Sometimes, it does, but most of the time, it is taken in vain.

Last night, I went to 1310 The Ticket Ticket Stock to watch the "Time Wasters."  Basically, it is a show put on by the radio's show hosts, producers, and other members.  They all perform cover songs or mock up songs for various bits.  I had been once before, but got interrupted all through out it for work issues.  Never seems to fail - work has a major release whenever the station does Ticket Stock. 

I decided I needed to go and met up with an old high school friend there.  We got to stand in front of the stage to watch.  The suck part is that there are no chairs, so we were standing the entire time.  My back was killing me.  I finally ran to the bathroom just to sit down - man, the relief!  

I grabbed a couple of waters for my friend and me and went back to my spot, but I did not last much longer.  I finally left the area and found some place where I could sit.  I suffered walking back to the car as well as walking the dogs.  I was not a happy camper.  I would have been fine with the sore feet, but my back!  Give it up!

This morning, I had a lot of trouble just walking and had issues walking the dogs.  I had to go to the grocery store to do the bi-weekly shopping.  I kept putting it off and finally got my act together and got it done.  After fighting with the other customers and such, I found that my back area stopped hurting.  

I would be so much happier if I could find something that worked every time to prevent this pain.  It is so annoying.

Technology Frustration Update...

I finally figured out how to manually clear that one troubling transaction.  Now, I am able to keep my iPhone and PC transactions synced.  Nothing more frustrating than have that one odd transaction throwing off your balance.

As usual, I was about to post the dumb question on the "Quicken Community" when I started playing about with the program.  I noticed that I had to do the following:

  • Deleted the transaction from the PC data
  • Added the transaction back and tried to do a match via sync with on-line banking
  • Transaction still did not have an automatic match, so highlighted the transaction
  • Went to the "Edit" selection at the top of the screen, then clicked on "Transaction"
  • Selected "Reconcile" and hit "Cleared"

That did the trick.  

However, I am still keeping a careful eye on what happens next.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Technology Frustrations...

It seems that this never fails.  When you depend on technology, processes and such go fine, then BOOM!  Something funky happens.  It keeps me thinking that we truly have "Ghosts in the Machine."  Strange creatures that cause mayhem and havoc with our regular lives.

Seriously, it is always something.  For work, a McAfee or Windows Update screws up my VPN access to work.  It is taking a week to get my work laptop fixed.  In the meantime, I have not been able to connect to work from home.  In hindsight, that may not be a bad thing.  However, there are times I need to work from home, so that part does stink.

A few weeks ago, I got the latest Quicken program.  I installed and configured the PC portion, then made sure I had the iPhone app available.  Overall, it has been truly helpful to keep me in line with my spending habits.  That was the main purpose for having the software.  The unfortunate part is that twice I have had the iPhone app completely out of sync with the PC or on-line balance.  It is really weird.

The first time, the iPhone balance showed that I had $1000 less than what my on-line bank balance was showing.  When I investigated this really huge mistakes, I found that it was caused from mismatches between my entries and what was downloaded.  Ugh.  I had to reconcile everything until it matched.

This morning, I woke  up and remembered that I needed to add a transaction to my iPhone app.  The balance showed $-290.00.  That woke me up!  

Again, I researched the issue and it was double transactions again.  Now, this may be just the early start of the program's learning on matching the transactions, but talk about annoying!  The software is supposed to help you with your daily tasks - not cause you an early heart attack.

Here is to hoping these types of frustrations die down soon...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Financial - Starting Over With Monitoring...

I think we are always looking for the easiest way to get mundane, repetitive things done.  I have gone from keeping a checkbook, using banking software products, and finally, checking my balance on-line.  I seem to do much better at managing my finances with banking software products.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I used a Palm device to sync up transactions.  Basically, it was an electronic checkbook, calendar, and note taking device for me.  However, when the "smart phone" age appeared, Quicken had issues with syncing transactions.  Apple was not willing to open up about how its sync process worked.

Since that time, I have tried going back to just using Quicken on the computer, but I always bomb out at the end.  Every reason in the world not to record my transactions or keep the electronic check book balanced.  

Now, Quicken has a fix for the sync-ing issue - using the cloud to help maintain your transactions.  I figured it was time to give it a go.  I have been looking over my 401K and pension plans - basically, trying to figure out how to make more money for retirement.  Also, I am on this spending fast and like with a diet, I have fallen off a couple of times.  Now, I need to really crack down before it goes out of control.

I have installed the software and it downloaded all of my accounts from my bank.  I will still go through all of my accounts and take a monthly look at everything to see how I am doing.  My hope is that as my balances go down, so will my weight.  Sort of funny how to link finances to my weight, but as I cook more and more at home, I should see more of a reduction in both areas.  I won't be going out to eat as much.  Also, I should be eating better.

My plan at this time is to get the Quicken app installed on my iPhone - it's free!.  This way, I can look over what transactions and see where I am.  I really think that this will help me as it had done in the early 2000s.  I paid to see my FICO and was astonished at the number.  Actually, I was pretty ashamed, so I got off my backside, quit using cards, and used cash to pay for dining out as well as paid off various cards with my bonus money.  This year, bonus money is going into a separate account for the pets.  This way, I have an amount set aside for their needs and I am not charging all of the time. 

At the same time, I am still putting away money as part of the cash jar program.  I am also looking to squeeze a little extra money to cover seeing my trainer.  I borrowed some money from my savings account to get 6 weeks of 1 hour training sessions.  Luckily, I only see my trainer for 30 minutes, so that expands the sessions.  Still, my justification for the trainer is that I am seeing positive changes.  Also, this is for my health.  I need to take time out and go into the gym to take a class or just walk/lift weights.  That part I have not been doing.

In the end, the goal is to break down the debt and get it paid.  I got a great deal on the Quicken Deluxe software - normally $80 and got it for $44 and it is the current copy.  So, I start off the year on the right foot - sorting out the financial woes and get healthy financially and physically.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Interesting Game Take-Aways...

Well, I would say that SimCity BuildIt has done the job I had intended for it to do.  Basically, get me off of FaceBook and quict investing myself into other people's drama.  I feel much better for it emotionally.

The game fascinates me in having to plan out how you build your city and getting community feedback.  The Sims will tell you when the roads need to be upgraded or if they need more parks.  All of which takes "money" that you earn as a mayor to pay to build.  

Generally, speaking, I stay in the 100% approval by all Sims.  I also found that there is a bit of difficulty in getting some things built.  Sure, I can have a certain number of factories, but if certain commodities are needed, I can only build so many at a time.

Example - A Chair:

Construction pieces:
Nails <- Have to have those constructed from iron
Hammer <- Have to have those constructed with iron and wood

Mind you - when you "build" something in a store, you have to put in a queue.  Nails take 5 minutes to construct.  A hammer takes 30 minutes to construct.  Concrete - 3 hours.

You have cargo ships to fill with needed items and have 18 hours to load them.  Also, there are various people wanting items and depending on what you have on stock, you get a certain amount of money for them.

The game provides a real look at reality.  How real life can be regarding the commodities we need and what we do to get the money and how to build.  At the same time, it is pretty frustrating.  

Gotta Take Charge of My Health...

On Thursday night, I went to the Stars game with a couple of friends and my father and his girlfriend.  When I sat in the seat, just that one action reminded me of how lax I have been regarding my health and weight control.  I had such a difficult time just getting in and out of my seat.  In the process, I have a nasty bruise on the inside of my thumb.  Bad enough I have developed a trigger finger issue in my right hand, but now, dealing with this bruise - major ouch.

I sat down and really tried to analyze what it was that I am obviously failing.  For one thing, I have not been properly planning.  I have gotten pretty lazy about that part.  I usually do well if I plan all of my meals.  That way, it is all thought out and no last minute decisions.  

I have been getting food out more than I should.  Now, I have tried to be better at it, especially with the spending fast.  However, the honest point, I failed there.  I just need to quit succumbing to the easy out and remember I need to save money.  I will say this much, I did not charge any of those meals on my credit card, so that is a good.

I have gone over correct portions.  I am not measuring my food as I should.  For example, I made the chicken parmesean with pasta and broccoli dish on Monday night.  I got the recipe from Cooking Light.  I did not fix the pasta with their tomato sauce, but used just stewed tomatoes with Italian seasonings.  Not really much of a difference there, but I over did it with the pasta itself.  I had more pasta than anything else and it should have been more broccoli, a little pasta, and the chicken.  I got carried away - damn my addiction to breads and pastas.

The other thing that is missing - exercise.  Now, here is where I am going to moan and groan a bit.  Every morning, when I get up, I have to walk the dogs.  There are no "ifs", "ands", or "buts" about the matter.  You have to do it - it is non-negotiable or you get the fiercest telling off by a dog ever!  The part I hate and it may be the bed or how I sleep, but I get up and my glutes and quads are like a really squeaky wheel.  Those muscles hurt and ache.  It takes a long time to get that pain to stop.  Then, there is the sharp back pain.  All of it is annoying, then I try to get my steps done.  This week, I only had one day where I got 10,000 steps done and that was Tuesday.

To make matters worse, I feel I am letting down my trainer.  Now, that really bothers me.  So my positive approach to all of this is to start trying to be better today.  If anything, just get the steps done because every little bit will help.  

Lastly, my water consumption goes from good to lack luster.  I need to drink more water, but lately, I have fallen back on drinking diet sodas.  I know that is no good for me.  I have been trying more "sparkling waters" to try to wean myself off of sodas altogether.  I have to keep working at that because I truly believe and know that more water in my system is the key.  It is the key to lowering my blood sugar as well as keeping me full and preventing me from eating too much.  Nothing like feeling bloated to keep  you from eating everything in sight.

So, here is to a week of trying harder.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Looking for New Experiences...

One of the things I love to do is try new/different restaurants, see new/interesting places, and do something different from the ordinary.  At the first of this past month, Random Cathy and I went down to the Bishop Arts area for dinner, check out my co-worker's partner's art gallery, and get a drink.  Upon the wise advice of my co-worker, we passed on getting a cider at the local cider house.  From what I have read since that visit, the cider house is not doing so well.  That is just a shame.

During the week, I received a Plano news flyer.  The flyer contained several new restaurants and such that had opened in the area.  I contacted Cathy regarding Fire Crust Pies since the article indicated vegan options.  As I looked further into the flyer, I found lots of interesting openings and happenings in the Downtown Plano area.

Downtown Plano has been undergoing a huge cultural change.  I love to visit Urban Crust.  The pizzas there are delicious.  I would like to try the smoke house that opened up down from Urban Crust as well as the Tex-Mex cantina.  

Also, while I was doing some cleaning, I came across a JoAnn's class guide.  I thought I might go through that and see what classes I could take there.  I also came across the Collin County Community College Continuing Education course flyer.  In addition to computer course, there are art classes as well as cake decorating classes.  That would be really cool.

One thing a co-worker and I used to do back before I had Bo, we would go to Whole Foods off of Preston in Richardson for vegetarian cooking classes.  That was a lot of fun.  The instructor would show how to create various meals and provide the recipes.  I still have the recipes around here.

Time to look for another experience for this coming month.