Good stuff for a change

So I’ve got the Insignia now. Major upgrade from the Micra which is beginning to give a lot of trouble with the clutch. The Falcon will keep the Micra for learning to drive. Insignia needs new tyres which I have booked for tomorrow, going for some premium-ish Pirelli ones as I need them ASAP. There was some Hankook tyres which were slightly more expensive, but they weren’t in until next week. €135 fitted each for 4. Figure it’s worth it. Also booked a service and oilchange today, as the Insignia seems to be split into two camps, those who hate it and those who service regularly and like it.

We had planned to go away to Spain, but we completely forgot our passports were out of date. I renewed mine and got it in two days thanks to the spirits of Franco and O’Neill (Hugh, Eoin) looking out for my Spanish blood. The Falcon will be waiting to the end of the month if she’s lucky. Heading instead around Ireland for the week on holiday, hence checking the car is in good shape is key.

Got the house valued and starting to look at other places in Dublin, with a view to move in 2022. The house has appreciated 13% since we bought it 3 years ago. Our place is pleasant and well located for parks, schools and amenities, but very small for two people working at home with indoor hobbies like weightlifting, cake making and model making (70sqm). God knows what it would be like with kids. Options are moving out of the suburbs to the county, or moving to a newer build on the edge of the suburbs. Still want to be close to friends and family. Saw a huge house 170sqm for a really good price, thought I had recognized it from somewhere. Turns out some lad was stabbed to death outside at 7AM while trying to jumpstart his car by a neighbour having a mental breakdown. Nice place though. Here, the police raided a neighbour who was dealing drugs, but caught him with nothing. A shame, we thought they were just successful small business owners. They’d bought some cakes from us.

Mr Anglegrinder hasn’t shown up since we reported him illegally parking his lorry cab at the entrance to the estate and the police showed up. Maybe I would miss the gossip and action of fires being set, shops being smashed, general antisocial behaviour if we moved elsewhere. Maybe it’s not exactly what I’m after in a family home though when my cunt next door is out smoking, swearing and screaming down the phone all day.

Pullups: 3×6 – form much better, getting complete reps now

Dips: 3×15

pistol squats : 3×3 – better flexibility

pushups x20

DB OHP: 3×12@ 13kg

kroc row x20 : 13kg

setups 3×10

Vehicular Man’s Laughter

Should be getting the 2014 Insignia soon enough. Drove 550km in the Micra over the weekend, wasn’t the worst but is quite fatiguing. Took a break about every hour to see some sights and stretch out. Did it on pretty much a full tank (46l), but had to blast the aircon on full as we were transporting a cake and racing down. So surprisingly weak fuel economy. A diesel may be better.

Getting some physio and counseling atm to try get myself ready for a return to real life and activity. Have plans to do our Alps/walking trip next year before we start trying to have kids. Reckon it’ll give me something to work towards. I am still recovering physically and mentally, so that’s important. Mostly on three “future” fronts:

  1. Kids. Worried about long-term damage to myself from COVID, especially on the fertility front. But trying to sort a fertility test to get clarity. As if it’s going to be harder to conceive, I’d rather be trying now rather than saving for a bigger house.
  2. Work. Worries about the “why” of work and more long term plans. I spend almost no money aside from household stuff, so need to have a plan for investment outside my pension. I would like to retire earlier from full time work, potentially in my 50s and consult part time. My health has never really been great, so I’d like to enjoy myself where I can. Trying to keep painting and experimenting.
  3. The enjoyment of life is low when the past is hanging over me. Marking the present with bad memories, all the setbacks during the early stages of recovery. The worries that health is ebbing away and will never be recovered to the point it was to the mythical “before times” of COVID. So planning for the Alps trip at least gives me very real physical thresholds to cross as I train up. The first day hike that’s more than a hill with a bag> First multiday hike> Successful trip.

Going to walk at a good pace for at least 30 mins a day, in addition to the crippled pug pace on the dog walk. Going back on the intermittent fasting. Getting some physio to address the knots and paints with convalescence to try keep injury free.

gigavaxxed

I am fully vaxxed, got my digital cert. Looks like the Irish Health service are leveraging AWS. Sadly you can’t self-sign these certs like a web server can. Just before getting my second dose, I met up with someone indoors who tested positive a few days later. Thankfully I tested negative this weekend. Also met some friends in the queue to get tested, which is definitely a sign cases are still high. Who knows where that leaves Ireland with current variants of concern. In any case, while cases are high, hospitalizations are lower. Just wishing I had some Pfizer stock with the news on “booster” vaxxes. Reckoning with prior infection, and full vaccination I should have a good amount of immunity and likely avoid shitty outcomes if I get re-infected. So that’s good from a risk management perspective, but is it enough for normal life this winter when flu cases are bad. Who knows.

But my question now is where does it end? It’s my personal reckoning there’s no “freedom day”, but like 5-8 years from now, a small article gets syndicated in the media saying “last official COVID-19 case detected and contained in Nepal” or something. And then to get the clicks, they run a bunch of nostalgia articles asking if you remember working from home and uses for old masks. But maybe it never ends and smoulders until all but specialists lose track of it and the media loses interest. And it just becomes another risk to manage like crossing the road or banging someone strange.

I am glad Ireland avoided the flu pandemic scenario I examined as part of a business continuity plan in early 2020: 40-50% of people infected in the same month leading to supply interruptions and no one to do vital business functions. Much morbidity in the months and years after. As that’s what I’m seeing in the Indian teams I work with: absences due to illness, funerals etc. Did a first aid and defibrillator training last month, was chatting with people who got infected in the last few months and one was now type 2 diabetic. So while mortality was low enough here, lot of people will never be quite right after COVID. And it goes back to the risk fundamentals: overkill is way better when it comes to multiplicative risks like infectious diseases. But nobody gets their names in the papers based on prevention. It’s like NN Taleb’s imaginary example of the guy who legislates all airplanes must have lockable, bulletproof doors a year before 9/11. He gets people pissing on him for a wasteful, weighty solution to a problem that doesn’t exist or is low impact. This vulnerability never gets exploited by attackers (of course, they may have tried something else). This imaginary guy never gets any credit for preventing a 9/11 level of impact attack. Dies without even a footnote in the paper. But that safety standard wasn’t in place when it mattered, so now the requirement is written in blood. And then downstream consequences from 9/11 were world changing.

Healthwise, felt fine after the second jab, apart from nausea on the day. Nighttime tumescence more normal this week. Slight increase in energy, maybe another 5% daily. So I’m rarely getting exhausted these days. Able to work, do household stuff, and do some training. Impossible to discount the psychosomatic element of some long covid people seeing improvement after mRNA vaccines (though some saw worsening symptoms).

Still training like twice a week, rough A/B split while I get more flexibility and energy.

A – pistol squats 3×3, arnold press 3×12, DB Row or kroc row going all out for 20. Glute bridges. Stretching
B – Dips 3×15, pullups 3×5, aiming for 3×8. Goblet squats. Glute bridges

covid is stored in the balls

Seen some odd side effects from what I can only assume is the Pfizer vaxx. Started getting unusually hard, long lasting morning wood every morning. Eg. One morning about 5 days after, I briefly woke up about 5.30AM hard and was still hard when I properly woke up at 7.30AM. Maybe it’s all the sun or the increased resistance training I’ve been able to do. But it was definitely getting painful last week. Seems to be less intense this week. Not exactly sure what’s going on, but it’s off baseline. Maybe it’s the mRNA healing my dick and balls. Have the second pfizer jab this Thursday, hoping this one isn’t the one that fucks me up. Will report back soon.

Got to the beach and the mountains for a 3 hour hike in the long weekend just past. Was a pleasant temperature, you don’t mind getting wet in the clouds if it’s like 20 degree celsius. But swimming in the rain definitely takes a while to warm up after. Getting dips back up to sets of 15 and not having any chest pain after. Trying to focus on quality pullups, so knocked that back to sets of 5.

Not much else to report. Done like 3 weeks of onboarding for the new job, so looking forward to actually doing some engineering. Falcon has new job in trade publishing. Dog got an endoscopy for the vomiting and diarrhea. Biopsy was inconclusive.

Drove the Nissan Pulsar again, but warned off it by a mechanic as it’s not a “true Nissan”. The engine on that model is in fact a Renault engine with issues. Equally many people said the Insignia has bottom end issues, but hoping to avoid it on the father in law’s car as it’s been regularly serviced. Had a dream where I was driving the Insignia and got rear-ended. When I came to after the collision, I was back in the Micra and the boot was crushed into the rear seats, which actually happened to friends of ours IRL. Also seeing loads more Insignias on the road. Including one time where an Insignia followed by the Pulsar overtook me on the motorway. With second-hand prices on cars up 40% this year, buying from family still makes more sense. The poasting is more for posterity when I look back and curse myself for my choice. Perfectly healthy. Perfectly normal.

the cumSum command

Haven’t posted in a while but I’m alive and well. Started the new cybersecurity job, which is in a cool place between people, processes and technology. It’s a fair step up in scope and responsibility, but essentially I’m out to try automate a lot of bullshit from people’s lives. It’s another remote onboarding which is getting old, but none of my team are in Ireland anyway. So it’s much of a muchness at the end of the day where I work.

Thinking about getting a new car to replace the ’08 Nissan Micra which is very uncomfortable for anything more than a 20 minute drive. Both my dad and my father-in-law are looking to sell their cars. My da is looking for €6k + the micra for a ’15 Nissan Pulsar petrol hatchback with about 100km on the dial. It’s perfectly FINE. drove it about 400KM on a weekend as a test. But boring. My father-in-law is looking to sell a ’14 2l diesel Vauxhaul Insignia for €5800 with about 180km on the dial. Very comfortable to drive on my short test drive, a good bit more interesting than the Pulsar and quite luxurious. But larger again than the Pulsar as it’s a full sized car, and harder to drive for the Falcon who is learning to drive. So we’d likely keep the Micra for her until she passes her test, which could be late 2023.

I think the Pulsar would be more practical for those short hops I do around the suburbs, while it can still manage longer trips. Wouldn’t be too precious about the Falcon driving it. But the Insignia is FUN in a way the Pulsar is not. Hard to say what the best call is. I think the Pulsar is the best “value” as it’s only one car to maintain, tax and insure. But I dreamed about driving the Insignia after test driving it. So who knows, they are both pretty close which is why it’s hard to make a call.

Got my first dose of Pfizer vaxx on Sunday. Felt nauseous on the day, but felt fine after. Actually seen some improvement in fatigue on the long covid front since, which is pure broscience, but it works. I usually grade my energy 10-100%, and I’ve been about 5 or 10% better since. Able to start the new job, walk like 5km a day and deal with the bullshit heatwave in Ireland. It’s like 28 degrees here, we aren’t set up for that kind of heat at all. The dog is managing with the heat, walking her at like 10PM with the Falcon’s dogs and she’s doing OK.

There is something about the outside of a house that is good for the inside of a man.

With apologies to Churchill (or maybe Regan?).

The NEET life is going well. Doing a lot despite being unemployed: interviewing a few times a week, gardening and walking about the so called east province of Ireland. Working on my tan. In a rare stroke of civic genius, South Dublin County Council put gymnastic bars up in our local park, so I’ve been training up to get back on the rings. Struggling with fatigue that is 80% psychological. I know because I can feel too exhausted to move, then turn sods for 2 hours in the baking heat (baking is relative, given Ireland’s usual temperatures). Got a BBQ and using it way more than anticipated. All signs point to an outdoor summer here, and we spent the long weekend staggering from BBQ to BBQ. Forgetting to drink beer which I need physiologically to relieve muscle tension. A single pint is usually enough every few days. Ireland is slowly exiting the longest, strictest lockdown worldwide by some measures. Does a person a lot of good to see friends and family organically. Also able to have vaccinated friends over to play some tabletop games.

For my next job, I’m trying to get more specialised work on a larger, mature cybersecurity team. Have a few more roles in the pipeline, but some haven’t worked out. I’ve been interviewing for Security Engineers or Cloud Security Engineer roles mostly, had a few more policy and procedure roles, but not quite a match for those yet. Still have more technical road to run before I tap out of sanity and skill. One very interesting role in a fintech place doing cybersecurity automation, which is two of my big passions. Another is with Micro$oft, on their IAM implementation team for fortune 500 clients. Really enjoyed talking with their team, their security suite has matured a lot since I was using it in 2017-2019. But still worried about the psychological effects of the last year, so I have been chilling the fuck out where possible. Getting a siesta in.

Healthwise I am down to 74kg which has left me very lean, so trying to increase my calories to match my increased activity. Able to do 3×8 sets of pullups and 3×10 dips on bars. Doing bodyweight squats as I try get some flexibility back before putting myself under load.

Getting out v2

So my job is officially over as of last week. Signed on to unemployment benefit and happy enough to be going. And some other good stuff I can’t talk about due to NDA. So it’s not a washout. Likely going to take some time to chill before going full throttle on the job hunt. Done 3 interviews so far, getting recruiters chasing me constantly for security roles. So it won’t be an issue finding something. Thinking about contracting on a daily rate too. Pretty tired of working tbh, 2020 was a tough year. So I’ll likely take the next month off to play videogames, landscape the garden and see people.

Health still on the up, went for a few longer hikes amidst all the job bullshit. Able to keep up with daily tasks and do some strength work. Restrictions are easing here at last, going to be playing some tabletop games this weekend. Playing in another RPG currently, which is different. Trying to get back in touch with people after 2020 wiped me out. Helped the Falcon’s extended family getting a 3d printer working correctly. Wasn’t a mechanical issue, was a user education one from the sounds of it. They were trying to print it on an edge, and not with the largest flat piece on the bed.

Not a whole lot to say apart from still alive. Dog’s joints are much improved after the antibody therapy. So she is less whiny and reactive. Able to walk her on a longer leash and let her interact with other dogs.

Creative destruction

My workplace announced last week it’s cutting 50% of staff. Hazards of being in a startup. My job is potentially being cut, will find out soon enough. There’s a 30 day consultancy period in Ireland where staff bargain to keep jobs or secure a redundancy package before they give us official notice. I’m using these 2 months to study and apply for new jobs. Not going to wait around to see what happens even if I get kept. I’m likely getting nothing from redundancy. It’s a shame, liked the work, the pay and liked my team. Senior management say the business model is a casualty of COVID and they are pivoting to another aspect of the business. Whatever their reasoning, I think it’s foolish to cut infrastructure staff from 2 to 1 to save a relative pittance v the monstrous cost of their hosting. When people go en masse, you lose organisational knowledge that can’t be replaced easily, especially in a complex and fast moving industry. Seen it happen before in another company, but they survived so far. Best not to worry about it and keep swimming.

Going to try get something more cybersecurity or information security based this time. As much as I like tooling about with networking and operations, my technical skillset is aging. I don’t have the devops mindset and can’t dedicate loads of time keeping up with the people in their 20s who do. Maybe it’s time to lean on the soft skills more. That and finish a Python course for once in my life. Been trying for 5 years to finish one. Never had a problem I couldn’t solve with bash and powershell. But definitely see the power in infrastructure as code now I work with config management like Ansible. And the “sysadmin” doing virtualization and managing machines individually is dying. Now the job roles are either SRE, devops or security. The old skillset doesn’t get you the cash you used to.

Still having chest pain I associate with pericarditis, but it has been cold and snowy here the last week, which usually triggers it. Did 5 hours of work in the garden powerwashing the drive and garden patio over the weekend. Involved moving about 200kg of stone slabs we had spare. Agony of DOMS the next day as it’s most I’ve lifted in a year, but able to manage. Did 3×10 sets of dips the day after. No chest pain. After two days of rest, moved all the paving stones back. No DOMS today after. Definitely a wakeup call to use it or lose it long term. Can’t hang onto the ultimate excuse of COVID forever. Unless they try conscript me for WW3 or the renewed Irish civil war. Deffo not getting carbombed or kneecapped while trying to be a cyberwarrior for the EU military.

1 year post-COVID infection

On St. Patrick’s day last year I developed a fever and a new cough. Next day, I lost my sense of taste and smell and had trouble breathing. My fatigue wasn’t too bad at that stage. I couldn’t get tested as the country was overwhelmed. 2 weeks later, I was feeling nearly normal. But then at the start of May, I began to feel really shit once again, and spent much of May in bed with fatigue and shortness of breath. My GP sent me for a COVID test in May as the first surge was over and they had capacity. An army lad from my area checked me in to the test center, which was beside a Navy ship in Dublin. I at last got a positive test a few days later. My doc put me on an inhaler, which helped with the shortness of breath. But by the start of June, I was having more and more chest pain on any exertion. This ended up being inflammation around my heart after the viral infection. I took 6 weeks off work. When it didn’t resolve after 2 weeks, I was in for about 5 months of chronic chest pain. By Christmas I was mostly recovered thankfully, but it did flare up and down. A year on, I am mostly back to myself, but it’ll take some time to get fit again. Great news is I’m young and have plenty of time. Trying to see the good in the year:

  • I at least painted a shitload of models and got genuinely better at it.
  • I can still do 3 pullups.
  • At last moved to working full time from home.
  • Got a dog
  • New job and CISSP
  • great relationship with wife and family in law
  • Managed to run a few remote RPG campaigns and had fun with some new friends.
  • Got the lifetime excuse for mopewod: oh yeah, I had COVID so I can’t bench/squat/deadlift like I used to.

The not-so-good:

  • Didn’t get to play any tabletop games with the minis I painted, frustrating as I was hoping to game loads before settling down for kids
  • unknown long term complications of COVID, especially on fertility
  • Played League of Legends
  • loss of faith/purpose as life became about convalescence and mere survival

A year in which I really grew up and became an adult. A year in which I was tested in every aspect but still kept the show on the road. A year when I was often scared of dying, but at least I wasn’t bored or hopeless. Hoping by next Paddy’s Day things are improved personally and worldwide.

turning a corner

Seem to be on the mend from COVID/pericarditis now. Had a few weeks almost pain free, just one day at a 4/10 pain. Walking speed back up, recovering faster from exercise. Feel like I have more of a reserve of energy and I’m able to do my job, do housework, walk the dog and then do something like talk to friends.

Have painted about 40 of these walls with oils and acrylics. Heavily inspired by a rusted boiler unit in a warehouse we were taking over. I was tracing cables through it as the previous network engineer refused to give us a map and access keys to the equipment unless we paid an extortionate sum. Had to crawl around the emergency escapes to find the switch. A nice amount of contrast without “popping”. Enjoyed blending the oils and getting a wet, organic feel to the rust and staining. The religious statues are inspired by street shrines I saw in Seville.

I usually say all this before I take a turn for the worse, but the bad episodes are getting easier. Nearly a year in, hoping it’s coming to an end and I can start to recover. In other sad news, in touch with a few people with similar heart pain through the web and they are not improving. Keep saying it’s only a matter of time.

Battery died in the car out of nowhere, suppose it was 13 years old. Was due to go into the office, but non-essential. Dead even after getting charged and then driven for an hour at high speed. Father in law helped me replace it, appreciate all the help they’ve given us. Helped them by cleaning a winter of dog shite from the garden, so glad I can pay them back in some way. Car is due to get tested next week, so they can certify it roadworthy to drive for the next year. The dreaded NCT. So for the best it happened now and not on the morning of the test.

Am thinking of getting a newer car, but I do so little driving these days, it’s hardly worth it. Maybe in 5 years, the next-gen electric cars will be affordable second hand. And the technology will be more mature. And they’ll have figured out if it turns your frogs gay or whatever. Just another 4 weeks until they start to roll back the lockdowns in Ireland for the summer. Granny and sister got vaccinated. Neither have cold-called me asking if I’ve considered Microsoft Azure over AWS for my corporate cloud computing. Slowly inching towards fun and real life again.

Neighbours began making noise again by running an angle grinder all afternoon on the weekend, but heard them say they would be wrapping up before dinner so we wouldn’t complain. So our threats last summer to take them to court for nuisance registered.