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.

All I have are negative thoughts

Tested negative for COVID on Tuesday after I got COVID-y symptoms over the weekend and my chest pain came back. Got tested. Probably just a cold or flu somehow despite seeing almost no-one. The doctor also said it could be further post-COVID complications triggered by the cold. So that’s a relief I haven’t been re-infected. Back to treading water for fitness by walking around. Haven’t felt like doing much due to shortness of breath. Taking cherbs our Chinese friends sent us: Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang. Seems to have a good effect on cold/flu symptoms, the ephedra definitely gets you going.

Ran the first session of the new Dark Heresy “season” which was very well received. Looking forward to the next one next week. Keeping on with the painting and trying new stuff like gems, lenses and camouflage.

Returning to “normal” is definitely going to take a while. The memory problems are definitely an issue for me now that my new job is ramping up. I feel lucky I am not crippled, but I am not healthy by any stretch. Still have persistent fatigue. Still have trouble walking and reduced capacity for exertion. Still having neurological symptoms like depression and anxiety. Tough being old man mode when I was the fittest I ever was this time last year. Trying not to be doomer about it. Big “why bother” feeling about work. Started reading about long term effects of the Russian flu of the 1890s and the Spanish flu of the 1920s on people. Looks like I’m in for a ride. Nevertheless, Christmas was good and I have seen incremental improvement since I’ve been sick.

2021

I usually finish a year by getting fucked up somewhere. 2020 was definitely the year that fucked me. Still on the mend after many false dawns. Back into another lockdown in Ireland with almost everything now shut. Struggling through it. New Iwata HP-BH airbrush is great, able to get a ricegrain sized line when painting and using it with inks to basecoat entire miniatures. Doing more with oil paints too, first experiments below.

done with 4 colours: red, yellow and black and white. The zorn palette. You’ll definitely find me flagellating myself cum 2022 if this shit keeps going.

Best thing to come out of 2020 was my friends painting more and adding more people to the gaming group. Never done as much painting as I have in 2020 or pushed my skills as much as I have. Very fortunate. Also a year in which my faith was challenged and it’s not as deep as I thought. But that’s OK. Still trying.

Decided to roll with it and do another remote Dark Heresy game. Should be good – probably going to retread some maps and characters I never quite to make the most of from 2017/2018. Have a good, engaged group and excited to see how they deal with the scenario and how it plays out. It’s not too bad.

yes, I’m a SIMP

  • Sysadmin
  • Implementing
  • Mediocre
  • Protocols

Still alive, still physically recovering. Able to run around town for 2 hours today while carrying bags and wearing a mask. Then go for a walk in the park. Struggling mentally though. Brain is exhausted by the last 2 weeks of Christmas prep and will they/wont they shut the country down before Christmas day. Seems we’re going into another lockdown Christmas eve as cases are spiking once again. For another 2 months. Seems there’s a more infectious strain in Europe going around, almost certainly in Ireland already. So Christmas is not cancelled per se, but it’ll be more restrained/risky. Well supplied physically, but will definitely be on the rosaries to keep going. Saying “Hail Mary” when I’m feeling down, trying to talk it out with the Falcon.

Crushed we won’t get to meet up and do tabletop RPG/beer & pretzels wargaming but a Zoom RPG is better than no RPG at this stage. Might take the time to write and edit an actual set of D100 rules. Certainly I’m well enough to do the rest of my shit then do a game for 4-5 hours. And whatever happens this Christmas, just going to try make the most of it.

Mists of Mosney Reboot

Been more than a year since I ran a STALKER: Mists of Mosney game. Looking to do some tabletop games over Christmas while we are briefly allowed visitors to the house, which will likely take the shape of Zona Alfa.

Here’s some of the Freedom stalkers I’ve sculpted hoods, masks and body armour. These I painted mostly with inks and contrast paints. I figure in the Irish Zone of Alienation they would be wearing DPM camouflage. Next step is to take better photos.

Healthwise still improving. House got repainted on the inside and new carpet down. Dog is settling down well, still some behavioral stuff to work through. Hope everyone OK.

Trepanning = post COVID cure and MOPEWOD implications

Heading into week 4 of fasting. Seen substantial improvement in exercise tolerance and reduced fatigue after exertion. Hard to say if it’s the fasting or if it’s the taking it easier. Going to keep going through December. Once you start down alt-medicine paths though, you start seeing weird shit, like drilling holes in your skull for gainzzz. Expect this to explode in the SanFran tech scene in 2-3 years or how it can increase your bench by 5lbs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1173790/

Ms Perry, who said that she began suffering with the chronic fatigue syndrome last year, said that it was something she had wanted to do for some time: “I felt the effects immediately. I generally feel better, and there is more mental clarity.”

Mr Halvorson, who runs the International Trepanation Advocacy Group and who drilled a hole in his own head in 1972, claims that the 9 mm-wide hole increased his metabolism and got rid of his depression.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/bnj4qv/drilling-a-hole-in-your-head-for-a-higher-state-of-consciousness many golden quotes in this

the epidemic of DIY trepanning is en route
“I think it’s strange that people can get sex changes but not trepanation—a simple operation.” valid point, reject the horrors of modern surgery, return to tradition

The cherbs the Falcon’s Chinese “sister” sent arrived, seems to be a cold and flu remedy the Chinese government was sending out to expats along with masks. Does apparently work. Next time I get sick though I am reaching straight for the drill.