Taking Back My Internet and Social Media Presence

From The Internet, social media, and me.:

When I look at my posts on my blog from 11 years ago I feel as though I’ve lost something vital to my writing because of social media services. My posts on my site resonate with me much more than my posts on Facebook do. And that’s assuming that I can even find my posts on Facebook. What I realize is that I no longer feel like a creator, I’m back to feeling like a passive user. It’s not that I don’t make things and put them on the Internet, but I don’t feel as though I own them. They don’t feel as though they are mine. I am making content that either is transitory by design in the case of microblogging, or enriching a company’s product. The feeling of ownership is a subtle and tricky idea, especially when it comes to things on the Internet, but I miss it.

In the early days of the Internet, there was no widely used thing like Facebook where you could share whatever it is you wanted to share. You had to build a website, either by hand in HTML (which I did several times) or, later, using some sort of content management system (of which I tried many over the years).

I remember when my son was born and my wife and we wanted to share photos with family and friends. The way I achieved this back then was to set up a hidden URL on my website that I didn't publish anywhere except in email to those I wanted to share it with. The photos were on my server and I could easily take them down anytime I wanted. Obviously my family and friends could have reshared them, but in those days, that was much more difficult.

These days, of course, we'd use Facebook or a text message. Mostly because that's what everyone we know uses and convincing them to go use some other site they weren't already using is just too high a barrier to entry.

I've been thinking lately, perhaps along similar lines as my friend Isaac that I quoted above. While I don't see myself necessarily getting rid of social networking altogether (though the mix of services I use will change over time), I do want to feel closer to that which I create. Rather than simply pumping content into the various social media machines, with no expectation of seeing the content again, I want it all come from a single canonical location where I can take back of the control from the Twitters and Facebooks of the world.

In practice, this is going to be tough. Even this blog post is coming from a platform on a server someone else maintains, but at least 10 Centuries aligns a lot closer to my philosophy (and I pay to boot). Version 3 of the 10 Centuries platform (hopefully out soon) will bring me closer to where I want to be.

I have no issue federating some of my content to other platforms. That said, the critical stuff I want stored on my primary, central platform, whatever that ultimately will be. That way I have some assurances that I can access it again whenever I feel the need.

Notes From My Sleep Study...And My Sleeping

It's going to be another week or so before I am able to see my pulmonologist to discuss treatment options for my sleep apnea, but today I received the notes from the doctor that observed the sleep study I had last week.

First, let's start with the actual diagnosis: mild obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

What is obstructive sleep apnea? This is when you stop breathing in the middle of the night because your airway is obstructed. This happens because, when you sleep, all your muscles relax, and this includes the muscles in the throat. The soft tissue surrounding these muscles can obstruct your airway. Clearly, this is happening for me.

When you're sick, say, with a cold or a throat-related infection, even people without sleep apnea can have temporary issues with their sleep. This is because things in the mouth and throat are inflamed or have additional mucous that can restrict the airflow. This might be one reason why sleep may not do as much for you when you're sick—you're not able to sleep as well as normal!

One thing that can create or exacerbate issues with sleep apnea is your weight. It might explain why, more than 10 years ago when I was thinner, my snoring wasn't quite as bad and why I feel I'm sleeping better now that I've lost some weight. Being over 40 and having a large neck are also risk factors for sleep apnea.

Some symptoms of sleep apnea also include: hypersomnia (otherwise referred to as excessive daytime sleepiness, something I'm sure I have) and morning headaches. I've had morning headaches on and off for most of my adult life. The last few years, they occasionally turned into migraines, which have thankfully not been an issue in the last 6 months or so.

So what is "mild" sleep apnea versus, say, "severe"? It comes down to the number of events per hour in a given night where you either stop breathing entirely for longer than 10 seconds (apneas) or you breathe more shallowly because your airways is restricted (hypopneas). Per the Harvard Medical School, having more than 30 respiratory events per hour is considered severe sleep apnea. Less than 5 events per hour is considered "normal" (or at least not sleep apnea) with "moderate" sleep apnea being between 15 and 30 events per hour.

The number of events I had per hour? More than 5 but less than 15. That puts me in the mild category. Hopefully, this means anything I can do to treat my sleep apnea will probably help a lot. There are lots of possible treatment options, but the most common one to start with, because it is the cheapest and most effective, is a CPAP machine. Which, as I noted earlier, I already know is in my future.

Eat This, Don't Eat That, or is it Eat That, Not This?

On a recent podcast, I pointed out some of the dietary guidelines we've had been given in the last few decades was full of crap, more specifically the ones that said we should eat a low-fat diet. It generated some discussion on my Facebook timeline.

At various points in my life, I have tried to eat differently in order to lose weight. The only thing I did that approached success was Atkins, but I could not sustain it long term. Many other things I tried either didn't work at all or did only for a very short period of time and probably weren't healthy for me in hindsight.

Now that I know I am diabetic, it turns out a diet lower in carbs is what I need to not risk complications from uncontrolled diabetes. I know that being as hardcore about carbs as when I was on Atkins is simply not realistic, but I can see very clearly in my blood sugar numbers when I have too many of the wrong carbs on any given day.

Lowering my carbs, along with keeping an eye on my caloric intake and being more active has improved my weight situation. So far I'm down about 30 pounds since October, which is nothing to sneeze at, but I could lose a whole lot more.

In general, I would be wary of any dietary advice with the possible exception of the dietary advice provided by Brazil's Ministry of Health. Ultimately, you have to figure out what works for you.

You'd Think They'd Read The Laws They Pass...Or Watch The News Or Something

From Democrats seek relief from health law penalties:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The official sign-up season for President Barack Obama's health care law may be over, but leading congressional Democrats say millions of Americans facing new tax penalties deserve a second chance. Three senior House members told The Associated Press that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year. The three are Michigan's Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama's law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010. The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it's already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.

Even though I don't regularly watch my evening news, I paid attention to enough things to know two things about Obamacare (or what is more formally called the Affordable Care Act):

Now Obamacare is the law of the land and the very same Democrats who pushed Obamacare through Congress are now realizing what they signed their constituents up for—a tax they may not be aware they have to pay and may only find out about it while filing their federal income tax. And, due to the fact the Open Enrollment period is now closed for ObamaCare health plans, constituents who aren't covered by a health plan have no way to get covered. Democrats are asking for a special enrollment period to give these people a chance to get covered.

I'm not a lawmaker, nor do I play one on TV, but wouldn't anyone reading the bill before it was a law think, maybe, this would have been a good, common sense idea to incorporate? Or even better, making the Open Enrollment period coincide with tax season? Did they think their constituents would be happy with a mandatory tax for choosing not to have healthcare insurance?

Of course, with the Affordable Care Act clocking in at nearly 1000 pages, I doubt any one member of Congress actually read the entire thing, much less could accurately articulate everything it implements. Is it too much to ask to expect our Congress critters to actually read the legislation they vote to pass into law? Are there any other unintended consequences hidden in this law that haven't yet been brought to the surface? I'm sure we'll find out, I just wish we knew before it was the law of the land.

A Different Type of Sleep Mask

One of the things I don't wear at home, but often carry with me when traveling is a sleep mask. You know the kind. You wear it over your eyes so, maybe, you can fall asleep. I can generally sleep without them but it sends an important signal to my fellow travelers: I'm trying to sleep, let me be. Also, in the quest for shuteye at 35,000 feet, every little bit helps.

However, it turns out I really do need a mask to sleep. Not just at 35,000 feet, but anytime. And not just any mask, but one attached to a CPAP machine.

I generally don't have a problem getting to sleep. However, when I am sleeping, I tend to do so very loudly, as my wife will attest. Not only that, my sleep is not always restful. I'm getting better at sleeping the right amount, but clearly there's a problem.

My doctor recommended a sleep study with a particular pulmonologist in the area. I had a sleep study done some time ago, so I had an idea of what to expect. Back then, it didn't point to any treatable issues, so I had my doubts if any would be found this time around.

Despite not being woken up during my sleep study to wear a CPAP mask, which I was told was a possibility during the study, the pulmonologist called me ahead of our upcoming appointment to tell me I need a CPAP and that I should come in sooner if possible to get started right away. Sadly, between my doctor's vacation and my work travel schedule, the appointment I have already scheduled is the soonest I can see him.

For those who don't know, CPAP means Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It's a treatment that involves wearing a mask hooked to a machine that forces air into your nose and/or mouth to aid in breathing. It is used to treat sleep apnea (which I clearly have), among other respiratory disorders. This means wearing the mask while I sleep.

I briefly tried two different CPAP masks while I was awake at the sleep study. One mask covers just the nose and the other covers the nose and mouth. There are some variations within these mask types, but generally, you use one type or the other. My preference was a mask that covered both the nose and mouth based on the brief test I did. The pressure on my nose and nasal cavity felt a bit weird in both cases.

One huge issue with CPAP treatment in general is non-compliance, namely patients don't like wearing a mask to sleep. I admit the idea does not appeal to me, but like with many new experiences, I am approaching it with an open mind. Even if doesn't work for me, there are several other options.

However it turns out, I'm looking forward to getting a good nights sleep for the first time in a long time.

The Skinny Drawer

Back when I started doing Atkins more than 10 years ago, I dropped quite a bit—to the tune of 100 pounds! Naturally, when you drop weight, your clothes need to change to accommodate, so I had clothing at sizes a bit smaller than my current size.

Unfortunately, when I stopped doing Atkins, the weight eventually came back and my clothes no longer fit. Some of the clothes I got rid of due to wear and tear, others I kept, some in my closet, others in a drawer in my dresser.

I've dropped some weight as a result of actively managing my diabetes (eating habits and lifestyle changes). Nowhere near the 100 pounds I dropped on Atkins, but its a start. People have noticed and it feels good. I feel good.

That said, my pants are starting to be too big. And since I'm mostly going to be traveling for the next couple of weeks, I decided to peek in my "skinny drawer" to see if I had anything that might work a little better.

The smallest thing I have in there is a size 44 slacks. That's inches for the non-Americans, and even that is not really "skinny." Compared to where I'm at now, even a size 44 is a huge difference. I also have a couple of pairs of pants at size 48 in there, which I'm not quite small enough to wear just yet but I see me wearing those pants in the not too distant future.

My goal years ago was to get to a size 38, which is about the largest most "normal" stores go. I still think that's an achievable goal but it's going to take a while at this rate.

In short the skinny drawer was a bust. That said it was nice to get a concrete reminder of where I was, and where I know I can be if I keep working at it.

Downright Normal

It has been three months or so since I was first diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. After I saw the doctor in October, he ordered up a set of blood work to be done in January to see where I was. I did those labs earlier this week, and have results.

While the blood tests checked many different things, the only result I cared about personally was my A1C number. According to the Mayo Clinic [www.mayoclinic.org]:

The A1C test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. Specifically, the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin — a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen — is coated with sugar (glycated). The higher your A1C level, the poorer your blood sugar control and the higher your risk of diabetes complications.

So what should the number be?

For someone who doesn't have diabetes, a normal A1C level can range from 4.5 to 6 percent. Someone who's had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time might have an A1C level above 8 percent.

When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes.

The number I had in October was 7.9. This week: 6.3. This is a very good sign what I'm doing to keep my diabetes under control is working.

This week in particular my blood glucose tests have been in the upper end of the "normal" range. 96 mg/dL for pre-meal, 107 mg/dL after.

Sadly I suspect this will not remain the case as I will be traveling on and off for the next couple of weeks. Unusual food and different eating patterns always makes for higher blood sugars.

The only other notable result from my blood tests was my LDL cholesterol, which was below the normal range. I guess when you take statins and already had normal cholesterol levels, that's bound to happen.

That and I appear to be sleeping better, so all things considered, I feel downright normal for a change.

A Small Portion To Be Polite

Back when I was attempting to do the Atkins diet 10+ years ago, I pretty much didn't eat anything with carbs in it. It worked really well for losing weight, but after a while, it got harder and harder to do. Because, let's face it, carbs are tasty.

Now that I have diabetes, I have a somewhat different view of carbs: carbs can kill. Not immediately of course, which is the problem. The main problem for me: my body is not efficient at breaking down sugars in my blood. When it remains high over a period of time, different parts of the body start having issues. I'm sure my high blood pressure, swollen feet, and migraines are all related to it, and they have been much better since I started getting treatment.

But the reality is: swearing off all carbs is next to impossible. First of all, they are everywhere in everything. Second of all, cravings for particularly carby things are sometimes difficult to overcome, especially if you've been repeatedly denying yourself.

So, I try and have some once in a while. A small portion to be polite. Often times I find it wasn't nearly as good as I thought it was going to be. Especially when I see the impact to my blood sugar a couple hours later.

At the end of the day, if I'm going to have something I know isn't good for me and it doesn't taste good, what's the point? But then again, now that I know what the negative impact is and I can even see an indicator of it right away, maybe that's playing a role in how I feel about how it tastes.

Will I find something really worth it? Not sure but I'm gonna keep trying. Because I already know not trying ultimately results in failure. Now that I know what's truly at stake, failure is simply not an option.

Post Nine Hundred... At Least On This Blog

The one thing I see on 10 Centuries that I haven't seen on Posthaven is: the number of blog posts I have in a blog. Apparently, this is post 900 for this blog. Which is sad because I have more than 3200 on phoneboy.com, some dating back to the 1990s (note this also includes nearly 730 episodes of the PhoneBoy Speaks podcast).

That doesn't include the more than 26,000 ADN posts, the nearly 39,000 tweets, the thousands of Facebook posts, and who knows how many posts on various other social networks.

Clearly, I put a lot of stuff on the Internet. In the grand scheme of things, it is probably all for naught as it will all get lost in the noise of everyone else's postings or the great EMP pulse that will take out all electronics everywhere.

Kinda depressing, if i think about it too much.

Green Pill Redux

It's been a little more than a week since I got new blood pressure medication. I've been checking my blood pressure periodically, and sure enough, it's crept back into the hypertension levels. Not as high as it was (yet), but I'm definitely concerned.

So, of course, I checked the Internet and found this little gem [www.drugs.com]:

It may take 3 to 6 weeks of using losartan before your blood pressure is under control. For best results, keep using the medication as directed. Talk with your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks of treatment.

Fantastic. It's been a little over a week since I changed medication. Hopefully this will resolve itself in the next couple weeks, if not, back to the doctor…