PhoneBoy Says I am PhoneBoy, and I occasionally "say" stuff. Mon, 20 May 2019 00:03:53 +0000 EN PhoneBoy Says Clean I am PhoneBoy, and I occasionally "say" stuff. hourly 1 Streams (19E210) Ultra-Processed Foods Make Us Eat More, and It's Not About Their Nutritional Makeup Sun, 19 May 2019 02:34:33 +0000 phoneboy 530e02e7-2d4d-ad8e-184d-2eed42f4a0da Ultra-Processed Foods Make Us Eat More, and It's Not About Their Nutritional Makeup

It's probably about the sugar, grains, and seed oils our body doesn't recognize as actual food. Stick to the real stuff.

Heavily processed foods cause overeating and weight gain, study finds Fri, 17 May 2019 22:16:09 +0000 phoneboy 930c311c-c8aa-1462-b300-37596e039592 Heavily processed foods cause overeating and weight gain, study finds My own personal experience bears this out. Get rid of sugars, grains, and seed oils. You'll feel better, I promise!

GMO Impossible Burger Positive for Carcinogenic Glyphosate Fri, 17 May 2019 16:49:54 +0000 phoneboy 2eb01941-655b-3a4c-265e-6bc1052e3ae3 GMO Impossible Burger Positive for Carcinogenic Glyphosate Just what I want in my plant-based burger: Carcinogenic Glyphosate. Impossible to beat the real thing. #yes2meat #no2frankenfood

Weight gain in rural areas is responsible for a lot of the global rise in obesity Thu, 09 May 2019 13:48:07 +0000 phoneboy e5a0956e-9b66-048a-8205-98c13574a562 Ultra-processed hyper-palletable food is way more prevalent nowadays in rural areas and, unlike what this article implies, it's often cheaper than real food. A recipe for bad health outcomes.

The Test You Want a Zero On Sat, 27 Apr 2019 01:18:00 +0000 phoneboy 6ffa94a7-4f23-d81b-9f96-39fbc0339e5d A couple weeks ago, I posted I was going in for a CT Angiogram to get a Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) Score. The CAC score, which is a measure of how much calcium has built up in your heart, can be anything from a zero to over 1000. Generally speaking, the higher your CAC score, the higher the risk that you'll have a heart attack.

When combined with something like the MESA Risk Calculator, which only takes into account things the kinds of things a doctor can assess in their office, the CAC score is significantly associated with the occurrence of major cardiovascular events, which includes all-cause mortality, cardiac mortality, and nonfatal myocardial infraction.

Knowing your score, as Ivor Cummins says, really helps you understand your risk of cardiovascular events. He covers this quite succinctly on a recent episode of his podcast. While he publishes his podcast in audio form, I highly recommend watching Episode 12 which includes all the graphs.

I finally got the results of the test today. The result: a CAC score of zero. Based on that score alone, my risk of a cardiovascular event over the next couple years is less than 2%. I still have elevated blood pressure, and technically a diabetic, so my risk is a little higher according to the MESA Calculator—about 3%. Which is still pretty low in the grand scheme of things.

More importantly, it means I don't need to take a statin, which my doctor has been trying to get me to take again in light of my higher than normal cholesterol. With my risk profile and a CAC score of zero, statin use is not warranted.


Should I Continue Feeding the Medium or Nah? Mon, 22 Apr 2019 22:27:00 +0000 phoneboy 07e7faab-e994-ab31-0996-7cfadceff389 When trying to import the last couple of blog posts into Medium, I discovered that Medium couldn't parse the posts since 10 Centuries went to version 5. Instead I wrote a new, single post that summarized the last couple, since they are part of the same thought process.

I noticed when I created this post that Medium is now actively encouraging writers to put their stories behind their paywall, which is a $5/mo subscription. Even without a subscription, you can typically read 3 stories for free per month. You can read a lot more than that by using an Incognito browser window, so it's not that strong of a paywall.

Aside from funding the service, the subscription pays writers who "earn money when subscribing members read or applaud your work." Also, Medium "may" promote these "behind the paywall" posts, so you may get more readers.

This is a lot like what's going on with podcasting right now, specifically all the attempts to create "networks" and "exclusivity." For example, Gimlet Media and Anchor were purchased by Spotify, and then just today, something called Luminary is attempting to do the same thing Medium is doing with written content.

As Adam Curry has said numerous times, and experienced when he was running Podshow/Mevio, you can't monetize the network. This lead to him and John C. Dvorak pioneering the value for value model with No Agenda, which has been going strong for 11 years funded solely through listener support.

Personally, I don't write blog posts for the money. I'm not sure I want to feed efforts that are ultimately doomed to failure, either, whether it's content or my eyeballs.

If Anything, My Heart is Too Big Wed, 17 Apr 2019 02:42:00 +0000 phoneboy b365659f-83b6-976c-c523-22d316801a1f When I posted I was going in for a CT Angiogram, a few people made the snarky comment that I didn't have a heart. Turns out, I do, and while the amount of calcium I have in my heart isn't a concern, the diameter of my aorta is.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to talk to my doctor about this yet, or the vascular surgeon my doctor has referred me to, so I've consulted Doctor Google, which turns up works like aneurysm, when left untreated. I suspect it's part of the overall damage that has occurred due to past lifestyle choices, not my current ones, which allowed be to drop my A1C down to non-diabetic levels and more than 100 pounds.

That said, even with the positive changes, my blood pressure is still a bit elevated. I'm not taking meds for this currently and I fully expect this will come up in the conversation with my doctor again. I'd rather understand the underlying cause of this rather than medicate the symptoms, so I definitely need to do a bit more research on this.

What is a Blog Post Anyway? Tue, 16 Apr 2019 01:31:00 +0000 phoneboy 664fd0bf-fd5b-a772-268a-b6ea2680d7e6 With the changes made to the 10Centuries service recently, I scrolled through the "archives" of my posts here and realize: the nature of "blog posts" have changed.

Prior to the invention of microblogging by Twitter in 2006, if you wanted to post anything on the Internet, large or small, you had to post it on your own blog. Now, with Twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media, you have…many choices.

Of course, a blog post can still be whatever you want it to be, but it seems the only thing you see on blogs now are…longer posts. Is that a good thing? Not sure.

Fun With Migrations Sat, 13 Apr 2019 17:33:04 +0000 phoneboy 0fbfb0d0-f50e-78ba-7cf7-303586c2968b

If there's one thing I can take away from this experience, it's that I should really look at having data migrated daily in an automated fashion during the development phase.

Having just went through this myself with the CheckMates Community, it would certainly help but may not truly find out what issues the migration will cause until you rip the band-aid off. It's a month after our migration and I'm still finding small issues here and there.

Testing my 10Cv5 Blog Posting Workflow Sat, 13 Apr 2019 03:18:00 +0000 phoneboy 882e4feb-f701-f94e-74ee-fb9bf70474b7 If I've done this right, I should be able to share this thing I'm typing in Google Keep and share it as a blog post on my 10C blog.

And it seems to work. Right on.

77% of orgs lack a cybersecurity incident response plan Fri, 12 Apr 2019 17:50:52 +0000 phoneboy 41046789-bdaf-6b46-cf36-f287bf767614 77% of orgs lack a cybersecurity incident response plan. I'd be surprised if this number was low.

Statin Standoff Fri, 12 Apr 2019 04:47:00 +0000 phoneboy f646c457-8e54-d54e-06a2-ea5fce60d15a As I mentioned last time I posted, my doctor wrote a prescription for a statin drug because my cholesterol was too high. Even though I told him I wanted to see what a calcium scan first.

Turns out, they're doing something a bit more involved. Not at this place, but it's the same basic procedure. Will admit that I'm a bit more nervous about this than I should be, mainly because they are adding things to my blood and giving me drugs in order to do this procedure. That said, if they're gonna take a look at my heart for calcium, why not check the valves while they're at it?

Maybe I'm also a little nervous about what I'll find out. Either way, I'll know the score and can make a more informed decision about jumping back on the statin train.

On a lark, I decided to log into my health insurance website to make sure I had an up-to-date insurance card, given we changed plans recently. Noticed something important was missing: no Primary Care Physician was chosen. On my current plan, that could have been an annoying, expensive mistake. Which, given what I pay for health insurance—it's more than the mortgage payment on my first house was—would have made me very angry. Glad I caught it. 😬

Meanwhile, I will have to take it easy tomorrow. No coffee or anything that will get my heart racing.

I Can't Remember The Last Time I Weighed That, Part 1 Wed, 03 Apr 2019 17:22:00 +0000 phoneboy e4d90d86-9ddd-0b45-e62d-46e2942c0abf We're almost two years into my experience with intermittent fasting and eliminating sugar and grains from my diet, which I primarily began to reverse Type 2 Diabetes. Where I started from in May of 2017:

  • Weight: 311 pounds or 141 kilos, which is about 20 pounds below my high water mark from 2014
  • Blood Glucose (30-day average): 137 mg/dL or 8 mmol/L
  • A1C (based on a blood test): 7.1 (highest was 7.9% from back in 2014)
  • Waist: 54 inches or 137 centimeters (about 2 inches lower than my largest)

After losing 80 pounds in the 10 months that followed, my weight has been hovering around 230 pounds for a little over a year. Which, given the insane amount of travel I've been doing, is an accomplishment.


Earlier this week, my weight finally got below 220 pounds (which is under 100kg). It's the first time I've seen a number that low on the scale in maybe 15 years. The sad thing is: I don't remember exactly when I weighed it, nor do I remember the lowest number I remember seeing this century: 215 pounds. I'm awfully close now.

As of April 2019, here's where I'm at:

  • Weight: 219 pounds or 99.5 kg
  • Blood Glucose (30-day average): 96 mg/dL or 5.3 mmol/L
  • A1C: 5.4%
  • Waist: About 37 inches or 94 centimeters

What am I doing that's different than before? A few things:

  • Ditching Dairy: I think I was born a cheese addict. To the point where, until fairly recently, we were buying two pound blocks of Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar at least once a month. It's quite an easy thing for me to over-consume and I was surprised at just how easy it was to give up. And yes, I've given up heavy whipping cream, too. I still have a taste of both once in a while, but I don't eat them every day.
  • Exercise: I'm putting in half an hour on the treadmill almost every day I'm home. I'm actually running, if you can believe that. Not the whole time, but I'm slowly working my way up to that.
  • Going More Carnivore: While I will have the odd veggie every now and again, most of my diet comes from the animal kingdom. Makes it really easy to eat once a day when you're loading up on protein.

I've stopped doing extended fasts for the most part (more than 24 hours). I usually eat only once a day, though sometimes, when traveling, I will eat twice a day.

The only real concern from my last blood test was my cholesterol. I understand your lipid profile can be easily manipulated, so absent some other information, I'm not concerned. My doctor, on the other hand, immediately wrote me a prescription for a statin.


Last time I visited my doctor, I told him in no uncertain terms I was not taking a statin until I got a coronary artery calcium (CAC) score. This is obtained by having your heart scanned with a very rapid CAT scan device, which quantifies how much calcium you have in your arteries. The higher your score, the higher your risk of atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease (CAD).

I have the CAC score procedure scheduled for the end of next week. Based on that, I can make a much more informed decision about whether the potential side effects are outweighed by the potential benefits.

You're Still Shrinking Sat, 09 Feb 2019 07:21:00 +0000 phoneboy c654313c-e297-16c8-cab9-375e4fd7cb51 I just got back from CPX360 in Las Vegas, the series of annual conferences Check Point puts on for their customers, partners, and employees. It's a kind of annual reunion of sorts as this is the only time I see a lot of people I work with. As such, it's as good a time as any to check in on how my health journey is going.

As a reminder, this is what I looked like this time last year:


This week, I looked like this standing next to Check Point's CEO Gil Shwed:


People have been telling me that I'm still shrinking. It can be seen in the face, some have said. Maybe, but I don't really see it on the scale:


My waist has gotten a tad smaller, but not enough that I need new pants yet.

Of course, even with the seeming lack of progress, you have to consider I've traveled roughly 185,000 miles between these two photos. Which means, really, I've kept the weight off for a year. Definitely a victory.

And, my wife recently bought a treadmill that I've started to use when I'm home. A little more exercise certainly can't hurt.


The one concern I still have is my blood pressure, which seems to be a little on the high side. Not as bad as it was a few years ago, but I really want to avoid more medication. I had quit the previous blood pressure medication because it stopped working and it caused insomnia. I was hoping that with continued progress, it would start to come down, but it doesn't seem like the case.

I've Been In This Weight Neighborhood Before Mon, 03 Dec 2018 05:13:00 +0000 phoneboy 7fe4b1f6-aeea-7339-99d2-51f9dccc411e If you've known me for any length of time, you know I've been overweight for most of my life. I've recently made changes in an effort to remedy this and I've experienced some success. It's not the first time I've done it and been successful, at least for a time.

I don't remember exactly when I started being fat, but I was definitely overweight by the time I was a teenager, which coincidentally was around the time the dietary guidelines in the US went "low-fat." The Nutrition Coalition explains the history of these guidelines and the wide impact they have. They've clearly had an impact on me—for the worst.

I alternated between caring and not caring for a couple of decades. In the early 2000s, after one child was born and another was on the way, and I kept gaining more and more weight (I think I was up around 275 pounds or 125 kilograms), I stumbled upon Robert Atkins and the Atkins Diet. There's been a few versions of it over the years, but the basic idea is: limit your carb intake to 20g or less per day, at least at the beginning.

I had a fair bit of success with it. The lowest weight I remember getting to was 215 pounds (about 98kg). However, the Atkins Diet tells you to slowly ad carbs back in. Sure enough, I did. I got lazy, and the weight kept rising.

I do have a picture of myself from 2006 wearing a shirt I still have. It's about the right size, but I was definitely regaining weight I had lost—and then some.


Then, four years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. That was a wake-up call for sure, but even then, I didn't know exactly what I was going to do.

I did know, even back then, that eating the 45-60 grams of carbs per meal the diabetes educator telling me to eat was not going to be a recipe for success if weight loss was one of the goals. It also seems nonsensical to actually eat sugar and carbs if the goal is to lower your blood glucose.

I had a sense a low carb approach would work, but did not embrace it wholeheartedly. I initially had some modest success both lowering my weight and my blood sugar with a combination of diet and exercise. My A1C even got down to a 6.1%. Unfortunately, as I stopped exercise and not being quite as strict with carbs, my A1C had crept up to a 7.1%.

I'm not quite sure how I stumbled on it, but I was introduced to Jason Fung and his book The Obesity Code about 18 months ago. His more recent book called The Diabetes Code might be a better read if you have Type 2 Diabetes, but they both impart similar information, which I can summarize as follows:

  • Type 2 Diabetes is a disease of insulin resistance, which is caused by the continued presence of elevated levels of insulin in the body/
  • Insulin is also the hormone that causes your body to store consumed energy as fat—it literally causes you to gain weight!
  • The kind of food you eat determines how much insulin your body will produce in response. Lower carbs mean less insulin is required.
  • How often you eat determines largely determines how often insulin is produced.
  • The easiest way to lower your insulin levels is to not eat for an extended period of time. This practice is better known as something humans have been doing for millennia (voluntarily or otherwise): fasting.

I was intrigued. Given fasting costs nothing and everything else I was doing wasn't working to control my diabetes, much less my weight, why not try it? I started this a little over 18 months ago, working my way up to eating only once a day (sometimes less).

I also changed my diet to be mostly low-carb. The simplest approach (for me, anyway) ends up being the approach popularized by Vinnie Tortorich: No Sugar No Grains (or NSNG). It's not dissimilar to the ketogenic diet, but I find NSNG to have less stigma and easier to explain to people.

My dietary changes were done gradually over the course of several weeks. During times I am not eating, I will drink black coffee or tea, which I initially had with heavy cream, but I ultimately dropped it except when I have coffee during mealtimes. Sometimes, I will have chicken broth for the electrolytes. I also take potassium and magnesium supplements

18 months in, I'd say it's been successful. My stats from May 2017:

  • Weight: 311 pounds or 141 kilos, which is about 15 pounds below my high water mark from 2016
  • Blood Glucose (30-day average): 137 mg/dL or 8 mmol/L
  • A1C (based on a blood test): 7.1 (highest was 7.9% from back in 2014)
  • Waist: 54 inches or 137 centimeters (about 2 inches lower than my largest)

As of December 2018, here's where I'm at:

  • Weight: 226 pounds or 103kg
  • Blood Glucose (30-day average): 97 mg/dL or 5.4 mmol/L
  • A1C: 5.6% (lowest was 5.5%)
  • Waist: 38 inches or 96.5 centimeters

While, if you look at my last status post, you may say, I haven't made a ton of progress, here's the things you have to consider:

  • Everyone eventually hits a stall point in weight loss, and I clearly hit mine earlier this year. This is something that I wish I had known 15 years ago when I was doing Atkins.
  • I've traveled quite a lot for work this year. I'm often in different timezones and countries and sleep on my share of hotel beds and airplane seats.

In light of that, you might say I've done quite well just to maintain the progress I've made. Further, now that I better understand the mechanisms at play and the consequences of falling off the wagon are a bit clearer, I'm sticking with this.

And that shirt I showed a picture of earlier? It's a bit big now.


88.5 Hours of Fasting Wed, 05 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0000 phoneboy a9232d0c-3253-60ff-f8d3-48c385a479da While it's pretty typical for me to go somewhere between 16-24 hours between eating these days (depending on the day), it's been a while since I've gone much longer than that.

This Labor Day weekend, I ended going longer than I've ever gone before.


It wasn't my intention to go 88.5 hours, but I was feeling pretty good and had no social obligations to eat, so I just kept going.

The only reason I stopped? Because I'm about to hit the road again. If I was going to have any digestive issues that come from reintroducing food after so long, I'd rather be at home—which, it turned out, was a good call.

For those who are concerned that more than three days is too long to fast, there's the story of Angus Barbieri, who fasted for 382 days! That said, I'm aware that there are pros and cons to extended fasting.

I have to say, this has been the easiest fast I've done. It may be because I supplemented with potassium, magnesium, and sodium (via broth). I don't want to give exact amounts of these, as everyone is different, and I'm pretty sure I may want to adjust the amounts given how my system has been eliminating waste, especially after I ate. This is a known side effect of too much magnesium (see Magnesium Citrate). That said, from what I've read, these essential minerals are definitely helpful, especially if you are fasting.

When I felt hungry, which honestly, wasn't often, I drank coffee, tea, or (twice a day) chicken broth with extra salt. Yes, I was craving salt, and I went with it. The second day of my fast, I did have a headache, which seemed to go away after I had a cup of broth.

In general, I had my normal amount of energy during the fast. Mentally, I felt very sharp. My blood glucose gradually reduced during the 3 days as well, from about a 98 mg/dL (or 5.5 mmol) to 69 mg/dL (3.9 mmol), which is the lowest I've ever had!

In terms of weight loss, I lost a little over 5 pounds (or just over 2 kilos) during my fast. Unfortunately, this got me back to just under 230 pounds (or about 104 kilos), a weight I've been hovering around for the last several months.


Will I do this again? Probably, but I'll do it when I'm home and don't have social obligations.

Slow and Steady Thu, 02 Aug 2018 04:48:00 +0000 phoneboy 8008509d-937d-7f06-15a4-634ee17aece3 One could look at the weight loss stall I've experienced over the past six months and be frustrated by it. In fact, everyone who actually tries to lose weight eventually hits a stall, sooner or later.


On the other hand, during this time, I've been traveling like a madman, spending more time in shiny metal tubes and hotels than I have at home. This also means constantly changing timezones, which surely doesn't help my sleep any. And yes, this means I sometimes eat more than once a day due to social obligations.

In that context, maintaining roughly the same weight seems like quite the victory. Further, the thing that I'm really concerned about, my HbA1c, is now down to a 5.5%. That means my average blood glucose is continuing to trend downward. And, as I mentioned previously, I'm no longer using CPAP!

A1C Chart.png

If you get right down to it, my ultimate goal when I started more than a year ago was reversing Type 2 Diabetes. And while, yes, I am still taking Metformin, my HbA1c has been in the normal range since at least April.

Meanwhile, I found out something interesting about HbA1c tests, which measure the about of red blood cells with glucose bound to them. Turns out, the healthier you are, the longer those red blood cells live. This can lead to inaccurate HbA1c results if you're not factoring in the age of red blood cells (which I'm pretty sure my doctor isn't).

Either way, I'm surely adding years to my life by lowering my HbA1c. I've definitely reduced my risk of cardiovascular disease:


Look, Ma, No More CPAP! Tue, 26 Jun 2018 05:37:00 +0000 phoneboy c3d4de02-20cd-7fdb-2aed-91b7e9edb4ae File this one under non-scale victory that actually does reduce my weight…of my travel bags.

Several weeks ago, I had an appointment with my pulmonologist to follow up on my use of CPAP. It had been two years since I saw him and, well, a lot changed since he saw me last.

He commissioned another sleep study to see how my sleep apnea was progressing. Unlike the last one, I got to do this one at home. The hardest part was picking a week that I was going to be home to actually do it.

Sleep Study.jpg

A couple weeks after I did the study, I got a phone call from my pulmonologist. On a weekend no less. He told me that while I still met the diagnostic criteria for apnea, I had fewer events per hour than previously (6 events versus 8), and I could try not using CPAP for a while and see how I did. He suggested also monitoring my blood pressure to ensure my blood pressure did not increase as a result.

So I tried it. While it's difficult to totally judge sleep quality when you're constantly changing timezones, I think I can say: going off CPAP did not make a ton of difference. My sleep quality seems relatively unchanged.


Further, my blood pressure seems to be trending lower rather than higher.


I just sent a note to the doctor with the results of my self-experiment. I informed him that, given these results, that I am planning to discontinue CPAP and will continue to monitor and use CPAP again if needed. He agreed with my strategy.

Which means my travels will be that much lighter now that I won't have to carry a CPAP with me everywhere I go. Sure, the airlines treat it as a "free" carryon, but it's still a hassle, especially going through some foreign airports.

The Progress Belt Sun, 27 May 2018 05:10:00 +0000 phoneboy 3200bf08-4689-7bb3-2225-15efdb8a780a While I have gotten rid of most of the clothing from when I weighed 300+ pounds, there is one item I am keeping: a 54 inch belt.


At my biggest, I needed to use the very outer hole in that belt. That hole is 56 inches (or 142 centimeters) out! Yes, I measured. I guess the elastic in the pants I had stretches a bit more than I thought.

As I started losing weight and inches, I punched holes in my belt. After the smaller pants I had kept from years ago started getting too big, I bought new pants…and a belt of the proper size.

That said, I am still using this 54 inch belt as a way to track my progress and remind me just how far I've come. It's been critical since the scale has been relatively stable the last few months, yet my waist continues to shrink (slowly but surely).

The shorts and pants I bought with the 40 inch (about 100 centimeters) waist are now a little loose. And those XXL shirts I have kept for years and started wearing again are…a little big, now.

For most of my adult life, the only places I've been able to buy clothes that properly fit is ordering from the King Size catalog and/or going to Big and Tall sections/stores. You don't realize just how much this limits your wardrobe choices or how expensive this is until you're suddenly able to buy clothing in…a normal store.

In fact, I remember the first time I had done this. I had went to go get pants at Fred Meyer, which is one of the only local stores that has a Big and Tall section. While I did buy stuff from their Big and Tall section, I also bought stuff from the "normal" section as well, including a coat off the clearance rack from the "normal" section!

And then I discovered I could buy clothing from Costco, which was a game changer. Not necessarily for the selection, but the prices. And the fact it's even an option now.

Meanwhile, I may (crossing fingers) have broken through my weight loss stall. I'm about a pound off my lowest weight this year, which I hit about two months ago, but my weight crept back up a little.


And yes, this weight loss happened just after I got back from Switzerland. I guess all that cheese didn't hurt me. :)

Intermittent Fasting, 1 Year Later Mon, 14 May 2018 04:53:00 +0000 phoneboy 092cd666-78ed-c03d-51ff-b8604ca043db It's been roughly a year since I took charge of my health by making two major changes to my eating habits:

  • When I eat, which is typically only once a day. Some days, I will not eat at all. Other days, I may eat twice a day. It depends on where I am in the world, what's going on, and so on.
  • What I eat, which is mostly low in carbohydrates, high in fat. You might call it a ketogenic diet, or even the induction phase of Atkins (the 1970s version). I had previously done Atkins in the early 2000s with some success, so this part of the change was somewhat familiar.

This was done gradually over the course of several weeks. During fasting times, I will drink black coffee or tea, which I initially had with heavy cream, but I cut that out except during mealtimes. I will also occasionally have chicken broth for the electrolytes.

The main reasons for doing this are summarized in Dr. Jason Fung's recent book called The Diabetes Code. His previous book, The Obesity Code, was what got me to try it at least. Given fasting costs nothing and everything else I was doing wasn't working to control my diabetes, much less my weight, why not?

A year in, I'd say it's been successful. My stats from May 2017:

  • Weight: 311 pounds or 141 kilos, which is about 15 pounds below my high water mark from 2016
  • Blood Glucose (30-day average): 137 mg/dL or 8 mmol/L
  • A1C (based on a blood test): 7.1 (highest was 7.9%)
  • Waist: 54 inches or 137 centimeters (about 2 inches lower than my largest)

As of May 2018, here's where I'm at:

  • Weight: 230 pounds or 104kg
  • Blood Glucose (30-day average): 105 mg/dL or 5.8 mmol/L
  • A1C: 5.6%
  • Waist: 39 inches or 99 centimeters

The more important bit of this: My A1C is in the normal range. Granted, I am still taking Metformin, but that means I no longer fit the diagnostic criteria for even pre-diabetes! However, there has been no change in my medications. My doctor wants me to continue taking Metformin until my A1C drops to at least 5.0%. My blood pressure, while definitely a lot better than it was a few years ago, is still mildly elevated.

When I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I was also diagnosed with onset sleep apnea. The good news is, from the sleep study I did a few weeks ago, it looks like my apnea has improved: from 8 events an hour to 6. I do, however, still meet the diagnostic criteria. That said, given all the other changes that have taken place, and the relative mildness of my condition, my pulmonologist and I agreed that I should try sleeping without my CPAP for a few weeks, monitoring my blood pressure and symptoms along the way to ensure I don't develop any issues. That's progress!

The one frustrating bit is my weight has been more or less the same for the last few months, plus or minus a few pounds. That said, given the amount of travel I've been doing lately, keeping my weight fairly steady is a positive achievement in and of itself.

Despite the stall, I am slowly but surely shrinking around my middle and other parts of my body. Even if the scale isn't moving, progress is still being made.

Waist Progress While Weight Progress...Waits Mon, 23 Apr 2018 22:26:00 +0000 phoneboy d4c37242-b259-4850-6492-f616b6eda59d I thought I was making progress on the weight loss front…until I wasn't.


Basically, I've bounced around the same 10 pounds / 4.5 kilos for the last few months. That's what the blue line shows, whereas the green and red curves show where the "floating average weight" is (as calculated by HappyScale).

I suppose I can blame the fact that I haven't done a fast longer than 24 hours in a while. Also, I've been in many different timezones over the last few months, meaning my sleep is all over the map. With that as context, keeping my weight more or less stable is an achievement.

What is definitely an achievement is another notch being punched in my belt. That puts my waist loss at 15 inches (or 38 centimeters). That is definitely an achievement.

Meanwhile, the doctor tells me to keep making progress. The A1C is at a 5.6% and my blood pressure is still mildly elevated, but way better than it was when I started. Hopefully, those will all trend downward along with my weight and I can get off the meds. That would be serious progress.

CPAP and Meds No More? Mon, 16 Apr 2018 00:22:00 +0000 phoneboy ecd34168-663c-6de4-b88d-df1491419919 A few years ago, I was prescribed a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea. For sure, it practically eliminated my snoring and it definitely helped me sleep better almost immediately. And while I don't mind sleeping with the machine—I've gotten quite used to it, actually—-I have to carry the machine with me when I travel.

Considering I am traveling pretty regularly now, it's a real consideration. Thankfully the airlines treat it as a "free" carryon, but I still have to carry it. I've also been in more than one hotel room where there isn't an outlet conveniently located near the bed. Not having to travel with it would be a benefit.

Meanwhile, it had been a couple years since I saw my pulmonologist and my appointment was this past Friday. Needless to say, the weight loss was pretty apparent and dramatic as it has been for my co-workers.

Given the significant weight loss and the fact my sleep apnea was pretty mild to begin with, he suggested I might not need a CPAP anymore. To confirm, I will need to do a home sleep study.

Of course, the problem with that is that I actually need to be home to schedule the appointment with the folks that will show me how to strap on the equipment. And, of course, to do the actual study. So it will be a few weeks.

Something else that came from that appointment: my blood pressure. It was…normal. Sure enough, as I'm testing at home, I'm starting to see normal numbers. That has to be fairly recent since even as recently as two weeks ago, I was still seeing slightly elevated blood pressure numbers.

Maybe I can stop carrying the medications as well? Certainly with my A1C at a 5.6%, I can make the argument that I don't need them anymore. We'll see when I talk to my primary care doctor in a week or so.

The Non-Scale Victory I'm Really After Fri, 06 Apr 2018 02:27:00 +0000 phoneboy 0333be31-f89d-7444-fcb0-d23a51bac51f While I've had plenty of scale victories, as it were, there have plenty of victories that cannot be measured on the bathroom scale. Oh sure, the non-scale victories are happening as a direct result of the ones I am achieving on the scale, the progress is not exactly linear.

Before and after

The above photo was surfaced by Google Photos a few days ago. It's one of those "Then and Now" photos. Then was four years and about a hundred pounds (or 45 kilos) ago. It was also before the real reason I am going down this road: a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis which came in October 2014.

Back then, I definitely had some health issues. These included migraines, swelling in my feet, which got really bad on long flights, and sleep apnea. When Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension were officially added to the mix, these items started making sense.

One of the diagnostic criteria for Type 2 Diabetes is your HbA1c number, otherwise known as just A1C, which is a measurement of your glycated hemoglobin, or a measure of how much sugar has been in your blood over the past 3 months.

The generally accepted ranges for A1C are as follows:

  • Below 5.7%: Normal
  • 5.7% - 6.4%: Pre-diabetes
  • 6.5% or more: Diabetes

My A1C was a 7.9% at first diagnosis, definitely in Type 2 Diabetes territory. During 2015, I had managed to get it down to a 6.1%, but then I fell off the wagon and before too long, it was back to a 7.1%.

Clearly what I was doing wasn't working. More specifically, the changes I had initially made were not ones I could stick with. As a result, I regressed.

Then, 10 months ago, I started down my current path of eating once a day and limiting sugars and carbs. These choices were made in order to reduce the frequency and the amplitude of insulin spikes impacting my system.

Sure enough, my average blood glucose came down. Here's my 30 day average from about a year ago.


And my current average:


My weight clearly went down.


Also, my A1C came down. My previous blood test in December had my A1C at a 5.9%. The one I took earlier this week shows my A1C at 5.6%. That puts me in the normal range but I am still taking Metformin.

The next obvious step would be to stop taking Metformin, and hopefully the blood pressure and statin meds as well. When I last discussed this with my doctor, he told me my A1C would probably go up about a half a point once I quit Metformin. As such, he would only agree to let me go off the meds once my A1C was a 5.0% or less. We'll see what he says when I see him in a couple weeks.

In any case, this is really the victory I am after: kicking diabeetus to the curb. I'm not going to say it's cured, but it's definitely down for the count. I plan to keep it that way.

Another Notch in the Belt Mon, 02 Apr 2018 21:25:00 +0000 phoneboy f97d98d4-c127-de93-f207-6c480c224af4 While I did get a new belt a while ago, I did keep one of my belts from when I had a 54 inch waist. Possibly a little more since, at one point, I struggled to get the belt on. Today, I decided to wear it, but had to punch another hole in it, as I shrank a little more since I last wore it.


The distance between the holes? 14 and a half inches. Which definitely means these size 40 shorts I bought last week should fit quite nicely. We'll find out next week when I'm someplace warm enough to wear them.


Meanwhile, I did get my blood drawn today, which include an A1C test. As usual, it will be a couple days before I find out the results. No urine sample this time, though. I guess my doctor was pretty sure I stopped peeing glucose out of my urine, which is something that happens when you have too much of it in your blood stream. Considering readings like this on my glucometer have been pretty common in the past several weeks, there's a good chance he's right:


And, of course, the weight loss has continued, though it has slowed down a bit:


Meanwhile, I await my A1C test results.

Blood Glucose Meters: Like Razor and Blades, But For Diabetes Mon, 19 Mar 2018 01:06:35 +0000 phoneboy baf45110-7d1d-c5f0-0da9-f7afd263d2d7 The razor and blades model is well known and simple: give away the razors, make money off the blades. Or more specifically: sell one good at an artificially low price (or even give it away) that is reliant on another complimentary, consumable good. It's this consumable good where the real money is made.

The embodiment of this model in the tech space is inkjet printers. The printers (particularly the consumer models) are almost as cheap as the inkjet refills themselves in some cases. Which is why the last time I bought an inkjet printer, I found out what models of cartridges I could refill at Costco for significantly cheaper than buying new ones. Sure, we still have to buy new ones periodically, but it's cheaper than having to buy new ones all the time.

In the Diabetes world, our "razor and blades" device we simply must have: the blood glucose meter. The meters can be had for next to nothing, at least on Amazon. The strips, on the other hand, cost a fortune. Since they can't be reused, unlike a razor blade, which I reuse for weeks and weeks, a test strip can only be used once. This means buying new test strips on a fairly regular basis.

Back when I was first diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, it didn't take long for me to see just monitoring this condition was going to cost a fortune. The cost of the strips for the meter I was given when purchased through insurance: $25 for 50. Even if I'm testing just twice a day, which doesn't count "testing errors" and the like, that's over $180 a year. If I want to test more often, I'd have to buy the strips retail, which, it turns out is actually cheaper if you look on Amazon.

Thankfully, one does not need a prescription to buy a blood glucose meter or the test strips. This allows you to shop around. Back in 2014, I ended up trying the iHealth Labs Bluetooth meter. It had cheaper test strips and Bluetooth support, making it a worthwhile investment. It worked well enough for a time, but eventually the meter stopped being accurate. Which, as I found out later, is fairly common after a year or two.

This led me to using a different meter, one by Ascensia (formerly Bayer). The meter was cheap enough, had Bluetooth and whatnot, but ultimately synced to an app that didn't do much, or sync to Apple HealthKit. The strips, while significantly cheaper on Amazon, are not as cheap as some of the alternatives.

My most recent meter purchase was an EasyTouch Diabetes Testing Kit which includes everything you need to get started. The meter itself is a little larger than my previous meters, and lacks fancy features like Bluetooth, or even a backlit screen. Since I'm logging my blood glucose data into HealthKit manually using a Workflow I created, I'm not seeing a huge benefit to getting a meter that syncs with my phone.

My initial tests with this new meter: similar results to my previous meter. Considering I can get 50% more EasyTouch strips for the same price, it seems like a win-win.

Morning Has Broken My Blood Sugar No More? Fri, 09 Mar 2018 07:16:00 +0000 phoneboy 71f23baa-ebe9-fc84-f474-c580412fe7bb In the past, I commented on how my blood sugar was sometimes significantly higher when I woke up than it was when I went to bed. Going back to my blood glucose readings from 2014 and 2015 (thank you, HealthKit), I can see I had some days where I would go to bed with a reading that was, say, 99 mg/dL, and wake up with a 134 mg/dL reading. I had plenty of days where the reverse was true as well.

I had the impression that I experienced Dawn Phenomenon in the past more often than the data says I did. I also thought it was a thing of the past. Turns out, neither is true. In fact, it's seems I should expect it.

When you eat a low carb high fat diet (in addition to only eating once a day), your fasting blood glucose can be higher! This is because your muscles are fat-adapted and don't need the infusion of glucose your liver pumps out in the morning. Even with that, insulin levels remain relatively low in this case, which is a good thing if you're trying to reverse the insulin resistance that goes with Type 2 Diabetes.

Even if I don't see the blood sugar spike immediately after I wake up, it is pretty common for me to see a somewhat higher blood glucose a few hours later. When my waking blood glucose is generally lower than it was before, the 10-15 mg/DL spike is not quite as concerning. Especially since it's generally lower by the evening, assuming I don't eat anything.

One other interesting tidbit from the above-linked article:

The HbA1c test estimates the average glucose level in the blood over the previous three months by counting the number of glucose molecules stuck on red blood cells. On a low-carb diet the HbA1c will almost always be lower than the FBG suggests, showing that good glucose control, or type 2 diabetes, is not an issue for that individual.

Which means my A1C could actually lower than the 5.2% my 90-day average blood glucose suggests. That would be a wonderful thing as maybe I will get to an A1C of 5.0%, which means I'll be able to go off my meds. I have another month or so before I go in for another set of blood tests, so it will be a while.

Meanwhile, I seem to have broken through my month long plateau. I lost almost 100 pounds or 45 kilos so far. In case you're new to following my weight loss journey, here's how I'm getting there.

My target weight? About 190 pounds or about 86 kilos. At least on the BMI charts, this would put me in the "overweight" category as opposed to the "obese" category I'm in now or the "morbidly obese" category I was in when I started. I can't even remember when I last weighed 190 pounds. Maybe in high school, if even then.

My doctor said he'd like me to see me at about 175 pounds or 79 kilos. Maybe l'll get there, but I've got a few milestones to reach before then. For example, my lowest known weight as an adult, which is only 13 pounds or about 6 kilos away.

Hitting a Plateau, But It's All Good Mon, 05 Mar 2018 02:00:00 +0000 phoneboy 88276b58-0e59-d406-ca75-98f4b440dd77 While I've been progressing nicely with my weight loss, the last six weeks has seen me in Barcelona, Las Vegas, and Bangkok, all for Check Point's CPX360 events. Two of the trips involved significant travel. The result? You might call it a plateau:


On one hand, I should consider myself fortunate that any weight I gained, particularly in Barcelona and Vegas, was lost fairly quickly—enough that it didn't affect the floating average all that much, which this graph represents. On the other, I'm mildly frustrated to be stuck around the same weight for the last month or so.

Everyone trying to lose weight eventually stalls. It happened to me before when I did Atkins 15 years ago. The difference this time around is I'm aware of it and am using other yardsticks to measure progress. My waist, for instance, is an inch smaller than it was a couple of weeks ago, which has resulted in my clothes fitting a little better. My face? Also seems to be a bit thinner, just from pictures:


The photo on the left was from late January in Barcelona, the one on the right a couple weeks ago in Gig Harbor.

It seems like I may have broken through the plateau based on the fact my average weight has recently dipped below 235 pounds, or about 107 kilograms. Whether that trend continues or not, I will find out in the coming days.

The real trend I'm concerned about? My A1C number. I won't know for another month or two until I get blood work done again. Still, my blood glucose has been fairly stable with the 30-day average being 105 mg/dL (or 5.8 mmol/L). That suggests I should have a lower A1C than 5.9%, but we'll see.

The good news is that I'm home for the next couple of weeks and the travel I've got planned after that will keep me fairly close to home. This should make it easier to stay on plan and continue to make progress (or at least not lose ground).

I Hardly Recognize You! You Look Fantastic! Thu, 15 Feb 2018 07:29:00 +0000 phoneboy 07576dfb-fb5e-481c-6fcc-4ab725c1af27 I've been hearing variations of this over the last few weeks as I've been doing Check Point's CPX360 events in Barcelona and Las Vegas. For many who had met me previously, it's the first time they've seen me since I've started eating once a day, intermittent fasting, or whatever you want to call it.

And yes, the difference a year makes (or in some cases, only a few months) is quite striking, as these two pictures from roughly a year apart show:

Jan 2017

The above was me at Check Point's Sales Kick off in Las Vegas in January of 2017. Compare that to me at CPX360 in Las Vegas in February 2018:

Feb 2018

For those not keeping track, I'm about 90 pounds or 40 kilograms off my high water mark. My Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure are also significantly improved as well.

I posted these before and after pictures on LinkedIn. The response was overwhelming: more than 600 likes and over 70 comments as of this writing!

There is a lot of conflicting advice about how one can achieve these goals. Not only that, you have multiple industries that benefit to the tune of billions of dollars a year from maintaining the status quo. Trying to find your way through all that to something that works for you is…not easy to say the least.

For me, it has boiled down to the following five rules:

  1. Dietary fat is your friend.
  2. Sugar (real or fake) is your enemy.
  3. The less frequently you eat, the better.
  4. When crossing timezones, don't eat until you reach your destination.
  5. Get enough sleep.

What are these rules trying to achieve? It boils down to reducing the amount of insulin my body produces, both in terms of amount and frequency. This is because, as a Type 2 Diabetic, I have become insulin resistant, meaning my body must produce more and more insulin to achieve the same results.

While insulin is needed to metabolize the food you eat, too much of it in your body is clearly a bad thing. Since practically everything you eat invokes an insulin response, the only way you can reduce the frequency of insulin spikes is reduce how often you eat. To reduce the size of the insulin spike when you do eat, the best approach seems to be eat more dietary fat and little to no carbohydrates.

Not eating while traveling long distances is as much about reducing exposure to potentially bad dietary choices as much as it is about resetting my circadian rhythm. I can't claim it's a total cure for jet lag, but it definitely makes jumping a large number of timezones easier. The fact it also supports my larger health goals is a definite bonus.

What about sleep? Lack of sleep contributes to insulin resistance which is a bad thing. The good news is that I have more time to sleep since I spend less time eating and can thus work through breakfast and/or lunch.

Notice I have not put any strict guidelines in these rules. That's because the exact mix that works for me today may not work for me tomorrow and I may need to adjust. Also, the particular mix that works for me may not work for you.

For those who think I am starving myself by only eating once a day (or less), the reality is: I'm not. I've just finally gotten my body to a point where it is able to metabolize the food I previously ate and stored as fat, of which I still have plenty, even after losing as much weight as I have. My energy is better than it's ever been, especially on days where I am active. I sleep better. I'm making better food choices when I do eat (including eating less).

Unlike eating according to a particular diet, which can be difficult to do at times depending on where you are in the world, eating less frequently or even fasting is something you can do anywhere, anytime. Atkins was very effective at lowering my weight back in the early 2000s, but I found it very difficult to maintain, particularly as I started traveling more. When I stopped that way of eating, I gained more and more weight. I eventually started having health issues that ultimately led to a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.

Now, when I do find myself in a place I've never been before, I don't feel guilty about trying the local food. Or, in the case of a celebration, I can indulge myself occasionally. Because, let's face it, life is going to happen.

After it does, I can get back to eating once a day. Maybe even fast for a couple of days to reset things.

The bottom line: I think I've found a lifestyle that works. I spend a bit more on coffee now (black or espresso), but I spend a lot less on food. I will eventually have to buy a new wardrobe, though clothes I haven't worn in years now fit again. I feel like a different person.

A few resources I've used in my health journey:

I'm by no means where I want to be, but I'm definitely in better shape than I've been in more than a decade!

The Annual Physical Wed, 31 Jan 2018 00:04:00 +0000 phoneboy a2a5f633-eef8-a0ce-230f-4b588f989d26 Yesterday, I went to visit my doctor for my annual physical. The doctor made a few observations:

  • I'm at my lowest weight according to their records, which go back to 2009. He actually asked if I had weight loss surgery when I told him on my last visit what I was doing. Apparently my chosen lifestyle didn't make his notes, nor did he consider that I'd probably consult with him before doing that.
  • My diabetes is improving as my A1C went from 6.5 to 5.9. He even said I might beat it. It's certainly my goal to to beat it, but I also know it's not going to happen overnight either.
  • I am no longer "morbidly obese" according to the guidelines, I am just "obese." Guess that's an improvement.
  • I should probably set my weight target at 175 pounds (or a little under 80 kilos). Right now, I am aiming for 195 pounds (or about 88.5 kilos) and I'm still a ways off of that.

Meanwhile my weight loss progress had a bit of a setback after my recent trip to Barcelona, both due to the excellent food and wine, and the fact I brought back a cold. However, I am not worried about this regression as the path forward is clear, but more importantly, sustainable.

Victories Not Quite To Scale Mon, 08 Jan 2018 16:29:00 +0000 phoneboy 0ced2751-c9ba-8226-ce83-226676462e92 From my last update about 6 weeks ago, I have made more progress at lowering my weight and improving my Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Weight: 245 pounds/111 kilos, about 80 pounds/36 kilos under my high water mark
  • Blood glucose (30-day average): 106 mg/dL or about 6.0 mmol/L
  • A1C (from blood test in late December): 5.9%

I can blame the higher blood glucose on the holidays, but then again, the A1C number is a bit higher than I was predicting based on averages around that time. Either way, the A1C is a trailing indicator that is still trending in the right direction.

I still need to buy some new clothing, but I'm putting it off as long as possible since I expect to shrink a little more. Meanwhile, a particular hoodie that I acquired two years ago and haven't been able to wear until fairly recently is still not quite big enough for my wife's tastes. The fact I can wear it at all is another one of those non-scale victories I've been having as of late.

My next doctor's appointment is in 3 weeks. Curious what he will think of all this. Even though he's not totally onboard with my regimen, the transformation that has occurred in the last 8 months is pretty dramatic. Compare my passport photos from March 2009, June 2008, and June 2017:


To a few days ago:


Non-Scale Victories, the Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt Edition Mon, 01 Jan 2018 14:49:00 +0000 phoneboy eb8b3f0a-1319-b812-5fe9-2578435cccf4 Continuing the non-scale victory discussion, I've heard one suggestion for tracking your progress that does not involve a scale: try on an article of clothing on periodically to see how well it fits. Specifically, an article of clothing that is too small.

Given that my team is ordering t-shirts for our upcoming Check Point Experience event, it seems like a good opportunity to acquire some. These shirts were ordered from an outfit in Israel that often makes their shirts small by American standards. That makes these shirts excellent candidates to track non-scale victories.


The good news is that the largest shirt they ordered fits, but is a little small for my tastes. About what I expected given the equivalent size of a typical American shirt fits just about right.

Non-Scale Victories Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:13:00 +0000 phoneboy ab6d2460-d5f4-841a-5751-e2a621947cde IMG_0248.jpg

While I've had plenty of victories on the scale, such as managing to lose four pounds on my most recent trip to the New York and Philly area, as the above picture will attest to, I've had my share of victories that don't show up on the scale, but are the result of attempting to lose weight.

One such non-scale victory is the comments I've been getting from people. My current job has me in public a lot more than I used to be and people that saw me even six months ago are noticing that I've dropped a significant amount of weight—about 75 pounds (or 32 kilos) worth!

Another is something that people don't realize is an issue for people of size when traveling on an airplane—seat belt length. On just about every flight I've taken in the last 15 years, I've had to ask a flight attendant for a seat belt extension. As there is quite a bit of variance when it comes to equipment on airplanes, I still have to ask for one occasionally, but it's not an every flight occurrence anymore.

Yesterday, I tried on the one pair of pants I still have with a 44 inch waist—and they fit well. Granted, these have stretchy sides, since I got them from a big and tall store, but they aren't a tight fit, which means: they'll work. I tried on a few shirts from my "skinny drawer" and discovered they fit well enough to wash them and hang them up on my closet. Meanwhile, there's two shirts I left in my "skinny" drawer that, after I lose some more weight, will be a better fit.

Meanwhile, all but one pair of pants I own are now too big for me. Some of the pairs of pants I can still wear with a belt, but I suspect even they will be too big before too long. The ones that were much too loose were put in place of the shirts I pulled out, making it more of a "fat drawer" than a skinny drawer now.

My blood sugar, meanwhile, had a minor setback with my time in New York, both because of some good beer and some good sushi! That said, it's a blip in the short-term average, with my longer term average still excellent. Hopefully I get a much better idea with a proper blood test, which I need to do in the near future so I can schedule an annual physical with my doctor.

A non-scale victory to come will be when I can purchase clothes for myself in a non "big and tall" store. That would imply getting down to maybe a 38 inch waist. Even when I managed to lose weight with Atkins more than 15 years ago, I never quite managed to achieve that goal. This time, I'm more determined to get there!

Intermittent Fasting, 6 Months Later Wed, 22 Nov 2017 20:56:00 +0000 phoneboy 2a6cd62a-8242-7e3f-2c60-8f08fbbe713a It's been roughly 6 months since I began Intermittent Fasting, which I began after reading The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Within the last month or so, a research journal called Obesity published an article entitled Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting that discusses the health benefits of adopting intermittent fasting, complete with citations to other medical journals.

With that as a background, it seems like as good a time as any to document my progress. First, my stats from May 2017:

  • Weight: 311 pounds or 141 kilos, which is about 15 pounds below my high water mark from 2016
  • Blood Glucose (30-day average): 137 mg/dL or 8 mmol/L
  • A1C (based on a blood test): 7.1

The desire to try intermittent fasting got further spurred on by the basic message I got from my doctor in May of 2017, which was that I wasn't making any progress in terms of controlling my diabetes. The doctor was, of course, correct. When I was diagnosed back in October 2014, my A1C was a 7.9. In May of 2015, I had gotten my A1C down to a 6.1. Clearly things were trending in the wrong direction.

With this as a backdrop, I made a number of changes to my eating habits gradually over the last six months:

  • Went from 3 meals a day plus snacks to 2 meals a day to 1 meal a day to 1 meal every other day. The step to every other day just happened in the last 2-3 weeks or so.
  • When I do eat, I try to pick things that are ketogenic friendly (i.e. high in fat, moderate in protein, low in carbs).
  • When I travel by airplane, I do not eat in the airport or on the airplane, eating dinner at my destination. This helps reset my circadian rhythm and provides an excellent opportunity to fast.
  • I went from drinking coffee with heavy cream to black coffee and espresso shots. When I get my free drink at Starbucks, I will get a Latte with Heavy Cream. I will sometimes also have vanilla herbal tea with heavy cream after dinner sometimes also.
  • Once or twice a day, I will have a cup of broth for the electrolytes

Note the above guidelines are not adhered to strictly. They are varied based on life circumstances and social obligations. Which, honestly, is a key to long-term success with any major change you make in your life.

My stats as of right now?

  • Weight: 256 pounds or 116 kilos, about 70 pounds or 32 kilos under my high water mark
  • Blood glucose (30-day average): 99 mg/dL or about 5.6 mmol/L
  • A1C (estimated based on 90-day average, will do a blood test in a few weeks): 5.4

All of those stats are definitely trending the right direction.

For Those Asking What I'm Doing To Lose Weight’m-doing-to-lose-weight Sat, 28 Oct 2017 18:21:00 +0000 phoneboy b13d243f-55d0-4839-2cb2-bbdb31cd1921 It's pretty simple:

  • One meal a day (personally I strive for a low carb, high fat meal, but this isn't strictly required)
  • During fasting periods, I drink water, black coffee/espresso, tea, and/or broth
  • I mostly avoid artificial sweeteners
  • For long flights, I fast the entire time in transit and eat dinner at the normal time for destination (or skip entirely)
  • I also pick a day during the week (usually Sunday) where I consume less than 500 calories for my "meal" (or skip it entirely)
  • Get enough sleep (for me, about 7-8 hours)

I did not just jump into above "cold turkey" but gradually worked my way up to these guidelines. I expect they will further evolve over time.

For those who think fasting is hard, there is some initial difficulty as your body adapts. Some refer to this process as "keto flu." It does get much easier.

I do make allowances for "life events" and will occasionally vary from these guidelines. For example, when I was in Ireland, you can bet I drank Guinness outside of a normal meal period. I plan for these events and adjust accordingly.

The benefits I've derived from the above include, but are not limited to:

  • Weight loss (averaging 1-2 pounds a week, but it varies from week to week)
  • Lower blood glucose readings (a good thing as a Type 2 diabetic)
  • Food cravings are mostly gone
  • Little to no jet lag (even when I jump 9-10 time zones)
  • More time during the day (because meals take time to have)
  • Lower grocery bills
  • Better sleep

The above appears to be working for me and may or may not work for anyone else. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions by typing the following terms into your search engine of choice:

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Dr. Jason Fung
  • The Obesity Code

Happy to answer questions through all the usual channels.

Pulling from the Skinny Drawer! Fri, 27 Oct 2017 03:17:00 +0000 phoneboy 20c9d1c0-7acd-893b-f90a-001568081e62 A couple years ago, I had done a post about my skinny drawer, i.e. a drawer full of clothes that I don't wear because I had outgrown them or was never properly sized to wear to begin with.

With my current weight being better than it has been in 10 years, and with my currently clothing getting a little too baggy, I decided to have a look in there to see if I could bring some clothing out of retirement.

To my joy, I found a pair of jeans and a pair of khakis that are now "just right." I was also able to pull out a couple of t-shirts that are not too tight to wear. I also checked a couple shirts in my closet I haven't worn in a while and they are now appropriately sized!

A few articles of clothing in the drawers will be wearable after I lose another 10 pounds or so. A few other articles, I will have to get a bit closer to my best weight as an adult.

Either way, it's a definite sign of weight loss progress.

Intermittent Fasting Is Great (For Me, At Least) Tue, 10 Oct 2017 05:00:00 +0000 phoneboy 77ac9451-009c-0dbc-59f8-2d81411ff42e This article entitled Intermittent Fasting Is Insane is an excellent example of modern journalism. It's sad that semi-respectable mastheads like the LA Times run articles that are little more than a copyedited version of a Facebook screed. However, given many of the other articles I've read recently, particularly on matters of current events, it's sadly the norm.

Many hours or days between meals has been the norm since humans first walked the earth. We wouldn't be here as a species if we weren't built for this reality. It's only in the last several decades that many of us had access to three meals a day plus snacks, not to mention a constant barrage of advertising that tells us the kinds of foods we should be eating.

So to call intermittent fasting "insane" shows tremendous ignorance of:

  • What intermittent fasting actually is
  • Human history

The first reason the author gives:

It sounds extremely uncomfortable.

Normal eating and normal hunger cues tell us to eat every three to four hours. This is what most people do. For example, they might eat a breakfast around 8 a.m., lunch around noon, some snacks before dinner, and a nice evening meal. When I put it like that it sounds obvious. That's because it's balanced. It's intuitive. It works.

Anytime you try to make a change to your habits, it's bound to be uncomfortable. For example, exercise is definitely uncomfortable if you're out of shape. And yet, you don't see too many articles suggesting you shouldn't exercise. And yes, the first few days of doing this were a little rough, no question. That said, it did not take long to adapt to eating one meal a day.

Also, what this clearly very thin woman doesn't realize is that for some of us, those natural cues that tell us when to eat are completely out of whack. Prior to changing to intermittent fasting, I could and would eat ridiculous amounts of food multiple times a day, plus snacks. Now? I still probably eat a little more than the average person eats at a meal, but I do it only once a day. I've also made other dietary changes that have surely reduced the amount of calories I consume in a day.

She continues:

During periods of fasting, black coffee, calorie-free sweeteners, diet soda, and sugar-free gum are permitted. I'm going to take this opportunity to point out that these calorie-free "hunger remedies" are flagged as warning signs of anorexia by the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

First of all, she links to an article on Livestrong, which does not provide a link to this research. Based on what they're talking about, I'm guessing it's Artificial Sweetener Use among Individuals with Eating Disorders. I can't read the full article without paying for it, but I have no doubt this is definitely true. I know from my own experience that artificial sweeteners, particularly in gum, are bad news and should be avoided, whether or not you have an eating disorder.

Second, she's clearly labeling intermittent fasting as an eating disorder by associating artificial sweetener use and anorexia, which I'm sure exists. Anorexia is defined as:

  • Abnormally low body weight
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • A distorted perception of body weight

Considering my doctor has given me an official diagnosis of morbidly obese and telling me to lose weight, anorexia is the farthest thing from my mind.

Black coffee has no sweeteners in it. Neither do espresso shots. And yes, one should be careful about overconsumption.

There are a few different iterations of the plan

One is to alternate days of eating. Eat whatever you want one day, fast for the entirety of the next. I've practiced Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday where we communally fast for one whole day, and I can tell you from experience that that s—- is not fun. For the holiday, it's not meant to be. You're lethargic and sorrowful, and you spend the day in religious services atoning for sin. But to do that to your body every other day in the name of weight loss? No, thank you.

She's basing her entire opinion of fasting on a single day where she fasted for Yom Kippur. Yes, if you've never fasted, it's tough. However, if she tried it herself more than once or, I don't know, asked someone who fasts regularly, she'd find out it gets a lot easier with practice. Or maybe it wouldn't for her, who knows. But there's no evidence to suggest she tried it for more than one day.

Also, the people who do alternate day fasting don't necessary eat whatever you want the next day, they may only eat a single meal, or maybe two.

Such an extreme dietary regimen is unsettling. Prioritizing a diet over the usual practices of everyday life is a cause for alarm and concern for the mental health of the dieter.

Actually, this diet is surprisingly easy to fit in with the rest of your life. The meal I specifically choose to eat every day is dinner, because it's one of the only meals I eat with my family. The fact I don't eat the rest of the time? They don't notice. When I travel? Same thing: I will eat certain meals (usually dinner) with other people. I might also have lunch with them. For long times in transit, I fast.

Imagine sitting through a workday without having eaten in 30 hours. Imagine skipping dinner with friends because you'd eaten your day's worth of calories at 2 p.m. These are some very plausible realities of intermittent fasting - and I haven't even dared to think about the digestive nightmare it could cause.

I don't have to imagine as I just did a 48 hour fast! It's not difficult at all. If she'd bother to talk to someone who's actually done intermittent fasting for any length of time, she'd know this. Also, if I know I am going to dinner with my friends, I plan around it and move my eating window accordingly (either fasting more or have an extra meal).

And digestive issues? What digestive issues? If anything, my digestion has been much better since I started eating less food. I definitely spend less time on the toilet as well!

"Skipping meals ramps up your stress hormone cortisol, which I consider a dark lord of metabolism," Sara Gottfried, M.D., told the Huffington Post. Essentially, it messes with your system. Who knows what happens to your metabolism when you practice this diet in the long-term?

Everything linked in the linked article was "could" or "may". And yes, if you're stressed, and you're already predisposed to eat, you'll want to eat more. What I've found is by practicing intermittent fasting, I am stressed far less, particularly when traveling. It's one less thing I have to stress about.

As for how this diet works long-term? The whole of human history tells us that, in moderation, fasting will not harm us. Muslims fast during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan, which acts as a variant of One Meal a Day. This has been part of the Muslim tradition since the 7th Century, and they still do it today. Do you hear of health problems as a result of this fasting from the Muslim population? I certainly don't.

And of course, then she quotes a study that supposedly shows that intermittent fasting is no better than a conventional diet. The study is described as follows:

Participants were randomized to 1 of 3 groups for 1 year: alternate-day fasting (25% of energy needs on fast days; 125% of energy needs on alternating "feast days"), calorie restriction (75% of energy needs every day), or a no-intervention control. The trial involved a 6-month weight-loss phase followed by a 6-month weight-maintenance phase.

Which is not how I've read most people intermittently fast. Also, the study has an interesting caveat that I was able to find thanks to a Reddit thread:

It's worth noting that adherence was a problem in this study, especially with the alternate-day fasting group. This made it harder for the authors to draw good statistical conclusions and likely affected the outcome.

Which tells me, the "official" science is far from settled. That said, I've done my own "N of 1 Trial" of intermittent fasting, and the results speak for themselves:

  • Best weight in 10 years, and dropping
  • Lower average blood glucose readings and lower A1c

I'm not going to claim intermittent fasting is for everyone, but I'm pretty sure she had made up her mind long before she wrote the article, only doing minimal research to back up her claims that took me minimal research and my own personal experience to debunk.

See also this comment thread on Reddit

Best Weight in 10 Years Mon, 11 Sep 2017 05:40:00 +0000 phoneboy 2ff678bd-c1cd-6493-a507-f03a5969ab5b I've struggled with my weight pretty much my whole life. As I got older, this lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes (of the second type), and the other things that result from these conditions being present and prolonged. I have been going to the doctor pretty regularly the last few years to try and get a handle on my diabetes, but had not been very successful at maintaining any sort of positive momentum.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to 1( and The Obesity Code. I can basically summarize his theory as follows: most weight gain can be explained by having too much insulin in your system. Reduce the insulin, the weight will come off on it's own.

It just so happens that Type 2 Diabetes is primarily about insulin resistance. What Dr. Fung says is that the insulin resistance is caused by the continued presence of elevated levels of insulin in the body. You know, in much the same way an alcoholic requires more and more alcohol to get drunk. Because they keep drinking.

Most doctors, of course, don't know where the insulin resistance comes from, or can't make the logical connection that seems about as obvious as minimizing your carb intake when you have high blood sugar—the exact opposite of what my diabetic "education" told me. The different macronutrients impact blood sugar levels quite differently:


The other thing I didn't learn from my doctor is that eating anything, even something low-carb or proven to be low glycemic index, will cause an insulin spike. Which, if you have an abundance of insulin in your system already, doesn't seem like a good idea. And, as far as I know, there are no drugs around that actually reduce insulin in the system.

Enter fasting. We would not have survived as a species if we truly required three meals a day plus snacks. Fasting has been practiced for centuries for medical or spiritual purposes. Jews fast on Yom Kippur, Muslims don't eat during the day during the entire month of Ramadan. Needless to say, if it were truly bad for us, we wouldn't be here having this debate.

The kind of fasting I'm talking about is more like what Muslims do on Ramadan, which is basically have one meal a day. Another term for this is intermittent fasting. I usually have dinner but occasionally I will have lunch or even breakfast. While Muslim's don't even drink water while fasting, I drink black coffee. I may also have a cup or two of broth mid-day (not two cups at once). And yes, I've backed off on the heavy cream, except for in my post-dinner tea, even though some say that a little bit of cream is ok.

I started intermittent fasting back in May, almost on accident. I had just came back from Italy, where I, of course, pigged out on carbs, and ate shit food on the airplane. The next day, I basically fasted until dinner because, well, my blood sugar was at 179 mg/dL (definitely elevated), and I wasn't hungry. I saw the impact on my blood sugar and I just kept on doing it.

I noticed another interesting side effect of fasting, which a friend of mine had told me about: it's a pretty good cure for jet lag. Considering I have a habit of jumping 8-10 timezones, this is a very handy feature. Basically, don't eat until you get to your destination, then eat at the normal dinner time. I did this coming back from Israel in June, and it was amazing!

The results so far have been pretty amazing, both for my blood glucose:

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-10 at 10.11.35 PM.jpeg

And my weight:

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-10 at 9.36.35 PM.jpeg

My doctor showed me my weight from a visit I did to the clinic back in 2007. I'm still about 10 pounds above that mark, but I'm a lot closer than I've been to that mark in the last 10 years. Things are definitely trending the right direction.

For sure, I am eating less food now than I was just a few months ago. In fact, I was kinda surprised when I realized just how much I'm not eating. I'm also surprised how easy it is to not eat. When it's not time to eat, I certainly notice food, but it doesn't bother me. As such, there's no willpower involved. A lot of my previous "cravings" don't exist anymore.

Further, when I do eat, I am a lot more picky about what I eat. This does mean making (overall) healthier choices, but I can also occasionally eat something off the diet. Even if I do make a mistake, I know what I need to do to get things going the right direction.

People ask me if this is sustainable. I certainly think so. In many ways, it's less restrictive because if I go somewhere that has the wrong kind of food, or even something I don't like, I can just decide not to eat. Which, as I'm finding out, is a good thing to do occasionally.

I am continuing to monitor my blood glucose. I'm doing it a little more frequently than my doctor prescribed to make sure my blood sugar doesn't get dangerously low, which is also bad. So far, that hasn't happened.

  1. Jason Fung

Workflows for 10Centuries and Mon, 06 Feb 2017 18:48:12 +0000 phoneboy 988e6021-9d20-80ab-bafe-91f3c7fa8e8a As is shutting down, a number of people are moving onto other social networks. Two members created their own, one being 10 Centuries, which also includes a blogging/podcasting platform, the other being, which has a very similar API to ADN. Both are currently invite only, and I'm happy to share with you if you're interested.

The problem with these smaller social networks is the integrations you might find in iOS or third party services simply don't exist. The good news is: both have documented APIs. Also, apps like Workflow exist that make it easy for non-programmers to actually leverage those APIs.

The end result? I've built a few workflows in the Workflow app that will allow me to utilize both services in whatever way I can get Workflow to allow me to use them. I'm sharing them in case anyone else finds them useful. I may also update them in the future.

10C Auth10C Blog — used to post this very blog post!• 10C Blurb10C Image Upload and Blurb10C and Pnut Blurb/Post10C and Pnut Image Post using Imgur

Hopefully these are self-explanatory. Comments are included in the workflows. Reach out if you have questions.

First 10C Blog Post Written From and Posted via Workflow Wed, 01 Feb 2017 01:47:41 +0000 phoneboy 1c34cf9b-de5b-2ebb-b4d7-087adeb6aa8a Ok, it's not really my first blog post written this way. I had to test it, after all. But it's the first semi-real one.

It's been a while since I've played with Workflow, though I use it all the time. It wouldn't be as easy to post my podcasts without it, as I use some automation that Workflow enables.

Apparently, one of the things it can do is send HTTP POST requests complete with user-specified headers. The upshot of this? It can make API calls and parse the output from those calls.

That means you can pretty much do anything you want with Workflow in terms of interacting with external services. Sure, you have to be able to craft the API calls accordingly, but modern REST APIs, provided they are adequately documented, are pretty easy to work with.

I suspect this new-found discovery will enable me to interact better with some of these "smaller" services that may not have ready-made clients for them.

At the very least, I can write and post blog posts from my iPhone on 10Centuries without waiting for a "proper" client to support the API.

Has The Internet Become The Tower of Babel? Sun, 22 Jan 2017 06:54:00 +0000 phoneboy ebaea9b4-9d3e-24a3-b453-09c7ff8aed37 Marten_van_Valckenborch_Tower_of_babel-large.jpg

​In my last blog post, I wrote the following:

​It saddens me that in an age where we have more ways to connect with more people than ever before, people are choosing to isolate themselves.

When I was fleshing out that post, I had hit on an idea that I ultimately removed from that post, but want to explore a bit more here. Namely, that what seems to be happening today with the Internet reminds me of a story of The Tower of Babel, a story from The Torah, or the Old Testament of The Bible.

From Genesis 11:1-4

1: And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

2: And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

3: And they said one to another: 'Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

4: And they said: 'Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.'

The Internet allows us to communicate across vast distances with anyone and everyone, regardless of physical location, bringing us all to the same virtual location. While there are a lot of languages still spoken on the Internet, the predominant one used is English. It has taken a lot of metaphorical bricks and mortar, and several decades to build, but build it we have, and people have gathered on the Internet.

It's not just the network, of course, as the network we now refer to as the Internet has been around since the end of 1969. It's the fact that we now carry access to it in our pockets, thanks to our smartphones. Our incessant use of social media ensures we are constantly reminded of the other people out there, and interaction is merely a few taps away.

From Genesis 11:5-9

5: And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

6: And the LORD said: 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do.

7: Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.'

8: So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.

9: Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

The United States just experienced the most contentious Presidential election in the United States in many people's lifetimes, during which people shared countless political memes, articles, and statements. Many of the resulting threads were contentious and argumentative. Not only that, but our exposure to this was constant, between social media and the more traditional forms of media.

What are people doing as a result of all this? They are unfriending people, blocking them, muting them, refusing to discuss certain issues, or simply logging off the Internet. They're unable, or maybe unwilling to communicate with someone who voted differently than they did, posting messages much like this Daily Kos article on their social media of choice. You know, just in case anyone tries to engage them with a differing point of view.

It's not exactly the same as "the LORD" being responsible for confounding our language so "that they may not understand one another's speech," but it has much the same effect. It doesn't take a Rabbi or a Priest to see the parallels.

On Political Parties, Politicians, and Other Controversial Issues Sat, 21 Jan 2017 06:44:00 +0000 phoneboy 8a20db69-95da-5e93-72cd-2e61877c4462 45534059_aba756b6ee_o.jpg

It saddens me that in an age where we have more ways to connect with more people than ever before, people are choosing to isolate themselves. Given all the vitriol and hatred expressed at those who appear to have a different point of view, I'm not surprised.

Many issues these days, particularly in the mainstream media, are portrayed as us versus them, you're either with us or against us. People are forced to choose one side or the other with little room for a nuanced position. Further, people who support Political Party A, Candidate X, and/or Issue N must also support these other positions for these reasons, even if that's not the case.

Once people have chosen a side, they often share material that promote their particular agenda. Someone posts they disagree with your view? They're one of "them," someone who doesn't support Issue N, and must obviously support Political Party B and Candidate Y. Worse, they make remarks denigrating and/or vilifying "them."

As someone with Aspergers, I am prone to thinking of things in black and white terms. In reality, I know things are rarely that way. My unique life experiences have shaped my views on a wide range of topics. They rarely fall into one of the two extremes, and I'm sure my views are different from yours for different reasons. I accept that I don't have all the answers. I accept that I may be wrong more often than not. I'm just trying to make sense of the mess the world has become.

I have yet to find someone I agree with 100% of the time. Therefore, I expect to disagree with everyone on something. If I challenge or question your views, it's to try and understand why it is you hold that particular view and help you understand why I hold mine. Maybe I'll learn something and I'll change my views. Maybe you'll learn something and change yours. Or, maybe, we'll agree to disagree.

Sadly, with increasing frequency, discussions involving controversial topics devolve into denigrating a bogeyman, directing vitriol and hatred at "them," i.e. those who do not support their issue or their candidate. You either support their issues, candidate, or party 100% without question or you're one of "them" with little room for discussion or nuance.

Political candidates and political parties often serve as convenient bogeyman in these discussions. While you can certainly influence who gets elected through voting, you have limited ability to directly influence what these politicians do in office, particularly as a group and especially at the national level. Likewise, they have limited ability to influence you, at least day-to-day.

Particular laws, Executive Orders, or policies can impact you, of course. And sure, if you're 100% against that law, Executive Order, or policy and maybe if you show up in person and protest in numbers (without damaging other people's property), a few politicians might change their minds. The odds of that happening, however, are not very high.

Given that I have a limited amount of energy, I choose to focus on the things I can directly influence as a result of direct actions I take to promote the things that matter to me. This means focusing more on the people I interact with, be it in person or online, where I can have a direct impact.

I recognize to advance a specific goal, I may have to support a specific organization, a specific candidate, or even a specific political party, i.e. one of "them." The support I provide is commensurate to the influence I have over that entity, which for national political parties and politicians, is practically zero. Even when I do provide support, it's specific to the issues I care about and it's not unconditional.

If you wonder how we got here, why there is less and less reasoned discourse in the world, if you wonder why there is less and less compassion and understanding in the world, if you wonder why there is more and more hatred and vitriol in the world, consider how your own actions have contributed to this reality. I'm by no means a saint in this regard, everyone can and must do better if we are to remain a civil society.

You may disagree with the things I choose to support and why. Likewise, I may disagree with the things you choose to support and why. Provided we can express our preferences and differences without vilifying and remain accountable for our actions, we can continue to be friends. If you feel or demonstrate otherwise, you have no place in my life.

Photo Credit: Eugenio SiriLink:

A Tale of Two Glucometers Fri, 06 Jan 2017 06:57:00 +0000 phoneboy 55c7d819-8db4-cd8a-922e-f93e349ace3b In addition to struggling with my weight, I have also been struggling with Type 2 diabetes the last couple years. I realize it's nothing compared to what I've seen Type 1's have to go through in terms of calculating how much insulin to take and when, but it's frustrating when I find out I'm not doing quite as well as I thought I was.

When I first got diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes two years ago, my A1C was 7.9. It had went down close to 6, but it's now back to a 7.1 based on a recent blood test, which I will be discussing with my doctor as I go in for an annual physical.

Among the many other stats you get on a blood test is your current blood glucose level. Since I had to go in fasting, I checked before I went in. My meter gave me a 104 mg/dL. The blood test said 143 mg/dL, which is a huge swing! Another data point: my 3 month average on my glucometer was 126 mg/dL. The "estimated" average from my A1C number, which is supposed to reflect a 2-3 month average? 157 mg/dL.

All of that suggests my meter might be at fault. Given that I was having some technical issues with the iHealth meter I acquired a couple years ago, namely that it would lose track of which vial of strips I was using and, very recently, completely lost sync with my phone, I decided it was time to try a different meter. And, re-reading that old post, it seems I should have expected inaccurate readings might crop up again.

Rather than get another "smart" meter, I opted for something a bit lower tech based on a recommendation from Larry, a fellow diabetic: The Contour Next by Ascensia (formerly Bayer). It lacks Bluetooth, but I can plug a Micro USB cable to pull the data off of it, if I so choose.

The other redeeming quality of this meter: the strips are even cheaper than the iHealth meter, which is why I chose that meter in the first place. I actually bought 200 test strips and the Contour Next meter for about the same price I pay for 200 test strips from iHealth. And the Contour Next strips are much more widely available. I should check and see what they cost if I go through my insurance.

Since I still had a couple iHealth strips left, I figured I'd do a side-by-side comparison of the two meters from the same drop of blood. From Thursday night:


And from Friday morning:


How can two meters get such wildly different results? It's hard to say, but it turns out, such inaccuracies are actually within the US FDA Guidelines for Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose (SMBG) Test Systems:

Blood glucose test results are used by people with diabetes to make critical decisions about their treatment; therefore, it is important that the results are accurate so that nutritional and drug dosing errors are better avoided. Your studies should demonstrate that your SMBG is sufficient for this purpose by showing that 95% of all SMBG results in this study are within +/- 15% of the comparator results across the entire claimed measuring range of the device and that 99% of all SMBG results are within +/- 20% of the comparator results across the entire claimed measuring range of the device

I suppose if my results were really high, a +/- of 20% wouldn't be that big of a deal. On the lower end of the scale, where I am, that +/- 20% can make the difference between being normal and not normal, either mildly high or possibly hypoglycemic (low blood sugar, potentially very bad).

Regardless, I think I will stick with the new meter. Ascensia, which was a business unit of Bayer before it was sold to Panasonic Healthcare, has probably been making glucometers a bit longer than the iHealth guys have been in existence.

Edited to add second test result on 6 Jan 2017

On Medium and Compensating Authors For The Value They Provide Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:36:00 +0000 phoneboy c1cdc095-46fc-ac9c-54c2-7930d6297251 Medium has always been a curious service for me. It provides a nice place to publish your stuff—for free—as well as find an interact with content others write. Each comment in itself becomes its own post, which can be quoted and responded to. For example, the basis for this post originated as a comment

It's not clear to me what Medium's business model is, since the average Joe doesn't pay for it. Clearly they're not happy with the direction things are going and have announced layoffs as part a plan Renewing Medium's Focus:

We believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention. We believe there are millions of thinking people who want to deepen their understanding of the world and are dissatisfied with what they get from traditional news and their social feeds. We believe that a better system — one that serves people — is possible. In fact, it's imperative.

So, we are shifting our resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they're creating for people. And toward building a transformational product for curious humans who want to get smarter about the world every day.

As someone who has written a couple of books published through a traditional publisher and paid blog posts for blogs, I didn't find the traditional methods of compensation all that profitable.

Given that plenty of people write for the sheer joy of getting their ideas out there and the fact relatively few people want to pay for anything on the Internet, I don't see a way to build a closed system that directly compensates creators in any meaningful way.

Where the real compensation will come from, in my experience, is outside the system. For example, my work, published for all to see in the late 1990s, essentially turned into my resume that allowed me to make a pretty comfortable living in Information Security.

That's just my take. I would love for the Medium folks to prove me wrong, but I am not optimistic. Meanwhile, I will continue to use Medium as a place to syndicate content, but I probably won't use it as a place to originate anything. At least until they can figure out their business model.

Those Funny Aspergers Traits I Have Wed, 04 Jan 2017 05:20:00 +0000 phoneboy 0d65e081-9012-305c-11c5-7589760195dd ​I'm not even sure I should post this. That said, I've definitely posted my share of "too much information" posts over the years and this one is no different. However, attempting to explain what's on my mind helps me to make sense of things, and what I'm about to explain will probably make no sense to some of you. For others, it will make total sense, because you do some of these things, or because you know someone who does.

The impetus for this post came from post made by Randolph about his life with Autism. It got me thinking about my own life with Aspergers, which is "in the spectrum" as they say. In my case, there was never a formal diagnosis, and as far as I know, having a formal diagnosis doesn't really do much good.

The one thing I've learned about anything related to the Aspergers or anyone that is on the autism spectrum is that while there are some similarities, everyone is different. For example, Randolph says "Airports are thus incredibly stressful, so I don't enjoy flying." For me, airports aren't as stressful, though they are a stressor.

The same can be said for large crowds of people, I can handle them for a period of time because it's mostly background noise. What presents a bigger cognitive load for me is trying to comprehend multiple people at once, for example, in a conversation that includes a handful of people. It requires far too much concentration for me to understand what's going on, particularly if it's a long, protracted affair.

I'm sure has a bit to do with why I rarely watch TV at home unless no one is home (that and most TV shows are boring, predictable, or not appropriate for children). The one thing I will watch on TV is either NFL or NBA—I am a San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors fan, after all. Given my teams aren't local teams and I refuse to spend obscene amounts of money on cable, I rarely have an opportunity to see them on TV.

Which, come to think of it, is fine with me. I am quite happy with simply listening to games. In fact, if the NFL offered something affordable like the NBA Audio Pass, which is a very reasonable $10 for the entire season (including playoffs), I'd shut up and give the NFL my money. They used to, and then they rolled it into NFL Game Pass, which meant paying them $100 for the season. If I wanted to spend that kind of money, I'd have the kind of cable that'd let me watch the games.

My primary form of consumptive entertainment is listening to podcasts, preferably at 1.5x speed because that's the speed I naturally talk and think in. Unlike other forms of entertainment I might undertake in any given environment, it has the lowest cognitive load. I will frequently shut it off if I find other things in my environment are causing my cognitive load to increase. For example, I was briefly listening to a podcast while editing this piece and I turned it off.

At the end of a day, particularly on days where I spent a lot of time around other people or subjected myself to a significant cognitive load, I need some quiet time with minimal sensory input before I got to sleep. While I can have trouble sleeping at times, like Randolph, if I really need sleep, I will get it. Doesn't matter where I am or what circumstances. I am also dead to the world when I sleep.

Emotions, I have them, but processing them limits my ability to speak or process other sensory information. Likewise, meltdowns are a thing for me. The trick to get out of the downward spiral of emotion is to shift my focus elsewhere. Meltdowns happen more when I don't sleep enough. Or spend too much time around other people. Sometimes, these two things are related.

Very early in my career, I managed to get myself into a position where I did not have to go into an office on a regular basis. I suspect this has had a lot to do with my professional success as I don't have the stress of being in an office environment day-in and day-out and the meltdowns that can and did happen when I was. The trade-off is, of course, I have to travel from time to time, which, thankfully, doesn't present too many challenges that I can't handle. It probably helps I have developed somewhat of a travel routine.

Speaking of routines, there are many tasks which I always do a certain way. If I am interrupted (either internally or externally), there's a good chance that task will be entirely forgotten and be entirely undone or left partially done, with random items left around my house. Frequently, I will find my coffee cup in the bathroom or some other place. More recently, I left a camera tripod on the cat tree.

One thing I almost never forget to do, unlike Randolph, is eat. Sometimes, I eat too much because emotions. When I do forget to eat, it's because I'm hyper-focused on something. Maybe that's one key to getting my weight (and my blood sugar) under control.

If this post seems like a stream of consciousness, it is to an extent, and it's somewhat on purpose. It was not written in one sitting, but it reflects the way my mind meanders.

I do have a way with the written word and am generally able to convey complex topics in a simplified way. That is one of my talents. Sometimes, though it takes a very long time to come up with the right words. Yes, I've spent more than an hour writing a three sentence email. It's also sometimes like the JPEG compression algorithm for pictures when the compression is set too high: I lose important bits.

Yes, I'm good with computers and more recently, smartphones. Always have been. Always try to help people when I can, but I've learned to be a little less pushy about it. Honestly, if computers didn't exist, I don't know what I'd be good at.

I'm sure I'll have more to say on this, but for now, this is where I'll leave it.

Photos in the Hallways Tue, 27 Dec 2016 08:14:00 +0000 phoneboy 0ac51ef6-7808-5832-7971-032e6293d966 It seems there are so many photos being taken these days, but what becomes of them? They're probably sitting somewhere on a hard drive that will get bit rot. They might get shared on a social network or three, but that's it.

Meanwhile, my employer is just about to finish their new building in Tel Aviv, which is attached to their old building. They're asking employees to submit their best photos for potentially being hung in the halls. They've done this in the past, and there's some pretty neat photos my (ex) co-workers have captured. Here is a few of my own, all from 2016:


Maybe one or more of these photos will live somewhere in the Check Point offices in Tel Aviv rather than just sit on a hard drive somewhere getting bit rot.

I do have a couple other favorite photos while I'm at it. I would have submitted these, but they don't meet the requirements (they were taken in 2006 with a Nokia E70 and are not big enough):

child-like-wonder_4966528673_o.jpg child-like-wonder_4966528575_o.jpg

And the only photo of mine that I know was printed in a magazine that I took in 1997 when I briefly worked at Netscape:

2116016112_97457cbe3d_o (1).jpg

Should We Trust The American Media? Tue, 22 Nov 2016 03:48:00 +0000 phoneboy 9faca3c1-9aac-afd7-a42b-f5718615df64 > This has been China's story for decades. In 2016, it is starting to be the US' story as well. For me, my mistrust of the media started with getting angry about what the news media chooses to cover. Things that, in the grand scheme of things, make no sense based on who is covering it. Why does the local newscast get something I know a thing or two about completely wrong? Why should a nationwide newscast spend any time on what new things are being added to the McDonalds menu? Why are celebrities discussed on anything other than TMZ or Entertainment Tonight? How come no one covers anything other than "fluff" pieces for GE, Disney, Comcast, or Viacom? The media is bought and paid for pretty much everywhere in the world. In China, it's obviously the government as media is state-run. In the US, it's the owners of the major TV networks (NBC = Comcast + GE, ABC = Disney, CBS = Viacom) and the underwriters, sponsors, advertisers, call them whatever you'd like. Coverage of stories (or not) is dictated by those paying for airtime. Ever wonder why the national nightly news casts never cover drug-related issues, or even broach questions about whether drugs are involved in the latest gun-related incident? See all the pharmaceutical ads between the native ads for McDonalds that run as actual news stories. At least I have some idea what's going on thanks to No Agenda, which I discovered more than eight years ago. I've learned how the media works and the games they play. And I've learned: it's a scam, but it's an important signal about at least one of the potential narratives in play. The truth is out there to find if you're willing to look for it. Just be careful of confirmation bias, which is also out there.]]> From Watching the Election from The Post-Truth Future:

In China, that foundation of reality is eroded alongside trust in institutions previously tasked with upholding the truth. Contrary to popular sentiment in the US, Chinese readers don't blindly trust the state-run media. Rather, they distrust it so much that they don't trust any form of media, instead putting their faith in what their friends and family tell them. No institution is trusted enough to act as a definitive fact-checker, and so it's easy for misinformation to proliferate unchecked.>> This has been China's story for decades. In 2016, it is starting to be the US' story as well.

For me, my mistrust of the media started with getting angry about what the news media chooses to cover. Things that, in the grand scheme of things, make no sense based on who is covering it. Why does the local newscast get something I know a thing or two about completely wrong? Why should a nationwide newscast spend any time on what new things are being added to the McDonalds menu? Why are celebrities discussed on anything other than TMZ or Entertainment Tonight? How come no one covers anything other than "fluff" pieces for GE, Disney, Comcast, or Viacom?

The media is bought and paid for pretty much everywhere in the world. In China, it's obviously the government as media is state-run. In the US, it's the owners of the major TV networks (NBC = Comcast + GE, ABC = Disney, CBS = Viacom) and the underwriters, sponsors, advertisers, call them whatever you'd like. Coverage of stories (or not) is dictated by those paying for airtime. Ever wonder why the national nightly news casts never cover drug-related issues, or even broach questions about whether drugs are involved in the latest gun-related incident? See all the pharmaceutical ads between the native ads for McDonalds that run as actual news stories.

At least I have some idea what's going on thanks to No Agenda, which I discovered more than eight years ago. I've learned how the media works and the games they play. And I've learned: it's a scam, but it's an important signal about at least one of the potential narratives in play. The truth is out there to find if you're willing to look for it. Just be careful of confirmation bias, which is also out there.

Why is Voting in America So Hard? Sun, 06 Nov 2016 06:06:00 +0000 phoneboy 1ef6b573-d3a3-537e-9376-7aa6e079870e > Record turnout for the state came during the 2008 election, when 84.6 percent of voters participated. In 2012, turnout was 81.3 percent.>> While election analysts across the country dissect early voting patterns in various states, the effect is muted in Washington, one of only three states that vote entirely by mail, along with Oregon and Colorado.>> That means no long lines at polling places and no corresponding legal tussles over access to polling places. Seriously, this is the way it should be everywhere in America. Everyone gets an voter information pamphlet and ballot mailed to them. You drop off your ballot at a central location free of charge or you mail it for the cost of first class postage. No finding your polling place or waiting in line for hours on end, as some people are reportedly doing in other states. The result? People actually vote. During the last couple of Presidential elections, Pierce County had above 80% participation of registered voters. This means just about everyone who wants to vote is voting and there's little stopping the other 20% from turning in their ballot. Can someone tell me why more states aren't looking to implement similar systems? I mean, beyond the obvious, rhetorical reasons.]]> From At least 42 percent of Pierce voters had turned in ballots by Saturday:

Statewide, as of Friday, about 1.7 million of the more than 4.2 million ballots sent had been returned by mail or drop box.>> Record turnout for the state came during the 2008 election, when 84.6 percent of voters participated. In 2012, turnout was 81.3 percent.>> While election analysts across the country dissect early voting patterns in various states, the effect is muted in Washington, one of only three states that vote entirely by mail, along with Oregon and Colorado.>> That means no long lines at polling places and no corresponding legal tussles over access to polling places.

Seriously, this is the way it should be everywhere in America. Everyone gets an voter information pamphlet and ballot mailed to them. You drop off your ballot at a central location free of charge or you mail it for the cost of first class postage. No finding your polling place or waiting in line for hours on end, as some people are reportedly doing in other states.

The result? People actually vote. During the last couple of Presidential elections, Pierce County had above 80% participation of registered voters. This means just about everyone who wants to vote is voting and there's little stopping the other 20% from turning in their ballot.

Can someone tell me why more states aren't looking to implement similar systems? I mean, beyond the obvious, rhetorical reasons.

It's Not Just About The Sportsball Thu, 03 Nov 2016 05:17:00 +0000 phoneboy 3ad2ce7b-09f8-0d0d-2597-9abe5d9e3a4f Many people I know into tech are not into sports. At all. In fact, they tend to refer to all sports collectively as sportsball:

Sportsball…is an Internet slang term used to describe any competitive sport that revolves around a ball, particularly the ones that end with the suffix "-ball" in their names, such as baseball, basketball and football. As implied by its generic name, the word is typically used in a derogatory manner by those who either dislike or has little interest in sports fandom.

I am probably in the minority among my community in the sense that I actually like some sports, particularly the NFL and the NBA. I'm not nearly as deep into it as some fans, but I do have teams I follow: the San Francisco 49ers (NFL) and the Golden State Warriors (NBA). I will occasionally pay attention to baseball, and I've been to a couple of hockey games, and I will entertain other regional sports when I am abroad.

If I had to pick a favorite sport: it's football, hands down. I've liked it ever since I was a young kid. Probably didn't hurt that I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area while I was a kid and watched the 49ers during their glory years. I will watch NFL, College, high school, and even the younger kids play. It requires a huge commitment and 11 players to work together towards a common goal. There are different things to appreciate about this sport at all age levels if you know what to look for.

Living in the Seattle area does not make me popular during the NFL season because the local team (the Seahawks) are in the same division as the 49ers. Between that, the absolutely miserable play by the 49ers over the last few years, and the recent success of the Golden State Warriors (colloquially known as the Dubs), I've started following the NBA again. Thankfully, unlike the 49ers, the Dubs do not have a rival based in Seattle, unless of course various parties can bring back the Seattle Supersonics.

To people who don't follow sports, professional sports seems absolutely ridiculous. It's an activity undertaken by highly paid athletes who work for teams and/or sports leagues mostly interested in making as much money as humanly possible. The impact of a team win or loss on a fan is mostly psychological. One's beliefs about a team's ability to win can appear similar to a belief in God, something a lot of tech people don't believe in, either.

Then again, that nerdy thing you like and will spend hours on end talking about seems absolutely ridiculous to most everyone else who isn't a similar sort of nerd. Sports (in general) is one of those things that the vast majority of people are interested in. As such, it serves as a useful way to relate to people who aren't your kind of nerd.

For example, even though I am not a Seahawks fan, because the majority of people around where I live are, I follow them enough to be able to talk intelligently with anyone about how they're doing. Same with basketball, I follow the Dubs and have a cursory knowledge of other teams and players. Baseball, I'm less into, but I get mildly interested in during the postseason and know who's playing who in the World Series.

When I travel, I find sports is a great way to relate to people, even if they like a sport I don't know much about. I've learned a bit about hockey from Canadians and about various forms of Rugby from Australians and South Africans. Even though it's unlikely I will get into these sports, I find having at least a perfunctory knowledge of the locally prevalent sports helps in all manners of conversation.

Bottom line: People appreciate when you show interest in something they are interested in. Sports is about as close to a touchdown, slam dunk, or home run as you're gonna get in this area.

Creative Block Sat, 22 Oct 2016 05:44:00 +0000 phoneboy 66e2431a-6e81-8177-cc8c-309076652993 I seem to have hit a bit of a wall in terms of my creative endeavors. Maybe all those reports I'm writing for work lately have a lot to do with this. Maybe it's all the time in shiny metal tubes. Not entirely sure. But when your creative pursuits involve more than just writing, you can't really call it writers block, can you?

The good news is that I've recorded a new podcast for the first time in over three months, starting with a big new toy which I'm sure I spent far too many minutes talking about. I'm also writing something small here, but where I really need to kick it up a notch is over on PhoneBoy's Security Theater as that advances my professional image.

The question is: can I maintain the creative momentum? I go in spurts, sometimes a few days, sometimes a few years. Consistency is key to honing your craft and while I can do it for a time, I eventually run out of steam.

It's self-sabotaging, quite frankly, and I need to figure out why I do that. Not just in my creative pursuits.

About That A1C Mon, 03 Oct 2016 01:52:00 +0000 phoneboy ce19fa68-5f3a-a397-c8d9-64e4573573a7 As part of a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, and just generally getting older, I have to give regular samples of my blood so I can be evaluated for many things. This time around, I got it in just under the expiration of the orders, about three months past when I should have. It resulted in me learning I needed a doctors visit to get my medications refilled while being close to running out.

Sadly, the last several months of heavy travel have not been good to me. I've ate and drank a lot of stuff that, quite frankly, I probably shouldn't have. I stopped walking (for exercise) regularly. As a result, I gained back most of the weight I had lost and my A1C number went from a 6.1 to a 6.7. Also, my fasting blood sugar spiked to around 130 mg/dL (at least on my meter).

After I saw the results of my blood tests, I redoubled my efforts to eliminate the evil carbs and to quit putting food in my mouth when I'm not hungry. The funny thing is it seems to have resulted in an immediate drop in my fasting blood sugar: below 100 mg/dL, which is where it's supposed to be.

The doctor wasn't too concerned with the increase. His prescription, of course, is to make better dietary choices and get exercising again.

Sadly, over the next couple of weeks, I will be away from home again. Plenty of restaurant food, but minimal time in shiny metal tubes. After that, I should be home for a few weeks. We'll see if I can keep things under control.

There is No Escape, Only Movement Between Trash Fires Sat, 10 Sep 2016 16:53:00 +0000 phoneboy dee657d4-44a8-8392-de03-0ba5c95af849 From All Human Systems Are Enormous Trash Fires

So if you're wondering why the particular system you're in is always such an enormous trash fire, the answer is because there's no other way for it to be. No other place is going to be any less of an enormous trash fire. Everything is ablaze, always and forever.

As I often say, it's not because the grass is greener, it's because you want to go play in a different field. It's still just grass at the end of the day.

While sometimes leaving a given system is the right answer, don't think you're going to escape a trash fire in the process, all you're really doing is moving from one to the next.

How I Vote, 2016 Edition Sun, 24 Jul 2016 19:38:00 +0000 phoneboy d070181f-c095-cb68-dd84-2dfbe6b89542 In 2004, I wrote a post about picking the lesser of two evils, wherein I articulated some support for Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik. I still like this quote from an interview he did (though I can't find the original reference):

"If you vote for the lesser of two evils, and your candidate wins, you still get evil. If you don't vote for liberty, you will never get it."

Another analogy Badnarik used in a television interview was something like the following. Suppose you were in prison and you could vote for your fate. Given the following odds:

  • Death by Electric Chair — 50%
  • Death by Lethal Injection — 45%
  • Freedom — 5%

Which would you vote for? Would you vote for Electric Chair because it was the most likely? Hell no, you'd vote for Freedom, even if it has a less likely chance of winning.

This analogy seems all the more appropriate today as my fellow Americans and I are poised to make a choice between two candidates widely viewed as bad for our country: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, I also found a post from November 2006 I had written called "How I Vote." While some of the references I made in that post aren't relevant anymore (and I thus remove it), I'm including the general logic I've been following since. It basically goes like this:

  1. If there's a Libertarian running, unless there's something in their voter statement that turns me off, I vote for them. This is because the Libertarian platform generally appeals to me and a third, strong political party can only benefit this country.

  2. If there's an incumbent running, vote against the incumbent. I tend to think politicians should be changed often, just like diapers, and for exactly the same reason.

  3. If there's still a choice left, then I'll do the research. Because I always vote absentee, it's really easy to do that research. Note that in Washington State, absentee is the only way you can vote except during Presidential elections.

If I follow my own logic:

  1. The Libertarian ticket for President is Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Looks good so far, but I'm reserving judgement for now.

  2. The one thing the last several years has taught me is that there is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats except for the special interests they pander to. As a result, I consider candidates from both parties to be incumbents and not worth voting for.

  3. If it turns out that my conscience doesn't align with Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, then I'll vote for someone else that does.

You might say I am "throwing my vote away" by choosing to vote for someone who isn't a Republican or Democrat. Personally, I want my vote to have more of an impact. And I prefer voting for Liberty versus the lesser of two evils.

Verifying Myself on Twitter Sat, 23 Jul 2016 00:19:00 +0000 phoneboy 22e2896b-f6e5-3bd4-295b-60cb630b904c I have to admit I've been jealous of the handful of people who have verified accounts on Twitter. I actually created an account that ultimately became verified, the one for Check Point Software. That was a while back and I don't post from it very often, being a corporate account and all that.

Recently, Twitter opened up verified accounts to all, and I just took the plunge and put in my application. I think I meet the criteria, and the worst they can say is no, so why not?


Emotionally Hungry Tue, 05 Jul 2016 23:21:00 +0000 phoneboy 2b7d2ead-5ec0-b386-bb08-ffd0aec31cee I learned a long time ago not to make decisions when I am emotional. Heeding this advice has probably saved me numerous times from making life-changing decisions needlessly. Sadly, there is one area in my life where I have not applied this same advice—when I eat.

I've known about emotional eating for quite some time. I've even caught myself many times eating when I know it's because I'm emotional, not because I'm physically hungry.

Bottom line: I need to stop. I know it's not helping me lose any weight or keep my blood sugar in check.

While I don't know exactly how to solve the problem, I think the solution starts with pushing the plate away when my emotions are in control. I know in practice this is far easier said than done. I also know there will be times when I will be physically hungry as well and I need to learn to manage that.

I also need to learn to push the plate away when my physical hunger is satiated. Perhaps that will become easier over time.

When Do The Filters Come Off? Mon, 04 Jul 2016 22:27:00 +0000 phoneboy d6336ce6-8efe-1adf-6523-2738d0a7b8ba As I've written in the past:

You're better off assuming anything you input into social media, SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, or whatever can and will be made public. Act and share accordingly.

Likewise, I assume everything I post will eventually be read by someone I wish didn't. I had some experiences where I didn't experience appropriate discretion and had some unpleasant side effects as a result. This means I usually exercise a fair amount of editorial restraint on most everything I post.

The reality is, I don't have a whole lot of real-life friends that I can talk to about things anymore, at least not any that I can reliably see on a regular basis. Even if I did, I'm not always great with verbal communication, even though I can speak a lot at times.

This leaves writing as my way of working through things. It's also how I learn things as well, it seems.

Sadly, there is an increasing number of topics online that are third rails and cannot be debated or discussed in any rational sense without the proverbial firestorm being unleashed on you. One only has to look at the upcoming Presidential election in the US to find the latest edition of this: two repugnant, polarizing figures, one of which will likely be elected "leader of the free world" and not "seize power" as some media outlets might portray it. That is, unless the American electorate wakes up and realizes there are other choices out there, one of which is Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.

My rather innocuous posting on Facebook got largely ignored, thankfully, and didn't degrade into a flame war like I see so many other political posts do. Maybe I have better friends than most, though based on their Facebook posts, I know most of the ones that have declared are backing major party candidates.

The reality is, because of the threat of something degrading into an argument, I don't even participate in the conversation. At all. It means not posting about controversial issues and rarely participating in conversations around these topics. Besides, who on the Internet really cares what I think, anyway?

This inability to have real conversations about things that matter to me extends into the real world, too. Forget the controversial topics, if you were to put potential discussion topics in a Venn diagram, the intersection between me and a significant portion of the population is quite small. Add Aspergers into the mix, and you have a recipe for a lot of listening and not a lot of talking. Or dominating conversations if it happens to be one of those few topics I actually care about.

But mostly, I just get exhausted from having to filter everything I say or write.

You Still Have to Do The Work Mon, 04 Jul 2016 19:29:00 +0000 phoneboy 637b9a12-73ff-e888-cef2-cd882fd12414 From There Are No Fucking Keys To Success

If you try to avoid the work by looking for all of their "keys" you're only wasting time, procrastinating, and letting yourself down. And here's the thing, I can't guarantee that putting the work in will mean you're going to succeed. But not putting the work in does mean you'll fail.

There are always things one can optimize about how one does the work, different ways to approach a given challenge. Those are helpful to learn, but they won't matter a bit unless you actually do the work and implement them.

There's another reality here: just because something worked for someone successful, doesn't mean it will work for you. The only way you're going to find that out is to do the work and find out.

Guess what? You're probably going to fail. A lot. And that's ok. If you're not failing, you're not learning. Which is also a part of doing the work.

If You Want To Be Seen, Show Your Work Tue, 28 Jun 2016 05:46:00 +0000 phoneboy d9b6304d-065d-8158-285b-c6a722608398 From Make Your Work Public or You Don't Exist:

That's the world we're living in: open, competitive. A world where people don't read your cover letter — they search your name on Google and Linkedin.

What have you achieved? What comes up if I Google your name?

If nothing comes up, I'll assume it's because you haven't done anything. That's because my brain is dumb and takes shortcuts. If you don't market yourself on the internet, you'll suffer from the comparison with those who do.

Many years ago, I used to joke my website was purely for shameless self-promotion. These days, it's very true, though I actually have a few different sites out there, depending on whether it's something related to infosec, a personal thought, or my podcast, when I decide to resume publishing. And, of course, my inane drivel on the social medias.

Unlike in the days where I did technical support of Check Point FireWall-1 (back when it was called that), a lot of the "work product" I generate these days is not something I can show. This is because the stuff I write is largely for specific customers and contains customer specific information. That said, I do share many of the generic insights publicly.

I can assure you that, if you get in front of people you've never met before, they're going to Google you. After nearly every meeting involving people I have never met before, I get connection requests on social media from people at those meetings.

The more you put out there, the easier it is to influence the way other people see you. Of course, that can be a double-edged sword, so be careful what you put out there.

Never Been Happy with the CMS Mon, 20 Jun 2016 03:25:00 +0000 phoneboy 43271715-12b0-fe29-e9cd-72e4a14a46d0 It seems like every couple of years, I will change the CMS that is used for my various websites. This has resulted in some messy, messy transitions. As it is right now, and are both using Jekyll, one hosted on a VM somewhere, the other hosted on GitHub. For what I am doing on these sites, I believe this is the right tool.

This site,, has been on 10Centuries the last few years (after being hosted on Posterous, Posthaven, and Wordpress). I just had it migrated to version 4 of the platform, which itself is still "beta." While the frontend is lacking at this moment, which will hopefully be fixed soon, the backend is much more usable for me, which means I might actually write a post once in a while.

Of course, I wonder how long I will remain on these CMSes. Because I've never been happy with whatever CMS I use for more than a few years…

Are Computers Killing Our Culture? Sun, 08 May 2016 21:55:00 +0000 phoneboy 3f50a94c-54a3-da7b-6baf-f6b2ca084d3f From How Computers Are Killing Our Culture:

Whether your desire to have a clean, perfect document is pathological or simply a result of the way you want to present yourself to the world, we are eliminating some of our finest work when we edit ourselves online, on the computer screen, in our writing programs.

For me, at least, the issue is that my thoughts can come and go so quickly that I can't even get them out on the page (virtual or otherwise) before they disappear into the ether. It's even worse when I try to write stuff out longhand, which is only legible to myself, and even then, only barely.

On the other hand, I know I can obsess over my words. Even a 140 character tweet can sometimes take an eternity for me to write. And I know the minute I hit the post button, the information is out there, in the ether, indexed, and searchable nearly instantaneously. Even if I decide to delete the post, someone can screenshot it and reshare it without my knowledge or consent. Further, I have no control over it.

At least with a piece of paper, you can destroy your own work. Obviously it's a bit harder once that piece of paper is part of a larger book that's printed and distributed to a bunch of people, but it's still theoretically possible.

Meanwhile, that searchable, infinitely copyable aspect of computers also makes it possible for culture to spread farther and wider than it could ever do in entirely physical mediums. That doesn't sound like killing culture to me, but it's definitely changing it.

Our Relationship With Work and The Facebookification of LinkedIn Sun, 06 Mar 2016 00:19:00 +0000 phoneboy d6e27069-09c0-921c-4f10-12a791981496 Work-Life Balance

I've seen many people on LinkedIn complain about how it's starting to look like Facebook. In many ways, it is, with the sharing of articles (some of which aren't necessarily about "work"), pictures (some are memes that have nothing to do with work), politics, and even deeply personal stuff. I've also heard that people use LinkedIn to "hook up" with people in non-professional settings (if you catch my meaning).

I don't know about the rest of you, but the lines between my work life and the rest of my life are pretty blurry. Maybe it has something to do with working out of my house, which I've done for the last 18 years. Maybe it has to do with the fact I spend a fair amount of time on the road, including some long international flights. Maybe I don't have a ton of friends outside of those I've met through work or other professional networking.

The idea that "work" life and your "personal" life are somehow separate, unconnected things has never really resonated with me. I suspect a lot of technology professionals feel the same way, at least based on how they are using social media of all kinds. Obviously, the folks in charge at LinkedIn must have agreed, and thus added Facebook-like functionality.

It's one thing for LinkedIn to add Facebook-like functionality to their product. It's another thing for people to actually use it that way, which they clearly are. It's simply a sign of the times.

I long since learned that social media, in all its forms, can make or break your professional career. A large part of why Nokia was willing to hire me in 1999 even though I wanted to work remotely was because of my online reputation and the corpus of work I had posted on

While I certainly post and share my share of silly, personal, and/or political things, I keep it professional on LinkedIn. This means sharing stuff that is related to my profession, personal development, or dealing with something in relation to work, kind of like this article. It doesn't mean sharing memes, going off on political rants, or pictures of my kids.

Bottom line: The Facebookification of LinkedIn is simply a reflection of modern life, at least for those of us who use LinkedIn. It's not entirely a bad thing.

The Lost Art Of Mix Tapes Sun, 21 Feb 2016 00:49:00 +0000 phoneboy fb9fa3c9-a44f-b08c-fad7-46e5cfbeb2b6 These days, people have millions of songs at their fingertips thanks to all the various streaming music services and ubiquitous-enough connectivity all from the palm of our hand. 25 years ago, the closest thing we had to that walkmans and cassette tapes. If you wanted something other than an album, you had to create it yourself. It was called a mix tape, and my collection of them (that I still have) is pictured below:


You could easily buy the blank cassettes at the drug store, plug them in your CD boombox, and lay down your tracks. If you were lucky, your boombox had two cassette players that would allow you to record from one to the other. The cassette tapes went by the ubiquitous designations C30, C60, and C90, which of course became a pop song in the early 1980s:

Incidentally, a lot of what the RIAA would term "music piracy" was facilitated by these devices, as this Bow Wow Wow song suggests.

The cassettes were 30, 60, 90, or even 120 minutes in length. However, a cassette was two sided, which meant that each side of the cassette was half that length. And since the tapes were linear, if you didn't want blank spots at the end of the side, you had to have some short songs that went with just about everything (or get really lucky). And since you had only a rough estimate of how much time you had left, it took a little trial and error to make it all work.

There was always something satisfying about the result. Something that one cannot easily replicate with a playlist:


Maybe it's because the result of your hardwork is a physical object rather than just bits in the computer. There's something to be said for that.

Sharpening My Presentation Skills Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:59:00 +0000 phoneboy e6a66a6a-84f2-b59b-9a0a-b3f2a06a3d82 I'm a few weeks away from doing a presentation at Check Point's booth for RSA Conference in San Francisco. Granted, it's one of those "carnival barker" type presentations that vendors give in their booths that are meant to last no more than 10 minutes, but it's been a while since I've created and done a formal presentation. It's also something I plan on doing more in 2016 (perhaps not in this setting), which means I need to sharpen my presentation skills.

From 3 Speaking Tips To Make Sure Your Message Resonates:

If you have a point to make, the best way to make it impactful is to use a story to illustrate.

I've always viewed presentations—good ones at least—as good stories. It's called connecting with your audience. Trust me, I sat through more than my share of boring presentations and I don't want to subject anyone to death by PowerPoint. It's why when I talk to customers, I rarely use PowerPoint. I prefer conversations. And telling stories.

Use your Gestures to Increase your impact

This is all about body language. There's nothing worse than watching some one up on stage that's stiff and monotone. Be animated, but not too animated, because that is problematic too. I feel I'm ok at this, or at least I've never heard anyone tell me I need to improve here. Surely, I can, though.

Each of us has a natural pace of speaking. Some of us are faster, some are slower. There is no right or wrong speed, however as a general rule, you can slow your speaking rate by about 50% and still sound normal.

This is something I definitely need to work on. I naturally talk very fast, mostly in an effort to keep up with my even faster moving brain. That doesn't work when you're up on stage. Good speakers moderate various elements of their speech while presenting to maximize the effect of their message.

We'll see how well I can apply these tips for my booth presentation at RSA in San Francisco, which is happening 28 Feb - 4 March 2016 at Moscone Center in San Francisco. Stop by the South Expo Hall, Booth #S1507,if you want to make an in-person connection!

Carbs Are Evil--Even Moreso With Diabetes Fri, 08 Jan 2016 23:30:00 +0000 phoneboy 4efa9f38-da1d-5d80-e8a2-affa104beeb9 From It's Carbs:

As a person with diabetes (T1D), my primary goal is to keep my blood sugar in a healthy range (for me that is 65-140 mg/dl). There is only one thing that consistently causes me to go above that range.

It's carbs.

Now, I know there are many other factors that can cause blood sugar to rise: stress, illness, allergies, exercise, lack of sleep, menstruation … the list goes on. But let's focus on the one overwhelmingly clear and incontrovertible variable that causes blood sugars to rise.

It's carbs — the one variable we can actually control.

I have Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), and the challenge is similar for me. Well except that I'm not injecting insulin and haven't had a low blood sugar event (yet).

The good news for me is that I'm already very familiar with low-carb living, having done a bout of Atkins Diet more than a decade ago. Now that I know I have T2D, I'm wishing I never got back on the carb train.

And, sadly, I haven't gone completely back on the low-carb train. Overall, I consume far less carbs than I used to and when I do, I try to stick to the healthier varieties of carbs. You know, the ones that include a lot of fiber to counterbalance it.

That said I do occasionally have stuff I shouldn't. Especially during the holidays when there are so many tasty treats to eat that aren't normally around. And when I travel, avoiding carbs is damn near impossible. Especially when I go to a foreign country. Or have to spend 14 hours on an airplane.

My daily reminder of how many carbs I ate: my glucometer. If I ate too many, my blood glucose will be higher. Fortunately, I have gained a bit more self-control than I used to have. When the numbers are higher than usual, they generally aren't that much higher—my highest reading over the last 3 months was 139 mg/dL, with my average being 107.

That doesn't change the fact carbs are evil.

Yes, Normal People Use Desktop Linux Fri, 08 Jan 2016 13:32:00 +0000 phoneboy ec5a8857-a1e6-31b3-f5f1-c4a74588547d From I Moved to Linux and It's Even Better Than I Expected]:

On a spring day in 2012, I shut down my MacBook Air for the last time. From then on, my primary computing environment — at least on a laptop computer — was GNU/Linux. I was abandoning, as much as possible, the proprietary, control-freakish environments that Apple and Microsoft have increasingly foisted on users of personal computers.

Almost four years later, here I am, writing this piece on a laptop computer running the Linux* operating system and LibreOffice Writer, not on a Mac or Windows machine using Microsoft Word. All is well.

It's worth noting that the author of the above post is Dan Gillmor. He was a long-time journalist for several newspapers (including the San Jose Mercury News in the mid-to-late 1990s). He is currently teaching digital media literacy and promoting entrepreneurship at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In other words, he's not a prototypical geek. That said, he was one of the first journalists to blog for the Merc, so he clearly has some affinity for the technology. But it's not someone I would expect to use Linux.

What do I use? I actually regularly use Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are benefits and downsides to all three. I'm definitely aware of the dangers of centralization that Microsoft and Apple are pushing and like that Linux provides a reasonable alternative for some use cases.

For most people, Linux has a "this tall to ride" problem that I doubt will ever be solved. Given there is so much mainstream support for Windows and Mac, people can't just go buy random computer accessories at the store and expect it to just work. Not that Windows and Mac just work, but for regular folks, they largely do or they can get mainstream support when it doesn't.

Obviously, if you have a proclivity for tinkering and don't mind getting under hood and tinkering, Linux is a far better choice. Those of us like that are in the minority. Also, anyone who has to exchange data with other people using Microsoft Office (very common in corporate environments) or have to deal with specific security tools may find it very difficult to exist in a Linux-only world when everyone else is using Windows (generally) or Mac (occasionally).One area where Linux is far superior to Windows or Mac is support for older hardware. I have 7+ year old machines happily running Linux without issue, other than being a little slow.

Bottom line: I'm glad Linux is an option and for the right people in the right situations, it's the right choice. That said, I don't see the rest of the world getting onboard the Linux train anytime soon.

My Secret To Loving My Job Wed, 06 Jan 2016 22:12:00 +0000 phoneboy b8876c81-da60-a684-a0f7-b06748cdfd14 From I Got Fired Two Days Ago:

It's not like having a job you hate makes you appreciate your free time more (Very Optimistic Tumblr Teen Voice The bad makes you appreciate the good!) Having a job that eats away at your very core actually sullies your free time more. You realize how little of it you do have and often forsake it. You dread having to go back. It poisons your psyche. I was miserable from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm five days a week, and when I came home the transition from miserable to happy was slow.

And then we have the other extreme. From Doing What You Live Is Going To Be F****** Hard:

Because work is always going to get hard. And then get better. That's the cycle of everyone's professional careers, even the biggest and baddest billionaires on planet earth. You don't always enjoy your work, and you don't always want to do it. If your work is something you love, you can even wind up completely losing your passion and feeling absolutely zero interest in it.

No one is happy with their profession all the time, whether it is one they like or not. I've certainly gone through the highs and lows in my 20 year career. Worse: I went through a low in the middle of writing my second book on Check Point FireWall-1.

The good news is, at that time, I was in a spot where I could work on different things for Nokia—things less directly related to the Check Point products I was supporting. It effectively gave me a break from the things that I formerly liked and allowed me to explore some other things while remaining gainfully employed for the same company. I also took on some side projects that went through their own love/hate cycles.

When the time came to come back into the Check Point fold in 2009 as part of their acquisition of Nokia's Security Appliance business unit, I was ready and attacked it with the same fervor that I did many years before. The timing of that change was fortuitous because I had reached that point yet again where a change of some sort was needed.

While every job—even one you like—is going to have highs and lows, you may reach a point where the bad moments start outnumbering the good. I have learned to recognize and acknowledge when there's a noticeable increase in the bad moments—well before they become overwhelming. I take action before I lose my passion for what I'm doing, which for me has meant mostly changing what I do for a given employer, not changing employers. That said, changing employers may be necessary in some cases.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once said "Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion." As I plan on doing great things, I don't want to lose my passion.

On Click-Bait, Echo Chambers, and Content Circle Jerks Sat, 02 Jan 2016 12:09:00 +0000 phoneboy 9fcc409e-d425-a5a2-96eb-51dcd1c65f4f From The endless echo chamber of online "influencers" is robbing the Internet of its soul.:

The problem with these people is not that they want attention, but that they're unwilling or unable to trade fairly for it. For the longest time, society has had a pretty straightforward system of rewards: you give us something of value, and we'll heap praise on you. It's a fair trade, and one that most social media gurus (sorry, "omnichannel growth evangelists") are unwilling to make.

Sadly, click-bait, plagiarism, and content circle jerks are as old as the media itself. Ok, click-bait is an Internet phenomenon but the idea of writing a sensationalist headline so that people will read your piece that they probably stole from someone else is nothing new.

The sad reality is, if you can't fill someone's need, you're of no use to them. The small amount of reputation I have gained over the years with a certain group of people is largely the result of being able to fulfill that group's needs. It may not gather as much attention as the latest social media expert who has figured out yet another way to spin the same old stories for yet more likes, reposts, or whatever, but the attention I get has been sustained far longer than some of those so-called "social media experts" have even been alive.

Which makes me wonder what needs these social media circle jerkers are actually fulfilling and why we all seem so susceptible to their ways. My guess is it's probably this:

We're all guilty of wanting recognition and, at times, wanting it so badly that we'll post or repost basically anything. But that doesn't make it a healthy strategy.

The Force Awoke, But Meh Sat, 02 Jan 2016 00:09:00 +0000 phoneboy aa207ead-e280-58fb-b861-fc87e79baca4 Yes, I finally did my geek duty and saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I'm not going to spoil it for you, except to say that if you liked the original movies (particularly A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, i.e. Episodes IV and V), then you'll probably like this movie as they borrow a lot of elements from these two movies.

That said, I can't help but feel not excited by this movie. Maybe because I realize that Disney is behind it and I know they're going to milk this Star Wars cow for all she's worth in terms of merchandising, native advertising on Disney-owned networks, and who knows what else. Maybe because it felt like a modern reimaging of the original trilogy of Star Wars movies (which is probably true).

That isn't to say I don't think they did a good job on the movie. Compared to the prequels (two of which I didn't even bother to see), it was good. But I just don't feel the excitement or passion that many others are expressing.

Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical.

Surefire Rules for Getting Responses to Email Fri, 01 Jan 2016 23:37:00 +0000 phoneboy a394ca55-30e6-e544-22d6-4b58d2502ea0 You can, of course, read this long piece on the topic, or just read my TL;DR version:

  1. No more than three short sentences, maybe four, with attention to formatting and readability.
  2. Make it clear what action is required, but be realistic with the time commitment you're asking for.
  3. Help the other person understand why they should help.

All Fake Almost All The Time Wed, 30 Dec 2015 15:50:00 +0000 phoneboy c17fce1a-72e1-7782-ea5a-9bd5e42732b6 From I am 90% fake.

I'd like to escape my brain for one hour, get off this barreling steam train of endless thinking. I'd like to escape my heart for one hour and stop feeling sad, frustrated, lonely, and completely out of place. I wish I didn't need two shots of vodka to become everyone else's normal. I dream of a time when I could just be an authentic version of myself. With so many people to satisfy and roles to play, I have no idea who that is. To be the best mother, sister, partner, daughter, friend, employee, leader, community member, I have to do a lot of acting. I hold back parts of myself, display untrue emotion, I lean in, raise an eyebrow, tilt my head to demonstrate my deep interest, laughing heartily at quips that are frankly boring as hell.

I can certainly relate to the sentiment of needing to be someone else around other people. Then again, the world is full of needy people and if you can't fulfill someone's need, people won't give you a second thought.

And sometimes, to fulfill someone's needs, you have to fake it. Some people probably have to fake it a lot more than others. Thankfully, I don't have to do it too often, which is a good thing as my capacity to "fake it" is fairly limited. Then again, maybe that's just a story I tell myself…

Keeping Up With The Jonses Is Expensive Sun, 27 Dec 2015 01:15:00 +0000 phoneboy 8c23fdca-ad96-5ae0-0e24-c5b12fa00aac From $100,000 and up is not enough – even the 'rich' live paycheck to paycheck

The trend of Americans earning six-figure paychecks living from paycheck to paycheck grew during the 2008 recession from 21% to 30% in 2009, according to a survey. A recent survey by SunTrust found that things had not improved much by 2015. About 25% of those making over $100,000 a year still live paycheck to paycheck.

When I was a kid, my parents mostly lived paycheck to paycheck and they weren't making anywhere near the kind of money this Guardian articles is talking about. They were the "poor" version of this.

Back then, it never occurred to me that "rich" people might live paycheck to paycheck. Today, I see it all around me. They have fancy cars, every cable channel known to man, fancy furniture and dishes, $200/month cell phone bills with new smartphones each year. This includes their kids.

Me? I've got a nice house, but I still use folding tables for the desk in my office. I drive a 12 year old car that's paid for, my wife drives a 3 year old car that's also paid for. I have Internet, but basic cable TV service. Work pays for my mobile phone, the family is on prepaid service. Only person with the newest smartphone is me, which I buy every other year. The wife just got a used iPhone, my son just got her old iPhone. My daughter doesn't even have a smartphone (though that may change).

What I do have that the paycheck to paycheck folks don't? Savings that we use sparingly and restock regularly. Retirement accounts that I won't touch until I use them for retirement. What I don't have? Debt. Other than my house, everything is paid for. Money isn't spent unless we actually have it to spend. That sometimes means delaying purchases on things you need—or want.

Bottom line: I don't even try to keep up with my neighbors. That said, I live a comfortable lifestyle I can afford today and, with a lot more saving, will be able to afford when I retire.

The One Thing You Can Steal Thu, 24 Dec 2015 23:08:00 +0000 phoneboy d80e0710-e7f7-7d5c-6a1a-30d378f15cb9 From If You Want To Be Successful, Learn How To Steal:

We are too busy trying to steal things that we cannot keep, and forgetting about knowledge. Instead of trying to steal someone's success, learn how they built it. Steal their knowledge and build your own. If you didn't build something, it is never yours.

Calling it "stealing" makes it seem so illicit, so immoral. And yet, all great ideas were built upon other great ideas that came before.

Sadly, knowledge too does not last until our last breath, as we all grow old and forgetful eventually. When compared to other things you can "steal," it is the one thing that cannot be taken back.

How I Failed Gracefully Early In My Career Sun, 20 Dec 2015 00:44:00 +0000 phoneboy 4d186209-f5a2-e90d-414e-504f18bea518 A post on Medium, along with my recent thinking about the early part of my career got me reflecting on the less than auspicious beginning to my career. From the author of the Medium post:

Here's something that I think everyone needs to learn and learn young. How to mess something up with grace and maturity and not let it destroy your life and your work. I'm not talking about learning to fail – although that's useful – I'm talking about learning to accept and respond in a positive way when you make a bad decision. When you make a decision that is really indefensible and possibly even totally stupid.

While in the senior year of college, I managed to get a job with a company within walking distance to where I lived at the time in Santa Cruz. The job was as a sysadmin, which I had been doing while I was in an Engineering lab at Santa Clara University, so I had some experience. The company knew I was still in school when they hired me and accepted that, at least for the few months I had left before I graduated, that I would be part-time.

That job only lasted a grand total of three weeks. Let me tell you, being fired at the age of 21 when you think you're all that and a bag of chips was a humbling experience. The walk home I took with my exit paperwork and final check, while relatively short, was a walk of shame.

Meanwhile, as I still had a couple months left before I graduated, and I still needed to pay some bills. That meant asking for my job back at the Engineering lab. That was yet another humbling experience: asking for a job back that I had left in a manner consistent with someone who was full of himself and lacked grace. Thankfully, I got it back, but I probably didn't deserve it.

The lessons I learned from this experience that have served me well:

  • Most mistakes aren't fatal. In fact, shortly after making whatever mistakes I made with that first job, I felt like it was the best thing that ever happened to me (to that date). I can't explain why I came to that conclusion at the time, but it ended up being a good thing for me in the end. Accept responsibility for what you did, acknowledge that which you can not control, and move forward.
  • When you quit working someplace for whatever reason, make as graceful an exit as possible (i.e. don't burn any bridges). You never know if or when you'll come back. This specific lesson served me well two years later when I made the decision to return to a previous employer after only five months. Ironically, I was discussing a return with said employer the very day I got laid off. Talk about fortuitous timing.

Needless to say, these were valuable lessons to learn when I did.

Who Decides What Is Hate Speech? Tue, 15 Dec 2015 11:58:00 +0000 phoneboy dae56eda-fe06-2840-d036-0a8acb129aea From Facebook, Google, Twitter agree to delete hate speech in 24 hours:

Germany said on Tuesday that Facebook, Google and Twitter have agreed to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours, a new step in the fight against rising online racism following the refugee crisis.

The government has been trying to get social platforms to crack down on the rise in anti-foreigner comments in German on the web as the country struggles to cope with an influx of more than 1 million refugees this year.

The new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.

The question this articles does not define is an important one: who decides what is hate speech and what will be removed by these three companies?

Personally, I don't think this is a good policy, because I already know what will happen: the "hate speech" will simply get driven underground where the disinfecting rays of sunlight cannot reach it. In other words: it will make the underlying problems worse than they are.

Then again, I'm starting to think that's the point of this move—to keep us uninformed and fighting with each other so the thugs in charge can solidify their positions of power over us.

Motivated or Inspired? Sun, 13 Dec 2015 22:14:00 +0000 phoneboy 23043535-ffaa-19cc-dc01-be3645f5c4de From Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action:

Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you'll be stuck with whoever's left.

I've gone through periods of time where I have been motivated and other times when I wasn't, or at least so I thought. Maybe it wasn't motivation I lacked in those periods, it was inspiration…

What's In A Social Media Interaction? Mon, 30 Nov 2015 13:44:00 +0000 phoneboy b62d091e-4f6f-2dcc-0000-5a1bc1c55183 I was listening to the most recent episode of This American Life and was quite disturbed by the first part of the episode where several high school student discussed the complex set of interactions that occur around the selfies they post around Instagram, which they do regularly. Commenting versus liking. What you say versus what you mean. It's completely counter-intuitive but when you hear them explain it, it makes a lot of sense.

Contrast this to my teenage son, who has wisely figured out that social networks of all kinds are a complete waste of time. He has a Facebook account, but rarely uses it. He had an Instagram account that he stopped using once he lost his smartphone. He keeps up with this friends using traditional SMS and Skype.

I have to think that most people who use social media are somewhere in the middle of these extremes. That said, everyone has their own expectations about what they share, how they expect their "friends" to react to it, and what that reaction truly means. Even I have my expectations, if I'm honest with myself, but my expectations are likely much lower than those teenage girls on This American Life.

The driving force in all cases is attention and desire to be acknowledged in some small way. I just wonder how often we eschew attention in the real world for attention on social media and what impact that is having on our relationships, both short-term and long-term.

Pursuing What Matters Fri, 27 Nov 2015 22:17:00 +0000 phoneboy d1b5f878-7b1a-6399-63d8-b395a6d72a34 I don't normally read Shawn Blanc's work. I blame Scott for referring me to it, but not really. It pointed to the kernel of an idea I've had for a while:

In short, if you want to watch more TV, the universe won't bother you. If you want to do work that matters, it's going to be a fight.

"Work that matters" is in the eye of the beholder. I know that, when I decide what that is and focus on it, it gets done. It's how my old Check Point FireWall-1 FAQ got built. It's how two books got published. It's how, even during the times where my heart wasn't always in it, I've managed to evolve and stay employed at Nokia for 10 years and Check Point for nearly 7—a man and his family have to eat and have a place to live, after all.

I suppose I should consider myself very lucky. A lot of people have never experienced that sense of purpose that drives them to do anything more than watch life go by. And yet, I feel like I need to go back to the well for another taste, because even though it is hard work, it pays off in the end.

Information Security is where I make my living. In an increasingly digitized and connected world, it is pervasive. There's a lot I have to say about it that maybe other people are saying, but maybe not the right way or to the right people. These conversations are taking place in board rooms, in the media (both traditional and social), and even amongst the masses as yet another major retailer gets their credit card data compromised.

I've spent many years helping Nokia/Check Point customers in a post-sales capacity. I've also been a bridge between customers, sales, and product development. Each one of these players speaks a different language (kind of like the difference between The Queen's English and whatever us Americans speak), and I'm adept at translating as needed.

The last few years, I've started getting more directly involved in the sales process. I've been working with individual customers through specific sales engagements that help identify the areas of greatest risk and come up with a written plan to improve their security posture. It has taken a couple of years to turn this into a framework that contextualizes the findings and recommendations, but more importantly, can drive change.

It has been great to work with individual customers. With a different platform, I could have a greater, more meaningful impact to more organizations. How I move forward is the subject of many thoughts I am not yet ready to elaborate on publicly at the moment.

What I can say is that this matters. I know it's not going to be easy to see this through, but I'm committing myself to do it.

Mass Misinformation Tue, 10 Nov 2015 10:17:00 +0000 phoneboy ea629b65-73bb-486a-fd9f-0060c30c4a5e From Skullf*** You Very Much: Cultural Authority and the Dispossessed:

The fact that most experts talking on TV and writing for online "news" media cannot swim in the critical deep end of the subjects in which they claim expertise is masked by the shallowness of the medium in general.

The analysts and experts who are invited to talk on TV about politics spend more time whitening their teeth than they do weaving nuance.

We are living under a media regime where a debate moderator can ask an absurdly complex question like "What will you do about poverty?" and expect it to be answered in less than a minute.

Comcast-owned NBC would not dare upset its nightly prime-time sitcom lineup with in-depth analysis that might upset their Comcast-owned bottom line.

Vox is not going to Voxplain how Comcast captures the media and cable markets both by lobbying for regulative barriers that prevent competition.

You're never going to see someone greenlight an in-depth Nightline segment dedicated to demystifying shit ideas like "natural monopolies."

I've long questioned the kinds of things our so-called "news" covers. Years ago, I started asking the question "why is this news" and mostly stopped caring about it. When the Internet became mainstream, I had a way to find other, less mainstream answers for what was going on in the world. Sources with more nuance, more details, and differing points of view.

Clearly, something is missing in the media. It's hard to get into the "why" of this question without veering off into conspiratorial waters. It's a narrative I occasionally see being played up by the media, usually by attacking the messenger.

The good news is that I'm hearing more people starting to question the news, particularly when they cover topics they have first-hand knowledge on. The obvious followup question is: if they're wrong about that, what else are they wrong about?

The truth for any subject is out there to find. You probably won't find it in the mass media, though.

Number Sense Makes No Sense To Most People Tue, 27 Oct 2015 09:36:00 +0000 phoneboy bf82e85c-bac0-e798-a4ce-e70e4a7b6cf1 From Common Core Math is Not the Enemy

We call this new math, but it isn't new at all.

In fact, it has been around for a very long time. It's called number sense. And it's the way mathematicians have been thinking about numbers for centuries.

Mathematicians are insanely smart people. I should know, I got my Computer Science degree in a Math department at a University. They also don't think like normal people do. I should know that, too, as I am often accused (rightfully so) of thinking about things differently.

If I believe what this piece is saying, Common Core math is trying to impart the math wisdom of these really smart people onto the masses. Instead, it comes off as really confusing, even to kids who actually know how to do math. One of my kids who is smart with numbers was deploying different tricks to solve these problems and found whatever it was they were teaching in Common Core confusing. My wife had to re-teach our children basic math after being traumatized by Common Core in elementary school.

It seems to be we are going about this the wrong way. They should teach the basic, tried-and-true methods first, then supplement with number sense to show other, more memorable ways to solve the problem. Or maybe encourage students to come up with their own methods to achieve the same answer and allow them to teach it to their peers.

Of course, there are some people who just don't have any number sense whatsoever and won't no matter how you teach it or who teaches it.

The Problem Isn't With Twitter, It's With Us. Fri, 16 Oct 2015 08:12:00 +0000 phoneboy 278cfc70-6433-3285-0b6a-da42f620a949 From Why Twitter's Dying (And What You Can Learn From It):

Abuse is killing the social web, and hence it isn't peripheral to internet business models — it's central. It has significant chilling effects: given a tipping point, people will simply stop using a network, and walk away…and that appears to be what's happening with Twitter. Abuse is just as central to tech that connects people as selling beef that isn't contaminated with salmonella is to an industry that feeds people. For the simple fact is that no one wants to spend their life being shouted at by people they'll never meet who are angry not at them but at the world for things they barely even said to people they barely even know.

This problem is not unique to any given social network. The real problem is us, the humans that use social media. Some clearly find joy in imposing their world view on others to the point of abuse. Many cannot stand the thought of their world view being challenged, much less be wrong. Lots and lots of squabbling is the result.

What really happens on Twitter these days? People have self-sorted into cliques, little in-groups, tribes. The purpose of tribes is to defend their beliefs, their ways, their customs, their culture — their ways of seeing the world. The digital world is separated into "ists" — it doesn't matter what, really, economists, mens-rightists, leftists, rightists — and those "ists" place their "ism" before and above all, because it is their organizing belief, the very faith that has brought them together in the first place. Hence, to them, it's the totem to which everyone, including you, must pay homage, and if you dare not to bow down before it…or worse still to challenge it…well, then the faithful will do what they must to defend their gods. They will declare a crusade against you.

This problem is not unique to Twitter. It's a problem on any social network with any sort of critical mass. I've seen this cycle play out over and over again across many services and several decades. It also happens in person, but there is one thing we get in face-to-face interactions: social cues that have evolved over many centuries. Social cues that a particular sort of behavior is not acceptable. People will either knock it off or suddenly find themselves without many friends, sorting into the same kind of tribes we see and decry on social media.

Humanity hasn't been able to come up with better solutions to these problems in millennia. What makes us think the socially inept folks that develop the social web can solve these problems? Even so, those very same social cues we rely on in face-to-face conversations should have social web analogs and, at the very least, those cues can be developed and refined.

Bottom line, this is not a social web problem, it's a human problem.

Digit Damage Mon, 12 Oct 2015 12:50:00 +0000 phoneboy 6238c29d-05e5-17ec-9a70-3e4cb3f23832 Last night, I did not treat the vegetable slicer with the appropriate respect and ended up lacerating my index finger on my right hand. I suspected it might need stitches, but I waited until this morning to call my doctor's clinic and ask. They said: go to Urgent Care. So I did. The nurses there cleaned up the wound and stitched me up.

If you're interested, you can see the semi-gruesome photo of my stitches on Instagram.

The downside of this means I will be without a properly functioning index finger for the next week and a half. It's amazing how much you use that finger. It's even more amazing your brain mostly knows how to compensate for the nonfunctional digit as well.

Where it is having noticeable impact is in my typing, mostly because I do that more than anything else. My middle finger is being used a whole lot more right now, especially on my iPhone. It doesn't seem to have affected the speed at which I type, though it has mildly increased the error rate, but I'm mostly managing.

We'll see what other things I notice over the next several days.

The Online Purge Starts With Twitter Sun, 11 Oct 2015 20:53:00 +0000 phoneboy ef50b3d6-6654-725d-dddb-2428c737496a In my last post, I talked about making a fresh start online. I've started taking some steps to do exactly that and it starts with Twitter.

I've been on Twitter since it was made public in 2006. I have tweeted a TON of things over the last 9 years, most of which is probably not relevant anymore. I have also accumulated several Twitter accounts over the years, accounts that probably should have been removed long ago, and I deleted those accounts.

I did not want to delete my main Twitter account, I just want to delete everything I've posted. How do you do a mass purge of tweets? Deleting tweets one by one when you only have a few is fine—I did this on another account—but how about when you have more than 40,000 tweets like I did?

There are actually a number of tools out there that claim to do this. However, if they are only working with the Twitter API, you won't actually delete all the tweets. This is because the various API calls that query your most recent tweets will only show your 3200 (or so) most recent ones. If you delete all of those (as many tools do), then older tweets will still exist in the system. If you happen to know the tweet ID, you can still query them.

However, I have found a tool that runs on Windows and can actually delete all your tweets. It's called Twitter Archive Eraser. It's a free tool that runs on Windows-based system that will work with an export of your Twitter archive and delete all your tweets, one by one. I actually use it on my main Twitter account and it worked great, deleting more than 40,000 tweets in around 9 minutes.

For accounts that have 3200 tweets or less, you can use any number of websites, iOS, or Android apps out there. The one I chose, based on a recommendation from Stefan Constantinescu, is called Delete Tweets. It has a big red button that does what it says: deletes all your tweets. You can pay $2.99 for a "pro" version that will give you some filtering options (i.e. you can choose to delete only some tweets). You can run it regularly from your iOS or Android device to reset your tweets back to zero.

The next step is to do this with Facebook.

Thinking About A Fresh Start Online Sat, 10 Oct 2015 14:10:00 +0000 phoneboy 32f4a6ab-02fe-5541-c0ff-eadfd133c663 One of the guys I've followed for years on the Internet has taken what some might call a drastic approach: he's purged his Twitter account of tweets. Given the ephemeral nature of Twitter, this actually seems somewhat appropriate to do. Also, things that you said years ago in the heat of the moment, things you may not say or think today, could easily come back to haunt you.

I'm thinking of taking this a step further and doing some culling of all of my various online presences. I've been on the Internet more than 20 years and I've managed to bring forward a ton of content—content that, quite frankly, may not entirely be relevant anymore.

I've also got far too many presences on the Internet. Some of them it makes sense to continue to maintain, others not. I almost want to blow it all up and start over. Or maybe seriously cull what's out there, starting with my Twitter accounts. I have a dozen of them. I actually deleted four of them today and completely emptied the tweets out of another.

Has anyone actually gone through this exercise of cleaning up their online presence or nuking it entirely? While I'm sure I can figure out the mechanics of actually doing it, anyone have any tips or tricks they want to share?

Taking A Minute Mon, 24 Aug 2015 07:39:00 +0000 phoneboy 6bb09862-cbc2-a986-247a-0c4d3203ea68 Okay, maybe a minute is too long, but certainly you've got 30 seconds for a habit with a lifelong impact:

Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay.

I must do something like this unconciously as there are so many conversations or situations where I cannot recall the exact details, but I can usually remember the key takeaways. This generally works well for me, though taking a moment to write it down couldn't hurt.

That said, people might have different ideas about what is important. This is where I sometimes run into trouble, but as the article suggests, you'll get better at figuring this out over time.

A Bag-Carrying Member of the CPAP Club Fri, 17 Jul 2015 23:42:00 +0000 phoneboy 82b05576-d9a1-f97d-3e89-d4e69de8446f Since I got my CPAP machine, I've started noticing how many other people have them as well. How do I know? This unassuming grey bag.


I notice at least one such bag every time I'm in an airport. It's possible I saw such bags before, but since I didn't know what was in them, I didn't think much of them. Now, because I carry one of these bags myself when I travel, I know.

This morning I encountered someone someone right in front of me in the TSA line. He saw my bag and said "better make sure we don't get our CPAPs mixed up." Agreed, that would be an unpleasant surprise.

We exchanged a few pleasantries and comments about how CPAP haas made sleeping easier. He also called out the type of machine I had:

"A REMstar, right?"Yup," I said.

It's like being in an exclusive club. Granted it's not a club most people would want to be a part of, but if I have to have one, I might as well embrace it.

CPAP Only Works When You Wear It Fri, 26 Jun 2015 18:27:00 +0000 phoneboy dc284274-a215-8339-da4b-4d53f388a375 I did something I haven't done before: I got up in the middle of the night to pee and forgot to put my CPAP mask back on. This meant, for a few hours last night, I slept in my bed without my CPAP.

This isn't the first night since I got my CPAP that I didn't wear it, mostly because I've had a couple of red-eye flights since then. CPAP usage on an airplane isn't feasible, at least in coach. However, its the first time I've slept in my bed without the mask on since I got it.

And, sure enough, I snored. How do I know this? I've been using the MotionX-24/7 app to track my sleep and record sounds that happen while I sleep. Since I got the CPAP, mostly all it picked up was me rolling over and the very occasional quiet snore.

Last night, it picked up truly proper snoring. I have no idea if I snored the whole time I didn't have the CPAP mask on or not. I do know the CPAP only works if I wear it.


Alcohol: It's Not So Great For Your Heart Tue, 02 Jun 2015 23:31:00 +0000 phoneboy b2d622af-f60c-e7dc-6be7-bf441391999f From Time Magazine, How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?? []:

The not-so-good news: The more the participants drank, the more likely they showed abnormal changes in their heart structure and function. In men, the changes started accumulating after more than two drinks per day, or 14 or more drinks a week. In these men, the pumping chambers of their hearts increased slightly compared to those in non drinkers, a sign that the heart had to work harder to pump the same amount of blood, which can cause it enlarge and weaken. In women, these changes appeared when women drank much less, just above the one drink a day. In addition, among the women who imbibed more than a drink a day, the scientists found slight drops in heart function compared to women who drank less.

This paragraph hit home because this is exactly the reason my mom died about two years ago. Her heart was, according to the autopsy, enlarged. I'm not sure how much she drank, but I'm pretty sure it was more than a drink a day for many, many years.

My mom was not the only alcoholic in my family. As a result, I made a decision relatively early in my life not to allow alcohol to control my life. As a result, I do not drink alcohol on a daily basis.

Turns out that early life decision ended up being smarter than I thought.

Too Much Chewing Gum Wed, 06 May 2015 14:39:00 +0000 phoneboy bad7b4c4-6faf-3224-461f-24fc78f0dfa5 From Samantha Jenkins: Too much chewing gum may have played role in death of 'vibrant, happy and fun-loving' teenager:

Too much chewing gum may have played a role in the death of a "vibrant, happy and fun loving" 19-year-old shop worker.

An inquest heard Samantha "Sam" Jenkins, 19, of Felinfoel, Llanelli, collapsed and died suddenly after complaining of a headache at home in June 2011.

The inquest heard Samantha's cause of death was cerebal hypoxia (brain swelling) caused by convulsions due to low salt, magnesium and calcium levels in her body.

But experienced Morriston Hospital pathologist Dr Paul Griffiths who carried out a post mortem examination also suggested her death could have been contributed to by the laxative effects of excessive consumption of sugar free chewing gum – her favourite brand being Trident.

In my own experience, I've found modern-day chewing gum, which is often sweetened with aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, to be the equivalent to crack cocaine: if I have one piece, I gotta have another when the flavor goes away. Repeat until I've chewed the entire pack of gum. And, of course, the packs of gum are bigger than they used to be.

While this article focuses on the evils of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners as the potential cause of her death, I'm guessing the real cause had something to do with the fact she clearly swallowed her gum:

Dr Griffiths told the inquest when he carried out the post mortem examination he found five "large lumps" of bright green coloured mint smelling chewing gum in Samantha's stomach, something he had never encountered before.

Clearly it's an issue of "too much chewing gum" as the headline suggests. That said, while I'm all-in on the idea aspartame may not be so great for humans, blaming the aspartame as the sole cause of this poor girl's death is a bit of a stretch.

What's Wrong With Security? Sun, 19 Apr 2015 22:23:00 +0000 phoneboy 6d39ac5c-3c42-0a07-7f5a-5f05bd562cde

"But father, what's wrong with security? Everybody likes to be all cosy and safe."

"Yes," Mr. Murry said grimly. "Security is a most seductive thing."

"Well — but I want to be secure, Father. I hate feeling insecure."

"But you don't love security enough so that you guide your life by it, Meg. You weren't thinking of security when you came to rescue me with Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which."

"But that didn't have anything to do with me," Meg protested. "I wasn't being brave or anything. They just took me."

Calvin, walking besides them with his load of wood, said, smiling warmly at Meg, "Yes, but when we got here you didn't go around whining or asking to go home where you could be all safe and cosy. You kept yelling, where's Father, take me to father! You never gave a thought to security."

"Oh," Meg said. "Oh." She brooded for another moment. "But I still don't see why security isn't a good thing. Why, Father?"

"I've come to the conclusion," Mr. Murry said slowly, "that it's the greatest evil there is. Suppose your great great grandmother, and all those like her, had worried about security? They'd never have gone across the land in flimsy covered wagons. Our country has been greatest when it has been most insecure. This sick longing for security is a dangerous thing, Meg, as insidious as the strontium 90 from our nuclear explosions that worried you so about Charles Wallace when you read in science at school that it was being found in milk. You can't see strontium 90. You can't feel it or touch it. But it's there. So is the panicky searching for conformity, for security. Maybe it's because of the Black Thing, Meg. Maybe this lust for security is like a disease germ that it has let loose on our land."

This was an excerpt from the manuscript of A Wrinkle in Time that was cut from the final book. These pages were recently found by the author's granddaughter. The book was written in 1962 and was one I read as a child. In fact, I can still imagine my second grade school under the spell of the Black Thing that had caused a sameness, a conformity in the Madeleine L'Engle tale.

Why was the passage cut? I didn't put the earlier part of the passage in, but it referred to communism, which could have dated the book. Personally, I don't think it was the case at all. I think it's because the passage was a bit too close to the truth. It doesn't take much to see the parallels between what governments around the world are doing and these statements.

Writing To Understand Fri, 10 Apr 2015 23:59:00 +0000 phoneboy dacc275a-c282-926e-69c7-11ea4f96fbdb In high school, I started doing documentation for computer-related tasks, mostly because my teacher at the time told me my skills would be more valuable1. In college, the job I had working in an engineering computer lab also involved documenting various systems administration activities I started doing2. Even in my first post-college job, I ended up writing a fair bit of documentation, mostly for internal use. The writing that some people know me for was the stuff that was prominent on in the late 1990s and early 2000s: FAQs on Check Point FireWall-13.

This post is not about what I've written, it's mostly about why, and it's actually pretty simple: it's so I understand whatever it is I'm writing about.

Sure, that isn't how I started writing. It was because I wanted to convey something to someone and I didn't want to have to explain it multiple times. Which of course never quite works out the way you hope but it does help reduce the number of times you're asked about it, as well as the quality of the questions you get back.

I've noticed, over years and years of rinsing and repeating this process, that once I take the time to actually write it down in an effort to explain it to someone else, I usually learn whatever it is I'm writing down to the point where recalling it is pretty easy. This only works for relatively simple tasks and concepts. For the more complex topics, it's more of strong mental pointer to whatever it is I wrote so I'll know where to look when it comes up.

However, I've also noticed that in the last several months, as I've experienced some new health issues, I've started sharing them with the Internet. Many people don't care or are even turned off by this, which doesn't bother me. What it has allowed me to do is to better understand my condition and take steps to improve it.

Bottom line: The writing I do outside of work is for myself. If someone else happens to benefit from that, all the better, but it's definitely not a requirement.

  1. I also wrote a bunch of horrible poetry
  2. I also wrote a bunch of horrible poetry in college, too
  3. A few of you know know me for blogging about other stuff, maybe.

Blame the Color TV, Revisited Fri, 10 Apr 2015 09:18:00 +0000 phoneboy cb277041-ffa0-c2a6-049e-a0d791700fa7 This is an updated version of a post I did back in 2012.

Does anyone remember watching a black and white TV? I do. My dad had this TV that was older than I was. It also, quite literally, took a minute to warm up before it showed its black and white view of the world.

I remember seeing the old Spiderman cartoons. You know, the one that started airing in the late 1960s but probably reran infinitum during the 1970s. I remember when I saw it on TV. A Color TV.

Like many shows in that era, the show opens with the phrase "in color" to let everyone know the show could be seen in color. Naive me, I thought when I saw it on my dad's Black and White TV, it would say "In Black and White" instead. That seemed perfectly rational to my little mind.

My kids, of course, have never watched a black and white TV. Since we've gone all digital, they won't ever see one. They might see something in Black and White if they watch a really old movie or TV show. Or some more recent television program that goes Black and White for effect.

There is something to be said for watching a program in black and white on a crappy-ass 14 inch TV with a mono speaker on an antenna. You got some sort of picture, if you were lucky, but your mind had to fill in a lot of the details. Certainly with the TV shows of the day, you had to.

Recently I started watching old episodes of The Twilight Zone. All 165 original episodes were filmed in black and white as TV shows of that era were. The special effects were practically non-existent by today's standards but the stories were quality. They hold up pretty well more than half a century later, such as this seminal episode entitled "To Serve Man":

These days, programs are in full 1080p with Dolby 5.1 digital surround sound. You can see every pimple and wrinkle on the actors face—and let's face it, they're all actors. Even the newscasters. Especially the newscasters. And the people on so-called "reality" TV shows. It leaves little to the imagination, exposing the amorality of our collective humanity for all to see.

And, quite honestly, I think we're worse off for it. Even moreso than I did when I wrote the first version of this post in 2012.

A Message To Future Me Thu, 09 Apr 2015 22:32:00 +0000 phoneboy 8d61d2c3-5140-addf-b6d8-cb5a71616584 As a child, I don't recall giving very many gifts to my parents. One gift that I gave to my dad was a metal "sign" that said the following:

Never get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

To be honest, I'm not even sure where I found it. Probably the Flea Market, which I spent many weekends at growing up buying and selling things with my mom. And surely by that point I was starting to become less enamored of my dad, which I did because I didn't understand why he was the way he was1.

And, of course, when I found out my dad passed away a few years back, one of the only things I wanted of his things was that sign2.

This sign today sits in my office in a part I don't use very often. I found it recently and, perhaps for the first time, really started to think about what it meant.

I spend too much time "working." I'll be the first to admit it. Not just stuff for my job but things that might be classified as "busy work." It may be because the cacophony of "life" is often too much to take3. See my last post on the [intense world theory []]. "Work," by comparison, seems like an escape—something I have a lot more control over.

What I'm starting to realize, as I get older, is that there is going to be a time where I don't want to work anymore. Whether I can afford that remains to be seen but if I'm going to be able to do that, I need to figure out what that "life" is going to look like.

And heck, even for leisure time while I'm still working, I need to figure out something else.

  1. I later figured out he also probably had Aspergers like I do. Sadly, by the time I figured this out, he was in the advanced stages of brain cancer and he was mostly in his own little world unable to communicate with me.
  2. I also wanted his guitar, but my sister got that.

The Intense World Syndrome Sat, 04 Apr 2015 20:55:00 +0000 phoneboy 4db87f02-185a-ff46-878b-d536cc1e5969 I've read a whole lot about autism and Aspergers Syndrome over the years. However, I think I've finally found an article that explains the condition to people who don't have it and, more importantly, provides some keen insights about autism's more socially unacceptable symptoms and how they might be reduced or eliminated1.

IMAGINE BEING BORN into a world of bewildering, inescapable sensory overload, like a visitor from a much darker, calmer, quieter planet. Your mother's eyes: a strobe light. Your father's voice: a growling jackhammer. That cute little onesie everyone thinks is so soft? Sandpaper with diamond grit. And what about all that cooing and affection? A barrage of chaotic, indecipherable input, a cacophony of raw, unfilterable data.

Realize that not everyone that has autism or Aspergers reacts the same way to the same stimuli. Even the same person can react differently to the same set of stimuli at different times, depending on a wide range of things. At least this is my own personal experience, which is certainly different from everyone else's.

I can tell you that when external stimuli begins to impact me, whatever it is, whenever it is, I am overwhelmed to the point where rational thought becomes very difficult, as this article describes:

The behavior that results [from autism] is not due to cognitive deficits—the prevailing view in autism research circles today—but the opposite, they say. Rather than being oblivious, autistic people take in too much and learn too fast. While they may appear bereft of emotion, [Henry and Kamila Markram] insist they are actually overwhelmed not only by their own emotions, but by the emotions of others.

A lot of what people on the autism spectrum do in order to cope is to attempt to eliminate or even slow down the constant flow of stimulus from the world. In social situations, this can sometimes seem like uncaring or antisocial behavior, when in fact, the behavior is rooted in being overwhelmed or avoidance.

Indeed, research on typical children and adults finds that too much distress can dampen ordinary empathy as well. When someone else's pain becomes too unbearable to witness, even typical people withdraw and try to soothe themselves first rather than helping—exactly like autistic people. It's just that autistic people become distressed more easily, and so their reactions appear atypical.

[…] "The overwhelmingness of understanding how people feel can lead to either what is perceived as inappropriate emotional response, or to what is perceived as shutting down, which people see as lack of empathy," says Emily Willingham. Willingham is a biologist and the mother of an autistic child; she also suspects that she herself has Asperger syndrome. But rather than being unemotional, she says, autistic people are "taking it all in like a tsunami of emotion that they feel on behalf of others. Going internal is protective."

The funny thing is I regularly find myself reacting badly to television shows. I can see what the character is going through on the program or predict what's going to happen next, and it can be painful to watch. Same with movies. Perhaps this is why I find little joy in television and movies on the whole2.

So now we've established the problem, the question is: why? The Markrams did some research on rats they they were able to make appear autistic by exposing them to valproic acid (VPA) prenatally and look at their brains, with the help of a graduate student. It took a couple of years of research before they saw something that could explain things:

"There was a difference in the excitability of the whole network," [graduate student Tania Rinaldi Barkat] says, reliving her enthusiasm. The networked VPA cells responded nearly twice as strongly as normal—and they were hyper-connected. If a normal cell had connections to ten other cells, a VPA cell connected with twenty. Nor were they under-responsive. Instead, they were hyperactive, which isn't necessarily a defect: A more responsive, better-connected network learns faster.

Learning fast is not a bad thing. It's certainly something I've used to my advantage over the years. However, clearly with negative behaviors, it can be a bad thing. In fact, the Markrams observed that the VPA-exposed rats were quicker to get frightened, and faster at learning what to fear, but slower to discover that a once-threatening situation was now safe.

While ordinary rats get scared of an electrified grid where they are shocked when a particular tone sounds, VPA rats come to fear not just that tone, but the whole grid and everything connected with it—like colors, smells, and other clearly distinguishable beeps.

"The fear conditioning was really hugely amplified," Markram says.

And therein lies the issue for many people that are on the autism spectrum, myself included. Once something is learned to be feared, which happens quickly thanks to the extra neural pathways, unlearning that takes a lot of work. This has caused me a fair bit of challenge in my personal relationships over the years.

Meanwhile, there's hope for those born today. If autism is detected early enough, which it can be, "Early intervention to reduce or moderate the intensity of an autistic child's environment might allow their talents to be protected while their autism-related disabilities are mitigated or, possibly, avoided."

It sounds really promising.

  1. Those who think autism should be cured are probably agents of the Handicapper General
  2. Aside from NFL games, the few TV programs I do like aren't terribly kid-friendly, either

Sleep Tracking Thu, 02 Apr 2015 13:22:00 +0000 phoneboy 41c133da-246a-7072-04e8-4a8200e97bf1 It's been about a month since I've gotten my CPAP machine. So far, it's been working pretty good for me. Not that it was an issue before, I've pretty much stopped moving in my sleep. This means I'm a bit more stiff when I wake up as I tend to stay still. I also wake up quicker and generally feel like I'm sleeping better. All good things.

That said I have a CPAP that collects data, so why not look at it, right? First I tried using a tool called SleepMapper which is an online service the manufacturer of my CPAP machine Philips does. It reads the data from the SD card in my CPAP machine using a Java app (ew!) and uploads it to a website where the data can be viewed.


Unfortunately it doesn't really show me a lot of data, as you can see. Just my AHI, therapy hours, and mask fit. The app also inexplicably couldn't find new data on my SD card for a three day period.

Meanwhile I found an open source app called SleepyHead that is able to read CPAP data from a number or machines, including mine, and render a report locally. It shows me a whole lot more data:


The breakdown between airway obstructions and hypopneas in my AHI is nice. It's also nice to see that, generally, my mask is fitting well except on one night when I apparently had an issue.

It also looks I needed a little more pressure than normal to keep my airway open than usual at some point. SleepyHead shows me graphs of the raw data. I can see that at around 4:40am I had an obstructive airway event that led to what are marked as "vibratory snores." According to SleepyHead's Sleep Disorder Glossary, a snore is "a loud upper airway breathing sound during sleep, without episodes of apnea."

To be honest, I'm not sure what good all this data does for me at the moment. The AHI number is low enough, which I'm sure is all my doctor will care about. I'm sleeping better, too, which at the end of the day, is why I got a CPAP to begin with.

How Am I Sleeping? Fri, 13 Mar 2015 23:35:00 +0000 phoneboy da38ce3b-7238-5611-445e-c0ed92305dd9 It's been a week since I got a CPAP machine. I've slept with it on every night since I got it, and I have to say: I've definitely noticed the difference. I'm less tired in the morning and during the day.

My family noticed it, too. More specifically, they've noticed the utter lack of snoring. It was quite loud before I had the CPAP. Now, just the quiet hum of the CPAP machine. I even used an old iPhone app called Sleep Analyzer to record any loud noises that occur when I sleep to prove it to myself. The loudest thing it recorded was me turning over in bed—a far cry from the snores it used to record.

Even better, of course, is my Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) number, i.e. the number of breathing events per hour that occur in the middle of the night that interrupt my sleep. Over the last 7 days I've averaged a 1.3, which is a definite improvement over what I had at my sleep study.

Another stat: I'm averaging about 7.5 hours of sleep a night over the last week. This is what my CPAP machine is telling me anyway but it gives a slightly higher number in terms of "therapy hours" which reflects when the machine is actually running.

My only issue at this point is traveling. At the very least this is one more thing I will have to carry with me on the airplane. I probably won't be able to use it on the plane for the really long trips but it's not like you can get really good sleep on an airplane anyway.

Current Status: Mostly Refreshed Fri, 06 Mar 2015 10:24:00 +0000 phoneboy 24ef1c49-5e20-debd-ab58-8eaa20194324 After finally meeting with my pulmonologist, getting directed to a medical equipment supplier in my area, scheduling an appointment, and going to said appointment, I finally have a CPAP machine.


The machine I got (pictured above) is a Philips Respironics DS560S, or by another name, a REMstar Auto. The device is an Auto-CPAP, which means it adjusts the amount of pressure needed depending on how well I'm breathing at any given moment. This pressure is designed to keep your airway open while sleeping to minimize the number of apneas (stop breathing) and hypopneas (shallow breathing).

Last night was the first night I slept with it, and I have to say: it made a difference. This morning, I was actually awake when I woke up, rather than my usual grogginess. I can't remember the last time that happened. That said, I woke up several times during the night as I'm clearly not used to sleeping with a mask on.

One stat my machine gives me is my AHI value. This is the Apnea Hypopnea Index, i.e. the number of breathing events that occur in the middle of the night that interrupt my sleep. Since this machine auto titrates, it has to know when I have an event in order to ramp the pressure up.

During the recent sleep study I did, my AHI was 8.9. Last night with the CPAP: 2. That puts me into the normal range and it makes a noticeable difference.

I also got a humidifier with my unit but I didn't use it last night. Compared to my usual non-CPAP sleeping, my mouth was actually less dry so I don't intend to use it unless it becomes an issue.


The mask I got, for those who are interested, is a Fisher and Paykel Simplus. It's a full face mask and it fits me comfortably—more so than the masks I tried on at the hospital. That said everyone is different as to what works for them and their are many choices available.

So far I'm liking the results.

Diminishing Returns, a.k.a. The State Of My Investment in App.Net Sun, 01 Mar 2015 09:51:00 +0000 phoneboy 755c34e2-980d-1887-82c7-f32b0709c0de I've been pretty consistent that I view the monies I've paid to App.Net (ADN) as an investment. However, like every investment, you have to evaluate what you've put into it compared to what you think going to get out of it. Eventually, you come to a decision: do you continue to invest or not?

I know ADN is a whole lot more than Alpha, the thing everyone compares to Twitter. I know ADN as a social platform is superior in many ways to other things out there. It is, unfortunately, lacking in one very critical thing that becomes apparent more and more with each passing day: people who actually use the platform as it was intended.

Plenty of people that used to be on ADN have already made the decision to retreat back to Twitter. I never left Twitter and, as my Alpha stream is showing contributions by fewer and fewer unique voices every day, I am spending more and more time on Twitter and Facebook.

Further, I really don't have any idea what, if anything, the ADN guys are doing beyond keeping the service running. Given the number of people I've seen not renew, I have no idea if the money coming in covers the costs, much less the time it takes to keep things running.

And the other things that ADN is good for that aren't Alpha? Most of the devs that were building apps gave up, mostly because the people just weren't there to justify the effort.

The investment I made in ADN did pay off. I met some great people that I wouldn't have met otherwise, I got exposed to some new technology, and I learned a great deal about myself in the process.

Unfortunately, with the trajectory things are on, and the likelihood that trajectory will change for the better anytime soon, it really doesn't make sense for me to continue to pay for ADN. Sure, $36 a year is not much in the grand scheme of things, but the continued returns on that investment just aren't there.

So, yes, I'm planning to drop to the free tier, but unlike a lot of people who have come to a similar conclusion, I am manually pruning my follow list now to get below the 40 user limit so I know who I'll be following when the time comes. I intend to remain active to the bitter end.

Taking Back My Internet and Social Media Presence Sun, 01 Mar 2015 09:51:00 +0000 phoneboy a2514419-4fc4-63b5-7712-05f7ab8120ff 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 Fri, 20 Feb 2015 22:33:00 +0000 phoneboy 2a71580f-4325-37cc-51a7-19e0b6b210fe 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? Wed, 18 Feb 2015 23:42:00 +0000 phoneboy 64d329b7-4528-074c-0115-8611e7a51a6a 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 Mon, 16 Feb 2015 22:03:00 +0000 phoneboy f8ad9698-1997-735a-0fc8-757745947d22 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.