Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Big Digital Recommends: What the Dog Saw

So I know I no longer have been posting comments about every book that I read, but I figured it couldn't hurt to at least throw in a plug for the books (and I guess other things) that I like as come across them.


I recently finished Malcolm Gladwell's "What the Dog Saw", a collection of (I assume just some) of his essays from The New Yorker.  And it was a super enjoyable read.  The essays were usually between 15 and 30 pages and covered a broad range of topics.  One about why there are so many kinds of mustard, but pretty much just one ketchup.  One about whether maybe job interviews aren't so great at identifying good workers.  The title essay about The Dog Whisperer.  One about Ron Popeil.  They're all long enough to cover a topic pretty well, but not so long that they get tedious.  Definitely worth a read. I haven't read any of his other books ("The Tipping Point", "Blink", "Outliers") so I can't really compare or recommend those.  But this one was definitely worth the 15 cents in library fines I paid for it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

30 Post Challenge #6

#6: Something that excites you and fills you with joy.

  • Watching the Utes win
  • A good date
  • A fun concert
  • Having a fun conversation
  • Hearing a favorite song
Those are some that came to mind, but also this prompt reminded me of this list that I initially made when I was a missionary, and then added a little to afterward, that is still pretty accurate (car CD players have lost some of their awesomeness in the last 12 years).

Friday, January 20, 2012

30 Post Challenge #5

#5: Something in life that gives you balance

This was an interesting idea for me to think about.  Because first I had to think about whether or not my life actually had balance.  Given that its not something I spend a lot of time thinking about (balance), can I safely assume that my life is in balance? 

So to think about what gives me balance (assuming I have it), means looking at areas of my life that are out of balance, either neglected or overly emphasized, or at least that I might have a natural tendency to overly emphasize or neglect.

And doing that, it seems like the area that I'm most in danger of being out of balance might be a tendency to be very self-centered. Not that I think I'm an ego-maniac or anything, just being single, my own self tends to be the main focus of my attention.  And I could probably do better at finding opportunities to serve others.  Just sometimes when there's no family, and few obvious opportunities through church to serve (my home teaching families are particularly adept at not saying they don't want us to come over, but somehow managing to avoid us month after month), its a little more work to find ways to serve.

So, all that said, I guess I would say that when I do get opportunities to serve at church, be it taking Christmas treats around to our home teaching families (they can't stop us from at least coming to the door with tangerines!), or even just helping out in the Elders Quorum with service and activities. (This quarter's activity: having the guys are coming over to watch a Jazz game. They're married, ok? I'm sure this is more excitement than most of them have had in years.)

So that's at least one thing that give my life some balance, even if it is still probably still out of balance in that sense.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

30 Post Challenge #4

#4: Something that is part of your routine that you enjoy

In thinking about "my routine", it was kind of hard to narrow it down to things that really felt "routine", you know? Like I enjoy taking myself out for fast food before I go grocery shopping (never want to shop on an empty stomach, right?), but that only happens a couple times a month, so I don't know if that qualifies as routine. 

But after thinking for a couple days, I guess the most routine thing that I enjoy the most, is probably just my commute. I know, I know, if I could work at the OTHER hospital that's much closer to home, I'd save myself time, gas money, and who knows what else. But as long as I'm working downtown, I'm actually pretty happy with my 25 minute drive each way.  I read something once that said that people actually prefer to have a bit of a commute. Gives you some time to switch from "home" mode to "work" mode and back again, or something like that.

In any case, for me, it generally means quality time with my iPod. :)  Either catching up on my podcasts (an episode of PTI fits perfectly into one half of my commute) or listening to whatever new music I got from the library this week. (Salt Lake County has a service that lets you download 3 free songs every week).

And after coming home last night on the freeway (I swung through downtown before heading home), I was reminded of how much I enjoy driving on 7th East.  None of the stop and go of the freeway, and almost as fast overall if I'm not going through downtown with all the traffic lights.  Pretty steady flow of traffic, not nearly as stressful as taking the freeway, in my opinion.

Monday, January 16, 2012

30 Post Challenge #3

#3: Something with which you struggle

Finally an easy one. :) As opposed to having a hard time coming up with things I'm looking forward to or things I regret, things I struggle with seem easy to come by.  Where to begin? :)

I struggle with not going to bed as early as I ought to. I usually feel like I could go to bed at ten, but if I miss my window, then I seem to find my second wind and end up staying up til 11:30 or 12. Or later if I find something interesting to do in the meantime.

I struggle with wanting to be "out there", being social, so that I can meet people to date. Its not that I don't like social interaction, but some of these events just don't seem very conducive to meeting people and yet sometimes I worry that if I don't go then I won't be able to meet new people that I'm interested in dating, and I'll be stuck with blind dates with people who I'm definitely not interested in.

I struggle with eating more than I need to. Not that I "pig out" often. Just between the diabetes and a desk job, I really don't need to eat all that much.  Even when I am doing a good job of regular exercise.

I struggle with making time to read the scriptures every day.  I do pretty good most of the time, but I'm sure I would do better if I could make myself get up earlier and have a dedicated spot for it in my day.  As it is now, I just have to make it a priority when I get home from work.

I struggle with dating, in a variety of ways. I still get nervous to call girls that I'm interested in and ask them out. Even in the instances where they DO go out with me (and certainly not every girl that I call does that), I then worry about whether or not they're interested in going out a second time.  When they DO seem interested, then I worry that I'm going to end up not being interested in them for some reason.  So I struggle with continuing to be optimistic and hopeful.

I struggle with staying on task at work. When I have things clearly laid out for myself to work on, its pretty easy, but when I finish a project, or I am waiting to hear back from someone (which happens a lot) I am not the best at making myself think of what else I could be working on.

I struggle with feelings of loneliness, even when I know there are a lot of people who care about me.  Just would like to have a best friend who won't eventually get married or move away or whatever, a.k.a. a wife. :)

I struggle with buying anything that costs more than $20.  My work pays me well and I can afford most of the things I would want to buy for myself, but after a decade of being a full-time student, I guess I just got used to being conservative with my money.

I struggle to find time to listen to all of my podcasts and new music. I love my Bill Simmons podcasts, and I love PTI, and I love This American Life, and I love the Slate Political Gabfest, but I only commute about 50 minutes a day, so to keep up with everything, I have to find other times during the week to listen (sometimes when I work out, but I've been riding the bike so much lately, and talk radio just doesn't cut it on the bike)

I struggle with finding things to work toward. Now that I'm done with school and into a "career" job, sometimes life can get to feel like its kind of the same old thing every day. Go to work. Come home. Exercise. Read the scriptures. Find something fun to do for a couple hours. Go to bed.  Last year's running kick came in part from a desire to have something to work toward. Another thing I've thought about doing is taking piano lessons. But I don't really have a piano. Guess I could learn with a keyboard (I think there's one laying around our house somewhere), but somehow that seems kinda lame. :)

I guess that's probably a long enough list of the things I struggle with for one day. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Big Digital Prepares for a Comeback

So, I think I've mentioned recently that I was experiencing some issues with my left knee, that brought an end to my goal to run a complete 5K last year. Back in October I went to see a Sports Medicine doctor and he took an ultrasound and found evidence of some scar tissue in my patellar tendon.  I've been going to physical therapy for a while and doing some exercises with the the hope of breaking up that scar tissue and replacing it with healthy tissue, but after a couple months of that and not seeing any real improvement in my pain, the doctor recommended that we take more drastic action.

The more drastic action he recommended was something called Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy (PRP).  Its a technique that I've heard the last few years in reference to NBA players, so I at least had heard of it.  Basically what it consists of is taking some of the patient's blood, centrifuging it to increase the percentage of platelets and then injecting that platelet-rich plasma into the patient's damaged tissue.  The expected benefits of the injections are two-fold. First, the hope is that the injections will break up the scar tissue, and secondly the platelets in the plasma are expected to aid in the growth of new healthy cells.

In addition to extolling the benefits, my doctor also made it clear that it's not exactly a mild treatment.  He told me the pain can be pretty intense.  Having had it done twice himself, I appreciated his first-hand testimony.  After some discussion, I decided to take his advice and see if this new-fangled treatment could help me get back to running and jumping like I used to (not that I was ever an olympic athlete by any stretch of the imagination).

My sweet mother was kind enough to come and get me and take me up to Bountiful where I was having the procedure done.  The first step was drawing the blood, thankfully something that I've never had much problems with. The gal drawing my blood asked how my veins are and I told her that I've never had any problems getting blood drawn, so if she had any problems it must be her fault, no pressure. ;)  For some reason she felt compelled to show me the larger than normal tube she needed to fill up, maybe six or eight inches long and the diameter of a quarter.  So definitely more than I usually get drawn for my semi-annual lab tests.  Regardless, there wasn't really any problem getting my blood and then I went back out to the waiting room to hang out with my mom while they got it processed and ready to put back in me.

About 20 minutes later, they called me back in.  They had me lay down on the table, and the doctor gave me a small injection to numb the skin over my tendon where they'd be injecting the PRP.  A few seconds later he inserted the needle and asked if I felt anything. I didn't and said as much, wondering if the pain he'd talked about was  just bluster.  He said, oh, well I'm just into the skin, now I'm going to inject the blood into your tendon.  And then he did. And wow, it was definitely an intense sensation. I don't think that tendons are generally made to have things injected into them.  So much pressure. I asked him if my leg was going to explode.  He chuckled and said no, but that that was a typical description of the feeling.

After just a few minutes his work was done. He slapped a band-aid over the injection site and told me I could take as long as I wanted to lay on the table until I felt like getting up and going. While the pain didn't get any worse, it didn't really improve for quite a while.  I hobbled around the office to ask a couple questions from the staff and then headed out to the lobby, so my mom could drive me home.

I had originally planned on meeting some friends for dinner later that night, but at that point I was wondering if I'd be able to leave the house at all.  The pain was pretty constant, in a way that made it hard to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.  I quickly discovered that there were better and worse ways to go up and down the stairs. :)  I gathered up some reading materials and set up a home base in our living room so I wouldn't have to keep wandering around to get things.  The doctor had stressed that I shouldn't just sit still all night and that I should make sure to move around a bit every ten minutes, despite the pain, as it would be helpful to keep it moving.  So I forced myself to get up every ten minutes or so and at least walk around the room and flex my leg back and forth a little.

Unfortunately, it also became apparent that somewhere in the house there was a smoke detector with a dead battery.  I had to wander around the house for a while before finally locating the one that needed a replacement. Thankfully it was one I could reach just with a chair and wouldn't need a ladder to replace.  I was a little nervous about climbing up on a chair, but it turned out to not be as big of a deal as I feared.

After a few hours of taking it easy (but remembering to move around a bit) I actually decided that I could probably handle driving myself to dinner, and I did. Wasn't 100% comfortable, but I was glad I was able to go.

My biggest fear was about the night, both that I'd have a hard time getting comfortable to sleep, and that after a night of not moving that I'd be pretty sore in the morning. Thankfully neither of those were really a problem. I found a couple different positions that were comfortable for sleeping, and this morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was at least no sorer than the night before. Been taking it easy today for the most part, once again setting up my home base in the living room, complete with my old school monster of a laptop, on which I'm cranking out this blog while watching the 49ers-Saints playoff game.

In the end, or at least at whatever point I'm currently at, it wasn't a horrible procedure to have done. I'm hopeful that it will make a real difference in my knee and that I won't have to have it done again any time soon. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

30 Post Challenge #2

#2: Something you regret not having done last year

As I look back at 2011, and think about what I regret not having done, its hard for me to come up with any major regrets. I'm sure that I made plenty of mistakes, but most of them I'm probably not even aware of making, and other things I regret, like the fact that my knee is so screwed up that I'm having to get needles stuck into later this week, are the results of decisions that I don't regret, like trying to start a habit of running regularly.  I probably ought to regret some of the times I ate at Chick-fil-A instead of making myself a sandwich, but their nuggets are just so delicious, its hard to find any remorse for that. :)

Given that I'm feeling a little bit like I'm a man without a social network, I sometimes regret not having gone to check out the singles ward that many of my friends were attending before the reorganization of singles wards throughout the valley, but I don't regret continuing to work with the Elders Quorum presidency that I was serving in at the time.

I guess this is a difficult question for me to answer, but since its my blog, I'll say that I tried. Maybe you can suggest things I ought to regret in the comments. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

30 Post Challenge #1

I always hate to rush into blogging again after posting my Christmas Card, because I like having it at the top of my blog when people come to visit, but at this point I imagine that anyone who wanted to see it has seen it, and the ones who have come back are probably tired of seeing it at this point. :)

Anyway, I feel like this blog has become mainly a collection of photos from when I go somewhere, and don't get me wrong, I really like that aspect of it.  But I also want to do a little more with it. What kind of more? I'm not entirely sure, but I thought it might be good to just do some writing here from time to time.  I sometimes see people doing "30 Day Challenges" or something like that, and I don't really feel like I need to write for 30 days straight, but think it might be fun to find some writing prompts from some of those and maybe shoot for 30 days of essays over the course of some larger number of days. :) This site has a bunch of prompts that I thought were interesting to think about, so I'm going to start with that list and work my way down. So without further ado:

#1: Something you're looking forward to this year

Right off the bat, this seems harder than it ought to be.  Having finished school and being in a job that's fairly stable, there generally aren't any big things to look forward to these days.  I mean, sure I'd love to look forward to falling in love and getting married this year, but I guess that I feel like there's things you hope for, but they don't really count as things to look forward to, per se.  And a year is a long time to be looking forward to anyway.  I really haven't done much planning past the next couple months.

All that said, there are a number of things that I'm looking forward to this year:

-Going to visit Julie in Arizona in February (good company AND good weather)
-George's family coming to visit sometime
-Seeing Wicked in August
-Getting my knee better again and getting back to non-bike exercising (my tailbone is not a big fan of riding the bike)

I'm sure I could come up with other things, but I'm feeling like these don't HAVE to be super long essays, so I'm just going to leave it like that.