The Heart is Willing … or maybe not?

It’s been a while since my last post. Suffice it to say non-blog related things have been stealing my attention. The latest being the most impacting.

I was in a Kiwanis meeting May 4th, when I began to feel ‘not right’. I became light headed and felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.

I politely excused myself, took some deep breaths, thought I had it under control and rejoined the meeting.

It was no more than five minutes and I excused myself again, this time I took my things with me.

The light headed feeling persisted. I kept trying to clear my head with deep breathing, but kept getting weaker. I checked my Fitbit and my heart rate was around 100, which didn’t make sense considering my level of inactivity. We have good conversations, but not that exciting.

I was lucky enough that the meeting was in conference room at a Mansfield Methodist Hospital and I walked myself down to the Emergency Room. By the time I got to the service counter, I was struggling for breath, I was near fainting, and my legs were about to go. I was able to give them my name and they were catching me with a wheel chair.

In minutes, they wheeled me to a room, got me on a bed, attached a number of leads all over (chest, abdomen and legs) and put an oxygen feed under my nose. While I was half fainting, I became strangely emotional, like I was about to cry and I said so. Just the weirdest thing. I normally handle stressful situations calmly.

I was struggling to tell them medical history while it felt like the right side of my head was becoming extra tingly, like I was losing circulation on that side of my head. I was scared. I thought it was my end.

They hooked up an IV, ran saline and monitored my heart. My BP was 180 over 110 and my heart rate was easily 100 or more. I was having a hard time, but they let me keep my cell phone and I called my wife. She insisted on coming to the ER.

I texted members of Kiwanis to let them know. A small cadre of them were allowed to hang out with me while I went through whatever this was.

And I texted my kids that I love them, but I didn’t let them know more than that. If this was the end, it was important. But I didn’t want them doing anything rash, like jumping on planes when there was nothing they could do.

My biggest fear was that they would rush me into surgery and crack my chest open.

The rest was a blur of emotions and trying to make light of a situation with humor. That’s my coping mechanism. My wife arrived and I know she could see the uncertainty in my eyes. We shared hopes for the future and I professed my feelings again.

Then there were several hours of imaging, evaluation, ekg’s that eventually led to a conversation with a very good ER doctor. You know the kind you hope for that will take the time to converse rather than do a brain dump and leave you confused.

He explained that the lower left chamber of my heart had been beating uncontrollably and after consulting with a specialist, they put me on a script to keep my heart from running out of control.

When they were sure my heart was under control, they released me and I drove myself home.

Thinking about this, in the back of my mind, I’m reminded of the ‘holiday heart’ and wondered, did my drinking cause me permanent and irreversible damage?

I’m not sure I’ll ever know for sure, but… it makes one think.

 

 

 

I Planned, Fate Laughed

Somewhere around 593 days of alcohol free (late February 2018) and in my 51st week of training for 5k’s I developed a soreness in my knee.

Naturally, I had been pushing myself to try and get a decent time for the last 5k to complete the ‘5K a Month’ for a Year challenge. I had also taken it for granted it was in the bag and had already begun thinking of goals immediately beyond that, like a 10K and a half marathon and dreams of a marathon in the next year.

Unfortunately, I believe I over trained. So for the final run of the year, I intentionally cut Continue reading “I Planned, Fate Laughed”

LineageOS April Fool’s 2018 – Lost Trust?

Android user’s with LineageOS 14.1 ROM’s recently received an over the air (OTA) update. As dutiful users trusting their ROM providers, knowing that security is important, the vast majority of users accepted the update.

What they got was this:

IMG_20180405_113240012

When a user clicks on that, it takes the user to this web page. At least it did after April 1st. I can’t say if it impacts all versions of LineageOS or just a few.  I’m not sure if anyone knows exactly how many are impacted, but the latest info I saw was that there are more than a million users of LineageOS ROMs.

As you read down the page, you realize that this embedded link was from LineageOS as an April Fool’s joke, even though my OTA update prompt occurred on the 5th, a little late as jokes go. And it included a fictional story about Lineage starting their own digital currency.

I’m okay with a decent joke once in a while. Haha on me.

But when I attempt to get rid of the alert, no joy. It’s not a simple ‘swipe it away.’ I’m stuck with this thing.

If a user further examines their phone, there is a ROM based app called ‘Wallet’. Open it and it prompts a user for a Login and password. I wasn’t about to log into it. There is no way to uninstall the app, because it’s part of the ROM.

You have to read the web site under the second bullet for LineaGenuine (both 15.1 and 14.1) for a means of correcting this prank. And, yes, I can confirm the TWRP command line option from the site works.

Most of the user reactions on Reddit are irritated, negative or downright flaming. The LineageOS insider that did respond didn’t indicate they would not prank users in the future. I read it as passive acknowledgment and maybe they’ll think about listening to users.

So, if you really really really like LineageOS (yes, that’s a lot of really), expect to have some kind of April Fools prank occur that could involve more than a simple pop up. It’s likely to be a pain to get rid of. In this case, it may have sent you into a paranoid tizzy.

But, let’s talk about what ROM’s are in the first place. They are customized Android operating systems built for each piece of hardware. Android for phone from manufacturer A won’t work on manufacturer phone B. It requires development effort to make Android run on any given phone. And for each upgrade in Android, that development effort has to occur again. Not every manufacturer cares, because you would be less inclined to buy a new phone every year if it’s kept current.

Custom ROM’s frequently exist to allow old hardware to still be functional. Or allows more user control. Why replace a great phone, when a custom ROM will work great and make it current. Those are just a few reasons ‘why use a custom ROM’.

They are generally created with an open development model, by volunteers putting together the packages, sometimes with no or little financial incentive, for each piece of hardware. With no financial incentive, it means they have no one to really answer to and nothing that prevents them from doing whatever they want (like pranking users).  I’m sure some ROM teams look at it seriously and others as just a hobby or learning experience, so they want their fun. But that doesn’t guarantee the integrity of their work or their personal character.

Basically, if you’re knowledgeable enough to go through the process of loading a custom ROM you’re subject to whatever those developers decide to do. And if you don’t like it, some of them feel you should take your toys and play somewhere else.

I can see why some people would stop using LineageOS.

Why?

The idea that in this age of security conscientiousness when ROM developers go this far to ‘prank’ a large segment of their user community, that can be interpreted that they don’t value the end users trust.

And yes, the ROM Developers may know it’s not a big deal or an exposure themselves. But many of the users would say this crosses a fine line between having fun and threatening something that many value very seriously.

It can lead a person to think, “in what other ways will they mess with me? Data collection? Call and location tracking? Contextual details? User ID and password skimming? Banking and financials?” We know it’s feasible, especially with the Facebook issues that were made public.

As for me, LineageOS does make a decent ROM. But there are a lot of options out there. Then again, “Android One” may be the answer. But that’s another story.

Alcohol and Pain Management – Day 609

It’s been 609 days since my last drink.

In retrospect, I look back not because I feel myself tempted, but to understand why and how I unwittingly used alcohol. And I realize that I occasionally used it as a means of dealing with pain.

My life is no different than anyone else and I’ve gone through some of life’s difficulties. But, I’ve had to ask myself, “did alcohol ever really help?”

I recall spraining an ankle and spending an evening with the guys hanging out and getting trashed. That was a rum and coke night. They were pouring and got amused as I slurred and struggled to stay balanced with my crutch. I remember single leg hopping to the rest room and struggling to get to bed. Next day I conveniently forgot the hang over.

Then of course are the other pains.

There was the pain of my 24th birthday. I was in the Navy, in the shipyards, working Monday through Friday with twelve hour shifts overlaid on top of that covering all seven days, with one rotational day off. The luck of the draw meant I had the day after my birthday off so I took advantage of it.

I was at a low point. I was finishing a divorce from my first wife wondering if I would ever have a chance at love again. (Clearly the naive viewpoint of youth). It had been more than a year since I saw family. And I was feeling the oppression of ‘Dogs and sailors keep off the grass’ from the Navy town atmosphere and felt really isolated. And the work regimen was such that you really didn’t have much opportunity to connect or befriend anyone outside of work. So I pulled up a stool at the enlisted club with one goal in mind. Drink to drown it all out.

One high point out of that. I was joined by a shipmate just by chance and I proceeded to get pie-faced. Completely blotto. I don’t remember how I got back to my room.. I think he helped, but it’s lost on me now.

The next morning (surprise duty) I was roused from my bunk. The guy that woke me had to jump back from my breath. Surprise, they changed the schedule, I had to go in and I was to lead a training session on something that was very detailed, intricate and involved in front of about 45 of my peers. I gave everyone fair warning that since this was unplanned it was anyone’s guess how this would go. An hour later, when it was done, I got a lot of compliments on how well it went. It became obvious that someone had heard about my night before and thought they would mess with me. Fortunately, I was still a bit buzzed while presenting so any pretense of nervousness in front of a crowd was gone, I knew the information cold and the presentation flowed comfortably. I even fielded a few questions intended as gotchas, but I crushed it.

As I look back, this was one of those moments that made me think drinking was something easy to handle. That it might actually have some positive impacts. How silly that was.

I’ve used alcohol for pain suppression through surgeries, broken bones, sprains, strains, worries over kids and family, health scares, heart aches for break ups, divorces, loneliness, funerals, jealousy, work stress just to name a few. I’ve also used it to fit in with the crowd socializing and ease my own nerves. And in every sense of the word, it would bring a momentary relief only to frequently have the pain redoubled or complicated by the symptoms of a hang over.

Fast forward to 2016 and it’s very obvious that I was using it to deal with so many little minor things that were ‘pains’ that there were few things I could look at positively.

In fact, I’ve realized that many of the ‘pains’ that I was drinking to deal with turned out to be conditions complicated by the drinking.

In the past 609 days I can honestly say I’ve never been truly ‘sick’, where before it was a matter of weeks between bouts of severe diarrhea or sinus issues that would make me useless. And I know longer suffer ‘mysterious’ joint swelling or pain. Any joint pain I suffer now is because I did something strenuous.

Am I pain free? No. I’m in my upper 50’s with normal aches and pains.

At the end of the day, when I’m sitting around with the wife, we will look at each other, a knowing look will pass between us. Almost without speaking we acknowledge that our lives are so much better without the fuzz, haze and side affects of alcohol. It’s so much easier without it now.

 

 

Google Feed Rant & What to Do

I became determined to remove Google Feed

Have you ever spent a little time checking out the Google Feed on your Android phone? That additional screen that appears when you side swipe from your home screens? I did. I thought it was a great idea to provide a source of information that I could curate and customize for what was important to me. I spent some time giving it a chance. I worked with customizing it, thinking I could boil things down to what I was actually interested in.

It was a disappointment, repeatedly. Yes, it was nice to see my teams scores, weather and Continue reading “Google Feed Rant & What to Do”

OnePlus One – Still like it

It was a recent day on a cool brisk evening. I was out with our ten year old walking the dog after dark and, as he sometimes does, he started asking me about the stars because they were out brightly that night. So I whip out the phone and downloaded Sky Map hoping to show the relative position of the far off planets in our constellation, but it was a flop. Apparently I didn’t have a built in compass.

Then I was at a runners event with nothing but my cell phone after a run and there were stands with merchandise I wanted to buy. No plastic, no cash, no purchase. I realized I didn’t have a built in NFC chip on my phone.

And the light bulb went off, I have a phone with those features sitting in a box at home.  Continue reading “OnePlus One – Still like it”

5K a Month for a Year

In early 2017, realizing the positive health progress I was making with sobriety, I decided to set goals. I needed something to strive for. I’m not sure if everyone is like this, but I’ve come to recognize that I appreciate things more when I’m challenged. Something that comes too easily is just not very rewarding and can easily be taken for granted. Continue reading “5K a Month for a Year”