Fighting Cabin Fever with Telecommuting –

For those who’ve read some of my old blog entries, you’ll know I’ve been working in my home full time since mid-2001. It’s always been a challenge to socialize with other human beings that had things in common with me while full time working from home.
Since that time I’ve maintained a sense of staying busy with single parenting my kids, community organizations, military and what dating I could accomplish. Yes, the calendar was somewhat busy but revolved around very little selfish social interaction leaving me with a sense of emptiness amplified by the constant cabin fever of working from home.
Now, one child is an adult with her own transportation and the other on the cusp of adulthood. They no longer desire to participate in things to be driven everywhere, with the exception of work for the youngest until he has his own vehicle.
What’s a dad to do with all this suddenly empty time, a deep seated sense of loneliness and no strong core of friends? Well, let’s recognize that the workplace is the number 1 place that nearly every American socially interacts with others and develops friendships and cameraderie. So, start by getting back in the workplace. Reconnect with any old acquaintances, start new acquaintances, participate in company sponsored charitable events. That’s the new goal, working in the office at least one day a week. It appears most telecommuters that do visit the workplace in my area migrate in on Wednesday, so that seems like the best.
Number 2, continue to grow a circle of acquaintances based on things in common. I’ve joined several calendars through Basically a social calendaring web site with groups that have interests all over the spectrum that also allows anyone to start their own group if they don’t find what they want.
Number 3, community organizations through work and the local area. This is generally an area where friendships develop over time based on your ability to participate of course.
Number 4, don’t be afraid to try new things. If you have the option and can work from a wi-fi cafe you enjoy, do it. Becoming a regular can provide interaction you might not be able to get otherwise.
These are my ideas of how to expand my circle. If you have other ideas, please share.

Hope this helps someone else trying to fight the cabin fever of working from home.

Weight Control Status

It’s been a few months since I started this weight control journey. It’s been a learning curve in a number of ways.

First and foremost there is no magic bullet. It was really a matter of changing my habits to eat less volume. Eat better choices. Maintain and increase my exercise regimen.

Although unique fad diets can help with results, ultimately do you want to depend on that costly pill, those pre-fab meals, the doctor visits, or the narrow eating habits?

Key principles: 1) Substitute whole grain options for flour products. 2) Read the labels. You’d be amazed how one brands serving of the exact same food may be four times as many calories. 3) Limit your intake and measure it. Saying that your going to only eat 1500 calories in a day without measuring leaves way too much to your mental fudge factor. Even better, write it down. 4) Exercise. Without it, your body will devour the healthy muscle tissue before the fat. I mixed it up between stepping and strength training so I didn’t focus everything in one place.

Yes, I allow myself a splurge once in a while. But when I reach the upper end of my range, I curtail my appetite. But when I’m on the low end, I eat anything although I still avoid excess.

Have I reached “that guy status”? You know like the Bowflex commercial guy? I have to say not quite. It’s a body fat percentage I’m not ready to go for because of the work and time involved.

I’ve lost a couple inches and 15 to 20 pounds. My weight fluctuates from 185 to 189. I weigh myself nearly every day to prevent backsliding. My muffin tops are no longer the ultra grande with a twelve pack bearing down which helps me to look younger than I actually am.

I do receive a lot of compliments and a few “don’t lose any more, you look great”s. I’m even catching women doing the “full body scan”, which i haven’t experienced in a long time. I haven’t been out to the beach since the cool weather is rolling in, but am looking forward to it.

Latex Crazy

I got swept up in the Halloween spirit this year following a number of changes in my life. I became a regular at a favorite Halloween store and was enthralled with the latex.
So many decisions. I wanted to have something flexible which ruled out full face masks. Plus they’re bulky and uncomfortable. I could deal with a little discomfort so long as I could talk and eat, but masks weren’t gonna do it.
Basic costumes were out since they typically look cheezy and uncomfortable. I didn’t feel competent with only makeup to accomplish the look.
Then I saw it. Latex. Horns, scars, liquid latex, blood gel, fangs, foreheads, partial faces, full face foam, on and on. I bought a set, did a little homework, came up with a look, and WALLAH!

Halloween 2008-10-25

A little blood gel splattered on a clean white T-shirt, a crazy horn set, liquid latex to smooth the edges, skin tone make up to blend it in, some blood gel on the horns and there ya go.
What I didn’t count on was how long it would take to prepare. About two hours. But the effect was good.
However, this was for parties the week before Halloween. What can I come up with for actual Halloween parties?

Vista Tax – It’s All that Apple Claims

I am neither a fan of Microsoft or Apple. However, after a hard failure of a laptop and a scramble for a decent deal I purchased a Lenovo y510 Ideapad for about $800 tax included with Vista Home Premium edition.

In recent months I’ve heard the MS company and loyalists try to convince consumers of an “Apple Tax”. Added costs for software transitions and incompatibilities. As one experienced with Vista Home Premium, I have to share my observation.

I have to say when I first got Vista the experience started rough. I had to replace my Windows based cell phone due to lack of compatibility, I had to replace a scanner due to lack of compatibility and I lost the ability to send or receive faxes that was built into Windows XP.

Quicken 2006 has some compatibility issues to boot.

Understanding that, I shrugged and soldiered on giving this experience the benefit of the doubt. However, like one of my marriages, it went awry over time. Around the six month mark I began seeing slow downs. Over the past two months (eight months total) things have progressed to the Blue Screen of Death at least THREE TIMES A DAY EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Now, I’m a fairly techie guy. Built my own pc’s and worked with many versions of Linux.

I know where to find answers and what makes sense. For the past two months, I’ve updated all my drivers, checked the admin logs and done all that I feasibly can and Nothing works.

I’m hoping the extended warranty I have can somehow work with this.

I have to tell you I’m completely unimpressed with Vista. It fails more than Windows 98, has more incompatibility issues than XP by far and has cost me more time and money than any other system alone to maintain compatibility including the worst systems in the Linux world.

If I’d only known I would have definitely bought an Apple.

So, when someone starts telling you about the costs of “Apple Tax” just steer them to this. Any “Apple Tax” can’t be any worse than the “Vista Tax” that I’ve continued to pay for an OS that continues to fail on me.

Underwear Mysteries

This article is primarily for guys but women shopping for their guys might care too.

Let’s face it. Guys don’t typically talk about underwear. In my life, I can count on one hand the number of guys that I’ve discussed underwear with.

However, I think it’s about time to raise the conversation for comfort. Having been a guy all my life, I feel I have a certain amount of experience. So, here is my subjective discussion on underwear.

A little background on my range of underwear experience. I grew up in tighty whitey’s like everyone else. Wanting to look sexier, I tried speedo styles (aka mens bikini or mankini). As time moved on I transitioned through boxers, boxer briefs and sculpted boxers. From all these I’ve learned that what I like and don’t like.

I’ve also been a runner for well over thirty years with varying degrees of intensity and frequency. Support is foundational for that effort. Commando while running creates chaos, irritation and discomfort. This makes it a foundational need to prevent excess motion with physical activity.

Now, when I run, jock straps aren’t comfortable. They are typically made of rough elastic material and either cut into me or the material rubs me raw. However, it does provide a cradling function which prevents the flopping.

Contrary to popular belief tighty whiteys aren’t so tight and their cradling factor is minimal. Plus, they are cotton and don’t breathe when wet from sweat.

Straight boxers? They are like cotton curtains hanging from your waist. No support at all. And because of the construction, if you put on pants, they tend to bunch up and wad making you look like a doofus when your fixing it or you wear the pants draped around the crack of dawn so there is no bunching. The materials can be anything. The most comfortable to me are the softer nylons that wick real well.

Cradling and wicking are important.

How about the mankini? Typically they are designed so tight as to be uncomfortable, although they do cradle and can be made of quality wicking material. Plus, as revealing as these are, very few guys can pull the look off with a woman. And it’s disturbing to other men.

How about those sculpted boxers that fit like spandex? Some people like them. I wear them, but not in hot, humid or sweaty activity. My feeling is the materials that accomplish this tend to trap moisture in.

So where does that leave me? Well, by chance I actually found what I feel to be ideal. They’re actually made and marketed as running shorts which is why I bought them in the first place. But as I ran in them realized they were so light weight that it left little to the imagination even though they were incredibly comfortable.
Since they are running shorts they wick well and have a built in cradling liner. The shorts are cut small with a smaller profile than even standard boxer shorts. They are a bit more expensive than run of the mill underwear but well worth it for 24 hour comfort. The company name is Soffe and the model is M020.
So, if you’re in the hunt for some decent underwear, give them a shot. Nothing to lose but a lifetime of comfort.

Day 16 – Weight Control – Finding a new intake level

189.2 lbs and 26% BF.

Looking back, with the workouts running 500 calories or more a day and consumption to date at around 1000 calories a day I was losing an average of a pound or two a day.

Today was a difficult day and for the first time I can honestly say I felt the hunger. Rather than allow myself small 100 or so extra calories over the base 1000, I decided to really feast and allow myself a 1500 calorie day. indicates an active person like me can lose weight while eating 2600 calories a day, but has to make sure it’s less than 460 calories of junk, sugar or alcohol.

I’m not ready to make that much of an increase in calorie intake.

I’ve been staying up late too much and lacked the energy to work out today. I’ve also decided to slow down my blogging on this subject. I’ll do summaries every so often from now on.

And I have difficulties ahead. I’ll be sailing on Fashas Dream for three days. I won’t have my laptop to accurately mark things down. I won’t have access to for guidance. I’ll have to write things down and figure out the calories later.

Isolation is a disease – Get the cure

As a telecommuter one of the potential downfalls is a feeling of isolation. The conventional work place where we spend 8 or more hours a day puts us in a position not only to instantly and constantly communicate about the function of doing the work, it provides an incredibly necessary opportunity for us as human beings to interact and fulfill foundational portions of Maslow’s Heriarchy of Needs.

As telecommuters what do we do about it? Well, first we have to recognize this true need for our emotional well being. Each of us is different so this is highly subjective. In me I went through periods of mood swings. I realized that as a military reservist I felt closer to people I’d been around for two days a month than those in my workplace I communicated via phone every single day. I recognized that in the past I socialized at least two or three times a week in one way shape or form with people in my conventional work space. My kids recognized how moody I was. I recognized that I filled the void with video games, TV or working on other solo tasks. Although they were fun things they weren’t fulfilling, leaving me in a funk and only moderately helping with the real issue.

So what do we do to overcome the isolation? When you’re in the “funk” of isolation, you may not recognize that there really are a lot of options. You may feel trapped with only those in your immediate household so you have to reach beyond them. The local old fashion newspaper is still a great resource. Check into a church or community service. Take a class or join a martial arts school. Ask around with the few people you do know.

How did I overcome it? Get out there and do it. Through acquaintances I was sponsored to join a local Rotary club. From there I’ve met a number of individuals, learned about charitable efforts locally, enjoy casual coffee with a number of them and the club calendar provides more opportunities. Pursue a special interest. I’ve been checking out local boat clubs over the past two years and joined some. Nearly every publication has a web version. I’ve also found there are those web sites like MeetUp that use the web as a chance to get people together in real life who have all kinds of shared interests. [I’ll blog at length on MeetUp in another entry].

Will this cure everything? Well, you may still pine for the days when life was filled with the conventional office drama of who is interested in who and who stabbed that guy in the back. But having other circles of people to back fill that in your life can be just as intriguing and safer for the career.