Bit o' this, bit o' that (a farewell for now)

Warning: this is long. Epically long. I don’t expect anyone to read the whole thing, but I’m hoping that some of it may inspire one or two people to think about changes they’ve wanted to make in their own lives.

Pic because it is Oppo, after all.

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When I run into someone I know but haven’t seen for a while, my standard response to any queries about how I’ve been is “You know me, nothing ever changes in my life.”

I lean on that line for a few reasons, not the least of which is it’s mostly true.

However, this year has been a bit tumultuous in a mostly-good way, and I want to share a bit of that before I vanish.

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The setup

I’m lazy. Very lazy. And correspondingly quite out of shape, both physically and financially.

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This past February I found myself between projects at work, and when working for a large consulting company, “between projects” is a scary place to be.

Fortunately, before I had to start sizing up shopping carts to use while homeless (just kidding, of course my Jeep is paid off and would serve nicely as a mobile apartment when it’s, y’know, actually mobile), a new role opened up at a large company I’ve both been employed by and contracted with in the past.

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Quite aside from the financial advantages to remaining employed, this was a big boost in another way: getting to work included a fair bit of walking, including stairs.

Up until this point I had worked mainly remotely, which primarily involved me driving to local restaurants and libraries, and sitting all day long. Now suddenly I had to walk quite a bit, and use stairs extensively, and I was reminded just how out of shape I was. And how overweight I was (although, thankfully not yet obese).

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Within a couple of months I had decided it was time to exercise more and diet, and in late April I got somewhat serious about it.


The digression that isn’t

In more great news this summer, my Jeep was burgled in my parking lot at work. Twice in four days.

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Ok, admittedly it wasn’t such great news at the time, and I whined about it extensively.

But it had a couple of interesting side effects.

While I was waiting to upgrade my security, I started parking in a more secure lot at work, making my walk to work to about a quarter mile. Not a big walk, but every bit helps.

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What was more dramatic of a change is that the lot fills up fairly early, and to be assured of a spot I needed to park by 7:30 or so.

Did I mention I’m lazy? I’m also a night owl. Typically I’d sleep until 8, arrive at work between 9 and 9:30. Moving my schedule up 2 hours was...disruptive.

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Disruptive to the point that for a while I was waking up sometime between 3 and 5 in the morning, arriving at work before 6.

This was revelatory. The traffic at 7am wasn’t terrible, but the traffic at 5 or 6? Heavenly. And getting out of work by 3? Brilliant!

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Admittedly, I don’t get up nearly that early most days, but I am the first to work nearly every day.

Which leads this meandering tale back to fitness.


The back

I have a bad back. A really bad back. And as I said above, I’m out of shape. Changing a tire on my Jeep would likely involve a small miracle, given how heavy they are and the challenge of removing the spare from its elevated position and doing something useful with the flat tire when I was done.

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And a classic Jeep without power steering? Fuhgedaboutit. I test drove a CJ-5 last year and as soon as I let off the clutch I knew I couldn’t buy it. Sure, once it got running it wouldn’t be terrible, but turning the wheel at slow speeds would leave me in traction. Maybe with skinnies, but even then I doubt it.

And I really want a classic Jeep at some point, hopefully a flatfender, but there are quite a few old Jeeps I keep an eye out for.

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And while I found myself dieting and exercising more this summer, my back remains a problem. I limited my exercise to basic cardio because I didn’t know what might lead to back spasms, and I had no idea how to strengthen those muscles to compensate.

But, in yet another unexpected side effect of the new project, the added walk, the getting up early to catch a parking lot spot...as of two weeks ago I now have a personal trainer with a background in physical therapy at a YMCA that’s a block from my new parking lot.

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So I can get up at 5, meet my trainer at 6, and still be at work by 7.

Remember, I’m lazy, so the only way I could reasonably stick with a trainer is to have everything be as convenient as possible. Admittedly, getting up at 5 twice a week absolutely sucks, but after a couple of months of getting up no later than 6:30 to make sure I get a safe(ish) parking spot, it’s not a big deal.

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The Watch

I’ve been an early adopter for quite a few Apple products for the last 10 years. I bought the first iPad twice: once when it was released, and then another one as soon as the cellular version came out. (I think in total I’ve owned...7? 8? I love iPads.)

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I have owned an Apple Watch since its release, but frankly the health monitoring benefits were lost on me. Most days I was lucky to complete the “stand” ring (it wants you to walk around for at least one minute every hour, and it takes twelve hours to complete that activity ring).

This year, finally, I started using my watch for more of its fitness potential. And although I wasn’t originally looking at the data it was capturing, it’s interesting now to look back at the changes in my health since April.

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The Watch, part 2

In addition to motivating users to close the daily activity rings, the Watch has monthly and holiday challenges. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t complete many of those challenges before this year.

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This month’s challenge was to walk (or run) 135 miles, 4.5 per day.

Now keep in mind that I have a bad knee (ping pong injury, don’t ask) and I haven’t historically liked running. 4.5 miles/day, every single day, seemed unattainable.

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5.5 miles/day, natch.


The magic number

Unfortunately I still have, and will always have, a back problem, and my upper body strength is currently nonexistent.

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But the number I’ve been chasing for months now is finally in reach.

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My goal has been to reach 170 pounds. I’ve been over 200 pounds for as long as I can remember paying any attention to it. Certainly for the majority of the last several years.

As of this morning, I’m at 175.

I saw my doctor Thursday for the first time since last October. He was quite pleased, as am I. 40 pounds lighter feels really good. 20% lighter! I may even be able to stop taking cholesterol medication in a few months.

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The conclusion (finally)

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One reason I fall back to that non-answer is that, in general, I hate talking about myself. I value what little privacy Google & Equifax & other data collectors have left me, and I’m pretty anti-social in general.

Plus I’ve been in the vicinity of too many men who love to hear themselves talk, especially about themselves. I really don’t want to be that guy, even if I had that much to say.

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I don’t mind (as much) writing about myself because I can be cautious about what I share, I can choose my words carefully, and anyone who finds my writing of little value can simply ignore it. No captive audience here!

So I don’t mind writing excessively about Jeeps. Or my adventures in brake light vigilanteism. (Or obsessively linking to old posts I’ve written.)

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But lately pretty much all I’ve had to share is wistful longings for cheap Jeeps that are still more than I should be spending right now, and I’ve decided it’s time to take that discipline I’m starting to learn (about time, since I’m chasing 50) and apply it to areas of my life other than exercise and diet.

In the past when I used Facebook, I would take an end-of-year vacation from it in early December. This year I’m taking an end-of-year vacation from Oppo.

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I just hope it’s still here when I’m back. Please, G/O, don’t take this away from me. From us.

If the worst comes, don’t forget about my archiving script and the Gotham Grabber (probably the better choice). The #oppo-kinja-archive-channel on Discord is available for consultation. I won’t be there, probably, but someone should be able to assist.

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I may pop up on Photography if I have any interesting pics to share, but I haven’t been doing much of that lately, so I doubt it. Ditto Overland, although I do have an idea for a piece on remote Indiana roads I’d like to tackle sooner or later.


Keep the check engine light burning. Given how flaky my Jeep is, I know mine will be.

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P.S. The other thing that helps

I’ve recently discovered a movie commentator on YouTube who has given me a great deal of joy while exercising (which I still hate, despite the fact that I go to the gym nearly every day).

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If you haven’t seen him—and frankly most haven’t, his subscriber and view counts are criminally low—“Movies with Mikey” is really good. Often astoundingly good.

Anyway, wanted to throw that out there as a recommendation before I drop off the site.

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(I’ll stick around through Monday or so, so that I can bask in the glow of attention and respond to any good questions. I am, as we all are, an ego-driven beast.)

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