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A Sad Eulogy for a Dear Soul

Anyone who knows me on Facebook already knows about this, but for anyone who reads here who isn't on Facebook (or doesn't know me there), well, I had a pretty rough weekend.

The short of it is that I had to put my dog Tobey to sleep.

He had developed a limp a few weeks back which greatly concerned me because of his advanced age. He was 13 1/2 so sudden onsets of things like limps are usually very bad signs. Nevertheless, I hopefully took him to the vet where he was given anti inflammatories and pain killers which seemed to help. His limp didn't completely go away, but it was much less pronounced. I figured he was responding, so I breathed a cautious sigh of relief.

Last week, his limp returned and became more pronounced. This was particularly unfortunate timing because Lisa was due to go under the knife for foot surgery on Friday and we had a pretty heavily booked week anyway. Nonetheless, we decided if things didn't improve, we'd take him to the vet on Friday after Lisa was finished with her surgery.

Well, Lisa's surgery went well, and Tobey was his usual lovey self, albeit with a limp. I called the vet and asked what the next thing was. Later in the evening, his limp went from being a limp to being completely unable to put weight on that leg. I gathered him up in my arms and took him to the emergency vet where the problem was determined, via X-Ray, to be a fracture that was probably caused by a tumor in the bone. The belief was that the tumor was progressively weakening the bone, hence the fracture that wouldn't heal.

Cutting to the chase, I called Lisa, told her as calmly as I could that it was time, and we both cried. Our next door neighbor gave Lisa a lift to the animal hospital (not the best thing for her foot, but I couldn't let her miss saying goodbye to him), and we spent a few minutes with him telling him we loved him and trying to keep him calm and comfortable. Then the vet came in and...well...I looked into his eyes so that the last thing he'd see would be my face, and the last thing he'd hear and feel was Lisa rubbing his belly and both of us telling him how much we love him.

I'm still pretty raw from this, as is Lisa. It is particularly hard on Lisa because she has to deal with the double whammy of postoperative pain and grief. I've been doing all I can to keep her comfortable, but the surgery is the sort that is just going to carry a lot of post-operative pain with it.

Today I've been relatively functional at work, so I guess I'm dealing with this reasonably well. I loved Tobey fiercely (still do really) but I've also become somewhat more pragmatic about mortality in the years since burying my parents. It does help that we still have Tallulah, and she still seems relatively healthy. I don't know if we'll get another dog while she's alive or how soon we'd be ready. Obviously we can't while Lisa's recovering from her surgery, and that will take a long time.

Words cannot express how much I miss this being. He was a being of pure love. He wasn't perfect; he had a lot of neurotic habits and tendencies. Even so, none of this kept him from being a thoroughly loving and giving individual. I spent close to 1/4 of my life with this dear animal in my life. He may no longer be a physical presence in my life, but he is always going to be in my heart.

Thank you Tobey, for being my first dog and my second best friend. Your family misses you, and loves you.
So, a couple of Saturdays ago, I had an interesting experience in serendipity and the long term effects of one's social networking footprint.

I went to see Amanda Palmer in concert. This was something of an overdue outing, as I was supposed to have seen her way back in November, but my dog Tobey chose that night to munch down on a box of matches, and so I felt I had to stay in and keep an eye on him to make sure he was ok. (and he was)

Anyway, I found out about the concert through Meetup which is a site I'm on, but rarely, if ever actually make use of anymore. Mainly I use it to try to find out if a table top RPG campaign is going to be starting somewhere where and when I can get involved or for tech events, but for the most part, I hardly ever go to the gatherings it tells me about. However, on the group, "Geek Night Out", a group was formed to go see Amanda, so I thought "Sweet, I'll get to see her this year after all!". I wasn't too sure if I'd actually meet anyone in the group, but I figured if I did, cool, if not, also cool.

As it turned out, I did wind up meeting with some of the people who had signed up for the meetup. One of the group, Meaghan, had claimed the better part of a row of seats for the group. All told, I think there were about 6 or 7 from the actual meetup.

Here's where it gets interesting:

When I was making my way to the chair, a young woman in the same row said "You look familiar. Do I know you?" After a few attempts to match face with social circle, we concluded that we knew each other through Livejournal, and only through Livejournal. The girl in question was nexussix whom I'd connected with through other people on LJ. It was one of those little random moments that I used to really enjoy when I was more active here because we already had a broad context for conversation, not so much because we both used the same online platform to express ourselves, but also because we discovered other connections between ourselves of which we (or at least I) hadn't been previously aware.

I spent some time afterward reflecting on how the online social interaction landscape has changed in the era of Facebook. One could make a case that Facebook effectively took the place of Livejournal. This is a valid case, but I think it's more accurate to say that Facebook contributed to the decline of Livejournal as a social interaction platform. The selling of Livejournal to whatever Russian company now owns it didn't help either, but it's also the shifting dynamic towards less text driven social media and more soundbite like interaction such as is found on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Facebook is useful for its ubiquity and the fact that most people who interact online use it. I've found it useful for reconnecting with old friends and classmates from school I hadn't seen in years. In some cases, it even helped me build friendships that would never have become as significant as they would have been without Facebook.

That said, I also have a number of friendships that would never have existed without Livejournal. Indeed, I have even helped facilitate the creation of friendships between people I met here. Once upon a time, this place was more or less my tribe. It wasn't absolutely everyone I knew in the world, but it was the core of what I considered my social circle. Once upon a time I might have considered that sad. In fact, I never shared most of what I put on Livejournal with my family or non LJ friends (though I later understood that some of them found this journal feeding into their yahoo accounts or something like that) largely because I felt self-conscious about its very use. This seems a bit absurd to me now given the size of my online presence.

I really do miss LJ's interaction. I've tried starting another blog, but it's more difficult without direct interaction with people for me. I'm not really a writer or even a story teller. I prefer to interact, to converse. Facebook isn't as good for that sort of thing because everyone there seems to want to prove everyone else wrong about something. There was plenty of that here too, (and God knows I was flagrantly guilty of this!) but there was also a lot of good interaction, fun, and outright comedy.

But, times must change I suppose. I don't kid myself that I'll ever get back the tribe I used to have here, but I'm glad I had it when I did, and I'm glad of the things I still have because of it.

An entry of substance

Recently I was looking over some old entries from this thing, and have concluded that I need to write more here, if only to have a place to write my thoughts that wasn't going to be poured over by distant family insistent on commenting on everything I say and picking it apart to death. I'd rather let whomever is still reading this thing do that.

So...

Today is my last work day of the week. Lisa and I are going up to New York City for the Valentine's Day wedding of our friends Jenn and Philip. We're extremely excited about this, and are looking forward to enjoying some time in NYC as well. Hopefully we'll get to take in a show as well.

Running is going in fits and starts. I have good days and bad days. The last two days weren't so good as my stamina is practically non-existent, but I still managed to stagger out 4 miles. Theoretically I should (and occasionally still do) be able to do 4-6 10 minute miles, but it seems to be dependent on factors I haven't quite managed to get ahold of.

I suspect that nothing runningwise of significance is really going to happen until we get back from New York.

Last week I auditioned for To Kill a Mockingbird for the role of Atticus Finch. I didn't get it, but I'm not terribly broken up about it; It's a highly sought after role, and truth be told, while I'm almost the right age for it, I don't really look it. Not the worst problem to have I guess.

Since there aren't any shows coming up that are really grabbing my fancy, my plan is to lay low actingwise, and focus on the house, running, and professional development.

That's about all I've got for now. I'll hopefully have a more meaningful update after NY, assuming I don't post from there.

Peace out.

(p.s. Seriously, does anyone still read this thing anymore?)

There and Back Again

OK, so I am back on this thing, once again chronicling my efforts to maintain some kind of fitness regimen and eat better. Summer was fun, but it was ghastly unhealthy foodwise. Delicious, but I can't do that indefinitely if I want to live to see 50.

So, as of about 2 1/2 weeks ago, I started walking to and from work again. I don't do it every day, and when I say to and from, it really should be to or from as I decided it really only makes good sense to do one walk per day. I might change my mind on that, but it does seem to be working so far.

I haven't seen huge weight loss, but there is a little which is good. That's how it started the last time. I figure if I do what I did 4 years ago, I should hit my goals with little difficulty.

If anything, I'm walking more now than I was 4 years ago. My goal for an average walking distance was 5 miles, but I've been going well above that. Starting Sunday this week, I've already walked 17.5 miles as of Tuesday morning, so I'm clearly getting distance in. I took today for a rest day because I think it's a mistake to do it for more than 3 days in a row the way I've been going. Legs feel pretty good, and energy levels are a lot higher than they have been in the past.

To be honest, I'm rather embarrassed at how far I've let myself go, but I also let that embarrassment keep me from doing anything about it. I remember when I lost the weight the first time that I swore up and down that I'd never let myself go again. Well, be careful what you swear I guess.

Anyway, I feel good. Woke up early today, felt good, felt energetic, and clear headed. I'm relatively optimistic that whatever damage I did to myself in the last year or so can be undone.

Better still

Today's run was another attempt at intervals. They still aren't very structured, but I am definitely seeing improvement. Next week I'll try something a bit more organized, but today I basically did an easy 11 minute and change mile, and then did another mile that was about 9:50, and then did briefer bursts at 9:10-8:40 minute miles with rest intervals in between.

Tomorrow is definitely a rest day. Saturday I think will have me out on Sligo trail. The weather is supposed to be a lot more agreeable, and I have GOT to do some proper running.

Weight is holding steady, but I suspect that in the next few weeks it'll start to drop again. My cargo pants fit again which is a very good sign. If I keep myself going like this, I should be under 200 by early April.
Today felt a little rough at first. I felt like I was really struggling through my first mile even though I wasn't breathing heavily or in pain. I can't quite explain it. It was just...hard. I pushed through and made it through the other three miles and then tacked on an extra half mile because by that time I felt I had found my stride more or less. Not sure what happened there, but I'm not fretting overmuch. Between yesterday and today I covered 10 miles. If I do at least 4 miles tomorrow and squeeze in another six on Saturday, that'll be 20 miles for the week which would be pretty sweet.

Weight loss has plateaued, but I haven't been tracking calories very assiduously recently and think I've been over my caloric limit more often than not. Eh, I'm still doing well. I am starting to fit back into some of my thinner pants, though it's still a bit of a challenge. I figure if I can start averaging 20 miles per week, or close to it, that problem will take care of itself, provided I don't pig out the rest of the time.

Improving steadily

I did my first long run on Saturday. Mind, it was only 5 miles, so it wasn't a particularly long long run, but it's longer than I've been doing up to this point. I averaged about an 11 minute mile, and felt pretty good. Really good in fact. I suspect some factors involved were that I ran at about 12 in the afternoon, had some coffee that morning, and had Thai drunken noodles the night before. (carbs!) At any rate, there's definite progress here.

I had hoped to run yesterday but the snow had other ideas, so I ran today. I actually had only intended to do 4 miles, but it wound up being a little more than that. Legs feel pretty good so I figure tomorrow will be another 4 and Thursday will be intervals. Saturday I'll likely do another 5 mile run, and then (assuming the weather stops dumping massive amounts of snow all over the place) I'll start running along Sligo. The transition probably won't be pleasant, but it's not practical to do long runs on a treadmill and I'm getting sick of running at the gym anyway. What I'd ideally like is to start using the gym for weight work and do all or most of my running up and down Sligo. We'll see. The weather is definitely not helping.

Shorter run today

I could have done 4 miles, but I stopped at 3. Figured I'd give my legs a break today. Also, I want to do a long run on Saturday of 5-6 miles (probably 5) so I want to give my legs the chance to heal.

The gym is becoming increasingly uncomfortable to actually run in. They seem to have the heat on at full blast, making me grossly uncomfortable when I run. Of course, I should be running outside, but as old man winter is really pouring it on this year, God knows when that'll be. I probably should just suck it up and get out there, but my main concern is the snow and ice. The last thing I need is to slip and injure myself. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I'm at least getting these runs in, and they're doing something.

Weight has been fluctuating a bit which is not surprising to me, but I imagine it'll start going down again soon as I'm maintaining my caloric limits and running consistently.

Still plugging away

I haven't been as good about controlling consumed calories in the last week, but I am still running. 4 moderate miles yesterday, 4 somewhat more strenuous miles today. I didn't quite do intervals, at least not well planned intervals, but it was the closest I've come to them in a while. The results were actually pretty agreeable, and while it ultimately came out to 4 11 minute miles, I think I did lay some ground work for more meaningful speed work in the future.

Of course, it'll also be easier when it isn't snowing every 2 minutes. I'm really done with winter. I don't care if people to the north think I'm a wimp who can't handle the snow, I'm ready for Spring goddamnit!

I had a slight soreness in my lower back on Monday which gave me some concern, but it is gone now, and seems not to bother me when I run. Gotta figure it must have been a fluke.

As I'm not doing anything major this weekend, my hope is to get a long run in on Saturday (when I say long, I mean 5-6 miles tops), though if the weather is nice enough, I'll probably head out on Sligo Creek Parkway and see how that goes. In that case, I might not be as concerned with distance so much as just finally getting my feet on actual ground as opposed to that damn treadmill. We'll see.

Long Weekend

Running kind of fell off last week. Between the snow and Valentine's Day weekend, I only ran twice last week. Despite that, I've been doing pretty well the last couple of days logging 2 days of 4 miles each. Yesterday in particular was a good day which surprised the hell out of me considering I hadn't run in almost a week. Anyway, it's getting easier to cover distance so that's a good thing.

I didn't really log calories last week, so I probably won't be registering more weight loss for a while. Not too broken up over that as I feel good, and am confident that as long as I keep putting in the miles, the pounds will leave.

I'm really ready for there not to be snow all over the place so I can do some proper running on Rock Creek Parkway. I know it won't be particularly impressive running at first, but I think that my legs are getting to a point where they want to climb some hills. At any rate, it's not realistic to stay on the treadmill if I want to do any serious distance running, so hopefully I can get that going soon.