Hell on headphones

It’s not unusual for me to go through at least 4-5 pairs of headphones a year – that’s how hard on headphones I am. I also think that they are cheaply made in China and designed to fail after a couple of months, but my abuse of them (e.g. wrapping the cord around my phone, listening in bed) certainly doesn’t help matters. I also have the bad habit of losing them, which is my current state of affairs. Don’t even get me started on the Apple Air Buds. I’d probably lose those before I was home from the store with them.

apple headphones.jpegBecause I lost my headphones, I’m using the Apple earbuds which I know are supposed to be crap but I don’t have a discerning enough ear to be able to tell much of a difference. The only problem is they constantly fall out of my ears because there’s nothing but plastic holding them in place.  The Skull Candy ones I usually buy have little silicone bits on the ends of each headphone so that they stay in your ears. I thought about going out and buying new headphones yesterday, but then I got to thinking – I used to buy the little foam covers for Apple’s headphones from Radio Shack at the mall, but that store is now out of business and it was, as far as I could tell, the only place in town that sold that particular product. And to add insult to injury, it was not terribly uncommon for me to lose the little foam covers either, especially in bed.

Then I went and looked on Amazon to see what I could find. Lo and behold, I could get TWENTY FOUR foam covers for 4 dollars.  Sold.

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They say that they will fit Apple earbuds so I should be set.

It wasn’t until this morning that I found a set of 100 for 78 cents, but I’m dubious that they would fit the Apple earbuds so I’m just going with what I have. They’ve already shipped anyway so it’s not like I can stop the order at this point.

At this point, I hope the headphones don’t die before I’ve used all 24 foam covers.

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Phone experiment follow-up

Well, I’m pleased to report that day one of no smart phone at work was a smashing success. I managed to get through a whole day of not having access to social media and the other creature comforts I’ve gotten used to. Not only did I not feel like I was missing out on anything, I was less anxious AND more productive. Even though it’s only the first day, I think that I have made the right decision when it comes to this.

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This is my new phone. It is not fancy. It makes calls and texts. But more importantly, it keeps me off of social media when I’m supposed to be working, doesn’t buzz in my pocket every half hour to notify me that 5 people liked someone I don’t follow’s tweet. It’s funny, I must have some muscle memory left because I kept reaching for it in my shirt pocket, as if it were my iPhone, each time to find this much less technologically advanced phone there instead. It wasn’t until the end of the day that I was truly starting to miss my iPhone, but that’s mostly because I was done with all my work and was looking for something to fill the minutes. It forced me to find some other things to work on instead of randomly scrolling through Facebook or reading Twitter and Tumblr.

When I got home, I did check my phone and had quite a few notifications, but none of them were life and death. None of them would have changed the course of my day, made me feel better by giving me that hit of dopamine that you get from likes and retweets and what not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to give up my smartphone, but I think this experiment is going to make me realize just how disconnected I was from the world in an attempt to connect to everything.

Meanwhile, I finally got around to naming my new iPod. I had a couple names for it that I thought I had settled on, but when I had it hooked up to iTunes along with my iPhone (which has had its name for quite a long time), there was only one possible name for it.

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I’m seriously thinking about referring to my little Tracfone as “Boo Boo Kitty.”

 

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I find your lack of willpower disturbing

can do it.jpegI’m thinking a lot about the post I did last night and my decision to not take a smart phone to work anymore. I’m wondering if maybe this isn’t too drastic. I mean, shouldn’t I have the willpower to not check my phone while I’m at work, right? I shouldn’t have to resort to spending a bunch of money on a new iPod, getting a flip phone and basically being unreachable by anyone but my wife and daughter. This makes me feel really lousy, like I have no control over any of my impulses. But let’s be honest, impulse control has never been my specialty. Exhibit one is a list of concerts I’ve been to over the last three years – although I was much better this year.

This morning I’m feeling foolish, like I really should have the ability to curb the impulse to check my phone for stupid Facebook notifications and scrolling Twitter reading what awful thing has just happened in the world. But the fact of the matter is I don’t – at least not right now. Kind of like an alcoholic, I need to completely abstain. Unlike an alcoholic, I don’t know that I’ll need to abstain forever. I’ve heard willpower defined as a your willingness to change plus your power to choose. I have a lot of willingness to change, but I think that my power to choose needs work.  And I have to do something, this much is obvious.

I guess the real answer is to do what needs to be done, regardless of what feelings it dredges up in me. You have to sit with those uncomfortable feelings but not wallow in them. I think some of this is just anticipatory anxiety about not having my phone at work, forcing me to face some things that I haven’t wanted to face. It is also about having to listen to the radio if I want music while I work, which sometimes makes me stabby. But if it improves my ability to work and makes me more efficient and productive, those things are worth it.

Naturally all this talk about willpower makes me think of the Taylor Dayne song “Willpower” which sadly, isn’t on YouTube or streaming anywhere. The very idea!

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No phone at work

nophone.jpgYesterday was not really a great day for me. I confessed to Heidi that I feel like I am the worst pharmacist at work because it takes me forever to accomplish tasks and I am just generally distracted. I recognize the word “feel” in there and knowing what I know about feelings, I know it’s likely not true, but it sure feels real. So she and I talked a little bit about what distracts me. And I said, without hesitation, it’s my phone.

I am pretty sure that I have smart phone addiction. I am constantly checking it, as if I were the most popular person on the planet (I’m not) and every little notification demanded my immediate and full attention (they don’t.) I turned off a lot of lock screen notifications – I think text messages are the only thing that show up in lock screen – and that helped a lot. Over time, it just made me want to unlock my phone more often and check for that random Facebook notification or e-mail that might jolt my humdrum day into something more exciting.

I need to refocus myself at work, and I’m never going to be able to do that until I remove the distractions. So I decided that starting Wednesday, I’m not going to be bringing my iPhone to work any longer. I am getting a burner phone from Best Buy that can be used in emergencies and I’m going to carry that at work. That way, if Heidi absolutely needs me, she can call me or text me on that. For music, I will bring an iPod. Even though we really don’t have the money for it, Heidi ordered me one from Amazon because it is for mental health and mine is missing (I think it was stolen but that’s another story for never.) It will also force me to bring a book to work to read at lunch and/or I will actually interact with people. I’ll choose my activity depending on how I feel.

I actually forgot my phone one day a couple weeks ago in a rush to get out the door. While I wasn’t quite in “palms are sweaty, knees week, arms are heavy” territory, there was a little bit of withdrawal involved. But the other thing that I remember about it was finding it rather liberating, not being distracted by every little vibration that my phone made and, more importantly, not gravitating to it every time I felt anxious or unsure of myself or depressed and in need of that hit that never seemed to be there.

I’m pretty sure this is a solid plan. It seems like it to me anyway. If it seems drastic, it’s because I need to drastically shake things up. Truth be told, I’m rapidly and quietly unraveling at work. I need something to stop this. I don’t want to feel like the worst pharmacist there, mostly because I know it’s not true. It’s not a ladder and there doesn’t have to be a “worst pharmacist.” We all have our strengths and weaknesses and I want to work on making my strengths stronger and erasing some of my weaknesses. Basically, I want to be better, and I think ditching my smart phone at work will help me to achieve that goal.

This post kind of breaks my general rule about how I don’t blog about work. But there isn’t a word of this post that I wouldn’t share with any of my coworkers, and I will probably tell a lot of them about it, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. If you’re gonna blog about work, blog about how you’re trying to become better, which is exactly what I’m trying to do.

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Counting calories

So I’ve decided it’s time to start counting calories again. I’ve been struggling with my weight all year – I think a lot of that has to do with Abilify, which does have the side effect of weight gain – but I have also not been great about what I am choosing to put in my body. It may be fuel, but it’s the wrong kind of fuel. I find that I’m much better when I am at home. I can sit here and use the drug as an excuse while I develop Type II diabetes, or I can take some personal responsibility and try to stop it before it starts.

301_5-calorie-counting-myths_flash.jpgI’ve been doing some reading and have kind of figured out that not all calories are equal. 100 calories of fresh fruit is different from 100 calories of candy. Basically, sugar is the enemy and that sucks for me because I do love sugar. It’s probably the reason that I’m out of shape and likely the reason that my ALT is still a little bit elevated even though I barely drink anymore. I’m trying to modify my eating habits so that they include more of the right kinds of fuel vs. the quick and easy bursts of sugar that I have become accustomed to. The hardest part of trying to limit your calories is always feeling a little bit hungry. I try to mitigate that a little bit by drinking water. This usually results mostly in me peeing every 30 minutes, but I guess you take the good with the bad.

I’m doing this partially because I want to look better – I feel doughy and overweight and my clothes don’t fit right (my pants do though.) I have watched a co-worker lost 60+ pounds over the last year and am very jealous of their results. I remember how in 2016 I lost 20 pounds and felt great, felt like I looked great, and was wearing T-shirts I hadn’t worn in a long time just because I had lost weight.  But really, it’s more than just wanting to look better. I want to be healthier – I’m 45 and I’m not getting any younger. I don’t want to be so sick in my 50s that I die in my 60s. I see plenty of that in my day-to-day and it’s hard to shake the feeling that someday, it’ll be me in the hospital at age 65 with a litany of health problems. The thing I try to remember is that I do have control over at least a portion of that.

My goal now is to get to 240 pounds by the end of October. Based on my weight this morning, that’s only 6.5 pounds. I think I can do that. It’s a reasonable goal. My true goal is 233 pounds because that’s where my BMI becomes 29.9. Yay for no longer being obese according to the guidelines if I can get to that point.

(P.S., thanks to everyone on Facebook for a great discussion on my last post about going to church. I still really have no idea what I am going to do.)

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Rechurching?

church-clipart-church-clip-art_14041370421.jpgI haven’t been to church, with the exception of funerals and weddings, in as long as I can remember. Sometime shortly after we moved to Ames, we just stopped going to church. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that a lot of the mainstream Christian churches were having identity crises regarding LGBT issues, and it was just something that we couldn’t compromise on. The church had to be pro-LGBT to have us in it. It was in the middle of the George W. Bush years (times that seem positively quaint right now), and we felt very isolated, like no one shared our opinion, even though we lived in one of the most liberal districts in our city.

We were Unitarians for a while and never really felt like we fit in. I missed the ritual of Lutheranism to be honest, and Unitarianism didn’t really have that. I liked the concept of Milestones – the act of lighting a candle in honor of some big moment in your life or the life of someone you loved – and I also loved the fact that you didn’t have to subscribe to a certain creed or belief in order to be there. But in a way, that was also the hardest part of being Unitarian. What the hell did we believe? Everything? Nothing? It was also the first place I’d ever been where I didn’t feel liberal enough. I tried getting involved with different groups and activities, even stepping outside my comfort zone and trying to get something new going. It didn’t work. I couldn’t connect. Although it wasn’t all for naught because I did meet one of my closest guy friends there so hey, that’s a win.

I was working overnights at the beginning of August and for some reason, I got it in my head that I wanted to listen to Michael W. Smith. I’m pretty fond of his brand of contemporary Christian music, even if I disagree with his politics. I was listening to the song “Missing Person” and this lyric smacked me in the face.

There was a boy who had the faith to move a mountain
And like a child he would believe without a reason
Without a trace he disappeared into the void and
I’ve been searching for that missing person

What a lot of people who know me don’t know about me is there was a time that I took a lot of comfort in religion. I remember being very comforted by prayer, by the aforementioned ritual that organized religion brought to my life. I was always fond of saying that no one but no one does Good Friday guilt like Lutherans. I remember in college, even with my faith at a low point, asking for help from whatever good force might be at work in the universe. Somewhere along the way, I lost my faith. I became that missing person.

It was during the middle of the night while working that I decided that I wanted to seek out a liberal Christian church to try on for size. I posted in a rather infamous local Facebook group to get suggestions and got a lot (and watched an argument about whether or not the word “liberal” could or should be applied to religion – I tuned that shit right out.) I haven’t had a chance to go to any yet and frankly, I’m terrified to follow through. I’m afraid of the forced socialization that church is, even though a search for community is my primary reason for seeking out a church. Even though I have friends, I really don’t feel like I’m part of anything and that really has started to bother me. It’s not like I’m being pressured to do it or am pressuring myself. I just kind of wish there was more to my life than get up, go to work, come home, go to bed.

I’m not sure how well this will work because I’m not sure that I believe in God. Or at least not like I was brought up to believe. I have not brought my daughter up in the Christian faith, despite promising to do so at her baptism so when she found out that I was looking for a church she said “I didn’t think that was your thing.” Yeah, I didn’t think so either. The kind of belief I have is probably a best-fit for Unitarian Universalism, but having tried that on and having it not quite fit, I’m not sure I want to try again. And despite not identifying as Christian, I kind of want to go to a Christian church, just so that I can stop thinking, even subconsciously, that all Christians are bad and support Trump and want gays to burn in hell.

So we’ll see how this experiment goes. I promised my therapist that I would try at least one this fall – weekends are kind of full for the next month or so – so there’s no immediate pressure to go out and try one. I think I have picked the one I want to try. We’ll see how it goes. It’s been so long that I’m not even sure how to do it and make sure I’m doing it right.

 

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2017 short list

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The stack of CDs I’ll probably have to burn this year.

The other night, I made a “short list” of sorts for my year-end CD, just to see how many songs we were at for the year. I had this feeling that there were already at least enough to fill most of the slots on the CD, and I was right. So far, I have 16 songs for a 20 song CD and the year is only about 75% over. Plus there are several high profile releases yet to come.

It may seem old school to still burn CDs and distribute them, when a Spotify playlist would suffice for most people. But if I did that, you wouldn’t get to see my Photoshopped covers, which are almost as good as the music on the CD.

I wouldn’t dream of revealing even one song here – you’re just going to have to wait until December to find out what my favorite songs of the year are. I have a feeling some heartbreaking cuts are in my future. I could just have it fill the entire 80 minutes of the CD, but there is something to be said for limiting it to 20 songs.  I didn’t always do it that way, but I have kept it to 20 songs for the last 5 years and I like it. It keeps me honest and keeps from including crap that really doesn’t belong on there. Now, in hindsight, there are songs I have left off of the CD over the past 5 years that I have kicked myself over. For example, how I left “Shot At The Night” by The Killers off of 2013’s CD is beyond my comprehension, especially when I added Little Boots’ “Motorway” at the 11th hour and I am, 4 years later, a little bit meh on that song.

So much better than the Little Boots track. But I refuse to change the playlist because it was what it was and you don’t mess with stuff like that.

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OK, maybe I’ll give you a little hint of what MIGHT be on there because tonight I preordered the vinyl of Katy Perry’s Witness. I felt bad because someone gave me a digital copy of it so I technically didn’t really pay for it (although I have listened to it primarily on Spotify so Katy has been making 10 cents every time I listen to the album.) Previously it had been available as an import for something like $40 and while I like the album, I don’t like it that much.  It was $20 which is pretty standard these days and assuages my guilty conscience about not buying it, especially after it’s been a bona fide flop of an album. Plus if any album cover demanded to be seen in 12 glorious inches, it’s Witness.

There’s a high likelihood that “Swish Swish” will end up on the year-end CD. Not a guarantee by any means, but I have a hard time seeing it not making the list.

One final note: the jury is still out on the Taylor Swift song making the CD. Chances are, at this point, there will be something better that causes me to jettison it, even though I do kind of like it.

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