January 1, 2019: Ciana Smashes Her Thumb

It is a new year, and about time. Last year was tough, I have high hopes for this year.

Of note, this year NTG turns twenty years old! We have been around for a long time now.

Of other big news, as of today we finally have health insurance again. When the “problems” really hit three years ago we had to give up on having health insurance, there was no way to get it or pay for it. Finally after all these years, we have it again as of today and it is such a relief.

Ciana Snapchatted me a happy new year’s this morning. She is at the age that she is all excited about it being a new year.

I did not feel like working much this morning. I put in just a little time doing tickets, making sure customers were okay, that no one was looking for anything, but New Year’s Day is a pretty major day off and really nothing of consequence happened all day. So by late morning, I felt pretty free to relax.

I decided to make it a Star Trek: Enterprise day. I started the day on the final episode of season two, and then on to binge season three.

This afternoon, I got a call from Dominica because Luciana had been hurt. Ciana wanted to talk to me. The kids had been playing at the Grices’ and Ciana’s thumb got closed in a door. It was quite bad. She was very sad, but handling it quite well. We are pretty concerned that it is broken. She is able to move it, though. It seems like it is just a really bad bruise, just crushed. Thank goodness it was only the tip. Even if it was broken, we are not sure what we would be able to do anyway.

We kept a watch on her thumb all day. Dominica sent pictures about four hours later of Ciana’s thumb and it is definitely quite bad. Very red and swollen, even after icing it and giving it a lot of time to recover. It makes me pretty worried. But a lot less worried since we have health insurance now, even though it is catastrophic coverage only, so wouldn’t really do anything for a case like this.

I baked a loaf of bread that Paul and I had for dinner. Earlier in the day I had a bowl of veggies for lunch.

Around six thirty I had had all of the relaxing time that I could handle in a day and set up the Chromebook on the bar and got to work on catching up some on SGL posts. I have now made a serious dent in April.

Dominica was hoping that she and the girls would be able to come back home tomorrow, but I checked the forecast and there is a lot of rain expected from tonight going into Thursday morning. I think she is planning on driving up Thursday now, tomorrow would just be too risky.

Paul has been burning the huge piles of cardboard that we have, mostly from the boxes that accumulated during our move. The house and the patio are just full of them, and more are being generated all of the time. We are buried in them. Now that we are emptying boxes quickly, there are more and more every day.

I did a little research into LED panel studio lighting for the SAMIT studio tonight. Looks like I found some ideas that might work.

I made some mac and cheese as a late night snack.

I had an upset stomach much of the evening. No idea what I ate that didn’t agree with me.

I managed to complete all of April today on SGL! I even got a good piece into May. It took many hours, it was a huge amount of work. I made it through over half of the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise while working on it. Well over half.

The third season of ST:E is really a dedicated story arc which makes it more like a mini-series within the overall show. In some ways, this is copied from other Star Trek series, but it feels a bit unique, too.

December 31, 2018: Wrapping Up a Very Hard Year

Monday and the end of 2018, what a year it has been. This year has definitely been one of the hardest and most stressful of my life. I am going to be glad to see this year behind me. It has been an interesting year, to say the least. Nothing like what we had expected going into it. As I go back and work on SGL updates to get caught up, it really highlights what a wild year it was. Unfortunately much of this year isn’t stuff that I can really discuss in my journal, at least not for some time. And it was the first year, in the nineteen years that I have been journalling, that I have really gotten behind. There was so much stress, and so many things that could not be discussed publicly, that it really left me struggling to write about things. So I got further and further behind.

Big events of 2018 include starting off the year not having been paid for my 2017 job and then having the company flee the country to make sure that they would never have to pay me. So that was a rough start knowing that the money I’d earned from half a year of work was just gone and there was no way to ever collect. So that was pretty bad, and hit us at the end of January. But we had led into the year knowing that there had been about three years of “not getting paid” that had been accumulating (which is what had prompted me to take the risky foreign job in the first place.)

Then in March, Paul moved down and joined the company. So we had a new roommate and the company changed a lot. By early April, we knew what we had long feared, that most of the money that had come through the company had “disappeared” and that we had been lied to for years about customers paying and specifically my work earning money. Everything was gone. Three years of me work, just gone. Money that we had been told over and over again was coming, but just sometime in the future, we now know had arrived and been spent. My personal income, all diverted and vanished. Everything. So that was really rough. Two massive financial hits, or at least the confirmation that our worst fears of both had come true, within just a few months of each other. And then the incredibly emotional impact of finding out that close friends had done it, and had maliciously claimed to not be getting paid either to make us emotionally weak to make it easier to do it, too. It was just an emotionally, as well as financially, crippling set of events.

So that was our first four months of the year. That pretty much consumed us. Then the next four months were really just dealing with, internalizing, and overcoming the disasters that had been thrown at us. Which we did, and by the end of the year, things were looking way better. Finances are really tight, and are going to be tight for a long time to come. But tight isn’t the same as zero (or negative.) For the past three years we’ve been actually paying to work and to be taken advantage of! That’s how bad it got. That’s over. And the silver lining is that we found out that the company is actually healthy and a good, working business model. That was a surprise after years of being told it wasn’t working and wasn’t making money and that customers didn’t pay. So some very good things coming out of it all. And we got to start really hiring by summer, and we now have so many people and locations that we were told were not going to work for the last five years (yes, five years of blocking good hires!) We have new people in Dallas, Mexico, Panama, etc. We have a great new team, great new locations, and a company that is making it!

Of course, the same stress causing SGL posting to take a break put my YouTube channel, SAMIT, on hold, too. That was really rough. I had high hopes for it this year. My plan is to be back at that quickly in 2019. It had so much potential.

This was one tough year, and last year was pretty rough, too. But we are ending 2018 way, way stronger than we went into it. We hit bottom, financially, but recovered and have a great trajectory for the coming year. And are doing so with much healthier people in our lives.

This morning I had to be up at seven thirty. I showered and ran out the door to drive over to the airport to pick up Paul who was getting in from Minneapolis this morning. His flight got in at eight, but he had checked luggage so had to wait for that.

Maggie started network cabling work at her home today. In Panama the walls are thick concrete so running CAT6 between rooms is no trivial matter. She is getting the cable from their firewall run into her “office” so that she can wire up her new desk phone.

It was a surprisingly busy morning. Since I had sent everyone home (although a few people accidentally “came to work” this morning anyway) it was just me covering for both us and our partner’s shops. So I was pretty busy.

Paul assembled the new fire pit or stove for the atrium today and went out and burned some of the card board that we have piling up. It’s just a cheap little unit, but it burns the card board that we need to make go away and it puts out a bit of heat so is going to help a lot with warming up the atrium.

I had my weekly meeting at one in the afternoon, which made things even busier, trying to work around a scheduled phone conference.

By two the day got pretty slow and by three there was really nothing going on and I even sent home the folks working for our partner company, so I wrapped up the day handling coverage alone for two companies.

At four, Paul was getting pretty hungry so we decided to go out for a New Year’s Eve dinner. We went to a new Chinese Buffet that we’d never been to or even heard of before, Wei Buffet. It took some work to find it even though it was only a few blocks from the house. It was hidden behind a plaza that we’ve never been in. It is part of the ever expanding K-Town area that has now moved from being just a small community exclusively north of the PGB to now being solidly established south of it, too.

The food was okay. Paul liked it more than I did. The selection was good and interesting. This was not a restaurant catering to westerners whatsoever, this seemed pretty authentic, which is likely why I didn’t like it as much. More authentic, but less catered to my native tastes. I’m sure the quality was all excellent. It was not busy at all, not surprising given the day and time, which doesn’t help buffets any. The buffet had some good and interesting squid dishes and they made some pineapple shrimp that was quite good.

I finished watching what Hulu has of The Orville this afternoon. And I have to say, while it is sometimes really goofy, it is actually quite a bit more serious than Star Trek is most of the time. Star Trek is shot is a more serious manner, but they avoid hard topics and never address the incredible racism promoted by the prime directive and just ignore the biggest ethical dilemma of the show. The Orville takes that stuff on, peppered with really goofy stuff, and so while it is more disjointed, it is also the more mature show and more morally aware.

I made a two cup batch of simple syrup tonight to refill my bar container. Now I am a real bartender, making my own ingredients.

Paul went to bed before seven thirty. I wasn’t that tired so looked for something else to watch since I was up alone and I found that Hulu has The DaVinci Code which I have never seen. It was a really long movie, almost two and a half hours. And so slow, and pretty boring. And Tom Hanks’ hair in it was so bad as to be completely distracting. But the movie was acceptable. Several top notch actors, but the overall pacing was bad and the story was bland and predictable. At least now I have seen it.

I thought about watching something else after that, it was just eleven o’clock. But I was tired and there was no logical reason to stay awake. I was in bed by eleven thirty. I wished Dominica and the girls a Happy New Year and was kept awake by revelers outside that were so close and so loud that I almost thought that they were inside of the house. Liesl and Luciana were in Houston playing a game of Clue with their cousins. Ciana, Liesl, and Dominica all texted me in the minutes before midnight. (And in the morning I got to see the girls on Madeline’s Snapchat stories, I could even see Luciana missing because she was off talking to me while everyone else was dancing around.) I was fast asleep by five after midnight.

December 30, 2018: No More iPad

Sunday, my lazy day. My last day at home alone, Paul gets home early tomorrow morning. I slept in till eight thirty then got up and went into the office for a little bit.

I worked a little this morning. And then spoke to Gene for about an hour about a HAM radio project that he is working on.

I baked a loaf of take and bake bread for lunch and put on Star Trek: Enterprise. I got through several episodes and then realized that the Star Trek parody show by Seth McFarlin The Orville was available on Hulu. I have been wanting to see that for a long time and did not realize that it was available. So I started watching that.

I did some more cleaning today. Made it through more boxes. I am making very good progress. I got the keyboard (piano, not computer) out of the dining room today. That’s going to help with space in there significantly. It has been so full that there has been no way to actually use that keyboard anyway. I’m not even sure if we have a power adapter forfor it. It has It has been used as a shelf for papers for six months now at least.

It was a very quiet day. I barely spoke to anyone all day.

I found out from Dominica that apparently Luciana left my iPad, the last modern iPad that we own, on the upstairs sofa at the Grices’ and someone jumped on it and shattered it. So that is the end of our iPad era. The girls still each have their own old iPads, but those are so old that they are approaching useless. Most of their games and stuff would only run on my much newer one. Now that that is gone, we will probably not invest anything into iPads any longer. They held up well and were nice to use but the cost and limitations were just too much. If we are going to get anything now, it might as well be a Chromebook Tablet or an Android tablet for a fraction of the money.

By the end of the day I must have gone through nearly ten boxes and bins of stuff from the garage. We have so much more working space out there now! Totally a successful day. I hope that we can get new shelving for the garage soon and see about getting the center of the garage cleaned to the point that we can use it. We are finding so much stuff still to donate, that is going really well.

I ended up staying up quite late. Paul gets in at eight in the morning.

In addition to a little NTG work, and loads of unpacking, and some house cleaning, I also did many hours of SGL updates today. All of 2018 Q1 is now complete. It takes so long to catch up with those. But I am getting there.

December 29, 2018: Cleaning and Unboxing

Saturday. My weekend home alone. Yesterday was nearly an entire day alone, but I did see Paul for about an hour in the morning. Today I am completely alone and expect to be until Monday. This is about a perfect length for me. Three to four days with no one around is great for me to get things done and feel productive, but not so long that I start to go crazy.

We are basically at freezing temperatures here in Dallas this weekend. I kept the bedroom window closed last night in the hopes of fending off a cold or worse, a sinus infection, that felt like it was coming on yesterday. I was sneezing constantly and had constant sinus pain. Today, it seems to be okay.

I woke up at seven thirty and did not manage to fall back asleep. I got out of bed around eight thirty.

For breakfast I had left over Grands from last night. I heated them up, added some cheese, and had tasty little breakfast sandwiches.

I did some posting on MangoLassi this morning, made a short video for SAMIT on YouTube, and did some writing for SMBITJournal. It was a good morning. SAMIT started the day, after a nine month hiatus without a single video, with 742 subscribers, but had grown to 745 by the end of the day. Not bad for a channel that has been idle for so long. Posting something today really made a difference. I hope that I can get back to doing the channel regularly very soon. I miss doing it and it is clear that the audience is there, I just need some regularity and polish to really get it going. When I stopped filming ten months ago (a month of shows were prerecorded and scheduled to post) I was only around four hundred subscribers, so a lot of people have stumbled on the channel in the last nine months without me doing any promotion whatsoever, which is incredible. (As I was writing that paragraph, another person subscribed bringing us up to 746!)

It is worth noting that two weeks ago YouTube did a purging of “spam accounts” that were subscribed to things so there was an expectation that subscriber counts would be plunging. I have no idea how many I had two weeks ago, but these numbers are post the cleansing process. So this is extremely good growth.

I managed to eliminate one of the large boxes that we had around the house this morning and another early in the afternoon. My goal is to get another couple before Paul gets back. It is such a slow process, going through all of the boxes that came down from New York and figuring out what to do with all of the stuff that is in them, but it has to just keep moving forward or we will never stop living in a house full of boxes. I am very proud to have made some progress. There can only be so many boxes. If we do a few a week, it has to be done in a reasonable amount of time.

I cleaned for hours this afternoon. Finally a chance to really organize. I cleaned in our bedroom, in the girls’ bedroom, in the bar, in the dining room, in the living room, did the dishes, cleaned the fridge. I even cleaned Dominica’s desk and set up a company phone and desktop there. It was hours of cleaning. And now she can make calls from her desk and it is much easier to hear the help desk line ringing in the main part of the house. It is always such a challenge to hear once I have stepped out of my office, especially if the door swings closed which it often does.

I found some boxes of books that had some serious memories in there. One was a box of nearly all old comic books like Garfield, Heathcliff, Family Circus, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Haggar the Horrible. Stacks of them. I did not remember until now just how many I had as a kid. I got them all in late elementary school, mostly from Scholastic book orders. They were some of my favourites when I was little. I had remembered the Garfield ones, but had forgotten about the others.

I also found my box of war plane informational books. I had quite an extensive collection of books that detailed military aircraft. When I was little, I had dreamed of being a pilot in the Air Force and was seriously into airplanes. My book collection wasn’t just large, but the books were super expensive and I had them from when I was very little. I had forgotten about them completely until I opened up that box and saw them. The memories just flooded back.

That last box really shows just how influential growing up at the height of the Cold War was like. Today, thinking about military aircraft is pretty marginalized. That stuff is not interesting or important. But in 1984 when I was probably about the age to really be into that stuff, it was everywhere and a really big deal. And a lot of the planes in my original books are still in service today. Back then, new planes had been coming out all of the time. But since then, changes have been slow and scarce. My oldest book, if I remember correctly, is one with a publishing date of 1981, which seems about right. And one of the last ones that I got is actually a guide to airliners, and it has an inscription of “Happy Birthday” and 1986, so I was ten when I got it. The one series of books that I have five of are eleven dollars a piece. That’s twenty five dollars each in today’s currency. So that one series of books on airplanes alone would have been one hundred and twenty five dollars today (fifty five back then), and that is just one of the series!

I found lots of books that I had been searching for recently. I had many that I wanted to get for Liesl that are now out of print (and worth hundreds of dollars, apparently) and the libraries cannot get but that I knew that I owned. I found all of those and now have loads of books waiting for her. Like loads and loads. Years worth of reading. One of the books that I found in there was Watership Down which I just found yesterday has been turned into a series by Netflix! I have to watch that, one of my favourite books of all time.

Speaking of which, my dad started watching Netflix’ Watership Down this evening based on my recommendation. His initial reaction was that it was “really good” after viewing the first episodes.

I did some transferring of DVDs from plastic cases to a spindle tonight. First spindle is full and now there is nearly a box full of empty DVD cases to be recycled. I have not transferred any videos yet, only removed the cases. But it is a start. Mostly I’ve just been clearing up the loose DVDs that were not ever in boxes. We have stacks of these loose DVDs all over the place. In my office, in the garage, in different rooms. Rounding them up and cleaning that up is helpful for just making more general storage space. Once we can start breaking down the pile of boxes in the garage, things will really pick up. I am so anxious to make all of these piles just “go away.”

I did discover that we are going to need a new hard drive for the computer that I want to use to rip the DVDs. Like an 8TB drive, to be exact. There is just so much to rip. But that is going to take years, I assume, to actually do. The sheer volume of data is just insane. And that is just the ripping, once ripped, I plan to convert them to something that we can actually use. And that takes way more time than the ripping does. But because of the practical problem of wanting to throw out the cases and compress a garage full of DVDs into something tiny that can be stored easily in the attic I think that it is going to make sense to actually just rip them all as quickly as possible (still a year long project) and then tackle converting them only once that is done. Maybe by that time I can get a much faster computer to handle the transcoding process, and a much faster drive to handle the writes from that process. Going slow and cheap now and only doing the ripping might actually be cheaper in the long run and way more effective. We won’t have the movies to use for a long time, but we will clean up the space quickly.

I didn’t even think about a meal today, other than my reheated biscuits, until around ten tonight. I put on some Star Trek: Enterprise and made a “chicken” sandwich for dinner. I took out some bread to thaw to cook in the morning to eat tomorrow, too.

I finally seem to be back into keeping SGL up to date. It’s been a struggle this past year for sure. My big resolution for 2019 is going to be keeping the momentum going.

I thought about going to bed at ten thirty. Then somehow I got sucked into doing SAMIT maintenance and answering people and posting links on social media and suddenly it was closer to one in the morning. So I watched some more ST:E and tracked down a CD spindle that was full of writeble CDs (what the heck am I going to do with those today!) and emptied it of its official contents and started breaking down more DVD cases again since I could. By the time I was done with the available spindles that I could find around the garage, I had moved over 200 DVDs from boxes onto spindles. And all of that was purely from the loose DVDs sitting on shelves or on top of other things. I have not opened a single DVD packing box yet!

And by one thirty in the morning, another SAMIT subscriber. A very good day for SAMIT indeed. At this rate, it would only take about two months before I would have enough subscribers to qualify for monetization through YouTube. I still do not have enough viewing hours to qualify, but I am well over halfway through that number. You have to have four thousand hours of view time and I am currently at two thousand, three hundred. Well past half, and that’s with nine months of no activity!

A friend had a rough night and I stayed up to text with them till three. I was surprisingly not tired, even then. Nor ready to even settle down. I had ST:E on all evening and am nearly to the end of the second season now, but essentially did not sit down the entire evening. I tend to keep walk, cleaning, exercising, organizing, working, etc. when no one else is home. I’m drastically more active when I am alone. I sleep less, sit less, and do passive activities like watching television less.

December 28, 2018: First Day Alone

I woke up at three thirty this morning because my sinuses were burning. Thank goodness I went to bed early last night so I had almost five hours of sleep and this wasn’t so bad. Today is going to be a long day.

I got up and Netied (my new verb… netied: to use a neti pot) my nose and felt slightly better. Then tried going back to bed since I didn’t actually have to be up until five. I laid there for a while, but I could not sleep again. So I just got up at four thirty and took a hot shower to try to clear my sinuses.

Paul was ready to go just after five. We emptied some things out of the truck and he backed the side by side CanAm into the yard again and we were off to the airport.

There was no traffic. An easy drop off at Terminal C so Paul could fly American to Minneapolis. I will be picking him up again on Monday morning. Now it is a quiet weekend for me.

I got home and got right to work.

Dominica spent the day playing video games down in Houston. They are in the post-Christmas crash where everyone just sits around quietly playing video games for several days.

The day ended up not being nearly as busy as we had thought that it might have been. It was important that I was home, I definitely was needed all day, but it was not bad at all.

After work this evening, I wrapped up around seven, I took some time to chill and just watching a few episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. I am over halfway through the second season now. It is still pretty good. It is sad that they only managed to make four seasons of it, though.

For dinner I made myself a batch of Pillbury Honey Butter Grands, which I love. This weekend is all me eating just whatever is in the house as I am trying to avoid having to go grocery shopping. I only have Paul’s truck here and I would prefer not to drive it more than I have to.

I switched to Adam Ruins Everything which I watched for a while until I went to bed.

It was a very quiet day. Alone in the house all day, and not a crazy busy day at work. I did manage to do some cleaning, but not a ton. But a slow process from where we are to a little cleaner than before.