April Showers & May Flowers

April’s been a fairly busy month for me this year. I was working for the first half of the month, and have been concentrating on school for the last half of the month… for the most part. I say, “for the most part,” because the last two weeks have been spent recovering from a dental infection that spread to the gumline.

This was not fun.

I went to the emergency dental clinic two Saturdays ago, only to find out that it was no longer open on Saturdays. I then went to the county ER and waited… and waited… and then finally saw a Physician’s Assistant who refused to prescribe me any antibiotics. I *knew* this was an infection as I’ve had the problem before, but because the guy couldn’t see any infection, he wasn’t allowed to prescribe the much needed antibiotics.

He did, however, provide Vicodin for pain. I wasn’t happy about this, but I was in a considerable amount of discomfort (PAIN!!!), and took the prescription anyway. To make sure I didn’t abuse this, I started making phone calls to friends in my 12-step recovery program to keep them up-to-date. In the end, the Vicodin lasted longer than I expected it would. (In other words, it was not abused.)

Unfortunately for me, the infection spread overnight and my jaw swelled up in a big way on the right side.

Later Sunday evening I finally had a friend take me back to the ER as I was in no condition to be driving. This time I was seen by a Physician, who said, “Yep. You definitely have a fever and a visible infection.” She prescribed me 10 days of Penicillin and an antibiotic mouthwash. I had to deal with the pain for one more night as all pharmacies were closed, but got the prescription filled first thing on Monday morning.

Now if you thought that Asparagus made your pee stink, you ain’t smelled nothing until you’ve been on penicillin for a day or two. Ugh.

The benefit is that 3 days later I was able to start eating solid foods again. Today, the pain is all but gone, and I’m about back to normal… or whatever passes for normal in my life.

There is one silver lining to this whole dental infection…. Two days before it all set in, I decided that I needed to start using LoseIt for iPhone again as I’d gained almost 10 lbs in the previous two weeks.

Not being able to eat solid foods helped me lose 10 lbs over the course of three days.

Yes, I know this isn’t a great way to lose weight, but when combined with my calorie tracking, I’ve been able to not only keep it off, but to continue losing weight.

I’ve lost a total of 37 pounds since the middle of December.

My immediate weight-loss goal is 200 lbs and my eventual goal is between 175 and 180. If I follow and stick with the weigh-loss plan, I should be at or near my eventual goal by the end of September. Having seen how I’ve lost weight in the last five months, I’m actually pretty certain that I can achieve that goal in that time.

A couple of fun-facts I should mention:

  1. I’ve gone in six notches on my belt.
  2. I’ve lost at least four inches off my waist.
  3. My leather jackets now fit.
  4. I’ve had to take my watch in four notches. The next adjustment needed will require me to remove a link.

Another bit of exciting news is the letter I just got from the Mission College Alpha Gamma Sigma society:

Subject: Mission College Honors Eligibility

Dear Ian L. Sterling:

Congratulations! You meet the eligibility requirements to participate in your campus chapter of the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society. Many students participate in this club to increase the appeal of their college transcripts. Although there are numerous benefits, the purpose of AGS is to promote service to the campus, the community, and the state aside from maintaining academic excellence and professional integrity. There is more information about membership requirements and benefits below.

All you need is a 3.0 grade point average accumulated from 12 or more units and at least 7 units at Mission for Fall 2010. After being approved as a member, you must acquire a certain amount of community service, fund-raising, and general participation points in order to get the “Honors” stamp on your transcript. These point requirements are contingent upon your circumstances each semester, such as how many units you are taking and how many hours you work each week.

There are several benefits for the extra work you do on top of maintaining your grade point average. Active membership in the honor society helps you network, aids you in your educational experience and career path, and elevates your chances for internships, jobs, and scholarships. Material benefits are nice, but from experience and group consensus, the greatest benefit of service is the experience of helping others in need.

This looks like a community service / philanthropic group. I’ve never been a part of something like that before, but I’m starting to consider it. I’m sure it’ll look good on a resume, but I’m not sure I have the time for it.

It gives me a lot to think about, no?

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

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Allergies Really Suck

Over the last few days, I’ve been having issues with allergies that are threatening to turn into a sinus infection. It really sucks. Of course, it would probably help if I was getting plenty of sleep, too… (I haven’t been.)

I’ve been doing my best to keep a positive mental attitude. It’s worked so far throughout the course of this temporary job I’ve been on at Intuit. Last time I was in this condition, I was able to work my way through it pretty easily. This time, it’s really kicking my ass.

Fortunately, I’m going to bed here shortly, so that will help. Oh, and my phone will be turned off; if you call, leave a voice mail and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

Those of you who read my site via a feed reader probably won’t notice the changes here at www.iansweb.com that I’ve been working on over the last few days, but I’m sure the rest of you will. I’ve been playing with a new theme provided by the kind folks at Digitalnature.ro. I found it while browsing the wordpress theme finder. It’s a pretty slick theme, and the widgets provided by the theme are pretty nifty as well. I know I’ve been changing my theme quite a bit over the last few days, but I have to say that I’m really really enjoying this one.

Here’s a run-down of some of the features implemented:

  • Font Size – if you mouse over the upper right-hand corner of your web browser, you’ll find a small icon that looks like A/A. Click that and it will run you through the various font sizes provided in the CSS.
  • RSS Feed Link – Yeah, the other themes had this fairly prominently displayed, but this one keeps it semi-hidden. See that orange triangle up behind the menu up there? Hover your mouse over it, it’ll pop-up (graphically, not a pop-up window) and show the RSS icon. Snazzy, huh?
  • Tabbed Menu – See the menu item under the Get Ubuntu logo (which is displayed until the new release comes out)? Three tabs: Category, Tags, Comments. Feel free to browse.
  • Clean Design – This one speaks for itself. I really like this theme, it’s nice and clean and not too cluttered. The 3-column version of this page isn’t too shabby either. However, since I’ve been 2-column with a right-side menu for so long, I like it as is.

In addition to the default fixed-width layout, this theme has a fluid layout. I like fluid layouts, but have grown attached to the fixed-width idea over the last year or so. This one’s easy to read and easy on the eyes. Eventually, I’ll customize the graphic in the header, but the one that’s there now is nice to look at.

One more thing – after about an hour of plugging away at it, I’ve finally fixed my Archives page. Was more work than I’ve had to do with most of the themes I’ve been using, but I got it working. Note to self: jQuery doesn’t work so well for javascript-based plugins…

Okay, that’s enough out of me for now. I’m going to bed. Thanks for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

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Where The Heck Have I Been?

My gosh, it has been a long time since I’ve posted here. Where have I been? Well, thanks to the wonders of “microblogging,” I’ve been … well, here but NOT here. Between Twitter and Facebook, I have been keeping folks up-to-date about me. The downside is that I’ve not really had the energy to post here as well.

The truth is that there has been quite a bit going on with me over the last several months.

My third of four CCNA prep classes ended on the 24th of March. I scored a 96.1% on the final exam, with a final grade in the class of 97.8%. Not to shabby, ‘eh? Yeah, I’m pretty happy with that grade. I started the fourth class in the series on Monday this week, and it’s been fun so far. This class is named, “Accessing the WAN” and is proving to be very interesting so far. My job ends next week, and that’ll leave me more time to concentrate on my studies if I don’t find another one right away.

In other news, which was documented on Facebook, I’ve actually managed to pay off my car! Not only did I pay it off, but I paid it off over six month early!!! Yeah, I’m pretty happy about that. I also found out a few weeks ago that I’d forgotten that I paid off my insurance for this period at the same time. Bonus! Not having a monthly insurance payment to go with that lack of car payment rocks even more.

The extra $500 per month will help nicely since I’m going to school and on a limited income. Now I just need to pay my credit cards off and start working on paying my landlord some of the back rent I owe him. Here’s hoping I can find a nicer paying job once I have my CCNA in hand, and be able to pay him double for a while.

What else has been going on with me? Well, I started using LoseIt for the iPhone back in December. As of last week, I’ve lost just shy of 28 lbs. I actually haven’t been using it for the last 6 or 7 weeks, but I have been eating less and exercising (CLIMBING!) more. One of the things LoseIt did for me was help me learn how to eat less and still be satisfied. My biggest problem was that I was snacking quite often, and that didn’t help with the weight loss. Last month I got rid of my 42″ and 40″-waist pants and downgraded to 38. Hopefully by June I’ll be down to 36. 😀

Anyway… I’m sure there’s more I could talk about, but it’s not really coming to mind right now. Hopefully my next post won’t be so long coming, and I’ll get back into the habit of non-microblogging again.

That’s all from me for now. Thanks for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

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No New Zealander?

So I called this restaurant back in the first half of January to make reservations for my 38/14 birthday party that was to take place today. I talked to a waitress and got my name on the list. Then I sent out my eVite invitations to about 25 people. Over the course of the last two weeks, a handful of people accepted, a few declined, and one was a maybe. In the end, it was just 12 of us (compared to the 25 we had last year), but I’ll go further into that later in this post.

The last two years, I’ve been over an hour late to my own party. Not a good host, I know. This year I vowed to get there early, so I hit the road with a friend of mine and drove to Alameda at and was parked at 1:25pm. We were chatting as we walked the block from the car to the restaurant – I was proclaiming my love for the meat pies and how awesome this place was. When we got to the door, I pushed in and *thud* nothing.

The doors were locked and the place was empty.

What the heck? How can they be closed? They’re open from 11am to 7pm on Sundays. I’d checked the website just yesterday!

A second glance in the windows showed a complete lack of New Zealand memorabilia on the walls and in the cupboards. The bar was empty (no bottles at all), and the place looked pretty much like an abandoned restaurant. It was pretty dreary, and I was pretty disappointed.

image   image

Because we were just a small group, it was far easier to relocate to another restaurant. In fact, we ended up going to Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe in Emeryville. The food was pretty decent, but the atmosphere – with all my friends there – was awesome.

All in all, it ended up being a good day. I had members of my extended family there even if my immediate family was unable to go. I’m glad we went, and I had a good time.

Thanks to everybody who came, I’m glad you could make it. 🙂

That’s all from me for now. Thanks for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

UPDATE: According to the Alameda Journal Blog, it closed sometime late January, but they don’t know why.

I’m still sad.

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Watching Football

Surprisingly enough, today I find myself plunked down in front of my TV watching the proceedings of the AFC Championship game – a game that I watched at least 3 quarters of (I had to go to the bank and missed halftime and Q3). The team turned the game around at the end of the 2nd quarter and won. So one of the two QBs I’m rooting for is going to the big game. (The other is Brett Favre.) I really don’t care so much about the teams, i’m just rootin’ for the QBs.

The real reason I’m posting about this is that I’m watching this game over-the-air (OTA) since I haven’t had cable TV service for almost a year now. I do have to say that this HD picture is VERY VERY nice. I’d heard before from a few friends that OTA HD was much nicer looking than cable or satellite HD because they don’t compress the signal. After witnessing it first-hand, I have to say that yeah, it is. The picture is super sharp and there’s no evidence of MPEG artifacts on the screen at all.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch Cable the same way ever again.

I think I’m going to see if I can’t use my TiVo without service to start recording NCIS and CSI… I miss my TV shows…

That’s all from me for now. Thanks for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

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Academic Standing

I saw the above subject for an email from my school and was immediately wary of its contents. Last time I’d been given any notice like that, I was being put on Academic Probation.

So it was with great trepidation I clicked the message to read it. Imagine my surprise when I saw the following:

Dear Ian,

Congratulations on being named to the Deans’ List at West Valley-
Mission Community College District this semester.

You qualified for the Deans’ List by earning at least a 3.00 grade
point average for a minimum of 6 units per semester in classes that
receive letter grades. We know that our students have complex lives
with many different obligations in addition to college. We are
especially proud of you because this achievement not an easy task.

We wish you every success in the future, and we hope that we will
continue to be part of your future plans. We also want to assure you
that the faculty and staff at West Valley College and Mission College
are dedicated to your continued success in achieving your educational
goals.

Sincerely,

Vice Presidents of Instruction and Vice Presidents Student Services
Mission College and West Valley College

Oh.

My.

God!

I made the Dean’s List!

I am in complete and utter shock right now. Thanks for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

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On The Flight Home

So I’ve had a great trip so far this weekend. At the time this post is being written, I’m on a fairly bouncy flight home. For the first fifteen minutes after the turbulence started, I was wondering why we were bouncing around so much. Then I remembered that unlike the flight out to Phoenix, the return flight is headed into the leading edge of a series of storms.

Oh, yay.

The turbulence really isn’t all that bad, but I do need to say that inclement weather is great for having, but not all that great for traveling in. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving in the hills in the rain when there’s not a lot of traffic, but I’m not really a fan of the freeway slip ‘n’ slide. Likewise, even though a bumpy plane ride doesn’t bother me, but I’d much rather have a nice calm flight.

You might be asking, “Hey Ian, what’s the trip for?”. Well, I hadn’t seen my best friend in almost two years. I really wanted to go for a week, but then I got a weekday job and that plan got scrapped. I was, however, able to find a weekend to get away for, and I jumped at it.

It really has been a great – if short – weekend. We went to Pizzeria Bianco and had some VERY delicious pizza. We went climbing at Phoenix Rock Gym, and ate at a great microbrewery restaurant. We also played Munchkin for several hours an spent a bunch if time rockin’ out with Rock Band on the PS3.

All in all, this has been a fantastic weekend and I’m sad it was over so soon. But I gotta go to work tomorrow and the bills need to be paid.

So I’m on this bumpy ride home back to San Jose.

Thanks must go out to Chris and Coree for playing host this weekend, they were awesome as always. And an additional thanks need to go to Rob and Rachelle for taking me to and picking menup from the airport.

Thanks everybody!

That’s it from me for now. Thanks for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

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Happy New Year!

 

Happy New Year, and Welcome to 2010!

 

It was quite the year, 2009.  I’ll probably remember it fondly, but I probably won’t miss it either. Strangely, it was a year where I cannot remember anything really bad happening.

No, really!

I started the year working the same temp job I’m working now.  When that job ended, I got to spend two weeks back east with friends and family I hold dear. Shortly after I got back from there, I got a summer job working with some great folks – even if I wasn’t making a whole lot of money – and I had plenty of time to read many many novels and do some writing. During that time, I started attending 12-step meetings again – something which I dearly needed. (It helped keep me grounded.)  I left that job at the end of the summer to go back to school, where I found out that 16 units was a bit much for me as a first-time returning student.  Then I found out that 13 units was a bit much for me, but I still managed to pass all my classes.  The week of finals saw me start a new job, which will carry me through until April 15 again.

Yet somehow I’ve managed to stay fed, clothed, housed, and loved.

I really can’t complain, can I?

I know this isn’t my usual 1000-word rambling entry, but I have to head to work now. 😉

Thank you all for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

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Well… It’s December

Yep, it’s the end of the year, almost officially! It’s been a long strange trip so far. Even though the year is almost over, I think things are just getting started.

First, I’ve went back to school this fall. I signed up for 16 units thinking that it would be manageable since my two networking classes were consecutive instead of simultaneous.

Boy was I wrong!

Since they are shortened classes, it’s essentially taking four units over the course of half a semester, or taking 1.5 times the class load. In this case, taking a 4-unit, 6-week course was essentially like attending a 6-unit course… this at the same time I was taking a 5-unit course and a 3-unit course. When you factor in 2-3 hours of homework per week per unit of class, I was looking at 14 x 3 + 14 hours or 42-56 hours of homework per week. It wasn’t very long before I started falling behind in all three classes at once. 🙁

So I made the painful decision to drop a class, and English got the boot. I needed to stay at 12 units or over, and dropping Math would have put me at 11 registered units.

The first course to finish – CIT*021 (or CCNA1 depending on whose book you look at) – I passed with a 97% grade. Not too shabby. Even with all the misses and whatnot with my Math class, I’m carrying a 90% in the course. If I get an A on the final, I’ll pass the class with an A. In the current networking course (CCNA2 or CIT*022 as it shows up in the course catalog) I’ve achieved full credit for the lab work and chapter assessments. I’m not nearly as confident about this final as I was the previous class, but as long as I get a passing grade on the exam, I’ll pass the class.

As I’ve posted here previously, my major is officially Computer Science, but I’m not sure that’s the field I want to focus on. I really enjoy writing, and getting an MFA in Creative Writing might be fun. I still have time, so I’ll work it out as I go.

My second piece of news is that I started a new job today!

I’m back at Intuit for the Tax Season. For the first few days, I’ll be working the swing shift again, but come Wednesday next week, I’ll be working 8am – 4pm. I’m really excited about this. This will give me the money to go to college next semester and the money to get further toward paying off my bills. (If all goes well, I hope to have my car paid off by the end of May!)

Anyway… This is just a short entry letting everybody know that I am, indeed, still alive. Thanks for visiting and Keep Coming Back!!!

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Veteran’s Day

To all the Veterans who’ve risked their lives and to those who’ve paid the ultimate price to provide me with the freedom to stand up on my soapbox and complain about this country while not actually doing anything to make things better:

Thank You.

I really mean it.

And to those of you who are actively serving, even if I don’t agree with the situation you’re currently in, I have to respect the fact that you’re able to do so, because I most certainly cannot.

Thank You.

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