Maxwell’s Demon

Recently, I came across the concept of “Maxwell’s Demon“.

Immediately, I thought of the Beatles’ dark, somewhat demonic song, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” from the Abbey Road album. Yet, as I began to come to know the complexity of Maxwell’s demon, I concluded the Beatles’ Maxwell and James Clerk Maxwell were not similar in any respect, other than the demon.

There further I study the Demon of Maxwell, the more curious I become about information, information technology, language, the computer code I write, the electricity that carries that code to other people, abstraction. There is an entire plane of knowledge I know nothing about.

I can’t help but wonder how some people in particular who react to the concept of Maxwell’s Demon. The knee jerk would be against the word, ‘demon’ and some who refuse to discuss the topic believing it to be satanic or demonic. Other’s would simply refuse to consider it because the demon is too deep and abstract, not concrete. If this was their first introduction to it they would blow it off, dismissing it as nonsense since they immediately could not comprehend or wrap their heads around the idea. Of course, they would label the one who says such stuff, or believe such stuff, as beneath them since they are unable to conceive of such an idea, similar to if you believed the earth was flat.

The abstract idea of disorder in mixed hot and cold and the order the demon can achieve by observing ‘the information’ of the hot and cold appeals to me. Maybe it is the abstract part of the abstraction.

Bad iPhone 5 photo of one of the first abstract paintings I did in 2014. I call this “Losing Niki”.

Art History Degree

A topic of conversation came up in the office (when I worked in the office). The topic was about ‘useless degrees’. The conversation was between three of the office’s self styled narcissists, two of which worked in the Engineering department and one worked in the Service department.

The Engineering guys said any degree other than science or engineering was totally worthless, saying an “English” degree was good enough to work at McDonalds flipping burgers but an engineering degree would get you into Boeing making airplanes.

When I was in college in the mid 1980s, I probably would have said much of the same. I choose my course of study to acquire a skill set that would equip me to compete in the world of broadcasting. Had Ball State University offered technology courses in Web Development and Design I would have quickly signed up.

But now, forty years after that college experience, I have a different perspective. Unlike the office narcissists who can’t see past their noses or can change attitudes and beliefs, I have a new appreciation for those ‘useless’ degrees and those who pursue that course of study.

In that conversation, “art history” came up as the most useless degree. They said that art, especially modern abstract art was worthless and degenerate (didn’t Hitler say that). Anyone who studied the history of ‘art’ was the same same, useless and worthless.

Yet, I wonder if the people studying art history are studying their passion. Certainly they are. After all, why choose art, history or art history if you didn’t have some sort of passion about art, history or art history.

Doesn’t that passion make the pursuit of that degree worthwhile? Doesn’t the effort they put forth to complete all the requirements solidify the worth? Even if the financial outcome isn’t as great as a job in Engineering? Even if it takes years to pay off the student loan?

When I’m bored and feeling useless in my salaried technological position, in between writing lines of code or masking elements in photoshop, I wonder what life would be like had I graduated with an Art History degree.

So, I looked up the Arizona State University art history program and wondered if I, as a white male in his late 50’s would be accepted to such a program.

The page says :

“After earning an online art history degree, you’ll be prepared to pursue careers in museums, galleries, historical and preservation societies or art agency settings. Alternatively, you can use your research, transferable skills and critical thinking abilities in a variety of other occupations or for graduate studies. Possible career options include:”

  • ARCHIVIST : Growth: 14.3 % : Salary: $51,760
  • ART PROFESSOR : Growth: 12.0 % : Salary: $66,930
  • HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER :Growth: 7.5 % : Salary: $59,170
  • MUSEUM CURATOR : Growth: 14.0 % : Salary: $53,770
  • MUSEUM EXHIBIT DESIGNER : Growth: 12.4 % : Salary: $40,670
  • TALENT AGENT : Growth: 4.7 % : Salary: $64,940

I wonder what I would have become had I studied art history and endured the ridicule and contempt from those engineering type of folk who believe all other people beneath them worthless if they did not pursue a degree they consider worthwhile.

Over the entrance to the David Owsley Museum of Art on the Ball State campus. Nikon D600 photo taken by Dave O on February 28, 2016.
Over the entrance to the David Owsley Museum of Art on the Ball State campus.
Nikon D600 photo taken by Dave O on February 28, 2016.

Driveway Snow

In my past life I was very anal about shoveling the driveway.

The primary reason is I had to make it into work to punch the clock to earn a paycheck to take care of my family. Getting stuck in the driveway and losing a day’s wage due to unshoveled snow achieved none of these objectives.

And, a secondary reason was that I was proud of a cleared and snow free driveway.

Now, I don’t care if the driveway is shoveled at all. Even with the 7-8 inches of snow that fell on my driveway last night, I would rather allow Mother Nature to do the task over the days to follow or pay the grandson to shovel it.

The primary reason is that I don’t need to go anywhere as I work from home thanks to covid. And second, I’ve lost much of that pride in keeping a snow free driveway.

But this morning, I helped a friend get to work. But, we were stuck in the driveway because I didn’t shovel the snow before we attempted to leave. The low clearance of the Honda couldn’t plow through the eight inches of snow. So, I trekked to the backyard shed to dug out the snow shovel. I then cleared a path, just enough to get the Honda into the neighborhood street (which was not plowed) and onto the city street (which was plowed). After dropping her off at her job, I made it home but only halfway up the driveway where I become stuck again. I left the Honda and went inside to wait for Mother Nature or the grandson to clear the driveway of snow.

The Honda stuck in the Driveway Snow. Photo taken on February 16, 2021 by Dave O.
The Honda stuck in the Driveway Snow. Photo taken on February 16, 2021 by Dave O.

It would appear in the above photo that I could drive into the garage despite the 8″ of snow. But the photo is deceptive. The poor Honda is stuck in the snow.

Vacation Day

I took a vacation day, yesterday, June 19, 2018.

I didn’t go to work. Of course, it’s a vacation day — why go to work. Instead, I took a friend to the hospital for tests and sat with her during the day. It was not a bad day, nor a boring day. In fact it was a great day.

The tests were done by mid afternoon. We picked up lunch and went back to her apartment. We watched the Great Gatsby movie and took a short nap. Then, it was a tour of a mutual friend’s new home. An amazing home which needs some minor renovation. If I were a younger and motivated man, I would have snatched up the home.

On the 86 mile drive home, I reflected on vacation and vacation days.

In the past, while married to Nikki, vacations were scheduled, planned and organized by Nikki. Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, New Mexico were common destinations.

After Nikki left I’ve taken a few vacation:

  • Colorado 2015
  • Jackson Mississippi 2016

There wasn’t a vacation in 2017.

Although I should clarify the Jackson Mississippi vacation was just a long weekend (Friday – Sunday) of driving to and from Jackson Mississippi with a stop in Vicksburg. But the Colorado 2015 was a true week long vacation.

Each year, I am allowed 15 days of vacation from the company I work at. It’s an earn benefit, meaning that you have to put the time in to ‘earn’ the vacation time, which can’t be taken until the following calendar year and the days do not accumulate. Technically, I’m allow two weeks of vacation and then five individual days per year.

Last year, I took four days of vacation. Each day was an individual day. I did stuff around the house or went to doctor appointments. Those days did not seem like ‘vacation’. They seemed more like an extra Saturday.

My definition of vacation is to ‘do something that you would not ordinarily do while at home’.

For 2018, I have a conceived a potential week long vacation plan to drive through southern Colorado, to the Four Corners and then back home. It’s about a three thousand mile road trip according to Google maps. It would be a good time to ‘car dwell’, meaning that I would sleep and ‘live’ in my Honda for the duration.

Recently, I bought a book (Planning an Epic road Trip on any Budget) from the 365 Days of Marriage blog. This blog encourages you to ‘Dream Big’ … which I need at this time in my life. Hopefully my conceived Colorado road trip of 2018 becomes an Epic Road trip!

Always thought about work camping as a means to make a living. Photo taken by Dave O June 2015.

Always thought about work camping as a means to make a living. Photo taken by Dave O June 2015.

Happy 2018

Happy 2018.

I’ve been in a funk. It started about April – May of 2017. I wasn’t able to get out of it. I’m still in it as 2018 begins. But, hopefully, maybe I can climb out (or roll out) of it in 2018.

At least that is a hope. A New Year’s hope.

Depression is a grievous companion. I can’t seem to shake it. The 20 mg of Paxil takes the edge off. But, it doesn’t take it away.

My Post Nikki life hasn’t been all that great. Thankfully, there hasn’t been any tragedies but the zest for life isn’t there.

This morning, the first work day of 2018, I have to listen to an office narcissist talk about the major and minor details of his 2017 European Christmas/New Years vacation. I have to listen to him brag how impressed the backwards Europeans were with his American winkle.

Geez.

Anyways, I do have a semblance of a plan for 2018.

  • Get back into calorie counting.
  • Exercise more.
  • Blog more.
  • Teach myself to draw
  • Paint more
  • Reduce the amount of Diet Mountain Dew I drink
  • Increase the amount of water I drink

Anyways, I wish everyone a great 2018.

The Change Cometh

I am amazed at the rate of change in the weather. The air temperature was in the high 50’s on Tuesday evening. It was pleasant, other than the strong and gusty wind. Last night, it was in the low 30’s with a mini blizzard.

Both evenings I walked the three miles on the fitness trail. One evening I actually sweated. The next evening I tried to stay warm. One evening I was loose and free. The next evening I was huddled in a heavy winter coat under a hat licking the blowing snow from my lips.


Calories for Wednesday February 8, 2017. 

1,412 calories was the final number for 2/8/2017. That is 198 calories below the target of 1,610. I had a Slim Fast shake for breakfast, a small grilled chicken salad for lunch and a larger salad with canned chicken for dinner. I also had a yogurt as a bed time snack.

There was no beer for the day. Although the 198 calories short of the target would have allowed for a 190 calorie Zombie Dust pale ale.


Exercise So Far This Week

I’ve exercised three days this week, so far. I walked 3 miles on Monday, 3 miles on Tuesday and 3 miles on Wednesday for a total of 11 miles.

On Tuesday it was raining so I couldn’t walk the two miles during my lunch break. On Wednesday, I didn’t have the opportunity to walk during lunch.

This evening I need to attend a birthday party, so I don’t believe there will be time to exercise after work. Unless I get out in the 20 degree day for a two mile walk during lunch there might not be any exercise today.

So, my mileage for this week is going to be far less than it has been in the prior weeks. Unless, of course, I make up for the lost miles over the weekend. Which I hear will be back in the 50’s to 60’s, which is oddly strange for central Indiana.


An NSV

This is the sixth week of my ‘eat less and move more’ effort of 2017. Thankfully I’ve lost a few pounds, drank less beer, counted and controlled calories and stepped up the exercise. I feel much better than I have in a long time. Those are Non Scale Victories of the first magnitude.

Yet, today, I can appreciate another NSV … I was able to comfortably tighten the belt to the fourth notch. I started at the second notch in January and now at the forth notch.

Yay !!

Recently, the third notch was becoming too loose but the fourth notch was too tight. However, this morning I was able to tighten to the forth notch. So very cool.


Photo

Here’s a photo from the fitness trail at Freedom Park in Greenwood Indiana, last night during my walk.

Mini blizzard on the evening of February 8, 2017.

Mini blizzard on the evening of February 8, 2017. Photo taken from Freedom Park in Greenwood, Indiana, looking south on the fitness trail.

 

Bubba’s 33 and a Broken Furnace

Thursday evenings are ‘family night’ in the household. Since all the kids are grown and on their own (with exception of one) Thursdays are a time for everyone who wants to and is able to come over to the house where they grew up and talk and eat food. It is a chance to catch up on everyone’s busy lives.

Last night, through some misguided choices of my own, I was not planning to show up to family night. However, my plans were scrubbed at the last moment. No one else showed up since they all thought I was ‘out’. Since I was alone on family night, I would take a 40 minute walk and eat a high protein dinner, read and then go to bed.

My oldest son lives with me. When he realized that family night was ‘back on’ he offered to take me out to dinner. Quick texts to the other kids resulted in declines as they already had other things going on. So, my oldest and I went to Bubba’s 33 for dinner.

Bubba’s 33 is really a loud sports bar. At lest the one in my neighborhood is. In the past, Bubba’s 33 meant a heavy cheeseburger, french fry and beer meal for me. At least two of their 33 ounce beers.

But last night was different. I order the grilled chicken salad. My son ordered the bacon burger and fries. There was no beer for either of us.

I estimated the salad at about 900 calories. Bubba’s 33 does not have a published calorie guide. I took the calories as reported in an Outback grilled chicken salad and assigned those calories to the Bubba’s 33 grilled chicken salad.

With the Subway 6″ turkey sub I had for lunch and the Slim Fast shake for breakfast, my eating for the day was at 1,605 calories. This is 5 calories below my goal of 1,610.


Blood Pressure

This morning, my blood pressure was 126/84 with a resting heart rate of 73. So, I slipped back into the ‘high’ spectrum. Strange, yesterday was solidly in the ‘normal’ range. My resting heart rate is still too high which means I’m just out-of-shape.

I wonder if the fact I did not work out on the Max Trainer last night but opted for a 40 minute walk had anything to do with the higher blood pressure? Who knows? Maybe the Max Trainer impacts the blood pressure better than the walking as it is more intensive?


Broken Furnace

Ah, the inevitable has finally happened. The furnace broke.

This furnace is over 20 years old. But, it’s been running great since the last repair in 2004.

For some reason I was awake at 1:30am on Friday morning and noticed the furnace wasn’t clicking on. The White-Rodgers Model 50E47-860 ignition control module was flashing a yellow light which means the polarity of the wiring to the furnace is reversed.

What? How could that happen? It’s been running fine for 12 years. Nothing has changed in the house wiring. I’m sure the polarity is fine? Hopefully? Maybe?

A quick google search took me to a page that advised to check the polarity with a multi meter. Cool. I have one. A multi meter.

But, I don’t know how to use a multi meter. I tried to check the polarity on some of the wires but I didn’t know what I was doing or which wires were the right wires to check. I quickly realized calling a technician in the morning was the best idea.

My hope is the flashing yellow light that says “bad polarity” is a false signal and the actual problem is a bad igniter, which will cause (I hope) a bad polarity indication.

So I went back to bed. And hoped for the best.

When the alarm went off at 6:00 am, the house was in the high 50’s.

I called a Service company to schedule a service call. Hopefully, they will be able to get to the house this afternoon.

Otherwise, it will be a cold night.

The Multi Meter I own and do not know how to use.

The Multi Meter I own and do not know how to use.

 

 

Winter Solstice 2016

The first day of Winter arrived at 5:44 am EST.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons. Everything is cold, crisp, snowy. I really enjoy the clear, bright sunny days. Although I don’t like the dank, dreary, wet days. And, I don’t like the crushing darkness that beats me down.

In the past, I’ve used Winter to get back into some type of exercise – weight loss program. And, this year, is no exception.

I’ve explored different food reduction strategies, from calorie counting (successful in the past) to Weight Watchers (successful in the past) to meal replacement shakes to juicing.

The exercising strategy is to ‘just do it’. I have the Planet Fitness membership and a Bow Flex Max Trainer.

My blood pressure was 144/93 this morning with a pulse of 82. Geez. Still too high. I’m embarrassed about the resting heart rate. When I was exercising regularly, my resting heart rate was in the mid to low 60s. This just shows me that I have a lot of work to do.

Hopefully, starting with this Winter Solstice things will change for the better in my life.

Snowmen ... winter of 2015

Snowmen … winter of 2015

My Current Mile

My current mile hasn’t been all that great. Maybe downright hard. Such a struggle. I’m pathetic.

To put things in perspective … I’m not homeless, nor am I starving. The furnace is working. The car has started in the cold. The government is not repressing my political, social or religious beliefs. I have a job. I’m relatively healthy.

So, in all reality, I’m doing better than a lot of people in the world.

But why are things so hard. Why am I depressed? Why such a struggle?

It’s an interesting question. The narcissist office mates would say to ‘just’ get over it. Move on. Overcome.

Certainly wise counsel. Could apply to most if not all circumstances for most if not all people.

But, still, it’s a struggle for me.

What Have I been Doing?

Nothing much. Being depressed. Can’t seem to shake it off. I’ve gain so much weight. I stopped running. My blood pressure is too high (140/99 on average). Did I say I was depressed. My resting pulse was in the 80s this morning.

What Can I Do?

With the advent of the new year, I have decided to take some kind of action. I need to change something. I want to lose some weight. I want to get back to running, walking, exercising. Cut back on the food intake and stop the drinking. Use the Planet Fitness membership.

Any Bright Spots in the Last Year?

There has been one or two bright moments in otherwise a dull and bleek 2016.

The first moment came in early December as I finished a true round of paintings. Maybe my first actual artistic creation. Other than weaving the canvas, growing the pine or manufacturing the paint, I drip painted a set of ‘real’ paintings. I call it the “November Collection 2016”. I hung a few in the house and gave a few away. It was quite the sense of accomplishment as I stretched the canvas I painted over the frames I built.

The second … well, I can’t really remember.

What Am I Going to Do?

I need to shake off this depression. Probably need to change the self talk. Should ignore the narcissist rants from a few raging narcissists in the office. Track an exercise goal, lose weight, paint more.

Take a few small steps. Lose a pound a week for 2017 to get back to my goal weight. Maybe sign up for Weight Watchers as that was successful when I was on the program. Exercise more. Eat less. Read more. Blog more. Pray more.

image_novembercollection2016

The November Collection 2016

The Debate

It’s Friday. Yay.

I was out of bed by 4:30 am this morning. And immediately a debate as to if I should go to Planet Fitness or not started in my head. It was an honest debate. One side said that I shouldn’t go because my right hamstring is really, really sore and that I should crawl back into bed and rest. The other side said that I should go to the gym and work out on the elliptical instead of running on the treadmill and make it a light day.

As the debate swirled in my head I brushed my teeth, shaved and put in my contacts.

Finally, I said to those debating within my head … I said that it’s been only three days since I renewed the membership at an out-of-pocket expense of $89 and committed to $20 a month for the next 12 months … and I’m ready to take a day off after only three days!

I heard in my head … “you wimp”.

I quickly gathered my workout clothes and left. I was at the gym at 5:05 am. I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I didn’t run. I spent 10 minutes on the elliptical and then did some of the weight machines. It was time well spent and I’m happy that I didn’t crawl back in bed.

I ran 4 miles on my first and second workout sessions at the gym. I suppose a light workout is ok for the third session.

As I was walking on the treadmill, I concluded that it’s important for me to get out of bed in and get to the gym in the mornings. I have noticed a shift in my attitude the last three days. I feel more productive at work as well.

I was also thinking that if I don’t have the motivation or energy to run or get in a sweaty workout on the weights, I could always tan as the gym offers free tanning with my $20 a month ‘black’ card membership. Cool. I could use a tan.