Today was a very interesting day in the short-lived career of Transitional Cable Guy. Transitional because I got one of the jobs I hoped for and am starting soon. In fact today was to be the third-to-last of my brief career as a cable guy.

And it was a great day because I did nothing and was home by noon. The way the cable business works is you get a route, which really is a set of up to three geographically co-ordinated jobs. These were nice and close jobs, no more then forty minutes from my home. This really very nice. When I finally got my truck, as new guy I got the truck nobody else wanted, primarily because it has neither air-conditioning or a functioning radio. Given that the mercury hit 102 degrees fahrenheit (38.9C) the day I picked it up and I had to drive it for two and one half hours straight to get home, you can imagine the great wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from the driver's seat the whole way back to Columbus. I seethed the whole way. The thing about being a 'business class' cable guy, is you don't get much local work. One hundred mile trips (one way) are quite common, so spending four or more hours in a truck are also normal. So on this day, when the thermometer only got to 97F, I was home just after noon.

My route had two jobs, and one was a transfer of cable tv, internet and phone for a mexican restaurant. I arrived at the site and found the restaurant, located in one of the old strips that populate the centers of many American small towns. The thing is, the restaurant was closed. The building immediately to the left of said address had just been cleared. As in, there was nothing but dirt where once had stood a building. Said non-building had been attached physically to the still existing building. The lights were out in the existing restaurant, no one was there and a side door to it from the pre-existing building next door had been boarded over. I called the owner who hurried over to let me in.

Turns out the old restaurant had been located partly in the old buliding. When the derecho winds raced through Ohio on June 29, 2012 the the top two floors collapse onto the first floor, Fortunately that floor held because the place was full of patrons at the time! The county engineer condemned that section of the building, and refused to let the owner back in even to empty the cash register! It had been demolished and the refuse carted away before I arrived. The owner wanted to get a phone line set up, so he could get an answering machine set up. He was making plans to occupy a nearby empty bar, but hadn't signed the lease or worked the details out yet.

Really there wasn't anything I could do but call dispatch and reschedule for later. I could see how to get cable into the new location, but they don't have a lease. And the electric service for the existing building had gone down with the fallen building. One thing we cable guys are taught to do is is to bond our system to the electrical ground. Grounding is a complex subject, but you want all grounds in a building heading to one place. While planting a second ground rod or other ground might seem advantageous, what it really does is confuse the electrons who all want nothing more then to race to ground. I needed a ground and a place to get a phone line into the old place, which was probably going to be shut down in a week as they moved into the new place! So there was nothing to do but move on.

My second job was at a nice little warehouse located out in the country where I was to install internet and phone lines. The first thing I did was find the tap, where local cable is tied onto the main trunk lines. It is here your service begins. But the rule of thumb is if the tap is more then 300 feet (100 meters) away, you need to call engineering. If you don't you risk the signal growing to weak to use. The distance calculated at the electric service, because that's where you bond/ground the cable. That ground bar is where it changes from the drop to building service. I paced it off and came up with an estimate of 350 feet (horizontal), As the spot I needed to reach to get the cable was between 100-200 feet further away, it was pretty clear I couldn't install it with any confidence it would work. So it was call engineering, call dispatch and reschedule a direct burial team bringing thicker cable.

I might have called to get another job, and make a bit more money. And if it was 84F I probably would have. But at 96, in a truck with no AC, and a new job soon to start, I decided to just go home. I hadn't climbed a ladder all day, and clearly there was nothing I could do about the route I'd been given. And frankly, I'm glad to be home with my air conditioner, preparing to make a fresh start next week.

So I had my worst day of my worst year. And I think it's fairly sure things will get steadily worse from now on.

I got my official diagnosis that I'm diabetic. I'd been expecting it for a while, because I'm vastly overweight and have had no luck getting any weight off. But expecting it doesn't make it any easier to accept.

My dad has it, but he has it well-controlled. His doctor has speculated that he may not even have it anymore, because he's done such a good job of keeping his blood sugar low and staying healthy.

My uncle had it, and he made almost no effort to control it. He kept eating sweets -- my grandmother didn't really understand the whole diabetes thing, so she'd make him a pie -- "Because he just likes them so much." And he'd go over to her house and eat the damn pie. He died several years ago, minus too many body parts. It was a miserable way to go.

I worry that I have my uncle's sweet tooth. And I worry that I'll never have my father's iron will and self-control.

I'm also fairly worried about my ability to lose weight, no matter how hard I try. I've read more research in recent years that says genetics may play a large part in weight loss -- skinny people are genetically predisposed to being thin, and fat people are genetically predisposed to being overweight. Thin people have to eat lots of food and stop all exercise to gain weight, and fat people have to almost starve themselves and engage in strenuous exercise to lose weight. And when they go back to normal diets and exercising, both groups tend to rapidly return to their previous weights.

In other words, I got a bad feeling about this.

I'm taking pills now, talking to the diabetes educator next week. I'll do everything I can, because it's still my dream to be the guy who shuts out the lights and locks the door when the universe shuts down -- but I'm bad worried they'll be chopping off my limbs in five years and stuffing me in the ground in ten. Hopefully I can finish Metro City before then...


For SuperMegaNodeFestQuest 2012. Shazam! - Category: Daylog

I Am Completely Insane

"Hi, my name is corvus, and I have a problem."

So there I was, curled up on the living room floor in the middle of the night, and it felt like a fish hook continuously twisting my small intestines. Food poisoning, you say? I almost wish! But no, just a complete and total lack of willpower and self-preservation on my part.

In the past I experienced problems with gastrointestinal bleeding, and my doctor felt for a few years that I had Crohn's disease. During treatment for this I really began paying attention to what I ate. I gave up sodas completely, and stopped drinking sweet tea as well. I also stopped taking a multivitamin, because it seemed to do more damage than good by upsetting my stomach in the mornings. After a year and a half of this, my anemia almost disappeared. While the iron content in my blood was still lower than average, it had markedly improved. Most of the ulcers (and I had many, many small ones) seemed to have healed. After three years, my GI doctor released me back into the wild with instructions to keep an eye on my iron levels.

Since that time, a few things have conspired against me. First, my mind tells me to drink soda. After having steered clear of the bubbly poison for more than one year, I had slowly devolved back into the habit by initially drinking Sprite, and then a root beer here or there, until now I'm back on the hard stuff, Mountain Dew. Second, in that time my career has advanced by leaps and bounds. As if making up for the years I lost when I first developed my arm trouble, I jumped from a transportation planner making less than $30,000 a year through the Kafkaesque world of defense contracting as a software programmer, to ultimately a position as a reasonably high action officer for the civil service. This jump came with a corresponding rise in stress and responsibility (one of the reasons why I have become so interested in Early Retirement Extreme). This past spring I was given responsibility for several programs and roughly 25 to 30 civilians and contractors, and it has not been the most pleasant experience. Stress levels have been high. My eating habits have worsened.

I knew I had a problem when we went on vacation a few weeks ago. The week leading up to our trip proved particularly unpleasant, and the first couple of nights in our hotel I noticed a sharp pain in my stomach while lying in bed. The sensation is fairly unique, and I immediately worried that my stomach issues might have a resurgence. I switched back into eating healthy mode, and together with the relaxation that generally comes with a vacation, I stopped having trouble after a few days. And like a particularly stubborn sinner, I quickly forgot the issue and jumped right back into my job and bad eating habits.

As part of my restrictions when first treated, I was ordered to be very careful about over-the-counter pain medications because of their adverse impact for people with stomach bleeding. What's that? You experience chronic pain on a daily basis from your arm condition? Doh! Last week, my arms were killing me, and having forgotten about my recent episode with the stomach, I took some naproxen (or generic advil or whatever it was, one of the cheap versions of ibuprofen). The following day work was crazy, and I had something like four sodas. In my complete and total ignorance, I completely missed this little recipe for disaster.

So there I was, curled up like a dying man in a pitch black room, thinking, "I'm not going to make into work. I hope no one steals my Mountain Dew out of the refrigerator."

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