Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we’re still in a global pandemic in the middle of everything else that’s going on.

I’ve mostly just been trying to lay low. I wear my mask whenever I have to go to the store or inside somewhere to pickup food. Admittedly we don’t really eat in restaurants much right now anyways because the kids won’t sit still for it, but we’re not going back to theme parks yet because we’re not quite ready.

Apparently the local playground in our subdivision reopens today, so we’ll probably do that at some point next week, but for now we’ve been passing the time with video games, the pool, and whatever else we can find to occupy these kids for 12 hours a day!

In the back of my mind, I’m also bracing for the next wave because I’m sure it’s coming … right now I’m just wondering if it will wait until flu season like some are suggesting or if it’ll hit sooner. The data I’ve been looking at doesn’t look great…

First – for the US in general…

These charts actually don’t look too bad. New cases have been running fairly stable for the last month – maybe a slight decrease – and deaths are steadily going down, which tells me that we’re getting better at treating infected people – and that’s good!

Still, our daily new cases are running right around our average for the pandemic – we’re about 30% down from our worst days back in March/April when we were averaging 30,000+ cases a day, and our worst day ever was a month and a half away … 38,958 on 4/24.

That said, looking at Florida’s numbers…

Florida had its worst day yesterday … 1,902 cases on 6/12 … and the next worst was the day before that, so that’s not good!

Deaths are following the national average and are down a bit, but I think we’re all really going to be watching those new cases over the next week to see if this is an early spike or what.

This thing is far from over, despite anyone who’s just tired of it and wants to move on. I’m encouraged by all of the people who I do see wearing masks out in public and trying to be considerate of the other people around them, but at the same time I still see an unsettling amount who don’t seem to care and I don’t know what else to do except to avoid those people. If 116,000 fellow Americans dying from this thing in the last three months isn’t enough to convince people to think of others, nothing probably will, so instead I’m just trying to focus my attention on the people who are trying … even if maybe they’re not wearing their mask over their nose or slip up from time to time.

My gut tells me that this could be a really ugly picture by the end of the summer, and I’m not sure if we’d even do another lockdown, so right now my strategy is simply to lay low this summer and hope for the best, but also brace for the worst.

I think one of the biggest challenges that my house has faced through all of this has been not having good outlets to help us disperse the kids’ energy anymore.

A normal day would include plenty of time to run around with their friends at school followed by a good hour of playtime at the playground before coming home. Evenings are typically split between at least one kid working with an in-home therapist while the others do quiet work/play in between dinner and bedtime routines. Plus, swim class once a week is always a great way to wear them out!

And pretty much all of that is now out the window with schools closed and the playground closed and therapists either canceling or being quarantined!

I mean, it could be worse – I understand that, and I’m grateful that nobody’s actually sick – but it’s kind of chaos just the same!!!

It makes me really wish that we had a backyard the kids could run around on their own because our pool honestly takes up most of it and they definitely can’t play out there without adult supervision. Without even having theme parks or regular parks to slip away to on the weekend, everyone is very quickly developing their own flavors of cabin fever, which for the kids results in couch cushions thrown all over the room and toys even more thrown about than usual.

We’re hoping to establish some sort of routine as school kicks back up virtually next week, however there’s only so much that structure can do when all the kids really want to do is RUN! 😯

The Coronavirus

March 16, 2020 10:33pm
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We’re kind of living in a weird time, aren’t we?

Almost any place of gathering – schools, sporting events, even Disney World and other theme parks – are all closed.

Pretty much any office job is recommending their employees work from home.

And for some reason, there’s a major shortage on toilet paper … which ironically enough, I only learned about 30 minutes ago that we’re actually running low on at my house! 😯

I’m really trying to adopt the philosophy of focusing on the silver lining of this whole situation – that being a change of pace, albeit forced, from the daily life that is normal for me right now. Instead of a day filled with rushing to work only to leave to pick up kids a few hours later, then trying to juggle more work and supporting my family until bedtime, and then trying to support my writing business with whatever’s left, I’m challenging myself to take a different approach…

In being home all day, I want to truly take advantage of being home by spending lots of time with my family, breaks to help them with crafts and academics, meals together, etc…

I also want to try and get a tackle on organizing our house, as for the next several weeks apparently it’s going to become our lifeboat!

I want to reinforce my support for remote work by showing how physical location has no impact on the quality of my work. In fact, I expect it to improve as I won’t have to don headphones like whenever conversation surrounds me at the office!

I want to do what I can to help support small and local businesses because I know that some of them are going to take a real beating from this thing. Actually, just this morning I supported a local business by paying a guy to come fix my sprinkler system, so we’re off to the races already! 😀

If I can find the time, I’d love to squeeze in a little exercise … we’ll see…

And ultimately I just want to help improve myself by taking this bizarre opportunity to slow down and focus on the things that are really important for a change.

The whole legitimate excuse for avoiding people I guess is simply a bonus! 😉

  1. I need to figure out why the ice from the ice maker in my freezer all melts together into an unusable blob in the bucket so quickly.
  2. I want someone to fix the sprinkler pipe in my garden that I broke with a shovel while grumbling about our HOA … not because I’m not capable of doing it myself, but because every time I think about it I just get angry all over again!
  3. I’d like to go an entire week without stepping on a single toy in my house.
  4. I’d love to not have to drive 60 miles round trip to get rid of my styrofoam recycling.
  5. I wish the lights in my garage that went out a month and a half ago would magically start working again.
  6. It would be a blessing to have someone properly trim the hideous oak tree in my front yard.
  7. I really want to have all of our Christmas lights up by December 1st this year.
  8. I’d like to solve the problem of us constantly losing our remote controls once and for all.
  9. Both of our cars could use a thorough cleaning.
  10. I’m really curious to know how much electricity my latest server upgrades are going to cost me.

Thanksgiving Dinner
We’ve never actually done a traditional Thanksgiving dinner all by ourselves. Typically we’ll get a pre-cooked turkey breast from HoneyBaked Ham, and if we’re feeling really lazy, sometimes we’ve even gotten the sides and dessert pre-made, too, so “dinner prep” is more of a reheating exercise than anything else.

So this year we’re doing things a little different.

We actually don’t have any family coming over, so it’ll just be the five of us, but we’re going to try our hands at actually cooking a turkey, making the sides in something other than a microwave, and hopefully getting a bit of family time out of the whole ordeal, too. We still need to plan a menu and go grocery shopping, but I’m surprisingly looking forward to the challenge!

Christmas Shopping
The last year or so, including Christmas 2018, was kind of tight, so we’ve had to cut back in areas a lot more than we would like, however at least for the time being things are turning around … mostly because my wife has been picking up loads of extra shifts … and so after getting a bunch of bills finally caught up, I’m looking forward to splurging a bit and have already caught myself digital window shopping for the various folks on our list.

Spoiler Alert – It’s all about the clam candy canes!

Disk Space!!!
Even though it’s also been stressful and there’s been a lot to learn, I’ve really been enjoying building out my new NAS over the past couple of months – particularly this past weekend when I dropped in five brand new 12 TB drives that I picked up on sale at Best Buy to max the beast out at a whopping 106 TB of usable storage!

Granted, it’s a little concerning that this thing is already almost 70% full, and unfortunately every drive bay is filled in the current enclosure, but it should at least tide me over for a few months until I figure out where to go from here…

An Emotional Day

June 19, 2019 12:11pm
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I know that I haven’t really blogged in a while, but yesterday was kind of crazy in a number of unexpected ways that really shook me, so I thought I’d take a minute to get a few things out of my head and off into the world…

The Ever-Rising Cost of Magic
First and foremost, yesterday Disney raised their prices for annual passes at Disney World. Again. Like clockwork.

This is after another 10% raise in the fall, so in less than 12 months the cost of our passes is going up 25%.

And that, coupled with the fact that this fall David and Matthew will turn three and also need passes, has been really concerned and sad that I’m not sure if we can afford to go to Disney World anymore. 

This is a subject that I’ve written about before, ironically from a previous rate hike that we were able to endure, however our financial situation has gotten tighter with autism therapies for two of the kids and just rising costs of everything, and where I stand right now, it just seems financially irresponsible to spend $5,000/year on theme park tickets when we’ve got so many other bills stacking up. Even with a monthly payment plan, that’s over $400/month … which is basically like a car payment!

And of course, that doesn’t even cover everything once we get in the door – snacks are more expensive, meals for five are more expensive than meals were for two … Disney becomes a much different world when you transition from Dual Income, No Kids to 1.3 Income, Several Kids!

It breaks my heart, and also somewhat enrages me, to see Disney making billions in profit off of their family theme parks each year while they continue to make it more difficult for families to enjoy them. And yet being so overcrowded, they’re actually hoping some guests like me will back off and go less to ease up on crowds for everyone else!

In part, this is a sliver of a much bigger issue as we come to terms with how expensive it is to raise kids with special needs, but for right now the whole thing just makes me really, really sad.

The Head Dickhead Comes to Town
This one is funny because he wasn’t even in my town, but I kind of look at Orlando as a second hometown and I love how socially progressive they are over there … so it was surprisingly bothering to know that Trump was in Orlando last night, spewing his lies and disgusting rhetoric and getting his base all riled up with absolute nonsense.

As I looked at the coverage from the Orlando Sentinel, I think a big part of what bothered me about it was seeing all of those people en masse who are willing to look past all of the terrible things he’s done to our country in favor of a more crude reality with occasionally better financial performance. For some.

It’s like seeing the country still struggling with things like race and gender and sexual identity, only to elect the guy who spent three years accusing the black president of being a Muslim, and now his last three years trying to ban Muslims, and continuing to make light of sexual assault, and moving the needle backwards in terms of LGBTQ acceptance … it’s hard enough seeing the guy at the top preaching so much hatred and bigotry, but to then pan back and see all of his followers who still agree with those toxic views.

I already have concerns that we might see this douche elected to another term, so to see his people rallying and cheering their own hatred for anyone different than themselves on just makes my skin crawl.

Artistic Beauty
At around 1:30am, after all of that, I was reminded of this new video on The Try Guys channel that I wanted to watch about Try Guy Eugene Lee Yang coming out to the world…

I’ll be completely honest that I felt like there was a lot that went over my head the first time that I watched it, but I knew that it was something special so I wanted to know more. And this behind the scenes video that they did really brought things into focus, both in showing more of the passion behind the project itself as well as helping to spell out the artistic vision for each of the scenes to really show the growth, and the pain, and the beauty in the process of coming out as a queer person.

At one point, someone is quoted as saying that it’s more of an ongoing process than an event, which makes a lot of sense and left me feeling even more sympathetic for the ordeal.

Later I watched a video of a gay man reacting to Eugene’s video – in tears most of the time – and it hit home the gravity of why the video has been so well received after only a few days.

This year I’ve found myself more tuned in to Pride Month than I have in the past, and I think a lot of it is out of an unspoken obligation to stand on the right side of this divide in this moment in time. I don’t necessary know how to do more, but I feel like I need to do something because I’m absolutely repulsed by how the LGBTQ community is looked down on by people, and the whole “straight pride” counter movement, and how we still have so many people around us who consider LGBTQ folks to be lesser people than they are.

And a lot of them don’t even realize it.

Comments like “I’m fine with the gays, but they don’t need to rub it in our faces…” and beliefs that equal rights for LGBTQ means more rights than they have themselves. We have elected officials who openly campaign on the ideals of religious freedoms that almost always mean undermining the rights of this group to exist in the community. They make themselves the victims because they’re afraid of people who are different from them … and I just don’t have any tolerance for that in my life anymore.

I think that’s a big part about why I was so offended by Trump’s rally because it’s like getting together tens of thousands of these terrible people who think that they’re incredible patriots for standing with the president, yet the disregard that they have for their fellow Americans is anything but patriotic.

Anyways, watching Eugene’s amazing video was breathtaking and inspiring and beautiful, and it also served as a reminder that we still have a long ways to go.

Which at the moment is exhausting.

So how was your February?

February 28, 2019 2:12pm
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I feel like this month went by really fast.

And I’m honestly not sure how much I can say that I actually got accomplished, but for what it’s worth, the last handful of days have felt a little less stressful.

Not significantly less, but maybe from an 8 down to a 6? I’ll take it.

I’m looking forward to a couple of big things coming up in March, and also hoping that they don’t kick my stress level back up into overdrive! I already started making some changes in my diet, and I’ve been getting to bed a little earlier than usual, so my real goal is to continue with that stuff while also getting a bit more work done than I did for February.

Plus, March is Christopher’s birthday month, and we’re working on throwing him a monorail birthday, so I think that’s going to be super fun to plan for the end of the month!

It’s really weird – parts of my life are still running fast and others have slowed down … trying to make some sense of it and if anything, shift more parts into that slow column as we move forward. I think it’s gotten to the point where I’ve been living this high stress life for so long that now it feels bizarre when I’m idle. To that extent, I’m trying to rely on my to-do list more and keep it to a limited number of things each day so that I have realistic goals to shoot for.

I could sit here and psychoanalyze it ’til the cows come home … in February money wasn’t as tight thanks to our tax refund, I’ve spent more time doing fun stuff, I even did a little physical activity earlier this week raking leaves … but at the end of the day I just want to try to find a better balance where I can say I did some good work, I got some good family time in, I took care of myself, and I did some stuff just because I enjoy it.

I need to go find me some tea so I can wrap up this last day of February and get to work at making March great…

After putting together this column the other day about prioritizing me in the new year, I still had this list leftover of random stuff that I’d like to do that don’t necessarily fall under the heading of “resolutions,” per se…

Scott’s Hospital Fun Guide!

December 12, 2018 1:51am
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So I got released from the hospital today.

I still have cellulitis, but I’m on my way to living my life without it.

Cut to a clip of me throwing a football and you’ve got the commercial for the cocktail of antibiotics that I’m on!

But seriously, kids – I do not recommend cellulitis. I haven’t the foggiest idea how I got it, but I wouldn’t suggest that anyone else give it a try. 

0/5 – Skin Infection not recommended

Thankfully, I had a pretty great care team during my stay that made the whole thing as manageable as possible … thanks to Katie, Brandon, Kristen, and Caitlin for taking care of me and finding me warm socks and all sorts of other things that I don’t think a lot of people realize are just part of the job for nurses. And while you don’t need to go to college to get someone a blanket or refill their ice water, I can’t tell you how much those little gestures helped to make my first stay in a hospital ever a little less lonely.

😉

Anyways, a few final thoughts on my stay before switching track into full blown Christmas vacation mode…

  • The Food Network is a terrible channel to watch in the hospital, particularly at mealtime when you’re trying to figure out how to stomach down “real eggs” and “definitely real sausage” and “not at all cardboard-based pancakes” that the dietary people swear they prepared in a bonafide kitchen and not a microwave and everything.
  • Not having reliable wifi was a real blow. Luckily, they had a decent movie selection, so I watched several during my stay, but I didn’t do a lot online because staring at my phone was bothering me and to write anything I had to do it offline, then tether my laptop to my phone to be able to post.
  • Movies!
    • 1) Get Smart … I just love this movie, so I watched this one the first night I got there. It was interesting to see where the edits for TV were made, but I was relieved that the bit with the swordfish was still included – even if “Holy shit! Holy shit! A swordfish almost just went through my head!” did get corrected to “Holy stuff…” or some other such nonsense…
    • 2) Pacific Rim: Uprising … I hated the first movie, so I figured this was going to be garbage, and it kind of was. I know these movies are more about just giant things fighting, but I have a hard time when the plot holes are big enough for Kaiju to drift through…
    • 3) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back … I thought I remembered Sara and I not really liking the first one, but this was honestly decent. It was basically almost another Mission: Impossible story that gave Tom Cruise two hours in which to be a bad ass, which is always a fun way to wait for one’s pain medication to kick in! 😉
    • Honorable Mention) A Christmas Story … I was going to slip in this one last night, but ended up making some phone calls instead. Sorry, Ralphie – you’ll shoot your eye out soon enough, though – I promise.
  • I must admit that at least once I did contemplate whether I could sneak out to my car and run home for nothing in particular before anyone noticed, considering that the hospital is barely five miles from my house. I pictured stuffing the bed with towels, a la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and then I remembered that back in reality I couldn’t make it five feet to the bathroom without a walker…
  • I used a walker for the first time! At only 38 years old! It was kind of embarrassing, but then again, so was watching me try to walk without it.
  • A good indicator of how to know when I’m really sick is when I’m willing to wear socks to bed.
  • Also, having another person put on your socks for you is both a very humbling and very endearing thing to experience.
  • Sleeping all day in the hospital isn’t nearly as enjoyable as you think it sounds when you consider it’s because sleeping at the hospital is perpetually interrupted by lab tests and vital signs and people asking you to sign forms promising that you’ll definitely still pay, even if the charges are mutually agreed to be ridiculous.
  • And last but not least, thankfully my charges should be zero or close to it because we exceeded the Out of Pocket Maximum for our insurance two months ago.

So if you’re still thinking about getting cellulitis after all of these glowing reviews that I’ve given for it, I’d recommend waiting until the insurance company is going to pick up the tab before you stumble into the ER on an otherwise uneventful Sunday afternoon.

For best results, wait until about 5:00am and sneak into your insurance company’s room to ask if they’re cool with it – 5:00 am is when people give the best feedback, at least in my own personal experience as a veteran, one-time hospital patient…

What the hell is cellulitis, anyways?!

December 9, 2018 10:44pm
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A father calls his son a few days after being put into a nursing home…

“Son, you’re not going to believe it! This morning while my nurse was helping me get dressed, I got an erection … and she just gave me a blow job – just like that!” he said enthusiastically.

“Dad, that’s incredible!” replied his son.

“Thank you so much for putting me in this place…” he said before the two said their goodbyes and hung up the phone.

A few hours later, the son received a much more frantic call from his father…”

“Son – you’ve gotta get me out of here! I was walking down the hallway and I slipped and fell, and out of nowhere these two orderlies showed up and fucked me in the ass!”

“Well, Dad…” the son consoled his father, “earlier you said you got a blow job from your nurse, and you’ve gotta take the good with the bad…”

“No, no,” his Dad interrupted him. “You don’t understand – I get an erection once a month, I fall down three or four times a day!”

I love that joke!

So anyways … I’m in the hospital … with cellulitis!

I didn’t know what it was until I googled it, either, so feel free to check out that link above. In my case, it means that my left shin looks like hell and feels even worse to walk on.

And here I’m supposed to be going on vacation the day after tomorrow?!

Truth be told, this is the first time I’ve ever been admitted to the hospital. Sara’s spent the night as a patient more times than I can count, but I’ve been relatively lucky until this point. We’re hoping that I’ll get discharged tomorrow after a few more bags of antibiotics do their thing, so we’ll see.

It does, however, give me a new perspective on how lonely hospitals can be. I mean, my caregivers have all been great so far, but my time down in the ER before I got admitted was really rough – I was by all myself (because Sara stayed home with the kids), and the room was freezing, and I couldn’t eat or drink anything until they decided on a treatment plan, and all of my devices were low on batteries, and it didn’t matter anyways because the hospital’s wifi is shit…

It definitely gives me a newfound sympathy for my fellow inmates here.

Down in the ER, I almost felt guilty because there were so many moans and groans, and my biggest complaint was just being cold because my leg doesn’t really hurt if I keep off it.

For a while they had parked an old lady who was 91 years old right outside my room and I honestly wasn’t sure if she was alive or dead until she too started moaning.

I don’t think I could work in a place like this, but I tip my hat to my wife and sister-in-law and every other nurse and doctor and tech who rises to the challenge each and every day.

One thing I was kind of impressed with is how technology integration is improving. Before I was allowed to watch TV, I had to sit through a handful of tutorial videos about “how to be a good patient” that were actually really good because they talked about how it’s ok to ask questions if you don’t understand something, and to tell your caregivers information even if you’re not sure whether it’s relevant, and even telling patients to call out their caregivers if they don’t wash their hands before they enter the room.

It was a unique way to present what was previously probably just another paper to sign, and I think it gets the message across a little better.

I also like how the TV gets a pop-up whenever someone enters the room that shows you their name, picture, and job.

There are some areas that still have a ways to go – the “learn about my meds” option just goes to a search box, which was useless to me because I only have controls on my remote, not a full keyboard.

Same for the Patient Portal, which just loads a webpage for access to their web portal and ultimately wants a username and password … again, useless without a way to actually input letters and numbers!

I don’t know if maybe there’s a wireless keyboard hiding around this room somewhere, but the key to any good interface is simplicity, so I shouldn’t have to look or ask.

Anyways, the kids already came to visit and Christopher tried stuffing his graham crackers into the controls for my bed, so hopefully they won’t have to move me anywhere tonight!

I’m comfortable, but very restless.

I do have a nice view of my primary care physician’s office from across the little pond thingy, which is better than the roof/construction zone Sara had when she was pregnant with the twins!

Time to watch a bad movie or two before bed…

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