Ditch My Car for a Month

Well, it seems I just won the Lyft Ditch Your Car for a Month contest, so I guess I’m ditching my Jeep for a month (starting Oct 8th.) This is convenient, since I want to put my Jeep into the shop for repairs this month anyway… but I figure I’ll blog about my experiences not using my Jeep.

Caveats and clarifications:

  • I will drive the Jeep to the shop during this month. It needs some work and inspection to be done anyway.
  • Also, I need to move it on Thursdays to get it out of the way of the garbage trucks.
  • I did get Zipcar credits, so I will be driving sometimes… just with Zipcar instead of my Jeep. This will be very useful for getting groceries. (Related: I should really find my ZipCard.)
  • I got a HealthyBike subscription with this contest as well, but I don’t see using that as much as my own bike. Especially since I have a new speedy bike!
  • I will start this on Monday, Oct 8th. I don’t have Lyft credits until then, and getting to Carnegie on a Sunday is obnoxious without a car.

Anyway, let’s see how this goes!

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New job!

As most of you may know, I started a new job a few weeks ago. What you may not know is the story behind getting this job.

While I was taking time off between jobs, I found out that GitHub was looking for volunteers for RailsConf. I signed up, and for a few hours of volunteer work on the first day, I got a free ticket. I knew that I was going to this event, not knowing Ruby or Rails, with the aim of learning new things and shaking hands. And that is exactly what happened.

However, the fun part was during a break in sessions, we were all given cheesecake to enjoy during a bit of a social hour. I sat down at a table and introduced myself to the folks there. At this point, it was just for social reasons, I was trying to do all my hand shaking at the vendor booths.

One of the guys at the table was a really nice guy I talked to for a long while. As we got up and exchanged business cards, I found out he’s the VP of Engineering at his company. Wow! I had no idea! He did email me the following week asking me to interview there as well, and … well .. he is now my boss.

I am now officially a DevOps Engineer, and I really like all of the people I am working with at this new job. So — the risk I took in quitting the last job worked out.

I am counting my lucky stars on this.

Taking a risk, professionally

I’m doing something I have never done before, something I never thought I would or could do. I quit my job without having something to go to. This is a tremendous risk, but one I think I can undertake.

Why? Several years ago I did quit my job at the time to go back to school, an action similar in nature to what I am doing now, but it still felt like it had less risk. I didn’t own a home at the time, so I could return to living with my Mom to ease the financial burden. I also would come out of that with a degree that I could use to further my career.

At least, that is what I thought.

Unfortunately, since getting that degree, my career has careened further and further away from programming, my first love, and the more architecturally technical elements of computers, my second love. I mean, I have done technical work in all of the jobs I had, and continued to script up things for myself and others to automate routine tasks, but this is not the path I wanted after getting my degree.

So enter Wombat Technologies, and their acquisition by ProofPoint. I got a bit of money from the stock I had with them, enough to survive for a few months without pay. Enough months that I figured I could work on getting back on track with the career I really want. So, the idea for this risk was born.

I am now taking this risk, I quit, and I am working on at least one AWS certification, and coding more. I even revamped my resume this morning with the help of many sources. It is a scary risk, but one that I feel I needed to do. Wish me luck!

Update! General news about Gwen.

So, for those who were following my surgery recovery path, I am recovered. I’ve been back on the bike and even went for a swim today! In fact, two weeks ago I rode a 25 mile course with PedalPgh… that hurt, but I’m glad I was able to complete it. It was the up that killed me!

In other news, I’ll be in Pittsburgh Savoyard’s HMS Pinnafore in October. I do have tickets for $15 a piece, contact me if you’d like one! I accept Paypal and can leave tickets at Will Call.

I am also in the Renaissance City Choir‘s Holiday concert coming up in December.

Dracula continues to go well, though it’s very busy right now. We’re in the last month for recording, but the month of October is half the book! So much to do yet!

Anyway, this is a short update. Hopefully there is more to come soon.

Surgery and the Recovery

Hi all!

I’ve been asked repeatedly how I’m doing, so the really simple answer is: Recovering faster than expected, really!

OK, here’s the more complicated answer. On Wednesday evening I woke up out of anesthesia with no less than 5 tubes coming out of various parts of my body and a full on heart monitor strapped to my chest. I was remarkably not feeling much in the way of pain… well, from the surgery area. The tube going down my throat through my vocal chords did cause a sore throat, and the bruising from the constant poking of needles…. those caused some pain. The sore throat was the major pain though. Ugh.

Because of the sore throat pain and the fact that I have a pretty massive phobia of certain medical things that was being massively triggered, I spent most of my time at the hospital asleep. Well, as much as I could, because I was being woken up every hour for various tests (vitals, blood draws, “you need to get up and walk around”, needles into the stomach, etc etc.) even all through the night. Many friends wondered why they didn’t hear from me those three days in the hospital, and well, that’s why. Also, typing on a phone with an IV in is impractical.

Anyway, Friday morning they did a “swallow test” to verify that I could swallow liquids without leaking, and subsequently took out some of the tubing, including the one down my throat (yay!!) Saturday morning saw the rest of everything removed and I was discharged home. Really, by Friday night the nurses had started ignoring me (except for those hourly pokings and proddings) because my recovery was clearly going so well they should put their attentions on the more serious cases in the ward. My mom got me Saturday afternoon, and I got home around 4pm, exhausted so I pretty much just went back to sleep.

I think I did the most of my recovery on Sunday in terms of recuperating my energy and getting back to feeling human again. I didn’t do much that day except rest, but being able to walk around the house and sit on my couch was lovely. Monday morning I finally got a shower and really felt human again.

So, at this point I’m just slowly returning to being human. I do have some stamina issues, and the fact that my diaphragm was stitched up means that it’s super tight and hard to breathe — I actually cannot breathe in a deep breath at all, all of my breathing is very shallow. This means exertion is hard on me, and I need time to slowly breathe in my shallow breaths for a period to be able to recover the oxygen I need. But that’s the primary recovery point I’m having now. Otherwise I feel pretty good.

Other little bits of trivia from this surgery… so, what was being fixed was a long tendril of stomach that had poked its way through the diaphragm into the esophagus, a very serious hiatal hernia. When the surgeon went in to get it, he found that it was in the process of strangulating. So how’s that for Just In Time surgery? I’ve also been on surgery related diets for almost 3 weeks now, 2 weeks of a “Liver Reduction” diet pre-surgery (plus two days of full liquid diet right before). Before the swallow test I was on an IV only diet, and since that swallow test I’ve been back on a liquid diet. I’ll move to a “soft diet” on Thursday, which will remain in effect for 6-8 weeks. So, no beer (or any alcohol), soda, broccoli, berries, er… actually there’s a huge list of what I can’t eat for that time period. Very sad I’ll be on these restrictions through Origins.

One of the questions I get though, “Have you lost weight?” Well, yes, I’ve been basically starving myself for 3 weeks, I’ve lost about 20 lbs so far. Well, that’s just from the hospital scales from pre-op testing a month ago until day of the surgery. I suspect I’ve lost a bit more. But I don’t like this weight loss because I know I’m losing muscle because I can’t exercise. And this is likely to be weight that comes back later. This is incredibly unhealthy weight loss. :(

And one thing I have learned through this surgery… because I’m actually in pretty good muscle shape underneath all of my fat is why I’m recovering so quickly. I do not want to lose this muscle! But I will work on getting it back after I’ve recovered enough to work out again. :)