Archive for December, 2014

It’s the end of 2014 and as I look ahead, there are a couple of things I’d like to do this year. Why two? Because it’s achievable. I never make New Year’s resolutions but I do have a couple of goals. Here they are:

1. Learn Spanish

Why Spanish? Because I already have a head start with French, and it’s one of the easier languages to learn for native English speakers. I started learning Chinese in 2012 but eventually gave up because it takes too long to learn, 3x as long as Spanish. But Spanish seems easier; I have an app on my iPad and it seems like it should be easy to practice. I don’t plan to visit any Spanish-speaking areas in the next little while but if I ever go to south Florida, I’ll be set.

2. Take a free online course in behavioral psychology

I have enjoyed behavioral psychology and behavioral economics for several years now, and I recently discovered a free online course available here by Duke professor Dan Ariely (I’ve read all three of his books):


A friend and I are going to do it. I have no reason to do this other than I like the topic and I think it’d be fun to expand my mind. I wouldn’t mind getting a degree in behavioral psychology but I can’t devote the time required to going back to school.

But online? I can handle those.

So, that’s what I want to get done in 2015.

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A couple of weeks ago, I bought a stretch trainer. This is a device that helps you stretch by applying the use of gravity to pull muscles that you might not normally pull:


You can use it to stretch your shoulders and back, as well as inner and outer legs.

There’s no stretch on here that you couldn’t do without the machine, you could simply do it at home on your own. So why did I buy this and put it together all by myself?

First of all, it was free. My company gives me $800 of fitness credit per year that I can spend on exercise equipment and I still had $550 left in my budget in November. I have Amazon Prime so shipping was free. So, I ordered it and I didn’t pay for it (other than it being a taxable benefit but no matter what I buy, it will be a taxable benefit).

Second, I like this machine. When I was going to the gym, this was the one I liked the most. Now that I don’t go to the gym, I can just do this one at home.

Third, I need to stretch. My muscles are tight – every single one of them. This gives me a visual reminder everyday that I should loosen up. I can use this machine for about 20 minutes every day and there is a routine I follow. Even though I could do it without the routine, I don’t. And, the best exercise is the one that you do. I do this.


So there you go, that’s the addition to the household. I have felt my legs loosen up somewhat. My left hip never healed but it was feeling a lot better today and I credit this machine.

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Last week at work was one of the most difficult weeks I’ve had in a long time, maybe even ever.

I was on-call last week, which means that I am the first responder for all events that go wrong in the system, and we have a lot of alerts that fire – most of them non-actionable. This is hard for non-experts like myself to diagnose and it can be very frustrating.

When you’re on-call, you’re pretty much giving up your life for the next 3-4 days. And that’s what I did – I had alerts and issues firing all day, every day, and on the Wednesday it went until 2:15 am and there was nothing I could do. I then went to work the next day. When Friday came around and I was no longer on-call, it was a huge sigh of relief. I was beat down from the sleep deprivation and stress.

I strongly dislike being on-call. It’s frustrating, I get no other work done, and it’s very stressful.


And that stress led to me getting sick AGAIN! The day after I was on-call, at around 10:30 am, I noticed I had a minor sore throat. “ARGH!” I groaned. “Not again! The last I was on-call I got sick the day after, and now it’s happening this time, too?”

I was not just frustrated, but angry. The stress was getting to me physically.

But unlike last time in September when I caught a cold, this time it was worse. I had trouble sleeping and by Sunday afternoon my symptoms because much worse:

  • I had minor sore throat, cough and sinus congestion (but oddly enough I never really got a runny nose)
  • Fever (this was awful)
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Extreme fatigue – I couldn’t move
  • Headache
  • Light headedness – I had a hard time even typing
  • Loss of appetite – I ate less than 2000 calories in 3 days and lost 3.5 lbs
  • Diarrhea (despite not eating anything)

I looked up my symptoms and I figured out that I didn’t have a cold, I had the flu. It was terrible. I hope I never have it again.

Maybe next year I’ll get the flu shot.

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Here are the last set of predictions of what my life will look like when I am 55.

Personal Life

Ten more skills I would like to possess are:

a) Straight teeth– I’m on my way for this since I have braces.

b) Well-traveled – I will have traveled to 55 countries and all seven continents (Antarctica counts as a country).

c) In good health – What does this mean? Well, I have good blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. My joints are fine and I get plenty of sleep. I’m probably wearing bifocals, though.

I won’t be as fast as I am today, but my muscles are not as tight, either, because I stretch or do yoga, or both.

I’ve probably had two hip replacements, though. Blargh.

But, no other major surgery except for possibly some cosmetic ones, or maybe experimental ones to reverse the effects of aging (I will argue this decision with myself but in the end my superficial side will win).

d) Financially secure (about. $4 million). I can retire when I want.

e) Give a large chunk of money to charity – Every year I give a bit more to charity than I did the previous year; I have continued to do this every year that my salary increased. I started in 2010 and have continued through 2014.

f) Weigh no more than 140 lbs. I know it’s impossible to keep my weight down as I get older, but let’s try to keep this in check.

g) Still married
– The wife and I are still married at this point, having been together for a quarter century (almost). The wife still yells at the cats but not at the dog.

h) More diverse intellectually
– My thinking may have slowed down, but I read a lot more now and I’m not a political one-trick pony the way I was in my 20’s. Instead, I briefly consider running for some political office for each party before changing my mind. This occurs multiple times.

i) An American citizen

– I will have served on jury duty twice. I will have voted in every election since getting my citizenship.

j) Still performing magic – Nobody watched it, but I filmed a 1-hour TV special with me performing a bunch of tricks. It didn’t necessarily air on TV but maybe on the Internet some place like YouTube. The comments on YouTube are off because Internet commenters are idiots.

k) Regarding family – my niece, Mylah, regards me as the cool uncle.


1. By age 55, I have left Microsoft. The current company I work for is not very large (less than 300 people), and they only take up a couple of floors of the building they are in. They are not a start up, but they operate like one.


2. It is downtown but I work from home most days. It is a technology company specializing in security. After all this time I am still doing Internet abuse. However, I am not fighting email spam anymore. I stopped doing that a few years ago but still remember nearly everything about it.

3. I get to walk around, but I am a typical office worker. I try to walk to work whenever I can.

4. I frequently write articles about what I do, either in blogs or at conferences. I’ve been on the board of a non-profit technical organization and I’ve even helped out in reviewing and editing IETF documents.


5. My salary is about $200,000/year. This sounds like a big deal today but in 20 years time, adjusted for inflation, it is not a very big deal.


6. I work both alone and as a team. I will have succeeded in my goal of never being a people manager. I may have co-ordinated several technical projects, and even been an architect of some kind, but I don’t manage people.

No way.

7. Because I have seen a lot and done a lot, I oversee a lot. But deep down I still do a little bit of programming (hopefully I know more than Java and Perl) and a lot of writing, combining ideas from technology, education, and design.

8. Most of my co-workers are younger than myself. However, I’ve been fighting abuse at this point for 30 years. My experience trumps their youthful enthusiasm.

9. My superiors are my manager (who is probably younger than me) but above him there is the top-level of the organization (CEO or president). That’s not hard to achieve in a small company.

10. Our business delivers a service. Of what? I don’t know but it’ll be Internet-security related.

Whew. Those are the last of my predictions. I’m sure I have missed a lot of things that I should be predicting but didn’t. Oh, well. But let’s start with these and see how they turn out.

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I just finished reviewing a series of predictions about my life at age 35, made when I was 15. Some of the predictions were accurate, others were off the mark.

Now, I am going to look forward 20 years into the future again. Today is my last chance, as tomorrow I turn 36.

I don’t know if this blog will still be around in 20 years. I should probably print these out and save them in a safe place. But to begin with, here they are.

1. Location

a) At the age of 55 I will be living in either Washington state (most likely in or near Seattle) or in a country outside of the US, in Switzerland.

b) Why Washington? Well, it’s where I now live and where I own a condo (both mine and the wife’s are paid off, and have been for over 15 years).

But why Switzerland? It took me a long time to think about this one. It was a really hard decision and there isn’t much rationale to it, but the wife will only live near mountains. I’d like to live near an English-speaking place and Switzerland isn’t it, but a lot of people speak it as a second language. It’s also in Europe and there is a large population base. The only problem is the weather is not good.

Argh, I think that this is a really bad choice. My second pick is New Zealand – it is a nice country and advanced, but is a little remote.

My third pick is Turkey. It is close to Europe and fairly inexpensive with nice weather. Whether or not it remains that way is unknown.

2. Housing

a) I would like to be living in a house that is no bigger than the one I am currently living in, no more than four bedrooms. A two bedroom, two bathroom condo is ideal. It will be in the city or suburbs; it will not be out in the country.

b) I share my house with the wife, two cats, and a dog.

3. Transportation

At the age of 55, I will own either a hybrid car or an electric car. By that time, my car may even be self-driving. Internet connectivity will be built into the car and it will be largely self-navigating.

However, it won’t matter that much because I will use public transit much more frequently.


4. Recreation

a) Four sports or entertainment activities I am involved in:

i) Hiking
ii) Badminton (better get started on this)
iii) A magician’s club
iv) Writing technical articles about behavioral psychology and Internet abuse, either in magazines or still on things like blogs. I will still have this blog!

b) Two facilities close to where I live are a library a few blocks away and a park near where I live.

5. Relationships

a) Me and the wife are still married. I spend about 15% of my time with family and 10% of my time with friends. I spend a lot of time alone after work but me, the cats and the dog have a lot of fun together. The rest of the time I spend with the wife.

b) A few of my friends, perhaps 5, I still have since I was in high school. The largest group are friends from church that I made initially when I first moved to Washington. During the past 20 years I haven’t made as many friends, although I do have a few.

c) I have two cats and a dog. Both cats are short haired, one is male and the other is female. I have a Golden Retriever as a dog. The cats are around 5 years old, the dog is a couple of years older.

That’s my first set of predictions. I put my second set in my next post.

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