#585 – Luck, Both Good and Bad

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First, let’s get the bad luck out of the way, because it’s not that much fun to talk about. I had an algebra test last Thursday and I did abysmally on it. Like, might have dropped my average two whole grades bad. I still don’t have a score, but it will not be high. I also did not, on purpose, turn in a homework assignment today. I’ve had this assignment for about a month and like an idiot I waited until the last minute to try and get it done, and doing that drastically affected my test score. Based on that, I opted to cut my losses and start in on the semester’s fourth homework assignment, to be sure I’m doing the work pretty much as we cover the material in class.

That botched test is 21% of my final grade, as are all four tests for the semester, for a total of 84%. We’ll drop the lowest two quiz scores for the semester and average what’s left for 12% of my final grade. That means the four homework assignments will be averaged to give me the remaining 4% of my final grade, so in the broad scheme of things, taking a zero on today’s assignment won’t affect my final score that much.

There’s a backup plan for the poor performance on the test, too. There will be a comprehensive final exam given the last day of class, and that score, should it be higher than my lowest test score, will replace that score in the computation of my final grade. I received a 94 and a 95 on my first two tests, so the chances that my final grade will be better than what I turned in on Thursday is very high. I just need to spend some time in the learning lab between now and then to catch up on the concepts that I’m missing from the third test. Hopefully, that final will be good enough to get me back up to an A for the course.

Okay, on to the good news. We’re moving!

Those of you that regularly follow my blog know that the place that my wife and I live now is an older apartment on a boiler system, with pipes that regularly fail, leaving the complex without water for hours. The complex was built in 1983, so it’s seen better days.

While the condition of our current apartment is enough to warrant moving at the end of our current lease, the real impetus is to get me in-district for Austin Community College to drop the price of a three credit hour course from over a thousand dollars to below three hundred.

On Saturday we looked at one apartment and fell in love with it, so much so that we asked for an application on the spot and dropped it and the deposit off yesterday. Late yesterday afternoon we received word that we were approved for the unit, but that a move-in date would be dependent on when the apartment would be ready. Today we got that confirmed, and we’ll be picking up the keys on Friday, January 26.

But here’s the really cool part of this. The new complex was built in 2008, and is currently undergoing renovations. The unit that we’re getting is not currently renovated, but will be so before the move-in, making us the first occupants of the newly renovated unit.

The new place is on the first floor, a very welcome change from the second floor apartment we’re currently in. My wife has chronic back pain and the stairs have been aggravating that for years. There are at least a couple of handicapped spots right by the walkway our front door is in, in case she needs it after a rough day.

The complex is extremely nice. It’s a gated community, and there’s a 24-hour fitness center, a gorgeous pool, a rec center with TVs and a pool table and even a Starbucks-branded coffee bar, a cyber cafe, a dog park, and a gift wrap station. It’s nestled in a quiet community that’s close to everything – the closest H-E-B (that’s the local grocery store chain here in central Texas, and it’s hands down the best store we’ve ever had) is within walking distance and doesn’t require even getting on a main road, and there’s a medical center right beside that. If I could get in there after I get my degree, it would be amazing to be that close to work. The apartment is less than five minutes away from the ACC campus my degree program is taught at.

We knew we were going to have to downsize when we started looking, so the move from a two bedroom, two bath unit to a one bedroom, one bath was expected. That’s pretty much the downside to the place. There are hardwood floors everywhere but the bedroom, a washer and dryer included in a laundry room large enough to hold both the washer and dryer and our small chest freezer, a garden tub, a security system, ceiling fans in the living room and dining room, a sizable patio with additional storage off of that, a good size coat closet, a nicely sized walk-in closet off the bedroom, and built-in shelves between the bedroom and bathroom, plus valet garbage service. And then there’s the kitchen.

The renovated kitchen will have all-new granite counter-tops, an all-new tile back-splash, all-new stainless steel appliances (including a full-size refrigerator, a built-in microwave, a glass-top stove for easy cleaning, and a fantastic dishwasher) a pretty big pantry, and a new sink with garbage disposal and fixtures including a retractable hose. It is the largest kitchen I have ever seen outside of a single-family home.

We’re also taking advantage of a move-in special that cuts our application costs somewhat and shaves our first three full months of rent in half. So really, the only two downsides that I can think of are that we’re moving to a 1/1, and that the kitchen sink isn’t double-sided. That’s it. Everything else in the place is a plus.

We got so lucky with this place.

We’re already trying to determine what’s going where, and what we need to get for the new place, and starting to think about what needs to go to our off-site storage facility.

There is one more downside that I can think of, but it would be a downside regardless of where we moved to – this move is taking place the second weekend of the spring semester. My ability to help with the move is entirely dependent on what my course load is going to be like at that time. That can’t be helped, though, so we’re going to have to be extra nice to the folks that come help us with the move.

We’re both so excited about this move, and I’ll keep you posted on how things are going.

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#584 – Aforementioned Administrative Post

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This one’s going to be short and sweet. As of tomorrow, writing in my blog is no longer in my daily checklist, so I won’t be writing tomorrow unless something noteworthy pops up. I will write in those instances, and I’ll check in about twice a week or so.

Tomorrow will be the first day in nearly ten months I’ll have skipped writing in my blog. It’s going to feel weird, I’m sure.

See you guys in a few days.

#582 – A Decision Has Been Made

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I’ve been wrestling with this for some time now, and I’ve hinted at it once or twice in the past, but I think the time is right to actually make a few changes in things around here.

I haven’t mentioned my checklist system in quite some time beyond a passing mention here and there, and so for those that are reading my blog for the first time or have just joined recently, let me take a moment to explain. Three years ago, when I was in the middle of a serious bout of agoraphobia while on disability, I was diagnosed with diabetes and my lifestyle changed. I needed some way of tracking my vitals – I have high blood pressure as well, and check it three times daily – as well as whether I’d taken a dose of medication, whether I’d eaten, whether I’d gotten some exercise. I added a few other things to give my day some small semblance of structure and started logging these daily activities in a graph paper notebook. In addition, I started using a lined notebook – the two are a matched set – to record a master to-do list of all the things that I need to do during the day but that aren’t otherwise accounted for in the checklist. Keeping up with everything became a real challenge, and for over two years it was a rare thing for me to complete every check mark for a day. Starting in mid-January this year, however, I started putting together long strings of what I call full marks days. Right now I’m on a string that’s over six months long. My condition has improved, to the point that I’m out of the house more days than I spend all day at home, and with that I’ve added some new activities, the biggest of which is a return to school to get my degree.

Being a student has been a bit of a logistical challenge to complete the day’s check marks. There are often times that things are pushed off until the last possible minute, and I’m honestly not sure how much longer I can keep the checklists up in their current configuration, especially since next semester will be 14 credit hours as opposed to the six that I’m carrying this semester. I’m just not going to have time to do everything that I wanted to do, so I’ve reached a decision that will effect this blog.

Starting Sunday, I’m only going to post sporadically, maybe twice a week, so the check mark item for writing will be going away. Reading, too, will be cut. (Reading has been defined up to this point as a section in a self-help book a day, so I’m not eliminating reading for pleasure here – just the self-improvement aspect of my daily reading. Besides, getting my degree is plenty of self-improvement for right now.) I’m also going to remove the line item for socialization. That was established at a time when I was avoiding people altogether in person and mostly online as well. Now, though, I’m social every day as a function of being a student, and I don’t need to make that such a priority anymore.

I’m keeping my learning on the checklist, however, despite my formal education taking over my life for the next few years. Elevate is a nice brain game that I enjoy doing and Duolingo will continue to give me rudimentary language skills, something that will translate well to the job market once I’m done with school. Exercise needs to stay because that’s important for my health. All the other things on there will be staying as well – they’re all vital to my health and as such can’t be eliminated.

It will be a little bit of a change, and the first major change I’ll have made to that list in almost a year, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. As far as where you’ll see a difference, I will likely have longer posts detailing more of my life, but those posts will be fewer in number, and they won’t be every day anymore.

#581 – From One Extreme to the Other

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On Monday I wrote about being late for class because of construction along my usual route, and about how I was planning on leaving a little earlier than usual tonight to make up for it. Well, it’s been a cold, rainy day here in Austin and so I bumped up my departure time a few more minutes because of the weather.

Class starts at 6:00. I pulled into my parking space at straight up 5:00.

Somewhere in there is a sweet spot for me to arrive early enough to catch my breath from the walk before class, without waiting for the better part of an hour to do so. I aim to find it soon.

Classes went well today. I learned quite a bit in both classes, and the rest of my day was pretty good also.

#580 – In Which Our Hero Goofs Off

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Well, not completely.

This morning was dedicated to getting tomorrow night’s biology homework done, and then the early afternoon was spent in the dentist’s office, waiting to drive my wife home after a procedure (and a Valium). THEN I goofed off. But I’ve been doing some hardcore goofing off, let me tell you. Computer games. Naps. Snacks. The only thing that was missing was a pillow fort.

Right now, though, it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open, so I’m going to wrap up here. More tomorrow, I hope.

#579 – May You Live In Interesting Times

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And boy, was today interesting.

Algebra class went off without a hitch, although it was a close thing – I used the last sheet of notebook paper I had taking my final notes, so once class was over I had to go buy another pack. While I was at Office Depot I perused laptops for school and got some fairly good information on a few. And then I headed home.

The afternoon passed fairly quickly and I went to go pick my wife up from work. We came home, ate a dinner that we’d cooked yesterday, and then I headed off to biology, giving myself my usual hour to get there and get settled before class. I always arrive 15-20 minutes early to avoid being rushed.

And that’s when things started going off the rails.

I take back roads to get to campus, rather than chance getting caught in interstate traffic and being late. If there’s traffic – and there always is – it’s usually pretty consistent. Not today. Today started a construction project on my usual route, and for over a mile five lanes were reduced to two, one in each direction. The backup was horrendous, but despite this I managed to get to campus and park pretty much as class was starting, so if I missed anything it wouldn’t be much.

Come to find out, when I walked into the classroom my instructor was sharing the last touches of a recipe for some Italian dish he’d made over the weekend, and I didn’t miss a thing.

So class went as class usually does, and as I was pulling out of the parking lot I noticed a familiar and unwelcome sensation – my blood sugar was crashing, and I didn’t have a thing with me to counter it. I called my wife to tell her I was stopping to get something in my system, and she stayed on the phone with me as I picked up something to immediately counter the crash and something else to smooth things out in the longer-term. I stayed in the parking lot and ate and waited until I felt the crash subside then drove home, talking with my wife the whole way.

Once home, we queued up our newest movie purchase – Wonder Woman – and enjoyed an impromptu movie night to close out the day.

All in all, not a bad day, just full of little things to make life interesting. Sometimes those are the best days.