A weird thought

I had a weird thought the other night. There are a couple of programming tasks on my massive “to do” list that I figured I’d power through in the first few months of retirement before I started spending hours and hours alternating between training in my kayak and touring on bikes with my wife.

Well, life doesn’t always work out the way you intended and none of my todo items has been checked off because the pain that last year made it uncomfortable to sit for too long, and which was just on the “barely tolerable” end of things by the end of a normal length kayak race has now progressed to absolutely intolerable for even short stints at a desk chair or kayak. I’ve spent about 15 minutes total all winter in my erg, and haven’t even put my kayaks in the water. Normally by this time of the year I’d have 30 or 40 hours on the erg and about the same on the water. And I limit my sitting at my desk chair to short periods to deal with bills and paying taxes and the like. Even the library easy chairs are uncomfortable verging on painful these days.

But back to my weird thought. I have a new iPad. I can’t afford a new laptop. So I was thinking that for those programming tasks, what I might try is to install “code-server”, which is a hosted version of Visual Studio Code, on my linux server. This gives you the full power of a pretty extensive IDE available through an iPads web browser. I could try coding up one of those projects using that, maybe using the git integration to push the app to a free heroku instance for testing and debugging. I wonder if that’s doable?

Well, in order to find out, first I’d have to install code-server and make it available through my web server. Oh, what’s this, it appears you need to use nginx as your web server rather than Apache to do that. Well, no problem, I’ve been intending to make that switch to make it easier to use LetsEncrypt to put everything behind https like I should have years ago. Oh wait, one of my sites uses Perl fastcgi. Looks like there’s some extra hoops you have to jump through to configure that. And also convert all my .htacess files into clauses in the nginx configuration files.

Sigh, this is going to be a full in yak shaving exercise, isn’t it? I just wish the pain killers I take to be able to sleep at night didn’t leave me dizzy and disoriented all day, or that they actually killed the pain instead of just knocking me out.

Ending on a high note

Today I went into my place of work, and picked up all the stuff I’d left in and around my desk. Then I spent a few hours making sure none of my non-work info was left on my laptop, especially my password manager and iCloud account. Left my keyfob on my desk. Then I took my laptop to FedEx Office and sent it back to our head office in Connecticut. And that is it. Forty years of work as a professional computer programmer is over.

I counted it up a few months ago when I was writing my resignation letter, and I make it somewhere between 20 and 22 different jobs depending how you count it. That includes 1 month contracts and two 6 year long permanent jobs and everything in between. It doesn’t include two occasions where I was unemployed for several months in a row. Sometimes it sucked, sometimes it was great, but I’m never sorry that I chose this path.

Early on in the history of this blog, I started a series of “bad job experiences” posts. I stopped that after one of the people I’d mentioned in a post found the blog and disputed some of the things I said about it. I realized these posts might show up when I’m looking for work and potential employers Google my name and that might be harming me. I’d much rather they found my 100,000 plus Stackoverflow points or even my pathetic GitHub profile than that.

Weirdly, even though I had fodder for that series even at the best jobs I had, I am hard pressed to find anything like that to write about my last job. I started at Skillsoft on 5 January 2020. By late March, we very quickly transitioned to working from home. Skillsoft management were great – one of the first things they did was immediately give us a day off to recover from the “stress” of the change. I’d had 7 years of previous experience with working from home and I thrive in that environment, but I took the day off, of course. They then put two weeks of “special leave” in our online time manager that we could take for COVID related emergencies, like providing support for sick family members or needing time to arrange things for your children. I think our sick leave was officially “use as much as you need, but we’ll probably need a doctors note if it drags on too long”.

I loved just about everything at this job. It was fast paced without being frenetic, you weren’t pressured to meet unreasonable deadlines, the tech stack was good, the other developers very approachable. Pat, the team leader was always willing to get on a slack call and walk you through any problems you had. Usually I tried to call my team mate Daquanne rather than Pat because Pat had so many other calls on his time and Daquanne was great at explaining things. I kind of hated sprint demo day, I did at my previous Agile jobs as well, but I got through them ok. And when we were in the office, Michelle would make cookies on demo day.

Other than the stress of demo day, the only nit I could pick was my co-worker Uyen who wore a lot of perfume. I’m over sensitive to perfume, and it would frequently make me sneeze even when she was at her desk and I was at mine. I bought a little USB powered fan to try to blow air towards her desk, and I guess it worked but I only had it for a week when we went to full work from home. Anybody need a cheap fan? She also had an accent which made it hard to understand her over Teams, so I didn’t go to her for help unless it was something where she was the subject matter expert, like our Fastly configuration.

We had a small team, and everybody got to work on front end and back end as per our own inclinations. Everybody had their areas of comfort but they also didn’t seem to mind if you picked up a story in their area or suggested a different approach in a code review. I can honestly say this was the best team I’ve ever been on – I’ve worked with other very smart very good programmers, but every other team had a person or two who you just hoped they’d go away and stop dragging down the rest of you. I’m hoping that doesn’t mean I was the drag.

I’ve been looking forward to retiring for a long time. I’m not going to stop programming – I’ve got a couple of projects I want to work on, and maybe I’ll do some bug fixing for open source projects. It sounds like log4j could use some help?

But also, I’ve been looking forward to having more time for paddling and biking. With more time to train, I was hoping I could try to do the Adirondak Canoe Classic. Unfortunately I’ve been having massive problems with pain in my hips and butt. This summer, I actually had to stop paddling during races to lift my butt out of the seat a few times to relieve the pain. And that pain has gotten worse over the last few months. I can’t paddle, or even sit in a car or a desk chair for more than 45 minutes without being in intense pain. In our recent trip to BC, there were several times I thought I was going to scream I was in so much pain. If I can’t find a solution for the pain, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

That’s also going to impact my other major goal of retirement – traveling with Vicki. Again, I’m not looking forward to long car rides. Flying business class seems acceptable, especially those amazing pods we got on the flight home from BC. And let’s not even think about what the new COVID variant might mean to our booked Viking cruise.

So I guess task # 1 of the new year will be pounding the desk at my doctor until I get a solution to my pain problems or medication to manage them.

Cautiously optimistic on the pain front

This morning, the intense pain I had in the left hip is almost completely gone. I can sort of feel it lurking at the edge, but it’s not actually causing me any pain. The other, more familiar pain in the right hip has been fading slowly over the last two days and I think it will be away (on vacation) quite soon.

In much, much better news, my shoulder is doing better. A little while ago I blogged about how hopeless I felt because when I did my physio exercises, I’d be in pain for 3 or 4 days afterwards, which meant I wasn’t doing them often enough. A day or two later I saw my doctor and he did something where he had me lying down on my back and he reached under me and pushed his fingers into the base of my trapezius muscle and pushed down on my shoulder. That very day, I did my physio exercises and wasn’t in pain the next day. So I erged a bit that day, and I wasn’t sore the next day. So I did my physio, etc. After my business trip (where I didn’t do my physio or my erging, although I did try to stretch), the pain was starting to come back a bit, so my physiotherapist suggested that I just lie down on the floor with a tennis ball under my back, and relax and let my shoulder come back down to the floor. I’ve been doing that (although with a dog toy rather than a tennis ball, because that’s what I have to hand), and it helps a lot, although not as completely as what my doctor did. It might be time to start seeing a massage therapist again. But meanwhile, I’m erging!

There’s pain, and then there is pain

As well as the knee pain, which is and has been pretty much a constant feature (although with intensity that waxes and wanes) in my life since the late 1970s, I get this strange hip pain. The hip pain, which feels like it’s emanating from the “point” of my hip, comes around every now and then, and stays for a week or two, and then it goes away. It means that during that time, I can’t get comfortable sitting anywhere and I end up moving from chair to chair to bed to chair trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable. Other than that, it doesn’t really interfere with my life. It came back a week or so ago on my right hip, but it’s hardly noticeable because of the new pain in my life.

We got a lot of snow over Christmas, and the city wasn’t very good about clearing the sidewalks. And unlike in Ottawa, the sidewalk plows don’t spread sand or salt. Consequently, the sidewalks ended up being thick with ice, except in the few stretches where the home owner was diligent about clearing their own sidewalk. Consequently, I got very sore groin muscles from walking the dogs on the slippery ice. (For those who’ve never experienced it, when you walk on ice you need to keep your weight entirely over your front foot and you walk with a sort-of penguin-like shuffle. You also need to use muscles you don’t use as much in regular walking to keep your legs from splaying out and falling on your ass.) And after that started to fade, I got a horrible pain deep inside my left hip. You know how you put a knife blade in the joint to get a turkey leg off the carcass? Yeah, that’s what it feels like is going on inside there. Sometimes it’s just sore, sometimes it’s very stabby, and sometimes it takes my breath away it’s so painful. It’s very inconvenient when I’m walking the dogs, and it comes on really bad and I find myself wishing I could just stop in the middle of walking the dogs and call Vicki to pick me up. I’ve tried various stretches that sometimes help with the other hip pain, but they don’t seem to be helping this one.

So right now I’ve got the pain in my right hip that I used to consider bad, and the pain in my left hip that’s 10 times worse. And I’ve still got dogs to walk and erging to do and all that stuff.

No good news on the medical front

I had a talk with my shoulder surgeon yesterday. He said my MRI didn’t show any “smoking gun”. There was a little damage where the acromium meets the collar bone. There is also evidence of bone bruising, but I’m not sure how that could have happened or how it could be causing a problem that started 3 months ago. He said that might be the problem, or there might even be referred pain from the neck. He basically said that we need to try a few things to help diagnose the problem, so he injected some cortisone into the AC joint. A few hours later, when the numbing agent wore off, I was treated to some of the worst pain of my life.

I slept on a chair last night because I knew that if I slept on a bed, I’d roll onto that side and make it even worse. It’s still pretty bad this morning, but I’m trying to keep it propped on my chair arm and not move it much. I’m back to using my old Bamboo trackpad instead of a mouse because I use that with my other hand, but it registers things as clicks when I don’t mean to click and doesn’t register when I do want to click, so I don’t like it much.

Anyway, if this cortisone shot is anything like the one I got last summer, I’m hoping to start feeling some relief tomorrow or the next day.

Meanwhile I spent half the night wondering what I’m going to do for fun when I can’t paddle any more.