A Rockstar Rests
In 2017 I was in the middle of a major life transition. I accepted a dream job at Microsoft and was contemplating a cross-country move from Woodstock, Georgia to the Redmond, Washington area. I was new to the company and to the role and had a lot of learning to do. It was during those early days that I met my coworker, Abel, who had been at Microsoft for a few years. He offered to help me navigate my new role and those first interactions launched our friendship.
When I moved to the Seattle area, Abel offered to be a guide and show me around the downtown area. We were both ecstatic to find out we would get to work on a Channel 9 "On .NET series" together called DevOps for .NET Developers. We had a great time recording the show. The first episodes were done on campus after brainstorming in the cafeteria. By the end of the series we filmed remotely due to COVID, I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease and Abel was diagnosed with colon cancer.
My good friend passed away last week. Here's a mini-tribute to the good times we had together.
Abel was called the rock star because he played guitar and literally rocked stages with audiences in the thousands. A rock star rests.
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After my last update, I called my movement disorder specialist and, as predicted, he increased my ropinirole dose. If you haven't seen ropinirole, it is a very tiny pill. My new dose is 6mg, and the pills are 4mg. Doreen and I did quite a bit of experimentation and shopping around for pill cutters. The first one was very uneven and sometimes broke the pill into multiple pieces, so I was feeling side effects from inconsistent dosing. Doreen eventually found the Equadose pill splitter. It works great and gives me nice, even pill halves.
I had the typical side effects that happen when I increase my dose: stomach pain, nausea, dizziness. They lasted a few days, but now I feel much better. Although I still tremor frequently throughout the day, my foot cramping has almost completely gone away and the stiffness in my hand is much better. I'm typing at a comfortable rate again! I'll see my specialist for a follow-up in person on Monday so I'm sure I'll have more updates then.
I volunteered to manage the newsletter publication for an "Employee Resource Group" (ERG) at Microsoft focused on employees with disabilities. I'm now on the leadership team for the group and look forward to the impact we can deliver in the coming year. I was also invited to join the board for a new non-profit focused on providing support for people diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's disease. My role is to provide technology advise and oversight. I accepted the chair and look forward to sharing more details as the group is established and the board is finalized.
Pepper is growing fast and maturing at 6 months of age. She's been hard at work in her prerequisite training to become a service dog. Here she is learning the "touch" command.
She recently went through her spay surgery. She picked up an infection but a trip to the vet and a few days of meds later and she's doing great! She just started her first swim lessons and became a confident swimmer by the end of her first session. We also picked up a little pool for her at the house. She loves bursting bubbles!
She's not the only pepper around. My pepper garden is doing great. Here's a jalafuego I harvested a few weeks ago:
This is my habanero yield.
I made my first batch of homemade hot sauce and it was great!
Finding a Fortune
I was walking with Doreen about a week ago and mentioned how frustrated I was that I haven't been hiking as much as I'd like. I would love to do an overnight hike again! The next day a good friend of mine, Dan, texted to see if I wanted to do an overnight hike. Ask, and ye shall receive! I said, "of course."
The only challenge was that my old hiking boots had no tread and were practically held together by a single stitch. Just days from the hike, I ordered a set of new boots based on reviews: the Keen Targhee II. It was the first time I've ordered hiking boots rather than trying them on in the store. When I received them, I wore them in place of my regular shoes. It was a gamble, but it worked out. Despite them being brand new, and despite the fact I haven't hiked or even jogged much at all the past several months, the boots worked great for the entire hike. In fact, I always used to get blisters and have toe problems. This was the first long hike that my feet are in great shape afterwards. My gamble paid off and I give the Keen boots ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars out of 5.
The hike was about 17 miles round trip with a total elevation gain of over 4,500 feet. The destination? A beautiful lake named Pear Lake.
We weren't happy with the campsites at the lake, so we backtracked over a ridge and set up camp next to Fortune Pond instead.
I was hopeful I would get to see some serious stars so far away from any source of light pollution. As twilight descended, a few clouds began to creep in.
By the time true darkness descended, it was completely overcast. We woke up to rain and mist.
Tip: when I hike with a companion, I bring extra medication in a zip lock and ask them to carry it as backup.
The rain actually cooled things off a bit and settled down the bugs, so overall it was a great and pleasant hike!
I'm really enjoying my astrophotography hobby. I have been taking advantage of clear nights to capture deep sky objects like this one: a strange bubble of glowing gas over seven light years in diameter!
The picture is NGC7635: The Bubble Nebula. I decided to create a site dedicated to my astrophotography: Deep Sky Workflows. I recently took a look back at six months of taking pictures and made this collage of my favorite nebulae. These are all captured from my back yard.
Do you recognize and can you name any of the nebulae? I also had a few of my favorites printed on metal and finally got them hung.
I'm looking forward to more cloudless nights!