A place to indulge my narcissism... and write stuff...

Author: fifteenkey (Page 2 of 93)

Thoughts During a Pandemic

This may be the best I look for quite some time.

What if the plant-based “meat” I’ve been cooking with lately is actually Soylent Green?

Mass shootings should go down.

I may look like “The Dude” when this is over. I already have the sweater.

Just thinking about going to the grocery store is terrifying.  My daughter is shopping for me and I’m ordering some stuff online

Sorry, Tom. I don’t give a shit.

Most everyone is over the “I don’t want my video camera” on during this [insert online meeting platform here] call.  It seems seeing other human faces was a little underrated.

If my experience is typical, corporate online communities are having their 15 minutes, though the days are considerably longer.  In fact, the value of “Community” is painfully being realized.

My left knee is aching. I think I overdid it on the elliptical. I’m taking a break until it improves. I’m actually ahead of schedule on the 61-pound weight loss goal for 2020. As of this morning, I’m down 16.4lbs, but have a long way to go. I still have ample moobs.  Yeah, gross.

Kyle is ellipticaling and this week he’s done 6:27, 7:34 and today 9:21! I’m proud of my son and I think he’s feeling pretty good about himself. Tomorrow we’ll shoot for 10!

If you’re not meditating yet, give it a shot. We’ve got a ways to go.

Down in the Hole

Or holed up in the house. We’re all there. Well, hopefully most of us are so we can stop the spread of COVID-19. With all this time on our hands and darkness surrounding us, there’s never been a better time to start a meditation practice.

I did my usual workout yesterday, but it was hard. Mentally. It’s a slippery slope we’re all on right now and the Coronavirus is just one of the worries. Each of us, no matter what our mask may show to the public, walks around with a very fragile psyche behind it. Right now we need to protect not just our bodies from a deadly contagion, but our minds from despair.

Arthritic hips and knees don’t appreciate it, but my exercise routine begins with stretching and yoga. The pigeon pose days are over, but the cat pose and some gentle rocking of the hips loosens things a bit before 30 minutes or so on the elliptical machine. Exercise is critical right now for body and mind. I’m even pushing my son, Kyle to get in a daily spin. The first day he couldn’t make 4 minutes. Sunday he managed 5. Today we’ll add 60 seconds more. He gets pretty bad allergies, so the lungs need expanding. Yours do too. Take a walk. Get some fresh air.

As I lay face down on the Gaiam mat, my mind began to drift toward blackness. We all are well aware of the monochrome thoughts invading our minds right now, so it’s pointless to share mine. Here’s the thing. I quickly caught myself and shifted focus to my breath, just like meditation practice teaches. I stayed on the breath. The darkness dissipated, and I carried on. I’ll be relying on that learned skill for the next few… Well, however long it takes.

Years ago, before I meditated, I’d fall helplessly down in the hole. My resulting demeanor would adversely affect everyone around me. Now, just like in a movie, I’m able to reach out and grab an elusive vine to catch me from falling. (Note, it doesn’t have to be a vine. It could be like when Luke Skywalker falls down the hole in The Empire Strikes Back, but saves himself by grabbing what looks like an antenna…) You get the idea.

Just breathe. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Stay focused. Dark thought? Fuck that. Go back to your breath. What’s going to happen with this virus? Get the fuck out of here. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. OK. Now I feel better and need to get some work done.


More on meditation with links to great resources that got me started:

The Pursuit of Happiness

Thankfully Behind the Waterfall

COVID Operations

Man. What a shitshow, except shit isn’t really a COVID-19 issue, so why the run on the tissue?  I’m trying to find the silver lining in an otherwise terrifying time, and all I’ve got for you is:

My hands are cleaner than ever.

I also won’t have to commute for a while. I thought I’d really enjoy the full-time work from home gig, but I miss the peeps. If you’re in a new work-from-home status, it’s important to reach out to your teams and colleagues, and use video if possible to increase the human connection. That goes for non-work connections, too. Life is hard enough without adding social isolation to the mix. My buddies Dave and Jeff and I have a three-way (hey, get your mind out of the gutter) text message thing (well, we always do) to help keep us sane. Don’t forget to use Facetime for iPhone or Duo for Android (and Duo for iPhone) to do video-calling.  My 17-month-old grandson and I stay connected that way, usually while he’s in the tub.

Other than that, it’s a very scary time. One person whose hands aren’t clean is Donald Trump. Who knew that a nepotism presidency led by a reality-show cretin and his inept sycophants in the White House and Congress could exacerbate a global pandemic, but they’ve managed to. Yep, little dirty hands Donnie inherited $400M from his daddy, proceeded to go bankrupt 6 times, and now has his son-in-law making life and death public health decisions after he gutted the CDC team responsible for managing pandemics in 2018:

Is it hyperbole to suggest this inept administration will bring down the entire country with their criminal unpreparedness for and management malfeasance with the COVID-19 outbreak? The ignorance and lies promoted by Trumpers and right-wing media may kill millions. I mean, the Donald was downplaying the COVID-19 threat from the beginning, ignored early warnings and has misled the public leading to the unnecessary additional spread of the disease. And he’s not the only one. This was today:

It’s beyond ignorance and incompetence. It’s a fraudulent misleading of the public by the POTUS and his sycophant supporters for political gain that will result in the deaths of countless Americans. As for Trump himself, there’s no Trumanesque accountability coming from that coward.

“I don’t take responsibility at all.”
– Trump. March 13, 2020.

I wonder if Mitch and the Senate Republicans are rethinking their impeachment vote.  Sadly, as one of my Twitter connections responded, “While there’s still money to be made? Doubt it.” Speaking of money to be made, the COVID-19 bill currently awaiting a Senate vote (Mitch McConnell took a long weekend), exempts large companies (500+ employees and up) from providing sick-leave to their employees. Finally, this…

What a disgrace.



Yesterday was peak freak for me with the COVID-19 “Coronavirus.” My daughter told me she was sick but said my 18 y/o granddaughter would take her pre-teen cousins to meet us at our local Friday night pizza place for dinner. Here’s what my mind did:

  • Megan somehow got COVID-19 (even though there’s no evidence it’s in our local area).
  • She infected the girls.
  • They’ll infect me.
  • I’ll die and will never be able to watch “The Big Lebowski” again.

I canceled Friday Night Family Dinner, breaking a streak of many, many weeks.

WTF? Why?

Well, I consume a lot of information and am only a few years away from needing my 401K, so the news over the past 2 weeks has been, uh, unsettling. Plus, I read there was a run on Oat Milk.

Saturday morning I read, The Real Danger of the Coronavirus in Medium. I recommend it. It encourages us to take precautions, but live our lives, noting “the power of fear is a far greater threat than any virus.” It goes on to make what in my mind is the key point, “For the media, whose life-blood is a dramatic story with minute-by-minute developments, the coronavirus is a gift.”

My near constant news feed gave me Coronaparanoia. Of course, to magnify the news itself is the sheer incompetence of Donald Trump and the sycophants surrounding him in the Executive Branch, and the medias gleeful reporting of Trump’s conflicting messages and mismanagement of the crisis.

Yesterday morning, after placing a COVID-19 statement in the header of the online community I’m responsible for, I went out and did normal Saturday errands. Overall, I observed traffic to be a bit lighter than usual, but at some local retailers, the disinfectant wipes seemed to throb with attention grabbing neon as I walked in the door. It is nice some stores offer those wipes at their entrances and I used one every time. In an attempt to battle my Coronaparanoia, last night we went out to dinner.

COVID-19 is dangerous, no doubt and I think it’s going to get much worse before it gets better. If I were older, had a compromised immune system, or was in otherwise poor health, I might be more ultra-cautious. I may still get there depending on the progress (or lack of) managing this outbreak but living in fear is a self-imposed limitation on living.

Now I must wash my hands.

“And it’s too late…”

“…to lose the weight

you used to need

to throw around.”

“Dogs” – David Gilmour / Roger Waters

It’s weigh-in day and I missed my goal by 0.8 of a pound, but it’s OK…

  • Good habits are becoming well, habits.
  • Frequency of exercise is increasing.
  • Eating mostly vegan is not at all unpleasant.
  • My jeans are beginning to fit like those of a Norge Repairman.

I’m determined.

So now sweet 16’s turned 31

Sometimes I come in there and have no idea what’s going to come out. Then the voice in my head speaks. It goes something like this:

Voice: “Megan turned 31 yesterday.”

Voice: “Hey, didn’t you start this blog on her birthday?”

Me: (Looks through the archive and discovers Sweet 16.)

Voice: “Isn’t there some song lyric that goes…”

Me: (Searches song with lyric turned 31)

And here we are. I did start this blog on Megan’s birthday in 2005. Fifteen years of Fifteenkey has produced 905 posts, though things have slowed since 2012-13 with not one post authored in 2014. I wonder what the fuck was going on then? Oh. Dr. Joe. Panic Attacks. Celexa. Yeah, good times.

Anyway, since then I discovered meditation and happiness. The practice has trained my mind to stop unproductive trains of thought as they try to tunnel down into darkness.  Actually, that shit never happens anymore. Huh. I guess a millimeter of improvement over a few years adds up.

Which brings me to my current muse, the weight-loss thing. Tomorrow is a weigh-in day and I’m hoping to be on my schedule of 5 pounds a month. It’s going to be close, and the superhero-sized piece of birthday cake I had last night won’t help. The good news is that the weight-loss is taking stress off of my arthritic hips so today’s workout was the first back-to-back workout days in years and I feel… (I just got up to walk around a bit) pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, good!  Maybe I’ll go for the trifecta tomorrow. The weigh-in will happen regardless.

Oh, and the birthday girl got engaged last night! Yep. You know that one line in the Bob Seger song that goes, “You better get yourself a partner?” Well, she did and he’s a wonderful human. Congratulations, my girl!

Cooley Off Period

I’m in one right now after a 2.62-mile spin on the elliptical. I’m making progress. That follows a 2.96-mile jaunt on Friday.  We’ll see how my hip responds.

Since I’m just cooling off, all I have are some random thoughts.

  • Why does everything have to be a “hack?” Diet hacks. Sex hacks (ouch). HR hacks. Productivity hacks… Enough of the laziness. Use your words. There are lots of them. Besides, many people aren’t as cool as you and don’t understand the connotation you’re attempting. They could think it’s going after their passwords and avoid your content altogether.
  • Bernie. The dude has now won Iowa, NH and yesterday Nevada – convincingly. Still, there’s palpable hate for the Democratic Socialist and no more apparent than on Twitter. What a shitshow that place is. Anyway, I think the Democratic “Establishment” and the mainstream media that supports it is beginning to realize the Bern could likely be the Democratic nominee, and if they want to defeat Cheeto Jesus they’re going to have to get behind his movement. The hatred between supporters of Sanders and supporters of the other Democrats concerns me. Bernie’s going to need all Democrats to beat the Orange Menace. Poking Democrats who don’t support him right now in the eye isn’t helpful.  In this Primary cycle, I’ve donated to both Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, but I’ll vote for whatever Democrat ends up winning the nomination. Still, I think Bernie v. Trump presents the starkest choice for voters and will show who we are.
  • Yeah, I’ll vote Blue no matter who, but what a smug dick Mike Bloomberg is. Mayor Pete isn’t far behind.
  • I’d like to ask President Obama, “if you knew your presidency would unleash the kind of hate that would result in the election of Donald Trump, would you have run in the first place?”
  • I don’t think the Houston Astros and the players who participated in the cheating have been punished nearly enough. And yeah, if it’s proven the Red Sox cheated in a similar way, they should be severely punished. I’m no Pete Rose fan, but he received a lifetime ban for betting on his own team.  This scandal is worse imo.
  • Oh, here’s another diet hack tip. When dining out for dinner, eat 1/2 your meal and bag the rest for a lunch. Trust me. You’ll be quite satiated and the lunch will be awesome and free.

I’m contemplating a 4-hour round-trip to see the Drive-By Truckers in Portland, ME on this school night. I’m feeling the need for thrashing guitars. They’d probably play this new Mike Cooley song, too.

Pie In The Sky

So yeah, losing sixty pounds in a year may have seemed a bit pie in the sky when I planted that flag to begin 2020, but I’m ahead of schedule and seven weeks in I’ve established some new habits that will help me keep lowering the bar.  This week was more stressful than most, yet I resisted stress-eating in all but one situation, and I paid for it.  On Thursday after a 2PM meeting to hear about the Kronos merger with Ultimate software, I walked by a table on our 12th floor “Oasis” covered with food left over from lunch in a nearby conference room.  Now there have been numerous times this year that I’ve walked by a similarly arranged table and kept on walking. Not on this day. I glided in and scanned the offerings… Rolls. Cookies. Some chocolate thingies. All of them would have been instantly inhaled by old me. This time I opted for a half a rollup with veggies and hummus. Yeah, I thought. “That’s a good boy.” While it looked like the best option, to keep on walking would have been much better as it turns out. You see the food probably arrived at 11:30 and it was now approaching 3:30 – that’s 4 hours. I contemplated that a bit during several trips to the bathroom between 9:30 and 10:30 Wednesday night. Sorry to dump that on you. Yeah. It could have been worse.

Anyway, the habits and other things working toward weight loss…

  • Portions – Just make them a little smaller and prioritize greens
  • Seconds – Sometimes they’re tempting so just take a bite or two, not another plate or two
  • Meat – For health and  animal compassion reasons, I’m greatly reducing it in my diet
  • Dairy – Same thing – Have I mentioned how awesome Oat Milk is? I use it in coffee and in oatmeal (worked in quiche, too). I did some research on non-dairy milk options and for a number of environmental, humanitarian and animal compassion reasons, Oat got my vote.  And it tastes great! Hemp milk was gross. Hump your hemp some other way. My favorite is Oatly Barista Edition followed closely by Califia Barista Blend.  It’s a little pricy, but it’s better for the planet, better for cows, and better for the near slave laborers harvesting coconuts. Last Sunday I was at Pie in the Sky Bakery and Cafe in Woods Hole where I ordered a latte. The guy taking my order asked, “what kind of milk do you want?” “What do you have?” “Whole, skim, almond, coconut, soy, uh… Oat.” “Yes, Oat!” I think Beth may have done a slight eye-roll, but it was the best latte I’ve ever had.
  • Sugar – The oat milk has allowed me to eliminate added sugar from my coffee. Doing a little math,  that should save me between 36,400 and 43,680 calories in a year – that’s equivalent to 10.4 to 12.5 pounds.
  • Oatmeal – A wonder food. Sure, it seems boring especially when you’re out for breakfast when it competes against eggs, toast, home fries, hollandaise sauce, and yeah, bacon, but add some raisins and walnuts and one tablespoon of maple syrup… I’ve been doing a single serving (1/4 cup dry) of the steel-cut stuff and it’s very satisfying. My grandson, Luca loves it, too.
  • Quiche – We’ve had one per week for a few weeks now. Yeah, eggs. I do buy the free-range “certified humane” eggs from a local farm, The Country Hen, but it’s not lost on me that I’m eating the unborn…

I mean, I just don’t think I can go “full Vegan,” but I’m trying to do better. My Auntie San put it best when she said, “Yeah, I can be a Vegan as long as I can have a cheeseburger once in a while.” Exactly. Thinking about it, I wonder how far can we possibly take it and still survive? What about “the food chain?” Does a lion consider animal compassion when it pounces on an antelope and rips its neck open for dinner? To take it even further, how do we know plants don’t suffer when we rip them out of the ground to make a Caesar Salad? There are some who believe all matter in the universe has some degree of consciousness. One day as I was contemplating this concept of panpsychism while weeding in my yard, I was momentarily horrified at the feel of tearing roots from the ground and ending the life of a weed. Yeah, I might have been high…

To make a long story short, the elevator continues its slow but steady descent and my aching hips are feeling a bit better.





Oh Boy Story

Yesterday Kyle and I were driving to get “Boys Regulars” when the subject of “Toy Story” came up. Fast forward to what blew me away – the film was released in 1995. Since it’s Sunday morning, some of you may not be doing math in your head right now, so…

2020 – 1995 = 25

It looks like “Interactive Woody” rises on command, too.

Twenty-five years? Where did they go? Oh, and Toy Story 3? You know, the one that made you cry when it looked like Buzz, Jessie, Slinky Dog, Rex, Hamm, the Potato Heads, and Woody were going to end the trilogy in an incinerator? Well, if you didn’t, you should have cried. Anyway, that one came out in 2010 and you’re on your own on the math. And speaking of Woody, Beth told me that earlier in her career, the company she worked for had some kind of a promotion with a toy called “Interactive Woody.” Let’s just say that had fun with that one.

What else happened in 1995?

  • 168 people were killed at a Federal building in Oklahoma City, including 8 Federal Marshals and 19 children. The act of domestic terrorism was led by an angry white guy, Timothy McVeigh. He considered government officials “fascist tyrants” and “storm troopers” and proclaimed, “ATF, all you tyrannical people will swing in the wind one day for your treasonous actions against the Constitution of the United States. Remember the Nuremberg War Trials.”
  • OJ Simpson, who was obviously guilty was found innocent.

The more things change…

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