Friday, June 27, 2008

Normal Looking Nails

As I described previously, I had been in the habit of biting my nails and have been having success at preventing any further biting. While I will still occasionally absentmindedly put my finger in or near my mouth. I am conscious of it, however, and if I notice I am repeatedly doing it, I will find a squishy-ball or something else I can hold or do with my hands.

I have actually been successful enough at this that I have had to trim my nails. At least, I felt like I needed to trim them: after years of biting nails too short, it is hard to tell what is the right length; it also feels weird when areas that are used to being exposed to air are suddenly covered.

If anyone else if having a hard time with this, the steps I found that made the biggest difference follow:
  1. Actively pursue not biting your nails. In the past, whenever I had thought about biting my nails, I always hoped that I could stop. This time, however, I actively kept it in my mind and really analyzed when and why I was doing it.
  2. Keep your hands busy. For me, I was often biting my nails when I had nothing for my hands to do. By finding a squishy-ball to play with, or just something to actively think about keeping in both hands, was often enough to make it to inconvenient or noticeable to myself when I would come close to biting again.
  3. Moisturize cuticles and nails frequently. As a guy, I frequently ignore all of that moisturizing stuff. Unless my hands are really cracked and suffering, I am unlikely to use hand cream. However, many times I found that a reason I was picking or biting at my nails and cuticles was not because I was nervous or bored, but because the skin was dry and was being irritated. Coating the entire nail area helped correct dry skin and made it less likely for me to chew on myself.
  4. Maintain nails. While looking for something to do with my hands, I would occasionally grab my swiss army knife and use the filing appendage to clean and shape the nails. This helped additionally because without the rough edges or dirty nails, there was no legitimate reason to bite at them.
  5. Don't do it by yourself. When I decided to stop biting my nails, I knew an easy way to do it was with accountability. So, I posted here about it, but I also told all my friends that they should tell me to stop biting my nails if they saw me doing it. Since I didn't want to have them constantly annoying me, I had additional incentive to catch and prevent the behavior myself.
It is hard to say if I am completely successful and done with the process of breaking this bad habit. While I am doing well right now, what is to say that when I am truly tested I won't resort to gnawing at my fingertips? I guess continued, careful monitoring will be the only way to tell. Once I have fully grown my cuticles again, I will consider it a success.

Monday, June 23, 2008

One Hundred Pushups

In my ongoing pursuit of self-improvement, I stumbled upon a website, onehundredpushups. The concept is that by following the simple program laid out on the site, after six weeks you should be able to do 100 uninterrupted push ups. Since I have been trying to do push ups in the morning when I wake up, anyways, I figured that this would be a fun way to motivate me to actually continue doing it every morning.

Today, I did the initial test, which is to do as many push ups as you can. I got to 31. I think I might have been able to get a couple more if I pushed myself, but I would like to start the program Monday morning and didn't want to deplete my energy reserves too much. At any rate, it puts me at Level 4.

Monday morning, I am going to begin Week 1. I'll report my progress later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bad Habits Die Hard

Several weeks ago, I decided that enough was enough: it was time to stop biting and picking my fingernails. I knew it was unlikely that I'd be able to do it cold turkey, so I did a bit of research online to see what others were saying about stopping the bad fingernail biting habit.

Most of what I found seemed to suggest putting foul tasting stuff on the fingernails, but I didn't want to have awful tasting food. The one really good tip, however, was to put moisturizer on the areas around the nails. Since that was the area that I bit the most frequently, it helps not having dry, itchy, pick-able skin.

The other thing I am trying, which I didn't really see suggested anywhere, is to find something else to do with your hands. When I find that I am putting my fingers near my mouth, I grab a squishy-ball and play with that absentmindedly instead of absentmindedly biting at my fingernails.

Also, being aware of when I am most likely to bite at my nails helped me devise good strategies to prevent it. For me, TV/movie watching tends to be a key time, so I try to keep things in my hands instead. Also, when I am nervous or thoughtful about something. Just being aware of it helps as well. Since I already carry a Swiss Army USB drive (with a file, scissors and knife included), I let my hands play with cleaning and filing the nails.

As I mentioned, it has been several weeks since I've started and I am doing very well. Now, my nails might be getting long enough to actually warrant trimming. At the very least, they are long enough to tap annoyingly on my desk. However, now that they are this long, resisting the temptation to put them in my mouth has become much harder. My fingertips feel a little funny and I definitely notice the nails. So, instead of biting them, I am keeping them busy typing this.

Seems like the urge has passed, so mission accomplished.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Running from the Barber

I am not a big fan of getting my hair cut. For whatever reason, the idea of having to pay money to have someone else play with my hair and likely butcher it just doesn't appeal to me. So, normally I let it grow to an unsightly length before I finally, begrudgingly get it dealt with.

This time, however, inspiration struck. Since we are trying to find ways to save money, anyways, what could be a better idea than cutting your own hair?

We ordered the Wahl 79524-500 Chrome Pro 24-Piece Complete Haircut Kit on Friday and it arrived on Monday.

Of course, Kendra was smart enough to want no part in my adventures with hair. So, I was on my own. I started by showering and combing my hair, followed by picture taking:

Look at that long hair! Look how unhappy it was making me! Notice, I'm not smiling.

Then, to make a long story short, I went crazy with the shaver, using the longest comb attachment. I grabbed hair and tried to snip it with scissors, using the mirror: this was much, much harder than I anticipated. When my hair became dry, I'd re-wet it in the sink. Periodically, I'd comb it to see what needed to yet be dealt with.

Finally, I was done:

Look! It is short now! And, it must be good, because I am soooooOOoo happy in that picture. It looks a little flat on one side in the picture, but when combed looks fine.

Kendra said it looked good. But, can you really trust someone you are living with? Would she really tell me if my head looked like poo? No, the only way to really test this would be at work the next day.

So, today, I went to work and didn't mention to anyone that I had cut my hair. No comments. Well, the occasional, normal comment, which is what I was looking for. It passed! I cut my own hair and got away with it!

And, after one more cut, I'll break even when compared to the cost of going to get it cut. Yay!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Avoiding the Rain

Last Friday, before I left work, there was a tornado warning. While it was uneventful where we were, the rain was coming down very hard. I always bring two umbrellas with me, both of which I had conveniently left in my car. It was around five, and I couldn't afford to wait it out, since we had to pick up a weekend guest at the airport.

Since I needed to leave and yet it was still raining hard, I came up with a plan. It was a brilliant, complicated, well-though-out plan; I decided that I would quickly bolt the short distance between my workplace and my car.

It worked effectively enough: my shirt was barely wet when I got to my car. The only minor oversight I had made was the large volumes of water that had become a lake in the parking lot. So severe were the puddles that I didn't even notice that it wasn't just the parking lot itself. While the run was short, my pants were soaked after the first step into that mess.

Later that weekend, on Sunday afternoon, there was another tornado warning. This time, I was at home already, with Katy and her visiting Gram. So, while I was able to avoid getting wet due to the rain, the storm caused a power outage that lasted until Monday.

I went out and bought ice as soon as I called the power company and learned that it wasn't scheduled to be repaired prior to Wednesday (they were wrong). When Kendra returned home, we transported our frozen goods to various freezers distributed across the city.

First, we stopped at my workplace and filled the freezer there. Fortunately, all the ice cream had been purchased and had not yet been replaced, so there was plenty of space.

Next, we ran to the church where Kendra volunteers and were able to find space for a couple items in one of their extra fridges.

We found a home for the rest of the stuff at a friend's who still had power and was kind enough to share their freezer space with us.

So, last weekend started with me getting all wet and ended with a rushed transportation of food. While it could be thought of as annoying or irritating, it didn't really bug me. I was amused by my saturating oversight and the lack of power and finding a temporary home for our food was a mini adventure of sorts.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Mind Mapping Game

I've been reading Lifehacker a lot since I've discovered it through Google Reader. I've installed Ubuntu on as a boot option on my desktop and as the primary operating system on my laptop because it was discussed there. I've switched to using Gmail as my primary email account and eventually ported my old address to Google Apps. I've learned shortcuts for Gmail and Google Calendar, as well as different themes. I've learned how to crochet a plastic bag out of sliced grocery bags. And, I've encountered a category they call Getting Things Done, or GTD.

Getting Things Done is a book by David Allen. I am still in the process of reading it, but I've already started using Remember the Milk to capture the task items using the recommendations and setup of someone suggested by LifeHacker. One of the steps of GTD is to brainstorm to capture all the elements necessary to complete a project.

The suggested way to do this is via mind mapping. When I first heard about mind mapping, it was in high school and I was a snotty know-it-all who was above every concept I didn't already know, so I kind of brushed it off. Now that I am a bit more mature, I am giving it a try using a piece of software, FreeMind.

The reason I am making this post is to point out that mind mapping is a blast. The one random topic I picked is providing a lot of entertainment. Just getting the thoughts out of my head is a rewarding experience, and it is revealing a lot of the steps necessary to complete the project. I definitely recommend giving GTD a try, or at least experiment with mind mapping on your next project.