Posts in the “personal” category

My gallstones diet advice: how to live with gallstones

Note: I originally wrote this article in the summer of 2010. I survived on this diet for a long time, but eventually gave up my gallbladder to a surgeon.

My gallstones diet advice: Ugh, my health has destroyed my productivity lately. Due to a mysterious stomach ailment, I’ve had a lot of “stomach” pain, visited the ER several times, met a lot of doctors, had many tests, and lost thirty pounds in less than seven weeks.

Opening my physical eyes during a dream

Back in the day I had a concussion, and for a year or two afterwards I was able to open my physical eyes while I was asleep. Sometimes I could just do that intentionally — I would plan to do it — and other times it happened by accident, as in the case shown in this image.

Sage Hotel, Santa Fe: Bed bug report

As a brief note today, the Sage Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico had bed bugs when I stayed there in late 2023. The photos below show the bed bugs that I discovered on the bed at 1:15 a.m. one morning, and the resulting invoice/receipt from the Sage Hotel (formerly named Sage Inn Hotel).

2024 Update #1: I wrote the Sage Hotel in 2024 about my experience, and how disappointed I was — both with the hotel having bed bugs and with their service — and never received any sort of reply.

2024 Update #2: Also, I talked to someone who checked me into another hotel, and they said (a) they’ve never had bed bugs, and (b) if they ever did, they would give customers a full refund. (The Sage Hotel would not give me a full refund.)

Sage Hotel bed bug images

This first photo is from the bed bug I killed. I woke up, saw something moving in the bed, pressed it with my finger, it popped, and left this blood stain:

A Christmas Story

[From time to time I write little stories that have nothing to do with programming or technology; this is one of those stories. So, if you’re only here for the technology stuff, you’ll want to skip this one.]

I’m standing in the kitchen of a friend’s house at a Christmas party, making myself a drink while talking to a friend named Angie. This was nothing unusual; she and I were always talking about something. We became friends during our last year in high school, and we’ve been talking ever since.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that I have feelings for her, but I guess you could say that I didn’t appreciate her back then. After high school, my ambition took me away to college, and then to a series of jobs in different states. By the time I decided to move back home, she was married and had two young children.

While we talked all the time, this kitchen conversation was unusual. I don’t remember how it started, but Angie did ask me about something I rarely talk about: my parents getting divorced in high school.

If I have died, please call ...

I’m not sure how many people can understand this, but once you’ve been through nine syncope events (and dozens of other pre-syncope events), and four cardiac events (“fake heart attacks”, also known as allergic angina), and a five-month heart infection (pericarditis), you just accept that death is going to happen, and it’s not in your control. So, personally, I just try to be grateful, and hopefully help others along the way, because I know that my time here is limited.

Judgment Day

I don’t watch many movies or tv shows, at least not as many as most people. The reason I don’t is because I experience lucid dreams most night that Hollywood can’t compare to. I don’t know why I have these dreams, but I have had them since I was a young child, and that’s just the way things are. This story from May 2, 2022, is just one example.


There was a bomb in the building.

Somehow I knew that.

I remember walking into a government-style building that had a parking lot directly in front of it. If you walked into the front doors, went down the hallway to the right, and then took your first left, there was a device on the floor that looked like a boxy, 1970s-style tape recorder, but it was really a bomb.

So I began working with a friend to evacuate the building. He went one way, I went the other.

As I ran around the building, Lori — my friend who died last summer — ran up to me and said in a panic, “He knows everything about you. Everything! You have to run.” I looked at her and tried to make sense of how she was here and what she was saying, but she was terrified and screamed, “RUN!” Then she ran away in the direction I had just come from.

No thoughts in my mind, just peace

September, 2018: Before doctors figured out that I have a rare blood disease called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), I went unconscious nine times, typically vomiting while I was unconscious. The first three went like this:

  • During the first event I was stumbling around my apartment like I had been poisoned, splashing cold water on my face, and generally just trying not to die. Despite my efforts, I went unconscious. I only knew that because I threw up on the floor while I was out.
  • At the beginning of the second event I thought, “If I live through this one, I need to update my will.”
  • During the third event I thought, “Apparently I’m going to die soon. I just want other people to be happy, and if I live, I want to help them however I can.”

After that, for events #4 through #9, along with four subsequent cases of allergic angina — what I call “fake heart attacks” — I had no significant thoughts in my mind, just peace.

These days when something bad happens I recall those nine syncope events and four heart/cardiac events, and know that I could have died during any of them. When I think that way, all of today’s little problems seem insignificant.

I believe that collagen helps with diverticula/diverticulosis pain

As a brief note, I took a very long time — more than a year — before writing this blog post because I wanted to be sure about what I’ve experienced. But I believe it to be correct, so I’m now sharing it here.

Collagen and diverticula pain

In short, I believe that collagen products like these — which I have bought many times on Amazon, as shown below — help to significantly diverticula/diverticulosis pain:

And when I say significantly, I mean like an 80% reduction in diverticula/diverticulosis pain.

Mast cell activation disease vs histamine intolerance (differences)


October, 2016: I’m pretty new to learning that I probably have Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD) — also known as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) or just mast cell disease — and as I’m learning more about it, I’ve been wondering, “What is the difference between MCAS/MCAD and histamine intolerance?” In this article I’ll share what I’ve learned so far.

(Note: I take a little time to explain mast cell activation disease in this article. If you just want a quick overview, see the Summary section below.)

Peter Gabriel, discussing a moment of enlightenment that reminds me of the movie V for Vendetta

The following paragraphs are a quote from Peter Gabriel, discussing a moment of “enlightenment” that reminds me of the movie V for Vendetta:

I was doing some gigs in Germany with Frank Zappa ... we were supporting Frank Zappa. And his audience in Berlin were very much old hardcore hippies, and they thought I was just cheap shit, and the boos was just ... this rain of stuff being thrown on the stage. It was very humbling.

Next night we’re in another German city and I thought, “Oh shit, here we go”, and we go out there again, and a similar sort of reaction, they hate it. But it wasn’t just the music, it was me, personally, you know, they meant it.

And suddenly I had one of those moments and I thought, “That’s it, I’m no longer afraid.

You know the thing you’re most scared of when you get on stage is being rejected and booed off, and I suddenly realized I’d been booed off and I was still out there. They didn’t like it any more, but I was still doing it, and they couldn’t stop me.

And I just started giggling. And Tony Levin looked over like I’d gone crazy. But it was a fantastic moment of enlightenment.

Mousey Alexander - The Mouse Roars

One of my uncles was Mousey Alexander. I didn’t know him very well, only meeting him a few times that I can recall. The most I remember about him was (a) watching him play drums at a jazz club in Chicago one time when I was young, and also (b) spending a little time with him on a vacation in New York. (In particular I remember going fishing with him and my dad in New York. We caught something like 40 small fish in an hour or two. Every time we dropped a line in the water we caught a fish in a matter of moments.) I also remembered that he called a lot of people “cat” or a “cool cat.”

I was told that he played on the Johnny Carson show and also played at The White House. I think he’s most well known for playing with Benny Goodman and Clark Terry. If you’re interested you can read more about him at that Wikipedia link, and thanks to YouTube you can also find some of his performances there as well, including this Doc Severinsen “Airmail Special.”

Sanctify Yourself

January, 2017: I was laying in bed last night, waiting to fall asleep, and the power went out. As I laid there thinking about how cold it would get, a gray telephone we had many years ago began ringing in the closet. I wondered what it was doing in there.

Instantly the scenery changed and I flashed back to an event I didn’t know about twelve years ago. As I observed it, it made me sad.

Then I kept going back in time, first to one event and then another.

The meaning of one woman’s tattoo

Many years ago I was traveling and stopped at a donut shop in a small town. A young woman was working behind the counter, and I noticed that she had a tattoo of words on her left arm, but the words were upside down to me.

There was nobody else there at the time, so I said something like, “May I ask about your tattoo? It looks interesting.” I’m always fascinated by tattoos, because I assume they’re an expression of a person’s personality.

She moved her arm around so I could see the words, and explained that she gets nervous and panics a bit at times, like when the store gets busy. So at the store she’ll take someone’s order, then turn around like she’s getting the donuts, but look at her arm and read the words to herself as a way to calm down (like reminding oneself of a mantra).

I always thought that was smart, and I think of it myself when my own life gets hectic.

“Rare disease makes woman allergic to everything, including her husband”

In honor of Rare Disease Day (February 28th), here’s  a story about a woman who has a more severe form of the illness/disease I have. A few quotes:

“Johanna Watkins, 30, is allergic to almost everything and everyone, including her husband Scott, 29. She’s been diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome, a rare and progressive immunological condition.”

“She has a list of 15 foods she can eat and that’s it. Even those foods make her feel ill, it’s just that they don’t kill her. She’s eaten the same two meals for two years.”

Update: In 2016 Johanna wrote this article, What I’ve learned being isolated and allergic to everything.

(The image is from the story.)

An old white building I have one memory of

Back in the days of my youth, the town I lived in used to hold Little League tryouts in the first floor of this old white building. In one of the exercises, one of the coaches — my dad — used to hit ground balls to us. All of us wannabe players would stand in a single-file line near the front door and front windows, with the line wrapping along the windows on the right side. My dad would stand at the back of the building with a bat and hit these rubber-coated baseballs at us. We had to field them and then throw them to another coach who stood at the back of the building.