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Thank you!

After a spectacular end to 2013, I crashed in January, and spent several months in a terrible funk.  There were several telltale signs that you could see if you were paying close attention, but the truth is I did my best to hide it.  One of the parts of my life that suffered the effects though was my blog.  The World According to Mitch went from nearly twenty posts per month to nearly none.  There were days that I felt I was letting everyone down, but that was the least of my problems.

Thanks to several things I have started to come back to life since July.  I am now back at work full-time, I am living on my own, and I am teaching Taekwondo (as well as preparing to test for my next Belt Test).  And yes, I am blogging again.

Throughout the first couple of months of they year the blog coasted by on fairly new-ish content from the last months of 2013, and the numbers were pretty good.  However from March through June there was a steady decline in the number of visitors, and I couldn’t do anything about it.  I just was not up to it mentally.

As I picked myself up off the floor emotionally, I forced myself to start blogging again.  And you came back.  From a low in June of 12,930 hits (the first time since February of 2013 that it dropped below 13,000), October – with two days to go – is already the best month since January… and with those two days left to the month we are on pace for the second best month ever.

I want to thank you, my loyal readers, for sticking with me.  It has been a crappy year but things are getting better… and the world (as well as The World According to Mitch) is not feeling as dark and lonely as it did a few short months ago.  Thank you all for your support!

Who wears the pants…

I would not be surprised if nearly every person out there who has struggled with their weight does not have several sets of clothes – ranging from the stuff that fits when they are at their heaviest to the stuff that fits when they were their lightest.  I am no different.

Earlier this year when Theresa and I separated I moved into the guest room of our house, and I only took the ‘current’ set of clothes.  When in September I moved into my condo I took all of my clothes, and for the first time really I separated the pants into three batches – Size 42, 44, and 46-48.

I was glad that the upper batch no longer fits – they are up in the closet in an area that I hope will gather dust until I am eventually so far beyond that range as to be able to donate them to charity.  Right next to them (separated somewhat) I placed the Size 42 pants.  I had recently worn a pair for a day, and when I bent in a particular way I heard that telltale rip that reminded me that I was NOT there yet.  The Size 44 pants hung in the closet easily accessible.

A couple of weeks ago I was very happy that I was able to wear a pair of blue jeans.  I have not worn jeans regularly for years, and never bought them in the higher sizes.  Getting them on was a tight squeeze, but they made it through a couple of days wear.  I was very pleased, and after laundry day that pair was removed from the Size 42 shelf and hang with the rest of my pants.

Yesterday morning, after I was already dressed and ready to go, I realized that I did not have a hanger for my dobok (Taekwondo uniform).  For the doboks I prefer the good wooden hangers that I purchased, rather than the wire hangers I get from the dry cleaners, or the plastic hangers from wherever.  There was a pair of green pants hanging on such a wooden hanger in the wrong place – they are a Size 42, and should have been up on the shelf.  I removed the pants from the hanger and put them aside… depending on what the scale would say I might try them… just to see.

This morning the scale reading was indeed favourable.  While I was not quite down below the milestone I wrote about last week, it was still down from any reading since.  I looked at the Size 42 Dockers, and decided to give them a go… and they fit :)  To say I was thrilled would be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was nice to see that my efforts have been paying real dividends.

There is a commercial on the radio that says that losing weight is simple – just eat less – but it is not easy.  I think that is crap.  Maybe if you have to lose five or ten pounds it is easy, but when you are trying to go from obese to a healthy weight it is certainly not simple.  To add to all of the complexities of it, wearing pants properly is a complication that most slim people don’t think about.  I’ll give you an example:

While businessmen may have several, normal people who do not dress up every day will likely only have one or maybe two suits.  On Friday I was delivering the keynote address at an event, so I wore a suit.  I bought the suit last summer at a big and tall store in Minnesota, and it fit me perfectly at the time.  Like every other pair of pants I wear, I secure the belt tightly and low around my waist.  Friday was no different.  After my event I came home and as I stood in the bedroom I undid the belt.  With absolutely no prompting from me, the pants dropped to the floor.  Of course I had realized all day that the jacket was fitting looser than it once had, but were it not for the heroic efforts of the leather belt I would have walked around pantsless all day.

These are all good things of course… unless you have to buy a new wardrobe because you don’t have anything that fits anymore.  I am glad that I am not there yet – I still have my last set of Size 42s to go before I am there – but I will be… and several times over the next few months I hope, until I settle in at a weight that I can be happy with – and maintain.

The struggle continues… but for the time being, it is nice to be on the winning side.

Madame Mayor

I have lived in three ‘primary’ metropolitan areas in my life… Montreal, Tel-Aviv, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).  Looking at the three main cities, none has had (of late) a stellar record of urban leadership.  Montreal has been plagued with corruption, and Toronto… well, on this civic election day let’s not harp on the record of outgoing Mayor Ford.

And yet, when you go West (within the GTA) things are markedly different.  I have had a very positive relationship with Oakville’s Mayor Rob Burton (who I hope will be re-elected today).  However it is the mayor of Mississauga who is probably the most impressive.  Mayor Hazel McCallion was elected in 1978, and has been re-elected every four years since… for those of you doing the math, that makes it thirty-six years straight.  To put that in the perspective of my life, I started primary school the year she was elected.

The fact that she has been mayor for that long would be impressive under any conditions… but then if you take into account that she was fifty-eight years old when she was first elected, some simple math will let you understand just part of what makes her so impressive… at ninety-four years old she maintains a full schedule, is completely on the ball, and she has more influence in Mississauga than anyone I can think of.

In February I participated in the store opening of the Microsoft Store in Square One, what I understand to be the largest shopping mall in Ontario.  She was there and helped to cut the ribbon, and she was sharp as a tack.  I shared a few words with her, and was very impressed by my first encounter with this woman I had heard so much about.  Because of some of the personal issues that I was having I was not entirely on the ball, and it was only later that I realized I had missed the opportunity to have my picture taken with her.

A few months ago, Mayor McCallion announced that she would not be running for re-election… not at all surprising considering her age, but a shock for Mississauga, many of whose residents have never known another mayor in their lifetime.  I realized that ‘Okay, I had my chance and I missed it.  Oh well.’

And then it happened… I got a call from the owner of NetSoft Communications, a technical training centre in Mississauga.

‘Mitch, I would like to invite you to speak at our Grand-Reopening Event.  We have expanded our location, doubled in size, and we are holding an event to introduce the new facilities to our students and potential students, and to hand out awards for our best and brightest.  The Mayor of Mississauga will be there as our honourary guest, and we would like you to speak about the future of virtualization.

I was excited for several reasons.  Firstly it was an honour to be invited at all, let alone to deliver the keynote address.  But to be on the same stage as Mayor McCallion for the second time… and the chance to remedy that oversight from earlier in the year… I just could not pass up the opportunity.

Mitch & MayorMadame Mayor is still sharp as a tack, and I had the opportunity to sit and speak with her candidly before the event.  I asked her ‘Madame Mayor, you have been the Mayor of Mississauga since I was a little kid, and for more than a third of your lifetime… how does it feel knowing that on Monday the people of Mississauga will be choosing your replacement, and that you will effectively be unemployed next month?’

She laughed of course, and told me that she would not really be unemployed, and that she will still be working hard, looking out for the people of Mississauga.

When she took the microphone she talked about how what Canada and Ontario and Mississauga needs to compete in the global market to attract industry is not lower corporate taxes, it is trained talent, which is why schools like Netsoft are so important.

As a trainer I have always agreed that training and certifications are important to IT Pros.  As a systems administrator I feel strongly about this because when I look to hire people I look for people who have the certifications, but behind that I look to the people who have the best training, because I know that there are some trainers who read slides and do little else.  It is a pleasure to know that there are companies like Netsoft that vet their trainers properly and make sure they are not just ‘phoning it in.’  They hire trainers who know the subject matter, and are more engaged.

I want to wish Mayor McCallion the best in the next stage of her life – she refuses to call it retirement.  I wish her luck in her future endeavours, and good luck to the next Mayor of Mississauga whom I refuse to call her replacement because nobody can replace her… they can just step in and do what they can to try to keep up.

Milestones

This morning I stepped onto the scale and got an unexpected surprise… I was, for the first time (since I started losing weight last August) under a certain multiple of ten (I am still not telling you what I weigh, so you can try to guess but you will be wrong).  It was a very nice feeling, but I also knew it was likely to be a short-lived euphoria, as tomorrow morning I will likely be above that number again.

Don’t get me wrong… I am not planning on binging today – that is not what I do. ‘Hey I am under a certain weight so I can inhale a large bucket of Buffalo wings! :) …’ That is not the way I do it.  Yes I do binge, but not based on things like that.  I just know that weight loss – especially when you weigh yourself every morning – is not going to be a consistent linear drop.  As you can see, even when there is a downward trend, there are days when it goes up… when it does so two days in a row it sucks but over the course of the week if you are down then you are doing something right.

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I have decided that at each ten pound milestone I am going to introduce something new into my regimen. This morning I introduced morning exercises (something we should all do). I am sure you know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic (strength) exercises, and if you don’t then you will have to wait for a future article for me to explain the differences.  I decided that every morning I would be doing a few minutes of anaerobic exercises – I have a set of dumbbells which I will use, but I will also do push-ups and sit-ups. 

A few years ago (around the time when I bought the nearly pristine and unused dumbbells) I bought a yoga mat.  No, I am not going to be doing any yoga… I bought it to do stretches at home.  When I moved out of the house I took these, in the hope that I would start using them.

By the way please remember, if it sounds like I just discovered the need to exercise, that I teach Taekwondo five days per week, and yes I do work out, I just don’t do it in the morning.  I am also not going to be changing that I work out in the evenings – that is when Taekwondo is.  However I said that at the milestones I will be introducing something new, not changing something.  So in addition to the TKD, I will do my dumbbell curls, push-ups, and sit-ups in the morning as well.

I also do not know if I will be adding something drastic every time… I will be trying to work up my levels.  At this weight I am doing a minimum of ten push-ups, twenty sit-ups, and three sets of dumbbell curls.  At the next milestone I might double the push-ups… who knows.  I might even add a morning jog, if I can figure out the timing.  We’ll see. 

In the meantime this morning is a bit of a high… partly because of the new low, and partly because exercise just feels good – even if we have to force ourselves to start.

Dropbox: The saga continues

Dropbox was not hacked.  At least, that is according to them.  And in truth it wasn’t… at least, not in the strict definition of the word hacked.  With that being said, it was compromised.  It could in fact be that another service was hacked, but the hackers then cross-referenced those passwords to Dropbox and found hundreds (if not thousands) of them worked.

The bottom line is you have to change your passwords – all of them – often.  I don’t have a recommendation of how often, but more often than twice a year for sure.  Also here’s a good rule: if you join a site and they e-mail your password to you, assume that the password you used is not secure.  If you enter a password on a site they should be able to send you a link to reset it, but they should not actually know what it is.

For more information, see the following article from my archives: http://garvis.ca/2012/11/21/pass-the-word/

Are you embarrassed?

Originally posted on The World According to Mitch:

We have all done things that we are ashamed of, embarrassed by, or simply regret.  If anyone tells me that they have not then I will say they are probably lying.  The thing is, the world has changed over the past few years, and there are two factors that we all have to be concerned by:

  • Everyone has a camera (and video camera) in their pocket; and
  • The Internet is forever.

When I say we have all done things that are embarrassing I do not mean simply tripping over an untied shoelace while all eyes are on you.  That sort of thing happens to everyone.  As my friend Bill Sparks used to say ‘just say ‘Tadaah!’ as if that was what you meant to do.  I am talking about the sort of thing that ten years down the road can come back to bite you.

Over the last twenty years…

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