Wednesday, March 17, 2010

28 Healthy Months... But Why? [FB NOTE]

NOTE: This blog was previously published as a [Facebook Note] at but has been absorbed into Jesse's main blog for archival purposes.

So... I won the "Super Iron Person Award" yesterday at AccuWeather (among many other employees). You get this award when you don't take any time off work. This is my second year, and my question is why? For the rest of my career there (1997-2008) I took 1-3 weeks off per year with usually 2-3 major cold/flu events, typically culminating in an ear or sinus infection.

What have I been doing since November 2007 that has kept me healthy? Well, first, I'm not the picture of health, but what I'm talking about here are debilitating sicknesses that cause me to be out of work. I still feel that I get a light "cold" for a few days every couple of months but it's never bad enough to have to stay home from work. And I'm plagued with food and non-food allergies, but that's another story that hasn't changed much since I moved to Pennsylvania.

I'm not sure, though I have several theories. My leading hypothesis is that I've been using hand sanitizer frequently (perhaps obsessively) since then. I've always been a bit of a germaphobe and my daughter got me a bottle of Germ-X for Christmas 2007 as a gag gift. I took it to work with me and preceded the widely-available-at-work-and-everywhere-else-hand-sanitizer-because-of-swine-flu craze by two years.

My runner-up theory is getting more sleep, especially when I feel something coming on. For the past two years I've been very careful to let myself get (nearly) as much sleep as my body appears to need, which is 9-10 (relatively) uninterrupted hours per night. If I feel bad I simply delay coming into work, or work at home, whereas in the past I might have dragged myself into work. My schedule changed in the mid-2000s to require me to not get up as early, and my wife cured her snoring when she was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea in early 2008. Again, these dates don't exactly line up, but I've began to think that you can almost sleep *anything* off.

Another theory is getting the appropriate dosage of herbs & vitamins. I have always been on 1000% Vitamin C fairly consistently, but long before 2007. For years I was on Echinacea, thinking it was keeping me healthier, and on Aloe Vera thinking it would help digestive problems. I might have quit them around that time but I'm pretty sure it was later in 2008. I also added 500% Vitamin D, but that was last year. I've been on Zyrtec-D since the early 2000s though I quit the "D" during the middle of 2008. None of these seem to add up to the period that I've been healthy but perhaps I finally hit the correct dosage.

Sure, I've been exercising more since then, but not consistently, and I haven't lost much weight. Besides, that really started when we moved into our house in 2006. I've also been eating better and drinking less soda and more water, but I can't really say for sure that started in late 2007. In fact I'd think it's a lack of allergen when moving to our new house but again that was mid-2006.

I haven't flown anywhere, which helps -- I came down with the flu both times I flew for AccuWeather in 2004 and 2007, but there have been many years when I have avoided traveling. I've also ruled out changes in my workplace, which don't match up with the dates I've been healthy.

All in all, I really am not sure but it's clear something magical has happened and I'll tell you what, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. Whatever it is, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for another year without a major sickness, and hoping that I didn't jinx it by posting this :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It Took the Netherlands To Fix My Father-In-Law's Computer [FB NOTE]

NOTE: This blog was previously published as a [Facebook Note] at but has been absorbed into Jesse's main blog for archival purposes.

So my father-in-law's computer contracted a virus/malware and I drove up to his house to eradicate it last week. This is something I have done many times before for several friends & family members. McAfee couldn't find it but Comcast was forcing its customers to switch to Norton anyway so I installed that and it said it had fixed the problem. This week I get a call from him saying that his Google Searches are hijacked, something I had never heard of before but when I saw it last night, I certainly believed it. When you searched for something on Google, the list came up, but no matter what you searched for, it sent you to a spam site. Since McAfee & Norton didn't do the job, I installed SpywareTerminator which has worked miracles that the "big two" couldn't solve for me in the past, but it couldn't find it either. I tried deleting all cookies, as one site suggested, but that didn't work (keeping in mind here that, since Google was disabled, even researching this was a pain). My fifth idea was to run a risky fix from Russia recommended on a discussion board, but I was desperate. After a little research to make sure the company was legit, I ran the batch file, but it came up empty as well. My sixth and final idea before reinstalling Windows (something malware has driven me to do before) was to try a new Anti-spyware program recommended on the same forum page as the Russian fix, called "HitManPro" It is made in the Netherlands, and is a cloud computing program (meaning the analysis is done remotely which is more efficient than running it on your machine). By golly, the sixth time was a charm. HitmanPro found and deleted the malware. It never ceases to amaze me how so many major anti-spyware/virus programs can fail to find some problems. I guess the moral of this story is, if one program doesn't fix it, try another, until you're frustrated enough to reinstall Windows. Here's hoping that there's nothing else on his machine.