Life Experiences & Observations

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The Taste and Smell Saga Continues

So in August I ate something that triggered a strong smell and taste which I found very unpleasant. It was a strange occurrence at the time considering since January my taste and smell was almost completely absent. At the time I thought it was an anomaly. Since then, I started to smell that unpleasant odor in everything. Or at least everything that had a hint of that odor. It’s kind of hard to describe. So imagine you smelled a poop like smell. Then imagine only smelling poop even if the food item only had a hint of poop. It would be as if the poop was your entire smell and taste experience. It wasn’t actually poop but you get the gist.

So if the coffee you drink, for instance, has an array of scents but you can only smell the unpleasant one. It would be like drinking a wine with a rainbow of smells and tastes but only picking up one color of that rainbow. Or like a card catalog of smells of which there was only one card you could pull. If that card was not in the card catalog of the food you were eating than there would be no cards at all. Well this is what has been happening to me over the last 7 weeks. To be honest, it has almost been worse than tasting or smelling nothing. Items I loved in the past I no longer could consume because that unpleasant smell was the only smell I could pick up on.

Well all of a sudden… this evening… something changed. I ate a cookie and instead of just tasting sweet, it actually tasted like cookie. All of a sudden I started tasting and smelling a bunch of things. I was an anxious hungry goat. Then it dawned on me. The unpleasant smell I smelt before, started to dissipate this evening. The pieces of the nasal story puzzle were coming together. What if smelling this one unpleasant odor in things was part of the road to nasal nerve recovery. I mean think about it… What is smelling mild unpleasant smells in everything that has even a hint of that smell? It’s like your nose starting to recognize that smell in each food with a touch of it in the flavor profile. Could it really be that the last 7 weeks of smelling something bad in a bunch of things was actually the start of being able to taste and smell everything? I am still in the discovery stage of smelling and tasting but things seem promising. While some additional recovery will likely need to occur, something is definitely happening. I am starting to get excited to smell the world again but I am trying not to let my emotions get too far ahead of me. Going through this as long as I have, I still have to believe it will be a process rather than a single point in time.

I’m sorry if this blog is poorly written but my experience is not easy to describe. I did, however, want to at least capture it. Even if it was a disjointed capture.


Almost 3 Months with No Taste or Smell

On January 23rd of 2021 I was diagnosed with Covid-19. Before I continue I want to say my heart goes out to all the families who lost a friend or relative because of Covid-19. I am lucky to say that I survived with very mild symptoms. About a week after testing positive I lost my sense of taste and smell. While my wife and two kids also had Covid they never lost their senses like I did.

At first, losing my sense of taste and smell was a mild annoyance. I found a whole new understanding of the idea of eating solely to survive. But as the days and weeks started to accumulate eating with no taste became rather depressing. As I watched my family eat and savor food I was yearning inside to get back to life where eating was pleasurable. At times, I would make something or get ready to order something and and forget until it was in front of me that I wasn’t going to enjoy it. One example was ordering a glass of wine at a restaurant when my wife and I went out to dinner for our anniversary. I ordered the wine varietal the matched what I knew I liked best and looked forward to trying it. Then when it came, I went to smell the nose of the wine and nothing. I thought I was going to be able to enjoy it and then remembered that I would not be able to. I did drink it but we kind of laughed when we realized that choosing the cheapest wine on the menu would have been the most logical approach considering my condition. We have had other laughs at home about my smell challenges. Like no longer minding when my daughter makes tuna fish for dinner. Prior to my nose issues, the smell of tuna caused me to feel that slight taste of virtual vomit in the depths of my throat. But now, no problem whatsoever.

So here I type this on April 17th and I am still grappling with my loss of taste and smell. Every time I think it is starting to return I realize it really is not. I can sort of smell things if I get my nose really close and sniff deeply. I’m like a cocaine addict trying with all my might to sniff up the food aromas. I’ve come to the point where imagining taste and smell is the closest I get to actually tasting and smelling. When I eat chocolate I imagine what I know it smells like. When I drink a beer I imagine what it tastes like. My enjoyment while eating exclusively comes from tongue sensations. Sweet, sour, spicy, savory, etc. It’s these things that are almost heightened since my taste buds work but my olfactory nerve does not. And its not just this. Without getting too graphic I can feel there is something wrong with my nose. It feels permanently inflamed like somebody is continually blowing a hair dryer up my nostrils. It’s like a hot, barren, wide open desert inside there.

I don’t mean to complain as I know many people have been severely impacted by Covid from extreme sickness to death. But I excessively yearn for my taste and smell to return. I continue to do smell therapy and yes that’s a thing. I regularly smell foods at very close range and imagine what they smell like. From my research I have learned that this is supposed to accelerate the process of olfactory nerve repair. It’s like training your brain and nose to meet up again. To be those old friends reuniting and kindling once again that relationship. Sometimes I think it is working and other times I think its a lost cause. At times I kind of wish I had a weight problem as this would have been a wonderfully effective, medically induced solution. Instead I just do my best to enjoy what I can. Like the crunch of a chip or the melting feeling of ice cream on my tongue. Or the salty taste (well not actually taste) of an olive. I can tell when something is salty even though I guess technically I am not tasting the salt. It’s my tongue recognizing the saltiness.

So here I am, ticking the days off my calendar as I do my best to patiently wait for my taste and smell to return. Until then, I will just continue eating to survive.

The Poem I almost Didn’t Publish – Covid Thoughts and Other Societal Ills.

A Poem fart jumps out of my pen,
fumes putrid to some but butterly prints to others

A world scoured with pain as I rummage through the internet
hoping to capture a modicum of warm cozy news.

Poker in an electronic hand held box shields me from the worst of what society plans to tattoo on my brain.

Financial markets swing back and forth, one day impending doom, the next day a cataclysmic orgasm.

Every last member of society seems to be blind to the country’s fresh and new skin being born under society’s enormous nasty scab.

I’m protected by my own little dream bubble that somehow allows me to spend most days exactly as I want. Minus in-person interactions and excursions with various humanoids I adore.

My immediate family gets more of me physically but not as much mentally. I guess these are the inevitable chains of a philosophical brain volcano.

Thoughts continuously erupting, small embers of the past and fiery ideas of the future. The best and worst of emotions under control by the wonders of modern day pharmacology.

Oh how I long to get back on the meditation train, so I can revolve around on the circular track of the present moment.

Social Media is a Gift

I know what you must be thinking after reading my title. What the hell is wrong with this dude. I think he needs some serious psychiatric help. Hell… Twitter is a virtual cesspool, Facebook a Fake News manifesto, and Instagram is a political megaphone blaring louder than ACDC’s Thunderstruck.

Well here is my take. You are looking at the soil that is nurshing the poisonous weeds, and I am looking at the tall oak trees that provide oxygen to our world. When you get right down to it, perspective is everything.

So here is where the gift comes in. Follow along. How much do you know about your great grandmother? Do you know her name? Do you know where she spent most of her life? Do you know what she did on most days? Do you know where she liked to go on vacation? What about how she celebrated her 40th birthday. What about how she celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary? Did you know she once got a letter from Betty Crocker saying her recipe was going to be in published in their next cookbook? Yes, I just made that last one up to prove a point. I would guess that you know almost none of these items. If you are lucky, you may know one or two of them. I would love to have all these details about my great grandmother, but I unfortunately don’t.

Well guess what?!? If you embrace the gift of social media, and use it for what I believe is its intended purpose, your great grandchildren will have all these details and more about you. And that is the gift of social media. It can serve to document your personal history for your great grandchildren, and even their great grandchildren. Social media is a perma scrapbook, persistent in the cloud, for as long as you would like it to remain there. It can even play like a movie of your life if you decide to post vlogs on a platform like YouTube. Sure there are two sides to every coin and there are plenty of bad things about social media. And yes there are risks to putting everything out there for many to see. But that is smelly, negative dog piss, that I won’t talk about here.

This is your opportunity to utilize Social Media as the gift it can be. Something much more important, special, and wholesome than people portray it to be. It’s the infinite gift you can give to your future relatives.  The next time you are doing your daily scrolling through Facebook, with verbal needles being thrown in your eyes, and your blood starting to bubble by reading about your political enemies… keep things in perspective. Social Media can be a Gift or a Shit Bomb. It’s up to you decide which you wish it to be.

How Has It Been This Long

too longI see the date of my last blog post and can’t believe it. While this is not my only blog, this is the one where I can write whatever I want with no theme chaining me down to the screen.  But hey, I got a pretty good excuse. I chased down my dream and I have been living it out for the last two years. Sure it hasn’t been all warm blankets and teddy bears, but it sure ain’t the cubicle hell of corporate America. For many that safety is more comfortable but for me it was time to move on. Risk finally outweighed comfort and I took my shot.

I guess technically many cubicles have disappeared with Covid-19 and a large part of America now working from home. I won’t even get started with the all the pain that is happening in the world. Let’s just say I know it is out there, and definitely important, but the last thing we need is one more opinion splattered onto the internet walls. There is already a mess, way too large, of virtual graffiti.

I’m not going to type long but I just wanted to get this long lost rabbit out of it’s deep dark hat.  Hopefully I won’t just say more to come but there actually WILL be more to come. Does a blog post even exist if it is never read? Frankly, I just don’t give a damn. Here it is!


Sabbatical List

  • Start learning to play base guitar
  • Take a journey somewhere far
  • Practice french
  • Take some Yoga classes
  • Volunteer at a charity
  • Write some
  • Read a lot
  • Vlog
  • Watch my daughter become a Jewish Woman (Bat Mitzvah)
  • Spend quality time with friends & family
  • Play at least 100 hours of poker
  • Experience life without corporate responsibilities

Sabbatical Countdown

I am lucky enough to work for a company that gives their employees a month off paid every 5 years. Upcoming next month is my 4th sabbatical which means I have been with my company 20 years. I have some cool plans ahead but for now I am just in countdown mode. Like a space shuttle’s engines charging for launch I can’t help but be extremely excited about the upcoming lift off.

Since I currently work a 3 by 12 night shift and have a few vacation days this month, the number of work days remaining before for sabbatical is dwindling (in a good way) quickly. Just 12 work days, or I should say work nights, until sabbatical. Once it gets even closer, I will post a blog with a list of items I hope to embark on to make my time off exciting. That will help ensure I get a least a few of them done.

Yes, I Chose Sleep Over the Eclipse

eclipseAs you all know, there was tons of hype in regards to the eclipse that occurred on Monday. Yes, ideally I would have liked to have watched it live myself. But at the end of the day, I chose my eyelid eclipse over the actual eclipse. I also figured the video and pictures professionals would capture would be much better than my own. And I was spot on.

I think if I lived in the path of totality I might have been much more inclined to loose some sleep to watch it live. But not being in that path, not having glasses to truly look up and watch it, and not being enthused about the dullness of experiencing it through a pin hole camera… I chose sleep. Boy do I feel rested and my retinas are totally in tact.

My World Series of Poker Heartbreak!

Larry WSOPLast week I was in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker (WSOP).  I had my sights on a WSOP cash.  It’s something I have never done before and it’s first on my poker Bucket List.  My plan was to play and cash in Event #25, the $1,000 buy-in Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) event.  I won’t go deep into the intricacies of the game but it plays similar to Hold Em except you get 4 cards rather than 2, must but can only use 2 cards from your hand, and can only bet up to the amount in the pot.

I have played a lot of Hold Em over the last 15 years but over the last 3 years I have started to really enjoy learning and growing at PLO.  I have a very solid grasp of cash game strategy but this would only be my second PLO tournament I have ever played. Last year I played in the $565 buy in PLO WSOP event.

So last Tuesday was the day.  It’s always really exciting sitting down to start a new tournament with a full stack and a pristine uncracked dream.  Especially when its at the WSOP, one of the biggest stages in poker.

The event was exhilarating especially when I tripled up to 15k in chips somewhere around the 4th level of the tourney.  I ran it up even more to the point of having almost 40k in chips.  Then about 30 minutes before the dinner break, during level 6, the green felt sharks began to swirl.  Poker pros with obviously more PLO tournament experience than myself started to lean heavily with aggression on those who were trying to protect rather than grow their stacks.  See, in tournament poker, the forced bets called the blinds go up every round.  In this tournament, the rounds are 1 hour.  We were on level 6 when my game started to unravel.  After call/folding or raise/folding on about 4 hands in 30 minutes, my stack went from about 40k to 17k.  Luckily, the dinner break came along and threw me a life preserver.

At the dinner break, I did some soul searching and realized clearly what was happening.  I was playing too tight and trying too hard to protect my stack just to make the money.  I grabbed some food, headed up to my room, and spent the next hour watching PLO tournament instructional videos while getting some well needed stomach fuel.

After the dinner break it was on to level 7.  No more getting pushed around. I had made the decision that I was going to find my spot with good equity to double up.  I found that spot when my A-Q-10-5 hand with 2 diamonds flopped top pair with a flush draw.  To make the long story short, I bet, he raised, I pushed all in, he called, and I proceeded to lose the hand.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that I had 60% equity to win the hand and rather than continuing to let myself be pushed around I took a stand at the correct mathematical moment.  Unfortunately, cashing this tournament was not meant to be.

In tournament poker, if you get all your chips in with the the best chance of winning, that is all you can ask for.  Over the short run, luck may trip you up, but over the long haul good decisions with good equity will always prevail.

While I was certainly heartbroken that I didn’t cash the tourney, I felt proud of how I much I learned and how quickly I was able to adjust on the fly.  I feel like I grew enough to be much better prepared come next year.  While it’s very early, I can’t help but start counting down the days until next year’s World Series of Poker.  Until then, it’s time to fertilize my bankroll in the next 6 weeks leading up to the Arizona State Poker Championship tournament.  Deal me in!!

Variance is a Gut Punch

seven duece offMy passion is poker, a game in which the best player doesn’t always win.  There is a certain percentage of luck so in the short run any crappy player can win and any very good player can lose.  In the long run, however, the good players win and the bad players lose.  That doesn’t change the fact that every session is a boxing match and in some matches the variance is going to give you a gut punch and knock you out cold.

While mentally I understand variance, there is still some mental and emotional pain that always seems to follow a train wreck session in which you drive perfectly on the rails but still end up with a demolition. Last night was one of those nights.  70% favorite, lose.  80% favorite, lose. Long term favorite, win.  In the short run, it still hurts.

That’s poker folks!