Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tanka Bar -- A Great Lo-Carb Snack Bar

With just buffalo, dried cranberries and spices, the Tanka Bar is a snack bar that comes closest to Paleo diet compliance.  The buffalo are prairie-fed and free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

The bars come in traditional recipe flavor and a spicy pepper blend.  They're great for relieving hunger pangs without spiking blood sugar or setting off sugar cravings.

Use either of the above links to get $5 off (no minimum purchase) or $10 off a purchase of $40 or more if you're a first-time customer at iHerb.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Status of the Pee-Meister

Here's a followup to Conversing With Cat, the post about the cat with litterbox aversion that peed in the bowl of dry cat food.

I added a fifth litterbox to our household.  I put it on the main level in the master bedroom.  The other four boxes are in the lower level.

We have to keep the bedroom door closed now.  Otherwise our huge dominant cat tries to pee in it and often misses.  I don't mind if he misses the box in the laundry room.  The floor is concrete and it's out of the way enough that we can cover the pee with extra cat litter.  But this new box is right next to the bed, in front of the nightstand.  So the Pee-meister sits outside the door and meows until someone opens it for him.  Or sometimes I'll carry him into the room if I sense that he needs to go.

It's a solution in that he no longer pees where he shouldn't.  But he's still wary of the other cats.  And they still like to stalk him when he walks the long hallway after using the new litterbox.  And he needs human intervention when he needs to go.

The ultimate solution is for him to get over his aversion to the litterboxes in the lower level.  Not sure how to do that, except perhaps by moving the new (and presumably much cleaner) box downstairs and putting one of the old boxes in the bedroom.  If he's associated the smell of the old box to his overall aversion, then he might avoid the box in the bedroom and seek out the new box in the lower level.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Frightened Birds

Chickadee was stuck in our garage the other day.  Even though both doors of our 2-car garage were wide open, this bird couldn't find its way out.  Its usual means of escape, to fly up and away, was thwarted by the ceiling.  It needed to change its tactics.  Escape required diving and then flying level.  I even tried to attract it toward the bottom of an opening by making tweeting and chirping sounds.  But it was too confused to hear my message.

Eventually I found a toy butterfly net.  After Chickadee tired itself out a bit, I slowly approached its perch.  I used my free hand to nudge it from behind into the net that I thrust up in front of it.  I managed to capture the bird briefly, long enough to bring it lower and closer to the opening.  Screaming fiercely, it made one frantic burst of flight straight for the opening and out to freedom.

We humans can find ourselves stuck just like Chickadee.  We may know something's wrong with a situation.  But we don't change our tactics to find a way out.  There may even be signs that lead us out of the situation, but we're too deeply mired to read them.  Then one day, we are nudged from behind by a huge hand of Illness or Job Loss and then trapped by a net of Financial Obligation or a Complex Relationship.  If we act boldly and if we are lucky we can find our way out.

My wife was healthy and energetic up until an unexpected crisis one early September morning forced us to race to the nearest emergency room.  And I, after 20 years of uneventful employment at the same company, suddenly found nine fewer coworkers at the office.  Those nine were laid off with no warning.  One had just bought his first house.  Another had worked at the company for thirty years, ten years longer than me.  I avoided the net this time.  But what about next time?

What messages of escape are you ignoring, frightened bird?

Wednesday Weigh-In 20130626

I haven't had such low numbers since 2009. I'm suffering from nasal congestion, still, so my senses of smell and taste are impaired. My theory is that I tend to eat less when I can't fully taste the food. My other theory is that ingesting dairy (ice cream in particular) is an effective way to gain weight, fat and girth. I've been avoiding dairy in the hopes that I can reduce the mucus and inflammation that dairy tends to produce.

Waist = 36.75"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Smitten by Inner Beauty

Soon after I graduated high school, I returned in order to attend continuing education classes.  Computer courses were hot at the time (mid 1980s), but I signed up for yoga.

My yoga instructor was a fit, middle-aged woman with waist-long dark brown hair, which had some streaks of grey.  She was smallish, but not a pixie.

She had an amazing ability to become younger and more radiant during the class.  Whereas at the start of class she'd look stressed, haggard and downright old, at the end she'd look like a radiant teenager.  I would have gladly stayed after class with this teacher!

At the time I figured it all had to do with the amazing power of yoga to relieve stress.  But now I think it's something more.

I thought of her recently after a day in which I was in the presence of two other women who captivated me with their beauty.  One was tending to the plants at the local nursery.  She seemed ordinary, and she had quite a bit of disfiguring acne scars on her face.  But then my wife asked her about the spearmint and peppermint, and she began to glow with loveliness as she talked about the plants.  I lost all sense of time and place in her presence.

The second woman was playing an electric piano outdoors to a sparse and scattered audience.  As we walked closer and I heard more detail of her playing and singing, I began to realize that she was really talented.  And then I began to watch her.  Soon I was captivated by her beauty.  My life would be complete if I could spend the rest of it watching her.

The key is that these two women were engaged in activity that they were passionate about.  The lovely gardener was passionate about plants.  The beautiful singer was passionate about her music.  And my yoga instructor was passionate about leading people through her asanas.

But why don't other people seem to notice these stunningly beautiful women?  I even see such beauty in the waitress at a local Thai food restaurant.  Please imagine this: You've arrived at a restaurant and the hostess has seated you with menus.  You glance around and out comes a waitress with a tray of food.  She's on fire, but only you seem to notice.  She calmly delivers the meal to a nearby table and returns to the kitchen.  That's what I experience, but instead of seeing fire, I see beauty.  In her case, I marvel how everyone else can avoid staring at her.

When was the last time you were smitten by beauty?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-In 20130619

I think my sinus infection is gone. But I still have trouble breathing through my nose. I felt good for one day recently. So I decided to add mozzarella cheese to my breakfast. Ever since then I'm back to breathing through my mouth or playing the Nose Whistle.

I wonder if it is the cheese or the cool temperatures we've been having at night. The day and night before my cheese test were both warm, and I felt good that whole day. It's possible that the flora respond to the cool temperatures by dispersing pollen or other proteins, which cause my nasal passages to become inflamed.

Waist = 37.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fear as an Ally

I was a Trekie for the first half of my life.  Many episodes were thought-provoking and expanded my mind.  A great example is the episode of Voyager in which Captain Janeway confronts Fear incarnate.

The first four scenes establish the background that leads up to the conclusion.  There is a simulated being, called "The Clown" that lives off the fear of those in stasis.  This being would cease to exist once stasis is no longer needed, so he compels the ones who are in stasis to stay, using threats of torture and death to control them.  They are his hostages.

In the last scene, Captain Janeway agrees to enter stasis herself in order to confront Fear, but only if Fear will agree to release the others.

Here's a link to the scene on Youtube.  I hope you'll watch it -- it's my favorite scene featuring my favorite Star Trek character:

The point is that I learned something very important.  We, as complex beings, can experience fear in response to our own thoughts.  If we pay close attention to fear, we can grow.  Our thoughts cannot physically harm us, but they can hold us back from achieving our goals.

So whenever I experience fear going into a situation, such as public speaking or traveling to a distant part of the world, I resist my natural tendency to avoid it.  Instead, I become emboldened and look the situation squarely in the eye.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Stool Post

During lunch one day, I came across something called the Bristol Stool Chart.  It was devised to classify the form of human feces into seven categories.

After perusing each of the seven stool descriptions, I had a flashback to when an autistic boy had come to our house for a visit and used the bathroom.

After his family left, I saw his stool in the toilet.  If it were not in our very own toilet, I'd've wondered not only what species produced it, but also what planet it was from.

It was the same size and shape of a toy football.  It's girth was similar to that of a mango, but it was longer and tapered equally at the ends.

It was not solid brown.  It was a conglomerate of shades of brown and tan, patterned like large-grain particle board.

I mention this because it under-girds why I think the Bristol Stool Chart is meant for simpletons.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-In 20130612

All my pants are loose. As a result I'm less motivated to lose more weight because I can't afford to buy a whole new wardrobe. Besides, I hate shopping for clothes, and my wife would be jealous and want more clothes, too.

When I was approaching 180lbs, it was my wardrobe that told me to do something about the weight gain. And I did. Now my wardrobe is telling me to stop losing more weight. I suppose eventually, when my pants need to be replaced, I'll try on smaller sizes. But the funny thing is that pants that have a 34" waist fit my 37" waist with room to spare. I suppose it's because the fat is easily displaced.

Waist = 37.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

In Search of Calories

I buy only a few brands of frozen dinners. I choose products that are: free of gluten, dairy, soy; have no added MSG (or other ingredients that contain MSG); and are not too starchy.  They're handy to keep around for an emergency, especially at work.  For example, I might forget to bring my lunch and be too busy to pick up Chinese food, so I'll resort to heating and eating one.

They taste fine, they don't cause any strange reactions, and they don't make me feel hungrier than I was before I ate them.  But they are Too Small.  Everything I've found so far has fewer than 300 calories.  Assuming one of these is supposed to replace an entire meal, and assuming most people eat just three meals per day, the dinners are made for someone on a severely calorie-restricted diet of under 1000 calories.

I don't count calories, but I figure I need to take in 2100 calories each day to maintain my weight.  Dividing that into three meals, that comes to 700 calories per meal.  So I buy the dinners in pairs and eat two at "lunchtime," spreading them apart by two hours or so.  You could say I eat two lunches.  Why not?

It's unfortunate that calories have been blamed for obesity because it's just not true.  The culprit is any substance that causes inflammation or that your body converts quickly to fat.

Calories are units of energy.  In the food industry, the price of energy has been turned upside down as many lower-calorie foods are priced the same or higher than their higher calorie counterparts.  It's as if a gas station were to price the low octane mix higher than premium.

When I see "low calorie" emblazoned on something, I'm motivated to buy something else.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-In 20130605

I've altered my diet to try to quell my sinus infection. Normally I'd be happy to have a bit of ice cream or cake or a handful of cookies every few days. But I know that wheat and dairy greatly aggravate allergies, so I've cut those foods out completely. And sugar suppresses the immune system and can feed yeast.

What about antibiotics? My doctor doesn't provide prescriptions for antibiotics until the infection has been present for at least three weeks. I suppose I could lie about when my symptoms first started. But I trust his judgement and will try to eat foods with natural antimicrobial properties such as garlic, coconut oil, oregano (which is growing wild in our garden anyway). Then there's steam inhalation, neti pot treatments, collinsonia, Mucinex and lots of warm fresh and sunshine.

Waist = 37.25"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


It's an unusually hot day here in New England.  We scramble off to run our errands, always remembering to bring our water bottles.

Thirty or more years ago, we never worried about water.  But today we stock up on cases of bottled water, or we tote with us stainless steel or plastic bottles to refill.  Even my camera bag has an outer pocket specifically designed for a water bottle.

I remember the period in the late 1970s in which bottled water emerged.  It was Perrier that started advertising on television.  I don't remember their commercials, but I do remember Robin Williams' comedy routine in which he satirizes them.  (Captured on "Reality, What a Concept.")  "When I want to blow a dollar on a bottle of water, I buy Perrier."  Then there was Saturday Night Live's skit, which I cannot even find the words to describe.  They were funny because back then nobody drank water -- it was something you mostly watered plants with, or washed the car with, or peed in and then flushed.  And it was free.  Paying a company to bottle it for you so you could drink it was bizarre.

I remember being thirsty when I was a boy.  There was the time I was at summer camp, confined to the gym and forbidden from going into the hall to drink from the water fountain.  I pleaded for a drink and the camp counselor pointed to a crowd of boys in a corner.  As I got closer I saw a sweaty boy sucking from a half gallon bottle of Pepsi, the other boys begging for him to share.  I was grossed out.

Another time was during a car ride with my mother who was running errands.  I kept saying, "I'm thirsty.  I'm thirsty!"  When she stopped to pay a bill at the dentist, I was filled with hope.  I asked her to get me a little paper cup of water.  But she came out empty-handed.  Not many cars had air conditioning back then.  Ours certainly didn't.  And its interior was black.

At the half-times of soccer games, we'd get sections of oranges to refresh us.  Sometimes there was a two-gallon cooler of water for the whole team to share.  But at the end of one soccer game, I remember being driven to drink from a nearby stream.  "Are you crazy?  People pee in that stream!" they all said.  I didn't care.  But my father shook his head solemnly and gave me one of his looks.

Maybe all these memories of thirst are fueling our current obsession with water.  What are your memories of thirst?