Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141225

Today's gift was that my wife came out of the hospital earlier than expected.

Waist = 40.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141218

The upcoming Winter Solstice this year will coincide with the December New Moon. So right now, both Moon and Sun are waning. It might seem strange, incredible or ridiculous, but I can sense the ebb and flow of energy associated with the moon phase and the seasons. Right now I feel Life Force spiraling away. It's as if I'm watching a movie played on an old fashioned reel-to-reel projector, and the film is slipping, showing a blur. I really just want to lie on the floor, close my eyes tight and Breathe for a few days. I hope you are doing much better than this!

Waist = 40.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141210

My latest indulgence is frozen raw cookie dough. I purchased some from a coworker whose daughter was selling them as a fundraiser. Much to my delight, I found that the dough had been pre-formed into cookie shape, making it easy to break off one or two at a time. The first time I ate some, I was really hungry and ate eight of them, in rapid succession. Gosh, my stomach hurt after that! But now I find that just one or two cookies is satisfying. Maybe this is the way I have to eat cookies. When I eat baked cookies, I cannot stop at just two.

Waist = 40.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141205

I had a bizarre instance of insomnia on Wednesday night. I was really tired after work and on the way home, and I wanted to skip supper and go to bed. But after I finally did go to bed, I started to get increasing energized, and I felt hot. I wonder if I was energized by the waxing full moon.

Waist = 40.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dream: Carport Rooftop Deck

I'm outside in my backyard at night.  I'm wearing slippers.  I notice some motion in the next door neighbor's yard, like an animal moving about.  I aim my small flashlight at it.  Eventually I can make out that the moving figure is human and furthermore that it's my neighbor.  He's barefoot and wearing pajamas.  He's sleepwalking.  I follow him for a short time, but then he goes into his house.

It's the next day.  I'm standing on (or next to) the roof of my carport, which is adjacent to the house.  We're trying to have a deck built here, on top of the carport.  But so far all we have is the frame, the joists, and many timbers and boards that are to be nailed onto the joists.  We're waiting for the workers to complete the job.  I walk around a bit gingerly, because it occurs to me that one misstep could cause a board to fall onto my car, which is parked directly below me.  I find one board that's typical and put it where I think it should go, and I'm alarmed to find that it's a couple of feet too short.  I begin to suspect that the workers know about the problem and abandoned the project after discovering it.

Now I'm on the ground.  I see two cats that are identical except for color.  They're both mostly white, but one has thin red stripes and the other has thin blue stripes.  The stripes are different colors, but the patterns are the same .  Their eyes are creepy, however.  They seem like bloated raisins, sticking out of their heads and so bloated that I'm afraid they'll burst.  I know that the cats belong to the next door neighbor, and the one with the blue pattern is the favorite of the attractive, young, blue-eyed blonde.  So I pick it up and walk over to their house.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NoBloPoMo 2014 Wrap Up

I completed this year's National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo 2014.  I felt that this year was more challenging because: I had less time than ever before; I no longer participate in "Shadow Shot Sundays" (which essentially gave me four, easy, thought-free posts); and I'm much more lazy than ever.

Nevertheless, I have some unrealized ideas for posts as I do every year.  Here are some of the topics I had planned to write about:
  1. Gender wage gap
  2. Why is Thankfulness a Challenge?
  3. From Christian to Pagan
  4. The Right to Vote and Serve on a Jury
  5. When We Use "We"
  6. How I Actually Spent My Staycation
  7. Photos of the Views from My Drive to Work
  8. Things I've Not Done But Would Like To Try
  9. My List of Must-See Movies
  10. A Really Bad Lollipop
 As I did last year, I invite you to let me know which ones you'd like me to write about first.  

BTW, I was very impressed with my next-door neighbor's blog, "Being Weirdly Awesome" as well as Snoskred's own NaBloPoMo blogroll.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Bad Dog

In the movie, "A Christmas Story," there's a brief but memorable scene in which several dogs barge in and steal the roasted Christmas turkey prior to the meal.

We had our own ravenous dog scene, except that this involved just one dog and a three-quarter pound of leg of lamb for Thanksgiving that was left over after carving.  So fortunately, it didn't spoil the Thanksgiving meal because I'd already sliced most of it, but it did leave me without enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

The biggest problem is that the hunk of meat was still in the netting when he ate it.  And so the dog ate the netting, too.  A foreign object like string in a dog's digestive system can be a serious problem as this article describes.  I found some netting in his poop this morning, but I think there's more inside.  Hopefully he'll be okay.  He's eating well and pooping well, and I don't see blood in the stool.

That would be something -- mad at the dog for eating about $8 of meat plus having to pay for abdominal surgery on top of that.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Collecting Found Objects

Yet another quirk I have is that I maintain a collection of unusual natural items, which includes small things such as cat whiskers and claws, feathers, nut shells (hickory and pistachio are my favorites) as well as larger items such as tree branches and rocks.

I imagine that the objects have a certain energy in them and that I'm a shaman who's able to tap into these energies, combine them and create Objects of Power with them.

At the very least, these objects can be used to adorn a wreath, picture frame or some other craft item.  Cat whiskers also have the very practical value of making good applicators of liquid adhesive or paint when a very fine bead is needed.  I can imagine creating a Cat Mask that uses actual cat whiskers.

Here's a photo of the smallest of my collections.   My daughter keeps the fur in her own collection in her room.  Larger items such as turkey feathers and sheets of bark are in a different collection.  The tree limb is all by itself on the porch.

Do you like to collect anything?  What do you collect and why?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Confessions of a Quirky Shopper

Sometimes a product's container influences me to buy the product that's in it.  There are a few different reasons for this.

On the practical end of the spectrum, a certain container might be easier to grip, operate or store.  One example is stick deodorant.  I prefer containers whose covers are flat on top so that I can store them upside-down on the shelf.  When there's only a small amount of deodorant left, the upside-down orientation has a lower center of gravity, so it is less prone to toppling over.  Mennen Speed Stick gets this.  Secondarily, the mechanism to advance the deodorant needs to be easy to turn.  Most containers provide a round knob that's shrouded by the base of the container.  However, a few, such as Degree or Dove for men, are set up so that the entire base can be turned to advance the deodorant.

More quirky is my habit of buying things in order to get a container to reuse for another purpose.  I prefer to buy food that comes in glass jars whose openings are as wide as the jar itself.  It's easy to fill jars like this with leftovers or homemade ghee, or to use them as vases.  The Bonne Maman fruit preserve jars (see picture) are ideal.  There are sauerkraut jars that are just as wide on top yet twice as tall to hold more.  (In fact, the lids are interchangeable.)  The jars for almond butter are pretty good, too.  They are just large enough for a batch of ghee made from one pound of butter.  So I keep on hand a small collection of empty jars from jam, sauerkraut and almond butter.

Empty soda bottles are easy to "repurpose," too.  You can cut one in half and use the top as a funnel, and the bottom can be used under a small houseplant to catch excess water.  Make the cut angled, and the bottom becomes a scoop.  An even better scoop can be fashioned from an empty gallon (or half-gallon) jug from milk, water or bleach.  Here's how: Hold it upside-down by the handle. Then lower it as you would a clothes iron so it's horizontal.  Cut away the part that's now the top.  The Instructables website shows many ways to repurpose ordinary throw-away items.  Altoid mint tins seem to be favorite boxes for projects -- they're the ideal size for a set of AA or AAA batteries plus some small electrical components.

Even those annoying blister packs can be useful.  The frustrating slipperiness and seeming indestructibility of of the material can be exploited for use as shims, drawer slides or furniture glides.

What are your favorite containers and what do you use them for?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dream: The Athlete's Blue Sports Car

I'm in an arena on a playing field waiting for a game (sporting contest) to start.  The pre-game show is in progress.  The announcer introduces the next feature, which is the sports car of the star player of tonight's game.  There's some excitement, but then I see the car.  It's a plain, blue, foreign, sporty, economy car.  It's not even shiny – the luster is gone.  And to detract further, there are large, dark green, plastic garbage bags in their folded state hanging from the door handles.  Apparently the field maintenance crew had hung them on the car for convenience, not realizing it would drive onto the center of the field.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Quirky in the Bedroom

Whoa, did I just title this "Quirky in the Bedroom?"  What was I thinking?

But it's true that my biggest quirk happens in the bedroom.  Umm, let me rephrase that.  My quirkiest behavior... -- no that's not gonna come out right, either.

Well, it has to do with the way I sleep.  Yes, sleep, or were you thinking of something else?

I already wrote about my "Hernia Rock" several days ago.  This is a warm stone I place on myself before I go to sleep.  But I do an even quirkier thing than that.

Here it is: I cover myself completely, from head to toe, when I lie down to sleep.  The sheet and comforter cover me from the foot end of the bed all the way up to my neck.  But I also cover my face with a black T-shirt.  I do this to block out all light from landing on my body.

You might wonder two things.  First you might wonder "Why can't you just turn off the lights -- isn't that dark enough?"  No it is not dark enough.  One of the windows is a large bow window.  Getting a room-darkening shade for that window is very impractical.  On nights when the moon is anywhere near to full, the room can be too bright.  Besides, skin can react to even tiny amounts of light.

The second thing you might wonder is, "How do you manage to breathe?"  That's good question.  But long-time readers will know (or may recall) that I have sleep apnea, so I wear a CPAP mask when I sleep.  This machine ensures that I have access to air, and the mask itself keeps the T-shirt from lying directly on my face.

This quirk, of course, creeps out my wife.  It makes her feel like she's sleeping next to a corpse.  It doesn't help that I have poor circulation in my extremities, so I'm cold to the touch.

Still want more quirks?  This is one of the better ones.  But I'll add a few others before Dec 1.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141125

I thought I'd do the weigh-in a day early this week. Things are hectic at work, and holiday preparations are eating into my posting time. But I've got quirks to share! Oh, I just remembered, I started the Weigh-ins in November, so I should have enough data to plot an additional year to my graphical summary.

Waist = 40.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Friday Memories

I've never gone shopping on Black Friday, the traditional day of crass commercialism and consumer spending right after Thanksgiving.  You could say this is another one of my quirks.  But eventually I think I might like to go to a store just to experience parking difficulties, the competitive nature of grabbing items that are both extremely popular and deeply-discounted, and long lines at the cash register to pay.  On the other hand, I've seen this experience depicted often enough in movies ("Christmas With the Cranks" is a holiday favorite, based on the book "Skipping Christmas").  So experiencing Black Friday is only an idea, one that won't come to fruition this year.

For the past ten years or so, I've been buying gifts at small, local shops, and buying works of art hand-crafted directly from local artists.  I've bought some items sold at fundraisers to help out veterans or homeless pets.  I like the dual benefit of fulfilling the gift-giving obligation while boosting the esteem of crafters by honoring their work with a purchase.

However, when I was a young adult, I was brainwashed into department store shopping.  I preferred to shop just a few days before Christmas, at stores that would stay open later at night.  Most folks didn't realize the stores would be open late -- most of my competing shoppers were of the "early bird gets the worm mentality."  My mentality was simply "Shop whenever most people didn't shop."

One Memorable Day, one day before Christmas, I asked my mom what she wanted for Christmas.  I had gotten home from work a bit early, so I thought I'd start my Christmas shopping.  She laughed.  But I insisted that I was serious.  So she told me, "You're never going to find it.  But I've been trying to find those Isotoner gloves in Cobalt Blue."  (They were plentiful in black, but I've never seen them in her preferred color.  Even today I don't see them online in this color.)

"Okay," I said with confidence, and I drove off to our nearest shopping mall, with its Macys, JC Penney, Lord and Taylor, and one other major cookie-cutter department store which probably is no longer in business.  It was less than a 15 minute drive.  I didn't bother to find a parking spot near the entrance -- I parked in the first spot I saw and walked briskly for another minute to reach the entrance.

I continued my brisk pace through the first department store, where I found the women's accessories (I knew where things were located in these stores, and, besides, the displays for women are usually placed near the entrances to entice women to enter.)

It was obvious they had nothing more than black, brown and red, so I dashed off to the next department store's women's section.  And there it was, a single pair of Isotoner Cobalt Blue gloves in, what I assumed, would be her size (because I forgot to ask).

Now the trick in paying for something at a department store is to know that there are cashiers located in all of the major departments.  And that the cashiers with the longest lines are in the women's, petite's, children's and to a lesser degree, men's clothing departments.  So to beat the long lines, I simply ferreted through the crowd over to the furniture department, paid quickly, and left.

I was home within three-quarters of an hour, presenting a look of utter despair in the hopes of surprising mom tomorrow.  But of course, since I came home after only 45 minutes, she knew I bought something, so she was already incredulous.  It was, in a way, a Christmas miracle.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quirky is RIght Up My Alley!

Yesterday's NaBloPoMo writing prompt was "Tell us about a quirk or odd habit that you have."  I have so many quirks and odd habits, this prompt could provide a month of posts on its own.

Let me share just one of my many quirks, which demonstrates my germophobic tendencies.

Whenever I need to pull a door open, I do not grab the handle with my entire hand.  I'm so reluctant to touch door handles that I use my pinky, or my sleeve, or (if I've just washed and dried my hands after using the bathroom) a paper towel.

I do this only in public.  At home, I don't bother, partly because most of the germs are mine or my family's, but also because my hands are usually already dirty from dog slobber, cat litter or cleaning household messes.

Would you like to know about my other quirks?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Things I Say

A standard phrase I'd use at work was "It's not inadequate," which was my wise-ass way of endorsing results that I wasn't thrilled with.  A student's paper with a grade of "C" would be "not inadequate."  If I was even less thrilled, I might say, "It's not terribly inadequate."  This latter phrase was my euphemism for "good enough yet pretty lousy all the same."

But some people took it the wrong way.  They actually were pleased to receive this response.  They'd show me their design or report, and I'd say "that's not inadequate," and they'd smile proudly, as if I'd just affixed a gold star to it.

Well I don't use it any more, perhaps because it has lost it's intended impact.  Or perhaps because sarcasm is being discouraged in much the same way as discrimination -- it's just not professional.  The utterly flavorless "good" has supplanted my "it's not inadequate" nowadays.

My new phrase is now "Crapizoids," which I exclaim out loud to myself instead of, um, well, a four letter word that begins and ends exactly like "firetruck."  I say "Crapizoids" a lot, like when the e-mail client freezes just before I click "Send" on a message that took 30 minutes to compose and included several links to various documents scattered in remote and obscure parts of the network.  "Crapizoids" is for when I hurriedly press Ctrl-A (which selects all content), instead of the neighboring Ctrl-S (save), followed by the Enter key and the witty content of a new paragraph, which replaces all the selected content.  (The Undo feature is my best friend for a good reason, but sometimes it reverts away from good stuff, too.)  "Crapizoids" can be heard right after every power failure.

Right at the moment I'm writing this in a public library as I wait for my daughter's karate lesson to end.  And it has ended, so I have to leave this post without a snazzy ending.  Crapizoids!  I hope it's not too inadequate.

Snoskred's response to the NaBloPoMo writing prompt, "Tell us about a quirk or odd habit that you have," inspired today's post.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Buy One, Get Six For Free

Temperatures here in the Northeast are at the freezing mark or below, so the heated indoor air is very dry.  This is a good time to use a saline spray to keep nasal passages moist.

I use a lot of saline spray every winter.  My preferred brand comes in little bottles of 50ml (1.69 ounces) and costs about $3.50.  That's $2/oz.  It doesn't last long.

The first bottle of the season already ran out.  So rather than buy another, I bought the saline solution that's marketed to users of contact lenses.  For the same price, $3.50, I got 12 ounces, a whopping seven times more, which should last all winter.

Of course, I don't squirt the stuff into my nose from that larger bottle.  Instead, I refill the little spray bottle.  I just remove the tip from the spray bottle and pour the saline solution in and then press the tip back on.

It turns out that the cheaper, contact lens saline solution is more soothing than the nasal saline.  Perhaps the nasal solution contains more anti-microbial chemicals to keep it from harboring germs.  After all, the bottle is inserted into one's nose.  With each squeeze, the user could aspirate germ-infested nasal mucous into the bottle.  So the producers of the nasal spray would want to ensure that their product won't result in re-infection with some pathogen.

If you decide to try this cost-saving idea, do your best to avoid contaminating the bottles and solutions.  Your workspace and hands should be as clean as possible.  You can place the spray bottle tip on a clean paper towel or tissue while filling the bottle.  Also, don't fill the bottle more than halfway, otherwise you won't get a fine spray when you squeeze but rather a surprisingly strong stream.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The High Cost of Vegan Cheese

My daughter has been vegan for about four years.  Vegans follow an even more limited diet than vegetarians.  The most devout ones don't eat anything produced by an animal or from an animal.  That includes eggs, all dairy, and even honey.

My daughter is devout.  But rather than give up mayonnaise, butter and cheese, she eats vegan-friendly versions instead.

My wife complains about the high cost of these vegan-friendly substitutes almost every week.  And she goes over-budget buying them.  But I tell my wife that if our daughter craves cheese and butter so much, it means her body is crying out for real, honest-to-goodness dairy.  As I wrote earlier, I don't fully endorse our daughter being vegan.

I say that we should buy absolutely no substitutes.  Instead we can buy eggs and dairy from producers that treat their livestock with care and respect, a major concern of vegans.  And I suspect that dairy produced the old-fashioned way is friendlier for the environment than the spreads made from vegetable oils or the cheeses made from cashews.  I believe that such substitutes require much more energy to produce because their raw ingredients are so thoroughly processed as to make them unrecognizable.

Some vegans will argue that there's a health issue with dairy.  They complain that it's loaded with saturated fat, which is bad.  I reject that entirely.  Saturated fat has been unfairly demonized.  The fat from pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle has a ratio of Omega3 to Omega6 that's comparable salmon, plus CLA (conjugated linoleic acids) and butyrates, both of which are important for good gut health.  The heart and brain both use saturated fat as fuel.

It's true that some people just can't tolerate dairy.  It can promote inflammation and mucus production.  Some people are lactose intolerant.  Others must avoid casein.  It's the casein in dairy that can mimic opioids in the brain in individuals with leaky gut syndrome.  So these intolerances are really the only good reasons to avoid dairy.

Well, even if our daughter agreed to eat real butter and cheese, our cost would still be fairly high.  Organic dairy from humanely-treated, grass-fed cows is not inexpensive.  But at least it's real and wholesome.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141119

Temperatures are at the freezing point today, with a brisk wind. I wore my fleece jacket and scarf.

Waist = 41"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dream: The Bull and the Subaru

I'm leaving a large department store.  My father and brother have left about a minute earlier.  As I approach the car, a two-tone green Subaru Outback wagon, I notice a large bull and at least one white sheep about 15 yards away on the other side of the car.  The bull has noticed me, too.  It's staring directly at me.  Its horns snake out from its head about 18 inches and taper down to two very sharp and deadly points.  I wonder where my brother and father went.  I quickly get in the car for protection, just in case it charges.

I'm in the back seat, semi-reclined so as to hide.  But I peer out the rear window.  The bull approaches the car from behind.  It knows I'm inside.  It pushes the car with its huge head planted on the left rear directional light.  The car gains momentum and heads for a stand of medium-sized birch trees and shrubs.  I list in my head the damage that's being done: the signal light lens cover; scratches and dents to the rear car body; maybe a broken pawl in the transmission.  If the car smashes into the trees there will also be front end damage.  Plus a tow truck may be needed to remove the car.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dream: Disorganization at Work

I'm at work on the shop floor.  I notice three assembly / test stations.  Two are occupied; the one in the middle is vacant.  I overhear two people discussing that empty station.  They are suggesting that our IT guy take it over to use as his office.  "That's really ridiculous," I think to myself.

The two other stations are for different operations in our process.  I think of other areas of the building in which the stations aren't grouped logically by operation.  One area should be devoted in its entirety to, say, soldering.  However, the way the production managers have arranged things, the soldering stations are scattered in different areas.

I recall how things were when I first joined the company about 20 years ago.  At least they understood the simple concept of workflow.  The company seems to be degenerating.

Now I'm outside at the loading dock with DM, with whom I share part time IT duties.  He asks me, "Are you coming with me?"  At first I don't understand so I respond, "Where are you going?"  But suddenly I  infer that his question is about quitting the company and getting a new job somewhere else.  I nod.

Since we're outside and visible to many, DM hides his mouth each time he talks in case someone who reads lips is nearby.  He actually bends overs and talks into his knees.  But when I respond, I don't bother to cover my mouth much.  I'm more concerned about how I'm wearing nothing but "tighty-white" underpants, so I'm squeezing myself into a hidden corner of the area, partly behind some equipment.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dream: My Basement Room

I'm in the house I grew up in.  I'm in my bedroom in the basement.  I've just woke up, and it's about 6:15am on a weekend.  My mother and sister are still asleep it seems.  I have the memories of dreams lingering in my thoughts, and I want to write them down.  But it's so early.

I walk over to the computer that's near the foot of the stairs.  I'm concerned that any sounds that the computer makes will travel up the staircase and become amplified; its long, narrow, tunnel-like dimensions make a good conductor and projector of sound.

I walk to the foot of the stairs and notice that the area was cleaned up a bit.  A small desk was just placed there next to the electrical outlet. This is a good sign - someone finally decided to make productive use of the space.

I turn around to go back to my room.  Now I need to climb some rickety stairs.  I wonder about this.  These stairs seem to run parallel to the main stairs that I was just standing at the foot of.  That would mean that my room is on the main level of the house after all and not in the basement.  Yet curiously there isn't a way to get into the room from the main level.  I wonder what part of the house my room is adjacent to - perhaps there's a secret passage that connects the two.  In the back of a closet, perhaps?

When I reach the top and enter the small space, I notice how the ceiling of my room appears buckled as if years of water damage have warped the panels.  The whole room (plus the stairs) seems to have been stuck onto the side of the house like an afterthought.

This dream mirrors reality.  I did wake up at 6:15 this morning with dreams in my head, and I considered getting up early to write them down.  (Actually the Pee-Meister Squirt cat demanded to be let into the room, which is why I woke up.)  But instead of getting up I went back to bed to dream some more.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Alternative Hernia Treatment

I've had an inguinal hernia for several years.  The recommended remedy involves repairing the abdominal wall using a mesh sheet, which is put in place during laparoscopic surgery.

I'm reluctant to have surgery at this time, especially with my wife's unpredictable medical issues.  So I've found, through experimentation, two types of treatments that reduce the swelling and pressure in the area.

The first involves diet.  There are inflammatory foods that increase swelling and pressure.  Wheat is the most notable culprit.  So by reverse logic I decided to stick with a mostly anti-inflammatory diet, and the one I chose is my trusty Blood Type Diet.

Overeating can also exacerbate the condition.  It's simple -- there's just so much stuff you can put into a gut before it tries to expand beyond its confines in the abdomen.  Don't over-stuff it, and keep the pressure down.

The second approach is mechanical, broadly speaking.  Coughing produces the biggest stress to the area.  So if I'm about to cough, I'll apply upward and inward pressure on the area with my hand.  This is difficult to do discretely in public however, so my alternate method is to bring my knee up and across my body.  This is even more bizarre looking to the general public (I suppose), but at least I don't look like a perve.

Lying supine on a decline bench is great for providing momentary relief of acute pressure, especially when combined with the inward and upward hand pressure described earlier.

Wearing pants that are not tight around the waist also helps.  The tighter the wasit-line, the greater the pressure on the hernia.

Lastly, keeping external pressure applied for an extended period really helps.  So when I lie down to go to sleep I apply the pressure.  I used to place my hand on the area.  But then I decided I'd use a weight, instead.  I chose a stone from the garden for the weight.  I warm it before bedtime by running it through the dishwasher.  I think the combination of pressure and warmth brings healing.

2014-11-22 - SPG  Edited to add the second to last paragraph regarding the waist line of pants.

Friday, November 14, 2014

How to Maintain Brain Function

The current issue of Neurology Now magazine includes an article on how to maintain cognitive function.  "Staying Sharp: What you do during your free time could help save your brain" lists the following "brain-boosting activities":
  • Learn A Second Language
  • Become A Social Butterfly
  • Play Music
  • Exercise
The article also claims that heart-protective measures may also protect the brain.  For example, it recommends:
  • Don't smoke.
  • Sleep 7–8 hours a night.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.
  • Eat a low-fat, healthy diet.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Get blood sugar levels (and diabetes, if you have it) under control.
Yes, cholesterol is still a villain, despite assertions from both cardiologists and neurologists that high blood sugar causes damage, and it's the cholesterol that aids in the repair of that damage.

The biggest payoff is to stimulate your intellect while elevating your blood flow.  Learn to dance or practice martial arts for example.  I try to meditate while I walk, or walk mindfully.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

That Twee Thing

Tuesday's Colin McEnroe show on "Twee" whisked me all the way from "What on Earth are they babbling about?" to "Oh my Gosh I LOVE TWEE!" before it ended.  Mr. McEnroe often takes on important and controversial issues.  So devoting the entire show on something called "Twee" must mean that "Twee" is important, right?

But in the beginning it really didn't seem so important after all, as they struggled to define the term.  The thing that caught my attention was a person called "Zooey Deschanel" whom I've never heard of before.  They'd repeat her name, Zooey Deschanel said this, Zooey Deschanel did that.  And all this in the context of this "attitude" called "Twee".  I was so intrigued that I actually picked up my Android tablet and used Google's voice search to find out "Who is Zooey Deschanel?"

I saw several images of the beautiful entertainer / actress, plus a list of TV shows and movies that she performed in, almost all of which I'd never seen or even heard of.  The only movie that I was familiar with was one of my all-time favorite movies, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."  Yes, Zooey Deschanel played the role of Trillian, whom I'd wistfully imagine asking me to go to Madagascar with her.  "Yes, of course, I'd love to!" was always my reply.

My favorite scene is the one in which Zooey shoots Zaphod with the Point-of-View Gun.  Of course, it's so much better when viewed in context with the story line.

When I connected Twee, Zooey Deschanel and the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" movie, it helped me define and pinpoint that movie, and how its tone differed so much from the books in Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's" series.  Yes, while the books depicted the Universe (or at least the Galaxy) as a harsh and unforgiving place in which if anything could go wrong it would go wrong at the worst possible moment, the movie was Twee, wasn't it?  It was a place where torture involved having to listen to really bad poetry.  It was a place where the zots from numerous Vogons' guns couldn't possibly hit you because the Vogons were such poor marks-creatures and their firearms so cheaply made.  It was a place where, if your house got bulldozed to make way for a bypass on a planet that was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, someone would come along and make exact replicas of both.

Wow.  Twee.  I love it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141112

It just occurred to me that the reason why I tend to lose weight in late fall and throughout winter (and gain in Spring and Summer) is due mostly to the end of Daylight Savings Time. A secondary reason may be that I expend extra energy in order to maintain body temperature -- I don't usually wear a jacket unless temperatures are close to (or below) the freezing point.

Waist = 40.5"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pee-Meister the Squirt

The vet doesn't believe me, but our eight year old neutered male cat masturbates on my lap.

He has always been my lap cat.  Even on his very first day with us, he preferred to curl up on my lap and fall asleep.  Sometimes he would knead my thighs for a short while beforehand.

But for the past two months he's been acting out almost exactly as described in this web article, in which the vet wrote that it's sexual behavior.  The only difference between that cat and mine is that my cat thrusts on my lap, not next to me.  He briefly touches his hindquarters down and leaves a small wet spot on my pants.

On one such occasion, he suddenly decided to mount another cat that had been sleeping right next to me.  That's Mounted, as in jumping on the other cat's back and biting the back of his neck, the way you see the lions do it on those nature programs.

This isn't the first time I've written about this cat.  You might remember him better as "Pee-Meister," depicted here.

Well, our vet said it was impossible for a neutered cat to behave this way.  He claimed that the cat was simply marking me with urine.  He prescribed Vallium, which is supposed to address urination issues.  And he recommended that we give one tablespoon of camomile tea to each of the other cats, just to calm everyone down.

Well, I refused to give the Vallium to Pee-Meister, especially considering the diagnosis was incorrect.  But all the cats, including Pee-Meister, are getting the tea.  The specific recipe is to steep one standard camomile tea bag in 4 ounces of hot water for ten minutes.  Store the brewed tea in the refrigerator.  Then add one tablespoon of the cold tea to the cat's food once each day.  Here's a reference to a website that recommends 1/2 tsp camomile tea.  That's one-sixth the amount recommended by my vet.  But then again we have Big Cats.

So should we continue to call him "Pee-Meister," or would "Squirt" be better?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dream: Scattered Like Bones at a Reckless Dig

My co-worker JR, our lone female engineer, is a cast member of a science fiction TV show.  She is stranded on a planet with other crew members after the spaceship they were traveling in crashed.  She is standing in front of me wearing the uniform that's she depicted in every week -- a mostly-white jumpsuit with a solid red triangular feature that points up to the collar and tapers down on the left and right symmetrically at 45 degree angles.

Now I'm in the training room at work, waiting for PD to show up to provide the weekly training to the class.  Instead, a substitute arrives.  Class begins quickly and I struggle to keep up.  He shows us a mnemonic to help us remember something.  It's "MO" in the numerator and "SO" in the denominator, although I'm not sure what it's supposed to remind us of.

He has written some detailed notes on the board.  But I've not copied them down yet -- I wanted to listen to his explanation first.  Unfortunately the board has changed into a scene at a paleontologist's dig in a desert.  And his notes are now a pile of bones partly submerged in the sandy soil.  Some people approach the bones and dig very recklessly, dislodging and scattering the bones.  I realize with dismay that now they are a jumbled mess.  I know very little about digs, but I do know that bones are supposed to be uncovered very gently.  These guys are doing it wrong -- they've messed up big time.  But I'm the one who's been shortchanged by their mistake.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blood Type Diet Sale -- 15%

D'Adamo Personalized Nutrition, aka "The Blood Type Diet" store, is offering 15% off nearly everything*.  And shipping in USA is free on orders of more than $150. New customers who use this link can save an additional 5%.

This is a great time for me to stock up on my favorites, which include:
Disclaimer: As an associate of North American Pharmacal, I may receive non-cash rewards for each click-through-purchase of any NAP product.  But I buy these items regularly, and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't think they were worthwhile.  This is a great deal!

*Offers valid now through November 30, 2014. Savings applies to full priced items. Offer not to be combined with other discounts. Excludes Books,Test Kits and Packs. Free shipping is via UPS ground on US orders of more than $150 only.

2014-11-26 SPG  Fixed links.
2014-12-03 SPG  Fixed links, again.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Health Insurance

You can let food be your medicine, but don't expect insurance to cover it.

Likewise, medical research tells us that pets provide their owners with stress relief.  It also tells us that too much chronic stress leads to disease.  But show me an insurance company that will reimburse for pet food and vet bills, and I'll show you a three-legged duck.

The one alternative health care practice that insurance does cover is exercise.  They do this by paying for the cost of joining a gym.  Joining is covered; the monthly fees, however, are not.

What healthy lifestyle choice would you like to see covered?

Friday, November 7, 2014

When Technology Does Too Much

Sometimes, technology does too much.  When that happens, we are inconvenienced.

I had a telephone with a really neat feature.  If you got a busy signal when you dialed a number, it would hang up and then re-dial the number for you automatically.  But that stopped working when the phone company rolled out new technology that would give you a call back when the busy line became available.  The phone company's feature reduced the number of repetitions the busy signal would produce, making it impossible for the phone to detect it.  Now the busy signal beeps just twice, and it's followed by a matronly voice that says, "That number is busy.  If you'd like us to call you when the number becomes available, please press 1 now."  Of course there's a charge every time you use this feature; my phone provided the same type of feature for free.  No matter -- the phone was fried just over a year ago along with the DSL modem.

My coworker likes to use a Keurig machine to make coffee, but he doesn't like all the waste inherent in using those pre-filled, foil-sealed, plastic K-Cups.  So he uses a filter cup, like the My K-Cup.  Unfortunately the Keurig machine at work is designed to tip the used K-Cup into a reservoir bin after each brewing cycle, saving the next person from the "drudgery" of having to remove the used cup from the machine.  But if you're using a filter cup, you'll want to retrieve your filter cup, which means partially disassembling the machine to get at the bin.  And in the process of tipping the cup into the bin, the machine spills undrained liquid and messy grounds all over the bin.  Worse than all that, the additional components that perform the tipping are costly, use more electricity, and require repair.

The Keurig machine itself is an example of too much technology.  It's not too hard to fill a drip coffee maker with fresh cold water, place a coffee filter into the machine, add grounds, and then start the machine.  And after reading this online critique of the Keurig system, it would seem to be healthier to use the drip coffee maker, too.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141105

Recently my wife was told by her Naturopathic Doctor that she's diabetic. She was flustered and upset, so apparently it means we'll be eating more of a paleo-type diet again. I don't think it's serious -- at 100mg/dL, she's at the very upper edge of the normal range. Considering how she had been abusing chips, candy and ice cream, 100mg/dL is pretty good result.

Waist = 41"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NaBloPoMo 2014

National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) has started, and I plan to participate by posting every day in November.  I don't know yet how I'll find the time.  I have no free time, so it's a matter of shuffling priorities, eating less, getting less sleep, perhaps taking fewer and briefer showers.  Ugghh.

I'd like to call your attention to the NaBloPoMo Blogroll, which is the listing of all the official participants.  In particular, I'd like to promote the two blogs that my blog is sandwiched between (if I may be allowed to do so by ending with a preposition).  At number 568 we have an awesome blog called "Being Weirdly Awesome".  At number 570 we have "The Lipstick Memoir! oX: A kiss and tell composition of life as I know far that is!"

November is the month when I appreciate how difficult it might be to be a journalist, to come up with content for a new column, day after day, year after year.  Right now I have more content in my head than I have time to write it, so it's not so bad.

Anyway, if you'd like me to write about a certain subject, please let me know. Now would be a good time for me to fulfill your request.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Farewell to Doorbells and Knockers

Do you remember how when everyone started to use a cellphone, telephone booths gradually faded out of existence?  Will the same happen to doorbells and knockers?

Consider how people call or text when they arrive at their destinations: "im here where r u"  Why bother to ring a doorbell or knock?

A few weeks ago I arrived at my daughter's friend's house to pick her up.  She was at a gathering that wasn't going well and needed a ride home while the party was still in full swing.  I could see a few kids through a gap in the blinds.  I don't have a cellphone*, so I rang the doorbell.  Nothing.  I knocked on the screen door.  Still nothing.  I knocked on the door frame.  Nothing yet again.  I Knocked Really Hard on the Door Frame.  Finally, I got a head to turn in my direction.

Fortunately they had been viewing a movie on a dinky little laptop.  What if they had been watching on a home theater system with surround sound?  I'd've had to knock on a neighbor's door and ask to use the phone.  Or drive right up to the front door, honk the horn and flash the lights.  Or forcibly enter and search among the hooded bodies until I found one that resembled my daughter.

This homeowner's doorbell stopped working.  Will she ever notice?  Will she ever get it fixed?  Why bother? It's obsolete.  Besides, the only people who use the doorbell now are strangers: Trick or Treaters, door-to-door salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses.  You're better off not answering.

When was the last time you used a doorbell?

* My brother doesn't have a cellphone, either. But at least I check Facebook once a month or so.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dream: Roadside Mica

I'm outside during my lunch time break at work.  On my daily walks, I'd been stopping to care for a plant / bush / tree on the side of the road.  Today, I see that the side of the road has been dug up.  And I'm very dismayed to see that all the plants have been hacked down to just stumps, presumably to make room for the equipment that would allow construction to take place.

I can't even identify the plant that I had once cared for or its location.  So I turn around and walk slowly in the opposite direction, looking carefully.  Some little bits of sparkling mica catch my eye.  They twinkle like snowflakes in the moonlight as I walk by.  In one little pocket of sand, I see a larger shiny stone, about the size of a flattened pea.  I stop and bend down to pick it up.  But my fat numb fingers are not nimble.  They push the stone deeper into the sand, and they dislodge more loose sand that slides down over it, like a mini avalanche.

Frustrated, I scoop up the area with my fingers and let the sand fall between my fingers, leaving a few small sheets of extremely fine and clear mica.  They are about half the size of a microscope slide, but they are amazingly clear.

I realize that I might attract the attention of a construction worker.  In fact, one walks by, rapidly pushing a large, heavy, orange roller, which tamps down a foot-wide section of sand along the edge of the road.

A woman from the construction company notices me and walks up to me.  She's not a laborer but either a supervisor or a company representative.  She's curious to know what I've found, so I hold out my hand and show and tell her.  Unfortunately it's apparent that I mistook the mica for some clear plastic hanging file folder tabs.  It stands to reason that I'd find office garbage in this industrial complex.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ebola, Science and Civil Rights

Should all people who enter the USA from Ebola-stricken countries be quarantined?

Maine resident Kaci Hickox returned to the US after caring for Ebola patients as a nurse in West Africa.  She arrived in New Jersey, and she was detained in a tent under strict quarantine, even though she had no symptoms.  New Jersey allows its own healthy residents to self-monitor for symptoms of Ebola, but the state's officials didn't know what to do with Kaci.  All this despite scientific evidence that Ebola spreads only when the infected person experiences symptoms, such as a fever and body aches.

Now Kaci is back home in Maine and remains healthy.  As a nurse who fought to contain the deadly virus, can she not be trusted to self-monitor and report for medical treatment at the appropriate time?  Some people don't think so.

There are some US politicians who would impose a travel ban on West African countries.  Those who disagree say that such a ban could be circumvented.  They say that infected individuals could arrive here indirectly, so it would be better to permit them to travel normally and simply monitor them.

It almost seems reasonable to me to give the Ebola medical volunteers complete freedom to travel, provided they monitor themselves for symptoms and maintain a record of their contacts and activities.  What do I mean by “almost”?

“Almost” means that I'm not 100% certain that these volunteers are unable to transmit Ebola when they are asymptomatic.  Basically, I don't trust science.  Science lives by its data.  If it lacks data, or if the data shows poor correlation between Thing A and Thing B, it will announce that there's no evidence that Thing A causes Thing B.

Correlation is wishy-washy.  A study could show poor correlation between Thing A and Thing B even if one instance of Thing A was “well associated” with Thing B when 99 others weren't.  That one data point might be considered an outlier and discarded.

Thus when a so-called medical expert recently claimed that there's no evidence that someone with no symptoms can spread Ebola, and that Ebola is spread only through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, I became suspicious.  To believe in this claim, I'd need to read the study, look at the data, understand the limitations of the measurement system, etc.

I'd want to know why science was unable to find evidence.  And yet science seems to be unable to explain how other seemingly well-equipped medical volunteers became infected.

Bodily fluids can be coughed into the air and sneezed onto a surface, and then you and I could come into contact with it.  Science might claim that it's unlikely that we'd catch Ebola this way.  But not impossible.

What do you think?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween 2014

We enjoyed Halloween at work as we usually do.  The company allows for a costume parade.  Those who wish to participate can dress up.  Then the rest of the employees vote on the costumes.  Prizes are given for scariest, most original and most creative.  (Don't ask what the difference is between "original" and "creative".)

My plan this year was to dress up as a beach bum with dreadlocks.  But yesterday morning's sudden chill dissuaded me from putting on the swim trunks and tank top, so I dressed up like a stoner with dreadlocks.  Notice the focus on dreadlocks, here.  That was what we prepared for -- dreadlocks as the centerpiece of the costume.

My daughter and I fashioned the dreadlocks from an abundance of cat fur, which we rolled into many thick strands and stapled to the lining of an old baseball cap.  It looked really cool, but judge for yourself.

My wife encouraged me to get into my costume before leaving for work.  When she saw me she said, "Oh you look like such a dirtbag!  What a loser!!"  I sense that she's been wanting to get that off her chest for several years.

I got favorable reactions from the guys, especially the retired Jamaican janitor.  The reactions from the few females that didn't totally ignore me ranged from disgust to revulsion.  I thought one woman was going to vomit, that's how green her face became.

Halloween can give us a chance to experience society from others' perspectives.

How was your Halloween?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141030

NaBlogPoMo will start on Saturday. I'm not sure yet if I'll have time to write -- I'm already stretched thin, figuratively speaking, of course.

Waist = 40.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dream: The Long Drive to Work

I begin my drive to work.  But I decide to go in a different direction, following a very roundabout route that will allow me to drive past a doctor's office that I need to visit later in the week.

I'm driving on a quiet residential side street. I encounter three stop signs that are less than fifty yards apart.  They are for even smaller roads that intersect from the right and are totally inappropriate and unnecessary.  How annoying.  I definitely won't want to take this route every day.

I come to an intersection with a main road.  I look at the choices of which way to go.  I don't have written directions - I'm navigating by feel.  If a road appears to go in the direction I need to go in, I'll take it.  I'd like to take a right turn and then another immediate right turn that would take me past a cemetery, but that second road is closed off with a wire fence.  Still, a right turn seems to be a good choice here, so I decide to go that way.

But the traffic is heavy - I'll need to wait a long time before I can enter the road.  Every so often it seems that there's a gap in the line of cars that I could pull out into, but then another car appears in that gap just before I decide to go.  At one such time I start to inch out, and then the car stops to allow me to go.  So I go.

Unfortunately, my car fails to accelerate well.  Perhaps the air cleaner or fuel filter is clogged because I can't seem to get the car to go faster than 20 mph.  I'm frustrated because I just had work done on the car yesterday.  I wonder what the mechanic did to the car aside from the work on the suspension that I requested.  And I feel especially bad for the driver who allowed me to go. 

Eventually I make it to my mechanics shop.  But the shop is closed.  There are two guys there though, but they won't be able to help me.

The scene changes so that I'm at work in a conference room.  The two guys are now customers who want us to design and implement impedance matching networks for filters that they bought from a competitor.  It's a cheeky thing for them to ask for.  But in business, the saying, "The customer is always right," keeps me from chiding them on their impudent behavior.

But I'm an engineer, not a diplomat, so I challenge them for a sample of a filter.  They respond that they can't provide one.  Then I ask for s-parameter data.  They explain that the supplier went out of business, so their website is down, and the data is no longer available.  Finally, I've reached the limit of my patience and tell them that it will take at least three months to implement, a ridiculously long time for a circuit as simple as that.  I can tell from their expressions that they correctly interpret my response as "fuck you."  (And I didn't even tell them how expensive it would be.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141022

Last week my wife called out to me frantically from the bathroom. When I got to her, I saw her standing in a small pool of her own blood. We called 911 for an ambulance (first time ever). She was taken away to the ER.

A varicose vein had ruptured. There was so much pressure that it sprayed sideways from her leg and onto a wall that was about 18 inches away.

It has nothing to do with weight loss, but I thought you might be interested!

Waist = 40.5"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141016

My wife bought me two pairs of slacks for my birthday recently. Even though I told her that my size is 34 x 31 (meaning the waist is 34 inches around and the inseam is 31 inches) she came home with 36 x 31. Well of course the pants fit -- my stomach quickly expanded to fill in the extra room. But now I lack the important feedback that tells me my stomach is getting bigger. I'm doomed!

Waist = 40"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October is LBD Month

Lewy body dementias (LBD) affect an estimated 1.3 million individuals and their families in the United States. Though many families are affected by this disease, few individuals and medical professionals are aware of the symptoms, diagnostic criteria, or even that LBD exists. Here are 10 important facts about Lewy body dementias that you should know if you, a loved one, or a patient you are treating may have LBD:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141008

I noticed that my face has been feeling itchy. Then I noticed a rash. At first, I thought it was due to some gluten-free fried chicken that I ate at a new restaurant. But it was too persistent and getting worse for me to be convinced that it was a single allergen. Then I realized the rash was probably caused by all the dairy I was consuming! So I've scaled back my dairy intake. Definitely no more milk in coffee. I'll still use ghee as liberally as before, though.

Waist = 40.25"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20141002

I've been on a dairy binge -- mostly adding milk or cream to my coffee. I thought the bloating would encourage me to eat less. But the increase in weight and waist size indicates that this isn't a good strategy.

Waist = 40.25"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What's Your Life Purpose?

These are my answers to Mark Manson's slightly quirky "7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose" which you can find at .

This question made no sense to me.  First of all, the wording is stupidly designed to grab one's attention rather than to provoke thought.  Perhaps you'll find it easier to answer this, "What miserable or tedious activity are you willing to endure in pursuit of your passion?"  Even worded this way, it's difficult to answer -- "one man's meat is another man's poison."  There are activities that I would dread (such an influencing someone to invest in something or purchase something) that others would relish.  And those others might assume that everyone enjoys those activities.  I'm sure there are activities that most normal people abhor that I don't mind.  But I don't know what those activities might be.  Nevertheless, the first thing I came up with is this: I'm willing to repeatedly work and rework something until it's perfect.

My 8-year-old self had absolutely no empathy toward people.  He would've cried if his cracker broke while he was buttering it, or if he got stung by a bee, or if the fast food joint put tomato on his burger even after he told them not to.  But he wouldn't cry over his future self.  Still, I'm sure he'd be disappointed that, as an engineer, I haven't invented anything cool like a space probe, rocket ship or killo-zap ray gun.

Art and coding, and especially Artful Coding.  Figuring stuff out, like how to perform calculus with batch files.

This is another nonsensical question.  What it's really asking is, "What's something you'd really like to do but you have refrained from only because you think you'd look silly doing it or people would laugh at you?"  For me, there's nothing worthwhile to be done that I consider silly.  Become a rock musician?  Sure, why not?  Go on an autumn bike tour in Vermont?  I'm there, even though my legs sometimes don't work too well.
The closest I can get is perhaps publishing a very personal, revealing, intimate autobiography (one that would include even all my erotic fantasies) prior to the deaths of all my immediate family members and myself.

Yeah, right?  Like anyone's going to listen to me?  The world will have to fend for itself.  I'm done thinking about what's wrong with it.  I can't even convince Google to provide an option to turn off Autosave or implement Copy-Drag in its online editors, which is why I'm writing this in a word processing program rather than the default Blogger post editor.
Well, still, on my own small personal scale, I am doing all I can to lower my ecological footprint.  I didn't install the air conditioner in the kitchen this year - it wasn't oppressively hot enough.  I'm a hypermiler, but I'd prefer to walk or bike everywhere if I could.  I'd like to go solar and live off the grid.  I wear clothes until they're threadbare - even the thrift stores don't want my old clothes.  I'm willing to forage more, especially if I can safely identify edible invasive plants that can be eaten raw or steamed.  I fix broken appliances rather than throw them out to make room for new ones.  I've started to find uses for ordinary twigs in home repairs and crafts.

Easy.  I would go into a large forested watershed that's blazed with hiking trails, bringing my camera, a hearty snack or two and lots of water, and hike all day.  And you don't need a gun to make that happen.
What's with the gun thing, anyway?  Is this written for Millennials who stereotypically stay indoors in front of their computers all day?

Within one year, I might frame my best cat photos and exhibit them at the library, and I could also use the exhibit as a platform for a fundraiser for our favorite cat shelter.

So what does all this mean?  Is my purpose to do Artful Coding for a Cat Shelter that's located in an off-grid cabin close to a woodland stream?  If you leave out the detail about the Cat Shelter, it could make me out to be like Ted Kaczynski.

What are your answers?  I want to know.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140925

I had the most amazing ice cream on Saturday while visiting a dairy farm. And I had real half and half, which contained just milk and cream. Imagine that! The ice cream in the cartons at the supermarket is just junk. It's a tease to make you crave more.

Waist = 40"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140918

Improper eating makes me more sensitive to allergens. When I start to feel congestion in my nose or chest, I'll be more careful to avoid wheat and dairy. But since I've started taking effective allergy medicine, I no longer bother to restrict my diet.

Waist = 40"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140910

Last week I wrote how I started to use Flonase, a steroidal nasal inhaler, to alleviate nasal congestion. Well, my nasal passages are open now, but I had a wicked sinus infection over the weekend. It's still with me, but it's not as bad now. I know that steroid use can lower one's immunity to infection, so I wonder if that's what brought it on.

Waist = 40"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dream: Bees on the Estate Grounds

I'm outside, visiting the grounds of an estate, walking around the house / building.  Perhaps I'm part of a school class trip, because at one point I'm strolling around with a school boy my own age.  We notice some scat on the unkempt back lawn.  We start to wonder what animal made it.  "Bear" comes up, and it reminds me about a scene in an animated movie that I saw a long time ago.  I describe the scene to him.  It involved a conversation about a bear who was timid about pooping.  I act out the part of the bear, pretending to look for a comfortable place to poop.  The deer he was with told him that he just had to relax and not think about it.  And while the deer was explaining that, his poop was dropping out in a graceful arc.

We walk further, clockwise around the estate, until we're nearly in front, but still on the side.  I'm studying the ground carefully now, because this is where I started my outdoor tour, and I recall seeing many interesting bees nearby.  I love bees.  We reach a rocky path, on which many bees are crawling.  It's difficult to find a clear space to step.  I see a "mamma" bee that's about the size of a squirrel.  I know it's a mamma because there are so many normal-size bees attached to it.  I urge the boy I'm with to be careful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140903

I've started to use Flonase, a steroidal nasal inhaler. This has eliminated the nasal congestion that prevented me from using the CPAP machine at night to prevent sleep apnea, so I'm sleeping better than before. I wish I'd done this sooner, but I was "between" doctors -- my regular PCP died, and it has taken me a long time to start up with a new one.

Waist = 39.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140828

Allergy symptoms are still bothering me. We had warmer, more humid weather yesterday, so I'm suffering a bit less today.

Waist = 39.75"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140821

I've been plagued by allergy symptoms lately. This happens to me toward the end of every summer when the nights get cool. The nasal congestion makes it difficult for me to use the CPAP machine effectively. I've had to leave the mask off a few nights and breathe through my mouth! I'm now aware of some instances when I wake up because of breathing obstruction.

Waist = 40"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140814

Staying up late watching "The Middle" and eating snacks. Not a good prescription for weight maintenance.

Waist = 40.0"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140806

Sometimes my life gets really hectic, and I have time for only a few mouthfuls of food for a meal. The past few days were like that. I really don't need to eat as much as I usually do, especially since I choose high-quality, nutrient-dense meats and vegetables. So I often fill up my plate out of habit, not need. But not recently.

Waist = 39.5"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mindfulness Challenge Day 1

I signed up for a "7-Day Mindfulness Challenge" last week.  Today is Day 1. Here it is:
Every time you pass through a door direct your attention to the present for a moment.
You can find the entire challenge here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140731

One reason my waist size is so large is because I'm trying a new probiotic designed for Blood Type O individuals. I take it at breakfast time, about an hour before I weigh myself. Apparently it doesn't agree with me. But strangely, rather than just throw them out or give them away, I'm more inclined to keep taking them, hoping, perhaps, that it will suddenly transform my life magically.

Waist = 40.25"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140725

Stressed out from life, I ate 1.5 quarts of ice cream in two days just before this weigh-in. I really wish I could go to bed right after I get home from work. I'm more tired than hungry. But there's so much to do, and a teenager that likes to stay out late and to be driven places.

Waist = 40.0"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140717

The temperatures at night have been a bit cool late in this week. My body seems to be reacting to some allergens. So I've started taking my favorite Quercetin / Stinging Nettle supplement already. I usually don't need it until the end of August.

Waist = 39.5"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140710

We're having very humid, tropical and overcast days with intense sporadic rainstorms. It's amazing!

Waist = 39.5"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

Staycation Planning

My employer shuts down its production line for two weeks every summer.  Ordinarily I continue to do my design work during this time, and I sell back my unused vacation time. The money I get from unused vacation helps pay semiannual bills such as home, auto and life insurance.  Besides I don't have air conditioning at home, so I prefer to work in the office during this hot and humid period. Finally, it's quiet at work during "shutdown," so I can concentrate on my most difficult work assignments without worrying about interruptions.

Unfortunately this year my boss insisted that I take my vacation during shutdown.  Taking a trip somewhere is out-of-the-question.  First, there's the cost.  Second, our daughter is signed up for a day camp during the shutdown.  Third, the animals will need pet sitters, which will cost additional money.  So I've decided on a Staycation.  I'm in the midst of thinking of activities that could bring in the lost income, or at least DIY projects that I can tackle to avoid paying someone else to do them.  The second class of activity would also include taking classes that could lead to better job opportunities.

So here's what I've come up with...
  1. Get a job consulting.  This would be ideal, especially if I can charge at least as much as my gross full time salary, and perform the work in the cool comfort of the client's office.  But it's unlikely that I could find the right client(s) with a simple-enough assignment that could be completed in two weeks.
  2. Home maintenance and repair.  Merely getting someone like a plumber to enter your home and tell you that you need a new washer for the faucet used to cost over $100 fifteen years ago.  By now I imagine it's much more, and the transaction might even require an attorney to act as a fiduciary.  So one can save a huge amount of money with "DIY" if one knows how.  Here are the projects I have in mind:
    1. Interior painting, walls & ceilings, especially the bathroom ceiling.  (But if it's too hot and humid, it shouldn't be done.)
    2. Roof repair.  I have some shingles that are starting to curl, and nails have popped up in a few spots.  I would hammer down the nails, staking them with RTV.  But how crazy do you have to be to go onto a black asphalt roof in Summer?  I think the soles of my sneakers would melt!
    3. Repair / replace the car speaker.  One of the rear speakers in my car is buzzing quite loudly, and I think it's blown.  I'm hoping I can just patch it with special glue and cardboard.  If not, I might just disconnect it.  Right now, I have the fader adjusted so that only the front speakers play, and the system sounds weak.  Having just one rear speaker playing would be better than neither one playing.
    4. Gardening / Landscaping.
      1. We pay to have our lawn mowed each week.  If I were to buy and use a cheap push mower just for the smaller front yard, I might get the guys to  skip our place every other week, and I'd get some exercise.
      2. Growing our own vegetables would save us from buying them.
      3. Install a drip irrigation system for the vegetable garden.  One reason the vegetables haven't been planted yet is because I don't think I'll be able to water them.  So I don't want to spend time and effort to produce dead vegetables.  A drip irrigation system would make it easy to water the garden, so I'd be more willing to plant it.
      4. The shrubs are blocking the entrance to our home, so they need pruning for good Feng Shui.
      5. I'm guessing there might be a law against this: Grow and sell tobacco.  Tobacco is in high demand and would grow well here.  I don't smoke, but if I could sell it legally, it would be a most lucrative crop.  Selling stuff on which the state imposes a "sin tax" and prohibits minors from buying, probably is not legal.
      6. Install rain barrels.  These are essentially 55 gallon drums that you position under the downspouts of the home's gutter system in order to collect the water for later use.  Right now we use our well water for watering the garden, and the cost is the electricity that's needed to run the well pump.
  3. Buy groceries that are incorrectly priced specifically in order to take advantage of Connecticut's "Get One Free Law".  I always pay attention to the prices that appear when the cashier scans our items.  I've gotten a few things for free.  The latest was a 12oz bag of gourmet, ground Arabica coffee.  Of course I don't know beforehand whether the scanner will proffer the incorrect price, so this is more miss than hit.  Still, I once saw a one-pound package of butter that was obviously mis-marked.  The price was $3.98 but the unit price was only $1.98 per pound.  So I pounced on it like a seasoned flea market shopper on a genuine Tiffany lamp. When I was charged the $3.98, I complained that it should be only $1.98, according to the unit price, and I did get it for free.
  4. Volunteer.  Well, this won't offset the loss of vacation income, but it might get me into an air conditioned environment.  And according to the Dalai Lama, the path to true happiness is through service to others, so it will bring me happiness.  A really cool idea would be a "VolunteerCation" in which you take a vacation (or sabbatical) in order to travel to some place where volunteers are needed.  I'm not sure, but I'm guessing travel expenses may be tax deductible under such an arrangement.  If you can get an organization to transport you somewhere, that would be even better.
  5. Hang out at the local Maker Space.  Nothing's guaranteed with this idea.  But I imagine if I went to the Maker Space, I might meet some interesting artists, craftspersons or inventors and learn something by watching them.  I might even offer my own expertise to them or collaborate on something with them.  And I'm pretty sure the place is air conditioned. 
  6. Hype my affiliates' products.  In particular, the Blood Type Diet products and the iHerb referral code bring in "coffee money."  But I don't advertise very much.
  7. Hype my online storage accounts.  For example..
    1. Join Dropbox for free using this link, and we'll both receive an additional 500MB of storage space.
    2. Join Copy for free using this link, and we'll both receive an additional 5GB of storage space.
    3. Join Box....  Well, you can join, but I don't use it, and I forgot my login credentials, so I can't promote it right now.
  8. Cat Dentistry.  The plaque build-up on our first cat's teeth makes it seem as though barnacles live along his gums.  The vet quoted us a cost of over $300 to have his (the cat's) teeth cleaned.  The vet's procedure would involve putting the cat under anesthesia, a lot of stress, and possible exposure to an infectious organism.  Would I actually attempt to clean the cat's teeth myself?  Yes.  And it's not as far-fetched as it seems.  Of course, I wouldn't be fooling around with anesthesia.  But the cat sleeps so soundly that I can poke my fingers into and around his mouth without bothering him.  Nor do I plan to use any kind of abrasive or motorized tool.  I might not need to.  One day, I actually used my fingernail to pick a barnacle off his teeth.
  9. Learn stuff.  How to write Android Apps, Working with Linux, Programming with Ruby are all great topics for career growth.
  10. Get all my medical checkups done.  The eye doctor, dentist, primary care physician (PCP) and Naturopathic Doctor are all overdo for a visit.  Those visits would take place in an air conditioned environment, but at the expense of a few co-pays.
  11. Cat Photo Exhibit.  This falls under the category of volunteering because the Cat Photo Exhibit would promote our favorite cat shelter.  If I were to sell any framed photos, I'd forward the proceeds to the shelter.  So I wouldn't made any profits, but I could recoup the expense of the frames I already bought.  The only additional expense would be to have the 8 x 10 prints made and perhaps business cards printed.
  12. Write really clever blog posts, provide a PayPal Donate Button, and watch the money pour in!  (I can't belief I managed to write that with a straight face.)  No, but seriously folks, I don't want to subject you to a "Beg Button."
It will be fun to review my Staycation Activities in a subsequent post.  Stay tuned!  In the meantime, do you have any suggestions about what I should do on my staycation?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140703

Finally we are getting rain -- lots of it!

Waist = 39.5"
Height = 5' 9"

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dream: Flying in the Living Room Lucid Dream

I'm in the living room of the house I grew up in.  I realize that I'm dreaming*.  So I decide to fly.  I lean forward and stretch my arms out in front of me Superman style, and I become airborne. I float and move slowly rather than fly.  I look at myself in the large mirror that occupies most of the wall in front of me.  Then I turn around to face the opposite direction and float out of the room.  I decide to head toward my parents' room.

* This is a dream in which I have a lucid dream.  The dream that I'm reporting here is not itself a lucid dream.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wednesday Weigh-In 20140626

The idea that warmer weather suppresses appetite intrigues me. I've witnessed a proliferation of indoor air conditioning over my lifetime. Could it be that Americans' increase in obesity is partly due to a decrease in exposure to uncomfortably hot conditions? I ponder this while sitting under a breezy vent and wearing a heavy sweatshirt.

Waist = 39.5"
Height = 5' 9"

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