Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Greetings, my friends.

It’s been a little bit since I’ve written. There’s been a lot happening, but that’s no excuse. Fact is, I’ve been pretty darned tired and haven’t really felt like it.

So, the big news is that Wednesday was my one-year anniversary of my bypass. Hard to believe I was propped up in my bed moaning and begging for death. It was almost like having a hangover, except for the five holes in my abdomen. People have asked me if I had any regrets. I think my biggest regret (other than being in such a bad way that I needed the operation) was that I didn’t do it sooner. I could’ve maybe avoided the diabetes and not have the damage to my feet that will probably stick with me the rest of my days.

I had my one-year appointment with Dr. McPhee. He was concerned that I had gained 26 pounds back, but since starting in the Back on Track program, I had lost 11 of those 26. That’s been going great… I find that Dr. Collins has a way of hitting the root causes of why I eat like I do. She’s been able to get me refocused and nudge me in the right direction, which is a good thing. I was starting to really feel down about myself during the two months I was on the shelf. Between the group and the fact I can be back at the gym, well, it has made a world of difference.

What a coincidence... both Flexes that we got in the same picture. Mine is the black/gray colored band and SPW's is the slate blue band.

What a coincidence… both Flexes that we got in the same picture. Mine is the black/gray colored band and SPW’s is the slate blue band.

One of the other things I did was to get a FitBit Flex. It adds a bit of a game to my daily routine and I love those days when I hit my goal and my Flex will start buzzing at random. I guess I’m intrigued by the gamification of calorie counting and fitness tracking. The sleep tracking is a nice feature as well. I also got one for Supportive Partner Woman… I hope she likes it as much as I do. I must remember not to cheer or taunt too much because that can get to be annoying. It’s like when someone will comment on EVERY Facebook status you post. It’s irritating and the last thing we need is more irritation.

The actual process of getting these bands was kind of comical. I had swung by my local Best Buy with the intention of looking at the band. In a surprise move, no one was around to help when I could’ve actually USED the help (Usually, I get one creepy dude who keeps asking me what he can help me with… when I really don’t need any help), so I left there and swung by the Apple Store, on the off chance they had them. They did, although the associate there tried to talk me into the Nike+ Fuelband. I tried, but it’s too rigid and didn’t fit my wrist comfortably. I took it back the following day and so far, I’m very happy. Supportive Partner Woman wanted a different color than I got, but they only stocked pink and black. I had the black and, well, she’s so not a pink person. Luckily, the Apple website had the blue band available and was able to ship it to the store in a couple of days. Problem solved. The website said shipping it to our home would take a week, but I could pay an extra $10 and get it by Friday. Or, I could ship it to the store for free and I could have it Friday. That’s a basic no-brainer, so, yay me.

Speaking of Dr. McPhee, he recently published another cookbook for bariatric patients. It has many of the same recipes from the first edition, but there are plenty of new ones, along with portion guides and some nutrition information. Not to mention the fact that the stuff is tasty. So, if you are a bariatric patient or know someone who is, click over to and check out the book. It’s only $4.99 for a digital download and well worth it.

That’s all I have for today.

Song of the Day: Colin Hay – Overkill
Currently Reading: The Chariot Builders – Steve Matchett

The good service

The good service


The not-so-good service

Now, before you think this is just another Comcast/Xfinity rant, it’s not.

I will just say that they (Comcast) could get some lessons in keeping customers happy if they just talked to the Fruit.

I’m not talking Fruit of the Loom, though.

I’m talking Apple.

Now, many folks think I’m just a mouthpiece/fanboy/unabashed Jobsian. Do I like Apple? Yes. Have I consistently gotten good product from them? Yes. Are they perfect?

No. They are not perfect.

I’ll get this out there that the Macs I own work that much better than the Windows machine. It takes our Windows 7 laptop  some four minutes to boot from cold. The Mac Book running OS-X Mountain Lion can do it in under 30 seconds.

Big difference.

Now, Supportive Partner Woman and I are both on our third generation of iPhone. We typically eschew the “S” models and upgrade every two years. Currently, we are both running iPhone 5s with 32GB. It’s a good, dependable phone, but it is not without its issues. That’s why I don’t get the Android vs. Apple debate. Recognize that both products have plusses and minuses and go with it. Do I like how my iPhone works with the rest of my tech? Yes. Is there some Android features that I wish it had? Yes. I’m not going to hate on one because I happen to own the other. That’s kind of foolish.

SPW had noticed in recent weeks that her battery had gone haywire. One minute it would show 19%, the next minute it was shutting down. She’d plug it in and 90 seconds later, it would be back in the green. Add this to the fact that whenever we’d go to back it up, it wouldn’t always detect the phone. My phone? No problem.

So, we booked an appointment with the “Genius” bar at the local Apple Store. We were a couple minutes late (blame the traffic and a long line to check in), but we were directed to wait for a “Genius”. We kind of got lost in the shuffle, but eventually, we were helped by a nice young man named Ian. He had the hipster vibe that many of the “Genius” team seem to cultivate. He ran a couple of diagnostics and announced that while the battery checked out, there was apparently a glitch in the software and proceeded to give her another phone. No fuss, no muss. Just simple service without pulling teeth.

What a concept!

To get the same result from Comcast/Xfinity, well, it would take a lot of phone calls and histrionics and threats to switch to satellite.

So, to sum up, Friday was a pretty good day.

In other news, got my blood work back (thanks, Barb!) and it was looking pretty good. A1C is still higher than what is considered normal, but it’s that level without insulin (and it’s pretty much the same as what is was before surgery WITH insulin). My cholesterol is improved… all values (save HDLs) right in the middle of normal range. In fact, most of it is disgustingly normal. It’s an improvement.

Everything seems to be healing up with my toes. I look forward to being back at it on Tuesday after the stitches are removed. I have a lot to catch up on.

Hope you all had a great weekend… it’s off to make dinner for myself and Supportive Partner Woman. Making roasted buffalo sirloin (for her) and roasted chicken breast (for me). Should be yummy!

Song of the Day: We Care a Lot – Faith No More

Currently reading: The Tenth Justice – Brad Meltzer

Fun With Siri

Posted: November 10, 2012 in technology

I was messing around with Siri earlier today. She’s a recent addition to the tech arsenal. I don’t use her for much more than setting alarms, etc. but I was killing some time and started in with song lyrics. I asked her, “Who is the man who would risk his neck for his brother man?”

This was her reply:


She’s a hip intelligent agent.

Many of you can recall me going on last week about Comcast and my phone and internet issues. I had theorized that the problem was due to the new cable modem and I would’ve been wrong. In a surprise move, that happens a lot.

See, after posting what I didn’t think was a negative post regarding Comcast, I got a comment from someone purporting to be from Comcast. Since we get plagued with a lot of spam (most of it in Russian!), I figured I’d do some due diligence before allowing the comment. Sure enough, a quick Google search showed that this person was either a) who she said she was, or b) had a lot of time on her hands to set up some giant spam operation to hijack my 55 Twitter followers. To make a long story short, they set up an appointment to get a rep out to check things over and see if they could locate the problem.

The tech came in the house, wearing booties so as not to dirty the carpet. He unplugged the line from the modem and ran some tests, detecting some strange readings to the signal strength. We said he wanted to check stuff out where the line comes into the house. About 5 minutes later, he came back and said, “I found it.”

What he found was that the lawn service contracted by the homeowner’s association (or unidentified rodent, but I prefer to blame the lawn service because they suck and probably giving Wanda kickbacks) had been a little overzealous in the trimming of the yard. The exposed core could account for all the issues we’ve been having, from the lack of dial tone to the modem dropouts, to the TV picture pixellating. I think I might need to invest in armor plate to put around the cable junction box. Sigh.

So, the moral of the story is that Comcast (at least here in Central PA) is not always the customer service beast that you read about online. Everyone I dealt with during this situation was helpful and very concerned that we were taken care of. I don’t think it has anything to do with this little blog… yes, it’s been viewed 6,000+ times, but I don’t have some ginormous following. I’m just a guy with some scribblings that some people read.

In other news, SPW (she of the ouchy back) has been kind of laid up all of yesterday and part of today. It was to the point that she could barely stay upright long enough to eat Chipotle. That’s serious. Got her pretty well drugged up last night and she slept and managed to take a shower without screaming in pain, so that’s a plus. Please keep her in your thoughts.

Song of the Day: Centerfield – John Fogerty
Currently Reading: The Covenant of Genesis – Andy McDermott

Good morning!

To all my Facebook peeps, I know I just posted a piece this morning… that was actually done last night. For whatever reason, WordPress doesn’t seem to like to post to Facebook automatically.

June 26 route

I set a new distance record last night on my walk. I’m posting a picture of it… gotta show what you do and a picture is worth a thousand words or something like that. The red is what I travelled and when I reach my goal, I will have covered the blue. Supportive Partner Woman (getting healthier in her own right!) tells me to take my time getting there and she’s right. After months of inactivity, my feet are still a little tender and it would be good to not get a blister again. You will note that there’s a little hiccup into a store. As it turns out, I won $100 through our walking challenge at work and I stopped to pick up some Propel Zero Kiwi Strawberry water for our team captain.

So, moving on to today’s menu. One of my favorite things to grill is pork tenderloin. I usually do a simple spice rub, mainly seasoned salt, garlic powder, and thyme.This time I’m going to try something new. For years, SPW’s sister has done a beef preparation that simply involves slathering horseradish on the meat before roasting it. The serious bite of the horseradish is pretty much roasted out, leaving a slightly zesty flavor that permeates the meat. I’m going to try this on the pork tenderloin. Since I have two tenderloins defrosting, maybe I’ll do one of each preparation and see which tastes better.

I also have soaked a bunch of black beans to make chili again. Since it went over so well the last time, I never got to freeze any of it, so I hope to this time.

Due to the prodding of SPW (aka The Management), I’ve started making use of an iPhone app called LoseIt. This helps me track my daily calorie consumption and subtracts calories burned through exercise. One of the neat features of the app is that you can use it to scan barcodes of your food and the app will pull in the relevant nutrition information. It’s not perfect. there’s some things you have to guess at, for example, it might take a while to enter a Chipotle meal, because each element of your burrito bowl needs to be entered separately. It allows you fo add custom foods, though, so theoretically you could easily total up what your burrito was and add a burrito line. I’m still exploring the app, but so far so good. There are many other apps out there to assist you in tracking calories… you might need to try more than one until you get one that suits you. That’s part of the fun.

One othe rthing I’m considering is posting a series of pictures of me and my weight over the years… from the good to the bad to the orca fat. I’d like the opinions of you, the readers, so I added a poll.

Until the next time, have a great day!

The bane of my existence is being stuck with the Beetus. Having to treat myself like a human pincushion is not on my list of fun activity. The insulin injections are annoying enough, but it’s the testing that I detest.

Diabetes sucks, but this is pretty cool tech.

I admit, when I got my first test kit, it was kind of cool. Make yourself bleed a little, watch a drop of blood get drawn up the test strip, and viola, you have a blood glucose reading. It’s like diabetic sorcery! However, when you have to do it multiple times a day, well, it starts to suck. Since you’re pricking your finger, you have the worry about getting blood smear on your clothes, not to mention going too deep and hitting a nerve. I also found that tech has recently invaded the world of diabetes. Pharmaceutical giant sanofi-aventis has created the iBGStar glucometer which connects directly to a iPhone or iPod touch and uses an integrated app to import and track all glucometer readings. It’s actually kind of cool and I wonder if my insurance company would pay for it.

This is also what you run into when you are on insulin, especially by injection. Sure, the syringes aren’t too long, but there are certain spots where you bleed or other spots that sting a bit. Unless you’ve a masochistic streak, most people don’t enjoy that kind of stuff.

The other thing to consider is the actual measurements themselves. The measurement the handy-dandy meter gives you is calibrated in milligrams per deciliter. Normally speaking, a healthy human’s blood glucose reading should be between 70-130 mg/dL before meals. For me, this is a problem. I usually find myself chasing a reading and that’s not good. It’s not good to be outside the target range, but a low reading is worse than a high reading. For me, if I dip into the 80s, I can feel my hands start to shake and I generally feel lousy. Lower than that, the cold sweats and double vision. NOT fun.

There’s normally some variations in the readings. This can depend on many factors, some dietetic, some environmental, and some mental. I was guilty of chasing the readings, trying to figure out why some readings were higher than others and I didn’t have anything to eat. Luckily, my new primary care provider, Rachel Ho, was able to shine some light on why this happens. Seems that when you don’t eat, your body starts to use stored fuel (aka fat cells) and this can boost your glucose levels. It was the first time anyone ever really took the time to answer those questions in real words, not medical jargon. I must say that I’m pleased with this change in caregivers… Rachel isn’t an MD, but has a refreshing, no-nonsense air about her that just lets you know that if I don’t keep on the straight and narrow, she’ll give me a kick in the ass. In fact, Rachel impressed us so much that The Management made an appointment to see her, which she chronicles here.

Please, don’t take anything I’ve written here as the gospel truth. This is not the Book of Beetus, Chapter 1. Diabetes is a terrible disease and if you can do anything to avoid it, do it. The human pincushion impression sucks, it’s expensive and it will really make your life miserable. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, take it seriously and make sure you see a doctor who takes it even more seriously. If you don’t, well, I lost part of a toe. It could’ve been much worse. Take your meds and if they are causing you problems, talk to your doctor. If he/she won’t listen or pooh-poohs your concerns, find another doctor. If you have children, make sure they eat properly. It’s not a bad thing for them to have a treat now and then, but make the treat the exception, rather than the rule. If you think that diabetes is a joke, I have some post-operative pictures of my toe I can share.