Category Archives: Health

Fitbit Blaze

I keep breaking my “I have never weighed this much before” record and have decided to try to do something about it. I used the Fitbit Charge Kelly and Christian got for me quite successfully when I we lived in both Wilsonville and Lewisville so I decided to get another one. The problem was that it had a pretty lousy band that was not replaceable. My buddy, Dan in Texas used his Fitbit successfully, but ran into the same kinds of problems.

I ordered a Fitbit Blaze this afternoon to kickstart my new health and fitness plan. The other thing I am going to do when Christian is here is move the treadmill Bob lent us down to the bottom floor of the house from the garage where it is now getting too cold to use.

The treadmill

Bob provides a treadmillSadly, I no longer have any excuses for avoiding exercise. Bob and Gena invited us over for dinner (of course) last Sunday and during the course of the conversation Bob tells me has a treadmill he is not using. Bob gets plenty of exercise at their property and he works out at the pool so he has no plans to use the treadmill for awhile. Honestly, these people are too good for us.

At any rate, not only does he offer to let me use it, the next Monday, he throws the thing in his van and brings it over. I have NO idea how he idea he did that. The thing is a true industrial strength treadmill and a marvel of engineering. He told me Gena helped him, but that makes it even more amazing. I helped him unload the thing into the garage and it took about all we had to do that. Those Northern California logger, Montana/Wyoming people are just made of sterner stuff than the rest of us.

So, as I was saying, I am now out of excuses. Today is the day I plug it in, turn it on and get started. Honestly, I am very grateful for the machine and it is going to be a big help. I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Ordered a new diet book: The Obesity Code

Obesity CodeI saw on Facebook a friend had started using the program described in the book The Obesity Code. It is another one of those book that is more a way of eating than a diet book. It looked pretty interesting when I read the reviews and the blurbs about it, especially in terms of my current state in life and the philosophy what I know works best for me. So, I wrote my friend and email. He has been using the program for awhile now and getting really good results, not just in weight loss, but in also with his diabetes.

I ordered the book and plan to read through it and figure out what I think about it, but I am also going to stay in touch with my buddy to see how “sticky” the diet is. That is important to me because a lot of these diets are easy to maintain during weight loss, but motivation drops when you have to stay with something painful with no immediate positive feedback (weight loss) because the weight has been lost and the food was only good and interesting the first few weeks of the program. My friend seems to have good success with it for quite awhile now, so I have hope it might be good for me, too. I will keep you posted.

What I do on Saturday

Working on sickle cell disease on Saturday with KiwiI got up early and walked to work where I spent several hours figuring out the technology we have available on our project will not allow us to do what we want to do. Lorena and I had a late breakfast and I walked back to the apartment to work on the sickle cell diagnosis project for CWRU. We are at the point where we need to start testing our system in the field to be continue to receive grant money. That means I am on a strict time schedule with a fairly continuous stream of small, but important short term deliveries. It is a little bit of a challenge right now with my day job, the house purchase and the move, but all I have to do is survive for three months of this and I actually might have done something good for humanity–Africa and India in particular. Of course, lots of people have the skills to do this kind of thing, so I am grateful to get the chance to do it.

That in addition to having lots of technical help from Kiwi.

Three weeks of Fitbit use

Fitbit result 1 of 2Fitbit result 2 of 2I have been wearing the Fitbit Kelly and Christian got for me for a present a couple of years back and my miles/steps are pretty good during the week. I kind of fall off the wagon a little on the weekends because of volunteer programming and church, but I am going to try to remedy that starting tomorrow. I have not been so great on the diet end of things–that self denial thing is not nearly as fun as getting outside and getting some fresh air. Still, I am down about ten pounds from my high and going the right direction. My buddy Lyle W. and I are competing a little with the steps thing over the Internet, so that is a good thing too.

Sickle cell disease diagnosis project

HemexHealth sickle cell Anemia diagnosis deviceDown 7.4 of 60

After things started to settle down a little in our lives since the funeral, I had been trying to figure out what to do next. The folks were gone and the kids are on their own and are way too low maintenance for our taste (still going through withdrawal from their going off to college three years ago). Fortunately, I was recently selected to help a group of researchers at Case Western Reserve University and a company named HemexHealth develop a product with an incredible social mission. I really do not know much about how it all works (after all, I type for a living), but the product is designed to rapidly and inexpensively diagnosis sickle cell disease. I DO know how to do my part of the product and am thankful for the opportunity to contribute to such a noble endeavor.

It is going to be a ton of work, but this is exactly the type of project I love. If this is not a good hobby project, I do not know what is. The other thing it will do is take up enough time that maybe Lorena will fill some modicum of guilt about browbeating me into exercising so much. “It’s for a good cause honey and you know I program better with a belly full of biscuits and gravy!”

Back to the salt mines

I noticed something from a recent family photoDown 7.4 of 60

I noticed something from one of the photos taken over the weekend of Grandpa Milo’s and Grandma Sarah’s funeral. I am WAY fat right now. There is really no excuse. So, at Lorena’s urging, I broke out the old fitbit and have set a goal again to lose 55 pounds (ouch). The good part of the whole deal is that we are moving this weekend to an apartment that is exactly one mile from work. There is a grocery store that is also one mile from work.Kiwi and I setting up my fitbit If I can walk to work and back every day and also walk to the grocery store for lunch every day (I am doing that now), I will have put in four miles and reduced my gas bill. No down side to that.

My hope is that I can get back down to my weight when I left Oregon in a couple of months then spend until August losing the additional thirty pounds. It might be too ambitious because I love to eat too much. Still, I would rather walk a little more than back off on the food, so there is a modicum of hope that I can do this. I will keep you posted.

New Year’s stuff

Kelly is squired about town with her beautiful people California friends to see in the New YearAs Kelly saw in the New Year getting squired about town with her hoity-toity California posse, all of the rest of us, Christian included, were too sick even to go to church this morning. Shame on her for having fun while we are all suffering so. It did though, give me time to think about what we are doing and where we are going. I could not have done that if I had been being squired around by my hoity-toity California posse, if I had one.

It dawned on me awhile back that the point of all the big changes happening in our little family is a desire to avoid such big changes for awhile. We plan to move across the country later in the month for the third time in less than two years. The hope is to move into a place where we can stay until we are not able, health-wise, to stay any longer. That might be too ambitious, life being life, but that is our intent. I have a job where I can work from home, am late enough in my career that I have the experience to get consulting work so we at least have a shot, God willing, of making that happen.

Hand in hand with that, I am making that normal, beginning of the year, get healthy resolution. I have weight to lose, weights to lift, and miles to walk (I cannot believe I turned into a walker, but it is a legacy–my Grandpa Chapman was a walker). I am brushing off my fitbit and putting on my walking shoes. I walk a mile each direction to lunch and back from my job in Texas, but when we lived in Wilsonville, I walked 5-7 miles per day with my weight dropping and my energy increasing. I think part of the weight drop has to do with the fact that if one walks that much, they do not have as much time to stuff their face.

This is not to suggest I have not gotten some good work done this year. Beside my day job where we are literally saving lives (if keeping sick people from falling out of bed and hurting themselves in hospitals counts in that regard), I am working on a project with a large mid-Western University of renown on the sickle cell anemia problem. I cannot say too much about it because it is a proprietary side project, but if we get this thing done, it will be a huge win in the fight against that horrible disease in Africa.

So, other than those few things life is in upheaval until we get move back out west, but in the meantime I have my health and the health of others as work and side projects. It does not get much better than that.

Lorena goes even faster

LorenaConceptII_10k_60minLorena broke her previous personal record on a Concept 2 rowing machine. She was trying to get to 10,000 meters in less than 60 minutes. Actually, the numbers you see to the left are her second best effort. I did not have the best one to put up here which was slightly more. I checked into this and the world record for a light weight woman in her age group is over 15,000 meters and the U.S. record is over 14, 000 meters. Her achievement is an amazing one and she has decided to continue to try to improve on up to 12,000 meters in an hour. Rowing on a Concept 2 rowing machine was my preferred cardiovascular training mode when I was in my mid-thirties. What Lorena has done already is no mean achievement. She started out rowing for around five minutes per session a couple of years ago. I think she will be able to make it to 12,000.

Computer eye fatigue

clarkkentOne of the hazards of typing for a living at a computer screen for most of the day, every day is computer eye fatigue. Kelly, Christian and I all spend most of our days at a computer and we are familiar with the phenomenon. Yesterday, Christian went to the optometrist for an eye test and was told his eyesight was perfect. That is good, but I do not think that is the whole story. I looked around a little and found some stuff that makes me think I might want to get a special pair of glasses to use at the office for all the time I spend at a computer screen. Here is a link to a page that describes some of the problems. I might also note that Christian kind of has that Clark Kent thing going for him–a reason onto itself for wearing glasses.

Avocation and life skills as part of homeschool

Christian and I talked last night about avocation. There were lots of things we tried when the kids were growing up as part of our homeschool and just as part of life. We focused hard on specific academic paths that gave the kids as many options as possible when it came to career choices. The reality is we did not do so bad at that part–the kids are now in a place they can go virtually any direction they want career-wise. At the other end of the spectrum were things that would be characterized as life skills and or avocations. We had varying degrees of success with things that were not the central focus of our homeschool academics, but at which we invested time, effort and a fairly large amount of our resources. I thought I might make a list of some of that stuff. I say only some of it because there was so much that I know I will miss a bunch of it. So what am I talking about:

  • Music–Lorena and I are actually very limited in our musical ability. The kids are a lot better than us, but not exceptional. Kelly can play the piano and sing very well. Christian is much better at classical guitar than he thinks he is. All in all, we did not do so bad. Both the kids got ten years of music/instrument lessons and both still love to play. I would put this in the joyful avocation category.
  • Art–We did well in art. Of course there is the drawing (e.g. here and here) and all the crafts we did, but the thing that surprises me most is that we all like to go to Art Museums when we are together. We know some artists we like and enjoy art appreciation as much or more as we enjoy making art.
  • Cooking–Lorena is amazing and deserves a post all by itself. She has followed a pretty incredible culinary path that is wildly eclectic. Kelly is going down that same path, but with here own twist that is heavily influenced, I think, by the fact that she lives in the amazing food culture of the Pacific Northwest. Christian is more utilitarian, but goes on a baking or cooking binge that pushes the envelope on a semi-regular basis. As for me, I make an OK omelet which is also the entire cooking legacy I leave to my children. Well that and how to cook a turkey.
  • Sports and exercise–This deserves a post all by itself because we made a decision very early on to assure that exercise become a normal part of life, but sports, especially football, basketball, soccer and baseball were given very, very low priorities on the list we wanted the kids to do or watch. Part of that is because I had seen this so up close and personal, but part of it was because those sports are a time and resource drain that have negative value as either life skills, avocations or activities that engendered positive values. We tended more toward swimming, running and a little bit of hiking. Both the kids are active as weight lifters and runners these days.

The thing that was great about all that stuff is we got into all of it and got excited about it at the same time we did not over emphasize it. We wanted this all to be something for which the kids could have lifelong enjoyment without it consuming their lives. We will have to wait awhile longer to see if we had any level of success at that goal.

Video of the EKG running with my own software

My hard work paid off this weekend. I am working with my long-time friend and colleague, Frank, to develop some EKG software for our $27 EKG’s. Actually, the EKG part has gone up now to $51 and the Arduino needed to run it costs another $20. At any rate, the software shown here accommodates six channels (even though that has not yet been tested because I only have one channel). It needs some cleanup, but it works great.

Strip charts for the EKG

When I started building my $27 EKG, I just assumed there would be an excellent library to chart the output to the screen in a compelling and useful way. There are a couple of libraries that are pretty good, but they are either really old, have bad open source licenses, are not fast enough (we need to eat a lot of data in real time) or they do not do exactly what we want. It is a little bit of a hassle to write something like this when in a rush, but it could not be helped. That is what I did most of the day yesterday. I hope to have the thing all up and running in the next few days. It will be useful to have an unencumbered library for a lot of the things we want to do with this little project and probably for future projects, too, so it is not a loss.


whataburgerI found out today that I only work 0.8 miles, walking distance from a WhatABurger fast-food restaurant. Even though I love the things and get a couple mile walk in if I go down there, it is a bad thing. The problem is that I love them and they are definitely not on my diet. I think they have that “White Castle” effect with me. Not everyone likes WhatABurger, but I love them. People who do not like White Castle Sliders do not get why people like them and vice-versa.  I think my addiction started while I was getting my Masters degree at UTEP. At that time, Taco Bell and WhatABurger were the two closest fast food joints with cheap food. I am addicted for life to both.

Short term health care

I learned today that Obamacare is every bit as evil as it is represented to be. I also learned that the affordable health care available from some insurance companies is not eligible for avoidance of the draconian health care tax required by our increasingly totalitarian, but abjectly immoral executive branch of the government. Fortunately, the bridge insurance I need to get during my job change is only required for a couple of months. If it were for four months, I would get nailed. This is definitely cause for sadness and trepidation. What is happening to our country.

Betty Blonde #500 – 07/16/2010
Betty Blonde #500
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Grandpa Milo, Alzheimer’s and Sports

When we drive Grandpa Milo to church, we have time to talk with him. It is a lot of fun and we always learn something. We have to talk about things that happened a long time ago because his short term memory is not so good. Our talk yesterday, as usual was a gift to us. We talked about when he played sports in elementary school and high school in Cottage Grove, Oregon back in the 1940’s. One of my favorite stories that I have heard often was when his high school basketball was doing well, but not as well as the coach desired.

The coach gathered the team around and asked the question in what, I suppose was a rhetorical way, “Are you here to have fun or are you here to win!?”

That was probably the wrong thing to ask a bunch of extremely hard working farmer and logger boys whose brothers had just come back from fighting World War II. Sports were definitively not anything to be taken seriously. No one believed then that the “courage” and “sacrifice” required to participate in sports were a good way to build character. Nor did they believe the exercise they got playing them was anywhere close to the physical duress they experienced when working on the farm or in the woods. So, the idea that it was a builder of character was transparently wrong. That left sports as something to do for fun and, to a much smaller extent, exercise.

Grandpa answered for all of them, “We play for fun. As soon as this quits being fun, we will quit playing basketball.”

Maybe we ought to get back to thinking that way about sports again in our day.

Betty Blonde #489 – 06/21/2010
Betty Blonde #489
Click here or on the image to see full size strip.

Kelly goes to Canada (a non-skiing ski trip)

CanadaSkiing_2016-02-19Kelly texted me this image from where she sits studying this morning. She drove up to Canada with a friend to keep her company in the lodge (her friend has an injured leg) and it appears she is actually getting some studying done. She has a ton of studying to do, but I think she is weakening though–she says she might try to ski for half a day tomorrow. It looks beautiful up there. I have to admit I am somewhat envious. I definitely would do all my non-skiing in the lodge with a hot beverage in my hand. Kelly is meeting some new friends, so that is a fine thing.