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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Palate Bench Part 2

 I wanted to give an update on our bench we made out of an old palate a few months ago.  First though, take a look at Pete the chicken.  I took this picture of her this morning as she was looking for some water to drink.  That boy of mine is going to have to check on her more often. She is so cute, I hope she makes eggs pretty soon because she will be fried chicken if she doesn't.
 The bench if you remember was an old palate that we cut the ends off and turned one side up to make a back rest and the other side was used for other projects.  My wife put it under our Drummond red maple tree and yes you are seeing it clearly folks, we do have a yard full of green weeds in the middle of the Texas winter.
 In this picture you can see the drummond red maple tree already blooming.  If we get a last minute cold spell this tree is going to freak out.  The bench was painted with some really expensive paint we picked up off the "Oops" shelf at Home Depot.  The original price was 35 dollars for the gallon and we got it for 7 bucks.  I would recommend to any that keeping an eye on that "Oops" shelf every time you are in the store because it is always the expensive paint and if you are open with your colors than it is where to find a deal.  The color here is some sort of grey/white/mauve.
 Here is a picture of the bench up close.  Next time I am going to put a board across the front of the seat to cover the under boards and also a board across the back rest.  I sanded the seat boards down pretty good.  These palates are not just a rough wood, they are absolutely full of splinters and splits.  I did not want any sore behinds so sanding was a must.
Last picture here is of course Pete the chicken again.  She is probably the best pet we have ever had.  She even wants to walk in the house with us.  My son is supposed to be getting a few chickens from his Ag teacher at school that no one bought for their FFA projects.  Someone told us to put a golf ball in her nest and that will get her to start laying but, to this day we only have one golf ball nothing else.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My dirty little secret.

I have had this sobakawa pillow for around 10 years now.  My sister bought this for me after I moved and lost my last one.  The reason this is my dirty little secret is that since I have been using this pillow I have probably slept less than five nights without it in the past ten years.  The pillow goes everywhere with me even traveling, camping, or backpacking I always bring this guy along with me.  It is torn, ugly, and dirty but I love having it with me.
The reason I love this pillow so much is because of the materials.  The pillow has this buckwheat husks inside that are kind of light and they form to your head.  I have a set of huge satellite ears and this pillow keeps them from being crushed and that helps keep my head cool at night.  Then the blue crushed velvet outer case feels nice on my skin.  The bad side to these pillows are that you have to first get used to the noise the buckwheat husks make.  Think of that old bean bag toss game your mother made for you out of an old pillow case and some dried pinto beans.  That is the noise these make times ten.  Once you get over the noice it becomes a nice quiet white background noise that you don't even realize over time.

The hole you see in my hand above is because one night my wife let one of our dachshunds sleep with us and I woke up at three in the morning and the dog was chewing the pillow.
In the photo above you can see a safety pin where the zipper is.  I use the safety pin because the zipper broke about five years ago.  I can still take the cover off and wash it every now and then. 

There are all sorts of sobakawa pillows on the markets these days but this one is perfect for me.  I have tried the ones with the weird plastic space beads in them and the stretchy ones.  None of them come close to my pillow.  If I ever see these on sale anywhere I am going to buy five more so that I will be stocked for life.
In the end as long as I have my pillow with me I know there is a good nights sleep awaiting me.  When camping or traveling you need to make sure to be as comfortable as possible and for me that is bringing my pillow with me.  You might have a special pair of underwear or towel you love to use and having that with you can bring that same comfort level I get.  These little things bring us comfort and that helps with easing our blood sugar levels and stress.  So the next time you are gearing up to go camping or taking a trip, think about the items you love using while at home and see if you can bring them with you.  Your home is whereever you make it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Trout Fishing Day!

Saturday was the annual Trout Fishing Derby in McKinney Texas.  I am always asking my son if we are doing too much kid stuff.  He is 16 now and tells me that as long as I am not complaining about the cost and he is having fun he will do every kid activity until he is 18 with me.
We have attended this event for something like four years now and this year was the most amazing of them all.  First the weather was like in the 70's and the sky was clear and the fish were biting.  What makes this event so fun is that it is held at a local lake and you are catching trout not catfish, bass, or crappie which you can catch anywhere in Texas at most any time.
The event starts at 8:00am and we arrived about 9:30am and it was packed.  We had to almost push kids in the lake just to make room.  This thing was nut to butt till around 10ish.   My son had a few friends show up around 11ish and they hung out and caught some fish.  Then once the official event ended at 1pm another friend and all his boys show up and so we all stayed till around 4pm to hang out with them and the fish kept biting.
What is so important about events like this?  First, they are usually free and as a diabetic we all like that.  don't we already pay enough to do things.  Then, they usually are different like this events catching trout in Texas.  Last, they are like ready made day outs for the whole family.  The trout derby had hot dogs, prizes for the largest fish and the smallest fish and awards for different age groups.
I would suggest to anyone to look at your local city websites and find the event calendar for similar activities like this.  Then you need to make sure to check out your states parks and wildlife website for all sorts of outdoor activities.  I am cheap and therefore am always cruising city websites when I have an open Saturday.  Usually there is something in the area that is free, fun, and different.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What's the deal with Greek yogurt?

 I go through phases of eating alot of yogurt.  Normally spring, summer, and fall are my usual yogurt seasons.  Winter is more of a chicken pot pie season.  Now, I am talking about lunch time meals and not breakfast or dinner (who would eat yogurt for dinner?).  Recently I was eating my normal fat free Yoplait yogurt and when I went to the store I saw this greek yogurt and asked my wife about it.  A co-worker was telling me how her husband (a very fast runner) and her only eat greek yogurt because it is so amazing.  I asked my wife if she wanted me to pick some up instead of our normal yogurt and she did.
My wife had been eating this "Greek" yogurt for a couple of weeks and one day I decided to eat one and give it a try.  The reason it took me so long to try her Greek yogurt is that they cost 80 cents each instead of the normal 45 cents for fat free yogurt I pay.  Now I am a convert and enjoy this expensive treat but my mind kept thinking "why is this called Greek?"  My first thoughts were like a penny from each one sold goes to the Greek bailout or something. 

A little Bing search and I came across a website that describes how Greek yogurt has three times the protein and much less carbohydrates than normal yogurt.  That is good news for us type 1 diabetics.  The reason is this cheese cloth stuff that they do with it.  Here is the website for all my research (yes this is a website called "buzzle")

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/greek-yogurt-vs-regular-yogurt.html

I think the switch to greek for me was the more mature flavor it has (yes I mean bland), and the texture (I like thick yogurt).  Who knows how long I will be on this greek kick but yogurt is great for any body that travels.  There are enzymes in yogurt that keep you regular and when camping I like to make sure my movements are timely and regular.  You never want watery farting diarrhea while camping.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A tip for lazy people like me

At work I often drink protein shakes, meal replacement shakes, and fiber drinks.  My work provides us with all the bottled water we could ever want and I am not a huge fan of the shake maker bottle things.  I just hate cleaning those things out.  The issue is with getting the powder into the little hole of the water bottle.  I used to just do my best to pour the powder into the bottle and clean up afterwards.  Then the powder would find its way into my papers and keyboard.

Now I have come up with a solution.  The memo pads my company gives us at work make a great funnel.  I have tried making a funnel out of post it notes but they seem to be too small and the sticky stuff does not work so well.  Now when I make a fancy protein shake or other mixed work drink I bust out an important memo sticky and never have another mess at my desk.  This trick might seem insignificant but it helps me with my laziness and keeps my desk cleaner than otherwise would be.  You know what they say, a clean diabetic is a good diabetic.  OK so no one says that but they should.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Post Race Fun!

Once I finished the Stone bridge half marathon I had another obligation before I could head home to rest my weary soul.  That Saturday was scouting for food in our city and I changed into my uniform (yes I was still stinky) and headed to the McKinney food pantry to work.  Since I got there at 11:30ish the day was about half over and everyone let me just work at a half pace.

Here is a picture of a few others working the drop off station.  What happens is the scouts bring the food they collected from walking the neighborhoods and drop it off at the food pantry.  Then we take milk crates and put 25 cans in each crate and take it inside and a boy does a hash mark for each crate.  That way we know how many cans were collected.  Then we have people checking expiration dates, sorting, and stocking the shelves.  This day is like an assembly line for donations.

Once we finished all we could a few of us headed over to a place called Hutchins BBQ.  I have never been there but let me tell you something they make some real good BBQ.  They even have an "all you can eat" plate.  I did not go for the all I could eat plate but I should have.  This stuff was like heaven in my mouth, or it might have just tasted like that after a long hard day.  BBQ usually throws my blood sugars into a spin but after a half marathon and working the food pantry for four hours my blood sugars held steady in the 116 to 125 range the rest of the weekend.  Maybe I should be this active every day?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

He's Going the Distance!

 Yesterday I told you about how I was real smart and decided to do a half marathon with almost no training.  Above you can see the picture of the blurry starting line.  All 233 or so participants were excited just like myself (I was starting to think this thing was crazy).
 In the end I finished and got the "finishers" medal thing to prove it.  I was hoping for a bigger medal thing that just maybe said "half marathon finisher" or something.  This is nice and I will always remember how my lungs gave out at mile eight and the rest was just run on my diabetes and good looks. 
 Everyone who does distance running in the Dallas area has these stickers that show their distances they have covered.  There are the 5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2 and some sort of 70 somethings and so on.  I broke down and bought one as a fun gag (no, it is not on my truck).  I have it in my cubicle now above my www.insulindependence.org sticker.  Friends were telling me, Dave you have completed several marathons why would you get a half marathon sticker?  The reason is I feel those marathons were in my past and currently I am just a half kind of guy.
I also have the t-shirt to prove I did it as well.  OK, maybe I am giving the t-shirt to my wife.  She really likes to get these long sleeve T's.  In the end I now feel encouraged to do some training and get on pace to do another half or maybe a full marathon.  My wife would really like to do something like this as well.  Diabetes is alot like running (OK, it is not but just roll with me), the more you train and practice the better you are off.  You will have good days and bad days but if you have a goal, lets say an A1C in a certain range then that is motivation to eat better and test often.  Then if something comes up like a cold or a sore, you have to address it, take care of it, and once it is good push through it.  If you let the aches and pains stop you it takes twice the effort to get back to where you were.  So lets all diabetics unite as one big support group and get our butts in diabetes shape and help one another to live a long and healthy life.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Race Day

I have been pretty bummed about the 15k race that was to support diabetes being canceled.  Then I got sick, my running went down to one day a week, then high blood pressure was crushing my heart rate.  A friend of mine reminded me about a month or so ago that there was this small half marathon race going on locally and hearing that news really got me thinking about doing it.
When it comes to running races I am more into small and local events.  I stay away from the giant fancy events with pretty shirts and all the fast and cool people.  This Saturday was the Stonebridge ranch half marathon.  They were planning on 500 people and that is a size I like.  The picture above is of the vendors that showed up for the event.  Yes you are seeing it right there were only three tents of vendors and one of them is the company that put on the race.
Here is the finish line coming across the lake in  Adriatica, everyones favorite Texas Croatian village.  There was a nice amount of wind and rain this nice morning but the temperature was perfect at about 45 degrees.
Here is everyone waiting before the race waiting under neath a covered parking beside the start line.  I thought this was a little sad for these people who are about to go and run 13.1 miles in the outdoors but they have to wait till about two minutes before the gun goes off to stand in the slight rain.  Now all of these people did finish in front of me but I was the lone diabetic laughing at them under the carport.

One thing I did figure out about this race is that you probably should train for these long distance runs.  When I got to about mile 8 my lungs were cooked and that threw off my heart rate even though my legs felt fine I could not push it through the lungs.  So next time I will do more than just one day a week training.  The blood sugars held up real well and that encouraged me alot.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Generation U-Can


 I have seen on alot of diabetic athlete blogs about these "Ucan" products.  This is a sustained energy super-starch for doing endurance sports.  So reading about this product and seeing how they sponsor diabetic athletic teams I thought to give them an email to see about getting a sample to see how this stuff works for The Diabetic Camper.  Peter Kaufman with Ucan sent me several samples of each flavor. 

There are two products in the Ucan product line.  First they have a sports drink mix that you take something like thirty minutes before a workout.  Then they have a protein enhanced sports drink mix that can be used either before or after a workout.  The sports drink comes in flavors like: Cranberry Raspberry (sweetened with Stevia), Lemonade, Pomegranate Blueberry, and Plain. Now these flavors sound exciting but they are a little low on the taste.  As an adult I thought they were good but my son took one sip if the Pomegranate Blueberry and
  thought it tasted bland.  The protein drink comes in Vanilla and Chocolate and they have more flavor than the sports drinks.

I tried these products in different situations, a couple of times before running six miles, once before a circuit training session, and once before a day long of chain sawing.  These products are really good at keeping your energy levels up.  They don't really feel like those 5 hour energy drinks or a Red Bull.  You get a feeling like you have a bit more energy than normal but you have this feeling for several hours.  I did not have any spikes with my blood sugars, neither did I have any low episodes.  The difference that "Ucan" has over other energy products is that this is a sensible product for the diabetic (like myself).  The website sells these as they will change your life but I would say more on a realistic level is that if you are active they will compliment your activity and assist with balanced blood sugar levels.  On my patented diabetic camping scale I would give the Ucan products 4 syringes out of five syringes.  They could use a little more flavor in the sports drink flavors and they mix really bad.  The company recommends you use one of those mixing bottle things and I would totally agree.  I almost feel this super starch does not like water it mixes so bad.  Then I would like them to expand the line, like adding waterless products such as gels or bars with the super starch in them. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nice Glasses

I have found the greatest camping gadget for diabetics that use reading glasses and also camp.  These are the illuminigheter reading glasses.  You can find these at your local eye doctor or wherever you get your glasses from.
These glasses take a reading glasses and add LED lights on each side.  I have had cataract surgery in both eyes so whenever I test my blood sugars my glasses have to be on me.  Now while camping I keep a handheld flashlight as my main source of light.  Then I have a headlamp to use while testing my blood sugars.  Then I bring a tent lantern to help me get changed at night for bed (I really like light OK). 
On campouts I wear those pants with the pockets on the sides so I can keep my glasses on me and also my reading glasses.  Now with these Illuminighters I have both in one.  I keep these readers in my truck when I am not in the woods.  Now at night I can read maps, text messages (I do not text and drive) while parked, and find things in the truck at night.  My wife says I try to be an old man as much as possible and buying these readers probably helps with her argument.  When I showed all my co-workers they pretty much laughed at me.  Now I am not hurt by that because I know that style means nothing in the woods and being able to see and read your meter at night is what matters.  Camping is not a fashion show like how Eddie Bauer or REI might make you think.  It is about functionality and these glasses work on so many levels and they make me look mature like an old man.
The last great part about these glasses is they are USB rechargeable.  So I don't have to keep a stock of medical batteries on me for when the lights go out.  On my patented diabetes camping scale I give the Illuminighters 4 syringes out of 5 syringes.  The reason I gave them four syringes is because the frames are made of a cheap plastic and for 40 dollars you expect some nicer feel.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Death Collection

 This past summer was a rough one for east Texas.  It was hot and dry for a long time.  The effect of this summer has burdened alot of the wildlife in the area.  This year the young buck deer were all over the highways and moving alot in the fall.  They were moving around looking for new water sources and food was scarce.  Just a reference point, hay usually costs about 40 dollars for one of those giant rolls (that is the street price not the contract price), during the summer the price of hay was 100 dollars a roll.  The above photo stinks I know, it was supposed to be of the deer head resting on a brick next to the fire.  The picture looks more like a random test photo when you take the lens off of a camera.
 My son and his buddy this weekend were out exploring our ranch this past weekend and came back with this nice looking deer skull.  This was tangled in a creek and had the back skin and fur still on it.  The nice thing was that the small rodents had only eaten around the nose area and the rack was intact.  I like the tuft of fur between the antlers.  Looks like he just died the other day.
My wife we all know is a middle school science teacher.  The thing she loves the most is dead things and skeletons.  When she was young she used to tear legs off of insects and try to sew them back on.  So now she has what I describe as a "Death collection" of animal bones and skulls.  She says they are for her classroom but who knows why she loves this stuff but she does.  Maybe when I die she can put my skull in her collection to be the centerpiece of the entire collection.  So just a simple hike in the woods found this neat treasure.  That is why I say get outside every now and then.  You never know what you might come across.  You can't find a deer skull in the xbox or the internet.

This also reminds me of that classic joke:  What is the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts?  Beer nuts cost a dollar forty nine and deer nuts are found under a buck.  Get it, under a buck.  That joke gets me every time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Yes, today is that day of love.  Some say this is some sort of Hallmark made up Holiday and that it just promotes corporate wealth.  Well I think it is good to set one day aside as an official holiday to celebrate love with all sorts of candy, flowers and dinner or in any special way.  When did making money become such a bad thing as well?  Then you do need to celebrate love all the time but, having one day set aside just helps remind us to be good to one another.  What can having one day of love hurt?
Now for us diabetics have a good time with chocolates, extravagant meals, and warm and fuzzy feelings of love is a balancing act.  This plays games with our blood sugar levels.  You get nervous your valentine is not going to like your gift and that makes you low.  You get candy and chocolate from family and friends and that makes you high.  Counting carbs for blow pop suckers is complicated.
 My work had a fun valentines day celebration where we decorated boxes and gave out cards.  With these cards there is always candy attached and let me tell you what, I love the candy.  My blood sugars at 2:00pm was a solid 250something and I was pumping insulin as fast as I could eat those chalky hearts.

Now you might be wondering why my box has "hello kitty" on it.  I saw this box at the store and it reminded me of a few years ago when our family was hosting a foreign exchange student from Belgium for six months.  We had a foreign exchange party to go to and another exchange student needed a ride to the party.  Her host family could not make the party so I volunteered to take her.  So in the car was myself, my son, our foreign exchange student, and this girl from Japan.  She did not speak much English and this was an hour long drive.  We all knew that she was not having the best time in Texas and her exchange family was not much on the social scene outside of their church.  So the three of us put our combined heads together to make the drive and party fun.  We wanted to make a connection with her first so we said anything we knew that Japanese people liked.  Well, every time we said "Hello Kitty" she would laugh, then we played old Madonna songs on the CD player and we all sang along.  She had a good time and it made us feel good that we could bring some fun to her stay in America.  Later she moved to another host family that were fun and friendly to her.  Whenever my son and I see anything "Hello Kitty" we always think of how we must have said that to her a million times on that ride and she laughed every time.  It is kind of our "Hello Kitty" badge of honor.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Outdoor Patio

For some reason concrete seems to be hard for me to work with.  I tried making natural colored concrete stepping stones once and well, lets just say they don't look natural or like a stepping stone.  Then if you are barefoot on this path of concrete stepping stones your feet will wind up a bloody mess.
I needed a patio for my sons new grill he made me.  Our ranch is on a hill and the cabin sits about halfway up.  So anytime I need to have a seat or work outside with anything we use bricks to level it out.  My son had invited a friend to come with us out to the ranch and while they were out finding deer skulls and spying on our neighbors I thought to try another attempt at working with concrete.
Now from these photos you are thinking "wow that looks pretty neat for just a couple of hours of work."  The thing is it was supposed to be just concrete and I am still batting .000 with concrete.  Lucky I had these bricks laying around and my son and his friend did this nice brick design.
Looking at how cool this looks makes me want to try my luck and make a retaining wall and a path using more of these bricks and the feared concrete. 
We are hoping that the dirt will fill in the cracks and this will look like an old something or another while we have the grill put away.  I think the lesson here is to try something small and build up your confidence and then conquer that ability and move up.  Then when you try a big project you have the confidence to do it right.  Then maybe when things go wrong ask your friends to help or in this matter your son and his buddy.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A River runs Through it

 The morning after our "Survival" night.  We woke up and had all kinds of laughs around the fire.  The other adults at base camp came to see how we were doing nice and early.  When they arrived they were very concerned for us and that we had to break camp and get on the road back to base camp as soon as possible.
 What we did not know was that the ranch we were staying on was off of a river that was rising from the Friday rains (this was now Sunday) and if we did not move out we would be stuck on the wrong side of the ranch in a flood.
These pictures are of us crossing the road that is in the middle of a field.  The water was rising so fast that the lakes and ponds on the ranch were dumping their water onto the fields.  We made it out safe but it just goes to show that you never know when you will use your survival skills.  We took our boots and socks off and walked through the high waters with a buddy.  So this survival weekend went from mid 70's temperature to high 40's, wind, rain, and of course the little pig.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hello, can you see me?

 So one of the main parts of survival is to be found.  I know all of you people out there have watched "Swiss family Robinson" and if you got lost on a deserted island that is how you would survive.  Well lets come down to reality and you can only have so many supplies on you before you need to be found.  Being a diabetic there is a limited time that you need to be found.  I keep one spare infusion set for my pump and a bottle of insulin in my travel medical kit.  That means I have to be found in one week or it is going to be six feet under for me.  That is just my medical supplies, I keep a power bar and some light snacks in my pack during the week and about a weeks worth of food in my camping bag.
 I know a neat smoke screen like this is cool and fun.  The only thing is they are expensive and dangerous to keep on your person.  Having one of these in the trunk of your car is a safe place to keep a few.  We do this for the scouts to show them how they look and to wow the boys a little.
So what do you use as a way to contact for help when in a survival situation.  The first thing is always keep a fully charged cell phone on you.  Then a NOAA weather radio with a USB charger (to charge your cell phone) should be in your vehicle.  When you are out of cell range or something has happened where your cell does not work.  A signal mirror is nice, easy to cary piece to have.  The picture above is of my favorite signal mirror because of the little peep hole in the center with the mesh.  What this hole and mesh does is create a like laser beam so you know exactly what you are pointing your signal at.  The only thing is you must practice this first because you have to understand how to find the sun and how to use the mirror.  Once you know how to use the mirror it is really cool with the laser beam the mirror makes.  These mirrors cost around ten dollars and yes you can let your wife use it as a vanity mirror while you are safe.