Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fire Starter

 I was out on Saturday trimming some limbs off of a few lop lolly pine trees on my property when I noticed at the bottom some dried sap.  Last week I was surfing the YouTube channel and watched this kid use this stuff to start a fire with.
So I thought I would give it a try and see how well this pine sap worked as a fire starter.
My son and I put a piece on two boards and used the magic wizard stick (that is what I call these new lighters) to see how it would burn.
We had a little mixed reviews on the initial burn.  The pine sap had to first turn to a liquid before it would burn but once it melted it burned like a candle.
The next step was to take the pine sap to the next level and see if it would actually start a fire.  I made a fire layout of cedar as the base, I put some pine sap on top, then of course it was fine dead branches, twigs, sticks, then a few pencil sized pieces to sustain the fire.  Then by my side I had a decent stack of dead sticks and my son had split some logs to put on once the fire was burning good.
The pine sap worked great and I think I might be putting a little of it in my survival pack for the future.

Friday, January 27, 2012

School Grade Grill

My son is in welding class at school this year.  He is really talented at art and like I said yesterday wants to be country to the bone.  To start the class my son did a smart thing and took a look around and tried to find a project that would be beneficial around the house.  The project he came up with or we brainstormed was a charcoal box/grill.  We like to cook on cast iron alot and usually that means bending down and tending the griddle and oven on the ground.  My son decided to bring the heat up to us instead of us bringing the food to the fire.
What motivates a kid to do things I don't know at all.  I have tried bribery with cash or gifts and none of that seems to work.  Something about country stuff though really gets my son going and this charcoal box/grill really put the fire under him and motivated him.  He spent his lunch periods in the shop class everyday working on this and even had to work with the teacher because he was using so much metal (I told him we would pay whatever we needed to for the materials but he convinced the teacher to let him do it free).
I was a little concerned about how this would turn out because we kind of did the rough measurements in our heads.  Then when he ran into issues he would just text me and I tried to help but how much can you help someone fabricate something over a text message?  Then the cover became an issue because I told him to make it into two so we could add more coals to one side and still use the other side.
Finally when it came to making the base he had all sorts of fun trying to figure out how to make the legs.  Then the legs wobbled so he turned them into "H" style braces and they still wobbled so he had to modify it with a bottom brace.  After all of that we wanted it portable so as you can see in the first picture it breaks down and can fit in most any vehicle.  It does weigh a million pounds so you are not going very far if you are the only one setting this up.
In the end I could not be any more proud of how my son saw how we were cooking on the ground and came up with a solution.  Then he designed and fabricated his project and modified it to work in our parameters.  These kind of skills will take him along way down the road to prosperity in the future and that is something everyone needs to know.  Diabetes is exactly that way, we live with this disease and modify everything around us to live a normal happy life but there still are these parameters we have to force the square peg through the round hole.  Sometimes we need to focus more on the little victories in our daily lives so the huge issue do not seem so bad and depressing.  I can't wait to fire this sucker up and make all sorts of diabetes friendly foods.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to be Diabetic White Trash 101

 A few things that have made me excited over the past month or so.  One has been the "find" of a discount bread store that is directly on my way to and from work.  The bread store is probably never a safe place for any diabetic to be (I can't count that many carbs).  I can never figure out how they make any money?  First almost every product is around a dollar or less, then for every six dollars you spend you get a free item from their free rack, and last they give you a card that for every item you buy they mark a number off on the card and when the card is full you get another free item.  if you spend 15 bucks in these stores you basically bought the entire store.
 The last time I was in I picked up two packages of these 100 calorie sandwich thins that have 22 carbs for each set of buns (the top and bottom).  My son is really into trying to be "Country" and downloads all sorts of country music onto my Zune account that plays on my windows phone while I am at my real job.  Reminds me of the movie "Blues Brothers" where the guy tells him they like both kinds of music, country and western.
 One of the songs he downloaded was "Back When" by Tim McGraw and at the beginning of the song Tim talks about remember a fried bologna sandwich with mayo and tomato.  Last night I had a bologna sandwich on sandwich thins, mustard, and cheese.

 My wife said to me "That is just gross" and I am sure alot of you out there are saying the same thing.  I just grew up in a house where my dad used to keep potted meat in the center storage compartment of his van and a package of pilot biscuits and he would eat them anytime he was hungry.  We ate fried bologna for breakfast and it was good.  Now I can enjoy a carbohydrate friendly sandwich (not so fat friendly) that takes me "back when."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Teaching my son how things used to work

 Well my son wanted an old truck for his first vehicle. I was willing to settle on getting him an 87 Dodge D-150.  This truck is OK, it has power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, and it also is old school with a carburetor.
 We have been doing alot of father and son work on this truck since it has a 225 cubic inch slant 6 engine that has had little work done to it.  The previous owner was going to rip it out and install a huge engine with a giant blower on it and all sorts.  The good things the previous owner did was the exhaust, brakes, interior, tires, and rims.  What is left for us is to get the engine running as a daily driver and not just a Saturday evening driver and pray it gets us back home style of truck.
This experience has been lots of fun because he gets to see how an engine works and how to fix it.  Then he understands more mechanical projects and how to plan and proceed with working on them.  The last thing he has learned is to appreciate his first vehicle.  I was asking him the other day how he was going to feel if he wrecked his truck and he responded by saying "I will beat up anyone that touches or hits my truck."  I asked him why and he said "Because I have spent so many hours working on this thing and it is my baby."  That made me proud of him that he was first proud of his work and that he appreciated the truck and wanted to take care of it.

Now if anyone can tell me how to fix a Holley model 1945 single barrel carb from leaking gas out the side that would be great.  I am thinking it is the bowl floats are set too high and the fuel is overflowing the bowl.  Then if you have any suggestions on how to get the grease off of my hands that would be great.  I currently use GOJO hand cleaner but it still leaves grease under my finger nails and I hope it is not affecting my BG readings when testing.  There has to be some diabetic mechanic out there that has a way to get my fingers clean.  My neighbor told me to use Palmolive soap first but that has not helped.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How low can you go?

 This morning I was feeling a bit slow getting out of bed and moving.  Once I had a shower, got dressed, and made my way downstairs to let the dogs out to Pee I checked my blood sugars for my morning reading.  How I was surprised when the meter told me "28" and I did not feel that low?  Lucky for me the last time I dropped by REI and picked up the "Justin's Nut Butter" I blogged about last week or so.  They had these peppermint GU's on sale for .49 cents.  I grabbed a few for my late night runs or just as a pick me up. 
 Why I prefer using GU energy gel's instead of glucose tablets is first my son thinks glucose tablets are just pixie sticks in a pill form and he sneaks one whenever I am not looking, second they do taste great and I sometimes sneak one when I am not paying attention as well, and third I feel like if you eat twenty of them you are going to raise your BG's something like 20 points then I move to the Tampico or ice cream in the freezer.
This is more of a double edged blade because on one hand I don't just sit around drinking GU packs for their great taste.  Then on the other hand when I am low I eat everything else first before eating the GU's because I am not the biggest fan of them.  Then if I have a low at night and a GU is an energy pack, who wants to stay up till midnight watching the Asian stock market updates on MSNBC?  Now these peppermint GU packs are a descent blend of taste and usefulness.  I would give the GU packs 3 syringes out of 5 syringes on my patented diabetes syringe scale for their ability to raise my sugar levels but poor on their taste which sometimes I would just rather eat a pint if ice cream than just take a glucose tablet or a GU pack.

So my journey for a CGM is pretty relevant that I need to get more technology plugged into my belly!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Nothing is more American than an Apple pie and a smile

So a couple of weeks ago I was teaching some outdoor cooking classes at SMU for adult boy scout leaders.  One class was "outdoor cooking A to Z" and the other class was "Dutch Oven cooking."  I had my good friend Russ help me out with these classes since I had 45 people signed up, and having that much food, fire, and hands in the kitchen needs lots of assistants.  My friend Russ is a little different than everyone else in the fact that he prefers apple pie over cobbler when camping. Since he was helping me I thought I would make sure we had ingredients for an apple pie.
Look at this amazing golden brown crust on this pie.  The great thing about making an apple pie in a class environment is that it shows the students how easy it was to make a great pie from simple ingredients.  My favorite is to show kids how to make an apple pie and they are just amazed that it has so few ingredients but tastes so good.
Here are the gooey good insides.  I bought one 3.5lbs bag of delicious red apples for 1.59, one five pound bag of sugar (The sugar was also for other items and I took half the bag home) for 1.79, cinnamon spice from my house, and a ready made pie crust for 2.19, and finally a little butter which was .69 cents for a tub.  Bake until the crust turns golden and call it good.  Make this with any novice kid and they will be amazed what they can do with a little sugar and spice.  I remember one boy came back from a campout and ran to his dad and let him know that the gooey insides of an apple pie is just regular sugar.

Now you can make a fancier pie and also get fancier with the crust but for those out there that want to start simple and work you way up the cooking ladder this is a great first step.  Plus you don't need a recipe just eye ball everything.  With diabetes you can easily replace the sugar with splenda and use a low carb crust or replace the crust with some sort of oatmeal mixture.  We had seven dutch ovens cooking at one time.  That was alot of fun.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I see something or is this OCD?

 I was cleaning some cast iron a couple of months ago and came across this #8 pan.  The pan was crusted in some serious rust and I did everything from electrolysis, oven cleaner, to using sand paper and a knife to get the pan this far.
 The pan is extremely pitted but the iron is of a good quality and I planned to just get the metal to an even surface, re-season and use the pan.  I purchased this skillet from a gentleman that buys entire estate sales in the Pennsylvania area and he sold me it for a good 2 bucks. 
 When I was taking the pan to bare metal I noticed in the middle of the pan a faint logo and now I swear there is something there.  I date this pan to be early 1900's but I could be way far off but, from everything I have read the heat ring, handle, and metal seem to confirm that date.  So for the past two months when I can't sleep at night I will sit at the oven with all sorts of abrasive materials and try to make out what it says.  Now I know this is not some sort of rare expensive find, I just want to know what it says.
Take a look at the pictures and either confirm I am crazy (yes we all know I am crazy) or that it does say something and I you can read what it says.  I can see a distinct two lines on the top and bottom of a word that looks like it ends in a "Y" and starts with something like an "R" or maybe a "K" or something and the rest are kind of bubbly letters.  I have even tried to make chalk rubbings and even put oil in the pan and tried to do like a wet print.  Nothing but late nights and going to bed with the lovely smell of veggie oil will solve this mystery.  Someone out there can help me I know it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Justins Nut Butter

 I think it was last may when we were backpacking along the south bank of Lake Texoma.  My friend Ken had purchased all the food for the trip and in our lunches we had these "Justin's" peanut butter packages.  Now at the time they were ok and I think I had mine with the boiled egg that was in our lunch bags. 

My wife is a middle school science teacher and also a Volleyball and basketball coach.  She will be at her school during the season from 6:00am till 8:00pm most days and even longer on game days.  The thing that she is real good at is forgetting to eat something between classes and before practices.  I usually get a phone call with her telling me how she has the shakes from not eating all day and that she is about to pass out from starvation.  Since I am a diabetic and having gone through situations like this I pack glucose tablets and snack bars to keep me going or to get my blood sugars up from a low.
I was shopping at REI a few months ago and came across these "Justin's" nut butter packages that my friend Ken had put in our packs on that May back packing trip.  They cost something like $1.09 a package and if I buy twelve or more items you get a bulk discount of 10% off.  REI is where I get all my GU packages for running and low blood sugars since they have the flavor of the month and also discount them to .47 cents all the time.  I picked a few of these nut butter packages to go along with my usual GU packs.  I put a few in my brief case and also gave my wife some for her purse.

Fast forward to present time and I now always keep one of these "Justin's" nut butter packs in my daily bag along with a GU package.  One is for fast sugar and the other is to help sustain the sugar or as a quick snack.  I think what I have come to find out is that not all the emergency food or on the road food should be used as quick glucose items for just our low BG's.  We should consider keeping something like these nut butter snacks around for a case of hunger or just to treat yourself on the go.  They have around 190 calories and only 10 total carbohydrates per package.  Now whenever my wife forgets to eat a mean or something.  She can now just reach into her purse and pull out a honey-almond butter snack or a chocolate-hazelnut butter treat and not have to call me and let me know she is moments away from starvation.  I call this a win-win-good treate-win situation. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

John Weitz Diabetic Socks


 Here we have diabetic dress socks from the John Weitz collection from socks 4 life.  Recently I have reviewed diabetic tube socks, diabetic casual socks from socks 4 life/ and even though they do not sell any camping or hiking styled diabetic socks they have given me these socks to try in my Monday through Friday urban surroundings.

These diabetic dress socks were really nice.  They have a good thickness to them, the no seam toes, and the no binding tops like all diabetic socks.  A big difference in the John Weitz diabetic sock is that these are 100% acrylic and that really stands out with a pair dress slacks.  Have you ever seen someone wearing a nice pair of Brooks Brothers slacks and cheap cotton socks?  The sheen of the wool on the slacks clashes with the rough dull look of a cotton sock.  They really stand out like they put good thought into their slacks but could care less about their shoes and socks.

I have recently posted about how I am a Gold Toe sock person.  They are quality made and have quality comfort that lasts.  With these John Weitz socks I am a changed man.  These socks are a solid home run in the diabetes world and would recommend anyone who wants or needs to look nice and also has diabetes to pick a pair or two of these diabetic dress socks.  I received a three pack that had a dark brown, blue, and black and compared them with my Gold Toe socks and the John Weitz socks had comparable colors and a little more thickness which I like.  Overall I would give the John Weitz diabetic dress socks 4 syringes out of five on my patented diabetes scale of one to five syringes.  The reason I did not give them the fifth syringe was because they need more colors to choose from.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Blood Drop Dude

 I hope everyone remembers the beginnings of "The Blood Drop Dude." I know my brother does, he was texting me with all sorts of names like stick man (old nickname of mine), half-swing (another childhood nickname of mine), and all sorts of other crazy names.  Well Deb from "Little Deb's Doodlings" has named him The Blood Drop Dude.  Above is her original artwork beginnings and below are some of the finished products.

 This one here is what we started with but Deb wanted to push the envelop and kind of give the "Dude" more of my personality.  I love his insulin pump on his side and the blood drop as a head is so cool.  I can see him telling kids how to be diabetes prepared while camping and what to do if anything does arise.

 The one above is of course the one I finally went with.  It has a touch of me in it, a touch of diabetes in it, and a touch of technology with him.  That is exactly how I roll in the woods.  I hope Deb has plenty of free time because this banner has given me all sorts of ideas for "The Blood Drop Dude."  How he is going to save the day, or maybe keep me normal during a scout Court of Honor.  I was talking drunk and all sorts of stuff at the last one.  When someone says: "give him a cookie."  They literally mean give me a cookie.

Here is the last one where Deb turned the blood drop into a picture of me camping.  Maybe we can have one where the blood drop dude is like talking to me in a dream or telling me what to look out for while out camping in the woods.  Diabetes and camping can get along great in the outdoors with the right preparation, skills, and training.  Please be safe out there everyone.  Old man winter will be upon us in no time and that means all sorts of issues with diabetes in the cold.

Please take a moment and drop by Deb's blog: http://thelittledeb.blogspot.com/ and look at the children's books she writes and also she does the artwork.  It is amazing how she comes up with these amazing ideas and can put them into a book. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sole Pleasers


 Today I have another diabetic sock review that I received from socks 4 life  This time it is the brand "Sole Pleasers."  I ordered a three pack of brown socks that I call a casual weekend style of sock.  These socks are 80% cotton and 20% Nylon.  The description on the socks4life website about the Sole Pleasers: "you are sure to have great moisture absorption as well as friction reduction to prevent further irritation."  They also say they are "UPS" color friendly for all you package carriers.

These Sole Pleasers are alot better than the Soc Doc tube socks I reviewed yesterday.  Now I am more partial to a casual sock than a tube sock so that does play into this as well.  These socks were not quitters like the Soc Doc's and they felt more even on the leg and had a softer toe.   The only downside to the Sole Pleasers is they did feel a little thin on the material.  So I would give the Soc Doc the point for their thickness and they also felt all around of higher quality material (which makes it even more weird that they were quitters on me).  Overall these Sole Pleaser socks are fantastic and on my patented diabetes syringe scale I would give them 3 syringes on the scale of one to five syringes for their use of nylon to create a wicking sock and for their even feel on the leg and also how comfortable and soft the material felt on my toes.  The downside is I am not sure how long they will last (when they do wear out I will post about it).

Let me do a little disclaimer about  socks 4 life , they do not pay me for these reviews or any advertisements I post about their website.  They were willing to put their diabetes socks to my tests even though they do not have a camping or hiking sock they wanted me to try out their product. These are great people that truly try to have the best sock at the best price and they run all sorts of great discounts all the time.  I would recommend for any of you diabetics out there, or any body for that matter to register on their website.  They even overlap their sales with discounts on their productrs, plus you can get an email with another discount code to get them even cheaper and last if you buy a certain dollar amount they discount them all again.  I call that a win-win-win situation and in the world of diabetes we can never have too many of those.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Socks 4 Life


 Wow, have I been away from my blog for too long.  With year end closing at work and the work for my recent classes I have had little sleep and no time to blob.  With all of that behind me I am back on the streets working for all of you diabetics out there looking for camping advice from your favorite diabetic camper.  One change for the new year is my new banner.  The banner was provided by my friend Deb Meyer at "Little Deb's Doodlings."  I will post more about what Deb and I worked on in the coming days (or if you want, just drop by her blog and see what she had to say about coming up with the blood drop dude). 

 Today I am going to focus on a company called socks 4 life/  They were nice enough to let me have some "Diabetic Socks" from their website to try out and report on.  If any of you diabetics out there are anything like me, you have heard of diabetic socks and only see older people or type 2 people wearing them.  I have always stayed away from them because I have been a "Gold Toe" brand, kind of guy.  I only have worn Gold Toe since I found them in the ninth grade when I was buying socks for the freshman dance  (I just threw out that pair of socks last year).

The first pair I tried were "The Sock Doc" diabetic tube socks that came in a mixed color three pack.  The first thing I found was that you literally you cannot feel the seam in these socks.  You can see the seam but when you put them on you feel nothing.  The Sock Doc's had a downfall and that was they were what I came to know from watching Mel Gibson as "quitters."  That is when your sock does not stay up and it falls down.  Of course all tube socks do that but these socks just did it a little too much for me and too fast.  Everything else was great with the sock and having the no constriction at the top really does help keep your feet from swelling.  I give "The Sock Doc" 2.5 syringes for the "quitter-ness" they posses on my patented diabetes camping syringe scale.

Now I am still on the search for either a synthetic sock or a murano wool sock that qualifies or is recommended by the manufacturer for diabetics to wear camping and hiking.  I was talking to Tim the general manager of Backwoods on Saturday about diabetic socks and that the only ones made are cotton.  The first thing he said about cotton was "cotton kills."  Now I personally don't take it that far but, cotton is comfortable as a plus but it is hard on every other aspect of camping outdoors.  He and I thought for a bit why none of the high end murano wool companies had or would recommend their socks for camping and hiking.  The only thing we could think of is that the seams are too hard to qualify them as "diabetic" socks.

I definitely would recommend these socks of you are in town and doing light to medium walking in an active environment.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Coke and a Smile

Well happy new year to everyone.  Have any of you diabetics out there run into this situation.  You want a Diet Coke and you go to the fridge and grab a can real fast.  Then you take a swig and think your Diet Coke is way sweet and thick just like a regular Coke?
Coke has a new promotion where they are donating money to save the polar bears if you drink their new Coke cans.  The only thing is that the new support the polar bear cans look just like a diet coke can (as seen above).  Now most people are smart and read what they grab before they drink (OK so I don't).  I took a large gulp and realized I was drinking something different than my favorite diet soda.  After reviewing the can I realized I fell to this trap and not to waste, I drank the soda and pumped the appropriate insulin to cover the pure cane sugar and went along my day.
Most people probably see how similar the cans are but don't have any issues because you either have coke in the house or diet coke in the house.  I had this issue at work where my employer is so greatbecause they provide snacks, sodas, fruit drinks, and starbucks coffee for us at no cost (I love my job!). 
This situation got me thinking about random thoughts.  I kind of felt like how blind people feel (yes, I know no where close).  I remember hearing a report on the evening news how the United States is the only country in the world that has all their paper money the same size.  Now this is nice and uniform for you and I but throw in a blind person that is self sufficient and they can't tell a difference from a hundred dollar bill or a five dollar bill.  So just because of this one issue blind people have to rely on others.  One simple change in the size of bills and you liberate another disease.