Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Stay True to You

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Don’t listen to the media.

Seriously, they don’t have your best interests at heart.  They want to sell advertising, not good news.  And, they sure don’t want you to like yourself or feel comfortable with the world around you.  Because, after all, if you feel safe and happy, they don’t know how to sell you things.  Do you think I’m lying?  Then let me give you an example: health and fitness magazines.

I’ve known for years that my favorite health and fitness…
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Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"As long as you're green, you're growing; as soon as you're ripe you start to rot."
   --Ray Kroc


Make Your Own Energy Bars

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:07 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I love energy bars, but, at heart, I’m a cheapskate.

Besides, most of those store-bought energy bars aren’t even really all that healthy for you!  I love them for a lot of reasons.  They’re quick, easy, portable and can easily be thrown in a bag when I head out on an adventure.  But, like I already mentioned, there are downsides.  The store-bought ones generally aren’t cheap, or all that good for you.  So, what to do?
Well, naturally, make your own!

Let’s start with one from Men’s Health magazine; Peanut Butter and Chocolate Energy Bars.  Not bad, but that’s just one recipe and I tend to like a lot more variety than that.
So, here are FOUR very different recipes for energy bars from Chow.  One of the things I like about these four is that they’re inspired by some of my favorite mass-produced energy bars, so I have some idea what I’ll be eating even before I make them.  Also, more variety!  Yea!
And, then, there are three from Alton Brown, which he featured on Good Eats at the Food Network.  These include protein bars and granola bars, for even more variety!

I don’t imagine these will keep too terribly long, but if you use them regularly, making your own can really save you a lot of money.  And, of course, controlling the ingredients means that you can keep them healthier!
Now, you have a project for the weekend!


Another Year’s Reprieve

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:20 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I’m not going to die.

Well, at least, I’m not going to die of cancer.  Not this year, anyway.
Today, the oncologist told me my lymphoma is in full remission still.  In fact, the scar tissue has shrunk even more, from 14cm to 11cm, which I think is kind of amazing, but didn’t seem to illicit any special notice from the doctor.  Some people are just impossible to please, I guess!
He was a little worried because my blood pressure was high, but, then again, I’d just driven though rush-hour traffic to wait around for more than an hour for results on whether or not I was going to have to let them poison me for another six months.  All things considered, I think it’s pretty normal that I might have a slightly elevated BP!  But, I will keep an eye on it and make sure it normalizes again.
He did say, also, that I’ve made it to the point where less than 10% of the people have a likely recurrence of lymphoma.  And, according to his Physician’s Assistant, the five-year mark is where I can be officially considered “cured”, which is the first time anyone has actually told me that.  Everyone else keeps telling me that I’ll never really be “cured”, per se, but always in remission with a smaller, and smaller, and smaller chance of reoccurence every year.  So, today, I got a little more hope than I had before, which is actually pretty nice.

All in all, a pretty good result.  I’ll go back in another 10 months for another scan, which is not quite as long as I’d like, but, better than going again sooner because they found something to be concerned about.  At that time, they will start me on a course of annual visits for this scan, which I’m not incredibly happy about, but will do until a better option comes along.  And, based on what his PA told me, I think it will be something negotiable.  The doctor may not realize that, but, well, I suspect he’s not quite used to dealing with a patient like me.  My last doctor and I joked about the fact that I wouldn’t pay my bills until I knew she was going to do her job and save my life.  We agreed that it seemed only fair!  Of course, she did, in fact, save my life, so I did pay those bills.  That is, however, one concern I have for the long-term; paying those bills.  This gets to be a pretty expensive process and if I don’t really need to keep doing it every year, I may chose to opt for a slightly modified plan.
The doctor may not be excited by that, but I have ten months to sharpen my bargaining skills, while he’s completely in the dark about my plans.  It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out!

Until then, though, I continue to work on my general health and wellness.  I was pleasantly surprised to weigh in at a mere 216, fully clothed and laden down with my ridiculous “daily carry” of keys and flash drives and over-stuffed wallet and all the other pocket litter, as the spies call it, that I usually have on me.  As I mentioned, my blood pressure was a bit high, but I’ll work on that.  A little Zen meditation, and maybe some yoga, ought to bring that under control again.
Oh, don’t be so shocked by the yoga!  No, I haven’t started doing it yet, but several people have suggested it and I decided to start looking into it.  I’m getting older and starting to tighten up some.  My knees in particular seem to get stiffer faster than they did.  Besides, I hear yoga class is a great place to meet women who are physically fit!

I do still struggle a bit with depression.  Nothing too bad, but, well, it is something that cycles around on a semi-regular basis.  I figure the yoga and meditation would help with that, too.  Speaking about my psychological well-being…
My oncologist tells me I should get married.  I thought it might be better to start with dating, but I’m pretty sure I can work the “doctor’s orders” into a decent and semi-original opening line.  I think a bit of laughing in the face of death might help some, too.  I hear chicks dig that.  Of course, I also hear that magnets can cure joint pain and people pay huge money for the kind of rough treatment my poor colon got last week for “health reasons”.  Frankly, I find it hard to believe that a regular course of high colonics could possible be good for me, so I’ll take the things Men’s Health tells me about women with a grain of salt.  (Though, I have started to edit my Match.com profile again in preparation for stepping out in the wild world of dating again.  Seriously.  Lock up your daughters!  Seriously!)

So, yeah, after all my angst last week about the physical side-effects of chemotherapy, I’ve been spared that.  I even got better than expected news, frankly!  So, I admit, I do feel a bit foolish for getting so worked up about it.  I mean, I should have more faith than that, shouldn’t I?  Well, that’s something else I’m still working on.
Thankfully, it seems I have the time.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years of trying to get other people interested in you."
   --Dale Carnegie


Get Ript!

Filed under: Art,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Oh, yeah, now this is equality.

Look for years you ladies have complained about clothes and makeup and all the unfair things that you all feel pressured by society to do, right?  You blame women’s magazines for “body image” issues, among other things.  Oh, I know, I heard it all, especially when I was married.  Guess what?  Men have the same “body issues” from the magazines we read.  No, seriously.  It pains me to think that I’ll never look like one of the cover models on Men’s Health.  And, no, no amount of working out or dietary change will make me all buff and ripped like them.  At least, not if I have to hold down a full-time job and sleep.

Well, for years, you gals have had your “control top” hose and girdles and all manner of amazing engineering to help you with those “issues”.  Finally, men have the same thing.  Ript!  Essentially, a t-shirt/girdle for men, to create the illusion of us being, well, ripped under our dress shirts.  And, it’s just in time for St. Valentine’s Day!
Go look at the site.  I couldn’t stop laughing, either.


Cheap Workouts

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I hate going to the gym.

I like working out, though, for the feeling I get afterward. I like feeling strong and healthy and, well, good. Who doesn’t? But, I hate going to the gym because, well, there are people there, um, watching me. Or, at least, that’s how it feels. I’m sure they’re probably more interested in their own workout, but just the possibility that they might be watching me creeps me out.

So, how can I get a good workout without all that gym equipment?
Thankfully, there are lots of ways. One way, according to Men’s Health, is to use a sandbag. It’s cheaper than a medicine ball and my favorite men’s magazine even has a sandbag workout that the professionals use for you. Because, yes, professional football players don’t use fancy weights to strength train.
Now, I haven’t started doing that one, yet, but I do a lot of push-ups and sit-ups. Not quite as many as I used to do before chemotherapy, but, I’m working up to it again. And, barring holidays or other breaks in my schedule, I do that five days a week in the morning before my coffee and my shower. Great way to start the day!
I have also used, and highly recommend, Dynamic Strength by Sifu Harry Wong. He has plenty of isometric exercises in that book to challenge anyone at any fitness level. And, they’re pretty much all based on traditional Chinese martial arts and health movements, so it’s not some modern, new-age crackpot health scam, either.

I do use a small set of dumbbells, which I’ve had for years, but those weren’t expensive either. And, you can substitute plastic milk jugs full of water, if you need some weights. In fact, with the Russian “kettlebell” phenomena from a few years back, I might just try that out myself!
Of course, I need to start walking with the dog again, too. That light aerobic exercise would probably do more for me than anything else I do now. Besides, I’m sure my Hilda would like to re-explore the neighborhood. Then, after I get a little of my “wind” back, I can start hitting the old heavy bag I’ve got in my garage. When I pounded on that for 20+ minutes three times a week, I was in pretty damn fine shape. Well, one day, I will be again.

So, that’s the way I beat the excuse “The gym’s too expensive and I never go anyway!” What’s yours?

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety."
   --Issac Asimov


Ultimate Grocery List

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,By Bread Alone,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life Goals,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:31 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I love lists!

No, really, I love making lists. Lists help me make sure that I’m not missing anything, whether it’s an important step in a process or an essential ingredient for dinner. Now, I’m trying to be healthy, so I make a grocery list before I got shopping for two reasons. First, I’m copying from the Men’s Health Grocery List, which is all healthy. Second, it helps keep me from allowing binge items into my cart. If I can stick to the list, I can keep the super-yummy cupcakes with that wonderful whipped-lard frosting out of my pantry when I’m feeling lonely, which somehow translates to being hungry. Sorry, I got a little distracted there.

So, as I was writing, I love lists, in particular lately, grocery lists. Naturally, I was excited when I saw the SmarterFitter Blog Grocery List Template for Healthy People. It’s available in both PDF and Excel format and covers most everything. Well, everything except meat. You’ll have to add that in yourself, but everything else is mostly covered in this fairly comprehensive grocery list template. And, if you grab the Excel version, it’s very easily customized to fit your personal habits and preferences.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A man is known by the company his mind keeps."
   --Thomas Bailey Aldrich


Before Implies An After

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Dog and Pony Shows,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:57 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Tuesday night, I took “before” pictures.
Knowing that the Queen of the Damned will likely read this, I hesitate to mention how heavy I’ve gotten. Let’s just say that I’m the heaviest I remember being, ever, and I’d like to lose forty pounds or so. And, it’s not like I haven’t been meaning to get back in shape after last year’s “little episode”. Chemotherapy takes that weight off great, but it all seems to come back with the hair! And, every pound seemed to bring a buddy!!

In any case, I started planning for this even before treatment ended. I got several books on exercise and I had a new pair of running shoes from before I was diagnosed. Not that I’m allowed to start running at my age, but they’ll give me support for taking the dog on walks.
I’ve had a subscription to Men’s Health for several months now. Believe it or not, in spite of being the male equivalent of Cosmo, there’s really a lot of pretty good health advice in there. Granted, there are lots of articles on women that my, admittedly limited, experience leads me to believe are somewhat suspect, but at least there aren’t any articles on how to achieve orgasm while caulking your windows. (I swear to you I actually saw an article like that in a women’s magazine when I was working as a security guard in college! I would not lie to you about something as important as this!) I’ve even bought several of their cookbooks now, in an attempt to eat better, and healthier. If I can just stop going out with friends so often, I think I’d do better there.
And, of course, all of this is just smoke and mirrors if I can’t get my shit together and actually start working out. Doing anything, really, would be better than I’ve been doing for the past couple of months. Just walking the dog would be a start.

So, that’s why I took the before pictures. I see those guys in Men’s Health all the time, those “before-and-after” guys, those “Bellyoff! Club” guys, and I want to be one of them. I need the “before” clearly in front of me. The last time I lost a bunch of weight, it was because I saw a picture of myself when my ex-wife and I were buying our house. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten so fat! Well, this is the same thing.

Now, I just need to make my “after” happen.

Update:  I discovered this morning that it turns out that I’m not quite at my heaviest ever, but I’d still like to lose thirty-five to forty pounds.


Men’s Health Cooking

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Personal,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:43 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I love Men’s Health cooking recipes.

I got a book some weeks ago titled A Man, A Can, A Plan, A Second Helping. I meant to get the first one, but, somehow, I got the second one. It doesn’t matter, because the recipes are still great and still from Men’s Health.
The premise is simple, all the main ingredients for the recipes are things in cans that can stay on the shelf for a long time. This is the perfect cookbook for men, or women, on the go who don’t have time to go grocery shopping every single week. With this cookbook, you can plan ahead and get cans of ingredients and leave them on the shelf for weeks until you need them.

Tonight, I made my first recipe from A Man, A Can, A Plan, A Second Helping. I made Black Gold Burritos. Since this book is still available and in print, I don’t feel right listing the recipe, but, hopefully, the link to Amazon will show you what I made.
Naturally, I had a few substitutions. First, I thought I had a can of corn in the cupboard, but it turns out I had creamed corn. I drained it and used it anyway. Also, I didn’t have a full cup of red peppers, so I diced up a yellow pepper and made a cup of peppers with red and yellow combined. It turned out quite well indeed. I made three burritos to eat, and three for another time, but I ran out of wheat tortillas, so I had “stuff” left over. More than enough for two more burritos, making the eight that the recipe claims to create. Either my tortillas were smaller than theirs, or they’re making really huge portions that, somehow, don’t spill out. Mine spilled all over the plate, but Hilda seemed to like helping me clean up, so it was all good. And, take it from me, it really was ALL good! The burritos were quick, at less than an hour to prepare and cook, and very tasty!
If the original A Man, A Can, A Plan is half as good as this one, I heartily recommend them both.

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