Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Food, Glorious Food

Food. Glorious food. It is something we all have in common. A need...and perhaps even a love...for food. And I certainly have my share of foods I love. Can you say "Chocolate", anyone?

There are certain foods I find particularly satisfying and at the same time quite healthy. (Chocolate is a health food, is it not?) These are what I would consider to be perfect foods. Not necessarily the best tasting in the world or anything that will win earn a place in Emeril Lagasse's next cooking show, but I struggle to find foods which are more perfect than these.

Probably at the top of my list of perfect foods is Chili. Chili con carne. Chili with beans. Chili con carne with beans. Mild or hot, pretty much any chili is great. Not only is chili filling (from the meat), but it has a great blend of high fiber (beans), and a rich source of vitamins (the tomatoes). I can eat chili every day. Often I do. And now that Wendy's lets you substitute their fries for a small chili, I can even get it when fast-food is the order of the day. The downside to chili is that it is hard to predict how it will impact your blood sugar levels.

Next up...Kashi Go-Lean Crunch. Okay, I'll admit, I was a bit leery of this cereal when it first came out. I had tried another Kashi cereal, and it pretty much tasted like twigs. But I was looking for a cereal that was high in fiber (more than 4 grams per serving). Go-Lean Crunch easily fits the bill at 8 grams. On top of that, unlike most cereals, it is packed with 9 grams of protein. But to top it off, it actually tastes good. Granted, it isn't a taste you expect at first. In fact, when I first tried it, I wasn't sure if I'd like it. But it turns out it is a cereal that tastes better the longer it sits in milk. Even after waiting fifteen minutes, this cereal stays crunchy in milk, but the taste improves with each bite. Rather addicting. The downside to this cereal, however, is price. It tends to be expensive, so I don't buy it as often as I'd like. Usually I buy the off-brand version of Frosted Mini-Wheats (which comes in around 5 grams of fiber). But if you find Go-Lean Crunch (in the white box) on sale, give it a try.

Finally, is Homemade Brand's Serious Chocolate Premium Ice Cream. Let me tell you, as a connesewer...uh...conniesuer...uh...connoisseur of chocolate, I've tried just about every chocolate ice cream in existence. But Serious Chocolate is the best, bar none. Okay, so it isn't healthy. But it is delicious beyond words, especially if you let it warm up to that point just before it melts. The only problem is that it seems to be difficult to find. Kroger doesn't carry it at all, and Meijer is rather spotty about it. But if you manage to find it, and you love chocolate as much as I do (although, I find that hard to fathom)...give it a go.

Oh, sure, there are plenty other foods...but those rank at the top at the moment. What about you? What are your foods you absolutely love?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Walking "The Walk"

Everyone needs a toolbox with some very basic tools. Hammer, at least two screwdrivers (Philips and flathead), a wrench, plyers, and, of course, duct tape. By the way, watch out for "duck tape", which is a poor imitation of duct tape which takes advantage of the common mispronunciation. It is definitely not "duck tape".

And in the land of fatherhood, it turns out there are a few necessary tools to be effective. At least with young kids. So, I thought I'd share them with you.

The Walk

This isn't just any walk. This is the "I mean business, and you'll be sorry you dared not come when I call you" walk. It is a very determined walk. Brisk, but not running...arms swinging enough to draw attention to both of your fists...and the fists, of course, are to highlight your extreme disapproval.

When used correctly, The Walk incites instant regret for having disobeyed. No further disciplinary action is often necessary since they are typically in tears by the time you grab them by the shirt and toss them over your shoulder. But you can't give in yet...this is where the next tool comes in

The Look

Made famous by mothers everywhere, The Look can be utilized by fathers as well. However, fathers need to be careful about overusing The Look, because otherwise you risk just looking goofy, and inciting laughter as a response. The Look is a narrowing of the brow in combination with a slight frown, lips pursed. It is highly effective after The Walk because it lets your child know they aren't off the hook yet. You are still disappointed in them, and you don't want them to forget it.

The Look is useful in other situations as well, and can sometimes be effective just prior to needing The Walk. Just that stare will cause them to cower in fear and come running to you without the need to go chasing after them. Now, as I mentioned, mothers have a whole host of other uses and variations on The Look. Men, however, need to keep it limited.

The Joke

Actually, this isn't a single joke, though it could be. It is the fact that this father likes to try to make jokes that his kids find entirely (and forgive me for using the "s" word here)...stupid! Yet, this view of a "completely pathetic jokester called Dad" that the kids have is important to the relationship. It helps develop a sense of not only self-worth, but grants them permission to make fools of themselves sometimes without falling apart. If Dad can embarrass himself by telling humorless humor, I guess we can face embarrassing situations as well.

That's the theory, anyhow. Don't know if it is working. But, if you every hear me mention "pickles", you now have a bit of insight into the hilarity (or lack thereof) I can come up with my kids.

"What's for breakfast, Dad?"

"Pickle cereal!"

"What kind of cake are you making?"

"Pickle cake!"

Absurd, perhaps. But, what's wrong with a little absurdity among family?

The Sermon

Do you know this one? The ability of a father to make a child feel utterly remorseful for the slightest of things by offering them The Sermon. Of course, no two "Sermons" are exactly the same, but they can all be bundled together. The Sermon is an opportunity for a father to share how things were when he was a child, and how that makes the injustices of today in their lives seem rather impotent. Okay, so I didn't walk uphill both ways to school...but I did live without cable and a VCR (uh...DVD player) until I was about ten or eleven, which is, clearly, far worse than walking uphill both ways to school.

The Sermon is amazingly effective. Just a few days ago, I managed to influence their complete method of playtime with a Sermon. I told them how acting out what they see on television (or, more specifically, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) isn't anything special. Anyone can act out what they see. What is really special is when they can come up with something to pretend all on their own.

My son's response? "Uh. We don't know how to do that."

So, see? Very effective indeed.

Anyhow, I think that's enough for now. If you don't already have these tools in your toolbox of fatherhood, you need to work on them. Of course, if your kids are considerably older, then you're on your own...because I'm a bit of a procrastinator, and I haven't purchased the tools I need for the teen years, which I believe involve a straight-jacket, a water barrel, hammer and nails, and a drill for air holes.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

For the Cough of It

I tend to cough a lot. Mostly those annoying coughs that never quite clear away everything you wish it would, leaving you to cough again in a few seconds or a few minutes. It is annoying. Far more annoying, in my opinion, than having to deal with finger pokes or calculating insulin boluses.

Coughing, for me, can mean one of several things, the last of which tends to be that I'm actually coming down with something. More often than not it means allergies.

Back when I first started pumping, I was following the advice of placing a patch of Tegaderm or other such medical tape, and then inserting the infusion set through it. That worked for a few months, but I noticed I was coughing more and more. Eventually, the sites with tape were developing a rash and becoming itchy, and finally would start weeping within a day or two. I then went through a round of trying no fewer than twelve different tape products. Some were better than others, but all still resulted in a reaction. One day, my coughing was so bad that I literally pulled a muscle (or something) in my chest. I was in pain for weeks, and it never really completely healed.

Then I decided to forego the tape entirely. Just use the infusion set as is. Well, due to my dry skin, the tape didn't always stick as well, but my reactions ceased entirely. So, that's what I do today. Just say no to tape. Two things came out of that. First, I have an allergy to latex. Second, I have an allergy to most forms of adhesives, because many of the tapes I tries were not latex. (But the latex ones had the most severe reaction.)

But my coughing continued. Next up, seasonal allergies. Some people sneeze, other people get watery, itchy eyes, but I cough. The cough from allergies is livable, though, which is good, since I prefer not to take allergy medicine unless I have to. (A result of a lesson learned back in the days of Seldane before they found out it was killing people, which I won't go into here.)

There are times, however, when my coughing is pretty harsh. And this is the one that is important, because it is a sign of high blood sugar. Or, more accurately, rising blood sugar.

Frankly, I don't understand the physical aspects of it, and it isn't something that I've seen listed on any symptom sheet, but I can fairly accurately predict my BGL based on my cough. In fact, it is so accurate, that if I find myself suddenly coughing more, and I don't want to stop to test my BGL, I can make a correction bolus without risk of triggering low.

And I say that it is really more about rising bloog sugar than high because there is a point when the coughing stops. The coughing starts somewhere near the 160 mark, and grows more intense up to around 200. Then the cough starts to taper off until I'm up to about 240 or so. Also, the cough is influenced by how hydrated I am.

I spent the first fifteen years of my diabetic life never realizing that coughing meant anything. As far as I can recall, perhaps coughing never was a symptom prior to then. But once I put the connection together, it is yet another nice way to keep tabs on my BGL. It is another example of keeping tabs on your body's individual symptoms, and using them to the benefit of keeping control. So pay attention the next time you start coughing. Check your BGL, see if there is any correlation. Pay attention to the different types of cough, because just like there are many types of snow, there are many types of cough.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Please! Not again!

I want to publically thank my brother and sister-in-law for buying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on DVD for my son this past holiday. Because my family (and by family, I mean those of us under the age of ten) has been watching the movie every day for, well, weeks I think. And singing the songs from the movie. Over. And over. And over. Again.

Okay, okay...so they bought it for my kids per our recommendation. And, okay, so we have parental control over what and how much they can watch. But I'll tell you right now, I'm about to throw the movie in the garbage can. (Only, that won't work, since our daughter seems to like finding things in the garbage...particularly edible things...) Just how many times can you listen to your children sing, "Chewing, chewing, all day long...chewing, chewing, all day long..."? Well, frankly, much like the Owl who must try to figure out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, I just don't have the patience to find out.

The movie is, in all fairness, a good one. In fact, they have these special features where they teach the kids all the moves to the dances the Oompa-Loompas do. In a way, it is a form of Phys. Ed. But now, not only do they sing the songs over and over and...well, you understand...but they dance. They'll be walking through the living room and break into dancing, putting John Travolta's performance in Staying Alive to shame.

I think back to when I was this age, and I realize that we still didn't even have a way to watch movies at home. We had to wait until they were on network television, since we had neither cable nor a VCR. So, the obsession that kids can have with movies is a relatively new phenomenon. One, I must say, I'm not altogether pleased with. But then, in a day and age where allowing your kids to play outside puts them at risk of predators (of the human variety), there are limited options for what they can do inside our tiny house. Reading, of course...except that only our oldest is able to read.

So, they watch. And watch. And watch some more. And I'm sure that at some point tonight, after I walk through the doors, I'll have to tell my kids, "Please! Not again!" I'm rather certain of this, because earlier today my son called me at work and said, "Dad? Where's the Willy Wonka DVD?"

"In the garbage, son." (Okay, not really.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Eternally Christmas

At our house, it is eternally Christmas. Not because of our never-ending joy, our desire for peace on earth 24/7, nor because of a spirit of giving. It is Christmas forever at our house because I never took the lights off the roof.

This is a horrible revelation, I know. I've just become one of "those" people to you, haven't I? But I'll be honest, up until last year, I was very diligent about the lights. They would come off as soon as good weather allows. But something happened last year. Maybe I was just lazy, though I'd like to think it was because I was overwhelmingly busy. And then we had snow, and ice, then rain, and then a few nice and sunny days which I just didn't feel like spending up on a ladder, and so I didn't. Next thing I knew, it was June. Lights still on the house. By this time, I didn't even notice them any more. And, well, it was already halfway through the year, so why bother taking them off now?

There was an up side to this, however, because this past holiday season, I never got around to putting lights on the bushes (which my son reminded me of on a daily basis)...and had the lights not been left on the whole year through, we probably would have had no holiday cheer proclaimed from the rooftops whatsoever. So, you see, it really was a good thing.

And just why am I telling you this now, as we approach the end of January? Well, I'm sorry/proud/embarrassed to say that the lights remain firmly attached to the shingles, and I'm considering going another whole year. Does that make me a bad person? Does that make me trailer trash? What does it make me?

The rest of the decorations have been down for weeks. But, honestly, I just don't feel like taking down the lights. So I'm not going to, and there's nothing you can do to make me.

But I would like to know if I'm alone in my resolve. Or, in the very least, am I alone in thinking it isn't a bad reflection of us? I could cheat. I could say that I'm leaving the lights on the house because we also decorate for Valentine's Day (which they do, in fact, sell lights for), St. Patrick's Day (and I am, in fact, part Irish), uh, April Fool's Day (and believe me, am I a fool at times), and well, you get the idea. But I'm not going to say that. I'm not going to lie.

But I do want someone, somewhere, to tell me its okay. I deserve to be a bit rebellious, stirring up trouble in my neighborhood. I know, I know, I'm a wild man. But, what can I say? It's eternally Christmas. Right? I said...right?

Oh, yes. By the way. In case you were wondering, my fingertips are back. Numbness gone.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Numb Fingertips

Have you ever fallen asleep on your own arms, and then hours later wake up to find that your arms have stopped functioning entirely? You roll over, but your arms don't move. You have to flop them around and look to make sure you still have them. Of course, within a minute or so, the blood flow returns and you miraculously regrow your arms.

This morning, I woke up with numb fingertips on one hand. Specifically, the thumb, pointer, and middle finger. My initial reaction was, "Whoa! That feels weird!" But I knew the feeling would return shortly.

But then it didn't. Now, two hours after I woke up, my fingertips are still numb. And, as a diabetic where neuropathy is certainly a major concern, it disturbs me a little. I'm giving it the day. There have been times when similar sensations have come, but disappear by the end of the day. For example, I frequently get this burning mixed with numb feeling just above my right knee, and it always starts while I'm sleeping. It kind of feels like a rugburn, but the skin isn't actually irritated. It is more internal. Anyhow, I've mentioned this to my doctor before, and he wasn't concerned. It happens probably once every few weeks.

I've never had this happen to my fingers though. I also wonder if it could be sign of dehydration, because due to some high blood sugars I had last night, I'm sure I woke up dehydrated. (If my ten trips to the bathroom last night were any indication.) I just opened up a water bottle here in case that's it.

I have trouble believing it is anything related to neuropathy. I mean, it doesn't happen that quickly. Does it? Overnight? Bam, you can't feel your fingertips.

We'll see. If I can't feel my fingertips by tomorrow, I'm calling the doc.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Calling All Eagles!

Are you an Eagle? Well, based on how many high schools and universities have made the Eagle their school mascot, good chances you are. I'm an Eagle. My wife is as well, actually. But not from the same school. In fact, she is only half an Eagle, because midway through her years in college, the college decided to forego its use of a specific Native American tribe name, and instead switch it to something politically correct. So, she went from being a Huron and became an Eagle.

My Eaglehood stems from my high school, however. Lakeland High School, actually. Which, ironically enough, is part of the Huron Valley School district. So, you see, right there you can tell we were meant for each other.

But I digress. Because the reason I'm calling all Eagles is because I realized today that this year, I've been out of high school for fifteen years. Amazing, really. Where did the time go? But this also make me realize that there is the potential of having a fifteen-year reunion. Yet, I haven't heard word of one. So in an attempt to take advantage of not only this blog, but also Google's search abilities, I thought I'd write an entry that has keywords in it. Lakeland, for one. Eagle, for another. And reunion. So, if any one of my fellow alumnists happen to do a search, they just might stumble upon my blog.

Then again, they might not. I'll admit, I like the idea of reunions. I attended my ten-year reunion and had some fun. Not a lot of fun, for you see, back in my high school days I wasn't exactly socially popular. I was in the geek crowd. No biggie. I liked it. Still, when student elections came around, I was far more likely to be voted "Most Likely To...Uh...Who Is This Guy Again?" than "Most Popular".

I found my little niche of friends at the reunion, however, so I was happy. It was nice to catch up, pick on each other, see what they were up to. Like Mark, who actually made it into the horror movie business. In high school, I remember reading some of his writing and learning just exactly what "morose" means.

So, for all those fellow Eagles from the class of '91...if you happen to stumble upon this blog, send me a note! Even if there is no reunion, with the miracle of modern technology, we can still "get together".

Hmm. It may be months...or years...before anyone stumbles upon this blog entry.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mr. Sensitivity

In the broad spectrum of sensitivity in men, I certainly know that I fall closer to the "Falls to pieces at each and every Hallmark commercial" side of things than the "His face is chiseled in stone" side. I pride myself in being a real man who can cry.

The funny thing about my sensitivity is that I am often sensitive to things that perhaps I shouldn't be, but not to things I should. This, of course, frustrates my wife to no end. And I wish I could explain why it is. Maybe it is an ingrained need to be a "rock of stability" at times when my wife is feeling emotional about something. Yet, the downside to that is I cannot "mirror" her in those times, really feel what she feels. Finding the middle ground is difficult.

But then there are those things I feel very deeply, and typically about things that really have nothing to do with me or my wife. This morning was one of those moments.

Two nights ago, I went through all the CDs I had in my car and swapped them out for a new set of CDs. Now anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love Les Miserables. I always wanted to play the part of Jean Valjean. And Marius. And Javere. Fortunately, in the car, I can play them all...and Eponine and the Thenardiers, and everyone else as well.

Anyhow, the men who created Les Miserables (the musical, as opposed to the book that the musical is based from) also created Miss Saigon. And, just as I love Les Miz, I love Miss Saigon. Powerful stuff, even if I can't personally relate to much of anything in it.

So, today during my drive in to work, in no fewer than three distinct scenes, tears were streaming down my face. No, not just that, "Oh, my eyes are going to tear up, so I need to blink," feeling. But full-fledged tears. That's me, Mr. Sensitivity.

And I have to wonder why that is. Okay, so the writers want to you cry. I get that. But, I mean, why is it that I can cry about a fictional man telling his fictional wife what his fictional lover meant to him while he was a soldier in Vietnam, but the sad moments of real life I can keep my face completely dry?

I know, for myself, that emotions are a thing of logic. Specifically, I'm somewhat at a loss as to what I feel in emotional situations until afterwards, when I have time to think about things. What do I feel? Why did I react that way to that situation? Feelings come slowly, sometimes with a bit of pushing and prodding.

There is another downside to this. Because while my lows aren't as low as what my wife feels, my highs aren't as high either. It really takes a lot to get me truly excited about something. So, I suppose there is a trade-off. In the meantime, I continually strive to better understand the feelings of my wife, my children...but mostly myself.

And for the record, I haven't cried at a Hallmark commercial in a really long time. Really.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A World Without Pull-Ups

Imagine there's no Pull-Ups,
It's easy if you try,
No smell below us,
Above us only smiles,
Imagine all the children
in underwear...

Okay, so it's not quite Lennon's song, but I think it has a far more realistic dream to imagine. At least in my world. Because four nights ago, my three-year-old decided it was time to sleep through the night without a Pull-Up on. And three of those last four nights, he has succeeded without incident. If that isn't cause for celebration, I don't know what is.

But, our world isn't yet complete. We have our two-year-old daughter still in diapers. Yet, she is showing all the "signs of readiness" to begin potty training, so perhaps the day isn't so far off. It is a world that I find hard to imagine, actually. Not easy. Because for the past seven-and-a-half years, we have had at least one child in diapers at all times. Almost eight years, actually. And much of that time we've had more than one.

I'll admit that changing diapers has never been a huge chore. I guess you just accept it as part of the package of parenthood. Even the horrific moments, such as walking into your daughter's room to find she has smeared her own feces all over the wall, her crib, her sheets, and herself. Such moments are like an initiation. One of those, "you just wait" events that you are warned about by parents with a bit more experience under the belt, and one of those events that you swear you will manage to avoid in your role as a perfect parent.

Perfection evades the best of us...but still, I can't help but wonder what life would really be like without having to deal with diapers and Pull-Ups. Here are a few possibilities:

  1. The amount of money we'll save will mean we can, perhaps, actually pay off our credits cards.
  2. The time shaved off our day will allow each of us to be more productive, resulting in leaps and bounds increases in output. In short, more writing time for me! (Or not.)
  3. We will single-handedly reduce the amount of waste in our landfills, and will be awarded Nobel Peace Prizes as a result.
  4. Fewer trips to the garbage cans behind our house.
  5. Fewer raccoons/skunks/cats/dogs/or whatever animal is always getting into the garbage cans behind our house.
  6. Life filled with peace and tranquility where my wife and I dance with giddiness each and every time our daughter goes to use the potty chair, thereby reducing stress and increasing the endorphines that make us feel happier.

Of course, I'll be happy if only number four and/or five are true.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Story of the Month

I decided to add a new feature to my website. I will post a new short story each month. Not just any short story, but a short story that I have written.

I've thought long and hard about this. Because what I should do is send some of these stories out seeking publication either in a print or on-line literary magazine. The logic is simple: In order to become published, one must first be published. Sometimes. So, why not garner a few publishing credits?

In principle, it is a great idea. And I have actually submitted a few short stories to places a couple times. But I was spending more time tracking down the ideal places to send the stories than I actually spent in writing the stories. And, given the rest of my obligations right now, I just didn't have that much time. So, my stories have sat, waiting for more attention. And there they have sat, not quite forgotten...but feeling rather lonely.

But if I publish my stories on my website, there is little chance they would be accepted for publication elsewhere. I might sacrifice a potential publishing credit. Or, I might save myself a lot of time because some of the stories might never be accepted anywhere.

In the end, I decided I'm fooling myself. While there are stories I still might eventually attempt to submit, there are plenty of stories. I'm in no shortage of ideas. So, why not post some of those stories rather than let them waste away on my hard drive?

So, as of today, I have put my first Story of the Month on my website: Half Moon Tree. Take a look. Let me know what you think. And its honesty I care about, not praise. My goal is to improve as a writer. So if there is something you don't like, say so! If there is something that touches your soul, say that, too! If you just don't even care...well, you can keep quiet. That might hurt my feelings, sending me into a deep, dark depression that could last for weeks or months where I get nothing done whatsoever, including updating this blog. Wait a minute...now you are all going to tell me you don't even care, aren't you?

In the end will posting my stories be a smart idea? Who knows? But, I'll give it a try and take it from there. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I Like Spam

How much Spam can you handle? My inbox is filled with spam daily, despite the spam filters that are in place, advertising everything from the best prices in Viagra to the best prices on Rolex watches to...well...that's about it. Mostly spam about that.

But I'm talking about Spam. Capital S. You know, that stuff in a can that no one really knows for sure what it is?

Well, I'm coming forward to tell you today that I like that stuff. Sure, the thought of it is disgusting, especially that gelatinous coating that encases the, uh, meat. What is that? Well, it isn't supposed to matter. You aren't supposed to think about it. Just slice off some, fry it up, stick it on a sandwich with lettuce and mayonaise, and you have yourself one tasty meal.

I've heard rumors...and they are probably just urban legends...that the stuff was invented for soldiers in the war, so that they could eat meat anytime, anywhere. Just pop open a can and voila! I've also heard that it was infiltrated across the border from Soviet spies at one time in an attempt to poison the population of the United States with high-fat, heart-attack-inducing food.

But whatever the reason, I was feeling nostalgic for the stuff. Honestly, I haven't bought a can of Spam in ages. But I just might. I mean, after all, they still sell the stuff...so someone, somewhere is buying it. Which means it is edible. Unless...

What if all the Spam in the world is like fruitcake? No one eats it. But it never goes bad, so they just keep it on the shelves in hopes that one day someone will buy it and eat it. Rather than throw it out, filling up the nation's landfills, they just keep it spread out among the grocery stores in hopes that someone, somewhere will buy a can and fry some up.

Well...uh...my stomach isn't feeling so good at the moment. I think I'd better stop talking about Spam now. I'm imagining that smell. You know, when you first open a can? Like the smell of dog food?

What was I thinking? I don't like Spam. There. I'm glad I got that off my chest.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Why I Don't (Usually) Blog About Diabetes

It amazes me, really, just how many blogs on the Diabetes OC are able to stick to the topic of diabetes so much. Is diabetes really that consuming that there is that much to write about? Because here, I have an occasional diabetes-related blog entry...and even that is stretching things.

So, the questions becomes...do you "obsess" about diabetes in your daily lives that much as well? Or do you just save it all for your blogs? I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, or anything...but honestly, the idea is rather foreign.

I suppose it is because 71% of my lifetime, I've lived with diabetes. Life before the disease barely registers in my memory. It is just who I am. Who I've always been, for as long as I can remember. So, why would I just blog about it so much?

In the same year that I was diagnosed with diabetes, I got my first pair of glasses. What an amazing new world that was, for the first time in my life able to actually see that trees were not a huge blob of green, but that the blobs were made up of individual leaves. I could actually read the signs hundreds of feet away. Overnight, the world changed.

But today, I certainly don't find the need to blog about my near-sightedness. Glasses are a part of my life, but nothing especially extraordinary. And, I suppose, I feel the same about diabetes.

I do find, however, that in the company of other diabetics, the subject seems to monopolize the conversation. It is an opportunity to share experiences, differences, and learn. I guess that is what the Diabetes OC is.

Back when I was in, I believe, junior high, maybe five years post-diagnosis, I remember watching the Ironman Triathalon. But, honestly, I didn't care one bit about triathalons. I just wasn't that into sports. (I'm still not.) So, why the fascination? Because that particular year there was someone inspirational participating. A Type 1 diabetic. I don't even remember his name. But I remember cheering him on, and how they showed him eating fudge along the way to keep his BGLs up. It was a chance to see that diabetes would not interfere with the rest of my life. That I could really accomplish anything I wanted, and that my dreams would never die because of my disease.

And they haven't. I am who I am, and I've accomplished what I've accomplished all the while trying to deal with my diabetes. It is no big deal to me. There are many far more difficult trials I've faced in life. Many I have still yet to face, I'm sure. So, for the time being, I don't really obsess about diabetes. I don't really put much thought into at all. At least, not any more than I have to.

That is why, I suppose, you'll only find the occasional blog entry about diabetes here.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Would You Care For Some Cherry Filling?

Last night I attended my brother-in-law's wedding. A rather small shin-dig (I've never used that word in my life!). But I didn't just attend, I also sang. Which, of course, the guests found horribly annoying because they were trying to hear the exchange of vows. But what can you do when the lyrics to a song just pop into your head?

Okay, okay...so I didn't really do that. I did sing, however, as requested. Anyhow, afterwards, at the reception, the newlyweds were cutting the cake. This, of course, reminded me of an incident at my own wedding, over ten years ago.

So come with me, now, on a journey through memory lane. Unlike my brother-in-law's wedding, our wedding was not a small shin-dig. It was a rather large shin-dig, with three-hundred-plus guests, close to fifty minutes along, with a grand total of eight songs. I've joked that we should have printed programs: The Wedding - A Musical Of Love's Beginning.

Aside from an episode early in the day where I had panicked because I had misplaced Marsha's wedding ring, everything went rather smoothly. Until the reception.

Neither of us were all that nervous for the wedding...but the idea of walking into a room full of three-hundred-people who want nothing more than to see the two of you kiss over and over on demand, we were nervous. We entered, and were immediately ushered in to cut the cake. (We did not have a sit-down dinner, but rather, a serve yourself buffet of sorts.) Of course, there doesn't seem to be a set of pictures more pointless than those cutting the cake, but there we were, fulfilling our obligation to marital society.

Anyhow, we cut the cake and then proceeded to feed each other our first slice of cake as a married couple. How terribly romantic. Except that as I took my bite, my nose started to bleed. All over my piece of cake.

Marsha didn't notice this, and started realizing that there as cherry filling in this cake. But there isn't supposed to be cherry filling! Scared I'm going to bleed all over the rest of the cake, I find the nearest napkin and run off, leaving my bride behind fuming that the bakery messed up our cake, because cherry filling was clearly not what she ordered.

Watching our wedding video, the first act together as a married couple is shown as Marsha getting angry, and myself running out of the room. Fortunately, that isn't how the remainder of our marriage has been.

Still, be careful the next time you are at a wedding reception. That cherry filling just might be..well, something else entirely!

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Trouble With Brownies

We have a brownie problem in our home. You see, we all love them. Well, our three-year-old isn't allowed to eat them due to food allergies, but the other five of us can.

So, when I baked a particularly delicious 13x9 pan of chocolate brownies with chocolate frosting on top, we had a bit of a brownie feud. Personally, I made out on the short end of this little battle for brownie territory, as I only had two rather small brownies. The sacrifices one must make as a father.

Anyhow, as of yesterday night there was one brownie left. And, much to the chagrine of my oldest son, we had allocated this brownie to my second-born. The reason was quite clear: He had been sick for a few days, and hadn't really successfully eaten any of the brownies. Yet, this same six-year-old happens to be the biggest sweets-a-holic I've ever seen. He is the one whose daily life isn't complete without obsessing about if and when dessert will be.

My eldest didn't see this as a fair deal. The reason? Well, while he had a brownie yesterday, his brother was given a strawberry shake from Mickey D's because it was pretty much the only thing that he would eat or drink given the state of his stomach ills. So, why, then, does the last brownie go to him? Isn't a shake bigger than a brownie?

No. The brownie is Jesse's. And the sulking began. But, the brownie remained, untouched, in the pan as of this morning, safe and sound behind the protection of not only a gate, but also a plastic snap-on lid.

Fast forward now. At some point, Josiah (my eldest son) opened the gate to the kitchen and left it open. That's the first problem. Later, Jesse opened the lid to the pan of brownies just to double-check it was still there. And it was.

So, my wife decided to split up our younger children, and left my daughter at the table with Color Wonder markers (you know, those magical markers that won't write on anything except the special paper) while she attended to the other one in the other room. Brilliant idea, really, because it assured she would not be able to make a mess.

But when my wife returned, she was a mess. A brown mess. Covered in chocolate. Chocolate that she obtained from the open pan of brownies left in the ungated kitchen. And the brownie? Gone. Down the hatch.

And, of course, the most horrifying thing about this whole even is not the mess my daughter made. It was having to inform poor Jesse that his brownie was no more. According to my wife, he took it rather well. But I still feel sorry for him, because eating his dessert is just about the worst thing you could ever do to him.

Then there is Josiah. Of course, he didn't get the brownie either. But he had a smugness to him...as though he felt justice had been served. Because it meant that Jesse would not get both a brownie and strawberry shake after all.

Brownies are trouble, I tell you. But, it won't stop me from making them again. After all, we all love them too much!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jumping Into the War

I have strived to keep this blog relatively controversy free. Mostly because I tend to like to debate controversial topics ad nauseum, and it is great practice in self-control to have a blog where I can say anything I want...and then don't.

But this is a topic I can remain silent on no more. The war. No, not the war in Iraq. I'm talking about the war that is about to begin regarding HD DVD and Blu-Ray DVD. Are you with me? No? Well, the short of it, for those not in the know, is this: There are two new competing DVD technologies coming out this year that will provide greater detail in DVD viewing, especially considering that we are about to enter the mandatory era of HDTV, if you aren't there already. (We aren't, by the way...still too expensive for my tastes.)

Anyhow, competition is supposedly a great thing for consumers, because it helps drive the technology and leads to leaps and bounds improvements in price drops. But in this case, I can't help but see this competition as being nothing more than a way to further expand the amount of shelf space for DVDs in Wal-Marts and Best Buys across the country. Not to mention longer lines at the Customer Service desk.

You don't see the connection? Well, luckily for you, I'm going to tell you. I know, I know...I can see the relief across your pained expression already.

First of all, consider this: For some time, store shelves were packed with movies both in VHS and DVD formats. Then, of course, as VHS titles have gradually disappeared (and in some stores, are no longer sold at all), we started seeing the full screen and widescreen versions of DVDs sold separately. (Widescreen, by the way, is the way to go folks. Sure, you have that letterbox effect...but in the long run, it is a wiser choice. Trust me.)

Anyhow, recently, I started seeing a new section in the movie department: PSPs. Movies for the little Playstation Portable. Not a big deal. But consider the introduction of not one, but two new movie formats. You'll have your movies in DVD-full screen, DVD-widescreen, PSP, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray DVDs. This two-fold increase in formats will mean a two-fold increase in store shelf space as well.

Which, of course, leads to the long lines at the Customer Service desk...because you and I know that, invariably, people will pick up the wrong version.

"Next! I can help the next person over here."

"Yes. I bought this copy of King Kong, but it won't play on my DVD player."

"Well, sir, did you buy the right format?"


"What kind of DVD player do you have?"

"Uh...I think it is an Apex or something."

"No, sir. I mean, what format does it play?"


And on it will go for each and every customer. Of course, this will lead to increased customer dissatisfaction, and we'll start seeing more and more people suffering health issues resulting from post-DVD-buying-induced depression. People won't want to shop anymore. It will ravage the economy, and we'll enter yet another recession. All because of the DVD wars.

There is an easy solution to all of this, of course. Since the companies developing the technology couldn't come to an agreement, I think it should be put to a vote. I mean, every other war is in some way political, why not this? Let the people decide. Along with voting for President, Senators, and Representatives, there would be a slot for "preferred DVD format". Whichever wins the majority of votes is what is sold to consumers.

Anyhow, folks. I know what you're thinking...this guy is really getting too controversial for my comfort zone. I'll probably lose many of you as readers of my blog now. I'm sure I have offended someone in this. But, it is one of the important issues of our time. How could I ignore it?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Okay, So I'm A Wimp

Yesterday, I said I wasn't going to tag anyone. For good reason. Have you ever taken the time to do the math on those kinds of pyramids? One person tags five people. Those five people have to tag five people, each, and so on. So, you have a rather exponentially growing number of people being tagged. Eventually, you'll cover the entire population of the earth.

The progression goes like this: 1, 5, 25, 125, 625, 3125, 15625, 78125, 390625, 1953125, 9765625, 48828125, 244140625, 1220703125, 6103515625

So, in just 15 iterations, you have covered the entire world population. That works out to over 30 billion random facts! So, really, I'm doing the people of this planet a favor by not "spreading the fun".

But, along comes Allison. Who actually has two blogs, not just one. Anyhow, she is whining about not being tagged, and how I'm a spoil sport for not playing along. So what do I do? Am I firm on my stance, choosing to stand my ground and refuse to tag her? Preserving the memories of the entire planet by helping to reduce the number of facts they are expected to remember?

Nope. Not me. Okay, so I'm a wimp. I admit it. I just give in. But, had you read yesterday's blog, you'll remember random fact number four. I was a major geek. And, as major geeks go, I certainly fit the part of being a wimp. The only athletics I was involved in was Marching Band...if you can call that athletics. (Hey, I do...but that's become I'm a geek. Or, I mean...I was a geek.)

So, Allison, consider yourself tagged. But that's it. No more. Only one person. None of this five people business. I mean it. I won't give in next time, I promise you. I've been working out, you see. Walking several times a week. I'm just out of shape right now because of the recent Christmas holiday.

Now then, back to my regularly scheduled blog.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ready Or Not, Here I Come

Apparently, there is a game of tag going on in the Diabetes Online Community (known to many of you as the "OC"). And, to my surprise, I've been tagged. From what I gather, if you are tagged, you are supposed to share five random facts. I presume that facts are supposed to be about me, rather than something like: The Michigan state rock is the Petoski Stone.

What is odd is that I really have no idea how this game of tag started, who started it, nor what the official rules are. Frankly, I didn't even know I had been tagged until I checked out my site logs for this blog and noticed several people arriving to my blog via Megan's blog.

From the looks of things, I'm also suppose to tag five people. I will state right now and up front that I won't do that. You have quite a pyramid going if you have every individual tag five people. Also, I'm not entirely sure if those who you are supposed to tag are also supposed to be diabetics...or family of diabetics.

Still, the idea of sharing five random facts about myself is, I suppose, an intriguing topic for a blog, so I figured I could participate in that aspect at the very least. And I'll try hard to make these five facts things you don't already know about me. So, here goes.

  1. I have incredibly dry skin. Always have. So dry, in fact, that my wife has said I feel a bit like sandpaper. In the winter weather, it is even worse. As a result, I've considered buying stock in all the companies that make body lotion.
  2. At one time in my life, I wanted to learn to play the piano portion to Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue, which happens to be my all-time favorite piano concerto. The problem was getting ahold of the music. My piano teacher had a solo version, which didn't need the orchestra, but it was beyond me because you then had to learn both the piano and orchestral parts. My band director said he would be willing to do it if I could learn the piano part...but he wouldn't buy the music (including the piano part) until I learned it. Rather a catch-22. Needless to say, I never learned to play it.
  3. Broccoli is my favorite vegetable. But there was a time in my life when I wouldn't even look at the stuff. Prior to being diagnosed with diabetes, the selection of food that tasted good to me was practially nothing. Within six months of getting my diabetes under control, my taste for food branched out about a hundred-fold.
  4. I was a major geek in my high school days. I choose the word geek over nerd, however, because in order to be a nerd, I would have had to look the part. Definitely a geek, though. I was involved in a ton of school activities, including the Writer's Club, and was finished with all the math classes my high school had to offer by the end of the eleventh grade. But then I went on to college...where I was in a sea of geeks, which meant I was no longer anything special. Academically, that is.
  5. After ten years of marriage, I'm still madly in love with my wife. I know, this one isn't really a secret, but it is something that can never be expressed enough...so now is as good a time as any to say it.
There you have it. My five random facts. And in lieu of actually tagging five additional people, I'll just say, "Ready or not, here I come!"

Monday, January 02, 2006

Skeletons in the Closet

It is amazing to me just how persistent the Internet can be. I was an early adopter. While studying Computer Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I worked for the College of Engineering's Computer Aided Engineering Network (aka CAEN). And, roughly one year after the World-Wide Web was invented by NCSA, I was there developing web pages and doing web programming. My impression? The WWW was a wonderful educational tool, but it would never succeed commercially. Eh-hem. Well, I've been wrong once or twice.

Anyhow, it wasn't surprising that my first job out of college was working for a company that developed web sites. Specifically, I was the programmer. Anyhow, during that era (circa 1996), you may or may not recall a push for a certain Communications Decency Act. There was much debate about this, and I was one in favor of it. At that time, I wrote up an argument in support of the CDA and published it to my personal website. This article was linked to by many other CDA supporters, and eventually the entire article was copied to another website.

The website that I originally used to publish this has long since vanished, but my article has not. This, despite the fact that the CDA was eventually defeated, and the article is rather moot now.

You see, I often will do a Google search on my name to see what comes up. Much of it isn't suprising. Several links related to the diabetes software I sell on Palmgear and Handango, a few other software-related pages, plus several concerning this blog. Many of the links don't have a thing to do with me...but with people who happen to share my name. There is also a piece of software that I offered as Freeware back in my Amiga programming days.

I guess the point is that if there are any skeletons in the closet of your Internet presence, they will follow you for who knows how long. It is kind of scary, in a way. And while I, at this point, have nothing posted that I regret at this point (at least that I can find!), it does cause one to wonder. I mean, here I am blogging about my life, sharing little gems of wisdom. Ten years from now, will I look back at this and regret any of it?

So, a word of caution: Be careful what you say on the Internet...because it might live on to haunt you in years to come!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Experiencing Withdrawal

I'm experiencing withdrawal. You see, I'm part of an online community of writers...the best in the world, in my fair opinion...called Backspace. Terrific place, and everything I know about the business of publishing I learned there. If you are a writer, you should check it out by the way. However, for the past two weeks, Backspace...well, at least, the forums of Backspace...have been off line. This is because they are doing technical improvements installing new forum software. But for a Backspace addict such as myself, I'm starting to act pretty weird without my fix.

For example...during the time away from this writer's board, I actually finished writing my book. Woo-hoo! But it is a highly unusual event, finishing a book, and I have to wonder if it is because of my cold-turkey withdrawal. Oh, perhaps it is just coincidence. But perhaps not.

Take, for instance, the fact that I actually have my query letters written and ready to send out. I mean, I'm never so organized. See what I mean?

Frankly, I'm nervous what could happen next. Contract an agent? Make a sale to a publisher? I'm living a dangerous existance at the moment, off Backspace, and it's making me nervous.

And if this happening to me, I have to wonder what is happening to my other Backspace friends. Are they surviving? The long quiet is disconcerting, and I can hope it will end soon.

In other news, I suppose it is fashionable to mention it is a whole new year now. 2006. The year of the Winter Olympics. The year of the Super Bowl (just don't ask me which Super Bowl...but I think is Super Bowl XL, which, if I remember my Roman numerology, is 40). Also, it is the year I plan to have my book published...or at least accepted for publication. We'll see how that goes, because of course, you'll be some of the first to know. And, as readers of this blog, you are under contractual obligation to not only buy my book when it eventually hits the shelves, you must also actively push the book on your friends, family, and complete strangers you happen upon. Don't believe me? Scroll down and read the fine print*. See?

Anyhow, welcome to the new year.

By the way, I did take my kids to Grace Centers of Hope on Thursday, which I mentioned in my last blog. We worked the "G" room, which means we unboxed and organized a bunch of donated toiletries and other various items onto the shelves. (Did you ever know there were like a hundred brands of toothpaste in the world?) Anyhow, my boys had a blast, though they were constantly side-tracked by the aforementioned toothpaste, insisting they spend the couple hours we had restacking the toothpaste boxes so that they could save about six inches of shelf space. However, my six-year-old came away not believing me when I told them that the people who lived there didn't have anything of their own because they were homeless. I mean, after all, we just unboxed literally tons of shampoo, soap, conditioner, notebook paper, brushes, and other miscellaneous items in quantities beyond their imagination. Clearly, they must have more money than we do!

Happy New Year.

* You, by having read the words of this blog entry, not including this fine print, implicitly agree to actively push Ryan Bruner's as-yet-unpublished book on friends, family, and complete strangers.