Sunday, August 30, 2015

When What I Do Becomes a Brunt of Someone Else's Joke...

Not too long ago, I got a Samsung Galaxy S5 for my work phone.  It was a refurbished phone and my personal phone was an iPhone 5S.  I saw no point in getting another iPhone for work and wanted to see what the Samsung was like.

One thing about both phones is that they were so thin.  I felt like I could easily drop either phone in my grip.  What I had done for the iPhone was get a Mophie battery charger case for the phone.  It is just a bit heavier and makes the phone a bit thicker.  I do not mind because it allows the battery to last longer.

I decided to get another Mophie for the Samsung.  I found what I wanted on and purchased it.  I was able to cut the price with my points, so that was a bonus for me.

The other day, during lunch, one of my co-workers started picking on me for the large phone case.  I looked at him and said that it was a battery charger and as far as I was concerned, I was happy with my choice.  He just continued with making fun of the case.  I looked at him and said, "Well, I am not a 40 year old man who got a case where I can put my credit cards in it and leave the damn phone everywhere for someone to pick up."  

I know - if he did not like me, he would not pick on me.  However, give me a break.  He wants to make fun of the phone case, but he leaves his phone with credit cards lying around and takes off without it.  One day, he left his phone at my desk and ran off to go to lunch.  I hid the phone.  He went on a long search for the phone before he returned to my desk.  Even the day we went to lunch, he was having to go back to his truck to get his phone because he left it.

Some days, this guy just gets under my skin about making fun of whatever I have or do.  Luckily, he is so dopey that he leaves himself opened for return fire.  For that, I am thankful.

Water Consumption: Myths and Truths...

Since the incident with my kidney scare, I have become more aware of my need to drink water.  Now, I also understand that drinking lots of water can take away important nutrients and electrolytes from your system.  For that, I drink water with Nuun tablets or get water that contains those nutrients and electrolytes.  Those bottles of water are more expensive.

I will also say, for myself, drinking lots of water has its advantages.  From the day I drank about gallon of water, when I ate dinner that night, I did not eat all of it.  I was too full.  It was a pretty incredible feeling to be able to walk away from the table feeling full and had not eaten everything on my plate.  

I believe that when your body is properly hydrated, your organs and such work better.  Your entire system is not straining to get everything done, especially your digestive tract.

Also, when it comes to getting blood drawn, that experience has been easier.

Now, do I agree drinking a glass of water will prevent a heart attack or stroke?  Maybe.  It is probably a good idea to do it as it really won't hurt you in the long run.  Does drinking lots of water prevent cramps?  That depends on how depleted you are with magnesium and potassium in your system.  I will say that it helped me.  Usually, during my PMS stretch, I will get nasty foot/shin/calve cramps.  It is NOT enjoyable experience.  It usually lasts for 20 minutes and ALWAYS occurs in the middle of the night.  Going back to sleep is a chore after the muscle relaxes.

I had someone on Facebook call the whole business about drinking water basically a crock.  Her reasoning - it never helped her restless leg syndrome.  Drinking lots of water is not going to help that.  Other medications do.  Outside of that, having restless leg syndrome is different from leg cramps.  I have experienced restless leg syndrome.  For me, it more annoying than anything else.  You can be so tired that you could drop dead, but your legs want to run some marathon!  I do not see where drinking a lot of water would help that situation.  For me, when it happens, I force myself up and walk in place briskly - basically, try to shake it off.

So, for me, the truth is that your body needs water.  Water hydrates your system and allows your organs to work properly.  Also, if you are trying to lose weight, drink the amount of water your body needs.  If you want to know more about what water can do for you, here is the link to the Mayo Clinic:

You can find other websites suggesting different calculations regarding how much water you should drink based upon your weight.  However, I trust the Mayo Clinic as an official medical source.  The others are not medical based.

Friday, August 28, 2015

On-Line Courses...

While I hated high school, I loved college.  I enjoyed learning, but without all of the social drama of high school.  Sure, in life, there is always some sort of drama, but in college, there was no teenage angst.  At least, it was not there for me.

I never got to finish my degree.  In 1989, I was able to work for my dream company and I spent many years trying to prove I was worthy.  In the end, I had to leave and join a consultant company, then got a job offer where I am now.  My last course at UNT was computer graphics.  It was not an easy course and the time it demanded, I just did not have.  I ended up dropping it.

In 2006, I got it in my head to transfer my UNT credits to UTD.  Perhaps, I could finish my degree there.  Location was convenient to where I was living.  Also, the university was a huge engineering institution.  So, I enrolled that fall in a UNIX course.  My reasoning behind that was I already knew a lot about UNIX, but I really needed a proper education.  Also, for the amount of money I was going to spend that semester, I wanted to make sure I gauged how well I would do with something I already knew.

Generally speaking, I got a high B.  I should have gotten an A, but work got crazy towards the end.  The next semester, I got ambitious and enrolled in Operating Systems.  How I should have known better - I ended up with a D+ that semester.  I simply was not able to put in enough time to do the projects - 50% of my grade.  I did learn a lot in that class that made sense of what I was already doing at work.

I took a year and half off and went back to take Linear Algebra in fall of 2008.  It was another rough semester with work and my mom being ill.  I got through it - I made a B in the course, which I am extremely proud.  However, the price of that course was about $2100.

The cost of education is so expensive.  I know when I started at UNT in 1986, my father paid $550 for a full load for me to attend.  Books were another $300.  The $2100 was all tuition - no books.

Basing how work can sometimes be crazy, I had to find another route for learning new things.  Let's face it, I had reached a point in my career where my company did not send me to class.  The tuition reimbursement had been lowered to a crazy amount - and I was not one of those who just had to attend the SMU courses.  The whole tuition reimbursement process changed constantly, so I was pretty frustrated with that.  So, I started looking into on-line courses.

I started taking on-line courses from Collin County Community College.  For $109 to $129 per course, it was a fairly decent deal.  However, these courses were continuing education courses.  You either passed or not.  No real grades.  I learned some good things, but I found I was really good at taking open book exams at the end, so I could get by a computer course without having done any of the projects, have the notes, and still pass the exam with 90% or better.  Nutshell, I was not really getting much out of that.

My company started offering tuition reimbursements for taking courses at Udacity.  On-line courses that cost quite a penny - lasting months and you had to pay $200 per month.  I walked away from that.

There are the courses on iTunesU, but again, self-paced and no real grading.

Then, I came across  I actually came across that when looking into Linux Certification programs.  The Linux Foundations sponsors a course you can take on-line.  You can audit the course and still take the exams and such, but you get no certification.  The cost for certification is between $99 to $199 based upon when you take the course or if you have a special code from the foundation.

There are thousands and thousands of courses available from so many well known universities.  The one thing I wanted to do was look into taking a geometry course.  I found one on this site and started taking it.  It is self-paced, but a whole lot different from when I had geometry in high school.  It is pretty easy from the stand point of defining a line, a segment, angles, and so forth.  I have yet to come across an area where the student is required to prove anything based upon laws, rules, and postulates.  That was the really burning point for me as a sophomore.

The science and computer courses are always interesting.  Currently, retaking the Python course that MIT created.  I dropped in June because work was a bit nutty and I had to deal with some personal issues as well.  Now, I hope that all of that is behind me or will be manageable.  I would like to get through this course and use it at work.

I am also checking out iTunesU geometry course.  There, I won't be graded, but I am interested in seeing about having to do proofs.

However, no matter how many courses I take on-line, it won't get my degree completed.  I hope that in the next decade, I can accomplish this task.  Some say "Why do it?"  Well, I may not get any return on investment in their eyes, but my return on investment is completing something I started many years ago.  I want some feeling of accomplishment in that area of my life.  I had wanted to get my Master's degree.  Who knows?  Maybe, I might be able to do that, too.  You are never too old to go back to school.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Update on Senior Dog...

I worry.  It is just a part of my whole being, I suppose.

I was worried about Chloe not eating.  On Monday, I got her some soft food and she pretty much "woofed" that food down and tried to lick off the flowers on the paper plate.  Still, I was worried, but at least, she had a recheck with the vet on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I got her to the vet's office.  She was nervous about being there, but having Bo there with her sort of settles her down.  The funny thing, Bo is just happy to be anywhere and wants the attention the techs and staff gives to him.  So, in a way, Bo provides Chloe some moral support.

Last time I took Chloe to the vet's office, her liver value had gone from 1300 to 1800.  The vet figured it was because she was not feeling well, but not to worry.  Most dogs do not have liver values that high, but for Chloe, we are doing great.  A year ago, I would think that the value was close, if not at, to 3000.  That is not good. 

The vet tech took Chloe back to get the blood work done.  When she returned with Chloe, I gave Bo and Chloe some treats to keep them happy.  Shortly, the vet came in and talked about her numbers.  This time, her liver number was 1100.  I said that made me really happy because the number is coming down.  The vet did have a concern about Chloe's protein count, but we would look back at Chloe's numbers when I return her back for her Cushing's check.

I did tell the vet that I was worried regarding Chloe's health.  My mom was so worried over Chloe that I think Chloe spent more time at the vet's office than at home.  The vet reminded me of how my mom had been, but said that she felt that Chloe being with Bo has been a very good thing for her.  Being with Bo has helped calm Chloe down and make her feel more of a "dog" than some baby.  She also tried to put my mind at ease to say pomeranians have a long life span.  She felt that Chloe has another 4 to 5 more years if not more.  

Chloe is only 14 and will be 15 in November.  She still has her sight and her hearing.  She seems very happy and continues to be very vocal about her wants.  One thing I have noticed, she want to be with me wherever I may be.  It warms my heart because I remember when she was younger - you could only touch her on her terms.  Now, that is different.  She wants to sit huddled next to me and get belly rubs or hugs.  I cherish the "dog pile" on the sofa - where Bo climbs on top of my side and Chloe huddles next to my head and shoulders and we all fall asleep in front of the TV.

I am happy my girl is okay.  I had been through enough health scares last week.  I think this weekend, I am going to just sit back and relax.

Cedars - Second Visit to Mediterranean Restaurant

On Tuesday, I was too tired to bother with cooking.  I had made the trip to Arlington to get Chloe checked out and coming back had worn me out a bit.  I decided to leave the dogs in the cool apartment and run out for some food.  I thought to try Cedars again.

Again, I ordered the Cedars special that provided unlimited access to the vegetarian buffet as well as one meat choice.  Again, I got the chicken kabob.  This time, I carried my number with me as I started to fill my plate. 

I selected the roasted cauliflower, roasted coriander potatoes, green beans, spinach, a small amount of spinach hummus, pasta salad, vegetarian couscous, and my favorite - cabbage salad.  On my last visit, there was no cabbage salad, so I was pretty excited about that.

I sat down to eat.  The service was still just a bit slow, but I had to excuse that due to a small baby shower and one family constantly bugging the wait staff.  Something I have noticed with the two places I frequent, sometimes, a family will just keep on and on with the wait staff on this and that regarding their order.  At Fadi's, the family in front of me kept stalling on their order and payment for so long that I got my falafel before I got a table.  

This was a different family and oddly enough, they had burdened the cashier staff for a good 10 minutes.  Next, they went through the line for their food, then were after the waiter for this and that.  I am not sure how these people manage at home, but they do not seem to have it all together at the restaurant.

I got my chicken kabob while I was eating.  Honestly, I was getting pretty full from everything on my plate before getting the kabob.  So, next time I visit, I will ever just get the kabob and some salad or just the vegetarian plate.  The kabob was hot and that was different from when I got something similar at Fadi's.  That kabob was lukewarm.  

Overall, the food was really good.  I only went through the buffet once and I walked out of there waddling due to being so stuffed.  I noticed that the advertisements posted indicated no eggs, dairy and such.  However, they have a gourmet pistachio ice cream.  I like pistachios, so I would be interested in trying their ice cream next time.  Also, considering the restaurant does not use dairy, I think the ice cream could be very interesting.

I like the fact that the place is a buffet where you put as much or as little of something on your plate.  Of course, that has its pros and cons as well.  It is difficult to decide between Cedars and Fadi's, but I know I will be going back to both places again.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What to Do With All of That Change...

Last weekend, my best friend from college came down and we spent the day having lunch and goofing around at Pinstack.  Quick note about Pinstack:  It is a super nice bowling alley with interesting food choices and plenty to do other than just bowling.  For example, there is a rock climbing wall, laser tag and a laser maze, a nice arcade area, and above that, an area where people can walk on ropes above the crowd.  We mainly spent our time in the arcade area acting like teenagers, but it was a lot of fun.

I had a Michael Kors purse I had purchased with a matching wallet.  I used the purse for about 5 months and was not happy with it.  However, I had no idea of what to do with it.  I spent too much to throw it out or give to Good Will, but I am horrible on eBay or Craigslist.  My BF from college expressed an interest in having the purse.  She needed a new one and had really liked the one I had.  The purse had everything she needed for a purse, so I told her that when she came down for lunch, I would give it to her.  I also gave her a Coach purse that never quite worked out and a Dooney I had for over a decade and never used.  She really loved the Coach purse, but was also excited to get the MK and Dooney.  I knew that the purses would go to a good home.

For the past several months, I have been using a Dooney small cross body purse to carry everything and now, "everything" won't fit.  Rather than succumbing to the urge to purchase a new Coach purse I saw a few weeks ago, I pulled out one I had not used in quite awhile.  I loved it so much that I had bought a matching cross body purse I used for concerts and any air travel.  (I no longer carry a huge purse when I ride an airplane - I think the TSA uses that as a sign to tag you)

Before my friend got my MK wallet, I had to empty it.  Getting the cards and such out was okay, but the change pocket was full of change.  I remember having difficulty trying to get exact change out of the wallet and it was frustrating.  You have all of this change and you just cannot get rid of it properly.  I put all of that change in a baggy.

I realized I had a snack size baggy full of change the other day as I was emptying out the small Dooney I was using.  That purse also had a lot of change in it that I was unable to access easily.  I also knew that the outside pocket of the larger Coach had a lot of change in it as well as the matching cross body.

As I empty out these purses/wallets of their change, I am amazed at how much change I have collected.  Mind you, I have a literal piggy bank that is pretty much full of what - change!  That pink pig is definitely a full little piggy.  I have a side baggy full of change and is quite heavy.

As I write this, I see two dimes that I need to put in the piggy bank or in the baggy.  I know this place is just full of money - in change.  

This week, I will get a plastic container and work on emptying out the piggy bank.  Once that is done, I will mix in the baggy of change.  I will take that heavy box to Kroger and work to get cash out of the whole lot.  I figure I can put that change into my cash jar for Christmas fund.  I do not wish to break my piggy bank, so I hope to reuse it and start over adding change to it.  This time around, I will work on emptying out the change into it.

I remember one year, when I was in high school, everyone emptied their change into a Chinese jar.  By the time we were ready for a trip to south Louisiana, we had about $700 in change.  Heaven knows I have a ton of change - here, there, maybe everywhere.  I just need to collect it for a "whatever" purpose.  That way, it does not end up in some landfill.  Can you imagine how much money is out there?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Life Choices - You Have to Own Them...

Since my diagnosis for type 2 diabetes, I have learned that I have to manage my disease.  I must own my choices and not rely upon anyone for that.  You simply cannot tell everyone you have that you have type 2 diabetes and cannot have sugar, then turn around and eat sweets and such.  That adds to the misconception that eating too much sweets is what makes people diabetic.  It is not.

A person with type 2 diabetes has a situation where the insulin in the system cannot act quickly enough on the amount of sugar in the system.  It could be that there is not enough insulin being created by the pancreas.  Type 1 is where no insulin is created at all.

The other night, I had dinner out with a friend.  The waiter put down some bread at our table and I cannot remember what he said, but the friend snottily said something about bread being bad for diabetics.

Oh, dear God!

Here we go again - the expectation that when we walk into a restaurant, we must announce to the whole world that we are diabetic.  Come on!  It is not the waiter's responsibility to make our food choices - we have to own that.

When ordering, she orders the smothered steak with crispy onion rings.  I ordered a chicken dish with stuffed spinach and artichokes.  I barely ate much because I had so much water the day before and that day.  I was actually quite proud of myself because I was FULL!  Still, I have learned that I am not going to expect someone to make my food choices for me and I sure as hell am not going to apologize for being picky at a restaurant.  I think the key is to ask nicely for substitutions and go about your merry way.

So, those of you with special food needs or whatever, do what you need to do.  Order what you want and not what others expect.  That is how change works.

Concern Over the Senior Dog...

Last weekend, Chloe had a couple of vomiting spells.  This afternoon, it seems that we are on our way to some more tummy issues at the other end.  When I picked her up, I really realized that she is not has heavy as she once was.

I have a check up set up for her on Tuesday afternoon.  Still, that does not ease my own troubled mind.  Chloe will turn 15 this year.  That is quite old in doggy years and we have been through a lot together.  

Last year, I realized I really do not have much time left with her.  When I do spend time with her, it is usually with me laying on my bed and her snuggled next to me.  I rub her belly, kiss her, and tell her how much she means to me.  As with Bo, I would probably end up on the streets after spending every dollar to care for either dog.

She has many spry days where you think she was still a younger dog.  I know the truth, though.  We are both living on borrowed time.  Like me, she is on 5 to 6 different medications.  We are both getting slower in our old age.  

The special part of Chloe is she is still a huge part of my mom.  My mom was the one who looked after her, cared for her, and trained her.  My mom had a great deal of love for Chloe, even though Chloe always wanted to be with my father.  Mom was always there for her.  

When my parents needed to go out of town or mom had to spend time in the hospital, my mom depended upon me to care for Chloe.  It was never a task I resented - Chloe and I had our own special bond.  I loved her and she trusted me.  

Before my mother passed away, she trusted me with Chloe's care.  I took her home and would take her, along with Bo, back to see my mom every weekend or time I had to get back to help care for mom.  When mom passed away, I made sure that Chloe got the opportunity to be near mom before the funeral home took mom.  It broke my heart when they took mom out of the house as Chloe barked and cried.  I knew the feeling.

I have not always been the best "momma", but I tried to do as best as I could for both dogs.  So now, I cry every so often because I know the time is coming when mom will come back for Chloe.  Therefore, every time Chloe does not feel well or whatever, I get emotionally sick.  I am never going to be ready for "it" and the one thing, I do not want her passing away without me being there.  I do not want her to pass away alone and scared.  

So, maybe I am too emotional, but I cannot help that.  I am just built that way.  For right now, I will keep a close eye on my favorite girl and make sure she is eating, drinking, and feeling well.  That is my main concern.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Be Careful of Taking OTC Meds Before Blood Work...

For the past month, I thought I was getting enough water in my system.  Well, 64 oz of water does not cut it for me.  I need to drink a little over a gallon of water or my body is dehydrated.  

From what I have read on the internet and calculated, I need to drink at least 152 oz of water.  That is a LOT of water.  I probably got about 96 oz drank Wednesday, then another 32 to 48 oz drank before walking into the doctor's office for another round of blood work.  I also did not take any medication before getting my blood drawn.

After reading possible causes for high BUN and creatinine values, I would be dehydrated or some OTC pain reliever, ibuprofen and such, can skew the values.  So, I made sure I did not take any Motrin, Tylenol, or Bayer.  Basically, I wanted this blood work done with no medications in my system.

Today, the doctor indicated that the values were still high, but greatly improved to the point that they are almost normal.  

What a relief!  I told her I was so worried, but yet, very confused as I had witnessed my mother going through kidney failure when she was in her final stages.  What was coming out of my system was nowhere near what I had seen.  However, it was great to know that my kidneys are functioning properly.

Hoping to get some rest from the stress of this week - that scare was enough to wear me out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Health - Feeling Scared...

For the past year, I have been worried regarding my kidney function.  It is not something I can see.  I mean, we all do that check during a bathroom break.  You generally wonder if something is wrong if something does not look right.

What if everything seems fine, yet, your blood work says something else?

That seems to be my situation.  Last year, I was feeling good about myself and working hard on getting my blood sugar down and losing some pounds.  When I visited my new PCP and had blood work done, it took the PCP over 3 weeks to respond and the question posed to me was if I was seeing a kidney specialist.

It was an upsetting situation.  I tried to go see the doctor, but it was a two week wait.  Why put me through all of that?

In the end, I left that PCP and searched for a new one.  This time, in hopes of getting better care.

In May, I had blood work done and it showed the kidney functioning was very low.  The BUN number was very high, but not much more was said about it.  I went back in July to have blood work done again.  The doctor and I spoke about the numbers and she said it seemed normal based upon my height and weight.  However, she would check those numbers again.

This afternoon, I got an email from the doctor saying that my numbers have risen again, rather than lowered, and that concerned her.  I am to make sure I drink plenty of water to make sure I am not dehydrated and come back into the office for another round of blood work.

I am scared and feel so alone.  I tried talking to one friend about what was going on and I got that her ex-husband who had diabetes was told that if he did not get weight loss surgery, he would die in 5 years, so he did.  Also, something about if she does not drink a gallon of water a day, she gets headaches.  

I spoke to another friend who told me to blow off all of that.  He told me to not worry and nothing bad will happen.  Maybe there is something with the medications or I might need another medication.  

To compound matters, my apartment looks a complete wreck and the complex is doing their yearly inspection.  Needless to say, I do not need this stress.

I just do not understand.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Addicted to Mediterranean Food...

I think my addicition started with an outing to Fadi's to celebrate a group of people at work for their service anniversaries.  I was not really happy about celebrating at a place that was run a lot like a Mediterranean Luby's.  No offense to the restaurant itself, but when one is celebrating their service anniversary, it should be a place where the wait staff takes the order and everyone does not have to rush through the buffet line.  That is just my opinion and you can take it for whatever it is worth.

I will say that this place introduced me to hummus and cabbage salad.  I have had couscous in the past and liked it.  I came around to liking cauliflower when it was introduced to me as part of a veggie platter with ranch dip.  Falafel - I have the recipe for making this somewhere in my apartment.  I was attending vegetarian cooking classes with a co-worker at Whole Foods off of Custer, I believe.  I really enjoyed that.

I had tried other places, but never got the same tastes as I did from Fadi's.  I tried a falafel wrap from a place call The Chickpea, but it just did not taste the same.  

Random Cathy and I went to Fadi's back in March.  I really enjoyed the food and was beginning to think more about Mediterranean food.  Sure, there is olive oil, but that is a good oil.  I kept remembering how much I really enjoyed the cabbage salad.  

A few weeks ago, I tried Cedar's, a new Mediterranean restaurant.  The food was good there was well.  Unfortunately, no cabbage salad, so that was a disappointment.  However, the falafel, chicken kabob, and other veggies impressed me.

I have been back to Fadi's twice since that visit to Cedar's.  The last time was this week and I got the Vegetarian sampler.  I had wanted to order some falafel, but in the end, I was glad I did not.  I had more than enough veggies on my plate to have me waddling out of there.  The nice thing, I am not really hungry after dinners there, but I do not feel like I am so bloated, either.

So, I am going to give it the old college try - I will try to make my own cabbage salad to enjoy with some baked chicken tonight.  I may even look for a different way to cook chicken to go with the salad.  I find myself in a chicken preparation rut.  Time to break the rut.

Underwhelmed or Just a Really Bad Food Day...

In general, my day yesterday was just more than I could handle.  Basically, I was pretty angry about some things happening at work and I thought the best thing for me to do was walk away before I said or did something I would regret.  This happens rarely these days, but when I recognize the feelings, it is always best to just drop it all.

However, the one thing that really took me by surprise was how badly things went when trying new restaurants for lunch and dinner.  Holy cow - I was amazed at how hardly anything I had was really tasty.

I won't mention names, but for lunch, went to a smoke house for BBQ with a co-worker.  As we stood in line, I began to hear the truth.  The woman in front of me told me that all of the meats were wonderful, but the vegetable selection was not worth the price.  I tried the potato salad, cole slaw, and deviled eggs (one of the items I miss most that my mom would make).  Needless to say, the meat was good.  However, I could not stomach the potato salad or cole slaw.  Both tasted as if the BBQ sauce was tossed in with the other ingredients.  I was not impressed.  The devil eggs were okay, but for the price I paid for 3 halves, that was too expensive.

Overall, I did not eat much - most was thrown in the trash and that disgusted me.  I hate to waste money and that lot made me sick to my stomach.  Nutshell, I would go back to get meat, but nothing else.

Last night, I met some friends to hand them over the souvenir items from the group ball game a week ago.  We thought we would check out a new restaurant that just opened.  Apparently, the alcoholic beverages were a bit pricey.  I had wanted to get one, but decided to pass - just put the headaches from work behind me and enjoy the company.

We got seated in about 35 minutes - the place was pretty well packed and the waiting time was 30-45 minutes.  I ordered water because I wanted it more than iced tea and I knew I had not drank enough for the day.  I liked the fact that a bottle of water was placed at the table for refills, which I did take advantage.

One friend ordered the oyster appetizer and I got the potstickers.  I did not try the oysters, but apparently, they were overcooked and too much stuff on top of them to be tasty.  The potstickers were cold and not very exciting.  So that was disappointing.

The main course I ordered was the pecan parmesan crusted rainbow trout with steamed broccoli and the mixed veggies.  My friends ordered the cilantro shrimp salad and cerviche.  Again, my dish was tepid, not really hot.  The mixed veggies that were offered were basically nothing.  The friend eating the cerviche was not impressed with that dish either.  His partner's salad looked really good.

Overall, the service was slow, but I have to account that to the fact that it was Friday night.  However, when it came to paying the bill, it took the wait person no time to return back the credit card and slip to sign.  I was not impressed, but stated I would like to go back during the week when there was no crowd to see if the food was better.  I figure, you have to give a restaurant a few tries before you pretty much end it.  Of course, there are some places where the food is just so awful that you never go back.

After dinner, I drove over to "Whole Paycheck" and picked up some cut up fruit, hummus, and some bread.  Luckily, that did not break my piggy bank, but I definitely got items that tasted better than the meals I had yesterday.  

Today, I am cooking dinner, so that will be much better in every which way.  However, you have to go through bad days like this to appreciate what you prepare for yourself.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back Problems...

Since June 2014, I have had a lot of lower back issues.  It is truly annoying.  This past weekend, I noticed that I had to sit down quite a bit while walking in the mall because my back was simply hurting too much.  This worries me.

I have been to the doctor.  First time, do stretching exercises.  Second time, I have a prescription for physical therapy.  I have a couple of exercises to do and they help somewhat, but I need to wrap my mind around the fact that this is the beginning.  I cannot expect immediate help.

I explained to the therapist if I lie on my stomach and try the pose where one lifts the upper body by extending your arms while leaving the lower body on the floor, that sends sharp, shooting pains from my back and down my legs.  I have no pain sitting or lying down on the floor or bed.  I cannot stand for a long period of time and walking, the pain grows the longer I walk.

Sometimes, something happens and the pain will go away and I can walk for longer length without pain.  Honestly, when that happens, I pray thanks to God for the ability to walk without pain.  It is a small blessing and that greatly appreciated.  Other days, like this morning, while walking the dogs, I will take the walk break and pray to God asking for help to just relieve the pain.  It is not for my pleasure, but for my own personal health.

Some days, I just feel so defeated, but I keep trudging a long.  I refuse to allow this to become a disability - there has to be something that can be done to remove the pain.

I will keep working the exercises, stretching, and doing yoga. If anything, my core will continue to get stronger.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Being a Quitter...

When I was in elementary school, around the end of 5th grade or beginning of 6th grade, I sat in the lunch room and took a tone test.  I did not think much of it at the time until my mother sat me down to discuss joining band.  At the time, she reminded me that I was overweight and I would have issues wearing a uniform and such.  I never cared about that.  This was my opportunity to do something in an area that I truly loved - music.

The band director at the time suggested that I play clarinet.  My parents did not want me to have a rented instrument as they found a good clarinet for sale for $70 (or I may not remember too well).  

All through school, I would practice.  I loved playing the clarinet and clearly enjoyed it.  When I moved to Texas, while I was in middle school, the band instructor brought in two tutors to help and one of them really helped me play better and encouraged me.  I tried to keep getting better.

By 8th grade, I figured out I probably would not get much better than where I was.  Mainly because there was already someone who could out play me by leaps and bounds.  He had his own personal tutor.  My parents could not afford that for me, but I kept practicing.

Throughout my high school years, our school had 3 band directors.  The first one decided to retire after my freshman year.  I think that was probably my best year for high school band.  The rest of the years were challenging my commitment to band.  The second band director would ridcule me in front of others - basically yelling and screaming in my face in front of everyone to the point I would break into tears.  That had to be the worst year ever.  Luckily, other band parents saw this behavior elsewhere and stepped in to end it.

The next year, we got another band director.  He was dedicated and not so much critical openly, but behind closed doors, that was a different story.  When selling concert tickets, his expectation was that you sold what you were given.  If you got 5 tickets, then you sold those 5 tickets - there was no bringing back remaining tickets.  My parents were furious.  It was during those band days that I knew I was no good at being a salesman.

My senior year, there was more than enough stress resting on my shoulders.  Should I take the ACT or SAT?  What happens after high school?  How do you pay for the damage on your mom's van?  Where would I find time for a job?

I had finally had enough of the stress.  I was tired and quite honestly, band was not fun anymore.  It was not what I enjoyed.  When I made the decision to leave, I talked with my parents and while they were not happy about it, they understood my unhappiness.  I was no longer practicing because I enjoyed it, so what was the point?

When I told the band director that I wanted to quit, I learned quickly how very critical this man truly was.  I was told that he knew I was a quitter and I had no chance of doing anything for being a quitter.  He had already decided to make an example of me by putting me into the concert band, rather than the symphonic band.  I would not amount to much in life as I was a quitter.

I told the principal and my soon-to-be 4th period teacher that story.  I had nothing to hide and for the principal, he was not so keen on the switch so late in the school year.  However, he made the decision to allow me to do the switch - it seemed to be the right thing to do under the circumstances.

Those words never left my mind - ever.  I was mad and angry because what I had loved and enjoyed was something I never wanted to do anymore.  However, he had made the situation worse with his comments on how I would turn out in life.

That fall, I ran into his youngest son - he graduated in the same class as I did.  His son went on about how he had to drop this and that class at school.  I thought long and hard about what his father had said to me and wondered if his father gave him the same speech when he dropped out of those courses.  Probably not - he loved his son.  He loved the band students who were under his supervision that would do probably whatever he asked them to do without question.  I was not one of those.

As I reflect on that moment of time in my life, I realize, I am not a quitter.  I still really love music.  I admire those who can play instruments very well.  I also realize that maybe I knew something before everyone else.  I was not going to college on my clarinet - I wanted to work with computer systems - I wanted to program.  I knew what I wanted to do and I stuck with it all these years.  The really funny thing - most people I knew from band ended up quitting whatever instrument they played when they got to college.

If someone who was my age at the time asked me about going through a similar situation, this would be my advice:

Are you happy?  Was there a point where you were happy doing this particular activity - did you just love it?  If you are lost, try to see if you can find that place where you truly enjoyed what you were doing.  If it simply is not for you, then find something else that you love and makes you happy.  No one is a quitter when doing that.  You know that something feels wrong and you must go a different path.  Never feel wrong for doing that - it is what life is about and no one should take that away from you.

I am not a quitter - I was a quitter in someone else's eyes because I was not following that person's belief of what was best for me.  I found what I can do and happiness in that.  Sure, there have been times when things were rough and such, but I always was able to find that happy place.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back/Hip Pain and YouTube...

I log my calories and exercise on the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone.  Occasionally, I get emails and such from the site.  My PCP prescribed stretching exercises, which I have done in the past, but nothing is working as it should.

Lately, I have been getting video blog posts for various yoga poses that are supposed to be gentle on the back, yet, help with back pain.  I look at the videos and think "I should do this, but how?"

Silly me - why depend on watching these things on my iPhone or iPad.  I was checking the PS/3 and sure enough, I can view YouTube videos very clearly through the gaming system.  Ah-ha!  Another good use of the PS/3!

I have to run the weekly grocery shopping errands, but when I return, time to set up my yoga mat in the living room and really work on stretching out the back/hip areas.  At this point, I will do whatever it takes to get rid of the pain.  I wish the pain would go away and I never had to deal with it again.  It is so depressing because I feel like everything I want to do is moving away from me.

Recent Experiences - Taking Items to Be Shredded and New Restaurant

Yesterday, I made plans to head over to my parents' house and sort out what was left and determine what I really wanted.  Before doing that, I had two boxes of papers that needed to be shredded.  Two big boxes of paper - UGH.  The whole thought of picking them up, carrying them upstairs, then spending hours on my shredder was not appealing.  Furthermore, I did not want to burn out the shredder.

A several years ago, a friend of mine told me about cleaning her "office."  There were so many papers and she had faced the same issue as I did.  Too many paper and the time spent shredding was huge.  She looked up where she could take a box to have those papers shredded.  The process cost her $25, but she said it was the best $25 she had ever spent.  It cleared out all of the papers, she had more time to spend doing other things, and she was able to start fresh by making sure all important papers coming into her home was shredded in a timely fashion.

So, I looked up the local public shredder service, DFW Shredding.  Every Saturday, the company has their mobile shredders available for the public to come and shred their documents.  The first box is $10 and every subsequent box is $5.  If you can fill one of those plastic garbage containers one gets from their city to place trash for pick up, that is $55.  Honestly, to have this service shred my papers for that price, it is totally worth it.

It was amazing!  I just had to drive up, park, opened the trunk, the gentleman took out the boxes and emptied them into that garbage container.  He rolled the container over to the mobile shredder, then had it lifted into the shredder.  Within 2 minutes, all of my old checks and etc was gone.  You can watch all of your stuff being shredded on a monitor.  I was blown away.  I am definitely going back in the following weekends to get more documents and such shredded.  It actually took a huge load off my mind and I think it will really help with the clutter collection.

While I was at my parents' house,  I spent time clearing out what was left in the utility/bathroom.  I found some jewelry I used to wear when I was in high school that I thought was lost forever.  I made sure that came home with me.  Also, I was making sure I put what I wanted in boxes for the next time I can move it to the apartment or my father's storage shed.  

It was so hot in the house.  My dogs were not happy with the situation.  Granted, they loved going in and out of the house, but it was so stinking hot inside, that they would pant heavily.  I made sure that they had cool water to drink.  At this point, I have decided that when I return, the dogs will stay in the apartment.  It is cooler and safer for everyone concerned.

When I left, my back and hip were really killing me.  To compound matters, I could not cool down for anything and I had two dogs in the back seat letting me know that they were hot.  Luckily, the a/c in the Tucson works, but it takes awhile for all of us to cool down.  Nutshell, I was in no condition to come home and cook.  When we all arrived home, I ran the dogs out for a quick walk to get whatever business that they needed to do done.  After that, I took a shower.

I did not want to cook, but I did not want pizza, chicken, steak or even Italian food.  I decided that I had really enjoyed the food from Fadi's the other day that I would try the new Mediterranean restaurant called Cedars Mediterranean Mezza and Grill.  

Basically, it is like a Mediterranean all you can eat buffet.  There are specialized platters, Kabobs, Falafel, Pita Sandwiches, and etc.  However, the Vegetarian Feast is their specialty - the all you can eat bar, so to speak.  I chose the Cedars Special, which is access to the Vegetarian feast and one meat entree.  I got the chicken kabob.  I also ordered some falafel balls.  I had falafel when I used to attend vegetarian cooking classes with a co-worker at Whole Foods.  Falafel with guacamole - it was really good.

Over all, the food was really good and I made the mistake of ordering too much.  I was at a new restaurant and was curious about the food.  I chose a lot of really nice veggies from the Vegetarian feast.  I skipped the hummus because I wanted to try other items, such as the almond spinach, vegetarian couscous, and almond basmati rice (small spoonful of this).

The falafel was really good.  I liked the mixture of it and the tahini sauce.  The interesting thing was that sliced pickles were on the plate and that was good as well.

I made the mistake of putting my number on the table and walking away to get my vegetables.  The wait staff had picked up the number and wiped down the table.  It lead to confusion when delivering the falafel and kabob.  A mistake I won't make again.  I just hate carrying around unnecessary garbage while picking out food from a buffet.

I will probably go back again in the future.  I have found that I like Mediterranean food.  I really like the cabbage salad at Fadi's.  I need to go there and try the kabob.  Maybe that is what I need to do - ask for the cabbage salad, vegetarian couscous, and a kabob.  I think that would be sufficient for me.  However, I walked out of Cedars so stuffed that the idea I had about getting a single scoop of ice cream left my mind.  

Just to point out, I only visited the buffet one time.  I did not go back for seconds.  I had ordered too much food and had no desire to have more for sure.

Today, time to prepare myself for getting back to the meal replacement shakes and curb the amount of food I buy for the next two weeks.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Heading Into Two Weeks of Meal Replacement Shakes...

I lost another 0.7 lbs.  Not a huge loss, but one I can live with as it is a positive move.  However, after the incident yesterday, I am ready for the meal replacement shakes.

In the mornings, I usually take all of my medications before eating breakfast.  I figured breakfast would be a peanut butter and banana sandwich - about 400 calories.  My morning conference call went over its allotted time due to development debate.  I was pretty much annoyed with being put in a nasty position, but it comes with the job.  Furthermore, I was having issues with some support person who could have handled the situation much better than he had.  It was terribly annoying - I would open tickets to get access and he would close them by simply copying and pasting the Help Desk link.  The link did not provide the information I really needed to know.

So, I got cleaned up to head into work, but I have, yet, another call to attend.  That call goes longer than scheduled.  In the end, I never got my breakfast and my blood sugar dropped down to 78.  I had the shakes and was not functioning quite so well.  I drank some coke and waited for 15 minutes.

I was going to have lunch with a co-worker, but those plans fell through and I had nothing for lunch.  I could not experience another low like that at work.  I figured I would go to Liberty Burger.  I ordered a regular Liberty Burger with cheese and bacon, fries for my co-worker, and some onion rings.  

The burger was good.  However, the skinny fries were exactly like - shoestring fries and I am not a fan.  Onion rings were huge, but while eating my lunch, I got a call that ended up annoying me more.  A rescheduled event to take place on Friday had not been reserved as organized back in late April/early May.  I spent an hour on the phone trying to get something acceptable or the money returned.  I figured I would not get the money returned, but this was a huge faux pas - the event is next Friday and I was not happy.

So, I try to finish off my lunch, but cold onion rings are gross and the burger is not so great.  Furthermore, I am sick to my stomach.  The food I had eaten is just sitting there and it is not pleasant.

When I got home and completed making the dogs happy, we all went and laid down on the bed.  I fell asleep for two hours and still did not want anything to eat.  I finally ate leftover roasted potatoes, green beans and couscous around 11 PM.  Honestly, I was seriously not hungry - I was more sick with the burger and onion rings.

So, next week, I welcome the return to the meal replacement shakes.  At least, I can get the nutrients I need and pack fruit and veggies to snack.  Much better than those onion rings.  Blech!

Also, I have an appointment with the PCP to get a recheck.  This chronic lower back and thigh/hip pain has got to go!  It is really bringing me down and it hurts whenever I walk.  That is not good.

No Bones About It - I Despise Texas Summers...

There are people in this world who truly love the summer.  It is their opportunity to really express their exhibitionist side.  They are able to strip off comfortably into a bikini or swim shorts and just walk around and be a part of "the crowd."

Then, there is me...

Hey - I do not deny anyone their right to wear a skimpy bathing suit at the pool or elsewhere, for that matter.  I just cannot stand the heat.  I turn into a really ugly bitch in the summer heat and it is not pretty.

I prefer the fall/winter/spring months when it is cooler.  I have enjoyed walking my dogs in the brisk, cool fall weather and cherished it immensely.  No heavy coat - maybe a light warm-up jacket - and I am good.

If you can choose when to do something, I cannot understand why some people choose the dead heat of summer to perform major projects.  For example, I need to clear out my garage.  There is no a/c and with the door open and even with a breeze, it would be too stinking hot to do anything right now.  I would prefer to take a week off at the end of October or beginning of November and work on the garage.  At least, it is cooler and manageable.

My major problem is that it takes me forever to cool down once I get hot.  I am not a pleasant person at that point.  My goal is to simply get into a cold shower and just stand there, letting the cool water wash off all of the sweat and crap, cooling down my body.  It is more obscene when humidity is involved.  Nothing more disgusting than getting that nice, clean shower, getting out, then you cannot dry off enough.  In the end, you feel like you need to take another bath.

So, I make no bones about it.  I despise Texas summers.  The rest of the year here is fine.