Archive for the ‘Fitness & Health’ Category

My weekend could have been better

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Not that it was bad, but it could have been better. Yesterday, I made meatballs. Good meatballs. Made a spaghetti sauce and pasta to go with them. It was all good, then I decided to open a bottle of red wine to go with dinner. I pulled out a bottle that had belonged to my father, which didn’t have much of a label. I could read parts of a few words, and could tell that it was French wine, but that was it. Unfortunately, the wine was well past its prime – it was a weak, brownish red, and had a distinct vinegary flavor. So, I discarded it and opened a different bottle, which was still good.

Later, I did a search on the partial words I found on the label, and found that currently, recent vintages are going for $90/bottle. In 2003, the wine was $400/bottle. I’m not sure, but this may have been the bottle I bought for Dad’s 50th birthday. The wine was a couple years shy of 50 years old at the time, and I remember telling him, “Don’t wait for it to catch up.” If it is that bottle of wine, it was a vintage that was over 80 years old, and I’m not surprised that it had turned to vinegar.

Then today, Marion and I went to Barr Lake State Park and walked around the lake (a 9-mile walk). Barr Lake is a fairly reliable bald eagle nesting area, so we were hoping to see at least one. We saw a lot of seagulls, a lot of geese, a few hawks, a kestrel, at least one eagle which was either a golden eagle or a juvenile bald eagle, and I took a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, when I got home, it was brought to my attention that I had neglected to reset the resolution at which my camera took pictures.

Earlier this week, I’d been taking some product photos for work, to be uploaded to the web. However, resizing 18MB photos down to 130×150 pixels for thumbnails caused problems. Selecting 720×480 for photos in the camera solved the problem. However, I hadn’t realized that I was still taking photos at that resolution today.

I have several photos of an eagle’s nest that appear to show an eagle on the nest, but it’s not quite good enough to tell, and there’s no zoom available on the photos.

In other words, a good weekend with a good meal and good photos, but it could have been better.

UPDATE: I wrote and posted this late Sunday night, but it got noted as published just past midnight. Apparently, my ISP is on MST already, or is located in the Central Time Zone.

Travel photos to follow

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Well, I’m back. Been on a trip through eastern Europe for the last two weeks – started in Budpest, then through Romania and Bulgaria, finishing in Istanbul (not Constantinople).

It wasn’t the best trip I’ve been on, because I was ill for most of it. We’re blaming the Australians (two of the Australians in the tour group were ill at the start), but I don’t know for certain how I caught it. I just know that I got a nasty cough and congestion somewhere in Romania. I was satisfied to treat it with cough drops and skip some of the harder activities, but I woke up with my right eye bloodshot and gummed shut the first morning in Belogradchik, Bulgaria, and knew that I couldn’t get away without seeing a doctor at that point.

The group was scheduled to visit a cave and a hilltop fortress that day, so we had a local guide. The trip to the cave was delayed while the local guide took me to the hospital. Unfortunately, the doctor spoke no English, and the guide’s command of the language didn’t include medical topics. I did find out that I had elevated temperature, significantly elevated pulse and blood pressure, and was given prescriptions for the main infection and for my eye. We then went and found a pharmacist who filled the prescriptions, but she didn’t speak English, either.

I had to skip the trip to see the cave (and its paleolithic paintings) and the fortress, but I wasn’t feeling up to the effort, anyway. After a day or so, I could tell that the medicine was helping. Unfortunately, it wasn’t sufficient. I was only given a 3-day course of antibiotics, and when they’d run out, I relapsed. Sunday, our last day in Istanbul, I stopped eating, because I couldn’t handle it. Since then, I’ve had a small dish of vanilla ice cream on one of the flights, and some pancakes this morning.

I had other symptoms kick in on the trip back. I’m sure you don’t need details. In any event, the associated gas and cramping have made me unwilling to eat much, if anything. I bought some juice this evening, but it didn’t really taste as good as it usually does. At least I got new medicine to take with it – I managed to get an appointment at my doctor’s office on short notice today. With luck, I’ll be getting healthy again soon.

One thing – I lost about 10 pounds on the trip. I could certainly afford to lose that much (and more), but it’s not the best way of losing weight.

Miscellany 24

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Big roundup here of things that have been hanging around (non-political version).

It’s war! The ants are coming for our chocolate. The article is actually much wider-ranging, and quite interesting.

A Faberge egg not seen (and known for what it is) since 1902 was purchased a decade ago at a Midwestern antique fair.

Need a handy reference for musical intervals? This may help.

Planning to record some audio at home? This may help.

How to take excellent notes and be productive with paper. I can always use the help.

This looks like an interesting resource for computer science.

I’ll want to spend some time reminiscing at this site.

Two scary economic charts, billed as documenting the demise of the American Dream.

An interesting list of Google Easter eggs.

I like these thoughts on the Starship Troopers movie. I didn’t much care for it myself; I’ve usually referred to it as “Paul Verhoeven’s rebuttal to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.”

Google makes an emulator in Chrome for the Amiga 500. I still have two Amiga 2000s in my basement, although I’ve only got one monitor for them, and the hard drive on one needs to be reformatted. It’s too bad there was never a widely-available Ethernet board for them.

Men’s Health says these are the best over-the-counter medications.

The Smithsonian says these vitamins and supplements are worth taking.

Continuing on the subject of health, how old is your heart?

Here are photos of various famous locations. There are two photos of each location: one showing the normally-presented view, and one showing surroundings that aren’t normally seen unless you’re there. I’ve been to the pyramids of Giza, and it’s startling how close development has come to them.

Wanna learn something? Try here.

You can find over 22,000 comics that are out of copyright here. Via.

Man sublets his apartment, comes home to find a plus-sized orgy going on. Then he loses his apartment, because his lease doesn’t allow him to sublet.

Do incorrect and inappropriate use’s of quotes (like that one) bother you? Best stay away from this site, then.

I’ve seen the movie Head, but it was many years ago. There’s a link to the movie in this article.

It looks like there’s some good information in this gardening thread at Ace of Spades HQ.

They’ve found more Dead Sea scrolls.

Interesting art. I’ve seen similar things, but it’s still cool. Now, imagine the following in a Cockney accent: “That’s not a bird, that’s a bird! Via.

Speaking of birds, but not really

And not speaking of birds, but really! Rogue Chihuahuas overrunning a town?

I like this guy’s obituary. He’d have been fun to know.

What if the Winter Olympics had been held on Hoth?

I’m not surprised that this happened in Japan.

In 1731, King Frederick I of Sweden gave a lion to a taxidermist who had never seen one. Some of the comments are hilarious, also. I particularly like the first reply to this one.

Information you can use: 7 Myths About Storing Beer.

More Information you can use: Picking a lock with a hairpin.

Some people believe that this is the best newspaper correction ever. I’m not so certain of that, but I don’t have any other suggestions handy.

As a European, this is how I imagine Americans have breakfast. Via Protein Wisdom. The comments at both locations are good, too.

Looking for back issues of Starlog magazine?

Why do we do some of the things we do at weddings?

An interesting clock presentation.

These are impressive tattoos. Not that I’d ever get one, but …

Some carbon fiber musical instruments. I’ve played a Blackbird tenor ukulele and liked it, and I have a friend who is trying to set himself up producing carbon fiber soprano ukes.

I knew people drank more in the past, but damn! That’s a lot of booze!

How to make a sling from woven paracord. The site is often NSFW, but this post isn’t (unless your company employs extreme hoplophobes).

On the same website: If you ever feel stupid

Remember the warehouse scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? It might not have been too unbelievable.

Figure skaters caught in mid-spin. They look much more graceful and elegant when you don’t catch all the details.

When it goes, it all goes at once.

Giant desert art project in Egypt.

Sarah Hoyt is a local science fiction author. I met her at a party at a mutual friend’s place a couple years ago. This post on her history with SFWA is absolutely hilarious.

There may still be time to apply for this job – it’s got to be hard work. Then again, a lot of people like swords.

Ever seen a ship break apart?

Were you aware that France was still conduction executions by guillotine as recently as 1977? Were you aware that the actor Christopher Lee attended the last one?

I wasn’t able to find an update on his recovery, but the fact that he survived going through a wood chipper is amazing. When I was in the Navy, if you were going to work on anything that could be dangerous if it were turned on during the process, you’d attach a red tag to the power switch. I wonder if they’ll implement a system like that for the wood chipper?

Boy, the Aussies don’t hold back with their PSAs, do they?

I have a friend who photographs most of his restaurant meals. I should send him to this site.

I think that’s about enough for now. I may do another one (with older accumulated links) later.

I’ve been sick

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

For a while, actually. I originally came down with it at Christmas, and the medicine I was prescribed seemed to work fairly well. Unfortunately, I suffered a relapse. I got prescribed more antibiotics, but it’s been a struggle. At one point, I spent five consecutive days flat on my back, all day, every day.

I’m much better now, but I still have a bit of a cough and my voice isn’t completely back. I was going to go to a local ukulele jam tonight, but I came home from work exhausted and took a nap, and it’s too late to show up now.

I’ve been accumulating links, and I may make a huge “miscellany” post, or I may go through and keep the reference links and discard the rest. I’ll decide that later. Maybe.

I think I’ve read this before

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

… but it’s not unwelcome. According to researchers, men get health benefits from looking at busty women.

It reminds me of the days I used to get up early to watch “20 Minute Workout.” I used to joke that it got my heartrate up even if I only sat and watched it. Apparently, I wasn’t wrong.

Now to adjust my workout plans.

I am a mouth-breather

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I don’t mean that in any derogatory way; I’m somewhat under the weather and have suffered from congestion for most of a week. Enough that it’s not worth using my CPAP at night, which doesn’t help my rest, either. It built into some kind of full-blown cold this morning, with coughing and sneezing jags.

Ah, well. Has to happen now and then, I suppose.

Olympian activities

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

As the Olympics are currently underway, it’s worth remembering that not all the action and drama takes place on the field (or in the pool, on the court, etc.).

I’d read about the sexual activity at the Games before, but had forgotten sometime in the past several years.

Some of the drama occurs because of cheating or poor judging. Biased judging, if not to the level of actual corruption, has been around for quite some time. I can remember one Winter Olympiad when, during one of the ice skating events, I heard one of the commentators mention that one of the judges had deducted points from one competitor because of their choice of music.

The big scandal so far in these games relates to badminton teams trying to lose in order to better their chances for later in the competition. It got so bad that one match was booed by the spectators. Here’s some video of the game in question, although it’s pretty short and disjointed.

Poor judging can have repercussions beyond the official standings. Even when the athletes accept their medals, they don’t always keep them – although that’s sometimes for altruistic reasons, as noted in the link.

Not everyone likes the Olympics. I’ll usually watch, but not always – there are events I won’t watch, because I don’t believe they belong. That’s a rant for another time, but it boils down to the Olympic motto: Citius, altius, fortius. If you can’t determine victory with a stopwatch, a tape measure, or a scale, I don’t think it belongs. Anything with style points or technique judging is right out. YMMV. Certainly, many of the most popular events wouldn’t be allowed under my rules.

Mike notes that the Olympics are popular with a lot of people who are normally hostile to popular sports, and suggests a reason why. He may have a point. Selwyn Duke notes something that may be supporting evidence, depending on whether the reporters were ignorant about athletics or deliberately trying to mislead the public.

Neo likes the Olympics, but doesn’t appreciate the change that has occurred in women’s gymnastics over the last few decades. I can see and understand her point, and even agree with her conclusion. Women’s gymnastics is a much more vigorous athletic endeavor these days, but the gymnasts I’ve been watching don’t have the grace Tourischeva and others had. However, refresh your memory about my earlier comment above about stop watches, etc.

Slate has an interesting interactive toy that allows you to compare previous Olympic gold-medal performances in some of the events.

Speaking of Usain Bolt, who is mentioned in the headline of the Slate article, he’s a class act.

Finally, NBC has been catching grief concerning their coverage of the Games, particularly their online streaming (which I haven’t tried). This is perhaps the most pointed, yet gentle, commentary I’ve seen on the subject.

Miscellany 22

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

I see by the clock on the clubhouse wall that I haven’t posted in a month. Sorry.

Then again, nobody’s been complaining … about that, anyway.

Be that as it may, I’m going to clean out some tabs and saved links.

Back around 1985, my boss brought in a summer intern and told me to get some use out of him. Four days later, we sent him back to his professor – I’d spent about 10 hours over those four days explaining to him in detail how to write a program that would have taken me somewhere around an hour to write. The problem was that he had only written Pascal programs on VAX hardware, and had no conception of how a program could actually deal with the underlying hardware itself. I was reminded of that when I ran across Real Programmers Don’t Use Pascal. I remember that from when it first appeared – I didn’t get Datamation, but I had coworkers who did. Don’t skip the linked “Story of Mel,” which also is pretty good.

I have a hand-cranked radio, but this is something else: a wind-up AA battery.

This article on medical school acceptance rates by race is pretty horrifying. It reminds me of an article I read some time ago that made the case that affirmative action was reducing the number of minority (specifically, black) attorneys. The mechanism proposed was that blacks would be admitted to law schools that their scores wouldn’t get them into if they were white, which made it harder to keep up with the rest of the student body, so they’d drop out. It is likely they’d have been able to graduate from a less-prestigious (and less difficult) school, so affirmative action had the exact opposite of the purported effect.

This is cool – do-it-yourself eye exams on a smartphone.

This is also cool – electric currents passing through the brain can induce a state more conducive to learning. Be careful if you do it yourself, though. More here.

I wish this had been available when I broke my ankle last year.

Some kids are smart. Ten-year-old Clara Lazen is going to have plenty of geek cred for coming up with a previously-unknown molecule that’s likely to be explosive.

A one-stroke penalty if a bomb goes off during your swing? That seems harsh.

This is one of those articles that’s worth it just for the headline. So is this one.

I’m amazed that someone could call the first score of the Super Bowl correctly.

To solve a problem, you need to define it correctly. Even without committing a category error, it could be that you are solving the wrong problem.

This is another of those computer toys that let you get an idea of the scale of the universe. I wish things like this had been available when I was a child. We had to make do with the movie “Powers of Ten.” Of course, I was in high school when that came out, so it’s still not a childhood memory, per se.

Speaking of films, I’ve seen two of these. I suspect my daughter has seen more of them than I have. If not, she probably will after checking out the list.

Several years ago, my doctor told me to start taking a daily aspirin. I had to give it up a few months later, because I was getting frequent nosebleeds. If only I had known the healing power of bacon! I fear my cats may have caused problems, though.

Slightly related to that, there’s good news about eating fried foods. It doesn’t match up with Satchel Paige’s advice not to eat fried food because “it angrifies the blood,” but I suspect the food he was familiar with was fried in different oils.

Attractions, flotation devices, or airbags. I’m glad her breasts helped, but I consider her misshapen. I remember the news stories when she acquired the infection that caused her to get reduction surgery – she’d had to go to Brazil because doctors in the US wouldn’t expand her breasts any more.

Speaking of breasts, I’ve seen a few protests here and there, but I’ve yet to witness one like this. (NSFW, unless topless women are allowed by your office dress code.)

How to distract your enemy. I particularly enjoy the third panel.

Lots of older periodicals available here.

Speaking of reading, I’m going to be waiting for this e-book app to become available. I just hope that it doesn’t require a new proprietary DRM’d format.

Some nice music here. I listened to several of the young lady’s other videos, and they were nice. A bit too similar for listening to in a block, but they’d be very nice in a shuffle.

If your taste runs to psychedelic music, try this. I have the Nuggets LP in a box in my garage. If I’m remembering correctly, I’ve got the 1976 release, not the earlier one.

Here’s an interesting music game.

Besides seeming a bit tacky, is a Titanic Memorial Cruise a good idea? Some people don’t think so. Having been on one cruise myself (which I quite enjoyed, actually), I’ll admit to some misgivings. It makes me wonder how I ever managed when I was in the Navy.

I do fairly well with English grammar. Many of the things I read would irk me less if their authors took this advice to heart.

I could add more to this post, but I think I’ll finish with this tweet that expresses an awe that I’ve experienced when reading code.

Miscellany 18

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Just some things that have been hanging around.

This is a useful site for learning to play the ukulele. If you want to start from the beginning, here’s the first post. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have an easy way to access the archives.

Tired of people who don’t know how to spell or which homophone to use? Here’s a potential solution.

Want a guess as to how long you’ll live? This site tells me I can expect about another 27 years.

Can spiraling help you run faster? I don’t have the knees to run for exercise anymore (and I’m still coming back from my broken ankle, besides), but this sounds interesting.

Sometimes, science fiction can be eerily prophetic. A couple more by Heinlein that they could have mentioned are his prediction of the waterbed in Stranger in a Strange Land (which was actually referenced as prior art to invalidate a patent application), and his prediction in the story Waldo that telephone answering machines would be used to screen incoming calls.

I’m not terribly familiar with it yet, but I’m becoming quite taken with the music of Flanders and Swann. It’s certainly more interesting than this concert.

Scientist trading cards. The people behind these also pulled off a neat guerilla art prank.

Oh, wow, man! The colors!

I can’t believe it! (via Theo Spark – the site is possibly NSFW, YMMV)

The rarely-seen arborial moose. Must have been trying to visit Rocky.

And, to finish up, a list of the ten deadliest toys of all time. I’m not sure I agree with all of their choices, particularly with the “of all time” qualifier, but it’s probably a pretty good starting point for the years since about 1950.

This is a post I’ve been putting off

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I wrote it about three weeks ago, but I’ve been putting off posting it because I don’t like conflict. I did promise these people that I’d post about it, though, and now that the doctor has told me to start walking without the support boot, it’s time and past time.


Now that my broken ankle is healing, I’ve been wearing a boot for support. The boot was supplied by Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment, and they’ve sent me an invoice for $240.92. I called them last week to see if I can get a discounted price, because I don’t have medical insurance. Most places will give discounts to people without insurance, because there’s less paperwork involved, and my understanding is that the payments tend to come through more quickly if an insurance company isn’t in the middle of the process. I couldn’t get an answer when I called, because the manager (whose name I wasn’t given, and forgot to ask for) was out of the office that day, and all discount requests had to be approved by the manager.

I heard back from them Friday, to the effect that the price quoted in the invoice already included a 15% discount. I find this difficult to believe, because of the evidence shown in the following two pictures.

Ortho price list

Part of the bill

I scanned these from the invoice package. Note that the price of the “walker boot” on the form in the first photo is what I was invoiced, and note that there is no entry in the area provided for “discount” in the second photo. I suppose it’s possible that the price list I saw at Dr. Shannon’s office is a custom one specifically for people without medical insurance, but how likely is that? I’d say there’s zero possibility, since another part of the form talks about what may or may not be covered by insurance. Wouldn’t you expect the invoice to show the original price and the discount? I certainly would. And how hard is it for them to determine whether an invoice has had a discount applied? I see three possibilities here:

1. The price includes a 15% discount that is not noted on the invoice, and I was shown a custom “discounted for no insurance” price list.
2. The price is not discounted, but they presumed it is because I asked about it, and they didn’t bother checking the invoice.
3. The price is not discounted, but they told me it was so they could get full payment.

The billed price is troubling to me, because I found the exact same boot available online for $79.95. I realize that things are normally cheaper online, but by a full factor of three? I was presuming that the invoiced price was the full retail price, and felt that if Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment provided me with the same 40% discount that both Dr. Shannon’s office and the hospital have already provided me, then the price would not have been tremendously out of line. Presuming about $20 shipping costs (which is probably high) for the online purchase, a 40% discount would have made the prices about $140 versus about $100. This is still a significant difference, but justifiable.

If the quoted price is already discounted by 15%, then their retail price is more than $280, well over three times the cost to purchase online, possibly even including shipping. This, to me, is unreasonable, if not unconscionable. Either Rocky Mountain Medical Equipment is price-gouging, or their overhead costs are so high that it’s obvious that they don’t know how to run an efficient business. Not to mention that their staff appears to be dishonest, clueless, or lazy.