Monday, February 28, 2011

Personal Blog Posting Month Wrap-Up

This is the final day of my Personal Blog Posting Month, and I completed my goal of posting every day. Actually, more than every day: one day had two posts here, I wrote three entries for my Diabetes Daily Blog, and I wrote a guest post for another blog that will appear in a few days.

I have mixed feelings about how it went. I expected the necessity to post every day to be something of a burden, but it proved to be even more so than I anticipated. One of my goals was to give up on feeling that every post had to be a little gem: I don't know whether I've achieved that or not, though I don't think so. There were a number of posts I simply would not have published under ordinary circumstances: I need to decide, I think, if I'm comfortable posting as much about cooking as I have been. Plus, it must be admitted, a few posts were simply fluff. However, I must be fair to myself and acknowledge that I'm proud of some of this months posts, and note that two of my most-viewed posts of all time came in this period.

But, most of all, I feel.....done. And that makes me happy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yay! A New Type 2 Blog!

Kate, who I had the pleasure of meeting on Facebook the other day, has started a Type Two Diabetes blog, "Sweet Success: My life with Type 2 Diabetes", at I encourage you to go take a look!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sammy, the MinPin

Originally uploaded by rpederse_
This is my neighbor lady's dog, Sammy. Sammy is a Miniature Pinscher, or MinPin. I'm much more of a cat person than a dog person, but Sammy's a pretty nice little dog. He's not much of a barker, except when there's another dog in the hemisphere, and he's pretty affectionate.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rock On

Originally uploaded by rpederse_
Not that the folks at Blünt Lancet are short of hard-rocking ideas, but something like this image might make a good album cover. Not this exact image, of course: the hand should have a spiked leather bracelet. And be hairy. VERY hairy.

Rogani Roti

As part of my effort to bring more whole grains into my diet, I've been thinking about playing with some flatbreads. I figure they'd be easier to make than yeast breads, and pretty flexible as to how they could be used.

Tonight was my first actual effort, "rogani roti" ("rich bread") made from the second recipe on this page. I cut the recipe in half, and I used "white whole wheat" flour. The dough seemed to require quite a bit more milk than anticipated, but it's been a long time since I made bread.

They were actually pretty good. I had one with a little butter, and one with a sprinkling of cinnamon. They're pretty misshapen. They're supposed to be a much better oval than this. Oh, well!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Most Awesome Thing

The topic for this month's Diabetes Social Media Advocacy Blog Carnival is: “The most awesome thing I have done in spite of diabetes is ...."

I've been thinking about this inaugural topic for the Carnival all month. I don't think I has a good answer for it when it came up during DSMA's "Fill in the Blank" night, I know I didn't have a good answer for it when I was the featured guest on the following evening's "DSMA Live" webcast, and for most of this month I've assumed I wouldn't be contributing a carnival post this month at all.

See, at the current stage of my diabetes, my disease isn't what's going to stop me from doing awesome things. I've got plenty of barriers, but right now diabetes isn't a problem in that way. I thought of some responses that were close, but just didn't quite fit.

Until now.

In spite of diabetes, I am getting healthier. That's right: I have a chronic disease, but I'm getting healthier.

Even though diabetes is not a huge interference in my daily life at this stage, the fact remains that my metabolism is broken. Hunger and fullness, food and digestion, energy to do all the things I'd like to do, even my ability to maintain my body at a comfortable temperature: none of these work as well as they did a few years ago.

Yet, despite these and other challenges, I'm markedly healthier than I was at the time of diagnosis. My blood pressure stays comfortably in the target range. Most of my cholesterol numbers are well within the target range: my "good cholesterol" is still somewhat low but is climbing. My A1c has been steady in a good place for almost a year. And, I rarely experience the tingling in my feet that I had almost continually for months.

My increasing health is not just in these results, it's also in what I do. Though there's a lot of improvement, I've made very significant changes since diagnosis. I walk for half an hour almost every work day. I eat far fewer carbs than I did even two years ago, I eat much less fat, and I consume much more whole grain and vegetables. I've put considerable effort into increasing my ability to cook healthy and tasty food for myself, resulting in many fewer restaurant meals and much less processed food. I also feel that my active participation in the Diabetes Online Community enhances my health care. Additionally, I've made significant advances in my ability to manage my emotional health.

Because I failed so badly the make the big, immediate lifestyle changes I felt were expected of my when I was diagnosed, I have a little trouble taking credit for the small changes I've made. But these small changes, taken together, have become awesome. And I've done them despite diabetes.

This post is my February entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Habanero Cashew Brittle

After the debacle of my attempts to make 'Coconut Drops", I wanted to try my hand at a different candy. I also, after eating this, wanted to experiment with habanero peppers. Besides, something in me is attracted by cooking that requires surgical gloves. So, I made this recipe for Habanero Cashew Brittle last night.

I appear to have cooked them not QUITE hot enough, because the candy didn't get as brittle as I'd have liked. But, the candy is good. It's a little bit hot on the tongue, and there's some chile heat in the back of the throat, but it's not overwhelming for me and I'm no chilehead.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eat YOUR Way

These days, there are many different approaches you can take in choosing what you eat. You may be convinced that you can best fuel your body by eating low carb, low fat, meat-free, HFCS-free, additive-free, gluten-free, raw, or prehistoric. Your ethics may lead you to chose to eat vegetarian, to maximize global food supplies, or vegan, so as not to cause suffering to other creatures. Concern for the environment may lead you to choose locally-produced items whenever possible or even to forage from what has been wasted by others. If your interest is in maximizing your culinary experience, you may insist on the freshest ingredients prepared to rigorous standards, or you may be concerned with cooking dishes that are authentic representations of foods eaten in other cultures.

I don't disrespect any of those choices. Science may eventually produce real guidance about what ways of eating are the healthiest, but it can't tell us what's most ethical or most delicious.

Each of these ways of eating has many adherents that live peaceably among us and have no interest in persuading the rest of us to make the same choices they have. But, the times being what they are, each way of eating also has some adherents that believe that their way is the only valid way, that feel (and express) superiority to the rest of us. And it's the shrill voices of the latter group that are most easily heard in the cacaphony.

Here's my point:

Don't be bullied.

If the way you've chosen to eat seems right to you and to whoever you've chosen to advise you, go for it, and ignore the people who want to put you down for it. Those eating in other ways are entitled to choose their own meals.

But they're not entitled to choose yours.

(Note: edited 2/22/11 7:15 to make a small correction.)

Monday, February 21, 2011


This is a tiny thing, but strikes me as worth mentioning.

The other day, somebody on Twitter was having trouble finding her lancing device. I jokingly suggested that she follow the example of my friend Kelly Kunik, who tests by lancing herself without benefit of the lancing device. (Because she rolls awesomely like that, you know: a fan of direct action.) And, as I typed, I realized that I was on the verge of saying, "I could never do that."

That would have been bad. For two reasons.

First, that comment is one of the things insulin users hear most often and hate to hear the most.

Second, it would have been telling myself that I couldn't do something that I might, in fact, really need to do some day.

In a flash, as I realized these things, it became apparent to me that I had to test without a lancing device. Right then.

So, having found a lancet, I figured out how to hold it so that my forefinger and thumb would (theoretically) keep myself from driving too deeply, took a breath, thought about the horrible old guillotine-style lancing device I've seen a picture of, and *poked*.

It was okay. It hurt more than my test usually does, but way less than it sometimes does. I could do it again if I needed to. I could do it that way every time if I needed to. And I even got a good number on my meter.

I felt absurdly good about having done this. By doing a manual test, I'd both shown internal respect for my fellow PWDs and I'd bought myself an option for the future.

Not bad for one little poke.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Grains Three Ways: Pearled Barley

The first grain I've chosen for my "Grains Three Ways" project is pearled barley. Pearled barley cannot actually be called a whole grain, since a mechanical process has been used to remove the inedible hull, the germ, and some or all of the bran. However, cooked pearled barley has more than twice the amount of dietary fiber of cooked long-grain brown rice, so I feel comfortable in treating it as fitting my project. (This information taken from the "USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference", which I learned about in doing research for this post.)

The first recipe I made for this project was "James Beard's Barley Casserole". (Although I took my recipe from a site that relies on contributors, I did have the opportunity to confirm the recipe as being more or less identical to that in one of Beard's cookbooks.) Even though I used a mix of moderately fancy mushrooms, I found the recipe somewhat bland. While I like the idea of cooking the barley in a casserole, I'll seek another recipe next time.

The second barley preparation I made was to just do it in my rice cooker. What made it a bit special was that instead of water I used the beef broth that had been the cooking liquid for a slow cooker corned beef last weekend. This was quite successful.

My final dish is "Barley Corn Salad"(pictured below), which I have renamed "John Barleycorn Salad", because, well, why wouldn't you?

I made two small variations: I used rice vinegar instead of white wine vinegar, because it's what I had, and I used a mix of white and yellow corn kernels, because it's what they had at the store today. It is delicious: bright, and refreshing, and complex. It'll make a great summer dish, I think. It's smarter than the average barley!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jerk Chicken Wings

This post is not (alas!) about something I cooked, but rather something I ate.

There's a small parking garage around the corner from my office that's got a tiny little storefront in it. There have been several different lunch-and-dinner type eateries in it over the last few years.

Thursday, I decided to give the current place another try. I'd had a breakfast there that was just a breakfast, and a pulled-pork sandwich that was okay but accompanied by beans that were pretty good. This time, I had the jerk chicken wings, expecting that they'd probably be too hot, but willing to give it a try.

See, I'm probably a touch more tolerant of spicy food than most people, but a real wimp compared to the true chileheads. It's not hard to get past my threshhold, and the "jerk" dishes I've had tend to do it.

These wings were spectacular. No, not merely spectacular: they were one of the best things I've ever eaten as an adult.* I'm serious: in describing this incident to a friend, I was only able to come up with three things I'd enjoyed more. I'm sure the true list would be longer, but I can't imagine there would be more than a few dozen things on the list.

Yes, the wings were spicy, but not overpoweringly so to my taste. There was a fruity element, almost like the orange chicken at the best Chinese restaurant on the planet. They were a touch saucy, but I didn't need more than the two napkins provided. They were sweet.

I'm serious: these wings tasted like sunshine.

And now I have to learn a bit about Jamaican cooking.

* I have a theory that there are food experiences we have as children that are forever unequaled. I really don't expect to ever taste anything as delicious as the A&W Root Beer Float I had on a really hot summer's day when I was about ten.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Goodie Table

We have monthly "birthday parties" at my workplace. I'm a little grumpy about them, for several reasons. But, I cooperate, at least partially. I show up, I join in singing "Happy Birthday", and I clap. Then I slink off, back to my desk. I think that's good enough, and other folks seem to think so, too. And that would be that, except for one thing:

The goodie table.

See, we take turns bringing treats to to the "party". There's a cake, and usually some cookies, perhaps some potato chips, and (oh, yes) the fruit-and-veggie tray. And after the party is over, this stuff is all left out for folks to nibble on.

Yes, it sits there. It sits there deliciously. And it mocks me.

"Bob", I hear it saying, "you can't hold out forever. Come. Eat. Enjoy."

And it's right. I can't hold out forever, and I do come and eat.

My own diet, the food I eat day in and day out, is getting better and better. It's still a LONG way from perfect, but I am eating many fewer carbs, much less fat, and many more vegetables and whole grains than I once did.

But the goodie table gets me. Every month.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The "Grains Three Ways" Project

Years ago, long before I was diagnosed, I ate a vegetarian diet for about six months. (I was open to milk, cheese, and eggs, but didn't eat much of those.) I didn't lose weight - a vegetarian with limited cooking skills is likely to end up eating a lot of simple carbs - but I did feel better eating that way.

One of my secret, stealthy reasons for working so hard on my cooking skills is to lay the proper foundation for a possible return to a vegetarian diet. And an important aspect of that is to know a lot more about cooking with whole grains (or, sometimes, less-refined grains) than I have in the past.

So, I've decided to begin what I'm calling my "Grains Three Ways" project. Working with one grain variety at a time, I'll find and prepare three dishes that use significantly different cooking methods for that variety. To the extent possible, I'd like to vary the methods across varieties as well (so that I'm not making a faux-risotto all the time, for example), but a preparation in my rice cooker will probably appear about every time, because it's a very handy tool for cooking grains.

I'll be starting with barley. I'm using pearled barley, which has been partially refined: I may visit whole grain barley down the road some time. I'll be doing quinoa for sure, and bulgur wheat, and farro since I happen to have some. Beyond that, I'll see what the stores seem to want to sell me. (I use brown rice tolerably often, so may not do that one.)

I'll report back!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Spring Rolls

Over the weekend, I cooked a corned beef that came out a little tougher than I was happy with, so I started thinking of ways to use it. At some point in my woolgathering, my mind turned to the spring roll wrappers I'd recently bought in a spirit of adventure. And an evil plan began to form.

I started by putting a fairly fine dice on some green cabbage and slicing the white parts of a couple of scallions. I sauteed that mix, salting it as it cooked. I put the cooked mix in a bowl with some finely chopped corned beef, the green parts of the scallions (sliced), and some carroway seeds. This is what it looked like:

I prepped the spring roll wrappers as directed by soaking them each (as I was ready for them)in hot water for about 15 seconds, placing on a towel and blotting gently, adding a couple of tablespoons of filling, and wrapping. I found the wrappers difficult to work with, as may be apparent here:

I placed the spring rolls on a baking sheet, brushed lightly with oil, failed to find my sesame seeds, and put them in a preheated 375F oven. I cooked 'em for perhaps 10 minutes - a little longer might have given crispier texture.

Here they are plated up:

(That's Asian Sweet Chile Sauce in the little bowl, which is an heirloom, being in our family for a couple of months.)

They were surprisingly good. As I mentioned, I might have pulled them too soon. According to my grading level, they were a good solid B.

Not bad for an evil plan.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grading My Cooking

When I've cooked something that was in any way experimental, I tend to assign a letter grade. Here's my scale:
D: Edible, in the technical sense of not being toxic. Most "D" stuff gets thrown away. Fortunately, I don't have this happen very often. Maybe this just shows that my standards are low.
C: Edible, in the broader sense of being acceptable eating. When I'm trying something really new, this is my goal. There's nothing wrong with a "C" meal, and I'd hate to be in the position of having to have better than this to be happy.
B: "Hey...that's pretty good!"
A: Foot stomping good. I don't hit this too often. My pickled roasted red peppers hit this level. I did a pork roast recently that turned out quite well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Valentine's Day Post

I've never been as inclined as some single people to resent St. Valentine's Day, because I'm happy for those in a relationship they're content with who can use the holiday to celebrate that relationship. But as someone who's never married nor even dated very much, the day used to be something to hide from, an annual in-my-face reminder of that missing piece in my life. Some years, I've even gone media-free for a few days to hide from the commercially-oriented mushiness.

I'm not sure if it's maturity or just resignation, but in my middle years I find that discomfort leaving. For one thing, I'm not sure of my ability to carry off a successful relationship. Sure, I've got some real strengths to bring to a relationship, but I'd bring more than my share of challenges as well. Describing me as 'set in my ways' would be putting it very kindly indeed. Yes, there are things about the single life that are a drag, even scary - but I think I'd rather have no relationship than the wrong one.

I don't know if there's a relationship in my future or not - I may meet someone tomorrow. I'm not too many years from the time when I'll be old enough for what I call a 'friendship marriage' - two older folks who marry after a relatively short engagement and without too much fuss. No grand romance - at least publicly - just a commitment to be there for each other as long as possible.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Temporary Loss of Courage

I've been struggling with symptoms of depression this week. It's still been a lot better than it's been at many times in the past, but it hasn't been much fun. This weekend, I've been experiencing perhaps my most crippling symptom: a surge of fear and anxiety that doesn't seem related to anything at all. But fear and anxiety aren't quite the right way to put it, though I fight with those too: it's more like a sucking loss of confidence, as if someone pulled the drain plug on the courage I need to get through the day.

Yesterday morning, I got up in good time and felt refreshed. I made my grocery list and got ready to go to the store. I was almost ready to go when I was suddenly seized by the feeling that I didn't really want to go, that it would go wrong. Why? I don't know. Although I did end up going to the store, I've been fighting with this feeling all weekend.

I've gotten done what I've absolutely had to, thus far, and a little more. And, I'm catching up with sleep, so I'm hopeful that will help. Also, the weather has turned much better here, so I'm hoping that will help also. Besides, as I've said before, depression is like a head cold: it's nasty right now, but it WILL go away in time.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Small Victories: Emergency Pizza

(I apologize for the image quality - I really need to find my digital camera.)

One of my purposes in my pursuit of greater cooking skills was to have alternatives to expensive megacaloric pizza delivery when the cravings strike. Not I-guess-this-is-okay self-denying alternatives, but yum-this-really-hits-the-spot alternatives.

Just tonight I was thinking thinking how could pizza sounded. And then I thought about the fresh cheese I made last weekend, which won't last much longer. And a plan began to form in my mind.

What you see pictured (well, sort of see, anyway) is:
1 "sandwich thin", split
On each 1/2 thin:
~1 tbsp sun-dried tomato pesto (commercial, left over from another project
~1 tbsp pickled roasted red pepper, chopped
Sprinkling of salt
I put 'em on a cooking sheet and baked 'em at 350 F for maybe 5 minutes. (Could have used a few more, actually.)

There are probably a googol of variations on this procedure, which is itself a variation of the "English muffin pizza". It's not technically low-fat, since the cheese was made from whole milk, but the amount I consumed is a fraction of what I'd have eaten if I'd ordered pizza. (And I'd have been eating it all weekend!)

The result? It was hot, and creamy, and had TONS of flavor. I'm no longer hungry, and (this is key) I don't have a sense of deprivation that could lay the groundwork for trouble later.

We have to grab the small victories, friends, grab them and hold them tightly to our chests. Big victories don't come around often, but a number of small victories MAKE a big victory.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Favorite Casual Games

I'm a big fan of what are usually called "casual" computer games. Such games are typically designed to be accessible to a wide audience, don't require a lot of learning to play, and can be completed in a relatively small number of hours (most often 4-6, I'd guess.)

I compiled the following list of favorites for a friend who's just getting into them. I've been playing regularly for over two years now, and some of my older faves aren't as sophisticated as the best new games, particularly when it comes to graphics. I love 'em anyway.

(A lot of my little comments deal with how "dark" the game is. For perhaps a year, there's been a strong tendency for "hidden object games", as all but one of the below are, to be deeply suspenseful and creepy, even becoming almost horror. In my view, there's too much of this - but some of the games designed that way are really, really good games.)

Awakening: The Dreamless Castle
Lovely. Sequel "Awakening: Moonfell Wood" also very good

Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat
Quite dark, quite good.

Drawn: The Painted Tower
One of the very best. Sequel "Drawn: Dark Flight" may be even better, but play this first.

Lovely, interesting twist on gameplay. "Enlightenus II" not -quite- as strong

Lost in Time: The Clockwork Tower
Fun, a couple interesting twists, a respite from the darkness.

Magic Encyclopedia
This is one of the games that got me addicted. Sequels also good.

Mortimer Beckett and the Secrets of Spooky Manor
1st of 3, I like this one the most. Not sophisticated, but I've played it dozens of times.

Nightfall Mysteries: Curse of the Opera
This one's so dark, I haven't played the highly-regarded sequel. But very strong.

PuppetShow: Mystery of Joyville
Dark, but excellent: sequel, "Souls of the Innocent", also great

Royal Trouble
Fun, cheerful

Snark Busters: Welcome to the Club
Intriguing, funny

The Serpent of Isis
A bit dated, but one of my faves of all time. Sequel coming soon

Unwell Mel
The best "Match 3" game I've played

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Broadening My Disclaimer

Linked to from the front page, this blog has the sort of disclaimer appropriate to a health blog: I'm not a doctor, don't take anything I say as advice, and for heaven's sakes don't FOLLOW any advice.

I'd like to take this opportunity to broaden that disclaimer. There are a number of subjects in which I am interested, and have even thought quite a bit about, but in which I can in no way considered actually knowledgeable. This subjects include language/linguistics/usage, philosophy of the arts, casual computer games, and a kitchen sink's worth of other subjects.

I mention this because the temptation to use this space to write about some of these things has been getting stronger, and they're going to start showing up. I imagine it'll be obvious, but these pieces will just be my non-expert opinion.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts....

I wanted to try a recipe Tuesday night that called for fresh coconut. (It was a miserable failure. Rookie mistakes.) The recipe thought I'd need two or three for the amount of coconut meat needed, so I bought four out of paranoia -- and needed less than one.

This is a picture of the three survivors, doubtless hoping that their post-dismemberment fate won't be an immediate trip to my kitchen trash.

Thanks, by the way, to my friend FatCatAnna for sending me the link to this great (and relevant) video, from which I took the title of this post.)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Say Cheese

In the pursuit of almost any hobby or enthusiasm, it's possible to reach a point of wackiness, where one cuts one's ties with normality.

In case you're ever asked to testify at a hearing, you'll want to write down that I may have reached that point of wackiness this weekend and passed it with a whoosh.

If you follow me here or on Twitter, you know that since just before Thanksgiving, I've been cooking up a storm. I've learned a lot, and I've had a lot of fun. Somewhere along the line, I started getting interested in making homemade versions of some commonly purchased foods in order to pursue my own balance of taste and healthfulness. Perhaps, for example, I could produce a whole-grain pasta that didn't taste like a building material.

On Saturday morning, I made cheese.

Let me repeat, just for the convenience of the social services judge: I made cheese.

It was actually a pretty easy procedure (this is the one I followed). Heat the milk to almost boiling, turn off the heat, add vinegar, let it sit, drain it through cheesecloth. The result was something like a ricotta cheese. It was smooth, sweet, and delicious.

As is often the case when I make something for the first time, this was what I call a "proof of concept" effort, a sort of a trial run just to see if I can pull it off. This version certainly isn't low fat - I started with whole milk. Now that I know I can do it, I can start looking at low-fat and non-fat versions.

If you might be interested in trying this yourself, here are a couple of things I'd do differently next time. First, since the yield was around two cups, and that's a lot of cheese for a single person to eat in a week, I'd probably halve the recipe: this would also make the procedure a little more manageable. Also, I think I might add a little more salt, and stirring some fresh herbs in would probably work rather nicely.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The iPod Alphabet Game

My friend Kim recently did a blog post in which she compiled a playlist in which she tried to have artists for each letter of the alphabet. (She was missing only "X" and "Z".)

I decided to do something similar. By an large, I listened to only one song/piece per artist/composer. Also, I used artist in the case of pop or jazz and composer in the case of classical music.

I am missing FOUR letters: N, U, X, and Y. The N makes me crazy - such a weird letter to be missing, but I'm pretty sure. I almost downloaded some Yes the night I compiled this, but decided not to cheat.

(The rumor that I called Palestrina an "obnoxious brat" when his music started coming out is vicious and unfounded. I thought he was a pretty nice kid.)

America: A Horse With No Name (Remastered Version)
Brahms, Johannes: A German Requiem (7 movements)
Copland, Aaron: Fanfare for the Common Man
Dave Brubeck Quartet: Take Five
Enya: Caribbean Blue
Dave Frishberg: My Attorney Bernie
Gershwin, George: Rhapsody In Blue
Heart: Rock and Roll (Live)
Iron Butterfly: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Elton John: Bennie and the Jets
Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins: There'll Be Some Changes Made
Led Zeppelin: Black Dog
The Manhattan Transfer: Operator
Oldfield, Mike: Tubular Bells 2003 (17 sections)
Palestrina, Giovanni: Missa pro Defunctis (5 movements)
Queen & David Bowie: Under Pressure
JoaquĆ­n Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez (3 sections)
Sibelius, Jean: Finlandia, Op. 26
Traffic: The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys
The Ventures: Hawaii Five-O (theme from original TV series)
Williams, Ralph Vaughan: Fantasia On Greensleeves
ZZ Top: Cheap Sunglasses (Remastered Live Version)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Close the Locker Room Door, Please!

Since this is Superbowl Sunday, it seems like a good time to take a stand regarding the information the media gives us about athletes:

There's altogether too much of it. Way, way, to much.

I like sports. Actually, I don't watch a lot of games, let alone actually go to them, but I listen to lots and lots of sports radio. And I'm tired of trying to decide if I can cheer for an athlete that's been shown to be a thug, or abusive to his family, or to have children by a dozen different women. Sports are one of my HOBBIES, darn it, and I don't need them to be awash in moral ambiguity.

I don't have to worry about this with the other people I appreciate. Nobody's gonna interfere with my appreciation of my florist by telling me that she's a kleptomaniac. Even if the butcher I like gets arrested for embezzling porterhouses in order to support his crystal meth habit, I'm unlikely to ever hear about it: there'll just be somebody else working there the next time I'm in.

It's pretty apparent that a pro (or major college) locker room is not an environment where I'd feel comfortable. So, I don't make any effort to spend any time there. I leave that door closed, and wish the press would, too.

I only want the good news. Does the quarterback go to visit sick kids? I'd love to hear about it. Does he stop at a strip club on the way home from the hospital? I don't want to know.

Yeah, I know: this horse has left the barn a long time ago. I'm not gonna get what I want. Anything these guys do that's bad - or can be painted to look that way - I'm gonna have to hear about it if I want to listen to any sports at all.

But I don't have to like it!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Bit of an Odd Duck

I have to admit to being a little, well, different from most other people. In some ways. Maybe in a lot of ways. When you get right down to it, I'm a bit of an odd duck.

(Some of you may have suspected this. Others of you had been sure of it.)

I enjoy humor, and chuckle at many of life's oddities as they come to my notice. Often, however, I have to explain just why I'm chuckling, and those closest to me tend to just let it go.

I didn't buy my first car until my mid-40's - and then discovered that I'm too distractible to be completely safe as a driver. I'm now back to carlessness, voluntarily.

I went nearly two decades during which I rarely saw a television show. I now own a TV and even digital cable - but don't really watch anything except cooking shows. And movies? As an adult, I've seen on average fewer than one a year, even including TV and videos - WAY fewer.

I've never found my "life's companion". This hasn't entirely been my doing - but somebody observing the infrequency with which I've dated over the years might justly conclude that I haven't tried very hard.

I don't really care for having my birthday celebrated, and especially don't care for having it celebrated at work. The coworker that arranges the monthly birthday party can't understand why I won't tell her which month I was born in. (Interested in astrology? I was born under the sign of Sanders.)

Most of the time, these things - and it's not a complete list - don't bother me much. Occasionally, though, they get in the way. For a short while a month or so ago, they got in my way with such frequency that I felt a bit like a freak.

Of course, we all have our own personality quirks, and the ways that I'm like other people in my culture and in my species are way more important than the ways in which I am not. Further, my unique characteristics are part of what makes me able to contribute in the ways that I do, in whatever part of my life.

Did I mention that I don't really like chocolate ice cream?

Friday, February 04, 2011

D-Feast Friday: You Say Frittato, I Say Frittata

(OK, as far as I know, nobody says "frittato". It's my title. Deal.)

Breakfasts are a problem for me. For some reason, I want a breakfast to be breakfast, real breakfast - eggs, bacon or sausage, stuff like that. I can live without pancakes or waffles, but I don't really want yogurt. Breakfast cereals are okay, but most of them (meaning all the ones I've tried that I really want to eat) do terrible things to my blood glucose. A protein shake will have my tummy gurgling by 10:30. Plus, I'm not really organized in the morning, so I need breakfast to be fast to prepare and fast to eat.

A year or so ago, I started occasionally seeing a dish called a "frittata" on cooking shows. It's kinda sorta like an omelet, but (in the American version, anyway), there's no fussy turning or folding to screw up: instead, it's finished in the oven. And it can contain about anything that doesn't need additional cooking or will cook quickly.

A couple of weeks ago, having acquire an oven-safe pan, I tried it and loved it. I've now made three, and anticipate making many more.

Here's a real recipe. My procedure, adapted from Mark Bittman, is as follows.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix 6-8 eggs up with whatever you want to add, remembering the no-cook/quick-cook rule above. I use a pint carton of Egg Beaters. My mix usually has salt, pepper, some cheese and some cooked potato -- see other suggestons below. Melt two tablespoons of butter in an oven-safe skillet (that is, one that has a handle that won't melt). (It would probably help to start with some cooking spray in the pan: I have yet to remember to do this.) When the butter is melted, pour in the egg mix. (At this point, you can toss in any fillings that you want to add evenly, like the bits of kimchee I tried once, or maybe capers.)

Cook on the stove top until the edges seem set - in my pan, anyway, the edges pull a bit away from the edge of the pan. Put it in the oven until the top is just set and remove from oven, remembering that the pan handle is now very hot.

(Note: I understand that in Italy, they flip the thing in the pan using a plate as a temporary landing place rather than using the oven. If that interests you, go for it.)

Carefully remove the frittata from the pan with a spatula. I tend to work around the thing from the outside edge. I have yet to do this maneuver perfectly, but it's always gone reasonably well.

Since I started doing this, my breakfast on most days is a quarter frittata placed on a "sandwich thin" and put in the microwave for 30 seconds. Very satisfying.

My fillings so far have been kind of random, but I'm eager to try the following combinations that I've thought of:

"Greek" frittata -- slices of a nice olive or two, feta cheese.

American Dinner frittata - a sprinkling of cooked diced potatoes or hashbrowns, a little cooked sausage and/or bacon, onion.

Lox Special frittata - bits of smoked salmon, bits of cream cheese, onion, maybe a bit of diced tomatoes, capers.

Give it a try.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

What's a Blog Post Best For?

One of the fool notions I like to play with from time to time has to do with the relationship of different types of ideas to the ideal format for their expression. That sounds pretty high-falutin', but it's really pretty simple. Books (of the nonfiction variety) are good for extended examinations of a subject. Explorations of some aspect of the human condition might be best presented in an essay, but also might find their best form in a novel or a short story. And, of course, all sorts of things can find their way into poetry. (There are also, of course, ideas that don't belong to the word at all, and are developed into a piece of music, a painting, or some other artistic expression.)

So what's a blog post best for? For most of us bloggers, a blog post is likely the only means we have available to get an idea out to an audience. But suppose you had plenty of choice?

Suppose, for a minute, that you're a popular and critically-acclaimed author. Your publisher is likely to accept any book you send them, fiction or non-fiction. A magazine editor would be delighted to get an article from you. Even a newspaper editor would likely be pleased to get a guest editorial from you. Under what circumstances might you choose to put an idea in a blog post?

I don't have a good answer to the question, though I've got a guess or two. Blog posts make it very easy to link to something that's already out there and comment on it. It's not only easy, but intellectually honest: you can write a blog post vehemently disagreeing with something you've seen, but your link to the original item so that readers can decide for themselves.

Blog posts also carry the potential to be a marketing tool. A magazine editor is unlikely to print your explanation as to why everyone should run out and buy your latest novel (now in paperback!). But, you can do that in a blog - especially if you provide enough actual content to attract and keep an audience.

I think that blog posts are good for a quick exploration of a relatively narrow subject - why your team's manager should be fired, why a particular politician is an idiot (or a saint), or why Art Garfunkel's work on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is the greatest male vocal performance in pop music history. (It is, you know.)

Blog posts are also great containers for "how-tos" for relatively simple procedures, from cooking an omelet to installing a new hard drive.

What do you thing? What are blog posts the ideal format for from your perspective?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Test Strip's Tale

March 14: Suddenly, I burst into consciousness. It seems that I am a test strip for a glucose meter, a small miracle of technology precisely engineered for an important task. Within minutes of my awakening, I find myself in a small plastic container with 24 of my compatriots. I am puzzled, however, because I am the only strip in my container that appears to be sentient. This is especially unfortunate in the case of the rather attractive strip right next to me - I could share some thoughts with her, if you catch my meaning!

April 7th: After weeks of sitting in warehouses and being bounced around in trucks, I have arrived in a pharmacy. I wonder how long the wait here will be?

May 2nd: I have been purchased. I confess to feeling a little swell of pride at the amount of money paid for me: I am easy, but not cheap.

May 14th: I chafe at the length of my wait. My compatriots have been disappearing one at a time, naturally, that cute strip next to me was the first to go. I must say, the rate at which we're being used is somewhat slower than what I understood to be optimal. Nonetheless, I feel a strong affection for the man who bought me, and look forward to playing my part in supporting his health care goals.

May 18th: The day for which I was created has at last arrived! The container is opened, and I am removed. I am placed into the meter: the fit is perfect. I am touched to a drop of blood, and I process it according to my engineering and deliver the good word to the meter, which promptly displays the result. (163? As a fasting reading for a meds-only T2? What did he EAT last night????)

My joy is complete, my destiny is fulfilled. The man whose very life I have helped preserve has left me in the meter, presumably to contemplate the excellence with which I have perfomed.

May 19th: I begin to wonder, now that my purpose is complete, what my future holds. This morning I was removed from the meter and replaced with another strip. Rather than being placed with dignity in the luxurious final resting place I expected and deserved, I was casually tossed into a pile of other strips that have given their all. It's dusty, too.

May 23rd: My existence gets worse and worse. This morning, the pile I was in was swept into a wastebasket. I, however, fell outside the basket onto the floor. A few minutes later I found myself adhering to the bottom of the man's foot and thus carried into his shower, where the water washed me off his foot and into the tub's drain strainer. The conditions here are unspeakable. How I wish I had entered the waste stream with my fellows, bound for the serenity of the landfill or perhaps even the blessed oblivion the incinerator offers.

May 25th: How long will it take this man to notice me here in the drain? I have come to hate him.

May 26th: At last, the tyrant notices me here in the drain. He plucks me off, and tosses me toward another wastebasket - and again he misses. (I hope his pancreas explodes.) So I lie here, right next to the toilet. I will say no more of my situation here. Oh, that this consciousness with which I was cursed might have an end.

June 3rd: Finally, finally, my blessed end is nigh. Again, I was thrown away, but this time actually made it into the basket. The last few days in the waste stream have been disgusting, but here I am on a moving belt, and I see the incinerator ahead. Oh lovely nothingness, I come!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Personal Blog Posting Month

Many bloggers make a commitment during the month of November (originally) to do "National Blog Posting Month", which is a commitment to do a post each day for that entire month. Last November, I had no interest. Now, however, I feel the need to do it for February. (I'm not the only one - I know of at least two other diabetes bloggers that have independently made the same commitment.)

I've gotten myself into a little trap of wanting each blog post, particularly for my Diabetes Daily blog, to be a little gem: a complete, if short, essay wrapped around one (or more) idea that is (usually) of some importance, at least to me. That kind of blog post is HARD, so I'm not posting as much as I'd like. So, I'm going to use this month to try to get out of my rut a little bit by doing a lot of different posts of differing lengths and formats. I also hope it will be fun...and not TOO time intensive.
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T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.