Monthly Archives: April 2012

Photo Echo

By special request.


Times and bikes change, but in essentials everything stays the same. (Photo of Scully by Becky Furuta)

Posted in Cycling, Photography | 2 Comments

Casper Classic, 1990

“Grandpa, tell us what bicycle racing was like when you were a kid.”

“Well, I think I have some slides here.”

“What are slides?”

Inspired by Scully’s cycling photos from Texas on Facebook, I went back and found some of my pictures from the 1990 Casper Classic stage race. Enjoy!

Posted in Cycling, Photography | Leave a comment

Odds and Ends, “21 Manhole Covers” Edition

A few things today.

I. Monday I met a few people for drinks and dinner (a.k.a., Diet Pepsi and fish tacos) in Boston. It seemed to be a long time in the making, but it was so worth the wait. Kate was good enough to organize this little gathering with Anna, Briley, Laura, Melanie, and me. It was the most fun I’ve had on a school night in a while. (Thanks, Kate!)

On the drive home I was thinking about these meet-ups with unknown people (usually with diabetes). I’ve done this a half-dozen-or-so times before, and everyone always seems to end up enjoying themselves and coming out of the event/evening/weekend/whatever as friends. It occurred to me that most people basically want to be friends—or, at least, friendly enough to want to have a good time and possibly become friends. It helps that diabetes greases the skids a bit; after all, we already know that we have something in common and have decided to try to be be friendly by meeting each other. But I just wonder if there aren’t larger life lessons, such as “Don’t be afraid to be nice and try to like people when you meet them for the first time, because they’re probably cool.” It seems like we forget this as we get caught up in all of the adult business of professionalism and competition and suspicion and cynicism.

II. Monday was also the same day that I started my 18-week Ironman-70.3 training plan through TeamWILD. I’ve been using some very specific, computer-tailored training plans for running over the last couple years, but this is the first time since high school I have a coach to go along with my (somewhat) personalized plan. I’m excited!

At the same time, I’m trying to get over my innate skepticism about letting other people tell me what to do when it comes to training. I know that I’m going to diverge from the plan a bit, since I have already signed up to some shorter-distance triathlons and longer-distance cycling events that don’t appear on my plan. Fortunately, no one is going to kick me off the team if I don’t follow it to the letter, but I’m going to do my best to do all of the workouts as it recommends. That means slowing down, going shorter distances, and having adequate time to recover. After all, if I don’t pay attention to the plan’s structure and goals, I’m just throwing away the $400+ that I already spent for the plan and coaching, and that would be dumb.

In addition to having a plan and a coach, one of the things that excites me about the program is that TeamWILD was created by Mari Ruddy, who has diabetes. Her goal is to help athletes with diabetes achieve our potential. All of the plans address the extra challenges of our disease by incorporating diabetes management and nutrition into the coaching. This is a powerful feature, and I hope it teaches me lessons I can continue to use after it ends in late August.

I’m not going to tell you about every workout, but I’ll let you know how it’s going.

III. Monday’s workout was easy enough: “Rest Day.” Check.

Actually, I had planned to go to the pool Monday morning, since I was rested after not working out at all on Sunday, and I wanted to move one of my swim workouts up from the weekend, when we’ll be out of town. (Yes. Again. I know. I know. But that’s how things roll in the life of an international playboy.) But it was not to be, since the pool was still closed after some scheduled maintenance during the April school holiday. Based on the coolness of the water this morning—which was actually perfect for swimming—I suspect that they hadn’t given the pool adequate time to come up to a reasonable temperature after refilling it.

Since Monday was an off day, yesterday was my first workout:

  1. Warm up for 15 minutes with some easy cycling.
  2. Do 5 intervals of hard riding for 30 seconds over 15 minutes, with adequate easy recovery between each.
  3. Cool down for 15 minutes.

“That’s short.” I thought. “We’ll see how well I can adapt to structure.”

I decided to head out on my normal route and go super-easy on the beginning part (which was really hard to do because every ride starts by going uphill) before throwing down at the appropriate times.


I got through the first fifteen minutes according to plan, taking the first long-but-not-steep climb very leisurely and (sadly) not bombing down the big hill. I hit the first big-and-steep climb right after the warm-up and I decided I would use the first 30-second interval to climb the thing. (It’s the first categorized climb on the map above.)

This hill on Tyler Road, just off Fiske Mill Road in Upton, is a beast of a climb. The first time I encountered it, I hopped out of the saddle to try to sprint up it until it flattened out, but it just kept going . . . and going and going. It starts out very steep (exceeding 15% grade in some places) for the first quarter mile before becoming merely steep for the next quarter mile before ending at a stop sign in the middle of nowhere.

Not one to give in when presented with a challenge, I discovered over the course of last summer that counting the manhole covers in the street is a good way to keep my mind off the pain in my legs and lungs during the climb. Not knowing how many irregularly-spaced manhole covers there were along the road made for an extra challenge: Could I find out how many manholes there were by only counting the ones I passed while climbing out of the saddle? That is, could I climb the whole, half-mile-long hill out of the saddle.

It took me the better part of the summer to discover that there are, in point of fact, 21 manhole covers. Manholes 1-13 come fast and furious, just like the hill. But after that, they spread out until you think you’re not going to get to the next one. Then it appears: a little power-up to get you going . . . until #18, at which point their frequency picks back up, and you realize that (though tired) it would be wimpy to give in when you’re so close to the end.

Yesterday, I learned that I can pass those 21 manhole covers in three minutes . . . which is longer than 30 seconds. It’s actually longer than all of the combined intervals I was supposed to do during the 15 minutes of the main part of my workout. Oops!

I was smarter on the rest of my ride.

Posted in Cycling, Diabetes, Reluctant Triathlete, Swimming | 3 Comments

A Nice Day for a Ride

Another week. Another two-part long bike ride. Another additional 10 miles.


It’s a little hilly where I live.

I’m getting a lot more confident on my tri-bike. In fact, I feel good enough to eat a bit while riding . . . and play drinking games. Okay, it’s actually a technique I’m using to remember to drink more water. Every time I get out of aero, I drink. It seems to be working, except that it’s at odds with my effort to stay in aero more. (Clearly, I need to get one of those bottles that mount between the aero bars and let you drink via straw without using your hands.)

Diabetes is playing well on these early morning rides. (Not so much during my after-work outings . . . or much of the rest of the time over the last couple weeks, but it is what it is, and I’m trying to make it better.) Today I turned down my basal to 60% of normal, ate a carton of Greek yoghurt before heading out, ate 25-35g of carb every 35-45 minutes, and sipped on Gatorade during the second part of my ride. Last week was almost perfect, ending almost exactly where I started and being consistent throughout. Today, my first two hours were very even at 150 mg/dL (8.3 mmol/L), and then I dropped to 110 over the next 1.5 hours.

Next week: more practice, more distance, and more tweaking.

Posted in Cycling, Data-betes, Diabetes, Reluctant Triathlete | Leave a comment

Ethics

I had a little fundraiser at work yesterday, a real low-key affair that mostly involved me sitting around, chatting up people, and giving them slips of paper with links to my JDRF ride page. A little follow-up from me after the fact, and violà! $785 $1,025 in contributions, which will be doubled by The MathWorks. Adding in my earlier fundraising, I’m only a few hundred dollars away from my goal!

It’s going to feel so good to be out from under the shadow of that obligation. But even afterward, I’m going to keep fundraising over the next six months until the ride because (a) all of the money goes to a great cause that I believe in 100% and (b) if I raise enough money, all of my transportation costs will be covered (including getting my bike there and back). I didn’t set a higher goal initially because I wasn’t sure how much I could actually achieve, but not having the hassle of figuring out the trip’s practical details is turning into a great motivator.

As you might have gathered, I work with wonderful people who are passionate about what motivates them and very generously give their time and money to get behind causes they believe in. The core purpose of the company is to accelerate the pace of science and engineering, and part of that involves building software tools that are used in the type of research that JDRF does.

And what does JDRF do? A bit of advocacy and patient support and a whole lot of research funding. (It’s there in their name: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.) The work they support spans the gamut: computer simulation, in vitro studies, hardware and software development, and human clinical trials. They also support groups using mice in their research.

It turns out this got me into an ethical dilemma last night, as I was thinking back on the fundraiser. One of my coworkers backed away when I said I was soliciting for JDRF, saying, “They’re one of the groups that does animal testing.” This assertion surprised me because, when I think “animal testing” I think of cosmetic-wearing bunnies and not beta cell-enhanced mice. (I had forgotten about these “diabetes cured” mice we always hear about when talking with her.) Plus, the JDRF doesn’t actually perform the research itself.

But it occurred to me that these might be distinctions without difference for my coworker. Even though I had no intent to deceive and I don’t share her beliefs on the matter, I had accidentally enticed her to act contrary to her values and felt I must give back her contribution.

There was never really any hesitation on my part about needing to return her gift, even though I feel chagrined about it, partly because I made the mistake in the first place but more so because I don’t see anything wrong with what JDRF and its funded researchers are doing. In a perfect world, there would be no need for this kind of testing because everyone with diabetes would be cured. But in the world we live in, I have few problems with the sacrifice we selfishly choose to make for countless mice as long as we learn something useful from them that moves us in the direction of somewhere much, much better. Even though they were furrier and friendlier, I feel the same way about the dogs that Banting and Best used in the development of insulin therapy 90 years ago. I’m not advocating for the extreme position of “anything goes as long as it happens for the greater good.” On a scale that ranges from “No Animal Research” to “Anything Goes,” I draw the line near a place that minimizes suffering, forbids cruelty, excludes primates, and demands results commensurate with the number of animals involved in the trial. (The more animals used, the bigger the pay-off must be.)

I know and deeply respect that everybody has their own ethical compass, and we should be true to where it points. I just hope that we can get to the more perfect world soon, where we don’t have to make these choices any more. And that’s why I’m fundraising for JDRF.

Posted in Diabetes, This is who we are | Leave a comment

2012 Boston Marathon

Today is Patriots’ Day. Marathon Monday. The best day of the year!

I’ve been making the half-hour walk from my office to Natick Centre to watch the marathon every year since 1998 (except 2009, when I was hiking in Utah). It’s a wonderful workday diversion during a usually beautiful time of year in New England. The blue skies, new-green leaves, flowering trees, and warming temperatures all remind me that the last thing I typically want to be during spring is inside. And the marathon is a perfect excuse to get outside for a few hours.

I love watching all of the athletes, and I like showing up early to find an unobstructed spot and to be inspired by the push-rim wheelchair, handcycle, and mobility impaired athletes who start before the main field. By the time the elite athletes come through, I’ve remembered what I need to do to photograph runners and am really into the spirit of the day. Frequently I stick around to see someone I know run through before I feel the guilt of being away finally drag me back to the office.

One of the great things about the Boston Marathon is that it’s more than a sporting event. It’s one of the main social occasions of the year. It seems to have the same atmosphere as the great one-day cycling events, like Paris-Roubaix, that I love to watch on TV. It draws so many spectators, not just neighbors coming out of their homes along the course. And the route is totally lined from at least the 10th mile (where I watch it) all the way in to Copley Square.

Often I go with my coworkers, but for some reason I was by myself this year. So I found an open spot, between a family with small children and a couple of twenty-something young women. I was prepared to mind my own business for a couple hours and just immerse myself in what was happening on the course, but the two women were talking about running and asking each other questions that I knew the answer to and generally doing their best to crack me up with their banter. Eventually they asked an important question they couldn’t answer by themselves—when would the elite women and men go through?—and we casually got into a conversation. (It probably helped that I asked them whether they were students. I meant grad students, but they seemed to think that was just the nicest thing ever. I’m really not a flirt. Honest.)

The only “awkward” moment came while I was waiting for Team Type 1 runner Marcus Grimm, whom I gave a hearty cheer when he arrived around 11:30. As I looked at the runners streaming by to see if they were wearing a TT1 singlet or had a name that I could shout out for encouragement, I saw a familiar name: my name.


Me: “Hey, I bet that woman’s last name is ‘Mather.’ That’s mine, too!”

Nice woman, probably joking: “You should totally run with her for a while.”

Me: “I could say, ‘Hey there. I saw that you had my last name written on your bare midriff. So I thought I’d just jump in here and say hi and run with you.’”

Woman: “I guess that might be awkward.”

Me: “Definitely.”

Sadly I have no pictures of anyone mentioned in this post—the lawyer, her friend getting an M.Ed., Marcus, the running Ms. Mather, or myself—but here are a bunch of photographs of the rest of the action.

Posted in General, Photography, Running | 1 Comment

That Question Tells Me You Don’t Understand Diabetes

Based on some of the questions they ask and things they say, healthcare professionals outside endocrinology don’t really get diabetes. [1]

For example, consider this question: “How is your control?”

Nobody can “control” blood sugar because only a pancreas can do the job, so they’re effectively asking, “How skilled are you at doing the complicated job that your pancreas should be doing?” This is probably why my spine stiffens (literally) when someone asks the question, and why the first thought through my head is, “You don’t know me and what I do.”

Beyond the fact that the question is unconsciously oriented toward judgment, my main problem with it is that it doesn’t elicit anything meaningful. If I say “good,” what does that mean objectively? How is the answer to this subjective question trackable or comparable between patients in a meaningful way? How will that help you with your decision making? Do you want an average? a standard deviation? a range of typical values throughout the day? the percentage of “in range” values? What do you want to know? [2]

Lately, I’ve been consciously answering this all-too-common question with two answers. “Well, my last A1c was x. And nobody can control diabetes—it’s a difficult disease—but I’ve been getting better at nudging my BGs in the direction where I want them to go.” Even though A1c isn’t a perfect measure of how hard I’m working or the numbers I get, the first part of the answer is one way to make the subjective more objective, trackable, and comparable to indicators. The second part of the answer is a subtle, quick, nonthreatening bit of easy-to-digest advocacy.

I’m asked other questions that are more objective but not very useful in isolation. “What was your last BG reading? What are your fasting BG numbers?” I answer these the best I can along with a bit of context and the occasional, “That’s really not a good question to ask about type-1 diabetes.” If they ask, I usually recommend A1c or the 2-week average as better metrics.


But to say that I was unprepared for the otolaryngologist’s “Are you brittle?” question yesterday is an understatement. No one has ever asked me that before. I didn’t know any doctors still thought about that word, much less said it aloud.

My initial reaction was stunned silence while I collected myself and thought about how to approach this. I lied a bit, “I don’t know what that term means?” I do know it means. It means you’re uneducated about diabetes. But go on. [3]

“Brittle diabetics have wild swings and trouble controlling their sugars.”

Yeah, that’s what I thought you meant. “Well, I have diabetes, and I’m getting better at influencing where my blood sugar goes, but nobody can really control it. My last A1c was 7.3.”

“Do you have wild swings?” Really? We’re going to play this game. Okay. Eventually, I figured out that he wanted to know whether I would be able to cope with the wicked high blood glucose that usually accompanies a heavy dose of steroids. Along the way, he asked about the least variable of all measurements: fasting BG readings.

After I said that I didn’t want a powerful steroid unless it was absolutely necessary to bring my hearing back, we settled on a nasal steroid (fluticasone), maximum strength decongestant, and trying to equalize the pressure in my ears by pinching my nose and gently exhaling. (I’m so happy to say that it seems to be working already.)


Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect every doctor to be an expert on diabetes. I want an ENT to be extremely knowledgeable about ear, nose, and throat problems. But diabetes is not an uncommon disease, and a conversational level of familiarity with it is in order. The questions that doctors ask about conditions they don’t completely understand impact how trustworthy I perceive them in their own specialty. (Not to mention whether I ever want to return to their practice.)

Since healthcare professionals seem to get diabetes wrong so often, I think we need to do something about it. Doctors and their staff probably aren’t going to read this post, so it must go beyond my kvetching here. Perhaps a pamphlet entitled “How to Talk Intelligently about Diabetes.”

Who wants to help me write it? If you do—or if it already exists—leave a comment and we’ll make it happen.


1 — Some endos and their staff aren’t immune to this failing either. Fortunately, I haven’t had that problem.

2 — I’m guessing most people don’t know what they want to know. They just need to write something down in the chart and have a “basis” for critiquing or complimenting the patient.

3 — Everything about this doctor was anachronistic and wrong. He just started putting instruments in my ears and nose without telling me what he was going to do. One of these was rather pointy, and I would have liked to know it was coming. He didn’t tell me anything about what he saw or thought during the exam. He started to write prescriptions for me without discussing his diagnosis or involving me in the treatment plan. I had to ask him how to prevent this problem in the future, and his “answer” was to hand me a pamphlet written in 1978. (No lie!) And he ordered a test without telling me for the followup visit (which I’ve already scheduled with a different practice).

Posted in Diabetes | 2 Comments

It’s Getting Loud in Herre

I had almost forgotten how loud the world is. There is sound everywhere.

Posted in General | 2 Comments

Like Riding a Bike… Kinda

Today I rode bikes. It was both terrifying and wonderful. Why so? Read on, dear reader.

Now that ATB and my recovery period are over, it’s time to start training for what’s next. “What IS next?” you ask. Well, let’s see.

The NE Season Opener sprint triathlon is five weeks from today on the 13th of May. Twenty quick days later, I’m riding 100 miles around suburban Minneapolis-Saint Paul as part of the A.D.A.’s Tour de Cure. [1] My dia-bestie Scully will be there, as will Scottie J, Heather, and who knows who else.

All of this means one thing: a whole lot of bike riding is in order. (Plus the requisite running and swimming, obviously.) I’m pretty sure I can ramp myself up to a full century in eight weeks, even while tri training. [2] If I add ten miles per week to today’s ride distance—which is entirely doable—I’ll be there. No problem.

What HAS been freaking me out is the idea of riding my new tri bike. It has been since the day that I bought it, but today was the day I rode it for the first time outside. I was nervous before heading out, and that nervousness turned into absolute terror moments after I headed out the door.

How to describe riding a tri bike? (1) The saddle is positioned well forward, so that most of the energy goes directly to the pedals. You sacrifice comfort for this, and are left feeling like you’re going to fall over the front of the bike at a moment’s notice. (2) The handlebars aerobars have two parts: the steer-horn-like pair of grips that have the brake levers and that you use for turning and the aero extensions where you rest your arms as close to the center line of the bike as possible. The extensions have the shift levers. You can’t shift and brake without moving your hands from one part of the aerobars to the other. And when you’re in an aero position, you might as well give up on the idea of braking at all. (3) Because you’re more forward over the bike, even trying to steer when not in aero is kind of like trying to drive a Porsche at high speed using a go-kart steering wheel.

So I decided to start early on this Easter Sunday morning, hitting the road before 7:30 and heading out of town in the direction of nowhere (a.k.a., the towns of Upton and Grafton) on Route 140. It was a good decision.

Heading down the big hill a few blocks away from my house, I realized that the bike is much more stable when it’s going fast. And it can go fast. Wicked fast. (It weighs like two pounds and accelerates like crazy.) Going up the hill out of town—still not in aero yet because I was in town and scared—I realized that my ability to handle the bike at slow speeds (i.e., less than ten miles per hour) was going to be a special challenge.

My heart was racing and the voice of self-doubt in my head was very, very loud. If I hadn’t been wearing long-finger gloves to hold off the chilly air, you would have seen that my knuckles were white. This little ride through suburban MetroWest Boston was turning out to be one of the three scariest things I’ve ever done on a bike. [3] After getting to the highway, I finally summoned all of my courage and got down into the aero position. I was a bit skittish and I veered a few times, but I started to get the hang of steering with my body and finding a smooth gear to keep the bike going the right direction without too much wobbling. I spent a lot of time talking nicely to myself, acting as my own coach and cheerleader.

A little more than a half-hour in, it was time to turn around. I pulled onto a side street, tested my blood sugar, changed into my regular bike gloves, took off the beanie under my helmet, and collected my thoughts. “Well, I’m not dead. And I didn’t break the bike. And it seems to be getting easier. So let’s head home and continue making progress on the way.” The ride back was better and not just because I could feel the bike without the gloves.

I won’t lie. Today’s ride was a little worse than I had expected, but my confidence now that I’m done is much better than it was in the first minutes of my outing. I expect that I’ll keep improving every weekend between now and my first tri of 2012 in just over a month. By the time I do the Nautica NYC Tri in early July, I hope to have much more early morning mileage under my belt. And by late August, when I do my half-ironman in Maine, I’ll be a pro at riding this machine. Well, that’s my hope at least.

When I got home I decided to celebrate . . . with another bike ride. My nerves had only given me about 17 miles on my new bike, and I needed another 15-20, so I refilled my water bottle—which is really hard to remember to drink from when you’re freaked the hell out—and swapped bikes. Out on the road everything immediately felt wrong. Power wasn’t going through the drivetrain quite as easily as a few minutes earlier, and I felt like I was sitting really low toward the back of the bike. Perhaps I had a flat? Looking down I could see that wasn’t the case. And the handlebars felt so far apart. I held a straight line so easily, if felt like I was steering a Buick instead of a bike. “Oh, right, this is my regular bike.”

I was off, the miles quickly slidding by. It was fantastic. I can’t wait for next weekend!


1 — Not to be confused with the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes that I’m doing in Death Valley this October. (If you’ve already helped with the fundraising, thanks! If not, please consider a small donation and help JDRF search for a cure to type-1 diabetes.) Shortly after I posted that I planned to ride in Death Valley, Heather said I should do their century, too. It seems all anyone has to do these days is ask me to do an event, and I’m in. [back . . .]

2 — My eighteen-week TeamWILD training plan starts on the 22nd of this month. I will, of course, tell you all about it. [back . . .]

3 — The other two being riding out of Arles in traffic shortly after crashing while riding into Arles in the same traffic (which really wasn’t that bad), and riding down a particularly steep hill on one of the trails on the mountain outside of town where I lived in high school. Those weren’t so bad. Today was probably the most freaked out I’ve ever been. [back . . .]

Posted in Cycling, Life Lessons, Reluctant Triathlete | 4 Comments

Seriously, Take the Decongestant before Flying

Things I can’t hear:

  • The backup power generator outside my office
  • The wind
  • The cat’s one-side conversation with me . . . at all
  • People walking down side corridors at the office who I keep almost running into
  • Music in the car or the TV in the house unless the volume is way up
  • Soundtrack CDs in the car
  • The turn signal in the car
  • Cars approaching me when I’m riding my bike
  • Half of my coworkers when they talk
  • Most people at the other end of conference tables
  • Much of anything when I’m eating . . . except my food
  • Lisa when she’s tired or being snarky (but always in a playful way, I might add)

Things I can hear very, very well:

  • My own voice
  • My own breathing
  • My toothbrush and hairbrush
  • My facial sinuses
  • My head swiveling on my spine
  • The high-pitched ringing in my ears that I normally only hear in dead quiet places

If you’ve tried talking to me recently and only gotten a vacant look, don’t take it personally. If I’ve been talking even more quietly than normal or overcompensating by shouting, sorry. I’m not hearing things outside my own head very well these days. It’s the result of ear barotrauma.

It seems that it’s a bad idea to fly when congested. Evidently, it’s a very bad idea to take six flights in twelve days when massively congested. I didn’t suspect when I had sinus pain as we landed in Madrid and Barcelona that I would be walking around with invisible seashells on my ears for the next 24 hours. And I was starting to get a bit concerned when it lasted a couple days after we returned from Spain and then again the weekend that I flew to run Around the Bay. But I didn’t ever think it would still be with me ten days after flying home.

My doctor says that it might go away in another week or so. Or it might not. He’s probably going to send me to an ENT, who will probably prescribe me some steroids, which will probably wreak havoc on my blood glucose. My not-always-to-be-fully-trusted coworker says this happened to him after diving and his ears have never been quite the same since. Let’s hope medicine trumps anecdote.

So, suppose that you have barotrauma and need to go somewhere? My doctor’s advice: don’t fly. What if you had a cold, knew in advance that flying might mess up your hearing, and still needed to fly? My doctor’s advice: take a maximum-strength decongestant 30-60 minutes before flying, drink lots of water, use a saline nasal spray, and chew gum. Oh yeah, and try not to fly.

Posted in General, Life Lessons, Travel | 2 Comments

In Love with the World (and my BGs)

OMG! When I exercise my ability to move my blood glucose values closer to where I want them is so, so much easier!

This isn’t news, of course. In fact, it’s super-duper obvious. I crafted my mostly working basal and bolus rates based on a certain level of insulin sensitivity, and that level depends on me working out at least five times a week. Change a little thing and those rates all go to hell.

Why am I telling you this? Well, in an effort to recover adequately after Around the Bay, I hadn’t run a single mile or ridden my bike at all since the race. And for one reason or another, I also hadn’t done any laps at the pool, either. That equals ten days without a workout. This has been good for my muscles, but not for my mental health—I was starting to get really antsy—or for my BG readings. Starting late last week, I started running a 24-hour temp basal of 120%, and that helped a bit, but not enough.

Then yesterday afternoon, after getting my free Ben & Jerry’s cone, I went for a semi-leisurely, vaguely hilly, 17-mile ride. Almost as soon as I hopped on the bike, I had that particular feeling of clarity, contentment, ease, and freedom that I only get when I’m riding. Immediately afterward, my BG-wrangling skills came back as if I hadn’t taken any time off at all.

This morning I swam some laps—which were plentiful but slow—and I’ve been planking all day since then.

The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful 60F outside. My friends are wonderful. I finally made something work that I’ve been struggling with at the office. I went to an informative and entertaining presentation about the MATLAB Cody game platform. I had a nice lunch with my coworkers outside. My life has purpose and direction. My BGs are where I want them. I have another date with the bike after work.

And, most importantly of all, Lisa is on her way home from Philly!!

It’s a good day.

Posted in Cycling, Diabetes, General, Swimming | 2 Comments

Look over HERE!

Hey everybody! I’m not sure why Google Reader isn’t picking up my post from last night with our pictures from Barcelona, but it’s not. If you use Google Reader to figure out when I’ve posted, just thought you’d want to know.

That’s all!

Posted in General, MetaBlogging | 1 Comment

Barcelona in Pictures

Lisa and I went through all of our pictures from Barcelona, and here are our favorites. (You can click on any picture to see a larger version. Once there, you can click through to the next one. Nice, eh?)

I’ll write more about the trip itself soon.

Posted in Europe, I am Rembrandt, Photography, Travel | Leave a comment

The Good Lettuce

It was put-up or shut-up time today.

Lisa is in Philly for a rare business trip, and I needed to buy a few groceries for the week. I didn’t need many things; just a few staples were all I required to get me through lunch and dinner. On this week’s bachelor menu for dinner: a couple nights of pasta and sauce, Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese (don’t judge me!), turkey tacos, and chicken caesar salad. It looked a trip to the supermarket was in order.

We usually shop together at our local Stop & Shop. It’s nearby, quick, inexpensive, and familiar. But I hate the look of their produce section. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good, locally grown veggies, but buying romaine lettuce there depresses. The rest of the store, however, has a whole lot of everything else, all up to snuff.

I’ve been holding on to a $20 Whole Foods gift card that I won at the office gym, when I “maintained, not gained” weight between Thanksgiving and New Year. It’s not a place we regularly shop, in fact we’ve only been there two or three times before. The nearest store is a couple exits down the highway, it doesn’t have most of what we buy at the grocery store, and we had the perception that it’s expensive. But I had $20 of free money to buy groceries, and I was hoping to eat lettuce that made me happy instead of sad when I look at it.

Ever since I got back from Provence, I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate fresher ingredients into our cooking. I like farmer’s markets, and weekly market days, and places like the Mercat de la Boqueria and the Mercat de Santa Caterina that we saw in Barcelona last month. (Even the market that Céline, Doug, Scully, and I visited after picking up our race kit last Saturday was worth the trip.) I’ve been telling myself that if we had anywhere like the places shown below, I’d shop there whenever I could.

Today was the day of decision. Would I make the time to seek out the good stuff? $20 said, “yes.”

Here’s my take on Whole Foods. (I’ll leave aside the whole Stuff White People Like aspects.) If the US were a nation that really cared about food, the produce and cheese sections of our supermarkets would look like those in Whole Foods stores, while the rest of the store would be more like Stop & Shop. It would have high quality, (somewhat) higher cost, more sustainably grown produce in the same store with lots of varieties of cheese, meat, and seafood, along with all of those staples.

Will I keep shopping at Whole Foods? I don’t know, that partly depends on Lisa; it does involve an extra 30-40 minutes of grocery shopping per week and a bit of extra planning to shop at two different stores in different towns.

Will we buy much if we do shop there? I doubt it. For $14.41 today I bought one head of organic romaine lettuce ($2.49), two cups of Greek yoghurt ($1.49 each), and 7 oz. of pre-packaged deli pastrami ($8.99). The same yoghurt cost $1.25 at Stop & Shop, and at $20/pound I expect to hear Gordon Ramsay in my mind calling it “the most amazing pastrami” when I eat it. Basically, I bought a whole lot more of everything at our regular supermarket for less than $30.

But look at this lettuce!

You can see it below in salad form, along with the three cheeses I bought in Canada. (You might also notice the last dose of antibiotics that my doctor prescribed for the bacterial infection in my chest that’s causing my bronchitis.)


That’s worth at least two more trips to Whole Foods to finish spending the $5.59 balance on my gift card, right?

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