Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A High Fade That Made Me Feel Like Fading From Society

The Plan Was For The Situation To Be Like This

About 10 months ago, I wrote this blogpost: New Barber = Too Short Haircut . It was bad then and little did I think it could get any worse. Almost a year later, I was hoping that I had found a permanent replacement to the barber I've had for years who finally retired. The search goes on...
          First, do you know a good lawyer who specializes in tonsorial litigation? Because I need one and let me tell you why. I haven't had a haircut since December 2012. The barber I found then did me well by shearing the sides of my head short enough to last three months. At the hint of the first mild heat wave this winter season, I called to get an appointment with that female barber. A voicemail was left unanswered so I walked to the barbershop to find it shuttered and out of business. If all their customers were like me and only got a haircut every three months,  then I guess that wouldn't be enough to keep them in business. I then made an appointment with an alternate barbershop but then not a single barber showed up at the time they were supposed to open. I called them later to suggest that they should change their posted opening time to later if nobody can show up on time (and believe me, I waited for 45 minutes). As expected, they hanged up on me. Oops, I guess they just lost a customer.

          By that time, I really wanted my hair shorn badly and searched for another barber nearby. I found one and after working out, I went to the shop and waited a few minutes for him to finish two guys ahead of me. It just so happened that his two sons were running around the shop because he had to babysit them while his wife was at the DMV. When it was my turn, I pointed to one of the pictures on the wall to show what kind of haircut I wanted. The barber asked me if I was ex military because I wanted the sides cut really short. To their parlance, it was a number 1 blade or less. I also asked him to trim about an inch off the top to keep it slightly long. So he proceeded to shave shave here, and a trim trim there, and cut cut everywhere cut cut. In the meantime, he was trying his best to rein in the kids. When he finally turned me around towards the mirror I didn't recognize myself. I was looking at a middle aged man with a buzz cut, looking like a Marine in basic training but 30 years or so too late to qualify. It was the shortest haircut I've ever had since the crew cut in high school which was at my mother's insistence then.

          I felt like asking Phillip (that was the barber's name) if he was mad at me. But we just met! Later, I even had the notion of asking for his barber's license. But in reality, I was just laughing in my head at my own expense for the way I looked. Good thing I'm not trying to be attractive to anyone and that it will grow out in about a year..or two.
Instead It Turned Out Like This!!!
Postscript: I haven't used hair mousse or gel since the mid to  late 80's and I had to buy one just so I can lay my hair flat and somewhat manageable. Otherwise, it would be like having bedhead full time. Maybe the barber was too distracted with his children running around that he unintentionally cut more than intended. I shall give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

I guess it's not so bad from this angle, but I'm biased.
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Walking Workout Variations Because I Cannot Run

          What's up with this blog about life and running when I don't even write about running anymore? Yep, running has been nil in recent months, what with the myopathy caused by statins and the never healing PTTD. No matter, I'm still able to do some walking workouts after all even though those are more boring than running. With these walking workouts I try to simulate the intensity of running. It comes close but never quite the same of course. The closest walking workout I have to the feeling of running is a treadmill hill walk where the incline is set at 10% with the speed at 3.5 mph and no holding on the siderails of the machine. The next one consists of the same incline, slowly increasing the pace from 3.5 to 4.0 mph while holding on the siderails. I do both treadmill workouts for 45 minutes to an hour. Despite the cartoon above, I have not fallen off the treadmill...yet.
          As far as outdoor walking on mostly flat surface, I do a brisk walk of about 14 minutes to 14:30 per mile lasting for an hour and half or more. Such was the case when I had to drop off some papers at my work's Human Resources Department about three weeks ago. That walk lasted for an hour and 50 minutes. For variety, I sometimes carry a backpack loaded with a 15 pound barbell plate. I did that most recently last week when I walked to and from Walmart Pharmacy for an hour and a half to pick up my blood pressure medication. It was warm enough to wear shorts but I discovered that since I haven't been wearing my running shorts lately, the elastic (garter in the Philippines) in the waist had gotten dry and crunchy. The shorts had become loose and if not for the drawstring, they would just have dropped to my feet. The pace is slightly slower when I carry a weighted backpack that of course. I'm looking to increasing the weight next time but in a way that the plates don't bounce around the backpack which hurts my back. Adjustable weight vests would be preferable but those things are darn expensive and there have been instances that the police have been called because they look like bullet proof vests or body armor.

Terribly boring descriptions, aren't they? Well, whatever works to keep my fitness outside of running. Hmmm, now I'm wondering how it would feel to walk with weights uphill on a treadmill...maybe I should start setting up the webcam. (cue background music: Alicia Keys singing "I keep on falling...")

Monday, March 11, 2013

Going Low Tech With The Cellphone

From this...
to this.

          Well no, not really. When I bought my first Android cell phone two years ago (I know, I know, I'm late in the smart phone game), I was very underwhelmed with its battery life. This after getting used to phones which lasted for days before requiring a recharge. I was using Virgin Mobile prepaid service then but since moved to AT&T last year after returning from the Philippines, because I was already using an unlocked phone there. Since AT&T runs on the GSM network, I couldn't use my Virgin Mobile CDMA phone. The battery of the new Android phone I got wasn't any better, so last week I downgraded to a non-smart phone. After all, I didn't have a data plan and wasn't using the internet on the Android phone anyway. I use the tablet for that.

          I managed to get a very good deal on the Blackberry style phone which was on sale for $29.99 at Radio Shack. The original price on the AT&T website was 39.99. A few days after it went on sale at the brick and mortar store, AT&T matched the price. I went to Radio Shack to pick one up and was pleasantly suprised when the cashier rang up my purchase and told me it was $19.99 (plus tax). Apparently, when AT&T matched the store price, the store included a $10.00 rebate to their already sale price. For me, that's like hitting a home run or a hole in one as far as bargain shopping goes!

          First, if there is anything I can complain about regarding this phone, it is that it's locked. But since I had already used a similar unlocked phone while I was in the Philippines, I was already familiar with its functions so it was not a steep learning curve. All I had to do was move the SIM card from the Android phone then set everything up to my taste and that was all there was to it. The new phone has one function that I didn't expect though. Normally, when you turn the power off with any cell phone, the alarm clock doesn't go off. With this one, it does, much to my consternation the first night I used the phone. I was already drifting off to sleep when the alarm went off at 11:30 p.m.! Well, I had set the alarm to go off at that time and at midnight because that was the time I usually clock out and in for lunch at work. I had to turn on the phone and turn off the alarms that first night. Now I have to remind myself to turn them on during the nights that I work and turn them off on the nights I don't.

          So what other reasons did I buy the phone aside from the longer battery life? It has the usual mp3 player, camera, and camcorder or course, but it also had a built in FM radio and flashlight function. When I am doing my what used to be runs which are now walks outdoors, I like listening to the radio, so I usually have my cell phone plus a separate HD radio with me. With the new phone, I can now eliminate a device. The FM radio had a surprisingly good reception when I went out for an hour and half walk one morning. Almost as good as the HD radio. The flashlight, I can use at work when I check on patients in their dark rooms. So by and large, I like my downgraded phone a lot even without a touch screen. It's a lot of phone for less than 20 bucks and it's the cheapest cell phone I've ever bought!
My dumbed down phone

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Meatless Friday?

Disclosure: this is not what I cooked but it looks similar.

          Well, what about trying for a meatless Friday? I am Catholic after all. I've had an occasional meatless day I'm sure, but I don't keep track of it and it doesn't necessarily happen on Fridays during Lent. However there was a stretch of three days last week when I went meatless, though unintentionally, which I think was taking semi-vegetarianism too far.
          The first day, I had baked tilapia with brown rice for lunch and meatless noodles for dinner. There happened to be a sale on tofu and imitation crab meat last week so I bought some. I already had frozen mixed vegetables, brown rice, barley and soy sauce at home. The plan was to make some kind of stir fry concoction with them. After microwaving the frozen vegetables and draining it, I mixed them together with the pre-cooked barley and rice mix, and extra firm tofu in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of soy sauce. After stirring the mix and getting it hot, I added the imitation crab meat. I added that last because they tend to fall apart if you handle it too vigorously. Voila! Semi-moist stir fried vegetarian rice. I don't think I even needed the oil.
          Well, how did my concoction turn out? As you can tell, I am not a cook. Actually I don't really cook. It was one of those trials and errors and eat the error if it becomes that. I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing in a kitchen. Despite two tablespoons of soy sauce, my grand experiment tasted slightly bland, but with the addition of a little garlic salt and Sriracha sauce, it tasted much better. So on the second day which happened to be a Friday, that is what I had for lunch, then more noodles for dinner. I had satisfied my Lenten obligation for that week.
          On the third consecutive meatless day, I liked what I "cooked" the previous day so much that I made some more. This time, I nixed the olive oil and added some sliced green peppers. Again with the garlic salt and Sriracha sauce, it turned out pretty well. No, I didn't have noodles for dinner again but opted for a frozen bean burrito with some chips and Tapatio hot sauce.      
          Thus ended my three day stretch of meatlessness. I had some leftover stir fry and managed two more meatless meals in the ensuing days. Does this mean that might try to become a vegetarian some day? Probably not, but the experiment made me realize that I don't have to eat meat everyday to feel satiety and it will most likely help with my battle against cholesterol. It was nice not having to eat an error (see above reference to trial and error cooking).

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Weight, Cholesterol, and Processed Foods

          When I went back to Zamboanga in late August last year, I expected myself to gain weight because I was sure I was going to indulge in a lot of foods that I haven't had in decades, plus I didn't have a weighing scale available to monitor my weight. I did indulge (especially satti) but apparently much less so than I anticipated. Instead, when I got back to Long Beach two weeks later, I had lost close to three pounds. Together with taking 40 milligrams of generic Lipitor daily, my cholesterol level also dropped dramatically. However within a month of returning to the U.S. my cholesterol level jumped about 35 points. Is that coincidental or does that have anything to say about eating fresh foods as opposed to mostly processed foods in the U.S. despite the reduction of trans fats from a lot of them? Then two months ago, I had to stop taking the Lipitor due to lingering muscle pain in all my limbs. When I had my cholesterol level checked, it was back to what it was before I started taking the statin. So I resumed taking a lower dose in hopes that the pain won't be as intense as before and that my body would adjust to it. It has been three weeks and although the pain came back within a week of restarting Atorvastatin, so far it's not as bad as it was before and it seems like I am able to maintain the intensity of my workouts.
          In the meantime, I'm trying my best to improve my diet. I've begun to refuse foods that my co-workers have been offering, especially a couple of them who usually give me fried fast foods. I also started bringing my own sandwiches to work - turkey sandwich with mustard and sriracha sauce, which I eat instead of the leftover patient snacks of ham and cheese sandwiches. But if the leftovers are turkey sandwiches, then I still eat them. Usually, when I get home from work in the morning, I have a slice of cheese and a small glass of wine to unwind. I put the kibosh on the cheese and started having a banana instead. Another change I made is instead of having ice cream, I am now opting for sherbet, which although high in sugar, it's at least dairy and fat free.
          How will these minor changes affect my cholesterol level? I won't know until the doctor orders another test. In the meantime, I have to schedule my next colonoscopy because it has been 5 years since the last one. But that's another topic for another day.

Note: half of this post was typed on a tiny Bluetooth keyboard using index fingers. Too small to touch type.