Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nothing New

Why do we open the refrigerator hoping there is something our taste buds will trigger us to find something and think, "Wow, that looks good to eat.", when there is nothing new and nothing worth eating at the moment?

I'm trying to cut the frequency of snacks I eat during the day since I don't eat big meals anymore from 4-6 times to 2-3 times, but this always leaves me hungry, more hungry than before when a snack only wets the appetite to want more.

So everytime I walk into the kitchen I want to eat something and consequently open the refrigerator looking for a tasty snack or two, but as always hope there is something new, I always know there's nothing new.

And I close it not eating anything. I found a cool poster, meant for women but equally applies to men changing a few words, about eating to remind me not to eat when there's no reason to eat. It's posted on the cabinet door next to the refrigerator.

But I keep opening the refrigerator door.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Hands

I'm slowly losing the use of my hands, at least when it gets cold, say under 50 degrees, and especially under 40 degrees. It started in the winter of 1990 doing field work for the U.S. Geological Survey, a short biography, for the Tacoma, Washington office.

I transferred from Phoenix, Arizona to Tacoma, Washington in January 1987 after nearly 5 years in Arizona and 4 years in the Eugene, Oregon office. It's a long story about being forced transferred from Oregon to Arizona (all illegal then and now) and then recruited to Washington (questionable but not illegal).

Anyway, my first job here (Tacoma) was what I always did for the USGS, field work as a hydrologic technician and then hydrologist (different Civil Service job title based on experience and education). I did the range of water resources field work, mostly stream gaging, and other work such as geophysical field work setting dynamite charges.

I was assigned the "old man's trip" which was the southern Olympic Peninsula and southwest Washington. Despite the majority of the time for this trip which normally took 7 days was spent driving  to all the gages from the Naselle River near Astoria, Oregon, to the Quinault River north of Aberdeen, Washington.

During the winter of 1990 I was doing a wading measurement  on Big Creek after servicing the gage when I first noticed the problem. There was about a foot of snow on the ground as the whole area and Olympic Peninsula was hit with a December snowstorm.

I had set up the tagline and went about wading across making the individual section measurements of depth and velocity. When I got to the end of the measurement I went to release the clasp end of the tag line to let it float away to reel it in when I got back to the other bank, I couldn't open my left hand around the wading rod.

The fingers would not open and the hand was in a open fist position. I managed to slide the wading rod out but the finger still didn't move. I got back to the other bank and found the fingers of my right hand wouldn't move much if at all. They were, as the fingers on the other hand, locked.

I finally got all the gear back to the truck. I started the truck, turned on the heater on high and full blast. It took 15-20 minutes to get my fingers to move enough to continue work. The rest of the day and the rest of the field trip, the fingers on both hands hurt and wouldn't fully function.

And during the whole time and afterward for weeks the hands were always cold and the fingers slow to move in the morning. Well, I went to the doctor with the old line, "Doc, my hands don't work when I do field work.", to which, you guessed it, he said, "Well, don't do that."

Yeah, old joke but so true. The problem is that if you're a field technician in the USGS, you work year-around, no excuses, no matter the weather. You don't like it, find another job in the USGS. I did find another job about a year later with a promotion, ending my 13+ years of field work for good.

Anyway, it was the start of my permanent condition of Raynaud's Syndrome which now plagues me almost all year from living in the Northwest the last 25+ years now. It starts in October and only lessens during the summer of June into September before returning again in the fall.

[Note.-- Raynaud's Syndrome is a reaction to the ambient air temperature where the body reduces flow to the extremities to preserve heat in the torso and organs. It's an automatic response which can't be controlled by anything. It also produces the same effect when holding anything cold, like a glass of ice drink, something from the refrigerator and especially the freezer. You get less than a minute before your fingers start to feel cold and begin to lock.]

It has hampered any photography field work where I get 10-15 minutes using a camera before I have to stop and warm my hands before the fingers lock in the position of holding the camera. At least doing large format photography I can work because there's not much continual holding anything and I can keep my fingers moving.

I have tried a variety of gloves (I have a box full of them) trying to find ones I can wear and still work, but none really work since to keep my hands warm, they're bulking and to work I need either light gloves or fingerless gloves, not conducive to keeping them warm.

And now this winter another problem started last week on top of this condition. I hold my hands, wrists and forearms flat and level with working at the computer, which I thought helped against Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

"Not so fast Grasshopper.", as they say as this last week the thumb and index finger of my right hand suddenly felt dead and heavy while holding the mouse. It comes and goes, but mostly stays once I start using the computer and holding the mouse.

And yes, it's Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. I'll have to find a wrist brace or something now to see if it helps. So that's the new thing about getting old. Beside it sucks, it only gets worse because you can't fix anything, you just adjust living with it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

If I was Young Today

If I was young today, say, I don't know, any age between 6 and 18, I'd long been on drugs, in therapy and a total wreck. Not because of what I did or didn't do, say or didn't say anything, but ll because of my personality.

I would have been diagnosed with abandonment issues, even though I had two supposedly good, loving parents, who decided not to raise me or be involved in my life, but to leave me alone to my own devices throughout my childhood and teenage years.

They taught me, and my siblings, to take care of ourselves without them, from daily hygiene, our rooms, our clothes, our time, whatever. We could get up, make our bed, get ready, make our own breakfast and lunch including washing the dishes and go to school.

We would come home, get something to eat, go play or do our homework, all until dinner, and then after dinner go back to our rooms to play or do homework. We never had to check in with them after school as long as we were home for dinner, after which they did their thing, usually watching TV and we did our thing.

And then repeat every school day and every Saturday we could go anywhere we wanted, just be home for dinner. We kept our rooms clean and organized, our clothes all put away or in the laundry room, to be washed an put on our bed for folding and storing.

Our toys were all put away unless we were using them, and then put away when we were finished. Everything about our life was neat and organized, because we had to keep it that way and we were taught to keep it that way.

Only on holiday and other occasions did my parents do anything for us or with us. They had their work and social lives which didn't include me. And when I failed my first year of college, mostly because I also had to work fulltime while going to college, I was told to leave and not come back.

I would been diagnosed with depression as I had genetic, lifelong Dysthymia and put on anti-depressants. This is a part of my personality, and over the years I've learned simply my brain isn't hardwired normally but predisposed to always see the negative first.

It was also wired to have the rewards center not function normally. I don't get excited or have longer periods of feeling happy for more than a short time, usually minutes, before I focus on what I think and was always taught, to answer the question, "Now what?", or, "What's next?", forgetting the momentary happiness for the reality of life.

I would have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder as I was extremely shy and stuttered. It didn't mind I was often shorter and smaller than almost all the girls and picked on in by the boys. I never physically grew up until after high school.

I was sent to numerous speech therapist who never helped. I stuttered until my early 20's and have been alway susceptible to it, which is why I speak as I do sometimes, to avoid the letters or words that cause me to stutter. Yes, even now.

I would have been diagnosed as a loner, even though it's alone thats fit the description than lonely. I prefered being alone, and still do. I'm comfortable being alone, but I would have been diagnosed and treated to be more social, the one thing I hated and feared.

And worst of all I would have been diagnosed as physically slow to mature and given hormones to get through puberty, which didn't start until I was 17, earlier. I would have hated it as I hated it later and hated having gone through it now.

I hated being a boy. Not that I wanted to be a girl, well truthfully yes I did and being a boy was the worst thing I could be. I was a failure at it, being short, small, stutterer and shy. I failed at PE, even though I played on the high school practice squads in tennis and played intramural basketball.

Today I would be diagnosed with gender identity issues, not gay they thought boys like me were then, not effeminite, just not masculine. I would be likely put on puberty blocking drugs today, probably the only good thing for me if I was young.

For I would be given the time and freedom to be who I was then and explore what I wanted to be when I was older. But I'm not sure I would have been convincing enough as I didn't meet the criteria as a transgender child beyond being me.

And that's because nothing makes me think or feel I'm happy. And likely the Dysthymia would mask the gender identity issues since I don't express myself, partly out of fear, partly out of hate toward and about myself, and partly because I liked being alone.

All in all my youth would have been a disaster if I was young today. I survived because I wasn't diagnosed. I survived because my parents ignored me and taught me to be independent of people when and where I can and get through the times I can't.

I survived because my personality let me survive without all the therapy, all the drugs, all the intervention "trying to help me be normal" as they would say today. I survived because of who I am than who they thought I should be.

So, be yourself. You'll survive if you don't listen, don't follow their advice, and try as you can, don't take drugs, go into therapy, or change to fit in. Just be yourself and survive as best you can. You will grow up and get the freedom you want.

It just takes time. That's the one thing you can bank on and the one thing you can give yourself. Just survive and time will give you freedom.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What I Would Love to Eat

I would love to eat this burger with egg, bacon, cheese and all the trimmings with a large plate of extra crispy french fries and a tall chocolate shake. I used to eat this, twenty years ago, before it all started and this became a dream than a reality.

But, ahhh, tasty dreams are still cool. I can eat bacon, or one brand of it, some types of cheese and an occasional fried or scrambled egg(s), but all of the rest is off limits now, and more so the combination in such a tasty format as this.

To open wide and munch down through the layers to feel the textures and tasty the flavors with added fries and a shake. Alas I can still dream.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

So What Can I Eat

I've written lots about the problems I have with food and my love for food, ad naseum to most readers, which leads to the obvious question, so what can I eat? Well, here's the list of foods I which is my normal diet.

Grains and similar stuff

Macrina Sour Ficelle bread, $3 per loaf
Ritz Whole Wheat Crackers
Corn chips (Harbor Greens brands - local market)

I don't know what I can eat the bread and crackers and not other breads or crackers, it just seems to be. What I haven't tried very often but can eat if I want.



Celery, maybe
Potatoes, not anymore and no Potato Chips either (damn)




Ham (not Pork), including sandwich Ham (some brands), bacon (Hemplers)
Seafood, mostly Shrimp and crab or Lobster occasionally
Canned Salmon (Northwest/Alaska brands, no national brands), especially Pink Salmon


Lactose-free non-fat milk (not cheap)
Hard cheeses, namely favorites of Gouda, Edam, Cheddar
Butter, not really but I refuse to stop using it


Creamy Peanut Butter, Adams brand
Jam/Preserves without seeds, regional brands
Mayonaisse, not really but I refuse to stop using it
Eggs, rarely but ok in mixes
Protein Drinks - Spirutein mixes 2-3 times a day
Clif and Power Bar brand protein snacks
Chocolate, occasionally and in small amounts


Salt - that's all
Herbs - a few occasionally

What this means is simple, nothing that is hard, fiberous, or roughage, such as celery, nuts, seeds, whole grains, foods with hard to digest shells (eg. corn, peas), etc.. No green or leafy vegetables. Nothing spicy or prepared with grains, vegetables, etc. not on the approved list.

And above all, nothing with probiotics in it. I personally wouldn't recommend eating anything with probiotics until you know which one of them works for you or not. You can test this by buying individual (of the 6 types) probiotic supplements to see which works or not. This is from my GI specialist.

All in all, despite the shortness of the list, it's ok since I like all of it and have found brands, usually local or regional, which are great tasting which is enough variety most days, and I allow myself one or two experiment meals a week where I have 2-3 days to see what happens.

And I eat these through the day in 4-6 snack-sized meals during the day, fewer times and less when I walk and more often when I don't, bad habit of walking into the kitchen and leaving chewing something.

Anyway, that's it. I'll update it as things or foods change.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Sometimes people like to tell you when they think you need a break, "Why don't you go outside, take a walk or something." Well my place is almost outdoors so I don't have to "go" outdoors, it's just outside my windows and doors.

I have a 2-bedroom apartment which overlooks the Narrows Strait to Tacoma on the other side and the Seattle/Tacoma to Portland BNSF train tracks with Mt. Rainier in the distant just a glance out the office window.

My apartment has a near 180-degree view of the southeast horizon with a 44' deck from the two Tacoma Narrows Bridges in the south and the Tacoma Utility powerline towers across the Narrows Strait on the north.

All the windows and doors to the deck look outdoors all the time. I don't close the curtains except the bedroom ones at night. This is partly because I'm mildly claustrophobic and can't stand enclosed rooms without a window I can see out and open for noise.

And that's the other thing, unless it gets cold like in the low 40 or colder, I keep some of the windows open for the breeze, and occasionally wind, through the apartment and all the sounds of the outside. I can't stand silence on an indoor space, I need the outside noise.

So when people tell me to get outside, I just say, "I already have it." I get to see the weather just flow through the day just outside the windows. I get to see the passing of the day from the early morning darkness to the night after sunset.

I get to see Mt. Rainier every day out my office window, from the dimmest form in the early morning light to the fading colors of the sunset. And on many days I get to see it shrouded in clouds, hiding from the world behind its own weather.

It's all there everyday just outside my window and just a short walk on to the deck. To sit and watch, listen and feel. In the end it keeps me sane.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Service

US Air Force, March 7, 1969 to January 2, 1973.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Being a Minority

As a voter that is. It appears outside a few votes, like for the Democrats, for Governor and for marriage equality, I'm on the other side of winning. I'm in the minority who thinks charter schools are the wrong direction and the marijuana law wasn't a good one.

And Tim Eyman should have been politically buried a long time by hamstringing the state leglislature on taxes. He's wrecked more damage to the state and the people by his out-of-state, superpac and corporate backed referendums and initiatives, the supporters didn't see or didn't care.

Oh well, such is life, but at least I'm not alone as in the wisdom to see the folly to the other side. Yes, the other side is misguided by their direction, focusing on their own personal view than the larger view of what's best for the people of Washington state.

Anyway, like everything I'll live with the results and what happens, and if by the way, the winning side turns into a bust, don't look at me, look in the mirror. I'm not the stupid one who voted for it. I'm stupid on other things but not these.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Buying to Think

I go to the grocery store once or twice a week. This is in part because it's how I learned to shop when the family lived in Europe where people often stopped by one or more different stores for food on the way home, and daily in small towns for bakery, dairy, fresh vegetables, fruits and meats and other products.

And in part because it's a good excuse to walk around grocery stores with cafe, deli's, bakeries, etc. to just enjoy the sight and smell of foods, sample food carefully avoiding obvious problem foods, and watch people.

I marvel at how much we take them for granted in the US. All those foods grown, processed, packaged and shipped from around the world to be there ready for you to buy and take home. This wasn't the case a century ago and isn't the case in many places in the world.

Anyway, sometimes I buy food to think about it, knowing most of the time it just sits on the counter or in the refrigerator until I decide I won't eat it or it goes bad or stale and throw it away. I know I want to eat it and will even look up recipes to cook it.

And sometimes if it's food experiment time, I will cook it and sample it. I rarely eat a food completely anymore, especially food experiments, to avoid the worst adverse reactions, and yes I get those occasionally - ask about Chutney chicken breast.

I know the reactions are of two types, and always the extreme which doesn't take much time to guess, extreme diarrhea or constipation. The former is usually said and one the same day or night and the latter will often take 3+ days to work itself out.

Anyway, it's something I do, just buy some fresh food to look at it and think about it. I don't buy a lot or at great expense so I'm not out a lot of money, otherwise, like Lobster, I will cook and eat it. And sometimes I surprise myself with a new food I can eat.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What I Miss

I was browsing a food Website on Tumblr and while scrolling through all the images and descriptions my brain fired a thought, I really miss my favorite doughnut, applesauce doughnut. I can't eat wheat, even gluten free, and apples for awhile, both FODMAPS.

But damn I'd eat this one doughnut. I can't remember the last time I had one since they're not common in stores and not often even in doughnut shops or bakeries. It was just one of the synapse firing from your memory, a good one except I can't fulfill it.

Sugar coated or glazed, it wouldn't matter. Just damn, I'd break my diet for one.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Being Sick

I got my flu shot over a month ago but I've been sick with sick with flu-like symptoms, and discovered if I can't determine if it's from a cold, some bug or a virus or it's from some food I ate, it makes eating worse since I can't decide which among the few foods I can eat either caused the reaction or exacerbates the symptoms.

Eating less food from a narrower choice only makes eating harder with the few I know are ok. The short list of acceptable foods gets shorter. And it get boring and sucks.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Food Experiments

I've written how I live on a very restrictive diet now, even less than a few months ago when my gastroenterologist suggested dropping FODMAPS from my diet which was discovered by some Australian scientist to aggrevate problems for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

My former gastroenterologist and the new one (long story about switching specialists at the same clinic which took 3 months to get approval since they both must agree even though my physician recommended the change due to my complaints) also suggested food experiments, meaning trying new foods or old foods again.

Well, I've been doing that for a few years, usually once or twice a week, mostly old food which I put on the questionable list or scratched off altogether. Besides the list of approved foods I keep a list of questionable foods which were good but recent up to two adverse reactions moved them to this list.

I also keep a three-strikes-you're-out list where after three adverse reactions it's off both those two lists only to return once a year to affirm, and only if I remember or see it in the grocery store. And this was this week's food experiment.

It was roast chicken. I love roast chicken. I loved barbecue chicken but I can't have anything barbecue anymore, so I roast it with butter, orange, dark sugar coating. Sadly it is now off the list of approved foods for the third time.

Such is life, and the more I look at menus at restaurants, especially fast food restaurants and even cafes, there isn't anything they serve or sell I can eat anymore and why I don't go to many places where food, even alcohol, is served since I can't eat or drink anything they serve, except for just one beer.

I reduced my alcohol consumption to almost zero years ago from the recommendation by my physician due to having genetic hemochromotsis which hasn't shown signs in the blood tests so far, but they said it's hard to know if it's because I avoid food and drinks which may trigger it or I'm didn't inherit from my father.

That said, it's also why I love food blogs with lots of pictures. Yeah, torture for sure and I could eat everything in every picture, but they show me ways foods I can eat can be prepared to be better and foods I can eat but don't can be prepared to be worth trying.

Anyway, the point is that when a food experiment goes awry with my digestive system, it takes 2-3 days to recover. Not smart but what else can I do?