Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Morning Routine

31 January 2012
I am a creature of habit like most of us are. I have a morning routine that I follow but it’s not strictly so. I like to get up before sun rise in the morning. Now that its winter, the sun doesn’t rise until almost 0700 here in Texas. So getting up at 0500-0530 is a good time. We have an alarm that goes off every morning but that is normally set for 0600 or 0700 and rarely heard. This is normally “My Time”. My wife sleeps in a little longer as she is a night owl often times staying up to 2 – 3 in the morning. So the house is quiet and calm when I get up.  I love the quiet in the morning. Real peace.  

The first part of my routine is the turning on of the computer and the making of the coffee. I prefer to grind my coffee beans each morning. My coffee of choice is normally from Starbucks and is usually one of their “Dark” blends. “Komodo Dragon” is my favorite followed by “Sumatran” and then the “CafĂ© Estima”.  I make enough coffee for a full pot, usually four scoops. I have one of those Pur water filter pitchers and I use the water from that. It takes almost a full pitcher so I begin to refill immediately after I pour so as to ensure its availability for next use. Any excess ground coffee beans go into an old Folgers plastic container I have ad is kept as “emergency coffee”. I also put any extra grind in there from when I clean the grinder. When the coffee is finished brewing, I pour a cup and the remainder of the pot goes into a thermos/carafe and the coffee maker is unplugged and the lid left open so the inside is allowed to dry. My coffee cup has two scoops of Benefiber in it.

While the coffee is brewing, I take my blood sugar (BS), blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) counts in that order. My BS reading is normally in the 110-120 range. Sometimes it’s higher. Rarely is it lower anymore though I had a couple of readings in the 90’s this month.  I use the standard finger pricker thing with the digital LED monitor and test stip. I then take my blood pressure using the old fashioned sphygmomanometer (cuff and stethoscope). I trust the readings from this better than the automatic digital ones.  Mine is calibrated and in good working order. I’ve had this one for over a year now and they can last for a good two years at least. My BP readings are normally in the 120/70 range. I check my HR by counting my wrist pulse for 15 seconds and multiplying by 4. It’s normally around 60. I then document the numbers on an Excel worksheet that I maintain and give copies to the doctors I see when I have those appointments. They smile every time I give it to them.

I then get my coffee turn on my Pandora and my Facebook and begin my day. At this point anything can happen, but I find that if the above sequence, which takes all of maybe 10 minutes to do, is interrupted in some way, I get a little agitated. Just a little. I like my routine though. It’s my morning yoga and it brings me a measure of peace and serenity in my life.

Have a Blessed Day!

Todays “Did Ya Know”: Today is “Inspire Your Heart with Art” Day today? How this holiday came to pass is unknown right now but it’s meant to get people out and enjoy your local artisan’s efforts. Check out a library in town or a museum.  They say that doing so is great for your heart health and that’s something I am definitely into! So do something good for yourself and do something “artsy”!

Related Links:

Inspire Your Heart with Art Day

Monday, January 30, 2012

I Think I am Stressed Out and It’s Making Me Crazy!

30 January 2012

Over this weekend I read the article (link posted below) “Mental Illness labels raise fears” and felt compelled to write a bit about it today. The article touched briefly on how the medical community is concerned how a panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association is making changes to the way some conditions are diagnosed and how they are treated. Essentially what’s happening is that more conditions are being described with lesser standards and definitions than before which in effect are driving them crazy because now, we can all be diagnosed with some kind of condition and be prescribed drugs that may not do us any good and may harm us. It also cites the growing concern that family doctors are treating their patients with powerful drugs after diagnosing them under these looser definitions of certain conditions often times without the consultation of any psychiatric professional.

I have experienced this myself in the past and in the present. I have sought the help of counselors and others in the psychiatric field. I’ve never followed through with continued therapy for one reason or another, mainly economics. A lot of counselors don’t accept the insurances that I have and are very expensive. I found one here in San Antonio, an actual Psychiatrist, that I am going to start seeing in March that takes my insurances. I know I have problems and issues but I have never been diagnosed with any particular condition like Depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I think that I just need to talk to someone who has a completely unbiased, third party and unattached ear about some things. I think I just need to sort a few things out so that I can deal with them better. I choose to seek professional help because if I am exhibiting the symptoms of any condition, they would be able to determine that and treat me for it properly.

I would not be surprised if I do have some form of depression or maybe even PTSD. My childhood and teen years were extremely traumatic and life has been hard but I firmly believe that God never gives you more than you can handle. I know that I may not have handled things as good and rightly as I should but they were handled. I carry a lot of things with me and it’s time to stop. I think my biggest problem is stress and stress management. But I don’t think that my circumstances, past and present, are devastating and I know others have had it harder than I. But when I recognize that my stress and my issues are manifesting themselves physically and causing me harm to my heart health, it’s time to take a firmer, more direct approach. Its time to get help. Mental health is not exclusive to the weak or weak minded. I think it’s weakness that makes you do nothing about the things that affect you in your life, It is strength that makes you do what you need to do to make things right.

I have been prescribed anti-depressants and sedatives before. Trouble is, never by a counselor or psychiatrist. When I was in the hospital for a staph infection in my leg in 2005, the ward doctor told me that I am full blown diabetic. This upset me greatly as I did not want to start taking meds for it and they had started administering shots while I was in there. I was emotional when he told me. One of the attending nurses gave me a pill to calm my nerves and prescribed daily use of Lexapro. I took it for a year and it was not really helping anything. In fact, I think it made things worse. After taking it for at least a year, I took myself off of it abruptly. Holy Cow! That was hard. I thought I was going nuts! But I recognized what was happening and handled it myself. Nowadays I am taking Clonazepam, .5 milligram twice daily as needed. I only take it if I need it. I was prescribed Xanax before that and I just didn’t do well with that one. My family doctor, who is a Nurse Practitioner, prescribed these meds to me and did so after talking to me about stress. She also informed me that her office has a list of counseling services available that could and would help me.

I like this clinic because I think they provide a great service to this community and they take a sound, reasonable approach to the care of their patients. They’ve helped me with other problems and got me where I need to be to get those problems fixed. True health care professionals. But I do tend to agree with the article I referenced before. That too many people are being diagnosed with conditions that may not exist for them and are thus being treated with drugs they do not need. This is dangerous for people. I think the diagnosis of these conditions should only be done by certified counselors and psychiatric professionals and treatments should come from them. We are quick to label a condition and we are way too quick to take pill for it when all we really might need is an unbiased ear. Someone to let us get things off our chest and remind us of the better ways to handle the daily adversities of living life, many of those lessons we have already learned and know well.

Have a great and blessed day!

Todays “Did Ya Know”: That its Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day??? Everyone is a grown-up mature adult but you break out the bubble wrap and what happens???? Insanity!!!! It’s also “Inane Answering Machine Message Day” so be sure to record your message with popping bubble wrap noises!!! I’m not sure who invented this one and I couldn’t find an “official” website but Google it and check out the links you’ll get. I plan on making some myself and I left a few this last weekend for some friends. It’s good fun!!!

Related Links:

Article in the Venice, CA Gondolier Sun “Mental illness labels raise fears” by Elizabeth Lopatto, Bloomberg News Writer

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day 2012 Official Website

National Inane Answering Message Day

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Republican Non Sense

27 January 2012

One thing people should understand about me is that I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat and I’m not sure what a Tea Party member is but I am fairly sure I am not one of those. I am not Conservative and I can assure you that I am not Liberal. I am not any one of those things in the strictest sense. Maybe a Moderate? Who knows. I am Liberally Conservative Moderate that likes Tea and is fiercely Independent. I am an American and I am free to be whatever I damn well please at what ever given moment in time. Trust me I have a set of core beliefs and principles that I will not waver from. A “platform” if you will. But I’ll talk about all that another time as I am getting tired of this political vent that I currently appear to be on.

Having said that, after President Obama gave his SOTU, the Republicans gave their “rebuttal”. I rarely watch this address. If you read yesterday’s blog, you would know that I believe the SOTU should not be used as it is today by both parties. The SOTU should be the Presidents time to state where we are at right now as a country and where in his rightful opinion we should go and he should give his input on how best to do it. It’s the Congress’s job to then go to it. I don’t see a need for a rebuttal and if so, should it not be from a Congressperson? No disrespect to the Governor of Indiana intended. It is not a time to campaign and there’s nothing to rebut. Take what the President said, Congress, and go do your job.

While the President did give us a campaign style speech, Gov. Daniels provided ample opportunity for me to grow even more disenchanted with the Republican Party. While the President made some obvious and typical omissions, Governor Daniels made some clearly blatant misleading statements. Most glaring to me was the flip comment on federally mandated by the government light bulb legislation that requires us to buy the energy efficient bulbs instead of the old incandescent bulbs. This was largely bipartisan legislation enacted by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2007. President Obama and Congress made some changes and delayed the implementation of that mandate until 2013 and 2014 if I understand it correctly. It will actually provide for better and safer bulbs that will save us more money in the long run and use resources much more wisely. I being a pseudo “greenie” totally dig this. What I’m not in love with and I agree with the Governor from Indiana is why we need the federal (or any) government to mandate that or work that issue for us.

I also didn’t like the Governors statement that “Half the workforce under 30 did not go to work today”. The Governor was including 16 year olds in that statement based on numbers of workforce population aged 16 – 29. Puh-leeze. That just ticks me off. I know it’s bad but we don’t need to play that game. You can check out the link to the Factcheck.org article on the Republican rebuttal below.

I made my point on the SOTU and what I think it is and should be. I think that we, as a country, need to listen closely to what these politicians are saying and educate ourselves on what the truth is on any given platform agenda item or position a politician believes. Sites like Factcheck.org are invaluable for this. They say they are a bipartisan entity and I tend to believe them based on what I have seen thus far. Whatever source we use to find the facts it is the facts that must be used to decide what is good for this country, what is good for you to believe in. Separate the facts from the crap and you have a well-informed voting citizen, the bane of every politician regardless of his/her party affiliation.

Enjoy the Weekend!

Today’s “Did Ya Know” It is “Fun at Work” Day! It’s Also “Vietnam Peace” Day. So please take a little time out to say Thank you to a Veteran of that war.  Today is also the day we celebrate the Liberation of Auschwitz and the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Today is a day that we all should take a moments pause and reflect on man’s inhumanity to mankind. I think that especially in today’s politically charged times that we remember those times when fascism and hate were allowed to rule the day and be mindful that hate is the one enemy of everybody in this world and hate alone can destroy what’s taken us centuries to build. Link for these remembrances are below as well.

Todays related links:

Fact Check

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Thursday, January 26, 2012

President Obama and His SOTU

26 January 2012

I hope everybody watched the President’s State of the Union address that was broadcast on Tuesday the 24th. I think it is important to watch our President speak despite your own individual political leanings. He is the leader of our country and he speaks for us all. So it’s important to know what’s on his mind and where he’s at as far as the direction he wants to take our country.

It’s an election year and what we got was a good political campaign speech. Nothing more nothing less. Once again the President used the SOTU as a platform to proclaim his own agenda. He has used this occasion to launch his campaign for re-election. Now if you are a supporter, you might be getting a little riled up at that. Well let me try to assuage you a little. He's not the first nor is he going to be the last. I just wish the Presidents of the time would use this to report exactly what shape our country is in and tell us where we are going or at the least where we need to go. That is its purpose after all.

Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires that "The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The timing of this address is not set in stone. It is done in January after Congress reconvenes from their break in session. Makes sense to me as the President is going to need Congress to get things done and hopefully he can use the time to spark a spirit of bipartisanship amongst the Congress. In the early days, the text of the SOTU was written and delivered and made available to the general public through newspapers, the only real media at the time.

The point I make is that it should not be a time to say look at me, look at what I have done, look at what the previous administration has not done. And for once, President Obama did not spend too much time on the latter. Though he did mention the previous administration. I think the SOTU should be a statement of fact as to where our country is at, at this time. As a hypothetical example. The President reports “we currently sit at an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent as of December 2011. This is what we need to do to fix that…” What we got from President Obama was:

 “In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.  American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s.”

While this is good and true news, what we didn’t hear was that the job numbers are still 1.7 million unemployed from where it was a month before he went in office and about 6 million below what it was at the best point in the Bush administration. And that is straight from the report provided by FactCheck.org.

Another subject near and dear to me is illegal immigration. Obama reports that we have fewer border crossings due to his efforts in putting more troops on the border. Actually he only increased it slightly after President Bush doubled the Border force and the numbers he used were total US border crossings omitting that most of those were along the Mexican border. Again from Factcheck.org. The day after the SOTU, President Obama went to Arizona and was greeted by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Governor Brewer reports she attempted to talk to the President about the immigration problem and border security. He shook her hand mentioned something critical and negative about her book and went on about his business there in Arizona. We need a President that’s going to work with our Governors and the states they represent. Not sue them in Federal court and withhold discussion and cooperation based on political agenda. It is contrary to the term “Nation” or “United States”.

Despite this, this year’s SOTU was a far cry better than his first one when his speech as nothing but a lambasting of the previous administration. This speech had some teeth to it and I loved how he called on Congress to get its act together and forward some meaningful legislation specifically in regards to education, tax overhaul and lessening our dependence on foreign oil. All issues I strongly agree with and hope that we do just that. But it is an election year and I would love to believe in what Barrack Obama says but history has shown that what he says and what he does are largely two different things or that he never tell the whole story.

My thoughts on the State of our Union? I think our country is in the midst of turmoil. I think our nation and our people are more polarized than ever before. I believe that the country is divided by left and right now more than it has ever been. I think the politics of separation, hate and personal gain rule the day and I think that it’s going to take massive change or some cataclysmic event for our country to come together as one. I believe our country cries for a leader. Our people need someone that can bring us together or at least get us in the same room to talk. And in this election, I don’t see anyone with the chops that can really do that right now. I believe that it is going to be up to us, the people of this great country to rein in this government and reset its course to a direction that serves the needs of the people it serves.

Todays “Did Ya Know?” No word in the English language rhymes with "MONTH". Also its National Peanut Brittle Day!!!! Chomp away America!!

Links for today:
The State of the Union:

Fact Check.org

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Facebook:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mission Statement - 25 January 2012

Welcome to the Grog Bowl! This blog is going to serve as an outlet for me to express my opinions on a variety of subjects that basically, strike my fancy to do so. I’m also going to talk about some of my favorite activities such as cooking and drinking beer wherein I provide reviews of craft beers that I try as well as restaurants and recipes. I will publish my own recipes here as well and I have a few. I like to make people laugh and I may do that here with some of the weird stuff that pops into my head. When it pops in there, its gotta come out.
This will be my place to express my viewpoint. my opinion and my support or dissention of any issue of the day. I don’t know if this blog will have the capacity for readers to provide their commentary but if so, it is welcome. I love a good discussion or debate and I am a firm believer that there can be debate without the hate. If we talk about something and we have differing viewpoints it means we have differing viewpoints and nothing more. I don’t judge people on their views and opinions. I do the best I can to not judge people at all. You can judge me all you want but its baggage you carry on your own. There will only be one time that truly matters that I will be judged.

I will also discuss some of the things that I go through every day. At present I am medically retired with a heart condition, I am a “borderline” type II diabetic. I am partially blind having lost much of peripheral vision in 1981.  My vision degraded further in 2003 when I started having heart attacks. I also have circulation problems, nerve damage in my back and legs and basically I am just getting old. So I’m going to talk about that. What it’s like to be this way, how its affected me and what I can do to make it better or not as well as provide some info on how to make it better for others. I also suffer from some anger management, maybe depression and/or PTSD. I don’t know for sure as I have never been diagnosed for it but I wouldn’t be surprised. I am beginning the process to find out about it.

Why call it “The Grog Bowl?” Well mainly because “Grog” used to be a nickname given to me by a very good friend of mine a long time ago and I love it to this day but your typical Grog Bowl is a concoction of alcohols, juices and what have you that people would drink from at a party. A mix of all kinds of stuff! So that could describe what’s going to happen here, a “Grog Bowl” of thoughts, opinions and what have you. I can’t and won’t post something every day and I don’t know how long I will run this blog but when I do post something here, I will endeavor to make it something of substance and something that does me and any/all readers some measure of good or otherwise provides some entertainment. I don’t claim to be a writer, it’s just a blog but I will do this for as long as I feel that some purpose is served. If nothing else it can be fun and give me a much needed hobby.

So Welcome to the Grog Bowl! I wish you well and may God Bless Ya!

Today's “Did Ya now?” Did Ya know that today is World Leprosy Day? You can check out their work here at this link http://www.leprahealthinaction.org/category/our-work/ .
It’s also MacIntosh Computer Day and Lotus 1-2-3 Day!