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Look Mom! I'm Hip and Happening Dude with a BLOG!

Watch out world! I'm a blogger.

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Five Stages of Grief

You've always hear about the five stages of grief, and there is no one currently experiencing more grief than the Republican Party. With the low Presidential approval rating, the fiasco in Iraq, Woodward's new book, and now with the Foley affair, they have plenty of grief to go around, and it's almost fun to see them go through the various stages.

First, we had Bargaining as KIrk Fordham tried to bribe ABC News into not publishing the IMs from Foley.

Then, we had Anger as various Republicans started blaming each other for the mess.

Now, we are getting into denial. According to James Dobson and Matt Drudge, the Foley affair NEVER happened. It was a joke. Yeah, that's the ticket. A prank. One of the pages must have made Foley do it!

However, some Republicans have already come to the final phase, Acceptance. According to this Robert Novak article, an unnamed Republican says that Representative Hastert's resignation from Majority Leader in the House is really moot.

We are sure to lose the house, and [Republican Majority Leader] Denny [Hastert] never would want to be minority leader.

Somewhere depression is suppose to come in, but I suspect that will hit the Republicans after this November's election.

For the Love of Coffee

Have you seen those super automatic espresso makers? These machines things cost as much as $3,500. Who is going to buy one of those?

I would for one. In fact, I've bought two. A few years ago when I was a theoretical Internet millionaire, I bought my mom one for her birthday. I bought a second one for myself not too long ago.

These machines are amazing marvels of technology. Coffee beans go in one end, and after the machine makes a few rather terrifying noises, out comes espresso on the other end. The machine automatically grinds the beans, tamps them down, and brews the coffee. A cup of espresso comes out one end, and a little coffee doot is ejected and goes into the coffee doot holder that has to be emptied periodically.

A good coffee maker will make a cup of espresso with a good rich creme (Italian for coffee scum). The funny thing is I actually didn't drink coffee until about eight months ago.

My son Daniel was the first coffee drinker at our house. He was getting up at 5:30am to get to his high school and didn't get home until five or so at night. He started drinking instant coffee, and my wife was concerned with it. So was I. I told him right out:

Daniel. I don't want to see a young teen sitting there drinking instant coffee. You might as well learn to drink the good stuff. I bought him a drip coffee maker and later on a coffee grinder, so he didn't have to drink Folger's which according to the Geneva convention, cannot be served to prisoners of war. I soon got a job which made my son's hours seem quite reasonable, and tea was just not cutting it.

I quickly learned the wonders of coffee. I use to drink coffee, but only with sugar. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I decided to give up all sweetened beverages. I quickly got use to unsweetened tea, but never got use to the taste of unsweetened coffee. Now, a half dozen years later, and I decided it wasn't that bad after all.

The secret is decent coffee. The stuff at my job is awful, and I won't drink it straight. It's thick and bitter with a bad burned flavor. I found that if I started with decent beans and ground them myself, I could get a decent cup of drip coffee.

My downfall was a restaurant near my job called Cafe K. I had ordered a cup of Latte, and loved it. I have ordered latte before at Dunkin Donuts and it was pretty much coffee with a lot of milk and some bubbles on top. This however, was wonderful. It was rich and smooth with a deep coffee flavor. The texture was creamy and a consistent finely textured foam throughout. I ordered espresso and it was strong without being bitter or burned with a red creme resting on top. This was no coffee as much as Java based heroin. I was completely hooked.

Right before Passover, I bought a refurbished Saeco automated coffee maker from Whole Latte Love and I'll go through a couple of cups of coffee per day, and I'm not even around during the day. We are thinking of getting Costco club membership just so we can buy beans in bulk. Even my youngest uses the machine, although not for making coffee. He uses the steamer to steam milk for hot chocolate.

I am still working on my milk steaming skills. I have a pretty fine foam texture on my milk, but I am missing something. At Cafe K, the coffee and milk mix into a luxurious foam. However, I can't seem to get the texture right. Mine seems to separate. It looks okay, but its not the same that I can get at Cafe K. I am thinking of quitting my job and working at Cafe K just so I can learn how to make a decent latte.

So, I wasn't Fat After All!

A bit over six years ago, I weighed somewhere around 275 pounds. I had high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, felt fatigue, and had high triglycerides. I then got diagnosed with diabetes, and decided maybe it was time to loose a bit of weight.

I exercised, watch what I ate and dropped down to a more reasonable 175 pounds. For over six years, I've kept the weight off. My blood sugar is normal, my HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) is excellent, my blood pressure is under control, and I still exercise (run four miles per day and walk six) and watch what I eat (haven't touched a potato chip in years). I did all that work, so I wouldn't be fat.

Now, I find out that if I didn't bother going through all that trouble, I wouldn't be fat today. Instead, I would have Metabolic Syndrome -- a disease that affects 75 million Americans.

Oh, is there anyone who can save us from this terrible epidemic?

Why yes, the same people who brought you Viagra, Xanax, and Viox have come up with a whole slew of pills to help us fight this new found epidemic. Researchers have found this syndrome convenient as a way of getting funding. Doctors have found this syndrome useful in diagnosis because by classifying obesity as a disease, you can now recommend a course of treatment as can be seen in this before and after demonstration:

BEFORE
Patient: Doctor, I weigh almost 300 pounds, I can't fit in airline seats, and I have no energy, so I sit around all day and watch TV. What is wrong with me?

Doctor: Oh my, I have no idea!

AFTER
Patient: Doctor, I weigh almost 300 pounds, I can't fit in airline seats, and I have no energy, so I sit around all day and watch TV. What is wrong with me?

Doctor: You have Metabolic Syndrome. Here's a prescription.

Look, for most of my adult life, I was a blubbery mess. I didn't take my health seriously until I was diagnosed with diabetes. I know it isn't losing weight, and I know it isn't easy keeping it off. I watch everything I eat, walk six miles per day back and forth to work, and run another 4 1/2 in the middle of the day.

However, why I was fat was no mystery. I ate like a pig, and sat around all day at work typing into my computer. On my way home, I would get hungry, stop at a local 7-11, and buy a Big Gulp and a king sized candy bar (about 600 calories worth of junk food). Once I got home, I was too tired to do anything, and I would watch TV and eat whatever snacks I could find.

Yes, there is a obesity epidemic in this country, but that's mainly because we eat out more than we use to, eat more calorie rich processed foods, and do a lot less physical activity. Not long ago, changing channels on your TV would involve you getting out of the chair, trekking across the room, and turning a knob on the TV set. Now we have the remote. Heck, if I did decide to get up to change channels on my TV, I couldn't do it without the remote. Our TV has no channel buttons on it.

When I was a kid, a typical McDonald's meal contained a bit under 500 calories (burger, fries, and Coke). The standard McDonald's meal now contains over 1000 calories (medium burger, medium fries, and a medium Coke). Supersize it, and you're talking over 1500 calories. And, a typical customer now goes to McDonald's three times per week (up from twice per month when I was a kid). And, don't even get me talking about things like Cinnabon's (670 calories or 1100 calories for their Caramel Pecanbon).

There are five symptoms to Metabolic Syndrome: Obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL, high blood glucose levels, and high blood pressure. Other symptoms can include swelling and joint pain. However, if someone is officially obese (that is they weight at least 30% more than they should), body circulation starts to get poor which can lead to edema and high blood pressure. Excess fat around the waist increases insulin resistance which can cause high blood glucose levels. High glucose levels cause your body to produce more insulin, and that can cause high blood pressure and higher triglyceride levels.

Remove the excess body fat, and all the other symptoms completely disappear. Before losing the weight. My HDL cholesterol was 21 mg/dl, my blood pressure was 165/115, and my HgA1c was 17 (HgA1c measures average blood glucose levels. 5 is considered excellent, 6 is good for a diabetic). Now, my HDL cholesterol stands around 65 mg/dl, my average blood pressure is 121/85, and my last HgA1c was 4.8.

People have asked me how I managed to not only lose the weight, but keep it off. There is no great secret. I lost about 100 pounds because I went on a strict calorie limiting diet, and the pounds have stayed off because -- even six years later -- I am still on a strict calorie limiting diet. In fact, I have resigned myself to stay on this strict diet for the rest of my life. I also exercise like a maniac. I run and walk so much, that I wear out my sneakers about every three to four months.

I understand how hard it is to lose weight. I understand that in our society it is damn difficult not to be fat. You have to break accepted cultural norms, plan your meals, and find time to exercise. However, before you attempt to find some magic pill to cure you of Metabolic Syndrome, take a good look at what you eat, and how much exercise you do. Look at the Nutritional Facts on the side of everything you eat, and see how many calories it contains. Remember to take into account what you're eating as a serving vs. the stated serving size. For example, a bottle of Snapple is considered 2 1/2 servings. That means, a bottle of Snapple isn't 125 calories as stated on the Nutritional Information panel, but 325 calories. Also remember that an average adult only needs about 1600 to 2000 calories per day.

The last thing we need is another pill to cure another newly discovered disease.

Hire me already: I'm bursting with talent

More fun with Cascading Style Sheets...

Internet Explorer and Opera don't quite agree with the way the Netscape, Firefox, and Safari display CSS commands. So, I converted my resume from index.html to index.php and separated the style sheet from the webpage. I now have two style sheets: One for IE and Opera, and another for the rest of the browser community. The tiny PHP script determines which type of broswer you have, and loads the correct CSS file. The result is that the Resume now looks good whether you use Firefox or IE.

So, just to post my resume on line, I've worked with HTML, CSS, and PHP. And, of course, I didn't use one of those Insta-Webpage Webpage layout programs that make more of a mess than their worth. Nope, I used a plain text editor and hewed out the code myself.

I'm a regular Swiss Army Knife of the Geek Patrol.

Lookin' Good!

I've been getting a lot of calls about new positions, so I decided it is time to freshen up my online resume. I decided to use CSS to do the heavy formatting and to hew the whole thing in VIM.

I've been quite familiar with HTML for quite a while, and you can do a bit of formatting in HTML, but not too much. HTML originally started as a Markup Language which means tags were simply a way to mark important stuff on a page. For example, the H1 tag was a major heading, so an indexing system should think that this might be important information how the page was arranged. In fact, there were a whole bunch of tags that were used in writing out definitions, etc.

The original intent of HTML is that the author didn't format the page for looks as much as for content. The browser would decide how they wanted to see the page, and what was important to them. This lasted for about 34 seconds before most people realized that there really wasn't much in the way of content on the Internet. Very quickly, web pages started being formatted for looks. Netscape was the first culprit with the center tag. This was the first tag that stated specifically how a particular line should be formatted.

Soon, specialized tags for setting fonts, alignment, etc. bloomed into HTML and pretty much rendered it useless. Each browser had its own set of proprietary tags, and even different versions of the same browser would render the same webpage differently.

Cascading Style Sheets or CSS was suppose to take care of this. In CSS, HTML tags are stripped of formatting information. Creating your basic HTML content is once again fairly straight forward.

Formatting is now done by specifying how you'd like each tag displayed in a separate style sheet (which can be included in the webpage). Changing the style sheet changes the look of all webpages based upon the style sheet. It's why you can choose different skins for most blogs.

Take a look at the source code of my Resume. First ignore the stuff between the <style> and </style tags and find where the body of the webpage begins. It's all simple HTML codes (except for the class specifier in a few tags). If you set your browser to ignore the style sheet, you'd still see the resume in a very basic layout.

There is an excellent on line introductory tutorial on CSS that will take you through much of the basics. Once you get the basics, you'll need a pocket reference like O'Reilly's CSS Pocket Reference (part of the Nutshell series of books). Or, if you need more help, take a look at O'Reilly's entire CSS collection.

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This site works better with web standards! Original skin design courtesy of Tristan NITOT.