DRAFT TODAY, POST TOMORROW: Some posts may be in draft status until I (aka procrastinator extraordinaire) get around to posting them.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting healthy yet?

Meditation may change the brain--and improve lives in the process. I love the comment by "Good-Lord-Now-They're-Telling-Me-I-Gotta-Do-Still-More-To-Be-Healthy" because I find that I also have some stress about these things I'm supposed to do, should do, need to do, in the quest for health. However, unlike the commenter, I know I am guilty of wasting time with mindless activities such as watching TV and reading Facebook. (In my defense, I read a lot of news and health articles via FB.)

So I don't take it personally that Mark Bittman singles me out (okay, not really), saying that everyone can and should cook, and by cooking, be heathier. After listing several reasons people don't cook, he says "Yet Americans watch 35 hours of television a week, according to a Neilsen survey. (Increasing amounts of that time are spent watching other people cook.)" Wow, he's got me pegged. I thought about tracking my TV viewing, but I really don't want to admit how much I watch. (Do movies with M count? If a cooking show is on while I'm cooking dinner or cleaning the kitchen, does that count as TV viewing or cooking/cleaning time? If I take a nap while watching TV, that doesn't count, does it?!) I have purchased ingredients several times to make a pot of rice and beans (similar to his suggestion) on the weekend to use for the week. I have lots of reasons it doesn't happen (other more urgent chores, social plans, M won't eat it, pain and/or fatigue issues....) and that is why I end up eating a frozen (processed) meal when I'm rushed for time, which is quite often.

Do I make a February (short month!) resolution? If so, should I commit to daily meditation or to planning and cooking even more of my meals? Hmmm, maybe both. But I noticed that Mark Bittman's popular column "The Minimalist" is ending so I am considering making his 25 Favorites, and maybe a few listed in the comments by his readers. I'll update if I proceed!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Endocrinology update

I went to the office to review my test results.  I got a copy--that doesn't happen every visit to the doctor (but should, in my opinion).  So my tests say ("normal" range in parenthesis)

T3 = 2.8 (2.0-4.8 pg/mL)
T4 = 1.2 (0.8-1.7 ng/dL)
TSH = 1.33 (0.45-4.50 mU/L)
Vitamin D, 25-OH, Total = 58 (30-100 ng/mL)
D3 = 58 and D2 <4 (no ranges given)

According to the technician, the thyroid untrasound shows improvement and it appears the nodule has decreased in size.  I don't understand the page I have but it says:

Rt. 15.8 x 13.5 x 39.2
RLL 2.7 x 3.6 x 5.3
Lt. 14.8 x 13.0 x 33.4
(This is written in a blank area below "Last Exam: 7/10")

Right lobe: heterogenous, measured 16.7x12.1x38.7
Left lobe: heterogenous, measured 15.3x14.3x34.9
RLL 2-3 mm incidental nodule
(This is filled in the form.)

So my understanding from the conversation is that my nodule has decreased in size and my Vitamin D is within the range they want to see.  I am unsure if I am relieved that the thyroid medicine is working or skeptical, thinking that perhaps the MS drug trial (cancer drug) medicine is messing with my thyroid and it would have worked itself out.  Rather than ask that and have the lady look at me like I'm talking about conspiracy theories, I asked if I might be able to discontinue taking the medicine for my thyroid when I am done with my MS trial.  She hedged, but basically agreed that could be a possibility.  Oh, Lord, make it so!

Then, she discussed with me how to take my thyroid medication.  Yes, you would think this was discussed when I started taking it six months ago.  At that time, I was told to take it first thing in the morning (except when I have a blood test for my thyroid) and don't eat for an hour.  Here's the new deal, as shown on my handy instruction page I received today, but was apparently not available during my previous visits:

How to take your thyroid medication

Thyroid medication is very sensitive medication, therefore, in order to get the full effect of your medication the following precautions must be taken:
  • You should take your thyroid medication first thing in the morning with a full glass of water and nothing else by mouth for one hour (including other prescriptions/vitamins).
  • You should not take calcium, magnesium or iron for a full four hours (these are often in your daily multi-vitamin and most dairy products including yogurt, milk, etc).
  • Don't let your pharmacy change your thyroid medication.  It is important that you stay on what has been prescribed to you.
The first issue I have with this is: I take Provigil for MS fatigue.  I take it early in the day so I can sleep at night.  It keeps me awake if I take it too late in the day.  I have been taking it with my Synthroid, but I can take them an hour apart if I take S as soon as I wake up and P an hour later when I'm leaving the house.  (This has all the signs of me forgetting to take P and being totally fatigued all day.)

The other issue I have (don't worry, it's the last one): you're telling me that I cannot have milk, yogurt, or cheese for breakfast.  Let's talk about what I grab for breakfast: cereal with milk and fruit; apple with cheese and a hard boiled egg; scrambled egg with cheese and leftover veggies; smoothie (made with frozen fruit, yogurt, and milk); latte (or coffee with milk); cottage cheese with pears or peaches....  So I asked, what am I supposed to do about breakfast?  She was a little vague but said that since my levels have improved while I was doing (she didn't say it this way but it's what she meant) everything wrong, I should be fine to continue doing things as I have.  Um, okay, I'll do that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Are the vegans listening?

I know that natural foods are not organic, but apparently organic foods are the only ones that likely do not use hexane.

Hexane is a highly flammable EPA-listed air pollutant that is used in the manufacture of cleaning agents, glues, roof sealer, automobile tires, energy bars, veggie burgers, and soy, corn, and canola oils. If these food products are not certified organic, some of the ingredients have probably been processed with hexane, no matter how many times the word "natural" is stamped on the package. Since hexane is used in the manufacturing process, it's not listed as an ingredient in the foods it helps produce, though residues find their way into the finished product.

Essentially, soy and other "natural" foods are processed with (contain) a neurotoxin, which is used because of "its availability at a reasonable cost" due to the fact that "it's a byproduct of gasoline production." Ewww. Note that soy lecithin in almost all processed foods, so it's not just an ewww for the health nuts shopping at Trader Joe's--we're all ewww'd.

While we're at it, I saw this interesting (unverified) diagram of why no one is really a vegan, based on all the products made from a cow's parts. Kind of reminds me of something I saw but didn't keep about why replacing gas in cars was not going to keep us from needing oil production and refining.

Where does the time go?

Earlier this week, I had a few minutes and my planner, and I wrote down a quick list of things I spend my time doing and things I want to spend my time doing. There is some overlap, and there are things on the do but don't want to list that have to be done, but I think it is very common that we have things we want to do but don't because of our excuses, however valid they may be.

With January almost gone (already?!), I liked this "different approach to goal setting: Next year, choose, plan and achieve goals that bring you joy, ease and happiness - not only when you achieve them, but along the way as well." The author goes on to say: "we spend way too much time in our life doing things we don't want, that we're not good at, with people we don't like, and without getting any reward."

There are things that we don't want to do, but have to be done. Last night, I had to clean up cat poo before the dog got it, then went upstairs to go to bed and found more (poor kitty is sick but I certainly didn't care at that point!) to clean up. While doing the clean up, the other dog made noise in the laundry room, so I caught her in-the-act. She had jumped over the raised baby gate that is supposed to let the cats in but not the dogs. So I grabbed a (tall) playpen and put it up with a gap for the cats. It can't really keep the dogs out but it will be loud going down.

So, "don't create goals and activities that involve struggle, complication, hardship and sacrifice." Rather than setting a goal to exercise, I can set a goal to hike, skate, or run agility with my dogs, since those are things that I like and are on my list of things I want to do more. "Do something every day." Now, that is a difficult goal!

Thoreau's cellphone experiment

I know very few people who don't have or use a cellphone now.  I rarely use mine in my car, and get annoyed when someone calls me (evenings/weekends) on my cellphone instead of at home.  So, when I read about this professor who offers his students extra credit for participating in the cellphone experiment, based on "Henry David Thoreau's calls for simplicity and solitude", my initial thought was: easy, peasy!

I did not have a cellphone while I was in college, so maybe I would feel differently now.  But I don't know that I see my cellphone as a personal safety issue.  Yeah, I can call someone if I get stranded, and that is a great reason to have a cellphone.  But I think cellphones are more likely to cause students to be unaware of their surroundings, making them a personal safety liability rather than tool.

I also find it hard to believe many of the comments about people not being able to be employed without a (personal) cellphone.  I realize that some (many?) people do not have landlines anymore, so they may not have an alternative for "picking up extra shifts."  However, in my (obviously dated) experience, employees are assigned shifts and work when they are supposed to work--no cell phone needed.  I don't get it--and I hope I never do!

And the other comments about family not being able to reach the students--parents, please STOP calling your kids every day!  I don't have that kind of family, so I'm being completely insensitive, I'm sure, but college students do not need to talk to their parents ALL the time.  That's why kids "go away" to school.

By the way--I LOVE getting someone's voice mail, so I don't mind if anyone I know wants to take the cellphone experiment!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Agility class

Tonight was the first night for Cassi and Teka in the same class and it was course night. (whew! I had a meeting that ran late, so I was running late.) It started with a jump, lead out into a tunnel to the left, back out to the weaves, then to the right over a jump to the teeter, right over a jump and right again to the dog walk (not straight to the A frame), then back into the tunnel and out to the table. Coming off the table, it's back over the start jump, left to the chute, left again up the A-frame, front or rear cross to the tire angled to the right, then U turn to a triple jump, straight on to the double and single jumps, then U turn to another jump and wrap in between the two to the finish jump.

Cassi had trouble with the tunnel entry every time. I don't know why. Teka did once too so it may have been my position to some degree but I'm not sure that's it for Cassi. They both did the weaves beautifully. Cassi's second time through, she did a great teeter so we stopped and treated. She did the tire with hesitation. I've got to get mine set up for her training at home.

The first time I ran it with Teka, I called it tunnel--teeter--tire, so by the time I said tire, she was already going through it and I was cracking up laughing. Teka seemed to really like that--she put on the speed over those jumps on the straightaway and even went on ahead of me when I told her go-on.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weave class

Teka does this thing that drives me crazy--she acts very excited to see someone, and then, when she gets right in front of them, she starts barking at them. In this case, it was my classmate, N, who knows Teka, so she waited patiently for me to take Teka away and let her try again. Then she did it without barking so she got a treat from N.

Our first exercise was a sequence, two ways. First we had a jump into the weaves (I led out and turned so I was on the left), with the next jump being out to the left from the end of the weaves, needing a front cross. Then we U-turned to another jump and back into the weaves, so I was on the right side now, and then back over the first jump, which was now at an odd angle, so we were instructed to do a false front cross. This essentially looks like the beginning of a front cross (changing hands) and then deciding not to finish. I forgot to do it but Teka went over the jump anyway.

Then other way was a lead out from a jump to the first jump (serpentine-ish) into the weaves. Teka had some trouble with going over the first jump, so we worked on where I was facing/pointing. Coming out of the weaves, we did a front cross to a jump that was to the left of the middle of the poles, then over the two jumps that we did in the last sequence, making a serpentine. She did not push out on the last jump enough and knocked the bar. Then we headed back into the weaves to finish. She did great on all of her weaves. N commented on how happy she seems to work for me.

Next we did the four pole clicker entry work. D came over to help because Teka was having trouble with the entry when I was out to the left with her on my left. I have to watch where I am pointing with my feet, but she was also watching N for her treats so we are working on proofing her, as a judge could be standing there at a trial.

Last, we did a sequence that started with a jump, into the weaves, over a jump in front to the right, wrapping back around to the weaves, and ending by pushing out to a jump out a bit to the right front. The tricky part was a tunnel directly out from the end of the tunnels after the jump in the middle of the sequence. Teka went around the start jump the first time (argh!) but got all of her weaves. I had a little trouble getting the two types of crosses we were practicing at the middle jump, as the best way for the dog to go around was the side closer to the tunnel. One was a front cross and then tuck back into the jump to pull her around without directing into the tunnel; the key here is NO hands so that there is no accidental pointing at the tunnel. I end up on the left side of the weaves and push her out to the last jump. The other was the one I didn't quite get and can't even remember enough to exlain, but it ends up with me on the right side of the weaves.

Contact class

Cassi has not been feeling well since she was bit or stung by something last Friday, but she seems to be keeping her food down as of today, so we went to class and she did well. D told everyone about the "excellent-level" course that Cassi did at the trial. I didn't realize that the jumpers course was changed very little from the Excellent course. The obstacles that were so difficult were the jump into the weaves--there was another jump that was a more obvious direction for the dog to go and apparently, most of the dogs took the jump instead of the weaves. Knowing that Cassi and Teka both got that weave entry made me proud, but also a little upset that I pulled Teka out and messed up her run.

We did the dog walk at the low height, back-chaining down one end. Holding her collar, I direct her onto the sloped part, facing down, then release to her treat pouch about 3 feet out from the end. This is a send, recall, run with exercise, increasing the distance about 2 planks each time.

We did the A frame next. We have been doing it at the black notch--very low--and letting her run across it, again to the treat pouch about 3 feet out from the end. She is not hesitating at all, so I think we are going to move her up a little next time.

Next we did the teeter, which she is SOOO excited about in class (yum, treats) although she is not always so excited about in public. We took it down to the 10 notch (very, very low) and let her run onto and off it, with D or my classmate waving the treat pouch and throwing it out a little when she got near the end. She really likes this game.

The next exercise was a sequence with the clicker boards, except that one was just a square board. Once Cassi got the idea of touching that one, she did okay, but she keeps running around the clicker boards and then touching. I need to work on this at home somehow (I don't have a clicker board.) At the end of the sequence, I had Cassi "switch" to the last jump and my classmate, J, was very impressed. She asked how she learned it and I had to really think about it before I explained it, almost correctly, so I should document what I recall.

Teaching switch: I remember using 4 jumps in a box set up (if I was standing in the middle and turned four directions, a jump would be in front of me to jump over.) We started by doing two opposite each other--easy, straight line. Then we used the first jump and the one to the right or left to practice "here." When starting out, the jumps usually have to be pulled closer to each other and then spaced out more as the idea becomes clear to the dog. With the three jumps close together, you can teach "switch" by using the arm motion and naming it when the dog goes the opposite way of you (opposite of "here"). As they get it, increase the distance between the jumps. We started with the jumps touching so they couldn't go between. I vaguely recall that we may have thrown the treat pouch or toy over the jump, but I don't remember using it as a lure.

Our last exercise was a sequence with the "boxes" and she has the idea of the large box but hasn't been consistent with the narrow box, so D suggested we take that one out so she could be successful. She did really well with it. Actually, she had more trouble with the wrap. There was 2 jumps that required she do a U from one to the other, then she needed to come back between them (wrap) to the box and she kept wanting to come back over the second jump. I guess we'll need to work on wrap at home.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wags for Wishes AKC Agility Trial

We decided to enter one day at Wags for Wishes. Cassi missed her weave entry on her first course, the FAST course (so it's not a refusal) but then she did pretty well and got her distance bonus. The Open Jumpers course was very similar to the Excellent course, and Cassi did awesome--one of a handful of dogs that managed to get a Q. She got Qs in Open Standard and Open Jumpers with Weaves and Open FAST--she went 3 for 3!

Teka ran Open FAST and Open Jumpers with Weaves but wasn't able to get either one. She almost got the FAST but didn't get her distance bonus. If she comes into me, I have a lot of trouble getting her to go back out and over a jump. She did get her first Q in Novice Standard. It was slow but she did everything I asked of her. There was a very good example of how she doesn't go to the most obvious choice, instead making me work extra hard to take her to everything she needs to do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Agility class

Tonight was Trigility, a 3 part course, with a different dog running each part. We were able to run each part of the course during the class. Teka did fantastic on her runs, with a couple of handling errors on my part. Right before we started, I was able to use an extra NADAC hoop (like a partial hula hoop stuck in a base--they run through it) to quickly clicker train her what it was. She was very good about going through on the course. She also handled her 6 weaves without any problem at all.

Cassi ran the same courses and also did very well. I quickly trained her on the NADAC hoop before starting. She missed one, but the instructor thought she may not have seen it--it was blue and the lighting would have been behind her. I "knew" Teka would do the gamble (obstacles behind a line I can't cross) but wasn't sure about Cassi, since it was a jump to a teeter to a hoop. She did it without hesitating, although the teeter was a bit slow.

Next week, we start going to one class for both of them. I will be working hard!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Survey says...

monthly survey is complete.

Weave 201B

Teka did a sequence with 3 times through the channel weaves, barely open. She did really great, speedy, got most of her entries, only skipped poles once.

Next we worked on entries with 4 poles. She did pretty well, but I have been throwing the treats on the ground and the instructor wants the treat pouch to be used.

Last, we worked on another sequence with channel weaves. I ran with everything on the right and then with everything on the left. Teka is just seems to be so happy to be working/playing.

Contact Class

Cassi started out with the contact board. D worked with her because I am having trouble understanding the timing for the clicker. She does rapid fire treats and clicks and I didn't really get what was being clicked.

When class got started, we started on the A-frame which was low. I did a little of the treating and turning on the frame and then we started the send, run with, recall and she had great speed once she realized there was a treat pouch at the end. Then we did the dog walk, very similar, starting with treating for turning and laying down and then starting the send, run with and recall. Last, we did a jumping sequence with the contact boxes and then switched out the boxes with clicker boards. She really seemed to get the boxes and wanted to get the clicker boards but got a little too spazzy. I really need to get some to practice at home.

The class also worked on the table, but when we started, D said that I should wait until we are further along with the contact board. However, she did have Cassi do the plank on/off the table, using the pole to go around to teach self correction for the up contact. She also showed how I should treat over her instead of from in front. She actually straddled Cassi and had her lay down before treating. I might be able to work on this.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blood draw

For my thyroid test, I went for the fasting blood draw, no medication, so I went first thing. I went to the Sonora nearest my house--huge mistake. Apparently it is the most western location they have, so it is always busy. I was there about an hour and a half. For a blood draw. Before commuting to work. A new location must be found! The draw itself went well. I always tell the person not to tell me when they will stick me and this lady said that she never understood why they do that--especially with little kids, telling them it's going to hurt. My veins are apparently shy enough without warning them anyway!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm guilty!

Technology brings us together and tears us apart. I feel very connected to friends and family on Facebook, but I hate the constant updates on everyone's phones when I'm out with them. M and I used to joke about people at dinner texting to each other or otherwise not engaged with their phones instead of each other. Now he can't put his phone down. I'm not sure that I want a new phone because I will be more connected (and addicted to Angry Birds?)--but I want to see FB all day too! A study shows that technology hurts relationships. Apparently it is so bad that there is a National Day of Unplugging. So here are:

10 Signs Your Devices Are Hurting Your Relationships:
1. You can't get through a meal without emailing, texting or talking on the phone.
2. You look at more than one screen at a time, checking email while watching television, for example.
3. You regularly email or text, other than for something urgent, while your partner or another family member is with you.
4. You sleep with your phone near you, and you check your email or texts while in bed.
5. You log onto your computer while in bed.
6. You have had an argument with a loved one about your use of technology.
7. You text or email while driving.
8. You no longer go outside for fun.
9. You never turn off your phone.
10. When you spend time with your family—a meal, a drive, hanging out—each person is looking at a different screen.

Agility class

We had classes tonight. I'm too tired to blog....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


...sound for my thryroid was done today. I'll get the results in a couple of weeks. Interesting or weird--I joked at the end "my thyroid looks perfectly normal and I'll be able to stop taking medication" and the gal said that she can't really say anything but then she implied good news for my appointment. Hmmm.

Weave class

We worked on a couple of sequences and the weave entry poles. So tired...

Contact class

This was the first time we did the contact board. It's about 3 feet long and as wide (narrow) as a teeter. It has a few small boards across the bottom so it's slightly raised. At this point, we are clicking for any feet Cassi gets onto the board. My issue was that I did not click fast enough or often enough; D came over and went through all the treats I brought for class in about 4 minutes!

We did the dog walk the same as last time. The teeter was also the same but we added a treat at the end for drive/speed.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Good Dog USDAA Agility Trial

This is our first trial since last spring!
Cassi got Qs in P1 Standard, P1 Gamblers, and P2 Jumpers--3 for 3!

Teka got Qs in P1 Standard and P1 Jumpers. She did not qualify in P1 Gamblers.

We had fun!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Trial update

First, a trip to Sonora for the blood draw. Yay, it wasn't bad. Then back to Hope for the vitals. I drank a lot of water before going to Sonora so I was ready to give my liquids. :) I received calendars for 2011-2014 with the trial stickers, but the stickers aren't on the dates, so I'm not sure that is all that helpful. The first calendars I got for 2009 and 2010, R had put the stickers on so I would know my target windows for surveys and update visits. Hmmm.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Good to Great

Good to Great (by Jim Collins) is considered a must-read in the business world.  I hear it quoted and referred to at conferences, in meetings, and in the media.  I finally listened to it and thought it was good to have "read."  The main concepts that are referred to in the business world are the Hedgehog concept and getting the "right people on the bus."  The Hedgehog concept (a quick internet search will show multiple visual versions) is the overlap area of: what you are passionate about, what drives your economic engine, and what you can be the best in the world at.  While I am glad that I listened to this (for professional reasons), I think it would be better reading the book (the audio was boringly read--did I just make that word up?).  I rate this book a "meh--take it or leave it."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Agility class

Teka and Cassi had the same exercises tonight. The first section was a mini course with layering. There were 3 jumps leading into the right side of a curved tunnel. Coming out the other end, we turned in a circular motion to go over 3 jumps starting on the right side of the tunnel and going around the back. (Keep the arm up the entire time!) Then there were several more jumps, a quasi serpentine ending with a switch. Teka needs to work on her start line but amazed me by getting the layered jumps without any problem. She missed the last jump because I called out instead of switch. Cassi reads my body language more than Teka does, so I had more trouble getting her to the right side of the tunnel as she could see that I was heading to the other end before I even knew I was! She also did a spin after the first layered jump like she didn't know where to go; I may have been late calling the command.

Our other mini course was a curved tunnel leading to a jump, then to a perpendicular jump with a wrap to a jump on the other side of the first jump, then a wrap or switch to another jump out at a weird angle, and a wrap around the far side to bring the dog into a better line to the teeter (it seemed like you would go the other way, but then they weren't lined up), then back into the tunnel same as before and switch to a last jump. Teka did pretty well as I was figuring out what to do! Cassi was having a lot of trouble with her wraps but did the teeter just fine.

There was also a weave race setup, with a jump and 12 weave poles. Teka did well, although she missed one offside entry and missed the last pole once or twice. She really speeds up when I'm in front of her. Cassi skips the last 2 or 3 poles if I get too far in front of her, but did the send and the recall just fine. I got some encouragement from others that thought my girls (especially Teka) have really improved.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New year, new attitude (in the news)

Business truisms: a little incomplete or even wrong, in my opinion, but love it: "if you're miserable, quit and do something else. If you're still miserable, it's you.
While talking to a professional contact on the phone today, she told me that her son is walking across the country, documenting his trip, and fundraising for MS. I was reluctant to tell her my whole story but did tell her that I'm involved in the Phoenix chapter of the NMSS and that I would send her a couple of MS bracelets.

New Year's resolutions for your career have some overlap with resolutions for the rest of your life: learn new skills, meet with your boss (substitute friends) regularly, use your network to find someone else a job, post your objectives where you'll see them and document your accomplishments.

Free concerts in Scottsdale, Sunday afternoons. Wonder what I'm doing on 2/13...

Weave class

We did a couple of sequences and weave pole entries. I didn't make notes so that's all you get now!

Contact class

Cassi practiced the clicker board--she needed a bit of a reminder the first time, but then she liked the game. We also did the large contact box and she liked that game also.

We did the dog walk at the low height with a ramp off the side. We let her jump up onto the dog walk and then practiced sit, down and turn around. She started pretty tentative but got more confident.

She did the teeter on the 8 holes setting (pretty low); go on to the end and pull down to end. We tossed treats past to keep moving.

Last we worked on a self correcting entry--a plank going onto a table, but only using the end and a pole to go around onto the plank.