Best Weight in 10 Years

I've struggled with my weight pretty much my whole life. As I got older, this lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes (of the second type), and the other things that result from these conditions being present and prolonged. I have been going to the doctor pretty regularly the last few years to try and get a handle on my diabetes, but had not been very successful at maintaining any sort of positive momentum.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to Dr. Jason Fung and The Obesity Code. I can basically summarize his theory as follows: most weight gain can be explained by having too much insulin in your system. Reduce the insulin, the weight will come off on it's own.

It just so happens that Type 2 Diabetes is primarily about insulin resistance. What Dr. Fung says is that the insulin resistance is caused by the continued presence of elevated levels of insulin in the body. You know, in much the same way an alcoholic requires more and more alcohol to get drunk. Because they keep drinking.

Most doctors, of course, don't know where the insulin resistance comes from, or can't make the logical connection that seems about as obvious as minimizing your carb intake when you have high blood sugar--the exact opposite of what my diabetic "education" told me. The different macronutrients impact blood sugar levels quite differently:

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The other thing I didn't learn from my doctor is that eating anything, even something low-carb or proven to be low glycemic index, will cause an insulin spike. Which, if you have an abundance of insulin in your system already, doesn't seem like a good idea. And, as far as I know, there are no drugs around that actually reduce insulin in the system.

Enter fasting. We would not have survived as a species if we truly required three meals a day plus snacks. Fasting has been practiced for centuries for medical or spiritual purposes. Jews fast on Yom Kippur, Muslims don't eat during the day during the entire month of Ramadan. Needless to say, if it were truly bad for us, we wouldn't be here having this debate.

The kind of fasting I'm talking about is more like what Muslims do on Ramadan, which is basically have one meal a day. Another term for this is intermittent fasting. I usually have dinner but occasionally I will have lunch or even breakfast. While Muslim's don't even drink water while fasting, I drink black coffee. I may also have a cup or two of broth mid-day (not two cups at once). And yes, I've backed off on the heavy cream, except for in my post-dinner tea, even though some say that a little bit of cream is ok.

I started intermittent fasting back in May, almost on accident. I had just came back from Italy, where I, of course, pigged out on carbs, and ate shit food on the airplane. The next day, I basically fasted until dinner because, well, my blood sugar was at 179 mg/dL (definitely elevated), and I wasn't hungry. I saw the impact on my blood sugar and I just kept on doing it.

I noticed another interesting side effect of fasting, which a friend of mine had told me about: it's a pretty good cure for jet lag. Considering I have a habit of jumping 8-10 timezones, this is a very handy feature. Basically, don't eat until you get to your destination, then eat at the normal dinner time. I did this coming back from Israel in June, and it was amazing!

The results so far have been pretty amazing, both for my blood glucose:

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And my weight:

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My doctor showed me my weight from a visit I did to the clinic back in 2007. I'm still about 10 pounds above that mark, but I'm a lot closer than I've been to that mark in the last 10 years. Things are definitely trending the right direction.

For sure, I am eating less food now than I was just a few months ago. In fact, I was kinda surprised when I realized just how much I'm not eating. I'm also surprised how easy it is to not eat. When it's not time to eat, I certainly notice food, but it doesn't bother me. As such, there's no willpower involved. A lot of my previous "cravings" don't exist anymore.

Further, when I do eat, I am a lot more picky about what I eat. This does mean making (overall) healthier choices, but I can also occasionally eat something off the diet. Even if I do make a mistake, I know what I need to do to get things going the right direction.

People ask me if this is sustainable. I certainly think so. In many ways, it's less restrictive because if I go somewhere that has the wrong kind of food, or even something I don't like, I can just decide not to eat. Which, as I'm finding out, is a good thing to do occasionally.

I am continuing to monitor my blood glucose. I'm doing it a little more frequently than my doctor prescribed to make sure my blood sugar doesn't get dangerously low, which is also bad. So far, that hasn't happened.

Workflows for 10Centuries and Pnut.io

As app.net is shutting down, a number of people are moving onto other social networks. Two members created their own, one being 10 Centuries, which also includes a blogging/podcasting platform, the other being Pnut.io, which has a very similar API to ADN. Both are currently invite only, and I'm happy to share with you if you're interested.

The problem with these smaller social networks is the integrations you might find in iOS or third party services simply don't exist. The good news is: both have documented APIs. Also, apps like Workflow exist that make it easy for non-programmers to actually leverage those APIs.

The end result? I've built a few workflows in the Workflow app that will allow me to utilize both services in whatever way I can get Workflow to allow me to use them. I'm sharing them in case anyone else finds them useful. I may also update them in the future.

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10C Blog — used to post this very blog post!
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10C and Pnut Image Post using Imgur

Hopefully these are self-explanatory. Comments are included in the workflows. Reach out if you have questions.

First 10C Blog Post Written From Notes.app and Posted via Workflow

Ok, it's not really my first blog post written this way. I had to test it, after all. But it's the first semi-real one.

It's been a while since I've played with Workflow, though I use it all the time. It wouldn't be as easy to post my podcasts without it, as I use some automation that Workflow enables.

Apparently, one of the things it can do is send HTTP POST requests complete with user-specified headers. The upshot of this? It can make API calls and parse the output from those calls.

That means you can pretty much do anything you want with Workflow in terms of interacting with external services. Sure, you have to be able to craft the API calls accordingly, but modern REST APIs, provided they are adequately documented, are pretty easy to work with.

I suspect this new-found discovery will enable me to interact better with some of these "smaller" services that may not have ready-made clients for them.

At the very least, I can write and post blog posts from my iPhone on 10Centuries without waiting for a "proper" client to support the API.

Has The Internet Become The Tower of Babel?

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​In my last blog post, I wrote the following:

​It saddens me that in an age where we have more ways to connect with more people than ever before, people are choosing to isolate themselves.

When I was fleshing out that post, I had hit on an idea that I ultimately removed from that post, but want to explore a bit more here. Namely, that what seems to be happening today with the Internet reminds me of a story of The Tower of Babel, a story from The Torah, or the Old Testament of The Bible.

From Genesis 11:1-4

1: And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

2: And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

3: And they said one to another: 'Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

4: And they said: 'Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.'

The Internet allows us to communicate across vast distances with anyone and everyone, regardless of physical location, bringing us all to the same virtual location. While there are a lot of languages still spoken on the Internet, the predominant one used is English. It has taken a lot of metaphorical bricks and mortar, and several decades to build, but build it we have, and people have gathered on the Internet.

It's not just the network, of course, as the network we now refer to as the Internet has been around since the end of 1969. It's the fact that we now carry access to it in our pockets, thanks to our smartphones. Our incessant use of social media ensures we are constantly reminded of the other people out there, and interaction is merely a few taps away.

From Genesis 11:5-9

5: And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

6: And the LORD said: 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do.

7: Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.'

8: So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.

9: Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

The United States just experienced the most contentious Presidential election in the United States in many people's lifetimes, during which people shared countless political memes, articles, and statements. Many of the resulting threads were contentious and argumentative. Not only that, but our exposure to this was constant, between social media and the more traditional forms of media.

What are people doing as a result of all this? They are unfriending people, blocking them, muting them, refusing to discuss certain issues, or simply logging off the Internet. They're unable, or maybe unwilling to communicate with someone who voted differently than they did, posting messages much like this Daily Kos article on their social media of choice. You know, just in case anyone tries to engage them with a differing point of view.

It's not exactly the same as "the LORD" being responsible for confounding our language so "that they may not understand one another's speech," but it has much the same effect. It doesn't take a Rabbi or a Priest to see the parallels.

On Political Parties, Politicians, and Other Controversial Issues

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It saddens me that in an age where we have more ways to connect with more people than ever before, people are choosing to isolate themselves. Given all the vitriol and hatred expressed at those who appear to have a different point of view, I'm not surprised.

Many issues these days, particularly in the mainstream media, are portrayed as us versus them, you're either with us or against us. People are forced to choose one side or the other with little room for a nuanced position. Further, people who support Political Party A, Candidate X, and/or Issue N must also support these other positions for these reasons, even if that's not the case.

Once people have chosen a side, they often share material that promote their particular agenda. Someone posts they disagree with your view? They're one of "them," someone who doesn't support Issue N, and must obviously support Political Party B and Candidate Y. Worse, they make remarks denigrating and/or vilifying "them."

As someone with Aspergers, I am prone to thinking of things in black and white terms. In reality, I know things are rarely that way. My unique life experiences have shaped my views on a wide range of topics. They rarely fall into one of the two extremes, and I'm sure my views are different from yours for different reasons. I accept that I don't have all the answers. I accept that I may be wrong more often than not. I'm just trying to make sense of the mess the world has become.

I have yet to find someone I agree with 100% of the time. Therefore, I expect to disagree with everyone on something. If I challenge or question your views, it's to try and understand why it is you hold that particular view and help you understand why I hold mine. Maybe I'll learn something and I'll change my views. Maybe you'll learn something and change yours. Or, maybe, we'll agree to disagree.

Sadly, with increasing frequency, discussions involving controversial topics devolve into denigrating a bogeyman, directing vitriol and hatred at "them," i.e. those who do not support their issue or their candidate. You either support their issues, candidate, or party 100% without question or you're one of "them" with little room for discussion or nuance.

Political candidates and political parties often serve as convenient bogeyman in these discussions. While you can certainly influence who gets elected through voting, you have limited ability to directly influence what these politicians do in office, particularly as a group and especially at the national level. Likewise, they have limited ability to influence you, at least day-to-day.

Particular laws, Executive Orders, or policies can impact you, of course. And sure, if you're 100% against that law, Executive Order, or policy and maybe if you show up in person and protest in numbers (without damaging other people's property), a few politicians might change their minds. The odds of that happening, however, are not very high.

Given that I have a limited amount of energy, I choose to focus on the things I can directly influence as a result of direct actions I take to promote the things that matter to me. This means focusing more on the people I interact with, be it in person or online, where I can have a direct impact.

I recognize to advance a specific goal, I may have to support a specific organization, a specific candidate, or even a specific political party, i.e. one of "them." The support I provide is commensurate to the influence I have over that entity, which for national political parties and politicians, is practically zero. Even when I do provide support, it's specific to the issues I care about and it's not unconditional.

If you wonder how we got here, why there is less and less reasoned discourse in the world, if you wonder why there is less and less compassion and understanding in the world, if you wonder why there is more and more hatred and vitriol in the world, consider how your own actions have contributed to this reality. I'm by no means a saint in this regard, everyone can and must do better if we are to remain a civil society.

You may disagree with the things I choose to support and why. Likewise, I may disagree with the things you choose to support and why. Provided we can express our preferences and differences without vilifying and remain accountable for our actions, we can continue to be friends. If you feel or demonstrate otherwise, you have no place in my life.


Photo Credit: Eugenio Siri
Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/redmondbarry/45534059/

A Tale of Two Glucometers

In addition to struggling with my weight, I have also been struggling with Type 2 diabetes the last couple years. I realize it's nothing compared to what I've seen Type 1's have to go through in terms of calculating how much insulin to take and when, but it's frustrating when I find out I'm not doing quite as well as I thought I was.

When I first got diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes two years ago, my A1C was 7.9. It had went down close to 6, but it's now back to a 7.1 based on a recent blood test, which I will be discussing with my doctor as I go in for an annual physical.

Among the many other stats you get on a blood test is your current blood glucose level. Since I had to go in fasting, I checked before I went in. My meter gave me a 104 mg/dL. The blood test said 143 mg/dL, which is a huge swing! Another data point: my 3 month average on my glucometer was 126 mg/dL. The "estimated" average from my A1C number, which is supposed to reflect a 2-3 month average? 157 mg/dL.

All of that suggests my meter might be at fault. Given that I was having some technical issues with the iHealth meter I acquired a couple years ago, namely that it would lose track of which vial of strips I was using and, very recently, completely lost sync with my phone, I decided it was time to try a different meter. And, re-reading that old post, it seems I should have expected inaccurate readings might crop up again.

Rather than get another "smart" meter, I opted for something a bit lower tech based on a recommendation from Larry, a fellow diabetic: The Contour Next by Ascensia (formerly Bayer). It lacks Bluetooth, but I can plug a Micro USB cable to pull the data off of it, if I so choose.

The other redeeming quality of this meter: the strips are even cheaper than the iHealth meter, which is why I chose that meter in the first place. I actually bought 200 test strips and the Contour Next meter for about the same price I pay for 200 test strips from iHealth. And the Contour Next strips are much more widely available. I should check and see what they cost if I go through my insurance.

Since I still had a couple iHealth strips left, I figured I'd do a side-by-side comparison of the two meters from the same drop of blood. From Thursday night:

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And from Friday morning:

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How can two meters get such wildly different results? It's hard to say, but it turns out, such inaccuracies are actually within the US FDA Guidelines for Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose (SMBG) Test Systems:

Blood glucose test results are used by people with diabetes to make critical decisions about their treatment; therefore, it is important that the results are accurate so that nutritional and drug dosing errors are better avoided. Your studies should demonstrate that your SMBG is sufficient for this purpose by showing that 95% of all SMBG results in this study are within +/- 15% of the comparator results across the entire claimed measuring range of the device and that 99% of all SMBG results are within +/- 20% of the comparator results across the entire claimed measuring range of the device

I suppose if my results were really high, a +/- of 20% wouldn't be that big of a deal. On the lower end of the scale, where I am, that +/- 20% can make the difference between being normal and not normal, either mildly high or possibly hypoglycemic (low blood sugar, potentially very bad).

Regardless, I think I will stick with the new meter. Ascensia, which was a business unit of Bayer before it was sold to Panasonic Healthcare, has probably been making glucometers a bit longer than the iHealth guys have been in existence.

Edited to add second test result on 6 Jan 2017

On Medium and Compensating Authors For The Value They Provide

Medium has always been a curious service for me. It provides a nice place to publish your stuff--for free--as well as find an interact with content others write. Each comment in itself becomes its own post, which can be quoted and responded to. For example, the basis for this post originated as a comment

It's not clear to me what Medium's business model is, since the average Joe doesn't pay for it. Clearly they're not happy with the direction things are going and have announced layoffs as part a plan Renewing Medium's Focus:

We believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention. We believe there are millions of thinking people who want to deepen their understanding of the world and are dissatisfied with what they get from traditional news and their social feeds. We believe that a better system — one that serves people — is possible. In fact, it’s imperative.

So, we are shifting our resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people. And toward building a transformational product for curious humans who want to get smarter about the world every day.

As someone who has written a couple of books published through a traditional publisher and paid blog posts for blogs, I didn’t find the traditional methods of compensation all that profitable.

Given that plenty of people write for the sheer joy of getting their ideas out there and the fact relatively few people want to pay for anything on the Internet, I don’t see a way to build a closed system that directly compensates creators in any meaningful way.

Where the real compensation will come from, in my experience, is outside the system. For example, my work, published for all to see in the late 1990s, essentially turned into my resume that allowed me to make a pretty comfortable living in Information Security.

That’s just my take. I would love for the Medium folks to prove me wrong, but I am not optimistic. Meanwhile, I will continue to use Medium as a place to syndicate content, but I probably won't use it as a place to originate anything. At least until they can figure out their business model.

Those Funny Aspergers Traits I Have

​I'm not even sure I should post this. That said, I've definitely posted my share of "too much information" posts over the years and this one is no different. However, attempting to explain what's on my mind helps me to make sense of things, and what I'm about to explain will probably make no sense to some of you. For others, it will make total sense, because you do some of these things, or because you know someone who does.

The impetus for this post came from post made by Randolph about his life with Autism. It got me thinking about my own life with Aspergers, which is "in the spectrum" as they say. In my case, there was never a formal diagnosis, and as far as I know, having a formal diagnosis doesn't really do much good.

The one thing I've learned about anything related to the Aspergers or anyone that is on the autism spectrum is that while there are some similarities, everyone is different. For example, Randolph says "Airports are thus incredibly stressful, so I don’t enjoy flying." For me, airports aren't as stressful, though they are a stressor.

The same can be said for large crowds of people, I can handle them for a period of time because it's mostly background noise. What presents a bigger cognitive load for me is trying to comprehend multiple people at once, for example, in a conversation that includes a handful of people. It requires far too much concentration for me to understand what's going on, particularly if it's a long, protracted affair.

I'm sure has a bit to do with why I rarely watch TV at home unless no one is home (that and most TV shows are boring, predictable, or not appropriate for children). The one thing I will watch on TV is either NFL or NBA--I am a San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors fan, after all. Given my teams aren't local teams and I refuse to spend obscene amounts of money on cable, I rarely have an opportunity to see them on TV.

Which, come to think of it, is fine with me. I am quite happy with simply listening to games. In fact, if the NFL offered something affordable like the NBA Audio Pass, which is a very reasonable $10 for the entire season (including playoffs), I'd shut up and give the NFL my money. They used to, and then they rolled it into NFL Game Pass, which meant paying them $100 for the season. If I wanted to spend that kind of money, I'd have the kind of cable that'd let me watch the games.

My primary form of consumptive entertainment is listening to podcasts, preferably at 1.5x speed because that's the speed I naturally talk and think in. Unlike other forms of entertainment I might undertake in any given environment, it has the lowest cognitive load. I will frequently shut it off if I find other things in my environment are causing my cognitive load to increase. For example, I was briefly listening to a podcast while editing this piece and I turned it off.

At the end of a day, particularly on days where I spent a lot of time around other people or subjected myself to a significant cognitive load, I need some quiet time with minimal sensory input before I got to sleep. While I can have trouble sleeping at times, like Randolph, if I really need sleep, I will get it. Doesn't matter where I am or what circumstances. I am also dead to the world when I sleep.

Emotions, I have them, but processing them limits my ability to speak or process other sensory information. Likewise, meltdowns are a thing for me. The trick to get out of the downward spiral of emotion is to shift my focus elsewhere. Meltdowns happen more when I don't sleep enough. Or spend too much time around other people. Sometimes, these two things are related.

Very early in my career, I managed to get myself into a position where I did not have to go into an office on a regular basis. I suspect this has had a lot to do with my professional success as I don't have the stress of being in an office environment day-in and day-out and the meltdowns that can and did happen when I was. The trade-off is, of course, I have to travel from time to time, which, thankfully, doesn't present too many challenges that I can't handle. It probably helps I have developed somewhat of a travel routine.

Speaking of routines, there are many tasks which I always do a certain way. If I am interrupted (either internally or externally), there's a good chance that task will be entirely forgotten and be entirely undone or left partially done, with random items left around my house. Frequently, I will find my coffee cup in the bathroom or some other place. More recently, I left a camera tripod on the cat tree.

One thing I almost never forget to do, unlike Randolph, is eat. Sometimes, I eat too much because emotions. When I do forget to eat, it's because I'm hyper-focused on something. Maybe that's one key to getting my weight (and my blood sugar) under control.

If this post seems like a stream of consciousness, it is to an extent, and it's somewhat on purpose. It was not written in one sitting, but it reflects the way my mind meanders.

I do have a way with the written word and am generally able to convey complex topics in a simplified way. That is one of my talents. Sometimes, though it takes a very long time to come up with the right words. Yes, I've spent more than an hour writing a three sentence email. It's also sometimes like the JPEG compression algorithm for pictures when the compression is set too high: I lose important bits.

Yes, I'm good with computers and more recently, smartphones. Always have been. Always try to help people when I can, but I've learned to be a little less pushy about it. Honestly, if computers didn't exist, I don't know what I'd be good at.

I'm sure I'll have more to say on this, but for now, this is where I'll leave it.

Photos in the Hallways

It seems there are so many photos being taken these days, but what becomes of them? They're probably sitting somewhere on a hard drive that will get bit rot. They might get shared on a social network or three, but that's it.

Meanwhile, my employer is just about to finish their new building in Tel Aviv, which is attached to their old building. They're asking employees to submit their best photos for potentially being hung in the halls. They've done this in the past, and there's some pretty neat photos my (ex) co-workers have captured. Here is a few of my own, all from 2016:

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Maybe one or more of these photos will live somewhere in the Check Point offices in Tel Aviv rather than just sit on a hard drive somewhere getting bit rot.

I do have a couple other favorite photos while I'm at it. I would have submitted these, but they don't meet the requirements (they were taken in 2006 with a Nokia E70 and are not big enough):

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And the only photo of mine that I know was printed in a magazine that I took in 1997 when I briefly worked at Netscape:

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Should We Trust The American Media?

From Watching the Election from The Post-Truth Future:

In China, that foundation of reality is eroded alongside trust in institutions previously tasked with upholding the truth. Contrary to popular sentiment in the US, Chinese readers don’t blindly trust the state-run media. Rather, they distrust it so much that they don’t trust any form of media, instead putting their faith in what their friends and family tell them. No institution is trusted enough to act as a definitive fact-checker, and so it’s easy for misinformation to proliferate unchecked.
>
> This has been China’s story for decades. In 2016, it is starting to be the US’ story as well.

For me, my mistrust of the media started with getting angry about what the news media chooses to cover. Things that, in the grand scheme of things, make no sense based on who is covering it. Why does the local newscast get something I know a thing or two about completely wrong? Why should a nationwide newscast spend any time on what new things are being added to the McDonalds menu? Why are celebrities discussed on anything other than TMZ or Entertainment Tonight? How come no one covers anything other than “fluff” pieces for GE, Disney, Comcast, or Viacom?

The media is bought and paid for pretty much everywhere in the world. In China, it’s obviously the government as media is state-run. In the US, it’s the owners of the major TV networks (NBC = Comcast + GE, ABC = Disney, CBS = Viacom) and the underwriters, sponsors, advertisers, call them whatever you’d like. Coverage of stories (or not) is dictated by those paying for airtime. Ever wonder why the national nightly news casts never cover drug-related issues, or even broach questions about whether drugs are involved in the latest gun-related incident? See all the pharmaceutical ads between the native ads for McDonalds that run as actual news stories.

At least I have some idea what’s going on thanks to No Agenda, which I discovered more than eight years ago. I’ve learned how the media works and the games they play. And I’ve learned: it’s a scam, but it’s an important signal about at least one of the potential narratives in play. The truth is out there to find if you’re willing to look for it. Just be careful of confirmation bias, which is also out there.

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