Of continuous glucose monitors and increased health insights.

This week was a big week for me. I acquired my first continuous glucose monitor, a FreeStyle Libre 14 Day system. I received a standalone meter along with a puck that gets attached to my arm. The meter also has a standard blood draw glucometer attached to it, so that I can do a regular draw if necessary.

I was a little leery when I first unpacked everything, because there’s all these parts — a glucometer that charges via MicroUSB, a charger and cable for that, and then this big box that contains a sensor that you’ll attach to your arm. The sensor puck kit seems large, but it’s because it’s shipped in two parts. You’ll combine the two parts after verifying numbers on each half, and then this gets pressed against your arm. There IS a needle in the sensor kit, but the needle isn’t left behind — it’s used to break the skin for the sensor filament to go in.

This is my arm with a CGM sensor attached.

No, I didn’t feel much at all when I applied the sensor to the back of my left arm. I jumped mostly because of the sudden ‘pop’ sound from the spring-loaded mechanism that I wasn’t fully expecting. If anything, it’s like someone poking you with a pencil lightly, which is a far cry better than the constant fingersticks I’ve been asked to do.

I’m horrible with the fingersticks, because I just cannot abide by the concept of jabbing my poor fingers with a specially designed knife to draw blood multiple times a day, even though it’s beneficial to my health to ACTUALLY DO THAT, according to my doctor. They need to know what my numbers look like, and if they’re just raging away at 300 mg/dl with no data, they can’t help me.

This meter is game changing in that I can wake up at four in the morning for no reason whatsoever, and without leaving bed, check my blood glucose levels since my meters are at bedside.

Yes, meters plural: The FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensors are NFC compatible, and this means I can read them with the LibreLink app on my Android phone. All I have to do is unlock my phone with a fingerprint, and point the tip of my phone to the side of the sensor. I’ll have a reading in seconds, and don’t have to go find the app and open it first. Or, I can grab the meter actual, press a button on the lower front, and wave it at the puck.

This process removes the internal (and external) whining about having to always stick my damn fingers, and how much this hurts, and how much it sucks, etc etc. Sure, I’ll still have to occasionally stick my fingers, but it’ll be a case of “Hey, Xial. Something’s fishy with this number, can you get me a different number?” instead of “You have to.” It transforms the plain demand into a reasonable insistence, which I’m more likely to comply with.

This just gives me a sense of clarity in data, and a better way to really try to keep an eye on my health.

… and Vacation Goes.

I had a beautiful time out in Ocean Shores in the state of Washington.

I got to spend time with my better half, a person I frankly do not get to spend enough time with because we’re one country and three time zones apart. If I could see them more often, I’d be thrilled.

I just have to find out what’s wrong with my ears to make flying so abysmally unpleasant as to make me refuse to board a plane unless I have absolutely no other choice. It’s so unpleasant that I’ll take a Greyhound or figure out the costs to rent a car before I consider flying.

That aside, the community of Ocean Shores was quite welcoming to the lot of us that visited for a weekend to have our furry convention, Furvana, at their convention center. There were, of course, curious folk that would stop us when we’re walking around to ask questions, and I hear that even the local law enforcement wanted to just take photos with a few folks that were in fursuits, which is pretty cool in and of itself.

If I could change anything about my attendance at the con, it would be my relative introversion in crowds of folks that I just don’t know at all. If someone said hi, I was happy to respond, but it’s a little harder as of late for me to relax and come to the surface, compared to younger me, who’d happily jump into everything, face first.

… oh, and the lack of photos taken, because I worry about folks who don’t want to be caught in my soul catcher.

I didn’t explore Ocean Shores quite as much as I wanted, because an unfortunate event befell the electric bike shop the day before we headed out there. I had initially planned to check out an electric bike to use it to explore the length of Ocean Shores, since I didn’t want to figure out the logistics of hauling MY personal bike up from Oregon via Amtrak and a rental car.
This would be annoying in several ways, as my feet started hurting in a way that made walking long distances irritating, but I refused to drive the rental for fear of having an accident with the local wildlife that had no surplus of hecks to give about cars and people.

You don’t need *munch* a lawnmower, *nibble* dude. But can you pass me the vinaigrette?

I did, however, get to check out the Ocean Pours Tap Room there on my last evening in town. Having been mostly a fan of my local brewery, Ninkasi, and specifically their Yours Truly Easy Drinking Ale, I was afraid I wouldn’t find anything I would like. I was delightfully surprised (and maybe a little drunk afterward) when the four beers I had selected for my flight were all really delicious and smooth. None of that harsh bitterness that I seem to get from the frequently bandied IPA beers — we avoided those for my inaugural flight at the tap room.

I had to walk back home afterward, and realized during the walk that I hadn’t eaten first or during the drinking. Whoops.

The local grocery store, an IGA, was also rather friendly. Hadn’t been in an IGA in years, the last one being back when I was in Florida. Mentally, it was a little disconcerting, because the generic product brand there used to be the generic brand Albertson’s used for the better part of a decade before moving on to a different label.

I hear we did quite well for the charity fundraiser we did for Coastal Raptors. Still waiting for official numbers to be posted, but the preliminary statement was a quite impressive number for a brand new convention.

After I had originally posted this, the official numbers were posted; so it goes.

We had 452 folks in attendance, and raised a delightful $3,142.86 for Coastal Raptors. I’ve got my snow bunting picture I acquired from the charity auction posted in my cubicle at work (not pictured, because HIPAA is a pain in the thang), and a few keychains to sort things to at some point.

My first time seeing the Pacific Ocean in person, with a car party to the left, and someone walking to the right.

For now, I leave you with a photo I took at the beach out at Ocean Shores with my phone. Hopefully in the future if Furvana repeats here, I’ll be back to take more photos, and explore the area in depth. ๐Ÿ’™

Vacation comes…

I’ve not had a proper get out of the office, get out of the town, and explore the world vacation in a ridiculously long time.

I am strongly looking forward to my out of office time at the end of the month. Been telling my external providers at work that I’ll be out of office, and my backup will be this one person, and so on and so forth.

I don’t get enough me time, and it’s part of the culture we have going on, I think. We’re expected to work until we keel over in the office, literally, and probably get written up for low performance while being wheeled out under a white sheet.

I intend to not think about that kind of stuff for a week, and that’s that. ๐Ÿ’™

Saturo Vs. Soylent, some thoughts.

As part of my weight loss journey, I had started off by picking up some Soylent at my local FredMeyer. The store had it on sale for $2 per bottle, and I had a digital coupon on top of that through Ibotta which brought it down to a super low price of less than a dollar per bottle, maximum of five bottles per discount.

I bought as many of those bottles as I could, racking up that discounted price through a refund via Ibotta until the price suddenly went up to $4 per bottle.

The Soylent was important for me, because I struggle daily with satiety. My brain doesn’t switch off the hunger signal nearly fast enough, which leads me to overeating because of poor impulse control, and thinking I’m just a little on the full side. I knew this, because I started calculating calorie loads on what I had been eating prior to the in-earnest weight loss attempt.

Calorie Count Screenshot from McDonalds.com’s nutrition calculator, showing a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a single Filet-O-Fish, and a Medium order of Fries.

This is actually an underestimated number, because the nutrition calculator at McDonald’s’ website doesn’t have the Double Filet-O-Fish as a selection. I surmise the second fish patty adds another 240 calories, because I certainly kept the second slice of cheese, and asked for extra tartar sauce.

That was what I called lunch frequently, because marginally unenlightened me kept thinking, “Oh hey, I’m getting a great deal where I can get two sandwiches for super, super cheap!” The drink, a diet Coke or Diet Dr Pepper, of course โ€” I can’t have the sugar because it rushes to my head and makes me feel pretty crappy, fairly swiftly.

It’s a thought process I haven’t needed since I made it out of that homeless shelter over a decade ago โ€” thinking that I absolutely must buy the most calorie-laden food choices in case I can’t afford a meal at a later point in the day. It’s a difficult mindset to break, and it’s helped me push on the pounds, along with not exercising enough.

The Soylent was helping me with managing hunger by tripping that satiety flag that other foods just weren’t doing. I’ve later learned that foods higher in fiber do help me with that, but I don’t see myself eating broccoli for breakfast every day just to not want to chew my arm off.

In the first few weeks, because I had replaced a daily meal with Soylent and was painfully conscious of what I was shoveling into my maw, combined with me starting my gym visits, I dropped an astounding fifteen pounds.

I’ve had a minor rebound on weight gain after that, because of a few reasons: I ran out of the cheap Soylent and started fighting with the poor impulse control for food again. Combined with getting frustrated, I was sabotaging my own weight loss by stress eating again. I had to make it one of my goals for my weight loss group to find something that was comparable to Soylent, so I can get back on that positive, downward trend.

Local searches hadn’t turned up much, and even Amazon searches weren’t the most promising at the time.

In mid-April, while sitting on my lunch break at work, I decided to check the Amazon app, because I had nothing better to do (I could’ve gone for a walk, says hindsight), and I saw a new product prominently advertised on the front page, called Saturo, presented because of my recent searches for Soylent.

“The heck is a Saturo?” I asked as I tapped on it, and started reading.

It ended up being the kind of product I was looking for โ€” a full, balanced meal replacement in a bottle that I could keep a few of in my desk at work. At $16 for eight bottles โ€” two bucks a meal, it certainly seemed promising.

As is my wont, I bought the eight pack of Chocolate so I could give it a shot, and it arrived promptly on the next day. I ended up consuming it quickly โ€” the chocolate taste isn’t unpleasant, but it leans more toward a dark chocolate flavor than a milk chocolate flavor. Combined with the mild amount of sugar (8 grams, or about two teaspoons for visually inclined folks), it helps to like less sweet things.

I’ve also tried the vanilla Saturo, and honestly, I prefer the chocolate one over the vanilla, as the vanilla flavor is too mild and unassuming, lost underneath the oat and soy overtones.

Saturo’s container is smaller than Soylent’s by three fluid ounces (or 84 mL for the metrically inclined), and has 70 fewer calories. At this time when doing the math on how much per meal is being spent, Saturo is still thoughtfully priced. Without any discounts or coupons, Saturo is 5.1ยข per fluid ounce less expensive than Soylent when purchased on Amazon. On a bottle for bottle basis (not mL for mL), Soylent costs 162% of what I’d spend for Saturo.

Top number: Soylent, Chocolate, 12 pack.
Bottom number: Saturo, Chocolate, 8 pack.

My use case also makes the 330 calorie bottles more appealing, as I get the satiety I need with fewer calories. I can save those 70 calories shaved off that bottle for other foods, like a treat, a slightly larger portion of something tasty during the day, or as a minor victory if I’m still close to my daily calorie target at the end of the day.

I also have a coupon code I am sharing with folks that want to try Saturo for 10% off. At checkout, simply enter SATUROTEN as a coupon. It is currently limited to one use per account and expires 13 June 2019.

Exercise with Fatbutt.

Bit of a personal joke, of course. I’m fat, I know it, and in the past couple of months, I’ve been tackling that issue in earnest.

In February, I joined a support group paid for by my insurance through work that’s been helping me. In March, I started going to the gym. April saw the return of better weather, so I’m trying to get five miles of cycling a day in at least a couple times a week.

I also picked up a Fitbit in February, to try to keep myself more accountable with regard to my exercise and food intake, and it actually kind of opened my eyes to what I was doing, once I started logging every little bite I took, and refusing food that I couldn’t figure out how to log. Here I was, thinking I was eating relatively okay, and finding out that even without calorie laden sodas, I was sucking in 3600+ calories in a given day, and wasn’t even walking or exercising all that much.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing when you find the truth behind the fork (or the sandwich in the box). This is what I learned on day 1, when I started logging my calories in Fitbit, and needing to know what was in what before I bought it. That day alone, I cut my caloric intake sharply.

The gym membership in March came with me wanting to earn the HSA money that work offers for completing certain goals, and I wasn’t getting there fast enough.

Knowing that getting healthier is being incentivised monetarily is, honestly, my biggest motivator. I like knowing that I can get nearly $200 toward my healthcare expenses every quarter, and being able to hit that goal is pretty nice. And yes, I did hit the first quarter goal through real effort, and have knocked off ten pounds that haven’t come back on rebound.

The support group I started in, I wasn’t interested in it at first, because I thought it was hokey, cheesy crap that was probably going to fat-shame me after two weeks. But, after being there for a few sessions, I’m happy to say I’m wrong about that thought. I still fat-shame myself from time to time, but then I think back to what I told my fitness coach at Anytime Fitness when she asked me about why I joined:

Exercise and weight loss are cheaper than healthcare here in America. I want to get back to a point where I don’t need a $700/month prescription just to stay healthy. I’m lucky right now to be still able to get around on my own two legs, but if I don’t at least try now to lose weight, I am going to die as a fat man, and I’m going to die early. I ain’t ready to go yet.


I remember this, and I make myself go. I make myself do. I make myself be.

Losing weight by yourself is anything but easy. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. But, losing weight is not something that has to be a lonely battle, fought behind house doors with loneliness, desperation, and a knife and fork in hands.

I’m guilty of stress eating, of poor dietary choices, of being very sedentary and I guess today, I’m calling myself out on it right on my own blog that isn’t read by anyone. But it’s at least out there on the wires, where maybe someone will come by, and keep me accountable in addition to the support group. Or maybe someone will read this, and think to themselves that this was that last push they needed to get off the couch and go, do, be.

I’m Jayel, and this is my weight loss journey. As of this morning, 20 April 2019, I was at 282.8 lbs (128.28 kg), down from 295 lbs (133.8 kg) when I started this.

I’m using step goals to work on this. I started with 10 pounds as my target. As I hit the target, next target’s a little farther out at 12 pounds. I’m aiming for reasonable amounts of weight loss per week (a pound), and so far, so good, minus the upswing during birthday week at the top of the month.

To do: buy greens to dehydrate for smoothies.

Good night, Ancheer.

So, in March of 2018, I had posted that I bought an Ancheer folding electric mountain bike.

I bought it so that I could cycle more, get to places easier without requiring the use of a bus, but still potentially have the backup option of loading onto a bus should weather or health necessitate said choice.

And ride that bike I did. I would sometimes just go out for 12 mile rides with no rhyme or reason, just a strange need to be in the moment, making the pedals spin. I was able to enjoy cycling again, because I could go much further, much longer, and be in far, far less pain overall. It was exercise that I didn’t dread, and I had fun taking those Saturday trips into downtown for sushi, then going nuts along the river trails and through neighborhoods.

Turning heads when I ride was actually kind of nice. Hey!, someone would shout from a vehicle or at a crosswalk. Is that one of those electric bikes? And I’d turn and reply that it was. People loved it, because here’s a big person, cruising along on a bike that you could see they’re putting pedaling effort into, but not looking winded, and cruising along at up to 20 miles per hour.

I like to think that older folks, upon seeing this, feel more inspired to go out and spend some cash on an electric bicycle, whether they build it themselves, or pick up a pre-fabricated machine. With the number of folks I’ve passed this summer and fall, riding their own electric cycles, I think it is true. Seeing someone do it daily gets them to think, Well, sheesh. If that person can do it, then I can do it.

I noticed somewhere in late Summer, maybe early Fall, there was a crease in my frame in a spot that didn’t make sense. The frame was seemingly cheap and weak, prone to damage, even with careful riding. I didn’t replace the bike then, because other than that weird crease, it seemed I could at least probably get to the end of the year, maybe even to tax season where I could consider replacing it with a better performing e-bike, or even converting another bike.

I had even thrown money at someone to build a new battery for it recently as the existing battery started to just hold less and less of a charge.

Well, with less than two weeks left in the year, my bike decided to give up the ghost. On my short ride to work today, I heard an unusual pop, and felt the bike geometry shift.

It’s a folding bicycle… that was now in danger of folding while I’m trying to bike to work. The hinge latch had popped, unsecuring the bike’s hinge while I’m cycling up a bridge that I cross every day. The front wheel is now about an inch to the left of where it should be.

I can’t use my front brakes at this point, lest the front of the bike slow down quicker than the rear of the bike, forcing it to fold rapidly and toss me off.

I switched immediately to twist throttle mode, so I could at least limp it the rest of the way to work, with judicious application of only the rear brake and short bursts of throttle — pedaling would likely cause enough lateral motion that the broken clamp situation would have only been exacerbated.

With the last half mile covered, I did at least make it to work on time, but it tells me this bike is at its end. Safety-wise, I would not trust the bicycle for anything beyond harvesting its parts and building a new e-bike or e-scooter up from that, and even this might be questionable as I need to have a look at the various components.

In the interim, this leaves me without my daily machine to get around. I do have my previous bike, which I never did sell. This is a moment in which I’m glad I had NOT done so, because I can at least use it to get around, albeit at a much reduced rate.

Also, with having been under the weather really bad in the past couple of weeks and missing work, it’s really not in a happy place of my budget to just buy a new machine. ๐Ÿ˜

I’ll figure stuff out, though, I guess.

Settling in with the new host.

I’ve had a few weeks now to get settled in with my new host, BigFoot Servers. I picked up a reseller account, mostly because it gets me the split between self-managing (like a VPS), and having someone I can go to when stuff just isn’t working the way I think it should.

Getting set up was pretty easy, though I did need to learn about how to use WHM. Once I got that sorted out, I’ve been able to migrate both this domain (hi from the new host!) and one of my other domains over.

This weekend, I’ll likely work on the biggest one, because I’ll need to get email sorted out for that domain, and email has historically been a big mess for it. There’s no real ‘clean-up’ for it, but there’s a lot to watch for to ensure I’m not missing out on anything important.

Once it’s all settled in, then webmail for the domains and importing years of old email would be next. If that works out as expected, I’ll be that much closer to being free of Google’s grasp, as I can then ditch Gmail, like I’ve wanted to for YEARS.

Friday night, and new things.

It’s Friday evening as I sit here, accompanied by five small glasses of beer from a local brewery.

I’ve never done a beer flight before tonight, but it’s actually a pretty nice experience.

Tried five different beers, liked three of them enough to finish the sample glass; fourth one is okay, and the fifth one is truly not one I like.

Specifically: Ninkasi Brewing’s Helles Belles, Yours Truly, and Vanilla Oatis were all delicious. I didn’t care for the Pacific Rain at all, and the one in the middle is named for the neighborhood that the tasting house is in, and part of the Whiteaker Series. I am fairly certain it’s #3, Sage Wit.

I might have to make this stop more often, but I really would like a beverage buddy to do this with.

Also, alcohol sets in fairly quickly. Whoops.

Purge and Flow.

With my needing to move from my old web host to a new one, I find myself restarting my entire weblog once more.

I’m not too surprised — I sort of jumped the gun with the domain name re-point, and didn’t really export my old blog posts in a format that’s easy to import. … at first.

A little database pokery, and I’ve managed to get my old posts out of the old install, and into this one. I just need to go grab the old ePubs, attach them to the relevant entries, and find a theme that doesn’t make me want to dig my eyeballs out. ๐Ÿ™‚

The search for hosting continues…

I’m looking into a new hosting provider.

With a grateful hat tip to Surpass Hosting for putting up with me for the last decade, it’s time for me to look for new territory to hang out.
A secondary hat tip to the folks over at Scaleway is due, as well.
Both teams of folks are outstanding in their own ways, but my needs have changed.

Wherever I go, I’ll need the following:

  • A monthly bill of $10 or less.
    • ย This one’s non-negotiable. I’m wanting to consolidate my web hosting solutions into one host. I’m currently paying about $8 each month.
  • ย 50 GB of storage.
    • Gotta have storage space for my email, because I’m ready to tell Google to Go Ogle the brown eye somewhere else. It doesn’t have to all be in the same machine — hell, separation of machines would be nice, really.
  • SSH access.
    • There are just some things I find easier to do via SSH, like download and install things. Occasionally, a torrent would be seeded. It also ties into…
  • Permission to run programs like ZNC and Deluge.
    • Not every host allows users to run persistently connected applications like an IRC bouncer or torrent client. While I really only sort-of need-want this, I have a couple of places I hang out on IRC where this is the easiest solution.
  • ย Payment processor in the USA preferred.
    • Note: Preferred. It’s easier to pay someone in the USA than it is out of the country — I have to put money on a Bluebird card to pay Scaleway, because it’s a right pain in the ass to pay them otherwise thanks to most banks in the USA.

This pushes me into VPS land, but it makes things tricky.

I really like DigitalOcean as a company, but their pricing is higher than what I’m willing to pay for what I’d get.
While I can get 50 GB of storage and a monthly bill within my willingness to pay, I’d only get one vCPU if I didn’t spin up two separate machines with 25 GB of storage each. I’d still have two machines with a single core.

Linode and Vultr offers are much the same as DO, but:

I could spin the smallest Vultr instance with 1 CPU, 20 GB of storage, and half a terabyte of monthly bandwidth for $2.50.
This would be sufficient for hosting mail. A separate similar machine for my IRC bouncer would be nice, but it’s that last bit for hosting that leave me a bit shy — I’ve been putting off spinning up my own Mastodon instance, and I wouldn’t want to do it on a single core machine, which would be all that’s left in the budget if I went to Vultr.

I’ve been perusing Low End Box for suggestions.

BigFootServers seems appealing up front, though their VPS cannot run Docker.
At $49 (4 cores) or $99 (8 cores) for a year, though, the price feels like a steal.
After being screwed by CloudAtCost, though, I’m wary of a deal that seems this good — I could spin four or eight separate instances with the plan design they offer, which for the 8-core machine would let me do a single core IRC box, a dual core mail box, and the rest of the cores could go to web hosting and Mastodon. I’m just afraid that I’d get settled in, and when the year is up, the renewal cost of the plan would be three times that.

HyperExpert could also work, in theory: I could have two machines, which means Masto would have to live with the rest of the web stuff separate from email. I haven’t finished reading their ToS, though, because that’s important: I need to know that I’m not going to have trouble because I have adult furry artwork posted.

UMaxHosting also seems interesting, particularly with the yearly prices posted up, but my earlier worries are still present: How temporary is this low price that would entice me to pay for two machines, even if it gets me KVM instead of OpenVZ (which seems to cause issues with Docker)?

And that’s just the tip of the reading iceberg that’s had me stuck for a week while I try to find what I’m willing to risk.
I just want a replacement host that I’d be happy with for five or ten years, is all I’m asking for.

It just feels really difficult to pick now, and whatever decision I make affects this blog.