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the diet

Isagenix: Day 2

February 29th, 2012  · stk

One Tough Day

OKAY ... it's actually Day 5, so I have a bit of catching up to do. (Note to self: Do not start a diet in the week after launching a website! Crazy busy.)

It was cold last night and I couldn't get warm in bed. Mind you, it was a cold night too, so I don't know if "body fuel" was the issue or just plain "cold temperatures". I'm thinking "cold temperatures", because Rachel was cold too. One big benefit to being married? Snuggling! Great way to warm up. We snuggled together most of the night ... and slept.

I woke up feeling hungry. My body was definitely not liking the new regime. I drank water and had a glass of "Ionix Supreme". The morning ritual was pretty much the same, as I worked with Alex on her spelling, walked her a quarter mile down to the bus stop, fed the chickens and collected eggs on my way back.

After my first day, I decided that if I was going to see this 30-day "cleanse" through, there were going to have to be some changes. Plain shakes aren't going to cut it and eating solid food for lunch, while drinking a shake for dinner, isn't at all conducive to family mealtime.

So, I did a radical thing. I added half a banana to my morning vanilla "IsaLean Shake". (I know ... I know ... pretty bold of me, eh?)

The rest of the morning was spent in front of the computer, working on the new website. I chowed down a "Scooby Snack" at about 10:30 AM. Hunger persisted and one "Scooby Snack" didn't ward it off for very long.

As I was working, I noticed that I was beginning to develop a headache. I don't normally get headaches. In fact, I would say that I rarely get headaches. Usually, they're brought on by hunger. So, I figured, "Yep, I'm hungry!" It passed when I had my lunchtime shake (chocolate with - yes - the other half of the banana). Tasted a tad better than vanilla with a banana, but - of course - I still wanted more! I felt full, but hungry.

I pretty much followed the "Shake Day Planner" (plus the banana and change-up between dinner and lunch). My headache returned and persisted during entire afternoon, until dinner. I drank loads of water (hauling around a quart Nalgene water bottle. I drank about 3 quarts of water out of the bottle, plus whatever else I drank with my shakes and out of a glass. I had to pee a lot! Important to stay hydrated!)

Dinner was a highly anticipated event! The whole family had grilled skinless, boneless chicken breast with an Italian dressing marinade, steamed brown rice and steamed carrots and broccoli. (I actually weighed mine, just to make sure I was keeping within the 400-600 calories recommended in a "Balanced Meal". It weighed 6 ounces). Out of curiosity, we tallied up my meal based on Weight Watchers points (Rachel has had success following an "at-home" version of a Weight-Watchers diet, so we had the book ... but it's also possible to tally points online, or even from an iPhone app, I think). My meal came to 8 points and Rachel says, "A point is worth roughly 50 calories". So I was right in the range (maybe add one or two extra for margarine & the salad dressing).

Tuesday's are "Practice Night" at our local fire hall, where I volunteer. So after dinner, it was time to run off and practice fighting fires with my mates. My "Isagenix Coach" is also a volunteer. In fact, there are several of us on the Isagenix "30-day Cleanse" diet. Four hall members and a spouse).

At practice, we chatted about our experiences with the diet thus far. My coach said that my headaches are probably due to mild withdrawal symptoms from no longer drinking coffee. (I usually drink 2-3 ... sometimes more ... MUGS of coffee a day. When I started, I thought I was supposed to quit coffee completely. I found out at practice that you CAN drink coffee, just not on your "cleanse days", which are every 7th day). Good to know!

We all cheated a bit that night, having a few alcoholic drinks after our fire practice. I went home thinking the Isogenix diet wasn't so bad! (I'm sure it was the alcohol, rapidly converted into sugar, doing all the "talking"! LOL).

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the diet

Isagenix: Day 1

February 28th, 2012  · stk

My First Experience with Isagenix

When I woke up this morning, I knew the weather was going to be rough (speaking from a diet point of view). I wasn't disappointed. But it didn't start out too bad.

I normally don't eat breakfast, opting for a hot cup of coffee, instead. (Not the best way to start the day, but it's been my habit since I started walking with Alex down to the bus stop, ever since she started kindergarten. Nearly 4 years now.

Instead, this morning I broke into my Isagenix box, opened up the "30-Day Step-by-Step" guide and began on step one.

I mixed up one ounce of Ionix Supreme. It looked very odd in the glass of water and frankly, none too appealing. I've taken Metamucil before and it reminded me of that, only it was a weird purplish-black color. I drank it and to my surprise, it looked way worse than it tasted. I drank a glass of water too. The instructions say "purified" water, but since we pull our water out of a well 570 feet into the ground, I figure it's hard to "purifiy" it more.

I walked Alex down to the bus stop and when I returned, I had "breakfast". I opened one of my 4 IsaLean Shake canisters, measured out two scoops of vanilla-flavoured shake powder and plopped it into a drinking glass. I added cold water and stirred it with a spoon. (After, I regretted not using a blender, as it took a fair bit of stirring and still, the mixture wasn't consistently smooth). I drank it anyway. It tasted fine! And bonus ... I felt full! I also swallowed an AM packet of "Ageless essentials" (assume vitamens).

I had to laugh, because I'm normally pretty conscience about the quality of the food I put into my mouth (it's the quantity I have a problem with, eh?) and I still have no idea what all these products contain. I guess I'm placing a fair bit of faith that the Isogenix company has invested a lot of research money into this suite of dietary products and that, ultimately, they're all good for me!

The morning went by without too much issue. I had to remind myself to eat a "shake day support option" (1 Isagenix Snack), which I promptly dubbed a "Scooby snack". Wasn't bad tasting, but I was surprised it was a friable, dry pill and not something more "chewy".

Lunch came and ... yes ... I was hungry. I'd abandoned my normal 2-3 mugs of coffee (with a heaping spoonfull of sugar) ... plus any random fridge grazing. Since I work from home, lunch usually consists of warmed leftovers, hastily-made sandwich, odds'n-ends or - nothing. Today was a little different, as I had a client-meeting at a local restaurant (the Crow and Gate English Pub).

"Uh oh," I thought, "It's 'Day 1' and already I'm going to bust my diet."

I didn't though, opting for a (reasonable if you ask me) soup and sandwich. The soup was a Boston-style clam chowder and the sandwich a simple roast beef on wheat bread. Water to drink, of course.

When I returned from lunch, I continued on with my day and noticed that I was becoming increasingly hungry. I continued to drink water (can you say "blub, blub?" I popped another "Scooby snack" and began to miss the taste of real food. I would have really loved to have read the card, if it had said, "Eat a huge turkey dinner." Unfortunately, I knew the road ahead. I drank more water.

I forgot to take my "Natural Accelerator" in the afternoon.

Dinner came just after 6 PM and by then, I would normally have consumed a couple of beers. Without those empty calories, I was definitely hungry. My wife had a dinner meeting, so she fed Alex, while I continued to work on the computer upstairs. After they ate, I moseyed downstairs, fixed a chocolate shake (two scoops and used the blender this time). That went down quickly and tasted fine, but wasn't nice and crunchy like potato chips, nor did it satisfy me.

Well, that's not entirely true. For the next hour, I didn't feel hungry.

I also swallowed the PM packet of "Ageless Essentials" pills, along with the "Natural Accelerator" pill that I'd skipped in the afternoon.

I fielded a call from my "coach". He wanted to know how I was doing. I said I was hungry! He said he knew and asked me what I'd had for lunch. I said I went out to the Crow and Gate. He said, "Uh oh."

"No worries!" and I told him about having soup and sandwich, which he said was OKAY, but then I added, "Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have had those three beers though." (He didn't know if I was joking, but since it's a renown English-style pub, not out of the question!) LOL

So ... that's been my day. It's now 9 PM and - yes - I'm hungry!

I'm supposed to take 1-2 "IsaFlush" tablets. Not too excited about that, as it sounds like I'll be up all night ... flushing! I'll let you know how that works out ... in the morning.

Oh ... one problem I've noted with the Isagenix 30-day workflow so far (besides being hungry, which ... I guess ... isn't too surprising, considering it's meant for me to lose weight), is that the whole "eat a healthy Lunch" + "a shake for dinner", doesn't promote family togetherness. We normally eat our dinners as a family, which also involves sharing our days, talking and being a family. I doubt I'll be keen on sitting down to a shake, when the rest of the family is stuffing themselves with real, hot, delicious-smelling food! I *might* have to reverse the lunch/dinner part of the program and have a shake for breakfast AND lunch, reserving my "sensible 400-600 calories of real, tasty food" for dinner.

Well, that pretty much sums up my first day. I'm hoping it'll get a tad easier, as time goes by. (I'm sure all those people on the Survivor television show much go through this too - minus the shakes, Scooby snacks & flushing pills - when they're out there for their 20+ days? I know they crave food, but don't talk about it much. Hope the same happens to me!

What I didn't eat or drink today: 2 to 3 cups of coffee (with sugar); 4-6 beers (300-calories each); snacks watching television in the evening; over-sized portions of really good-tasting, mouth-watering, yummy, solid food! (i.e., if I can manage to 'stay strong' ... there will be a "new me" - well, really more like a "like-I-used-to-be me" - on the other side!)

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The "Toilet Bowl"

February 8th, 2012  · stk
Joe Paterno legend coach of Penn State football team


Douglas Robb hasn't written much since Joe Paterno passed away on January 22nd, 2012. He wrote a fitting tribute to Joe Paterno yesterday. He called it "The Joe I Know". Here is his story (which I feel honored that he allowed me to reprint here). Thanks Doug. ;)

For me, growing up in State College, Pennsylvania was a great experience. Those who come to live and work in "Happy Valley" generally have a sense of loyalty about the place that endears itself to people who have lived there - even long after they move away. For those of us who are "Townies," this is especially true. Part and parcel of this is the atmosphere that revolves around Penn State.

After all, State College probably wouldn't be much of a town without Penn State. There is no major employer other than the University, save for the businesses that support State College and it's surrounding community. Many come to State College to attend Penn State, only to find employment there after they graduate. Some start businesses and stake their claim to their little piece of "Happy Valley".

That's how my family arrived at State College. After serving with the U.S. Navy, my dad - "Big Lou" - attended Penn State, as thousands of others had, through their G.I. Bill. Many veterans came from the cities, towns and rural communities around the state, to the school whose mission was "to educate the working class sons and daughters of the Commonwealth."

And so my Dad and my Mom came from their childhood home in Johnstown and began their life in "Happy Valley". Like so many before them, my Dad attended Penn State and my Mom raised our family. When my Dad graduated, he began working for Penn State and our family "took root" in State College.

Penn State Autumn Rituals

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Visits in the Night

January 8th, 2012  · stk

A ClustrMap|NASA Mashup

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - except Scott, who was playing with PhotoShop! Sorry, but "Visits in the Night" isn't about Santa Claus coming down our chimney. It's about creating a "night-time" display using a satellite image from NASA, merged with our worldwide website visitors tracked on ClustrMaps.

Ever since November 2005, we've been tracking the locations of many of our visitors by using an application developed by Marc Eisenstadt, called "ClustrMaps". (Hover the globe in "Site Tools" section of the sidebar, for the regular map thumbnail - like the one that also shows here). Since that time, we've logged over 2 million visitors!

When you click the globe in the sidebar (or the thumbnail above) you'll be directed to the ClustrMap website, which shows a much larger visitor map for our website (clicking on country regions shows even greater detail). Since inception, Marc and the ClustrMap team have been continually adding features to their service and they recently won "Best Free Web Tool" in the 2011 Edublog Awards.

Not long ago, when I clicked on the globe and went to the larger, world-wide map, I noticed that the dots showed first and that it took a few seconds for the underlying "map" to reveal itself. I thought, "The dots by themselves, make an interesting display." They reminded me of a NASA image I once saw, showing urban lights across the world at night. (The image below. Click it for an even larger version).

NASA Composite Satellite Image of World Lights at Night

Earth at Night: Lights from urbanized areas show up clearly on this NASA image (a composite of hundreds of images taken by orbiting DMSP satellites).

Our ClustrMap at Night

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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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New Year Speed

January 5th, 2012  · stk

NewsBrief: [Need for Speed] We're in the middle of revamping our website so that it's much speedier to access (links to tools & techniques) • [Happy New Year] What's planned for 2012 (besides finishing a myriad of projects)?

Need for Speed

Maidenhead, England - Those who follow know that news has been slow-coming during 2011. In an effort to get 2012 off to a good start, we've been busy working behind-the-scenes. One of the areas of focus over the past few days has been website page speed. You can say, "We've felt a need - for speed!"

Ironically, this blog hails not from Canada, but from England ( is currently hosted on an Apache server in Maidenhead, a tad west of London). Hopping over the pond - even electronically - isn't the fastest connection, but thankfully, electrons move quickly! The server location speaks more to economy, than speed (read: We're lucky and are currently hosted for free).

Despite the electronic distance, there's still lots we can do to help speed up our website. This past week, we've been busy learning about all these nifty things ... and putting many into action. Here's the big list:

We've also found some nifty tools that help to evaluate page load speed. We use Pingdom to monitor server uptime. We learned they also offer a free tool for testing the load time of a web page (includes a waterfall diagram, performance grade, page analysis & keeps a history chart).

Another good tool is Site Load Test. This no-nonsense tool quickly shows areas that can be improved, to make websites load faster (identifies potential savings from minify'ing CSS, JavaScript and combining small images to make CSS sprites ... reducing the number of server calls).

All good stuff and part of our commitment to positive visitor experience. (We ALL hate slow-loading websites!) ... it's a work "in-progress", eh?

Happy New Year!

Hutton House - We want to wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2012!

On that note, we took stock of our own situation right after the new year. Alex and Scott started the New Year by being sick! Joy.

Scott also quickly realized that he started off the New Year behind on most everything. (Rachel might say he started it of as a "big behind", but I digress).

The list of Scott's unfinished projects is long:

  • Rental trailer renovations
  • Chicken coop renovation
  • Pumphouse reno
  • Kitchen reno
  • Utility room reno
  • Woodshed #2 construction
  • Camper improvements
  • Upstairs bath reno
  • Hot tub / deck
  • Raised bed garden(s)
  • Orchard & watering system
  • Firebox heat ducting
  • Boat repairs
  • Auto repairs
  • Kayak repairs

The list goes on and on!

Of course, this is all on top of maintenance, yard work, fire wood gathering, fire hall duties, at-home dad duties (cooking, cleaning, homework, etc), chicken farming, website work, blogging (who has time for THAT?) and "me-time" (rinse, repeat)!

So ... what resolutions for 2012? It may be the year of "finish stuff"? ... or maybe ... the year of "don't worry - be happy"? Scott is hoping for a bit of both, including more time to enjoy life & update the blog.

We're all hoping for a little less death in 2012. (2011 was bad in this regard, as we lost Scott's grandmother, a business partner and friend, our trailer renter & our cat of 19 years.) :(

Do you have any New Year resolutions?

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