Saturday, May 21, 2005

Will it be Giacomo's time again?

Don't forget to tune in at 6:05 p.m. (eastern) (post time) for the running of the Preakness. Will Giacomo , who was at 50-1 odds when it won the Derby, pull of the Preakness as well? Most are betting against him. Who knows? Place your bets folks!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Could you be one of those with Type 2 Diabetes and Don't Know it?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the illness, and experts estimate a third of the people who have it don't know. An additional 41 million have "pre-diabetes," an impaired sugar tolerance that can lead to the full-blown disease. Do you know what your HBA1C is? Type 2 diabetes sneaks up on you, as the body gradually loses its ability to use insulin, a hormone crucial to converting blood sugar into energy. High glucose levels damage blood vessels and nerves -- eventually leading to blindness, kidney failure, amputations of feet and legs and heart disease. Diabetes is the nation's sixth-leading killer.

Tight control of blood sugar, either through diet and exercise alone or with a variety of medications, can prevent that damage. The best measure of control: the A1C test, a way of tracking average blood-sugar levels over two or three months.

AACE, the endocrinologists' group, defines glucose control as an A1C level below 6.5. But 67 percent of Type 2 diabetics aren't meeting that goal, concludes a new AACE analysis.

A normal A1C level is 5. While diabetes specialists differ on whether 6.5 or 7 signals good control, every point-drop lowers the risk of serious complications by 25 percent to 40 percent.

Yet an AACE-commissioned survey of Type 2 diabetics found that 84 percent believed they were doing a good job controlling their blood sugar, even though 61 percent went on to say they didn't know what the A1C test is.

Bottom line - ask your doctor at each visit what your HBA1C is. (It's a simple blood draw that measures your average blood sugar levels over the last 3 months). Much better than a random fasting blood sugar that can miss your problem enitirely. Even better yet, if you've had a few borderline tests from time to time (somewhere in the 110-126 range), do yourself a big favor and get the OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test). You drink a 12 oz bottle of sugary solution after having fasted the night before and then your blood sugar levels are measured hourly. Mine was 300 after 2 hours. Wake up call! Yet, often my fasting blood sugars are near 100 or below. I've found I'm extremely sensitive to carbohydrates and I suspect many other Americans are as well. Any intake of starchy carbs is asking for trouble, so you learn to eat differently and when you fall off the wagon, the HBA1C reminds you that you've been screwing up. I fell off the wagon recently and home tested with an HBA1C kit - 6.7. Not good, considering it used to be in the mid to low 5's. So I've changed my diet and got back on the horse and my morning blood sugars are now around 100 or lower, vs the 120's I had been getting. So my advice - educate yourself and ask to be tested and don't settle for a random fasting stick. It's ok to have that, but ask to be retested an hour or so after you've had a nice big bowl of Rice Krispies. You might be very surprised.

Bah, humbug!

The New York Times announced yesterday that it would offer a new subscription-based service on its Web site, charging users an annual fee to read its Op-Ed and news columnists, as the newspaper seeks ways to capitalize on the site's popularity. Most material on the Web site,, will remain free to users, The Times said, but columnists from The Times and The International Herald Tribune will be available only to users who sign up for TimesSelect, which will cost $49.95 a year. The service will also include access to The Times's online archives, as well as other features.

Can't say I like this much. The Times is my favorite paper to read and I particularly read the Op-Ed and news columnists. We'll see how this works out - hope they decide after the readers flee, that this was a bad mistake. But then again, they want to make money, so there you have it. Guess I'll get my Opinion fix elsewhere.

Hooked up and nowhere to goImage of the Day Was out on one of my usual shuttle runs, taking some section hikers of the Appalachian Trail to their dropoff point at the Holston River, near Teas,VA, when I passed by these two horses all cinched up and ready to travel, but nobody to tell them where to go. They were giving me that look that said, "why can't we be tooling around in a nice shady pasture on this beautiful day, rather than in these stupid harnesses waiting for our fat master to come put the whip to us?"

Want to see more on that 17 or 19" monitor?

Steve Bass of PC World has some good suggestions in a recent article about how to change screen resolution, font size, icon size, etc. Worth checking out. You can always go back to the original settings. He also talks about a new USB 2.0 device that lets you hook up 2 monitors to your computer without having to buy a new graphics card. You do have to buy the device and you should read Steve's article for the caveat if you are using Photoshop. But it's a quick and relatively inexpensive way to add this capability if you have an extra monitor lying around. You can find it at for $81 .

Free Classics in PDF format

Want to read the classics, but don't want to buy them? Check out this free collection available for download in PDF format from Planet PDF . Now's the chance to read the real thing rather than that Junior Classics Illustrated you skimmed in High School for your oral book reports. :) Crime and Punishment is about a 2.5MB download in pdf "tagged" format, which isn't bad, even for dialup. PDF books are handy if you have a Palm Pilot or Pocket PC and want something to read while you're sitting in the doc's office for 2 hours or riding a train to work, etc.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Springtime in the Mountains Image of the Day - Springtime arrives in SW Virginia, near the little town of Sugar Grove in the mountains of SW Virginia. I drive by this old shed almost every day and I always recall how it looks so different in the Spring with all the pretty flowers out front. May is truly one of the very best times to visit our mountains. The fields are deep green, wildflowers are blooming, nature's critters are busy doing their thing - shouldn't be missed. Picture info - Canon EOS 20D ,Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 ISO400 1/400th@f9 - focal length - 34mm (35mm equivalent)

Got a kid going to College?

Well, heck they need PalmOne's new LifeDrive Mobile Manager. Built in wifi, Bluetooth, 4GB storage, email, Web, voice recorder, mp3 player, photo viewer(supports SD, MMC, SDIO cards - too bad it doesn't support CF cards), video. Geez - I've heard it even writes your papers for you! :) Check it out here at the PalmOne Site. The only thing it doesn't have is a built in phone, but those things carry those nasty monthly charges, don't they? :(

Adobe Photoshop Plugins

A comment I noticed by John Dvorak of PC Mag recently regarding Plug-Ins for Photoshop. "Hail the Plug-in Dept.: The invention of the software plug-in was sheer genius. As you probably know, a plug-in is some code or a script that is "plugged in" to another program to enhance its functionality. Adobe Photoshop popularized this concept, and there probably are now thousands of plug-ins designed to work with Adobe.

I mention this concept because of a plug-in I added to Photoshop that I can highly recommend. It may be the first plug-in for Photoshop I have ever recommended. It's called 55mm, and it's from the Digital Film Tools company. Essentially it's a digital post-production "camera filter." Available on the company's Web site ( ) for $195, this is one of the most powerful packages I've run across and includes digital versions of most of the famous filtering systems, which it has licensed from manufacturers such as Rosco Gels and GAM Products. One of the subsystems allows you to post-produce a polarizing effect on your image. Another lets you dissect the Ansel Adams "zones" and adjust them. If you are serious about your photography, you must own this product.

One thing I realized when playing with 55mm is that, as powerful as Photoshop is, it's a nerdy app, heavy on switches, controls, submenus, and other junk, and it's more art-oriented than photography-oriented. You need this product to understand the difference. Hot stuff."

Anybody want to donate $195 to me , so I can check this out???

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Auto Copy - Firefox Extension

This is a very handy little extension for Firefox. When you highlight something on a web page, it is automatically copied to the clipboard. Just like in the Instant Messenger program Trillian. No more right clicking and selecting "Copy". Just highlight the text and voila! Head here for this time-saving extension.

Monday, May 16, 2005

2005 Webby Awards Announced

It was interesting to see who won the Webbys (Online Oscars) this year. A few I noted with interest

  • Etrade Financial - Where I do my online banking

  • Flickr - Webby Breakout of the Year Award - where I keep some of my photos

  • Boing Boing- Winner of Best Blog A blog I read.

  • The Merck Manual - Winner in Health

  • - IT Hardware/Software Winner

  • - Winner in the Magazine Category One of my daily reads.

  • BBC OneMusic - Webby Award in Music

  • BBC News - Webby Award in News

  • The Guardian - Webby Award for Best Newspaper

  • Weapons of Misdirection - Webby for Politics

  • Chipotle - Webby for Best Restaurant Site Very Creative Site - Love it!

  • School of Visual Arts Web Site - Webby for Best School Site

  • Ten by Ten - Webby for Best Navigation/Structure Very Cool - check this one out.
  • - Best Personal Web site

  • Word Count - Webby for Arts Another very nifty site

  • For a complete list with nominees, visit the Webby Awards Site . Lot of good surfing opportunities there. Enjoy - and leave a comment below if you have a particular site that you think is awesome.

    Java Cool Spyware Blaster Updates to Version 3.4

    Just thought I'd mention that Version 3.4 is now available. This is a free tool and is a great help in keeping spyware off of your system. Very easy to use. Click here for their home page and a link to the download area.

    $100 off on a Treo 650 w/ Audible subscription

    If you're in the market for the super cool Treo 650, then check out this page , because you can get $100 of of the Treo with a 1 year Subscription to Audible.

    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    RSS access to Newsgroups via Google

    This dandy tip comes from Michael Niehau's blog . Want to have feeds for your favorite Newsgroups? Here's a Feed URL for an arthritis group - All you have to do for different groups at Google is to replace the "" part of that URL with the name of the Google group you want. Then add this feed to your RSS NewsReader and everytime you open your "newsgroups" channel in your feedreader, it will automatically update all your groups for you. Very, very handy. I recommend you try FeedDemon as your news reader. It is outstanding and comes with a free trial.

    Free Music from Amazon

    You can download various free music from Amazon and you can see their latest free offerings by adding this RSS feed to your Feed Reader (FeedDemon, Bloglines,etc,etc). Just copy this feed URL- into your Feed Reader. Then enjoy some free music!

    *Note - if you are still in the Dark Ages and have no Feed Reader and never wish to see one, you can still grab the free music by visiting this Amazon site .