Nurse Judy Came to Visit

Family shot in front of the Puente de las Mujeres
Puente de las Mujeres in Puerto Madero

We had a great visit with a friend from our days at the Bill Rice Ranch. She has been a neighbor and friend for almost 20 years. Without going into too many embarrassing details, let’s just say we have been through a lot together. Not the least of which involves lots of gauze, pain and tears.

She was here for almost a week and we acted like tourists each day.

Wednesday—the day she arrived—we took it easy and talked most of the morning. In the afternoon she and I rode bikes to church and worked on setting up some new microphones she brought with her. Then of course we ended the evening with a church service.

Man painting with his feet
A man painting with his feet

Thursday we went downtown to our city, La Plata and saw the sites. There really isn’t a lot to just walk around and see other than a few old buildings. The city has some nice places to visit, but it would take days to really enjoy the city in the right way. We have an old museum and some beautiful parks. We spent the majority of our time at the Republica de los Niños (the big park near our house) and the old Gothic-style cathedral (the tallest in the Americas). We finished off the evening with a sign language class at church.

Friday was our long walk through Buenos Aires. We started with a train trip to the station in BA. Then we rode the subway to the Casa Rosada which is the seat of the executive branch of government in Argentina. We took a walk down to the waterfront and toured a couple of ships which are now turned into museums. Then a stroll down Florida Street. This is a fancy place where people with money go to shop. Mostly tourists. We enjoyed a walk instead of buying anything. We saw a man painting with his feet, listened to a little music and got rained out of watching some tango music. We rode a nice bus home. We planned to spend much more time in BA, but with the rain we came home and enjoyed a couple of episodes of Shaun the Sheep.

Family at Republica de los Niños
At the park near our house--Republica de los Niños

Saturday Judy and I went to my sign language class at the deaf association in town. We then spent the afternoon at the hippie market. This is a handcraft market that is mostly run by smelly hippies. That night we had some fellow missionaries over for a meal.

Sunday was business as usual. Church in the morning and a long nap in the afternoon. We took a quick trip to another handcraft market before the evening service.

Monday was the day Judy had to return home. One final trip downtown to enjoy a final bus ride and look at a couple of souvenirs. I rode with Judy in a taxi to the airport. The ride cost us $65, but got us from our front door to the front door of the airport. Not bad for a 1.5 hour ride.

The End

The real adventure began on my trip home from the airport. I wanted to get home as cheaply as possible partly just to see if it was possible to get from the airport to home on public transport with no taxis involved. I took a bus for about 45 minutes to a train station. Bus cost $0.50. When I got to the train the ticket booth said I could get on without a ticket. I got to my next train connection and had to wait 50 minutes for the next train. But, I then rode that on to my house. Total cost was the lone 50 cents I paid for the bus. The downside is that the trip took me 3 hours to get home (twice as long as going), but cost $64.50 less than the trip going.

We had a good time talking about old friends and where they are now. We also enjoyed the excuse to take a few days to go see the sites. After she left all our attention got turned to preparing for our church’s missions conference which started a few days later.

What to eat to get back on track (Part 3)

I really didn’t change my diet much in the early days of getting fit. I didn’t think of myself as a poor eater. Maybe that was part of the underlying problem. I didn’t (and still mostly don’t) see different foods as necessarily bad. Nor is my gut reaction to say that making a small change will matter that much. While that is a type of thinking that I struggle with, I have seen where the little changes have made a huge difference.

When I started
Lunch!The only thing I gave up initially was full sugar colas. As a Dr Pepper drinker I had limited access to my favorite drink when we first arrived in Mexico. It was available in Mexico City back then, but not in Merida where we lived. That has since changed, but it was a big help to me at the time.

What I discovered by trying different drinks is that I really didn’t care what I was drinking. If it wasn’t Dr Pepper, then my only requirement to make me happy was that it had bubbles. I tried Diet Coke and found I liked it as well as anything else. I couldn’t go with just the soda water, though that is very popular in Mexico. I never took a liking to that stuff.

My first big change was to switch to drinking diet colas. I know colas of any kind aren’t the best for the body, but I learned something in my quest to get healthier–if I gave up too much at once I was setting myself up for failure. I have seen too many people try to go whole-hog on their diet changes and are not able to keep at it.

The next thing I changed was trying to think about food as fuel. With that change of mindset I did not go on any kind of starvation program. I just cut back a little bit at first. Instead of eating until I was stuffed, I tried to eat a bit less. That was a big change for me. I had for years eaten way more than I should. It always seemed to me the goal at a meal was to tank up and make sure you would be alive until the next meal. When I started thinking about food as fuel it helped me realized that I was carrying more fuel than I needed to accomplish the physical tasks I needed to before I ate again.

As time went on the amount of food needed to sustain life and feel good about it became less and less. However, at this stage I never felt like I was starving myself nor that I was “on a diet.” I just realized that I did not need to take in as much food as I had in the past. I was very active attending an exercise class 3 days a week and running 3 to 5 days a week on top of that. I needed fuel, but I only wanted to carry enough so that I would not hinder my play time. And, yes, I did see my running and exercise as play. It was no longer work by the time I had started to see the results of a stronger healthier body.

Second round of pruning
I continued with the changes of drinking diet colas and thinking of food as fuel for almost 2 years. I lost the vast majority of weight that I ended up losing with just those 2 diet changes. It was not until I had lost over 70 lbs. that I started actually paying attention to the specific foods I ate.

I had stagnated in my weight loss. I knew that I was still carrying more fat than I needed to. I was not looking for a “perfect body.” But I did want to have a healthy one. To trim the next 20 lbs. I finally had to start dieting. Exercise alone wasn’t going to cut it.

French fries with lots of ketchup. Yum! We usually only went out to eat once or twice a week, but it was almost always to a hamburger joint. I switched to chicken sandwiches and no fries. I still ate fries off the kids and my wife, but I would not have any of my own. As I thought about food as fuel, greasy fries did not sound like what my body needed to make it around the track faster. A handful of energy packed granola (which I honestly enjoy more than fries) seems like a better choice. If I prefer the granola anyway, why make it harder to do what I want by eating things that are bad for me? Eventually the fries were gone.

What I am doing now
I would like to say that I have been faithful to the mindset that food is fuel and that I have kept the junk out of my diet, but I haven’t. I still don’t think I eat too poorly, certainly not as bad as I had before. But while on furlough, and currently in Argentina, I have cut my exercising back to just running. While running will keep you in good cardiovascular shape, it isn’t that great for overall fitness and weight loss.

Next post I will talk more about my progression of exercise routines.

Don’t forget to start at the beginning with the first post in the series.

New content ideas

I am considering adding some new content to my main website. Many of my readers would know that we are missionaries working with the Deaf. In an effort to connect with our supporters in a greater way, I am considering adding a video and/or an audio podcast**. These will be short updates that will help engage with our supporters and friends. I have no planned regularity in putting out content, but it will be at least one update a month.

The reason for doing a video version is that many of our friends are Deaf. This would allow them to get content in their language while still making it accessible for the hearing. Meaning that I would both sign and speak each one of the updates.

I don’t plan on this being a traditional podcast in that I will provide content that the general public might want to consume. Rather it will be simple, short updates about what is going on with us.

What do you think? I know that those who pray for us would like more regular content so that they know how better to pray. Is this the best way to deliver that content? I have intentionally avoided using my prayer letter mailing list as an “update” medium. I would rather those who are more connected with us go to the website and get that additional information. Do you agree?

**What is meant by “podcast”? This is a format for providing content that the “subscriber” can receive automatically via software that grabs the new information when it is available. All the content will be available at the website to view on-line, but by making it a podcast that simply means that the user could go to one piece of software to consume all the content, i.e., iTunes.

Cloud Gate

Me with the BeanToday we went to downtown Chicago to see the Shiny Bean, a.k.a., Cloud Gate. We were moving from the west side of Chicago to the south side today and took some time to visit Millennium Park. It was very cold with the temps in the low 20s. But that was a nice change from the even colder weather we have had the last few days.

The Bean was really neat. As stupid as it is to me that someone would spend time to make a stainless steel bean and that people would actually come to look at it, it was still very cool. The math and thought that went into creating a structure that reflects the skyline like the Shiny Bean does is pretty neat.

If you don’t know where Cloud Gate is, you can just type in Shiny Bean into the search field at Google Maps and it will show you where it is.

Trying out LingQ

LingQIn an effort to help brush up on my Spanish in anticipation for the move to Argentina in a few weeks I signed up with LingQ last night. This is a language learning site that has at its core the idea of familiarity before rules. You are given passages to read and audio files to listen to. You are asked to tell what words are known to you and which are new words. I am not sure what all of that will mean in the end, but it does help build a nice list of unfamiliar words that you can specifically study.

There are also forums where you can discuss miscellaneous topics in your language of choice. Currently they boast 10 languages that you can learn on the site. Registration is free and there is quite a bit of study you can do without having to shell out bucks. But for paying customers you can get personalized tutoring based on your needs as represented in the reading and audio portions of the site.

You can also interact with real people. But what Internet junkie would want to do that? I will stick to the training sessions and forums where social interaction is limited.