Monthly Archives: June 2008


26 Jun

Summing up San Diego

Posted by on June 26, 2008 at 9:48 pm

The last year has been a little crazy for me and Jason. We have moved, planted innumerable plants, and installed all manner of things in our yard. Although the yard is still a work in progress, we decided it was definitely time to take a much needed break and go on vacation. We chose San Diego as our vacation location.

Inside the Point Loma Lighthouse

Inside the Point Loma Lighthouse

The weather was good for the most part while we were there but we did have a day or so of cloudy skies, referred to by Diegoites as the “June Gloom”. That didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves though. We went to the San Diego Zoo, several beaches, Cabrillo National Monument, Torrey Pines State Park, the La Jolla Sea Caves, tide pools, and some great restaurants.

Unknown to us when we panned this trip, the US Open was going on in San Diego while we were there. We decided that we weren’t too interested in attending this event anyway (sorry, golf is pretty boring to me) but we did pass by all the crazy crowds and limos at the Torrey Pines golf course. Jason claims he waived to Tiger.

Here are some of my favorite things about our trip (in no particular order):

  1. Taking the top down in our rented PT Cruiser convertible. At first I was somewhat reluctant to go topless because it was a little windy out but as soon the top was down and I could feel that warm sun on my face I told Jason, “That feels really good. Let’s never put the top up again.” He thought that statement was supremely funny for some reason and has been laughing about it ever since.
    Our rental car and hotel

    Our rental car and hotel

  2. Seeing a baby panda at the San Diego Zoo. It was such a fluffy, cute, little puff ball.
    The baby panda

    The baby panda

  3. Watching the surfers down in the water from the pier above try to catch some waves. Most of their attempts just ended in mass ocean water consumption. It was fun to watch.
  4. The meerkats at the zoo. Even though they were in a zoo these curious creatures retained their wild habits. Two of them kept a lookout on their surroundings by standing on rocks, perched on their hind legs, while the rest of the meerkats dug, played, and sunbathed. They cracked me up!
  5. Eating, eating, eating!!!!! The food was spectacular. We had the best Mexican food I have ever eaten in my life at El Agave Tequileria. We also sampled some international fare at Parallel 33 and contemporary cuisine at Georges California Modern. I had everything from delicious sea bass covered in a creamy garlic-chipotle sauce to Aloo Ki Ticki potato cakes drizzled with pineapple mint chutney. Yum! Yum! Yum!
  6. Seeing a gorilla up-close and personal at the zoo. There was only a plate of glass between us. He looked at me with obvious intelligence and I couldn’t help but notice his hands didn’t look much different from my own.
  7. Sitting out on our room’s balcony at night and watching the nearly full moon rise over a silvery ocean.
    View from our Balcony

    View from our Balcony

  8. Watching an Allen’s Swamp Monkey play with a Spotted Neck Sea Otter at the zoo like they were the best of buddies. It was quite entertaining.
  9. Opening our balcony door at night and listening to the peaceful sound of the ocean waves.
  10. Sleeping! Jason and I are pretty much sleep deprived on a regular basis. It was so nice just to be able to sleep until 9:30 or 10:00 every morning. Not being in a rush to get up was definitely one of my favorite things about this trip.
  11. Sitting with Jason on the rocks at the secluded Torrey Pines beach and laughing each time the ocean spray hit us.
    Jason hangs on the rocks

    Jason hangs on the rocks

  12. Running along the beach and playing in the ocean. Jason thought I was nuts for doing this because the water was too frigid for him. But I didn’t mind it, I was having fun.
  13. Watching the seals lounge and stretch at the “Children’s Pool” in La Jolla. Especially the seal that tried over and over to figure out how to get up on a rock. He was never successful. Poor guy, that rock must have looked pretty good.
    Us at the Cabrillo Statue

    Us at the Cabrillo Statue

Those were some of my favorite San Diego moments.

Having been on many a great trip with my sweet husband, the best tips I could give my fellow travelers are as follows:

Get a travel book about the location you are traveling to. Now I know many of you think this is an unnecessary waste of 10 bucks, but I assure you, it will add priceless value to your vacation. When we went to Hawaii a couple years ago one of our friends highly recommended we get a travel book to help us make the most of our stay on the islands. This turned out to be a fabulous suggestion. Not only did this book rate popular attractions, it listed some of the lesser known sites that turned out to be spectacular. It also listed oodles of scrumptious restaurants.

So from that trip on, every vacation we go on we invest in a travel book or two. It’s well worth the expense. We use these travel books, amongst other things, to find the best local cuisine. The food we sampled in San Diego was unbelievable!!!!

This brings me to my last travel tip. Most travelers spend their entire budget on expensive attractions and perhaps some souvenirs. Many of these souvenirs get packed away somewhere or discarded eventually. The longest lasting souvenir you can take home with you is the ten pounds you gained eating divine food. I can guarantee that that fat will stay with you longer than any bobble head doll or oversized t-shirt.

Being silly at Torrey Pines State Park

Being silly at Torrey Pines State Park

Seriously though, most people spend every cent of their vacation fund staying at Disneyland as long as possible, or going to Sea World, or some other popular attraction. They then make up their losses by eating at McDonald’s every meal. I think if you do this style of vacation you really miss out on literally sinking your teeth into some of the local culture. Personally, I am always in favor of good food.

16 Jun

My Brother’s BLAND

Posted by on June 16, 2008 at 11:24 pm
Drew and Adam

Drew and Adam

My brother, Andrew, will be getting married in less than two weeks. In honor of this momentous occasion a band of geeks, roughly twenty in number, converged in celebration. They played computer games together over a LAN (Local Area Network). Jason termed this particular form of get-together the “BLAN” (Bachelor LAN) many years ago when one of the first BLANs was held for him.

Lots O’ Geeks

Lots O’ Geeks

I only dared enter the den of geeks, located in the basement of my sister’s house, momentarily during this event but in that brief time here is what I witnessed. Many tables were set up in a somewhat haphazard manner throughout the main basement area. The tables were occupied by a variety of geeks and their precious computers.

Mike and Matt

Mike and Matt

Masses of cords of all sizes and colors crisscrossed the floor in a hectic fashion and lay in piles here and there. Much sugar, caffeine, and grease had obviously been consumed. The air was rank with geek sweat, the soda cans were piled high, and the candy wrappers were proliferate. The lights in half the space were turned off leaving the glow of monitors the only light source in these areas. This gave the impression that one had stumbled across the cavernous dwelling of strange, tech-savvy, nocturnal creatures. This perception was furthered by the fact that many of the geeks appeared to have entered some sort of catatonic state. They were only aware of the screen in front of them and the sole indication that they were actually alive was the occasional twitching of their fingers. Other geeks were very animated. They uttered many obscenities in the heat of battle; during their infrequent periods of silence the faint whirl of CPU fans could be heard. While this was not the first time I had witnessed a BLAN firsthand, I still could not stomach it for more than a few minutes.

Cody and Jacob

Cody and Jacob

The geeks played until 2:30 AM or so. I suspect they would have played longer if Andrew had not poorly planned his transportation arrangements. He and Simone rode over together. She entertained herself elsewhere for quite a while, but in the end she still needed to drive him home. Common sense is not a Nelson trait, nor a geek one for that matter. But, despite the BLAN’s relatively early termination, the geeks seemed to have enjoyed themselves.

The Geek Mess

The Geek Mess

Jeremy, Greg, and Adam live it up.

Jeremy, Greg, and Adam live it up.

8 Jun

Or What?

Posted by on June 8, 2008 at 9:58 pm

I thought I had a little ankle sprain and seven years later…

My days of embarrassing physical therapy are now over. I wish I could say that the problems with my ankle are also over. But alas, that’s just not the case. I completed another month of physical therapy as instructed by my doctor. However, although it did improve my mobility and range of motion, physical therapy wasn’t as successful in reducing pain and swelling as anticipated. Further review of my MRI revealed a possible reason for this. It turns out that both the peroneal tendons on my left foot, not just one, are torn in multiple places. Tendons are supposed to be tubular, but mine have flattened out and are fraying like a rope. The surgical option is looking more and more likely. However, before the doctor slices and dices, he recommended I try one more thing: orthotics.

My Left Foot’s Orthotic

My Left Foot’s Orthotic

Orthotics are devices used to correct musculoskeletal deformities and other abnormalities of the human body. They are used for everything from cerebral palsy to arthritis. In my case, the orthotics are custom made insoles designed to relieve some of the pressure on my tendons. Additionally, they are intended to correct my abnormal gait and other biomechanical issues associated with my extremely high arches.

The word “orthotic” sounds old doesn’t it? It makes me think of a hunched back old lady shuffling along sporting penny loafer-ish shoes that only a grandma could get away with wearing. Sadly, I guess I’m the old lady.

After I have had a chance to use the orthotics for a couple months I will know if the condition of my ankle has improved enough to avoid surgery or not.

Any of you who have high arches beware! The risk of damaging your peroneal tendons is much greater if your arches are high. This is one of the reasons I get to wear orthotics on both my feet now and probably will have to continue wearing them for the rest of my life. One bad ankle is most definitely enough, I don’t need two.

What’s the moral of this story kids? If your arches are unusually high you may want to consider getting some sexy orthotics so you can avoid an injury such as mine.


1 Jun

Which Vitamins and Minerals to Buy? Oh My!

Posted by on June 1, 2008 at 9:50 pm

Most people seem a little confused about vitamin and mineral supplements. I get a lot questions about the “if” and “what” of these supplements. And it has been my experience that many of the people that think they aren’t confused about supplements have actually been given a lot of misinformation and are basing their purchasing decisions on that information from less than credible sources. So here is my attempt to clear up some of the common vitamin supplement misconceptions.

With many vitamin/mineral supplements on the market have you ever wondered how to choose the best one? Or have you ever wondered if you even need to take a vitamin/mineral supplement at all? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions then this entry is for you. Even if you think you are making good decisions when it comes to supplements, you may not be choosing as wisely as you think.

What to take?

What to take?

Question: Daily dosed vitamin/mineral supplements such as Centrum® and One a Day® are very popular, but are they necessary for good health?

The answer to that question is unfortunately not a straight “yes” or “no”. If you are eating a varied and healthy diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains it is unlikely that you are deficient in necessary nutrients and most likely do not need to take a supplement, however, as I will discuss later, there are exceptions to this.

If you are not eating a healthy diet then taking a vitamin/mineral supplement may be a good idea to insure that you have an adequate intake of all essential nutrients. However, it is important to remember that supplementation will not make up for consuming an unhealthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients that promote health. Although these phytonutrients are not necessary for your body to survive; they will improve your quality of life and decrease the risk of chronic diseases. So, even if you are taking a supplement, eat those peas and carrots.

Question: If I decide to take a daily vitamin/mineral supplement how do I choose which one to buy?

This is a more complicated question to answer than one might think. There are many forms of each vitamin and mineral and all forms are not equal in terms of bioavailability and toxicity.

Some supplements use the cheapest forms of nutrients possible. For example, some contain forms of minerals that are basically just metal shavings. These benefit your body little since they are difficult to absorb.

But it would be impossible for me to go over every form of every vitamin and mineral in this entry so I am only going to go over some general things to look for when purchasing a supplement.

We tend to have mentality that more is always better. Have you ever looked at the supplement facts box on a supplement label and been excited when you saw that it contained 2000% of the daily intake of vitamin C, thinking that if vitamin C is good for you then more vitamin C has to be better? Though this chain of thought may seem logical, it is unfortunately incorrect.

Consumers commonly make the “more is better” mistake when choosing which supplement to purchase. Some nutraceutical companies take advantage of this erroneous logic and give their products headway in the market by loading them with much higher quantities of nutrients than necessary.

So why is more not better? The effects of overdosing on vitamins and minerals can range in seriousness from wasting your money on nutrients that will just end up in your urine to death. These effects vary greatly depending on the nutrient and its form.

For example, at levels only 3 times the Recommended Dietary Allowance, preformed vitamin A (not to be confused with beta-carotene) can cause birth defects and each year children die from iron poisoning caused by eating iron supplements.
The best advice, to avoid overdosing or wasting your money, is to look for supplements with nutrient amounts around 100% of the DV.

A little confused?

A little confused?

Question: Who is more likely to require vitamin supplementation, and what nutrients are they likely to be lacking?

As I already mentioned, there are certain situations where supplementation is highly advisable. Here are a few of them.

Folic acid supplementation is a must for all women of child bearing age. Folic acid deficiency can lead to neural tube birth defects; 400 micrograms of this vitamin daily are needed to decrease the risk of these defects and the average American woman only consumes 240 micrograms. Because the neural tube closes within the first 28 days of pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant, it is generally too late to start folic acid supplementation once you find out you are pregnant. If you are deficient in folic acid, the damage to your child has already been done. That’s why it is absolutely critical for women to take a supplement containing folic acid if there is any chance, no matter how remote, that they may become pregnant. 2500-3000 infants are born in the U.S. each year with neural tube defects, 75% of these defects could have been avoided if the mothers had supplemented with folic acid.

Most women, and many men, do not get enough calcium. Most women get 600-800 mg of calcium daily, well below the Daily Recommended Intake. The effects of calcium deficiency usually take years to manifest, but when they do they can be devastating. Twenty-five million Americans have osteoporosis, and 25% of women over 50 develop osteoporosis. Don’t become one of these statistics, take a calcium supplement. Your body will only absorb about 500 mg of calcium at a time, so I recommend taking 1000 mg a day separated into 2 (500 mg) doses.

Some groups are especially prone to deficiencies including the elderly, alcoholics, vegans, and expecting mothers.

The elderly often do not eat as healthy as they should due to difficulty preparing meals. They also don’t absorb all their nutrients as well as when they were younger. So supplementation is usually a good idea for this group.

There are a few nutrients that are primarily found in animal products. Without careful planning, it is very easy for vegans to become deficient in vitamin B12, riboflavin, and zinc. Vegans should be mindful of this and if nothing else, take a B12 supplement.

Alcoholics are likely to be deficient in many vitamins, but if you are an alcoholic, supplementation usually isn’t your top concern.

Expecting mothers are another group that should take a supplement. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, prenatal vitamins are a must.

Although the supplement topic is one that I could discuss endlessly, since it is near and dear to my heart, I will end on this entry before I reach new levels of long-windedness.

Just remember to do a little research before choosing what supplement to buy and don’t get stuck in the “more is better” trap. And if you still have questions, you can ask your friendly neighborhood food scientist. We would be happy to give you an extraordinarily lengthy answer to what you thought was a simple question.