A Final Note About My Health

September 16, 2017 / Personal Stuff / 0 Comments /

Hi all!

When we last saw each other, I told you how I started on two new medications, which are Zoloft and Clonazepam (I hadn’t named them in the previous post). I also talked about how I had my first meal, how my blood tests came back positive, but that I was still struggling a bit with my appetite and anxiety attacks.

Today, I have an update. This will be my third update in this series that I’ll be posting on this blog, but will continue posting about anxiety and my health whenever I feel the need to share something.

How’s the appetite?

Nearly back to normal at this point. I’m up to about two meals per day, and they are normal sized meals. This was my eating pattern prior to the initial anxiety attack.

You may remember me talking about ketosis and intermittent fasting in the past; this eating pattern hasn’t really been a focus of mine since the massive appetite loss. Instead, I’ve focused on eating whatever my body can stomach – be it soup, salad, pasta, or pizza. Not all the healthiest of choices, I know, but food and nutrition nonetheless.

Now that my appetite is almost back to normal, my goal going forward today is to begin limiting my options to healthier, more nutrient rich foods.

How do I feel?

How I feel varies day to day. Some days, like yesterday, I feel totally normal. Other days, like to day, I feel tired and a bit nauseated.

The Zoloft is partly to blame for some of the physical sickness I’ve been feeling over the last few weeks. Zoloft takes 4-6 weeks to really begin to work, and there are a number of physical responses your body will likely have to the drug during that time.

So, it’s to be expected that I don’t feel 100% some days.

How is the Anxiety?

I still have anxiety attacks, though they’ve become far less frequent in the last week. The good thing is that since seeing a doctor and really learning about what’s going on, I’m more aware, and have been able to power through some of them.

Other times, the anxiety attack is too strong, and no amount of mental will can shake it. They can last for hours, make the physical symptoms – the nausea, the rapid heartbeat, the feverish feeling – extremely intense. The feeling of fear and death hovers over me when the anxiety is strong.

It’s a scary feeling that I know is temporary, but no matter how much I know, the feeling doesn’t always just go away.

Are the new prescriptions helping?

The Clonazepam has been extremely helpful for those intense panic attacks. One pill and the physical symptoms begin to die down within about 20 minutes. My body begins to relax, and my mind is able to focus on more positive things.

It’s hard to say yet whether or not the Zoloft is working, but I will say the intense anxiety attacks have lessened over the last week, and I’ve been taking it for two and a half weeks now. I’m told after about 3 weeks, the physical side effects should begin to wear off, and the benefits will slowly start kicking in, and that the medication will be fully active by weeks 4 to 6.

I’m looking forward to that day. While I’m not in panic-mode on a daily basis, I still have been having 3 or 4 panic attacks each week. Some stronger than others, and it’s all very stressful and physically draining.

I do recognize the frequency lessening this last week, so I’m hoping they’ll be a rare occurrence within the next few weeks.

How is life in general?

Life is great. I’ve been going into work more frequently, and have left feeling incredibly productive each day.

Ironically, I’m feeling a little bit more confident and happier about how I look since the anxiety attack. I’m now down to about 167lbs, which is 14lbs down since the first major anxiety attack, and 41lbs down since I started dieting earlier this year.

I’m hoping to maintain this new weight in a healthy way, again, by introducing more nutrient rich foods into my recent diet, and getting back into a regular workout regiment.

Therapy

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be actively seeking counseling. My doctor gave me a few recommendations, and I have been doing some research of my own; I’m hoping to find a therapist who can help me work through the anxiety in a way that doesn’t keep me too reliant on my Clonazepam.

Oh, speaking of therapy, two weeks ago we adopted a kitten who’s been appropriately named Special Agent Dale Cooper, or “Cooper” for short. I’ll be sure to share his entire story soon.

Cooper has been incredibly therapeutic for me. He is a fluffy bundle of positive energy. I’ve had a couple nights of insomnia recently, waking up at 2AM unable to fall back asleep. Cooper has made his nightly resting place the floor right next to my side of the bed. When I get insomnia, I reach down and pet him. His response? He wakes up, purrs as loud as possible, hops up on the bed, gives me a little kiss on the face, and lays next to my head on my pillow.

He’s been the light of Jessica’s and my life since we adopted him, and I consider him a huge proponent to my getting back on track.

That’s about it.

That’s really all the update I have. In summary, things are getting better and better. The nausea, anxiety, panic attacks…all occur far less frequently than before. I’m moving forward in a positive light, and I’m looking forward to making the best out of everything that’s happened over the last month.

I do want to thank all of you for your kind words. Many of you opened up to me about your own experiences with anxiety, and it’s a comfort knowing I’m not alone. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I’ve felt the need to continue writing about this…so perhaps others might not feel alone in their journey.

So again, thank you all for the support, the kind words, the encouragement, the prayers, and positive vibes. It means the world.


A quick note about my health: Part 2

September 1, 2017 / Personal Stuff / 3 Comments /
David Crandall after having first meal in a week

Hola my friends!

You may have read my last post regarding my health. It’s been a few days, and some things have happened, and I have a small update!

How have I been feeling?

Mornings are generally the worst. Today, for example, I had a really bad anxiety attack – one of the worst since the first big just under a week ago. I woke up feeling incredibly ill, sweaty, with my heart beating out of my chest. I was having hot flashes, feeling dizzy, my head was pounding, and most of all…I felt afraid.

In fact, the entire episode started with an intense feeling of fear and doom. Every other symptom quickly followed as I attempted to calm myself. I did what any self-help book might tell you…I meditated, prayed, took deep breaths, focused on positive things, and did all I could to tell myself “everything is fine.”

But none of that worked. My heart continued to race, the fear was increasing, and the sickening feelings got worse and worse. At some point I even checked my pulse and my heart rate was at about 120bpm, a bit high for just waking up in the morning.

At one point I attempted to rest it off. I got back in bed, closed my eyes, and curled up into a ball. As I laid there shaking, rocking back and forth, I had the worst of mixed emotions. So many thoughts raced through my head…some hoping that I’m dying just so it all goes away, others filled with the confidence that I’m strong enough to get through it.

In the moment, I’ve never wanted more than to die, and I’ve never wanted more than to live. It is the worst place to be. But things are getting better…

I done got poked!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had to get some blood work to check my glucose levels, my white blood cell count, and my thyroid.

Well, I had my arm poked and blood drawn and…. all results came back normal. Which is great! That rules out thyroid issues, autoimmune issues, and anemia being the culprit of my extreme nausea, anxiety, and appetite loss. Which is great. I can breathe a huge sigh of relief there.

However, I don’t believe the lab that was done can rule out any gastrointestinal issues completely. I would like to get that checked out at some point, because I’m still experiencing a wide range of stomach problems. And if you recall in my last post, the doctor did bring up the fact that there may be some gastrointestinal issues.

The anxiety is real

As I mentioned earlier, I had a terrible anxiety attack this morning. Yesterday morning, after not getting much relief with the blood pressure medication she prescribed, my doctor recommended increasing the dosage. It didn’t work.

So naturally, this morning, one of the first things I decided to do was to get ahold of my doctor. I explained to her that the increased dosage didn’t work, and desperately I need a solution. Because right now, I crave nothing more than to be able to wake up in the morning and start the morning commute (who says that?!?!)

She prescribed me two new drugs: one to diminish the affects of anxiety that I would take as needed, and one to prevent anxiety attacks from occurring that I would take daily. I’ll be starting this new regiment tonight.

My first meal

Throughout this entire ordeal, my ability to eat food, let alone smell it, without wanting to vomit all over the place was nil. However, I know that in order to fight this sick feeling as best I can, I need to eat.

Knowing I can’t eat a lot at once, I had decided to eat very very small amounts of food more frequently. It started with a couple pieces of water melon twice a day. Then I incorporated small amounts of rice and soup, and at one point a little bit of kraft mac and cheese. This allowed me to very quickly expand the types of food my gag reflex wouldn’t respond negatively to. That said, I hadn’t yet had a full meal. I don’t think I was taking in more than 100-400 calories in a day.

Yesterday, my wife decided to take me to Whole Foods to check out the buffet and see if there’s anything that I could stomach. As usual, I felt awful going out. I can’t really stand up for very long without getting nauseated or feeling like I’m going to pass out. However, I figured the fresh air would do me good, and going to Whole Foods’ buffet would give me a chance to see if our home-made food therapy was paying off. And it was!

I can’t say smelling the food didn’t make me feel sick, but I was surprised that most of the foods’ scents didn’t have a negative effect. Unfortunately, that didn’t really hold true when I tried to eat the food. I ended up only eating a piece of cauliflower, a spoonful of mashed potatoes, and a slice or two of roasted veggies. I almost immediately felt nauseated, and had a very difficult time swallowing the food. Eventually, I just felt full, even though I clearly was not.

Today was different; today I had my first actual meal. My wife and I went to pick up my prescription this afternoon, and we decided to get some wonton soup to-go (thanks, Mom and Dad, for suggesting the wonton soup) from our favorite Chinese restaurant that just so happens to a few doors down from the pharmacy.

But not only did we buy wonton soup, we bought an order of pork fried rice and sweet & sour pork. I filled my plate with about a cup of rice, 5 pieces of pork, and had a bowl of wonton soup…and ate the whole damn thing. And it felt good.

After almost an entire week of barely anything, it was almost a religious experience just being able to enjoy a plateful of food.

What now?

Well, it’s been 8 hours since my meal, and I’m still feeling full. But I will be trying to stomach some more food after I finish writing this post.

Tonight I start taking my new medication. I don’t expect much from it out the door; it takes 4-6 weeks to really start working, and for the first 1 or 2 weeks, I’m told I may feel a loss in appetite and nausea…which basically means I’m just gonna continue feeling like crap. But if it means I can start feeling normal in a month, bring it on.

A big thanks

Since my last post, I received so many positive messages, it was kind of overwhelming. People I haven’t talked to in years were reaching out offering kind words of encouragement. Friends, family, and coworkers offered prayers and positive vibes. All of it has helped. And I cannot thank you guys enough.

Throughout this entire ordeal, the thing I tried to do most was stay positive. Having been surrounded by people who share that same principle has been nothing but uplifting, encouraging, and healing. As a generally happy and positive person suddenly and involuntarily thrown into this state of extreme fear, depression, and physical sickness & stress, I feel utterly blessed.

So thank you. From the very bottom of my heart… thank you.

 


A quick note about my health

August 29, 2017 / Personal Stuff / 1 Comment /

Hello friends, family, and people who may just stumble upon this post because they’re scowering the googles and yahoos and alta vistas using the same keywords that are used on this post…greetings!

I wanted to write a blog post about my current health situation, because things have been a bit scary, I’ve been pretty inactive on social media, and I’ve been working from home all week. So for those of you who are curious…here it goes…

NOTE: This isn’t a cry for help, attention, or anything like that. I just know I’ve kept this situation pretty quiet with friends, coworkers, and some family, and I want to be completely transparent. I will reiterate this further down the post..

What happened

On Friday, I had an anxiety attack. Which isn’t completely uncommon for me…I’ve had them from time to time, but I have typically been able to feel normal again within a couple hours to a day. But this one was quite different.

This anxiety, or panic, attack left me with no appetite, intense nausea, headache, and what’s typically described as “a feeling of doom”. It’s a wide range of physically draining and debilitating symptoms that I’m having a very hard time pinpointing and finding resolve for. Granted, it has only been 5 days, but things aren’t looking great at the moment.

In those 5 days, I’ve had zero appetite. Meaning, in 5 days, I’ve had the equivilent of a small bowl of soup and a cup of watermelon. That’s it. For 5 days. I’ve lost 8lbs in just 5 days, and seem to be losing more by the hour, as I often end up weighing less at night than I did in the morning. I literally cannot stomach very much; my gag reflex kicks in, I can’t swallow my food, and I end up feeling completely ill.

I know most anxiety symptoms and their physical responses typically die out after a day or two. However, when day 4 approached and I was still curled up in a ball on my bed, shaking and sweaty, not knowing if I was going to vomit or not…I decided it’s time to stop waiting and get on the road to recovery.

So, yesterday (Monday, the 28th), I had a visit with a primary care physician (PCP). She asked a number of questions, checked the usual vitals, and did a pressure test on my abdomen.

She ended up pushing on part of my stomach, just to the right of my belly button, and I felt a pain or a cramping sensation as a very audible noise took us both by surprise.

She told me she was concerned that there could be some underlying issues that the panic attack simply exacerbated, or brought those symptoms to light. The other thing that concerned her when checking my vitals is my heartbeat. She asked if I had a lot of caffeine that day, and I said “No, I haven’t had any caffeine in several days.”

What seems to be the problem?

After all the typical tests and whatnot, she was able to develop some theories, which we’re currently testing for.

  1. Anemia: My rapid heart rate combined with my fatigue and light-headedness are very common symptoms for people with anemia.
  2. Thyroid issue: thyroid issues are associated with a lot of symptoms – nausea, fatigue, rapid weight changes, light-headedness, depression, and anxiety
  3. Gastrointestinal issue: while anxiety isn’t directly related to GI diseases or issues, studies have shown that people with at least 1 GI symptom are likely to experience anxiety problems.
  4. None of the above – just straight up anxiety.

These issues – anemia, thyroid, and gastrointestinal – typically are treatable with diet changes, supplements, and exercise. However, all three have variants that can be serious or fatal, especially when left untreated. And I’m not a fan of death. 🙂

So this morning, I had a blood test to try and rule out anemia, GI, and thyroid issues being the culprit. In the meantime I’ve been prescribed medication for treating nausea, and medication for treating high blood pressure. The goal there is to treat the outstanding symptoms while investigating the root cause.

So what’s next?

Well, I’m still not eating much, still feeling incredibly ill, and still working to recover as quickly as possible. All the while, working from home as much as I possibly can, so I can keep living and being the best version of myself I can be during this rough time.

The prescriptions thus far have a very minimal affect and do not resolve the appetite issue at all. I’m still losing weight at a very rapid rate. On top of that, at least one of the new medications is giving me a slight headache.

Right now, as I type, I’m waiting on the results from my blood test. I’m a bit nervous. Gastrointestinal diseases, thyroid conditions, and anemia all have varying degrees of severity. And I’m hoping to get results back quickly so I can take action sooner than later.

More to come…

If you know me or work closely with me, you’ll know that I’ve spent this year trying to be as healthy as possible. And as I progress, I tend to update this little blog of mine.

So if you’re interested in knowing more, definitely check back in every so often. And again, this isn’t a cry for help, attention, sympathy, or anything of the sort…just a way to update my friends and family of my situation.


Does Facebook know what I buy at the grocery store?

Have you ever searched for something on Amazon, only to notice dozens of ads for that very thing all over Facebook? Or perhaps you started shopping online somewhere, decided to not complete your purchase, then got an email from that site telling you there are still items in your cart. Or maybe you bought something at the grocery store, only to see that item you purchased advertised to you on Facebook that day.

We’re all concerned about our privacy on the web to some extent – some of us more than others. It’s easy to feel like big businesses are invading our personal lives when we can’t even go to the store and buy something without Google or Facebook keeping tabs on it.

With privacy being a big proponent of keeping the web free and open, why do businesses like Facebook want to know what we’re doing when we’re NOT using Facebook? Simple: retargeting and remarketing

What is “retargeting”?

Retargeting is a way to get users of a particular website or app to do something after leaving the app or website. In other words, you browse Amazon for something, leave the website, but then see Amazon ads for that thing you were looking for on Facebook.

The “goal” here is to keep you engaged with Amazon regardless of where you are on the web. In this case, Amazon pays Facebook for its retargeting.

What is “remarketing”?

Remarketing is similar in principle: engage with the users who have left your website or app. However, the goal with remarketing is almost exclusively executed via e-mail; in other words, you’ve already engaged with the company in such a way that you would be willing to share your e-mail address, and have agreed to receive email communications from the company.

These are the scenarios where you’ve joined Amazon, and they send you “Recommended products” via e-mail, or you’ve joined Facebook and they send you friend suggestions and recent posts to your inbox. It could even be that you signed up for an online newsletter.

What is the difference between “retargeting” and “remarketing”?

Aside from the fact that one is via email, and the other is on other websites, the primary difference is how this is all accomplished.

With remarketing, you’ve typically agreed to receive communication from the company, and you’ve provided them your e-mail. Sometimes, you don’t even realize you’ve agreed to it.

You know those “I’ve read and agree to the terms of service” and “I’d like to receive updates and discounts from XYZ company” checkboxes you probably overlook thinking, “Well, I can’t really join if I don’t agree, so…agree.” Yeah, those.

Those boxes are usually automatically checked, and are designed to be somewhat less noticeable than other parts of a registration form. Statistically, fewer people are likely to uncheck something that’s already checked than those who are willing to check a box that’s unchecked. In other words, businesses know that, in the moment, you’re less likely to opt-out in the process of registration.

But at the end of the day, from a purely legal standpoint, you agreed to it.

However, with retargeting, you don’t have a say in the matter. Well, for the most part anyway.

You do not need to agree to be included in retargeting campaigns

From a purely legal standpoint, the websites you visit do not belong to you; they belong to the businesses that run them. They’re there for you to access, but you don’t control or have a say in what that company publishes on their website.

So, a company has the right to place retargeting ads on their site in order to make a profit. The idea behind retargeting is to serve you ads that are relative to your online (and sometimes offline) behavior, making it more likely for you to click on them. And if you do click on them, the website gets a cut of the profits, the retargeting service gets a cut, and the company being advertised is one step closer to getting you to buy.

Now, this is a bit of a generalization, because different countries have different privacy laws and are required to notify you that they use cookies for those specific purposes. However, the sites that do notify you tell you that “buy visiting this website, you agree to our use of cookies”. Meaning, if you don’t want to be served retargeting ads, don’t go to that website.

Sounds scary, right? That someone can track what you do on all these different websites in order to serve you ads?

Don’t get too freaked out; it’s important to understand how it all works.

How does retargeting work?

For this example, let’s pretend you’re a business interested in retargeting, and that you decided to go to Facebook for their retargeting services. (Do note that this is an example and purely hypothetical and based on my own experiences dealing with remarketing and retargeting tools.)

A couple things will happen:

Before you’ve even done anything, Facebook has a cookie on all its users devices. This cookie is basically a random string of numbers and letters used as a unique, anonymous identifier that represents you. It doesn’t contain any actual information about you, but it can be tied to you through Facebook’s backend processes.

You’re going to send user activity to Facebook. Doing this is actually really easy – there’s a simple piece of code you’ll drop on every page of your website, often called a “tracking pixel.” This code points to functionality that is actually hosted by Facebook, on Facebook’s servers. That’s all you need to do (at least, that’s all you need to do to start tracking; there’s all kinds of demographic settings, budget, ad designs, etc., you’ll want to work on, but that’s beside the point).

Facebook’s pixel ties users’ activity to the unique ID. In other words, a when user visits your website, the pixel tells Facebook that “User we7rwe7retw99s8g visited this website”.

Facebook targets ads for your business to the user who matches that unique ID. Hence retargeting.

But this is just one of the several ways people use retargeting. Retargeting can stretch to offline activity – like shopping at your favorite grocery store.

You mean websites can track what I do even when I’m not online?!

You betcha, and it’s quite a complicated process. But I’ll try to simplify it.

You know how Safeway, CVS, and other stores have memberships? These memberships typically get you exclusive discounts, reward you for shopping, etc. However, there is a unique account ID for each one of these memberships, and you can bet that ID and the purchase history is sold to advertisers. Don’t believe me?

Ever hear of Datalogix? It’s a company acquired by Oracle back in 2014 that does just this – it buys purchase histories from grocery stores, then partners with advertisers and retargeting services – like Facebook – to share that purchase history anonymously and serve you ads based on what you’ve purchased. It can also be used to determine the influence of ads by detecting if you saw an item in an ad then decided to go out to the store to buy it.

Now, this isn’t a situation where Datalogix could outright tell someone what you’re buying. In fact, Datalogix claims to keep all the activity information anonymous. In fact, Facebook anonymizes your personal information (i.e, name and email) when communicating with Datalogix’s infrastructure.

At the end of the day, though, Facebook – and all other companies that partner with Datalogix – can theoretically see your offline purchase history. Realistically, in order to do that, it would take a ton of work and resources simply due to the vast number of Facebook users that exist, but it’s technically possible for Facebook to see what you buy offline.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Retargeting by IP

There are countless services that utilize IP for marketing. Demandbase is a tool used by businesses to determine what businesses visit a website. It ties public IP addresses to registered businesses by collecting data submitted to businesses that use their services. That’s just one example.

Sometimes, IP addresses are simply tied to user databases, or “customer relations management” systems. For example, if you use Facebook at home and at work, those public IP addresses from both locations can be tied to your account.

Many people fear that Facebook can use voice recognition to target specific ads to you, and as often as people think that’s happening, it’s probably not.

Recently, someone on Facebook mentioned they were having a conversation with someone in person, and they were talking about a specific website this person had never heard of. Several minutes later an ad for that website was on that persons Facebook feed. Creepy right? Well let’s put it into perspective.

Two people are talking in person – both have phones, both have Facebook, both are connected to the same Wifi network, and therefor share the same public IP address. One person in the conversation visits the website frequenty, the other does not. However, due to the activity being associated with the IP address – not just the user – just about anyone on that wifi connection could potentially see an ad for that website. Especially if their interests are generally similar.

Make sense?

Well, I don’t want anyone tracking my information like that!

Don’t worry – you have a way out…sort of. Datalogix allows you to opt out of being tracked by their service at all, while Facebook has its own opt out instructions.

But that’s just two out of millions of online services.

How do I keep my information private?

You’ll need to understand that when you access the web, it’s impossible to keep EVERYTHING entirely anonymous. Your activity is tracked, period. However, it’s possible minimize if not completely block the amount of information collected that can be used to identify you online.

1. Opt out of everything.

This will take some work. Go to the privacy policy of every website you frequently visit, and find the “opt out” section. If they don’t have one, but have an email or phone number, call and ask how you can opt out. If they offer no options, consider not visiting that website anymore.

Yes, this can take a long time, but most major businesses offer this kind of thing, so consider using it.

2. Get an Adblocker.

Most major browsers offer the use of extensions, and one extension you can download and use for free is an ad blocker. Most of them will not only block ads, but they’ll block tracking pixels, social sharing icons, and other marketing tactics that could be used to collect information about you. Note that usually not everything is blocked like this, so you’ll need to check the settings of your adblocker and enable the settings that best suit the level of privacy you require.

3. Join a VPN

There are many virtual private networks that can anonymize all your data. Believe it or not, your internet service provider (I’m talking the Comcasts and AT&T’s of the world) can track everything you do and see online. VPNs can anonymize your activity from them. However, they don’t block cookies, they don’t prevent you from willingly sharing your email with companies, and they don’t stop remarketing or retargeting entirely. They’re just one tool used to help keep personally identifiable information away from the Big Brother.

HideMyAss is a great one, but there are many out there. Do your research and find one that best suits your needs.

4. Be careful what you do and what you share

Read everything in every form you fill out, uncheck boxes you’re not comfortable with, and research alternatives that don’t guarantee a level of privacy you deserve. Snopes is one website I rarely visit because they refuse to let users read their content unless they allow ads and retargeting pixels to fire.

At the end of the day, the line is where you draw it.

Let’s step back for a moment and take a look at what this all really means.

When you shop at Safeway, do you permit them to know what you buy from them? What about where you parked your car? Or perhaps the different aisles you walked through and how much time you spent at the store? What about your credit card information?!?!

Well, in order for a grocer to run their business, they need to keep track of items you purchased. In order to issue refunds, they need to know your credit card number to verify the refund and add funds back to the card. Security cameras are all over the parking lot and throughout the store, so they know where you’ve walked, where you parked your car, and how much time you spent in the store. Oh, they also know your name, because it’s written on your card and kept with your receipt. Oh and God forbid you pay with a check, now they have your bank account and routing numbers. You have the option to opt-out of some of this by walking to the store, wearing a mask, and only paying with cash, but who’s really gonna do that?

All of this is “normal” stuff. We are just so used to it, we don’t pay attention. We allow big businesses to collect our information so we can automate parts of our lives we’d rather not pay attention to, so we can live our lives more conveniently. It’s frustrating not having enough cash to buy the things you need, so we use a debit or credit card.

Every transaction includes the transmission of data that can potentially be tied back to you. It’s up to you to participate in those transactions – on or offline.

In summary

We all need to be cautious; it’s unethical for a business to share personally identifiable information with a third party without my consent or knowledge. I do believe larger businesses like Facebook, Google, Datalogix, and the like should be more public and vocal about how they use our information, and be clear about what’s kept private.

It’s also up to me to set my own boundaries and take the necessary steps to ensure my data is kept private, and that the I choose to only interact with businesses who meet that standard.


So I got to meet Justin Cook at Anime Expo 2017

July 7, 2017 / Personal Stuff / 0 Comments /

If you don’t know who Justin Cook is, allow me to pull the rock from over your head and enlighten you.

Justin Cook is a producer, line producer, ADR director, engineer, and voice actor at Funimation. He’s been with Funimation since the early 90’s, and has the baddest set of sideburns ever to dawn any man’s face. Some shows he’s worked on include the Dragonball series, Mushi-shi, Yuyu Hakusho, Eden of the East, Soul Eater, and more. It’s become almost a game whenever a Funimation dub is released, my wife and I bet on whether or not Justin Cook’s name will be in the credits.

Justin was not a guest or panelist (to my knowledge) at Anime Expo, but he was there, helping out behind the scenes.

I saw Justin Cook countless times during AX this year. I ran into him on my way to the 11th floor elevator a couple times, I ran into him multiple times in the hotel lobby, once on my way out I saw him chatting with Goku himself (Sean Shemmel), he was at the Dragonball Super panel helping set things up, and he was at the Funimation autograph booth helping set up there, as well. Someone even started asking him about how the autograph sessions work without even realizing who he was.

But the most memorable moment of the entire con for ME was when I actually met Justin Cook. No I don’t have any proof, photos, or autographs to show for it…but that’s ok. You’ll see why.

It was July 3rd, about 10PM or so, and I was standing at the hotel bar waiting for my sazerac, when Justin Cook just shows up and stands next to me waiting for the bartender to take his order. The bar is packed and busy, so the bartenders are hustling around.

When Justin approaches, we exchange a quick look, and proceed to wait for the bartender.

The bartenders are still hustling behind the bar, Justin stands quietly and patiently with a very very serious look on his face, while I stand next to him with a bright orange “Drangoball Z” shirt as if to scream “BOY OH BOY DO I LOVE ANIME!”

Needless to say I’m a bit nervous. Here’s this guy who’s had a huge impact on my life standing literally one foot a way from me. I want to say hello, but I’m a huge introvert!

Besides, this is a guy who is at the con helping out with things – he’s not part of any panel, he’s working behind the scenes. And he looks SO SERIOUS! Maybe he doesn’t want to be bothered.

I figured this was the only chance I’d get to say hello to has had such an impact on my life, so I gathered up what nerve I have inside this introverted insecure personality of mine, turned to him, and say “Just wanted to say, I’m a big fan of your work, thank you for everything you do.”

Justin then looks directly at me, and this serious, borderline angry facial expression immediately lights up into this friendly smile as he says “Aw thanks man! I really appreciate that! What’s your name?” extending his hand to shake mine.

He proceeds to ask me what anime I’m watching these days, elaborates on the cast in the shows I mention, and we begin discussing localization, and how he and the folks at Funimation approach things differently now than he did in the 90’s. We went on to talk for about 5 minutes as our drinks were being prepared.

Once we got our drinks, I signed out of the conversation with a quick “It was great to chat with you, thanks again for everything you do!” And he responds with a “Well, I really appreciate that, David!” And we make our way back to our tables.

I’m not sure if these guys realize it or not, but they play an important role in our lives. This guy is in large responsible for anime even being a part of my life. The anime I watched growing up taught me so much about life. So needless to say, it means the world to us just to see them in panels from a distance.

But when I said “hello” to Justin, I honestly didn’t expect anything; hell, I half expected a “Thanks, sorry, I’m a bit busy at the moment” or “Hey I’m just trying to get a drink here” – which would have been totally fine and understandable.

Instead, he took the time to make a connection with a fan, and that sense of community means more to me than any panel or autograph.

So, no, I take a selfie with him, or ask him to sign my shirt, or anything like that. The fact I have this memory is priceless, and it’s mine! Those kinds of moments are far more meaningful than ink on a paper, or photos on instagram.

Anime Expo cost me around $400 to attend, but the highlight of my entire week, likely the entire year, happened for free at the hotel bar.

So thank you, Justin Cook, for making this trip to LA more meaningful than I could have imagined!


Trying to lose weight? Stop eating brown rice.

June 16, 2017 / Personal Stuff / 0 Comments /

As someone who has lost 25lbs in less than 3 months, and has yet to “hit a wall” in his weight loss journey…as someone who has tried diet after diet for years only to be disappointed until recently…as someone who has never felt better and more energized throughout the day…I feel like I have some advice that might help my fellow dieters…

Stop eating brown rice

Ok, maybe I sound a bit bossy here. So let me explain a couple things before I dive in. Brown rice is not necessarily bad for you. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s a great source of magnesium, Vitamin B-6, and – depending on the type of brown rice – a great source of fiber.

However, if you’re trying to lose weight, brown rice should treated like any other junk food you ought to avoid. Why?

Brown rice is full of carbohydrates

Brown rice, like many other grains, are packed full of carbohydrates.In fact, carbohydrates make up 85-90% of brown and whole grain rice.

While it’s true that carbohydrates can give you plenty of energy, as someone who needs to lose weight, the excess fat on your body is due to an overabundance of insulin.

Insulin takes the carbohydrates you eat and does 3 things with them:

  1. Converts the carbohydrates to energy to be used immediately
  2. Converts the carbohydrates to fat stored in your body
  3. Prevents stored fat from being lost

The last two points there are really important here. As long as insulin is active in your body, you will not lose weight.

In fact, the only way to lose weight while eating carbohydrates is to not eat very often, and to eat very little. And if your diet involves whole grains and carbohydrates, you’ll end up feeling tired, sick, foggy, exhausted, and you’ll probably start to hit a wall.

“So what do I do?!”

Well, like I said…stop eating brown rice. More specifically, stop eating whole grains. That means stop eating rice, bread, pastas, and start eating fattier, healthier foods. This includes kale, spinach, dark lettuces, avocado, olive oil, butter, meats, etc. Why?

The reduction of carbohydrates in influx of fats will cause your body to produce ketones, an alternative and more efficient source of energy than insulin. These ketones do two major things that impact your weight loss.

  1. They process the fat you eat as energy
  2. Burn the fat in your body for energy throughout the day

Catch that? If you reduce the level of glucose in your blood, and increase the amount of fat you eat within your calorie restrictions (remember, you ARE dieting), the more ketones your liver will produce.

After a couple weeks of eating this way, your body will enter into a state of ketosis, the state in which your body leaves its glycogenic state and stops using glucose/insulin for its primary source of fuel.

Is ketosis dangerous?

Generally speaking, not at all. In fact, if you do your research, you’ll find that ketosis has far more benefits than it has negative side-effects. In fact, low glucose/high ketone dietary changes can be used to treat epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and – of course – obesity.

In fact, upon my research, I’ve found it harder to find any downside. There are really only a few cases you should avoid a strict ketogenic diet: if you have type 1 diabetes, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you can’t watch your macros.

If you’ve heard about the so-called “dangers” of ketosis, you’ve probably been duped into believing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is the same as nutritional ketosis.

DKA is a life-threatening condition where the body has too much glucose as well as ketones in the blood, and not enough insulin. This is an extreme condition that mostly people with type 1 diabetes are at risk of.

That’s not to say that if you’re a diabetic, you can’t try a ketogenic diet. In fact, a ketogenic diet may help you, because you’ll actually reduce the level of glucose in your blood by decreasing the amount of carbohydrates you eat, thus reducing the amount of insulin required by your body to process the glucose. All that said, whether you are a type 1 or type 2 diabetic, a test would need to be taken and a dietary plan should be made with the help of your doctor.

So are you serious about losing weight?

If you said “yes”, then consider trying the following:

  1. Eat no more than 3 times a day
  2. Eat no more than 2000 calories a day (that’s three 667-calorie meals!!) Or, you can try intermittent fasting and only eat two 1,000-calorie meals in an 8 hour period
  3. Eat 20-30g of healthy fats per meal (this excludes trans fat, fats from corn oil, canola oil, etc. and includes animal fats, and fats from vegetables and fruits such as avocados, nuts, and almonds)
  4. Eat no more than 50g of carbohydrates per day.
  5. No snacking between meals
  6. Make sure every meal includes dark, nutrient rich vegetables.
  7. Do a light workout 3-5 times a week – yoga, basic aerobics, or a nice walk will do.

Just try this out for two or three weeks. I did exactly the above and lost 20lbs in less than 3 weeks. Was I getting enough calories? Yes! Was I hungry all the time? No! Did I feel energized all day long and get better sleep? Yes! Am I still losing weight? Yes – 25lbs as of today!

Ketosis is a powerful diet. But in order for it to work, and in order to reap all the benefits, you must do it correctly. Do some research, and consider giving it a try.


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