Amazing Grace


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I’ve discovered an amazing musician – Paul Cardall.  He’s a pianist who, as a child, actually hated playing the piano.

Paul was born with half a heart and when he was only one day old, had heart surgery – the first of many throughout his life.  In 2007 he received a heart transplant.  Paul has dedicated his life, and his music, to children and adults with Congenital Heart Disease. He donates proceeds from his album sales to research and other endeavors related to this condition.

He plays, and he composes.  Today, I’m going to leave you with his rendition of Amazing Grace.  Listen to the entire clip – it will touch you somewhere deep inside.




Just another Thursday

I think I have a cold coming on.  You know, that little tickle in the back of your throat, a little cough that’s a tad wheezy, general malaise.

I suppose it could be the change in weather (it’s been mild and rainy here lately – in the 40s). I suppose it could be from the alternate day fasting I’ve been doing to try to kick start my metabolism into doing SOMETHING, anything!  It could be a result of the injection I take for psoriasis, which weakens the immune system.  Lord knows, it’s cold and flu season and, being closed up in a small computer lab with 8 people on Monday mornings certainly is a good way to catch a virus.

In fact, now that I say that, I remember the first day of class, the director said something about someone complaining to her about someone else being “sick” and should have stayed home.  I don’t recall anyone seeming or acting as if they were sniffly or coughing or anything like that, but that was more than a week ago.  I think the incubation period for a cold is 24-72 hours. But I could be wrong.

My doctor called me on Friday to let me know that the results of the colposcopy were normal, that the cell changes seen on the initial exam were just normal changes that occur with age.  One less thing to stress over there.

I have stalled in my weight loss. I’ve been derailed since about Thanksgiving and need to really get myself back into it.  I had been working out, I mean REALLY working out, and now do nothing other than my daily chores and walking.  For a while there, I was putting in between 15,000 and 20,000 steps a day but developed a problem with my left ankle and now cannot do that kind of walking anymore – at least not on a regular basis.  I did join a 1,000 mile challenge – which is just as it sounds: walk 1,000 miles for the year.  Mathematically, that comes out to about 2.75 miles a day or roughly 6700 steps.  So, I set my Fitbit for 7,000 steps a day, and 3 miles (roughly) and have established that as my day-to-day goal.  It’s do-able.

I think I let that ankle issue derail me physically and psychologically.  From one day to the next I don’t know how it’s going to be and I absolutely HAVE to wear my shoes, with orthotics, inside the house every day, all day, lest it flare up again.  And even then, there are some mornings that I wake up with it inflamed so there just doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what aggravates it.

Lynn is have her second rotator cuff surgery today – she had the right arm done last year and is having the left arm done today.  Her sister has driven up from Virginia to stay with her for a while until she is better able to manage day-to-day living alone and one-handed.  She won’t be able to drive for 6 weeks, at least.  I’ll drive over and grab her here and there and at least get her out of the house and doing something besides feeling miserable.

I got her the Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas (and just haven’t gotten it to her yet), and I think it will really perk her up while she recuperates.  She can relax in her bedroom and still have the features of Alexa in there as opposed to just in the kitchen.   I know *I* really enjoy having it in my bedroom, and I’ve hooked up a WeMo switch that is controlled by the Echo so that I can turn on the light in my bedroom from the living room, or from bed when I first awake.  I’m trying to figure out how to do the whole house without it costing an arm and a leg.

I’m going to try to start making a habit of closing out blog entries with a rip on the new President (whose real name will never be mentioned here):

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I’m not sure why Fitbit named their scale Aria.  Unless, of course, it’s a reference to a “fat lady” singing – an old stereotype of opera singers and the old expression “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”  Fat people and scales, I guess.

The Fitbit Aria records your weight, calculates your body fat percentage and transmits, via wifi, your information to the Fitbit web site for you to see on the Fitbit Dashboard.  That’s pretty much it, as far as anything warm and fuzzy this scale does. Oh, and you can have up to 5 users and it remembers them and their data.

In any event, I coughed up the $107.99 for the Fitbit Aria scale on May 31st of last year.  That’s 32½ weeks ago. It comes with a one year manufacturer’s warranty against defects.  Well, here’s the problem. It works, it just doesn’t work accurately. Three weeks after I bought it, I went to and wrote a review.

I like this new scale – it’s sleek, attractive, and does some interesting things. However, FitBit needs to take a look at a couple of things:

First, they need to explain the cause and effect of decreasing weight and increasing body fat percentage. I “googled” it and I understand now that as the weight comes off, the body fat may not decrease at the same rate so if you have lost less body fat than weight, the body fat numbers are going to go up. It just needs to be explained in the instructions or something.

Second, and most important of all, is that it is nowhere near accurate. Now, if you have one and you’re reading this, before you get all riled up because you love your new “accurate” FitBit Aria, let me explain why I say it’s not accurate.

Stand on your scale with your big toes almost touching the circle in the middle, and write down your weight. Let it go through it’s thing, until it shuts off. Now get back on it with your big toes an inch from the circle. You weigh more now, don’t you? Now get on the scale with your feet aligned with the outside edges. See what I’m talking about? If you stand pigeon toed, it’s another number. If you stand with your feet in a V shape, there’s another number. There’s up to a full pound difference, just based on how you position your feet.

I don’t call that accurate. It should be weighing me the same regardless of how I stand or even if I stand on my hands (which would be impossible for me, given my age and weight). Had I known this beforehand, I would not have purchased this scale. I’d have spent far less money on one that would probably be equally as inaccurate, but my wallet wouldn’t be weighing less.

It then all of a sudden started working consistently about a month or so later, so I figured maybe it had gotten some sort of firmware update via the wifi and it was going to be okay. However, in the past couple of weeks, it started acting up.

I was highly offended by it’s insistence that I “step off,” when in fact, I wasn’t ON it. It just kept looping around between “Thinking” and “Step Off.”  So, I pulled the batteries and replaced them, even though it showed that the batteries had plenty of juice.  That seemed to do the trick, but yesterday it started acting up again and this morning, it didn’t matter how many times I pulled the batteries and “rebooted” the system, it kept telling me to “Step Off.”

I finally called Fitbit Customer Service and was connected with “Diego,” a personable man with a delightful Hispanic accent and a cute sense of humor.  He helped me to literally reset the scale (who knew there was a pinhole on the bottom?) and it seems to be working okay for the time being.

I’m still troubled by it’s operation, though.

I have my primary user ID on the scale, set at my initials, PJM. I only weigh myself once each day, at the same time each day, under that user ID. It weighed me, and established my body fat percentage at a whopping 43.2% (I was, after all, up to 193 lbs.)  A week or so later, I created a second one for any “just for giggles” weigh-ins I might want throughout the course of the day (it was PJ2). It weighed me (and it was just about the same weight as when I first set it up), but set my body fat percentage at 38.3% (fully 5 points below the PJM user ID).

As I’ve lost  18 lbs., my body fat percentage has increased on both accounts – with the PJM one at almost FIFTY percent now, and the PJ2 has increased only by roughly 1%.  In the Fitbit forums, it is explained that, as you lose weight, you don’t necessarily lose fat at the same rate, so you might see those numbers go up.  Well, I KNOW I’ve lost fat because I’ve lost inches around my waist and my (considerable) backside. And yet, those numbers have yet to ever go down.

I love my Fitbit tracker and it has been HUGELY instrumental in my weight loss program, but honestly, I could have bought any old digital scale that “measures body fat” and spent a third of what I did for this Fitbit Aria.  But, because of my love for all things techie, I just had to have this toy.

I’m tossing this product on the list of things that, if I had it to do over, I’d do it differently.