Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Experiment Continues

We're doing some experimenting recently in an attempt at creating a healthy, financially independent lifestyle for ourselves.

We moved our email, blog and web pages from the dedicated server I've been running in our garage to Google. We sold our 10-year old Mercedes and bought a newer used Prius. We're cleaning out the garage in and we'll be converting it to a rental unit. I'm riding my bicycle to work whenever possible. We switched to a low fat vegan diet.

Whoa - what's that? Vegan?

Being vegetarian isn't something new to me. I've been pretty much meat free for about 15 years. Of course it wasn't always easy. There's the peer pressure to deal with and just because you're a vegetarian doesn't mean that you're eating healthy. After all a veggie pizza is loaded with cheese and I know all too well what that can do to my cholesterol level.

Call me a tree-hugging hippie, I don't care, I feel great and my blood test shows just how far I've come since cutting out cheese, and fish--after all aren't we supposed to eat salmon to get enough Omega-3? Not!

Here's how it went so far this year.

                   January June August
Total Cholesterol    289   215   183
LDL Cholesterol      214   121   115
HDL Cholesterol       48    56    42

On January my cholesterol was sky high so I cut out the cheese, started eating more fish and began running every morning. On June 27 through 29 Rosie and I took a Celebrity Chef weekend seminar put on by Dr. John McDougall and decided to follow his low fat vegan recommendations. I also started riding my bicycle to work as much as possible for exercise.

Oh, but not eating meat-that must really limit my food choices. Well, I thought I'd document my meals, just to prove that a low fat vegan diet doesn't have to be boring.

Skipping the donuts, pastries, eggs and yogurt, I went for a bowl of oatmeal and a plate full of fruit at the studio commissary
Cucumber salad with peppers and couscous, pasta salad, curried vegetables with brown rice and yet some more pasta. What can I say, I like pasta and as long as it isn't loaded up with Alfredo sauce or oily marinara or smothered with cheese, pasta isn't fattening.
Working in the movie industry isn't all that glamorous, I often have to work through dinner. This is the time when trying to pick something out of a "Restaurants on the Run" menu can get quite challenging. No pizza or chicken wings for me, here I went for lentil soup and white bean hummos with pita bread.

You might notice that there aren't any drinks with my meals. Even though I do like a glass of red wine with dinner every once in a while I don't generally drink with my meals anymore. I heard that digestion is hampered by too much liquids, especially cold liquids and the usual cold soft drinks, especially sodas, does not do a body good. Oh and of course milk is out of the question. However, I do take in fluids during the day. I always ride my bicycle with a full bottle of water so that's a couple of liters per day just on my commute. In addition, I sip some herbal tea while working so my toal liquid intake is about 4 liters, about a gallon.

What about snacks? Motion picture studios are notorious for having lots of junk food on the set but if you look hard enough there's also fruit. My favorite snack is a banana. Not banana chips or banana flavored jelly beans or choclolate covered bananas, just plain peel and eat bananas.

So, the experiment continues. Up until now this blog has been just a personal exercise log and scrap book but we're turning a corner and expanding into other areas. In future posts we will be publishing articles about personal finance, healthy living and even some of our favorite recipies. Hopefully it will attract the interest of others looking to improve their health, wealth and life in general.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Moving the Blog

After years of running my own server I thought it was about time I downsized and simplified my digital lifestyle. As of today the Digiola Blog is moving from the computer in my garage to the Google servers located who knows where.

I tried several tools for moving old posts from the garage server running Gentoo Linux and Wordpress to Google's Blogger. The one that worked for me was BlogSync.

At this time Google has a limit of 50 posts per day and BlogSync is showing the posts in alphabetical order instead of chronological order so things will seem a bit wonky until all the posts are moved over.

After moving the posts I'll have to move the photos, videos and other media before I can pull the plug on my server.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Almost Fell off the Bus

In my quest to become a "green" commuter while staying out of the bicycle unfriendly roads in Los Angeles, I tried riding the bus with my bike today. It seemed like a good idea, ride the bike on the wide flat roads and get on the bus to go over the hill with the narrow roads. The buses here have racks that can carry a couple of bicycles. Well, I never used one of those things but how hard can it be?

I timed my commute, just to see how it compared with mashing my way over the hill. First of all it took me a while to find the bus stop. I found one at the Warner Brother's Studio main gate, turned out that there was another bus stop closer to my usual route but I guess that I never noticed it even though I go past it every day. First leg, DreamWorks Animation in Glendale to Warner Brothers in Burbank, about 20 minutes. Next came the wait at the bus stop, there were a couple of kids there asking me when the bus is coming, (I didn't know but I figured that one should come by every 20 minutes or so) how much does it cost to ride, (didn't know that either, I got a bus pass from work) and how much for a taxi (no help there either)--they got tired of waiting and went off looking for another way to get to their destination. I guess I must have just missed a bus because I had to wait about 30 minutes until the 222 showed up. Getting the bike on the rack was no big deal, I just followed the instructions from the Bike Guide I got from the Metro website. I flashed the pass at the driver and took a seat where I had a clear view out the front windshield so I could keep an eye on my bike. It started out fine but it seemed to sway back and forth a bit more and more each time the bus would brake and accelerate. About halfway into the ride the driver stopped the bus. He was quite visibly angry as he honked his horn and said, "Sir, you bike is about to fall off." I jumped out and sure enough the retaining bar that is supposed to secure the bike in place slipped off the back wheel and it was a miracle that my bike, didn't turn into road kill. I flipped it around and tried the bar on the front wheel and it looked like it would hold a bit better. So much for using the bus to keep from building up a sweat--I worked up more of a sweat than riding over the hill! Total time for the bus ride, 9 minutes. I got off on Cahuenga and Franklin and rode down Cahuenga to Melrose, which was a much better route than Highland with it's narrow traffic lanes and traffic that obeys no speed limits. Last leg, about 28 minutes.

Total commuting time: 1 hour 27 minutes.

That's about 20 minutes longer than biking over the hill and fighting L.A. traffic. Not great, but it's an option when I get off work after dark and want to improve my chances of living through the commute.

All I've got to do to make this work is to figure out how to use those bus bike racks. I think the main problem was the big, heavy, steel, front basket on my bicycle. In fact the Rider's Guide states that:
Tandem bikes or bikes with motors, solid
wheels, large racks, child seats or other
attachments are not allowed.

Oops. I guess I should either remove the basket or get another bicycle just for bus commuting. Hum, that bike my brother gave me could make a cool fixed gear conversion.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sign of the Times?

I'm interested in all things somewhat off the mainstream, recumbent bicycles for instance. One of the best recumbent bike blogs, therecumbentblog, recently closed down and the author went with a more "mainstream" bike blog, ecovelo. Furthermore, long time make of long wheelbase recumbents, easyracers, has started distributing folding electric bicyles that they have built or designed.

Of course it does make sense. I'm planning on combining the bus with the bicycle for my daily commute but there is only enough room for two bicycles on the bus bike rack. A folding bike would take care of the rack problem and the electric motor will be a blessing should I miss the bus and have to ride the bike all the way.

Besides, the Ecobike Vatavio is cool!