Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tony Graduates and All About Iron

My son, Tony, recently graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.  To say I am a proud mother is an understatement.

When Tony was in high school he was an unhappy, overweight young man.  While in his junior year of high school he made the life changing decision to research nutrition and exercise.  He designed a diet and exercise program and in less than a year he lost 85 pounds.  Here he is 5 years later, lean and fit, and ready to embark on a career that he hopes will inspire and educate others.

Oh, and he's engaged to a beautiful, compassionate and wonderful nurse.  I am blessed and I thank God every day for guiding Tony along this path.

Tony still has a few hurdles to leap - before he can become licensed, he has to complete a Dietetic Internship.  Right now he's applying for several.  The selection process is highly competitive and less than 50% of the applicants get placed each year.  He won't find out anything until April.  In the meantime, he's studying so he can take the DTR exam sometime in the coming weeks. "Dietetic Technicians - Registered" would be another skill he can add to his resume and will hopefully help him find some work in his field while he is completing an internship.  He has a lot on his plate but he's confident and focused.

He is also working with The Visual Veggies Software company.  He has partnered with them to test their DTR Exam preparation software.  He will be using their program to study for his DTR exam and will then write an unbiased review on the software.  I think it's an excellent opportunity for him and I know he will give his fair and honest opinion.

The folks over at Visual Veggies asked him to write a couple of blog posts so they could see his work.  I'm going to share one with you today......

Can Iron Give You More Energy?

One of the most common complaints I hear is that “I have no energy”.  Most people attribute this to long work hours, lack of sleep, and/or extracurricular activities.  The problem, however, may be related mostly to ones diet.  Many dietary deficiencies can cause someone to feel that he/she has “no energy”, but the deficiency I will be talking about today is iron deficiency.

What Is The Role Of Iron In The Body?

The primary role of iron is to help make the protein hemoglobin, which is responsible for the delivery of oxygen to the tissues of the body and removal of carbon dioxide.  Without iron hemoglobin cannot be made and, therefore, the exchange of these two gasses cannot occur.  When oxygen transport becomes inhibited, because dietary iron is lacking, it can cause people to feel fatigued, short of breath, dizzy, have frequent headaches, and have many other symptoms.

I'm sure most people would say that oxygen is important.  Like really important.  So its easy to see why iron is essential for our bodies.  

Sources of Iron

The best sources of iron are meat (beef and lamb), chicken liver, seafood (especially clams and oysters), pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and lentils, whole grain products, tofu, and dark chocolate (We finally have an excuse to eat chocolate).

I should note that iron from meat, chicken, and seafood is absorbed better than iron from other sources, but that's a topic for another time.

How Much Iron Do I Need?

The amount of iron that each individual needs changes throughout life depending on age, medical conditions, pregnancy, and other factors. The chart below sums up how much iron is needed by most individuals very well.

**Credit for the chart:


Certain foods and substances do inhibit the absorption of iron when consumed with iron containing foods and supplements.  Calcium, wine, coffee, and tea have all been shown to inhibit the absorption of iron1.  Not all the iron you consume with these substances will be negated, but enough absorption will be inhibited to make a difference in the long run.  It may be beneficial to plan your iron containing meals around your morning coffee, afternoon tea, and/or evening glass of wine (or two).

A recent study indicated that as many as 10 million Americans are iron deficient and that 5 million of those people have iron deficiency anemia (a very severe form of iron deficiency)2.  So if you are experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency it could be worth your time to see your doctor to have your iron status tested.

Do I Need An Iron Supplement?

Most people without iron deficiency anemia will not need an iron supplement to keep their iron status within normal ranges.  This can be done by including a variety of iron containing foods in your diet.  Consuming iron supplements has been indicated to cause a great deal of GI complications so the consumption of an iron supplement should be supervised by a doctor and/or dietitian.


1. Hurrell R, Egli I. Iron bioavailability and dietary reference values. Am J ClinNutr 91: 1461S–1467S, 2010.

2. Miller JL. Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. 2013;3(7):a011866. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a011866.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Interview - Geocacher DTCBears

On Wednesday I did a post on a fantastic geocache series called The Quad City Museum Geocache Series that was put out by geocacher DTCBears, aka Dave.  If you missed the post, please go back and read it here.  I invited Dave over for an interview so we could hear about the hard work and dedication involved in putting out a geocache series, and to share some geocaching stories with us as well.

The Quad City Museum Series consists of 11 geocaches and then a final puzzle cache.  Who came up with the idea for the series?

Gretchen Frick Small, Program Director, Butterworth Center & Deere-Wiman House, 1105 8th Street, Moline, IL  61265, 309-743-2701,  See:

A lot of people aren’t familiar with the term “Quad Cities.”  Please explain what the Quad Cities are.

The Quad Cities is a region of four counties in northwest Illinois and Southeastern Iowa, where the Mississippi River separates Iowa and Illinois,  that includes numerous cities and their adjacent smaller towns. The urban core consists of four principal cities (thus the term ‘Quad’): Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline in Illinois.   Many in the area include a 5th city, East Moline in Illinois, as part of the Quad Cities.  Some used the name ‘Quint Cities’ when including East Moline.   See more here:

This was a huge undertaking considering that you had to scope out cache locations, put the geocache containers together, place the caches, make all the wooden tokens and then write up all the cache descriptions.  Did you work on everything yourself or did you have some help? 

I worked with Gretchen Small to grasp and document her concept of wanting a geocache placed at each participating Q.C. Museum as one part of her Quad Cities Museum Week project, along with a ‘bonus’ cache if geocachers visited all of the sites.  She gathered a list of the key personnel at each museum, and I took it from there…  scheduling meetings with those individuals on site at their locations,  explaining the project and geocaching, and doing walk-arounds to select good placement locations for the caches.  We emailed and phoned each other as questions came up that needed answers. 

Once I reported back with the details, Gretchen then ordered the cache containers, the wooden coins and pencils, and had a worker at the Butterworth Center create and assemble log books. After receiving the containers, it was just myself and great help from my wife, Joyce (geo-ID: MathMate), who took it all from that point, planning, painting the caches, creating a few unique and really fun ‘outer’ containers, placing and securely tethering the containers, filling each with coins/logs/pencils, locking in the coordinates, creating the cache pages, working with each site admin. person when I placed the geocaches, and working with the geocaching admin to get them published all on the same day.  

Two other caches were ‘in the way’ of placing two of the museum caches, so I contacted the two affected cache owners who were nice enough to let me adopt/move their caches to make room for the museum caches…  which added several additional days to the project.  Gretchen repeatedly mentioned how lucky she was to have me ‘running with the project’ because of her required involvement with the rest of the larger Q.C. Museum Week project. 

The cache descriptions are extremely interesting and informative.  Where did you gather all your facts and history?

From each museum’s internet web site, and other ‘on site’ informational brochures.

Do you have any tips or advice for anyone who is interested in doing something similar to highlight their town and open it to the caching community?

Get started early.   What I thought might take a few days/weeks ended up being a couple of months all together.  Get organized and plan well, documenting all of the tasks you need to do.  Then be positive and friendly, informative, and engaging when contacting and meeting with the administrative personnel at each site location to get the proper approvals, and to make them feel it is ‘their’ project/geocache.  Ask them what they would like to see in a geocache, show them examples, get information and photos from them, give them a copy of the completed cache page for approval, and let them know when the caches ‘go live’ and to watch the fun as ‘searchers’ start their hunts.  If you are creative, put together some fun geocaches that involve the place of business or specific area…  like building a birdhouse or a large fake birds nest for a bird seed store, a ‘car part’ cache for an auto parts store, ‘critter’ caches for wildlife area, etc.

How long have you lived in the Quad city area? 

All my life… 62 years.

Did you have any problems getting permission to place the caches at their locations? 

Not at all!  Quite the opposite! Because the locations were all museums, they were very receptive to implementing anything ‘family fun’ that was related to their museum and would bring attention to, and bring potential visitors to, these spots.

Of all the caches that you’ve placed, which is your favorite location and why?  

Excluding the Q.C. Museum series, we have caches in 30 or more of the Davenport Iowa Parks, and have implemented several series(s) including a sports ‘Balls’ series, an ‘Up the Creek’ series, and a bike ‘Path’ series.  But I guess one of the most challenging and fun caches we placed was the NIGHT CACHE that MathMate and I installed at the Black Hawk Forest at the Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island Illinois.  We placed over 350 trail tacks throughout the trails of this wonderful forest to ‘light the way’ for geocachers to the final cache! We have also ‘walked the forest’ a couple of times each year since the original placement to refresh any missing tacks while watching the deer, squirrels, birds, raccoons, and other wildlife each time we hike there.  See: GC4NYVJ

How long have you been geocaching?  

Just had my 4 year anniversary…  since January of 2012.  In that time, I have found over 8,800 geocaches, and have placed and/or maintain 280 geocaches in the Quad Cities area.

What is your caching name and why did you choose it?  

DTCBears is a combination of my initials: DTC, and two of my lifelong favorites: The Chicago Bears NFL team, and of course the outdoors/wildlife.  The addition of the word ‘Bears’ worked for both of those.

What is the best cache you’ve ever done that is not one of your own?

In addition to many challenging 5x5 caches, hikes to caches in the mountains and desert backcountry, and a bunch of really fun ‘cschooner’ caches in Scottsdale, AZ, I guess my favorite ‘best cache’ to-date was: 49 AND HOLDING THE CACHE A GOLD MINER'S DELIGHT in Pella, Iowa.  See: GC202RG  At this writing, it has 423 favorite points!  No sneak preview from me.  It’s awesome. Go see it!  

Well, I've added 49 AND HOLDING THE CACHE A GOLD MINER'S DELIGHT  to my list of must-do caches!  I'd like to thank Dave for taking the time to stop by for an interview and on behalf of the geocaching community, thank you (and Gretchen) for conceptualizing and placing this great series of geocaches.  You've found an innovative way to introduce the geocaching community to your wonderful area.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Quad City Museum Geocache Series

About a month ago we took a road trip with my parents to the Quad City area, which straddles the Illinois/Iowa border.  We had a list of geocaches in hand that we wanted to tackle - a great series put out by geocacher DTCBears called The Quad City Museum Geocache Series.  

The series consists of 11 geocaches with a 12th bonus cache and each is placed near a museum or a historic location - you know how much I love to combine history with geocaching!

Let me show you some of the geocache locations.  The first one we did was called A Chip off the Old Buffalo.  This one was located at the Buffalo Bill Museum.  We've been to this museum before and it's a great place.  If you're a fan of Buffalo Bill, you will want to visit here and leave plenty of time to walk thru.

The geocache was strategically placed.  You can actually see the clever container in this photo, but I'm not giving out any secrets....

Where the Buffalo Roam  is another "must see" location because it's the family homestead of Buffalo Bill, complete with buffalo and the original house. Can you see the buffalo in the background?

I wish the house would have been open because I would have loved to walk around inside....

We saw deer off the back porch....

Put the Hammer Down in Our Town is a cool little historic village.  From the cache page....  The Dan Nagel Walnut Grove Pioneer Village is an Open Air Museum, with 19 historical Scott County buildings depicting a rural Iowa community from 1850-1950, including an 1870's church, one-room school, two log cabins, blacksmith shop and house, saloon, soda fountain, general store, and more!


The village was closed  up tight when we got there, so we kind of sneaked in.  As we were squeezing thru the fence a guy pulled up in a pick up truck and asked what we were doing.  We yelled "Geocaching" and he laughed, told us to have a good time, and waved as he pulled away.

Once we found the geocache we hurried through the town just to look at everything....

Book Immooile #1    was another favorite - I always like finding these clever lending libraries.  Be sure to bring a book to leave.

The photo of the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum is also the location of the The Mighty Rigs of Yesteryear  and that trucking museum is absolutely phenomenal!  They are adding another half-again as long/big building addition on the rear of the current structure (that is already a monster!) to add tons of additional trucks and historical items!  

In Plain View  is hidden near The World's Largest Truck Stop.  Now that is something you're not gonna see everyday.   From their website:  Today, after 28 expansions and remodels, Iowa 80 is overseen by the second generation of the Moon Family, and includes the Iowa 80 Kitchen, a 300-seat restaurant; gift store, the Super Truck Showroom, a dentist, a barber shop, a chiropractor, a workout room, laundry facilities, a 60-seat movie theatre, a trucker’s TV lounge, a Verizon store kiosk, 24 private showers, a Food Court featuring Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Caribou Coffee; a convenience store, a custom embroidery and vinyl shop, 10 gas islands, 16 diesel lanes, a fuel center, a 7-bay truck service center, a 3-bay Truckomat truck wash, a CAT Scale, a Dogomat Pet Wash, and the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.    This one cache was not part of the QC Museum series, but it's so close to The Mighty Rigs cache that you have to stop and grab it.  Go inside and check out the truck stop - it is HUGE!

The next cache Kids Play Here   was hidden outside a children's museum.  It was obviously a very popular place judging by the steady stream of people in and out as we searched for the geocache.  Nobody gave us a second glance while we looked high and low near this bridge.

Has Anyone Seen My Mummy   is at the Putman Building.  This place sounds pretty interesting and I bet kids of all ages would have a ball here:  The Putnam has been inspiring ideas, dialogue and interaction among people of all ages for nearly 150 years! And today, we’re better than ever with hands-on fun for the whole family! Launch rockets or interact with a robot in our Science Center, visit our famous mummies in Unearthing Ancient Egypt, climb into a treehouse in Black Earth | Big River or go back in time to see our region’s history in River, Prairie, and People.  

 Wilkommen to Where the Family Trees Grow  is a beautiful old building.  Visit the cache page to read the history on this one.  It was starting to get late in the day and we had to hurry along so we could find the rest of the geocaches before it got dark.  I would have liked to explore this location a little further.

Deere's Heir  is hidden at the house that John Deere's son built for his wife in 1871 and it housed 4 generations of Deere descendants.   I saw a red fox running across the property as we searched for the cache.

I think my favorite cache of the day was We're Going to Need a Bigger Bottle of Windex.  Great cache name and it makes perfect sense once you look at the building, don't you agree?

One of the best aspects of geocaching, besides the places it takes you, is the people you meet and the stories you can tell.  Finding this cache comes with a great story:

We arrived at GZ (ground zero) and started looking around. Nothing. We walked all the way around the building... still nothing. Went back to original GZ and kept looking. Read past logs on the cache page.... still nothing. My husband walked inside and asked the girl at the gift counter if she knew about the geocache. She said, " yes - it's outside."  We walked all over the place outside and searched again. Still nothing. Went back inside and asked Laura if she could come give us a hint. She walked outside and said "Hmmmm.... The host is gone! It was here yesterday." 

She went inside and called security who confirmed that the cache host had been put into storage for the winter. The security guard kindly brought the log sheet and clue up for us to sign. Big sigh of relief all around since we drove all the way from Chicago specifically to do this series and if we didn't get this cache, we were sunk.

Laura - adorable girl at the desk with the green hair, now has the log book and she said cachers should come see her until the CO decides what to do about the missing host.  
See, I told you that was a great story!

As we found each geocache and signed our names, we also had to write down a numeric clue that was written in each logbook.  These numbers would be used later to find a Bonus Cache.  Another fun feature was getting to grab a commemorative souvenir token from each cache.

Once we found the 11 main geocaches we had to go to the QC Museum Bonus Cache page and use the aforementioned numbers to solve a puzzle.  Puzzle caches are not our strong suit so we were thrilled that we calculated correctly the first time and we quickly found the bonus geocache.  Woo hoo!  And none too soon as the sun was setting.

I'm a big fan of a geocache series that takes us around to historic locations and this was one fun series.  The Quad Cities area really puts their best foot forward with a wonderful selection of attractions, history and museums.   You can easily spend 2 days in this area checking out all the fun things to see and do.  Next post coming up is an interview with the geocacher who placed the series -  DTCBears.  Be sure to come back for that!

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