Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Day 25 - Fresh Fish From Florida!

Still catching up on posts so all I have for today is that I had lobster scrambled eggs for breakfast - and it was sooooo good!

Day 24 - Back to the grind

Weight 183.8

With all of the activity and eating and drinking I've done over the past few days on my mini vacation, I've only added about 2 pounds!  That's amazing.  Actually, I'm pretty amazing because I didn't stray too far off the SDC and believe me, I was tempted to many times.  But when you continue to eat fresh, local foods in moderation and stay away from the crap, it's not that difficult.

Day 23 - Sunday Sleeping and Sushi

I woke up this morning to find myself in a La Quinta Inn in Clifton, NJ along route 3.  At least I was fully dressed, without a hangover and both kidneys in tact.  The first sentence of this entry usually follows with some horror story.  Not today.

Day 22 - Going, Going, Going 24 Hours Straight

It has been really hard to play catch up on these blog entries.  I'm going to do the best I can but I might skip a few days here and there.  Cut me some slack already! Ha.

Day 21 - Islamorada

As planned, dad and I began today with a trip to the Marriott breakfast buffet.  We had to get up a little early - around 7 - but it was fairly easy and we had a pretty restful sleep after such a busy day.  I had some fruit and some other typical buffet items but nothing too crazy.  Moderation and thoughtful planning are the keys to success. I brought my leftover fish from last night's dinner and made up about four delicious fish sandwiches and also spread some mango chutney on them.  Over the top!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Day 20 - Beating the Unbeatable Day

How do you follow a day like yesterday?  Well, with a day like today I suppose...

With a 7am wake-up call at the Marriott, Dad and I looked out our balcony and could see Captain Tony rigging up his boat in preparation for this morning's fishing excursion. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Day 19 - Et tu, Brute? Et tu?

Today was a whirlwind from start to finish - and one of the best days in my life that I can recall!  Wow - how's that for an intro?

Day 18 - Tuesday Trippin

Weight 182
BP 133/88

Today is my last day of work before my mini Florida vacation (and it is a long one).  I have a lot on my mind and I'm getting excited to get out of town even if it's just for three days.

At lunch time today I went to get my bag of trail mix because I thought it would be a good food item to take with me on the plane and for healthy snacks on my trip.  I had the idea to go to Trader Joe's and buy some granola along with freeze dried dehydrated fruit - blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.  I mixed it all together in a ziploc bag and then added some MnM's to give it a little punch of sweetness and chocolate (allowed by the SDC rules - Woo Hoo!).

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Day 17 - Achy Monday

Weight 181.2
BP 140/90

I was very achy and tired this morning.  It took some effort to get out of bed after all of my activity yesterday.  I didn't eat breakfast but I brought some smoked trout pieces into work for a snack before lunch.  My lunch was quite filling and delicious.  I picked off some broccoli rabe from the remaining plant in the garden and added it to some fried rice and the last of my eggs.  With a little butter and some spices I managed to turn this into quite a nice lunch.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Day 16 - The Wall of Murk

Weight 182.4

I woke up this morning and checked a few things on my computer: the weather, the wind, the tide and the Monmouth Beach webcam.  I could see from the comfort of my home that the ocean was flat calm with no waves and no wind.  Immediately I thought about trying some spearfishing off the beach.  The conditions looked great.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Day 15 - Smokey Saturday

Weight 181.8

Spring is finally here and today I had to continue a long overdue project in the garden.  I promised Debbie that I would construct some type of hydration system for the garden boxes and I got halfway through it last season but never finished.  With an idea in my head, I went to Lowes to get supplies.  This was a good distraction from food today.

I worked very hard in the garden and got a lot done today (to be continued tomorrow and beyond).  I worked very closely to the asparagus patch and a couple times I accidentally stepped on a few new stalks coming out of the ground.  These were 'instant eats' and although I'm not a big fan of raw asparagus, they were fine - just a little dirty.  A few times during my project I completely ran out of energy.  It came back quickly but it's a strange feeling when all of a sudden your body just feels totally wiped out and you need to take a rest.

garden hydro-project
During the same time I got the smoker going again to finish up the new batch of trout I caught this week.  It's a tedious process to meticulously clean and de-bone the fish, then brine the fillets and finally dry and smoke them.  They had been sitting in the brine overnight and today they were ready for drying. I used a much smaller amount of salt with this batch and it made a big difference.  However, these fish are quite small and the fillets are thin so when I go through this process they get even smaller and thinner.  This leaves me with a final product that is more like jerky than smoked fish.  When the bluefish arrive (which should be very soon) I will be able to repeat the process with some thicker pieces.  The dehydrator really takes a lot of the moisture out of anything so the longer it's in there, the thinner and tougher and more jerky like the final product will be.

happy smoker

smoked trout fillets
I don't mind so much with the trout because I chop it up into little bite sized pieces and nibble on it as a snack throughout the day.  It's nice to have a go to snack that's salty and sweet.


Today marks the end of the second week and beginning of the third and my Weekly Reward for surviving this week is supposed to be a jar of popcorn and a jar of trail mix (granola, nuts, chocolate).  Both of these will be nice intermediate snack food to have between meals.  I'll have to make a market run to see what blend of trail mix I can put together.  I usually make my own with ingredients I like - rather than getting a pre-made package.

Oh Bee-hive, baby.

Day 14 - Finally Friday

Weight 182.8
BP 131/89

My weight has been hovering around the 182 mark pretty steadily this whole week which is what I had expected.  I haven't had even the slightest sign of a headache since that second day - this is reason enough alone for me to do the SDC indefinitely.  My BP is slightly better but I'm going to have to incorporate some type of exercise routine in order to see better results there.  Overall I feel quite good without suffering any feelings of starvation.  There's a reasonable amount of food available to me - it's just difficult to eat the same things day after day and still be excited about it.  Variety is definitely needed but my upcoming trip is keeping my spirits up in anticipation of some different than normal foods stuff.

I had a short day at work today which gave me time to clean and brine all of those trout - a very tedious process.  I cooked up two of them for lunch and dinner and it was finally nice to add some butter and spice to my meals.  I also got my first decent pick of asparagus from the garden.  There are quite a few coming up now and should continue to be plentiful for the next few weeks.  Unfortunately, if history tells me anything, if I over indulge on the asparagus then I will be completely sick of them in another week.  That's why I have been so grateful for the broccoli rabe plant that has produced so much green food nutrition for me up to this point.  It has allowed me to not have to eat dandelion greens at all - although I know deep down that these are the best for me in so many ways.

Trout Butter Asparagus = Dinner

I made some more plans for my trip with dad next week.  We lined up some fishing guides to take us out and show us the ropes in how to catch some decent food fish on the reefs.  I just hope the weather is cooperative.  My mom was able to get a comp room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Ft Lauderdale for our last night which will save us a few hundred dollars more (unless I gamble it away in the casino).  Who knows - maybe I'll win and be able to finance the entire trip by gambling.  Fat chance - but you never know. . .


Day 13 - Planning a Trip

Weight 183

Today is Thursday - just trying to get through this week at work.  My food distraction today (besides working) was to plan a short trip to the Florida Keys.  I didn't think I was going to be able to swing it but as it turns out I have off from work next Wednesday through Friday and rather than same old same old surviving in New Jersey, I actually decided to get the hell out of Dodge for a few days.

Originally I was just going to go alone to do it as inexpensively as possible.  I had planned to go fishing on the patch reefs and hopefully catch a few species of fish that are delicious.  I shared my plan with my dad and he decided to come along with me on this trip.  Even better.  We get to share in the expenses and have a nice mini vacation together.  I was able to use some travel points to pay for flights and maybe some of the car rental and hotel costs.  This should be a relatively low cost venture over the course of three nights.  I'm looking forward to it - and that's something to give me a mental edge during the SDC.

I have decided to take this trip but also to only do a semi-Survivor Diet during this time.  I'm not going to hold as strictly to it as usual and I am going to add on an additional week to the end of my SDC.  Basically, I'm taking a three to four day semi-break and exchanging it for seven days added on.  I think I can live with that decision.  I say 'semi' because one of my objectives in going to the Keys is to explore other survivor food opportunities in a very different environment than what I am used to.  I optimistically plan to catch a bunch of fish and believe that I will be able to take fish back home with me.  The weather seems to always be a factor when I future plan trips like these.  I often have delusions of grandeur of the best possible scenarios and many times in the past my general expectations have not been met - typically due to less than ideal weather and wind.

I have a few objectives on this trip in addition to bringing home some fish.  Although I know the Keys fairly well, I've never gone there with the intention of looking for a place to invest in a future property.  I'm not financially ready to do this yet but I'm going to explore a bit more (if I have the time) and seek out ideal places for future Survivor Diets.  What I mean by this is to look for places where living off the land is very doable and the variety of food and fish is much more exciting than what I am exposed to in New Jersey.  I've always thought I would like to retire in the Keys and have a small place with a boat.  This is step one toward that future goal.

Ok, enough daydreaming.  I've been eating mostly rice, trout, broccoli rabe and the occasional asparagus for the past week.  I have used very little butter and very little spice so far (week one rewards).  I have also been rationing the eggs gifted to me and I have about three left.  I have a mess of trout that has been partially cleaned and waits in the refrigerator for the final cleaning and de-boning process.  I'll try to get to that tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Day 12 - Something's Fishy With These Bees

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."


I hit the trout pond a couple times over the past few days and I managed to stockpile about 14 fish.  Today I cleaned them all and I will go through the brine and smoke process in the next few days.  I am going to try to minimize the salt this time.  Hopefully I will figure out the details of my recipe without ruining any fish.

I had an active tennis lesson today and my energy level seemed to be sufficient to get through it.  I was happy about that.

Still eating from my broccoli rabe plant and I have been watching in anticipation as more asparagus poke through the top soil.  I should have a bounty of asparagus right as I finish up the broccoli rabe.

Despite being a bit chilly today I released all of the bees into their new homes today.  I made a video of the whole process.  These bees were oddly lethargic.  I probably didn't even need to put my protective suit on - but I did.  I've been stung enough to know how to play it safe.  Because it was still cold outside, I think that they were content to just ball up around the queen to keep her cozy warm.  They didn't do any swarming or flying around the hive.  I'm sure they will get busy as soon as the sun comes out.

Follow the Queen

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Day 11 - Feeling Broken

Weight 183.2
BP 138/88

"The spirit, the will to win, the will to endure - these qualities are much more important than the actual events that occur."

Day 11 is quite difficult for me.  Mentally, I'm starting to get a bit shaky.  The constant assault of delicious looking and smelling food all around me is driving me quite mad.  Foods that I normally wouldn't even care much about are calling to me and my will power is being tested.  It's strange how it hit me all at once today.  I began to ask myself questions like, "Why am I doing this to myself - again?" and "Why can't I just have a little bit of the yummy stuff?"

At the same time, the foods that I have been eating and enjoying have all just become utterly disgusting and repulsive.  I changed the water in my clam cooler today and it was really gross.  The clams must filter out a lot of crap (literally) and it's making me wonder if I should ever eat them.  There were a couple dead ones in the cooler which made everything smell badly.  Hopefully the fresh bucket of water will cleanse the ones that are still alive.

I'm totally off my mental game and I think all I need is a big juicy hamburger to get back on track.  Ha!  Seriously though, read what happened to me this morning...

I was rushing to get ready for work and I quickly cooked a soft boiled egg and ate it as I was going out the door.  It was delicious - cooked the same exact way I have been cooking my eggs recently.  However, I didn't drink any water after eating it and I got right into my truck and headed to work.  Because I didn't wash it down fully, the soft yolk probably got stuck to my esophagus a little and I started to get a very strange gaggy feeling in the back of my mouth and throat.  I repeatedly tried to swallow but it felt as if something was preventing me.  All of a sudden I felt a surge of vomit saliva flow into my mouth.  It all happened so fast but I clearly recognized the signs of the nausea cycle beginning.  Luckily I had a bucket right next to me in the truck and while driving I grabbed the bucket and did the P-MAV.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the P-MAV, it stands for the "Peterson Method to Avoid Vomiting" and it was invented by your's truly.  I'm not going to go into too much detail about it here but if you're interested in learning more about the P-MAV you can go to Amazon and get a P-MAV manual (link/plug).  On a positive note I was able to avoid vomiting completely and as an added bonus I was able to collect a saliva sample in my bucket for the lab to analyze.  When I got to work I mailed it off to the lab for testing.

Back to the cause - This response came on literally within 20 seconds of eating the egg so I'm 100% sure it was not a 'bad egg' - the taste, smell and feel were all normal.  Something in the stickiness of the yolk attaching to my throat elicited a response in my body to go into emergency mode.  The entire event was quite harmless and it was all over in a matter of two minutes.  It was interesting and hopefully we'll get some more information from the lab results.  I think if I had simply washed the egg down with some water, none of this would have happened.

For lunch I had a single asparagus and some broccoli rabe with a couple pieces of smoked trout.  My supplies are running short so I have to keep my head in the game and figure out a way to restock.  I am off from work tomorrow so I better get my act together by then.  Mentally, I am just very down on the SDC right now.  Temptations to cheat are everywhere and other than the potential health benefits there's nothing else that's really motivating me to continue.  I wish that there was some kind of activity or food to look forward to.  The saying, "variety is the spice of life" has a very profound meaning to me now.  I feel like I don't have anything cool or interesting on my short term time horizon and it's getting me down in the dumps.  Sorry I have not photos or videos of me sitting at my desk at work today being a lump.  Have I mentioned that I'm struggling a little today?

I don't think this is going to 'cure' anything, but my depressed mood led me to think about taking a quick weekend trip to Florida.  I have a couple free days next week and there's a small window of opportunity that I may be able to take advantage of.  I was thinking about all of the different fish species that are available down in the Keys and how wonderful it would be to get some variety.  I might just do it.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Day 10 - Rain Rain Go Away

Weight 183
BP 134/86

I have nothing to report on the Survivor front today other than I put another day in the books.  10 days means I'm a quarter of the way there.  I may not end at 40 days this season.  I'm considering a plan that extends the SDC a week for every year that a person completes it.  I'm not going to go back in time and add weeks based on that but if I start this year I will extend it to 47 days.

I have noticed in the past that I get into a rhythm towards the end and it becomes a lot easier.  Adding another week wouldn't be too difficult.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Day 9 - Bad Weather Returns

Weight 183

"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much."

The cold, windy and rainy weather came back with a vengeance today.  I was starting to think we would have a pleasant April but remembering back to prior Survivor Diets, today's weather is what I was faced with in the first few weeks.

I had my first softball game of the season this morning and it was cold and miserable.  I had to stand out in the wind and mild rain for a couple hours and afterwards I had a hard time getting my core temperature back to normal.  A hot bath did the trick.

Not much on the Survivor front today.  I cooked a big dinner (chicken Fajitos) for the family and I ate my trout candy with rice and water.  I picked on the smoked trout throughout the day and I think I may have had a little more than I should have.  I need to ration it wisely now because this nasty weather looks like it will stick around for a few more days making it impossible to do any outdoor activities.

I got my new package of bees yesterday and all I did was put the box of bees into the hive without releasing them.  I knew the weather was going to be nasty for a few days so I'm hoping they will be safer inside the hive all bundled up in a tight bee ball.  I plan to suit up in my beekeepers outfit and release them as soon as possible.  Hopefully they will be ok until then.

Day 8 - These Trout are Smokin'

Weight 182

"Discipline yourself to do the things you need to do when you need to do them, and the day will come when you will be able to do the things you want to do when you want to do them."

My clams are alive and well inside a cooler in my garage with an aerator bubbling away.  I changed the water in the cooler yesterday with a fresh bucket (5 gal) from the river.  Today I noticed a bunch particles that I could only describe as clam crap inside the cooler.  I assume they are going through some detoxification process similar to what I am going through.  I have never kept clams alive for an extended period of time like this so I'm curious how this is going to affect their overall taste.  The last time I ate them I was left with a 'river bottom stink' in my palate and I am hoping that this long filtration process will change all that.  I plan to change the water out every few days so I will probably get some indication about how clean they are based on the debris in the water each time I change it.  Another interesting SDC experiment.

Cherrystones, steamers and one razor clam

It was a beautiful day today and I spent most of it outside fiddling with the new smoker.  After a soak in brine, the trout fillets were ready to be dried.  I have a fan dehydrator in the garage and this process took a couple hours.  While the fish was drying I did some finishing touches on the new smoker and then ran it through a cycle in order to make sure I knew how to work it properly.  When the fish was dry, I added the pieces to the racks in the smoker and let it run for about two hours.

Smoking Trout
This new piece of equipment is fantastic compared to the way I used to smoke fish.  I know a lot of you are probably thinking that this isn't true surviving - using a high tech digital smoking grill to do the work.  I have to agree with you.  You're right.  But I am learning from this and with the information I get I should be able to make a fully operational natural smoker.  In the past I was using way too many wood chips and I also was not curing my fish properly.  There are may ways to do it so it is really up to your personal preference and how you like your smoked meats.

Smoker at work

In the end, the finished product was a success with a slight failure.  Once again I used too much salt in the brine process.  This resulted in an overly salty jerky.  The smoker worked perfectly and was a breeze to start up and to clean and store.  It has given me many ideas for future use.  As for my salty trout. . . I wasn't that bad so it's definitely edible.  I brushed on some honey for the last half hour of smoking to give it a nice glaze and slight sweetness.  I can handle the extra salty flavor for this batch and I'm not about to let 11 trout go to waste.  Now I just need to catch some more.  I can probably live off of this supply for a few days without a problem.

salty trout candy

Speaking of problems, I have a Survivor Diet dilemma in the form of a slightly 'Special Occasion' that came up today.  A group of my family members went to a P!ink concert and everyone met out for dinner at a restaurant before the event.  I had a difficult time with this despite everyone knowing I was doing the SDC.  I could have kept to the diet but in all honesty I did not.  Instead I had a moderate amount of real food and I didn't feel guilty about it until this moment while I type this log.  This is a good reason to keep a log because it forces me to be held accountable for my actions.

I thought long and hard about whether to penalise or punish myself for my wrongdoings.  I was thinking about several options: 
1) I could do nothing and just blow it off as a momentary lapse of judgement - and then move on.  
2) I could invoke a "Special Occasion Reward" as set forth in the SDC Official Rules and Guidelines (see link above).  In this case I would need to 'trade' my indulgences from this evening for one of my upcoming Weekly Rewards.

Here's what I ate so that you, the reader, can get some idea about the severity of this violation: Red wine (about 2 glasses), small bite of Italian bread dipped in olive oil (it was just a taste that I really didn't even enjoy), tomato and sliced mozzarella salad, foie gras (one slice), broccoli rabe and a couple small taster bites from other people's plates such as a bite of beef carpaccio, chicken, lamb, and pollenta.  

I was mindful about trying to moderate the quantities of food.  I ordered things that were in the realm of Survivor Diet food stuff.  And I also paid a pretty harsh price in my bathroom when I got home later that evening if you know what I mean.  For a week my body has been purged of unnatural ingredients and although what I ate was not extremely rich or saucy, there were some things that my stomach was just not ready for.  

Here's what I'm prepared to do.  I am going to go with option #1 above for now because I feel as if I paid a pretty bad price already due to the stomach pangs and diarrhoea.  However, if I get a minimum of 10 viewers out there in the world who vote on option #2 within the next week, then I will abide by that decision and go with the Special Occasion Reward exchange option.  Leave your opinion in the comments section below.  If anyone has another option I'd be willing to listen as well.

So there you have it.  I'm leaving my fate up to the readers and I am in a sense trying to get a feel if there are many/any people out there that are actually following me or reading any of this.  If nobody really cares what I do then I might as well just chalk this one up to a momentary lack of will-power, an move on the best way that I know how.  I've always suspected that I'm going through the motions and doing all of this just for myself anyway but there was always an inkling of hope that my SDC would spread and my messages would be heard.  Even if only for entertainment value.  We'll see. . .

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Day 7 - Say Goodbye to Bland

Weight 181.8

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise"

I started out today with a delicious breakfast of steamed broccoli rabe and a soft boiled egg with a pinch of sea salt. In our garden we have one medium sized patch of broccoli rabe that popped up as the first green crop of the season - beating out the asparagus patch by a nose. The asparagus are coming - I can see their tips starting to break ground level. There was one full stalk that I ate raw on the spot but I'm guessing in about a week there will be many more to harvest. In the mean time, the broccoli rabe has been fantastic. I'm trying to ration wisely and only trim off enough from this patch for each serving. It's got a slight bitterness but not nearly as bitter as dandelion greens. I know the dandelions pack the most nutritional benefits of anything I have to eat but I still just can't get past the taste. I'd have to be pretty desperate to have a dandelion salad again. I had one many years ago and the memory of that still troubles me.

Broccoli Rabe

Cooks quickly

Breakfast

I had a pretty easy day at work and I didn't pack any lunch.  When I came home around noon I had another egg, some rice and water.  I've really been overindulging in my egg gift.  I'm not doing a very good job of rationing them.  I ate another for dinner.  Maybe tomorrow I'll try to lay off the eggs as I have some plans for my trout.

I spent about an hour today de-boning all of my cleaned trout.  I think there were 13 fish in all.  I did a little YouTube research and figured out the method I will use to smoke and preserve my fish for long term.  I used salt and honey as a brine and have my fillets soaking in it overnight.  Tomorrow the plan is to dry the fillets and then test out the new smoker.

I unpacked the smoker which was no small task.  I didn't realize it had to be assembled.  It took over an hour just to put it all together following pretty poor instructions.  It looks fairly simple to operate.  After I dry my trout I will put the smoker to use tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, this day will conclude my first week and therefore I will receive my first reward - butter and spices.  Say goodbye to the bland food and hello to butter!  The first week is always a challenge with all the bland food.  I have to say however, that broiling the trout, making the sea salt and the broccoli rabe have all added quite good tastes to my meals without seasoning.  Not to mention the egg yolks.  They are quite yummy.  Looking forward to some new flavors tomorrow.

As I type this, my super smelling is detecting hamburgers cooking downstairs.  It's 12 AM and Ty is cooking up a midnight snack of burgers and it smells amazing.  I can almost taste it.  I want to go lick the burger fat off the bottom of the pan.

No luck so far with the squirrel trap although the 'walk the plank' trap has gone off twice.  I think the squirrel is able to just away before landing in the can - or it jumps out of the can.  I haven't witnessed it yet.  I put a Gopro camera to work to try to get a video but so far nothing.  The tube trap is not working either.


Trap sprung!
I tried fishing for trout again today and I got skunked for the first time,  It was quite nice outside today hitting the mid 70's and sunny.  I'm thinking the trout did not like this sudden heat wave.  A large goose was paddling nearby while I was fishing so I took a cast in his direction.  I had thoughts of 'accidentally' snagging the goose with my fishing lure but it was out of range after my first attempt.  Still trying to come up with a duck or goose capture plan. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Day 6 - A Gift, a Gadget and a Green

Weight 181.8
BP 141/87

"Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life."

Yesterday was long and draining and as a result, I woke up very tired today. To prepare for a work day I wrapped up a trout fillet and some rice in foil and seasoned it with a little salt and a touch of honey.  I didn't have much to eat for breakfast other than rice and water.

At lunch time I broiled my fish and rice and it made a big difference in my energy level.  I also received a wonderful gift from my patient, Renee.  She has a flock of chickens that she raises nearby for their eggs and she donated a dozen newly laid eggs to my cause!  How about that?  I was so excited to taste something other than trout and rice.  During my lunch break I soft boiled an egg and pealed it perfectly.  I cut it in half and sprinkled a little sea salt on top and it was the BEST tasting egg I think I have ever had.  Thanks Renee!

FYI - to make the best soft boiled egg, boil about a half inch of water in a very small pot with a lid.  Then put the egg in and cover for exactly 5 minutes.  Rinse under cold running water and peel.  Then cut it in half and sprinkle a pinch of salt on top.  The warm runny yolk is so good and 5 minutes is the precise amount of time to fully cook the whites while leaving the yolk a perfect consistency.  So good.

I have a love/hate relationship with my senses during the SDC as they start to become much more acute.  That's the love part.  The hate part is the fact that I have to deprive myself of all things yummy so that I can appreciate the love part.  Everything smells so delicious to me now and every new food is like a million taste buds exploding in my mouth with flavor.

So far my squirrel trap has failed to do its job.  No surprise there.  I've been outsmarted by these critters every year.  I did a little more research into humane trapping methods and I saw a contraption that is designed to catch mice.  I thought I could modify it a little in order to trap a squirrel.  It's a pretty simple design and I had all the stuff I needed right in my garage and back yard.  I quickly assembled a 'prototype' and hung it from a tree with some bird seed for bait.

Walk the plank!
It's called the "Walk the Plank Trap" and it's designed to have the target animal walk out on a long plank to get the food/bait.  As it gets to the end, the plank tips down from the body weight of the animal and it falls into a large garbage pail.  The mouse version has them falling into a bucket of water where they drown.  My squirrel version just has a large round garbage can.  First I'll see if it works but then I may need to modify the garbage can a bit so the squirrels can't jump or climb out.

After work I hope to put together the smoker grill and at some point I'm going to have to clean up the bee hive because I think the bees will be arriving soon.  I ordered them two months ago in preparation for this.

Good news on the green food front.  The first asparagus has arrived!  And not a moment too soon.  While clearing out debris from the garden today, Debbie spotted the asparagus stalk (ready to eat) as well as some broccoli rabe leaves, some kale, wild garlic and of course some dandelion greens.  After almost a week of no greens, I'm really missing them in my diet.  The dark leafy green vegetables should provide a boost of vitamins and minerals that my fish and rice alone could not.

The first sign of Spring

Day 5 - An Hour and a Half at a Time

Weight 186.0

"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other."

I was extremely busy today.   I was off from work so I took advantage of the nice weather and got my butt outside.  After dropping Jamie off at school I took a ride to the lake and tried a little trout fishing.  Almost immediately I caught one fish and then another.  That's the way to start a fishing trip.  And then it was nothing for the next hour and a half.  Strange.  Happy to have landed a couple trout today, I headed off to tennis practice.  That's right - I have tennis practice once a week.

I was a little concerned about my energy levels for tennis.  I had a piece of fish for breakfast and some water but that's all.   Surprisingly, I felt pretty good during tennis and got a pretty good work out for about and hour and a half.  There were a couple of times when I got really tired after a long rally and I need water more times than usual.  But for the most part I got through it unscathed.  Tennis ended around noon and I knew that low tide in the Navesink River was 1:20 PM today.  My window of opportunity for clamming was closing fast.

I usually like to go clamming about 2 hours before the scheduled low tide.  Today I would only have a short period of time to get clams before the tide started to come in.  I prepared by bringing all of my clam gear to tennis so that I could shoot right over to the river as soon as I was finished.  When I finally got to the water it was about 12:30.  I still had about an hour and a half of decent water for clamming.  I did the best I could under the circumstances and managed to dig up a bunch of steamers as well as some hard clams.

Navesink River Clamming

It wasn't easy.  Clam digging is very hard work and my energy was already quite low from tennis.  It's smelly and dirty and cold and wet.  But my window of clam opportunity was only open for a short while so I had to do it.  I was almost glad when the tide came in because it forced me to stop.  The long walk back to my truck while carrying a load of clams and all of my stuff was a difficult one.  Not to mention being wet and cold and dirty (and smelly).  Man, the smell!  I couldn't wash this muck smell out from under my fingernails no matter how hard I scrubbed with soap and water and lemon juice and a scrub brush.  I had to cut all of my nails a low as possible and then scrub some more.  I was even wearing gloves the whole time but it didn't seem to matter.

Ok - next, I picked up Jamie from school and we headed back out to the trout pond to see if I could score a few more trout.  Again, it was fast and furious right out of the gate with my magical bait.  I managed to catch four more within a half hour.  Now I have a nice stockpile of trout but I actually have a little too much.  I couldn't eat it all before it went bad and I don't really like freezing fish.  An idea I had the other day was to get a smoker so that I could cook and smoke some trout fillets in order to preserve them for longer periods of time.  So that's what I did.  I treated myself to a new smoker grill.

In the past I used a few old bbq grills that I had in the yard and converted them into smokers to make fish jerky.  I seemed to always run into problems controlling the smoke and temperature.  I need to learn how to do this right and this should be the right tool for the job.  Surviving in the wild would certainly have more challenges without the use of smoker grills and other appliances I have at my disposal.  Perhaps by learning how to properly smoke fish I will better equipped in the future to do it with more primitive methods.

I hope to have this smoker up and running by the weekend.  In the mean time, I got home after fishing and realised that I still had a lot of work to do before I could even rest.  I cooked up some rice.  I rinsed off the clams and separated out the ones with cracked shells.  These would be tonight's dinner because they would not survive lone.  The rest of the clams I put in a cooler in the garage submerged in saltwater from the river.  I also got a small aerator from Amazon in the mail today so I plugged it in and I am using it to keep my clams alive and healthy for long time (hopefully).  I've never tried this before so I'm curious to see how successful it is.  Next I had to scale and clean six more trout which had been sitting in ice slush for most of the day.

Today's Catch
I spent about an hour and a half cleaning these fish and then packing them in the refrigerator.  Then I had to shuck and clean all of the broken steamer clams for dinner.  I ate a couple raw but I didn't really like the taste because all I could think of was the smelly much that still left traces of yuck on my hands.  I broiled the rest and added a little sea salt for flavor.  It was a good change to have clams tonight instead of trout.

By the time I cleaned everything up I was downright pooped!  Finally I got to lay down on the couch and watch some television.  Guess what was on?  Yup - Survivor!  Pretty cool.  Lots of hidden immunity idols at play tonight.  They didn't talk too much about the food situation or any actual surviving.  A little more social drama than I like to see.  However, in scenes for next week's show it looks like there is going to be a nasty food eating contest for the remaining players.  That's always a fan favourite to watch.

Did I miss anything?  Sheesh.  Today was a busy day for sure.  Next time on Survivor Diet Challenge. . . The new bees should be arriving soon!  I need to get their home ready and in move-in condition.  Also need to figure out the smoker so I can put it to use this weekend.  Gotta figure out how to find some green food asap.  No garden asparagus yet due to a harsh winter. Stay tuned. . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Day 4 - Not Your Normal Day at the Beach

Weight 183.4
BP 141/89

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."


Last night I went to the beach with the intention of getting a bucket of sea water for salt making.  When I arrived I couldn't believe what I was watching.  I saw hundreds of birds flying all around and diving into the water right off shore.

These birds were gannets.  A gannet is a very large sea bird similar to a large gull but larger.  The interesting part about gannets is that they typically flock up when there are herring present.  They all fly up in the air together, locate a school of herring and then proceed to dive bomb the fish like a squadron of kamikaze pilots.  It's truely a 'National Geographic' type event when you see it live.  These birds dive into the water from a hundred feet up and then swim underwater attacking the school of fish.  Amazing to see.  I tried to take a video of it but it was so cold and windy and I only had my phone camera.  You can get a glimpse in this video but there's nothing like seeing it in person.  Once again, the SDC gets me out off the couch, out of the house to do one thing (like getting a bucket of sea water) and I happened upon something pretty spectacular in nature.  Pretty cool.

diving gannets

I got my bucket of seawater and I also met a nice fisherman on the beach who gave me some pretty good information.  He said that he caught a small striped bass about five minutes ago and he was telling me all about the birds.  Then he went on about some other close-by freshwater fishing opportunities that I might take advantage of in the near future.  I tried a few casts with a fishing lure but it was so cold and windy that I didn't last long.  Not to mention that I snapped off my $12 fishing lure while trying a really long cast.

Windy Beach

After having half a trout and rice for dinner, I filtered the seawater and put it into a large stainless steel pot and boiled it down for about five hours before going to bed.  I still have some boiling to do that I can finish up later.  It sure will be nice to add some sea salt to my trout.  I'm also thinking about trying to stockpile some trout fillets and dry smoking them to last longer.  Perhaps it's time to invest in a legitimate smoking grill rather than the makeshift grills I have been using for the past few years.  We'll see.

Most of this post is from the evening of Day 3 so I thought I would add a little bit on Day 4 as well.  Today was a long work day in which I brought a trout fillet and some rice with me to cook at lunchtime in the convection oven.  I followed this up with another half trout broiled with rice for dinner.  Still a bit bland but it's just nice to have some fish to eat compared to previous SDCs.

Dinner
I can remember all too well not having any fish and not being able to catch one no matter how hard I tried.  This is bordering on too easy.  Another positive about having abundant fish is that it frees up my time and creative thinking in order to continue to evolve and come up with new ideas and plans.

Tomorrow I am going clamming - weather permitting.  The tide is low around noon so it should work out as long as it's not too cold.  I should prepare for that.  I was thinking about clams and how to preserve them for a long while.  If I get a lot (which is what I expect) then I want to be able to keep them alive for several weeks - well beyond the closing of clam season which is the end of April.

I talked to a friend who uses a small aquarium aerator and a cooler to keep clams alive in his garage for quite a long time.  I may try that method and additionally turn over the water in the cooler every other day in order to make sure the clams do not sit too long in their own waste.  In the past when I dug up a lot of clams I can remember several of them dying in the refrigerator after a week.  I also remember getting sick of clams because that's all I had to eat for the first weeks.  By preserving them longer I can eat less, not get tired of them and also have them for a much longer time.

Forward thinking.  That's what this SDC has been about for me so far.  Learn from past successes as well as failures and keep moving forward.

Salt from the sea
I finished my salt tonight.  A large pot full of seawater yields about a cup and a half of salt.  Can't wait to try it out on my fish tomorrow.  I made a video of the salt making process that I will try to compile and post in the next couple of days when I have the time.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Day 3 - Starting the Work Week

Weight 184.6
BP 142/100

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

Today I brought lunch to work in the form of a filet of trout and a portion of rice.  I wrapped it in aluminium foil and baked it in the toaster oven for about 12 minutes at 350.  It was actually pretty good.  These little trout are quite tasty on their own but I could really use a little salt and a little fat to make it better.  I think it's time to go to the beach and get a bucket of Atlantic Ocean in order to make some salt.  I'll probably do that after work tonight and boil down the salt water overnight.

I was thinking about the fat/oil issue as well and one of the best sources of natural fats that I can think of would be from roasting a duck or a goose.  I have never trapped a live duck or goose during a SDC in the past so I am going to push this up to the top of the priority list.  There are many geese in the park down the street from my house but I don't know how to go about capturing one in a humane way without someone seeing me and getting upset.  Of course, I would let it go but I do need to capture one in order to take advantage of the Small Animal Clause in the rules.  I will give this some serious thought because a goose would be a great resource for many meals.

I went out to a restaurant today and had water while watching my co-workers enjoy their lunch.  I know it's only been 3 days but the burger that Kathy got at the Red Rock was photo worthy and made me salivate a little.

my lunch

Kathy's lunch

Day 2 - The Dreaded Detox Headache

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

I had a feeling it was coming but didn't expect it so soon.  Almost immediately after the elimination of sugar from my diet, I got a banger of a headache.  Typically, I would take a few Motrin at the first sign of a headache and that would pretty much take care of it.  However, this is the Survivor Diet Challenge and Motrin is not on the menu.  I'm going to have to tough this one out and see how long it lasts. . .

(fast forward 16 hours)

Holy crap.  What a hellacious day.  My head was pounding for so long that I started getting worried that something else might have been wrong with me.  I took a hot shower for about a half hour just letting the water rain down on my head.  That helped - but only temporarily.  As I write this (the next day) I still feel lingering pressure like I'm either on the verge of a headache or on the verge of recovery.  It's an odd feeling.  Because it is MUCH better than I was feeling yesterday, I am so grateful that I am no longer suffering.  Let's hope that it just continues to improve from here.

I do have some history to refer to on this matter which is another very helpful reason to write these logs of my experiences.  I knew this was coming.  Sometimes it's Day 2 and sometimes Day 3 but the trend is too obvious to ignore. On the bright side, I also know from experience that after I suffer through this headache hell it usually means clear sailing for a long time afterwards.  Knowing this, makes it worth it to me to push through the pain in order to get the gain.

In my opinion, people (like me) who suffer from headaches on a regular basis can absolutely manage them by controlling their weight and sugar intake.  I have gone through this experience enough times to know that many ailments of the body can be managed in a similar way - it's just up to the person and their will-power to make a change.  The healing mechanisms in our bodies will automatically do the rest if we feed ourselves the right fuel.

On the survival front, today I mustered up the energy to go trout fishing in the afternoon and I am very glad that I did.  In about one hour at the local pond I caught my daily limit of six trout.  The secret to my success today was in the bait - butterworms.  In the past I have been out-fished by several people who had the right bait while I could only sit and watch.  Not this time.  This time I was the one catching while other anglers were watching in amazement. One after the other I just kept getting bites and landing fish.  It was awesome.

On my way out I decided to ''pay it forward" and give the other fishermen the insight that I had learned from past experience.  Additionally, I gave them several butterworms to use for bait and they were very appreciative.  I didn't stick around to see if they were as successful as I, but I have a gut feeling that there were some pretty big smiles shortly after I left.

Later at home I rummaged around in the garage looking for parts to build a squirrel trap (see the 'Small Animal Clause' on the SDC Rules page).  I came up with a PVC tube contraption that is a non-lethal trap intended for catch and release.  It's a relatively simple design.  The squirrel goes in to get the nuts inside.  As it crawls to the rear of the tube its body weight causes the tube to tip up enough to trigger the front door to close.  I glued a powerful magnet inside the front of the tube which locks the metal door as it shuts.  We'll see.  I'm sure I will have to make modifications to this device after the first batch of squirrels outsmart me as usual.  I have a few other ideas in the works for bird and small animal traps that I can place in my backyard.  With my headache today I was pretty impressed that I was able to do anything at all.

Squirrel Tube

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Day 1 - Learning from the Past

Weight 190

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Doug Peterson - Survivor

This ain't my first rodeo! From past experience I have now accumulated knowledge in the form of timing, fishing locations, bait, gear and weather. Today, with relatively minimal effort I was able to catch 3 nice rainbow trout which will serve me well as I embark upon a new Survivor Diet Challenge.

Trout on the first day!
I began my challenge this year at a weight of exactly 190 pounds. I should also get a baseline blood pressure reading. This is the lightest I have ever been to start a SDC which should prove interesting. This partially means that I have been able to keep and maintain a 'somewhat' lower weight than I have had in previous years. Perhaps I'm doing something right in the off-season. Hopefully, it also means that instead of focusing so much on weight loss during this diet, I can concentrate more on health and nutrition. I know for a fact that simply eliminating things like refined sugars, white foods like bread, and other junk will immediately put me on the right track.

Should be another interesting journey... Stay tuned!

Friday, April 6, 2018