Saturday, April 28, 2007


Just checked the news headlines before bed tonight, and discovered that the new Noah's Ark is ready to go.

Now I love the story of Noah's Ark (as told by Bill Cosby). It is absolutely brilliant. I can remember sitting in a friend's car (or perhaps on the roof of his truck?) listening to it and laughing uncontrollably.

Anyway, in looking for a video clip of the routine, I came across this, which is a favorite scene from one of my all-time favorite shows. Enjoy.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Self-Science-Experiment Update: Good News, Bad News

Good News: Triglycerides are back down to normal levels. In fact, they're exactly half of what they were 6 weeks ago.

Bad News: Cholesterol level is exactly the same, HDL is lower, LDL is higher.

So it looks like I'm going to get to know my PCP a little more quickly than I had anticipated...

When did I get old?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I am My Own Science Experiment

So about a month ago now, I started two weeks of no sugar. The goal was to get my body out of the habit of the highs and lows of sugar consumption in a structured way that got me out of the trap I had fallen into of eating healthy most of the time, and then feeling like I "earned" any junk that was put in front of me ("Have a cookie?" "Why yes, I'll have 6").

Not long before that, I had my infamous encounter with the life insurance blood demons. I had signed something saying I wanted to be told if my HIV test result was positive (negative -wooho!), but hadn't thought I'd be getting any of the results back.

But then in the mail today, I got a confidential letter with the results of ALL of my bloodwork.

What's great about the results they sent is that there's a column for what they tested, a column that has the result, a column that says whether the results are low, normal, or elevated, and then a column that tells you what the "healthy" range of results is. Blood work reading for dummies. It's great.

Anyway, turns out I have elevated triglycerides and cholesterol. AND, interestingly enough, it turns out that one way to fix that is to eat less sugar (and more healthy food in general). Which is what I'm doing.

So I became my own science experiment last Friday, when I returned to my doctor's office (because I had finally made the time to have a physical and establish a PCP in Boston). In addition to getting my TB test read (No TB either! Woohoo!), I got blood drawn so she could see how healthy (or not) I am.

So, since painful, multi-stick, blood draw A was done before this low-sugar food intake modification, and much less painful, single-stick blood draw B was done after I had begun intentionally trying to cut back on sugar in my diet, I hypothesize that my triglyceride and cholesterol levels will be lower in the second results than in the first.

Aren't I an interesting little science experiment!? I'll let you know when I get the results of the post-test.

On a slightly related note, I've been going run/walking again since the weather has gotten nice (we went from winter to summer weather and completely skipped over spring here). Everything hurts and I look like an idiot trying to walk down stairs, thanks to my sore muscles, but I like feeling like I'm working towards being back in shape.

On a completely unrelated note (meaning: now I will talk about how there are times when it's absolutely justified to not take care of myself), I'm off to the library, where I'll be living forever today. As a consolation prize for heading to the library for hours and hours of fun, I'll be going to the school cafeteria, where they make yummy (no really, I mean it) food, and serve things like cookies and ice cream (which go quite well together with a little whipped cream and chocolate sauce). Because sometimes, something that tastes good and gets me through an epic library stint wins out over triglycerides and cholesterol.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wish Granting

It's not every day that such a simple act can help someone's wish come true. Take a few seconds and a stamp to help to make this little boy's wish come true (no, I don't know him - just think it's something worth passing along).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

No Spitting on the Road to Olympic Glory, Beijing Says

(Thank you to J and the NY Times for this one - be sure to read to the end.)

BEIJING, April 16 — For all the expectations and civic pride that Beijing has attached to being the host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the event is a source of civic anxiety, too. What if traffic is terrible? What if the weather is bad? These are worries for any host city, but Beijing also has a few more:

What if foreign visitors are forced to navigate a minefield of saliva left by local pedestrians spitting on sidewalks? What if lines at Olympic events dissolve into scrums as local residents jump to the head of pack? What if Chinese fans serenade rival teams with the guttural, unprintable "Beijing curse"?

China's ruling Communist Party has never been very comfortable with the question, what if? While Olympic visitors will undoubtedly be greeted with ecstatic hospitality, local officials are worried about some local habits. So as Beijing is building new sports stadiums, subway lines, futuristic skyscrapers and public parks for the Games, city leaders are also trying to rebuild Beijingers.

Citywide campaigns are trying to curb public spitting, discourage public cursing and littering and also promote lining up. There is even a campaign to rectify the often hilariously bad English translations on signs and restaurant menus. Given that Chinese leaders regard the Olympics as a milestone event to showcase China to the world, they obviously do not want to be embarrassed.

"Public awareness of manners needs to be improved," said Wang Tao, the soft-spoken, exceedingly polite civil servant who has become a local celebrity for his efforts to curb public spitting.

Last week, the city commemorated "Queuing Day," an event held on the 11th of every month because the date symbolizes an orderly line. Volunteers wearing satin Queuing Day sashes shooed rush-hour commuters into lines at busy subway stations, while hospital administrators and a few city officials handed out long-stemmed roses to patients who stood in line to pay their bills or pick up medicines. Local news media swarmed the event.

"This is to encourage people," said Zhang Xin, 30, an expectant mother, clutching her flower as she left Beijing Hospital after her pregnancy checkup.

Chen Chunfang, one of the hospital administrators, summed up the purpose succinctly. "The Olympics are coming, and everyone wants to show their best," she said.

Beijing, of course, is a sophisticated city that is the cultural and political capital of China. Nor it is alone is being accused of public boorishness; some people have even accused, say, New Yorkers of occasional displays of foul language and unflattering public behavior.

Still, some Communist Party officials have publicly fretted that Beijing may not measure up. One delegate at the country's annual political meetings in March recommended heavy fines and a public education campaign to curb spitting, cutting ahead in line, smoking and foul language.

"They are stubborn diseases that stain the image of the capital city," Zi Huayun, the delegate, told the country's English-language newspaper, China Daily.

In fact, Beijing had already announced that people caught spitting in public before the Olympics could face fines up to 50 yuan, or about $6.50, hardly small change in China. Mr. Wang, the anti-spitting activist, said the Olympic spirit inspired him to begin his campaign. "I felt I must do something to contribute," he said.

He chose a very dirty task. Public spitting is a frequent practice in Beijing and even more common elsewhere in China. (The sinus-clearing, phlegmy pre-spit hawking sound is so common that one foreigner wryly dubbed it "the national anthem of China.") Health officials, worried about communicable disease, have long tried to curb public spitting, with limited success, given that many people do not consider it unacceptable behavior.

"I spent six months trying to figure out how to stop people from spitting," Mr. Wang said. "I first wanted to wipe their spit up myself, but just how much could I wipe? So I decided the best way was to ask the spitting person to stop."

He chose to begin in May 2006 in Tiananmen Square, which might qualify as an official venue if spitting were an Olympic event. "The first person I came across was a thin man, not very tall," Mr. Wang recalled. "I said, 'Mister, please wait a second!' But he walked away and I couldn't keep up."

His campaign has since gained momentum. He has attracted hundreds of volunteers for his group, known as the Green Woodpecker Project. They carry tissues, which they offer to people as an alternative to spitting on the ground, and try to convince the offender, usually male, to change his ways. Mr. Wang himself carries a small camcorder and posts spitting action shots on his Web site.

"Woodpeckers pick up worms and clean up the forest," Mr. Wang said. "I want to clean up the city the same way."

Beijing's mangled English signage is not so much a bad local habit as a local institution in the eyes of resident foreigners. English translations on signs are considered fashionable and good advertising, as well as a gracious gesture to foreigners baffled by Chinese characters. But until recently, the attention paid to the accuracy of the translation was, at best, uneven. Consider that a local theme park about China's ethnic minorities was initially promoted in English as "Racist Park."

David Tool, an American who teaches analytical thinking at Beijing International Studies University, recalled attending a Peking Opera performance in 2001 that offered a running digital translation in English.

"They had this line that should have said 'auspicious clouds in the sky' but it read 'auspicious clods,' " Mr. Tool recalled. He said a group of foreigners in the audience erupted in laughter, which he found offensive, even though he was also offended by the bad English.

Mr. Tool and a prominent retired professor, Chen Lin, are now at the vanguard of Beijing's English police, an effort emboldened by the Olympic self-improvement campaigns. City officials have enlisted the two scholars and other experts to retranslate the bad English translations on signs around the city. Last week, Beijing announced new standards and official translations that can be used on more than 2,000 different types of signs, as well as on menus.

Mr. Tool said he spent his weekends visiting different businesses as if he were a detective in a linguistic vice squad. "I go in and I say the Olympics are coming and this sign is wrong," Mr. Tool said. He then sends an e-mail message with a correct translation or has a printout delivered.

He is writing a book on the subject, and no wonder: regular blunders include typos on menus in which the 'b' in crab becomes a 'p.' Some translations are trickier, like describing pullet, which is a hen less than a year old but appears on some menus as Sexually Inexperienced Chicken. Mr. Tool said one prominent sign had become a regular photo op for foreigners: the Dongda Anus Hospital.

Mr. Tool intervened. It is now the Dongda Proctology Hospital.

Score another gold medal for Beijing's self-improvement campaign.

Food Facts

On the heels of Free Cone Day, I bring you this Food Fact Quiz.

(I failed entirely)

A Funny Thing Happened...

You all know my horror stories and disappointment with Well, this past weekend, sent me an email offering me a great deal on 3 months of membership. Never one to turn down a great deal on an online dating service (???), I whipped out the credit card and signed up.

For those of you not in the know, eharmony is famous for it's "29 dimensions of compatability" where you take a rediculously long personality test, and then it matches you with people who are supposed to be good personality matches for you. Well, ok, it's not quite that simple:

1. Answer a whole lot of questions about yourself that are used to determine your personality
2. Answer some more questions about yourself
3. Pay eharmony
4. Receive multpile matches in your inbox
5. Read through the profiles of matches that you have and see if anyone sounds interesting
6. (this is where it starts getting funny) IF you're interested, choose 5 multiple choice questions from a list of about 50 and send them to the person you're interested in.
7. Wait for response.
8. Receive response from person, along with his 5 multiple choice questions.
9. Respond to his multple choice questions.
10. IF he decides you sound interesting, then he sends you his must-haves and can't-stands.
11. Send him your must-haves and can't-stands.
12. Wait.
13. IF he decides you still sound interesting, he'll send you three open-ended questions.
14. Answer questions, and send back 3 open-ended questions for him to answer.
15. Only THEN can you begin "open communication" and talk/email freely without this strange facilitated process.

The whole experience is quite funny.

"So where does the duct tape come in?" you might ask.

Well, you see, some of the questions you have to fill out at the beginning are questions whose answers are displayed on your personal profile that potential suitors see. There are questions like "what are you most passionate about" and "what are you most thankful for?" and sometimes they have you write your own answer and sometimes you have to choose from their check-box answers.

One of the questions is "What are 5 things you can't live without?"

I was struggling to answer this question (is there truly anything I can't live without?). So I came up with a mixed list - friends & family, my space heater (since my room has no heat), Trader Joe's Peppermint Joe-Joes, and vacations were all relatively easy ones to think of, but I was left with one blank. A friend in town from Vermont was reading over my shoulder and said, "duct tape" with such an "of course!" tone to his voice that I immediatly typed it in and hit "save."

Here's the thing: without fail, EVERY person has asked me about why "duct tape" made the list. And they're all expecting a great answer. And I can't really tell them that it was because a friend said it and I just wanted to be done with the survey...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Survivor Marathon

You might think that being behind 4 episodes might make me give up. The truth is, I almost did. But then I was home this Friday night with nothing to do but clean my room, and I realized that Survivor would make for really nice background entertainment. Apologies for the looooong break between Survivor posts, but here are my thoughts on Episodes 6-9:

Episode 6 was relatively boring, except for Rocky's blow-up. I was left wondering how it was Anthony got voted off and not Rocky.

Episode 7 was significantly more interesting. Yau Man and Earl solidified their interesting alliance, and I thought it was interesting that Yau Man promised to share the idol with Earl. I wonder how that will play out. And burrying a 2nd Idol!?!? It doesn't appear like it will matter now, but how cool would it have been if someone found the dummy idol and tried to use it!?

I kind of took issue with the arcade award challenge. I mean, I guess I just feel like these people are on this beautiful island, and wouldn't it be much cooler for everyone (viewers included) if we all saw more and learned more about the island culture rather than watching them play at an arcade? Rocky's reaction to everyone having stomach aches was pretty funny though. God, he's an idiot.

Earl is funny. I'm not sure I had realized this before, but his whole thing about "just call it Earl Island" somehow made him much more endearing to me. I'm rooting for him now all the way.

And can we just all stop and ask ourselves what the hell Boo is still doing in this game?! No only does he not seem to contribute much, but he also DOESN'T KNOW HIS LEFT FROM HIS RIGHT. I mean, that's kind of an important thing to know before heading into a game full of challenges that often require some sort of directional knowledge.

Two favorite quotes:
"Old guy's good for some good!"
"She's gonna love the attention - 5 men with ears!"

Also, does anyone know what the hell Rocky said when he left? He said something right after Jeff announced it was him, and then appeared to say the same thing again after Probst said, "The tribe has spoken." Anyone? Anyone?

Episode 8 - where Lisi proves to the world what an incredible idiot she is. I mean REALLY - did she seriously tell those guys all the idol clues!? Also, she actually said she doesn't "take the challenges seriously." Um, Lisi - I don't meann to question your obviously brilliant game strategy here, but if you don't take the challenges seriously, and you keep losing those challenges, than it's going to be YOU who goes home, honey.

Edgardo, sweet Edgardo. Whatever you do, don't tell people you're good at something. Too many Survivors in the past have gotten themselves voted off after promising their teammates that they could be counted on for a certain challenge task ("I'm good at puzzles!") only to fail miserably in the end. Just don't say anything. If you end up being good, then great. If you don't, then your tribemates never expected anything to begin with. I'm pretty sure you learned that lesson this week, and won't make that mistake again.

Lisi's flip-flopping was annoying as hell, and I was glad to see her go. It did bring up an interesting question for me though: If Lisi were to have gotten to the point where she chose to quit rather than get voted out (presumably because she thought she would not get voted out for some reason), would she sit on the jury? I'm guessing no, because she quit, but she did technically earn a spot on the jury... Then again, if they didn't let her be on the jury, it would mess up the jury numbers (and how do you break tie at the Survivor finale?).

Finally, Rocky - who knew he could clean up so nice!?

Favorite quotes:
"Call me a genie in a bottle 'cause I grant wishes." (Dreamz to Lisi)
"You're a grown man, consider a name change." (Lisi to Dreamz)

Finally, Episode 9: I started getting really angry that the original Moto tribe members who had remained on Moto from the beginning would never experience what it was like to rough-it, but then I realized that it was Survivor, and there's no way they'd allow everyone to live in paradise. I was glad to see I was right.

Honestly, I had mixed feelings about Michelle from the beginning. Her sugary-sweet voice was a turn-off, but at the same time, she was amazingly good at all that she did, and she did it all with a smile and great enthusiasm (hello - she fell off the platform and jumped right back up). She started fire without any fire-starting supplies, and was generally a really tough competitor. I definitely liked her better than Stacy, so I was sad to see her go.

I can't wait for next week to see the tribe members go completely nuts on each other. GREAT twist to merge the tribe, but still have a separated tribal council. Survivor 14 is still keeping it interesting.

Quote of the week (and a great example of slithering out of answering a question):
"One good reason for me to vote for Stacy is it ain't me."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday to MOMP!

(Yes, I know the cake says "happy sweet 16" on it,

but it's a cool looking cake, and MOMP is only 14 years away from 16, so...)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Opening Day

So for those of you living under a rock (or for those of you who don't follow the Red Sox), today was the home opener. It was an exciting day here in Beantown - everywhere you looked, people were proudly wearing their Sox gear.

Except me. Because though I had been talking about the fact that the home opener was today on-and-off for a week or so, I somehow managed to forget that today was today until after I had dressed and headed off to babysit (I also once again forgot to put on deodorant, but that's unrelated).

Anyway, as a way to celebrate Opening Day, our local J.P. Licks scoop shops offered free cones today. And since we all know how I feel about free cones, you know where I headed after lunch!

And here's the best part. Though I'm currently on a no-sugar eating plan (finishing on SATURDAY - WOOHOO!), the wonderful folks at J.P. Licks actually have a sugar-free soft frozen yogurt (or "fro-yo") that is... dare I say... surprisingly good! I know that sounds hard to believe, but it was quite tasty (though I have to admit to sneaking a few bites of M's oreo ice cream because I don't know what it is about that place and their oreo ice cream but OH MY GOD it is good). Anyway, I got to eat ice cream and I didn't even have to cheat!

For those of you who are wondering, I will most certainly be getting the most fat-and-sugar-filled ice cream for Ben & Jerry's free cone day next Tuesday. Seriously. I've got my priorities straight (plus, do they even make a sugar-free ice cream? I certainly hope not!).

Also, for those of you who enjoy nearly free ice cream as much as the free stuff, this just in:

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Yes, it's true, my favorite day of the year is nearly here, and I'm sharing the good news with you all, so you can race out to your nearest Ben & Jerry's to get as much free ice cream as you want (for one day only) (at certain scoop shops).

Sadly for me, Brookline does not have a scoop shop, and I'll be with a small, not-so-T-transportable kiddo that day, and then have class that night, so I won't be able to enjoy the festivities. Boo!

In an effort to focus on the positive rather than the negative, I'll share a few favorite cone day memories with you all (in chronological order - not necessarily order of importance):

1. Freeport, ME - the place I discovered that there was such a thing as a free cone day. What a glorious day that was.

2. Middlebury, VT - I walk down to the Ben & Jerry's with a few friends and we stand in line not one, not two, but THREE times in a row, to get three rounds of free ice cream.

3. Boulder, CO - after talking it up for at least a month, I end up missing free cone day because I was flying back from my grandfather's funeral. My co-workers take me out to my own personal free cone day when I get back.

4. San Francisco, CA - drag my co-workers on a forced march to stand in line for free cones in the middle of the work day. Meet up with a friend later for another round.

5. Davis, CA - after realizing that most of the scoop shops in SF had closed in the past year, and that I'd be doing a day trip to Sacramento with another co-worker, we arrange to meet a former co-worker who lives in Davis (which, conveniently enough, had a Ben & Jerry's) for lunch and ice cream. Beautiful sunny day... cute kid near us with dark chocolate ice cream all over his face, hands, and clothes... a perfect free cone day.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Drop Your Jaw

I know that I put a lot of links in my posts, and that many of you probably don't check them out, but THIS is something you have to watch.

It is honestly the most fascinating, disturbing, jaw-dropping documentary I've ever seen. I sat down to watch just one piece, and got sucked into all of them.