Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Being nicer to our bodies

Breast cancer impacts both men and women, although women are diagnosed with it almost 100x more than men. According to the American Cancer Society, "In 2007, about 40,910 people will die from breast cancer in the United States (40,460 women, 450 men)." So ladies, be sure you do your self-test, and go get that mammogram - especially if you are high risk, like me. Unfortunately, the mammogram itself is not particularly pleasant, what with the metal plates squishing everything and the standing x-ray and all. (...whereas "turn your head and cough" is the worst thing a man gets in a medical exam - consider yourselves lucky.)

Here's a new technology that will make the whole thing much more pleasant - a quick procedure with no radiation and no squishing! It's not perfected yet - or widely available - but I'm looking forward to that day with great anticipation.

Speaking of breast cancer, the National Race for the Cure is coming up on June 2 in Washington, DC. Be warned, I'll be hitting up all of you for contributions to the cause. :)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Become an M&M!

Just for the fun of it, you can design your own M&M - pick the body type, eyes, lips, hair, shoes and accessories, and make it your favorite color!

Here's mine:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

His book was called 'Earth in the Balance'

... but apparently An Inconvenient Truth isn't "balanced" enough. A town in Washington state is in an uproar because a science teacher wanted to show her class Al Gore's Oscar-nominated documentary on global warming, but a group of the (Evangelical Christian) parents objected.

"No you will not teach or show that propagandist Al Gore video to my child, blaming our nation -- the greatest nation ever to exist on this planet -- for global warming,"

So, just because we are a great nation, we can't be doing anything wrong? Sounds like something Dubya would say!

The school board has lifted the "moratorium" so that the teacher can show the movie -- as long as she also presents the other side of the story. Unfortuntely, she's having trouble finding anything that *doesn't* say the world is getting warmer!

[Flashbacks to Inherit the Wind, anyone? We aren't harming the planet, and we didn't evolve from monkeys, either.]

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Chinese chicken and Irish yarn

Saturday night was my monthly Cooking Light Supper Club meeting. We made Chinese food, in celebration of Chinese New Year, which is coming up on February 18th. 2007 is the Year of the Pig.

I made Barbecued Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps. It's a Rachael Ray recipe, but it's definitely "light" enough -- the only really bad thing in it is the hoisin sauce. And you eat it wrapped in lettuce, so that's healthy, too! The biggest challenge for me was dicing up the chicken. It takes a long time to cut 3lbs of chicken into little tiny pieces! And if I'd thought of it, I would have put the red bell pepper and the water chestnuts and the scallions into the food processor instead of chopping them by hand. I think the cutting and chopping took an hour... the actual cooking only took 15 minutes. We also had potstickers and shumai, shrimp fried rice, rice meatballs (sounds weird, but they were very tasty made with ground turkey), sweet and sour short ribs, and a noodle dish. And two kinds of hot & sour soup. urp. It was excellent. (I took my camera with me, but forgot to take pictures before we all dug into the food!)

Today, after my standard Sunday gym class, I went to my bi-weekly Knitting Meetup at the bakery/cafe near my house. I recently decided that I wanted to try to knit cables. But just as with the socks, I was very nervous. When I first tried to cable last week, I did it with really big needles, so I could hold the cabling stitches with my fingers and move them around before knitting them. [Most people do this with cable needles or double-pointed needles, or some other implement, but you don't have to.] Once I figured out how to do it, Dani suggested I try the Irish Hiking Scarf. I dug out some blue yarn from my stash and tried it today at the Meetup. And just like with the socks, I don't know what the heck I was afraid of! I can't stop doing the cable scarf! [although I am using a skinny crochet hook to hold the cable stitches, because I don't own a cable needle - yet.] Here's what it looks like after only a few hours of knitting on-and-off (I had to watch some football and do laundry, too.)

So, last and most importantly, instead of saying "it's all her fault" (which is what Stick and I usually say about Dani when it comes to knitting projects), I'll say, "Thanks!" I never would have chosen this pattern, but I love it! :)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Carbon Leaf is Really Cool!

Dani and I saw Carbon Leaf at the 9:30 Club in December of '05. It was a nice small venue, and although the songs were mostly new and some were kind of sad, it was great. When I heard that the band was coming to Stubb's (a famous BBQ & live music place in downtown Austin), I had to be there! Andy, Faith and Matthew agreed to go along. I don't think any of them had heard of Carbon Leaf before- or if they had, they hadn't heard much.

We decided to have dinner at Stubb's, too. There was a huge line outside, but it turned out those people were waiting to get in and get their tickets for the show; there was only a very short wait to eat at the restaurant. The food was very good! I had the brisket sandwich, but everybody's food - the brisket, the sausage, the chopped beef - looked excellent. We listened to the opening band from the (heated) patio, and then went inside and downstairs at 10pm to see Carbon Leaf. We ended up standing near the bar at the back of the room, but I didn't mind much - less ringing in the ears afterwards! The only problem was when the tall people in front of me leaned over to talk to each other and completely blocked my view! [and remind me, next time I go to one of these things, to leave my coat in the car!]

It turns out that this is their first time headlining their own tour - until now, they've been opening for other bands, like Dave Matthews - and the Austin tour date is the closest they've come to selling out so far! :) They said they'd come back and play a big venue in Austin, but it was up to all of us to bring 30 friends to fill the place.

They played a lot of the songs I knew from Indian Summer and Echo Echo (although we had to wait for the last song of the night to hear The Boxer) and also a lot of songs from the new album, Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat. I remember the song, The War Was In Color, from the DC Show. It's a bittersweet song. They also sang the same five-part harmony on the "Jesus song" that they did last year, but this time I recognized it and appreciated it for what it was. And of course they had to play their new song "Texas Star." You can listen to all of the songs from the album on the Carbon Leaf website. :)

I want the new album. I'd ask for it for my birthday, but I don't think I can wait a month! It's been on my Amazon wish list for a while, maybe I'll just break down and get it now.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Does Tylenol give you the munchies?

There may be a reason for that. Apparently a bunch of NIH scientists have figured out that the pain-killing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or paracetamol (the UK version of Tylenol) are caused by a reaction in the brain that is similar (if not identical) to marijuana!

"Although paracetamol has been used clinically for more than a century, its mode of action has been a mystery until about one year ago, when two independent groups (Zygmunt and colleagues and Bertolini and colleagues) produced experimental data unequivocally demonstrating that the analgesic effect of paracetamol is due to the indirect activation of cannabinoid CB(1) receptors."

Yep, cannabinoids. The stuff that makes people "feel no pain" when they smoke marijuana* is also what kills your headache when you take Tylenol. So, if this is true, couldn't marijuana be made legal? Or, conversely, couldn't the people who get to take medical marijuana just take Tylenol instead? NORML is going to have a field day with this!

* Having never smoked the stuff, I have no first-hand knowledge of this. Really.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Baby it's cold outside

(Thanks, Andy, that was a great title for a post, so I borrowed it -- and I know the song!)
After a brief power outage this morning (about a minute), everything seems to be fine. I poked my head out my front door (brr! 28 degrees!) and took a picture of the icicles that are slowly melting onto the porch.

Then I stepped out the back door and caught the ice forming on the pine needles. This is apparently the worst ice storm to hit Austin in 8 years.

It's supposed to get up to 33 degrees later today, so I might venture out. Marcia got out yesterday and went running - I definitely should have gone out then too - and said it wasn't nearly as bad as the local news was leading us to believe. Coming from DC, this would seem like *nothing* -- if I lived on a flat street. It had better warm up a little more tomorrow, or there's no way my car is making it off this hill!

and many thanks to Jen, who called yesterday to relieve me of some of my stir-craziness, and let me babble for half an hour. :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Two of my favorite things together

[other than chocolate and peanut-butter]

Apparently there's a Knitting movie in the works! I know you muggles (in addition to non-magic folk in the Harry Potter series, that's the term that the Yarn Harlot uses for non-knitters) out there might not be terribly excited, but it just sounds like fun! I'll admit, a movie of a bunch of women sitting around knitting might not be that fantastic, but I'm sure the story line has more to it than that. And if Julia Roberts likes the idea, then it may turn into a pretty good movie. :)

I might have to get the book, although the reviews aren't too stellar. Here's hoping Hollywood can do something to improve it!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Latest projects, v.2

Today I finished a third American Flag sock (I had more yarn, whate else was I going to do with it?) and thought I should take a picture. I decided to make the second pair with white toe and heel, instead of red. Looks just as nice, although I'm still having trouble making the stripes on the seam side match up. I found a new way to make a heel, so I might try that on the second (fourth) sock.

Last week at the Knitting Meetup, I worked on another square of the modular scarf, so I thought I'd show you what that looks like, too. I love the pattern, but I'm not sure I love it made with this yarn. The ladies at the Meetup were really impressed, and were very interested in the book. (and I taught someone to crochet!)

I'd take a pic of Rebeka's poncho, but it'd just look like a purple-orange-green blob. I'll take a picture of her wearing it, I'm sure that will look much better. :)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A night to remember

I wouldn't wish the night I had (or more correctly, the morning) on my worst enemy. I woke up at 6am to a massive thunderstorm outside, and the sound of dripping inside. Turns out the hole that the previous tenant drilled to hang her curtains went straight into something that drains rainwater... so when it rains really hard, the rain drips onto my windowsill. It's never happened before, so I'm thinking either the gutter is backed up (although the water was clean) or it just hadn't rained this hard or this much before. There was certainly enough thunder and lightning.
[I am also starting to think that I may be allergic to mold - my allergies are always worse when I've been in my bedroom for a few hours, and this may be the culprit.]

So, I got up and went to the kitchen to get a mixing bowl to put on the windowsill. Turning around from the sink, I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye. Wouldn't you know it? A HUGE roach running across the floor. He probably just came in to get out of the rain. I whipped out my trusty can of (floral scented) RAID and nailed the sucker. Blech, blech, blech. *shudder* I hate bugs.

Back to the bedroom, to put the large bowl under the drips. Unfortunately, I'm a really light sleeper, and the dripping sound would have kept me up forever. Off to the sofa! I took my tea, and my blanket, and moved into the living room. Got all settled, then when I reached for my tea, I knocked it over! All over the magazines, my iPod cable, and various yarn projects on the table! ACK! (Fortunately, I managed not to soak the laptop) I scurried back to the kitchen (watching out for the bug carcass), got paper towels and dishtowels, cleared everything away off the coffee table, wiped everything down... ugh.

Sigh. Back to the bedroom. The rain had slowed (it was already 7am), so the dripping quieted down. Took a Benadryl, popped in the earplugs, and passed out! Another three hours of sleep were well worth the effort. ;)

Now that I'm mostly awake, today's chores, other than staying dry, are to a) call the landlady and let her know about the dripping, although I suspect that it can't be fixed until everything is dry, and that may take until the end of the week; b) clean the house and c) finish crocheting R's poncho!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Learned a new word today!

(Thanks to Dani, who wanted to know what "Yo la tejo" meant.)

First, I assumed (incorrectly) that the infinitive was tejar - it's not. It's tejer. From context, I guessed that the word tejer is Spanish for knit... then I went to check. I usually use Babelfish to help with my translations, but over there, knitting translates as "hacer punto" - literally, to make points. I found another dictionary that lists tejer. I might have to use that site more often, as Babelfish tends to foul things up more often than not. [In case you're wondering, "tejar" means to tile, as in putting down the bathroom floor.] Speaking of Babelfish, here's a site with a fun script called Multibabel: you enter a sentence in English, and it translates in and out of five different languages, so the end result is totally skewed.

Spanish and knitting are two of the biggest things in my life, but this is the first time I have ever put the two together (for good reason, since clearly I didn't know what the correct terminology was!). In addition to all the knitting projects I'm going to do this year, I really should get back to practicing, reading, and using my Spanish. Maybe I'll rent some movies in Spanish, too, and hide the subtitles. (My high school Spanish teacher used to put toilet paper up across the bottom of the tv screen so we couldn't see the English subtitles... I think DVDs are advanced enough that I won't have to resort to that.) Besides, knitting and reading subtitles do not mix very well. ;) I could always turn on Telemundo or Univision and watch a novela or two!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The dating kind vs. the marrying kind

More on the "men vs. women" front, though this time not directly related to Judaism:

LiveScience has published an article about how women choose the men they want to have 'flings' with vs. the ones they would marry.

Overwhelmingly, participants said those with more masculine features were likely to be risky and competitive and also more apt to fight, challenge bosses, cheat on spouses and put less effort into parenting. Those with more feminine faces were seen as good parents and husbands, hard workers and emotionally supportive mates [compare examples].

They also link to an article that says that "fighting for a mate" makes men more apt to die sooner.
"excessive risk taking, aggression, and the suppression of emotions by boys and young men" [are] directly related to lower life expectancy in men.

If I'm reading this right, basically, if a woman chooses to marry the really high-testosterone and super-handsome (though not necessarily Mr. Risk-Taker), he'll either cheat or be a deadbeat dad or both. The more risk-taking the man is, the more likely he will die sooner. So what we're left with is the less risky, more feminine-looking man, who will live longer and be a good dad, but have as much personality as a wet noodle.

Maybe we are talking about Jewish guys again after all?

ha ha, just kidding...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I Have the Power!*

The Austin JCC is offering an Empowerment Workshop for Jewish Women next week. I hate to state the obvious, but this seems unnecessary (especially if you believe the stereotypes)... shouldn't they be offering an empowerment workshop for Jewish MEN?

hee hee

* If you raised your right arm and heard the 'He-Man' theme in your head when you read these words, you're a child of the 80's, just like me. (Ahem. Not only is there a website, it seems a movie version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is in the works! ACK!)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

May the Floats Be With You

There are perks to having George Lucas serve as the Grand Marshall of the Tournament of Roses Parade. :) Not only were there two Star Wars-related floats (Endor, the Ewok planet, and Naboo, Princess Amidala's planet)... there was also a platoon of Storm Troopers (the 501st Legion)! Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO and R2-D2, Boba Fett, and Anakin Skywalker walked or rode along with the floats. There's some great video on YouTube of the whole thing. Ok, so the members of the 501st Legion are a little bit nutty with their Star Wars affinity... it was still cool to see them all marching down the street.

Of course, the most exciting part of New Year's Day is "The Granddaddy of Them All" -- the Rose Bowl Game! USC showed convincingly that the game against UCLA last month was really a fluke, and may in fact start next year at #1 again!

Monday, January 01, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly

5 Best Things about being in DC this week:

1) Hanging out with the fam. Yes, they're a little bit nutty, but we have had a good time. Although for future reference, a week may be a little bit too long for family bonding.
2) Seeing all my pals. I managed to get together with most of the people I wanted to see this week, with one notable exception (she knows who she is, she was off getting tan in Florida!) I also missed seeing some of the new mommies and their wee ones, but I'll be back in either March or June - or both!
3) Driving mom's car. My car is just going to seem like a sluggish tin can when I get back. Oh well. I still love my Cruiser.
4) The food! I had sushi, Indian food (twice), dim sum, bison, and even some Mexican food this week. urp. (Have to find a dim sum place in Austin.)
5) Staying an extra day to watch USC in the Rose Bowl! As long as UT is closed for the President Ford remembrance day, Dad offered to pay for me to stay an extra day, and this way I don't get home at midnight tonight.

5 Worst Things about being in DC this week:

1) Smoke. Between my dad's cigars and pipes, and the ciggie smokers in the bars, it was a little much. I'm so thankful for the clean air in Austin!
2) Doing tech support. I had to reinstall printer drivers, replace printer cartridges, run backups, and fix email programs. ARGH.
3) Allergies. I never had allergies when I lived here, but as soon as I returned I started feeling sick, just as I did in LA at Thanksgiving. I'm guessing that the allergies were helped along by the dust and smoke in the house. So I've had a sore throat and a cough all week. UGH.
4) Traffic. 66 West any time of day. The Beltway at Tyson's. Yuck. So glad I don't have to do that any more.
5) The weather. Although I can't complain much... global warming made it warmer than I expected it to be. Well, that and the heated car seats!