Monday, January 31, 2011

Serene Morning Run

My Morning Run

Me, NPR, and a snowy path. A really relaxing (and slow) 5 miler. I was supposed to be running with a training group, but a middle-of-the-night wakeup from the puppy kicked insomnia in, and once I finnaly conked out, I slept through my alarm.

In the end, it was probably just as well. I accomplished my goal and felt great. A much needed respite from the madness of everyday living.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This was America

Looking at these old Kodachrome images, it's hard to believe they depict the same country I live in today. Some from the Northeast remind me of my parents' parents' homelands. Others, from further west, look like no place I've ever seen (cause I haven't).

Have a look at the gallery (link below). It's a remarkable timestamp on American History.

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers Polka

The video gets no points for originality, but I love this local classic from my childhood. The home team are on their way to the Superbowl!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gospel of Joy

Craptacular cell phone photo.

Sometimes rootsy, rugged and smokin' hot, then suddenly ethereal and sublime. That was the journey that Robert Plant and the Band of Joy navigated for listeners last night.

The musicianship was superlative, but the musicality was transcendent. Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, Patty Griffin, drummer Marco Giovino and bassist Byron House were such a perfect compliment to Robert Plant's talents.

Miller, Scott and Griffin had an opportunity showcase their lead vocal talents, which was quite a treat. I'd forgotten how much I love the music of Buddy & Julie Miller as well as Griffin. Darrell Scott was a new name to me, though I learned that he is a wildly revered session player.

Buddy Miller takes the helm.

I wasn't particularly hoping for any Led Zeppelin tunes (though I love them), but listeners who were got to enjoy Gallows Pole, Tangerine, and the finest version of Rock n Roll I've ever heard.

If this outfit comes to within any reasonable distance from you, I absolutely recommend going. It will rip you a new soul.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sugar Rush and the Black and Gold Victory

Bodhi enjoys a snack during the NFL Wildcard playoff game

This past weekend, my home team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, managed to squeeze of a nail-biting victory over our arch-rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. They will meet the Jets next week for the final playoff to determine which teams play in the Superbowl. Sweet!

Speaking of sweet, I decided to play my hand at the sugar game. My self-imposed rule was that I would do my best to avoid any added sugar (including cane juice, molasses, artificial sweeteners, etc.) unless I baked something from scratch myself. My thinking was that even if I managed to make time to bake frequently (unlikely at best), I get really tired of eating lots of the same foods over and over unless they're part of my routine workday menu. It just doesn't feel special to have 5 servings of the same cake over a week. I love to bake, and would hate to not have that to look forward to on occasion. I also love really fine baked sweets. Special pastry and the like.

So I figured that I wouldn't overdo it.
And I didn't.
Not really, anyway. I made a French Silk Pie. Had a couple of pieces over the weekend. Had a great time making it. Delighted in that rare taste of chocolate.

I didn't recon on my appetite for sugar roaring again after I'd had some. Sugar as an addiction? I'm a believer. I actually woke up looking forward to my sugar ban.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Making Deep End Dance

This clip refers to a lovely short film that was part of RTE's Dance on the Box series. The film in full can be seen here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

iHot Diggity!

The wait has felt like forever, but finally Verizon is launching the iPhone. That means that I can properly synch my digital life and stop struggling to make everything seamless and compatible.

Here are some quick facts about Verizon's release. Kudos to my step daughter, a Verizon employee, for keeping it a secret from me.

Sorry, Android.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Self-defined Moratorium on Sugar: My Bad Idea

So this year, I declared war on my own sugar intake. Before beginning, I decided that there could be a few exceptions to my self-imposed sugar ban. After all, I definitely don't do well if I tell myself I can't have a thing ever. I end up wanting it all the more. My exceptions are:

1) My birthday
2) Having a serving or two of desserts I bake from scratch myself. I love to bake, and have so little time to do so that I can't imagine this having a huge overall impact on the plan. Also, I get really tired of eating the same thing repeatedly as a treat. I eat the same things at the same time every workday, so having cake all week long doesn't feel like fun; it feels like an extension of the workday.
3) Profiterol in Europe. Yes, just about anywhere in Europe. Just one serving, one time, OK?

Removing all added sugar from my diet, while pretty difficult, proved to be a success from the start. I've felt better, run better, slept better, and started losing a few pounds right away. It's been a challenge to get over using sugar as a reward, and the chocolate monkey on my back keeps making noise, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

Enter the birthday: I definitely didn't go wild, but I purchased a couple of chocolates at my favorite local choc shop, and had dessert at a fancy dinner out (at which I ate far more rich food than I usually would) in addition to a really disappointing dessert on my birthday. The result was an entire day of feeling sluggish and crabby, and a really lethargic "run". I think I gained back most of the weight I lost.

Now I need a sugar detox:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grande Not-te

Dear Starbucks Employee:
I apologize for having interrupted your studying in order to have a drink made. How inconsiderate of me. I can appreciate that you likely wish you were somewhere else on this bleak winter day. Also, it's Friday. My mind is wandering a little, too.

However, in light of your company's decision/need to increase their costs, I would think that one might be a bit more cognizant of one's service level. I have been your low-maintenance customer for many years, nearly always ordering the same foamy, delicious beverage and never excited when things went a little pear-shaped behind the counter.

I paid nearly four dollars for you to throw some warm milk into a cup with a shot of espresso and wish me a nice afternoon. Craptacular.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day Three of (almost) Sugar Free

2011 is my year of No Added Sugar. 

In an effort to reclaim my health and my good fitness level, I decided to cut the crap and lower my sugar intake. Having thought through my current nutritional needs as a runner and hypoglycemic person, I decided that eating more whole foods, reducing my overall sugar intake (in things like fruits and other carbs) and avoiding added refined sugar, cane juice and other sweeteners was a really good challenge for me.

I've been monitoring the nutritional breakdown of foods I've adopted to stabilize my blood sugar and improve my fledgling athletic performance. Turns out that despite my overall good eating habits and active lifestyle, I am a sugar fiend.

Things got pretty real when we adopted a puppy - this little guy needed constant training and supervision, so my personal time, and my running routine, went completely South. I gained almost 10 pounds in just a few months. That's quite a bit for my frame. It also destroyed my balance of fitness/nutrition. I eat healthy foods, but need a high activity level to process what I eat in a healthy way. Add the holidays and all the sugary foods I love and it's a recipe for complete disaster.

My mission: to stop eating added sugar unless I bake something for the family and to cut my naturally occurring sugar intake drastically.

The challenge: I love sweets, and even though I typically eat them in a balanced way, so, so many of the "healthy" convenience foods I rely on to keep my blood sugar at the right level contain hidden sugars.

Wish me luck. Bye-bye, cane juice.