Sunday, December 14, 2008

Viability of Acidophilus and Probiotics

Like many of you, I lay awake at night wondering if my probiotic supplements are effectively populating my intestines with viable strains of good bacteria.

I read an article online a few years ago that said an easy way to test viability is to open an acidophilus capsule and mix it in 8 oz. of milk and let it sit out on your counter overnight. If the milk is curdled in the morning, the strain is viable and you know you have an effective product.

I did this test in 2004 with Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus Dairy Free capsules , and the milk was indeed a bit chunky and curdled the next day. It was viable!

I was getting my monthly supply of Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus at Invite Health. Suddenly, Metagenics has decided to no longer sell its product through retail outlets, which means you can only get them if you see one of their "authorized" doctors. This is bullshit. Probiotics are not controlled substances. I shouldn't have to spend money to go to a doctor just so I can buy this brand even if they are considered the "best" in probiotics (few brands offer 15 billion live organisms in one tiny capsule--most other brands are perhaps 1 million per capsule).

Now that my probiotic supply had been cut off, I needed other options.

So, I have started the expensive undertaking of testing various brands you might find at a place like Whole Foods to see if any of them are good.

The big problem with probiotics is that they can be viable at the time of manufacture, but many of them require refrigeration, and if they don't stay refrigerated while in transit to the retail outlet, most of the probiotics will die, even if they are refrigerated once they get to their destination. This means that you're paying $30/bottle for nothing.

There are some brands that claim to be shelf-stable and don't need refrigeration, but I've always been a bit skeptical of that. I included those in my little sample as well.

Here are my results:

Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus DF Capsules
I re-tested my last bottle of my brand of choice and surprise, surprise! This time around, the milk was NOT CURDLED AT ALL! Nothing! There was no change in smell, color or texture. I had a bum batch! This made me wonder how many times I've taken this product over the past four years and it was having no effect. On the upside, it made me feel more open to trying other brands.

Nutrition Now PB 8
This is a "shelf stable" brand that does not need refrigerations and claims to have 14 billion bacteria per a 2 capsule serving. If there was anything active in this puppy, it sure wasn't barking. The milk was as normal as always. I don't think I'll bother with this brand again.

Sedona Labs iFLora Multi-Probiotic Formula
Another shelf-stable option. Finally, a little action! Even though the milk didn't look terribly curdled, it had a distinctly different smell--much more like buttermilk, which suggested to me that something was going on. I wasn't overly impressed, but at least it wasn't a total bust.

Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50 Billion
Ding! Ding! Ding! WE HAVE A WINNER!

See that picture at the top of this post? THAT is Ultimate Flora Critical Care in action--it caused a thick, disgusting, almost colloidal suspension of gelatinous goo and it smelled like curdled milk. This shit works! And I can also attest that it's doing something because my stomach has been feeling mildly rumbly after taking it, which means that something good is going on. Those kinds of symptoms will stop in a few days as a person's body acclimates to the new flora.

NOTE: This brand requires refrigeration. I bought it from Whole Foods in Columbus Circle--clearly, they're transporting their refrigerated goods properly.

All of this cost me a mere $120 to test. UGH. But, I'd rather know that what I'm taking is going to work, and I hope this can help other people, too.

Your intestines are the first line of defense of your immune support. Take care of them. Here's to a happy intestinal life. Sweet dreams!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A fish out of water

As I buried my fish, I was struck by a thought: the only instance in which we were in the same physical space together, in the open air, was upon his death.

We were both born in water, but it's not where people are meant to reside. The water barrier cannot be crossed both ways. Jake's glistening little body had to be lifeless against the earth because the earth can never be his home. It somehow made me think of inter-dimensionality, and the modes in which we exist--the places we directly experience and those we cannot because of our limited physical capabilities.

A bowl on my end table, a fish never leaving water, never moving beyond the confines of the glass. There is sadness in that recognition of separation.

We are all separate from each other, just as our bodies exist to uniquely contain each one of us apart from all others. And yet, we still strive, we still find ways to overcome our difference and connect, with or without words. Across the divide. In some ways, we are one.

As for me and my fish, there were messages sent and received despite the barriers of bowl and water. We "played" chase as I would drag my finger around the outside of the glass; he would move near me as I sat to watch TV; he turned to face me as he was dying, gasping for air while perched upon his tiny plastic plant.

We can connect with or without words, with and without our bodies. It makes me wonder about what else exists--what are those places of which we may have no awareness, other dimensions, perhaps, and do we touch, do we overlap, in those dimensions?

As for separation and death, perhaps death is what frees us from the physical constraints of our perceptions. Perhaps only in death can we transcend cause-and-effect time and reach a place where we are both separate and one, in time and outside of it. After all, time is merely one dimension. We are current prisoners of our linear perception, but that is not all there is.

We fear death. Culturally, we think of it as something to be hated, to be overcome. No one wants to die. But death will always be a reality, and as such, there must be something positive about it. Maybe the gift of death is to embody the paradox. To be apart from, yet to be with all.

Maybe in death we have a moment to see ourselves as we truly are, both our good and our bad, concurrently. Perhaps our life is simply practice for this ultimate state of contradiction that spans across borders we currently cannot see. Perhaps death simultaneously holds us in all that we are, all our love and hate, all of us that lives in the past and the future.

I've recently been listening to some music I haven't heard in years. I was struck by "Hyperdrive" from the 1974 album Dragonfly by Jefferson Starship, which is about the present, past and the future and the paradox of existence in time:

    And If it rains again tonight, I can think light years ahead

    Or I could put myself back a thousand years ago

    As if I'd always been here before or as if I am still to be born

    I'm a slow loser, but I'm a fast learner

    That much I know

    Anyone can go

    That much I know

    Anyone can go
And you will. Because you're already here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jake the Betta Fish, RIP

Jake the Betta fish died today, presumably around 3 pm at the age of 2 years and 9 months (at least, the time I knew him). Betta fish only live about 2 years, so his age was remarkable--he lived nearly a third longer than expected. He was consistently energetic throughout his life, which differed somewhat from Telly, my other fish who passed away at under two years.

Even though some would say he was just a fish, we had a kind of communion. He would swim near me while I watched TV, and chase my finger along the side of the bowl. He fell ill the past few weeks, and as his life slowed down, he still managed to move himself near me when I was sitting near his bowl and look directly at me.

He was buried at 6:45 p.m. in the garden of my new building. A piece of brick marks the spot. I'm sorry he died in a strange new place he wasn't used to, but I am glad to have had him in my life, something alive to come home to and to take care of.

This photo ended up being unintentionally appropriate. "Memorial" is framed above him.

RIP, Jake. You were a good fish.

Friday, October 10, 2008

From Kings to Queens

County, that is.

Before everything is unpacked and the rooms decorated, waking up somewhere new feels like living in a hotel that inexplicably contains all of one's belongings. Nothing feels quite like home yet, and after spending 5.5 years in one apartment, it's utterly jarring to find oneself in another part of the city with all routines disrupted.

Even though I live by myself and am quite used to it, moving dredges up a sense of aloneness--a person has to do everything by herself, from attending the closing to booking movers to waiting for the cable guy in an empty apartment. There is no one to help out, or to share the experience with. It's easy to focus on what seems to be lacking. The upshot is that a person can prove to themselves what they are capable of, and be proud to be able to accomplish everything on their own. The mortgage approval process these days is a bit crazy, and applying for a co-op is worse than filling out college applications.

New beginnings aren't really endings--they're continuations of where we have already been. This phase began on the day of the autumnal equinox. Things have been reset, but it's not the same as showing up in a town five and a half years ago, knowing no one with nowhere specific to be, looking for work and a room of one's own.

The location has changed, but already, there are new possibilities with old friends. Just in the past five days, I've run into four different friends either in the neighborhood or on the train. I may be displaced, but the city still has a place for me.

We are the kings and queens of our castles. And finally, my castle is my own. Queens take Kings in chess. I'm feeling certain this move is a winner.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A quote worth reading

I consider being out of the closet a moral issue, and it's refreshing to see it framed similarly by someone else.

I just ran across this quote by Rachel Maddow, who now has her own show on MSNBC.

She says:

"I think that there is a moral imperative to be out, and I think that if you’re not out, you have to come to an ethical understanding with yourself why you are not. And it shouldn’t be something that is excused lightly. I don’t think that people should be forced out of the closet, but I think that every gay person, sort of, ought to push themselves in that regard. Because it’s not just you. It’s for the community and it’s for the country."

This is from the After Ellen article, "Rachel Maddow, Anchor Woman."

Thanks, Rachel, for being of like mind.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Sarah Palin Abstinence Pledge

I'm still on hiatus, but in light of the nomination of the new Republican VP, Sarah Palin, I wanted to find a way to merge my point of view with hers when it comes to sex education.

As a result, I have formulated a special lesbian oath. Feel free to repeat after me:

"In an effort to support abstinence-only, I hereby pledge to abstain from heterosexual sex."

Thank you, Sarah, for finally giving me the courage and a voice to express my desires in such a way that allows me to uphold my own value system while also honoring your point of view.

We both win!

Take the pledge. Join me now. Preferably in my bed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On hiatus

In case it isn't blindingly obvious by my lack of posts, I'm officially going on hiatus. Preparing for my upcoming move is taking up most of my time, so I need to focus on that. I'm hoping to be back to posting by October. Unless something insane happens, in which case I will post. But until then, thanks for stopping by and I promise to be back once the literal and metaphoric dust has settled.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire

As I walked out of my apartment this morning to head for work, I saw an Access van across the street. A little flash caught my eye, and lo and behold! Tiny flames were licking up the windshield.

I gave myself another second to make sure my brain wasn't deceiving me, and I confirmed, to myself, that the VAN WAS ON FIRE! I looked around to see if anyone was in or near the van, and it seemed abandoned. People were passing by on the street, looking at the fire as it began to build, and walked on by, either to the subway or down the street as the hood burst into flame. I couldn't believe it.


I whipped out my phone and dialed 9-1-1. I was petrified that the thing was going to blow up, and as the conflagration grew, the windows popped and shattered. Then the horn went off--the death cries of an immolating vehicle.

I ran back inside. I was asking myself whether it was smarter to be inside or outside, but I decided I'd rather be indoors if the thing blew up, presumably allowing my building to take the major blow. I didn't want to leave until I was sure the fire department arrived. From the photos I took, a friend later pointed out it looked a lot like Grand Theft Auto.

They came in about 2 minutes, but the fire continued to blaze--it was so hot I could feel the heat through my living room window. Once the fireman hosed it down, I went back outside to tell them thank you. They asked me if I knew where the driver was. I didn't, but the guy next to me said he saw the driver cross the street. Good lord.

Just another day in Brooklyn. And unfortunately, the third major conflagration I've witnessed in the past 5 years on this corner. Shudder.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Working out at home

I've been going to a Pilates mat class one night a week and spending the rest of my time exercising at home. Mat classes are usually around $17/ea., at least in New York, so that's $68/mo., which is nearly the cost of a gym membership. To save money, I've purchased several DVDs to help guide my workouts at home once I've learned the basics in class. I've found two that are outstanding.

If you're looking for weight training, I've been really pleased with Kathy Smith's Lift Weights to Lose Weight 2. (I haven't tried volume 1 yet.)

Vol. 2 features two 20-minute workouts for the upper and lower body. I've enjoyed doing one 20-min workout each morning before work. It's just enough time to see a difference in your body, but not so much time that you can't fit it in before you head out the door.

If you'd like a 45 minute Pilates routine for home, I can't say enough about Karen Voight's "Pilates Core Power: Abdominals & Back." She does some slight variations from traditional pilates moves, but everything is well-paced, and she makes sure to counter-balance all exercises with their opposites so all muscle groups are attended to.

I've done this workout at least 20 times by now, and Karen Voight never gets on my nerves, unlike Kathy Smith, who is occasionally grating with comments like, "Sue back there is looking at the camera. She's trying to steal my thunder."

I didn't know that Karen offered this DVD in combination with another, so you might want to check out Total Body Pilates instead. It features the same routine, plus an additional 45-min lower body routine. However, that routine requires that you have a magic circle.

I would stay far, far away from Jennifer Kries' Pilates Method: Perfect Mix. This video is far from perfect--the production values are dismal, and it's more like aerobics than pilates. Also, she provides no instruction whatsoever--you pop in the DVD, and off they go, hitting the mats like crazy people with no narration or instruction so you have no idea what's going on on how to keep up. Yuck.

I am looking into purchasing other Kathy Smith and Karen Voight DVDs and will post reviews. I've grown to love working out at home, and it's definitely worth the savings.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The end of the story

You may recall the Open Container Violation I was party to.

This week, two of us in our group got this letter in our mail from the NYC Criminal Court:

As of the above referenced date, the NYPD has failed to file a legally acceptable accusatory instrument with this court. There is no need for you to return to court on the summons number referenced above.

Our $25 checks to pay the fine were never cashed. I believe we are off the hook! No petty offenses on our records after all. Here's to the cumbersome red tape of bureaucracy ensuring our victory. We are exonerated!

And, if anyone out there is still trying to read this blog, I've just been too busy and not terribly inspired to write. It will pick back up again soon, I hope. Altho, my presumed impending move may keep me away from the keyboard. I'll keep you posted....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Co-op board application

In case anyone is wondering what eight copies of a co-op board application looks like, here it is.


  • Application forms (which include the SELLER'S social security number. Why would I have this?)
  • Contract of sale
  • Mortgage agreement
  • Three statements from every financial account a person has
  • Last three pay stubs
  • Last two years tax returns
  • Six letters of recommendation
  • Various signed agreements (house rules, window guards, etc.)
  • Checks for move-in fees and credit report: $750
Cost: $75.00 for the copies, $50.00 to ship it.

It's worse than a college application.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Of all of the amazing and gorgeous and talented entertainers out there that I've had crushes on for years, why does Lindsay Lohan turn out to be the one who goes gay? I, for one, don't want this vacuous train wreck playing for my team, for a short while or forever.

That said, there's a great article on Lindsay's outing in the LA Times: "Lindsay Lohan & Samantha Ronson: Read all about it." There has traditionally been a reluctance to out people in the media, but it seems those days are over. Life & Style magazine has plastered Lindsay all over their cover. I saw her today staring at me at from the counter at Rite Aid.

I personally think this might be a step in the right direction. I'm not generally in favor of outing people even though I think it's absurd, cowardly and downright wrong to be closeted, but celebrities already live a public life. And Lindsay has been hanging out in public with her girlfriend, Samantha Ronson.

I can't say I'm sad or sorry to see more queer visibility without the permission of the lesbian in question. And despite that I'd rather it wasn't Lindsay, there's something great about the tabloid magazine coverage of lesbian relationships. If celebrities are "Just Like Us," then gay relationships are just as normal in Los Angeles as they in Kansas. Who says social change can't be spurred by rag mags?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I, too, bite and chew my shoes apart on the subway. Or not.

Seconds before, I was just thinking about how it has been a while since I've seen anything really weird on the subway. And lo! A vision appeared before me: a man began to slowly and meticulously bite, chew and rip a brand new pair of sneakers apart, right in front of me. He made a lanyard out of the laces so he could put his wallet around his neck. He ripped the tongue from the shoes. He tore them apart with his bare hands. His bag was labeled "K Mart."

I assume he understood why he was doing what he was doing.

I made eye contact with the woman across from me and we had to look away to avoid cracking up. This was much more entertaining than the unopened can of Brisk lemonade that was rolling around the floor on my subway ride into the city earlier in the day.

Clothes on sale online but not in the store? Ask for the discount!

Guess what!? I discovered that Bloomingdale's WILL honor their online sale prices if you find the same merchandise in the store at full price. All you need is proof from the web site (make those printouts!) and your receipt.

I bought this James Perse Short Sleeve Henly Polo last week at full price ($85). I liked the shirt, but it didn't seem worth $85, so I was considering returning it. I decided to poke around online to see if I could find it elsewhere cheaper, and found it on Bloomingdale's site itself, marked down 20% to $63.75. That sounded much more reasonable to me. I grabbed my receipt and hit the store, where it was NOT on sale.

The first saleswoman I spoke to had to call the manager to ask whether they would honor the sale price. Then, she insisted that I needed to have the shirt with me to get the markdown. That made no sense to me since all of the information should be in the database upon lookup from the barcode on the receipt. Thankfully, another saleswoman confirmed that I was correct, and the receipt was all I needed. No need to schlepp around merchandise. I was credited back $21.25.

While I was there, I saw that the Diane von Furstenberg shirt I also bought last week is now 40% off (although not listed online). I'm about to head back to the store now to reclaim $75. Absolutely worth the hour it will take me to run the errand. And in total, I will have saved $100 just by doing a little research and legwork.

This economy sucks. There are markdowns and sales everywhere. Keep an eye out online and in the stores. Save big!

Sign of the times

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Even good girls get it sometimes

Six good girls and two good boys, that is. What did we get? Tickets with court summons for having an "open container" (read: one bottle of wine) at a birthday party/picnic in Prospect Park last Sunday.

But that's not really the most interesting part of the story. What is amazing is how two message board posts about our incident managed to make it all the way to Gothamist. It was an amazing illustration in how the blogosphere works.

One of the members of our party wrote an in-depth summary of the occurrence and posted on The It's such a popular post that it has had over 3,144 views, and 70 responses, now one week later.

A friend of mine posted to the Park Slope Parents message board about the same issue, asking on our behalf if this has been occurring more frequently in the park, and whether it's worth going to fight the ticket.

Park Slope Parents is a members-only message board with 5000+ readers. One of the members took my friend's post and posted it to other blogs, without seeking permission, so it wound up on Gowanus Lounge.

And then turned up on Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. (You'll have to scroll down to the post "Group Summoned for Open Bottle of Wine in Prospect Park" to find it.)

Who knows which one came first? (Altho it appears that SmartMom on "Only the Blog..." was the first to leak the story from PSP.)

AND THEN Gowanus Lounge found the post on and pieced two-and-two together.

Finally, our story wound up on the Angry New Yorker.

Apparently, all four outlets of information are sufficiently read by enough of the blogging New York cognescenti that we made it to the Holy Grail of local blogs: Gothamist, with their article: "Should Public Drinking be Allowed?" (Altho, had we scored in Gawker as well, it would have been even more triumphant, but alas, no one gets it all).

What I find most noteworthy is that our story is truly not all that engaging. A group of us unwittingly broke the rules (no excuse, I know!), were approached by four cops, one of whom was mildly confrontational, and left us disappointed that we were singled out when clearly there were others around us more flagrantly flouting the law. It sucked, but it is what it is. It was shocking to find that SO MANY people seemed to have commentary on this topic, and that it shot to the top of the charts (if you will).

It proved a few things: that many people can be quite mean and presumptuous under the guise of anonymous blog posts; conversely, many people can be quite humane and came to our defense. But more than anything, it proved that so many bloggers really don't have much to say and, in fact, have so little to say that they simply rip off content from local message boards rather than contributing new thoughts or ideas or original topics of discussion into general circulation. We need more blogs with original content! Ideas matter!

All that said, it has been quite fun to watch the wave unexpectedly rise and catch so many people in the current. It was definitely worth the 25 bucks and the now permanent "petty offense" on my record to see how news travels through the community, and just how it makes its way to the top of the heap.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

S&P 500 not a great place for short-term investments

And by short term investments, I mean 10 years or less.

Take it from me: I've learned a lesson the hard way. I've been investing monthly in the Vanguard S&P 500 Index fund (VFINX) for nine years, as a means to save up for a down payment on a home.

And now that the time has arrived for me to withdraw my funds, the market is in a horrible state. The S&P blew through the key support point of 1350 and finished out the week at 1317. It's dropping like a stone. Thankfully, I withdrew my funds on Tuesday before it fell below 1350, but I'm very disappointed that my assiduous saving hasn't had much payoff. (A good tip: apparently, you should never sell stocks on a Monday since statistics show that's the worst day of the week to sell).

As it turns out, VFINX has only managed a meager 3.5% return for the past 10 years. I suppose I should be grateful that it didn't have a negative return, but talk about a lousy place to stash cash for a major purchase. I could have done as well with a savings account at Emigrant Direct (which is a really good idea, btw, and they tend to have some of the highest rates going. Also check out ING).

I remember meeting with a financial planner in 1999, and he asked me to think about my long-term life goals. My most immediate goal, for the next 10 years, was to own a home. He suggested, since I was a new investor, that I go with regular monthly contributions to an index fund, such as the S&P 500. And so I did, now much to my disappointment. Of course, any savings at all is better than none, but there have to be better ways to weather the horrible economy that we've had for the past 10 years. Sadly, I don't know of anything that's much of a safe or reliable bet other than Treasury Bills and Internet savings accounts.

I'm still clinging to the belief that index funds are a good way to go over the long term, so if you have an S&P fund in your 401k portfolio, I'd say leave it there and ride out this economic downturn (which from what I'm reading and from a symposium I went to, will most likely be a U-shaped recovery that will take at least two more years).

In the meantime, what can you do? I highly recommend the simple exercise of thinking about your future and planning for possible expenses now. Do you want to own a home? Get married? Have a large wedding? Elope? Have children? Adopt children? Remain childless? Travel? What does your retirement life look like to you? Will you own a home in Florida? Will you rent? What is your life going to look like when you're 65? 70? 80+?

Even if you're single, you can still imagine the expenses attached to the life you want to lead, and start to save accordingly. We can't predict how our lives will turn out, but no matter what happens, wouldn't it be nice to have a little stash of cash saved up for that moment when we get to wherever it is we're going?

But for the short term, stay away from the S&P.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sex sounds

Last night I overheard the copious moaning of my downstairs neighbor having sex. It's an amusing part of apartment living--the squeaking bed frame and the real (or faked) orgasms (who can tell?).

I'm by no means dissing sex sounds--they can certainly be hot, particularly when it's you yourself getting it on. But it strikes me as curious that given the many times over the years I've overheard straight couples having sex, it's almost always the woman who is the one gasping out, "oh, oh, oh god, oh, oh, oh, OH, OH, OH!!!" I can only think of one time when I've overheard a heard a guy loudly call out, grunt, and moan as he climaxed.

And that strikes me as odd.

Could it be that women are culturally programmed to behave a certain way sexually, and that both they and their partners have an expectation that the ladies will give a vocal performance as a part of sex? Why aren't men also expected to vocalize their pleasure? Is this part and parcel of the objectification of women in our culture, that women themselves actively embrace? (Taking on the role of being "seen" as opposed to expecting a certain performance from a man?)

Is this how we've all learned to behave via porn?

Is this a sign that the sex act may not be as genuine as what the person might actually be feeling?

Are these women just acting?

I want to believe that there are a lot of people out there having great sex, but considering that what I've overheard over many years almost always sounds exactly the same, I'd have to say that the vast majority of sex I've been exposed to through my walls sounds very, very vanilla.

And who in their heart of hearts is really just vanilla? My wish is that these couples will have the trust and courage to expose their emotional vulnerabilities to each other along with their kinks and connect in a very real way that will result in messy, complicated, loving, animalistic sex that breaks the boilerplate and boils.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they're all really happy and are having the best sex ever. But somehow I doubt it. It takes a lot of courage to be yourself, especially when you're naked in front of someone else. Still, I'd love to hear something more creatively unfettered, and less scripted, or at least a screamed out, "Fuck me HARDER!"

Come on, people!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Human kindness

I'm going to break my general rule about talking too specifically about myself, but I had a traumatic event this week that I wanted to share.

On Wednesday, I had lunch from Whole Foods hot bar--salmon, spinach and rice with vegetables (this was the Whole Foods at 2nd Ave). I was fine until about 3 p.m. when I mentioned to a coworker that I wasn't feeling too spectacular. By 4 p.m., I felt a lot worse and told my boss I was feeling very sick. She suggested I get a cab and go home, but I didn't feel like I was going to be able to leave because I knew I was about to become really ill. Shortly thereafter, I found myself vomiting in the bathroom.

I started sweating profusely alternating with chills, and I was dearly wishing someone would have been around. I got scared because I was suddenly in so much pain. I knew I had to get myself out of there and get help. I started seeing stars and was about to faint. I managed to get out the bathroom door and the six feet across the hall to the nearest coworker. I shouted out, "Jim! Help me!" And then I collapsed.

Two guys grabbed me and put me in a chair, but I couldn't sit due to the abdominal pain, so one of them picked me up and carried me in his arms to the the couch in the front room of the office. A bunch of coworkers gathered around to talk to me and see how I was, and someone called 911. Four people sat and talked to me, and one stroked my hair and put a cold compress on my neck. Another coworker gathered up my things and my jacket and brought them to me.

The pain came in waves where I could barely speak during the peak pain, but then it would remit, and I was able to regain my sense of humor and chat. The paramedics arrived and strapped me into a chair with wheels and took me down to the ambulance. My boss was kind enough to come along for the ride. It was my first time in an ambulance, and I can't say it was all that exciting. They basically strap you onto the gurney. They handed me a barf bucket, and I was proud to not hurl despite the exceedingly bumpy ride.

I was given two bags of IV fluids, which helped enormously. My sister arrived, so my boss was free to go, but before leaving, she bought me a wide assortment of the best trash magazines to read as I recovered.

The next day, my coworkers sent me flowers.

I'm still sick and at home recovering, two days later. This is by far the worst food poisoning I've ever had. But, I just wanted to say how grateful I am to those who came to my aid during a terrible moment of illness, and how touched I am by the kindness and compassion exhibited by my coworkers in a time of personal crisis. Thank you all. I'll never forget it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Gotham Girls Roller Derby

The Bronx Gridlock crushed the Brooklyn Bombshells last night with a sore of 120 something to 45 something. I can't remember exactly. But roller derby is damn good!

If you're local, check out the Gotham Girls Roller Derby. Next match is June 28 Brooklyn versus Queens.

Of course, my favorite part are the names. Beatrix Slaughter wins my vote, but I also give props to Auntie Christ, Luna Impact, SheRAW, Raggedy Animal and Beyonslay.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Anyone still bothering to read this?

Damn, I wish that was my kitchen.

Sorry for my absence. If you're someone who's actually still making an attempt to read my blog, thank you. I've been grossly distracted by the hunt for real estate. I have the feeling it might be nearly as all-engrossing as preparing for the arrival of a baby. It has turned Major Generalist into Johnny One Note. I make my friends and family endure blow-by-blow descriptions of what I'm seeing. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about apartments. Floorplans dance in my head. Suddenly, my brain feels a lot smaller, and I don't care for it, despite my understanding that I need to soldier on in my search. I'm going to make an attempt to broaden my perspectives again and keep writing while I'm out in the world putting most of my efforts towards house-hunting. (Current count: 8 apartments viewed, none acceptable)

In today's New York Times, there's an article called Start in Neutral about renovating your home in basic colors (white! white! white!) if you have any thoughts of future resale value. Yes! Please take this to heart. I'm fascinated by the "personal touches" I'm seeing in the places I'm looking at. Nothing seems sadder than walking into a fabulous apartment that has been carefully renovated only to open the bathroom door and see brand-new baby blue and purple tiling with an abstract butterfly motif. Visions of me on the weekends with a hammer and chisel in hand to remove the monstrosity override my interest in the place. It's one thing to buy a pre-war apartment for its charm and update its flagging fixtures, but another thing entirely to wholesale destroy newly done work because it's aesthetically unacceptable. I could never live with pastel butterflies in my bathroom, so it would have to go, but it seems a grave shame to have to undo what some aesthetically-challenged owner hath wrought.

And may I complain about bathtubs with sliding doors? Who chooses these things? They're impossible to clean and I whack my head off them all the time as I'm stepping out. (I've had one now for five years, and it's one of my least favorite things on Earth.) I'm seeing so many places with this kind of updated "bath." Are these inexpensive to install or something? And if you rip them out, you have to replace the tub and some of the tiling because it's drilled into the walls and affixed to the tub. I would think that nothing is cheaper than a spring-loaded shower curtain rod. What's the appeal of a shower with doors? Please explain!

OK, I have to get out of here and go look at more places. I'll try to have other things to share very soon. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Clay Aiken Impregnates Woman

Clay Aiken impregnation.

She's 50. They're friends. It may be artificial.

No further comments.

Wait, I do have a further comment. I realized who the mom is: Jaymes Foster-Levy. She was a judge on one of the early reality shows on the WB called Popstars, which gave birth to the wildly popular girl band, Eden's Crush. Remember them? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Drowned Barbies at Prince & Crosby in Soho, NY

Your guess is as good as mine.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Looking for metaphors

One of the mysteries of being alive is the search for meaning. We have only to look around us to find metaphors everywhere, waiting to reveal messages to us about life. Of course, these messages come from inside us. They are our responses to what we see, and hence are subjective, but that’s beautiful in its own way—we can become our own teachers if we look closely enough at the world around us.

While in Galveston, TX, I was walking down a pier and began to photograph a number of seagulls flocking overhead. I didn’t see the actual moment of capture, but a fisherman cast his line and accidentally snagged a hook through a seagull’s wing. Both the bird and the fisherman quickly realized something was very wrong, and the bird was unable to maintain its flight. The gull began to dive and sputter. The fisherman reeled in the bird as it thrashed violently and became more entangled.

I wondered why the fisherman didn’t immediately cut the line, but then I realized that if he did so, the seagull would still have the hook embedded in its wing. Entangled in a large amount of line, it would probably perish later as a consequence. He had to bring the bird closer to free it.

The gull violently resisted being pulled in, first onto nearby rocks, and then at the feet of the fisherman. The gull screamed out, and tried to bite the man as he touched the bird. The bird continued to fight for an escape. I was conflicted as to whether I should watch this play out, but I wanted to see what would happen next. I was imagining the physical pain and fear the bird must be experiencing.

Then something strange happened: the bird stopped moving. It was almost as though it realized that there was no escape, and nothing that could be done, or perhaps knew it was being helped. It stopped struggling. I wondered if it was able to sense the man’s good intentions, or if it simply gave up. I have no idea. I want to believe it was the former.

The fisherman removed the hook from the wing and untangled the line from the feathers. Immediately, the bird leapt from his feet and into the air, rejoining the flock above.

I read this moment as a strong metaphor, a living representation of how life is a difficult fight, tinged by violence and struggle. But I also saw a means for finding our way out of our maze of anxiety.

The more we resist our negative feelings of grief, anger and fear, and the more we rely upon self-judgment and condemnation, the more entangled we become in our own drama. If we surrender to the things in life that are most difficult, if we allow ourselves to feel the feelings that we most want to run away from, if we acknowledge the truth of our situations and accept our life as it as, and accept and love who we are, we can find peace within the din and a moment of rest amidst the calamity.

Prison ceases to be a prison when we stop trying to escape. At that moment when we accept whatever it is that we are fighting against, when we finally surrender, only then is the door most likely to open and we can regain our freedom.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Philip Johnson's Chapel of St. Basil

I was visiting my friend J for his graduation from Rice University with a Master of Architecture degree. It was only fitting that we toured around Houston looking at the more notable buildings. We stopped by Philip Johnson's Chapel of St. Basil at the University of St. Thomas. We only had a few minutes until his family arrived in town. We resolved to return later that night, which we did.

In the evening, the chapel is lit by three major floodlights, and much to our joy, we discovered we could create two-story high shadow puppetry with an impressive umbra and penumbra. It started out with walking like an Egyptian and acting like a zombie, arms outstretched in front of the lights. But then I decided to turn it up a notch:

I had J take photos both with my actual self in the image for scale, and just the shadow itself:

Within moments, two security guards in a golf cart came hurtling towards us. J and I exchanged a glance. Clearly, the party was about to be over and we were going to be escorted from the campus.

They pulled up next to us and stopped. One of the men said, "Wow. I've been here for years, and that's the first time I've ever seen that pose." So J said, "People never do this?" And the guard said, "Not like that!" They laughed approvingly and sped off.

I sexualized myself on the side of a church and got instantaneous results. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.

What direction are we going, Jet Blue?

As I was flying down to Houston this weekend, I was happy to be traveling with Jet Blue. TV really does make the flights go faster.

And I like to watch the altimeter on the descent. You can see from the image that the dots originate in New York and move towards Houston. For most of the flight, the plane pointed in the correct direction, but then at the last moment, it flipped around backwards, aiming towards the the red dots from which it came. An amusing user interface error or were we spinning out of control, at least virtually?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Snopes, Twitter, Poke!

Life on the Internet brings us closer together because it’s so easy to reach out to people with quick communication.

But so many of the ways we communicate online have limited intrinsic value. It seems to me that Baby Boomers send around forwarded emails that largely contain false content like new ways for carjackers to get you (thank you,, for helping to clarify) and Gen X and Gen Y like to Twitter and Poke.

But this is a substitute for conversation. Sure, it’s nice to know you’re being thought of, but given the lack of personal meaning inherent in the message, these are nearly valueless and sometimes annoying taps on the virtual shoulder that cause you to turn around and face…nothing.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Isle of Lesbos sues lesbians

What would Sappho say?

"Certain ladies" are being taken to court by three islanders from Lesbos, Greece, with the request that "lesbian" not be included in a gay rights orgaganization's name, and by extension, no longer be used to designate romantic relationships between women:

One of the plaintiffs said Wednesday that the name of the association, Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, "insults the identity" of the people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.

"My sister can't say she is a Lesbian," said Dimitris Lambrou. "Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos," he said.

Lesbians around the world have agreed to stop using the term so that Mr. Lambrou's sister can take her rightful place as a true Lesbian. The word is expected to be eradicated by 2015.

Friday, May 2, 2008

R2-D2 DVD Projector

It's the end of the world. Anyone who buys this needs to spend more time focusing on getting a girlfriend instead:

R2-D2 DVD Projector

The best part is the guy laying on a couch, excitedly playing video games projected onto the ceiling. He's supine for all the wrong reasons. The only way to make this more realistic would be if he were forty.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

How to Survive a Riot

Stumbled across this at first hilarious and then sobering how-to guide: How to: Survive a Riot

Let's hope we never need this information, but let's keep in mind:

If you fall down, pull yourself up into a ball. Protect your face and ears and internal organs. In this position you are a smaller object that can be avoided. You will receive less damage if you are stepped on. If others trip on you they will help create a larger "pile" that rioters will avoid.

Try to avoid looking conspicuously wealthy, as you are likely to draw the unwanted attention of opportunistic thieves.

Now you know!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Overheard: On Tattoos

I wanted to post this quote earlier, but I misplaced the note I had written myself, and just found it.

April 22, 2008

On the F Train at Rockefeller Center

A blonde caucasian woman about 20 years old.

"People who don't have tats don't understand. Whenever you get tatted up, you live it in that live it forever."

Celebrity hype, er...height

I stumbled across a list of tall actresses. Some are quite surprising. Tilda Swinton is 5'11"!!! I never would have guessed.

I started wondering about height as I watched Battlestar Galactica this evening and noticed that Tricia Helfer (Number Six) towers over James Callis as Dr. Gaius Baltar. She's 5'10".

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Circumcision. I think not.

I was talking to a guy and a gal yesterday and the topic of circumcision came up. After doing some research and seeing video footage of babies in hospitals tied to boards with Velcro straps and watching them go into shock after being circumcised, I am not in favor of the procedure.

My compatriots argued that babies don’t remember being circumcised, so it doesn’t matter. This troubled me as a reason to go ahead with it. I believe that the pain is still a part of a baby's experience and remains with them forever, as a part of them, even if now subconscious. I came up with an analogy this morning—what if I drugged someone, and altered their body, either by giving them a tattoo or maybe removing a finger or raping them, and then woke them up again once they've healed. They wouldn't remember it, but would it still matter? I believe it would be hard to argue that it doesn't matter. I'm disturbed that we treat our babies' bodies as something we can modify only because we have the power to do so, not because of their consent. (Thanks, Mom, for letting me decide when I could get my ears pierced.)

I'm not likely to change someone's mind if they've been too strongly enculturated to accept circumcision without question, but I'd ask that everyone do research and actually take a peek at what happens during circumcision before agreeing to it from an emotional response of fear that one's child will be made fun of in the locker room.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lacing your shoes

I bought a new pair of silver Kenneth Cole Full Moon sneakers today.

When I got them home, I noticed that each shoe was laced differently. I'm no expert at lacing shoes, but I figured someone online had to be, so I did a quick search and found Ian's Shoelace Site with 34 different ways to lace shoes.

I noticed something astounding that I wouldn't have recognized without Ian's of my shoes was laced in the "Shoe Shop Lacing style" that is, "commonly used by shoe shop assistants because it's so fast to lace new shoes, this method is another "lazy" variation of traditional Straight Lacing."

It wasn't a good lace job! It was a LAZY lace job! Ack! I wonder how many pairs of shoes I've had where I never bothered to fix this now obvious problem.

A whole new world of minutiae has been opened to me. I will be able to look at people's laces and KNOW the style in which it is laced! WOW!

This left me the task of choosing a lace style for my silver shoes. I didn't want something too complex since I'm new at this business, but I wanted something stylish. Because this is my year for learning science, and because it looked good, I settled on Double Helix Lacing. I also liked the double helix style because, "there is less friction between the laces and the edges of the shoe flaps, plus negligible contact between overlapping laces, reducing friction even further." Style with function. Perfect. (I made a mistake on one shoe, but liked it, so I kept it. My lacing is slightly different than directed.)

I can't wait to attack my other shoes and give them a lacing makeover!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Phantom is Christine's Baby-Daddy?

Oh my! Since I'm on a musicals kick, I thought I'd dive into All That Chat. I found out more about the rumored follow-up to Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera.

    (From a Playbill article on a proposed Phantom of the Opera sequel)

    In the sequel, the title character travels to Coney Island around 1900 and is reunited with soprano Christine. The show is not based on source material. One of the reported titles of the new project was Phantom in Manhattan.....

    The Daily Mail previously described the sequel plot this way: "The Phantom has slipped away to New York and has set up a fairground world on Coney Island, along with Madame Giry and her daughter, Meg. He organizes a concert in Manhattan for Christine, the object of his desire. Christine travels to the U.S. with her husband Raoul and their teenage son, who happens to be a musical genius...just like the Phantom."

Oh dear, oh dear. I just threw up and I'm shivering in a corner over here.

It just gets weirder! Andrew Lloyd Webber apparently has a very sagacious cat--it deleted ALW's entire score, presumably in hopes of saving his owner from extreme embarrassment.

    Lloyd Webber, 59, was working on the score at his computerised grand piano when his six-month-old kitten Otto clambered into its frame and managed to delete everything he had written so far."
    From: Why Andrew is in need of a copycat.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Our long development cycle

My good friend, Mr. E. Victim, sent me this email:

"I was just pondering as I fell asleep the other night: why do we have such a long developmental phase as a species (20 years – an eternity compared to animals!)? Then I stumbled across this article, which suggests we need the time to develop a brain that cannot be larger when born for a species that walks on their two hind legs."

Check out The Benefits of a Long Childhood:
“A big and complex brain takes a lot of time to develop, and in humans much of that development must occur after birth, because bipedalism limits birth-canal width, which has in turn constrained the head size of newborns.”

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cry-Baby on Broadway

I'm feeling very uninspired to write something about this musical, but I'll eke out a few words in hopes of deterring others from seeing the Broadway adaptation of John Waters' Cry-Baby. The good: the dancing. The bad: everything else.

That's not entirely fair. The music was catchy enough, particularly at the Polio fair in the beginning, but none of it stayed in my head after the show. The set design with the skewed perspective was clever. But something overall didn't hang together in this story of a rock-and-roll boy from the wrong side of the tracks who tries to woo an uptight school-girl who's ready to let her hair down.

However, I did like the tuxedo-striped men's jeans. Those were cool. But that didn't stop my mind from drifting in and out. Funny how our brains leap directly to sex when bored for two hours and trapped in a seat with precious little leg room. (To my credit, I also contemplated other shows I've seen in comparison, and decided that I *must* see Patti LuPone in Gypsy to make up for this experience. My theatre-going companions agreed and we now have Gypsy tix for May 30. Hooray!)

All of the artistic choices were disjointed. There's a hackneyed rule of the theatre that says if there's a gun on stage, it must be fired. Props are meant to be used. However, there were costumes and props that didn't add much to the show. Sure, someone dressed as a box of Lucky Strike cigarettes and someone else as an apple pie represent "Americana," but having them dance around in the background was pointless.

Late in the show, the dancing apple pie with legs pulls out a champagne bottle like a gun and aims it at the Little Richard-esque character, and he says, "This is strange." My thoughts exactly! I like a good non-sequitur as much as the next girl, but this was one too many in show already muddled in direction. And there were precious few references to the Elvis movies this show is supposed to spoof. The first act is not terribly solid, and Cry-Baby unravels in the second. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Instead, spend that amount on powerhouse Patti and have yourself a theatrical experience of a lifetime.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sexism and Hillary Clinton

This video is well worth eight minutes of your time. See for yourself how sexism has played out against Hillary in the media.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bored? Take this survey

Someone I know is doing online research for her Master's thesis regarding boredom and how you cope with it. Take the survey!

Nicole LePera
The New School for Social Research
Department. of Psychology
65 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 215-901-2184


Someone I was talking to yesterday was discussing family in general and how stressful relatives can be. It reminded me of a quote from The Importance of Being Earnest. As always, Oscar Wilde bears repeating:

"Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die."

More Oscar Wilde Quotes

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Eulogy for a Professor: Richard C. Tobias

A couple of years ago, I fell out of touch with a professor of English Literature I had as an undergraduate, Richard C. Tobias. I've been reticent to look him up because I feared for the worst, and I'm angry at myself for exhibiting such cowardice. But I think about him frequently, so I finally did some google searching, only to discover that he passed away on September 12, 2006 at the age of 81. This comes a year-and-a-half too late, but I wanted to honor him with a few words.

My first interaction with Tobias (or "Tob" as he liked to be called) was over the phone in 1993, while I croaked away at him with laryngitis trying to ask him questions about our upcoming semester abroad in London, for which he was teaching "Shakespeare and His Plays." The only thing I seem to remember was that after he heard my voice he kept saying, "Poor baby."

The semester in London was one of the most important times in my life and for the first time, I was able to connect with a larger sense of humanity due to the age of what I was seeing all around me. As I was embracing our great chain of being in the abstract, I suspect that this time was critical for Tobias as well, but for much more difficult and personal reasons: shortly before our trip, his wife Barbara passed away from a brain aneurysm. I remember him telling us the story of how he was holding her on the couch. She had a headache, got up to get an aspirin, and never returned.

At the time, due to my lack of life experience, I was not able to strongly empathize with the grief he must have endured (much to my shame), but I admire that he kept moving forward with his life and held on to London and teaching and found a connection to his love and his past at every turn, pointing out flowers that Barbara knew and liked. He loved his family very much and was quite proud of them. I remember him discussing one of his daughter's weddings. He said of his daughter and her husband, "He didn't choose her. She didn't choose him. They chose each other." That always stayed with me as an ideal of an egalitarian romance.

I also can't help but remember him on a tour bus ride through the Cotswolds jumping up down, pointing and shouting, "Gypsy camp! Gypsy camp!" as we passed by a series of tents. That always makes me smile.

He was a tall and slim man who often wore a Captain's hat. He wasn't ostentatious, but I remember the fancy sequined vest he bought himself in London, as well as the convertible Saab he bought with his inheritance from his aunt.

Of course I took more classes with him once we returned. Every time he'd see me around campus, he'd nearly sing, "There she is...Miss America!" I never understood why, although I suppose I did sort of exude a kind of squeaky-clean Americanism. I also suspect it was because he liked tall women.

In his Modernist Poetry class, I was mistaken for his mistress. I arrived late the first day, and the only seat left open was one directly next to him (he liked to arrange his class in a circle). People tended to select the same seats every week, thus I found myself next to him most every class. Whenever we'd read something by Pound or Eliot that referenced something in London, he would excitedly grab my arm or my hand and say, "Remember when WE SAW THAT!?!" This went on for weeks, and I was eventually confronted by two other students who point-blank asked me if I was having an affair with him. I wasn't. He was just a truly enthusiastic and high-energy person.

I was the leader of a particular student group in the English department as well as the acting president of another group for whom Tob was the faculty advisor, so we collaborated closely. When my parents came to an honors ceremony, Tobias said of me, "Your daughter is like a brick...filling in where needed." I'd never before or since been compared to a brick, and it became something of a joke within my family.

Once, we invited him over to our home for dinner. My mother served him a meal of stuffed pork chops and mashed potatoes. He gave it the highest compliment: "It tastes like Ohio [his home state]." (This always stuck with me, but really hit home when I recently watched Ratatouille and saw that the antagonist was won over with cuisine from his working-class youth. My mother was savvy enough to suspect her food would have that effect.)

As for my academic work, he helped me craft some of my "objective" reporting habits acquired from a brief stint in journalism school into a style that better fit literary criticism.

We hand-wrote our essays on our London trip, and he responded with type-written notes, all of which I've kept. And, I'll always keep a copy of his letter of recommendation for me for graduate school, which was full of wonderful things, although no one really wants to see their love of musicals emphasized or the words, "Andrew Lloyd Webber" in such a document.

He was partly an absent-minded professor, partly an on-campus political activist, and overall a kind and caring man. With his diverse interests, Dr. Richard Tobias was most certainly a Major Generalist. I can see, especially now, how much he influenced me in that regard. Much love to you, Tob. I'm so glad I knew you.

UPDATE! 5/1/2011
The English Department at Pitt has further eulogized Professor Tobias. Be sure to read more:

Dean of the Universe
The English Department Remembers Richard Tobias

Our Mutual Friend by Jeff Aziz

Sunday, March 30, 2008

On vacation

Vacation is...that time to go away for a while. I'll be gone for a week. Future posts may include an assessment of the thematic content of Michel Gondry's music videos, and an essay on cultural monogamy (which isn't going to be about sex, at least not directly). Talk at you later!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I heart musicals everywhere!

Especially when they occur in a public place. GShap brought Food Court Musical to my attention:

(The spilled condiment reference called to mind the line, "I got the mustard out" from Buffy: The Musical).

I was aware of Improv Everywhere's No Pants 2k6 public performance (which they reprised for No Pants 2k8), but hadn't see their not-so-impromptu musical, which was rehearsed the night before. The mall and Hot Dog on a Stick were also in on it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


And now for my latest obsession. Every morning for the past two weeks, I've passed by this poster in the subway. I quickly snapped this photo lest I be caught in the embarrassment of the act.

I can't stop staring at it. It fills my mind. I think about it constantly. Anyone else notice that these men are about as intimidating as The Little Rascals?

But back to the poster itself. This poster is my only exposure to this film. From this picture alone, I can't seem to get over this rampant display of flaccid masculinity. What's with George Clooney's fake black eye? Isn't he getting a little old for this juvenalia? How is Jim from The Office anything other than a jokester? Why am I not shocked that there's a token black man and a token fat man? What kind of a title is "Leatherheads" anyway? (I get that this is about the early years of football where men did, in fact, wear leather helmets, but that title is just Neanderthal. And these helmets make them look like they have cute floppy dog ears.) These men are tough lite.

Such a poster begs the question: does dirt maketh a man? Does sports maketh a man? I suppose the other end of the spectrum is Rambo, which is a steroid-sized caricature that also fails to do masculinity justice in its own way. Maybe what's intriguing to me is the ambiguity implied by this image. Are we supposed to find these men frightening or lame?

I find no definative indicators of how this image is to be read, or rather, my sense of what's "masculine" and what's puerile cancel each other out leaving a black hole. So, I can only bring to bear my outside understanding of these actors along with my preconceptions about gender. Since I can't figure out what we're meant to take away from this picture, I suppose it's quite a successful ad--it's definitely lodged in my not-so-leather head.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

iFoam vs. iPhone

It's a rare user interface that becomes so culturally recognizable that it gets parodied. Check out this birthday card I saw at Bed, Bath and Beyond that imagines an alternate use for the iPhone:

The interior:

Note: photos of iFoam taken with iPhone.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Eyes Have It

Allergies, that is. This is my worst time of year, and my eyeballs are red, sore and ready to fall out of my head. Does anyone out there have any recommendations for treating springtime eye allergies? It's almost too much to bear.

I stopped wearing contact lenses ages ago due to eye allergies, but I'd love to get back into them again. (I refuse to have lasik surgery, so that's not an option.) Anyone have any experience with severe eye allergies and contact lens wearing? What brand/type of contacts do you wear? Would you recommend them?

Please help!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Euthanasia as a right

This week, there have been several articles about a French woman, Chantal Sebire, who legally sought assisted suicide due to severe pain and trauma caused by inoperative and incurable cancerous tumors in her face. She was denied by the French courts. Two days after the ruling, she has died.

The first time I saw her picture--a close-up--I was horrified by my own revulsion. But more than just that, I was intensely moved and felt the deepest compassion for her pain and agony, not only from her physical pain that was all too apparent from the distortion of her bulging eyes, but from the alienation she must feel from others. Chantal herself said that children fled from her in horror. She was tired of the pain, both physical and mental. She should have legally been given the honor of being allowed to live, and die, as she chose.

Euthanasia should be made legal. We put our pets to sleep when we recognize their quality of life has irretrievably declined. Everyone, if sound in mind, deserves the right to die with dignity if they so choose.

How can anyone argue that it is immoral to seek a dignified death when we live in a country that thinks nothing of killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in a fabricated war fought in the name of democracy and non-existent weapons of mass destruction? How is it that capital punishment continues to be executed? The hypocrisy runs far deeper than Eliot Spitzer's forays into prostitution.

And we're kidding ourselves if we think that a subtle form of euthanasia doesn't already exist in this country. Doctors intentionally place terminally ill patients on increasingly higher doses of morphine and other painkillers to speed their death along as an act of mercy. This was done for my grandfather who passed away from a disfiguring and grotesquely painful bone cancer in his arm. Of course, he should have had a say in that matter, but I'm here to tell you that this goes on in hospitals all across the country, every day, and no one says a word. Let's take what is hidden and make it legal.

It is my body. It is my choice. And when the time comes, it should be your choice, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gluten-free Omega Smart Nutrition Bar

Found a new product about a month ago at the Good Life Market in Pittsburgh (which, incidentally, has the best selection of gluten-free foods in one store that I've ever seen). Anyway, it's a gluten-free nutrition bar by Omega Smart that is also vegan.

Most of the flavors contain soy or nuts, which I avoid, so I was only able to try the Banana Chocolate Chip bar and the Pomegranate Strawberry Colada. I don't plan on eating the Banana Chocolate Chip bar again (I'd give it a 4 or 5 on a flavor scale of 1 to 10), but I quite like the Pomegranate bar, and I just bought 12 of them to tide me over before my Pilates classes.

The combination of the agave nectar (to keep your glycemic index low) and the Omega-3 fatty acids from the flax seeds make this an impressive nutritional choice. I bought them from AD American Diabetes, whose prices are good. They arrived in a couple of days, and I'm very satisfied. Try them out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The VIP Club New York

Um...I was just watching the Sci Fi Channel (I wish I could say I was watching Battlestar Gallactica, but it was actually something terrifically lame about hauntings in New Orleans--I blame it on the fact that I was starving, scarfing down my dinner and too lazy to change the channel). Anyway, this commercial just ran for the VIP Club:

I *knew* there had to be someone else out there who posted this online because it's just so...well, see for yourself.

Update: 3/19/08 Dammit! They took it down. Grr. So much for this post. It was basically "Crazy Eddie" meets a strip club. A sad and sorry scene no matter how you Popeil it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Worry-Free Dinners for the Allergically-Inclined

Guess what? If you have beaucoup food allergies and intolerances (nuts, gluten, milk, soy, you name it), AND you live in New York City, there is now a new diner's club especially for you: Worry-Free Dinners™. The group was founded by Allergic Girl, who has a phenomenal blog on eating allergy-free around New York.

Their description:
"Worry-Free Dinners™ is a membership group for anyone who has manageable food allergies and/or food intolerances and would like to explore restaurants, chefs and foodservice organizations that will offer an exclusive allergy-friendly meal."

I just joined, and I can't wait! How nice will it be to go to a restaurant and not have to scour the menu and plead with the waitstaff for substitutions? So exciting! Check it out!