Monday, July 30, 2007

Fellini and Limone

Leslie surprised me this Sunday with an invite to her house for dinner and viewing of Il Vitelloni.


Leslie made a nice dinner as usual--ravioli, meatballs, and blueberry cobbler. That gal can sure make some cobbler. You may remember her cherry-berry cobbler from my July 4th Festivities.


P7290005_2 Although Leslie said not to bring anything, I was in a baking kind of mood. I picked up one of my favorite cookbooks, Betty Crocker's Cookie Book. It was given to me by my Aunt Shirle..she got it free from somewhere, and I nabbed it, even though I felt I'd have no use for it. It's great because it has both classic and kind of retro cookie recipes.


I ended up choosing Lemon Bars. While I have eaten these many times, I have never baked them myself. The results tasted good...although the edges stuck to the pan and were unevenly spread along the bottom. But, the inside was still edible and that's exactly what happened when I took them to Leslie's--we ate them!


P7290002_2


P7290010


The movie, Il Vitelloni (translation, literal "Fatted Calves," figurative "the guys") was slow-moving, but amusing. The "guys" in the movie are essentially 30-year old Italian guys who live with their mamas and don't work. I'm sure this hits a bit close to home for some people. One of the guys is a philanderer. Again...well, I won't say it, but...the three Italian-American women watching it found it pretty amusing.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Way Down South in Dixie

This week, I traveled for work to Raleigh, North Carolina on Wednesday through Thursday morning. I have never really been to the state before. It was a nice place, and I couldn't believe how fast it was growing. We were doing work south of the city, and the residential growth there is astounding.


P7250049_2 I drove in to Raleigh in the evening, because I couldn't leave before seeing the Downtown. I saw the State House and the Confederate monument in front of it. That fascinated me, because while I've probably seen Confederate monuments before, I never knew them as such.


The photos of the State House weren't great (I was taking the photos from the inside of my car and the trees were obscuring the building), but the shot of the monument came out pretty good.


I realized that North Carolinians must really like biscuits.


P7250037_4


P7250004_3


I didn't have any biscuits when I was there, but I did eat some barbeque at a local chain Smithfields. I also saw the owner's huge barn and mansion that's being constructed, thanks to a developer I was interviewing. He drove me around, which was really Southern hospitality!


P7250079_4 

Way Down South in Dixie

This week, I traveled for work to Raleigh, North Carolina on Wednesday through Thursday morning. I have never really been to the state before. It was a nice place, and I couldn't believe how fast it was growing. We were doing work south of the city, and the residential growth there is astounding.


P7250049_2 I drove in to Raleigh in the evening, because I couldn't leave before seeing the Downtown. I saw the State House and the Confederate monument in front of it. That fascinated me, because while I've probably seen Confederate monuments before, I never knew them as such.


The photos of the State House weren't great (I was taking the photos from the inside of my car and the trees were obscuring the building), but the shot of the monument came out pretty good.


I realized that North Carolinians must really like biscuits.


P7250037_4


P7250004_3


I didn't have any biscuits when I was there, but I did eat some barbeque at a local chain Smithfields. I also saw the owner's huge barn and mansion that's being constructed, thanks to a developer I was interviewing. He drove me around, which was really Southern hospitality!


P7250079_4 

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

My bus trip today featured:


  • Getting jostled by tons of people

  • A woman with a huge wheelchair filled with stuff that caused a major ruckus, especially in the crowded bus.

  • A man who offered me his seat, which was nice, but

  • I hit someone in the face with my dry cleaning.

  • A man whistling Camptown Races

  • Smelling the woman's dinner beside me....definitely something featuring french fries.

  • Finally getting off...and realizing there was an empty bus a few seconds behind that one!

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

My bus trip today featured:


  • Getting jostled by tons of people

  • A woman with a huge wheelchair filled with stuff that caused a major ruckus, especially in the crowded bus.

  • A man who offered me his seat, which was nice, but

  • I hit someone in the face with my dry cleaning.

  • A man whistling Camptown Races

  • Smelling the woman's dinner beside me....definitely something featuring french fries.

  • Finally getting off...and realizing there was an empty bus a few seconds behind that one!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sexy Glasses!

Picardiesuite_3I'll start by saying that drinking glasses are really the last thing I need. Honestly, I have a hard time fitting the ones I own in my cupboard. The ones I have now are the same ones Cracker Barrel has--Libbey Duratuff. I got them as a housewarming present from my Aunt Ruth way back in 1998 (my choice), and they are STURDY. Meaning, I can never have a good excuse to buy new glasses. But, I broke down today at the Glasses_4 Mecca of cheap and wonderful home goods...the Crate and Barrel Outlet. 


I bought these lovely espresso and juice "Picardie" glasses that evoke a French cafe.


They have a nice reverse hourglass shape. Very ooh la la. And, for only 95 cents a piece, I can make a nice guilt-free and relatively inexpensive trip to Paris.



Sexy Glasses!

Picardiesuite_3I'll start by saying that drinking glasses are really the last thing I need. Honestly, I have a hard time fitting the ones I own in my cupboard. The ones I have now are the same ones Cracker Barrel has--Libbey Duratuff. I got them as a housewarming present from my Aunt Ruth way back in 1998 (my choice), and they are STURDY. Meaning, I can never have a good excuse to buy new glasses. But, I broke down today at the Glasses_4 Mecca of cheap and wonderful home goods...the Crate and Barrel Outlet. 


I bought these lovely espresso and juice "Picardie" glasses that evoke a French cafe.


They have a nice reverse hourglass shape. Very ooh la la. And, for only 95 cents a piece, I can make a nice guilt-free and relatively inexpensive trip to Paris.



Thursday, July 19, 2007

On Grocery Shopping

306218344_246d4ea5d0_mI just returned from a trip to Yes! Organic Market. I needed a few things--peanut butter, bread, maybe some cheese--and the thought of going to Safeway made me irritable.


I like supermarkets, but not supermarkets in DC. The fact that the Safeway I go to has been referred to as the "un-Safeway" on occasion doesn't help. It's fine, I guess, but what really gets me about it is how LONG it takes. I mean, let's say I need milk. Rarely can I get in and out in less than 30-45 minutes. Usually,it's longer. The thing is, the experience is so horrible, you want to try to get other things while you're there. I spend oodles of time just wandering hoping I'm not forgetting something.


I tried ordering online from Safeway. The first time I did it, it worked out OK. The produce wasn't smooshed, it arrived just a few minutes after my 2-hour time frame, and in general, I was pleased. I tried my luck by ordering again. This time, I was not so lucky. I had a 7-9 window for delivery. I waited until 9:45...then 10:30. Finally, at 11, I went to bed. At some point after this, the guy shows up and rings my buzzer. I didn't answer. I mean, the LAST thing I want to do after drifting off is meet a stranger at my door and unload groceries.


So, I opted to go to Yes! Organic Market tonight. It's a 20-minute walk from my house, but I drove. I spent under 20 minutes there. It's so nice sometimes to go to a smaller store for that very reason. Actually, I was surprised by the offerings there. It's definitely more expensive in many instances--even than Whole Foods--but the convenience is great. It's like 7-11 but with healthy food.

On Grocery Shopping

306218344_246d4ea5d0_mI just returned from a trip to Yes! Organic Market. I needed a few things--peanut butter, bread, maybe some cheese--and the thought of going to Safeway made me irritable.


I like supermarkets, but not supermarkets in DC. The fact that the Safeway I go to has been referred to as the "un-Safeway" on occasion doesn't help. It's fine, I guess, but what really gets me about it is how LONG it takes. I mean, let's say I need milk. Rarely can I get in and out in less than 30-45 minutes. Usually,it's longer. The thing is, the experience is so horrible, you want to try to get other things while you're there. I spend oodles of time just wandering hoping I'm not forgetting something.


I tried ordering online from Safeway. The first time I did it, it worked out OK. The produce wasn't smooshed, it arrived just a few minutes after my 2-hour time frame, and in general, I was pleased. I tried my luck by ordering again. This time, I was not so lucky. I had a 7-9 window for delivery. I waited until 9:45...then 10:30. Finally, at 11, I went to bed. At some point after this, the guy shows up and rings my buzzer. I didn't answer. I mean, the LAST thing I want to do after drifting off is meet a stranger at my door and unload groceries.


So, I opted to go to Yes! Organic Market tonight. It's a 20-minute walk from my house, but I drove. I spent under 20 minutes there. It's so nice sometimes to go to a smaller store for that very reason. Actually, I was surprised by the offerings there. It's definitely more expensive in many instances--even than Whole Foods--but the convenience is great. It's like 7-11 but with healthy food.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost!

"Plumbers by day — ghost hunters by night. This one-hour weekly docu-soap from the creator/executive producer of American Chopper follows a group of real-life paranormal researchers as they investigate haunted houses throughout the country, encountering every type of imaginable haunting."


--from SciFi.com


I am not a sci fi fan. At all. However, [Confession 1] I am a huge fan of Ghost Hunters, which just so happens to be on the Sci Fi channel. The show is just what it sounds like: there's a crew that investigates haunting activity.


Desktop_team_800_3 


Confession 2: I have actually considered going on similar "ghost hunting" expeditions with a paranormal group. Not considered all that seriously, but still considered. I think I'd probably get really scared, but ghost stories fascinate me.


I think I'll stick with watching "Ghost Hunters" and reading ghost stories for now!

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost!

"Plumbers by day — ghost hunters by night. This one-hour weekly docu-soap from the creator/executive producer of American Chopper follows a group of real-life paranormal researchers as they investigate haunted houses throughout the country, encountering every type of imaginable haunting."


--from SciFi.com


I am not a sci fi fan. At all. However, [Confession 1] I am a huge fan of Ghost Hunters, which just so happens to be on the Sci Fi channel. The show is just what it sounds like: there's a crew that investigates haunting activity.


Desktop_team_800_3 


Confession 2: I have actually considered going on similar "ghost hunting" expeditions with a paranormal group. Not considered all that seriously, but still considered. I think I'd probably get really scared, but ghost stories fascinate me.


I think I'll stick with watching "Ghost Hunters" and reading ghost stories for now!

Open Pandora's Box!

I wanted to share a sanity-saving device I enjoy--Pandora online radio. This has saved me from listening to coworkers' chatter and other annoying noise at work. You can make your own radio stations based upon artists and songs you like. I have personally discovered many new artists and songs, some mainstream and some obscure, that I never thought I'd enjoy. You can bookmark these songs/artists, and then access them later to purchase or refer to. (Pandora kindly includes links to Amazon.com and ITunes). Here is what it looks like...


Image004 


As you can see, I have the version with advertising, which is free. However, they also offer a very reasonable ad-free version for $36 per year, which enables the user to listen to it "on the go" if they have compatible devices. That's all too technical for me, so I stick with the free one. (And, besides, how else would I find out about important things like the "Baconator" at Wendy's?) :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

I Love Woody Allen Movies

I saw Annie Hall on Screen on the Green tonight. I hadn't seen it since one New Year's Eve back sometime in High School. I didn't appreciate it then. And, when I saw other Woody Allen movies and loved them, I didn't understand why I didn't like one of his most acclaimed. Well, I DO love it. I think I must have just been too young to appreciate the humor or something. I guess age has its advantages!


Anniehall_300x298


I mean a movie HAS to be good to keep you on your butt, propped up on your arms, outside with the bugs for several hours.


It was just what I needed after this particular Monday. Nothing specific. I guess just a case of the "Moooooondays."


I think the Chocolate Salty Oat cookie from Teaism helped too.


061229_inside_saltyoats

I Love Woody Allen Movies

I saw Annie Hall on Screen on the Green tonight. I hadn't seen it since one New Year's Eve back sometime in High School. I didn't appreciate it then. And, when I saw other Woody Allen movies and loved them, I didn't understand why I didn't like one of his most acclaimed. Well, I DO love it. I think I must have just been too young to appreciate the humor or something. I guess age has its advantages!


Anniehall_300x298


I mean a movie HAS to be good to keep you on your butt, propped up on your arms, outside with the bugs for several hours.


It was just what I needed after this particular Monday. Nothing specific. I guess just a case of the "Moooooondays."


I think the Chocolate Salty Oat cookie from Teaism helped too.


061229_inside_saltyoats

Friday, July 13, 2007

On Coffee in a Bowl

I saw these bowls at Anthropologie and reaaaallllly wanted to buy them. There is something about drinking coffee from a bowl...something that says simultaneously "I need serious coffee and I have the time to drink this whole bowl...without a handle!"


Latte_bowls


I didn't buy them because I have issues with some politics of the company beyond the scope of this blog, but I have to say, they're some lookers.


My best memory of drinking coffee from a bowl was (where else) in France, on the Riviera at a hostel (see, you were thinking "Wow, Riviera" until I said "hostel, weren't you!?!). There were 3 guys there having and making our breakfast. I'm assuming at least one of them owned the hostel. The only other guests consisted of a couple--an older "elderhostel age" German man and his Vietnamese wife (approximately half his age). We all sat on a patio overlooking the Mediterranean, eating our baguette, and drinking our cafe au lait...from bowls.


There is a cafe near the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill--Le Bon Cafe--which serves coffee in a bowl. I love going there. I can sorta kinda pretend I'm in Paris for a few minutes.


Leboncafe


 

On Coffee in a Bowl

I saw these bowls at Anthropologie and reaaaallllly wanted to buy them. There is something about drinking coffee from a bowl...something that says simultaneously "I need serious coffee and I have the time to drink this whole bowl...without a handle!"


Latte_bowls


I didn't buy them because I have issues with some politics of the company beyond the scope of this blog, but I have to say, they're some lookers.


My best memory of drinking coffee from a bowl was (where else) in France, on the Riviera at a hostel (see, you were thinking "Wow, Riviera" until I said "hostel, weren't you!?!). There were 3 guys there having and making our breakfast. I'm assuming at least one of them owned the hostel. The only other guests consisted of a couple--an older "elderhostel age" German man and his Vietnamese wife (approximately half his age). We all sat on a patio overlooking the Mediterranean, eating our baguette, and drinking our cafe au lait...from bowls.


There is a cafe near the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill--Le Bon Cafe--which serves coffee in a bowl. I love going there. I can sorta kinda pretend I'm in Paris for a few minutes.


Leboncafe


 

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Great News on Childhood Obesity

This is from the Associated Press via Yahoo News...one of my main sources of news, whenever I go to check email


Overweight kids face widespread stigma


July 12, 2007 12:54:45 AM PST


Overweight children are stigmatized by their peers as early as age 3 and even face bias from their parents and teachers, giving them a quality of life comparable to people with cancer, a new analysis concludes.


Youngsters who report teasing, rejection, bullying and other types of abuse because of their weight are two to three times more likely to report suicidal thoughts as well as to suffer from other health issues such as high blood pressure and eating disorders, researchers said.


"The stigmatization directed at obese children by their peers, parents, educators and others is pervasive and often unrelenting," researchers with Yale University and the University of Hawaii at Manatoa wrote in the July issue of Psychological Bulletin.


The paper was based on a review of all research on youth weight bias over the past 40 years, said lead author Rebecca M. Puhl of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.


It comes amid a growing worldwide epidemic of child obesity. By 2010, almost 50 percent of children in North America and 38 percent of children in the European Union will be overweight, the researchers said.


While programs to prevent childhood obesity are growing, more efforts are needed to protect overweight children from abuse, Puhl said.


"The quality of life for kids who are obese is comparable to the quality of life of kids who have cancer," Puhl said, citing one study. "These kids are facing stigma from everywhere they look in society, whether it's media, school or at home."


Even with a growing percentage of overweight people, the stigma shows no signs of subsiding, according to Puhl. She said television and other media continue to reinforce negative stereotypes.


"This is a form of bias that is very socially acceptable," Puhl said. "It is rarely challenged; it's often ignored."


The stigmatization of overweight children has been documented for decades. When children were asked to rank photos of children as friends in a 1961 study, the overweight child was ranked last.


Children as young as 3 are more likely to consider overweight peers to be mean, stupid, ugly and sloppy.


A growing body of research shows that parents and educators are also biased against heavy children. In a 1999 study of 115 middle and high school teachers, 20 percent said they believed obese people are untidy, less likely to succeed and more emotional.


"Perhaps the most surprising source of weight stigma toward youths is parents," the report says.


Several studies showed that overweight girls got less college financial support from their parents than average weight girls. Other studies showed teasing by parents was common.


"It is possible that parents may take out their frustration, anger and guilt on their overweight child by adopting stigmatizing attitudes and behavior, such as making critical and negative comments toward their child," the authors wrote, suggesting further research is needed.


Lynn McAfee, 58, of Stowe, Pa., said that as an overweight child she faced troubles on all fronts.


"It was constantly impressed upon me that I wasn't going to get anywhere in the world if I was fat," McAfee said. "You hear it so often, it becomes the truth."


Her mother, who also was overweight, offered to buy her a mink coat when she was 8 to try to get her to lose weight even though her family was poor.


"I felt I was letting everybody down," she said.


Other children would try to run her down on bikes to see if she would bounce. She had a hard time getting on teams in the playground.


"Teachers did not stand up for me when I was teased," McAfee said.


A study in 2003 found that obese children had much lower quality of life scores on issues such as health, emotional and social well-being, and school functioning.


"An alarming finding of this research was that obese children had (quality of life) scores comparable with those of children with cancer," the researchers reported.


Sylvia Rimm, author of "Rescuing the Emotional Lives of Overweight Children," said her surveys of more than 5,000 middle school children reached similar conclusions.


"The overweight children felt less intelligent," Rimm said. "They felt less popular. They struggled from early on. They feel they are a different species."


Parents should emphasize a child's strengths, she said, and teachers should pair up students for activities instead of letting children pick their partners.


McAfee, who now works for the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, said her childhood experiences even made her reluctant to see a doctor when she needed one. She recalled one doctor who said she looked like a gorilla and another who gave her painkillers and diet pills for what turned out to be mononucleosis.


"The amount of cruelty I've seen in people has changed me forever," McAfee said.


The Yale-Hawaii research report recommends more research to determine whether negative stereotypes lead to discriminatory behavior, citing evidence that overweight adults face discrimination. It also calls for studying ways to reduce stigma and negative attitudes toward overweight children.


"Weight-based discrimination is as important a problem as racial discrimination or discrimination against children with physical disabilities," the report concludes. "Remedying it needs to be taken equally seriously..."


More Great News on Childhood Obesity

This is from the Associated Press via Yahoo News...one of my main sources of news, whenever I go to check email


Overweight kids face widespread stigma


July 12, 2007 12:54:45 AM PST


Overweight children are stigmatized by their peers as early as age 3 and even face bias from their parents and teachers, giving them a quality of life comparable to people with cancer, a new analysis concludes.


Youngsters who report teasing, rejection, bullying and other types of abuse because of their weight are two to three times more likely to report suicidal thoughts as well as to suffer from other health issues such as high blood pressure and eating disorders, researchers said.


"The stigmatization directed at obese children by their peers, parents, educators and others is pervasive and often unrelenting," researchers with Yale University and the University of Hawaii at Manatoa wrote in the July issue of Psychological Bulletin.


The paper was based on a review of all research on youth weight bias over the past 40 years, said lead author Rebecca M. Puhl of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.


It comes amid a growing worldwide epidemic of child obesity. By 2010, almost 50 percent of children in North America and 38 percent of children in the European Union will be overweight, the researchers said.


While programs to prevent childhood obesity are growing, more efforts are needed to protect overweight children from abuse, Puhl said.


"The quality of life for kids who are obese is comparable to the quality of life of kids who have cancer," Puhl said, citing one study. "These kids are facing stigma from everywhere they look in society, whether it's media, school or at home."


Even with a growing percentage of overweight people, the stigma shows no signs of subsiding, according to Puhl. She said television and other media continue to reinforce negative stereotypes.


"This is a form of bias that is very socially acceptable," Puhl said. "It is rarely challenged; it's often ignored."


The stigmatization of overweight children has been documented for decades. When children were asked to rank photos of children as friends in a 1961 study, the overweight child was ranked last.


Children as young as 3 are more likely to consider overweight peers to be mean, stupid, ugly and sloppy.


A growing body of research shows that parents and educators are also biased against heavy children. In a 1999 study of 115 middle and high school teachers, 20 percent said they believed obese people are untidy, less likely to succeed and more emotional.


"Perhaps the most surprising source of weight stigma toward youths is parents," the report says.


Several studies showed that overweight girls got less college financial support from their parents than average weight girls. Other studies showed teasing by parents was common.


"It is possible that parents may take out their frustration, anger and guilt on their overweight child by adopting stigmatizing attitudes and behavior, such as making critical and negative comments toward their child," the authors wrote, suggesting further research is needed.


Lynn McAfee, 58, of Stowe, Pa., said that as an overweight child she faced troubles on all fronts.


"It was constantly impressed upon me that I wasn't going to get anywhere in the world if I was fat," McAfee said. "You hear it so often, it becomes the truth."


Her mother, who also was overweight, offered to buy her a mink coat when she was 8 to try to get her to lose weight even though her family was poor.


"I felt I was letting everybody down," she said.


Other children would try to run her down on bikes to see if she would bounce. She had a hard time getting on teams in the playground.


"Teachers did not stand up for me when I was teased," McAfee said.


A study in 2003 found that obese children had much lower quality of life scores on issues such as health, emotional and social well-being, and school functioning.


"An alarming finding of this research was that obese children had (quality of life) scores comparable with those of children with cancer," the researchers reported.


Sylvia Rimm, author of "Rescuing the Emotional Lives of Overweight Children," said her surveys of more than 5,000 middle school children reached similar conclusions.


"The overweight children felt less intelligent," Rimm said. "They felt less popular. They struggled from early on. They feel they are a different species."


Parents should emphasize a child's strengths, she said, and teachers should pair up students for activities instead of letting children pick their partners.


McAfee, who now works for the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, said her childhood experiences even made her reluctant to see a doctor when she needed one. She recalled one doctor who said she looked like a gorilla and another who gave her painkillers and diet pills for what turned out to be mononucleosis.


"The amount of cruelty I've seen in people has changed me forever," McAfee said.


The Yale-Hawaii research report recommends more research to determine whether negative stereotypes lead to discriminatory behavior, citing evidence that overweight adults face discrimination. It also calls for studying ways to reduce stigma and negative attitudes toward overweight children.


"Weight-based discrimination is as important a problem as racial discrimination or discrimination against children with physical disabilities," the report concludes. "Remedying it needs to be taken equally seriously..."


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Trip Home

I helped carry a homeless woman's bags onto the bus this evening. I'm not saying this in hopes of being canonized or being made an Eagle Scout. Quite the contrary, I didn't feel good after doing this. I was annoyed I had to. My hand felt dirty afterwards. I felt I had to do it because that's what you do as a good citizen, and I didn't have an excuse; my white leather purse and canvas bag from the Oakville Grocery in the Napa Valley fit on my shoulder, making my hands free. I sat down to read a chapter in my book called "The Paradox of Individuality" in front of a smelly homeless man. I felt annoyed again.


My bus route goes by the city shelter. And, if I stay at work a bit late or stop somewhere before getting to the bus stop, I'm right on schedule with the time you have to go to the shelter, apparently. I see the woman whose bags I carried often.


The woman I helped started a "conversation" with a woman in the front, probably against the other woman's wishes. She said out loud to whomever would listen, "There's so much hate in the world. So much anger. You'll all get old one day and see what it's like to be an old lady."


My mind immediately went to my retirement savings, of course, and how I really should save more. I also thought "But for the grace of God..." in the words of Oprah (other people say it, but for some reason, I think of that as a classic Oprah phrase). I feel lucky to have been blessed with what I have. I also feel proud of my work. But, there is always that lurking fear: what if I lost everything?


Everything isn't just everything monetary. I see these people who live on the streets and wonder where their families are. Did they finally have enough of the drug use and exercise tough love? Did they see their family member descend into mental illness and were helpless to stop it? Or, are these people truly without anyone? I think everyone has at least had a taste of this. It's why confronting homelessness and the homeless is so difficult for us. It makes us confront our own powerlessness and our own fears of helplessness.


When I take the Metro instead of the D6, I see another homeless man. He hangs around 2nd and Massachusetts Ave. He actually often attends church with me too (I think the doughnuts are a big draw...). What strikes me about him is his good attitude. I'm sure he probably has a mental problem which makes him this way, but seriously, I could do with a little of that. I think he sees it as his job in the morning to tell everyone to have a good day. He doesn't panhandle. He sits with his stuff and says things like "It's Friday! Think positive!" Or "Sunny day today! Have a good day!" For just a minute, I do think a little more positive.

Trip Home

I helped carry a homeless woman's bags onto the bus this evening. I'm not saying this in hopes of being canonized or being made an Eagle Scout. Quite the contrary, I didn't feel good after doing this. I was annoyed I had to. My hand felt dirty afterwards. I felt I had to do it because that's what you do as a good citizen, and I didn't have an excuse; my white leather purse and canvas bag from the Oakville Grocery in the Napa Valley fit on my shoulder, making my hands free. I sat down to read a chapter in my book called "The Paradox of Individuality" in front of a smelly homeless man. I felt annoyed again.


My bus route goes by the city shelter. And, if I stay at work a bit late or stop somewhere before getting to the bus stop, I'm right on schedule with the time you have to go to the shelter, apparently. I see the woman whose bags I carried often.


The woman I helped started a "conversation" with a woman in the front, probably against the other woman's wishes. She said out loud to whomever would listen, "There's so much hate in the world. So much anger. You'll all get old one day and see what it's like to be an old lady."


My mind immediately went to my retirement savings, of course, and how I really should save more. I also thought "But for the grace of God..." in the words of Oprah (other people say it, but for some reason, I think of that as a classic Oprah phrase). I feel lucky to have been blessed with what I have. I also feel proud of my work. But, there is always that lurking fear: what if I lost everything?


Everything isn't just everything monetary. I see these people who live on the streets and wonder where their families are. Did they finally have enough of the drug use and exercise tough love? Did they see their family member descend into mental illness and were helpless to stop it? Or, are these people truly without anyone? I think everyone has at least had a taste of this. It's why confronting homelessness and the homeless is so difficult for us. It makes us confront our own powerlessness and our own fears of helplessness.


When I take the Metro instead of the D6, I see another homeless man. He hangs around 2nd and Massachusetts Ave. He actually often attends church with me too (I think the doughnuts are a big draw...). What strikes me about him is his good attitude. I'm sure he probably has a mental problem which makes him this way, but seriously, I could do with a little of that. I think he sees it as his job in the morning to tell everyone to have a good day. He doesn't panhandle. He sits with his stuff and says things like "It's Friday! Think positive!" Or "Sunny day today! Have a good day!" For just a minute, I do think a little more positive.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Big Challenges

I just got done watching Shaq's Big Challenge. It's just the kind of TV that hooks me...it's a reality show about weight loss, which almost automatically commands "Christine, watch me." It also has some serious information about childhood obesity, which I identify with.


Shaq_2


Tonight, the kids did the Presidential Physical Fitness Award tests. This brought back bad memories of gym class for me. As a kid, I dreaded the PPFA. I dreaded it even more than gym class in general--and believe me, that's a lot. The thing about the tests is that they inevitably confirmed my lack of physical prowess. I could almost see the "cool" kids (who by the way were banging out sit ups like they were going out of style) taking mental notes to remind themselves to pick me last for their kickball teams.


Those tests felt like they lasted forever. I can't remember if the gym teachers spread it out, or if the one session was traumatic enough to make it seem as if it lasted forever. Sit and reach, chin ups, push ups, sit ups, mile run...back then, it was all about being better than the Soviets, wasn't it. "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down that Chin Up Bar!"


Part of Shaq's mission on the show is to get mandatory P.E. for schools. Now, I admit that when I found out that most American kids now don't have to do P.E., a small part of my inner child said "NO FAIR!" But, the adult in me said "This is unbelievable and unconscionable." 


And, another part of me is envious of the kids who are getting the chance to get a real introduction to fitness and nutrition. When I think of all the nutso diet advice I got over the years, well, it just makes me crazy. As an adult, I wish I had the chance to get involved in a sport or to get real training.


The closest I got to sports was middle school basketball. My uniform didn't fit properly and neither did the coaching. And, as if an ill-fitting uniform wasn't enough, they were orange. If I can find a picture, I'll share it. Because my school didn't have a gymnasium, we practiced in the gym of a school-turned-office building a ten-minute drive away. We were the jokes of the Catholic school league. When we were playing against Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, we were teased mercilessly. I was teased for my weight; the team was teased for how much it sucked.


In high school, I decided to join Track and Field. God bless Mr. Free, the track coach (and also, incidentally, the Health teacher). He didn't cut anyone. I think the experience I had there was positive--I actually got some real training and my first taste of weight training. I gave it a good run (no pun intended), but in the end quit about 2/3 through the season. I was "placed" in the "field" part of track and field, probably due to my slowness. This meant I did javelin, shot put, and other things that are generally seen being done by Greek and Roman statues, not honor students. It also involved a lot of sitting and standing around, which was, again, largely due to my not being good in it. The good people practiced and got trained, while the rest of us watched. Boring.


This just brings up some things I strongly believe in. I think education really needs to happen in the schools in essential life matters: nutrition, fitness (real fitness, not just dodgeball), and personal finances. I mean, when someone leaves high school, they should know this stuff that can carry them through life. I was able to give chemical formulas and do calculus and label the parts of a fetal pig, but I am STILL figuring out the other stuff, and have more or less forgotten those other things. I'm not saying the other things aren't important...it's just that having real information about these life-improving things would be a real help.

Big Challenges

I just got done watching Shaq's Big Challenge. It's just the kind of TV that hooks me...it's a reality show about weight loss, which almost automatically commands "Christine, watch me." It also has some serious information about childhood obesity, which I identify with.


Shaq_2


Tonight, the kids did the Presidential Physical Fitness Award tests. This brought back bad memories of gym class for me. As a kid, I dreaded the PPFA. I dreaded it even more than gym class in general--and believe me, that's a lot. The thing about the tests is that they inevitably confirmed my lack of physical prowess. I could almost see the "cool" kids (who by the way were banging out sit ups like they were going out of style) taking mental notes to remind themselves to pick me last for their kickball teams.


Those tests felt like they lasted forever. I can't remember if the gym teachers spread it out, or if the one session was traumatic enough to make it seem as if it lasted forever. Sit and reach, chin ups, push ups, sit ups, mile run...back then, it was all about being better than the Soviets, wasn't it. "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down that Chin Up Bar!"


Part of Shaq's mission on the show is to get mandatory P.E. for schools. Now, I admit that when I found out that most American kids now don't have to do P.E., a small part of my inner child said "NO FAIR!" But, the adult in me said "This is unbelievable and unconscionable." 


And, another part of me is envious of the kids who are getting the chance to get a real introduction to fitness and nutrition. When I think of all the nutso diet advice I got over the years, well, it just makes me crazy. As an adult, I wish I had the chance to get involved in a sport or to get real training.


The closest I got to sports was middle school basketball. My uniform didn't fit properly and neither did the coaching. And, as if an ill-fitting uniform wasn't enough, they were orange. If I can find a picture, I'll share it. Because my school didn't have a gymnasium, we practiced in the gym of a school-turned-office building a ten-minute drive away. We were the jokes of the Catholic school league. When we were playing against Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, we were teased mercilessly. I was teased for my weight; the team was teased for how much it sucked.


In high school, I decided to join Track and Field. God bless Mr. Free, the track coach (and also, incidentally, the Health teacher). He didn't cut anyone. I think the experience I had there was positive--I actually got some real training and my first taste of weight training. I gave it a good run (no pun intended), but in the end quit about 2/3 through the season. I was "placed" in the "field" part of track and field, probably due to my slowness. This meant I did javelin, shot put, and other things that are generally seen being done by Greek and Roman statues, not honor students. It also involved a lot of sitting and standing around, which was, again, largely due to my not being good in it. The good people practiced and got trained, while the rest of us watched. Boring.


This just brings up some things I strongly believe in. I think education really needs to happen in the schools in essential life matters: nutrition, fitness (real fitness, not just dodgeball), and personal finances. I mean, when someone leaves high school, they should know this stuff that can carry them through life. I was able to give chemical formulas and do calculus and label the parts of a fetal pig, but I am STILL figuring out the other stuff, and have more or less forgotten those other things. I'm not saying the other things aren't important...it's just that having real information about these life-improving things would be a real help.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Cutest Cake

I just thought I'd share a picture of a cute cake (I didn't make it!). My friend Erin's brother had a casual beach wedding, and this was the cake. The bride's friend made the cake and topped it with sliced marshmallow flowers, and made companion cupcakes in a rainbow of colors. The cake tasted great too!


Cake


Cupcakes 

Cutest Cake

I just thought I'd share a picture of a cute cake (I didn't make it!). My friend Erin's brother had a casual beach wedding, and this was the cake. The bride's friend made the cake and topped it with sliced marshmallow flowers, and made companion cupcakes in a rainbow of colors. The cake tasted great too!


Cake


Cupcakes 

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Loving my Kiehl's!

I admit it. I was skeptical about Kiehl's products. I figured it was like most things--a celebrity says that he or she buys something, and it is automatically a commercial success. So, it was with some bit of reluctance that I bought a few things at Kiehl's on Saturday, but I'm a sucker for any kind of toiletries, so it wasn't too hard. I decided on the grapefruit Bath and Shower Liquid Body Cleanser, the Lecithin Conditioning Shampoo, and the Extra Strength Conditioning Rinse with Extra Coconut. I was really impressed with the people working at the store--they were all very helpful. And, I love that they will give you samples. I got a sample of their Creme with Silk Groom and Castile Shampoo. It's so great to be able to try something before buying!


Well, I have used them all, and they are fantastic. My hair has been dry recently, and I love the shampoo and conditioner and creme. The grapefruit body wash is fantastic too--not overwhelming and very sudsy.


Kiehls


The service aspect is even more impressive to me. My mom had purchased some things in the Philadelphia store and was accidentally charged twice. The salesperson she spoke with was super helpful, and she was clearly won over. It takes a lot for my mom to feel she has gotten good service, so this is quite a statement!

Loving my Kiehl's!

I admit it. I was skeptical about Kiehl's products. I figured it was like most things--a celebrity says that he or she buys something, and it is automatically a commercial success. So, it was with some bit of reluctance that I bought a few things at Kiehl's on Saturday, but I'm a sucker for any kind of toiletries, so it wasn't too hard. I decided on the grapefruit Bath and Shower Liquid Body Cleanser, the Lecithin Conditioning Shampoo, and the Extra Strength Conditioning Rinse with Extra Coconut. I was really impressed with the people working at the store--they were all very helpful. And, I love that they will give you samples. I got a sample of their Creme with Silk Groom and Castile Shampoo. It's so great to be able to try something before buying!


Well, I have used them all, and they are fantastic. My hair has been dry recently, and I love the shampoo and conditioner and creme. The grapefruit body wash is fantastic too--not overwhelming and very sudsy.


Kiehls


The service aspect is even more impressive to me. My mom had purchased some things in the Philadelphia store and was accidentally charged twice. The salesperson she spoke with was super helpful, and she was clearly won over. It takes a lot for my mom to feel she has gotten good service, so this is quite a statement!

Happy Birthday, America! (A bit Belated)

My mom visited for the July 4 holiday. Quite the occasion here in DC. I had been feeling badly for the past week, but Mom and I managed to take in some of the festivities. We started with the parade, which was a lot of fun.


Archives_5


The day ended with a lovely dinner at my friend Leslie's house. She is such a great hostess. We brought hot dogs, buns, and cantalope, and she made shrimp salad, deviled eggs, and a delicious cherry and blueberry cobbler made from fruit she picked herself!


Cherrycobbler


As you can see, we enjoyed it A LOT. We also enjoyed the view from Leslie's balcony. It gave us a great view of the fireworks. (The photo does not do it justice).


Fireworks


What was even better was the traffic getting back from Leslie's. I drove, and scored a primo parking space a half-block from her building. And, it was a fairly easy drive from her apartment back to mine. Not free from exploding fireworks in the neighborhood, but not as bad as last year either!


This weekend, Mom and I shopped on Saturday in Georgetown. Nothing too crazy, though I did go to Papersource and bought the cutest strawberry stamp, some paste, letter press cards with birthday sentiments for cardmaking, and a bone folder. Can't resist that place!


Today, Mom and I went to church and then to brunch at the Tabard Inn. I wasn't organized enough to make reservations, but we lucked out with seats at the bar. They make their own doughnuts, and they are fantastic! Mom ordered a lovely quiche, and I had a chicken salad (trying to compensate for the doughnuts). Highly recommended!


The brunch more than made up for the HORRIBLE dinner we had Friday night. We decided to go to Trattoria Alberto on 8th Street SE. Big mistake, apparently. I thought it would be one of those "locals" joints, with good simple Italian food. I was wrong. We sat down outside, and got a basket full of stale bread to start off. It just got worse from there. I ordered spaghetti with meat sauce. The sauce was flavorless and the pasta overcooked. I literally did not eat it. I ate two bites. They must be doing something else to make money there, because it can't be from the food, unless they get suckers like me eating there regularly.


All in all, it was a nice visit from Mom!

Happy Birthday, America! (A bit Belated)

My mom visited for the July 4 holiday. Quite the occasion here in DC. I had been feeling badly for the past week, but Mom and I managed to take in some of the festivities. We started with the parade, which was a lot of fun.


Archives_5


The day ended with a lovely dinner at my friend Leslie's house. She is such a great hostess. We brought hot dogs, buns, and cantalope, and she made shrimp salad, deviled eggs, and a delicious cherry and blueberry cobbler made from fruit she picked herself!


Cherrycobbler


As you can see, we enjoyed it A LOT. We also enjoyed the view from Leslie's balcony. It gave us a great view of the fireworks. (The photo does not do it justice).


Fireworks


What was even better was the traffic getting back from Leslie's. I drove, and scored a primo parking space a half-block from her building. And, it was a fairly easy drive from her apartment back to mine. Not free from exploding fireworks in the neighborhood, but not as bad as last year either!


This weekend, Mom and I shopped on Saturday in Georgetown. Nothing too crazy, though I did go to Papersource and bought the cutest strawberry stamp, some paste, letter press cards with birthday sentiments for cardmaking, and a bone folder. Can't resist that place!


Today, Mom and I went to church and then to brunch at the Tabard Inn. I wasn't organized enough to make reservations, but we lucked out with seats at the bar. They make their own doughnuts, and they are fantastic! Mom ordered a lovely quiche, and I had a chicken salad (trying to compensate for the doughnuts). Highly recommended!


The brunch more than made up for the HORRIBLE dinner we had Friday night. We decided to go to Trattoria Alberto on 8th Street SE. Big mistake, apparently. I thought it would be one of those "locals" joints, with good simple Italian food. I was wrong. We sat down outside, and got a basket full of stale bread to start off. It just got worse from there. I ordered spaghetti with meat sauce. The sauce was flavorless and the pasta overcooked. I literally did not eat it. I ate two bites. They must be doing something else to make money there, because it can't be from the food, unless they get suckers like me eating there regularly.


All in all, it was a nice visit from Mom!

My New Blog

Apparently, I am unable to pick a snazzy and easy blog name. I know I am not alone in this, but having selected it, I'm having doubts! We'll see how it works. I wanted to sum up everything I could possibly blog about, and that was impossible--quite like those Comcast commercials where they try to put all their features in a tag line. So, the name "Compass & Coffee Spoons" is a reference to 2 things: 1.) My grandfather once gave me an old compass that I believe he had when he was in the army.


Compass 


This is one of my treasured possessions, both because it came from my Pap Pap and because it is symbolic of finding direction. 2.) the Coffee spoons is a reference to a line from T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock": For I have known them all already, known them all--/Have Known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,/I have measured out my life with coffee spoons..." I love this metaphor. And, I am sure that every post is going to be a bunch of small occurrences...but overall, they will add up to a life story.

My New Blog

Apparently, I am unable to pick a snazzy and easy blog name. I know I am not alone in this, but having selected it, I'm having doubts! We'll see how it works. I wanted to sum up everything I could possibly blog about, and that was impossible--quite like those Comcast commercials where they try to put all their features in a tag line. So, the name "Compass & Coffee Spoons" is a reference to 2 things: 1.) My grandfather once gave me an old compass that I believe he had when he was in the army.


Compass 


This is one of my treasured possessions, both because it came from my Pap Pap and because it is symbolic of finding direction. 2.) the Coffee spoons is a reference to a line from T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock": For I have known them all already, known them all--/Have Known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,/I have measured out my life with coffee spoons..." I love this metaphor. And, I am sure that every post is going to be a bunch of small occurrences...but overall, they will add up to a life story.