Monthly Archives: June 2006

Updates on random stuff

Me and LeilaPottery sale: It was really hot and really slow. Joanne said that it was the slowest sale she has ever seen. I blame the weather and the fact that it was the weekend right before the 4th of July. But I sold some pieces and had fun meeting the other sellers. It is really strange to think that my work is off in the world, part of other people’s lives. It is kind of the same feeling as realizing that people are actually reading my blogs.

Golf lessons: Going really well. I am having lots of fun, and just last week, I really saw an improvement and was hitting the ball pretty far with a fairway wood. I want to practice, but that will have to wait until next weekend. I also really need to buy some clubs. Next lesson, we are going to start working on our short game.

Fourth of July plans: Just confirmed. Rob, Katie, Normen, and I are heading up towards Portland and Seattle tomorrow morning and returning Wednesday. We have no more plans beyond that, except for letting some friends know that we are on our way. I am looking forward to exploring new places, seeing old friends, and being on the road.


Book Review: Stay Slim for Life

Stay Slim for LifeI like old cookbooks. I baked cookies out of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook circa 1960 as a kid. I was quite happy to find, at a library book sale, a cookbook with just the desserts out of that old cookbook, complete with all of the pictures of cookies and meringue cakes that I remembered. I also am amused/aghast, as I think most women are, by old mid-century books on etiquette, housekeeping, etc. etc. for the proper lady. I like to laugh at the advice on the number of ash trays a hostess should put out at a cocktail party and things like that.

So I was proud of my find from the dollar table of a used book store in Jackson while on my Tahoe Adventure. It is called Stay Slim for Life: Reduce with low fat, low calorie menus and recipes by Ida Jean Kain and Mildred B Gibson, published in 1958. I was prepared to laugh at a 50s housewife diet fad and to be properly grossed out by the recipes (like Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974).

But I was wrong. Everything I read could have been written in any diet web site today: eat whole grains, eat less fat, and just eat fewer calories because you don’t need them with your lazy lifestyle (I am paraphrasing here).

Let’s start at the beginning of “Chapter 1: New Approach to Weight Control”:

Everybody loves to eat, nobody wants to be fat, and reducing is the talk of the times. We are in a dilemma. Out food habits and basic recipes no longer match our way of life.

There is no valid reason why fifty million Americans should continue to be burdened with surplus poundage. We have the scientific knowledge that makes it possible to eat well and be a desirable weight.

It is obvious that we have not dealt intelligently with out number-one nutrition problem, for obesity is on the increase. Faddy diets are not the solution…

I could go on, but you see what I mean. It goes on to explain empty calories, good fats, weight goals (it was right on for me), exercise, and preventing heart disease. How to handle parties and drinking are also covered. The book doesn’t talk about trans fat or fiber specifically, which are today’s hot topics, but it does warn against eating hydrogenated oils and encourage lots of vegetables and whole grains. Good enough for me.

Then it gets into the menus for “slimming,” as they call it. The book gives two side-by-side menus: one for Mrs. and one for Mr., explaining that unfortunately, women just don’t need as many calories as men. This was where I got my first big shock of the book, after getting over the book be totally right on about weight loss and nutrition. The “Mrs.” daily calories count is about 1050. For “Mr.”, about 1300. That’s hardly anything! But that’s how you lose weight. (For comparison, a Big Mac cheeseburger and medium fries are 1055 calories.)

The menus don’t look like they are only 1050 calories. They are all three meals a day, plus a snack. And they include pats of butter, whole milk, and steak. But then you look at the details: a slice of bread, I guess back in 1958, is only 50 calories. Your average slice of whole wheat bread today is 120 calories. The Oroweat “Lite” whole wheat bread is 40 calories and close to half the size of a regular slice of bread, and I have found no other bread that comes close to that. A serving of juice is 4 oz. in the menus, as opposed to our typical 8 oz. glass. And a “bouillon cup” of soup is only 6 oz. Yup, it just comes down to eating less and not eating crap.

The second part of the book, aptly titled “Adventures in Low-Calorie Cooking”, is the recipes, and I have to say, I did get my dollar’s worth of gross-outs, mostly in the salads chapter. Some of the appetizing names:

  • Grapefruit and green pepper salad
  • Celery stuffed with cottage cheese
  • Molded [ed. Jello] cucumber salad
  • Tomato aspic salad

Ida Jean KainHonestly though, aside from the Frankfurter kabobs, nothing else was really that gross (again, compare with 1970s Weight Watchers).

So much to my surprise, I recommend the book! I was entertained and motivated to eat healthy. I probably won’t make any of the recipes since they are all rather meat-focused, but I’ll end by quoting the piece of advice that really clicked with me:

Weight control is 90 per cent attitude. If you prefer desirable weight to excess food, that attitude prevails and there is no need to make a separate decision over every hors d’oeuvre or fattening dessert. When social eating is determined by habit rather than momentary choice, it becomes a matter of second nature to be moderate.

This is by no means the same as going to a party grimly determined not to partake of the delicious fare. That plan would be doomed to failure, for it accentuates the negative and takes away the fun. On the other hand, having made the wise decision to get down to a proper weight and stay slim for life, you will not be tempted to overinduldge. This new point of view is surprisingly freeing.

Morbid tool

Jackson West’s blog pointed me to a nifty CDC tool: WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports. I used to subscribe to the CDC MMWR (I take that back, I got rid of it because I never got to it in my email inbox, but I just added it to MyYahoo, so I am subscribing again. Have I mentioned how much I love RSS?), I am having way too much fun with this new tool.

Here are some of the random things that I have learned, looking just at CA data:

  • Young women tend to commit suicide with a gun, just like men, but when they get older, women tend to poison themselves, whereas older men are still more likely to use a gun.
  • In my age group (25-34), cancer is the #2 cause of death for women. That was really surpising, until I saw that the number was about the same as for men. The difference is just that there are a whole lot more men killing one another or themselves, so cancer is down at #4 for them.
  • The number of deaths from cancer and heart disease skyrocket at you go from age group to age group, but I guess that isn’t too surprising.
  • Diabetes is a top-ten cause of death starting in the 15-24 age group, and is #7 overall.
  • Men 25-34 are way more likely to die from injuries compared to women. At first I thought it could be because men do more stupid stuff than women. But then I remembered that most of those injuries are from car accidents. I looked at the numbers for car accidents are the same (about three times as many men than women). I would say that about the same number of men and women are on the road, so what’s the deal? Why are men more likely to die in a car? Could it be that women are better drivers? Are the guys not wearing their seatbelts?

Horray for RSS

From what I can see on my stats page, quite a few of you use RSS to keep up with the exciting life of Lauren. But did you know that this blog is just one of the many feeds that you can subscribe to? Here, all in one place, are all of the Lauren-related RSS feeds for your subscription pleasure:

  • Flickr. See if I drank too much over the weekend. Check out my cute new outfits.
  • Yelp. Read about what places I like, what I didn’t like. Be glad that I found an outlet for my food obsessions and service complaints.
  • NEW! Metroblogging. Read just my posts to and see what I think people in the bay area should know about.
  • See what I find interesting on the Web when wasting time at work.

I have tried to figure out how to put all of these together in a single feed, but so far I can just do this

I think I have already read this

My life: January 15 of Bridget Jones's Diary.

I got a postcard!

I got a postcard, back in October. But I just found it now in my mail folder at work. I know I have checked my folder at least a few times since October, so I don't know why I didn't see it until now. The postcard is from a classmate from my Software Engineering I class that I took at RPI a year ago. He also sent me a postcard from Paris back when we were taking the class, so this wasn't completely random.

Getting the postcard reminded me of what a good experience that class was, even though it was frustrating and the professor was terrible. This was the one class I took where we worked on teams on a semester-long project. My team was 5 IBMers in New York, and one other girl here. Even though we were spread out, we really worked well together and had a pretty good time. Everyone was really smart and really dedicated. We did all of the things that remote teams are supposed to do, and you know what? It worked! We had a Yahoo group to email everyone and to keep track of files. We had weekly conference calls. We IMed a lot. We developed personal relationships, chatting late into the night trying to get code to work and bitching about the prof. And I think we did a really good job and got good grades.

I think that experience is what people talk about when they say that a masters program is so much different than undergrad. People tell me that in grad school, students are smart, much more dedicated, and passionate about the work. I really want to be in that environment, because it sure isn't like that here at work. Just another reason why I think I really want to go back to school.

Spokane and Portland look alike

According to creators of Dog Bites Man, Portland looks enough like Spokane to film a show about Spokane there. I haven't been to Portland recently, but from what I remember, they don't look alike. I am watching the show now, I am now examining all of the outside shots to see how well they are passing it off. So far there just seems to be too much traffic for Spokane.

But this wouldn't be an issue if people in Spokane had a sense of humor. It would be awesome if they actually filmed the show in Spokane, went to real Spokane places, and referenced real Spokane things. It doesn't make any sense that they are doing this improvisational show and interviewing real people, but they aren't in the city they are claiming to be in. Why? Because it is such a typical Spokane thing to not realize what the show is trying to do, and that it could be a good thing for Spokane. According to the Spokesman-Review:

"The last thing you'd want the nation to think is that there's some sort of reality in that, and that's how people behave here," said Jeanna Hofmeister, who handles communications between film companies and the city for Convention and Visitors Bureau. She discouraged the show from filming in town because it was starting to get a bad reputation nationwide for tricking interviewees. "We're a town filled with good people and good journalists, and we don't need somebody using us as the butt of their bad jokes."

They wanted to film there, but nooooo. The people making the show haven't even been to Spokane. Thanks, Jeanna.