Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Try it with our new fattening celery

So we have this monthly department-wide meeting over lunch today at work, and the tradition is that the monthly birthday people supply the lunch for the group.  This works out well for me, since the December dinner is a big Christmas party meal thing, but I digress.  The February crew today did Italian, and in what I assume is an effort to be sensitive to folks of all diets and tastes, one of them made (presumably delicious) low carb spaghetti.

Let's run that back again.  Low. Carb. Spaghetti.

I know of two good reasons to eat spaghetti other than it being tasty.  The main one is carb loading.  Spaghetti, while delicious, is beneficial because it gives distance runners such as myself wonderful slow burning carbs that give extra energy for races and strenuous workouts.  It's the best thing ever.
The other one is that spaghetti is dirt cheap.  I imagine low carb spaghetti, whatever it is, is probably much pricier than run o' the mill awesome carb filled spaghetti.

So this abomination known as "low carb spaghetti" is like spaghetti with all the inherent benefits of spaghetti removed.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fun, True Facts about the National Anthem of Norway

I have hated the Norwegian national anthem since before I started kindergarten for reasons we might touch upon another day.  It involves a Commodore 64 and one of my sisters.

1.  The name of the anthem is "Yes, We Love This Country."  Look, people of Norway, I'm happy that you love your country, but this reeks of desperation.  You might as well call, "It's a Dump, but it's OUR Dump."

2.  The first stanza tells us why the Norwegians love their country:  literally thousands of people live there, and it is above water.  "Come to Norway!  Not too crowded!  You probably won't drown!"

3.  The rest of the first verse tells us to think of our father and mother and the saga night that sends dreams to earth.  I know from my early education via Commodore 64 that Saga was a Norse Goddess, but that's really the only clue I have to decipher that part.

4.  The second verse details the great heroes of Norwegian history.  Harald uniting the country, Sverre speaking against Rome.  That sort of thing.  As far as I can tell, there have been no Norwegians of note since their king was excommunicated by the Pope a thousand years ago.  They should consider re-writing this verse so it includes A-Ha.

5.  The next two verses are about how Norway has defended itself from invaders using farmers with axes and their wives.  This leads me to believe that no foreign power really wanted Norway all that much.  They also proudly state that they burned their land if they were defeated.  Even Norwegians are ok with destroying Norway.

6.  There's a nifty verse about how much they like Sweden and Denmark.  Neither Sweden nor Denmark have a similar verse in their anthems about how much they like Norway.  This is telling.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Month of the Living Dead

My body has been craving sleep lately.  I have been making a point to get my normal sleep allotment, generally about 6-7 hours, only to discover that I am basically dead and useless until about 11.  On the weekends, I've been getting somewhere between 12 and 13 hours of sleep and still am tired at the start of the next week.

And then, the dreams.  Somehow I had a dream about Andy Dufresne hang gliding in Mexico the other night.  Another night, I dreamed there was an old, classic black and white movie that quoted, line for line, Warden Norton's lines when he discovers Andy Dufresne is not in his cell, complete with a character named "Fuzzy Breeches".  Now, while I work in the field of mental health, I am not a psychologist, but I imagine this is probably due to the fact that we often fall asleep with The Shawshank Redemption playing in the background.  But!  Wouldn't it be more fun if the cause of the dreams were deep-seeded urges, insecurities, or repressed memories?  This calls for an amateur psychoanalysis team.  Anything that will help me get my normal amount of sleep and also feel rested in the morning.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tall People Problems

I gave blood today.  I love giving blood for a number of reasons:  it comes with some sweet swag, I get that smug feeling that comes with community service, and they feed me all my favorite Keebler brand cookies.  All good things.  Plus, for whatever reason, blood bank workers always feel the need to compliment my body while I'm donating, specifically my huge honking veins that pop out of my arms.  "Oooh, those are some nice big veins.  I can see where they like to attack them.  I could go with either one." goes the typical exchange.

However, there are aspects of giving blood that are somewhat uncomfortable for me.  Obviously, getting a finger prick and my arm jabbed with a super huge needle is less than my favorite thing.  But in addition to those unpleasantries, there are a few problems that I am assuming most of the population does not experience when giving blood that are unique to tall skinny males.  It may not be readily obvious on the internets, but in real life, I am actually quite tall.  6'4", to be exact.

1.  Orthostatic hypotension.  I have suffered from it ever since I hit my growth spurt and shot up 11 inches between 14 and 15.  Basically, if I stand up too quickly at times, all the blood runs out of my head, leaving me to collapse and convulse on the floor for a few seconds, frightening everyone around me.  Draining blood from my body exacerbates this considerably, making it an adventure every time I stand up, but the brief lack of consciousness leaves this crazy little out of body experience which is actually fun and kinda trippy to go through.  I never mention this problem to the screeners, who thanks to my immaculate vitals believe me to be the picture of health.  More on them in a minute.

2.  Short cots.  Blood drives have these tiny little temporary cots you lie on while you get your blood sucked out of you, and they are not designed for the vertically gifted.  In fact, I usually end up kicking someone in the head or avoiding a game of footsie with the person unfortunate enough to be in the next cot over.

3.  Long arms and vital signs.  Generally, when taking vital signs, the screeners have this nice little table thing between them and the donor.  However, if the donor has long awkward Go-Go-Gadget Arms, it simply does not suffice.  When my blood pressure gets taken, I have to fully extend my arm, leaving my hand off the table and invading personal space.  Worse, since one should not close their fist while getting their blood pressure taken, I have an open hand fully extending toward the almost always female screener's chest.  At this point, the screen has to apply the cuff and listen with the stethoscope, which requires her to lean forward, and it is at this point that I have to awkwardly shift in my chair and slide my arm around as much as I can to avoid groping the poor woman.  I have yet to find any way to give blood that doesn't involve molesting my screener for a brief second.  It seems to happen regardless of the person's size or shape.  I can only assume that they either can't tell that their boobs are attacking my hand through the scrubs or that it happens frequently enough that it's just a minor occupational annoyance.  At any rate, it's always uncomfortable for me, and the fact that the screener is either unaware or indifferent to the whole process leaves me no social cues, making me even more self-conscious about the thing.

Luckily, giving blood makes me feel healthier after the whole passing out every time I stand up situation passes, and then I get a second wave of smugness when the automated voice calls me and tells me that some patient in Dayton, OH is alive thanks to me.  You're welcome, complete strangers!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Attention, people who used to read this blog who have stopped for reasons that may be related to the fact that I stopped writing on it:

It has come to my attention that 2013 was not, in fact, an exciting time for this blog. Luckily, I have resolved to write more this year, and since I have basically nothing of substance to say, this blog may be the primary recipient of it, until I forget and stop following through on my New Year's Resolution.

I made one other New Year's Resolution: To not make any New Year's Resolutions until April. It has come to my attention that the absolute coldest, deadest part of winter is in fact a terrible time to contemplate major life changes. No one wants to exercise when it is so cold that you no longer care if the temperature is being measured in Celsius or Fahrenheit. (At -40, they are the same. Fun Facts.) January, I have come to realize, is the time of making vague hopes of what you plan to do when you can feel your toes again, and what you might like to do when you feel so emboldened to throw off the Snuggie and quit watching Netflix.

(Another good April Resolution: Include product placement in blog posts in case I get enough readers that companies start sending me free stuff. One can never have too many Snuggies. Or carpet cleaner, in case the good folk at whatever shady web 2.0 advertising only read blog titles.)

But yes, back to April Resolutions. February is like a more depressing version of January, so it is clearly ruled out, and March seems like a winner except that the beginning of spring is always the worst. All of the snow on the ground melts, and it generally gets melted by massive amounts of rain. The end result of all this is that the world becomes one giant mud pit and is basically disgusting. Spring is the most overrated of seasons, but the reason it gets its rep is that every spring has one gorgeous day in early April between the otherwise nonstop rainstorms. That is the best day of the year outside of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the first time it snows. It is on this day that I will evaluate my life and make these profound, serious, never taken lightly goals.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Songs Stuck In My Head*

*Attention, SAT word inventors: the English language is sorely lacking a word that means "a song stuck in my head." Please get cracking on it. Thank you. Also, this post apparently is leaning heavily on parenthetical asides, which I generally find disruptive to the flow of prose but was unable to lay off of tonight. My apologies.

It is now time to get back to one of the grandest, least commented upon traditions on this blog: overanalyzing pop music. I'm not entirely sure what drives me to obsessively hone in on every tiny little element I like and don't like in music, but it's there, it's not going away, so I just accept it and deal.

The result of this obsession and my unwillingness to fight it is that I am particularly vulnerable to song-stuck-in-headedness (again, need a nice, tight vocab word to express this phrase more naturally. The College Board, this is where you can give back after taking so, so much.) As I have so much experience with the phenomenon, I am working on a taxonomy of songs stuck in the head. It is still a work in progress, but I thought I'd give you a few archetypes I have experienced lately:

1. Songs you'd rather not admit you know all the words to: Singing, humming, bobbing, or mild dancing is never acceptable in public and already subjects the person to more than their fair share of public scorn. "Look at that rube," the public thinks, "singing and dancing and humming as if he enjoys music. Who enjoys music these days? What's up with that?" I generally find this baffling and chalk it up to people's primal urge to destroy anyone that they perceive might be having more fun than them (see also: war on drugs, war on sex, and basically wars in general). This public scorn is and should be intensified if the person is mouthing all of the words to "Always" by Erasure, for example. This is the most dreaded type of song to get stuck in your head.

2. Songs you only know the chorus to or songs with very few lyrics: Another deadly category, this applies mostly to catchy songs with choruses that are repeated a zillion times in its 3 minute duration, leaving you with only enough to repeat a tiny song fragment periodically for all of eternity, or at least the afternoon. It's the aural equivalent of Chinese Water Torture. It's annoying for the person with it stuck in their head, but truly pity their poor, poor coworkers who have to spend every second of the 30 minute van ride listening to them sing the chorus to "Private Eyes" or "Turn to Stone" endlessly. "I Got My Mind Set On You" fits the bill as well.

3. Songs with no words at all: "Walk, Don't Run" and "Classical Gas" just aren't the same when they're whistled.

4. Songs no one else has ever heard of:
"It's 'Cruel To Be Kind.'" "No, Nick Lowe." "Sometime in the early seventies, I think." "Yes, I'm aware you weren't born then; I wasn't either, but I still know it." "Seriously, what is weird about this? It was a hit song. It plays on the radio. It's pop culture. I shouldn't have to explain any of this."

5. Songs that you cannot sing out loud in public: Either the lyrics are incredibly offensive or completely gender inappropriate. This happened to me today. On the way to a department wide meeting, the insidious bastards at G101.3 decided to play "Hips Don't Lie." I know enough of it to sing through a bit, but something is lost when I sing Shakira's part, and I'm reasonably sure that directing any of my coworkers to keep on reading the signs of my body is a recipe for all kinds of trouble. This category also applies to Christmas songs when it isn't Christmas season.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Adventures in Acne Treatment

I hate zits. I used to get them all the time, but then I found the miracle of Panoxyl 5% bars, which appeared to be benzoyl peroxide mixed into a bar of soap that you use on your face. What I loved about Panoxyl was its refusal to do anything outside of destroying the zits on your face. There were no lame moisturizers or lotions or anything else that would make your face feel not dried out. No, Panoxyl was all like, "We are going to dry every bit of moisture and oil out of your face until the zits shrivel up and die. Don't go out in the sun, but if you do, rest assured that the zits will be fried right off of your face, and the sunburn will heal in time." Yes, it was quite the product.

Then it was cruelly taken off the market. I should have been forewarned of this development, as I got an email at work saying that the pharmacy would be unable to get it anymore, but I took that to mean the hospital pharmacy wasn't going to restock, not that the product was disappearing from existence. Had I realized that, rest assured I would have started hoarding bars like Elaine Benes with the Today Sponges.

Today, after fighting a losing battle against the zits for a couple weeks, I decided it was time to go shopping for a new acne face wash. Into Walgreens I walk, looking mostly disgusting since I had just finished mowing the lawn and was about to take a shower when I realized I needed the zit soap. The massive, sensory overload inducing Skin Care aisle assaults my eyes as soon as I walk in. Judging its size, prominent position in the store, and the fact that it has its own checkout counter, I imagine the skin care department is responsible for at least 75% of Walgreen's sales. This imagining is confirmed, as my slight pause in the skin care aisle elicits an immediate "Are you looking for something in particular?" from the sales girl behind the special skin care checkout area. She must have thought I was lost, which would make sense, as approximately 90% of skin care products have some form of female model on the label. Instead, I immediately answer "Acne soap!" and she goes to the end of the aisle and says "All of our products are right in this section. Is there a certain kind you prefer?"

"Well," I say, "Panoxyl worked wonders for me, but it's off the market now," and begin shaking my fist at the sky. Seriously. I actually did that.

"Yeah, I've heard a lot of complaints about that, actually." I look at her, and she has nary any sort of blemish, zit, pimple, blackhead, facial scar, anything. I begin to doubt her expertise on acne products, but press on. Eventually, after she gives favorable reviews on Clearasil's Daily Face Wash, I buy it, despite two reservations, which I voice:

1. The active ingredient is salicylic acid, which I find to be less effective.
2. It says 2%, which is clearly 3% less than the 5% I had with Panoxyl. I don't care that the active ingredients are different; I need my percentages to match up.

During my purchase, I notice my friendly sales associate's actual title is "Senior Beauty Adviser," despite the fact that she looked all of 23, maybe. This means she either really knows her skin care, and has thus maintained the look of a 23ish person despite having 25 hard years' experience at the skin care grind, or, like me, she was given a job title that will require some explanation on any future resumes. Yes, unbeknownst to most, I am actually a Senior Rehab Therapist at the hospital, despite being the youngest and least tenured member of the department. I assume it's the latter rather than the former, and thus feel reassured that I'm buying acne soap from someone who, like me, is obviously a straight-shooter with upper management potential.

As for the actual product, it smells strongly of menthol and burns like a mother if it gets in your eyes, which is a problem since I tend to get zits on the side of my nose. My face doesn't feel completely dried out, so I'm not sold on the effectiveness, but only time will tell in that regard. Most importantly, my Senior Beauty Adviser has assured me that if I am not 100% satisfied with my new zit soap regimen, I may return it for a full refund. That's the kind of quality customer service that gets you Seniority status straight out of high school, for sure.

I'll keep everyone posted on the results, as this is obviously the hard-hitting investigative consumer reporting you come to this blog for.