Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Precautionary Principle

I attended a lecture last night called "Making Prevention the Cure for Cancer". It was given by a very intelligent women, a scientist, who is the director of the University of Pittsburgh's Environmental Oncology Department. She offered some of her suggestions for reducing your environmental cancer risk.

I realize that every day someone is telling us that something else is bad for us, but this women is a scientist, a PhD, and has spent her life studying the correlation between cancer and environmental factors - good enough for me. She herself recognizes the onslaught of information about products that are bad for us, but explained to us her adherence to something called the precautionary principle. Briefly stated, her belief is: "it doesn't take a lot of data to convince me to be cautious". It is in that spirit that I now offer some of her suggestions*.

1. Plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7 are bad. Avoid them when possible and stick with 1,2,4 and 5.

2. Do not, under any circumstances, use Gladware (any plastic, really) in the microwave. "Microwave Safe" just means it won't melt, not that it won't leech toxins into your food.

3. Throw away your Nalgene (especially if, like me, you tend to wash it in the dishwasher) and buy a stainless steel bottle.

4. If you buy these items organically, you can reduce something around 90% of your exposure to pesticides and other nasties: Apples, Bell peppers, Celery, Cherries, Imported grapes , Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Potatoes, Raspberries, Spinach, Strawberries, meats, poultry, eggs, dairy, Broccoli, Cauliflower.

5. Watch out for too many members of the paraben family in your health and beauty products. Parabens are thought to be endocrine disrupters meaning that they disrupt cell function and reproduction - a known cause of both breast and ovarian cancer. A chemical in the Parabens family will usually have a methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, or propyl- prefix. They're in everything, but again, employing the precautionary principle, limiting them (or at least being aware of them) can't be a bad thing.

Also, she said the single best thing you can do for yourself (other than eating your crucifers), is to maintain a healthy immune system. Get enough antioxidants and don't stress out too much!! She said to keep a positive thought in your mind at all times. Cheezy, maybe, but she is a professional.

* Although she had data to back all of this up, I have no included it all here. If anyone finds anything to the contrary of what is here, please let me know...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Randy's Lecture

Dr. Pausch is a professor at CMU who has terminal pancreatic cancer. He gave a "final lecture" at CMU recently and you need to watch it:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Paperback Swap

Under the cateogry "useful uses of the internet", please list: Paperback Swap. You sign up, you list books you want to swap, then for each book you send out, you get to request on. You do have to pay to ship the books media mail, but then when you request, the person sending it pays the shipping, so no money ever changes hands... it's the only place to get books cheaper than Genius!

Click here to sign up... for free, of course.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do get credit if you follow the link and sign up... so.... feel free to do so, then tell everyone you know because the more people who list books, the more books I can read. Yey books!! =)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A hockey night in Pittsburgh

Five things I learned by attending last night's game betwixt the 'Canes and the Pens:

1. A hot pretzel and a root beer float are a perfectly balanced dinner.

2. Nobody has been able to master the wrap-around shot like Mario Lemeiux.

3. It took me awhile to "get" the following phrase, but once I did, it became the funniest referee heckling I'd ever heard: "Get off your knees, stripes, you're blowing the game!"

4. Cheerleaders simply do not work for hockey. Take note, Pen's Patrol

5. There is bad grammar EVERYWHERE...

... even on giant banners in the arena.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Brick Walkway

I survived Homecoming.

Don't get me wrong, I was more excited about Homecoming than I likely will be for Christmas. I had a great time and am more grateful than ever for my friends, but still, it's hard.

Returning to Allegheny is like going home. Only, it's not my home anymore; it's somebody else's home and they've made it their own as much as I once made it mine. Though the attic of Brooks hall still bears my signature (along with some drunken proclamations), Someone else lives in my room, someone else has decorated the second mid lounge, and the fluffy couches that used to welcome me to GFC are long gone.

Beyond myself, there are weird green glass things on campus, "Cochran Hall" isn't called Cochran Hall anymore, and they now allow boys to live in Walker. The times they are a changin'.

Going back makes me homesick... but homesick for a place that doesn't exist. Even if I moved back to my room and decorated the lounge just as it was (Cathedral Purple, anyone?)... it still wouldn't be the same. Knitty doesn't live below me, I can't break into Pete's room, the path I wore over to Justin's room is long gone, Jay will not be on my couch when I wake up in the morning and Bekka won't be there for Sunday Brunch. I could read the duty log, but there wouldn't be any messages from Aubrey, Kendra, Melissa or anybody else in it.

What then, is home? What is it I'm missing? I know it's more than just the people, but whatever it is, I haven't figured out how to recapture or recreate it yet. I have not felt "at home" anywhere since leaving school, and I'm sure that's where my feelings of sadness and longing begin.

I think a lot of people go through that awkward, "homeless" phase between leaving college and starting their own lives, either with someone else or alone. You can move home after college, but your parent's house is just that... their house. It isn't yours anymore. You can rent an apartment, get a roommate or go on to graduate school... I tried them all, some of them several times, but none gave me a sense of "home".

I'm on my fifth apartment and seventh move since leaving college and I've yet to feel it. I'm getting closer though - I have a cat now.

Does it not start until you get married and begin your own family? When you buy a house? Get a dog? Have a child? I'm certain its none of those things. I'm certain its something that happens inside yourself that lets you know that you've found where you belong.

There is a beautiful brick walkway that connects Brooks Hall with North Main Street and the rest of campus. Standing on North Main looking down said walkway is one of my favorite views on campus. Here, see for yourself:

When discussing my feelings with a fellow alum, he said to me: "I'll bet people were pissed when they put in Brook's Walk - 'Stupid walkway, now I can't park my car there'".


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Purple Toe

So, I ran a marathon in May. Stop laughing. It's true, I have pictures to prove it:

Ha! You didn't believe me, did you? Anyway, this particular post isn't really about the marathon, though I'm sure one will come, this one is about my toe. You can't really tell from the picture, but it rained most of that particular marathon. This meant that my socks got wet, which made them stick to my feet, which also meant that they got up under my toenail and pulled it off the bed, then kept it there for the four or so hours I was running... in the rain. The consequence of this is that my toenail died. It was awesome. Aside from my finisher's medal, it was my proudest moment coming out of the race. It was my battle wound.

It looked terrible. There was blood trapped under the nail and it turned all purple and gross. When people asked about the marathon, I had to but show them my toe; it seemed to tell the whole story: painful and gross, yet somehow amazing and cool.

I am sad to report that last night, at about 9:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time, purple toe* fell off.

Clearly this means that I need to sign up for another marathon. Who's with me?

* by "purple toe", I do just mean my toenail, not my entire toe, but "purple toe" has a much nicer ring to it than "purple toenail", don't ya think?

Friday, September 28, 2007

I'd like to see this in a different size..

I have lost my ability to shop for clothes.

I don't really like clothes shopping that much to begin with, but now, I can't even do it without a trusted friend or a how-to manual. Clothes used to be easily identifiable. This is a shirt. These are a pair of shorts. This is a skirt. Also, each piece of clothing had a purpose: a sweater is worn over something and keeps you warm. A shirt is typically a base layer, a dress is a complete outfit on its own and is... well... dressier than other articles of clothing.

Not any more.

Now, I pick something up and it looks like a sweater, except when I put it on, it ends about halfway down my back. The only things being kept warm by this are my boobs, rendering it not a very useful sweater. I don't even understand how to wear it... if over a thin layer, it's probably not cold enough to necessitate a sweater... and if over a thick layer, you're looking for warmth, which this does not provide.

I'm the worst girl ever.

Shirts of a normal length are a thing of the past as well. Now I pick up a garment and do not know if it is a dress or a shirt. Those two items should, in my humble opinion, never be close enough in length to cause confusion. It's too long to be a shirt, but it's too short to be a dress. Shopping for clothing is already a truly traumatic experience for me, and now you throw this at me. Advanced Placement garments. I need the remedial class.

Through my research and a few "yahoo answers" posts later, I've come to understand that the shirt/dress phenomenon is where leggings come into play. Leggings. Come on people!! About 4.6% of the female population of the world looks good in leggings! I'm not looking to star in Flashdance here.

I think I've been spoiled by running clothes. They're so user friendly!! You tell me the temperature, I'll tell you what I'm wearing. Each item fulfills a purpose, there is nothing extraneous, there are specific clothes for every season, fashion has little to no place, it's perfect. If this unidentifiable clothing trend keeps up, I'm going to start wearing technical clothing everywhere.

Have fun in your stupid, short sweaters, world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Two wheels of bliss

Before July, my commute was 1.5 hours. I would leave my house at about 7:00 am, drive to the bus stop, hunt for a place to park, usually end up walking across several business' lawns, then riding the bus for 30-40 minutes to get to work by 8:30 (on a good day).

I moved in July (fairly unwillingly, but more on that later). Now, I leave at 8:00 (or so), I ride my bike to work and I still get here at about 8:20... and that's if I stop for breakfast.

The best part of this whole scenario, I've found, isn't actually the extra hour of sleep. That itself is remarkable as anyone who knows me will tell you there is little in this world I like more than sleeping in. No, the best part is in the "I ride my bike to work" part. Granted, it took awhile... for the first few weeks I was still a loyal bus rider, but once I got the nerve to get started, I was hooked. Having to pack my clothes and take a baby powder and blotting paper "shower" upon arriving at work are small prices to pay for the ride in. It's replaced my morning meditation and my morning (caffeinated) tea. It's a chance to slowly wake up, commune with nature (and by nature, I mean the industrial park I ride through, but still, it's fresh air), and enjoy my superiority to the suckers who are stuck on public transportation (it can't all be zen, people).

Now, to be fair I should say that I live approx. 3 miles from where I work and they are a very, very flat 3 miles; I don't want to give anyone the impression that I hike up the Pyrenees every day, but it is worth noting that the round trip burns me 200 big ones every day.

Jealous? For fellow travellers, who think that they too might like a two-wheeled commute, I offer this article:

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Burnt Tongue

Many of my friends and fellow bloggers have been waxing philosophical on our impending fallness. They have all written about it quite eloquently and while I probably can't say anything terribly mind-bending, I have just burnt my tongue on the first pumpkin spice latte of the season and therefore feel the need to add my thoughts to the fray.

1.) Pumpkin Spice lattes. Believe me, I am NOT a loyal Starbucksian, (shout out to Helen at "Perk Me Up" in Larry-ville) but I cannot pass up a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte... It is the one drink I haven't found satisfactorily replicated elsewhere. Curse you, starbucks, and your delicious everything-I-love-about-fall-in-a-drink.

2.) The Steelers. Seriously, is there anything better than pulling out your Steeler's hoodie, perhaps the rally cap for a particularly tough game, watching the game with any locals you can gather with, then heading to Smoking Joe's for fried Zucchini afterward (either in celebration or to drown your sorrows with anything and everything fried)? The best part? even when that's all over, it's still a hockey night in Pittsburgh... but that's another season.

3.) Running in the fall leaves. Not sweating to death. Not returning to find frost in my hair. Completely losing myself in counting the hundreds of colors passing me by and the crunching beneath my feet. Actually NOT wanting to stop. Running 3 miles further than I meant to.

I defy anyone to take a run or walk in the fall and not go back for seconds.

4.) Hoodies and Birks. It's a perfect storm of comfort and warmth - not yet encumbered by socks, but needing the snuggly warmness of a hoodie. It's by far my favorite outfit (or outfits since I have a hoodie for every day in October I think).

5.) My cat by the fireplace. It's how I define "contentment". I'm pretty sure the cat waits in as eager anticipation as I do for the first night when it is cool enough to warrant lighting the fireplace... or at least the first night where lighting the fireplace would not also necessitate turning on the air conditioning.

6.) Cheezeman's. A haunted hayride like no other and a night with my BFFs that I wouldn't trade for anything. Where else can you stand in line for (sometimes) hours, staving off freezing to death by taking turns making apple cider runs, only to find yourself facing a runaway forklift, weaponized couches and Osama himself. I know, you're jealous, aren't you? I look forward to it all. year. It's better than Christmas. seriously.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New soul in my charge

Is it possible to have a maternal instinct for plants, yet not for people?

I have never thought myself much of a mother-figure, and, at 28 still have less than no idea how children might in some way or another figure into my life.... but give me a plant, and I'll water, feed, sing to, trim, turn, re-pot and otherwise love it with everything I've got.

All that being said, I have recently come across some Saguaro seeds. I did a little reading before planing them and learned that the Papago Indians believe that Saguaro's are old Indian souls and that they must be treated as such. How exciting!! I feel like a have some new little souls to plant and grow. Speaking of growing, I have also learned that in ten years, my little souls MIGHT grow three inches. Nature is crazy.

I have planted them today and will update on their growth and development, likely in this blog as well as in situations where people are talking endlessly about their children, I now have an in!

For your edification, here are some facts about Saguaros:
  • They are pollinated by doves
  • They live for 250 years
  • They can weigh over 2000 pounds
  • They often reach heights of 70 feet
  • They grow plum-sized fruits which are apparently fantastic in jellys, cakes and breads (I'll let you know in 50 years when mine fruits)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Happy Birthday, Cheezeball!

I am the others

I love going to concerts. I'll go to a concert even if I've never heard of the band or maybe even if I outright don't like the band. I like watching other people watch concerts... especially the die hard fans. I like to watch people at concerts for artists they like as much as I like Dar Williams.

I recently got to see the fantabulous Dar Williams perform live in a lovely, outdoor, evening concert. This video is for my dear friend Knitty, who upon hearing of the concert immediately stated: "I would've been screamin' "I"m not that petty, As cool as I am!!!" So, for you, Knitty M., the only song (my favorite song) that I managed to record amid my whooping and singing and dancing and general merry-making, compliments of my lowly but trustworthy camera:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

By Definition

I have a co-worker who insists on referring to me as "Chrisequious". I'm not sure if it is a reference to him thinking me a suck-up or merely my penchant for using big words, but either way, I do not take it as a compliment.

Main Entry: ob·se·qui·ous
Pronunciation: &b-'sE-kwE-&s, äb-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, compliant, from Latin obsequiosus, from obsequium compliance, from obsequi to comply, from ob- toward + sequi to follow -- more at OB-, SUE: marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness

So, starting now, I'm reclaiming chrisequious. Fawning attentiveness can be a good thing, if aimed in the right direction. My life, for example - I think I could pay closer attention...