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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Recipe: Creamy Crockpot Pork Tenderloin

So, I've been making Amazing Pork Tenderloin a lot. Tonight, I wanted to make it, but I was out of onion soup mix. I decided to investigate online to see if I could find another crock pot pork tenderloin recipe that used ingredients I had on had. I did not, so I made one up, which is a mixture of many recipes that I found. It isn't exactly light, but it was very tasty. If you were to use cream of mushroom soup, it would be more like a stroganoff, but Todd doesn't eat mushrooms, so I had to use cream of celery, which was also good. I think the butter was unnecessary, but I included it because I was mimicking another recipe that was similar.

Creamy Crockpot Pork Tenderloin
Melt 4tbsp butter in the microwave, or at least soften it. Then, mix with about 8oz light sour cream (or regular sour cream, if you so choose). Combine with a can of cream of celery soup, and a packet of dry ranch dressing mix. Place pork tenderloin in crock pot (mine was still frozen). Pour soup mixture over pork. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.

Very good, You can also use pork chops instead of pork tenderloin, and cream cheese in place of the sour cream. I served it with noodles and a vegetable.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Am I a "Foodie?"

I don't consider myself a "foodie." Really, I just hate the term "foodie" and I also dislike "gourmet." Do others consider me a foodie? I started thinking about this from reading this Slate article yesterday, Cooking Their Books.
These days, a true foodie won't bat an eye unless you can identify every ingredient in every dish—a party trick that requires either an excellent palate or close attention to the recipes in Alinea.
Well, I guess that makes me not a foodie then. It's part of the fun of eating - not knowing exactly what goes into something gourmet.

So, I did some more research. I found the article, What is a Foodie, Anyway? on slashfood, which basically says that anyone that loves food is a foodie. Well, I can only think of one person that I know that doesn't love food (not mentioning her name here, I wonder if she knows I'm thinking of her?). That definition seems pretty vague.

There are some things, though, that make me a foodie, I guess. I read cookbooks for fun. I buy cookbooks on a constant basis. I have many cookbooks that I have never made a recipe from, but that I love to look at. Do these qualities make me a foodie, or does it make me a weird cookbook-freak? A cookbookie?

While I love cookbooks, I do not watch much of the Food Network. I do love Alton Brown and watch his show sometimes. I love the cake shows - Food Network Challenges and Ace of Cakes, but I don't actually have any interest in decorating cakes myself (they would end up on Cake Wrecks). I can't stand Emeril and most of the other shows on it though.

I love to cook, though. However, I'm not a gourmet cook. My cooking revolves around easy to make things that are delicious and healthy. A perfect recipe for me? A dinner recipe that takes 45 minutes or less from start to finish, contains no more than about 10 ingredients, doesn't contain anything that is especially hard to find or expensive (saffron, truffles, ethnic ingredients not readily available at normal grocery stores), uses few dishes, and requires a minimal amount of chopping of vegetables.

I do bake, occasionally, but I don't bake as often as I did when I was a teenager. Cakes tend to exhaust me if they require too much decorating.

I don't always eat gourmet food. I enjoy eating at restaurants, but not always nice ones. I have a disdain for chain restaurants, specifically TGI Fridays, Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, Outback, Carrabba's, Macaroni Grill and the like. I do like some of the more upscale chains, like McCormick & Schmick, PF Chang's, Cheesecake Factory, etc, although I find them too pricey. I will eat in gourmet restaurants, but I often will have a better time at a hole-in-the-wall joint. For example, the W Steakhouse at The Wynn in Las Vegas was a little bit too fancy for me (I was there for my 28th birthday), but I have a special place in my heart for the GA Pig, where I stopped with family lots of times as a kid going to Disney.

So, what do you think? What makes a person a foodie? Am I a foodie?



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Recipe: Herbed Chicken Parmesan

I am so certain that this recipe would be awesome, but I screwed it up.  I made it on Saturday, and apparently when I went to the grocery store, I thought we had parmesan cheese.  We did not.  It's a pretty important ingredient.  I mean, the recipe has the word parmesan in the name of the recipe.  I substituted mozzarella, which is not the same thing, and it meant that there was far too much cheese...  Because, well, I also added like 3 times as much provolone as was called for since I was trying to make up for the lack of parmesan.  

It was still good, but missing a certain parmesan flavor.  I served it with orzo and broccoli, just like in the photo.  We had leftovers on Sunday and they were good, too.

The bad thing about this recipe is that it used a lot of plates / pans - you had to have one to cook the orzo, one to cook the chicken, and 2 plates for the egg and bread crumbs, plus a bowl to heat and mix the sauce.  Far from one-dish cooking.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Be Cool With Yourself

Back in August, I passed my 10th anniversary of my first Weight Watcher's meeting, which sent me on this long path to losing 50 pounds, gaining 30 of it back, starting to exercise and then losing it again, coming into contact with awesome ladies online who also do video workouts, and then finally to my running group and running marathons (and eventually gaining and losing another 20 pounds).  I had this whole blog post set up to mark the anniversary, and then canceled it before it posted.  I just didn't feel like talking about it.  

It's not that I wasn't at a weight I wanted.  Starting in May 2008, I ended up maintaining a weight that I was happy with for over 6 months.  I went up a little and I'm in the process of dropping back down again.  So, it's none of that.  

Then, Oprah came out with her show where she talked about her own weight and struggles.  I've had my share of bouncing back and forth, so I can totally relate.  Then, two things happened today.  Wendy posted about Oprah, and I read that part of Oprah's show was about the Season 3 Biggest Loser Winner who gained 122 pounds back.  Too much stuff to blog about!!  I'm cracking up!

I've been seeing a lot of folks lately who are starting diets for the millionth time for the new year.  They're doing Weight Watchers and going the gym, blah blah blah.  So many people have NO IDEA what they're doing, and more and more when I see regular people out there trying to lose weight, I just assume that they're going to fail.  Even if they take the weight off, they're going to just put it right back on again because they're going about it the wrong way!  I'm feeling very negative about it.  I know it's  bad, but let's really look at it realistically - how many people do you know that have lost a lot of weight and kept it off for more than 2-3 years?  

It's too much.  It's all too much.  I'm so tired of it...
  • I'm tired of the media.  I'm tired of the seemingly endless morning news programs discussing weight loss and how to get in shape, etc... when they just had a full month of talking about how to make delicious desserts and pig out!
  • I'm tired of programs like Weight Watchers going on and on about how "Diets Don't Work" and then presenting what is essentially a diet.  It IS a diet.  It is a diet just like everything else.  
  • I'm tired of magazines putting the asses of celebrities on the cover, showing every detail of cellulite, and then for the rest of the year slapping an airbrushed model on the cover.
  • As much as I love the Biggest Loser, I feel like they go out of their way to exploit people, and to continuously show unrealistic weight loss (Like, say, disappointment over a SIX POUND WEIGHT LOSS IN A WEEK).  Doesn't it seem like, if you watch the show, you can't lose weight unless you can devote 4 hours a day to exercise? (oh, and if you eat jello and subway regularly)

It's just too much.  It's TOO MUCH.  I've been striving for a while now to not go on and on about my weight.  I wanted to lose focus of the number on the scale, and start just trying to be healthy and have a healthy lifestyle.  I don't fill my house with diet food, and I no longer count points.  I try to keep in shape with my workouts.  I found a sport that I enjoy, and I keep up with it.  I run to be with friends and to feel good, not to burn calories.  Sure, I want to lose weight, but if it takes me 5 months to lose 5 pounds, then it takes me 5 months to lose 5 pounds.  So what??

I just want to stand up on a soap box and scream to people that what they are doing is NOT WORKING.  It's making them psycho.  It's making everyone obsessed with weight and I just can't take it anymore.  I wish more people would just change their habits in order to feel better and not to lose weight.  I wish that overweight people that I see chowing down on burgers and fries would know how much better they'd feel if they regularly chose a healthier option.  Not a DIET option, just something better.  

Most of all, turn your head and look around.  Next time you're in a public place, study everyone else's body.  Chances are, there are an awful lot of people out there carrying around more weight that you.  Everyone worries about their looks and their weight.  You're not the only one, so stop obsessing and find another source of motivation.  I've realized this now.  I'm cool with it now, and I'm cool with me.  I wish I could do more to make other people cool with THEM.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We are HOT

I know I can do better than that with the cropping, but look how sexy we are. I look JUST LIKE THAT in real life. really.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Strange Brew: An Interesting Tea Story

Here's a story for you.

On December 11, I received an email from wu-yisource.com.  When I Googled the site, I discovered that they sell weight loss tea.  The scam of the offer that they present on their website is that they will give you a "free" trial of the tea, but you have to provide a credit card to pay the $4.95 shipping fee.  Then, once they have your credit card, they keep charging you a monthly fee indefinitely.  According to online reports, customer service will give you the runaround, and sometimes contacting the company results in only a recorded message.  It seems like it's a fairly common internet scam and this monthly recurring charge is how they make their money.

The thing is, I didn't fall for the scam.  At the time that the email was sent and the order was placed, I was asleep.  I had never visited the website and I had no idea where the email came from.  The interesting thing, though, is that I am in the process of changing my name, and I'm in the process of transferring my mail from the PO Box where it goes now to my house.  I also changed my email address recently and am (slowly) going through the process of changing that.  With so many things in flux, if you were to get some of my information, some of it might be out of date.  The email from wu-yi source had everything correct - Name, Address, Email, and also included my correct cell phone number.  Since I have three credit cards and two of them are still in my old name, this was strange.

I immediately logged into my credit card accounts and checked them online.  There were no strange charges.  I ran a virus scan, etc, and there was no problem with my PC.  Since nothing had happened except the email, I decided to ignore it and just keep an eye on my credit cards.

A few days later (I believe it was 12/13), I received a phone call from Wu-Yi Source.  They were "verifying my information" and wanted to know what my credit card number was.  I told them that I did not place an order with them, and I would not be giving them my credit card number.  The phone operator gave me the last 4 digits of the credit card used to place the order, saying it was a Visa, and I double checked my credit cards and saw that the digits did not match any credit card of mine.  The operator told me that perhaps it was a gift (GREAT gift!!), and I said no, cancel the order, that I did not want to do business with them and had no interest in the tea.  She said that the order was canceled and that was the end of the conversation.

I thought this really was the end of it, but I continued to monitor my credit cards for the next couple of weeks and saw nothing unusual or unauthorized.  I went to the wu-yisource website and attempted to submit an order with an invalid credit card number and could not, so if my "order" was placed online, it was placed with a real credit card.

Then, on January 7, I came home from work to find a package from Wu-Yi Source on my front step.  Again, I logged into my credit card accounts online.  This time, I found a $12.95 charge from a credit monitoring service on one of my Visa Cards (which happens to still be in my previous name).  It was charged on 12/29 (I hadn't checked my account since the morning of 12/29 when I was paying my bills).  I hadn't checked my credit report during this fiasco because the last time I received a credit report for free (from annualcreditreport.com) was April 2008, and I needed to wait the full year to get the next free one.  So, I called Chase to report the problem.  They put me in touch with creditreport.com, which was the website that charged the transaction.

On the phone with the creditreport.com person, I was told that the account had been opened in someone else's name (they would give me the initials, but no other information).  I said that I did not know anyone with those initials.  They told me that they would close the account and refund the $12.95.  They also suggested that the person whose credit report was obtained was probably not the person who obtained it, and that they used my credit card to pay for it in order to keep from being caught.

I called Chase back, and had my credit card account closed, and Chase said that I will not be responsible for the $12.95 charge.  I also contacted Experian and had a fraud alert placed on my credit report.  This allowed me to see my credit report, and there was nothing unusual on the report.  Creditreport.com did refund me the $12.95, so there has still been nothing  horrible happening as a result of this.

In the meantime, I have an unopened box of what is supposedly tea.  I can't decide if I should refuse the package and return to sender, or if I should open it in order to check out a packing slip.  Is there anything else that I can do with this situation?  While Wu-yi source does have a track record online of being scammers, there is nothing else online that I can find that is like this. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer


This is going to be a weird review because I'm essentially going to rip this book apart, but I'm also going to say that I didn't hate it and I'll at least read book 2, if not the whole series.  I know, strange.  But, this book NEEDS to be ripped apart.  There are too many people out there drooling over it, and frankly it isn't worth it.  The book ranks, for me, at the same level as bodice-busting vapid romance novels, which I enjoy reading in order to give me something to do, but don't deserve any type of accolades for writing.  That is really the key.

I wasn't really planning to read this book, but I was in BWI Airport and I'd packed the book I'd planned to read in the checked bag.  I can't sit on a plane with no book, so I hurried to grab one before the plane was boarding.  I was in a hurry and picked up the first book that I saw that had a title that I recognized.  It was as simple as that.  It was a quick and easy read, I read it in less than a week even though I was only devoting a small amount of time to it per day (since I was running races and gallivanting around Disney World).  It's long, but the print is big, just like Harry Potter.

I'm not a fan of vampire books, and I usually don't read the fantasy genre all that much.  It was the romance that was going to appeal to me in this book... and it was the romance that turned me off.  It was OVER THE TOP.  Through most of the book, Bella (the main character - the book was written in first person from her perspective) absolutely gushed about Edward, her vampire love interest.  I realize this is Young Adult Fiction, but it was really too much.  Bella gushes, talks about how much she loves him, how perfect he is, and named possibly 1,000 different ways to describe is eyes.  I think it's possible that Stephanie Meyer had a thesaurus nearby of adjectives for describing eyes.  It was really difficult to take seriously, and I found myself over and over again wanting to scream "ENOUGH!".  Too much.  Too many descriptions of every single aspect of their romance - a look, a touch, blah blah blah.  I know teens are probably so excited by this language, but if you've been around the block, if you're maybe over 25 years old, you're going to be rolling your eyes a lot (Example: She faints when he kisses her).

Bella herself was likable to some extent.  I can certainly relate to the fact that she is prone to strange accidents (as I have injured myself tripping over a cactus, falling out of bed, and I cut my leg up pretty bad on a shower radio).  However, I'm shocked she doesn't find it the least bit insulting that Edward feels he must stalk her and spy on her in order to "keep her safe," when she is just leading a normal life.  She went into town, she goes to school, she wasn't doing anything shocking... but he finds it necessary to break into her house, for example.  His excuse?  Well, he was frustrated that he couldn't read her mind.  It doesn't matter, she accepts everything, questions nothing, and does everything he says.

Bella doesn't really do much and it makes it fairly easy for her entire existence to suddenly revolve around Edward.  She doesn't have any real interests or activities, she takes little interest in her new friends (and seems to kind of be plastic towards them).  So, basically the heroine of the book is a high school girl with no goals or dreams who becomes admittedly obsessed with a dangerous man who wants to eat her.  He is much older than her, and she skips school, runs away, puts herself in danger and is basically willing to die for this guy.  You decide if that's a good role model for your high school daughter, and if you want them to immediately throw everything away for one guy, especially a "dangerous" one.   I found it disturbing in this regard, and when you add in the unrealistic and cliche ideas of romance, it's even worse.  Teens out there, love isn't like this.

Then there is the perfect Edward.  Pages and pages and pages and pages of this book were devoted to Bella describing how sexy he is, how beautiful, how perfect, how obsessed she was.  I never really understood the nagging question - if he's a hundred year old vampire, WHY is he going to high school?  Ok, he looks like he's 17, but he could also probably just as easily pass for 21.  If you had your choices, would you really spend all of your time in high school?  It just seems down right silly.  I had to go with Todd's explanation, which is that he HAD to be in high school in order to appeal to the teen audience.  Ah.  

Anyway, besides being a hundred year old guy in high school, he is also dangerous.  Despite the fact that he broods over the fact that he shouldn't put her in danger, he does.  Again and again.  Perhaps the reason he's in high school is because he still has the immature mentality of a 17 year old.  He loves Bella because she smells good and he wants to eat her.  Seriously.  It reminds me of the episode of Pee Wee's Playhouse where Pee Wee loved the fruit salad so much that he decided to get married to it.  I admit, I have had a couple of meals in my life that were really good, but not THAT good.  Are we serious??  Is that how we're going to play this?  He wants to eat her?  She smells good?  Women are swooning over this guy?  Is there anything else he loves about her?  I mean, I guess there was very little else positive that he could say about her, since Bella doesn't have all that much going on.  Oh yeah, he also sparkles in the sunlight and runs really fast.  I know he probably appeals to teenage girls because he rescues her and wants to keep her safe (I'm starting to think that is all that women are looking for in men), but...  I don't know, some realistic romance would have been nice - genuine reactions to things, something other than blind acceptance, some sort of conflict, perhaps?

Well, there was a conflict.  Another vampire gets a whiff of Bella and then wants to chase her around the country.  While this was the most page-turning section of the book, I still didn't buy it.  This guy would stop at nothing to get this ONE human... when the other vampires that she meets are not all that interested (with the exception of Edward, of course).  I had to explain it away in my head that maybe if you're immortal you have to occupy your time somehow.

So, in the end, the book is written as if a teenager really wrote it, which is why it appeals so much to teens and I suppose why grown women are slightly more skeptical.  I found it worth the time to read, but NOT worth the obsessiveness that is all over the internet over this book.  While I expected to be turned off by the vampires, there was little "weirdness" about this book and the whole vampire thing turned out to be ok.  It was just the overdone and completely immature romance that was the problem - including the blind acceptance by Bella of Edward's total and complete arrogance.  If something about it appeals to you, by all means pick it up, but if you're expecting adults to enjoy it as much as teens (like the Harry Potter series), you're going to be disappointed.  If you're looking for a good weekend read, go ahead and check it out.  Take it with a grain of salt, don't take it too seriously, that's all.

Davida let me know that the next book is better, so I'll give it a try.  However, I'm likely to drop the series if it's not better.  She also suggested the True Blood series instead.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

2009 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

We headed down to Florida on Thursday night for Disney's Marathon Weekend. Our hotel this time around was Saratoga Springs, my DVC home resort and the same hotel that we stayed in for the 2007 Marathon. We took the time Thursday night and Friday morning to relax and sleep in, since there was a busy weekend ahead.

Friday afternoon, we headed over to the Expo to get our race bibs, etc. In what was a string of dumb things that I did, I realized that leaving my drivers license in the hotel room was a bad idea, since it was required for packet pickup, so we had to travel all the way back to the hotel to get it. This sucked. However, once we had it, the packet pickup went without a hitch. At the expo itself, we bought some nice Mizuno gear and then ran into none other than Jeff Galloway at the Mizuno booth. We talked to him for a few minutes, and he affirmed that my plan for running 1:1s during the race was a good one. Jeff is awesome. :)

Friday night, we went to dinner at the Spirit of Aloha dinner show. I had never been before. While Disney did really hike up the cheeze factor during the show, the dancing was awesome, the food was good, and the company was awesome. So, we had a nice time. I can't say it's something I'd do again just for fun, but still good and definitely worth seeing once. We headed back to the room and I prepared for the half.

The half marathon was on Saturday. Todd was getting his first opportunity to spectate a large race alone, and I must say that he did a splendid job. As for me, I was not looking forward to this race. It's not that I wasn't trained, but I didn't feel as though I stuck to my training quite as well as I had before Frederick or Baltimore earlier this season. Even though I'd gotten in all of my long runs except the ones missed while I was in Belize, my heart wasn't in the ones that I did do, and I've been feeling slightly burned out. I'm coming off of Baltimore, which was a terrible race for me, and I just did not feel right. I was looking to just have a good race and not embarass myself, quite honestly.

It was weird leaving Todd to go to the starting area alone. This was my first Disney race by myself and my first race over a 5k where I stood at the starting line alone. Still, I made my way down and waited for the start. I must admit that with all of my nerves and worry, it was exciting to see Mickey on the screen and watch the fireworks at the start. I was in the second wave, and headed out around 6am.

The weather was nice and cool (I'd had a trash bag on before the start), and I felt great from the start. I saw Todd right after the start (thanks to him yelling, it wasn't light yet, and he was standing in the dark wearing all black and waving a sign across a three-lane highway and a median). It was hard for the first two miles to go the pace that I'd been wanting to go because the road was so narrow and there were too many runners. In the end, though, I think that was probably for the best and saved me later on.

I saw Todd again at mile 4 (Ticket and Transportation Center) and that helped to pump me up. I was feeling great. As I headed towards the Magic Kingdom, I looked up at the monorail passing overhead and saw Todd in the window, waving at me! It was very cool (we were RIGHT under the tracks or I wouldn't have seen him). We headed into the Magic Kingdom, and there he was again, on Main Street, telling me that he loved me :)

The Magic Kingdom was a total blur. I saw characters, ran through the castle, smiled and waved along with other runners, and I managed to get my photo taken with a country bear (and I think I only lost about 15 seconds in doing so). It was over very soon, and I was off into the boring backstage area. I spotted on my cell phone that Todd had sent me a text, that he'd missed me at the castle.

Then, as I passed the Polynesian, I slammed into a woman with a double wide stroller. That woman had no business on the course. She was a spectator and had been on the right side of the course with the stroller and decided to cross. As she did, runners had to dodge her, and she hit the curb with the stroller, coming to a dead stop. The runner right in front of me dodged her, but I only saw her at the last second and slammed into her. I had no remorse, I think I cussed at her, and if I hadn't been keeping such a good pace I may have stopped and pummeled her to death, right there in the happiest place on earth. People - this is what happens when you mess with distance runners.

Anyway, enough with that negativity because the race was going wonderfully otherwise. The sun was coming out, but it was still reasonably cool. Todd had missed me at the Polynesian, but had let me know that he was waiting for me at mile marker 12. I was headed back to Epcot, and feeling great.

It was at around mile 10 1/2 that I looked at my chrono and realized that I might PR. I did the math a few times. My splits had gotten messed up because I missed a mile marker, and then I'd hit the lap button during the stroller incident. So, I really hadn't known what my splits were for several miles. I was certain that a PR was in reach. I headed into Epcot, passed Todd my water belt at mile 12, and sped up.

Inside Epcot, I re-thought my math and realized that I wasn't as far under a PR as I'd thought. It was going to take work to get it done, but I knew I could do it for once, and sprinted in more than I ever have. My photos will show me working very hard at the finish, and my watch was showing that I was about 15 seconds under my PR. I was pleased.

After doing the post-race stuff, I found Todd, who showed me my official time, which was....... 3 minutes above my PR. Somehow, my watch and my chip time didn't match. But, you know, I was too high on the run to really care. I'd had a great time, a great race, and I just couldn't let it bother me. It was what it was. I have no idea why the discrepancy, I tend to want to blame the stroller lady for screwing up my watch, but I'm not really certain. It's fine. I still did awesome and I was definitely well below my Baltimore Half time.

We went back to the resort, and I was feeling so great that we went straight to breakfast (after all, it was only 9:30am). I took a shower, we took a nap, and then we spent some time relaxing at the pool. Davida came by and we chatted, had a pasta dinner at the Artist's Palette and then we headed back to prepare for the marathon on Sunday.

Sunday morning. Day 2 of getting up at 3am. I'm not going to comment too much on Todd's race, as that is his job. However, from a spectator's perspective, I had a great time. I was at the starting line, but missed Todd. I stayed there, though, and saw him at mile 4. I hurried and caught the monorail and saw him again at mile 9 (Ticket and Transportation Center). Monorail to Magic Kingdom, and I caught him on Main Street. Off to the Polynesian and I saw him again, giving him a banana and a drink.

I made the mistake of trying to catch a bus from the Polynesian, but it was a no go, so I ended up catching a bus to Animal Kingdom from the Ticket and Transportation Center. It was taking forever and I was regretting my wasted time. I know how much Todd wanted me to catch him at AK, so I was quite upset. I called and he was already entering the park and I was still trying to get there. At last, the bus made it and I ran across the parking lot and still managed to catch him there at mile 19. What a relief. I would even catch a glimpse of him again from the bus on the way to Hollywood Studios.

I caught Todd again, and even ran with him from mile 24 to 25, leaving him at Beach Club to catch a bus to the finish. I missed the bus, so I missed Todd crossing the finish line, but we'd made that deal earlier in the week, knowing I was risking it by being at Beach Club.

I did catch up with him though, and we headed back to the resort to eat, and rest by the pool, where Davida joined us. Davida had a great race, setting a new PR and was feeling awesome :) In fact, I missed her the whole race because she was too fast for me to catch her!

We had dinner last night at the Kona Cafe, then breakfast with the characters at 1900 Park Fare (in the Grand Floridian). We love the characters! :)

The flight home, and now we're back in Baltimore (where we shared a plane with a local news guy, but didn't talk to him). Relaxing. Todd is asleep because he's had a long weekend. I'm about to join him.

Great weekend and congrats to everyone that ran!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Headphones At Races

Something that has been quite a big deal the past few years has been the use of iPods, etc. at races.  USATF rules stated that you cannot listen to headphones while you're running a race.  For the most part, this has been a not very enforced rule, but at the 2007 Twin Cities Marathon, anyone wearing headphones was denied a medal and official time (Ouch, that is harsh!).  

There are two reasons for the rule: safety and advantage.  From a safety perspective, it's generally considered to be a bad idea to wear headphones while running.  Turned up too loud, headphones can keep you from hearing important safety announcements, cars, dogs, etc.  There was a woman in Florida who was hit by a train while running and wearing headphones*.  As for advantage, there are people who do believe that you can run faster if you are setting your pace by music.  Hence, running while wearing headphones can keep you on pace.

I don't wear headphones while running, usually.  I do wear them if I'm on the treadmill, and I'll occassionally wear them on the trail, although on the trail I usually will listen to a book on tape at a low volume (still making it easy to hear).  I would never even remotely consider wearing headphones while running in traffic.  I will wear them during marathons, but I have yet to wear headphones for a shorter race, as I think it takes away from the racing experience.  I want to be able to hear the things going on around me, and although I seriously doubt I gain any sort of competitive advantage from running to music, it still feels like cheating.  Sometimes, though, it's necessary (like at a marathon).

There has been a lot of debate on this subject, but in the end, apparently USATF has elected to remove the ban on headphones.  Individual race directors can now decide if they are going to ban headphones or not.  The good news of this is that at least we will have a much better understanding of whether or not the rule is going to be enforced.  Still, for legal and liability reasons, I am betting that a lot of races will continue the ban.  Race directors want you focused on the race, not on music (or DVDs).

I've always felt that the rule was kind of overkill, and certainly taking away a runner's medal is overkill.  I can't say that I've seen a person wearing headphones in a race that was really a risk, although I do think that if you are out there wearing them for EVERY single race (even a 5k), you are missing out on a lot.  But still, who am I to judge?  If they aren't really causing a safety issue, then I don't see a problem.  I don't think we'll see competitive athletes wearing headphones anytime soon.

* She was also apparently crossing at a place that was not a legal crossing and was technically tresspassing.  She tripped and didn't get up before the train hit her.  She is suing the guy driving the train and the train company.  Of course.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Watch Out!

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

That even looks like The Bug.

(Thanks to Nick)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

It started last year, when we decided to spend New Years Eve at home, just the two of us. While we were thinking about it then, we decided that we'd rather be in the islands, but there was no way to get there. So, we decided to have an island holiday at home.

Since last year was so much fun, we decided to do it again this year.

New Years Eve Caribbean Menu
Chilled Avocado Soup
Jerk Chicken
Glazed Carrots
Coconut Rice
Fried Plantains
Strawberry Margarita Pie

We started with the Chilled Avocado Soup, which was very good. We'd had Avocado Soup as an appetizer in Bonaire when we went to Papaya Moon. We loved their chilled avocado soup, and I tried to recreate it. I didn't quite do it. While the recipe that I followed was good, the recipe still needed something. I tried it the next day with some added cilantro and lime, but it still wasn't right. Plus, this isn't a recipe that is good the next day.

Here is a photo. I took these, and you will see why I don't usually post photos of the food that I cook, as I'm a terrible photographer...

From New Years Eve 2008


Once we'd enjoyed our soup, next up was the main course. I had prepared the Jerk Chicken the night before, so I just needed to prepare the basting sauce. Todd did most of the work preparing the fried plantains, although we didn't get them exactly like the delicious ones we'd had at Cactus Blue. I made a spicy guava dipping sauce for the plantains (just guava jelly mixed with chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce).

From New Years Eve 2008

The recipes for the glazed carrots, strawberry margarita pie and coconut rice came from the cookbook from Turneffe Island Lodge.

From New Years Eve 2008
So, we cooked everything and had a great time doing it. It was very fun and everything was perfect. The jerk chicken was delicious and easy.
From New Years Eve 2008

The carrots and rice were tasty, the strawberry margarita pie was refreshing.

... So, we drank a few beers, ate our tasty meal and then settled in to watch the ball drop. Only, my eyelids started falling at around 11:30. The next thing I know, I wake up and it's 12:15. So, my first new years of my 30s and I celebrate by sleeping through midnight. Oh well. It was a good sleep :)

Another reason to have a DVR (which we don't have)... we could have pretended it was midnight later on....
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