A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Thursday, January 31, 2008


The word of the day is Zicam. We at the Spin Cycle have a bad cold (as opposed to a cold that makes you feel good). A woman at my hairdresser's this morning gave me some of the chewable tablets. Got on the Internet just now to do some research on Zicam and--like, wow!--there's a plethora of Zicam products to fight any symptom.
This site comes complete with testimonials.
I like what the one guy says: The sooner you get to the fire, the quicker you can put it out.
Anyone have any success with Zicam? Wanna testify?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening

They stopped by all right.
Last month, about 30 teens and young adults went to a house party in Vermont. But the person's long-ago home doesn't belong to them. And no doubt they had read a bunch of the former owner's poetry in class. (Robert Frost.)
Read this tale by Dan Barry in the Times.
In the aftermath: One of the unrepentant kids requested his mug shot from the sheriff for his Facebook page. Nice.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cheese, please

So my co-worker Sonya has had this Easy Cheese on the shelf above her desk, with crackers beside it, and a sign that reads: No crackers without using the cheese. She says she's doing some sort of social experiment. Not sure what it is, but the Easy Cheese has been a good diversion from the rat race of late.
This photo (below) is of one Nick Blair, who works in our New Media department. Being about 20, his metabolism hasn't kicked in yet so he can afford to do things like squirt cheese in his mouth with reckless abandon.
And now for you history buffs. This bit of info comes to us from our friends at Wikipedia.com:
"Easy Cheese was originally marketed by Nabisco in 1966 under the name Snack Mate. After the merger of Kraft and Nabisco in 1988, the product was renamed Easy Cheese. It is sold in the United States, where it is usually served on crackers. Ritz Crackers in particular, another Kraft Foods product, are heavily cross-promoted with Easy Cheese. However, the Nabisco brand remained until 2001.
It is available in several flavors, including American cheese, mild and sharp cheddar, Swiss, nacho, and bacon & cheddar. The bacon & cheddar flavor used to contain tiny chunks of bacon, which easily clogged the can's nozzle. Kraft Foods has since reworked the recipe to omit the bacon particles in favor of bacon flavoring. In 2007, Kraft began producing a cream cheese variety of Easy Cheese." The thing that cracks me up about this product, and others like it, is that the manufacturer thinks we believe it is made with REAL CHEESE, as the can says. Uh, no. I'm not saying it's made out of paper but if you think food that comes in an aerosol container like this couldn't easily be swapped for a hair product, you are sadly mistaken.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tiger by the tail

Tiger Woods won today's Buick Invitational by eight strokes.
Catch the CBS report here.
Interesting factoid: This same course (Torrey Pines) will be the site for the US Open this summer. Guaranteed the scores won't be as low as today.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A 'rolling blackout'

Arthur Kellerman, M.D., of Emory University, reports on the emergency state of emergency-room care. This NPR commentary ran more than a year ago, but its truths still remain.
In Atlanta, for instance, nine hospitals once diverted at one time--meaning, nine were sending ambulances to other places because of overload. He called it a rolling blackout.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Think your day is bad?

For some reason, I was thinking recently of Aron Ralston, the guy whose hand got stuck under a bolder in Utah in 2003. He was out on a solo climb. After running out of food and water, and trying extract himself, he ended up amputating his right arm. That was around his fifth day out.
Here's the whole story.
(Yes, he survived.)
Among the obvious questions--could you do that if you had to?--an intriguing piece of this is survival traits. Under great stress, many people either become passive or angry or a combination of both. True survivors use great creativity in their coping skills. In one sense, Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" was a survivor; but not by this essay's definition. (Heck, for one thing, looked at all the people he had offed.)

P.S. On an unrelated note: This guy in our office just squirted copious amounts of Cheez Whiz into his mouth. It's Friday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Wesley, a guy from spin class, is taking the MCAT at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
This here is all about the MCAT. The national medical school exam is more than five hours in length, with only three 10-minute breaks. It measures one's capability in the physical sciences, biology, verbal reasoning and writing skills.
You take the exam about 18 months before you show up in med school (assuming you get in). So if you want to go in the fall of '09, you take it right about now.
After you get your scores, in about three months, then you decide where to apply.
Also, there is no shortage of training materials, ranging from about $60-$1,200.
Good luck, Wesley.
By the way, Bisquick loves the word MCAT.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sweet Bones

Today is sad for our friends Lynn and John, who were the owners and caregivers for Bones.
Here is what Lynn said:

Bones went to Doggie Heaven yesterday.
I'm sure heaven is a lot like Sky Water, where these pictures were taken when Bones was in his prime and able to run and chase rabbits and squirrels and dig for moles and go swimming. He loved the North Carolina woods, and he loved his adopted family. We'll miss him terribly but are relieved his suffering is over.
Thanks for the love you sent his way over the years.

They really loved that dog. I mean, LOVED that dog.
I think animals know that, don't you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What a bummer

This blog from the Times downplays the benefits of exercise, largely because studies have not been able to determine — definitively — its benefits to the body. Gina Kolata refers to a quote by a coach who said his assistants might exercise for five miles but eat for 10.
At least in my case, regular exercise benefits me in "feel good" ways: better sleep and better mood (which are no small things). My cholesterol is in the normal range, and my BP is also normal. (But I have always exercised, so I don't really have anything to compare that to.) I have never smoked nor had cancer.
However, I very much relate to what the coach said: I put a lot of stock in my regular exercise. I think it is benefiting me more than it probably does. I weigh more than what the charts say I should. I LOVE to eat.
I guess what all this means is that I eat more with less guilt.
And you?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Queen and I

All rise.
This here is Jill Conner Browne, aka, the Boss Queen of the Sweet Potato Queens, who was signing books about 45 minutes from here today. What a hoot. (And her Cutest Boy in the World husband--her nickname--Kyle.) I went to cover her talk and signing for the paper, and also hung around and met some cool people.
Click here to see her site.
She and Kyle were stopping between events in Atlanta and Montgomery. They travel in what she calls the Big Ass Bus. (And it is. Garish in its pink and yellow, but oddly attractive in a Southern Gothic sort of way.)
Starting off the day, I found a Mexican restaurant in nearby Lanett, Ala., which a) had surprisingly authentic food and b) wireless Internet. Stranger than fiction.

More wine copy

Regular readers to this blog will know that occasionally we have to--HAVE TO--point out some of the more amusing copy on wine bottles. Last night at dinner, Michael read this to me from a bottle of Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon: "Following his own palate, Ravenswood winemaker Joel Peterson produces his Vintners Blend Cabernet Sauvignon to express rich, dark currant and cassis flavors with background notes of black cherry and spice. Embellished by French oak, the finish is long and smooth and leaves you wanting more. In a class that usually prefers to strike an exclusive pose, this Cabernet could be the best deal going."
(Three words: Cheap, yet expensive.)
As we've said before, who are the people who write this stuff? And are they challenged every day to come up with roughly four inches of words that say, basically, "This here wine is red and it tastes real good"?
And if you were wondering, as I was, what cassis means, here goes:
cas·sis [ka-sees; Fr. ka-sees]
1. crème de cassis.
2. (italics) French.
a. a black currant.
b. a brandy distilled from black currants.
[Origin: < F]
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

See. You learn something every day.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow falling on Georgia

It's raining in Columbus but it's snowing only slightly north of here (Hamilton, Pine Mountain, West Point and Atlanta). Photos are from Atlanta.
Because of the threat of ice later, a Barry Manilow concert was cancelled in Atlanta. Michael said, "Well, as hardships go ..."
Stay warm.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

For the 'love' of Pete

Pete Sampras, that is. In an exhibition match against Todd Martin. In our little hamlet by the river.
Get the scoop here.
Read more about Pete here, from his Web site. (The fact that it calls him a "brand" is a bit much for me — what is he, a shoe? — but otherwise a fun look at a classy guy.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Strong at the Broken Places

Check this out.
Richard Cohen, who has MS, has written this book about five people who, like him, have chronic illnesses but rise above it. He is married to Meredith Vieira of the Today Show.
Who came up with that quote? Hemingway, no less.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No cure for this

The common cold.
According to this story, an old Farmer's Almanac says the early Colonists stuffed pared-down orange slices into their nostrils.
We at the Spin Cycle have not had the annual cold yet, knock on wood; but we know plenty-o-people who have been sick, or are sick. Pork Chop, for instance, complained of a hacking cough today.
This report says to load up on a big-calorie breakfast and not go hungry, especially in the mornings. What else? Green tea.
What works for you? What doesn't?

Monday, January 14, 2008


Check this out. Our friend and now former colleague Philip Wartena showed up on Rise-N-Shine this morning. He pretty much invited himself. Said he always wanted to be on it. For those of you "not from around here," the show comes on at this ungodly hour (6 a.m.), so it's a miracle that Phil got himself dressed in time.
He's moving back to California with his girlfriend Melissa, and doing this this cool thing along the way.
Meanwhile, enjoy the show.

Get thee to a doctor

Did y'all see this?
Hope everyone is having a fine Monday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Taking a load off

Here is Bisquick, in all his glory.
We call this his OB/Gyn pose, even though he is a "he," and actually an "it." (Bless his heart.)
On the subject of cat health, click here. It's from the great cat minds at Cornell.
Bisquick may be sleeping with one eye open around here. Our first cat, Mannie, was "inherited" thanks to Michael's daughter Heather. This was around the time we were getting married. Mannie had to be put down within a year, because he was old and had pancreatic cancer. (Our priest came to the vet's and read a poem and prayed over him--sort of like Last Rites--while I was bawling all over the place.)
Then we got Levi, short for Leviticus, from the Humane Society. Great cat. Only, he came with a disease they didn't know about. Dead within six months.
Then two years ago, after we got brave again, we went back to the Humane Society and got Bisquick. Another tabby who seems quite healthy. Wonder what his BMI is?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

'No one ever wins those contests'

"That's what we used to think!"
Internet, imagine our surprise this morning when, checking into the gym, the employees congratulated us on our big win: An Insignia 32" flat screen HD-TV. They drew our name last night, and tried to call three times but they didn't leave a message. We were quite stunned this morning at the news. The Spin Cycle's husband is also quite excited.
"Just in time for the playoffs," one employee told Michael when he came to fetch.
Since November, in anticipation of this promotional drawing, we have faithfully had our cards punched each time we worked out. Each card had five numbers to punch. That amounted to about five a week (or one card) for about two months. So, that's about eight cards. (Spin instructor Frank offered two punches for his classes so maybe it was more like 10 cards.)
Ironic, though, that the big prize from a gym is a TV, which requires one to sit on one's posterior.
So far, so good.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Double trouble

It's Friday's News of the Weird.
Imagine that you found out the person you're married to is your twin. It happened to this British couple.
Who immediately had the union annulled. Ya think?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sweet Potato Queen on the way

Now for something lighter. (But not less filling.)
Jill Conner Browne, the Sweet Potato Queen and author of "The Sweet Potato Queen's Guide to Raising Kids for Fun and Profit," is coming to West Point, Ga., next weekend.
And she's not simply driving here. She is being transported in what she calls her Big-Ass Bus. See photo.
A New York Times best-selling author, Browne has been featured in such biggies as USA Today, Newsweek, People, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, among other media.
She'll be at the Hawkes Library, 100 W. 8th St., signing books 2-4 p.m. Jan. 20.
Her most recent book as well as other titles will be sold.
Some of her rules to live by:
--On Discipline: Every parent needs to cultivate his or her own version of The Look, and this is something you absolutely must have‹before you have children.
--On Babysitting: Can we all agree that it is not "babysitting" if the person doing the sitting is also the one who did the "fathering?"
--On Birthday Parties: Never allow into your house for any reason short of some sort of mass emergency-evacuation situation that would necessitate the humanitarian harboring of large numbers of children in one's personal space more than one additional child over and above the number that normally lives there every day.
Browne and her husband, who does not go by the name "Sweet Potato King," live in the great state of Mississippi.
For more information, call 706-645-1549.
For information on Browne, click this here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Kids, don't try this at home

Continuing with the theme of gruesome news, this guy in Idaho just cut off his hand, put it in the microwave and then called 911.
(Presumably with the other hand. Sorry.)
Click here to get the scoop.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hiker, con't.

Internet, I hate to obsess but here goes.
The body of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson was found last night, thanks to alert citizens in north Georgia and also to
Gary Michael Hilton, the man accused of kidnapping her. He led authorities to her body Monday.
This is one spooky-looking dude.
Click here for an update from 11 Alive News in Atlanta.
This is bothersome on several levels. The first is as someone who has hiked Blood Mountain many times (and, yes, alone). The second level is as a female. I knew exactly where she had parked her car. I know that trail really well. People say, "She shouldn't have gone off by herself." On the one hand, true, maybe she should have taken a friend. But a) that's hindsight and b) most of life involves such calculated risk. We drive our cars everyday. I drive through Atlanta--sometimes white-knuckled--everytime I go up to the same mountains. But we never ask of someone killed in a car wreck: "Was he driving by himself?" Operating a car seems to offer us this feeling of invincibility that hiking in the woods does not.
Is this case also similar to asking a female rape victim what she was wearing? There's some of that in people's comments, I'd say. But I also am very aware of the reality that women are more vulnerable to attack, especially from people bigger and stronger, and especially in the wilderness.
A third and perhaps deeper sadness over this story for me lies on a spiritual level. That particular mountain has been a getaway for me through the years. Hiking in the beauty of the Southern Appalachians does something for me, deeply, in which I re-connect and re-charge. Blood Mountain is such a place. It has been a place of prayer and musing. Almost holy ground.
You know what I mean if you do this too, or something similar.
Does this tragedy mean I'll never go there again, alone? I don't honestly know yet.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Soup's on

Here's a recipe sent in by Faithful Reader Charlotte Kennedy (OK, my mom):
Called Santa Fe Soup:

2 pounds lean ground beef (I used 1 pound)
1 large onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
2 cans shoepeg corn
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
2 pkgs taco seasoning

Cook beef with onions, drain, add all other ingredients in a covered soup pot and cook slowly for 2 hours. You can top with such things as corn chips, green onions, sour cream or cheese. I like to serve with tortilla chips of warm cornbread.
Then I found this recipe that doesn't seem to take as long.

If you do some testing, as we aim to do soon, lemme know.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What's 'on my mind'

We had the great fortune of hearing Willie Nelson in concert last night, because of some friends who couldn't use their tickets.
Among his many melodies, he sang this great.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hiker story

Paying attention to this story today about a missing hiker in north Georgia.
It's interesting that the dog's leash was found in the woods, but then the dog miles away south in another county. The missing woman's car was in a lot where you can park to hike an access trail.
I've hiked Blood Mountain many times, both with friends and alone. On the Appalachian Trail, the mountain always feels safe to me because there are usually lots of people out. And their four-legged companions.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It's all about corn

In honor of Thursday's Iowa Caucus, here's a recipe
for corn salsa.
Now it's on to New Hampshire, at least for the candidates.
What type of food is New Hampshire known for? Anyone? Anyone?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

'Yesterday you said tomorrow'

That's the kick-off of a national ad campaign by Nike. The message, if it's not obvious: Yesterday you said you would work out.
Click here to read about how Nike and Coke are "helping" people get off their respective sofas and into action. There's also a nifty ad you can watch.
Speaking of, saw many new faces at the gym today. It'll be crowded for a few months then will taper off. I used to get sort of, well, bothered by that. On two counts: one, arrogance, and two, because they were taking "my" machines.
It's like some who complain about people who come to church just on Christmas and Easter; but now I figure, Hey, they're there; isn't that a good thing?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ode to Sport

"Old dogs, like old shoes, are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well."
- Bonnie Wilcox, 'Old Dogs, Old Friends'

With heavy heart, we at the Spin Cycle (Bisquick included) pay tribute to Sport, a Jack Russell terrier who died today. He was attacked the other day by another dog and a local vet tried very hard to save him. His owners are friends of ours. He was loved very much. Sport was 9 years old. He'll be buried in our friends' backyard tomorrow.
What makes this even more sad is that Sport's "dad" (the husband of the family) is battling brain cancer; and he and his wife have two young children who are of course broken up by the loss of their little friend.
Sport, you can now eat all the dog bones you wish and run and play with reckless abandon.

PS This photo is not Sport but one I found on the Internet of a Jack Russell.