A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Monday, May 31, 2010

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago
...We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
~ By: Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D. (1872-1918), Canadian Army

McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:
Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Maj. John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.
As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent 17 days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres salient.
It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:
"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."
One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lt. Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.
The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.
In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.
A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a 22-year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. "His face was very tired but calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."
When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:
"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."
In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.
-- From ArlingtonCemetery.net

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A fixture at Sardi's

Cute story about a mainstay customer at Sardi's in New York. William Herz, 93, has been going to the famous restaurant for more than 80 years--since he was a teen.
I can imagine the comfort that brings to him, and to the restaurant staff who know him. In a town that tears down buildings and builds back faster than you can say "The Big Apple," it's nice to have consistencies.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Organic Essentials

Like manna from heaven, this product practically jumped off the shelf the other day when I was shopping for cotton balls. The skies parted. In the distance, you could hear strains of the "Hallelujah Chorus."
Sometimes it's the little things, don't ya know.
Lo, all these many years, I've been dissatisfied with available cotton balls. Either they're too small, or they have that synthetic look and feel that's just unacceptable.
Happy long weekend, y'all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Food police!

"One might think that chains like Outback Steakhouse and The Cheesecake Factory might want to lighten up their meals now that calories will be required on their menus, courtesy of the health care reform law signed in March," CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson said in a statement.
"But these chains don't promote moderation. They practice caloric extremism, and they're helping make modern-day Americans become the most obese people ever to walk the Earth."
See the full article from WalletPop

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


My sentiments exactly.
Our sports-crazed (and winning-crazed) culture pushes some kids too far. And not just winning. Then winning becomes dreams of a scholarship to dreams of the pros.
Then again, as the columnist writes at the beginning, too many youths are becoming couch-potato, video-game junkies, who have no interest in play or sport.
We push too hard. But then sometimes, not enough.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reflections from the jury pool

So. I didn't picked for jury. Not really a surprise--we had to name our occupation, as well as our spouse's; and with both of us at the newspaper I was probably a definite nix right away. Also, we are friends with the public defender and his wife (the public defender being in the courtroom today), and I knew some of the witnesses likely to be called. All probable strikes.
Also had a little ethical dilemma going on: The defendant sat at the table with our friend, his attorney. As the judge read the charges, I found my heart racing and some VERY unkind thoughts churning. Though not an exact parallel, I had once been in a "situation" with a person who mirrored this person's actions. Clearly my "issues," as they say in the therapeutic world, came up with this. The D.A. had said if we had something come up that needed said in private, we could approach the bench. I did, and said I couldn't be objective. In the event I didn't say anything, I could have been seated on the jury. (Though unlikely, given our occupations and connections.) If I had been on the jury, could I have been fair? I made the decision to be forthright because I didn't think I could be fair. I had already decided this person's guilt.
What would you have done?

Jury duty

Jury duty this week.
Anyone out there ever been picked for one? This is about my fifth time in 23 years but I've never been picked. Weird.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Highs and lows

Great piece.
You just can't worry (much) about the haters. Granted, they can grate on your nerves but you can't control what they think about you. As for those who love you no matter what, well, maybe we need a little more of that than this essay suggests. Too much hate in the world. Bring on the love!

Friday, May 21, 2010

'Hopped' up over Sam Adams

But enough about me; let's talk about Sam Adams.
Or, more precisely, the man behind the beer: Jim Koch (pronounced "cook").
Interesting article about the Sam Adams founder. The brand, founded in 1984 on a wing and a prayer, has become one of those American success stories: One person believing he could break through the other brands and succeed, despite being small.

Air conditioning saga

We are the proud new owners of a Carrier air-conditioner. It's an efficient hybrid system whereby if Al Gore visited us, he would likely fall to the floor, weeping with joy. This is one fancy system. We'll get a tax rebate next year, and a check from Georgia Power.
Anyway. The nice people at Energy Savers installed it yesterday. Around 4 a.m., about four hours before they arrived, our neighbor had a sizable tree limb fall on the corner of their roof; and the wood had to be cleared out some to make room for our workers installing the outside unit. The limb also knocked down a power line, and the neighbor's electricity was off all day. When I came home late afternoon to check on everything, the Georgia Power guy was working on the pole. Then our electricity went out, including of course the new Fancy AC System. I figured it'd come back on, so I went to the gym. Came home and it was still out. Called Energy Savers. A tech came out right away and went into the indoor system and figured out that a wire got "zapped" when the power went out. That's my technical name for it.
Baby's working like a charm this morning.
I sure do whine when AC's out; and it's really not that hot here yet. At least it didn't happen in August.
Happy Friday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nervous chatter?

Waiting rooms fascinate me. Great for people-watching, mainly. Today I was in one of our local hospitals, in an area where family and friends wait for people to come out of surgery. Or they wait for the news of surgery while the loved one is wheeled elsewhere. Certainly some patients are in for complicated things, and some less so. Today I paid closest attention to one group of six. They were laughing and carrying on, comparing sunglasses. They kept switching them around among the group. Some glasses provoked envy, some provocation and hilarity as in, "You go around wearing THAT?".
I wonder, Was it nervousness? Or was it just a group of people killing time by having fun? Likely some of both. I know when I'm nervous and fidgety, I go one of two ways: I either clam up and chew on my inner lip and inwardly obsess, or I get real chatty and laugh a lot.
What does a waiting room evoke in you?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This modern life

Air conditioning. Ours at home has been out since Saturday. We're getting a new super-duper one installed Thursday, with various upgrades. TBTG. (Thanks be to God.) Cue the "Hallelujah Chorus." Pan to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
I will readily admit that I'm a wimp when it comes to AC, or lack thereof, especially when I'm trying to sleep. And it's really not so hot here yet. On Saturday, after it first went out, I slept at home. This did not go well. On Sunday night, aware that our next-door neighbor was out of town, I stayed there. Heaven. Last night went to the parents' house, about 7 miles from us and therefore less convenient to work but still ... heaven. Will go back tonight to the neighbor's.
Michael the Stud Husband doesn't mind the warmer house.
Come Thursday night: Back in my own bed!
It's the little (major) things, don't ya know?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Postpartum depression

Beyond the blues, postpartum depression affects women (and men) more than you might think. I've had friends to suffer with it, but thankfully they received help. This CNN feature describes how some new parents coped.
Another blogger writes about it here.
And, WebMD offers symptoms here.

Smart foods

Protein, fish and caffeine, oh my!
Check out these "smart foods" to boost your brain energy.
Happy Monday, y'all.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stuff about the 'Hooch

This here is a great new local blog I found.
I'd like to meet this person.
Anyone in C-town know her?
HoocheeMama, if you're reading this: Do leave a comment.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Springer Mountain

One of my favorite places. Happens to be in my state. I wish we lived a little closer, but maybe it wouldn't be as special to me then.
Here's some info about it:

Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County, Ga.

It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail.
The trail extends between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is approximately 2,100 miles long.

In 1958, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail was moved from Mount Oglethorpe, the southernmost peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over-development caused the move.

The most popular approach trail to Springer Mountain starts at the visitor's center of Amicalola Falls State Park, an 829-acre Georgia state park located between Ellijay and Dahlonega in Dawsonville, Ga. The park's name is derived from a Cherokee language word meaning "tumbling waters."

The approach trail to Springer is 8.3 miles. There is also another trail, leading from a parking lot on a forest service road, that is only 1.8 mile (2.89 km) round trip (.9 miles one way). At the peak of Springer Mountain is a bronze plaque with the Appalachian Trail logo, a register for hikers to sign, and a benchmark. An open-front trail shelter is provided for hikers.

Photo credit: Olin Batchelor

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Him: Dr. Oz

Fascinating piece from a recent New York Times magazine. I'm not so plugged into him--compared to, say, my mother who quotes him pretty frequently.
One of the most interesting bits to me: How he eats something very healthy every 45-60 minutes. I imagine he eats actual meals every now and then but he's so on the run all the time, he takes these little containers and baggies of food with him.
Another thing: At the end of the article, he says he doesn't get much sleep and acknowledges that's not good for his body. And I'm thinking, wouldn't it be a shame for someone who eats so completely right, fixes people's hearts, exercises just so, and does all that "maximizing his potential" stuff, to start having health issues because he's so frantically focused on ... health?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Love: Science?

It seems there's a biological propensity to be faithful, or not. Read this.
I like the tests given to men and women. How you fill in the blank shows your commitment level. It's not fool-proof, of course. And some people who might stray, says this article, can be trained otherwise.
What say you, Internet?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bee M.D.

Check out these Honey Cough Drops.
Have you ever used this product?
Over the weekend I got yet another cold/allergy spell (not sure) so I spotted these at the store. (Guess you could say I made a "bee-line" for them, haha.)
The package itself is full of puns, including "bees on earth" and "Got the buzz? Join the hive."
Great marketing, at least. Hope they cure what ails me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Mother's Day poem by the Velveteen Rabbi.

This thin gruel is your first step
toward strawberries warm from the sun
wedges of cheddar made from grassy milk
Macs and Cortlands pressed into cider
but once this spoon passes your lips
I have to curb mine from proclaiming
I made every ounce of exuberant you,
your chubby thighs and chipmunk cheeks
hesitation stills my hand, but
you don't know what bittersweet means
what blessing should I make
over this first bite, your open mouth
a door to the wide world waiting
to be brought inside?

Happy Mother's Day to all moms--past, present and future.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dr. Lucy's Cookies

Hit upon these cookies this morning at Starbucks.
I haven't sampled them yet--maybe this afternoon--but they're advertised as a tasty but healthy cookie.
Will let you know.
Anyone out there tried them?
Happy Friday, y'all.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Aid for Nashville

I received this today. What a great idea.

Soles4Souls Inc., the shoe charity, usually responds to natural disasters around the world. Today, however, the charity is working overtime to provide free shoes, water and other items to people in its hometown of Nashville. Heavy rains and floodwaters caused 30 deaths and ruined thousands of homes in Middle Tennessee.
Soles4Souls unveiled a three-stage relief plan, beginning with a massive distribution of 85,000 new pairs of shoes at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. On Monday from 3pm - 7pm, staff and volunteers from Soles4Souls will be at the Fairgrounds providing free shoes to anyone in need. On Tuesday, the Fairgrounds will be open from 10am - 2pm. On both days, the distribution will be held under the Show Arena Pavilion and will feature men's, women's and children's shoes.
"This is shaping up to be the worst natural disaster in Nashville's history, and we are committing all available resources and manpower to help our friends and neighbors get back on their feet," said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls.
Elsey said the second stage of the relief project would take place at the charity's World Headquarters, at 319 Martingale Drive, Old Hickory TN, 37138 (behind the McDonald's on Old Hickory Boulevard in Old Hickory). Soles4Souls will be handing out bottled water, Gatorade, and food to residents in need. The "drive-thru" distribution will be May 14-15.
The third stage of the relief plan will come as Elsey and his team members launch a sustained giving campaign, which will include children’s products, for Middle Tennessee throughout the rest of the year.
To learn more about Soles4Souls, or to volunteer, go here or call 615-391-5723.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An unfortunate misspelling

Retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox got his name misspelled on a cake, in a most unfortunate way.
Some media people obviously saw the cake, and took photos, before the misspelling was covered up by Capitol Hill staff.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Calories burned

This is a cool site about calculating calories burned while exercising. (Funny thing is, there's a "brushing teeth" category.) You put in your weight at the top then add the minutes for your particular workout.
Happy Tuesday, y'all.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Good ol' Robert Frost

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
~ Robert Frost, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

Hard to come back to work after vacation. Some consolation: It's raining cats and dogs today, and glad it wasn't last week.