Saturday, September 29, 2007

Have You Met Freegan Girl?

This week's Newsweek has an article by Raina Kelly entitled "Freegan Ride." As Kelly explained, the term freegan is a cross between "free" and "vegan" and a freegan is someone who believes in reducing consumption, recycling and reusing. I can relate to that but the freegan lifestyle is a bit extreme for me.

For a month, Kelly lived the freegan lifestyle, relying on freebies, eating organically and reducing her carbon footprint in our great Earth. Freegans practice dumpster diving, but because of legalities, Kelly didn't do that. Check out the blog she kept called "Freegan Girl."

I'm in agreement we consume too much stuff, I mean, how many sets of dishes, dust-collecting knickknacks and excessive packaging do we need? When I went to Afghanistan last year, it really clicked with me what's important in life and prompted me to write this article on being a responsible tourist.

I also think how much we have here in the U.S. and how little "stuff" other places of the world have, yet, they seem happy. We take for granted the simplest things, like soap and in Kelly's article, she mentions how the cost a beauty bar of soap could feed a small family in a third-world country. What are we lacking that we need to hoard stuff to make us happy and content? I wonder if the slow down in the economy is going to reduce what we purchase.

And does anyone feel guilty indulging in the excess? Sometimes I do. While I appreciate the thought, I feel guilty about receiving items with excessive packaging or are not practical or consumable.

Eighteen Going on 20

A couple of weeks ago I took my body measurements, the first time since I started the gym in March. Needless to say, I was disappointed, six inches!!! That's all I've lost. Granted, when you look at six inches, it's quite a bit but I've been sweatin' in the gym since March. Okay, I haven't been consistent, when I travel I don't make the time to go and since I'm watching my budget, I've been eating a lot of rice, which isn't the best thing in managing the waistline.

I was recently watching ABC's Extreme Makeover (Note: even though I'm a reality TV-aholic, I'm not a fan of this show, with all the plastic surgery, the end result is a different person) and the trainer told the victims, err, candidates (?) they need to spend at least an hour a day doing cardio at the gym followed by weight training. He also advised eating fish and asparagus (it's a diuretic, aka: makes you pee). Of course, it's like NBC's The Biggest Loser, if you have time to spend all day exercising, things would be groovy but I live in reality.

So, I've been trying to kick things up a notch. Today I completed the 18th mile for the week and next week's goal is 20. I reduced the weight training because I'm starting to bulk up and I don't want to look like a manly girl.

Not sure if I'll make the 20 this week. I'm house/dog sitting (for the next 10 days), have two night classes (and homework I need to do this weekend), a field trip next Saturday and need to work on the company blog since there isn't time in the office day to do it (not my personal company, the one which gives me a paycheck and all sorts of other stuff - it's a group project thing).

I discovered how people perceive seeing weight loss in another person. Earlier this summer I ran into a member of the hiring committee who was going to hire me (but changed their minds due to "politics") and he commented on my hair. My hair hadn't changed from the last time I saw him. This week I spoke to a local group and met up with cronies from my old stomping grounds and got the same reaction, "I like your hair, it brings out your eyes."

I'm thinking my face looks different and they can't pinpoint what's different so their reaction is the hair. I know in the office when we look at photos from last year's event, I have to ask, "OMG! Do I actually look like that?" The reply is "No," and I don't think it's a polite "No," but an honest "No."

As for food, Publix has had whiting fish on sale and I stocked up on 99 cent broccoli, apples and acorn squash. Also got my fave snack, edamane, which is great for keeping cholesterol in check. I'll be avoiding rice (and fast food) as much as possible this month. It just takes a bit of planning.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cool Site of the Week: RealTravel.com

I love travel Web sites and am always on the hunt for the perfect online travel guide. Does one exist? Having worked in the public relations side of the travel industry, I know how some writers can be influenced to include (and exclude) certain tidbits in a travel guide.

So what's a way to cut the bias out of a travel guide? Welcome to Web 2.0, my friends. User-generated sites are popping up all over the place and RealTravel.com is the latest user-generated travel site I've found.

It's a bit like TripAdvisor and TravelPost but there's something more approachable about this travel site. It seems a bit more down-to-earth and lacks the flash, which is a good thing. Users submit blogs, photos, honest advice and is a decent, easy to use resource as a travel guide.

Thanks to my friends over at RealTravel.com, I'm now going to see what's been posted about Afghanistan (Pictured: Taliban tribesmen in Kabul, March 2006) and suppose I should see what's posted about Italy.

Ugh! Been Feeling Like a Slug

A few years ago I learned while my good cholesterol was high, so was my bad cholesterol, especially for someone my age. My blood sugar was also borderline Type 2 diabetic. The doctor put me on meds and sent me to a nutritionist. After 30 days, both the bad cholesterol and blood sugar dropped significantly.

I don't like taking drugs and decided to control my health with nutrition. I learned about balancing my meals, counting my carbs and throwing in exercise. When I'm good and do what I should, I feel great but when I eat or drink too much refined sugar or carbs, I feel sluggish, light-headed and borderline nauseous.

I've been on "go" for the past 10 days. Working intensely in the office, hitting the gym and tending to my social calendar (lately, I seem to have one). I've been a bit overwhelmed with what needs to get done and haven't been eating right. With all the sugar and junk I've been pouring in my body, I can barely function. This morning, either my alarm didn't go off or I slept through it (but still made it to work on time).

So what's been my vice this past week? Those darn Publix sugar cookies. They taste sooooo good even though I know the sugar kicks my butt. But I'm getting back on track, I hope.

And the pic is of me (center), my sisters and a giant napkin during the family wedding last month. If only I could make my hair do that all the time...

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Day the Illegal Immigrants Were Deported

This month is the anniversary of when I learned of my friend Gary's death (I say learned of because he passed in Aug. 2006 and it wasn't until a month later when I found out). He was my boss while living in Death Valley and every time I think of him, I remember the day the Feds came to get him. No, the Feds really weren't there to get him, they were there to deport the unknown illegal immigrants working at the resort.

See, we didn't know the 13 Mexican housekeepers or the handful of Mexican kitchen workers were illegal immigrants. They had purchased what looked like legal documentation, i.e. birth certificates and social security cards in Mexico's black market so they could come to the U.S. and live the American dream. (At least some internationals still want to come to the U.S.) The resort was audited months earlier and now were closing in.

The workers were trucked away in their new uniforms and sent to an immigration detention center in Southern California for deportation. Not sure if they were able to contact immigration lawyers like Root Law Group, or not, but a few days later, a couple of them returned to gather their belongings, one gal ended up marrying one of the American employees.

While this was going on, a Canadian employee was being threatened with deportation. Rather than hiring an immigration lawyer, she decided to marry some jerk. And, she's not the only green-card marriage I'm aware of.

I wonder if all these employees had contacted a law firm like my friends over at Root Law Group whether their immigration issues could have been resolved. A California-based firm, Root Law Group assists in all types of immigration issues and could probably put to rest some people's fears of being trucked off in the middle of the night.

While the issue of immigration still bubbles in my mind, I'm still thinking of my wonderful boss Gary. He'd be so proud how I keep my desk like his - organized clutter.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Something to Get Excited About in Italy

I'm bummed I'll be spending money (aka: digging myself deeper in debt) on a trip I won't get to see and do what I want. Pompeii is the one place in Italy I wanted to see yet there isn't time. Yes, I could have added a day, yet that would have cost more money and I don't have the vacation time.

But, I did excited this week when the Vatican, yes, the Vatican, responded to my request about the tour beneath St. Peter's Basilica to the tomb of Saint Peter. This tour has been open I THINK about two years and is a very popular. Only 120 people are day are permitted in so we're very lucky to have received our confirmation. I made my request two months ago.

I also have Rick Steves' Italy 2008 on its way and already have my Italian: Lonely Planet Phrasebook. Even though I have the language CDs, I've tasked ALH with learning the language. Things are coming together...

To Infinity and Beyond!

Okay, how about just to Cocoa Beach for the World Space Expo in November? Nope, don't think I'll be able to make the Nov. 1 - 4, 2007 event (although my friends down there said they may have comp tickets). I want to go meet former astronauts and learn about the next step in space exploration. The Blue Angels will be there, too. But, I think I need to be good and save my money for Italy. *sigh*

All this talk of space reminds me to post this link to the Barefoot's article called "NASA Announces New Astronaut Hiring for Those with the Right Stuff." I don't have the right stuff but maybe you do?

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Little Sporadic

I'm house/dog sitting this week so email and Web access are a bit sparse. Should be back to normal by the end of the week...have a good one...in the meantime, enjoy this story about me spending an evening with some Tallahassee ghost hunters. Boo!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

'Tis Love Bug Season

Yesterday I drove over to Madison, Fla., about 50 miles east of Tallahassee. With every splat, I realized it's love bug season! I spent about an hour yesterday scrubbing the buggers off, this time I didn't use the scrubby side of the sponge (like last year, which is not a good thing for the car).

Another tip about car care I've learned over the years, don't use a soda/beer can to scrape ice off a windshield. That's a Yellowstone story and not a pretty sight. When an ice scraper isn't available, use a credit card.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why I Want LaVell Crawford to Win Last Comic Standing

Wednesday, September 19, the winner of NBC's "Last Comic Standing" will be announced. Two funny dudes and I'm not usually one to vote and tell but lovable LaVell Crawford gets my vote because I got to party with him in Chicago, kind of..(read more)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Today's Bonehead Move...

I had a little problem with the contacts this morning, I dropped the right eye one on the floor and put in a replacement. It wasn't until I got to the office when I realized I put the left eye prescription in the right eye! I was wondering why things seemed a little "off." I got through the day and I vow to wear the correct eyes tomorrow.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Is it Sunday Night Already?

The weekend was excellent, just too short, as usual. I've been a kitchen diva, whipping up jellies and butters (check out on my Tallahassee site), laughed often and much at Comedy Zone Tallahassee Friday night (Marvin Todd was hysterical and Frankie Paul kept the laughs going) and upped my gym routine today - six miles of interval training this afternoon - ugh!

As I get ready for tomorrow, I just have to say how much I love cilantro. Of all the herbs on this planet, this is my fave! It's zippy, earthy, slightly exotic yet comforting. I had some avocados reaching post-ripeness so I made a bit of guacamole and some tasty salsa and threw the rest into my rice-tomato-chicken concoctions for my lunches this week. Wish I had a green thumb so I could grow the herb myself.

Do any herbs move you? Come on, don't be shy.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cool Site of the Week: CancerChick.com

I realize I'm not consistent with my "Cool Site of the Week" posts, but titling them, "When the Spirit Moves Me and I Found a Groovy Web Site to Post" just doesn't jive. I received my Frommers.com e-newsletter today and found a link to CancerChick.com and specifically, a link to Plucky Survivors See America.

The road trip of two best friends reminds me a bit of my S2S2007 trip this spring, with major differences being I'm not a cancer survivor (thankfully) and my trip was solo. The dynamic duo, called the Plucky Survivors (who happen to be talented travel writers), chose the great American Midwest this year for a fantastic road trip in a quest to experience the off-beat, quirky and sentimental in 10-days.

Check out CancerChick.com for a dose of reality and inspiration.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Priceless Images: Images from the Anniversary Party

Okay, I'm done uploading the images from the big anniversary party and hope I got everyone who was there (well, I probably didn't so sorry about that!). Feel free to log in, yes, log in, I'm protecting the innocent (just kidding, I couldn't get the video uploaded so the innocent are forever protected.)

Anniversary party, Aug. 2007 - enjoy!

Can I Get Ahead by Finding Jobs in Edinburgh?

Not too long ago, one of the morning news programs ran a story about women getting ahead in their careers by going abroad. Hmmm, I've actually thought about that and if I were on the prowl for a career change, I'd be searching for jobs in Edinburgh. Why Edinburgh, Scotland, you may ask? Well, in my "other life," (life pre-VF), I used to travel abroad and had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Scotland's grand capital.

Nearby Dumferline is a Twin City (Sister City) to Sarasota and I spent the day meeting with government officials and educating others about my destination. Although lovely, Dumferline is a bit quaint for me and I’d have a better chance finding jobs in Edinburgh which fit my needs.

Tourism is important in the Edinburgh. While actively not looking for jobs in Edinburgh during my brief visit, I hopped on a double-decker bus in November (brrrr is right!) I remember learning about fairy tales, roaming through a cemetery near dusk and the kind hospitality of the Scottish. Plus, I'd be able to wear wool almost everyday! Oh, and I remember I bad bout with food poisoning and I learned never to eat coconut-curry seafood again.

Ah, the dream to live across the pond, now I just need some time to search for jobs in Edinburgh, thanks to my friends at Gumtree.

Photo note: Me with Dunferline city officials (near Edinburgh) in 2003(?)

Arrr! Pirates on My Mind

Ahoy, me mateys! My weekend of labor has been most enjoyable, albeit it's winding down. Friday night was a writing frenzy with Saturday and Sunday devoted to cleansing my apartment: everything from removing the icky spider webs from the corners to dusting the base boards - yes, a rare moment of cleaning for me.

I did take time out to see "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" over at the buck twenty-five theatre. I'd seen the first one but not the second, which is probably why I was lost through most of the third flick. But, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow was delicious as usual so I'm not too disappointed.

Being in the pirate mood, I made an impulse purchase at Tallahassee's Avon store and purchased a pair of silver skull and crossbones earrings. I later learned about the 2007 Tybee Island Pirate Fest Oct. 5 & 6, 2007 (over by Savannah, for you Georgia-geographically-challenged-landlubbers). I'd loooove to go if I can wrangle up any other swashbucklers to join me. Anyone? Anyone?

And all this talk of pirates reminds me to remind you, my loyal reader(s) about Sept. 19 being International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It's not too late for you to practice the basic "A's" of pirate-talk. Argh!

Note on the photo: Taken Sept. 2006 in Salem, Mass.