Monthly Archives: August 2011


31 Aug

Parks and Saints

Posted by on August 31, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Jason and I just had a super crazy week. You know, one of those weeks where you don’t bother unpacking your suitcase from one trip because you will just be leaving again on another excursion a few days later and your house somehow becomes a shrine to clutter even though you’ve been home so scarcely that it doesn’t seem possible that you could’ve had any effect at all on your living space.

We stayed in cottage #7 this year. It was right on the green so Jason got a kick out of watching golfers throw tantrums when their shots went awry.

We spent the beginning of our week in Park City for the Society of Cosmetic Chemists’ annual scientific seminar and golf outing. This event followed its usual format: lectures and dinner the first afternoon and golfing the morning after. Jason typically tags along when I head up to this gathering. He doesn’t golf and he doesn’t get to eat with me and the other scientists at Ruth’s Chris so why is he so eager to go? I know that boy loves me but I think his enthusiasm for escorting me to this function has more to do with the lavish cottage suite at the Hotel Park City that he gets to lounge in while I am off with my fellow chemists than my entertaining personality. These cottage suites are spacious and swanky and go for well over a $1000 a night during Park City’s peak season. With a private patio sporting a gas fireplace and Jacuzzi, it’s easy to see why people are willing to shell out the dough for these accommodations. Luckily, we got a great deal through the SCC’s group rate so we got to enjoy the hotel’s splendor for relative pocket change.

Our suite had its own private patio equipped with a fireplace and Jacuzzi. We sat out there sipping sparkling lemonade from fancy glasses while the brilliant night sky captivated us.

My golf team had the misfortune of being stuck with me. I pity the fool!

Jason decided to go mountain biking at Park City Resort while I was out golfing. Without my voice of reason he got exceptionally lost and ended up on some pretty treacherous terrain. What's pictured here is not that treacherous terrain but a lovely meadow he came across somewhere in the middle of it all.

A few days later we were off to St. George to attempt to see The Little Mermaid again at Tuacahn with Jason’s parents. Those of you that regularly follow my blog may recall that we got rained out when we tried to watch this show in July. We had decided to make a special trip to St. George just to give seeing this production one more chance because we had heard so many impressive things about it. As fate would have it, however, another thunderstorm was right on cue to ruin our fun again. Geez Luis! I would have been majorly disgruntled if we had driven 4 hours solely for the purpose of seeing this show but once more hadn’t been able to finish it. Fortunately, although the weather was constantly on the brink of causing havoc during the performance, the lightening that endlessly illuminating the sky to our northwest never moved in on us. It wasn’t until we were walking back to our car after the show that the heavens let it all loose. Disaster narrowly averted! And the musical was great, with some pretty creative special effects, so it was worthy of our second try.

Scuttle, the bird-brained seagull, was dressed in a full flock of feathers. What a great costume!

Heidi Anderson, who played Ursula, did a fantastic job. She was just the right combination of wicked and witty.

King Triton was a tall fellow; lengthy Jason appeared shrimpy next to him.

Although our retreat to St. George was quick, and we spent more of it driving than anything else, all that car time did allow us to chat with Sue and Keith quite a bit. And since we not only got to watch all of The Little Mermaid but also grab breakfast at The Bear Paw I’d say that it was a trip well spent. (The Bear Paw serves terrific French toast stuffed with brulee cream; I’d highly recommend gorging yourself on it.)

What a busy week spent traveling all over tarnation! But hey, between the green slopes of Park City’s summits and the red cliffs of Tuacahn we got a whirlwind tour of some of the best scenery in Utah not to mention the delight of great company and the pleasure of cultural enlightenment.

25 Aug

What a Wonderful Wendy

Posted by on August 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm

My good friend Wendy just reached the mournful age of 50 but we, her pals, were in no way going to let her mope about this milestone when we had some serious celebrating to do.

That's a whole lot of ladies, which means Jason had to tolerate a whole lot of girlyness. What a good sport.

For the first portion of the partying, a group of us girls, and Jason, ate at Red Rock Brewing Company in Salt Lake City, which is always an excellent spot for some pub grub. I had the wild mushroom polenta and I did not regret it. Yum!

Our group wasn't very big but what we lacked in quantity we made up for in loudness.

A mouthful of food has the tendency to make one look like they're eating...sorry Robyn, this is the only picture I got of you.

Blabbing is a particular talent of mine. I could talk the ears off an elephant or the hair off a mole. Don't believe me? Just give me a chance to open my mouth.

I guess a toasty bun and wiener are what everyman looks for in a hotdog because Jas and Chuong were determined to figure out a way to make their whole meal crispy.

Mission accomplished: the birthday girl got a laugh.

A week later another assembly of my friends headed up American Fork Canyon to roast hotdogs and marshmallows by the campfire in honor of Wendy. I think it is nearly impossible not to have a good time when relaxing with your buddies around a cozy flame while majestic pines form the only barrier between you and a glittering sky. We chomped and chatted the evening away and only closed our mouths finally when we realized that we had lingered way past the time when picnickers are supposed to remove themselves for the night.

Chuong stretched himself out on what Jason calls "the princess chair." Doesn't he look femininely regal?

Who knew one Rachel-I mean marshmallow-could make such a mess? I had so much goo in untoward places that I couldn't keep myself from laughing until I cried. This only made getting that marshmallow down even harder and I nearly choked.

Happy birthday Wendy! May all your 50ths be just as festive.

 

17 Aug

Ascending Sundance

Posted by on August 17, 2011 at 10:12 pm

A week or so ago Jason and I went hiking at Sundance Resort. We have biked and snowboarded Sundance many times but had never experience the extremeness of unextremely using our feet to travel its slopes…until now.

What a magnificent vista! The hills were a lush green and even Utah Lake, tinted by its algae bloom, added to the emerald hue.

The picnic tables at the top of Arrowhead Summit were a great place to eat a snack and enjoy the visual splendor of the surroundings.

That's Heber Valley sprawled out below Jason as he stands on Arrowhead Summit.

We accessed Sundance’s hiking areas by way of the lift and then spent the afternoon traversing some lovely terrain. Our first climb was to the top of Arrowhead Summit. This is the most challenging hike at Sundance. It ascends to the highest point at the resort, which is over 8,000 feet. The path to the summit, unfortunately, is along a gravel access road instead of a traditional hiking trail but the beauty of the peak definitely makes up for what the route lacks. The path terminates on Arrowhead’s ridge, which overlooks Utah Valley on one side and Heber Valley on the other. Gorgeous! These valleys were still very green (quite an anomaly for this time of year) making the view uncommonly pretty. What added most to the perfection of this hike however was the fact that we saw exactly no one the whole way. We got to savor the windswept glades and rugged pines without even a hint of humanity. There was certainly no shortage of people exiting the lift but they all headed straight for one of the downhill hikes. Ah the laziness of human beings, ever my vexation but still always my ally.

This vibrant meadow was too picturesque to pass through without taking a few photos.

We came across this giant mushroom on our way to Stewart Falls. I think it's probably the biggest toadstool I've ever seen.

Due to water flowing this year in areas it normally does not, the trail to Stewart Falls passed under an impromptu stream that tumbled from an unanticipated waterfall. We had to cross this steep creek using ropes.

Stewart Falls is actually a series of 4 dramatic drops but you can only see the two lower ones here.

After climbing Arrowhead Summit we traveled back down the mountain by way of Stewart Falls. It was a nice easy return trip and the falls are always beautiful. Although I couldn’t help but think from time to time as we trekked along that the trail in front of me would be amazing on a bike, I must admit that moving at a slower pace was a relaxing change.

10 Aug

Salt Lake City Has Brains!

Posted by on August 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm

When we were in San Diego a couple weeks ago we were startled to find ourselves in the middle of a sudden zombie invasion. Hundreds of walking dead began ambling down the crowded sidewalks of 5th Avenue one day as we were heading back to our hotel. It was unsettling and amusing all at once. (For a clip of the footage we took refer to my Comic-Khan post.)

Jason's brother Matt and Matt's friend Tabatha were our zombie compadres. And no, I am not normally that pale though it it's probably debatable whether painting myself various shades of grey made a significant difference in my skin tone.

Upon our return home we were surprised to hear that a similar event would be taking place in Salt Lake City just a couple weeks after the one we witnessed in San Diego. Since we are dorks extraordinaire we couldn’t miss this unique opportunity to get our undead stumble on.

I had never dabbled in latex before so I was pretty proud of my initial attempt with this arm wound. Not too shoddy for a first timer.

Jason’s brother Matt and a couple of his friends joined us, and the roughly 2,000 other zombie walkers, for a mile and a half lurch around downtown Salt Lake City last Sunday. What a fun and crazy activity! This horde of corpses, which overflowed the sidewalks for blocks, closely resembled your worst nightmare. We came across many astonished bystanders whose apparent anxiousness only encouraged chasings by rouge zombies. Being among the army of monsters, in contrast to being on the menu, may seem like it would have been a relatively untroubled experience but it wasn’t as carefree as you might think.

The undead horde was waiting here to be released from Pioneer Park.

First of all, I wasn’t anticipating a little decomposing flesh and some oozing wounds turning me into a celebrity. Disgusting must be “in” because there were cameras everywhere. The vacant sneers of us maggot magnets were always met with flashes and glaring lenses…and sometimes screams. Man, if I had known the paparazzi were going to be swarming I would have worn my more fashionable tattered shirt and styled my rotting hair.

Looks like something you'd see in a post-apocalypse city; a chilling reminder of humanity's violent end.

My favorite detail of Matt's costume was his hair accessories: dead leaves adorned his ratty crown. Just what you'd expect to find on the head of someone fresh from the grave.

Secondly, shuffling through post-life may seem like an almost relaxing pursuit, I know we flesh-gnawers make shambling slowly look so easy, but let me assure that dragging one of your limbs behind you in an unnatural fashion and hanging your atrophied arms like limp fish as you stagger over the ground at a maddeningly sluggish pace is anything but comfortable. I’m certain this is why many of the undead gave up on maintaining their swagger as we neared the end of the course. I never relinquished my grotesque authenticity and I had the backache afterward to prove it.

Jason was an eager brain-seeker. He liked to spook those we passed with a lively chase or a menacing groan.

The streets of downtown were literally dripping with blood after our masses staggered through.

Besides the clumsiness and awkward notoriety, being a zombie was also frustrating because your terrified quarry often jumped into trees or over fences as easy as nibbling a toe. How are you supposed to get some brains if holding your rigid arms out in a useless fashion is the most offensive move in your arsenal? What’s a poor hungry zombie to do?

Tennis shoes, a race t-shirt, sweatbands, and a Walkman: how ironic that a runner couldn't escape the clutches of a lumbering zombie. Why didn't someone warn me that it's not a good idea to wear headphones when running in traffic or when the world is teeming with the undead?

This little girl was freaky with a leash around her waist and a brain in her mouth.

So before you start feeling sorry for yourself, and all of those other tasty humans, consider the zombies’ plight. If you tried hobbling a mile and a half in their putrid shoes you might have a little sympathy for those ghouls. After all, most of them probably have a permanently kinked neck and a rumbly tummy. No wonder they’re grouchy; we all know how low blood sugar can affect your outlook on life.

3 Aug

Fiber the Fantastic!

Posted by on August 3, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I think most of us understand the role of fiber in keeping our visits to the bathroom regular but many of us seem to overlook the other numerous wonders of this fabulous filler. A recent survey sponsored by Kellogg’s revealed that Americans hold incredibly incorrect opinions about the sources and benefits of fiber. I am mystified as to where people are getting this really, really wrong information. That’s why I felt compelled to write this post and add my own extremely accurate facts to the mix.

Over 90% of Americans don’t get the amount of fiber in their diets recommended by the USDA. We aren’t eating enough fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains. Instead, most people seem to be chowing more than their share of snack foods, simple carbohydrates, and meat. But, according to the Kellogg’s survey, some citizens are under the erroneous impression that hidden somewhere within the greasy depths of their Big Mac is a heap of fiber. Twenty percent of those questioned replied that they thought meats, seafood, and dairy products were good sources of fiber. Talk about wishful thinking! Ten percent of responders even voiced the opinion that water is a good source of fiber. What the what? Before I talk about the benefits of fiber it would appear that I need to take a step back and review some fiber basics.

Fiber only comes from plants, not meat or water. It’s mostly made up of carbohydrates but, unlike other carbs, these babies are not digestible by the human body. (Bacteria in the large intestine, however, do like to nibble on certain kinds of fiber a bit.)

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is essentially the glue that holds plants cells together. Good sources of soluble fiber include: fruit, oats, kidney beans, and barley. Soluble fiber swells or dissolves in water. It attracts water to your intestines and keeps it there. You can probably guess how your bowels benefit from that attribute.

Insoluble fiber forms the outer covering of grains and the structural parts of plants. It does not dissolve in water. Lignin, the stuff that makes pear flesh grainy, is an example of an insoluble fiber. Good sources of insoluble fiber include: broccoli, brown rice, and wheat bran. Insoluble fiber decreases intestinal transit time; it speeds foodstuffs through our systems from one end to the other.

Most people get that fiber can relieve constipation but they don’t seem to understand that it benefits your body far beyond the potty. Fifteen percent of those polled by Kellogg’s thought that they only needed fiber in their diets when they were experiencing irregularity. Hmm? I don’t know where they heard that but it certainly wasn’t from a reliable scientific source.

Studies have suggested that diets high in fiber can reduce the risk of all the big hitters from colon cancer to diabetes. One of these many studies found that men eating 25 g of fiber daily had a 36% lower risk of developing heart disease and those eating 29 g of fiber had a 41% less chance of having a heart attack. Another clinical concluded that women consuming mainly low-fiber carbohydrates were 2.5 times more likely to develop diabetes than those with a high-fiber diet. Further research found that men with type 2 diabetes showed significant improvement of blood glucose and lipid levels when given psyllium (a fiber) twice a day. The risk of colorectal cancer also appears to be decreased by an elevated fiber intake. Several studies have established that societies with a high-fiber consumption have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer. Looking to lose weight? Sure, fiber can help with that too. Research has shown that those with low-fiber diets gain 8 pounds more on average over a ten year period than their fiber eating counterparts. I could keep raving about the pros of fiber but I think I need to go chew on some bark now or something.

Ask not what fiber can do for you but what you can do for fiber. Scratch that. Just think about what fiber can do for you.

So how does fiber aid so many of our bodily systems? It’s sort of a mystery to be honest; fiber is full of more surprises than Houdini. Although fiber’s mechanisms of action are not totally understood we do know a few things:

When you eat a meal that contains a lot of fiber, that fiber adds bulk without adding much in the way of calories so you feel fuller and eat less. Additionally, since fiber slows the uptake of glucose and reduces the release of insulin, a high-fiber meal will spike your blood sugar levels more moderately and strain your pancreas less.

There are several theories on why fiber decreases the risk of cancer. Some think it’s because carcinogens (cancer promoting agents) are in contact with the intestinal wall for less time when fiber zooms things through our digestive tract so they have less of an effect on our cells. Others believe that carcinogens become bound to fiber in our guts preventing them from reacting with our bodies. Additional theories involve the acids contained in dietary fiber inducing cancer cell death. In the end the reason isn’t terribly important but the result, improving your chances of avoiding one of the top two lethal cancers, certainly is.

Based off current scientific data and government suggestions the average American should be consuming about 25 g of fiber a day. Are you thinking to yourself right now that you definitely get that much fiber between your daily doses of Ho Hos and potato chips? According to Kellogg’s about 80% of Americans think they are getting at least this amount of fiber in their diets but in reality only about 10% are. Are you one of those blessed 10%? Statistically speaking it’s not likely.

How can you increase the amount of fiber in your diet so you will no longer have to be the president of the Preparation H fan club? Well, about 20 years ago nutritional labeling became a requirement for processed foods but most of us apparently are still not taking advantage of this readily accessible information. Dietary Fiber content is mandatorily listed on almost all food labels; it’s easy to spot right there. Now that you know where to look for fiber totals how much should you be looking for? According to the FDA, a food with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving is considered a good source of fiber and a food with 5 grams or more is an excellent source of fiber. So look for whole grain options, eat a salad, and review your food labels. Foods are a much better source of fiber than supplements, since they also contain other goodies such as antioxidants and phtyonutrients, but, if all else fails, there is always Metamucil. Considering the state your colon is most likely in, you could probably use some.

To get the full scoop on the Kellogg’s survey visit: http://kelloggs.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=327