Thursday, December 25, 2008

Deck your halls and jingle your bells!

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Wherever you are, I hope you are having a wonderful day today.

I am visiting with family in New Jersey. We have just finished opening our presents in an exchange of decidely modest proportions compared to years past. That, actually, is a very good trend, which I hope we keep up in future years as the economy improves and wallets fatten -- for we always tended to go WAY overboard, anyway. (I still have past gifts tucked away unused in closets, for gosh sakes!)

As I write this, my mom and sister are readying the turkey for the oven, and we expect brothers, sister-in-law and nieces and nephew for a big feast later this afternoon. I'm excited: Mom's turkey, stuffing and gravy are unsurpassed, and it's wonderful that she is still able to prepare them all. Though we may have cut back on the gift-giving, we do indulge in the tradition that really means the most in the end: time together as a family.

I also hope to sneak out for a walk with my sis, to get some exercise in this bracing, N.J. winter air. Brrrr!!! I'm not a huge fan of the cold, but it's nice to be here for my yearly "fix" of snow ...

We attended Christmas Eve mass last night at the church we used to belong to as a family. It's a lovely, old church, and the service -- though long -- was quite beautiful and moving. It helped get me more into the true spirit of the holiday.

So: Whether or not you celebrate this particular holiday, I wish for you all the things that Christmas symbolizes: peace, hope, charity, and love. Most of all, love.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For women, the Internet is better than sex ...

Well, OK, maybe that's a slight overstatement, as it's based on a teeny poll conducted by Harris Interactive. 

Said poll, which you can read about in more detail on CNet, found that a not-insignificant percentage of adult women (46 percent -- almost half!)  would rather give up sex than the Internet for two weeks.  The number of men with the same preference was much lower (quel surprise!) at 30 percent.  (In case you're very interested in this topic: Numbers for various age groups also are broken out in the article, with more details provided in a press release from Intel, which sponsored the poll.)

While it may not be earth-shattering info, what this does confirm is the growing importance of the Web in our lives, especially for the younger demographic (Gen Y and beyond).  

Now,  I really doubt that the poll asked the respondents WHAT exactly they would be using the Internet for during those two weeks ... doesn't surfing for porn count as sex?  Just asking .... 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why does work have to be fattening??

So, I've been working at my new job for a month now.  (Ahhh -- so THAT explains why these posts have had such a dramatic drop in volume!)

I'm enjoying the challenges and duties of the new gig (as a copywriter), and there are numerous benefits to the work environment -- such as a relaxed (read: noncorporate) workplace, close location (5 minutes from my house!), entrepreneurial (aka freewheeling) spirit, etc.

But I'm also noticing that my clothes are starting to get a little tighter each week.  Now that I'm basically sitting for eight hours a day, exercising a little less and eating out a little more, the weight has started creeping on.

Hoo-boy: I'd better watch out, or the weight could pile on before I realize it.  I've been trying to do things like walk down the stairs and around the office several times a day, take a 15-minute brisk walk a couple of times a week, etc. But obviously these actions aren't quite cutting it. What I really have to do is cut down on my calories.

So: Farewell, Dove Dark Chocolate Promises. ... sigh .... I'll miss you ....        

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Great tips for looking younger

OK, so I totally stole these from a great article from Real Simple that I found on Yahoo.  The article, aimed at Baby Boomer women,  lists 19 ways to look younger. Here are my faves (in no particular order):

1.  Drink lots of water (aim for 64 oz. a day). It flushes out your system and keeps everything -- including your skin -- hydrated. Choose plain H2O over sodas and other liquids whenever possible.

2. Wear bright and jewel-tone colors to brighten your skintone (which tends to turn dull and sallow as you age.)  

3. Get rid of those dated jeans (which scream "over the hill") for a flattering, up-to-date style -- but NOT ones aimed at teens or 20-somethings (which scream "trying too hard.")  

4. Don't wear "grannnie" footwear just because it's comfortable. I, too, have a hard time with my feet these days, and I certainly can't wear a lot of the extreme, high-heeled and pointy styles out there, at least not for long.  But there are plenty of shoe makers today who manage to combine fashion AND practicality.  Find them! 

5. Don't wear makeup with glitter in it -- that just settles into lines and wrinkles, magnifying them. Instead, look for products with "luminous" or "shimmer" effects for a subtle, flattering effect.

6. Don't forget the sunscreen!!  

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's fun, and it's free!

I'm not sure there are any studies out there to prove it, but I have a theory that during tough economic times, when most retail stores are struggling to stay alive, sex stores are doing just fine.  After all, condoms are cheap!

To bolster this theory, along comes an article in  BBC News online that says Brits are turning to sex as a way to save money but still have fun and not feel like they are depriving themselves. In a survey of 2,000 adults in Great Britain, sex was their favorite free activity, ahead of window shopping and gossiping. 

Of course, any news story would not be responsible if it did not carry a caveat reminding people to engage in safe sex -- so, consider that warning as part of this blog, as well! 

Have fun, but stay safe! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Get some shut-eye!

Here's just one more reason for the importance of sleep to our overall health: A recent study conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research linked loss of sleep to increased cancer risks, according to a story in Reuters. 

And here's the scary part: Even for those who take precautions and preventive actions that have been proven to lower cancer risks (such as exercising and eating right), inadequate sleep seems to counteract those benefits.  Of course, more research needs to be done to figure out just why sleep deprivation makes people more susceptible not only to cancer, but also to other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease -- not to mention a host of physical and emotional problems such as obesity and depression. 

But, regardless of the exact causal link, the bottom line is still the same: Don't shirk on the shut-eye!  Aim for at least seven hours a night. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kissing an ashtray

The habit of smoking has declined significantly over the decades. According to a story in Reuters, the number of adult Americans who smoke dropped below 20 percent in 2007 (to 43.4 million people), from a high of 42 percent in the 1960s (which is when health officials began tracking the numbers). That's great news!

For, there really isn't ONE positive reason for smoking. It's disgusting. It kills you. It's very expensive. It's inconvenient. It turns off non-smokers. It stinks up your car, your house, your clothes. And, it's highly addictive. -- Which, of course, is the reason so many people still indulge in the habit.

People such as Matthew. And it's become a bit of an issue between us.

When I met him, he did not smoke. After we had dated for a few weeks, he told me he had been a smoker most of his adult life, but had quit a year ago. And then, slowly, he picked up the habit again, starting with cigars (yuk!) and quickly accelerating to a pack a day of Camel nonfilters (super-yuk!)

Now, he has always been a fairly polite smoker -- taking his cigarettes outside, gargling with mouthwash after he smokes, etc. However, the smell still lingers -- it's impossible to eliminate completely. Plus, there's the whole health issue.

So, I asked him to quit, as a birthday present to me. And he did -- for a while. I applauded that, and admired him for it, because I know just how addictive the habit can be.

But he has backslid again. And I'm back to kissing an ashtray (yuk!).

Now, to be fair, I DID tell him that I'd like him to quit by his birthday, which is Dec. 1 -- and he recently indicated that he's still aiming for that goal. So, I've backed off on giving him grief over it (which, frankly, is not easy to do!).

Still, it's hard to see his cigarette consumption continue to climb, because it will just be that much harder for him to give it up. Which, I'm assuming, he DOES plan to do.

But if not .... well, then that's a much bigger issue ...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gulp, and whoa!!

So, I did my yearly duty on Monday morning and went for a mammogram.

Then they called me back on Tuesday and wanted to take some more pics, because apparently there was something in one breast they needed a closer look at. So, I went back on Thursday morning. The mammo technician told me it was "calcifications," which are usually benign and no problem, but that the radiologist needed some magnifications to study them further.

Then my doctor's office called that evening: They want to do a biopsy, mainly as a "precaution."


On Friday evening when I got home (too late to call back), a message from the local hospital said to call and set up a time to come in for the "open appointment" they have for me.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

The sense of urgency and lack of specifics are indeed alarming. I's just so scary to see how quickly, and vaguely, they're shoving me toward the "surgery" route ...
So, I just hopped online and did a google search on this whole breast calcifications thing. Seems some doctors like to do a biopsy when they find the kind of calcifications I seem to have (of which, 80% turn out benign), while others take a more cautious wait-and-see approach.

I need to talk with my doctor further and find out more specifics about why they're pushing for the biopsy. My inclination is to wait and see. I also downloaded info on herbs and other foods that can have a beneficial effect on breast health -- which I intend to start taking, asap.

Gulp, and whoa!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Speaking of being conscientious ...

I voted ... did you? 

Was worried about the potential for long, long waits -- but I was in and out in about 10 minutes. Of course, I was able to go at a non-rush-hour time, so that helped. 

But even if you have no choice and must go after work today, thus facing long lines and waits, I hope you take the responsibility -- and the privilege -- seriously.

Do your civic duty! We can't have a democracy without the people's participation! 

And, hey: Once you're done, you can stop by a local Starbucks for free coffee, or Ben & Jerry's for free ice cream, or Krispy Kreme for a free doughnut ... 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The upside of being conscientious

Being nice doesn't get much respect in this me-first, money-worshipping society in which we live.  After all, nice guys finish last -- right?  

Not so fast ... maybe there's something to being a kind, caring and responsible citizen, after all: A new study (as reported in the L.A. Times) links the personal trait of conscientiousness to longevity. Seems that this attribute, as well as other factors that go along with it -- such as stability, hard work and self-control -- help a person to stay healthier into old age, and thus live longer.  

I'd also add that being conscientious helps give you a positive outlook and keeps you emotionally strong, two other vital factors to maintaining good health.  

So, nice guys may finish last -- but at least they'll live long enough to have the last laugh!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The lady in red ...

...  is the one that guys find the sexiest, apparently. 

According to an article on WebMD, researchers at the University of Rochester conducted a study with students involving photos of women on backgrounds of red and of other colors. The men found the  women in the red-background photos to be more attractive and appealing than women with photos on other colored backgrounds.  Female students who studied the photos showed no such bias. 

So, that age-old custom  that links red with romance seems to have a lot of merit!  Gals: If you'd like to wow your guy, then surround yourself in red! (Maybe even going so far as to fill your bedroom with red -- walls, bed linens, etc!).  And guys, you can boost your own romance potential by giving your sweetie red presents -- a sexy teddy, a tube of lipstick, red high heels, a bouquet of red roses: You get the idea! 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finally! It's fall in Florida!

Yay!  My favorite time of year is here, at long last!

I know that people in other parts of the country may be skeptical about my "It's fall!" proclamation -- doesn't South Florida have one season only?, you might think. But, if you've lived in this area for a while (longer than three years, say), you become aware of the subtle changes of season here. And for many residents like myself, fall is our favorite. 

OK, so there are no leaves changing, not much sweater-and-fireplace weather, no real reason to wear (or even own!) a nice leather jacket -- except for when you'r traveling, of course. (Say, to New England for indulging in leaf-peeping and fireplace-sitting ...)

I knew it was fall when I went to bed last night. After suffering a cold-front-induced, activity-killing, windy, overcast, drizzly weekend, I went to sleep in the cool, crisp windows-open nighttime air -- and awoke to a glorious South Florida day!

In Florida, fall typically brings: sunny skies, low humidity, refreshingly cool, light breezes, great temps (70s during the day and 50s at night), very little rain, and no more hurricane season!! Plus, the drier air and sun position usually give rise to gorgeous sunsets. 

Best of all, the snowbirds haven't flocked back in great numbers yet, so it's the perfect time to take advantage of all that this area has to offer -- walks, runs, bike rides, etc. -- and not be drenched in sweat! Likewise, it's also a great time to be a tourist: Book a hotel on Miami Beach, hit the theme parks in Orlando, go shell-hunting on Sanibel .... the possibilities are endless! 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Eat this way, not that ...

OK, so by now we've all heard the exortations to eat your food more slowly.  The benefits include better digestion and less consumption -- hence, less of a danger of weight gain. 

And now comes news of yet another study (conducted by Japanese scientists, as reported in BBC News) that corroborates the link between speedy eating and obesity. 

There's no arguing, then, that it's a good idea to try to slow down when you're dining. I've made a conscious effort in recent years to do just that -- and, even though I'm not always successful (wolfing down my food when I'm starving, for instance), I do try to follow some basic guidelines.

Such as:

1. Take smaller bites. Don't stuff your mouth; instead, fill your fork or spoon with an amount that fits only about half your mouth. 

2.  Don't gulp.  Chew each bite as thoroughly as possible so that you're not swallowing big, unchewed hunks of food.  

3. Take breaks. Put down your fork and knife every few mouthfuls or so. 

4. Dilute it.  Have a glass of water with your meal to slow you down and give you a "full" feeling sooner or with less food. 

And here are some other tips that might be worth trying:

1. Use a small (such as child-sized) fork and spoon when you eat. 

2. Chew on one side only (alternating sides). 

3. Do more conversing and less chomping when eating with others. You'll not only control your weight better, you'll be more popular as a dining companion! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's bugging the Boomers?

Apparently, it's not all roses and champagne for middle-aged Americans: Suicide rates are soaring for the 40-64 age group, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.  

The numbers are indeed alarming: from 1999 to 2005, suicides amongst white Boomers rose 17% (16% for men, 19% (!) for women); and 7%  amongst black Boomers (5% for men, 14% (!) for women).   These rises helped increase the overall suicide rate in the nation to 5% -- a huge difference from the previous period of 1986-1999, which saw an 18% drop

Yikes! What's going on here?  The researchers offered some ideas, from the improbable (menopausal women stopped taking hormone-replacement therapy due to cancer scares) to the possible (post-9/11 anxieties) to the plausible (a concurrent increase in abuse of prescription pain pills, such as OxyContin). 

But it was an almost-throwaway line in the article that made the most sense to me. I think perhaps the stresses of modern everyday life (can you say Sandwich Generation?) , combined  with disillusionment that life may not turn out exactly how we dreamed (can you say Economic Meltdown?) have caused a Perfect Storm of hopelessness and depression amongst many Boomers -- too many of whom, unfortunately, decide on a permanent "out." 

All the more reason to do whatever you can to relieve stress and maintain a positive attitude through these most trying of times.  So, go take a walk or hit the gym. Compose a "kiss-off" letter to that jerky boss (and hide it away safely!). Call a friend for an impromptu lunch.  Hug your kids, and kiss your honey.

Here's to keeping that glass half-full!! 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Adventures on the Boathemian

One of the most significant changes in my life since I started dating Matthew has been the introduction of regular boating outings into my calendar of fun activities.  

Matthew's boat, the Boathemian (clever, no?!?), is a 24-foot Bayliner that's perfect for short trips up and down the Intracoastal Waterway near his Boca Raton condo.  We like to run up and stop for lunch or dinner at nearby dockfront restaurants, or cruise down and drop anchor in Lake Boca, which can have up to 200 boats on nice weekend days.  We often invite friends aboard, too. 

I realize how lucky I am to have such a regular opportunity, and I highly recommend grabbing  every offer you might get to jump aboard a boat, even for just a few hours. 

It's a great way to relax, unwind, let loose, and escape the pressures of everyday life.  There's nothing like the camaraderie of the boating community: bobbing around in unison as the tides and winds change, diving in for a refreshing dip, knoshing on munchies, having a couple of cocktails or cooling sodas, listening and dancing to reggae and other boatish tunes, watching others partying aboard their boats, marveling at how the sun sparkles on the water like thousands of diamonds, and letting the cares of the world just drift away.  


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Update: A new member of the family

After losing their beloved cat, Tigger, last week, my parents decided to get another pet to refill  the yawning absense the big, loveable feline had left in their condo -- and in their hearts.  

They looked at some kitties in the local shelter but were not quite ready to take one home. Then  they heard about a cat owned by a friend of a friend that needed a new home.  So, they brought him home Monday night on a trial basis -- and there he stayed. 

According to my mom, he's a small, adorable gray cat with six toes on each front paw. He's about a year old, is neutered and vaccinated. Apparently he's had a bit of a hard life so far.  His name had been Gray Boy, but Mom didn't care for that, so she came up with "Grady," which resembles his old name but has a cuter, friendlier sound to it.  

So far, Grady has proven to be quite shy, hiding under the guest room beds and venturing out reluctantly.  He seems to be most wary of my stepdad.  But I'm sure it won't be long before he's coming when they call, greeting them at the door, and hogging the bed at night.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's a wine lover to do?!?

Oh, great.

For at least a couple of years now, researchers (er -- make that marketers!) have been touting the health benefits of drinking a bit of wine.  Such as: It may be good for your heart, it helps relieve stress, the tanins have cancer-fighting attributes, etc.  I didn't really pay attention to the details, just felt less guilty for enjoying my occasional glass (I drink an average of about 5-6 glasses per week.)   

But recently, posted a story warning women to be especially mindful of the amount they drink,  for they pay a higher price, physically, than do men for consuming alcohol.  

And now, reports that, for both sexes, even moderate amounts of any kind of alcohol SHRINK YOUR BRAIN, possibly exacerbating age-related diseases such as dementia. 

Kind of reminds me of the back-and-forth we went through about a decade ago over eggs: They were touted, then demonized, then touted again -- if consumed in moderation

So, I'm going to stay on my occasional-glass-plan. I just won't feel quite so sanguine about it, at least until the next pro-wine "study" comes out!!  

Monday, October 13, 2008

A member of the family

I just returned from a visit to my mom and stepdad.  While I was there, their beloved cat of 16 years, Tigger, died tragically (he was run over).  Needless to say, my parents were devastated, for they considered him their "child." 

Tigger, a large gray tabby,  was a very special cat in many ways. He was feisty yet affectionate, the kind of cat who came when you called, greeted you at the door, waited patiently for handouts as you dined, and hogged the bed at night.  I, too, had come to be very fond of him. 

After the initial shock wore off, we  considered the implications of his loss. At first, it seemed like a hidden blessing, for Tigger was getting on in years and had recently had health issues and stopped eating. Also, there was the expense of owning a pet -- an expense that my mom and stepdad, who are struggling a bit financially these days, could certainly do without. 

But then I reconsidered, and encouraged them to get another cat. The reason for my change of heart was the overwhelming joy and laughter he brought to their lives.  It's a proven fact that pets significantly enhance our lives, adding quality and even prolonging life expectancy. Read this St. John Health article for proof.  Even the Real Age test considers pet ownership a real-age-boosting category.  You can't put a price on that. 

So, here's to you, Tigger.  I hope you're chasing squirrels and birds to your heart's content in that big kitty playground in the sky. And I look forward to getting to know my parents' next "child."  

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Have you heard of this kind of breast cancer?

It's called Inflammatory Breast Cancer, or IBC. 

And no, neither had I.  But here's the scary thing: In October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you'll see pink-ribbon campaigns everywhere (including on my favorite sweet treat, Dove Dark Chocolate Promises -- which, btw, are on sale for two for $6 at Walgreen's with an October coupon) and many exortations to do self-examinations and get a mammogram -- but nary a mention of this rare but especially deadly form of cancer. 

Here's a  National Cancer Institute fact sheet with signs and other information. The most common symptoms are a red, itchy and/or swollen breast (doctors frequently misdiagnose it as bug bites), inverted nippes, and pain or tenderness.  Other sympoms are listed on the Mayo Clinic site.  And, here's a news clip that shows what some symptoms may look like, and discusses how little awareness there is out there of this form of breast cancer.

So, bottom line: Don't panic, just be aware, and take all the prescribed precautions. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

I was born on this day 52 years ago, in Naples, Florida.  

During that half-century-plus, I have been, at various times and for various durations: contented, discontented; stressed, calm; impoverished, comfortable; career-obsessed, unemployed; a student, a teacher; living in big cities, living in suburbs; happily single, unhappily single; unhappily coupled, happily coupled; overweight, fit and trim;  close to family members, distanced from family members; smiling, frowning; crying, laughing. 

But always, always eager to embrace life and what it may bring. 

These are just a few of the things I don't know: Who will be the next president (though I sure have my hopes about that!); what my next job will be; whether my current relationship will last; how much longer my parents will live; when I will be able to retire in comfort; where my journey will take me from here.

Here are some of the things I DO know: Every day of my life has led me to this exact place and time, just as it should be.  The true measure of success is how many loved ones you gather, not how much wealth. You get what you give. And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make (credit: The Beatles).  

Here's to the next part of the journey ....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cheap thrills

Like a high-school chemistry experiment gone horribly awry, the economy is imploding before our eyes. Credit is drying up faster than a gob of spit in the Sahara. The home-foreclosure rate continues to skyrocket -- and, unfortunately, that's the ONLY American thing being sent into space these days! People are losing their jobs or nervous about keeping them; and for those who aren't working (including yours truly) jobs are harder to find than a CEO who admits wrongdoing and gives his ill-gotten gains back!  

Gulp! No wonder we're all nervous about spending any more money than absolutely necessary. No more expensive dinners out. No more new outfits "just because." No more daylong visits to pricey spas. No more "luxury" vacations.

BUT, here's the good news: There are still plenty of ways to have fun, connect with others, and forget your worries for a little while -- without impacting your wallet. Here are a few ideas and suggestions; feel free to add your own.

1. Curl up on the sofa in front of the telly -- with your loved one(s) and a bowl of home-cooked popcorn. Now that the new TV season is under way, you don't even need to spend money on a movie rental, although that certainly is an economical option, too!

2. Invite some friends over for a casual, inexpensive potluck. Challenge everyone to bring a dish  that serves 6 for less than $10. Eat, socialize, and pull out some of those dusty party games.

3. Have your own "spa" day -- with a pal or with your honey. Use inexpensive drug-store supplies to give each other massages, facials, and pedicures (see my blog entry "Touch THIS" for a how-to on giving a killer foot massage!).

4. Seduce your lover. Don a sexy outfit, put on some mood music, light some candles, and start with a long, slow, deep kiss. 

5. Enjoy the great outdoors and the lovely, cool, fall weather: Go for a walk on the beach or in the nabe. Get on your bike and hit the local park.  After all, it's a proven fact that exercise raises  those mood-enhancing endorphins!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sexy Housewives

With the season premiere of Desperate Housewives scheduled tonight, I thought it would be fun to find out which of the actresses -- or should I say her character -- appeals to you most:
The klutzy but kind Susan (Teri Hatcher); the ice queen Bree (Marcia Cross); the frazzled mom Lynette (Felicity Huffman); the reined-in Katherine(Dana Delaney) or the neighborhood bitch Edie (Nicolette Sheridan)?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekend at the movies

You know fall is finally arriving when the cineplex begins featuring true choices, instead of the usual summer fare of testosterone, witlessness and bombast ...

This weekend, there are several pics worth checking out -- including one I highly recommend: Ghost Town, the romantic comedy with Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear. It's funny and sweet and surprisingly touching.  For you gals, there's the chick flick Nights in Rodanthe, which though based on a novel by treacle-prone Nicholas Sparks, does feature that great duo of Diane Lane and Richard Gere.  If you're in the mood for an adrenaline-filled experience that doesn't require any brain cells, buy a ticket for Eagle Eye, the nonstop thriller starring Shia LeBeouf and Michelle Monaghan. And, finally, black activist/filmmaker Spike Lee checks in with his WW II saga Miracle at St. Anna, about a band of black soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Go ahead, HAVE that big, juicy steak!

Why is it that, in a society that has been led to believe that animal fat is the devil's instrument of obesity and bad health, we're now fatter and unhealthier than ever?

Well, according to author Jennifer McLagan, it's because we don't eat enough of it! She expounds on this argument in her book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes.

I say, it's about time we started returning to old-fashioned ways of thinking about our vittels! By now, we're familiar with the mantra: More home-cooked meals with natural, unprocessed ingredients; smaller servings of tasty, well-balanced meals of proteins, carbs and fats; more fruits, veggies and whole grains in the overall diet; moderation in alcohol, processed foods, desserts. Yada, yada, yada.

 But dietitians have steered pretty clear of suggesting that -- horrors!! -- we eat more saturated fats that come from animals as opposed to plants (the exaltation of olive oil as a magic ingredient comes to mind!).  So, it's refreshing to hear someone not only make this claim, but also support it with an entire book! 

You don't necessarily have to read her book in order to grasp her argument, or come around to her way of thinking. Here's a good interview in Salon that helps explain the theory. 

Read it, and then go and eat a steak. Without guilt!!! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The American duty

I didn't intend to get too political on this blog, because that's not really the purpose behind it.

However, I couldn't help but post this fantastic bit from Craig Ferguson on the importance of voting, especially in the upcoming election.  I urge you to watch it (believe me, you'll laugh as well as think!), and then spread it around to all your family, friends and acquaintances -- particularly those Gen Y-ers who are expressing, in alarming numbers, a real disinterest in the democratic process, with such dismissive comments as "It doesn't matter anyway." 

Uh, yes, it DOES matter!  Perhaps now more than ever ...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sex and the sexes

Was having a conversation the other day about sex, and I posited that most women prefer intercourse to all other sexual acts, while men like any sex they can get, however they can get it! 

I'm thinking that the reason boils down to simple biology, or the biological imperative: In order for the human race to carry on, reproduction must take place.  And reproduction requires penis to meet vagina, sperm to meet egg. This primal urge has determined human behaviors and proclivities from the earliest days. 

Women can conceive without experiencing orgasm, but the same is not true for men.  Thus, women are most gratified with intercourse; men, with ejaculation (orgasm).  That's why the typical guy's sexual proclivities tend to be much more varied than women's: The most important thing to men, when it comes right down to it, is getting their rocks off.  In fact, I've heard from more than once source that many men prefer fellatio to everything else, if they have any preference at all!   

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that women don't enjoy many other sexual acts, or that men care only about orgasms and women don't care at all about them.  Or, even that women desire only intercourse every time they make love.  Tastes, interests and preferences can and do change, both in the short term and the long term.  Sex drives can slow and mellow, or become more experimental and pronounced -- especially into middle age and beyond. 

But, regardless of age, the biological imperative cannot be underestimated.  And, here's another argument that bolsters my theory:  If you think about it, almost all other sexual acts mimic the act of intercourse -- the motions, the sensations, etc.  In other words,  while men may not realize it or even think about it, male penises are really seeking female vaginas!

So, all I'm sayin' is:  Guys, in order to keep your lady love satisfied, just make sure to give her a regular dose of good, old-fashioned screwing! 

So, what's your reaction?  Think I may be on to something? Think I've lost it? Let's discuss. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let's spread the love!

Found an interesting story posted on the Philadelphia Inquirer site about a small but growing movement on the Web to promote acts of kindness and pay-it-forward mentality.  Clearly, it's a backlash against all the negativity and mean-spiritedness that pervades the Internet (and, let's face it, society in general!) these days. 

These sites, with names such as, , and, offer examples, tips and ideas for adding civility and respect back into the national dialogue. It can be as simple as offering a compliment or kind word to a stranger, or letting someone in line ahead of you, or as complex as going out of your way to help someone, with no expectation of repayment.  

So, let's all make a vow to become a little more conscious in our daily lives of this movement, and to seize upon every opportunity to "pay it forward." 

I'll start:  Have an amazing weekend!!! 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Real Age: The Poll

You've all had time to take the Real Age test, right? (If not -- here's the link again; you'll have to register on the site in order to take the test:

So, now's the time to fess up.  How'd ya do?  Are you doing everything in your power to keep yourself as "young" as possible?

If so, then: Good for you!  If not, surely you could make a few changes to improve your number. After all, the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What we're REALLY doing online

Not so long ago, apparently, that answer would have been: surfing for porn.

However, according to a recent story in Reuters,  social networking sites are now the most popular online pastime.  Internet search guru Bill Tancer, who makes a living by analyzing hits,  claims that in the past decade, porn searches have dropped 10 full percentage points (to 10 percent of total searches). 

I say, overall, this is a good trend. For, even though social networking -- a la Facebook or MySpace -- at its heart really is an "All About Me" activity (just as porn is!), it's still way healthier to connect with others in this manner on a regular basis.  After all, these are people you actually know, not some impossibly unrealistic fantasy! 

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's your Real Age?

In case you haven't heard of this fantastic site, offers a way to gauge how you are aging by your lifestyle, life circumstances and habits.  You fill out a questionnaire divided into various categories (be honest!), and then it spits out your "real age" -- which can be older or younger than your chronological age, depending of course on your behaviors and circumstances.  The questionnaire  gets pretty specific -- blood pressure, cholesterol numbers, the ingedients in your daily vitamins -- so it helps if possible to have that info handy when you fill it out. 

The good news is that you can take control of many factors and make changes to nudge that number downward. The site even offers helpful tips on how to do that. 

Facing a birthday in just a couple of weeks, I just retook the test, and seem to be holding my own pretty well -- my Real Age is 6.7 years less than my calendar age.  Yay for that! 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Women: The report

Caught a late showing last night of The Women, and I did enjoy it.  The stars all gave adequate performances. There were some amusing moments and insightful scenes, but there were also some eye-rollers as well.  The New York settings and characters' lifestyles were fab (in that only-on-the-screen, SATC sort of way),  and it was refreshing to see nothing but females -- no testosterone in sight!  If I were still doing film reviews, I'd give it 2 or 2 1/2 stars ... It's a film you can see, or not, on the big screen, but also wait for the DVD very happily. 

Definitely a chick-flick, though ... guys, you've been warned! 

Friday, September 12, 2008

The truth about e-dating

When I first announced this blog to family and friends, my sister suggested I write about the topic of Internet dating, which she has found to be utterly, frustratingly unsatisfactory. 

I myself had decidely mixed experiences with the online dating scene before I met Matthew at a bicycling Meetup -- proving that, yes indeed, meeting someone in person at a event or activity of mutual interest is the preferable way to go. 

My (paid) profile on match yielded a few coffee dates but a whole lot of nothing else.  My (free) profile on plentyoffish was much more fruitful: I met a nice guy that I dated for six months, whose company I enjoyed but who ultimately wasn't right for me.  

Luckily, I never got sucked into eharmony, but I'm familiar with its empty promises through sis's many horror stories. So, it wasn't surprising to read a so-painful-it's-funny account of one woman's  "unharmonious" experience with that pricey service on divinecaroline.  Read it and shake your head; read it and laugh. 

Now, this isn't a bash of Internet dating, no not at all.  If you use it as one part of your dating strategy, then it's a fine option.  But putting all your love-life eggs in the e-basket?  Not so smart.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Women for Women

So, who's up for The Women, which opens Friday?  (And no, I'm not expecting any yays from the fellas!) 

I've been interested in this project for a while now.  It's an update/remake of a classic 1939 film that famously featured an all-female cast. It's written and directed by Diane English, best known for helming episodes of a classic TV series about a kick-ass woman -- Murphy Brown.  It stars some pretty heavy-hitting, awesome middle-age actresses, including Annette Bening, Meg Ryan, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith and Carrie Fisher. Oh, not to mention Murphy Brown herself, Candice Bergen! And, best of all, it supposedly forgoes the bitchiness and back-stabbing behavior in the original in favor of more supportive, balanced relationships between the gals. 

Natch, it's been garnering some mighty negative reviews.  Still, I'm planning to hit the theater with a couple of girlfriends soon.  Women, unite! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The trouble with Jake

Jake is a total cutie. He's sweet and obedient and docile and entertaining. See?!?

BUT (isn't there always a but?!?):  As a rescue dog that I adopted at age 2-ish, he has developed a bit af a separation-anxiety problem, whining and barking when he's left alone.  

In my house, that's not such a huge issue, as he usually settles down within, oh, 15 minutes or  so. However, in my boyfriend's condo -- that's another matter. Not only is Matthew's place much closer to his neighbors, but it's also a place that doesn't allow pets as residents, only as "guests."  

When Jake and I go to visit or spend the night, the b/f and I are pretty much captives in the condo -- plus we have to take Jake with us on errands -- because we really don't want Jake's carrying on to bother the neighbors. We can't even go down to the pool  for a swim for much longer than 5 minutes.  Arggh!!!

So, I went online the other day and looked up some training methods to break Jake of this habit. One hint is to "pretend" to leave, and ignore the dog's whines but reward good behavior by returning and praising him when he has been quiet. Also, I've been not making such a big deal out of returning -- less enthusiastic greetings, etc. Still too early to report any progress. But I was wondering: do any of you have any ideas or suggestions?  After all, Jake REALLY likes visiting Matthew's, and so do I! 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Touch this!

Wanna make your guy or gal gasp, swoon and surrender -- then leave him/her wanting more? Give him/her a foot massage!  (Note: this is especially effective as a post-lovemaking activity.) 

Here are my tried-and-true techniques: 

1. Have your lover lie face-up on the bed with her/his feet just hanging off the bed. Stand up and grab a foot.

2. Remove calloused skin using a pumice or Pedi-Egg.

3. Rub some heavy cream (preferably one designed for the feet) onto the entire foot -- from heel to toes, bottom to top.  Use a gentle touch. 

4. Then, rub and massage the different areas of the foot, with varying pressure depending on the area and amount of stress/aches in the foot. With your thumb or knuckles, apply acupressure to critical spots. Here's a great interactive graphic on the AARP site that shows key acupressure points in the foot. 

5. Work the ankle by rotating the foot around, back and forth and up and down. Use your abdomen as a "platform."  

6. Pull on the toes.

7. Employ the "yoga toes" technique to further stretch the tootsies and limber up the foot. To do this,  insert a finger between each toe at the base, and work the toes and foot.  Rub your thumb along the metatarsal (the bump under the big toe that can be prone to bunions) -- this can be painful, but seems to provide a lot of relief. 

8. End with gentle strokes.

9. Move onto the other foot. 

10. Accept the recipient's lavish thanks and praise. 

Friday, September 5, 2008

The greatest workout

Here's a pitch for functional training, which I discovered about 14 months ago when I joined a fitness studio near my home.  It's a full-body workout that engages that all-important core, using movements that mimic things you actually do on a daily basis (bending, squatting, lifting, reaching, etc.)  and utilizing simple equipment such as balance balls, medicine balls, stretchy bands and free weights. 

At my studio, the workout consists of two full rounds of 15 "stations" of 45 seconds each, with exercises that change every day, and give you the full complement of strength training, aerobics, stretching and balance/coordination. I do this three times a week, and do other activities (running/walking, biking, kayaking, etc.) on other days. 

I knew I was sold on functional training last summer, after having been a member only a month, when I went on vacation and blazed up steep hiking trails with little of the aches (knees, back, etc.) and breathlessness that used to plague me in my younger, "healthier" days.

It doesn't take much effort to incorporate functional training into your lifestyle; I even manage to do a challenging workout when I travel.  I recommend it highly!  To get you started, here's a good video with examples of a few core exercises.  Happy training!  

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My favorite sunblock

I'm a big fan of the Neutrogena brand Ultra Sheer Dry Touch sunblock.  I wear the 45-SPF, 55-SPF, or 70-SPF (depending on time of day and time of year) on my face, chest and arms (with a lesser, 30-SPF brand on my other body parts).  It's a great product -- but oh-so-pricey!  I typically pay between $7 and $9 for a 3-oz. tube.  Ouch!!  So, imagine my delight at finding a double-pack, plus a tube of Neutrogena 15-SPF Lip Moisturizer (yay!  -- another beauty staple for me!) for a mere $11.99 at the local Costco.  What a deal! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Being smart about looking younger

So, Prevention (great site, great mag!) has this list of 100 Ways to Look Younger, organized into six categories -- body, eyes, face, hair, hands and smile.  

Now, I don't know about you, but that seems like an awfully daunting number: On a regular  basis, I can stick to about 20 beauty routines and regimens, tops.  So, I've browsed through the list and pulled out 10 tips that make the most sense to me, for me. It's a worthy exercise for anyone. 

Here are my Top 10, in the order they appear on the list:

1. Use a puffy sponge with your body gel or soap; the air-pumped foam lets you use less skin-drying detergent as you wash. 

2. Wear V-neck tops to flatter the chest area and draw the eye upward. 

3. Use olive or canola oil in your salad dressing, which help the body better absorb skin-boosting carotenoids and vitamin E found in leafy greens and veggies. 

4. Just one more reason to eschew sugar: It helps break down the skin, decreasing firmness and elasticity, thus causing wrinkles and dullness. 

5. Count to 60 (seconds) when you wash your face, to massage the skin as well as eliminate makeup, pollutants and bacteria, and come out with a healthy glow. 

6.  Bangs are a middle-aged girl's best friend!  They enhance the eyes and  hide forehead creases. 

7. Have your hair cut into layers, especially around the face -- it adds flattering fullness and bounce. 

8. Products designed for the face (creams, sunblocks, etc.) are just as good for the hands, so squirt a little extra when you're doing your face and use it on your hands, too. 

9. Here's an easy, inexpensive way to whiten teeth: Brush on a combo of 1 teaspoon baking powder and a drop or two of hydrogen peroxide, let sit for a few minutes, rinse, and spit out. 

10. Smile!  It's an instantaneous mood- and face-lifter, making you look years younger. 

Happy beauty-hunting!! 

Thursday, August 28, 2008


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