September 28, 2004

Absent this Week

Spent the weekend with Brian in Kansas City, so no blogging. Out today to Ft. Lauderdale area for business. (Thankfully post Jeanne). I'll blog if I's been a while.


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September 23, 2004

Curves, the Visit

I visited Curves on Dorsett in Maryland Heights, MO today. I didn't know what to expect, really - had heard that my friend Sheryl enjoyed the program, and I've certainly noticed that Curves is the new Walgreen's...quite suddenly ubiquitous.

Curves is the women's full-body circuit. There are resistance-powered machines, and in between each machine is a small jogging pad. The idea is to keep your heart rate fairly steady from machine to jogging pad, etc. You stop three or four times (I believe three) to take your pulse for 10 seconds.

You hit the circut twice. For legs, there's a machine that does a resistance squat, another that hits abductors/adductors, a gluteal machine , two that target abs, two for chest, one for shoulders directly, one for traps, and a bicep/tricep contraption. I'm probably missing a couple, but this is a full-body workout, and it's quite quick.

The faster you push the machines, the more resistance they offer. I had trouble striking balance between getting in good effort and not clanging the machine parts. With a weight stack, this is less challenging because you have a visual cue. And with free weights, well, you control everything. After the two circuits, I completed a series of 12 stretches, most of which I'd done before, but a couple of new ones I'll want to throw in with my mix.

The workout passed the sweat test. My pulse during this was around 26 for 10 seconds, about 156 - not really working all that hard for what I'm used to. This is where Curves wants you working, though - it's comfortable, but yet you have to exert yourself. I'm 32. If you go with the max heart rate formula of 220 - age, that puts my max at 188. That put my workload at roughly 83% of max for nearly 30 minutes. Not quite the MS 150, but it passed the sweat test, which, for the uninitiated, is measured by the saturation of the sports bra upon its removal. Very objective, but probably more than you wanted to know.

So, Curves. Do I recommend for women who are going to start an exercise program? Absolutely. Resistance training can be intimidating for women. I looked around Curves - hey, where're the mirrors? Don't need 'em. No free weights - no Stairmasters, no need for mirrors. I know I saw one because I looked funny bouncing on the little jogging pad, but I don't remember seeing more than one. Curves has a social feel to it; the atmosphere is very friendly. Beverly, the manager, took time out of her day to show me around and then answer my question list. She mentioned that there are more than 8000 Curves locations worldwide, about 7600 of which are in the United States.

Curves recommends that you hit the circuit three times a week. Patrons who do are offered a chance to enter a drawing for t-shirts and other prizes. They can also track their progress via the computer, be measured (with a machine less intimidating than those dreaded fat calipers), weighed, and then congratulated for fat and/or poundage loss. Beverly mentioned a 70 year-old member who's lost only a pound in weight but about half of her body fat. As you can imagine, this lady's likely quite a bit more spry.

As with any exercise program that gets your heart rate going for a good period of time, you can expect some endorphins. I left the facility feeling like I'd exercised. Granted, it's no friend Susan (see picture of cycling buddy in this post) workout (the likes of which will leave one understanding the full use of each exercised muscle for at least two days to come), but it's one great start.

Hours for the local Curves were split - 7ish until 1 and then 3:00 until 7:30, I believe. Beverly mentioned that hours are variable by location. Price is also, with the midwest tending to be cheaper per month than the coasts. Still, price is reasonable. If discomfort with body image is an issue, this facility should remove that tension.

So kudos to the Curves people. If you haven't tried it and are not actively exercising, this is not a time, energy, or money drain. I recommend.

(Thanks again, Beverly).


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Fine Poem

Type that (Fine Poem) into Google and what do you get, eh?


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September 21, 2004

Local Drama

Yesterday in the St. Louis metro suburb of East St. Louis, a 19 year-old woman named Katie Wolfmeyer was acquitted in the Mike Danton (Blues hockey player) murder-for-hire debacle. Jurors stated they couldn't find enough evidence to convict. (Article.)

This post is only barely about that. Rather, a quote from the formerly accused's father really rubbed me the wrong way.
Pat Wolfmeyer, the defendant's father, said of the FBI, "I think they set that little girl up. They got in too deep and couldn't get out."
"That little girl." Of his own daughter? I hope this is a misquote or in some strange context because this bothers me on two levels.

1) It's completely detached. You'd think there'd be some emotion. The words "that little girl" wouldn't be the first choice to refer to your offspring.

2) Especially your NINETEEN YEAR-OLD offspring. What is the deal with calling a grown woman a little girl? She's not a lamb; she's not a kitten. She's an adult female. She was certainly tried as an adult. If you think your child is a "little girl" at 19, how do you believe she'll ever be ready for the day-to-day travails of society otherwise known as adulthood?

This has been one of the weirdest cases to hit the area since I've lived here. Obviously lots of information has made it into the newspaper since the case is high profile and therefore frenzied. Probably won't end here - Danton, who pleaded guilty earlier, is sentenced next month.


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September 20, 2004

Clear the Air

I've had more than one person view me strangely when I give the condition of "non-smoking restaurant" for lunch or dinner plan making. That means no indoor smoking. None. Nada. This isn't so easy in the St. Louis Metro Area (must simpler where my mother lives - Springfield, and usually simpler on business trips, strangely), but there are some places. The list is published by Tobacco-Free Missouri, known on the web as breathe easy Missouri. These people are so anti-tobacco that they refuse to spell it correctly in all instances.

Ryan, a frequent lunch partner, pointed me to this Post-Dispatch article.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Which is more harmful to your health -- a smoky bar or a city street filled with diesel truck fumes? Well, you might want to skip your next happy hour.

Smoky bars and casinos have up to 50 times more cancer-causing particles in the air than highways and city streets clogged with diesel trucks at rush hour, according to a study that also shows indoor air pollution virtually disappears once smoking is banned.

Conducted by the researcher who first showed secondhand smoke causes thousands of U.S. lung cancer deaths each year, the study found casino and bar workers are exposed to particulate pollution at far greater levels than the government allows outdoors.
And, yes, sing it with me, cancer once is PLENTY, thankyouverymuch. No smoky bars or casinos for me. I'm past thirty - time to seriously evaluate health.

Repace tested air in a casino, a pool hall and six taverns in Delaware in November 2002 and in January 2003, two months after the state imposed a strict indoor smoking ban.

His detectors measured two substances blamed for tobacco-related cancers: a group of chemicals called particulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PPAHs, and respirable particles -- airborne soot small enough to penetrate the lungs.

"They are the most dangerous" substances in secondhand smoke, said Repace, a visiting assistant clinical professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

Repace said his research also showed that ventilation systems -- sometimes touted by tavern, restaurant and casino groups as an alternative to smoking bans -- cannot exchange air fast enough to keep up with the smoke.
The rest of it is technical detail - still interesting, but this is enough to get the gist. And I smile again at my decision. I'm a much happier diner than I was 8 months ago before I put my foot down. I've been in smoking-allowed restaurants 3 times since then, twice on business (where I recognize I really don't have absolute control) and once on vacation.


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Dance Dance Revolution

I bought Dance Dance Revolution for the PS2 about a month ago, and I played it pretty heavily up until the week before the MS 150 and then picked it up again last week. Good stuff.

If you're not familiar, you purchase something called a Beat Pad that acts as the PS2 controller. You step on directional areas as directed on screen by the program, and it rates how well you do.

I'm somewhat of a klutz (just ask my bike), but I've got enough musical background that I picked this up pretty easily (thank goodness it doesn't rate my arm movements, though). Shape and other Fitness magazines recommended this game because of the workout mode, which is impressive but has a big downside. Basically, songs aren't longer than a minute to a minute and a half at most, meaning you get you heart rate up, and then it dips a bit while you're picking your next song. I read that the next two editions of the series (the 3rd one for PS2 releases in the US tomorrow) have a mode where you can string several songs together with just a short break while they switch from one to another, so this should take care of my concern.

About 6 of the songs are so dastardly difficult I can't do them at all yet, but there's a training mode that lets you decrease the tempo so you can commit crazy step sequences to memory.

All in all, if you like to jump around/dance but don't really like to exercise, this could be a nice gateway into the fitness experience.

On Thursday, I'm going to visit a local Curves to get the lowdown on the popular women-only quick workout facility. Expect a write-up soon after.

P.S. The Curves visit is only to satisfy curiosity. I talked with the manager and told her I just wanted to learn and write about it for others (put something useful on this blog and all). I don't imagine it's for me, either. But I'm betting you I can make myself sore by working intensely. I do shoulders today (Tuesday) and then just cardio on Wednesday so everything's healed and ready for the Curves full body workout. hln

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September 13, 2004

Tuckered Out

But still slightly skipping through the office today.

MS 150 160.25 was this weekend.

The guys did 200 (both century options), but they couldn't talk this girl into that without having a 150 under her belt. So, maybe ONE century next year now that I know what to expect.

Saturday started when the camera broke right when it was time for our official picture. Due to the wonders of modern technology, though, we still got group photos. (I'm the girl).


The first day was 77.25 miles, and it had 7 rest stops, so about one every 10 miles. The 4th rest stop was lunch, served and provided by Lion's Choice. Lunch was wonderful, but I started out too early after eating it and had some stomach issues the last 30 miles. Still, went fine. Too many casual riders on the first day (most didn't show up for the 2nd) - meaning they got in front of you on hills and you had to slog it up on your own power with no momentum. Ow.

On day 2, the course was 84 miles. I remembered I had brought my digital camera, and at some of the rest stops, I actually took some pictures and had some taken. Like this one at rest stop 7, the 150 mile sojourning spot. Not the most flattering picture of any of us, but very funny, and truly illustrative of how the body felt. (See how YOU look when you've had more than a gallon of fluids to drink each of the last two days).


Why are we so wiped out? Because the route was 84 miles of #@)%(&@#)(%*#@)(% HILLS! I exaggerate not. There was some wind thrown in there, too, to ensure we weren't bored.

But, we all finished. This is my friend Susan congratulating me after I crossed the finish line. She still looks pretty put together after all that riding. Me - heh - no. But I'm smiling. Those muscles weren't sore.


So there'll be a next year. There's a local century in a couple of weeks I'll probably try to do provided it's not pouring down rain, freezing cold, or hurricanously windy (anything above 14 mph means I'm at home snuggling with a book if it's cold).

Oh, and as Brian pointed out, it's not too late to sponsor me for this ride. At 160 miles, $1.60 would be a penny a mile, $3.20 two pennies. $16 is 10 cents a mile. Anything would be wonderful.


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September 10, 2004

MS 150 (Again)

I just printed my rider packet .PDF thingee, and it notes that Anheuser-Busch is sponsoring a Beer Garden, and the MS 150 Expo site features sand volleyball. And showers!

Because, you know, right after a 75 or 100 mile bike ride, the things I just can't WAIT to do are drink a bunch of beer and roll in the sand. Maybe that's what people who are really in shape do. Or those who star in television commercials - can't you just see it? Out of the bike helmet (with perfect hair but a bit of dirt on the leg) - some steaks cookin' on the grill, and happy, slender, muscled people with perfect white teeth and tanned skin (and not wearing anything but their cycling shorts and maybe sports bras) are batting around a volleyball)? We've conquered our mountains and have set down to play. Bussssssch!

That shower thing sounds good, though. I'll be happy if I'm still coherent and not asleep (I guess those go hand in hand) at the end of the day's ride. (What I can promise is that EVERY ounce of my quite long hair will be sweat drenched.)


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For Your Convenience

Tomorrow is September 11, 2004. That date is three years after the vicious, senseless, brutal attacks on American soil (and I know some poor sot is going to write that they weren't senseless to the terrorists - and I don't want to hear it, so I'll cut you off now).

The attacks were on September 11th. Not your friendly, easy-to-say "Nine Eleven." That moniker irritates me more than I can state in a short rant I'm penning between work items. Let it be known that I find "Nine Eleven" is way too familiar and offhanded. It sounds too close to "Seven Eleven" - yes, the convenience store. The term is warm and fuzzy, offhanded. It's coined for ease of use. And it - though little else does - it offends me. A nickname for the worst attack in American history.

I'd imagine I'm not the only one. Give the day its proper bearing - at least call it September 11th. And say it slowly. Yes, those extra syllables may be taxing - especially to the media - but they're worth it.


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September 09, 2004

PeopleSoft, a Food Pellet

Oracle has the "okay" to munch PeopleSoft, if PS shareholders agree. And why wouldn't they? Oracle's a big timer.

Info at Yahoo.


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2 Days

MS 150 is Saturday and Sunday, so I won't be around this weekend. I'll either be riding, eating, or sleeping, possibly two of those at the same time; hoping sleeping isn't one of the combined ones.


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Red, White, and Blue

Bumper sticker I saw on a car today - picture of an American flag with text that read "these colors don't run the world."

What I thought: "Someone tell that to France."


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September 07, 2004

The Next Best Thing?

For all of you Google and other search engine visitors for the search term "Samus Aran naked" (for there are many), I give you this.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Playboy is taking a chance on silicon instead of silicone. The October issue of the men's magazine features several video game characters posing in the nude - images created by the game companies through detailed computer illustration.

"Hopefully the purists won't get too bent out of shape. This is just the next version of the pinup," said Playboy senior editor Scott Alexander, who developed the project.

The computerized models are part of the magazine's video game preview, titled "Gaming Grows Up." The five-page section starts with a topless image of the half-vampire, half-human title character from "BloodRayne," a leather-clad woman who fights with three-foot blades attached to her arms.
I guess the next line should be "Move Over Jessica Cutler?"

Look at the pixels on HER.


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September 06, 2004


Yellow's not just for Livestrong.

Yellow is the crux of this article, a piece about a company that manufactures synthetic urine.

I was hooked on the first paragraph, asking myself the question, "why would a company do that?" Well...
While the business plan might induce stifled giggles, synthetic urine is a serious matter in the laboratory industry.

Researchers, drug-testing labs and other institutions buy thousands of gallons of the real stuff, mostly to calibrate the equipment used to test regular urine samples for drugs or other substances. Researchers periodically check the accuracy of their equipment by introducing samples that have been intentionally spiked with chemicals.

But human urine has its limitations.

It's unstable, decaying rapidly if not kept refrigerated and must be frozen when shipped. It can smell, it foams and donors must be screened carefully for drug use or disease. Also, different body chemistry guarantees that no two people's urine is exactly alike, an irritation for researchers who rely on consistency.

In the end, a fully synthetic urine has remained a laudable goal in scientific circles.
Urine SPOILS? Does that make it smell better? You can tell I'm not much of a biologist.

The name of the synthetic? Surine.


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Oil! Oil!

Brian tells you what the world would be like if it were "all about the oil."

It involves real imperialism! Go read.


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"Updating" a Brand

I've commented recently to Brian that I don't like Pizza Hut's updated logo. I think it was changed sometime in the last three years or so - the kinda scribbly print when it used to be block letters with a horizontally levelled "hut." That logo promised stability and memories for me, but I guess today's brandmeisters felt it was out of date.

Pizza Hut Old Logo PizzaHutNew.jpg
KFC did it, too - when the name officially changed to KFC from Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1991. As if a big old Colonel (the hardest word on EARTH to spell as a child) would carry the brand. And that Colonel was everywhere.

I can't think of anything else offhand, but I know a lot of brands get updates. And for some reason this was on my mind today.

kfc.jpg KFCnew.jpg

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September 02, 2004

The Single Best Line - Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney and his speechwriters sure got me to laugh last night.
On Iraq, Senator Kerry has disagreed with many of his fellow Democrats. But Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself. His back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message of confusion. And it is all part of a pattern. He has, in the last several years, been for the No Child Left Behind Act and against it. He has spoken in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement and against it. He is for the Patriot Act and against it. Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual — America sees two John Kerrys.
It's the mutual part that did it.

Text found on Yahoo via Outside the Beltway.


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September 01, 2004

Yawning Conventioneers

The convention is C-SPANNING between Brian and me on our friendly eMac. I can't help but notice (I'm working, really I am) while working that the "filler" speakers aren't getting much response to their speeches, even in scripted supposed-to-be enthusiastic moments.

The last excitement I heard was when Lt. Gov Steele had the podium.

I believe it's a conspiracy. The protestors have drugged the delegates and replaced them in order to heckle and tomato VP Cheney when he takes the stage. Just you watch.

Can you spot the liberals in the crowd? I challenge you.


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Au Contraire!

While I know I'm a specific and this article outlines a general, I must refute the claims of this article.

First, the claims:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cancer can really mess up a person's life, even years after he or she has beaten the disease, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

Cancer survivors have poorer health, lose more days from work and have a generally lower quality of life than people who have never had cancer, the study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (news - web sites) found.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) estimates that 9.8 million cancer patients and survivors are alive now in the United States. About 64 percent of adults and 79 percent of children now survive cancer for at least five years, the CDC says.

These patients have not been studied much, but a series of reports have called for better coordination of care for cancer survivors, especially children. They have found that the harsh treatments often needed to beat cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, can themselves have lasting effects on health.
Yeah, that's nice. You, new cancer survivor, your life's gonna suck. Don't even listen to this. If you're an able-bodied cancer survivor (13 years almost for me, and I'm 32 now, blow a loud raspberry in the general direction of this study.

People, in general, your life's going to lose some quality if you don't...
1) Eat well.
2) Sleep well.
3) Get adequate exercise.
4) Mentally challenge yourself.
5) Positively combat stress.
6) Pursue activities (and people) that/who give you joy.

Bam. There it is. Same advice for cancer survivors as for the rest of the world. The cancer afflicted have two choices: die or survive. Nice boolean condition there. If you survive, you've obviously obtained the better of the two alternatives. Who gives a skinny rat's ass if you have to work a little harder for general "health" when you get a second shot at life. Think Lance Armstrong's whining because of his cancer experience? Obviously not. Anyone want to call him on his health?

Cancer is a wake-up call, a "whoa," whether you bring it on yourself (that stupid smoking thing) or if it's some strange environmental fluke like mine - or something that comes about because of hereditary conditions. I'm facing new side effects in the next x years (however many I have left) - possibilities of cancer treatment-induced cancer, etc. First scare was in June - passed, no issue. So what? What are my choices? Stay as healthy as possible. Take each day as a day. Be thankful all of my limbs work. In the case of one of my coworkers who lost an eye to Ewing's Sarcoma, I'm sure he'd say, "be glad for my remaining eye." I'll ask tomorrow to be sure.

More on the article:
Only 13 percent of cancer survivors described their health as "excellent," compared to 21.9 percent of non-patients, although a similar percentage described their health as "good" -- 33 percent of cancer survivors and 29 percent of non-patients.

"Survivors were more likely to have spent 10 or more days in bed in the past 12 months than control subjects (14 percent versus 7.7 percent)," the researchers wrote.

"Cancer survivors were also more likely than control subjects to report limitations with arthritis or rheumatism, back or neck problems, fractures or bone or joint injuries, hypertension, or lung or breath problems than control subjects," they added.
My health rocks - probably the top of the top if I were included in this study. I wonder if some of this is attributable to the age of cancer survivors in general being higher than that of the general population and if that's taken into account - doesn't state.


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