August 30, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Relief

We all have some to spare. Please consider helping our neighbors. USA Today has the best list I've seen this morning of organizations lending a hand.

(I've added the website links)

FEMA listed the following agencies as needing cash to assist hurricane victims:

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August 28, 2005

Chore Games: Plant or Weed?

Ok - everyone can try this game. It'll add some spice to the mundane.
Rules: Let flowerbed go unweeded for an extended period of time. For example, 6 weeks. The game actually commences when your spouse pulls the "big weeds." (We had one threatening to eat a window)

Layer self with bug spray/lotion. Commence weeding.

  • Give yourself 1 point for every weed you pull
  • Subtract 5 points for every plant you pull (oops)
  • Give yourself back ten (10) points for every plant you find your spouse has pulled (made some good points this way)
  • Subtract 10 points for every bug bite you incur
At the end, do you have a positive total? I didn't, and I pulled a LOT of weeds.

UPDATE: Submitted to the Beltway Traffic Jam. hln

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Fun Facts about Illinois

By Harvey! In, uh, honor of all the time I spend riding through the rural, "sane," part of the state, go visit. Here are a couple:

10% of Illinois' economy is based on the production of various corn products. The other 90% consists of official "Just wait 'till next year!" logo Cubs merchandise.
People from Chicago like to brag about their "Chicago-style" pizza, but it's really just regular pizza sprinkled with bits of people who hired non-union labor.
During the Civil War, Illinois was bitterly divided between those who wanted black people to vote and those who wanted to restrict the franchise to white people and the dead.

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Seven Songs Indeed

Dustbury has a post of seven songs you're into lately. So I'll post mine, and you can do accordingly if you'd like.

(In no order)

1) Pretty Fly for a Rabbi - Weird Al. This came on the iPod while I was housecleaning a couple of weeks ago, and I laughed out loud. Weird Al is hit or miss with me - the only other song that'll do this to me is Jurassic Park (to the tune of Macarthur Park, of course)

2) Within Each of Us - Adora. Check it out. (6th track down)

3) Studying Stones - Ani DiFranco. This song's off her latest album. She is also hit or miss with me (relationship songs rock and are full of wonderful metaphors. I wholeheartedly disagree with the woman's politics, though.)

4) Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) - Billy Joel. St. Louis has this radio station that plays a pretty wide variety of "whatever they want," as they say, called The Arch. I've always liked this song, but it brings a particular pleasure when it comes on the radio randomly while I'm driving. They stream in case you're interested.

5) Martial Law - George Clinton. This song is a surefire guarantee to put me in a good mood. Silly, but true.

6) Honestly Now (Safety's Just Danger...Out of Place) - Harry Connick Jr.

7) Night Moves - Marilyn Martin. Marilyn Martin's self-titled CD JUST came out in August, and I snapped it up that day. I've had the cassette since junior high, but the only way to get a CD was to pay upwards of $60 on eBay to get a Japanese marketed CD. No thanks. But now that I have one, this has been playing a lot. Ah, the 80's.

I could go on all day. One honorary - Extreme Ways - Moby.


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Parts is Parts

All white meat chicken?

ATLANTA - Daniel Fletcher has found a way to transform dark meat chicken into white, a scientific advance some purists say has gone too far.

"Leave chicken alone," said Mary Raczka, who's in charge of hospitality at Mary Mac's Tea Room, a prominent Southern-style restaurant in midtown Atlanta that serves more than 500 pounds of fried chicken a week — dark and white meat.

But Fletcher, a University of Georgia poultry science professor, said his other white meat isn't designed to compete with the real thing on restaurant menus or grocery shelves. Instead, it's a filler that can be used to add protein and amino acids to something else, such as chicken nuggets.

The recipe involves adding excess water to ground-up dark meat to create a kind of meat soup, then spinning the mixture around in a tub at high speed. The centrifugal force makes the mixture settle into layers of fat, water, and extracted meat, which can be molded into breast-like patties of all-white meat.

Is that supposed to elicit a "Yum?"


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YMCA Book Fair

After the ride yesterday, Brian and I attended the YMCA Book Fair in the City. There were books everywhere, but unfortunately, many were strewn rather than stacked. Lots of paperbacks - a section I don't even need to visit. Compared to the last two book fairs I've attended, this was a bit of a disappointment, though Brian fared pretty well.

If you're a bibliophile, here's the web site to use to find book fairs:

Not pretty, but it does the trick. If you're local, notice that today is the last day of the Jewish Community Center's sale (and that one was a good one - may pop back in there while out doing other errands today). Lifting books counts as upper body resistance training, right?


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August 27, 2005

Heather meets the SAG wagon

So I planned on a century today - at least a metric century. Could've happened, but my back tire had other plans.

I have a bad habit of bragging about never having had a flat tire. Well, I don't do anything halfway, so when I had a flat tire, I completely blew the tire. Fortunately, it was between quarter of a mile and half of a mile from the last rest stop before completing 69.1 miles (which would've been about 71 for me because I took a wrong turn earlier). I was riding along at warm-up pace when all of a sudden I heard a loud POP and then felt this woosh of air on the back of my leg. And I knew why.

There was a man riding behind me who agreed to give me a hand with the tire (back one - after all, I've never changed one). Well, he was so fast that by the time I dug out the pump and my spare tube, the wheel was already off and the tire pried from the wheel. So much for learning, but I certainly wasn't going to complain to him. I play the damsel in distress REALLY WELL.

His comment, "well, at least it was just the tube." Au contraire! (as we discovered after replacing everything - big old shred marks on the back tire). So I took the bike back to the rest stop, and everyone there agreed that a call to the SAG was the best course of action. As it was on its way, one long-time rider did rig it with a Powerbar wrapper, but the SAG was just pulling up as I was about to head out (and I'd already called Brian to tell him I was going to end my ride at the 55 mile point), so I took the air-conditioned, non-self-propelled way back. A bit safer, since I had no idea the skill of the person who was working with the bike. And I was a bit squeamish.

All in all, though, good ride. 55 miles in 4 hours and 6 minutes. I would've been fighting the wind the 16 remaining miles, so it would've dropped a bit, but I felt good the whole way, and I think I'm ready for the MS 150 in 2 weeks (yeah, doing that again). Unfortunately, the bike's in the shop - needed a tune-up before the big ride, and I'm having both tires replaced (figure I have between 2500 and 3000 miles on them; it's time), so no ride tomorrow.


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August 26, 2005

Obesity Revisited!

So what's news today? Study: Fast food clusters near schools

The subtitle: Researchers say pattern likely contributes to obesity

Shocking! Shocking, I tell you. This is NEWS. I hate to tell these researchers who live in bubbles, but where there are people, there is fast food. Look around you - if you're my age, those "fast food clusters" were near your schools 10, 20, 30 years ago, no? But suddenly these "clusters" are contribuing to the obesity of someone you know! Stop the clusters!

The scene is repeated throughout Chicago, where fast-food restaurants are clustered within easy walking distance of elementary and high schools, according to a study by Harvard's School of Public Health. The researchers say the pattern probably exists in urban areas nationwide and is likely contributing to the nation's obesity epidemic.

"It can be very hard for children and teens to eat in healthy ways when they're inundated with this," said lead author Bryn Austin, a researcher at Harvard and Children's Hospital Boston.
Still, children and teens don't eat by osmosis. Somehow those 10, 20, and 30 years ago I just mentioned did occur without people tripping over their own fat.

Some sense:

McDonald's Corp. spokesman Walt Riker said the fast-food giant locates its restaurants "in high-traffic areas like every other business, to serve customers. It has nothing to do with schools." He called the study assumptions speculative since the researchers didn't assess whether proximity of fast food affected students' eating habits.
Speculative is a really nice word. I'm sure Mr. Riker was rolling his eyes the entire conversation.

How about this, researchers. Take some time and study some non-obese folk, figure out why they're not fat, and WRITE ABOUT THAT. Call it a study. Thank you.


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August 25, 2005

Today's Obesity Commentary

Reading the newspapers this last year or so, I get this impression that journalists are trying to convey that obesity is as simple to "catch" as the common cold. And as quick to manifest itself on unwary souls.

And I really have to laugh at that. What poor schmuck doesn't notice that he's gaining weight. Wow, Jim Bob, you really need to do something, that belt doesn't have another notch. I mean, come on now. There's no Metamorphosis going on here. Gregor woke up one morning...and he was...FAT. Uh, no.

Equally silly is this journalistic "newness" applied to obesity "treatment" - CNN has an article that seeks to carry an air of novelty when it suggests that cycling might curb obesity. Move more, eat less, wow, there you have it in simple form. Even McDonald's gets that.

I guess, in a nutshell (don't eat that - just the nut), what really gets me with the "poof, you're fat" mindset is that the problem has been taken off the individual and put to society. As if we can actually say, SOCIETY, it's your fault Timmy's fat.

I hold out one hope even in this continuing trend to blame everyone but the Twinkee stuffer. Video games. You're scratching your head, but with EyeToy and long until virtual reality's in the living room. To defeat the bad guy and have the ultimate time, you're going to have to sweat. And once kids (and adults) are sweating, the endorphins will kick in.

Ok, one last thing. Blaming the food industry. Forget it. I'm not defending the food industry, but, see, there's this free will thing. You choose what goes in your mouth. You choose for your family, so be responsible. If you have a day where you eat everything in sight, make sure you see healthy things. (I sorta had one of those, but I hope to use it to my advantage when I attempt a century (not sure if it's metric or imperial yet...will know at the lunch point how far I'm going to go) on my bike on Saturday. But that extra 500 calories I downed today, my fault, not Snyder's Pretzels of Hanover, not Great Harvest Bread Company, not Perdue chicken. Nope, all Heather Noggle.

I'd better not wake up fat tomorrow. Better pay the obesity fairy.


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Capri Pants

In my personal hell, I'd be wearing Capri pants. I honestly don't know what the rage of these dumb things is all about. I can't imagine they look good on anyone; I know they don't look good on me.

It's the same deal with skirts that end mid calf. WHY? Skirts need to be at the ankles or above the knees. If they end mid calf, muscular legs look just plain fat. I suppose women with too-skinny legs might look good in such apparel, but, yeek, are they ugly.

I know, this is such an important topic. How dare I put it off until a late Thursday night because I can't sleep.


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Macintosh Blogging

I may or may not have mentioned that Brian's gift to me for my birthday (July 29) was an iMac G5 (little flat screen thing) with a gig of RAM and a bunch of music software. Sweet deal.

I'm blogging from it now while installing some software. So in this room I currently have my work laptop, my PC, and this Mac. Because every girl NEEDS three computers (yes, this was sarcasm).

Still, very nice. If I ever get good at the digital music stuff, I'll post it here. Primarily interested in trance. Have to dust off my old keyboard and hope it still works enough to at least do some MIDI-related functionality.


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August 24, 2005

New Hobby

I've been on this kick of trying to eat natural food (devoid of preservatives, few ingredients on label if it's storebought) lately. I've brought out the breadmaker, been making desserts, etc. Something I'd never done until recently, though, is make my own salad dressing.

I have this habit of buying Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette and then draining off about 5/6 of the oil and declaring it good. That's very acidic when I get done, so one doesn't need very much at all. But I tried my hand at a few of my own dressings here lately, and, mmm, quite good. Here's the best one yet, though gentler folk might want to up the oil a bit.

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 clove (not head) of garlic, run through press
1/8 to 1/4 of dry teaspoon mustard
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

It packs a punch, for sure, but it was mighty tasty.


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MuNu Back!

A big thanks to Pixy Misa for his gallant recovery of MuNu in such an expeditious manner. I've been at MuNu for nearly two years now, and he's just awesome.


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Fashion Trends

Stewart Appears in Court in Breach Suit

From the picture, the Breach Suit is neither dark nor light gray, carrying with it a hint of "dammit, I'm 60, but I don't look it - my hair still funks out the same."


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August 15, 2005

Bottle That

Bottled water. What does it mean to you? To me, all I can do is wish it was around when I was growing up, non-soda-drinker that I've been for 33 years now. I like the fact that it's portable. That you can buy it anywhere, from the movies to ball games to the cooler at Walgreens.

The City of Milwaukee (and other cities) want you to reconsider tap water, though. I have no qualms with tap water - usually drink it at dinner. The though just amuses me. How do you put a spin on tap water?

The utilities' message to consumers: Our product is as good as what's found on store shelves — and less expensive. The utilities hope to make a few bucks and help their ratepayers in the process.

"People should not have to spend an exorbitant amount for quality water," said Ken Blomberg, executive director of the Wisconsin Rural Water Association, which promotes the sale of bottled municipal water as a less-expensive alternative to the commercially bottled product.
What is the "sale of bottled municipal water"? How do you brand that? I'd try it. I'd also pay a premium for safe reusable bottles that are shaped like the ones I use that come from commercial products (our brand of choice is Ice Mountain, which comes out to 15 cents or so a bottle when we buy at Sam's Club).

Propel, made by Gatorade folk, now has a competitor. Powerade has its own version of the flavored low-calorie, vitamin-fortified water. Powerade Option. Same calories as in Propel (10 per serving) - better taste on its Lemon product. The black cherry's pretty tasty, too. Dunno about the strawberry. Propel's got many more flavors, though, and it's been in the market longer.

Just thoughts.


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Sea Turtle Shuffle

I posted briefly in my tipsy airport blogging spree that Florida law protects Sea Turtle nests. I wasn't aware how much (via Ravenwood).

For six months out of the year, residents of Cocoa Beach (and other parts of Florida) are forced to stumble around in the dark once the sun goes down. That's because baby sea turtles are too stupid to find the ocean once they hatch, and often end up following man-made lights instead of the moon. Now, turtles hatchlings are only born for one month during the year, but never the less from May 1 to November 1 residents who dare to turn on the light after 9 PM face a $1000 fine.
Seems a bit silly; can't inconvenience infant most likely still-gestating turtles. Wonder what the hurricanes do to them and who has to pay a fine.


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August 13, 2005

These Times They Are a Changin'

Would this have been newsworthy before the fall of Atkins? The thought amuses me.

Feds Aren't Subsidizing Recommended Foods

WASHINGTON - The government says half your diet should be fruits and vegetables, but it doesn't subsidize the farmers who grow them. Instead, half of all federal agriculture subsidies go to grain farmers, whose crops feed animals for meat, milk and eggs and become cheap ingredients in processed food.

What's wrong with that?

"Obesity. That's clearly the problem, if you look at the outcome in today's society," said Andy Fischer, executive director of the Community Food Security Coalition, a Venice, Calif., advocacy group.

Ha ha ha. The food pyramid changes, and now all of a sudden protein strikes us with overnight obesity.

The article then breaks down farm subsidies by type. 1.5 billion for tobacco. Disgusting. Perhaps that's what Mr. Fischer should decry. That clearly doesn't aid anyone's diet.


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Note to Self

When preparing for a 5 a.m. long bike ride, check the weather BEFORE you do anything eat breakfast. If it's supposed to rain all day, go back to bed Too late. (I can't stand to go to bed on a full stomach). So now it's wait until Brian gets up to ride the trainer (it's loud).


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August 12, 2005

iPod Jr.

There's an iPod blog. Talk about specialization. On said iPod blog I found this, which is most funny.

Scroll your child.


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August 11, 2005

Not New Fat City

Ok, New York, you're probably going too far here.

New York City wants restaurants to narrow their list of ingredients — and maybe some waistlines — by cutting out trans fats. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the voluntary change could also help fight the city's biggest killer, heart disease.

To comply, chefs would have to dump many margarines and frying oils, and possibly reworking long-held recipes for baked goods.

Do I want it labelled? You bet. I'd love to see full nutrition specs on every meal I eat. But banning ingredients? Tsk. And what's next, no Crisco in the grocery stores?

I'll clarify my stance on all of this. What people put into their own bodies (alcohol, cigarettes, food, drugs) - not my business. The only reason I get so worked up about smoking is because the byproducts affect my air when I'm around a smoker. And there are certain expectations in life where one is trapped with smoking smokers, sadly. A trans fat eater - no way to affect me.

This is way overstepping the bounds of what government should do.


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August 10, 2005

Recruitment and Selection

A couple of blogs out there on this subject, one even focused to the St. Louis area. I took a look and was pleased - this being my former career and all. Hard to believe was an available domain.

Once before I was in a titled IT position, I had a bit of good fun while interviewing a candidate. Said person figured me for the HR flunkie. Said person got some interesting follow-up questions to his BS responses. Buhahahah.

But that's like anything you do - once you're doing a particular role for a company, said people who see you in that role do exactly that - see you in that role. I still have some pretty fun inteview questions I spring on unsupecting potential hires when I tech screen. Oh, okay, I'll give you one.

Define quality.


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August 09, 2005

PETA Package

I haven't posted about PETA in quite some time, so I have quite an arsenal today. Steve of Ad Rants has two of them, and it just keeps going from there.

I'll highlight one from Ad Rants. Painted Cows become billboards.

Golden Palace, that purveyor of online gambling and supreme stunt advertiser, has dyed several Florida county cows with with its name. And to stave off PETA, they dyed "Go Veg" on the side of one of the cows.
This clearly signifies it's time for Wendy's to resurrect "Where's the beef?"

Benneton cannot escape PETA in Australia. The topic? Sheep torture. The picture's priceless. More naked people in paint. This time, solids. I'd imagine that's a quicker paint job.

Oh, wait, where was I? The Australian Wool Growers Association signed a deal with PETA that'll end a 10-year PETA boycott. Which probably means another industry is about to get bombarded. At issue is the practice of mulesing, which I had never heard of. Gory photos will give you a different picture than Wikipedia, which states that there's no effect on underlying muscle tissue. I'm assuming that's when the practice is done right.

Lambs are normally mulesed a few weeks after birth. After the operation, which takes one to two minutes, the lambs continue to behave normally. Because it is a skin snip, there is little blood loss from the cut other than a minor ooozing on the edges of the cut skin. Lambs rarely die or become ill after mulesing.

Lambs are mulesed onto clean pasture. The ewes and suckling lambs receive minimal disturbance until all wounds are completely healed (about 4 weeks). Observation is generally only at a distance.

Mulesing should be completed well before the flystrike season or else chemical protection should be provided to reduce risk to the lambs and ewes.
What else does Wikipedia have to say?

A viable alternative to mulesing has to ensure the health and well being of the lamb (many alternatives have proved to have disastrous side effects). It also has to be safe for the people carrying it out, and leave no residues in the meat or on the fleece. It certainly has to cause no more pain than mulesing and to be acceptable to the farming community both ethically and financially.

Non-surgical alternatives to mulesing currently being researched include topical protein-based treatments, selective breeding, organic insecticides and biological control of blowflies.

Merino sheep live productive lives of around eight(8) years. That means any mulesing alternatives need to be tested for a minimum of eight years to ensure the safety of the sheep and of the people who have to come in contact with whatever is used. So far, no alternative method has proved satisfactory and acceptable.

Breeding alternatives are very slow, even if GMO techniques were allowed (which is unlikely).

The eradication of the strike fly is not a viable alternative. Banning wool production would remove one of the most ecologically friendly agricultural systems for much of Australia. Farmers are currently trying to reduce the use of chemical protection in the interests of the ecology of wool processing countries
PETA's page. I could spend about 6 posts poking fun at the language of this one, even breaking out the Persuasive Attack and Defense course book.

Sheep farmers have reason to fear. Baaaaad.
Finally, remember, Being Boiled Hurts. Ow.


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Sound and Fury

Steve of Ad Rants highlights Dolby's website, which has two user interactive "experiences," as they're called. Way worth checking out. The "relaxing" spectrum of the jungle/water continuum should be very worthwhile on stressful days. I'm bookmarking it.


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August 08, 2005

Ah, Journalism

Bored in the airport and perusing the news. This from the Post-Dispatch's online site just makes me smirk.


May, is; what's the difference in journalism?


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Delayed Flight Wisdom

Just a few thoughts from the Tampa airport as I wait to board my now-three-hours-late flight.

  • The airport Chili's doesn't serve strong enough frozen drinks. Order twice as many. Shrug off the cost with an "I'm on vacation."
  • Florida marks Sea Turtle nests on the beach and declares it illegal to tamper with said nests.
  • One shouldn't sunburn her shoulders when having to carry both a heavy purse and a laptop.
  • Never ever get involved with the Literary Guild online "customer service" (an oxymoron in its own right - more to come when I have easy use of a mouse)
  • Two hours of people watching is the limit for entertainment on just two frozen margaritas.
  • Florida teaches Missourians proper skill levels for zippy U-turns.
  • A minivan is not a convertible. Somehow, a minivan is an "upgrade" for a convertible. I disagree, car rental agent.
  • WiFi in the airport...way cool
  • FreeCell - not so hard.
Horribly inane, I know.


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August 04, 2005

The Worst Song

I was brushing my teeth tonight and a song I absolutely loathe popped into my head for no reason.

Don't Mess With My Toot Toot

Made and remade by many. Urgh - what songs curse your thoughts?


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So Long Atkins Diet

So I'm a ways behind reporting that Atkins Pharamceuticals is now bankrupt defunct. Good riddance.

There's an article today from yesterday I found on CNN that says no new diet has risen to the fore. And that's probably a good thing, too.

Some are counting the minutes between meals or checking a food's glycemic index. And old-school calorie counting continues to have its followers.

This week's bankruptcy filing by the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins' old company provide fresh evidence of the low-carb diet's demise, a downward spiral that began early last year. But no single new diet has filled the void.
I'm trying to trim a few, taking advantage of my exercise schedule this year which is a little less weekend warriorish and far more steady. The new, improved food pyramid really seems to have something here. Lots of whole grains, healthy oils. If you haven't visited lately, here it is.

In everyday eating, I'm apt to grab a bowl of raisin bran topped with blackberries and raspberries. It's not exactly a small bowl, either. While this works on days I ride in the morning and burn 600 - 800 calories, I have found I don't actually NEED 350 calories of fiber filled goodness on most mornings. So doing a bit of retooling there. Fewer calories at lunch, too, and a few more in the afternoon. Also trying to nearly wipe packaged foods out of my diet. The fewer ingredients in something store bought, the better. I've gone so far as to make my own salad dressings. This adds some olive oil in. Going to dust off the breadmaker and see what high-fiber concoctions I can come up with.

Just some pre-bike ride thoughts this morning. Don't forget to eat your whole grain bread.


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