Thursday, November 29, 2007

St. Andrew's Eve, November 29th

St. Andrew's Eve

St. Andrew's Eve is an exciting day, or night, actually, because vampires can walk freely. I haven't been able to find a reason why, except that the legend seems to be Romanian.

So, in order to avoid the walking vampires, we are supposed to rub garlic on our hair and our window and door frames. Also, if a vampire talks to us, specifically asking us if we have eaten garlic, we shouldn't answer him... or her. I think this advice is good. If someone asks you if you have eaten garlic, it would be fair to asses the question as either rude or vampiresque. If it's not a vampire it would have been more polite if they had just offered gum or a mint.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day, November 7th

Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

Almonds and chocolate, you can't do much wrong with that combination. But, if it's not quite your favorite combination, or not what you have around your house left over from Halloween, and you still need a little snack to help deal with the post election day blues, here is a little article that will analyze your personality by candy choice.

Bittersweet? Maybe. But only because the two candies that I passed out for Halloween Bit O'Honey, and Twix say that I have split personalities. Hrump. Maybe it would be better to just keep it simple with chocolate covered nuts.

Anyway, enjoy your sucranalysis!

TRICK OR TREAT: What does your candy say about you? Analysis says Butterfinger givers might be slippery; Snickers givers are dependable.

Steve Almond's candy-giver analysis:
• Three 3 Musketeers: Does well in groups but is somewhat pompous. Prone to fancy costumes and arcane weapons. Wears hats in public that are ill-advised.
History: Created in 1932 by Mars, the candy bar got its name because it originally had three pieces in one packet: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.

Calorie count: The Fun Size (17 grams) has 71 calories.

• Almond Joy: I'm going to put aside my aversion to coconut in praising these folks as happy-go-lucky.
History: Introduced in 1946 by the Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing Co. in New Haven, Conn. It's a companion to the Mounds bar, which arrived in 1920.

Calorie count: The snack size (19 grams) has 91 calories.

• Bit-O-Honey: They have contradictory personalities, hoping to express generosity but also having the passive-aggressive desire to damage the fillings of trick-or-treaters.
History: The honey-flavored taffy was first manufactured in 1924 by the Schutter-Johnson Co. of Chicago. It is now made by Nestle.

Calorie count: The snack size (7 grams) has 26 calories.

• Butterfinger: Evasive, slippery, not necessarily to be trusted.
History: Invented in 1923 by the Curtiss Candy Co. of Chicago. The crunchy bar wrapped in chocolate is now made by Nestle.

Calorie count: The Fun Size (21 grams) has 100 calories.

• Candy Corn: Purely deluded people. They don't get that candy shouldn't attempt to imitate other food groups, particularly corn.
History: Invented in the 1880s, it was first manufactured commercially by the Wunderle Candy Co. in Philadelphia and by the turn of the century at the Herman Goelitz Candy Co. in Cincinnati.

Calorie count: A serving of 22 pieces (40 grams) has 140 calories.

• Good & Plenty: Optimistic, perhaps overly so. A little bit of Weimar energy. Strong advocate of gay rights; acquainted with the bitterness at the center of most lives.
History: The licorice candy was first produced in 1893 by the Quaker City Confectionery Co. in Philadelphia and is considered the oldest branded candy in the country.

Calorie count: A serving of 33 pieces (39 grams) has 140 calories, or 4.2 calories per piece.

• Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: Generous souls. Those who understand the salty in life, as well as the sweet.
History: Created by Harry Burnett Reese in the 1920s. Reese was a former dairy employee of Milton Hershey, founder of the Hershey Co. In 1963, the Reese candy company was sold to Hershey for $23.5 million.

Calorie count: A one-cup package (17 grams) has 88 calories.

• Snickers: Just going with the crowd, the safe candy choice, guaranteed to please the masses. Not ambitious, but dependable.
History: Created in 1930 by Mars, Snickers bars sold for a nickel. The Fun Size was introduced in 1968.

Calorie count: The Fun Size (15 grams) has 72 calories.

• Twix: Both brittle and supple in social situations; sort of trapped between personality types.
History: A Mars product, caramel-and-cookie Twix bars were created in the United Kingdom in 1967 but weren't sold in the United States until 1979.

Calorie count: The Fun Size (15 grams) has 80 calories.

• Twizzlers: Sickos. Truly demented. Plastic people living plastic lives.
History: The Twizzlers brand was introduced in 1929. The red licorice strips are manufactured by Y&S Candies, a company established in 1845 that is now a Hershey subsidiary.

Calorie count: One package (70 grams) has 240 calories.(Houston October 29, 2007)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Love Nachos Day, November 6th

I Love Nachos Day

If you don't go to a movie just to sit back and eat some cheesy nachos today, at least check out this website which is full of fun nacho poetry.

And if nacho poetry inspires the creative cook in you, then you should check out this website which has lots of fun and new nacho ideas, including nachos with almonds and nachos with apples. Lots of nacho fun for everyone!

Yeah for Nachos!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Football's First Forward Pass, aka I Can Move Forward Day November 1st

On November 1st in 1913 Notre Dame introduced the first forward pass in a game against Army at West Point. Notre Dame scored 35 points to Army's 13. In honor of this ground breaking game, I am naming November 1st I Can Move Forward Day.

The reasons for I Can Move Forward Day are personal. Basically, I have had a very emotionally difficult six weeks. Normally, my gut reaction to this type of personal stress is to want to crawl under the covers and hide until someone makes me come out. Fortunately, I seem to have grown up a bit because I can't do that this time, because hiding is isn't productive nor is it healthy.

I had spent the last three days writing out the details of what had happened over the last six weeks, but I have decided not to post what I wrote for a few reasons. First, it doesn't really fit the scope of my blog; second, it felt whiney, even though there were a few cleverly phrased parts; and third, I'm shy, and I don't feel like sharing all of it. But, I am going to share some of it, and hopefully it won't feel like the whiney parts.

Anyway, the core of my stress is that I found out that my Multiple Sclerosis has progressed. I have progressed from Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis to Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Because of this progression, I am going to have to increase the dosage of one of my medications, (Interferon Beta 1-A going from brand name Avonex 30 mcg once a week to Rebif 44 mcg three times a week). This increase could effect my ability to work full time, which would effect my insurance, which would effect my ability to get treatment... and so on, and so on.

I haven't really noticed an increase in my disability, but the MRI that I had in August showed that I have 26 lesions on my brain. Last year I had 12. The year before that I had 7, and the year before that I had 5. Basically, the lesions are places where the brain doesn't work any more because my immune system has attacked my nervous system and the cells that have been attacked form scar tissue through a process called demyelination.

So, my brain has so many holes it's like Swiss cheese. (Which means it's normal that I loose my keys every other day and lock myself out of my apartment at midnight on a Sunday night, and when people notice that I am being a bit of an airhead I can just say, "It's okay, I have 26 holes in my brain!") But, the way that my doctor gave me this information was not good. (Let's just say, doctors should read their patient files before they go into the exam room so they don't say things like, "Well, at least you've already have had your children, so you don't have to worry about pregnancy on these medications" and "Maybe we should save the rest of this conversation until your husband can be here.") Then, the same week that I got all this news, my brother was in a major car accident. So, that week wasn't a good week.

But that was in September, and I have had all of October to get used to the idea of new treatment, and today, the first day of November, is a good day for a fresh start. I had my follow-up appointment with my doctor. The doctor had me schedule a follow-up because the one in September was so emotional he wanted to give me time to come to terms with all the new information. Today's appointment was mostly setting up all the technical stuff for my new treatment. I have to have a home health nurse come in to show me how to do everything the right way. I had to get all the right insurance preauthorizations. I have to sign over the title of my car and my non-existent first-born for every monthly co-pay... but, I actually feel okay about this new first step. The positive thing is, even though my MRI looks really bad-- bad enough for the doctors to be really, really concerned, I am functioning fairly well, and I feel pretty good, most days. In fact, I think that most of my not feeling good is due to side effects of my medications that are supposed to be stopping the progression of the Multiple Sclerosis. Which is why I have had such a difficult time deciding to increase the dosage of those medications.

After today's appointment, I feel really positive about moving forward (and it doesn't hurt that the needle is significantly smaller for the Rebif) not dwelling on all of this negative stuff I have had in my head these last six weeks. I haven't ever seen a football game without at least one forward pass (at least I can't remember a significant one). Even with a strong running game, the best offense needs to mix things up with a few passes, and everyone loves to see a completed long-reach-for-it-and-run-for-the-end-zone pass. Perhaps, this new medication will be one of those passes where I can hear the footsteps of the defense right on me, and the end zone is just right there when the ball just comes over my shoulder into my hands... you know, just perfect.