Passar Por Alto

Friday, April 18, 2014

I'm not sure that I've ever experienced this before. There was a salad in our kitchen and I seriously could not tell if it had dressing on it or not.

It was bizarre; it sort of smelled like it might have, but like it might not have. There were pieces of cucumber that were dyed sort of purplish. Evidence of something, but I'm not sure what.

But it was free salad, so of course I had some. I'm still totally unsure whether there was dressing on it or not. And the purple color to the cucumbers was from purple cabbage. Or beets.

Honestly, if there were such thing as negative PointsPlus values for a food, I'd throw this salad in that category. You know that teacher you had in school with, like, no personality whatsoever? He's the dude in the Dos Equis commercials, compared with this salad.

Luckily, I also brought lunch from home. I've actually been eating a lot of the Mexican varieties of Smart Ones recently. Or should I say "Smart Unos"?

No. No I shouldn't.

The reason for this is twofold:

1. I bought salsa. You may recall back, lo, those many days ago, when I reviewed the enchiladas and suggested they might taste even better with salsa. Well, I decided to put my theory to the test and two days later, I bought salsa and tried it. I was right.

The only problem is that there's no such thing as a small jar of salsa, it turns out. And since I wasn't eating six of those meals at once, the rest of the jar went into my company's fridge. I do not trust my company's fridge.

So, in order to use up the salsa before it gets fuzzy, I've been buying a lot of frozen Mexican meals and dumping salsa on top of them. (I figure it makes more sense than trying it with the Chinese meals.) And I can't eat a lot of the other Smart Ones meals this week because of the second reason for the Mexican foods.

B. It's Passover. Which is to say that, as a semi-observant Jewish person, I am prescribed not to eat any sort of wheat products this week. So no sandwiches. No breaded anything. No stuffing. No cakes. No cookies. No bagels. No beer.

Okay, maybe a little beer. I'm not a heathen, after all.

Wait – the heathens were the ones who drank the beer. Now I'm just confused.

The point is that I cannot have any food this week that one could describe as "leavened." Including all of the Smart Ones pastas I normally buy. One definite upshot of this is that I've been seriously cutting down on my intake of daily PointsPlus values. When you can't have carbs, it helps. "Leftover pizza? Sounds … forbidden. Never mind."

In turn, this lowering of caloric intake is a blessing because I'm heading back to Philly this weekend for my mom's family Seder. For those who don't know, the Seder is the Passover meal. Yes, I know Passover started this past Monday. My mom knows it, too. However, she always holds her Seder on the weekend so that the cousins and I can travel for it. The cousins. Doesn't matter whose.

And the thing about my mom's Seder is this: I'm going to use up every single spare PointsPlus value I have for the week. If the past is any indication, she will have (in no particular order): hard boiled eggs, matzah ball soup, brisket, corned beef, potato stuffing, baked chicken, charoset (this stuff made with apples, wine and nuts), four glasses of wine (tradition) and a really dense cake for dessert.

For those confused by the idea of cake, given the list of things I can't have, it's a yeastless cake. Three layers, and it's only about two inches tall. I think she uses an entire carton of eggs. So there's that.

And, since I've been really good about tracking recently, it's important that I have a stockpile of PointsPlus values ready, as you can see. Thank goodness for salsa.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Family


Comments (see all 4 comments)


4/19/2014 2:32 PM
Tomorrow is my first big holiday meal since I have been on WW. I will also be dipping into my 49 points which I never have done before. So I am feeling guilty already. Made deviled eggs today and meant to eat just one but I had and they are a whopping 4 pts. each. Wow I really dipped into the points. Will have to be very careful the rest of the week.

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Seeing Something, Yet Saying Nothing

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"If you see something, say something." Some of you may know these words as part of the NYC subway anti-terrorism campaign. Others may know them as the first sentence of this entry.

Oddly, I've heard these words twice this week, in presentations on two completely different topics.

The first was for newly minted supervisors and managers at my company. Yes, congratulate me. Basically, it was two hours on the legal responsibilities of management and Human Resources. Can you guess what the general idea was? That's right, "if you see something, say something." I assumed you'd get that; I wasn't trying to shroud it in mystery.

Essentially, if you see an employee doing something that could threaten the legal standing of the company, say, bullying another coworker or making out with the copy machine, you should report it to HR. In the latter instance, they also recommend unplugging the copy machine. Quietly.

The second presentation, also work-related, had to do with our building's Emergency Action Plan. I'm our floor's Deputy Fire Warden (really), which is a job I took on mainly because it'll look good on my college application.

Obviously, I'm kidding. I took the job because it came with a trucker cap and a bullhorn (see photo).

Anyway, once a year, I have to come into work early and listen to the actual Fire Marshal tell us what to do in case of a non-fire emergency. He likes saying "shelter in place" a lot. Though he did point out that in the event of an earthquake, standing at the base of our building and looking up isn't the smartest idea.

He, too, used the phrase, "If you see something, say something." As in, if you see a toxic spill in the kitchen area, call down to the front desk. Or if one of your coworkers has become a brain-eating zombie, don't keep it to yourself.

To be fair, he did not actually suggest the "brain-eating zombie" scenario; I'm extrapolating.

The thing is – mmmm…topicality – I sometimes wish this rule was applicable for Weight Watchers. Sure, I've been known to suggest the plan to a friend if they're interested in losing weight (there's nothing quite like "it's simple and it works"), but what about strangers? What about friends or coworkers who don't appear to understand the benefits they could reap by following the Weight Watchers system? The problem is, I could say, "Hey, have you ever considered Weight Watchers?" and they hear, "Hey, have you ever considered not being such a Fatty-Fat Fattenstein?"

Which, ironically, was the name of the cat in Steven King's "Pet Cemetrary."

Yeah, I made that up. And even if it were true, it's not particularly ironic. Like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.

Because I was at the deli this morning getting my turkey bacon/cheese egg-white omelet (no bread products because of Passover; more on that later this week) and the woman behind me ordered – I kid you not – "a toasted bagel with cream cheese and bacon." Let that sink in. (PointsPlus value, btw: 16.)

Without looking behind me, I assumed one of two things. Either a) she was one of those people who live at the gym and can eat anything they want or b) she was one of those people who live to eat bagels with cream cheese and bacon. It was not the first one. And I'm not judgmental; obviously, I've had my own issues with food and weight. But I really wanted to help her and just point out that maybe her breakfast choices could be improved by just cutting out … all three of those things.

No, I know how Weight Watchers works. She really could have just shaved off a bunch of those PointsPlus values by making simple substitutions – whole-wheat hollowed-out bagel, light cream cheese, turkey bacon. But, of course, I said nothing of the sort. I said nothing at all, honestly. How could I? I like my body parts whole and not in pain.

But knowing there's a system out there that works just makes me wish that "if you see something, say something" could be applied to more than just legal protections and the zombie apocalypse.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Work


Comments (see all 5 comments)

ADAM.K (Adam)

4/18/2014 4:27 PM
Well, if you're lucky, they're deaf ears. :-)

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Take That To The Bank

Friday, April 11, 2014

So here's a switch – a credit card company owes me money.

Seriously, they do. But only because I owed them money first, so maybe it's not so much of a switch. The thing is, at one point, I owed them a lot of money. Though, in my defense, about 4 months after first getting the card, I started dating a woman who lived in Bloomington, Indiana, so air travel sort of maxed out the card pretty quickly.

I realize that's not much of a defense.

If only I tracked my finances as fastidiously as my PointsPlus values, I probably wouldn’t be in this predicament. Or, rather, the first predicament. The company owing me money – that's not really a predicament as much as it is cause for celebration. Also, I've used the word "predicament" so often now that it's starting to lose all meaning.

Predicament. Predicament. Predicament.

Moving on…

Anyway, the reason the card company owes me money is that the people I hired to help manage my money apparently aren't great at it, either. It was one of those credit card repayment companies. You've probably seen or heard their adds: "Stop! Harassing phone calls. Drop! What you're doing this instant. Roll! To your phone and call us."

Still, these guys reduced my card payments (it was actually three cards; I also had a dog around that time that underwent some pretty expensive surgery) down to "manageable," which is code for "the amount you'll have to pay to get rid of this debt in 5 years regardless of whether you can afford it."

When I think of all the fat-free pudding I could have bought with that money…I could have single-handedly stopped them from closing the pudding mines in my hometown. Grandpa Bob would have never lost his foreman's job and – yeah, that's just weird. I'm sorry.

So the thing is this: they actually overpaid the credit card company by a full month's planned payment. So I hit the zero mark in March and they sent April's payment anyway. So the credit card company owes me my own money. So even though I get to deposit a check, I'm what's called "breaking even."

It's like breaking bad, but without the viewership.

The point is that managing your weight really isn't all that different from managing your finances. You get "credits" and calculate "values" and you have an "allowance" – it's like a body bank. Gimme a minute while I trademark that.

Okay, it's like a BodyBank™.

And I've realized that if I can track on a daily basis and keep my daily intake of PointsPlus values within my budget, plus the added weekly "bonus" (see? BodyBank™!), then I can do the same with my finances.

Or, at worst, I'll be an in-shape, healthier, better-looking poor person. I'm kind of okay with that, too.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Fun


Comments (see all 2 comments)

ZANAZE (Carla)

4/11/2014 8:11 PM
Puddin' mines......mmmmmmm.

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Weigh Cool

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Whenever I would show up to my old At Work meetings, the group leader, Beth, would have this whole array of Weight Watchers products spread out on a table, just waiting for us to buy them. There would be snacks low in PointsPlus values, measuring cups, cookbooks (love the cookbooks), and even food scales for your kitchen to help you know exactly how much meat to put on your cereal.

Or am I the only one who does that?

Sometimes I'd buy things; usually I wouldn't. But I always kept thinking about how useful that scale would be – not only in my kitchen, but really great at a restaurant. Of course then I thought about how weird it might look weighing my food in a restaurant, but since I'd probably be wearing a tuxedo jacket and a Speedo, they wouldn't be looking at my Weight Watchers scale at all.

Or am I the only one who does that?

I mention this today because I learned a great lesson this past weekend – Weight Watchers also makes people scales! I bought one. Technically, I think, it's made by Conair, but it definitely has the little Weight Watchers logo at the bottom. For the record, going to your weigh-in in just a tuxedo jacket and Speedo is generally frowned upon, but it's totally okay to do a home weigh-in wearing whatever you want.

Well, not whatever you want. It is, for example, unacceptable to do a home weigh-in wearing an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. That's really frowned upon. And now you see where the line is drawn.

It's a cool scale, though. Not only does it measure your weight, but if you program in your height and age, it also tells you your BMI, your fat percentage, your hydration percentage, your bone density, and, I'm pretty sure, it even analyzes why you keep having those dreams at night where you're a guest at Darth Vader's wedding to Tyrion Lannister.

Or am I the only one who does that?

Actually, I'm pretty sure the scale does not, in fact, promise to psychoanalyze you. It wasn't on the box, anyway.

Speaking of buying new things in boxes (a stretch, I know), I also tried a new Smart Ones food for lunch yesterday – the Chicken Enchiladas Suiza. I looked it up; Suiza is Spanish for Switzerland. So this is one of your more typical Swiss-Mexican foods, the list of which also includes … um … this one time when I put spätzle in a taco shell.

Actually, Suiza, in this instance I'm told, refers to the creamy sauce on top. Maybe it recalls the snow-capped mountains or skiing through sour cream or something. Honestly, I don't care. It was really tasty. It was so tasty that I didn't even notice the zucchini, and I very much dislike zucchini. Pretty much all gourds that aren't pumpkins, to tell the truth. So now you know what not to get me for my birthday.

On the binary scale (for those of you new to my blog, I rate all foods on the binary scale of either 1 = "I liked it" or 0 = "I did not like it"), this definitely gets a 1. It tasted pretty good, it was truly filling, and you really can't beat two enchiladas in a creamy cheese sauce with a PointsPlus value of only 7. So don't think of trying to beat that. I told you that you can't.

Also, you know how I like to tinker with the frozen foods. I was thinking that to make this even better, it would really zing with some salsa on top of it. Two reasons: a) salsa on its own has a PointsPlus value of 0, and ii) as I was eating it, I felt like fresh tomato would have been a great addition. Don't you hate it when you find that the desk drawer you usually fill with salsa is empty?

Lemme guess; I'm the only one who does that.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Shopping


Comments (see all 11 comments)

BRECKANRIDGE86 (Katherine)

4/11/2014 4:07 PM
Darth Vader + Tyrion Lannister = Forever Love ROFLMAO!!!!!

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HIMMG (How I Met My Gym)

Friday, April 04, 2014

When I was in college, a small group of my friends and I used to play racquetball regularly. In part, this was a way to keep in shape and in part, we discovered that after an hour-and-a-half of racquetball, two guys can get fairly buzzed splitting one beer.

But mostly the first one.

The thing is, Tufts, where I went to college, did not have racquetball courts, at least not at the time. We were forced to play it on soccer fields, which, if you know anything about racquetball, just works terribly.

I'm kidding, though we were forced to play on squash courts, which are similar to racquetball courts, but the dimensions are a little different, the surfaces are designed to deaden bounces (rather than enhancing them, as in racquetball), and – at least in our case – there was a wide-open window on the back wall for the viewing gallery. Turns out in squash, you never hit the ball really hard and high off the back wall. Not the case in racquetball. Each of us at some point while viewing the game below us got smacked in the face by an errant return. "Oh, so this is why they wear goggles."

Anyway, jumping ahead a bunch of years, there I was, living in New York, looking for a gym. The first gym I went into was way too soft. Instead of weight machines, there were pillow fights. The second gym I went into was way too hard. Instead of water bottles, there were rocks. The third gym I went to … you know where I'm going with this.

Pillow fights and rock water!

Actually, it wound up being kind of a no-brainer for me in the end. After some exhaustive research (read: looking it up on the web), I determined that New York Health and Racquet Club was the only non-private (or at least non-sell-your-firstborn-to-pay-for-a-membership) gym in Manhattan that even offered racquetball. Hence, I assume, the name.

So now I belong to NYHRC. The one drawback to NYHRC is that they do not have any locations near my apartment. This is okay during the week, as there is one near my office (though they don't offer racquetball at that location), but on weekends – it sounds bad, I know – sometimes I'm too lazy to go from Queens into Manhattan to go to the gym.

And it's not about the working out part. I'll go for a two-hour walk around Astoria Park, if the weather's nice. It really is about the commute. So I occasionally toy with the idea of joining the gym in my neighborhood that I pass every day to and from the subway, and which is open 24/7. The only real drawback is that because there's only one location, I could no longer go to the gym after work and then grab dinner or a drink in Manhattan. Again, it's about the commute.

Also, the one time I did visit them, they gave me a really hard sell, which is kind of a pet peeve of mine. (Speaking of which, what happens to the peeves that no one adopts as a pet? Are there a bunch of feral peeves out there, just lurking in the shadows, hunting in packs at night?)

However, something happened this week that totally cemented once and for all my disinterest in joining the gym near me ("I can clearly not join the gym in front of me…"). I'm guessing you've seen it already, but take a look at my photo. Not my photo. The one at the top right. You might have to read a little carefully. Admittedly, I'm an editor; finding stuff like this comes second nature.

Okay, you see it? Yeah. I know it seems petty, but, especially given my profession, I just can't join a gym that misspells a word my 6-year-old niece could probably get right. Given, she's all kinds of smart.

While we're at it, I should also find out who made the sign. And call them once a week to laugh.

So for now, it's NYHRC. And if anyone wants to challenge me in racquetball, I should warn you, I'm squash-court trained. Also, I rip droids' arms out of their sockets when I lose.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Fitness


Comments (see all 4 comments)


4/9/2014 10:20 AM
I am sure some grumpy old man in his rocking chair gives all those lost peeves all a home...leaves milk on the back he rocks and watches for children that may step on his lawn....

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Best Invention Since … Well, It IS Sliced Bread

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

(Author's Note: given the date, three of the claims in this entry will be April Fool's jokes. Whoever can identify all three will win a prize.)

Every time I visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York or any similar institution, at some point I come across a painting that's say, a large white square. Or a large red square with a black square in the corner. And I think to myself, "I could have done that." Often, the person next to me is saying out loud, "I could have done that."

The answer to both of those claims, of course, is "Yes, but you didn't. This guy did and now his painting is hanging in a famous museum."

It's the same with certain inventions or websites. "I could have thought of an online auction site." Yes, but you didn't. Unless you're Pierre Omidyar and you're reading this, in which case, you did. And go Jumbos.

While it's easy to say, "I could have done that." It's somewhat harder to say, "I wish I'd thought of that." They're very similar ideas, but the second one shoulders more responsibility. "I didn't think of that." "I didn't do that." Admitting you'd wish you'd thought of something doesn't belittle the contribution of the person who did take the initiative or have the mental light bulb turn on in the middle of the night.

That said, I found a product the other day that I really wish I'd thought of: Smart Bagels.

They're bagles, but they play mp3s and let you check your e-mail while they're toasting.

Also, they're really flat.

I mean, really flat.

Like when you take a bagel, hollow out the middle, grab two really big books and press it like a flower flat.

But here's the thing – they're only 100 calories per bagel. This is because, obviously, they're really flat. Like my friend Lisa singing on long car rides flat. But do they taste like bagels? Absolutely. Do they toast like bagels? You bet your bottom dollar. Can you slide them under the door to feed the monster you keep in the attic? Probably.

And he might lose some weight.

To put this in context: a McDonald's Egg McMuffin is 300 calories, roughly 8 PointsPlus values. One whole-wheat Smart Bagel? 2.

AND they're pre-cut. I know, right?

Look, I'm not gonna say they're the best bagels I've ever had. They're not. But given that one serving of a regular plain bagel has a PointsPlus value of 4 for half a large bagel, it seems like a pretty obvious decision to me.

Again, really sorry I didn't think of that. Also, I don't own a bakery, or a bagel-making water rolling sink thing, so even if I had thought of it – "What about a flat bagel?" – I couldn’t have capitalized on it.

However, never one to miss a bandwagon moneymaking opportunity, as of this morning, I do own the patent for flat cream cheese.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Food


Comments (see all 2 comments)

ADAM.K (Adam)

4/2/2014 11:07 AM
Actually, the first April Fool's joke was that there were 3 of them. The second one was that there was a contest. You got the others right, though. But if I did have a monster in my attic, I'd totally slip him thin bagels under the door.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm pretty excited for this weekend. You want to know why? You do, don't you? Maybe I won't tell you.

Okay, I'll tell you. I'm excited because my fridge is stocked. Most weeks, I go grocery shopping on Monday for the rest of the week, but by the time the weekend rolls around, it's sort of a coin toss whether or not I actually purchased the right amount of food, five days earlier. And whether it's food I feel like eating.

This is why, in terms of staying on Plan, weekends tend to be dangerous for me. Actually, weekends are probably dangerous for most of us, but since I don't write this blog about your life, I don't presume to know what your weekends are like. Maybe you eat only kale.

Maybe not.

Anyway, beyond the obvious – overindulging in alcohol and alcohol-friendly products (Chex mix, onion rings, beef stroganoff, etc.) – the really bad temptation for me is

If you don't live in an area with Seamless Web or services like it (Menu Pages, Grub Hub), basically, it allows you to go online and order food for delivery. The reason Seamless is especially dangerous for me is that weekend afternoons are often my "catching up on TV" time. Don't get me started on how dangerous my DVR is. And my really slippery hunting knife. Also quite dangerous.

But, yeah, so weekend afternoons. I'm usually sitting around at home in a t-shirt and gym shorts, just watching TV. And, especially in the colder months, the thought of putting on outdoor clothes and running to the grocery store or the deli and ordering and waiting and interacting with people can just be overwhelming. Well, not overwhelming. I mean if I get overwhelmed at the thought of getting dressed and going out to buy food, I have bigger problems than being hungry. But staying inside and getting delivery pretty much always seems like the better option.

The danger comes not from my lack of motivation to leave the indoors, but rather from two other sources: a) the order minimum. Most places listed on Seamless have a delivery minimum of $10 or $15. Which means you often order more food than you really want. If I want a $4 turkey-and-cheese sandwich and a $2.50 bottle of Diet Coke, even with the tax, I'm probably stuck buying some sort of side. And let's be fair, there are rarely healthy options on the "sides" menu. When the lowest-calorie meal addition you can find is potato salad, that presents a problem.

And 2) the vast variety of food one can order online. Obviously, it's possible to order foods that are low in PointsPlus values. One diner near me offers a house salad with fat-free ranch dressing and grilled shrimp. That's pretty darn tasty and pretty darn low. Except I don't always want to order a house salad with fat-free ranch dressing and grilled shrimp. I didn't even like typing it twice.

One of the topics we used to discussed in my At Work meeting was the difference between what a real serving of food is and how much restaurants actually give you. A staple of Weight Watchers advice is to have half of your meal bagged up before you eat it. This is not a useful piece of advice if you're ordering in, however. "I'll have the Western omelet. Can you bag half of that and then bag the whole thing? Thanks." It's tough to take food home from home.

Which brings me to my original point: I'm thrilled that my fridge is full. Seamless won't tempt me this weekend. Except I don't have eggs at home. Drat.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Shopping


Comments (see all 3 comments)

ADAM.K (Adam)

3/28/2014 7:25 PM
Right. All I have to do is make it through 14 David Bowie songs in about 3 hours from now. And then it's home to a stocked fridge. After maybe a little drinking with the band. Light beer only.

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Checks, Basketballs and Me

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I know I said it on this blog a while ago, but every now and then I’m reminded of something quite profound a friend said in a Weight Watchers meeting once: sitting is better than lying down, standing is better than sitting, walking is better than standing, and running is better than walking.

Maybe it’s not that profound. But still good advice.

Actually, it’s advice I try to take at least once a day, whether I’m on the subway, in a meeting or trying to sleep.

Kidding about that last one. Everyone sleeps while running. Duh.

Seriously, though, as an example, I often notice that the people who would benefit most from Weight Watchers are the same ones forcing their way into subway seats. They should try standing more often. I’m not trying to be particularly catty; I live in a city with a lot of people who could really be helped by Weight Watchers. Admittedly, I also live in a city with a lot of people who could really be helped by admitting that Staten Island should really be part of New Jersey. So there’s that.

However, and I know I mention it a lot, somewhere better than standing and probably not as good as walking is what I’ve been doing on and off for the last week: standing and playing piano.

Yes, I know most people sit to play piano. I am not most people.

Actually, none of us are “most people,” technically. Then we’d really need Weight Watchers.

However, if you cast your baby blues to the upper right, you’ll see my current keyboard setup. Yes, there’s a seat. However, this month’s gig, a tribute to David Bowie, requires me to use the smaller keyboard sitting on the stand extension. It’s mostly a technical reason, involving a problem I’m having splitting the bottom, theoretically better, keyboard into two sounds.

And yes, all my readers have blue eyes. By definition.

Where was I?

Right. There’s a seat. Technically, a piano bench. I found it on the street. Really. Someone was throwing away a perfectly good piano bench. Perfectly good.

However, I can’t sit on the seat and play the top keyboard. Well, I can. My arms are more than 10 inches long. But it’s not entirely convenient. (I admit it. Mostly I have the two-keyboard stand because it looks cool.)

Which brings me to my point: this week, while practicing David Bowie songs, I’ve been standing the whole time. Or, rather, I’ve really been bouncing the whole time. Yeah. You listen to “Suffragette City” and try not to bounce.

I didn’t think so.

I think my downstairs neighbor hates me.

That’s not hyperbole; he or she actually started banging on the ceiling around 11:30 on Monday night. I’m guessing it was to get me to stop bouncing. It worked.

I admit, I’m not tracking my Activity PointsPlus values for “bouncing.” But I can’t see how it wouldn’t be helping me lose weight.

Or, as the Thin White Duke says, “Have you been the un-American, just you and your id singing falsetto 'bout leather, leather everywhere and not a myth left from the **** ?”

Yeah, I have no idea what that means, either.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Fun


Comments (see all 4 comments)

ADAM.K (Adam)

3/27/2014 5:45 PM
I actually often do post info. We play the last Friday of every month at the Delancey Bar on Delancey St. In the basement. I'm not making this up. Unless we're doing a whole night of tributes, we usually go on at 11. Hope that helps. I'll be the guy bouncing behind the keyboard.

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We're Havin' A Party

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Things are going great! My brother got a promotion! Tall Bartender got a bonus at work! SciFi Girl found a job and an apartment! I won $1 on Mega Millions!

Given, I immediately bought another lottery ticket with it, so I'm feeling very smart. You're welcome, New York State.

But it's really SciFi Girl's new apartment that I want to talk about. Or, rather, her housewarming tonight. Or, rather, the dish I'm making for her housewarming tonight. Have I mentioned how much I appreciate the Weight Watchers cookbooks?

Actually, I think I have. But I’ll mention it again. I have four of them and they rock. So I flipped through a bunch of the appetizers sections and came up with something totally yummy – Ham-and-Swiss Mini Quiches! They say real men don’t eat quiche, but they never met me. Or I’m a fake man. It would explain the cricket that acts as my conscience.

Anyway, I feel as though making Weight Watchers quiche achieves three things:

i. It proves to people that I can cook a little bit. Unless I’m being totally lazy, I hate showing up to a party with something that’s obviously store bought. “Hey, guys. I made these potato chips by hand and then vacuum sealed them in a bag made from a material I can’t identify.” That rarely works.

2. It allows me the knowledge that at least one thing at the party other than the crudités (and I love me some crudités) is low in PointsPlus values. These quiches, for example, have a PointsPlus value of only 1 per piece. And with the meat and the cheese and the phyllo dough, they’re even pretty filling. And tasty. (Total disclosure: I’ve already made them today and eaten two.)

C. It lets me say things like, “Would you believe that’s fat-free half-and-half in there? I know, right?” and “I can’t believe the egg substitute works just as well. You wouldn’t know the difference.” In other words, I get to pretend I’m in a commercial for stuff.

I do, honestly, like finding out when a lower-calorie food can be substituted for its less slimming counterpart without any real loss of flavor or quality. I think I’ve mentioned my homemade hollandaise sauce; low-fat mayo, lemon juice and mustard and no one knows the difference. It can be fun experimenting with foods that are lower in PointsPlus values just to see if there’s anything discernibly missing from the final product. Most of the time, there’s not. Though my mom once actually bought fat-free, sugar-free, salt-free hot dogs. They tasted literally like nothing.

Seriously, they did. They were like black holes of flavor. They made my ketchup bland.

So, yes. I have made them and there they are. For those of you who have yet to purchase said cookbook (in this case, Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook), what are you waiting for? Jeez. Also, here are the ingredients: lean ham, Swiss cheese, phyllo pastry shells, fat-free egg substitute, fat-free half-and-half, Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt. But because you don’t own the book yet, I’ll let you figure out how to combine them. Hint: don’t put the shells into the ham.

And that’s really all I got for today. Actually, the weather’s beautiful (well, not Florida beautiful, but NYC-in-March beautiful), so I think I’m gonna go for a stroll. A leisurely jaunt, if you will. A whimsical promenade. Sorry. I’ve been watching “Saving Mr. Banks.”

I wholeheartedly invite you to do the same (walk or watch the movie; totally your call. It’s the weekend) or entertain yourself in whatever way you deem fit. Other than stealing money from orphans. That kind of thing don't fly with me. Ya dig?

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Cooking


Comments (see all 4 comments)


3/25/2014 7:46 PM
I love the WW cookbooks. I always find something new to make when Im in a rut :)

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Luck o' the Jewish

Friday, March 21, 2014

It happens every so often (this year) that St. Patrick's and Purim fall within the same weekend. While I was in Florida this last week, I made sure to prepare, since the combination of the two can be dangerous. For those of you not familiar with Purim, let me explain. For those of you not familiar with St. Patrick's Day, I'm not sure how to finish this sentence.


Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom called Shushan, lived a king called Ahashueros. Yes, his people studiously avoided saying "gesundheit" every time his name was mentioned.

Ahashueros was looking for a new queen, and a Jewish friend of the court named Mordecai convinced his niece Esther to audition. After a grueling competition, in which apparently her major talent was not telling the king she was Jewish, she won. Huzzah!

Meanwhile, Mordecai was involved in a bit of a row with the king's top advisor, a funny little man in a tri-cornered hat named Haman. (The advisor was named Haman, that is. I have no idea what the hat was named.) As the story goes, the king had decreed that everyone needed to bow before Haman, but Mordecai refused. So in one of the most spectacular overreactions in history, Haman decided to exterminate all of the Jews in the kingdom.

Short story shorter, Mordecai got wind of the plan, possibly because Haman, showing a distinct lack of subtlety, had already begun to construct the gallows. Mordecai tells Esther that she needs be brave and go to the king to reveal that, because she's Jewish, Haman's plan would amount to some form of regicide.

Ahashueros sees the light and, in lieu of Mordecai being hanged, Haman winds up at the wrong end of that rope. As often happens with the Jewish people, our story of survival becomes a holiday. We call this one Purim, and we celebrate our narrowly escaping annihilation by eating jelly-filled cookies shaped like our enemy's hat.

No, seriously, we do. Google "Hamantaschen." See?

We also dress up in costume and read from the Book of Esther, also known as the Megillah (yes, the whole Megillah). And we drink. A lot. There's an old rabbinical saying, in fact, that on Purim one should get so drunk that it's hard to tell Mordecai from Haman. The fact that they both had beards probably helps.

So we've got a Jewish drinking holiday (the Jewish drinking holiday, really) on the same weekend as St. Paddy's. Let that sink in.

As you know, I enjoy imbibing the occasional light beers. So how did I handle back-to-back drinking holidays? With aplomb, of course. And a lot of preparation.

Friday, I arrived at my grandparents' in Sarasota. I then spent Sunday-Wednesday with my friend Jackie (she of the pool). The things I did at my grandparents' to prepare for the things I did at Jackie's, in no particular order:
1. spent an hour on the elliptical machine at their health club
ii. walked to and from the closest Publix (approx. 1.5 hours), in order to buy them some flowers for their anniversary
C. walked for a half hour around the community where they live and another half hour around the Westfield Sarasota Square mall during the intermission of the opera we were seeing (really)
IV. ordered as much seafood, salad, and lean meat as I could, while avoiding the appetizers at Saturday's cocktail party

In the end, did I go over my PointsPlus budget? Yup. Did I go over it by a staggering amount? No. I'm not thrilled to have overindulged, though I did not surprise anyone by doing so. Between hanging out with another Jewish friend of Jackie's poolside on Sunday night and going out to some generic Irish pub (Steaky McNubbins?) on Monday, I put away a lot of Bud Light and Miller Lite. And one Michelob Ultra.

However, I am okay with knowing that I prepped about as much as I could. I gave myself a good buffer of Activity PointsPlus values so as to mitigate the combined effects of Purim and St. Paddy's. And I did it all while wearing shorts. Florida is so much warmer than New York. So much. So much warmer.

I'm gonna go sulk a little now.

Talk to you soon.

Categories: Fun


Comments (see all 7 comments)

BRECKANRIDGE86 (Katherine)

3/23/2014 1:34 PM
I'm Irish and survived the holiday by ignoring lame and boring...but being in the middle of my grad school finals helped... Your stuff sounds SO MUCH MORE FUN! I'm jelly.

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