Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Many Uses of PB

Ask any of my friends what my favorite food is, and within the first couple guesses most likely they'd tell you it was peanut butter. I LOVE peanut butter, and advocate it as a super food to most of my buddies, always trying to serve them up my favorite, banana + PB. If my stomach was big enough and it didn't contain quite so much fat (although it's the good kind), I could probably chow down on a whole jar of peanut butter without getting too sick of it. It's great paired with almost anything...bananas, apples, celery, graham crackers, chocolate, cookies, jelly, ice cream, honey, bread, oatmeal, etc. etc.

So when I came across an article this morning that further opened my eyes to the versatility of peanut butter, I knew had to share it. The article went far beyond showing my favorite super-tasty PB's multifaceted talents in the food industry, explaining how the protein-packed food could be a shining star everywhere from the cleaning industry to the mechanic's industry.

Check it out: http://listverse.com/2009/03/01/top-10-unusual-uses-for-peanut-butter/

Even if you aren't raving about PB's taste like me, after taking a look at this you might find yourself raving about its other, less conventional uses. And if you're looking for a good PB to also use for eating, try my favorite brand- Crazy Richard's (add a teaspoon of salt, stir, and viola...pure ecstacy).

Sunday, June 28, 2009


This is insane. Federer truly shows his nearly perfect poise and skills here. Check it out. Even if you're not a Federer fan, you will at least gain a little respect for him after viewing this recent 2009 Wimbledon clip.


Federer is to play Soderling on Monday, a reproduction of the 2009 championship French Open where Federer had a fairly easy 3 set win over Soderling to win the French Open trophy. This time, on grass, will Soderling be able to pull through and beat the ledgendary Roger Federer to advance to the next round of Wimbledon? I guess we'll find out. I'm hedging my bets on another victory for Federer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Mourning over MJ?...well I've got some pretty outstanding news to cheer you up and get that smile back on your face. Get ready for what I'm about to tell you next.........
Blueberry season has arrived!! And you know what that means: pick-your-own ripe, juicy, blueicious blueberries...Mmmm...summer can't get much better than the sweet, delicious (and nutritious) fruits it births.

Blueberries are the superheroes of fruit, often boasting of their various cancer-preventing properties. Blueberries are rich in maganese, fiber, and an assortment of antioxidants such as Vitamins C & E. They have been said to slow aging, help prevent heart disease, cancer, diseases of the eye, and dementia, to name a few. Blueberries are low in calories, high in nutrients, and high in fiber, so they move right through you.

Besides all of their numerous health benefits, bluberries just down right taste good! And they can be added to almost anything (okay, well maybe not anything, but a lot of things!). For breakfast, try throwing them in a smoothie, oatmeal, pancakes, or a fruit salad. For lunch, add them to your yogurt or just eat them plain as a snack. And for dinner, try adding some to your salads and pair with a goat cheese and a fruity vinagrette. They are also great for desserts, such as pies, tarts, chocolate and cream bowls, and muffins. I always make blueberry buckle when blueberry season rolls around. It's a sweet, irresistable treat that can be eaten for breakfast, dessert, or as a snack anytime in between. Blueberries can be cooked and made into a sauce to be poured over ice cream, but are also great just simply picked, washed, and thrown into a nice bowl of cold ice cream (try no-fat vanilla frozen yogurt).

It's definitely worth making the trip out to a pick-your-own place. The mouth-watering taste of blueberries picked right off the bush is a taste that can be found nor fulfilled anywhere else. Plus, when I go to pick-your-own places, while I'm filling up my basket I almost always gourge myself on nature's blue candy until my stomach's at its fullest capactiy- for FREE. Not only am I getting as many blueberries as I can eat in a day for free, the one's you pick are also sold at a much cheaper rate than those in the grocery store. If there aren't any fruit orchards near enough for your convenience or you simply don't have the time to go pick, be sure to try and purchase blueberries from a locally grown shop or farmer's market. The taste will by far beat that of blueberries purchased in any nearby grocery store.

So get out there. Get picking. Get eating. Get nutrient-boosting your body. And get into having some fun, enjoying one of summer's best offerings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Sweet Treat

So I'm into food, which is probably evident from some of my recent posts. In fact, at one time I even planned on going to the Culinary Institute of America...but like many indecisive kids, I changed my mind last last minute and decided to enroll at a regular liberal arts college instead. Needless to say, I'm happy with my decision, however that doesn't mean I'm not an avid fan of cooking anymore. I enjoy getting in the kitchen every now and then and conjuring up a full course meal. However, I've always had a special predilection for baking, and that's why you'll often find me banging around pots and pans in the kitchen the most.

When I got really into baking, as in creating some kind of pastry almost everyday (this was still when I wanted to attend culinary school), I started to notice that if I wanted to bake everyday and eat the food too, I'd need to make a few changes in the dishes I was creating. Like any kid, I enjoyed making the cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, etc. and I enjoyed eating them too. Clearly this is an "easy as pie" way to put on some weight, and that I did. As active as I am, I still managed to gain a few pounds, which was fine with me because I've always been naturally strong. That is, until the scale kept insidiously increasing to a point where I decided I either had to quit my excessive baking, or I had to learn how to not eat my baked goods everyday. Both options would be hard for me, but instead of giving up one of my favorite hobbies, I opted for trying to eat less of my creations. I started giving most of my baked goods away, which wasn't hard because I was already handing out large portions of what I'd make before. The hardest part was not sampling the food while I was making it. The sweet aromas often make this avoidance quite difficult.

While I'm still not all that great at abstaining from sampling while baking, I've at least grown to become a little better at it. It takes a lot of self-discipline, and if you're willing to try it, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try. However, I began to realize that even though I was somewhat keeping my self from eating too much unhealthy food, I was still supplying others with loads of butter-heavy, empty calorie baked goods. I decided to start experimenting with some recipes, seeing if I could make healthier counter-versions that tasted just as great. And with that, I've decided to share with you one of my favorite suped-up cookie recipes. This recipe replaces some of the nutrient lacking white flour with fibrous whole-wheat flour, and also uses heart-healthy oil in replace of some of the butter called for in most cookie recipes. While I can't say it's necessarily a "healthy" snack, it is definitely superior to a lot of baked good you could be eating/making. This healthier treat maintains a rich, chocolately goodness that will leave you wanting to eat cookie after cookie (so maybe this is the time to test your self discipline too haha), without feeling quit so guilty.


-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 safflower oil
-1/4 cup butter
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
-1/2 cup all-purpose flower
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup dark chocolate chips/or chopped chunks of choc.
-1/3 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (choice of sweetness/choc. preference)
-2/3 cup chopped pecans
-1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the sugars and butter together until well mixed. Add the egg and oil, beating until creamy. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the chocolate and pecans, mixing until thoroughly distributed. Place heaping tablespoon-sized balls of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Take the cookies out slightly under done, and they're best when at least slightly cooled. They also taste best within the first 2 days, so eat up and enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dig a grave....for your fruits and veggies :)

In correlation to a few posts ago, I wanted to show that composting is not solely beneficial to the environment. Composting does your body good as well. Yes, composting makes great fertilizer, conducive for growing a garden of which can fortify your body with lots of nutrients and fiber. But after a recent experience, I am able to say that composting can also whip your body into shape. Fast.

I dug a compost pit last summer. And afterward, I remember saying how it might've been the toughest task I had ever performed. Shoveling through soil hard as rock isn't quite the easiest thing to do.

Well, even after coming to that conclusion, I obviously still didn't work hard enough because the pit quickly filled up, calling out for me to dig another pit this summer. This time I wanted to do it better. I wanted to make it last, which meant digging a hole deep enough to last for at least 2 years. This time I knew what I was in for and was semi-prepared for the hard work that lay ahead of me.

I set out, digging through the dirt, letting the shovel in my hand know who's boss. Digging a huge hole in the ground allows you (forces you) to really get to know the soil. I used the first layer of soil to bury the old, filled-up compost pile. This was the easy part, clearing the moist, crumbly topsoil from the intended compost area. I thought, "Hey, this isn't so bad. Plus, it's a great way to calm my racing mind." Next, I plowed through several feet of clay. This was the heavy stuff, the stuff that required me put some oomph into my task and made my muscles burn. After getting several feet down into the ground, I started to remember how much of a workout digging the compost pile is. My calm mind started straying towards, "This is hard. I remember why I didn't really enjoy this last year."

Eventually the hole gets so deep that you have to get inside it, dig, and throw the dirt up and out of the hole several feet above you. This is the hard part and requires a lot of strength, and eventually stamina. Five or six feet into the soil, you start to wonder if you'll be able to continue throwing the soil high enough to make it out of the hole. After a couple hours, I decided to call it a day.

The next evening, I went back at it again. Grabbing my shovel and getting ready to come to the finish line. I eventually reached the last layer of soil of which I would get to: the part that's half rocks. This part is the annoying, pain-in-the-ass layer of soil. Of course the pain-in-the-ass layer comes at the end, when I'm already agitated and ready to quit digging the pitiless compost pit. Every other time I'd throw my shovel into the ground, it'd bounce right back up at me after hitting a rock. As you can imagine, when you hit rocks with your shovel, you're unable to dig up any dirt...making the process ten times slower. But I wanted to plow through some of this layer so that I wouldn't be out there again next summer busting my butt off, remembering how grueling the compost pit digging is. So I continued. Until the soil pretty much became one big rock.

Drenched with sweat and covered in mud (for the 2nd day in a row), I finally finished digging a compost pit that I could say I was highly proud of. A good four hours overall, and then I was at last able to put the shovel down. So much for trying to relax either of those days... pretty much demanded the strength and energy equivalent of several workouts. Exhausted.

So enough said, composting is good for the environment AND the body. If you dig your own hole, you'll probably be feeling it in your muscles the next day. A little outside work will make you sweat as much (if not more) as your normal workout at the gym. For the average person, shoveling/spading dirt to plant a garden burns roughly 340 calories per hour. And let me tell you, this is some more intense shoveling than using a spade to dig a little hole (meaning it definitely burns even more calories than that!). Vary up your routine, skip the run or the gym for the day, and get your workout digging up some soil. Yeah, I know, it might not sound that enticing, but hey, at least you'll be doing something to help out the environment too...You can't really say that about working out in an excessive-energy using air-conditioned gym, right?

Friday, June 19, 2009

This place never ceases to amaze me. I have been enjoying some amazingly beautiful runs lately around my place. Until recently, I don't think I ever appreciated just how beautiful it is right outside my own backyard. College made me stop taking my countryside surroundings for granite, and opened up my eyes to just how green and gorgeous the area around my own home is. Sometimes you need a little extra push to make you realize all that you have been given in life (this is to be applied to anything, not just your surroundings). After all, that's what a happy life is all about...focusing on the positives in your life, not the negatives.

The other day I took an approx. 6 mile run around the roads (basically trails) that surround the road of which I live on. I began on a gravel road that was lined by gorgeous green trees and that follows the especially full, rushing creek that the rain has propelled this year. There are scant houses along the road, but rarely do I ever pass, or should I say am I ever passed, by a car (except for the mail lady in the morning :) ). I am left to run amidst the most peaceful of surroundings, listening to the birds and watching them fly from tree to tree, occasionally swooping over the running waters. I especially enjoy watching the bright red cardinals against the nicely contrasting backdrop of the new-green leaves, making me take deep breathes as I run.

As I reached the end of the road following the creek, I made a turn onto another gravel road that loops through field after field of grass, wheat, flowers, etc. This road is desolate as well. It is more open than the preceding road, and provides a nice change of scenery from shady, cool woods to sun-filled fields. After winding through this road for awhile, I made yet another turn onto a road that surrounded a peach orchard. While it is not yet peach season, I will definitely keep this road in mind for my runs when early August approaches. Running by all of the budding trees was gorgeous in itself, but it also brought back many memories of all the time I'd spent picking fruit with my family over my past summers. This change in scenery gave me many thoughts to think about, pleasantly distracting me from the actual running itself. I love when my mind travels off into its own world while I'm running. When I am able to do that, well, those are the best runs.

I decided to cut out of this road and loop back through the actual peach orchard to get back to the preceding road. As I was running through the rows of peach trees, I saw a deer timidly running in avoidance of my path. That's when it hit me just how lucky I am to be able to run amidst such tranquil, beautiful surroundings. Running right around nature, and the creatures that inhabit it, who could ask for better!? I ran back down the road that brought me to the peach orchard and then took a turn off onto another road. This road brought me to a quaint little bridge with chipping white paint that provided me a passage over another, smaller branch of the creek. This bridge finally brought me to a paved road, but there still ceased to be any cars. Shortly after, I turned around and ran back to the first road of which I started my run. After an hour (of which didn't seem nearly that long), I finally finished my run and I felt mentally, emotionally, and physically great! That's what I love about running...especially in such a pretty atmosphere. I couldn't ask for a better morning workout.

After the completion of my run, I backtracked a little ways on my running course and walked to a bridge towards the beginning of my course. On the bridge, I was able to lay down and cool down right above the cool-drafted creek. Perfect. The high you get from running is the best, and I try to always take a few minutes to relax and enjoy it.

I definitely want to bring my college outdoor club here so that they can enjoy this beautiful place with me. I also recently discovered a whole slew of trails that are just a 15 min. drive from my house! And if I ever get a running club going at my school (which I one day hope to), I'll be planning a trip for them to run on these roads alongside me. Any change in scenery for runners is great, especially a particularly pleasant change. All of these moments of which I am able to spend outdoors and just enjoy life make me happy, and I'm happy for all of the positive things that I have been given. Maybe take a few minutes to enjoy a positive aspect of your life that you might often over look. And like I always advocate, get outside and enjoy some fresh-air!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ZzZz..Conch chooo... ZzZz.. Conch chooo

I sometimes wonder what I will do if I fall in love with a snorer. I'm not quite sure I could handle it haha. I am a particularly light sleeper and awaken from the sound of a whispering breath, let alone a loud pesky snore. I'd definitely be sending my husband to get some treatment, especially after reading this article. Take a look at this article posted on New York Times.

June 11, 2009, 11:34 am

Sleeping With a Snorer

After writing this week about the link between marriage and better sleep, I heard from several skeptical readers who were the long-suffering bed partners of snorers.

“I’m happily married, but never get a good night’s sleep because of the noise!” wrote Lisa.

“Are you kidding me?” Caroline wrote. “My husband snores louder than a lawnmower, and I kick him harder than Beckham with a soccer ball. We both slept much better when single.”

It’s true that sleeping with a snorer can take a toll on your health. People who sleep next to snorers report high levels of fatigue and sleepiness and may even be at higher risk for hearing loss.

Often, snoring is due to obstructive sleep apnea, which is characterized by episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep, which leads to regular nighttime awakenings linked with a number of health problems.

But studies show that the person with sleep apnea isn’t the only one waking up. When the apnea is accompanied by loud snorts and snoring, the bed partner may wake up as often during the night as the person with the actual sleep disorder. One study from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found that spouses of snorers woke up, at least partially, an average of 21 times an hour, nearly as often as the 27 times the snorers were awakened by their sleep apnea episodes.

In a 2005 study from Finland of 37 male snorers and their bed partners, half of the bed partners reported being disturbed by snoring every night or almost every night. One third of the bed partners reported relationship problems as a result of the snoring.

In a 2003 study published in the journal Chest, doctors from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., tracked the spouses of 54 patients with sleep apnea. Once the sleep apnea and snoring were treated, the spouses’ quality-of-life scores surged more than those who received the actual treatment. And treating the apnea also improved sleepiness scores among the spouses by 20 percent.

Second-hand snoring also may take a toll on hearing. In a pilot study of just four snorers in Kingston, Ontario, all the patients had slept next to a snorer for at least 15 years. The study showed that the bed partners had significant noise-induced hearing loss in the one ear that was most exposed to the snoring.

Solutions are difficult. One study found that earplugs can be a simple and effective treatment for bed partners of snorers, but for some people, especially parents of young children, earplugs aren’t a practical option. Often, treating sleep apnea can help reduce snoring, and snorers should be evaluated by a sleep specialist. Weight loss can also improve sleep apnea, although many snorers aren’t overweight. Some snorers get relief using dental appliances that open up the airway, or surgical treatments that reduce the size of the soft palate.

To find out if second-hand snoring is taking a meaningful toll on your health, doctors suggest taking a “sleep vacation” from your partner by moving into another room to determine if your sleep, mood and daytime alertness improves. The test may help convince your partner that his or her snoring is more than just an amusing annoyance and a real medical issue that is affecting the health of both you and your relationship.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The 'Roo Experience (Long Post)

Music is incredible. Bob Marley got it right when he said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Music, even if for just a brief moment, can take all your worries away. And for the artists themselves, music is a way to let out worries, get out emotions, and freely let expressions run wild. Music is capable of joining together numerous people from all different paths of life. Few other things in life can bring together such a diverse array of people. This past weekend, 90,000 people from all over traveled to the little town of Manchester, Tennessee to experience a four-day musical festival that would send every single attendant home with life-long memories. I myself was fortunate enough to attend this great festival known as Bonnaroo.

This year marked the 8th year of Bonnaroo. Held on a 700-acre farm, there was plenty of room, which provided a great setting for plenty of great bands, tons of vendors, and loads of interesting people.

After a 12 and a ½ hour car ride (split into two days), a 5-hour wait to actually get into Bonnaroo, and a torrential downpour of rain the first night, I was somewhat skeptical about how much fun I’d be having over the next few days. However, the first full day of being at Bonnaroo quickly changed my mind and opened up my eyes as to just how much fun this experience would be.

I went to the festival with a few of my best friends, from both home and college, which made the experience even better. Upon entering Bonnaroo, I was immediately taken aback at the prolific amount of people at the place. Driving in, we got a good view of one of the camping areas. The tents seemed to go on forever. Tent after tent, lined up into the far distance until you could no longer see. After setting up camp (you get a camping spot just large enough to fit a tent, separated by about 6 inches from your neighbor), we ventured into Centeroo (the stage/main area) to see Portugal The Man. I am a big fan of this band and was super pumped to see them. They performed well, and I especially enjoyed “1989”. After that, we toured the area and just checked out the scene. One of my friends and I engaged in a few poses being taught in one of the many free yoga classes. While holding one of the squatting poses, the instructor began commending Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder of the yoga institute where I will be taking Yoga Teacher’s Training this summer (He also gave the opening for Woodstock!!). Upon hearing a much loved, familiar name, I quickly began feeling like Bonnaroo was the place for me.

After a long day, we decided to go to bed relatively early since there were no big-named bands we were interested in seeing the first night. After what seemed like a short time, I was awoken early in the morning (around 8) by a wave of almost suffocating heat boiling me inside my tent. I realized what people meant when they said Tennessee was going to be hot. Each morning, although sleep was much needed after very late nights, the heat made it impossible to sleep in and catch up on those ZzZz’s. Most festivities/bands didn’t start until 12, so there were plenty of morning hours to do things such as wait in the long lines for porta-potties, or cook up some breakfast after a previously active night. One morning, our camping neighbors decided to cook up some pancakes and sell them to other campers for 50 cents a cake. A couple of Rolling Stone writers took notice of them and wrote down their contact info. Not only did these writers buy a couple pancakes, but they told them they’ll probably be included in the Bonnaroo article of Rolling Stone mag.!!! This is one of many interesting stories that occurred during the morning hours of Bonnaroo.

We had the pleasure of seeing a range of all types of music, from rock to folk to R&B to rap. On Friday, we saw a plethora of bands. The first main headliner we saw was Animal Collective. I thought they were good, but they catered to the stereotyped audience and turned themselves a bit too much into a jam band for my liking. We then saw Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and then the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. We caught the end of Santigold’s set, and then proceeded to see Al Green. Dressed up in a full suit on such a hot summer day, Al Green was surprisingly good. He definitely got my friends and I off of our feet. We then caught some TV on the Radio, Lucinda Williams, and Ani DiFranco (who I was newly introduced of and rather enjoyed). Later into the night, we saw the Beastie Boys who I’ve decided I’m not a huge fan of, and Phish where we met some “raging Phish-heads”. We caught the end of Public Enemy, whose set was followed by a brief, inspirational anti-racism speech. Next, we saw Crystal Castles, a techno-esque band. The scene there fit every description of a typical rave. Glow sticks, fast-sweaty dancing, odd characters, and most likely some ecstasy were all prevalent among the crowd. It was quite the late night experience. Lastly, we saw Girl Talk (2nd year at ‘Roo), where we also started to see some people unexpectedly passing out. All the drinking and drugging and lack of sleep started to creep up on people.

The following day we had the pleasure of seeing Bon Iver who was definitely good. He was a nice change of pace from some of the earlier jam bands we had been listening to. We also saw Of Montreal, whose set included some oddly dressed up characters wildly dancing around on stage. Following that, we saw The Decemberists who played my favorite, “Engine Driver”. We caught some of Mars Volta as well as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. We left his 3&1/2 hour set to go back to camp. After falling asleep to Springsteen we woke up to some heavy Nine Inch Nails. Sadly, we realized we slept through Ben Harper.

On Sunday, the last day (tear), we saw Cage the Elephant, and Citizen Cope who was surprisingly one of my favorite acts. We also saw Erykah Badu, Andrew Bird, Merle Haggard, and Snoop D-O-Double G.

Although music was definitely one of the coolest attractions at Bonnaroo, there were numerous other entertaining and random activities to experience. There was a ferris wheel, art galleries, authentic food, mud wrestlers, crazy good hoola hoopers, yoga, dancing, “green” lectures, comedy acts, an obscure circus, a hot air ballon, etc. etc…. I could’ve spent days on end trying to do everything they had to do there. I felt like I was living some totally weird dream, that involved every random attraction you could think of provided all at one place. There was so much to see and experience, it's mind-blowing just thinking about it. There was an endless amount of unique characters to interact with, and lots of interesting people that were “trippin’” to watch.

However, one downside of Bonnaroo is the dirt. If you completely despise dirt, ‘Roo is not the place for you. After the first day of rain, the place quickly became a mud pit. There were numerous places in which you could have mudslided, and we had the pleasure of watching crazy people go at it while wrestling in the mud. There was also the guy who was clearly messed up on something, and decided to down a whole canteen of muddy water that was taken straight from the ground. Many people peed and brushed their teeth between cars, the area right next to the tents in which we slept in and walked around. Walking barefoot was common because of how muddy and difficult it was to walk in flip-flops, but this also meant walking barefoot into the overused, grotesque porta-potties, and among the dirty/pee/toothpasted grass. Showers were available for 7 bucks, and although I greatly desired one, I didn’t end up taking one the whole four days because upon leaving the showers you had to venture through a huge mud pit anyways.

There were drugs everywhere. I found it kind of comical waking up to people outside my tent walking through the campgrounds yelling “Shrooms, nice magical fungus,” or the people who would quickly roll under there tongue “Roids, pharmies, LSD” as we walked by. Weed was basically decriminalized and the air inside Centeroo permanently smelled of it. The great extent of the commonness of drugs was something I had never quite experienced before. It was interesting to see the various people tripping.

‘Roo also featured a lot of recycling and environmental friendly programs. In 2008, they recycled 44 tons of product. There were over 2000 recycling areas on site, and most of the products were compostable, such as the plastic cups made from a compostable corn material. No glass was allowed on the premises, which made it very conducive for walking.

Bonnaroo was a great experience and something I’m considering going back to. I loved meeting and talking to all the different people, listening to everyone’s different accents, and sharing my own stories without feeling judged or being criticized. Pretty much everyone I met was super friendly and everyone had a unique story or talent to share. I definitely could feel a lot of peaceful vibes being given off, a vibe exemplified by the quintessential “hippie”. Out of all the diverse people there, from people of all races and ages, and even people abusing multiple drugs, I experienced virtually no violence or any acts of hate. Everyone was just so grateful and happy to be there, to be in a place where so many people were brought together for exactly the same reason. Music.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hasta La Vista

I'm headed to Bonnaroo today!!!!! yayyyy

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Trees are beautiful. But why? What makes Trees beautiful? How does any one thing represent beauty to another?

This is a question that is far beyond our full reach. Beauty is different for every individual eye. While one may think something just as beautiful as another, its roots may be entirely disparate. You may see trees as to be beautiful, but maybe from an entirely different perspective as to how I see the same trees. A tree that stands before you may bring past memories, perhaps times spent with your father; him pushing you on a swing, you gliding through the air. Or of you and your best friend passing endless hours atop seemingly endless branches. Memories of experiences that I may too have similarly shared, but that also contain numerous moments that can be and are only entirely unique to you. Your thoughts, feelings, emotions in these situations can in no way be exactly like my thoughts, feelings, emotions even if we experienced similar actions on a similar tree.

What represents beauty to you may not be what represents beauty to me. But I feel many will agree with me, each in their own way, of my opinion of trees being utterly and entirely beautiful. Trees are one of the many gifts of Earth. And today as I laid beneath several trees, staring upwards and admiring their beauty, I asked myself: Why do these trees that surround me bring such beautiful, tranquil thoughts to my head? For me, why do these trees and trees in general represent beauty? These benevolent conceptions of trees that I hold, how do they so strongly hold their existence within me? These are questions that as I mentioned before, I shall probably never fully be able answer, but nonetheless are questions of which I can ponder.

As I was first reflecting on these questions, I began to observe and take note of every outer component of a tree. Taking in each aspect that I perceived as beautiful and remarking on some of the often less noticed, secret outer beauty of which trees hold. From observation through an upward view, what struck me as to be one of the most beautiful elements of a tree was all of the different shades of green that the leaves encompassed. The sunlight striking different parts of leaves at varying strengths, and the various intensities of shade cast from one leave onto another naturally and beautifully creates a strewn mosaic of all shades of green. It struck me that this is why many artists often paint trees- to capture the beauty often unnoticed of trees onto paper. The different lighting aspects of each leaf gives artists a lot of color schemes to play with. Looking around, I noticed how many different shapes and sizes that the leaves of various trees presented. Each shape unique, not like one of those ordinary shapes of which we have given a name. Each component naturally fanciful. I could go on and on as to why I think trees are externally beautiful, but for your sake I’ll cut my list with only those few distinctions that I particularly took notice of and of which cared to speak.

But like almost everything in life, trees are internally beautiful as well. The service that they provide is essential for every living being. They breathe in carbon dioxide (a major contributor to greenhouse gases of which contribute to global warming) and breathe out oxygen (the stuff that we depend on in order to live!). About 800 million tons of carbon are stored in trees, saving us roughly $22 billion in control costs. Trees also help to prevent erosion and absorb urban runoff. They reduce energy costs by being planted in certain areas to provide shade and be barriers against harsh winds. Trees are also noise barriers, creating a more peaceful environment.

There are tons and tons of reasons why trees represent beauty to me. And one thing is for sure, I definitely miss all the surrounding trees I have back home when I travel to college in the city. But every area has its pros and cons.

It's important to sustain the trees we have today. They provide both useful and essential services to life on Earth. Trees are very appealing to the eye, and I would be often dispirited if I wasn't able to frequently be in their presence. Imagine a world where trees were very scarce...not a pretty picture, right?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

2009 French Open

The past few days the tennis French Open has been airing. Tennis is probably my favorite sport to watch. Considering I played all throughout high school and was pretty much obsessed at one time with the sport, I find it rather entertaining. However, even for nonplayers, I think tennis would be relatively enjoyable to watch. If you've never watched it before, give it a shot. You'd be surprised how fast paced the sport is, and it's amazing how fast/hard the players can hit and serve the ball. And every once in awhile, you'll catch an attractive player to watch (such as Del Porto (for girls to watch) or Sharapova (for the guys).

My favorite, Raphael Nadal, to my surprise got knocked out by Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the Open. Nadal was undoubtedly favored to win as he had priorly won four consecutive titles; so congrats to Soderling who achieved one of the biggest upsets of all time. Soderling has made his way to the finals where he is to play against the notoriuos Roger Federer.

Federer has previously beat Soderling 9 times (Soderling has not grabbed any matches from Federer). However, in the past few rounds Soderingly has played astoundingly well, proving both his accuracy and form to be exceptional. The two are scheduled to play tommorrow, where Federer will try to become the sixth man ever to achive the Tennis Grand Slam (meaning he will have won the Australian Open, US Open, Wimbledon, and the French Open).

This morning was the French Open women's finals, where Svetlana Kuznetsova swept a victory over Dinara Safina. This is Kuznetsova's second Grand Slam title. She successfully and quickly clinched a 6-4, 6-2 match. The match, played by two 23-year-old Russians, was over in a mere 74 minutes. This was the second straight year that Safina has lost in the finals, as her hopes of winning her first Grand Slam title were once again crushed. Safina had held a 8-5 record over Kuznetsova prior to coming in to the French Open final. No.1 seeded Safina seemed to be letting her nerves get to her as she began timidly hitting the ball and slowing down the pace on her serve. For a bitter end, she double faulted her last chance of staying in the game, giving victory to Kuznetsova. Although she was defeated, Safina will still hold the #1 WTA ranking. This is Kuznetsova's 6th time defeating a world #1 ranked player. She will move from #7 to being ranked #5. Congrats to Kuznetsova for triumphantly making is this far in the French Open and in her career!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Get Motivated!

Running can sometimes feel monotonous. Everyone has those days where lacing up your running shoes isn't because of the desire to run, but from feeling compelled to run. Whether you've just started adding running to your daily routine or you've been running for years and years, getting out there and getting moving isn't always easy. However, true runners don't give up on the days where activities such as chowing down on some cookies after work may seem more appealing than a run. No matter how much they aren't looking forward to that after-work run, true runners make themselves go anyway, because they know just how exceedingly rewarding both mentally and physically a run can be.

To turn yourself into a true runner and keep yourself running, it helps to have a little motivation. Here are a five helpful tips to help keep you enthusiastic and lead you to spending your free time running, rather than succumbing to any of those other seductive activities that try to stray your mind/body.

1) Get Hip Running Clothes- Don't just mandate raggy, oversized t-shirts and old shorts for your workouts. Instead, purchase cool clothes that make you feel sexy. If you like the clothes you run in, then you'll want to actually wear them. Putting on these clothes will inspire you to take the run!

2) Make An Upbeat Playlist- Grab your ipod and tune into some tunes. Add some new music to your ipod and designate it only for your runs. This way you have music to look forward to that you can only use while you're running! Choose upbeat/fast paced songs so you don't have to catch yourself running to slow-paced to a slow beat.

3) Spice Your Trails Up- Try to avoid running the same route over and over again. Instead, go down a new road or explore a new trail. Try simply driving ten minutes down the road and run from there. Take advantage of local bike trails, hiking trails, and parks. Go outside of you're comfort zone. New sights will open your eyes and distract your mind from concentrating on the sometimes strenuous running you endure. When you run a course over and over again, you often forget to observe your surroundings because they seem so normal/everyday.

4) Reward Yourself With a Relaxing Cool Down- Find a nice spot outdoors where you can go to relax after your run. Lay down, cool down, and simply enjoy that ecstatic runner's high. This will leave yourself with something healthy to look forward post running.

5) Be Proud of Yourself- Give yourself a pat on the back for finishing each run you take. Know that you are doing your body good! Try charting your mileage so that after a month of running, you can look back and see just how "far" you've come. Don't take it for granite that you only ran 2.5 miles one day. Some people can't even make it past a mile. Be proud that you are getting out there and getting fit!

Running takes patience, dedication, and commitment. However, after you gain all of those qualities, I'm sure you will grow to find passion being another quality that you obtain. Running is fun, but just because it's fun doesn't mean it's always easy. Don't be hard on yourself for not always feeling up to running (it's okay to take days off when a rest is needed). However, strive to push yourself past those mind-numbing days, and before you know it, a enthusiastic day will come to you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tips for Running In the Summer Sun

I love running, and summer is when I have the most free time to take advantage of my passion for it. However, summer is also the hottest time of the year, creating heat which can sometimes hinder performance. The seemingly bright, inviting sun I gaze at from indoors doesn't always seem so pleasant when I lace up my shoes and take my first steps outside. And if one is not careful when running in the heat, he/she might just not make it to the finish line. Below are a few steps on how to prepare for a summer run and how to conquer the heat.

1) Wear Cool Clothes- The past few years as I have gotten more and more into running, I have increasingly been investing in running shorts. And let me tell you, they make all the difference. They are usually made out of Supplex nylon, a light-weight, fast-drying material that is optimum for runners. My running shorts actually encourage me to go running now.
When it's really hot outside, I tend to just run in a sports bra and some shorts. If you're a guy, go shirtless, which will decrease your weight and allow you to run more freely. If you aren't comfortable with doing this, then make sure to choose a shirt that is ideal for running. Avoid cotton. Cotton is heavy and quickly soaks up sweat. This will weigh you down and cling to your skin, making your feel extra sticky and sweaty. Instead, opt for light-weight synthetic materials. I know Nike makes both t-shirts and shorts that are great for runners. However, I'm sure there are numerous other brands that sell clothing well suited for runners as well.

2) Stay Hydrated
- Drinking water is an essential tip for a runner. If you avoid this step you will see the consequences! Drink a large glass of water 30-45 minutes before embarking on a run. If you plan on taking a long run, make sure to bring a bottle of water with you. While you should drink a glass of water ever 10-15 minues of exercising, I wouldn't mandate that you carry water with you on your run unless you are running for a time greater than 45 minutes (however, this can vary from person to person). Personally, I find it bothersome to run with a bottle of water in hand, but sometimes it is necessary for my longer runs, so I just choose an optimum light-weight bottle.

3) Wear Sunscreen
- I'm sure you see everywhere the dangers of sun and its relation to skin cancer. The majority of what you are reading is probably the truth and is important to keep in mind before you head out for a run. Even just a 30 minute run can dangerously expose you to the sun, so it's important to lather on the sunscreen. Apply at least 10 minutes before heading out, and choose water-resistant varieties. They make several "sports" based sunscreens that you might want to consider trying out.

4) Avoid Midday Times
- Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is when the sun is strongest and also the heat! Try to avoid running between these times to avoid heat exhaustion as well as sunburn. Instead, try a morning run which will awaken you and get you up on your feet making you ready for to tackle rest of your day. Or, engage in an evening run, watching the sunset as you trail down the road. This can be relaxing and ease you into a peaceful run.

5) Gradually Build Yourself Up
- Don't go out for an hour long run in the middle of the summer if you have only been doing 30 minute conditioning prior to this. It's important anytime of the year to gradually ease yourself into taking longer runs, however it's especially pivotal during the summer. Your body has to deal with the extra burden of cooling itself down, and if you push yourself too much it will be unable to perform this task and will shut down on you. You should also acclamitize yourself to the summer weather, since your body will not be used to the excessive heat. Even if you have been taking hour-long runs prior to the summer, you many need to shorten these runs the first few weeks of hot weather. Also, don't have too high of expectations and know that is okay to slow down your pace in the heat. All of this is to prevent overheating and excessive stress on the body.

6) Avoid Blacktop
- If possible, run a course that limits the amount of time spent on blacktop. It's black surface captures and radiates heat. I've heard you could fry an egg on blacktop during hot summer days. Let's not experiment with this and fry our bodies too. Choose a gravel or dirt path, or even opt for concrete over blacktop. If possible, look for paths in the shade.

7) Don't Be Afraid to Take a Pause
- Don't be surprised or embarrassed if you need to take a break. Heat can take its toll on your body, and its okay to pause your run or take a walking break. If you are experiencing heat cramps, stop immediately and get some water in your body. Heat cramps are often warning signs of worse problems to come. If you start to feel faint, dizzy, or confused also stop, for these are signs of heat exhaustion. If you ignore these warning signs, you may trigger the even more dangerous condition of heat-stroke. Heat-stroke is characterized by increased dizziness, chills, nausea, and a decrease in sweat production. Seek help if this occurs.

While it is definitely possible to keep running all throught the summer, it is important to be cautions and keep these tips in mind. If you do all of this, you should be good to go. So get out there, get running, and get that beach-toned body that will make the opposite sex drool.