Wednesday, June 29, 2011

That time of year again

My basil plants were exploding.

I had walnuts in the pantry.

I needed something carbo-licious.

It was time.

Basil pesto. I've already published this recipe...last time I used it on zucchini noodles for amazing results (link here).

**** OMG the recipe isn't there! Brain fart on my part! Here it is: 

1/2 c nut of choice (I like raw almonds or walnuts. Pine nuts are expensive and overrated. Pistachios would be lovely though)
1 c packed fresh basil leaves
1 c packed fresh spinach
1 oz parmesan (optional - you'll want more salt if you don't use it)
1-2 tbsp oil
1/4 c warm water
1 tsp minced garlic
salt to taste
pinch of pepper

In blender or food processor, blend basil, spinach,  oil, and 1/4 warm water. Yes, being warm helps. Stop when you get a really nice thick blend. Add in nuts and cheese and blend until smooth - sometimes a little water is neccesary. Salt to taste. Now you can freeze as is, or place 1-2 tbsp of the mix in the bottom of a big mixing bowl and use a pasta fork to transfer in freshly cooked pasta and a little pasta water. Toss with your pasta until coated. Also fabulous on non-cooking nights (when it's too hot to cook!) with shaved zucchini noodles and canned cannelini beans. Enjoy!


For a little extra protein, I sauteed some white beans in olive oil and garlic, and then I added a spoonful of pesto to warm them through. It made a great topper for spaghetti tossed in pesto.

The fiance enjoyed his with some pesto chicken. Can you tell we went a little wild with this condiment/sauce? It was sooooo goood.

If you're lacking a basil plant, I might have some leaves I could spare. Come over here and get them...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Panic (Copper Creek Triathlon Race Recap)

I have some bad news about this triathlon. It didn't happen for me.

This isn't the first time I've missed a race. In fact, this race was a little doomed from the start. Three years ago it was supposed to be my first triathlon. Then, the morning of the race, it flash flooded. We stood out in the rain in our gear for an hour before they declared that the cycling portion of the race was not safe and the water was too choppy due to the storm. They sent us home.

The next year, I came, I finished, I conquered. I moved on to even bigger and better races, confident in my abilities. This year, I wanted to do this race again for all of the reasons I was excited about on Saturday morning. I went on my run, showered and drove over to Des Moines for packet pickup. No problems there....nice swag (get to that later), uneventful drive. Back to home to lounge for the rest of the day.

That's when the problems started. About 4pm I started to feel a tightness in my chest. By 6pm, it was difficult to swallow because my chest was so tight and the tightness had moved up into my clavicle. At this point, the fiance started to ask questions. Like:

What exactly is tight? 

It was the bones in my sternum/ribs/collarbone. Either they were too tight or my organs suddenly expanded and were pressing them out. But really, it just felt like I needed to pop my chest.  

Adapted from here
Have you tried stretching? 

Yes, I tried a variety of yoga poses...totalling about 20 minutes. I tried taking a warm bath. I tried dynamic stretching. I asked him to press on my back and chest to see if we could just pop something back into place.

Does anything else hurt or feel numb? Are you naseous? 

He was worried about a heart attack. Nothing else was wrong. But, I'm telling you, if I have a heart attack at age 26 with as healthy as I try to live, you guys better go after the splenda/aspartame companies. That really is my only vice.

So at this point, all I could do was take an Advil and go to bed. I couldn't even lie down on my back because I felt like I couldn't breathe. I was lying in bed, hellbent on getting up at 4:45 to drive to the triathlon. Then I started thinking about the dangers and consequences...I could definitely bike. That isn't too cardiovascularily taxing for me. I could run, probably slowly, and it might hurt a little bit, but it wouldn't be damaging. The swim was concerning me. I had full range of motion in my arms, but turning my head was painful...and then what if I got kicked/breathed in water, etc. I couldn't get it out of my head that if I had to be rescued during the swim, I would have to sit there for 2 hours before I could leave. The parking lots are part of the race course/transition area, so I would be stuck.

At 4:45, I woke up. My chest still hurt, but luckily swallowing and breathing were easier. I decided that one sprint triathlon was not worth it...I did not feel comfortable attempting the ruckus, crazy open water swim that happens during sprint triathlons.

Sad day.

At least the swag was nice? I mean, this race always does a great job with the takeaway...I've gotten hats, water bottles, backpacks, nice swim goggles and other miscellaneous supplies from this race before. This year it was a super awesome ultra-large pack.

Thank you for modeling, fiance ;) In fact, I think the bag looks better on him than me, so I'll let him have it.

It also came with a nice metal water bottle. I really love those for work because they clip onto my work bag and don't take up too much room.

So, I'm trying to be positive for the rest of the day. I was able to go rock out a brick workout this morning. I still don't think I could swim if I wanted to, but I thought some exercise would loosen things up a little. I  completed the bike and run equivalents from the tri I missed this morning. Though my sternum still hurts (the point where the ribs come together and meet), I did easily complete the 12.4 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. My legs felt suprisingly loose after the 12.68 miles ran yesterday. Hopefully this means that the chest reaction was a freak accident...

Time to go about my week. Look for:

Positive, fun recipes and posts

A little bit of science

Summer Goals Recap for June. (I can't believe it's almost July!!!!)

Some reorganization of the blog (hopefully!)

What kind of content do you want to see emphasized on this blog? Come out of the woodwork, you lurkers!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crazy Exercise Weekend

After a week of feeling incredibly down and tired, I woke up at 6:30 this morning completely rejuvenated. No weird aches, no crackly back, no sore feet. I have slept away all of my woes (and met my friday afternoon deadline by 3pm woot!). Why am I up this early on a Saturday? To RUN!

I have a hot date with a lovely lady across town, and we're hoping the weather holds out for a nice 12-miler. When I'm done with that, I have to hop in my car, drive to Des Moines, and pickup my packet for this race tomorrow:

I've done this race once before, and was signed up and ready to go the year flash floods kept us from racing. It's a great, albeit expensive, little race. Long swim, short bike - just how I like them.

This year I will be the first to admit that I am not trained enough. I haven't done an outdoor swim. I have done maybe 2 brick workouts, and neither of them were recent. I will really need to work to remember what I need to pack tonight. Plus, there's this 12 mile run I'm leaving my house to go do in 10 minutes.

I'm telling myself that it'll be an adventure, and that I know my body can do it. Hopefully I'm right? Eek!

What do I need to remember to pack for this race tomorrow? Help, please!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Goals Recap 4

It's that time again...time for my check-in on my summer fitness goals!

(Pssst, if you missed the first few installments of my goals and progress, you can find them here, here, here, here, and here in chronological order)

Without further ado:

1) Run 60 miles per month for the months of May, June, and July.

Progress: 40 miles towards this goal. I have 8 days left to get in 20 miles, but I think it should work out barring injury. I have plans for a 6 miler tomorrow and a 12 miler with a friend on Saturday. That makes it almost done!

2) Build towards, and ride, one 50 mile bike ride before the end of August. 

You can't say I didn't try! I haven't budged past my 30 mile max, which I have now ridden twice, but after my tire blew on a lonesome stretch of highway this weekend, I am not really excited to ride a long ride outside of town for a little bit. I hope to be at least to 35 miles by the next time I check in.  

3) Swim 5x per month for the months of May, June, and July.  

I have now made it 3 times for a grand total of 4600 meters. That's just short of 3 miles! Doubters out there are probably thinking that there is no way I'll get in the water two more times in 8 days, especially with 20 miles to run, but I have a secret weapon: I have a sprint triathlon on Sunday (this one - anyone else doing it?). And even though it's only 750 meters, it totally counts. Totally. Especially since it will be my first outdoor swim all season (eek!).

Seriously though, swimming is so good for me, and I can honestly say that without these goals and accountability to you all, I would not be doing it nearly enough.

4) 100 pushup challenge, modified. 

I maxed out at 90 toes/10 knees a few weeks ago. Not sure if it's a psychological block or a physical one, but I've been weight training and doing a long of different types of pushups for the last few weeks. I don't plan to try the challenge any more this week, but I will go to a weightlifting class tomorrow, and then next week I'll try again. Hopefully all this arm-muscle-cross-training did something for me.

That's it for now. I'll do my next check in at the end of June with my totals for the month. I cannot believe that June is almost over. I only have 5.5 weeks until I move my whole life to another state!

How are your fitness goals going? Any races or places that you've been checking out?

Monday, June 20, 2011


...just a sampling of all the words I uttered when my back bike tire blew 23 miles into a 38 mile bike ride. Sh!t!

I assessed the situation:

I had about 15 miles left before home and about 10 miles left to get to town. 

It was 85 degrees.

I was on a not-very-busy stretch of country highway.

I had a spare tire and CO2 cartridge.

I also had my phone.

If someone comes by and tries to steal me, there will likely be no witnesses and I might actually have to run away...

The last article won. I called the fiance, asked him nicely to come pick me up, and then I challenged myself to get the tire fixed before he got to me.
I flipped the bike, took off the back tire (I have quick release tires), and got to work with my tools.

This is the bag I've carried on my crossbar for every bicycle ride since I blew a tire on the edge of town and had to walk 5 miles back to my apartment. This happened three years ago. It has gotten A LOT of use!
 Meet my supplies (reconstructed at home due to awful sunshine and impatience on the road). I always carry with me: my phone, a CO2 dispenser and CO2 cartridge, two tire levers, a spare tube, a Gu, and a mini granola bar.

If you've never used a CO2 cartridge before, they are pretty slick. They have a cartridge holding body and a dispenser that fits both standard (shraer) and presta valves. They can fill two tires full enough to get you going, and one tire to race-ready pressure. Pretty slick for such a small dude!

Despite my awesome tools, it was not a lot of fun.

Please do not be grossed out by my sweatiness!

I got the tube changed, the tire back on, and the whole thing back on the bike just when the fiance arrived. At this point, I could've sent him on his way and biked home, but I wimped out and took the ride in the car. Next time I'll feel brave enough to try to fix the tire before I call him (i.e. when I have FAILED to fix the tire or it blows out AGAIN after being fixed, then take a ride). But, I had something very important to do when I got home.

Eat Chicken!

(and roast peppers)
 Really, the fiance is the grillmaster. I know how to grill, but I'm lazy and prefer to just use good old George. But, you cannot roast peppers or eggplants to quite the right consistency on a Foreman, so whenever the fiance revs up the grill, I start asking for things.

I got to have both two whole HUGE roasted peppers and a slew of veggie kabobs.

Before: Eggplant wedges, yellow pepper, onion, cherry tomato, and yellow squash with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. 

 Sizzle, sizzle!

And the chicken:
We bought a tray of chicken drumsticks when they were on sale for 88 cents a pound. I buy thighs and drumsticks like that and save them until I can either slow cook them or grill them. Then, the fiance marinated them for several hours and slow cooked/smoked them for 2 hours on the grill. InFREAKINGcredible. So good.

The fiance snarkily reminded me that if I become a vegan I will miss out on this. But that was before my eggplant finished smoking and I was heartily distracted by its gloriousness...

On the dinner plate: Two chicken drumsticks, 1/2 a roasted red pepper, and the veggies from two veggie kabobs all over a pile of cheesey grits.

Cheesy grits? You are wondering how that's healthy?

It's not.

Grits take 5 minutes on the stovetop, which makes them a perfect hot-day carbohydrate, and the meal was missing some fat. Plus, they were A-mazing. The best. I will be eating this again. Tomorrow.

My recipe: 0.5 cups grits in 2 cups of salted boiling water. When the grits become creamy, add in 1 oz shredded parmesan (about 1/2 c or 1/4 c of the packed stuff) and about a giant handful of cheddar or colby cheese. Add a pinch of garlic powder and maybe some salt to taste.

You really should try it. Especially when you're otherwise having a Sh!t day :)

Take care, blog friends! What adventures have you had recently?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cleaning out the fridge: Vegetarian and vegan meals

Hello friends! Happy's beautiful here in Iowa, so I hope it's also nice in your neck of the woods.

I'm trying to have a pretty productive day. I'm having a party tomorrow (a Harry Potter viewing party...we're getting together to watch the first installment of the seventh book so that we're all prepared when the second installment comes out next month), so that means a little cleaning on top of everything else I have planned. Here's the short list:

Wash kitchen and bathroom floors

Pick up living room and sweet-talk fiance into vacuuming it

Run into work


Make jam with the fiance (strawberry!)


Work on classes for fall

Long bike ride

As you can see, I've gotten some stuff done, and now I'm eating lunch while blogging to save time. While I digest, I can do the cleaning, and then the floors can dry while I'm biking. The best part is that this evening, we're going to grill out, and the grillmaster has approved my request for him to grill some red peppers for me. Yummmmmm.

Speaking of yummy and vegetarian things, I have some brand new recipes to share with you. These are vegetarian and adaptations are provided for the vegan crowd.

 First up, Spaghetti Legumese. This is my vegan rip-off of Spaghetti Bolognese...a meat-rich tomato-ey dish that I actually really think is delicious. Unfortunately, it upsets my stomach really, really badly. As in, I cannot eat the real thing. Fortunately, this vegan dish tastes fantastic and fails to irritate my stomach the way the original does.

Replacing the meat in this dish is a rich sauce of tomato, lentil, and portabello mushrooms. I think the trick is to add extra salt and spice to prevent it from being bland. Also, use slightly undercooked lentils. Otherwise mush ensues.

Spaghetti Legumese

1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
1 pint portabello mushrooms
32 oz diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups cooked lentils
1/4 c tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp fennel
Salt to taste
1 tbsp italian seasoning (salt free, or mix of oregano, rosemary, and basil)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb spaghetti (I used whole grain, but you can use whatever)

Heat olive oil in pan and saute onion and garlic together. Add lentils and spices and cook until fragrant and slightly dry. Add mushrooms and allow them to reduce and release water. Add 1/2 cup water, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Taste. Add sugar if necessary. Allow to cook together while the water boils and spaghetti cooks. Pull out spaghetti when still slightly undercooked. Transfer directly to pan of sauce, and stir to prevent clumping. Finish with 2 ladlefuls (1 cup?) of pasta water to thicken. 

If you like (and are not vegan) you can add some grated or shaved parmesan on top. 

When you're done with dinner, you'll want to have some dessert. This one is a winner. It's so good that it was gone in 24 hours and was requested again this week. It's also vegetarian and can easily be converted to vegan with some small modifications.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake. This recipe is foolproof. I just winged it, had never made an upside down cake in my life, and just wanted something sweet. I didn't care if it didn't turn out. But, then it did turn out. And boy, it was amazing. So juicy and moist that it didn't even need ice cream.

Also, funny story. I'm midwestern all the way. Born and bred. The fiance is a little bit more worldly and comes from the east coast. I had never made a pineapple upside-down cake, but friends parents had made it. I had always seen it made with crushed pineapple, but evidently this is rather de-classe' and all the cool people make it with pineapple rings and, preferrably, those gross maraschino cherries (ick!). I didn't know. Which reminds me of the time I made my first meatloaf (can you tell I grew up in a health food household), and I had never even seen a meatloaf made. So what did I do? I mixed the meatloaf mixture and piled it up on a sheet pan in a mound. The fiance almost died laughing when he explained that most people use a bread pan. I didn't know. It tasted good...

Back to cake.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake
1 16 oz can of pineapple (chunks, crushed, or decide) canned in juice
1/4 c butter (see end of recipe for vegan modifications)
1.5 tbsp good rum
1/2 c sugar (real sugar is a must)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c almond flour (easily any flour you want it to be)
1/2 c whole wheat flour (see note on previous)
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c milk (vegan mods at end)
1 egg (vegan mods at end)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Drain pineapple and save juices. In 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan, melt butter (I just stuck it in the oven for a minute) and stir in 1/2 c sugar, 1.5 tbsp rum, and pineapple. It should take up 1/2 the pan. In a bowl, mix dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, salt) and add wet ingredients (sugar, egg, butter, milk, vanilla) add 1/4 c of drained pineapple juices and stir just to combine. This should be a pretty soupy mixture. Pour on top of pineapple mixture in baking pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until cake pulls away from sides and is firm to the touch in the center. Remove the pan from the oven and wait 5 minutes. Invert on a cake platter or dinner plate. Serve warm or cold (good both ways!). 

Vegan modifications: 

Butter - Earth Balance is a commercially available vegan spread, but I think you could also use Coconut Butter, which would give it a delicious Pina Colada-esque taste. I'm trying this next time!

Milk - Water, Soy, or Almond Milk would be great. I think Almond milk would play well off the almond flour. 

Egg - Flax egg or chia. 1 tbsp ground flax or chia in 1/4 c water. Allow to stand until thickened. Use this as 1 egg. 

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did. I have a quick picture montage of how this went over with my family...specifically Lyra.

"Eew. I hate all things tomato. And the lack of meat is upsetting to me!"
"...but I will scavenge your cheese."

 Da-duh, Da-duh (Jaws theme -look in the background for a blurry black and white image).
Da-duh, da-duh,da-duh,da-duh NOMPH!

She got in trouble for that one. She's a strange one. She likes cake and spinach. 

Have a great afternoon!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Food Fears: Toxic Reveng(er)

Google tells me that people are really enjoying (or at least reading) the last Food Fears post:

If you're interested, you can check that one out, too. But, it's not like you have to read one to understand the other. This all started with my recent detox and some musing about what exactly we're all trying to detox out of our bodies to start with. With the last post, we uncovered that toxins are made from other organisms and often cause really bad effects when we eat them - think paralysis, digestive disorders, and even death.

Since most of the people you find designing or partaking in detoxes around here seem to be in pretty good health, then toxins are not actually what we are removing from our it must be the other kind of 'tox', those items that are toxic.

Toxic has a much broader definition. In fact, everything can be toxic to humans. Even water. Really. Yeah, that guy who has been going on and on about how sugar is toxic - he's right. Which is why moderation is key. We need glucose, and sugar is one way to get it, but too much of any sugar source is toxic to our bodies and will have effects on our health.

If everything is toxic, then how do we measure toxicity? 

Toxicity is measured by lethal in how much of the stuff does it take to kill you? The actual notation is of the LD50, or Median Lethal Dose. Because the effect of a substance varies on different people, animals, sexes, and ethnicities, this is actually a more accurate way to represent the danger that a substance presents to us.
Now that we understand LD50, we need to also understand the units that go along with the number. This is how it usually works:

LD50 = # mg of the substance / # kg of bodyweight

So, first things first. One mg (milligram) is equivalent to 0.001 grams, and one kg (kilogram) is equivalent to 1000 we are talking about a dose that is on the order of one million parts smaller than the person or creature that ingests it.

Got it? Ok, quick quiz, my very smart friends:

Which substance is more lethal...i.e. needs the smaller dose to cause death?

Botulinum toxin at 0.000001 mg/kg
Hydrogen Cyanide 1 mg/kg
Nicotine 50 mg/kg's the botulinum toxin. The smallest number means that it takes the least about to be lethal. If you got it right, give yourself a little pat on your back. Good job :)

Since we're not usually ingesting botulinum toxin or hydrogen cyanide (or at least not THAT much nicotine), we should really talk about real, edible things. 

Ok, scare me. What common things are surprisingly lethal? 

Ok, so let's do the basics first...sugar, water, salt...all lethal....but in incredibly high doses. Since I gave you the really bad stuff first (botulinum toxin is no joke), these will seem really high.

Table Sugar 29,700 mg/kg
Table Salt 3,000 mg/kg
Water...not accurately calculable. But it is possible...the reality is that you'd probably drown before you died from ingesting water, and water over-consumption leads to a lot of unpleasant side effects that would ultimately be the cause of your death.

We constantly balance consuming to meet our needs with overconsumption, so we need sugar and salt, but we can also overconsume sugar and salt, which can kill us.

What about some other edibles...these ones that are a little more optional...

Ethanol 7,060 mg/kg
Aspirin 200 mg/kg
Caffeine 192 mg/kg

How many of you know someone who has died of alcohol poisoning? You can see that the lethal dose for ethanol is actually higher than that for salt, and considerably higher than that of caffeine...and while consumption is relative, it should give you and idea of the possibilities.

Finally, how about some vitamins and supplements...since these are the sneaky ones. See, our body is smart. If we're overconsuming something and we give it enough time to respond, it will respond by telling us not to eat that anymore. Caffeine jitters, drunkeness, even dehydration associated with too many salty foods are all designed to get our attention. When we ingest supplements, we send a huge dose of the chemical or compound directly to our digestive system, and that can be very dangerous.

Vitamin C 11,900 mg/kg
Iron 30 g/kg 
Vitamin E 4000 mg/kg

Vitamin E and other fat soluble vitamins are especially dangerous because they can build up in your system over time by storing themselves in your system.

So, how much of those things do I really need to eat to get sick or die?

For most foods, lethality isn't going to be a major issue. It's eating to the point where you feel good and not eating more. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to monitor that if you're eating a poor diet and have been for most of your recent memory...

Maybe the best example I can give is ingesting a 2L bottle of regular soda made with sugar (not HFCS) contains over 200 grams of sugar, which is 200,000 mg of sugar. The LD50 for table sugar is 29,500 mg/kg. For a 150 lb person (~68 kg), that means that you would need to ingest 2006 g on average to die from table sugar. That is approximately 10 2-L bottles of soda. That’s a lot of soda.
In the same vein, using the same math, you’d have to ingest over 0.75 cup of table salt to die from salt poisoning.
Alternately, you’d only have to consume 16.8 oz of straight ethanol to die from ethanol poisoning…that’s 42 shots of 40% (80 proof) liquor in your system all at once. Because ethanol doesn’t clear your system (i.e. metabolize) very quickly, it can build up in your system to reach that lethal dose, so it doesn’t all have to be ingested at once.

Am I really going to rid my body of these things during a 'detox'? 
Well, yes. Often, flushing your body of these things with water will help. And a traditional detox will do that for you. I think really 'detox' is a trendy way to say that you’re going to clean up your diet, clear out what you have been eating, and replace it with clean eating, and I’m ok with that.
Next time on Food Fears, let’s look at food intolerances and allergies, and talk about the differences between them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Hello all, excuse this interruption from my regularly scheduled programming to talk about an article that really touched a nerve with me today.

I was referred to this via the Sneetch Blog, and I believe she found a similar reactionary blog here. The article is a New York Times Op-Ed about the rate of female doctors who are leaving the profession or going part-time (link here). The author has a strong opinion that women who leave the profession are doing both a disservice to the profession, but also to their patients. I won't do anymore summarizing, but I encourage you to read the article.

I am lucky enough to work with, and be friends with, several very smart, very educated ladies. I also will say that I'm lucky to read the blogs of an even wider variety of incredible women and men in the science and medical professions. While my reaction isn't as strong as Dr. Isis's, something about this article really touched a nerve.

These are the summaries of my thoughts, and this is really for myself. I'd love to hear your thoughts, and please read the article if you have time. It's awfully thought provoking.

1) The author states that, upon entering the medical profession after a residency and years of education, the doctor is in fact indebted to the tax payers who paid to train them and should not consider leaving the profession or only practicing part-time to be fulfilling their debt.
---I really feel that the same could be said for anyone who went to public school and received state or federal financial aid. I know many women, some in the sciences, who never pursued a career after undergraduate and stayed home with their children. I do not find an educated woman to be a waste, especially since she is likely passing down the value of education to her children, as well as educating them and helping them become more productive members of society. While doctors have spent more time on their education, and thus more money, that doesn't mean that they aren't contributing to society from that role as mothers, rather than professional doctors. If we're going to start counting debt, I'd like it to be a broader approach. Let's talk about all the men and women who have left their trained professions to stay at home or pursue other, less profitable, endeavors. Then, if female doctors are really the cause of societal debt, I'll start listening to this argument.

2) I am not a medical doctor, I am an academic doctor. But, I can tell you that my education was rigorous. I have friends in medical school and residencies. Their education is also rigorous and exhausting. I have been going metaphorical balls-to-the-wall for 8 years now, and I'm not even a 'real professor' yet (PS 8 weeks and counting before can officially claim that title). I can tell you with absolute certainty that I could not have gotten my education on the timeline that I did with children or a demanding significant other (the fiance is an angel about me working all the time), and I can see the benefit and temptation of taking a couple years off to have children or only working part-time so that I could raise a family (as I believe the aforementioned Dr. Sneetch did). In fact, if I tried to do both at the same time, I might waste a lot more taxpayer dollars by futzing up either my job (educating chemists) or my kids. These professions require an almost-inhuman amount of work, and have classically been unfriendly to females who want to have children. I don't think the answer is to further berate the women for not living up to the expectations.

3) The author of the editorial is a medical doctor. She has four children. She still has the opinion that she does.
--Bravo for her. I mean it too. Because in order to have that opinion and really have it mean anything, she better be dynamite, or she'd be a hypocrite. But, let's delve into the unknown. These are questions that I have about the author and her situation - and maybe I have no right to know - but that never stopped my curiosity:
--Does she have family support to care for her children? A husband with a flexible job? A nearby relative that can babysit late at night or on days the kids get sick?
--How much money does she make? Can she afford nannies or other live-in help?
--What kind of practice does she do? I know she's an anesthetist, but what are her hours? Does she meet with patients? How much flexibility is she allowed?
--What do her children think of these claims? Do they feel that they are well-adjusted? Was she there for them when she needed them?
--What did she give up to be able to balance those two aspects of her life (career and family). Some of the best advice I have received so far is that we, as women, can't get an 'A' in every aspect of our lives...for some it's not cooking, for some it's not cleaning, for some it's family life, but we all get 'C's or D's' in some aspect of life. What is this lady's sore spot. This is not only due to my curiosity, but because I think she's talking AT her audience from a pulpit and admitting some fault or flaw would really humanize her.

4) Finally, I think this article just further illustrates the strain of social vs professional requirements on women. It isn't new news. In fact, the National Science Foundation reports that, while women make up almost half of Ph.D's in the physical and over half in the biological sciences, a disproportionate number of women fail to continue their careers past that mark. Being in the trenches, I can understand why, as I've explained before. But, maybe the answer is that we need to support these women as a society (not even financially, though free reliable child care would probably help a lot) and stop expecting them to be Suzy Homemaker AND Dr. QueenBee. Men, I'm talking to you.

One final anecdote.
Early in my graduate career, I was in a class of all men. We were always studying, always working, barely breathing, trying to get through our first year. One night at a study session, we were talking about a mutual friend's recent marriage, and one of my colleagues commented that he needed a wife, to make him a sandwich for lunch everyday. I know he was being a giant jerk, but my reaction was 'I need a WIFE (or mythical creature) to make ME a sandwich'. We could all benefit from that type of partnership, but I feel that women are disproportionately expected to fill that role in their relationships and families.

Comments welcome. Tear me apart. I won't cry. I'm trying, desperately hard, to be that invincible woman that I am expected to be. I'd love to know your thoughts. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mighty Mississippi, Mighty Fiance

After our indoor camping adventure (post here) and hiking to see some breathtaking views (post here), it only seemed right that we needed to explore the big river that forms the eastern side of my town. 

Since we had seen it from the top of the Minnesota side, we decided to go find out what it looked like from we crossed the big bridge (it looks like a vertical white line on the right half of this pic).

And we drove about 30 minutes. We saw some bluffs and some marshland, but nothing too exciting. We did stop at a gas station for drinks and got a snack of a veggie tray, a cheese stick, and a couple beef sticks. That's the great thing about Wisconsin...they really support their beef and dairy industries! Yummmmmm.
Wisconsin also has nice flowers ;)
On our way back to my apartment, the fiance got some great shots on the Minnesota side again.

So pretty! We knew that there are bike trails all along the Mississippi, and we brought our bikes, so we went out with the hopes of hitting a nearby state park. The first part of the trip was along a park road that was mostly deserted.
Bordered by the river and a nature reserve, it was quiet and peaceful. Every once in a while, the trees would open up, and boats and sometimes a houseboat.
This one was particularly awesome.
Eventually we ended up on a county highway with a wide shoulder. Evidently this was part of the trail, but it was a little busy for the fiance's taste. He kept telling me that we were going to get run over. Plus, it was super rolling hills, and our Iowa legs weren't used to it. After 15 miles, we saw a stopping point and pulled over.

We found one of the locks and dams on the Mississippi!

There are several of them, starting up by St. Paul, and going all the way down the river. We learned that it takes 5 days to go upriver from St. Louis to St.Paul by barge!

We sat down to eat our PB&J sandwiches and PB filled pretzel snacks.

Then, we got sooo lucky because a tow came through to push a barge through the lock!

It was a lot of fun and a perfect break from the bike ride. We turned around and biked the 15 miles back to my apartment. Kudos to the fiance, who accomplished his longest bike ride to date! I rewarded him with microbrews at a local brew pub that is within walking distance of my new place! Score!

Well, that's the last of this recap, but we'll be going back over July 4th weekend. Who wants to come? Bring your own sleeping bag and I'll share my kitchen!

Back at you with some science by the end of the week. I've come across some really interesting research on toxicity of components of our food!