Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hah! It's Not an Addiction--It's a Health Food!

As if you needed any more excuse to down coffee on a daily basis (make mine iced!), two mainly* Boston-based researchers in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, say: Yep, it's good for ya.

The NYTimes (citing the JAMA article) agrees:
Coffee is not usually thought of as health food, but a number of recent studies suggest that it can be a highly beneficial drink. Researchers have found strong evidence that coffee reduces the risk of several serious ailments, including diabetes, heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver.

It's particularly good in warding off the type 2 diabetes:
Larger quantities of coffee seem to be especially helpful in diabetes prevention. In a report that combined statistical data from many studies, researchers found that people who drank four to six cups of coffee a day had a 28 percent reduced risk compared with people who drank two or fewer. Those who drank more than six had a 35 percent risk reduction.

My hubby, the Ph.D. in applied math (mainly probability) says this is HUGE reduction in risk, not just one of those slight gains that often get overhyped in the press.

BTW, does it surprise you that most of the work was done in the Hub? We can't live without our joe! (Make mine iced!)

*JAMA author Affiliations: Department of Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Dr van Dam); Department of Nutrition (Drs van Dam and Hu) and Department of Epidemiology (Dr Hu), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass; Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Hu).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Flame On?

Just biding my time, waiting for my Dell laptop to catch fire.

Good thing I didn't buy a Dell lithium-ion battery-powered fire extinguisher. I mean, if your fire extinguisher catches fire, what do you do?

Monday, August 14, 2006

I've Got a Loverly Bag of Chocolates (Or--For God's Sake, Get to Burlington NOW!)

Run, walk, drive, bike, whatever to the Lindt Chocolate store at Burlington Square on Middlesex Turnpike (not, repeat NOT the store in Burlington Mall--the store near Eastern Mountain Sports and Finagle a Bagel). It's Lindt Factory Clearance time, which is a heck of a lot tastier than, say, Toyota Factory Clearance time. This is an unadvertised special (according to the store manager), so unless you drove past the store and saw the signs in the window, you wouldn't know that there were some great prices on one of life's cure-alls just waiting for you.

I'm talking all manner of Lindt bars for discounts as low as a dollar each (if you buy 12, but with all the variety, you'll be surprised how fast you can amass 12 bars); boxes of white chocolate-coconut miniatures (today's featured item--200 minis for $3.95!); small bags of truffles for 75 cents each (outrageous discounts on quantity purchases, but even I couldn't quite justify buying a dozen bags), and boxes of praline minis for $4.00 each. (The back of the store has all the newer, regularly priced merch.)

Though some of the bars will be accompanying me on our upcoming camping trip (and some will stay behind for baking), most of the hoard is just hanging out in my office, waiting for distribution.

My office runs on chocolate. Say what you like about paychecks and pats on the back, it's candy (okay, sweet goodies of all kind) that keeps my colleagues coming to work. (I can't really blame them--it's one of the reasons I'm here.) Already I have renewed the love and affection of many of my coworkers. It's amazing what sprinkling some dark chocolate truffles around will do.

It's a chocolate sale, people--what more do I have to say?

P.S. This particular store is NOT closing. I asked (what with the factory clearance and all), but the manager said that not only is the Burlington Square store NOT closing, she wishes the Burlington Mall employees would stop telling customers that it is. (That's where I'd heard the rumor myself.) Most unsettling for her employees, she says. As you can imagine.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lovely Logan--Can't Wait!

My husband just got back from Seattle this morning (he took an overnight flight via San Francisco). Although it took him a "mere" 90 minutes to get through security (not counting the 5 minutes to check his bag and the 5 minutes to walk to the gate), he said that some security lines at SeaTac stretched on for 5 HOURS.

This doesn't exactly make me look forward to taking my folks to Logan tomorrow afternoon. We have to be there a minimum of three hours in advance, and both of them need wheelchair assistance, which I was told isn't available until they actually check in. I was assured that the wheelchair assistant would wait with them all the way through security, however. Let's just hope the airline keeps up its end of that bargain.

Suddenly, my stepdad's idea of flying non-stop to Logan (rather than a one-stop trip that arrives at the drive-straight-up-Rt.3-then-park-out-front-and-go-help-your-parents Manchester Airport, always my preference) isn't sounding like very much fun.

Sigh. If you need me tomorrow, I'll be at Logan. For hours.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Really Good Lobster Rolls in Kennebunkport

My folks are visiting from Virginia, always a treat. A visit from them requires at least one jaunt to Maine, so they can go home and brag about how "the kids took us to Maine for the day!" (We get a lot of halo effect out of an hour's drive. Okay--with the summer traffic, more like 90 minutes.)

We tried to take them to the Maine Diner in Wells this Sunday, but the lengthy wait was somewhat off-putting. So we pulled out our handy-dandy copy of the new guide New England's Favorite Seafood Shacks: Eating Up the Coast from Connecticut to Maine and headed for the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. (NOTE: The address in the link I provided--Rt. 9 at the bridge in Kennebunkport--is correct. Seafood Shacks, although otherwise an excellent guide, gives the wrong location [Rt. 1]. You must follow the signs into the village of Kennebunkport to get there.)

I've avoided Kennebunkport for the last several years because I'm not a big fan of the Bushes. However, thanks to the reign of King W, I've come to see more and more what a great guy his dad is, so the moratorium has ended. Plus, I'm a whore for a good lobster roll, and the book highly recommends the ones at the Clam Shack. (Travel + Leisure also gives them one the ol' thumbs up.)
And indeed they're good ones--lots of freshly picked meat (they actually do it when you order instead of storing up a bunch in the early part of the day). And you get your choice of butter OR mayo (make mine butter, please!), all served on a tasty round bun. (A little unusual, yes, but good.)

Add to that the setting by the bridge (no indoor seating--it's either benches or leaning against the railings over the water) and you have SFNE personified. You can toss bits of lobster to the gulls or be like me and scarf down every morsel yourself.

My mom had a steamed lobster instead of the lobster roll--a delicious softshell with plenty of butter. Mom's a slow eater, so she kept offering me pieces (my payment for cracking it and digging out the meat). I didn't refuse, I have to admit.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Why Isn't the Boston Pops in on This?

I just discovered there's a touring show called "Play: A Video Game Symphony."

Each performance is done by a local orchestra. Local as in, say, the National Symphony Orchestra--not exactly a bunch of slouches. The NSO performed "Play" this past Friday night in Virginia at Wolf Trap, which is sort of the Northern Virginia equivalent of Tanglewood, but a lot closer to the city. (Very nice venue, I can tell you from personal experience.)

You read that correctly--music from video games. And why should that strike anyone as strange? Orchestras have been giving programs with movie music for decades now. The music from many video games is wonderful, and--if not exactly Beethoven--is certainly as symphonically rich and evocative as a James Horner film score.

From the Washington Post:

The brainchild of 29-year-old Jason Michael Paul, who says that he was the first kid on his block to own a Sega Genesis, "Play!" debuted in May, making stops in Chicago, Stockholm, Detroit and, most recently, Philadelphia. (Two years ago, Paul produced the first video game concert in the United States, "Dear Friends -- Music From 'Final Fantasy.' ") Paul and the show's conductor, Arnie Roth, have come up with a program that runs the gamut of game music, from "Sonic the Hedgehog" to "Metal Gear Solid." Roth, who's worked with the likes of Diana Ross, Charlotte Church and Art Garfunkel, is an outsider to games.
(See Keith Lockhart, you wouldn't even have to conduct. They bring their own.)

This could be just the sort of thing for my son, who got somewhat burned out on orchestral music when I was marketing director for a small symphony. But I checked the current touring schedule, and I see no local dates--no Boston Pops, no BSO.

What gives? It's okay to salute Oscar and Tony, but not The Legend of Zelda? Why is it okay to play John Williams but not Nobuo Uematsu? Huh? Huh? This is a guy who has concerts devoted just to his music alone (forget the other gaming composers), but I'm not seeing him on the Pops schedule. (BTW, I love John Williams' film scores--I was just making a comparison.)

Goodness knows we have enough computer programmers, web developers, Internet entrepreneurs, and just all around gaming fanatics to fill Symphony Hall for such a show. Now, if Mr. Lockhart tells me that he's just holding out until they add some of the music from Katamari Damacy--truly the musical standout of the last two years in video games, then I'll understand and forgive. But until then, we're waiting.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Overheard in Lexington

I was in Stop & Shop earlier this week, looking for milk in that 20 x 20 section that sells organic/natural foods, when I heard the following conversation between a mom and her (I'd guess) 11-year-old daughter in the canned-goods aisle:

Daughter: "I can't eat this!"

Mom: "But honey, you can eat this. It's completely vegetarian."

Daughter: "I can't!"

Mom: "But look--it's just beans, tomatoes, spices--no meat products of any kind. It's completely vegetarian. Really, honey, you can eat this."

Daughter (getting progressively more agitated): "I CAN'T--you don't understand! There's stuff in here I can't eat!"

Mom (keeping calm, considering): "Really, sweetie--look. It's all vegetarian, all natural. No animal products of any kind. Let me get this for you."

Daughter (more agitated): "NO! I CAN'T! This isn't what I can eat!!"

I was in a hurry, so I finally had to leave, with the mother still trying (very patiently, I thought) to reason with her daughter that the vegetarian soup really was okay for a vegetarian to eat. And I had a glimpse of my future. Although I'm a pretty dedicated carnivore (as loyal readers know from my many posts on barbeque), I figure it's only a matter of time before my pet-loving, tender-hearted son goes veggie. His favorite foods are already eggs, mangos, and macaroni and cheese, so it wouldn't even be that big of a stretch, diet-wise.

On the other hand, he may change his mind when he figures out that being vegetarian means no bacon. At that point, all bets are off.