Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thought this was interesting....

*Note I've copied and pasted this directly from the original article on the Huffington Post's blog:

I'm the Chick Running From New York to San Francisco

written by Kelcey Harrison
I don't know if I am in denial, am extremely naive, or if I truly am confident that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now, but for some reason the fact that I've started running 30 miles a day and won't stop until I reach San Francisco doesn't seem to stress or scare me. Maybe it's just that crazy people don't realize they're that crazy?
I'm just your average 24-year-old who grew up in San Francisco, went to Harvard University, and moved to New York soon after college. For the last two years I worked at the New York County District Attorney's Office. Although I had the best time working there, I realized that law school was not really the route I wanted to take, and I was feeling a pull to make a change coupled with a very strong desire to contribute more to Jill's Legacy, I began thinking about some new options.
This is where I break from the normal... The idea that I came up with was to run from New York to San Francisco to raise money and awareness for lung cancer. Lots of people asked, why? Couldn't I have done something a little less risky? But for me, it made perfect sense. I am using a skill that I have been blessed with -- running long-distance -- to make a difference and to draw people's attention to a topic that deserves greater discussion, awareness, and funding. I am doing something really big and out there, which was what Jill was all about.
Jill and I first met when we attended kindergarten together. We went to school together from kindergarten through high school and remained good friends through college. While we were in school, there was a group of about five of us that was inseparable. She was a friend who was always there for me and had been in my life for so long that I always expected her to be around for life's big moments.
When she was diagnosed with lung cancer at just 21 years old, it was a huge shock. I certainly did not know how to handle it, but she did. She lived with more grace, determination, strength, and joy than most people will ever demonstrate in their lifetimes. After her diagnosis she did a lot of advocacy work with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. In the last year of her life, Jill was named Pac-10 Women's Athlete of the Year, she graduated Cal Berkeley with a 4.0 and she led the Cal Women's crew team to a national championship. A few weeks after, Jill passed away. After her passing a group of young people with connections to Jill and/or the foundation formed Jill's Legacy, an advisory board to the foundation. Our goal is to mobilize young people to use their voices and power to raise awareness for lung cancer and to really start a movement to demand a change.
Our goal is to debunk the stigma that faces lung cancer patients. The common belief that lung cancer is a smoker's disease or one that only affects older people is wrong. The first question people always ask in response to a diagnosis is, "Oh, you were a smoker?" The underlying message that comes across with this question is the idea that lung cancer patients somehow brought the disease upon themselves and so it is the last disease to get funding for research. This has to change. Nobody deserves to get cancer for any reason and, of equal importance no one deserves to get a disease for which there simply is not enough support. The survival rate for lung cancer has not changed in 40 years and that fact simply boggles my mind. With the technology we have today, there should be better options for early detection and treatment so that fewer lives will be lost. Why aren't people talking about this! For those of us who knew Jill, it drives us nuts.
So, my journey has begun and I already have so much to share! Follow my Twitter account, as I will be Tweeting the wild adventures and characters I encounter along the way.
I can't articulate how thankful I am for all of the support I have already received. I am already overwhelmed by the responses. We have raised over $100,000 since announcing the Great Lung Run just one month ago. I would be so appreciative of any support that readers can offer, whether that be in the form of a wave, a tweet or a penny. To support, visit www.thegreatlungrun.com, follow me on Twitter, or email me at Kelceyharrison@thegreatlungrun.com.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What's in a vitamin? (Vitamin C)

Vitamin C
Everyone's favorite vitamin has to be vitamin C (also referred to as ascorbic acid). Probably the most ubiquitously known reason for taking vitamin C is to help your immune system in the winter to fight off those pesky colds. However, this is not the most important reason your body needs vitamin C, in fact, its an after thought. Vitamin C actually plays a pivitol role in maintaining the different types of body tissues that keep you functioning as an intact human being: ligaments, gums, skin, tendons, blood vessels, even bone. Vitamin C is key to helping wounds heal and forming scar tissue. With that said, the affect vitamin C has on the common cold is lack luster. There is no evidence that vitamin C helps in preventing the common cold, and some studies show that it mildly reduces the duration of the illness, though other studies show no benefit. 

Vitamin C is not produced by the body nor is it stored in the body. It is solely gained from diet and supplementation. If you take too much vitamin C, your body will eliminate the extra that it does not use immediately. So, there is no harm in taking a regular vitamin C supplement if that is what you fancy, unless you are eating them like candy (which like candy, you might get some stomach upset). However, too little vitamin C can lead to a serious disease known as scurvy. Scurvy is characterized by anemia, bleeding gums and gingivitis, weak tooth enamel, nose bleeds, painful joints, inability to heal wounds, decreased ability to fight infections, and easy bruising. This is extremely rare in the United States. So as long as you are eating plenty of the foods listed below, you're getting enough vitamin C. 

Foods Rich in Vitamin C:
  • Guava
  • Red bell pepper, Green bell pepper
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges and Orange Juice
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Vegetable Juice
  • Raw Strawberries
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya
  • Kohlrabi
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tomato Juice
  • Cauliflower
  • Pineapple
  • Kale
  • Mango
Another fun fact: Vitamin C helps you absorb iron and it is classified as an anti-oxidant. 

Where this info came from:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

From Boston to Houston - Part 5, the finale

July 21, 2012 (Day 5-6, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri)

It’s Saturday evening and J. Rho and I have reached our destination – Houston, Texas.  But before I tell you about Saturday’s drive, let me fill you in on Friday’s adventures. 

J. Rho and I woke up around 7am on Friday morning, refreshed from the eight hours of comfortable sleep we had received.  After an amazing breakfast (eggs, bacon, biscuit, homefries, and fruit) we were off for our fifth and final baseball game in St. Louis.  We arrived in St. Louis around noon and met our high school friend, Marlow, who currently lives in St. Louis.  Marlow showed us around his neighborhood including a delicious pizza place named “Pi,” that served one of the most amazing deep dish pizzas I had ever eaten. 

After the three of us had lunch it was time for …….. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES!!!!  I will spare you my critique and detailed opinions of the movie because I assume: 1. You don’t want to hear them and 2. You don’t want me to spoil the movie.  However, all in all, the movie was amazing.  Although, there were a few things that differentiated from the comic that didn’t please me, the finale to the batman series was a success.  Additionally, Christopher Nolan pulled another rabbit out of his hat casting Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.  She wasn’t obviously as good as Nolan’s first surprise casting, Heath Ledger, but she still played a credible Selina Kyle. 

The movie ended at 6pm and, therefore, it was time to make our way to Busch Stadium (Cardinals home).
Stadium:  This pains me to say…. actually, since I am in Astros fan, so it really doesn’t - Busch Stadium is a stadium and to be completely honest, I was expecting much more.  For starters, I hate baseball stadiums where you have to go through a tunnel to get into your seats.  In my opinion, there should never be a divider between walking around and picking up food and the actual baseball game.  Second, although the stadium is clean and nice, it’s a bit unimaginative and just seemed like a carbon copy of other baseball venues.  Third and last, Cardinals fans suck.  The End.

Food:  Another huge disappointment.  The only good thing at this place was the nachos, which were actually pretty good.  Besides that, Busch Stadium had nothing to offer more than mediocre hot dogs and Hardees.
The Cardinals played the Cubs, which was great to see because they are big rivals.  The Cardinals ended up winning 4-1 with most of the runs being scored in the first couple of innings. 

J. Rho and I had a 14 hour drive from St. Louis to Houston on Saturday where our parents threw a small party for J. Rho’s return to Houston.  This means we had to be on the road by 5am to hopefully arrive in time for the scheduled party time of 7pm.  This could have proved quite impossible, especially because our friend Marlow took us out to see the St. Louis night life.  Did we get up in time?

NO! We didn’t.  Marlow took us out and we ended up socializing until 3am.  J. Rho and I did, however, mange to get up at 6am and hit the road around 6:30am to arrive in Houston by 8:30pm. The end.

If you have been following my posts, I truly appreciate it.  If you haven’t……I have nothing to say to you.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

From Boston to Houston - Part 4

July 19, 2012 (Day 4 – Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri)

As the sun sets over Cincinnati, J. Rho and I come alive.  Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for NIGHT DRIVING!!  After the Reds game, J. Rho and I saddled up for the 10 hour drive to Kansas City.  I know what you’re thinking, “why not just stay in Cincinnati for the night and get your spaghetti topped with chili in the late morning before embarking to Kansas City?”  I wish it were that easy folks.  A comfortable bed with the thought of that spectacular Cincinnati treat would have sounded delightful, however, the Royals have a day game tomorrow and this is a baseball trip. 

J. Rho took the first leg, driving through Kentucky, which borders Cincinnati, before going into Indiana through the city of Louisville.  J. Rho was able to take her into Illinois before we switched around 2am.  By 2:30am (We had gained an hour crossing into central time) we had reached St. Louis and I was getting pretty tired.  Not to mention St. Louis was our destination the following day so I was upset to pass it (St. Louis did not have a game Thursday so we bypassed it to get to Kansas City).  Although I was tired, it was still amazing to go over the Mississippi River and see the St. Louis arch lit up.  For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the St. Louis Arch is a beautiful monument and happens to be the tallest man made monument in America and tallest accessible building in Missouri. 

At 4:00 am J. Rho couldn’t take it anymore and was famished, so we stopped into Missouri’s favorite, HARDEES!  People….I love Hardees.  In my opinion it’s amazing.  I stepped up to the register comfortably and confidently and ordered a chicken biscuit meal with a side of gravy.  To say the least and to spare you the juicy details, it was amazing.  Afterwards, we were back on the road on our way to Kansas City for a 1:10pm Royals game.  At 6am, J. Rho and I were too tired to carry on, and we decided to stop 5 miles from the stadium to get a hotel and get some much needed sleep.  I should fill you in, Carlos was packed to the gills so that J. Rho’s front passenger seat could not recline even an inch, making it hard to get some Z’s.  We found ourselves a nice Hilton and slept until 11:30am. 

Stadium: Kauffman Stadium is probably the most unique baseball stadium I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.  For starters, the stadium is a true park.  There are no true grandstands in the outfield, everything is open, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  Additionally, the waterfalls and fountain systems in the outfield make this place truly fantastic. 

For those of you who do not know baseball well, the Royals do not draw a huge crowd.  Furthermore, as it was a weekday day game, the crowd was even smaller which gave us an opportunity to purchase the cheapest tickets and sit anywhere we wanted. 

Food:  This is where it gets good.  I have been to plenty of baseball games and stadiums.  I have eaten all kinds of baseball food and one of a kind hotdogs, however, the hotdog I ate at Kauffman Stadium was the best I have ever had.  Let me set this up for you.  Kauffman stadium has a specialty hot dog place in their right and left field respectively.  They have about five specialty dogs, ranging from the classic Chicago Dog to the Texas Dog.  When I saw the Texas dog (chili and cheese) I knew that’s what we were going to get.  I stepped up, ordered the Texas Dog, and the guy taking my order said the greatest thing I had heard thus far on that road trip: “Not many people are coming today so I will let you get whatever you want for no additional charge.”  OH DAMN!  I replied, “If you insist, I will have the foot long hotdog with chili, cheese, pulled pork, spicy brown mustard, onions and jalapenos.”  Delicious. 

After the game, J. Rho and I went to a Casino outside of Kansas City.  All I will say is I didn’t do as well as I hoped to do.  Although I had that humungous hotdog earlier, around 7pm J. Rho and I were getting hungry again so we decided to eat……..what else but some Kansas City BBQ. 

Tangent: As a born Texan, I love barbecue.  I will spare you the definitional differences between real barbecue and what northerners call hamburgers and hotdogs and simply say there are 4 capitals of barbecue in America.  The first and the greatest is obviously Texas, which does everything beef.  The second, Memphis, prides themselves on their exquisite dry rub and pork ribs.  The third, North Carolina, perfected the pulled pork sandwich and the vinegar based barbecue sauce.  And the Fourth, KANSAS CITY, packs an all around barbecue punch with supposedly GREAT sauce. 

J. Rho and I went to Gates, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  J. Rho and I each got a monster chopped beef sandwich and split a side of smoked sausage which we smothered in barbecue sauce.  The barbecue sauce was so good that I even bought two bottles to bring home.  The meat was fantastic too, however, not as good as the brisket in Texas. 

After our stomachs were once again full, it was back to the hotel for some more sleep.  A short drive to St. Louis tomorrow, stay tuned.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

From Boston to Houston - Part 3

July 18, 2012 (Day 3 – Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, OH)

Cincy! Cincy! Here I come.  J. Rho and I awoke on a beautiful Tuesday morning, showered, got coffee and embarked for our next destination, Cincinnati.   J. Rho took the first leg while I took Carlos into downtown Cincy to complete a very mountain filled 8.5 hour drive.  As a Texan, I hate driving through the mountains.   I just don’t understand why people enjoy it.  I mean, it’s quite beautiful here and there, however, it’s painfully inefficient.  Up and down, swerve left, swerve right; it’s quite exhausting.   In Texas, highways go straight so what really should be a three hour drive doesn’t take five hours. 

To recap the ride, J. Rho and I went through Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania before finally getting to the great Buckeye State of Ohio.  After stopping at the Ohio border for Taco Bell at noon (don’t hate on the BELL), J. Rho and I arrived in beautiful Cincinnati at 4:30pm.  We parked Carlos in a lot and made our way to Great American Ballpark (Reds home).   Sadly, right as we bought our ticket, it started pouring, however, the stadium opened early and Jeff and I were able to wait it out.    

Stadium: Ladies and Gentlemen, Great American Ballpark is a park.  The energy of the crowd was fantastic and the turf and outline of the infield was beautiful.  Although we sat predominately in the outfield, the view was still great.  There was, however, one touchy usher who wouldn’t let J. Rho and I sit by the third base dugout even though no one else was sitting there.  I tried to dodge him but obviously wasn’t as shifty as I needed to be and we ended up getting kicked out of the section. Oh well, our outfield seats were still great!

The coolest part of the game: After every Red’s pitcher to throw a strike out, the fire work stacks in center field would roar with a flame that resembled a dragon’s nostrils.  It was awesome, especially since it was sprinkling and about 65 degrees the whole time. 

Food: NOOOO!!!! Skyline in the ballpark does NOT have the famous Cincinnati spaghetti and chili.  This deeply upset J. Rho and I as we planned to eat the iconic Cincinnati meal when we first mapped out this trip.  To make matters worse, Skyline’s coneys were painfully PITIFUL.  They ended up being small little terd hot dogs with too much cheese and not enough chili.  Although Skyline was disappointing, the sausage I had in the sixth inning was splendid and sort of made up for my disappointing earlier meal. 

The Reds played the Diamondbacks and ended up getting killed 1-7, way to go Mat Latos (Pitcher on my Fantasy Team).  Next stop, Kansas City.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

From Boston to Houston - Part 2

July 17, 2012 (Day 2 - Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.)

To me, this is the true beginning to our road trip.  Boston to NYC is simply driving home, NYC to D.C., now we’re talking.  Personally, this is also a special drive.  At the ages of 5-10, I lived in the D.C. area and frequently visited my grandparents who live in Hackensack N.J., a town a short 10 minutes away from the G.W. Bridge.  As I watched my parents make the drive from D.C. to Hackensack many times, it was especially meaningful to make the drive myself as an adult.

J. Rho and I awoke early Tuesday morning and decided to take a quick trip to my gym to burn some calories.  Since we are going to be eating plenty of hotdogs and fast food over the next four days, this seemed like a bright idea.  After visiting my grandparents in Hackensack, we were back on the road.  The drive was amazing.  We passed the iconic (iconic for me at least) Delaware Bridge, went through Baltimore and its tunnels, and saw the huge Mormon Church in Northern Virginia before arriving at our destination in Falls Church, VA, our lodging for the night. 

One hour later, we were on the Orange Line to D.C. for our second baseball game of our journey.  The ride was uncomfortable to say the least.  It was 100 degrees outside and we unluckily chose the only car without air conditioning.  Besides the lack of air conditioning, the D.C. Metro is fantastic.  It’s fast and efficient and I love how each station looks the same.  The tunnels also have a futuristic look that makes me feel like I am in the Matrix (Yes, I know perfectly well “in the Matrix” doesn’t make any sense but the tunnels reminded me of the movie).

Stadium:  Nationals Park is a true park.  The stadium is very open and the main entrance is very inviting.  As an added bonus, the fans were very into the game and the stadium was packed.  I, however, credit this enthusiasm to the winning record the Nationals currently have.  My father and I visited this same stadium three years ago (when the Nationals were awful) and barely ten thousand fans were present. 

Food: The locals eat Ben’s Chili Bowl so, naturally, that’s what we ate.  We ordered a “Half Smoked,” which consisted of a sausage in a hot dog bun topped with chili, cheese, onions, and jalepanos. It was amazing. 

The Nationals played the Mets and ended up winning in extra innings on a wild pitch.  Tomorrow Cincinnati, stay tuned. 

J. Rho - day 2:
I haven’t worn a regular t-shirt in two days because it’s hot everywhere. It’s hot in Carlos, it’s hot on public transportation, and it’s hot at the baseball games. We saw the Washington Nationals host the Mets. We ate an hour before the game so I wasn’t hungry.  I was just going to get a regular dog in the 6th, but we saw the half smoke on the menu and asked a local what it was. She said it was great and that if you are visiting, you had to try it.  What gave it away that I was a visitor? Was it my wifebeat? My moustache? My Mexican complexion? So I ate it. We slept over at Joel’s house, a college buddy of mine, and had a quick beer to catch up. Thanks for letting us crash at your place.  I’ll see you at my place in TX, meet half way in Nola, and/or your place in FL.

Friday, July 20, 2012

From Boston to Houston - Part 1

Howie has been interested in writing some guest posts for a while now. He has decided the time has come to dazzle you with tales of his journey on a baseball oriented road trip across the country. Enjoy!

July 16, 2012 (Day 1 - Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY)

The day has come; day 1 of a road trip I will undoubtedly remember forever.  But before I go into specifics about our adventure, let me give you some background into the significance of this trip. 

To make a long story short, J. Rho has been my brother since I was 15.  Coming from a high school where most people stayed in state (Texas) to attend college, it made the transition to the northeast a lot easier knowing J. Rho was going to Boston.  Since then, I have visited Boston countless times; going to Fenway and taking every opportunity to hang out with my best friend.  So when J. Rho decided to make the move back to Texas and proposed a baseball road trip down, it was a no brainer I would join. 

We packed up Carlos (J. Rho’s 2000 Ford Explorer) and left South Boston at the scheduled time of 11am, taking a minor detour to the Prudential Center’s food court for one last clam chowder.  After that “Boston last meal” we were truly on our way.  The drive to the greater NYC area, the location of my residence, was a quick three hours - the shortest of our scheduled drives.  We hung in my apartment for a couple of hours before heading to Yankee Stadium, our first of five baseball games. 

The Yankees were playing the Blue Jays and I was excited to see Edwin Encarnacion (misspelled) and Jose Bautista, who sadly got injured during the game.  Tied up in the 8th inning, Ibanez hit a grand slam and the Yankees ended up winning 6-3.

Stadium:  For those who haven’t been to Yankee Stadium, it sucks.  As a baseball purist, I separate baseball stadiums from baseball parks.  Stadiums are gaudy concrete structures that feel more like a corporate event than a true baseball game and in comparison; parks have that nice simple baseball feel.  In my opinion, Yankee Stadium is a baseball stadium, a huge slab of concrete that doesn’t fit well with the Bronx neighborhood.

Food: For this trip, J. Rho and I decided we were going to sample the unique food each specific stadium had to offer.  In New York, unique means one thing, Nathan’s hot dogs.  J. Rho and I both ate three of these (original casing) before also polishing off a nice hot sausage and peppers, another NY staple. 

As I live in New York, there is not much else to say.  Tomorrow we go to Washington D.C. Stay tuned.

J. Rho:
Before embarking on the road trip, I took Carlos to the Ford dealership for a check-up.  Everything checked out okay and systems were a go; except for the driver side passenger door that does not open anymore.  If Carlos makes it to Texas, he gets a bath, oil change, and that left wing fixed. For my last meal I had clam chowder. It was good, but I prefer “five alarm chili” instead.  Take care MA.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Honey Boo Boo Child

For those of you who may be avid Toddlers & Tiaras fans on TLC, you may already know this. I, however, was just made aware that the Honey Boo Boo child is coming back... with her own television show. Revel in this piece of American reality tv greatness:

I literally have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard at this kid. She is completely out of her mind. Granted, many of the children on this show are a bit... odd... but this one takes the cake with her outrageous comments. The honey boo boo child, also known as Alana, showed up on Toddlers & Tiaras a while ago and became one of the girls to make it to national stardom via youtube and talk shows. While this little one was the spark for her upcoming series because of her antics on her episode, the show is going to star her family as well. What do we know so far about her family? Her mother is a "Coupon Queen" and belongs on the show Extreme Couponing, her dad is referred to as "Sugar Bear", and before pageants Alana drinks her special juice, Red Bull + Mountain Dew. This is surely going to be a riot and fabulous trash tv.

PS. I won't judge you for watching this video more than once... or whenever you need a laugh.... 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I've been to Boston a handful of times but yet I couldn't have told you one thing about this city until this past weekend. As a child I can tell you I went on a field trip to the science museum there, but I don't remember anything about the trip. As a college student, I drove into the city once to meet a friend for lunch at BU; the only thing I remember is the drive was a nightmare and I was lost 90% of the time. I also took an impromptu drive from Philadelphia to Boston during the NCAA basketball championship to cheer on the Villanova Wildcats in a crazy run to the Final Four. This trip was of course a there-and-back trip in which we drove 12 hours and were in Boston for about 3 hours.

This time would be different. This time I would be old enough to pay attention and have enough time to explore. The trip was planned around visiting friends. Our drive got us off on a bit of the wrong foot; driving from the NYC region to Boston is long and traffic-filled. It took us a bit over 4 hours and we hit mild traffic in every major city in Connecticut. We arrived late afternoon and had dinner scheduled on the waterfront.

If you're in Beantown, we'd recommend Joe's American Grill. They have more than one location: Newbury Street and Atlantic Avenue. The latter is located on the waterfront near the wharf. They have a beautiful, large outdoor patio and the weather was perfect for outdoor dining. Their cocktail menu is extensive for "girly drinks" and the dinner menu is quite varied. I had a fabulous tuna burger with wasabi aoili (sounds adventurous, but it wasn't spicy at all) and sweet potato fries. It was delicious and definitely hit the spot.

The next day we explored the famed Quincy Market, also referred to as Faneuil Hall. In the heart of downtown, this local has always been a market place and meeting hall for the city of Boston since the 1700s. Unfortunately we neglected to go inside of the Faneuil Hall, but Howie tells me there is a huge sweets shop in there. On the first floor of the Quincy Market building is the largest cafeteria I've ever seen. Outside surrounding the cafeteria building are additional restaurants, bars, and trinket shops with carts selling all sorts of souvenirs and goodies. 

The thing to do at Quincy Market is of course eat! But more importantly, if you want the Boston experience, you need to eat certain things: Lobster Roll, Clam Chowder, or another seafood variety. Despite the fact that this is what you are supposed to do, the cafeteria has any food you could imagine: "philly" cheesesteaks, "NY" pizza, bagels, gelato, gyros, paninis, cookies, thai, everything. In addition to the food, there is also entertainment. We ran into a living statue and a duo performing magic tricks. I could have easily spent an entire afternoon or even the majority of a day hanging out here. However, my biggest recommendation would be to go during a cooler time of the year one a weekday. It was extremely hot, and being a main attraction, it was very crowded. All in all - this market is definitely an excellent thing to do and see if you are visiting Boston.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What's in a vitamin? (Vitamin D)

During my clinical rotations I had a preceptor who recommended over the counter (OTC) vitamins to almost every patient at each routine physical. At first, I followed blindly, but I decided I would do my due diligence and investigate some commonly recommended vitamins to see if there is actually any evidence that it is worth it to be taking them. I'm going to do this intermittently since it will entirely depend on my mood towards research when I sit down to write. Today, lets talk vitamin D.

Vitamin D:
This one is getting a lot of attention lately among health professionals. A significant portion of the American population is vitamin D deficient, and those with darker skin tones are more likely to be deficient. Vitamin D is naturally obtained through exposure to sunlight or in fatty fish, or egg yolks. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and therefore, here in the USA many foods are fortified with vitamin D such as milk, yogurt, orange juice, and some cereals. 

The primary function of vitamin D is to help absorb calcium from the GI tract. Without vitamin D, we cannot absorb calcium, which affects bone growth and muscle function. Therefore, obvious reason to take vitamin D, if you are deficient, is to keep your bones and muscles function properly.  

However, vitamin D does more than just absorb calcium. Vitamin D has been shown to have effects on the immune system, particularly in regulating the inflammatory response. White blood cells (helper T cells) have vitamin D receptors which allows vitamin D to have an influence on their response to an immune threat. Vitamin D is thought to play a role specifically in respiratory infections - head colds, chest colds, flu, asthma attacks, etc. Several studies have been performed, especially in children and asthmatic patients, showing the positive effects vitamin D has on regulating immune system response and how deficiency can lead to poorer overall health.

Whats even better is that because of the research that has already been performed, more evidence is surfacing about the many roles vitamin D plays in decreased inflammation and increasing regulation of the immune system. It may even play a role in reducing risk of colon, prostate and breast cancer.

With that said, don't go crazy and overdo it. The benefits of vitamin D come only from having a normal level. Excessive levels of vitamin D can cause problems of its own, as with anything. Vitamin D deficiency should be treated, but if your levels are normal, you eat vitamin D fortified foods, and get some exposure to sunlight, there is no need to worry.

Where this info is coming from: 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Getting the party started - Music

Time for a wedding planning update! I know some of my dedicated readers already know a bit about what has been going on, but its time to fill everyone else in with sprinkled tidbits for anyone currently or future planning. 

We recently hit the 14 months-to-go mark and decided lets get our music and photography out of the way now at the same time. Well folks, its really hard to knock out two things at once when you also are a full time student and your fiance is doing an internship. The good news: we've booked our music! 

So here's the lowdown: The decision between band versus DJ will come down to mainly two issues: personal preferences versus budget. In the area we are looking to hire from bands - true bands with a minimum of 4 people, start at about $3,000 and can go upwards of $10,000. DJs, on the other hand, can start at about $500-$700 and go up to about $2,000. So if you knock out the high-ballers and low-ballers, you get a comparison of about $5,000-$6,000 to $1,500. Big difference. Given that our venue is a bit of a splurge, the music had to fall into a certain budget to remain acceptable to the paying parties. Hence, we chose to go DJ. 

A word of advice: Prices and quotes are often not online for bands or DJs. Don't be afraid to send emails to whoever seems interesting to you. Then create a folder/label in your inbox for wedding, and maybe even a sub-folder for music if you anticipate having to sort through many emails. 

During our search, we always received prompt email responses, whether it was band or DJ. This was great because we did not have to worry about scheduling time to speak over the phone. It also made it easier to schedule a day to go visit the area and make it a productive trip by seeing several entertainers in one day. (Remember, this advice is coming from someone planning a wedding over 2 hours away from where I live). At one point we questioned whether we would need to meet the DJs in person... after all, its not like they are playing music themselves. With bands, you would want to know if you like the singing voice, the style of their covers, etc. From the little research I did, sometimes bands will have a showcase, a non-wedding event that you can listen in on, or demos to show you in person. That's as far as my knowledge goes with regards to researching/choosing a band. It's true, DJs are different. However, Don't be fooled - meet with DJs before making a decision. We met three in one day, and each one was extremely different. You'll want to see the personality of the individual DJ in addition to hearing what they have to say about how their business works and how they present the information. We learned more by meeting these DJs in person than we ever would had we just picked someone online. By the time we got home, we had one definite rule-out and were very torn between the other two DJs - in a good way. We knew both would be great, we had no worries about that. But each had something a little different to offer that we really had to sit down and weigh out which DJ felt like a better fit for the type of event we want to have. We had to take into account our venue setting, and our guests' styles. Ultimately, I think and hope we made the right choice!

Here are some closing tidbits that may be useful:
  • WeddingWire and theKnot both have ratings that can be very useful as an initial guide. This was the first experience I've really delved into WeddingWire's website and actually found it very helpful. It will get posted to the wedding links page. 
  • We found out "booking time" for DJs is within the 9-12 month window; we happened to be a bit ahead of the game. 
  • Questions to ask: 
    • Do they MC? Do they bring an assistant?
    • How far in advance do they arrive? Is there a fee associated with that?
    • Do they cover cocktail hour?
    • Do they offer lighting?
    • Are they required a hot meal/vendor meal? 
    • Where is their back-up equipment kept on the day of the wedding? 
    • What happens if they die on the day of your wedding?
    • How flexible are they with "must play" and "do not play" lists?
    • How do they handle song requests by guests that are on your "do not play" list?
    • If the crowd needs some encouragement, how do they get the party started?
    • Do they tend to be more hands on, or more hands off?
    • How long have they been in the business?
    • Do they coordinate with the venue/maitre'd with regards to "special moments" during the reception?
    • And of course: cost, payment schedule, overtime fees, etc...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oh Beautiful, for Spacious Skies

For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain.
America, America
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea! 

Happy Birthday America, or as the many Facebook goers spell it: 'Merica, Amurica, and 'Murica. Gotta love pop culture's influence on everyday pronunciation. Anyway, today is a day of care free enjoyment. Fortunately, its hot and sunny. People will travel in droves to the beaches, crack open beers in backyards, eat hamburgers and hot-dogs to their hearts content, and patiently wait for nightfall to watch fireworks rain through the skies. Other than wishing you all a Happy 4th of July, there's not much more to say on this patriotic occasion. 

I'll leave you with some fun facts about the Fourth: 

  • The legal separation of the colonies from Great Britain actually occurred on July the 2nd, 1776, not the 4th.
  • July 4th was the day the revised version of the Declaration of Independence was approved.
  • There is debate among historians that the Declaration of Independence was actually signed in August of 1776
  • John Adams (2nd president of the USA), Thomas Jefferson (3rd president), and James Monroe (4th president) all died on the 4th of July, the first two in 1826 and the latter in 1831

*Info taken from my best internet friend, wikipedia. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Street Fair

Every June my town has a street fair. Street fairs are one of my favorite things to visit, mostly because they only come around every now and then and you can always find something cool to add to your life, whether its home decor, jewelry, clothing, etc.

The one in our town is said to draw thousands out of the woodwork to hang out in the sun for the day. The main street is lined with over a hundred vendors selling arts, crafts, clothes, jewelry, trinkets and treasures. Oh, and food... street food. This year's fair was at the end of June and Howie and I were up and ready to roll at the start - we had been looking forward to it the whole month.

This fair always has a car show (the only thing worthy of picture taking... sorry this is all I have for your viewing enjoyment). The cars are varied, old, new, and unique. In addition to the ones pictured, there was an old fashion L.A.P.D. vehicle, a brand new flashy pick-up truck, and a pale yellow convertible that could have come out of the movie Grease complete with props mimicking a picnic at the drive-in.
From way back in the day
I imagine this to be a mobster car.
We took our time meandering from vendor to vendor. Of course, Howie had his eye out for the gyro truck, which happened to be all the way at the other end of the line from where we started. However, we did run into several other food stands that we considered choosing from. There were beverage vendors selling bubble tea, lemonade, and even Dunkin Donuts came through with frozen treats off their menu. The local pizzeria was selling zeppoli's, sausage and peppers, and Italian ice. Rita's made an appearance. Restaurants along the main strip were outside their front doors with buffet meals, including the Thai place, an American market, and a Caribbean-Southern American fusion barbecue joint. We'd actually never heard of this barbecue place, so we decided to give it a try. They had a huge smoker out in the street and a passerby noted to us she saw it out in the parking lot smoking last night while walking her dog. This was enough to convince Howard the this barbecue might be "legit." He had brisket, I had chicken, we both got mac & cheese - it was pretty good and absolutely satisfying comfort food.

After purchasing a few trinkets for ourselves, our day was complete. We retired home to nap for 2 hours with our full bellies. Not bad for a lazy Sunday.