Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lucky Charms Chicken Salad

Ever since I began to flirt with cooking again, I've been making some combination of this delightful chicken salad using Well Fed mayonnaise which we always have on hand.  Also always on hand are cooked chicken breasts as my family became partial to the dark meat seemingly overnight! Armed with those two ingredients I came up with a chicken salad that I love! And I never liked chicken salad.

Here is my perfected recipe, but you can throw in whatever colorful “charms” you might have in the veggie/fruit drawer that can hold their own in the melange.

2 whole cooked chicken breasts, cubed into ½ inch pieces,
1 large, or 2 small celery stalks, diced,
5 large, or 10 small chive stalks, chopped to ½ inch pieces,
1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and diced,
15 walnut halves chopped,
4 large or 6 medium strawberries, diced,
¼ cup of blueberries (if they’re not too tart).

Add a heaping spatula full of Well Fed mayonnaise and if you're very daring, 1 tsp. of cinnamon.

This one has no blueberries as ours were very tart. 

It’ll feed one hungry you, or a dainty you and two polite others.  Actually, I think I made a double batch when it fed all three of us!  If you can manage to make it the day before you want to eat in in order to keep in the fridge overnight, so much the better. I've found that it disappears well before the flavor combinations have time to fully develop.

Try it. I promise . . . it's magically delicious!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Superstar!

While practicing split jerks at the gym, we often evoke the name of Mary Katherine Gallagher and her iconic self-laudatory pose. Hey – it works for me.  In fact, one day I didn't think I'd be able to stop saying it even when the weight started getting heavy and the exclamation tended toward a grunt.  

But this isn't about being a superstar in my own mind; this is about the truth of my stardom.

After hours of secretive, but exhaustive research, my 13 year-old unearthed the movie in which I starred (as an extra) during my sophomore year in high school: The Coming.  Now, I know what you’re thinking – What in the hell kind of crap did that impressionable little girl have to wade through in the sea of internet porn when searching for The Coming? None, apparently. It was renamed Burned at the Stake before going to cable in the 80s, but it seems to have later reverted back to The Coming perhaps when someone became informed that no witches in Salem were actually burned at the stake.

Using both names in the search yielded quick results.

Without further ado, here is my moment of superstardom.  It happens at 13:35, so don’t blink.

The entire horror(ific) movie can be seen in six parts on YouTube.

Okay. Since I’m nothing if not giving, here is a still of that moment to save you the trouble of loading up this lovely little bit of digital detritus. 

There I am, bottom right-hand corner (my cousin is behind me). 
We filmed this at night in the Witch Museum. That was fun. 

And, here I am again pretending to listen to the historic-cum-histrionic ramblings of our ill-fated teacher.

Best of all, however, I have discovered that through Mr. Bacon, I am only four degrees of separation from Nathan Fillion.

See? Superstar!  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Heels and Cleans

As an example of awful training, the trainer at our gym shared this link to Shape magazine which touted the ability to spot slim and tone your legs. The page featured a brief explanation of short burst training, a weird video of an insufferable Tony-Little-wannabee trainer, and a picture of two skinny legs rockin’ a pair of fabulous Christian Louboutin black patent leather platform pumps. 

My only comment on the link was that I loved the shoes.


It wasn’t that I didn't appreciate my trainer’s disdain for the video dude’s condescending approach to his assistant, over-hyped love of Barbie leg sculpting, or serious penchant for the word "tushie," it's just that I think that if this guy's approach moves someone else to move – I'm all for it.

But then I got to thinking about how much I love CrossFit and those Louboutins! In a world of five-fingered rubber shoes where form is king and fat is phat, there is an inherent disincentive in dressing your dogs for potential gam-damage. My question to myself became, is there room within the same body to love lifting weights and rockin’ those heels?

Hell, yes.

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that loving both of these seemingly disparate elements came from the same place. The ability to strut in those stiletto bad boys and the ability to walk up to the 95 lb. barbell and throw it up to your shoulders then overhead are borne of the same trait: confidence.

Knowing you can walk the walk—in the shoes, or at the gym—is very empowering. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

High Class - Low Behavior: Official Study

In this report, scientists, whom I would normally hold in the highest regard among individuals in any group (cue the Professor from Gilligan’s Island), are acting like common swindlers and thugs.

This combination of "seven survey, experimental, and naturalistic" studies purports to show that people of high social class tend to behave more unethically than lower class individuals mostly due to their appraisal of greed. Let’s break down these terms a little in accordance with the support materials given at the end of the study.

High Social Class
Study 4. Manipulation of social-class rank. For the manipulation of social-class rank (2), participants were presented with an image of a ladder with 10 rungs and given the following instructions:
“Think of the ladder as representing where people stand in the United States. These are people who are the worst (best) off— those who have the least (most) money, least (most) education, and the least (most) respected jobs. In particular, we’d like you to think about how YOU ARE DIFFERENT FROM THESE PEOPLE in terms of your own income, educational history, and job status. Where would you place yourself on this ladder relative to these people at the very bottom (top)? Please place a large ‘X’ on the rung where you think you stand.” After indicating where they feel they stood relative to those at the very bottom or very top of the ladder, participants received the following directions:
“Now imagine yourself in a getting acquainted interaction with one of the people you just thought about from the ladder above. Think about how the DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOU might impact what you would talk about, how the interaction is likely to go, and what you and the other person might say to each other. Please write a brief description about how you think this interaction would go.”
Even better than those people you placed on the ladder above you who think they’re so much better than you implied instructions for Study 4, Studies 1 and 2 used the perceived status of an automobile to equate “higher class” drivers with their unethical behavior. In other words, if someone buys a super expensive car and drives like an entitled ass, all people who have the education and or funds to buy that car (determined previously to define a higher social class) are the equivalent entitled asses.

But the perceived status of a car is the concern of an altruistic tendency to look at others for one’s self-worth. Driving a high-priced car like an entitled ass has more to do with the "status" of the car than the money, education, or job (i.e. social class as defined by this study) one might have in order to buy such a vehicle. 

Propensity to Engage in Unethical Behavior 
To assess individual propensities to engage in unethical behavior (6), participants were instructed to indicate how likely they would be to engage in each of the listed behaviors on a scale ranging from 1 (very unlikely) to 7 (very likely). These behaviors were:
1. Use office supplies, Xerox machine, and stamps for personal purposes.
2. Make personal long-distance phone calls at work.
3. Waste company time surfing on the internet, playing computer games, and socializing.
4. Borrow $20 from a cash register overnight without asking.
5. Take merchandise and/or cash home.
6. Give merchandise away for free to personal friends.
7. Abuse the company expense accounts and falsify accounting records.
8. Receive gifts, money, and loans (bribery) from others due to one’s position and power.
9. Lay off 500 employees to save the company money and increase one’s personal bonus.
10. Overcharge customers to increase sales and earn a higher bonus.
11. Give customers “discounts” first and then secretively charge them more money later (bait and switch).
12. Make more money by deliberately not letting clients know about their benefits.
These are simply ridiculous. How were they weighted? I would guess that every employee has done 1-3 (although, I wouldn't think that long-distance is a concern any longer) at some time in the past. Scenarios 4-6 are straightforward theft, while numbers 7-12 are clearly presented as outright fraud. How many folks have reached the level of responsibility where they would have the need to fire 500 employees? To save the company money? Yes. That might need to happen in certain situations. But, that’s not enough. The researches needed to add that in addition to saving the company money, the person doing the firing would also get a bigger bonus. Also "overcharge" customers to increase sales? You mean increase mark-up for high demand goods with higher profits in mind? Nope. Because you "earn a higher bonus" is added in #10. 

But this is the really the heart of the matter.

The researchers determined that greed accounted for the unethical behavior of the participants in Studies 5, 6, and 7. How did they define greed? 
Measure of attitudes toward greed. For the measure of attitudes toward greed (4), participants indicated their agreement with each of the following items on a scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). These items were:
 1. To be a successful person in this society, it is important to make use of every opportunity.
2. It is not morally bad to think first of one’s own benefit and not other people’s.
3. One should be concerned with the benefit to the group as a whole rather than with one’s own benefit. (Reverse-scored)
4. An individual’s pursuit of self-interest should be allowed only insofar as it will not jeopardize the public welfare. (Reverse scored)
5. I like competition.
6. It is very disgusting to exploit other people to further one’s own self-interest. (Reverse-scored)
7. There should be more emphasis in school on the kind of education which helps students to be more concerned with the welfare of the society or groups rather than their own personal benefit. (Reverse-scored) 
Could these questions be more loaded toward collectivists?  What do you think is meant by exploit in #6? To employ to the greatest possible advantage? This would then be just a restatement of #1 with a red-flag word. 

But it is statement #7 which encapsulates the entire study: individualism is bad; collectivism is good.

This would all be laughable if the headlines of such studies did not seep into the culture as fact and if the findings were not then used by politicians and bureaucrats as proof that somehow we must all be less greedy people and the government is just the institution to nudge us to fulfill our best selves.

Shame on the people who present this as science, on the people who report their presentation as science, and on the people who blindly accept collectivism as the moral primary over self-interest. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Throw Me a Bone.

With less than 24 hours to go, all the mushers are in!

Well, all the mushers that my family members chose to follow in this year's Iditarod, that is.

The scientific mind clearly runs in the family as my son chose Nicolas Petit as his musher for the following reasons in descending order of relevance:


  1. Sponsored by Mr. Prime Beef.
  2. 2011 Rookie of the Year as last minute medical replacement (beat that, Stephen's hottie).
  3. Appearance (sweet hat\shades combo, prominent Adam's apple (Stephen's hottie's "Eve apples" will not come into play due to winter coat)).
  4. Sponsored by Ray Redington Sr., son of Iditarod co-founder Joe Redington Sr. Ray Sr sponsored my selection over his own gd son, Ray Jr., bib# 2. Drama!
  5. Sponsored by Spiff, Wiggy's, and a funeral home. 

My oldest daughter chose Dallas Seavey who, at 24, has a proven track record of success and a real potential to win the darn thing! She reports that he's a third generation musher, is married to a veterinarian, and thinks that, "Dogs, like people, just want to fit in." Well, he may be right about his dogs (and some people), but my daughter did not forget to mention first that "he's pretty good looking." (It's good to know that our hierarchy of values did not go unnoticed.)

After great deliberations, however, the youngest surprised me by choosing veteran musher DeeDee Jonrowe. First, she told me she could not possibly pick a musher without seeing his dogs. Funny. No one else thought we'd need to see the dogs who actually PULL the sled first before choosing our mushers! Then, after checking out all the pictures of  "men with long hair and fake mustaches and women with shampoo issues" she chose Jonrowe because she was "all cool and old."  I love that.

While their reasons for choosing a particular musher vary widely, they did all have one thing in common: they all willingly participated in their goofy mother's latest kooky project.

That's a win right there.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mush!

In what I thought would be a bit of family dog fun, I asked everyone to pick a musher to follow for the Iditarod dog sled race which begins in two days. Let's just say, the response had been less than enthusiastic. After an additional prompting email, this is what I have received so far: 
Because I have little else to go on here for choosing a musher, I'm going to have to revert to the standard, typical, and admittedly shallow, male evaluation criteria: When in doubt, pick the hottest babe. (I believe that rule-of-thumb is comparable to the female, "You might as well marry a rich man.") Having thus degraded myself, I will now throw my enthusiastic support behind Zoya DeNure. Go Zoya! Go Eukanuba!

And here is Zoya:
She obviously meets his criteria here,

but I love her 80s look, 

and her Flock of Seagulls meets Martha Davis tribute. 

For the record, here is my chosen musher, who happens to be very cute and there are two of them! (Strangely, my criteria was far less scientific than Stephen's.)

If you're interested in following the race with us, leave your musher's name and link in the comments before Saturday. 

Go, Dogs. Go!

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