Friday, October 27, 2006

More Reviews

First the good news of the day: my TiVo channel lineup is accurate. I can now TiVo normally again.

I finished reading Running with Scissors yesterday. I have nothing positive to say about it. I have now decided I will not see the movie, which is sad because I hear Annette Bening is great in it, and I like her. But I want nothing more to do with Running with Scissors.

I watched Marie Antoinette today. I didn't love it like I wanted to, but didn't hate it either, like so many of the critics. The movie did a great job of depicting what life was like for the very young Queen of France, how ridiculous and miserable so much of it was. The ending rang a little hollow, mainly because all historical context was missing. I haven't taken world history in quite some time, so I needed a reminder of why the masses turned against the monarchy, primarily the queen. At the same time, policy and politics would have seemed out of place in this one-sided portrait of a young lady. I would not pay full price or choose to wait for the DVD. I expect a lot from movies, so if you go see movies solely for a good time, you should probably get your recommendations elsewhere. Wait for Jaime's review.

I started watching the Iranian movie Children of Heaven, but turned it off about five minutes in. The acting was pretty bad, and I didn't think I could take 90 minutes of it.

Grosse Pointe Blank with John Cusack is on TV. I think this movie is hilarious. I do love "death humor" and this movie is full of it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fast Food Nation

Elisa wanted a review of Fast Food Nation, so here it is. (WARNING: Long Post)

Overall, the book is fascinating and disturbing. Now I have to decide what to do with my new knowledge. These are the main things in the book that stood out to me. Be prepared: you might not want to know some of this.
  • Franchises are not covered by federal laws that protect employees.

  • Out of every $1.50 spent on an order of fries at a fast-food restaurant, perhaps 2 cents goes to the farmer who grew the potatoes.

  • Chicken McNuggets are wildly popular among young children - and contain twice as much fat per ounce as a hamburger

  • The entire chapter about slaughterhouses was disturbing and appalling. The people that clean the slaughterhouses at night cant see or hear anything. And the machinery they clean is usually moving. Some workers are literally ground up into nothing or beheaded. At a beef plant where five men died the same way, National Beef was fined $480 for each man's death. Way to communicate that dangerous working conditions are unacceptable.

  • The US government can demand the national recall of defective toys, sneakers, stuffed animals, but it cannot order a meatpacking company to remove contaminated, potentially lethal ground beef from fast food kitchens and supermarket shelves. In most of the cases presented in the book, the USDA knew about contaminated meat and had to NEGOTIATE with the company to pull meat off shelves. And the companies always get to say they are voluntarily recalling meat, giving the appearance they are being proactive, when usually this step is taken weeks or months after the contamination has been discovered. And they are under no legal obligation to inform the public or state health officials that a recall is taking place. The USDA now informs the public about every recall, but will not reveal where the contaminated meat is being sold. (Is it any surprise that we had a problem with spinach recently?)

  • 10,000 pounds of beef laced with glass were distributed

  • Current FDA regulations allow dead pigs, dead horses and dead poultry to be fed to cattle, and dead cattle to be fed to poultry.

  • In 1999, USDA tests showed that 47% of a Dallas-based plant's ground beef contained Salmonella, which indicates fecal contamination. With this knowledge, the USDA still purchased thousands of tons of meet from this plant for distribution in schools. The USDA finally took action and shut the plant down. They sued to get their plant back open and won. In 2000, they argued successfully that high levels of Salmonella did not prove that conditions in the plant were unsanitary.

  • One of the Bush administration's first food safety decisions was to stop testing the National School Lunch Program's ground beef for Salmonella. In the 10 months the USDA had been testing, 5 million pounds were rejected due to contamination. Due to bad publicity, the administration reversed course three days later. But why would they want to stop testing in the first place?

  • The USDA recently decided to perform E.Coli tests on the ground beef it buys for schools; this decision was made more than seven years after the Jack in the Box outbreak. Why the long wait?

  • Super Size Fries have 610 calories and 29 grams of fat.

  • The manufacture of frozen cheese pizzas is regulated by the FDA, but if a pizza has pepperoni on it, the USDA, which can't demand a recall, has food safety jurisdiction. Eggs are regulated by the FDA, but chickens are regulated by the USDA. Salmonella has been almost entirely eliminated from Swedish and Dutch eggs, but more than half a million people in the US become ill from eating Salmonella-infected eggs and more than 300 die.

  • An American food processor can expect a visit from an FDA inspector, on average, once every 10 years.

  • At the time of printing (January 2001) the roughly 200,000 fast food restaurants are not subject to any oversight by federal health authorities. Yeah, that makes lots of sense.

  • Texas is the only station in the Union that allows a company to leave the workers' comp system and set up it's own process for dealing with workplace injuries. When a worker is injured at an IBP plant in Texas, he is presented with a waiver. Signing the waiver means surrendering your right to sue. If you sign the waiver, you may receive medical care by seeing a company-approved doctor. If you seek a second opinion, you lose all medical benefits. If you don't sign the waiver, you could be fired on the spot. And the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that is perfectly legal. Wow, that sure makes me proud to be a Texan.
Now do you see why I don't know what to do with this knowledge. Do I boycott all fast-food restaurants, even though meat from restaurants and supermarket chains must come from the same place. Do I become a vegetarian? But then I'd have to worry about spinach. What about the federal government? What can I do to make the FDA and USDA effective? It's appalling that the government can know about contaminated meat and not do anything about it. The book is pretty hard on Republicans because the majority of lobbying money from the meatpacking, restaurant, supermarket and fast food industry is paid to Republican politicians. We do have an election coming up, so I could find out where the candidates stand on this issue. I doubt this is something I can find on their campaign websites. I'm sure there is a way to find out what companies contribute to each candidate's campaigns, but I don't know how.

Do I shrug my shoulders and assume nothing will change, or do I try to be the change I wish to see in the world? I've just listed a few things that stuck with me reading this book. The book taken as a whole is much more damning. The write makes a good point: the execs who run the fast food industry are business men. They will sell free-range, organic, grass-fed hamburgers if we demand it. They will sell whatever sells a profit.

But can we make them? Has anyone totally given up fast food restaurants? I boycotted McDonalds for five of six years, but that had more to do with their treatment of my friend. But if I would do that for my friend, why couldn't I do it for all other the voiceless people that experience something similar. Do I not worry about everything in this book, as one person suggested, because if I worried about everything wrong in the world, I would go crazy.

Can you tell that I'm completely torn about how to react to this book? So much that I read was hard to read. I can't imagine seeing it come to life. But I will go see the movie when it comes out. And I suggest you read the book or watch the movie. Then you can join me in my moral dilemma and state of absolute confusion.

Spinning, Take 2

My spinning class last night was a complete 360 from my first experience. It makes a huge difference when your bike actually has resistance. Suprisingly, my legs aren't sore at all. We have a different instructor on Thursday, so it will be a new experience. Our instructor on Tuesdays always has us go around the room and say our name and a something about ourselves. Last night it was our favorite type of exercise. I think this is odd, but I am working out at a university gym, so it's probably normal for them.

I saw the Prestige with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman last weekend. I thought it was a good movie, but it was pretty easy to see what was coming. There were a few surprises. If you've seen it, I didn't put together the opening shot of the movie with what came later. I usually figure out movies, but every once in a while one comes along that completely shocks me, or keeps me so engaged in each moment that I don't even think about solving it. Alas, this was not one of those movies, but it was good.

I've finished reading Fast Food Nation. Up next is Running with Scissors. Has anyone read that?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm still a little depressed about the Cowboys game last night. The Cowboys humiliated themselves on national television. I'm not going into a long football discussion because I'm sure most of you don't care. I haven't made up my mind about the QB controversy. What I'm the most angry about from last night is the smile from T.O. after he dropped a crucial pass on fourth down. The Giants took over and scored a touchdown after we failed to convert. But it was the smile from the guy that flies into a rage when he doesn't get the ball or his quarterback throws a bad pass that got to me. So a pass is thrown into his hands on a crucial down, when he is supposed to shine and make us forget why we hate him, and he drops it and laughs about it? No sir, not acceptable.

Bebo Norman and Aaron Shust are coming to town. I scored free tickets. Jeremy Camp and Hawk Nelson are also coming, and I'm trying to secure friends to go with me. No free tickets for this one. I saw Jeremy Camp in Ireland before he released his debut album and love him. He came to Ireland with a mission group from California. I liked his music, but was shocked when I first started hearing his music on the radio. I couldn't believe he achieved success to easily. So I guess I need to buy the new Bebo and Jeremy CDs so I'm familiar with the songs they will be singing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday Night Football

I went to the Fair this weekend, but I'm not going to write about that until I have pictures. Let the anticipation begin.

Ah, Cowboys vs Giants on MNF. Does it get any better than this? Division rivals fighting for first place; a coach going against his former Super Bowl-winning team; a star running back, at the top of his game, playing in his final season, not because he needs to retire, but because he wants to; a drama queen wide receiver coming off a great game who is just as likely to blow up at his teammates as he is catch a touchdown. I'm sure I've left out some of the drama, there is so much. I'm glad the Cowboys have home-field advantage for this game.

In other news, my cable line-up still isn't accurate. But I know my cable company is working on it. I still can't believe that my after-hours phone message to a VP was returned less than an hour later, and the VP got to work trying to fix the problem immediately.

Here's hoping I have a better spinning class tomorrow. I'd like to actually sweat and get my heart rate up.

Gotta go. Can't eat, watch the Cowboys game, blog and read the DMN Cowboys blog at the same time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I met one of my neighbors last week. I see him sometimes, coming and going, but we've never spoken beyond the casual greeting. I always see him talking to my other neighbors, but he's never talked to me. So one day I'm walking from my car, and he asks me if I went to ACU. Turns out he went to ACU, as did most of his family. I've had the "Abilene Christian Alumni" sticker on my car the entire time I've lived here. He's doing most of the talking, and I get the impression he is kind of a lonely guy. Nice, but lonely. I get back from Homecoming, and there is a yellow Post-it note on my car from him. He wrote:

Jamie, Hi. Wanted to see how you were doing. Didn't want to ring the door bell and disturb you. Sorry I don't know your telephone number, but you are welcome to call me at xxx-xxxx. Thanks. Signed his full name.

Should I be concerned by this development? Or I am paranoid and this is normal apartment neighbor behavior? It kind of creeps me out. I might be less concerned if I had a roommate or a husband, but I live alone, so I'm a little more guarded.

Thoughts, anyone?


I'm off work Thursday and Friday. Yea for Fall Break! I'm going outlet shopping in Allen! I'm (hopefully) having a Girls' Night! I'm going to the State Fair!

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Homecoming Continued

Here are a few things I wrote in my Happy List over the weekend.
  • the first glimpse of the Tower of Light as you're driving into Abilene
  • Jacob's Ladder, sculpture by Jack Maxwell
  • laughing at inappropriate times during GATA Breakfast and being glared at the MC
  • being silly with friends
  • Ryann getting free coffee
  • training Ryann on how to manipulate boys
  • singing around the GATA Fountain after Chapel
  • "That could be his Indian name: Cries-at-Corn!"- Jamie
  • your 5-year college reunion
  • running into old friends at the Parade
  • the singing at Homecoming Chapel
  • singing "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" to dismiss HS Chapel (and all major ACU functions)
  • Judy feeding us a home-cooked lunch on Sunday
  • worship at Highland
  • Mike Cope preaching
  • Jack and Jill painting to illustrate Mike's sermon
  • seeing the children of friends in person (blog pictures are great, but not as good as real life)
  • a rainbow after a storm
  • watching one of Brent's videos
  • eating Joe Allen's twice in one weekend
Did I forget anything? I'd love to read your happy lists for the weekend! Maybe you'll start with a list of Homecoming highlights and keep updating the list until you have your very own Happy List. I've been keeping a Happy List since before I met most of you, but the one thing I haven't done is entice anyone else to keep their own list. I started my junior year in high school. I'd been meaning to start mine, but never got around to it. Then at church one Sunday, I opened right up to the page I was looking for in the song book. I went home and wrote that down in a spiral notebook. And thus my happy list was born.

I wish I could take credit for the idea, but it belongs to my friend Janie. Robin Williams made her laugh, and the Happy List was born. She started asking everyone we knew what made us happy, and she wrote it all down. Then she typed it up. I still have a copy of THE Happy List.

Those of you that lived in Nelson Hall might remember the communal happy list I kept on my door. Anyone could write on it. I typed everything, and near the end of our freshman year, I posted copies of the Nelson Dorm Freshman Happy List on my door for everyone to read. I remember sitting in my door and hearing people stop and read through the list until they came to something they wrote. Laughter usually followed. Ah, memories.

I didn't intend for this to be a post about the Happy List, it just kind of ended up that way.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It was great to be back at ACU for our five-year reunion. I can't believe we've been out of school for five years! Like usual, I didn't take nearly enough pictures.

I was amazed by the improvements on campus. I'm jealous of the library the students get to enjoy now. And the jogging track around campus is perfect. But the best addition to the campus has to be Jack Maxwell's Jacob's Ladder sculpture. I just wanted to keep looking at it. I wish it was more visible from the road, but it is worth visiting campus to see.

I liked the laid-back nature of our reunion dinner. It makes me laugh that not enough people submitted pictures from our college years to make a slide show. It was fun getting to visit people I haven't seen since graduation or haven't kept in touch with well enough. With the popularity of blogs, it felt like I knew everything about everybody all ready. Most people looked the same. Five years isn't much time for a lot of change to take place.

GATA Breakfast was fun. Our pledge class always seems to laugh at inappropriate times during breakfast. Or maybe the other tables just aren't having as much fun as they should be. I love circling up and singing GATA songs at breakfast. And I love that our club has a tradition of singing around the GATA Fountain after Homecoming Chapel. It's so much fun! The purple water was a nice touch. Remember, 2008 is the year we will have our 10-year pledge class reunion. Spread the word!

I mentioned blog reading in a previous paragraph, but I wanted to bring it up again. Allison mentioned how she reads several blogs she wasn't "invited" to read, and I do the same. I think all of us do. I know I never feel like I'm allowed to comment on the blogs I silently read, even though I'm sure the author wouldn't mind because I wouldn't mind reading comments from someone who found my blog through a friend of a friend of a friend. So in the interest of full transparency, leave a comment on my blog if you are a regular reader. I will do the same to you.

Rachel and I have a long tradition of taking cheesy pictures, and this one is no different. If you can't tell, we are wearing the same shirt in different colors. We bought them at Homecoming last year and did not plan to match. Great minds think alike.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Random Thoughts

My posts have been pretty random lately. Not much is going on, so I don't have any exciting adventures to report. But I thought I was pass along a few random thoughts.

  1. I signed up for the spinning class; I start next Tuesday. In honor of completing the 10K and knowing my body is going to rebel against a combination of running, weight training and spinning next week, I've taken the week off, exercise wise. Getting to sleep in is nice. We are halfway through the Biggest Loser Challenge at work, so this spinning class better work!
  2. I went to a United Way meeting today where someone sang The Lord's Prayer for the benediction. (I couldn't remember if that was the official word for opening or closing prayer, but I thought I would go with it anyway.)
  3. I love that Thursdays are Must-See TV nights again. It just feels like everything is right with the world when I can be a couch potato on Thursday evenings. I even start on NBC watching Earl and the Office, just like back in the day when FRIENDS was on. NBC loses me to ABC for Grey's, but the whole evening just feels right. (I know many of you are laughing at me right now, but I don't care.)
  4. I know there is a lot of complaints out there about LOST, but I love it! It's a three-part season premier, just like last season. We wouldn't like LOST as much if it addressed the Jack-Kate-Sawyer/Sayid-Sun-Jim/Locke-Desmond-Ecko-Hatch questions in one episode. You can't cover that ground adequately in one hour. I think one of the Hatch survivors has magic powers now. We'll see how that goes. You should check out Doc Jensen on He writes a LOST conspiracy-theory column each Wednesday; it's quite entertaining.
  5. Fall Break is next week. We get Thursday and Friday off. I have no plans, other than to go home and go to the State Fair on Saturday. I'll definitely run before I go so I can have my fill of fried foods. What's the Fair without something deep friend?
  6. It's finally cold here, sort of. Something blew in Sunday, and it never got out of the 50s on Monday. Then it was in the 60s on Tuesday, in the 80s on Wednesday, and today it is in the 50s with a low tonight in the 30s. And yeah, the high on Friday is 70. Mother Nature is crazy!
  7. I'm addicted to Matt Mosley's Cowboys blog on I became an avid DMN sports blog reader during the Mav's playoff run. And now I read the Cowboys blog before, during and after each game, and I check it at least two or three times a day during the week. I'm obsessed. But it's one of the best ways to keep up with the team when you don't live somewhere with constant Cowboys coverage.
That's enough random thoughts for the day.

I look forward to seeing many of you at Homecoming!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mission Accomplished

I ran a 10K (6.2 mile) race this morning, and I didn't finish last! Six people finished after me. I've really got to work on increasing my pace. It felt great to have people cheering for me as I crossed the finish line. This race is pretty casual, so the MC gets the crowd involved; he had them cheer for me. I swore I heard a spectator say, "Way to go, Jamie." I looked over at him, but I didn't recognize him.

That's all. I'm looking forward to my dessert tonight.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Five

Here are five things I am looking forward to this weekend.
  1. Three friends are visiting this weekend. It's always fun to get back together. When they lived here, we had ALIAS watching parties every week. Ah, good times.
  2. Guys and Dolls. I love musicals, and I've loved this one every since my friend Janie played Sarah in our high school production. She was so good! I have another friend playing Sarah in this production, so I'm excited.
  3. Red Raider Road Race. Tomorrow I run my first 10K race ever.
  4. T.G.I. Fridays. Anytime my friends (from item No. 1) are in town, we go to Friday's for dessert. This started when Meg and I worked with Camps and needed to de-stress at the end of the day. Luckily I'm running that 10K in the morning, so I feel OK about eating dessert. Normally it wouldn't jive with my Biggest Loser goals.
  5. Cowboys vs. Eagles. This is normally a big game because these teams are division rivals, but with T.O. leaving Philly and becoming a Cowboy, the drama is much higher. It will be T.O.'s first visit to Philly with another team. I'm not happy the Cowboys signed him, and so far, he hasn't really done anything on the field to prove his worth. So here's hoping the drama queen finally catches an impossible ball or turns a short pass into a big gain or wins the game for us in dramatic fashion. Even if we lose, it should be a good game. (I could write an entire post about how professional athletes are not held accountable for their actions as long as they produce on the field, but I won't. But that is why I'm upset with the Cowboys for signing him, for saying all his behavior is acceptable as long as he gets us to a Super Bowl. It's not a good example to set for college and high school athletes.)

In last night's My Name is Earl episode, I laughed so hard when Joy's husband slowly gave the deaf lawyer a quarter in exchange for the pencil he took from her hand. Something else in that episode made me laugh almost as hard, but I can't remember what it was.

I loved how Michael dealt with Dwight's betrayal in The Office. His demeanor toward Dwight after he got off the phone with Jan, starting with offering him M&Ms, was fantastic. Michael's "Hug it out, b**ch," was the best line of the night. Lines like that make me wonder how much Steve Carell is ad-libbing. The kiss between Michael and Oscar in the season premier was not in the script.

I'm glad McSteamy is a regular on Grey's Anatomy.

I cried again in last night's episode of Ugly Betty. The show is so over-the-top and absurd, but America Ferrera is so genuine and easy to root for that I hate seeing her hurt or abused. Enough for me to well up two weeks in a row. So I'm sticking around.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

For your enjoyment

Elisa, this is for you.

Yes, that is actor John Corbett from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Sex and the City. And yes, that is me with a "Sex My City" shirt. And yes, this picture is authentic with no adjustment in Photoshop.

John Corbett has decided to pursue a career in country music. He came through here on a tour to promote his new CD. I made these shirts for me and Lis to wear under our clothes. After the concert, John was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. We were near the end of the line, so I decided to tell him about my shirt. He wanted to see it, so I showed him. Then we took this picture. I also got about five or six hugs and a butt slap.

Hope this brightens your day, Elisa.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Spin City

Has anyone ever taken a spin class? I'm thinking about signing up for a five-week class at the Rec. It's not included with my fee, so I'd have to pay a $25 supplement.

My Biggest Loser goal when I joined the Rec was to take a weight training class twice a week and a step class twice a week. I've reduced my running to 30-40 minutes twice a week and added a long run of at least an hour on Saturday. My shins are feeling a little delicate, so I've stayed away from the step class. So my cardio has dropped to only three days a week. Not good enough.

Adding spinning would give me much needed cardio. It's also a good compliment to running because it doesn't stress my legs. Is it worth $25 for five weeks? I have to decide by Wednesday.


Not much else going on. I'm watching LOST season 2 on DVD to prepare for the season premier on Wednesday.

The weather has started to warm back up, so I think I'm going to close my windows. It feels like a defeat, like closing my doors is admitting that Fall hasn't arrived. I really thought it was here. Hopefully this spring-like weather quickly gives way to cooler temperatures.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cowboys and Sewing

My Cowboys won convincingly today, 45-14, against the Tennessee Titans.

One of the Tennessee defenders knocked the helmet off a Cowboy on the ground and then stomped on his head! Almost as bad, he responded like his actions were OK. And it was in no way accidental. He was rightfully kicked out of the game. The Cowboys player he stepped on reportedly required 30 stitches!

Poor Vince Young had a rough conclusion to the Cowboys game. I wonder what the ratings for the game were in Texas? Former UT QB Vince starts for Tennessee and T.O. starts for Dallas after all the hoopla last week surrounding his "accidental overdose."

Almost as significant, I sewed a button on a pair of pants! It doesn't sound like much, but it was the first time I have done any kind of sewing. My washer and dryer keep ripping buttons off my clothes. I have a skirt that needs a button, but I think one act of sewing a day is plenty.

Off to plan my menu for the week.