Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Obsession with Moby

Today, June 30th, Moby (or click here to listen to some of his music) is releasing his latest album Wait for Me.

Before I go to sleep tonight, I will be an owner of this album. I've heard all of the songs and can already see that this one is more of the trademark style that got him famous.

In case you don't know, Moby is an electronica/ambient artist. You may have heard his stuff before, as it is often used in commercials and movies. I first got hooked on him when back in the beginning of high school, I heard a song called "Porcelain" (played in The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio) on the radio and recorded it on tape (ah, the world before downloading music!). Everytime I heard that song, I felt like I was lying on top of waters, relaxed and alive.

I must have talked about it a lot, because when my 15th birthday came rolling along, my sister Tea Time got me his then-famous album Play. I listened to it mostly for that song "Porcelain" and "Southside" (featuring Gwen Stafani), but as I kept listening to it, I grew to like every song and started catching them when I heard them on TV. Zales, The X-Files, car commercials...

During the end of my high school years, he released another album, 18, which was a lot more bluesy and rainy day-ish, but I grew to like that album too. In fact, by the time I graduated high school, I went back and bought some of his other albums in one of those Columbia House-like bargains ($10) package -- Animal Rights, I Like to Score, Everything is Wrong, and Go: the Collected Mixes.

As a freshman in college (2004), I heard that he was coming to town to promote his concert DVD release, which also came with a CD called 18 B-Sides, which is currently in my car and contains some of my favorite songs by him. After waiting in line briefly with my old high school friend, I got him to sign some of my album covers! I met Moby another time maybe a year later with two of my sisters when he released another CD (a favorite) called Hotel, which was a vocal soft rock album. That time, he signed the T-shirt of my favorite beanie toy (see picture below) and more album covers! He drew a picture for my little sister in her sketchbook.

Tea Time then randomly called into a radio station soon afterward and won us tickets to his album-promoting concert! The concert featured music from all of his albums, particularly Hotel, and even some covers. At the end of the concert, I got to take a pic with him.

The most recent (#5) time I saw him was last May performing from his next release, the disco-oriented Last Night, on "Carson Daly's Last Call." That was my first TV taping, and strangely, one of the band members messed up, so they had to do the song again. By this time, I had been dating "The Ukrainian" for less than a month, but he was a good enough sport to come along. No signings this time, but it was good enough to get my Moby urge out for a while.

I should add that largely why I have stayed away from meat is because Moby is an advocate vegan. I don't think that all vegetarians/vegans should advocate their practices, because frankly, it annoys people. (Side Note: Of course, I believe that by just setting an example of health, money-saving, and creativity, others can be swayed into those habits as well -- even if occasionally. "The Ukrainian," who is a definite meat-eater, now spends 1 out of every 3 weeks eating vegetarian.) But reading Moby's essays (on his CD covers and online) and my admiration for him in general got me to go vegan for a while. Although veganism ultimately didn't work for me, I definitely noticed a difference in how I felt from day-to-day, in a positive way.

So back to Wait for Me. According to his journal, he is likely going to tour in North America (which he normally avoids) for this album. Being that I live near Los Angeles, I am pretty sure a concert will be local to me. I'm already planning on being there with "The Ukrainian" and Tea Time (and any other sisters/friends who may want to join???)!

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Recommended Songs for the Moby-Foreign (a sampling)

  • God Moving over the Face of the Waters (Everything is Wrong)
  • Love Song for My Mom (Animal Rights)
  • Porcelain; Body Rock; My Weakness (Play)
  • In My Heart; Sleep Alone; Extreme Ways (18)
  • Bed; Stay (18 B-Sides)
  • Disco Lies (Last Night)
  • Lift Me Up; Where You End; Love Should (Hotel)
  • Shot in the Back of the Head (Wait for Me)
    • Above: Me and Moby! (2005)

      Monday, June 29, 2009

      Better'n Peanut Butter


      I wrote an entry about peanut butter a long time ago, and now I'm getting around to reviewing a peanut butter alternative for the peanut butter weary.

      About three months ago, I bought two jars of natural peanut butter, and I got down to the last 1/4 of the second jar -- not entirely by myself, mind you! While I was at the store seeking to replace it, I stumbled upon this jar of Better'n Peanut Butter. The tag below it claimed that it was reminiscient of Reese's peanut butter, and I was sold!

      This stuff claims to have 100 calories per 2 tbsp serving (that's 90 less than regular peanut butter), but only 4 grams of protein (vs. 7 in regular peanut butter).

      I lacked patience, so as soon as I got back from the store, I took a dab straight out of the jar. It tasted good (normal) for the first second, and then the texture settled in, which was a little gummy. Taking a look at the ingredients, I could see natural syrups and such that probably gave it that texture.

      All in all, in spite of its high price tag (don't ask! all for the sake of experimentation!), it is likely acceptable in sandwiches or other dishes in which the peanut butter is not critical or eaten right out of the jar. If all peanut butter was like this, I think I'd consume it at a much decreased rate. It is an acceptable substitute for peanut butter.

      Wednesday, June 24, 2009

      Clif Quench

      Clif has joined the bandwagon of electrolyte drinks with this new product. It claims to increase performance with an ideal mix of carbohydrates and eletrolytes.

      I tried this in the Fruit Punch flavor one day after I ran 12 miles, which was my dinner along with a handful of raw nuts. Unfortunately, as I opened the fridge to get it, the bottle fell to the floor and burst open, leaving only half of the 90-calorie bottle for my consumption. I was pleased that it didn't taste chalky at all -- then again, it doesn't contain any protein. It mostly tasted like a watered-down punch, which "The Ukrainian" did not like at all and insisted that this be consumed cold (I believe the packaging says so as well). As for me, I was so desperately thirsty that I enjoyed my half-bottle.

      Still, I had given up on sports drinks long ago, even through marathons, because gels seem to upset my stomach less. If you are into sports drinks, this might be one for you to try, particularly DURING a workout.

      This drink comes in four flavors: orange, lime, fruit punch, and strawberry.

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      Link: http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_quench/

      Saturday, June 20, 2009

      Random Photo Entry 2

      Another random photo entry of the past few weeks or so...



      Above: A seemingly disgruntled me waiting by my vanpool. This is where I try to get "memi"s (sleep) time, but in a car full with indie-movie happenings, who could?

      Above: I snuck in this photo of myself one afternoon at work. I start work at 6 AM, so by then I was pretty dead. See that Crush soda in the back? It's just for novelty (I don't drink soda).

      Above: veggie dinner a-la "Ukrainian"; potato pancakes with soy cheese; asparagus; cut tomatoes; Tofurky Italian sausage (one of those sausages was real); yay for the race wine glass!!

      Above: "Ghetto pizzas" made with soy cheese. The only bagel available was blueberry, so yeah, that made for some weird taste, but I appreciated this nostalgic dish!

      Above: Last Saturday, I opened the car door and found this on the passenger seat. So random!



      Above: At work, I received a cup with something that looked like a cookie. It was actually soil that expands with water. I added the accompanying blue forget-me-not seeds and keep it on top of someone's cubicle near the huge emergency exit window we have and water it daily at work. It's my new pet for now. I actually took this pic a while back, so it is actually taller by now. My cell phone camera rocks!

      Thursday, June 11, 2009

      Harder to Breathe

      It's Gettin' Harder and Harder to Breathe...

      When I first started running, breathing would get a tad more difficult towards the end of a run.

      The more I'd notice it, the more I panicked, and the more I panicked, the more I tried to manipulate my breathing, which would make it even more difficult. Sometimes, I'd try yawning. Other times, I'd be swigging some cold water, or flailing my arms, or even grunting to relax my lungs.

      I don't remember when, but somehow, these episodes stopped occurring.

      But yesterday, going at about 8:50 pace during mile 6 out of the 7 I ran, my airway seemed restricted. My breathing was belabored. Normally, I (try to) breathe in through my nose and out from my mouth, but I found nose-breathing to be a lot easier (though inefficient) than mouth-breathing, so I resorted to a lot of that during that last mile. I felt a bit light-headed, but I figured that since "The Ukrainian" was running on the neighboring treadmill, he'd save me if I passed out.

      I am not sure what happened. I crank out 7-milers weekly and have obviously been through more, even at this pace. The link I have below addresses exercise-induced asthma, which I don't think I have, but is worth some concern. I think I was just having a bad day, maybe did not fuel up properly, or there was something in the gym air that bothered my lungs. This encourages me, though, to try to get more interval training in so that I can practice catching my breath and maybe strengthening my lungs.

      My Lips are Peel-ed

      On a side note, I've been having some gnarly lip swelling issue for two weeks. I thought it was a cold sore, but after a few days of waiting it out, it definitely did not run that kind of course. I know it also was not sun-related, as I hadn't really been outside more than usual and used SPF chapstick when I did. It started out with ultra-sensitive lips, then swelling, even oozing that occurred usually with eating, followed by a reduction and major peeling. I looked like someone who got a lip injection.

      On Sunday when I had an episode, I finally took some Benadryl antihistamine, which gave me drowsy fits because I took the maximum dose. I've been taking it in the regular dose nightly since then, and I haven't noticed any new major swelling, itching, or fits. I'm not sure if it's doing anything, and I don't really need that kind of sleep aid. Still, I am going to keep popping these caplets until I am completely back to normal! I will never take my lips for granted again!

      My lips still feel far from normal, but there is no more peeling, swelling or oozing, just an uncomfortable dryness around the lip line. On the bright side, all the moisturizing and peeling have given me very soft lips indeed. The true test will be this weekend when I am at home and eating actual food. I hope this doesn't mean that I'm developing (another) food allergy.

      Miscellany

      My studying is going slower than hoped. The big exam is on September 3-4, which means I have less than 3 months to go. My goal is to have all the materials consolidated (i.e., written down in my notebook) by the middle of next month so that I can spend the latter 1.5 months actually absorbing the material. Don't get me wrong -- writing the stuff down is definitely starting the absorption already, but I know there will be confusion and a need to dig back into my notes/books as I actually try to make sense of the stuff. I think that if I give 3-4 *good* mornings, lunch hours, or evenings of studying per week, I can meet my goal. I still want to have a nice summer, though. This means, in addition to people and work, watching some movies and reading some books. I'm currently reading Crime and Punishment.

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      Link: http://www.runhappy.com.au/runners_resource/sportsmed_answers/metcalf.htm

      Friday, June 5, 2009

      Free Marathon

      This is too late, but I was intrigued by this concept of a free marathon (or marathon relay which you can divide however you wish). The Green River Marathon is taking place this weekend, and the entry fee is an "economic-tsunami"-friendly $0. A $12 T-shirt is available for those who don't feel comfortable with the concept of "free."

      The catch? Well, if you are not comfortable with stopwatch timing, then forget about this. Also, there are obviously no medals and sparse on-course support.

      The good news is that this is a Boston qualifier!

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      Link: http://www.greenrivermarathon.com/

      Monday, June 1, 2009

      Zico Coconut Water

      In the aftermath of my older sister's wedding this past weekend, there was a need to clear out some of the things that were falling out of the fridge at my parents' house due to leftovers, so I ended up with this 60-calorie Zico coconut water in my lunchbag.

      I couldn't wait until lunch, so I sipped on this clear liquid that claims to have more potassium than a banana and 5 electrolyte types. As you may know, potassium and electrolytes are supposedly the stuff in sports drinks that help with dehydration and cramping.

      The first thing I wondered while opening this was, "where's the straw?" but then I saw that it just has a wide mouth to drink from. I took a few sips of the passion fruit flavored one, and it tasted like a slightly thicker version of water with a hint of flavor in it. I was not all that impresed, but the benefits of the drink seem to justify me trying it again when my training hits higher points.

      In regards to the aforementioned wedding, I had such a good time just seeing everyone look so nice and happy seeing the handsome couple. The attendance of my cousins really livened up the event even more. My mom looked really, really beautiful, my dad was so unusually *emphasis* cheerful, the sisters were excited, the boyfriend showed up looking sharp, and of course, the bride was just about the most stunning ever. It is weird not to have her living at the house anymore, even though she is not far away at all, but I think things will be more normal again after a period of adjustment.