December 31, 2007

Not that we encourage goofing off at work...

[Hmph. Crabby's off today, and I'm here holding down the fort while she's enjoying a wild, carefree, and champagne-filled vacation. Not that I'm bitter, no, not me. Well, not too much. But frankly, I'm not ready to go back to being good yet. One more day of goofing off. -Mary]

Look, there's no way you're getting any work done today. For heaven's sake, you deserve a medal for even coming in to work this week. Everyone's taking the week off and leaving you to hold down the fort while they're goofing off. Well the heck with them. You deserve a little fun yourself.

So go ahead, indulge.

I mean, it's not as if the boss were looking over your shoulder, right? Here are some ways to annoy your boss if he or she were actually here but they're not so you can annoy them with a clear conscience:

Pop some virtual Bubble wrap. It's therapy, in a way. You can't (or probably shouldn't) behave like a rock star and trash your office, but you can get the virtual effect of cheap destructive satisfaction without having to clean up afterwards.

Have you tried this game? Be warned: Boomshine seems simple enough, but I've known people become addicted. Probably because it looks so simple. People get fired up with the determination to prove to themselves that they're able to accomplish something that seems so easy.

Google your name to find out what people are saying about you. Your boss probably has. Or your future employer might.

Go to technorati to find out what people are saying about your blog. Oh come on. You want to know who linked to your blog and what they said about you.

Think you're smarter than Alex Trebek? Try this geography quiz. I have to confess, I fancied myself as quite the geography expert, but alas I'm not as good as I thought I was. (I got a 10.) On the plus side, I now have some vague idea where Burkina Faso is, which is more than a lot of Americans can say. (Did you have to look it up? Don't tell me you knew off the top of your head! Wow. I am impressed. And if you can pronounce the name of the capital city, I'll be really impressed.)

What, that bubble wrap wasn't enough? Need to work off some more frustration? Here's your chance to rearrange Henry Tudor's face.

Feel like you're part of a chain gang? This site lets you listen to traditional work songs and ballads. I'm sure the singing on these selections is very powerful and poignant and all kinds of good things, but for some reason the song I listened to had a woman backup singer who rather reminded me of a cat singing.

Which is my way of neatly segueing into the final idea of what to do at work when you don't feel like working.

Ever wonder what your cat's up to while you're at work? One guy hooked up a miniature video camera to his cat's collar and videotaped where his cat went on its travels. I think this is an idea with some potential to it. Want to know what your boyfriend is doing when he's not at home? Ever wonder why it takes your girlfriend so long to go "shopping"? Maybe a secret video camera would be the solution.

Okay, I am kidding with this idea, you do know that ... right? I don't want to be responsible for breaking up any relationships. Forget I ever said anything. Look, back to the subject of cats. (Much safer topic.) If your cat is stuck indoors all day while you're at work, why not provide kitty with some entertainment?

[Oh hell. Crabby's going to come back and find everyone is mad at her since her blog fell off the straight-and-narrow path of fitness and instead led readers into a quagmire of relational arguments. I'm doomed.]

December 24, 2007

Cranky Holiday Chat

[Written by Crabby]

Yep, the holidays are here, and we do intend on spending a good deal of it away from our computers. So instead of writing posts, we thought we'd leave up an "open thread" post. This means it's going to sit here awhile.

However, even though it may look deceptively quiet, don't go away! Mary and Crabby and other folks may well be dropping in and chatting down below.

What will we be talking about? Really cool secret stuff.

Stuff too lurid and shocking and unspeakable to be up there in a main post for everyone to read.

(Okay, so we can always hope.)

We want to hear if anything cool and heartwarming happened over the holidays. Or, what awful or wonderful Christmas presents did you get? Did your boss try to grab your ass at the company party? And what was it ditzy Aunt Enid said to Cousin Johnny about labia piercings right after she downed her fourth martini on Christmas Eve?

If you find you need to vent, or share a funny joke, or tell us something people don't generally know about you--cool! It's just us here. If you have a blog, you know you have to be careful what you say 'cause your husband or kid or mother in law might see it. But it's pretty much guaranteed none of those people will find you down here in the comments at Cranky Fitness.

If you're new here, or especially bored, check out some of the "typical crabbiness" posts, or wander randomly through the archives. What was the blog this weird when it very first started? Gosh, just think of all the fun you could have.

(And no, we won't be devastated or offended if no one stops by. It's the holidays--have fun with your families! But if you need a little break, the comments will be open for business. Please stop by and keep our page views from going completely down the toilet say hello!)

We both appreciate of all of you folks so much--the amusing clever friendly commenters as well as those of you who stop by regularly to read our ramblings. Thank you all SO MUCH! So best wishes to you all and your loved ones, and hope your holidays (or your regular old weekdays, if that's the case) are happy and peaceful and joyous!

December 22, 2007

Holidays are Fast Approaching: Duck!

[Written by Crabby]

(Photo from flikr)

So whether or not you celebrate Christmas, it's hard not to notice that everything slows down this time of year. Many of you will be off spending time with family and friends, decking your halls or donning your gay apparel or whatever. Others may not be celebrating Christmas, but instead of Fa-la-la-la-lawing, you might be working double overtime shifts to cover for those who are hangin' with Santa.

In any event, a lot of you won't be here. Things may be reeeeally slow between Christmas and New Years.

So we're going to try to chill too and refrain from writing a bunch of posts and then wondering why no one is reading them. Where is everybody? Don't they like us anymore? What's wrong? Was it something we said?

No, instead we will try to out-smart our own little insecurities and not even write those posts that you're going to not read. Clever, huh? Perhaps we'll take a little time to relax and recharge--so that after the holidays, you can come back to more of the same old shit all kinds of fresh new ideas and fascinating posts about all kinds of things!

However, and this is important, we won't close down entirely between Christmas and New Years! Sometime on Monday we'll let you know what the deal is. So please do check back.

Okay, enough of this "we" stuff since Mary's not actually here right now.

So switching subjects completely:

Some of you long-time readers may have noticed that I've been slipping out of third person and into the first person lately. (For those who are not fiction writers obsessed with point of view: "First person" is writing as "I"; second person is writing as "you"; and the third person is writing as "she" or "he" or, in this case, "Crabby.")

I still haven't figured out what I want to do about that, but I'm leaning towards wanting to write less like a Crab and more like a normal person. (Not that Cranky Fitness will ever be "normal.")

So I appreciate your patience as I experiment. I tried to switch to first person a long time ago but then it felt weird and I gave it up after a few days. So that could always happen again. I also thought seriously about it a couple of months ago too--but the day I was going to announce the change, guess what?

I followed a link and ended up here, at I Am Bossy.

As it happens, Bossy is an amazing, witty writer who can pull off the third person in a way that makes it seem all clever and doesn't alienate new readers. But you know how a gorgeous actress can wear a pair of funky looking glasses and make you think the glasses are cool? But your friends don't want to tell you that on you they're, well, kind of icky and distracting? Well, I suspect that's kind of what happened with me and Bossy and the Third-Person Nerd glasses. Just as I was about to ditch them and go get contacts, I saw Bossy walk by with the same pair I had she looked so great!

I still love third person when other people do it--but I'm not sure I want to chain myself to it for the life of the blog. (Plus, now I've got a co-blogger and a legitimate excuse to use the editorial "we" sometimes, which also comes in handy).

Anyway, hopefully I'll be chatting with some of you over the break, but for those who are hopping on a plane or packing up the minivan: safe travels and have a great holiday!

December 21, 2007

Double Random Friday

[Written by Crabby and Mary]

(Image courtesy of Flikr)

So this week, we have Crabby Randomness and Mary Randomness combined into what might be called one big ol' Random Mess! And as usual, don't worry about accidentally learning anything tremendously important--we try to avoid that sort of thing here.

First Up: Crabby Decides to Report Only Good Health News:

(Leaving Mary to deliver all the bad news this week--whoops, sorry Mary!)

So you already know that they're good for you, but according to this study avocados may help prevent oral cancer. (And does anyone else think it's weird that they're actually a really good source of fiber? There are 5 grams in half a medium avocado! How can that be when they're all soft and creamy? It's sort of like if chocolate milkshakes turned out to have lots fiber. Um, they don't, do they?)

No more excuses: forward this article to your couch-potato relatives, especially the middle-aged overweight ones. It turns out that even moderate exercise (brisk walking for 30 minutes 6 days a week) can result in weight loss and a greatly reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. And that's even without dietary changes. Is more exercise better? Sure--but since the thought of all that huffin' and puffin' seems to be a big reason Uncle Elmer won't even try to put on his tennis shoes and head out the door in the first place, just don't tell him that part.

Got any troubling addictions? (Hellooo, cupcakes...) There's a dietary supplement, N-acetyl cysteine, that seems to be effective at curbing gambling addictions. (One headline even called it "willpower in a pill.") The guy who led the study said: "this research could be encouraging for a lot of addictions," and animal research already indicates it may be helpful fighting drug addictions as well.

So Mary Gets Stuck Being The Party Pooper:

Forget 'sweets for the sweet' -- too much sugar can affect your sex life. Dr. Mercola says that "High levels of sugar in your bloodstream can turn off the gene that controls your sex hormones."

And not only that--sugar does really rotten things to your liver as well. Apparently it takes about 20 years for the full effects to show up.

And love really is blind, especially when it comes to your own children. According to this national poll, only 7% of parents of obese children are concerned about their kid's weight. The rest think their child "looks about the right size." Is this the reverse of the anorexia syndrome? Do the parents not have their child have checkups? Are the doctors also hard of seeing?

Mary Wanders Aimlessly Away from "Health" onto Other Topics...

So not only are lemons chock-full of vitamin C, they're also handy around the house! You can even clean your microwave with them. This has very little to do with fitness, but I love the idea of sitting back with my feet up while the produce takes care of the chores. Presumably the orange will do the dusting and the banana take care of vacuuming?

And Crabby Strays Even Further Afield!

With a Belated Christmas present idea. So yeah, it's a little late for mail-order presents to make it by the 25th, but a package of these might come in very handy for when you're heading back out to the malls for those after Christmas sales. (Note: ideal for passive-aggressive sorts. Definitely on the Crab wish list for next year!)

What's not on the Crab wishlist? Why, gosh, no thanks, it's a sweet idea and all, but I don't think I really need vulva purse. (Via Fitness Fixation).

Stuck on public transportation and tired of the usual announcements? Try these instead--apparently this smooth-voiced announcer for the London Underground got fired because she recorded these spoofs. (Try "A reminder for American Tourists").

Want to see Mary's new home? Or something very like it. Actually, it's a pretty nifty optical illusion if you've got a spare 30 seconds.

Is it Time for The Animals Yet?
It sure is! First up, for a video featuring some very clever animals and a very lame voice-over: click here.

And lastly, our gratuitous Lolcat holiday greeting, swiped, as usual, from icanhazcheezburger:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Have a great Friday!

December 20, 2007

Dissin' Weight Watchers

[Written by Crabby]

Over at Elastic Waist, Weetabix and Sarah were recently having a spirited gripe session about Weight Watchers. What set them off was a new ad campaign in which Weight Watchers is pretending not to be a "diet." (South Beach is apparently doing the same thing too).

But the discussion went beyond just the ad campaign to the program itself, and they both had some strong feelings about it.

Here's a choice quote from Weetabix:

"I can't deal with some old lady making a squinchy face if I only lose 0.2 pounds in a week, and tell me that I must be retaining water. I don't ever want to feel like I have to explain to someone that I just forgot to change out of jeans or didn't go to the bathroom before coming to weigh in. I am afraid of any mindset where I feel compelled to make excuses for not pooping!"

The whole post is amusing and there are a lot of great observations, both pro and con, made in the comments section.

Are any of you on Weight Watchers? (She said disingenuously, knowing full well from your blogs that a bunch of you are). I've never been on it myself, but I've known some people who have had great success with it. (But for the record, I would tend to agree that an ad campaign claiming Weight Watchers is "not a diet" sounds like total horsesh*t) .

This is one of those posts that's a question rather an opinion: What do you all think of Weight Watchers? What's great or awful about it?

Smell me about it

[Written by Mary]

A new dating website matches people by their body odor. They take a saliva-swab to test your DNA, and then match you up with your ideal partner. According to their website, when you share chemistry with someone, you love their body odor and they smell "sexier" to you.

My first thought was that this might be a good dating website for people who were adopted -- at least this way you'd be sure you weren't dating your long-lost brother Fred. Apparently, though, this process doesn't work if you weren't raised by your biological parents until you were about a year old. According to the website, studies performed on mice showed that "When they were free to select partners to mate with, the mice based their mating preferences for different immune systems not on their own immune system genes, but on those of the parents who raised them —- even if they were adopted." It seems that we do try to choose a mate based on the criterion that they are different from Mom & Dad. (Presumably because this will annoy the parents the most?)

Does it make sense to match people by a particular sense? Montaigne wrote that "A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband," but actually deaf people tend to congregate together, probably helped by the fact that they speak their own language. (I make that sweeping generalization based on my non-scientific observations of two people. My brother and his wife are always speaking to each other -- with their mouths full -- across the dinner table. In sign language.)

There is some evidence that people you are attracted to smell better to you than people you're not attracted to. At least, Vanilla wrote a post about how his sweat always smelled attractive to those around him. And he quoted from a scientific study that sounded impressive, so there you go.

Now if only they could segregate people on the subway by body odor, then I'd be a happy camper. Certainly it's possible to be repelled by someone based on their body odor.

What about you? Are you attracted to someone because of how they smell?

December 19, 2007

Get Well Wishes

[Posted by Crabby]

Those of you who are long-time readers of the comment section may have been wondering where the heck Leah has been this week. She's the author of the very down-to-earth and amusing blog The Goat's Lunch Pail, and is always a blunt breath of fresh air in our comment section here at Cranky Fitness. Usually the only time Leah goes AWOL is for a vacation or a computer crash.

Well, damn it, she's been in the hospital. Her cousins (who also have fine blogs themselves, Bag Lady's Blather and Sibu Pegasus Power) have said it's okay to let people know--more details will probably appear soon on their blogs too.

Basically, Leah seems to have congestive heart failure of a somewhat confusing nature, and she's still undergoing tests. Which is ironic, given how healthy her lifestyle is.

No doubt she's having a thrilling fun-filled time of it all. (Isn't it hard to picture feisty Leah trapped in a hospital room?)

So for those who want to wish Leah well--Bag Lady will be collecting comments over at her blog, and you can leave some at The Goats Pail too for Leah when she gets back.


We will now resume our regularly scheduled Crankiness.

"Mental " Workouts

[Posted by Crabby]

There are probably lots of people who don't spend 95% of their workout time analyzing every aspect of it. Some people "just do it." It's time to exercise: they exercise. Maybe they listen to some music or monitor their heart rate or whatever, but they go through the list of things they need to do without much thought and then they're done.

Some of us, however... well, we don't have the kind of brains that want to shut up and "just do" anything. We prepare ourselves; we dread certain aspects; we strategize about how we'll get through it. Then when we actually "do it," we often have feelings about it. And observations, and opinions, and questions, and ruminations, and epiphanies.

By some strange coincidence, many of us obsessive-compulsive neurotics introspective types also seem to be bloggers!

So do any of you find you have an excessive number of thoughts and opinions about working out, even though it's supposed to be more of a physical than a mental endeavor? Or is it just me?*

I have favorites. Not just when it comes to "big" things, like whether to be a runner or a ballet dancer or a dodgeball player. I mean I have a favorite water bottle, a favorite workout bra (the one with the inexplicable rust stain on the strap), a favorite direction to head around the reservoir (counterclockwise). I have a favorite workout temperature (cold enough to need an overshirt at first so I can peel down when I warm up) and a favorite time of day (first thing in the morning). I have favorite stretches (too hard to describe) and strengthening exercises (chest press and row; legs are the worst). In fact, I could list in order of relative loathsomeness every weight lifting exercises, aerobic activity, and stretch I've ever done. (Don't worry; I won't).

I notice how energetic (or not) I'm feeling; how good or bad the music is; how the equipment feels (well-maintained or crappy). I will have a general idea idea of how long I'm going to work out and what I'm going to do and in what order, but this plan will be actively monitored and questioned and whined about and re-evaluated the entire time. Sometimes I do more and sometimes I do less and sometimes I don't mess with it, but even if I don't, I'll seriously consider messing with it.

And if there is anyone working out nearby, or running past on the trail, or even sitting around in a provocative way? Well, I will certainly have opinions about them too. For example, have you ever noticed someone running along in a way that you know is going to cause them big problems down the line? They're swinging their left foot out in a huge arc, or they're sproinging way up in the air every step like a gazelle--don't you just want to flag them down and explain what they're doing wrong even though they would probably NOT appreciate you pointing out they're running all freakishly and are going to have knee problems some day?

Anyway, I don't know if this "think everything to death" style is a bad thing or not. In any event, there does not seem to be an "off" switch I can locate, despite many earnest but unsuccessful attempts to find it. Good music and endorphins will sometimes muffle the chatter a bit--but even then, I will often find myself narrating my "runners high" and analyzing every aspect of it and not just simply experiencing it.

What about you guys? Are any of you "mental" like me when you exercise?

*(And yeah, this post was written in the first person. Why? What does it mean? Will this become a permanent change? Answers: I don't know. Hope it's not too weird out of the blue like that).

December 18, 2007

It's not right that it's not light

Evil Snowman, by David Hogg[Written by Mary]

I hate writing depressing blog posts. But damn, it's dark out there. Dark as nothing and nowhere and hopelessness all put together. It makes me want to go to bed, pull the covers over my head, and curl up in a tight fetal position, hoping all the dark/dank/gloom stuff will pass by.

They've got a Name for this sort of thing. SAD, seasonal feelings of depression.

I always felt mildly depressed at this time of year even back in California, which in my neck of the state was about 38 degrees longitude. Up in Oregon, further North than the 45th parallel ("exactly halfway between the equator and the North pole," to quote the freeway sign as you pass Salem), it gets dark before 4:00 in the evening. To me, that's just fundamentally UnNatural. It's Wrong. It makes me want to Write In Capitals.
Seems like the natural urge at times like this is to do nothing. Curl up in a ball and hibernate until Mother Nature stops being such a mother. Maybe eat heaps of pasta or something else with lots of starchy calories.

But wait! It's okay to go starchy like a giant Marshmallow Mary. Or at least it's understandable. Studies suggest that that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects the brain chemical serotonin. Judith J. Wurtman, in an article SAD, Serotonin and Carbohydrates, points out that "This lack of serotonin explains the symptoms of winter depression, especially carbohydrate craving. Serotonin is made only when sweet and starchy carbohydrates (except fruit) are eaten. If protein is eaten along with the carbohydrates, no serotonin is made. So eating carbohydrates is therapeutic. The brain makes new serotonin, and the symptoms of SAD diminish."

So chowing down on pasta and potatoes and suchlike foodstuffs is a normal reaction, the body's attempt to right the hormonal balance. It's not a kind of giving in to the darkness, but an attempt to fight it.

Dr. Wurtman suggests eating protein for breakfast and lunch, and making dinner a more carbohydrate-exclusive meal. Might be worth a try. It makes sense that if your body needs carbohydrates, you could give in to the craving for one meal a day. That might help keep the cravings more reasonable and prevent the pigging-out-on-pasta syndrome.

I can recommend the use of light-therapy gadgets to increase the amount of natural-seeming light in a room. They can help. Even so (one last whine on this topic), the whole idea of the world getting so dark so early feels Wrong.

Do you go through these SAD feelings each winter? If so, how do you cope? (Or do you cope?) Any suggestions would be most welcome.

December 17, 2007

Weight Loss Blogs vs The Scary Real World

[Posted by Crabby]

Cranky Fitness considers itself a "health and fitness" blog rather than a "weight loss blog," but we travel in similar circles. Lots of our readers are trying to lose weight for health reasons. And many of the health principles we advocate (when we're not totally blowing them off ourselves) are those that will also help with weight loss: ditch the junk food, eat your vegetables, exercise regularly even on days you'd rather shoot yourself, watch your stress levels, blah blah blah.

(And if we can get some press coverage every so often for being a "weight loss blog?" Then hell yeah, call us a weight loss blog! Whoops, is knitting popular this week? Perhaps we're also a knitting blog! (We almost ended up being a chess blog once, but that's a whole other story)).

Anyway, if you're trying to lose weight or get healthy, you may visited some great weight loss or fitness blogs out there on the web, as there are a lot of them. And you may have compared your efforts and motivation and accomplishments to those of the blog authors and thought: God, I suck!

Perhaps you've visited Kelly at Fitness Fixation. When she's not spewing amusing obscenities about cupcake deprivation, she's usually undergoing some sort of physical torture that makes Navy Seal training seem like a day at Cub Scout camp. She's very motivating, but wow, that girl is scary tough.

Or if you aim to eat a natural, nutritious diet, perhaps you've been to Mark's Daily Apple, where they really eat healthy and don't even complain about it. Unless you're unusually good about this stuff, it's hard not to feel a bit chastened after reading pages and pages of nutritious all-natural suggestions. (But if you're lazy like some of us, you may have also noted how much more shopping and cooking is involved if you want to be All Healthy like Mark is. Yikes!)

And as far as weight loss, there are a whole host of amusing, inspirational diet bloggers who actually practice what they preach and lose a ton of weight! And they're so sensible and realistic about how they go about it. Mousearoo and Pasta Queen and Lady Rose and Roni come to mind, although there are so many others. And there are those who excel not only at their accomplishments, but at keeping things in perspective. They take the ups and downs in stride and manage to motivate others with their wise observations. (Like Glam and Soap Box Girl and Katieo and, well, the list goes on and on).

But the cumulative effect of reading all these blogs? Sometimes you can end up feeling like a lazy, self-indulgent, weak-willed slacker.

And then you go out in the real world. And all of a sudden, you're no longer a slacker, but a health and fitness fanatic! Because you try to eat real foods when you can, and exercise, and you know that long-term goals will take a lot of hard work to meet. But you check out what so many other people around you are doing and it seems to make no sense at all. People drive on an errand three blocks away, they eat crap all week long and then suddenly decide to go on some bizarre diet that they can't stay on for more than two days.

If this has been your experience (and it may not be at all, which is why comments are always so welcome!) then you might find this article interesting.

Mike at Diet Blog caught this a few weeks ago. It's not a rigorous scientific study--it was just a survey of 2000 women done by British magazine. But even if it's not totally representative, it's still freakin' scary to see how these women are dealing with the issue of weight loss.

Some of the survey results:
  • Each pound lost cost more than $1600 to achieve;
  • Nine in 10 women had gone at least a day without eating; 30% had gone two or more days; and 7% had gone more than four days;
  • Twenty percent followed a pattern of having an “eat day” followed by a “non-eat day”;
  • Forty seven percent said they ate only one meal a day;
  • More than half said a diet to them meant eating less than 1,000 calories a day;
  • Thirty four percent had taken diet pills, 30% had made themselves sick, and 11% had taken speed or cocaine to lose weight.
  • Ninety percent said they could not stick to a diet for longer than a week, even though 19% said they tried to diet every day.
Wow. Does anyone else feel like that's pretty messed up? Or notice a disconnect between what they read on their web rounds and what people seem to be doing "out there?"

December 15, 2007

"Wacky" Warnings

[Posted by Crabby]

So you may have seen them already, but the annual "Wacky Warning" awards have been announced! (Unfortunately Healthbolt beat us to it, not being quite as slacky about the wacky.)

What are the awards about? Well, these are the often hilarious product warnings designed to protect imbeciles from hurting themselves. And there are plenty of them, because manufacturers have been traumatized by losing too many ridiculous lawsuits, and stick them on to everything. (Apparently even imbeciles can hire smart lawyers).

Some of this year's winners: a label on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that says: "Do not iron while wearing shirt."

Also, a baby stroller with what looks to be about an eight inch square storage pouch that warns: "Do not put child in bag."

And a letter opener that says: "Caution: Safety goggles recommended."

Previous awards are great too. A pair of shin guards with the warning: “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.” Or, a cartridge for a laser printer with: “Do not eat toner.” And how about the label on the kid's scooter that cautions: "This product moves when used!"

You've probably seen other warnings yourself and marveled. The advisory (also a past winner) against using hair dryers while asleep was widely distributed--notice you still see these a lot? Do large numbers of people really sleepwalk into the bathroom and start styling their hair? And would a warning really help them at that point if they're asleep?

Or even more scary, perhaps there are people actually stupid enough to think: "Gosh, I just showered but now I'm sleepy. I don't want to go to bed with wet hair and wake up tomorrow looking like a giant mushroom... Hmm, perhaps I'll plug in my hairdryer, set it on my pillow, and then go to sleep all night with it on?"

The mind boggles.

Another personal favorite: at the retirement community where the Lobster's mother lives, all the trash dumpsters sternly caution residents not to "play on or around." Reading the sign, it's hard not to envision the 80 year old residents tossing aside their walkers and leaping into the dumpsters and jumping off the sides, just for a lark!

But as fun as these awards are, there were a couple of annoying things about them.


(Which should be a Warning Winner, because this is Cranky Fitness, and it goes without saying!)

First off: the grand prize winner wasn't all that stupid! It was a tractor with a warning not to leave the seat without lowering the big shovel thing first and turning of the engine. Otherwise, apparently it can crash down and crush you. Well... that actually seems like something a hurried or only moderately half-assed construction worker might be tempted to do. What got it the award? It was the title above the explanation: "Avoid Death!"

Well, yeah, if that was the entire content of the warning, it would be really stupid. (Or, really smart, depending on how you think about it). But it wasn't--it was right above the instructions on how to do just that. "Avoid death" just doesn't seem all that "wacky" when you're screwing around with construction equipment. It is the opinion of at least one half of Cranky Fitness that the tractor warning did not deserve first place.

And the second complaint? The name.

"Wacky Warnings." Yuck. (And the subtitle of the companion book: is "The 101 Stupidest, Silliest and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever!")

Can we just stipulate that "Wacky" is a dumb word? The word "wacky" is itself usually a warning: it's often used by copywriters pumping up stuff that's awful, or people who just naturally have a lame sense of humor. Unless you enjoy circus clowns and fart jokes and people slipping on banana peels, it's generally best to avoid "wacky."

"Zany" is awful too. At least they didn't say "zany."

Anyway, the sad thing is, for every dumb warning you see, you know there's usually some reason it got there. Like at the zoo, "please don't climb over fence into Tiger Cage?" Yeah some idiot, (more than one actually) did that and got chewed up. (The Giant Panda cage too, 'cause they look so cuddly. They're not.)

So have a great, safe weekend, don't go climbing into any wild animal cages--and don't say Cranky Fitness didn't warn you!

December 14, 2007

Ask Cranky Fitness

[Written by Mary (mostly) and Crabby.]

Welcome to the second installment of Ask Cranky Fitness. And guess what--this time, we actually received a real reader question!

Oh, wait... um, those other questions? Sure, they're real too! But in a different, more virtual sort of way. Let's just say this first question is even realer than real. It's a follow-up from last week's discussion about exercising in winter.

(Note: some editing of reader questions may occur, and hard questions or those requiring serious answers may be ignored entirely. However, it is not the policy of Cranky Fitness to be malicious about editing your questions for our own amusement. If you write "what can I do about my skin itching when it's too dry?" it will not appear as "my ass itches all the time, help!" That just wouldn't be nice).

Anyway, first (really real) question:

Dear Cranky Fitness,
I live in Minnesota where it is very, very cold. My problem is with my iPod. It is my best friend and closest companion when it comes to exercise, and it just can't take the cold! If I do not put it in an internal pocket, or inside my mitten, it freezes.

The obvious solution is to just put it in the pocket of my long underwear, but then I can't fiddle with it, and I can't keep the stopwatch function visible. Also, I wear mittens while running, and I don't want to have to stop running, take off my mittens, and fiddle in my underwear every time I want to change music or check the time! What do I do?

Oh, and I have tried using my watch for its timing function, but that's also a pain, because then I have to slide up my jacket and down my mitten and hit the indiglo button with my other mittened hand, and the whole process just annoys the heck out of me!
- Musicless in Minnesota

Dear Musicless,
What a dilemma! Flinging off your mittens and digging your hands down into your underwear while running could indeed be awkward--and could subject you to the snickering of uncouth bystanders!

Crabby hopes there are Smart Readers around who have dealt with this problem, or that Mary has a solution, because she has never had to personally deal with a Tunesicle. She can offer one high tech solution to seeing your time displayed more easily while running--problem is, you have to wait until 2009 and pay a lot of Euros for it. Perhaps you could tweak your playlists enough that your iPod could be listened to from the warm cozy comfort of your underwear without any additional fiddling. And then you could buy an ugly sports watch made for a Humongous Male Wrists that you could strap outside your jacket to clock yourself.
Good luck! (brrr)

Dear Musicless,
I think you're in an excellent position to start a whole new fashion trend: transparent running clothes.* If you had a windproof see-through jacket, you wouldn't need to slide the sleeve up to see your watch. I tried to include some useful links to transparent clothing, but apparently the people out there in Blog Land had a whole different idea about which articles of clothing should be see-through.

Also, I've got the tireless unpaid grad students research workers at CF testing ways of keeping iPods in plastic baggies and manipulating them with Q-Tips punched through a very small hole in the baggy.

Ditto on the good luck!
- Mary

*Except, of course, in places such as Providence, Rhode Island, where transparent clothing is illegal.

Dear Cranky Fitness,
I know I should go to the gym to work out, but I hate having people look at me while I’m exercising. I’m hot, sweating, red-faced… it’s not pretty. It feels like everyone is looking at me. Do you have to be a Muslim to wear those full-body-scarf things? For that matter, do you have to be female?
- Man with a paper bag over his head

Dear Man,
You think people at the gym are going to notice if you’re red-faced and sweaty? What do you think they look like? And there are more embarrassing things than being sweaty at a gym.
- Mary

Dear Man,
Crabby would just like to add that a man who is too self-conscious about his own appearance to be staring at the breasts of the women jogging on the treadmills or flying around on the ellipticals would be quite welcome at most local gyms.
- Crabby

Dear Cranky Fitness,
I really want to be fit, but I also want to keep out of the unemployment line. My job requires me to sit at a computer 10 or 12 hours a day. What can I do?
- Grammar Geek

Dear GG,
Do you have high cubicle walls at your work? Or do you want to entertain your co-workers? If so, you could try taking 10 minute breaks every couple of hours to stretch and do lunges or situps. You need to take a lunch break, you know that, so why not spend 15 minutes or so taking a quick walk around the block? Cranky Fitness can enthusiastically recommend investing in an iPod, to make this more fun. (Note: authors do not have any stock in Apple, Inc., much to their regret.) Best advice of all, find a like-minded friend who would walk with you at lunch. What, you don’t have any friends at work? Then go for the iPod -- it's very friendly.
- Mary

Dear GG,
Imaginary friends are good too! If you exercise with them and shout out encouragement and all laugh together your walk or jumping jacks or whatever, your workout time will go by so quickly you'll hardly mind. Plus, then you will have fewer "real" friends stopping by your cube and bothering you during work and you can go home earlier.
- Crabby


Dear Cranky Fitness,
My boyfriend wants me to go bicycling with him. The trouble is, we live in a very hilly area, and he’s so fit that he regularly cycles 500 miles a week. My idea of a good bicycle ride is one that’s all downhill. What shall I do?
- Worried in Woodside

Dear WinW,
Have you considered one of these bicycles? You can pretend to pedal, and keep up a cheery conversation to cover the sound of the motor. Or, you could load the bikes into his car, drive to the top of the ridge, and cruise downhill to your car at the base of the ridge.

If you really don’t want to go cycling with him at all, but don’t want to hurt his feelings by a direct refusal, why not take the opportunity of a bike ride to talk about your relationship? It’s a safe bet his enthusiasm for doing sports with you will find another outlet.
- Mary

Dear Worried,
Crabby wholeheartedly seconds Mary's last suggestion. A five minute warm-up followed by a simple "honey, we need to talk," repeated for one or two sessions should do the trick.
- Crabby

Clever readers, of course, may have much more helpful advice on all these questions!

December 13, 2007

Cranky Fitness kicks Brad Pitt's butt

[Written by Mary]

Move over, Brad. There's a new architect in town.

Brad Pitt is working to make sure the houses in New Orleans are designed to fit in with their surroundings. Architects have drawn up several plans for houses that should be able to survive a hurricane or flood. One architect even proposed a model house that could float. But some architects went beyond this mandate. They talked with the people in the Lower Ninth Ward and created homes tailored to fit their lives, including personalized details such as a front porch where the grandparents could chat with the neighbors.

I suggest taking this one step further. Why don’t we set up houses so that fitness is built in? For example, right now I live in one of those “Amsterdam” style townhouses that are becoming so popular nowadays, at least around Portland. It’s tall and narrow – I mean, we’re talking a 2-bedroom home that’s one room wide and three stories tall. Exercise is built in to the daily routine.

Come home and unload groceries? Why yes, the kitchen is one flight up. Good exercise, especially if I have to make a couple of trips. Or, if I don’t feel like making several trips, I can always do some weight lifting by carrying all the grocery bags in one trip. If I’m working in the garage on the ground floor for several hours, I’ll definitely get a workout –the bathroom is on the 3rd floor. And if I’m rushing out the door and realize at the last minute that I left the car keys in my bedroom, there’s a two-flight sprint built in to my day.

Granted, this style of house wouldn’t work for everyone. But the basic idea of designing houses that would make exercise part of the daily routine might be the wave of the future. You read it here first.

And why stop there? Why not set up televisions that only run when you do? Hook those suckers up to a treadmill. (Also, this would be a good way to justify letting children watch television.) Ellen deGeneres had a whole spin class on her show powering television monitors.

For that matter, set up your computer and work out while blogging! According to HowStuffWorks, "a single 60-calorie chocolate-chip cookie could power a laptop for four hours!"

One reason that obesity rates have risen so much over the past couple of generations is the increase in labor-saving devices. (Yes, there are other factors, I know that. I still think this one is a major factor.) We’re in a good position right now because we can choose which labor-saving devices are worth it and which ones we could jettison in favor of getting more exercise in our life.

How would you design a house so that fitness was an automatic part of your life? Enquiring Cranky minds want to know! I figure I'd probably keep the electricity running and most of the modern conveniences, but even so, I think we could improve, nay revolutionize architecture as we know it.

I bet Brad is miffed he didn't think of it first.

If you want to contribute to the foundation that's trying to organize the New Orleans rebuilding project, you can find more information at

December 12, 2007

Cranky Christmas List

[Posted by Crabby]

So if you happen to celebrate Christmas, or some other winter holiday (Festivus, anyone?) you may be racking your brains right now trying to find gifts for your loved ones. Alternatively, you may be trying to defend against Wildly Inappropriate Presents yourself by telling your loved ones what you actually want.

But that's not always easy. Things we really want (fame, fortune, happiness, beauty, love, inner peace, flat abs, round-the-world luxury cruises) usually can't be purchased at a department store. And if we really really want something and it's realistic and affordable? Guess what, we probably already went out and bought it.

A useful health and fitness blog might, at this point, make some suggestions for healthy products you could ask for or give to your friends... but we're not in that kind of mood today! Instead, it's time for a test. Sharpen your pencils.

Don't worry, it's multiple choice and it's only one question.

(By the way, for those of you have actually made a Christmas list already and want to share it, Lady Rose over at the Diet Pulpit is collecting them. She'll link to your blog if you post your list on it).

Anyway, on with the quiz!

Which of these five items would Crabby Like For Christmas?

(And yes, these are all real; several are from the "Solutions" catalog, which comes in the mail and is sort of like a Sharper Image for women).

1. Dog Fingerpainting Kit!

With everything your dog needs to create three one-of-a-kind masterpieces.

For only $24.95!

True, Crabby doesn't have a dog, and $25 does seem rather a lot to spend for what's probably $2 worth of paint and some saran wrap. But look how intellectual those doggies look, and maybe they didn't look that way before they started!

[Note: Precious little doggy French beret not included. But there is a "surprise toy." Perhaps it's a pack of Gauloises!]

[One more note: Due to technical difficulties (Crabby doesn't know how to format this properly) we need a little more text to fill in here just to make sure the next picture doesn't crawl up here and cause trouble like it did on Preview.]

[Okay, maybe just one more paragraph, to be sure. Note to self: center photo next time, fer goodnesssake!]

2. Screw With Your Loved Ones: The Gift That Won't Start Giving

Solve the maze... Claim the gift!"

Yep, you put a gift inside--suggestions include money and jewelry--but the recipient has to "guide a steel ball through a maze" first to get the gift! Nice, huh?

[Note: Sledgehammer, anvil, and divorce lawyer not included].

3. The Slanket!

Whoa: It's Blanket with Sleeves -- a Slanket! You have to love an item so totally original they had to give it a new name. How come no one ever thought of this handy item before? (Oh wait, maybe they did... about 5000* years ago! Some obscure item called a robe).

*Or 50,000 or 3,000 or whatever. Anyone know when robes were invented? It probably wasn't 2007.

4. The Two-Assed Toilet

It's a "TwoDaLoo - A Supertoilet That Saves Rocky Marriages and The Planet."

Yes, it's a real product, not a gag, although apparently it's not in production yet. And good news, if you don't feel like chatting with your Significant Other over your mutual morning business, there's an upgraded version that includes "a seven inch LCD television and iPod docking station!" Note: Minimum order 12.

5. Gum Drops!

Do we need to explain Gum Drops? No we do not. They are Candy.

Time To Put Down Your Pencils!

So are you ready with your guesses? Is The Suspense getting to be too much?

Crabby chooses (Surprise!), number 3, The Slanket.

You thought it was going to be the gumdrops, didn't you?

True, gumdrops are candy, but they are not good candy. A good candy, by definition, is a chocolate-based confection. It may also contain caramel, nuts, and certain non-fruit flavored nougats. Crabby would not waste treadmill time on gumdrops.

So why The Slanket, aside from its cool name?

Well, Crabby has been considering the idea of starting her own religion, Crabbyism. Or perhaps Crankyism, that's good too. So she'll need to stock up on Slankets because don't they look like perfect apparel for starting your own cult or fringe religion? Just look at the woman wearing her garment. She seems so totally bonkers and brainwashable happy!

So, are any of you hankering for any particular sort of holiday gift? Ever received anything awful? Any other thoughts about gifts, whether naughty or nice? (And just pretend you don't notice this post has nothing to do with Health or Fitness--that can be your gift to Cranky Fitness).

December 11, 2007

'Tis The Season...

Cranky Fitness Headquarters? Uh, No.

Mary: [sings] Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…

Crabby: What's that sound? Is that caroling I hear? I'm not sure we allow that sort of thing at Cranky Fitness.

Mary: We can't sing a few Christmas carols? Even songs about obese waterfowl?

Crabby: Bah, humbug. We pride ourselves on not getting into the Holiday spirit here if we can help it. The Holiday spirits, now that's another story... I'll have a little more of that fruit punch, please.

Mary: Delicious isn't it? And filled with healthy antioxidants.

Crabby: Mmm... Wait, vodka has antioxidants?

Mary: There's a little fruit juice in there too!

Crabby: Ah, that explains the pinkish hue. You were saying something about getting goosed?

Mary: No, The Goose... oh never mind. So if I can't talk about the holidays, can I at least talk about the season?

Crabby: As long as it's not the season to be jolly. There'll be no cheerful fa-la-la-la-la-la-ing on Cranky Fitness property, if I can help it. But sure, I guess you can mention the season.

Mary: Actually, I was thinking about how vegetables are best when they're in season. Which, in the Northern Hemisphere, is not this season. So what do you do to ensure fresh veggies on your table?

Crabby: I make sure my table is located in a nice restaurant where someone else has figured it all out for me! Or I go to the grocery store and see what they have.

Mary: So you buy foods from Chile.

Crabby: Um, well...

Mary: Even if the food is organic, that would mean it's coming from several thousand miles away.

Crabby: Really? Oh dear. Those poor tired vegetables! That's a long way to hitch-hike. I don't suppose a vegetable can afford air fare?

Mary: Sadly, most vegetables are dirt poor. Plus, after spending several hours on a plane, how fresh would you be?

Crabby: So if I'm not supposed to buy Chilean vegetables, what should I do?

Mary: Well, one thing you could do is grow your own.

Crabby: I tried that once, and boy did it make everything taste really good. Even out-of-season vegetables! But funny thing--turns out it's illegal.

Mary: No, I meant you could grow your own winter vegetables.

Crabby: Oh.

Mary: For example, in a lot of climates kale is grown outdoors in winter, and Dr. Weil says it's full of good stuff. Or you could get a plant lamp and a window box to grow fresh greens indoors. Mizuna, arugula, that sort of thing.

Crabby: Huh? Mizuna? Arugula? Oh wait, I remember... the Beach Boys wrote a song about them!

Arugula, Jamaica,
Ooh I wanna take you,
Mizuna, Bahama,
Come on pretty mama...

Mary: Crabby... Crabby...

Crabby: (louder)
Key Largo, Montegro,
Baby why don't we go...

Mary: Crabby!

Crabby: Huh, wha?

Mary: Vegetables. Remember? We were talking about vegetables?

Crabby: That's right. (Sigh). But I want to go to Kokomo!

Mary: You could sprout bean sprouts.

Crabby: (Longer sigh). Bean sprouts, sure.

Mary: They take a few days more in the colder weather, and you need to be sure to rinse the sprouting beans thoroughly twice a day, but they're chock full of nutrition.

Crabby: Here I was, lounging on a nice white sand beach in a tropical paradise, and now I'm rinsing bean sprouts.

Mary: But Kokomo is in Indiana, isn't it?

Crabby: No! The Beach Boys were singing about Indiana?

Mary: If that's your idea of a tropical paradise, you might want to invest in a cold frame. The Frugal Zealot raved about them. You can grow fresh veggies outdoors in the middle of winter – even in Indiana!

Crabby: Now you've got me outside in a cold frame, in the middle of winter in Indiana, with a raving zealot? Perhaps I should rethink this no-holiday-caroling rule, it seems to have some unpleasant side effects.

Mary: Here, have some more of this "fruit" punch while you're rethinking.

Crabby: Well...(Various inarticulate harumphing sounds).

Mary: Joy to the World...

Crabby: (Sighing, but no longer in such a melodramatic way...) So anyone out there have any thoughts on Holiday Spirit or Winter Vegetables or Anything At All? You may need to write loudly, there seems to be some rather distracting background noise here at Cranky Fitness Headquarters.

December 10, 2007

Annual Pomegranate

Looking All Wholesome And Innocent...

On a recent trip to the farmer's market Crabby came home with a pomegranate. She ate it in two sittings: once by itself (yumm), and once accompanied by a kiwi (even yummier). Note: we're talking the fruit kind of kiwi; Crabby did not pick up a New Zealander at the farmer's market, even though they do have cute accents and the Lobster happens to out of town. Crabby is not that sort of Crab.

Anyway, the kiwi/pomegranate combination is awesome. Both fruits are sweet and tart in the same kind of way, and the colors look so pretty together. The visual effect is so impressive you may want to take a picture of your little fruit bowl and post it on your blog! But that would mean hunting down your camera and the battery's probably not charged and you're too hungry so whatever. Forget the picture.

Kiwis and Pomegranates are both high in antioxidants. And though research is somewhat preliminary and mostly animal-based, pomegranates are suspected to ward off all kinds of diseases, like prostate cancer and heart disease and diabetes and such.

So why is that probably the last pomegranate that Crabby will consume until next year when she is again tempted?

Because if you commissioned a battalion of engineers to try to design a more sneaky inaccessible fruit they'd be hard-pressed to beat the pomegranate.

The outside is all hard and leathery, so you dig your thumbs in to peel it. Squirt.

The inside is all stuck together and you have to try to pull the little sections. Squirt.

The sections are covered with a thin membrane that tastes terrible and that seems to start coming off but then gets stuck--sort of like when you're peeling a hard boiled egg. You're so close, yet the membrane keeps breaking so you dig little more frantically and... Squirt.

And note: All this Squirting would not be a big deal if this were a lemon or a cantaloupe, but pomegranate juice is dark reddish and it stains!

By the time you're ten minutes into and spattered with juice stains, it's is easy to declare, NO MORE POMEGRANATES EVER, OR AT LEAST NOT FOR A VERY LONG TIME!

(You can buy the juice instead, which may actually be more nutritious anyway--but Crabby detects a yucky musky flavor in the juice which she doesn't in the fruit, so she's learned to ignore those cute little overpriced bottles of pomegranate juice at the store).

So here's one way to deal with opening up a pomegranate.

But Crabby has her own instructions.

1. Take pomegranate in left hand, sharp kitchen knife in right.

2. Rethink; put both down.

3. Take off all your clothes.

4. Take pomegranate in left hand again, sharp kitchen knife in right, and retreat to bathtub.

5. Decide knife is superfluous and set it down nearby.

6. Dig in rip open pomegranate with fingers, greedily biting any exposed sections and covering most of self in dark red juice.

7. Try to calm spouse down when you are discovered in tub with kitchen knife at your side, covered in dark red fluid.

8. Resolve to buy pomegranate juice next time even if you don't like it as much.

Winter fruit is a hard subject to comment on--so Crabby will not be offended if you stray onto other subjects or even other blogs. Just come back eventually, or she will be very sad!

December 08, 2007

Lies, damn lies, and brain damage

[Posted by Mary, mwa ha ha ha...]

Mary peeks around the door and checks out Cranky Fitness. "Whew! It's empty!"

This is my chance. Crabby's probably still asleep, or something McSlacker like that. So I'm going to sneak in a little post here today. Maybe she won't notice. It's short, but I thought it was cute. (But what do I know? Let me know what you think!)

Can you tell if someone’s giving you a genuine smile or if they’re just politely pretending to laugh at your jokes? Apparently a lot of people can’t tell the difference. It’s true what they say – you can fool some of the people some of the time.

Several studies have demonstrated that people with aphasia have better results at determining when someone is lying judging by their facial expressions. It seems people who do not have brain damage in this area aren't as perceptive.

So how good at you at telling when someone is lying to you? Think you're pretty good, do you? Find out.

Try this test:
Spot The Fake Smile

This test shows you a series of closeups of people smiling. The smiles only last a few seconds, and you can only play back the smile once. Are you able to tell who's really smiling and who's faking it? I averaged about 75%.

Photo courtesy of flickr.

December 07, 2007

Random Friday!

Research Time, Let's Get Serious!

Fit and Fat beats Thin and Lazy!

This study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, was going to be the subject of a whole post. Why? well, it's just the sort of research Cranky Fitness loves! It rewards good behavior, not just the blind luck of the genetic draw. But Crabby's buddy Jim over at Diet Blog got to it first and summed it up nicely, so Crabby will send you over there for details. Key finding: Fit older men and women who were obese had a lower risk of death over a 12 year period than unfit people of normal weight.

BMI Slideshow
So "BMI" or "Body Mass Index" is one of those measurements that researchers and insurance like because it's so convenient. Using only height and weight, they come up with a number you can use to traumatize classify people with. (They don't even use friendly words like plump or chunky or lean or buffed or curvalicious either, it's all "underweight," or "obese" or even "extremely obese." "Normal" is the best you can do, and what's the fun in normal?)

Anyway, the problem is, (duh) height and weight alone are not enough to tell you what sort of shape someone's in. People have all kind variances in bone structure and muscle mass and boobage and whatnot, so for any number of reasons a BMI number can be a total load of crap really misleading.

So Kate Harding is all over it with a great slide show that points out how ridiculous the categories can be. Check it out!

Men: Want Kids? Better Get Crackin'!
Mary discovered this interesting article which totally challenges a common conception about ticking biological clocks: that only women have them. But men, it turns out, have a biological clock too!

"With each passing decade of their lives and with each insult they inflict on their bodies, men's fertility decreases, while genetic risk to offspring slowly mounts." Older men have more fragmented DNA in their sperm, increasing risk for infertility, miscarriage and birth defects. Risks for low IQ, schizophrenia, autism, and even certain cancers increase for offspring of older men.

More Word Power:
Cranky Fitness readers are a literate bunch, judging by the popularity of the Free Rice link featured previously. So Mary, being a more literate creature than Crabby, found us another worthy wordy link to try. It's a dictionary that...

Well, to be honest, Crabby is not sure exactly what it does, but it has pretty arrows. It also has a "random" function, and the first entry it generated for Crabby was "cucumber-shaped!" Sadly, the cucumber-shaped results were not the least bit bawdy. But serious writers and linguists might appreciate the fact that this online, er, tool, analyzes the hell out of words.

And More on Bras and Butts!

Remember Ass Cup Sized Jeans? Well, now you can buy an actual bra for your butt!

Crabby was all ready to make fun of this product, because, well, she's not the sort who wear an ass-bra herself if her life depended on it. But then she read the heartfelt letter from the product's inventor. "The story of the Biniki is one that began with a personal cheek lifting need..." she starts, and how can Crabby be mean after that? [Note: Item discovered via Back in Skinny Jeans; photo courtesy of Biniki].

And Mary discovered that at least one British retailer has now started selling bras in larger cup sizes -- up to a "J." Remember when there used to be just A, B, and C? Well Marks & Spencer recently went from G to J, responding to demands for bigger sizes. Mary also found this interesting NYT article on bouncing while exercising. (And Crabby has an old post of her own about that too!)

When is Sex So Bad it's Good?
Laura at Women of Mystery alerted us to this Literary Review "Bad Sex in Fiction" award winning passage. The recently departed but Very Famous Norman Mailer penned this, and, well, what do you folks think?

"His mouth lathered with her sap, he turned around and embraced her face with all the passion of his own lips and face, ready at last to grind into her with the Hound, drive it into her piety." [Note: the complete excerpt is longer and racier and, in Crabby's opinion, just as terrible].

And This Stuff is On A Health and Fitness Site Because... Why Exactly?
No reason at all, especially this last link! It just amuses Crabby though she has no idea why. Yes, it's a site full of pictures of (mostly) famous men who look like old lesbians. (Some of them... not so much. Others? Bingo.)

And Finally, A Gratuitous Endorsement of Antioxidant-rich Beverages:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Have a great Friday!

December 06, 2007

Oh Goody, Public Toilets!

[Written by Crabby, with help from The Bag Lady and Cara].

Does anyone really like using public restrooms?

Except for certain closeted male politicians, most of us generally prefer the facilities in our own homes to those used by others. But as a practical matter, that's not always an option. If we want to leave our humble homes for hours at a time, we must learn to share with strangers.

Of course the hygiene horrors of public toilets may be somewhat exaggerated in our imaginations. There are articles written all the time about how toilet seats are actually less germ-ridden than, say, steering wheels or cell phones or drinking fountains. (This may seem reassuring, or it may keep you from ever wanting to drive, talk on the phone, or drink water ever again.)

Anyway, here to help Crabby whine about Public Restrooms are two brave bloggers who are not afraid to discuss their reflections on these very private matters. And Crabby, who loves to complain just on principle, has some Restroom-Related Ranting of her own to add.

And if you're reading this over a meal? So sorry! You may want to put that meatball sandwich down for a moment. Or perhaps find a nicer blog than this one. Or check out the sidebar, where there are plenty of posts about health and fitness with no toilets in them at all.

So--what's there to dislike about public restrooms?


The Bag Lady does not approve of germs:

One of the Bag Lady’s worst germ phobias involves public toilets. She hates public toilets. She has determined where the best facilities are, and will make her way to those particular stores when the need arises. These are the places where the toilets are actually somewhat cared for. They are also the ones that use paper towels.

Paper towels are indispensable in the Bag Lady’s routine. She can’t exit the public washroom without them! In the rare instances where she has had to use a public washroom where there are none (either they have one of those germ-infested round cloth towel dispensers, or one of those ridiculous time-wasting hot-air blowers), she has been known to stand just inside the door, waiting for someone else to enter so she can leave without touching the door handle.

She also remembers her mother’s admonishments to never, ever sit on a public toilet seat. This was all fine and good when the Bag Lady was young and in good shape. She could hover with the best of them. Now that she is a little older (and much odder), and has a bad hip, the hovering is still within her ability, but she has a little difficulty with height. And the length of time she can hover is not what it used to be. Her hip starts to ache, and she sometimes lets out an involuntary moan. This causes her to wonder what the lady in the next stall might be thinking. She lives in dread of the day she loses her balance and her butt actually touches the toilet seat.

Once she has finished, she then faces the dilemma of how to flush the toilet without actually touching the handle! In some cases, she solves this with a couple squares of toilet paper, but sometimes she is forced to use her foot. Then, of course, she has to get out of the stall. Most public washroom stalls are so tiny, one needs to straddle the now flushing toilet, which is, of course, spewing germs and water all over the stall, and the Bag Lady is in fear that the damned thing is going to run over, flooding the entire place before she can escape!

Yikes! Thanks for sharing, Bag Lady!

And so what else do we hate about Public Toilets?

Lack of Privacy!

There are rules for visiting Public Facilities, and we're not just talking about waiting your turn, closing the stall door, and washing your hands afterwards. Some are unwritten rules. Cara, who blogs over at Cheaper Than Therapy, tells an amusing story of an unfortunate bathroom situation. The full post is here, but Cara kindly allowed Crabby to steal a couple paragraphs for use at Cranky Fitness, classy blog that it is.

As Cara explains:

Recently, I found myself involved, albeit silently, in a very odd bathroom situation, and it occurred to me that there are apparently some women out there who are unaware of the rules. So, I am here to offer some friendly advice. If there is a woman in the stall next to you waiting quietly for you to leave, then that is exactly what you should do. Leave her alone in peace. One day, it will be you in there, begging with tacit hand gestures and desperate foot stomps for someone else to do the same. It is all about karma.


I absolutely hate doing a number two in public. I have driven home from the mall, and from Target, and from friends' houses with my insides in knots, just to avoid the horror of doing what I consider to be world's most private deed in public. My friend at the office and I have even coined it a "Number 9" referring to the un-leased floor in our old building where it could be done confidentially. Consequently, we have openly lamented the fact that there is no suitable 9th floor-like replacement bathroom in our new building, although the Number 9 moniker stuck.

Thanks to Cara, Crabby will now forever think of this unfortunately timed phenomenon as the need "to do a Number 9." Check out Cara's blog to read the full post.

And what does Crabby dislike most about Public Toilets?

The Mess!

It's amazing isn't it? You go to restroom, sometimes even in the fanciest of places, but when people get in the privacy of their own stalls? Some of them are pigs!

[Actually, Crabby does not know if Men are Pigs, as this is more accurately a Women's Public Restroom post].

Anyway, you know what I'm talking about.

Some people don't flush.

They throw stuff on the ground.

And who hasn't figured out by now that you can't flush paper towels down a toilet without backing it up? Why would you even try when there are trash cans provided?

All these annoyances pale, however, besides the ultimate horror: finding pee all over the seats.

Believe it or not, not all people are lifelong Hoverers like the Bag Lady. Crabby was not admonished as a youngster never to sit on the seat, and has never felt comfortable trying to perch over it. She uses rigorous hand-washing and denial as additional defenses against toilet seat germs. (Yes, she knows washing her hands won't disinfect her thighs, but it all seems related somehow). She only hovers when absolutely necessary. Instead, she generally sits. This means she must ensure that what she sits upon is not befouled, and must make do with toilet paper and those flimsy paper covers to render the seat usable.

This was easier back in the days when more people also sat. (Surely there must be others like her, or else why would they ever even have bothered trying to supply seat covers?)

But, now, it seems many more mothers are telling their children never to sit on toilet seats, because it seems the ranks of the Hoverers has grown. Perhaps Crabby will have to join them one day. But there is a right way and a wrong way to hover, and the new generation of Hoverers needs to know this: You Aren't Supposed to Tinkle All over the Seats and Just Walk Out and Leave it There for Someone Else to Clean Up.

If you can't hover without sprinkling on the seat, for goodness sake, lift it up!

Thank you.

[Note: The Bag Lady has assured us that she is the Good kind of hoverer, not the Evil kind].

So has Crabby just publicly humiliated herself by admitting she is the last female on earth left who still sits down on toilet seats? And do any of you have other complaints or observations about public toilets?