December 23, 2008

The CF Holiday party: Yule be surprised

Remember last year's Cranky Fitness Christmas party? Crabby rented this snowbound outhouse cabin in the woods. Very scenic, but a bit cramped for space.

This year, I put my foot down and insisted on a proper party. Unfortunately, due to a sad but understandable homonym mixup, the plan for a Yule celebration resulted in ...
a Euell celebration. We had hickory nuts in addition to the more traditional rum balls. Still a good party. And I think I can write this post without being affected at all by all those rum balls and the festive atmosphere. Probably.

(Euell Gibbons was the author of Stalking the Wild Asparagus, a book about harvesting food from nature. Also he did a commercial about Grape Nuts, if your memory goes back that far.)

Tis the season? Bah humbug

In addition to rum balls, 'tis the season to be thinking about stuffing yourself with stuffing and pecan pie and turkey and pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and mince pie and sundry similar high calories foods (including more pie). Something about this Season of Excessive Calories makes me yearn for plain fresh green vegetable type foods. (And no, that damn green bean casserole does not count! Get it away!)

Eat, Drink, and be Vegan has a pretty tasty recipe for a Greens smoothie. What I especially liked about her recipe was that the green mentioned was kale, which is a winter vegetable. And probably much healthier than this rum ball that I'm about to consume. At this time of year, I need to focus on eating vegetables, just to balance out all the fa-la-la indulgence.

Greens are important: internally and externally

A study in England suggests that having access to nature, "green space," had a noticeable effect on health even after other health factors had been taken into account.

"When the records of more than 366,000 people who died between 2001 and 2005 were analysed, it revealed that even tiny green spaces in the areas in which they lived made a big difference to their risk of fatal diseases. "

This makes sense to me. As a species, we've spent thousands if not millions of years living out of doors most of the time. We can't expect to adapt to an all-indoors environment of fluorescent lights, anonymous cubicles, wall-to-wall carpeting and whatnot in just a few generations.

The rum balls start to take effect

Hmmmn... what was I talking about? I can't remember. I bet it was about procrastination. Did you see that an academic published a report that reduced procrastination to a mathematical formula? It took him 10 years to figure the formula out. (10 years? What an amateur. Why, it would've taken me at least 20 years.)

The equation is U=EV/ID.

The 'U' stands for utility, or the desire to complete a given task. It is equal to the product of E, the expectation of success, and V the value of completion, divided by the product of I, the immediacy of the task, and D, the personal sensitivity to delay.

According to the researcher, people who procrastinate (about 20% of the population) are into short-term gain rather than long-term satisfaction.

Seems to me that the percentage is a lot higher than 20%. And that took him 10 years to figure out? Why thank you, I will have another rum ball.

Researchers say we're either Homer or Mr. Spock

Another study that made me wonder if the researchers had been nibbling at the rum balls was one about the two types of travelers. According to a study published by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Technology Strategy Board in the U.K., few people "bother to check train times or consult websites to see if there are problems on the motorways. We often ignore overhead warnings on the roads because we think we know best." The study claims that people can be classified as either a Mr. Spock or a Homer Simpson type.

A Mr. Spock type personality is logical and proactive. He or she will check out websites ahead of time, call 511 for roadside information, ritually slaughter the oracular chicken and examine its entrails for information about the future of the roads over the next few days.

A Homer Simpson type, on the other hand, adopts a more happy-go-lucky approach. "As long as things work out he has many other things on his mind besides 'optimising' his travel."

Can't there be an in-between approach? Am I the only one who consults the websites, slaughters the oracular chicken, then goes off on the road hoping things will work out okay?

Stressed out seaweed affects the weather? What?

I think I might have overdone the rum balls. This study sounds too bizarre. Apparently, stressing out seaweed results in gloomy weather. According to the researchers, this only applies to areas that are near the kelp, i.e. I can't blame Portland's seven days of snow on stressed out kelp beds an hour away on the coast. Pity. I would like to find something or someone to blame the weather on. It's very satisfactory to have someone (else) to blame.

Hmmmn.... is the room supposed to be spinning now? It looks like Crabby has lit up that huge glittering disco ball again. (I thought I got rid of that last year.) I'd better go make sure there's no disco inappropriate music in the CD player.

To sum up: you can blame the bad weather on the kelp, the happy-go-lucky drivers out there on the Simpsons, and any extremely random holiday blogs on rum balls. Hope your holidays are fun!


  1. This celebration is long overdue. I was a biology geek in high school, and read every book by Euell Gibbons I could get my hands on. I even did a report on Stalking the Blue-eyed Scallop.

    So, put me down for bringing the scallop casserole.

  2. Scallops! Excellent!

    (I thought I was the only one who'd heard of Euell Gibbons :)

  3. Did you ever try out any of his recipes?

  4. Either no one knows about Euell or I am out of bed far too early being one of the early commenters. I figured I'd be one of the few old enough to have fond memories of my first boyfriend Euell Gibbons (j/k).
    But now reading these few posts, seems like he certainly made the rounds.
    Scallop casserole?

  5. If it wasn't for Euell, I'd never discover the fibrous benefits of Grape Nuts. Thinking about his life and he must have been a regular man.

  6. I puffy heart you guys!

    I loves me some Grape Nuts.

  7. I am longing for some greens too Merry! I think I actually ate myself sick yesterday while partaking in office goodies. And it didn't matter that I worked it hard in the gym last night. I still feel like a big giant rum ball today. Sigh. Today is off to a much healthier start. Now if only I can keep it that way.

    Hope you and Crabs have a great holiday season too!

  8. I liked Euell - my mother adored him! I really dig fibrous foods, however and love little green spaces! Happy Yule, CF...

  9. Mmmm. grape nuts....

    The smoothie from that cookbook is good. Most of the stuff from that cookbook is good actually.

    Now I'm hungry...rumball anyone? :)

  10. Thanks for the memories, Crabby!!

  11. Happy Holidays!

    I've been overdoing it on the caramel popcorn. My solution is to finish it as fast as possible so that then it will be gone and I can focus on carrot sticks and spinach again. :D

  12. Whooeee!

    This is the kind of party I like--Merry does all the hard work researching and writing, and I kick back and raid the buffet table, leaving her nothing but kale smoothies, a bowl of grapenuts, and few stray rum balls!

    Why yes, Merry, I will have a bit more punch. What did you say was in this? It's quite tasty. And no, I'm not quite ready to climb down off the chandelier. There's a very nice view from up here!

    Pondering the "green space" study as I sip punch--I agree, we need more grass and trees and less concrete! But I wonder if part of it is also the kind of people who prioritize living near nature are perhaps a bit more health oriented to start with?

    Great roundup and great party Merry, thanks for hosting!

  13. Rum balls - never mind all that wacky research, I think you should post the recipe!

  14. I read one of Euell Gibbons' books long ago. I don't remember a thing about it, but it didn't inspire me to read any others, so I must not have been impressed.

    I used the blender this morning instead of grating the potatoes to make latkes--does that count? (Thought not.)

    Rum balls. How much chocolate do they have? Here in Kentucky, bourbon is king, and bourbon balls are very very chocolate-y.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky


    They sound amazing.

    Merry Crankmas!

    TA x

  16. I remember Euell Gibbons! He's awesome!

    Could have been Yul Brenner. Remember the movie Westworld and how scary he was? Anyone???

    By the way, I ordered from Fit Coture because of you. Their clothes are WONDERFUL! Thanks, Cranky!

  17. Leslie, the Fit Couture people are also very nice. I'm glad you like their clothes.

    Tokiangel, rum balls are ... well, I'm not sure what exactly goes into them beside a helluva lot of rum, but they're little doughy balls of doughy stuff with powdered sugar on top, and they seem to show up at every holiday party I've ever been to. I think they follow me around.

  18. The procrastination formula is pretty insane... in fact all of those studies are a bit odd, especially that last one. Who has the funding for this stuff?

  19. I remember Euell Gibbons and Rum Balls.

    Great party, please pass the Grape Nuts.


    Portland is buried and I can't take it anymore...I haven't been to work since the 12th and am having a MAJOR case of cabin fever...Arrrghhhhh...

    OK, I'm calm now. How about someone passes me a rum ball and I'll lead us all in some carols? Ready?!
    "O Come, O Come Ema..a..a..nuel..."
    Hehehehe, I love Christmas carols, they make everything so much better!!

  21. Sambo? I don't mean to depress you further, but according to the experts on the news today is the day Portlanders are supposed to get out and about.
    There's another snowstorm coming in tomorrow :(
    Here. Have another rum ball.

  22. Plenty of green space here but a distinct shortage of rum balls!

  23. Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to you both!!
    (Just popped in for a rum ball!!)

  24. Euell Gibbons - now that's a name I hadn't heard in a loooong time! Thanks for the blast from the past, and Merry Christmas, Crabby and Merry!


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