Archive for March, 2010

Weekly Allowance

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

You’ve been with me for more than two months.  You’ve done your chores – read and commented.  So I think it’s time I paid you your allowance.  Here are the posts, articles, and interviews from the past week that I’ve found most interesting.

Media Watchdogs: This 12-minute video clip interviews various media personalities about the responsibilities of the press, the market for Fox News, and why The Daily Show and Colbert Report have risen to a level of unexpected relevance in the greater media landscape.

Undercover Boss: Arianna Huffington’s piece on a new reality show that exposes the magnitude of the chasm that exists between corporate executives and their low-level employees.  I thought about writing a post in response to this piece, but it’s already expressed so eloquently here, I decided just to pass it along.

A Lard Story: The Kitchen Witch’s post on her love of lard (and the flaky things that it creates) is a riot.  If you need a laugh (or a recipe) go read it now!

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes: This is the recipe I’m most eager to make, but haven’t yet.

Vegetarian Update: Enlightened, Not Enraged

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I am ten days into this adventure.  I had hoped that by now I would have some sense of the effect this experiment is having on me.  Perhaps evangelical transcendence, utter frustration, or something in between.  Sadly, so far my response is the lukewarm: I think it’s going fine, which is in itself frustrating.

From a strictly dietary perspective, I’m doing pretty well.  I’ve tried many new recipes that might have otherwise lingered online without my ringing endorsements (travesty!).  I’ve felt happy and sated after each of my meals, and have not once gone to bed feeling underfed or undernourished.  I’ve only really craved meat once (and that was shortly after a six-mile run, which I’m sure had something to do with it).  And for the most part I haven’t felt overwhelmed by this challenge.  I am not bored with my diet and I’m not unreasonably out of my comfort zone without meat.  I am a bit concerned about my protein intake.  So this week’s recipes include more eggs and tofu than the first week’s menu.  But other than that, I’m slightly sorry to say that so far the effects of this transition have been relatively trivial.  (I’m not sure what that says about me.  Was I looking for drama?  Am I just highly adaptable?) 

From the bigger-ecological-picture perspective, I’m finding myself surprised and enlightened, but not yet enraged.  I’m about 175 pages into it, and with the exception of the early chapter entitled “Corn Sex” (no kidding) The Omnivore’s Dilemma is proving fascinating.  I have learned about the economic causes and effects of commoditizing crops (the Secretary of Agriculture under Nixon cut a deal to increase the price on corn exports to Russia that altered the entire incentive structure for corn farmers to value yield exclusively and indefinitely).  I now know that nitrogen is the single biggest component of fertilizer; that inert atmospheric nitrogen makes up something like 70% of the nitrogen on earth but is useless to crops; that a process invented by a Nazi called “fixing” said inert atmospheric nitrogen enabled both the invention of chemical fertilizer and the extermination of thousands of Jews.  (Do I sound like a complete nerd yet?  No?  Okay, I’ll keep going.)  I have learned that feeding corn to cattle on feedlots has changed the levels of acidity in their stomachs and rumens (I’ll spare you the explanation of a rumen) which has prompted the emergence of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”  And I have learned that if all cattle were exclusively grass fed they would rarely get sick and agricultural veterinarians would be out of work.  Okay.  I’m finished now… at least with the really nerdy stuff.  

I had some sense of the sins of large-scale agriculture (if you’ve never driven past a feed lot, count your blessings) before I started reading.  But I had no sense of the magnitude of the marketing ploy that buoys “industrial organic” (think Whole Foods) agriculture.  As it turns out, we consumers are gullible pawns, and if someone posts a glossy placard next to a wedge of cheese stating that it came from Farm X, and that the cows on Farm X drink Evian, play croquet, and have bridge clubs, then we will pay $18/pound for Farm X’s cheese.  I’m not altogether humiliated yet, but I am starting to feel a bit foolish.  I haven’t finished the book yet though, so I imagine that humiliation is forthcoming.

At this juncture in my journey I’m reluctantly playing a prediction game.  I’m attempting to foretell in what ways I will be changed by this month of vegetarianism.  And yet, I don’t want to jump to conclusions that will influence my experience as it unfolds.  I don’t believe that I could ever permanently exclude meat from my diet.  But I am finding the reach and influence of “big ag” to be pervasive and disturbing.  If I have any integrity at all, I will have to find some means of reconciling these facts.

And it is this conundrum of integrity – of reconciling my actions to my beliefs – that I suspect will be most troublesome for me.  The food industry is buttressed by decades of economic policy that has facilitated the creation of a dietary economy geared solely toward making my food purchases convenient and affordable.  To find food sources that defy the juggernaut food industry almost by definition requires that my purchasing habits become inconvenient and expensive.  (Intellectual curiosity is starting to sting a little bit.)  I hope that by the time the month ends my selected authors (Pollan and Foer) will not only have opened my eyes to these problems, but also offered some solutions.

In the meantime, bring on the tofu.

Seasonal Attitude Disorder

Monday, March 8th, 2010

It’s usually sometime in January when we start hearing stories in the news about Seasonal Affective Disorder.  (Apparently January 18th was the most depressing day of the year for 2010.)  We read articles about light therapy.  And we collectively grumble about the long stretch of winter in front of us.

I am of a different ilk.  Call me crazy, but I like the dormancy of January.  I’m not sad that the holidays are behind me.  Certainly there’s a happy anticipation that they bring about.  But untold amounts of work come along for the ride.  January, conversely, is a low maintenance month.  I don’t love the bitter cold or cabin fever.  But I do love seeing white space on my calendar and hot chocolate in my hand.  It’s not all bad.

It’s February, on the other hand, that makes me cranky.  It swoops in with its 28 days, acting harmless and innocent.  It teases us with the preposterous idea that spring might show up early if an oversized rodent doesn’t run into a hole.  Then it tries to woo us with roses and chocolates.  But there’s always one thing I want in February that it will never have to offer me:


I’ll even extend the list to include sundresses, sunglasses, baseball, daffodils, blooming Bradford Pear trees, outdoor café tables, and the smell of freshly cut grass.  I’d take any of them.  But February always leaves me hanging.  One grey day after another I check with hope and anticipation, only to find disappointment and a dismal forecast.

For me, February requires a major attitude adjustment. 

So imagine my delight last week when we got to close the book on February.  Truthfully, Monday didn’t act that much differently from Sunday.  Still grey.  Still cold.  Still filled with more darkness than daylight.  But something felt different.  Maybe it was because during my visit to my parents’ house over the weekend (where spring arrives about three weeks earlier than it does here) bulbs are already popping up.  Maybe it’s because I’m starting to hear buzz about March Madness and I can envision myself winning the office pool (which actually happened once).  Maybe it’s because I have a new challenge in front of me, distracting me from the last few days of winter.  Maybe it’s because 40 degrees, while still chilly, feels positively balmy after weeks of highs in the teens and twenties.  Or maybe it’s because I know that by the time this month ends the lion will have gone and the lamb will be here.

It’s probably a combination of those things.    

But for all of my complaining about February (the shortest never-ending month), I need it.  Without February, March – and better yet April – wouldn’t be so glorious.  Spring, and the renaissance it brings, is brilliant on its own.  But its greatest triumph is that it delivers us from the doldrums that preceded it.  It is this contrast – not just flowers and sunshine – that moves me.

I’ve heard many many people sing the praises of living in places like San Diego and Miami.  They brag about wearing shorts and flip flops in January.  They have green grass and waving palm trees year round.  They don’t have to suffer through the dead of winter or the dog days of summer that the Midwest so lovingly doles out.  But such climates don’t come without a cost:  They don’t have seasons.

The first day of spring; the first time your ankles go bare; the first daffodil you see; the first day you wear short sleeves; the first time you pull out your grill; the first day that you turn off your furnace; the first day the season really arrives can never feel truly, overwhelmingly perfect if it’s no different than the day that came before it.  It is change that I need, as much as anything else.  The same is true of sweaters and cider and turning leaves in the fall.  Only after summer has lingered into September and long overstayed its welcome can I be wholly invigorated by the first chilly morning that makes me reach for a fleece. 

Yes.  It’s change that I need.

We are barely a full week into March, and yet I’m feeling better.  I feel lighter and happier.  I feel excited and optimistic.  I feel eager and capable.  I’ll go ahead and say it… I have a spring in my step!

Vegetarian Experiment: Recipe Recap #1

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

In conjunction with my current vegetarian experiment I am trying many new recipes these days.  (I am determined not to spend the month of March eating pasta and peanut butter.)  So, in order to bring you along for the ride, I will be reviewing the vegetarian dishes I have made.  Most are new, but some are old favorites.  Enjoy! 

Note: The title of each dish links to the recipe.  The Source link goes to the website’s homepage.

Artichoke and Leek Lasagna
: Williams-Sonoma
:  Medium.  If you’ve never prepped a fresh artichoke before, they can be a little tricky.  Before you try it for the first time I recommend watching a video of the process so you can get a better idea of what you’re doing.  Other than the artichoke-peeling process, it was all very manageable.
Labor: High.  This would be a great meal for entertaining because all the work can be done ahead of time and you can just slide the thing in the oven when your guests arrive.  I would not recommend it for a weeknight supper.  I made it on Monday night and it turned out to be an overly ambitious project.  I started it around 7:15 after IEP went to bed.  It wasn’t ready to go into the oven until 8:30 and we didn’t sit down to eat until 9:20. 
Overall Results:  Really wonderful, and completely worth all the effort!  Great balance of flavors.  Five cloves of garlic seemed like a lot, but they don’t overwhelm the dish at all.  I ate several portions left-over and it reheats beautifully.  I served it with a tossed green salad, which was a perfect accompaniment.    

Cabbage and Mushroom Galette
: Smitten Kitchen
:  Medium.  The filling is super simple.  But pastry is one of those things that can be temperamental.  Deb’s recipe came together more easily than most, though.  And even if you’re a pastry virgin you should be able to handle this one without much trouble.  Just be sure you keep your dough-rolling surface well-floured.  And roll the pastry up over your rolling pin to transfer it to your baking sheet to avoid tearing it in transit.
Labor: Medium.  This is scratch cooking, so it’s not going to be on your plate in 15 minutes.  I’d say, from the time I started slicing cabbage to the time it went in the oven was about an hour.  But most of that time was inactive, meaning that I was just periodically stirring the cabbage in the pot while doing other things around the kitchen.
Overall Results:  Crazy delicious.  I swapped white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour (just because it was what I had on hand) and it gave the dish an extra earthiness that I really loved.  I’m not a big anise fan, so I left out the tarragon, and used white wine vinegar instead of the tarragon infused vinegar (which I didn’t have anyway).  Be judicious with the vinegar at the end.  It gives the dish a wonderful zing, but it would be easy to overdo it.  I ate it leftover for lunch at work on Friday and the pastry was a tad soggy after a round in the microwave, but didn’t suffer too much.  If I’d been reheating at home I probably would have done 30 seconds in the microwave to get the filling going, followed by about ten minutes in a 375 degree oven to put some starch back into the pastry.  (Mom, if you’re reading, this dish is right up your alley!) 

Italian Hummus
: Food Network
: Easy
Labor: Low.  As long as you have a food processor you can whip this up in about 5 minutes.
Overall Results: A great staple.  I’ve been making this dip for a few years now and it’s become an old favorite.  The parsley gives it a pale green color.  If you don’t care for that you can easily omit the parsley and the dish won’t suffer.  This is a great snack with pita chips or veggies.  But my favorite way to eat it is spread on the inside of a toasted pita pocket with a few slices of fresh mozzarella and some strips of fresh red and yellow bell pepper.  It makes a perfect springtime sandwich.

Simple Potato Gratin
: Smitten Kitchen
: Easy.  If you can slice potatoes and grate cheese then you can make this dish.
Labor: Low.  This would have been a snap if I’d had a mandoline, but I had to slice the potatoes by hand.  Even still, it wasn’t that much work. 
Overall Results: Very tasty.  I added a layer of sautéed shitakes (with minced thyme) between each layer of potatoes which added some heft to the dish, along with a greater depth of flavor that I really liked.  I added the pats of butter at the end as called for, but may leave them out next time as the dish was already plenty rich.  Served with a salad for me, and added grilled sausages to the meal for GAP and my mother-in-law who is in town visiting this weekend.  I will certainly be making this again.  Smitten Kitchen hasn’t let me down yet!

Roasted Vegetables
Source: My own head (but probably subconsciously inspired by Ina Garten who roasts everything)
Difficulty: Easy
Labor: Low
Overall Results: Solid.  Sometime in December I decided to roast some broccoli, rather than steaming it, and we never looked back.  I’ll warn you, it’s not as pretty roasted as steamed.  But the flavors are worlds better.  It caramelizes in the oven and there’s a subtle sweetness that comes through the salt and pepper.  You can use this method for potatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, along with the broccoli and cauliflower listed below.  For potatoes you’ll want to extend your cooking time to 30 minutes, and for peppers and onions you’ll probably want to cut it back to 15. 

1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 cups cauliflower florets
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Scatter broccoli and cauliflower on a large cookie sheet.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil (probably ¼ cup).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss with your hands to evenly coat the vegetables in the oil and seasonings.
  3. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, stopping to turn vegetables with tongs halfway through. 

Raspberry Yogurt
Source: My own head
Difficulty: Easy
Labor: Low
Overall Results: Very good.  I’m skeptical of all the artificial sweeteners and dyes that are added to commercially flavored yogurt, so I made up my own version.  I take this to work for my mid-morning snack.

1 quart low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt (I find that low-fat is a bit mellower and less zingy than nonfat)
1 bag frozen raspberries


  1. Transfer frozen raspberries to a plastic container and let thaw in fridge overnight.  They will be very runny when thawed.
  2. Spoon desired amount of yogurt into a bowl (about ½ cup).  Spoon desired amount of raspberries on top of yogurt (about ¼ cup).  Drizzle with honey (a teaspoon or two), and stir thoroughly to combine.
  3. Makes about 8 servings total.

Five Dollar Post: The Exception to the Rule

Friday, March 5th, 2010

It was not two weeks ago that I got up on my soapbox and said that we shouldn’t judge.  Oh, what a hypocrite I am today.

I suppose, as is the case with many rules, there is an exception to this one.  I was right; we shouldn’t judge… each other.  (Sure, celebrities are people too.  And Jennifer Garner shouldn’t be subjected to the castigating daggers of Perez Hilton and other blights on humanity every time she wants to take her little girls to the playground.  (Luckily for her she has stunning bone structure.))  But the exception clause to the “don’t judge” rule most certainly applies to that once-a-year judge-fest that we like to call The Oscars. 

Like the willowy celebs themselves, my position stands on two legs.

First, the whole event is about judgment.  Scores of people voted on which movie, actor, actress, director, sound editor, best boy grip, and craft services vendor was THE BEST.  So it’s not like they’ve gathered together for a group hug and Honorable Mention trophies.  There are winners and losers on Oscar night.  The participants are prepared for this.

Secondly, they’re prepared for this.  There are days when celebrities try to masquerade as normal people, and this is not one of them.  This isn’t grabbing lunch with a girlfriend or coffee after yoga class.  This isn’t picking kids up from school, clothes up from the drycleaner, or the dog up from the groomer.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the single biggest red carpet event in the world.  Basically what I’m saying here is: these people know exactly what they’re walking into. 

They know full well that Joan Rivers, Steven Cojocaru, Giuliana Rancic, and the incomparable (I kid!) Billy Bush will harpoon their every sartorial misstep over glasses of bubbly the next day (while secretly toasting a society that cares enough about this stuff to permit their making a living by doing what amounts to a cross between prom-night gossip and Monday-morning quarterbacking).  The celebs know this is coming.  They’re ready.  They’re armored in Vera Wang, Harry Winston, and Christian Louboutin.  They’ve brought their A game.  (Unless, of course, they’re Bjork.)

And this is why on Oscar night I quite shamelessly take the low road.  Like my sister, I take superficial pleasure in Oscar night.  I comment on whose attempt at reinterpreting “flapper chic” works, and whose doesn’t; whose cleavage is perfect and whose is gratuitous; who achieves something altogether otherworldly, and who looks like a hot mess.  I make note of which acceptance speeches are witty or touching, and which are self-serving and filled with drivel.  And most importantly, I place about 378 phone calls to my sister so that we can emulate the banter we shared as teenagers, huddled up with popcorn in the den of our childhood home.

I will concede that Oscar night doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in me.  Quite frankly, my time could be better spent.  I could read thought-provoking literature or engage in challenging conversation.  But as Aidan so aptly pointed out earlier this week, we need some time in the shallow end of the pool.  We need the freedom to cast aside our fractured thoughts and pondering questions.  We need the silly and the playful as an antidote to the serious and the solemn. 

For me the Oscars are one such antidote, and I’m waiting eagerly for their red carpet arrival this weekend.

Role Model

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

There are many people in the world whom we identify as role models.  Many of them are athletes.  Some are government leaders.  Others are astronauts and soldiers.  Others still are people who have overcome incredible hardship.  And all of these people certainly deserve our admiration.  But there is a different breed of role model that this collection excludes.

For all of the attention we pay to people whose stories are worthy of glossy magazine pages, the honest truth of the matter is that they probably influence our lives very little.  We may be inspired as we read about them, or watch their stories play out in front of us in the form of a collection of slow-motion clips, narrated by Bob Costas and accompanied by touching background music.  We may tear up in these moments and stand in awe of these impressive people.  But when we close the magazine or turn off the television, very few of us carry these people around with us afterward. 

Most often the people we carry with us are those whose faces we can see when we close our eyes; whose voices we can hear when we find a quiet moment.  They are people who have taught us things big and small.  They have watched us succeed and fail.  They have shown us what maturity and integrity look like at every turn.  They are the people whose lives have left an indelible impression on our own.

Because I have led a blessed and lucky life so far, I have a number of people in my life who fit this description.  But only one of them celebrated his 90th birthday last weekend.

Steady.  If I had to pick one word that describes my grandfather more than any other, it would be steady.  In today’s world where we flit about, jumping frenetically from one thing to the next, steadiness is a trait that has become increasingly rare.  Today we value speed, multi-tasking, and efficiency.  We do not always appreciate the value that is brought by doing something well or with consistency.  But such quality and consistency are hallmarks of my grandfather’s life.

For forty-odd years Granddaddy was a physician; an internist.  He was an army doctor during World War II.  And when the war ended he started his own private practice which he ran until he retired in his sixties.  Throughout his practice he saw patients in his office, made his own hospital rounds, and made house calls.  He was home in time for supper.  He has gone to church nearly every Sunday of his life.  He played tennis with my father every weekend of his teen years – rain, shine, snow, or sleet.  He took a two-week vacation with his family every summer.  He made double mortgage payments every month until his house was paid off. 

When I was a little girl I did not always appreciate these qualities.  To a child some of this steadiness can seem a little stuffy, even rigid.  He has playful moments, to be sure.  And he is always full of affection for my sister and me.  But the same steadiness he exhibits each day he also expects of those around him.  As kids we knew exactly what the rules were, and what consequences might be handed down if we broke them.  Those consequences were never more than a stern expression accompanied by a few castigating words, but they always did the job.

In my life today I notice the ways in which we embrace and endorse many aspects of our lives that don’t quite measure up.  We have starter careers and starter marriages.  We eat fast food and watch reality television.  We carry credit card debt and spend more than we save.  In light of all this I am especially thankful for Granddaddy and the example he has set for me.  Because of him I have come to value reliability and consistency, and I can see what a life looks like that has been built on decisions that were made, one after another, with stalwart integrity. 

Granddaddy has always been a little bit formal.  But this past weekend at his birthday party I watched him soften a bit.  I worked collectively with my family to create a memory book from years’ worth of photos and stories for his birthday gift.  He unwrapped the book to find a front-cover photograph of himself and my grandmother taken in their front yard in 1960.  She wore a pale blue dress with a belt cinched around her impossibly tiny waist.  He stood in shirt sleeves and a tie with his arm draped over her shoulders.  They were so obviously happy.  As he flipped through the pages he smiled and sighed.  Stories spilled from his mouth as the photos cast fresh light on memories that had grown dusty with age.

It gave me real joy to watch him in that moment.  And it inspired me to more fully incorporate into my life the values that he embodies.  Granddaddy can sit happily today knowing that he has lived his life well.  I hope that I too reach my 90th birthday someday, and that I too will be able to look back over my life with a similar sense of satisfaction.

Eat Your Veggies

Monday, March 1st, 2010

When I started this blog exactly two months ago I had a few goals in mind.  The most significant goal was to shift my paradigm; to look at the world in new ways and keep my mind fresh and engaged.  To keep myself accountable for that goal I stated it clearly and on the record.  At the same time I offered up some smaller resolutions for the year in front of me.  And as it turns out that large goal and one of the smaller resolutions are about to jump into bed together.  Or, perhaps more accurately, into the kitchen together.

Throughout the past several years our culture has paid increasing attention to our food sources.  A whole punditry of dietary and nutritional hawks has emerged.  In 2001 Fast Food Nation was written by Eric Schlosser.  Morgan Spurlock tackled the dubious challenge of eating nothing but McDonald’s for a full month in 2003’s documentary Super Size Me.  Michael Pollan further explored our food sources with his 2007 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  And 2009 brought us another documentary, Food, Inc. from Schlosser and Pollan, as well as the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.  In addition to these larger works, a smattering of magazine articles on related topics has also been published, such as this one in TIME about the real costs of food, this one in the New York Times Magazine about our cooking habits, and this one in Rolling Stone about the putrid realities of hog farming.

As a girl who loves to cook, a girl with a wee bit of an earthy streak, and a girl who grew up hearing the refrains of Wendell Berry echo through her home, I’ve started to feel a bit guilty about the ways in which I contribute to crimes committed by big agriculture and large scale food distribution.  Couple this guilt with the paradigm-shifting purpose of this blog and my resolution to eat more fruits and vegetables and you get:

Gale is becoming a vegetarian for a month.

(For the record, GAP is not excited about this…  Supportive, but not excited.)

Starting today, and throughout the month of March, I will abstain from all meat, including fish and seafood.  I will continue to eat eggs and dairy, though.  Veganism requires more fortitude than I can muster at this point.  (And I have a soft spot for milkshakes.)  To keep me company on this journey I am summoning the likes of Michael Pollan and Jonathan Safran Foer and their books The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Eating Animals, respectively.  I chose these two titles specifically because they are well-respected works that I believe will help me better understand the larger implications of the dietary decisions I make each day.

I am prepared for the fact that this experiment may take me down a path that is inconvenient and expensive.  Buying chicken breasts priced at four dollars per pound from the grocery store down the road from my house is a very easy way to live.  At this point I don’t know where that chicken comes from, or what its living conditions were when it was alive.  I suspect that my prescribed reading for this month will dispel my ignorance, which may not be an easy realization to accept.

Some of my shopping and eating habits have already changed.  I stopped buying farm-raised salmon many months ago after reading an article in The Economist (which I couldn’t find online) about the damage that salmon farms have done to the tributary ecosystems on the East coast.  I started baking my own bread after an incident last spring when I inadvertently bought two loaves at once and after six weeks on my shelf the second loaf still hadn’t molded.  (To me, food that won’t spoil is scarier than food that has spoiled.)  And I make all of IEP’s food from scratch so that I can ensure that he isn’t exposed to the skyrocketing levels of sugar, salt, and processed fats that exist in many packaged foods.

So I’m not walking into this completely blind.  But, I do not buy local produce.  I do not buy organic.  And I have never intentionally excluded meat from my diet.  It will certainly be a challenge.

I would also like to mention that I recognize that I am not unique in this decision.  Thousands (millions?) of people have gone years without eating meat.  I am here making a bit of a fuss about this experiment because, for me, it is a significant change.  I live in the Midwest where meat is the centerpiece of nearly every meal.  But many, many people have traveled this same path – for reasons both noble and silly – with no fanfare at all.  My reason for calling attention to this choice is because I believe that I am a pretty fair representation of your average, healthy American.  And if all of the attention drawn to the environmental ramifications of “big ag” and the general cause of sustainability will ever amount to real change, it will be because average people like myself find the behavioral alterations requisite in affecting the bigger picture to be worthwhile and attainable.

I have some suspicions about what long-term effects on my eating and shopping habits will be brought to bear based on this experiment.  But I will keep them to myself for now.  I will keep you updated on my progress, and will certainly have plenty to say about this exercise at its conclusion.  In the meantime, don’t forget to eat your veggies.