Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I was so intrigued by the idea that I went to the website and ordered a case. It just arrived via UPS, and while the name of the product was not on the box, it was definitely identified as toilet tissue--96 rolls. (I think the UPS man wasn't sure whether to be amused or offer me sympathy for requiring this huge case of tp.) (I ordered the full case, because with a full case I get a free "ShitBegone" mug. How could I resist that?)
Anyhow, I immediately opened the box and took out a roll. Naturally, I grabbed my camera to memorialize the moment.
Jed, the creator and owner of the small business enterprise that markets this unusual product, claims that ShitBegone is "the future of toilet paper." Says so right on the label.
I gather I am also now a member of the "ShitBegone family" with all privileges and responsibilites attached therewith. One of those responsibilities is to "fold" my toilet paper, not "wad it up". That way you use less and get better, ah, coverage. I confess I have been a life-long wadder but am trying hard to reform.
Of course, I had to put it to the test as quickly as possible. Since at the moment I had no need of the paper for its intended use, I decided to do a couple of other comparison tests.
From my master bathroom's paper holder I tore off a five sheet length of a major tp brand--the kind that Mr. Whipple used to admonish the ladies for squeezing (surely you remember that!) I tore off a similar length of ShitBegone, and folded each piece over once and then again. I placed one "pad" of paper against each cheek (the ones under my eyes) and considered. Hmmmmm. Yes, actually the "major brand" does feel a little scratchier, even though it has all these poofy, quilty designs in it that are supposed to make it soft. Hmmmm again.
Next test: I took the pads to the bathroom sink. I unfolded them and turned the faucet on to a fast drip. One at a time I held each sheet by the ends letting the water drip into the center. The first one was ShitBegone. As the water wicked up the paper, the paper began to break apart in my fingers. It's pretty, um, delicate, and dissolves rapidly in water. (I would expect that would make for efficient flushing.) Next came the Char...opps... the major brand. Holding the ends, I let the water drip on it, wicking up until the entire length of paper was wet.
ShitBegone on left.....major brand on right
Nothing happened. I pulled on the ends and it did pull apart in the middle, but this stuff is not meant to come apart readily in water, that's pretty clear. Hmmmm.
Final test (at least for the time being): I took both wet pads of paper and wadded them up as tightly as I could. Keep in mind they were almost the same length when they started out, with the ShitBegone slightly longer. The ShitBegone ball of wet paper was about half the size of the other one. (It should be note here that both brands are 2 ply.) Either there was more paper in the major brand wad or it was coarser and less compressible--or both.
The ultimate and final test is yet to come. (Sorry I just don't have to right now.) But I will be sure to give you the results when the verdict is in.
Meantime, you can check it out at ShitBegone . Better yet, google shitbegone and take a look at how many much buzz has been generated about this product.
I promised sample rolls to a few friends, but the rest of you are going to have to check it out for yourselves. Think of it as "the paper chase", or "following the paper trail", or "getting your papers in order'' or any other euphemism you care to add.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Giant City State Park is a beautiful area, created during the last ice age as glaciers pushed up huge boulders and gouged out caves and other interesting rock formations. It's a favorite spot for lots of outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, picnics, and horseback riding. At one time or another in the past I've actually done all of these--but never in the snow!
I took this shot several years ago when another friend and I spent an early spring afternoon in the park
Note the red tape across the sign. The a small yellow sheet taped on the left side explains the ice damaged area is unsafe.
Here's a view of part of the trillium trailhead that we could see from the parking pullout. I imagine in springtime trillium is abundant in the area, as well as many other wildflowers. Since I haven't learned yet how to upload pictures from other net sites--but I will eventually-- click to see pictures of this delicate wildflower. Trillum
Before we left the trillium trail area I took one more shot of where we couldn't go. The trail follows a gradual gradient up to the ridge, over and back down and is a little over a mile. Normally it's not a difficult hike, but even if the trail hadn't been closed, it would have been a challenge in the snow.
By the time we ambled up to this lot the plow had cleaned it up and was scraping against the asphalt. When I took this picture, the driver decided to leave. Maybe he thought I was a spy for the park rangers, checking up on him!
It would have been illegal to break off a branch from a tree, but due to several recent ice and storm storms there was plenty of deadfall to choose from.
As we hiked I stopped several places to snap pictures.
Things that usually look very ordinary take on an entirely different aspect in the snow. Nature's "ornaments" on this evergreen are more beautiful than those on any "Christmas tree".
Eventually we reached an area where the trail became steep and the rocks looked really slippery. We both paused, considered, and pretty much simultaneously agreed it would not be wise to carry on any higher. We could probably get up, but coming down could be an entirely different deal! Personally I don't do down nearly so well as up, so I was considerably relieved that my friend also didn't want to pursue the trail further.
We weren't really ready to head back, however, so we brushed the snow from some flat rocks and sat down. Happily, before leaving home I had decided to don my waterproof pants, so I was quite comfortable on the rock. This shot was taken looking back down the trail from our rocky perch.
I made use of Lawrence's arm as we made our way back down to the trailhead, since I figured he'd rather have me lean gently on his arm than pick me up if I lost my footing and went down.
We walked back up the road to the trillium trailhead where both our vehicles were parked and stood talking for a while. After a few minutes we were somewhat surprised to see an enormous Peterbilt truck slogging up the road toward us. The truck stopped in the middle of the road, and since it seemed highly unlikely someone would be expecting a delivery in the park, Lawrence walked over to talk with the driver. Turned out the guy's actual destination was another mile or so up the county highway and he'd been given the wrong info about where he was supposed to turn off. As a result here he was in the park with his big-assed truck and no place to turn around.
Lawrence has had some experience driving big rigs like this one and told me he doubted the truck would be able to turn around, even up at the next trailhead parking area, although it was considerably larger than the pullout where we were parked. However, the trucker decided to give it a try and started on up the road.My friend shook his head and said he didn't think the truck would be able to turn around. We waited, and sure enough, after a while the truck reappeared, slowly backing up the winding asphalt road. After another conference with the truck driver, Lawrence and I pulled out of the parking area and headed slowly back toward the highway with our hazard lights on and the truck following carefully--backing up! That trucker knew how to handle his rig, I'll say that. We pulled out onto the highway and Lawrence got out to help guide the trucker back onto the road. Once his rig was headed in the right direction, he gave us a big high five and went on his way.
We continued the additional half mile or so into the quaint little town of Makanda and found a little ice cream/coffee shop open. We enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate (mine was raspberry flavored-ummmm) and then headed back to the highway. Lawrence showed me a different route to get back to Carbondale, and that road was totally clear, which was a relief. (BTW, I strongly suggest you check out the link to Makanda, as it is an interesting little "hippy haven" town, nestled in the hills. It was also the home of the late Senator Paul Simon, who loved Southern Illinois with a passion.)
Friday, March 7, 2008
"The Rec" is the affectionate abbreviation for the Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Student Recreation Center, located on the SIU-C campus about a five minute drive from my home (unless I hit the eternal stoplight, which isn't really eternal, only 90 seconds. It just seems like an eternity.)
I started going to the Rec about a year and a half ago, after a friend of mine felt my newly skinnier arms and told me my triceps were flabby. Well! Trying not to be insulted, I had to admit she was right. I was slimmer overall, but despite having worked out with hands weights for a while, I wasn't very well toned and could sure benefit from some formal weight training.
Being an alumna of SIU I'm eligible to join the Rec Center, which is primarly for students. However, a lot of faculty and alums go there to swim, workout and fight off the ravages of growing older. I often see friends there, including quite a few people from my church.
This is Amanda, my personal trainer. Although by this time I know how to use all the equipment, I know myself well enough to realize that unless someone is there waiting for me to show up at the appointed time, I can--and will-- easily talk myself out of going to work out. So I pay the bucks and have a trainer work with me. Amanda is my third trainer, not because they dump me--honest--but because of the university's changing schedule. My first trainer was Lynn, who is the manager of the Rec's Lifestyle Enhancement Center. Eventually Lynn's admin duties began to overwhelm her and she had to pass on her clients to other trainers. Then came Michelle, with whom I worked for over 6 months. Michelle is working on her master's degree and last fall her class schedule didn't permit her to have a client at my regular workout time. Since I was accustomed to the days and times I wanted to stick with my schedule, so Michelle turned me over to Amanda.
Amanda is currently waiting to hear if she has been accepted at Temple University to get her PhD. I hope she is accepted, but that will mean she will be leaving in August--and I'll be getting another trainer. (sigh) I wish I could depend on myself to stay with it without a trainer, but when I'm snug at home, inertia takes over unless I have a specific appointment.
Before working out with weights, it's important your muscles be adequately warmed up and stretched to avoid injury. Sometimes I warm up at home, doing low impact aerobics to music; then I stretch, grab a quick shower and jump in my car to head for the Rec.
Other days I go in early to warm up on one of the high tech treadmills available. These babies do everything but fix you a cup of coffee!
This is the weight machine I usually start each session on. It's my favorite since I get to lie down. It's a seated leg press and primarily works the quadriceps, the largest muscles in our bodies. As you push against the weight plate with your feet, you raise the weights on the left side. I'm up to pressing 230 pounds, which I feel pretty good about. (I think I started with 100.)
This is another leg machine, the front leg curl. Amanda took this shot. Note the mirror behind me. Both side walls are mirrors so you can check your form. I try not to look.
This is a hamstring exercise, and is the complement, or opposite, of the leg press. Judging by these "thunder thighs", I need to do more of them!
After 45 minutes of sweating and straining on the weight machines comes the very best part! I lie down on this mat and Amanda does passive stretching of my legs and hips and shoulders and then gives me a brief neck and shoulder massage. The massage is to keep my right shoulder from seizing up, which it has a tendency to do because I have an impingement problem. The massage feels great, and afterward what I'd really like to do is curl up on the mat and take a nap!
But no, it's back to the women's locker room, hoping I remember the combination to my locker so I can retrieve my coat and purse and lock up my weight gloves and towel until next time. I go twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings,and I try not to let anything interfere with these appointments. The weather has not been cooperative lately, however, and I've only been able to get in one session a week since I got back from my trip to Antarctica. I can tell when I miss a session because the next one is more difficult. When I was gone for two weeks on the trip, I lost some ground, even though I was doing a lot of climbing, walking, etc. It's not the same as training specific muscle groups. Like the old saying, "What you don't use, you lose."
Since I began weight training at the Rec I am notably stronger. I can heft my mom's wheelchair in and out of my hatchback much more easily and I scoop up 25 pound bags of dog and cat food as if they were nothing. Even 50 pound sacks of birdseed are more easily maneuvered into my cart, providing they are up high enough on the pile for me to pull them off and slide them into the cart.
Weight training works for anyone at any age. You just need to proceed carefully, prepare your muscles with a warmup and take your time. Patience pays off big dividends in this arena.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
A cooperative waiter took this one of all of us. Wow, she almost smiled!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I apologize for the poor quality of this shot, but I think you can see "mystery bird" in the center. A female cardinal is perched on the feeder to the left, so you can get an idea of the relative size of Mr. Mystery Bird. Every time he moved he showed a different color pattern, mostly of black and white. His beak was fairly large and orange, but I couldn't get a good look at his feet to check color or shape. I went carefully through my bird book ("Birds of the Northern Hemisphere") but couldn't find anything that matched what I was seeing. The closest I found was a couple of species of gulls or terns. Since there are a lot of lakes in our area, we do have gulls, so maybe that's what he was. (The lakes were still frozen over yesterday, so I supposed the fishing wasn't too great.) We're located on the Mississippi Flyway, and get a lot of migrating birds, passing through on their way to and from their summer and winter habitats. Perhaps he was some exotic bird not native to the northern hemisphere, which would explain my not being able to ID him from my book . Mr. Mystery Bird hung around the entire day, stoking up on sunflower seeds. I also saw him pulling a worm out of the mushy ground around the base of the feeder, so he isn't a picky eater.
This morning one brave squirrel is at the feeder, but most of the birds are hanging back, apparently not wishing to get conked on their little heads by chunks of ice that continue to fall. (Some of the chunks are several inches long, and I wouldn't want to get conked either!) In any case Mr. Mystery Bird is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he's on his way north with a full belly and a clear day for flying. Bon voyage, Mystery Bird!
Monday, March 3, 2008
Here's the snow we had the last week in Feb. From the snow on my compost bin I think you can get an idea what it was like. There are still a few yucky looking piles of dirty snow lying around in parking lot corners, but with another couple of days of warmer weather they will disappear. I hope that's the last of the snow and ice for the year, but around here, you never know. Some of our heaviest snows have been in March, so I will keep fingers and toes crossed!
This weekend was our annual Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship Women's Retreat, held at a camp site on Little Grassy Lake about 10 miles from my house. There are a lot of lakes in our area, and this is just one of many camp sites available for outings like ours. This particular campsite is operated by the Methodist Church, but they aren't picky and rent to us Unitarians just like anyone else. The term "camp site" is somewhat misleading, since there are buildings with dorm rooms, meeting rooms, a cafeteria, etc.--all very nice and not really "roughing it". This is our third year at the Methodist campsite.
I was first to arrive at the campsite around 4 pm Friday, so I unloaded my car and claimed the semi private room closest to the big meeting room where most activities would take place. That meant my bathroom would also be the "designated restroom", since the other bathrooms are downstairs (who designed this building?????)