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People have some strange eating habits. Well, some things are not so strange, but folks can’t seem to eat certain things unless those things are prepared or served a certain way. Example: ketchup. Some people can’t eat eggs or potatoes or whatever without ketchup. They won’t even try the food without the salty condiment. (more…)

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It is with heavy heart that I write this post. Not because of the election results. I’m not overjoyed (I remain hopeful), but neither do I feel the need to slit my wrists. I am saddened because of the ugliness that followed the results. Come on, America – knock it off already. (more…)

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forgetting stuff memeSo another week is upon us and I find myself wondering: what left behind items am I going to find today? Last week was epic for people forgetting stuff. We hit the Mother Lode of things forgotten. Every day we came upon some poor item left behind in one of the guest rooms.

Oh sure, we’ve found items before now, but nothing of significance. Quite a few times I find little pills on the floor or on the bathroom vanity or even in the bed. I’ve often wondered if I should call the departed guest to let them know that someone forgot to take their medicine (I’d hate for someone to have a heart attack because they failed to take their preventative pill). But then I follow that up with, “what if an extra pill just dropped out of the bottle and if I call them, they’ll panic and take an extra one and have a heart attack or something because I’ve frightened them?” It’s such a quandary.

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Valentines Day

So the BIG long weekend is nearing completion. Time to go back to work. Well, for most of you. I’ve been working all weekend and it’s been great! Full house for Valentine’s eve with delicious breakfast treats on Valentine’s morning.

red velvet wafflesThe red velvet waffles were a hit even though they were sort of a brown-gray-pink color. I used a lot of food coloring too, but they still weren’t all that red after cooking. The batter was a killer hot pink color though. They looked like they were going to be red. Oh well, I just slathered on a little extra cream cheese icing and it was all good. Add some Baer House eggs (a house speciality) and some bacon and a fruit parfait and you’ve got yourself a sweet feast.

Anyway, we had two couples celebrating their anniversary; one just completed their first year of wedded bliss (aw), the other 13 years. That was fun. Another guest surprised me with a small box of chocolates and chocolate covered strawberries. That was unexpected and very sweet!

And my own sweetie stopped to get be a bouquet of candy hearts on his way home from the store that morning. All in all, a good weekend.

candy hearts

How about you readers? Anything worth sharing? We romance writers like to know these things. Fodder for our books you know.

Have a great week!

Word of the Day: Zymotic

Fun fact about me: I’d rather have flowers than chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2016. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I enjoy trying new dishes and recipes. I love reading and collecting recipes and flipping through cook books. I would love to take some cooking classes. I want to learn how to cook like a pro, flipping omelets with ease, flinging pizza dough over my head, frying up the perfect sunny side up egg. I’m excited just thinking about tying on a pristine white apron.

When I was growing up my mother prepared well-balanced, colorful meals, but painfully lacking in variety. Every week saw the same dishes set before us, spaghetti, meatloaf, tacos, the occasional casserole. These dishes were accompanied by over cooked vegetables or boring green salads with vinegar and oil for dressing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my mother to pieces and she never failed to have those healthy meals on the table for us each evening, for which I am eternally grateful. But, she lacked imagination or innovation or creativity of any kind when it came to cooking. Her spices of choice were salt and pepper and when she did get a little crazy and add herbs they usually consisted of dehydrated chives for the baked potatoes.

I think my husband wishes I were a little more like my mother in that regard. He’d be happy to have hamburgers or pizza (or both) every night of the week without ever seeing a vegetable or anything he can’t pronounce on the table. And don’t even say the word “fish,” when he’s around.

My poor, poor husband. I’m afraid his destiny is to endure experimental meals; meals prepared with love from the caring hands of the woman he loves. At least that’s what I keep telling him.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

After many years of experimental cooking, let me give you a tip, read everything before doing anything. The preparation instructions are just as important as the list of ingredients. On more than one occasion I have been whipping and stirring and folding in things only to discover that my delicacy must marinate or some other such process for several hours before moving on to the next step. There goes dinner for that night. And, how often have you been mixing like mad, adding dashes of this, and pinches of that, only to discover that the next ingredient is something you’re either out of, or have not idea what it is? Yes folks, that has happened to me. I’ve learned to read carefully before assembling products and gathering dishes and utensils.

While cooking is fun and eating is enjoyable, the preparation process can be tedious and downright frustrating. Here are some examples of ingredients I’ve come upon while preparing to serve an outrageously delicious meal: Amchur powder, garam masala, bulls horn peppers, ground sumac, elderflower liqueur, locatelli cheese, dry prosecco, Taleggio cheese, furikake, sharp pecorino, wattleseed, Fleur De Sel. That last one is just sea salt and why in God’s name the recipe doesn’t just say sea salt is beyond me, but what the what? I guess, “sprinkle liberally with Fleur De Sel” does sound better than “salt at will,” but really, do I need to go to the trouble of locating and purchasing glorified salt?

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Well, if I’m anything, I’m persistent. Google is my best friend and the store manager at my local supermarket has learned to run and hide if he sees me in the store, because I have sent him on a wild goose chase on more than one occasion looking for that special ingredient for my dinner. After I discover what furikake or bulls horn peppers are, I will spend way longer than necessary trying to find them at the market. Or, special order them.

And then there’s this quandry: you locate the item, or a close equivalent if you’ve been lucky enough to find out what that substitute item might be, only to discover that it costs like $100 for a half an ounce. You only need an 1/8 of a teaspoon and you’ll probably never use it again, but should you buy it – just in case it makes or breaks the dish you’ve been longing to try? I mean will you even notice if the wattleseeds are not present?

Ah yes, the joys of cooking and experimenting with new recipes. I have an impressive collection of spices and quite an assortment of colored salts (they’re all the rage now apparently), but my pocketbook is also considerably lighter. Was it worth it? Don’t ask my husband.

How about you friends, do you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with crazy new ingredients and recipes? What’s the most money you’ve spent on something for a recipe? What’s the weirdest ingredient you’ve come across in your cooking adventures? How often have you Googled an ingredient in a recipe? I’d love to know. Please share.

Word of the Day:  Jaup

Fun Fact About Me: I sometimes try a recipe just because I like the name of it (can you say “Pasta Ponza?”)

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, April 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

 

 

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So, the all-the-rage Christmas gift this past year was apparently the Fitbit or it’s cousin the Jawbone. If you’re unfamiliar with these little devices, they are designed to help you keep track of your healthy habits. Or so they tout. Personally, I don’t get it, but I’ve noticed a lot more people in my zumba class with these little babies strapped to their wrists.

Photo courtesy Google images.

Photo courtesy Google images.

Now, if you are a lover of these technological devices, and they are “working” for you, please don’t be offended by this post. I love that you’re working on getting or staying healthy. For me, they seem like a gimmick.

First of all, the only people I see wearing these things look like this:

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

If you look like this, you are already are a fit bit of feminie loveliness. You are already doing all of the right things and you don’t need a fancy schmancy device to let you know it. Just carry on you well-toned beautiful women. I love and hate you all.

The number one problem I see right off the bat with a device like this is – you have to remember to put the thing on. That’s going to mess up quite a few people.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Assuming you remember to strap it on, it’s my understanding that these thingeys tell you the amount of steps you’ve taken. I’m not sure why that’s important. I mean, let’s face it, if I’ve had my ass in a chair all day writing, or in the sofa watching TV or reading, I can pretty much guarantee you that I haven’t taken more than about 16 steps, and those were undoubtedly to the refrigerator for a snack. I really don’t need a device to keep track of that or to remind me of my lethargy. Likewise, if I’ve been working out or jogging I can say, with some certainty based on how much my muscles are screaming and the amount of sweat pouring off my weary body, that I have experienced a good work-out. I don’t really care how many steps I’ve taken; I feel good that I’ve worked out.

The next problem is that these devices don’t hold you accountable. I mean if you set a goal to take 5,000 steps every day, nothing happens if you fall short. If I wear the thing all day and then check my stats when I get home and I’ve only taken 1,100 steps and my goal was 5,000, am I going to go run 16 miles to make up the deficit? Hell no! I’m just going to say, “screw it, I’ll walk more tomorrow,” and go to bed.

Photo courtesy Google images

Photo courtesy Google images

Now, what would be really helpful is if those little wristbands thingeys had pre-recorded messages. What would be exceptionally motivating is for a really annoying voice, like Gilbert Godfry or someone equally nasally and whiny, to say something like, “get moving lard ass,” every time I sat in one place for more than about 10 minutes. Or, “you’re slowing down fatso,” when I switch the treadmill from jog to walk. That would be motivating. However, I do see a potential problem with this, especially if you’re working out at a gym or other public place. You would not want that thing going off and have somebody other than yourself thinking it was directed at them. No sirree, I would not want some Rambo over in free weights to come over and konk me on the head with a 200 pound barbell because my Fitbit offended him.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Although . . . if he looked like that guy . . . maybe a visit wouldn’t be so bad. Hmmmm.

But I digress. Maybe instead of a pre-recorded message, a squirt of pepper spray to the face every hour could be used. I mean nothing would get me moving faster than pepper spray in my face. Think of the amount of steps you’d take with that crap on your skin. You couldn’t run to the shower fast enough and you’d be dancing a jig the whole time you were in there. Or, every so often a shock treatment like a taser blast could go off to remind you to get up and drink some water. That would get me hopping out of my chair for sure.

That’s right, these puppies supposedly will keep track of how much water I’ve drank during the day. Hmmm. Is that necessary? If I fill my glass 4 times then I can pretty much rely on the fact that I’ve had 4 glasses of water that day. And, taking this one step farther, if I know that my glass is 20 ounces, and I fill it 4 times, then I’ve had – say it with me – 80 ounces of water that day. No device required. And how does that thing distinguish between water and gatorade, or soda, or . . . oh I don’t know . . . wine? ‘Cuz, if it measured wine in-take I’d pretty much meet my quota every single day.

And, supposedly, they keep track of your sleeping habits (again – if you remember to wear them). At the risk of sounding redundant, what is the point of this? If I wake up at 3:00 in the morning and lay there awake for 2 hours, my clock will give me the same information as that little plastic strap on my wrist. I don’t need a device to let me know that I was awake for 2 hours in the middle of the night. Contrarily, if I wake up refreshed, having slept straight through the night, I don’t need to check my wrist to see how I’ve slept. This “feature,” makes no sense to me.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

I’m thinking a much better electronic device to invest in to ensure good health is one that requires you to solve a trigonometry problem before you can open the cookie jar.  Or do 20 jumping jacks before the refrigerator door will open. I’m thinking that would successfully solve this problem:

Photo courtesy Google images.

Photo courtesy Google images.

How about your dear readers, do you have a Fitbit, Jawbone or similar device? Do you like it? What gadgets would be helpful in your life to keep you fit and healthy?

Fun fact about me: I am not really into fancy techy gadgets.

Word of the Day: Vugh (alternate spelling)

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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I’m back from a fabulous trip with my sweetie to the happiest place on earth. Yes it was crowded. Yes it was cold. Yes I had a fantastic time. Here are some of the highlights: (Please keep in mind that I’m on vacation, not a lot of make-up action going on.)

Birthday mimosa! Photo by Corey Rickrode

Birthday mimosa! Photo by Corey Rickrode

You all know there’s going to be alcohol involved. This was my first day brunch at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.

Mickey and the Magical Map. Photo by P. Rickrode

Mickey and the Magical Map. Photo by P. Rickrode

Cool new stage show with singing, dancing and awesome special effects. I love me some good theater.

A princess and her castle. Photo by C. Rickrode.

A princess and her castle. Photo by C. Rickrode.

I’m waiting for my ladies’ maids to bring my tiara and glass slippers. Pay no attention the crowd behind me. I invited them all into my home for tea.

Birthday happy hour! Photo by P. Rickrode

Birthday happy hour! Photo by P. Rickrode

Did I mention there was going to be alcohol? Hey, I turned 50, there was lots of alcohol. This was my birthday happy hour celebration at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. Yes, this was my second drink. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was refreshing.

Happy birthday to me. Complimentary dessert for the birthday girl at Steakhouse 55. Photo by C. Rickrode

Happy birthday to me. Complimentary dessert for the birthday girl at Steakhouse 55. Photo by C. Rickrode

Yes I am wearing my birthday button and yes I did get a lot of free desserts. Wish there’d have been free alcohol, but I’ll take what I can get. This was the end of my delicious birthday dinner at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. Yes, it’s chocolate.

Me and Mr. Potato Head. Photo by C. Rickrode

Me and Mr. Potato Head. Photo by C. Rickrode

Just some clowning around while we wait – for a very long time – in line.

My home of the future, complete with self-playing piano. Photo by C. Rickrode

My home of the future, complete with self-playing piano. Photo by C. Rickrode

Had I known self-playing pianos were going to inhabit every home in the future, I would not have wasted 20 years on lessons. And yes, I am bundled up – inside – because it was freaking cold.

Spring gardens at California Adventure. Photo by P. Rickrode

Spring gardens at California Adventure. Photo by P. Rickrode

Come on – you knew it was coming. I can’t go anywhere without photographing the foliage.

Mickey beignet at Cafe Orleans. Photo by C. Rickrode

Mickey beignet at Cafe Orleans. Photo by C. Rickrode

Did I mention free desserts? Hey I milked that birthday button for all it was worth. I’m 50 damn it – give me my free stuff.

So there you have it. A glimpse of my So. Cal. experience. Absent is a photo with Jenny Hansen. We met at Enchanted Sam’s Tiki Bar for drinks, but in my excitement I forgot to snap a photo. What a lovely treat to meet a lovely lady. Thanks for the birthday ginger pear martini, Jenny. The next round’s on me.

Have you ever been to Disneyland? What’s your favorite birthday memory? Do you take advantage of free stuff?

Word of the Day: Hexapod

Fun fact about me: My ears are pierced 3 times.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, April 2014. Original photos by the family Rickrode.

 

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It’s time for the next installment of What Haven’t I. I can sense your excitement all the way over here.

Question mark

As some of you know, I recently celebrated my birthday and my ten-year wedding anniversary. My husband was generous to a fault with gifts this year, and we were able to arrange our work schedules so that we could spend three entire days together doing nothing but fun stuff.

Day one found us in San Francisco doing everything touristy and cheesy. Yes, we ate crab cocktails on the wharf, we stopped and watched the sea lions lounge in the sun, we explored the wax museum and ate an awesome dinner at Scoma’s on Fisherman’s Wharf.

zamboniFor day two we went the opposite direction and spent a idyllic afternoon at the south shore of Lake Tahoe. We relaxed on the paddlewheeler around Emerald Bay and drank Tahoe sweet teas. We played a little Let It Ride poker and craps and then enjoyed a lovely buffet dinner at the top of Harrah’s while we watched it rain.

On day three we enjoyed a delicious breakfast, went to a matinee and had an awesome dinner complete with chocolate martini and creme brulee for dessert.

So in honor of three days of relaxaing fun, I’m devoting this episode of What Haven’t I to random experiences I have enjoyed, or not enjoyed, thus far in life. It’s up to you to decide, which thing I haven’t done. You all know the rules by now, just post your guesses in the comments section below and check back on the 23rd to see how many you got right. The luckiest guesser and the fastest responded will both receive a fantastic prize (if they check back and post another comment)!

So, here are the random things:

1.  What have I never experienced: a) Flying first class; b) Don Perignon; c) Box seats at a sporting event; or d) Riding in a limo?boxing gloves

2.  What haven’t I ridden on: a) A double-decker bus; b) A zamboni; c) A stagecoach; or d) A golf cart?

3.  What haven’t I seen in person: a) Niagra Falls; b) the Grand Canyon; c) Mt. Rushmore; or d) Old Faithful?

4.  What haven’t I eaten: a) Grasshopper; b) Alligator; c) Turtle; or d) Snake?

5. What haven’t I ever tried on: a) Hoop skirt; b) Boxing gloves; c) Bulletproof vest; or d) Football helmet?

I’m anxious to read your guesses. And I ask you, what silly random thing have you experenced that would surprise your kids, your parents, your high school teachers, your neighbors? Let me know. I won’t tell anybody – I promise.

Word of the day: Vulpine

Fun fact about me: My brother and I used to dare each other to jump off the roof of our house. Yes, we each did it. More than once.

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It may be just plain lazy, but I’m calling it multi-tasking. This month, I’m playing along with three different people and their chain blogs.

On August 14th Myndi Shafer posted “The Letter B to the Tenth Degree” http://myndishafer.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/the-letter-b-to-the-tenth-degree/ and on August 21st, KB Owen posted “Grateful for the Letter R and Myndi Shafer” http://kbowenmysteries.com/posts/grateful-for-the-letter-r-and-myndi-shafer/.  I’m  playing the letter game with “Why I Love the Letter D.” See below for my reasons.

But I am also playing the Booker Award game with my friend and SVR chaptermate, Cyndi Faria. http://www.cyndifaria.wordpress.com The rules are simple.  Someone nominates me (see Cyndi’s blog for my nomination) and links my post. I blog about my 5 favorite books and nominate 3 other people to play on their blog.  Upon nomination, should you choose to accept the award and play along, you put the Booker Award photo in your blog (cut and paste from the my blog), list your 5 favorite books, link back to me and nominate 3 others who in turn link back to you.

My list of books and nominees are listed below my favorite “D” things.

So, without further ado, let the games begin!

Why I love the letter “D”, or, what things that start with the letter “D” do I love, is probably more appropriate but awkward to say.

Dark chocolate. I like all forms of chocolate really, but dark chocolate is my favorite. I can’t rightly say why. I just prefer it. And I’m told it’s actually good for you so I try to slip in a little bit evey week or so, as a precautionary measure you understand. It’s purely medicinal. And can I help it if he happens to pair nicely with port wine?

Dogs. Take a look at that sweet face and tell me that I need to expound on the reasons why I love dogs. There’s just no getting around it – I’m a sucker for that face. Every dog has one. And again, I’ve read that owning a dog will actually improve your life-span. So again, in a conscientious effort to maintain good health, I’m a proud dog owner. (P.S. This is not MY dog. My dog won’t sit still long enough to be photographed. The paparazzi have tried.)

Distilled spirits. Need I say more? It’s all about good health this month. I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. A little liquor loosens the muscles and joints and helps me move better and relax. A nice cosmo or snifter of brandy helps me sleep. A glass of wine improves the quality of my cooking. I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food. Of course too much of a good thing can have an adverse effect and I strongly recommend moderation. And never, and I do mean NEVER drink and drive! Natalie Hartford will tell you why in her blog. http://nataliehartford.com/2012/08/31/impaired-driver-kills-parents-of-5-and-serves-only-7-months-in-jail/

Diana, Princess of Wales. She is, in my book, hands down the most beautiful woman who ever walked the planet. If there was one person I could meet in the whole entire world, it would be Princess Diana. I love her spirit and determination. She bucked the rules at the palace when it came to raising her kids. I admire her stength to end a loveless marriage despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles and the whole world watching. I think her world views were ones to be emulated. She was caring and empathetic. I know if she were still with us, she’d be proud of the children she raised. (Except maybe that wild child, Harry, but you have to love him, too. Strip billards? He’s welcome at my party any time!) It was fifteen years ago that the world lost this beautiful soul. May she rest in peace.

Dancing. Any form, but in particular, Irish dancing. Who doesn’t love Riverdance? If you haven’t seen it, visit You Tube and watch. I could have posted a link, but I’m lazy so you’ll have to look it up yourself.

Disney. All things Disney!  This one is a no brainer. Unless you’re been trapped on a desserted island somewhere and have never visited my blog, FB page or know me personally, you’re probably wondering why this one wasn’t at the top of my list. Answer: It should have been and it would have been, but my efforts to cut and paste were fruitless and I ended up screwing all of the formatting up on the other stuff so I just left it here. (Damn WordPress!)

Diamonds, and not the baseball kind. This one should probably be a little higher on the list as well, but for the same reason stated above, it’s staying here.

Desserts. I’m not a huge of all desserts, but certain ones will tempt me every time. Like pie. Fruit pie. I love fruit pie. And birthday cake. I can never resist a piece of birthday cake. And I’d really love a piece of this yummy looking thing. Anyone know what it is and how to make it?

Deserts. Deserts have a mystical aura about them that I love. There is something hauntingly beautiful in every desert I’ve visited. The silence and the way the shadows slide across the distant mountains is awe-inspiring. When they bloom, deserts are some of the most beautiful places in the world. And most people avoid the desert so usually it’s a nice vacation spot if you’re seeking some solitude. Unless you’re visiting the Burning Man Festival, in which case you will most definitely NOT alone. If you’re not familiar with this, Google it. It’s crazy, weird and fascinating. But don’t get hurt if you go because you are days away from help. The festival truly takes place in the middle of nowhere. I know because I’ve been there. Not to the festival, but the location in Nevada. It is about as desolate as your can get.

And, my most favorite “D:”

“To have and to hold, from this day forward. In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer . . . “

. . . my Darling. This wonderful man asked for my hand in marriage almost 12 years ago and he has stood faithfully by my side ever since. He’s my hero, my rock star, and my cowboy.

Now for the Booker Award portion of this month’s blog. Because I don’t have favorite books, so much, I’m going to list favorite authors, in no particular order:

1 – Phyllis Whitney. My mother used to read Phyllis Whitney’s books when I was a youngster and when she felt I was old enough to handle the adult content, she passed them along to me. Not that they are in any way erotic, because they are FAR from that, but a certain level of maturity is required to truly appreciate them.  After reading my very first novel, I was hooked. My keeper shelf has every book she ever wrote on it and I will not part with even one of them.

2 – Linda Chakin. She only wrote a few books, that I’m aware of, and then she disappeared. I never tried to find out why, but I miss her stories. She wrote mostly historical, faith-based books that came to life in my hands. Again, I believe I have every book she ever wrote on my keeper shelf.

3 – Linda Castillo. This is a new author to me and I can’t get enough of her books. I fell in love with her Kate Burkholder series set in Amish country and I always wait, impatiently, for the next book in the series to come out. The first book in the series is being made into a movie and I can’t wait to see it!

4 – Christine Feehan. In particular, her Drake Sisters series and her new Sea Haven series.

5 – Victoria Holt. Again, this is author from yesteryear, so to speak, but her romantic suspense novels are awesome and she was the second author I fell in love with as a young person with a passion for reading. While I don’t have every book she ever wrote on my keeper shelf, I probably have most of them.

Now for my nominees, may I have the envelope please (drum roll):  Jeannette Marie Powell, Pat O’Dea, and Louise Beheil, come on down. You are the next contentants on the Booker Award blog game.  Anyone else who wants to play along, please feel free to do so. Just let me know so I can pay you a visit and check out your books. And don’t forget to link back to this blog so others can see how to play.

So there you have it. Two games in one. I hope you’e enjoyed this month’s blog and that you’ll take a few minutes to visit the links above and check out the authors I’ve shared with you. I’d love to know some of your favorite “D” words, or favorite books and/or authors, so why not tell me about them in the comments section below.

Word of the day:  Juvenescent

Bonus fun fact about me (besides the ones listed above): When I was in high school, I could run a mile in less than six minutes. (Ginger Calem would be proud! http://www.gingercalem.wordpress.com)

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