Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh no, not Abby!--Biggest Loser was too sad last night

My favorite contestant on this season's Biggest Loser went home last night.

Abby Rike, the woman who lost her husband and two children in a car crash 2 and a half years ago, basically sacrificed herself so that her team-mates could stay on the ranch.

I'm so sorry to see Abby go. She was one of the most inspiring people on that show. You never saw her whining or being mean or petty. She was consistently positive and gracious, despite having experienced a devastating tragedy...and despite the fact that a problem with shin splints kept her sidelined most of the time.

Honestly, I thought Daniel should have stepped up to the plate and insisted that he himself be voted off. This is Daniel's second season on the show, and I do like him, but he's already proven his ability to lose weight off the ranch.

But, it is what it is. I'm not really crazy about any of the remaining women on the ranch--I like Amanda and Rebecca, but Liz and Tracey are incredibly annoying.

I do like the remaining guys a lot...and I'm actually hoping a man will win it all this time. I'd love to see Rudy, Danny or Allen take it all. Great guys.

Abby's update at the end of the show indicates that she's still losing weight, thriving, and sharing her testimony of triumph over tragedy to encourage others.

But I will miss Abby on Biggest Loser. How about you?

Incidentally, a bit of trivia: according to this article, Abby was influenced to join Biggest Loser by one of my LEAST favorite contestants ever...Vicky Vilcan. Interesting!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Balloon Boy incident leaves me feeling used...but still glad

Have you ever agonized over the lateness of a loved one, imagining the worst...and then when they show up, you're so mad at them you could (and sometimes do) scream?

That's kind of how I feel after the Balloon Boy ordeal.

A co-worker and I stole glances at the station TV yesterday, trying to get an update on the soaring balloon.

When the balloon landed without a boy inside, we were both horrified. My husband and I were both literally sick to our stomachs.

My sister in Texas says she was monitoring the situation too, with anguish and concern.

Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with status updates (including mine) expressing worry and encouraging prayer.

Prayers in vain?

I'm sure tens of thousands of prayers were sent up for the safety of that little boy. Then he turns up, having been hiding in a garage attic the entire time.

To be honest, I suspected--even hoped--that might be the case all along. I even expressed that to my co-worker before I left work.

And before the little boy turned up, a police officer friend told me on Facebook that there was something off about the story that was making his cynical cop instinct kick in.

Now all kinds of questions are being asked about the integrity of the boy's parents and the legitimacy of the entire incident. Was it a publicity stunt?

Even the little boy has said more than once that it was all done "for a show." What?!?

As disturbing as that is, though, I can't help but be happy. We're not mourning a little boy's death today. He was hiding the whole time, for whatever reason.

We were all worried sick, yes. So we prayed...was that wasted time? I don't think so. I don't think it hurts us to pray occasionally for something that's not a real crisis. If our motivation--love and concern--was right, the prayer wasn't in vain.

Maybe we should just keep on praying for Falcon Heene. With a family like his, he just might need it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

As teams divide, Biggest Loser heats up

Terrible Tracey--but I still can't detest her as much as I did Vicky!

I can't believe Tracey lived to fight--I mean, lived to experience unbelievable luck--another week! Even more amazing: her husband, as portrayed on a "video from home" prize, seems like a really cool guy! Is Tracey not as crazy and awful as she seems? Hmmm.

One thing's for sure: being separated from their partners is not the worst thing in the world for the contestants, although it seemed like a funeral when they were being ripped apart.

I think one result of being cut off from their families and the rest of the world is that they become almost obsessively attached to their partners. I think even by the end of last night's episode, they were realizing that they could succeed without their erstwhile partners constantly at their side.

Also, being assigned to Jillian instead of Bob is NOT a fate worse than death. Jillian consistently grooms winners on that show. Could I train with her? Absolutely NOT...look up "wimp" in the dictionary, and there's a picture of me.

However, my Gulf War veteran marine and ex-cop brother says he would LOVE to have Jillian for his trainer. :) From someone who has experienced near-torture in the name of physical fitness, that's pretty high praise.

I'm not thrilled about the black-versus-blue, Bob's team versus Jillian's team starting all over again, because inevitably, that's when "game play" shifts into high gear. And quite frankly, game play is NOT what I love about this's determination, motivation, inspiration--watching people who had no discipline and no goals transform into physically fit, well-adjusted people.

But you know what? I firmly believe "Biggest Loser" is one of the best things on TV right now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop: The Case of the Ghoulish Gangs

Are local gangs planning to kill 30 or more women on or around Halloween as part of an initiation?

That rumor has been around for a few years, but it ran rampant in October 2008, and it’s making the rounds again this year…not just through e-mail, but through social networking sites like Facebook, and cell phone texting.

As often is the case with such rumors, it’s wise to be careful and use good common sense to protect your personal safety. However, there’s NO evidence that such a gang initiation has ever taken place, or that it’s planned for this Halloween.

The messages come in various forms—usually saying that the police are actively warning people about the initiation…some even going so far as to say the police are handing out flyers at sports practices and that warning signs are being posted at Wal-Mart and other stores. The warnings vary as to how many women are going to be killed—some saying as many as 140 women will be targeted.

According to, a New Jersey man was actually arrested in December 2008 for spreading false reports of gang violence in Jersey City. He was charged with causing false public alarm. And police departments across the country have issued assurances that the rumors are NOT credible.

The truth? Last Halloween came and went with no such massive gang killings reported.

CyberSnoop always urges you to err on the side of safety—so don’t take any risks with your personal safety this October 31st, whether you observe Halloween or not.

But don’t pass along these gang warnings, because they are completely unsubstantiated.

Clearing up another internet rumor, this is Cindy Swanson,
CyberSnoop…reminding you to check it out BEFORE you hit that “send” button!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This is my Sixth Blogoversary!

Me in 2003, when this blog began

On Friday, October 10th, 2003, I kicked this blog off with this little entry: "Well...hello.

"I guess this is my introduction to the world of blogging....a modern technological wonder that appears to be tailor-made for people like me, who can't seem to stop putting their thoughts on paper (or cyber-paper, as the case may be!)

I think this is going to be fun!"

Later that day I came back with a lengthier post filled with personal happenings.

A year later, I celebrated my first "bloggiversary": "As I look back on the year that has passed, I'm struck with an unexpected but obvious benefit of keeping an online diary. I now have a written record of the past year of my life. I blogged about most of it, good and bad.

"From the Cubs barely missing the World Series, to my son's wedding, to my father's worsening illness and death, with a ton of discoveries of new book and music delights, annoyances and opinions thrown in for good measure, it's all there.

"Yep, I enjoy blogging. So I guess I'll stick around a while."

My blog has evolved somewhat since I first started it. Early on, I discovered I could add pictures, and I still think that's one of the things that grabs people. I want the look of the blog to be bright and appealing.

I started out with one of Blogger's standard templates. A few years ago, I paid Susie of Bluebird Blogs to create a custom design for me. I still love it. The musical notes represent not only my love of music, but the fact that the title of my blog, "Notes in the Key of Life," is a play on words. (I actually got the idea from Stevie Wonder's 1976 album, "Songs in the Key of Life." I always thought that was a cool title!)

I still blog about personal events and activities, but I would say the focus is more on the culture from a Christian perspective, with a strong emphasis on Christian fiction.

In the beginning, I don't think I was writing so much for an really was just my "random thoughts." Now, I take into consideration the fact that some people really ARE reading most of the time I try to make it worth your while.
I'm more conscious of the "salt and light" aspect of having a blog that people actually take time to read.

With my burgeoning involvement in Facebook and Twitter, I've neglected my blog of late. But I'm renewing my commitment to it. After six years, I can honestly say blogging is a good thing--a way for me to connect with friends, family, like-minded people all over the world, and the general public, on many levels.

And hopefully another way to fulfill my life's mission statement: "O Lord, let your light shine on others through me."

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sunday is Clergy Appreciation Day...

...what are you doing to encourage your pastor?

I grew up the daughter of a pastor, and I am now the daughter-in-law of a pastor. So I know a little something about the pressures of the ministry...the discouragement, the fatigue, and the pitfalls, as well as the rewards.

Sunday is Clergy Appreciation Day, and I encourage you to let your spiritual leaders know how much you appreciate them. The following is from a Christianity Today article:

Eight Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

1. Cut the Criticism
2. Pray regularly
3. Express appreciation in writing
4. Use your skills to bless
5. Squelch gossip
6. Offer to meet a need
7. Be openly responsive
8. Throw away the measuring stick

You can read the entire article here.

This piece of humor is an oldie-but-a-goodie--and in some cases, not much of an exaggeration!:

The Perfect Pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes. He condemns sin roundly, but never hurts anyone's feelings. He works from 8 a.m. until midnight, and is also the church janitor.

The Perfect Pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the church. He is 29 years old and has 40 years' worth of experience. Above all, he is handsome.

The Perfect Pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens. He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church. He makes 15 home visits a day and is always in his office to be handy when needed.

The Perfect Pastor always has time for church meetings and all of its committees, never missing the meeting of any church organization. And he is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.

The Perfect Pastor is always in the next town over!

If your pastor does not measure up, simply send this notice to six other churches that are tired of their pastor too. Then bundle up your pastor and send him to the church at the top of your list. If everyone cooperates, in one week you will receive 1, 643 pastors. One of them should be perfect.

Have faith in this letter. One church broke the chain and got its' old pastor back in less than three months.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A sequel to "Phantom of the Opera"? Coolness!

What "Phantom of the Opera" fan hasn't wondered what happened after Christine and Raoul rowed away, leaving the woebegone Phantom to declare that the end of the story?

Apparently Andrew Lloyd Webber has. The famed composer is announcing a stage (not movie)sequel, called "Love Never Dies." But this time, the Phantom isn't residing under the Paris opera house. He's made his way to Coney Island.

Yes, you read right...Coney Island.

Webber says the ending of the first "Phantom" is "unsatisfactory":

"Christine goes off with this boring guy, the Phantom disappears," Webber said. He said he wanted to set the piece at Coney Island because, at its turn-of-the-century heyday, it was "the eighth wonder of the world."

"Love Never Dies" is due to open in London in March. The musical also will be staged in New York beginning November 2010.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Way-back Wednesday

In which I go back into the archives of Notes in the Key of Life to take a peak at what I was blogging about a year ago today! Step into the Way-back Machine and fasten your we go!

Originally posted October 7, 2008:

What would I do without Linda of 2nd Cup of Coffee? Not only is she simpatico with me on so many levels, she always comes up with great memes when I need direction for a blog post!

This time, Linda is encouraging bloggers to share their favorite fall comfort foods in what she's calling Fall Into Flavor.

So here's my entry. If it looks familiar, it's because I've shared it more than once here. Not only is it tasty, the beans are very good for you (hey, pop some Bean-o before you eat if you anticipate a problem! :)), it was originally a Weight Watchers recipe. So it's points-friendly as well as healthy. Just don't tell your family that. I promise you, they will LOVE it...and they'll never guess it's not fattening!


1 pound very lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 large can Mexican-style Ro-Tel Tomatoes
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans
1 can corn
1 packet Taco seasoning mix
1 packet Ranch style dressing mix

Brown the beef with the chopped onion; drain. Add other ingredients; DO NOT DRAIN beans and corn.

Cook and simmer until all the flavors are nicely mixed. You might want to serve with some shredded cheddar for sprinkling over the top.

You could also make this in the crockpot (brown the ground beef first, of course), and come home from work or church to a ready-made meal.--Originally posted October 7, 2008

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop: The Case of the Clinic's Warning

I admit it: I've been a terrible blogger.

What with new job responsibilities, more Facebook and Twitter interaction, and sheer negligence, my blog has suffered.

I humbly beg the forgiveness of the legions of people who wait with bated breath for my every new blog post. (Uh, note: sarcasm there. :))

I hereby resolve to be a better blogger. Here we go, with a brand new edition of CyberSnoop!

The Case of the Clinic’s Warning

Did the famed Mayo Clinic warn its staff members to expect a massive swine flu pandemic, affecting over 45-thousand people in a nine-week period and causing hundreds of deaths among Mayo Clinic employees alone?

That’s the subject of an e-mail that’s currently circulating. And according to, it’s FALSE.

All health officials, including the Mayo Clinic, are taking the H1N1 virus very seriously, and planning for every contingency.

However, this e-mail…which reportedly originated with a Mayo Clinic employee…is unnecessarily alarmist.

The e-mail begins like this: “Dear Friends, My mother works at the Mayo Clinic and she just informed me of some alarming news concerning the H1N1 virus.” The e-mail goes on to give a lengthy note from the person’s mom, who says she just got out of a Mayo Clinic staff meeting in which some very dire warnings were issued about the virus…including the fact that the clinic was expecting 106 of its employees to die from the virus EACH WEEK!

The quote from the mom ends with: “This is real dear family. This is not me going overboard. I just came out of a meeting. This is real.”

Actually? It’s NOT real. contacted a Mayo Clinic public affairs spokesman, Kevin Punsky, who said, “The employee describing the H1N1 pandemic took hypothetical statistics used in internal planning scenarios, mis-stated them, and presented them as real.”

Punsky goes on to say: “Please ignore the information contained in the errant e-mail from a Mayo Clinic employee. The information is wrong.”

Yes, we should all be very careful to keep our hands clean and keep ourselves healthy…but freaking out and panicking, and spreading alarmist e-mails? Not a great idea.

Clearing up another Internet rumor, this is Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop…reminding you to check it out BEFORE you hit that send button!
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