Archive for the 'Who Knew?' Category



13
Sep
11

where’s my class?

The middle class is shrinking.

I’m not even sure I’m still in it.

We all know this: While corporations aiming for high- and low-end consumers at the expense of middle-class earners appears to be a new development, the income gap has been growing in America for at least three decades. While wages and productivity rose in tandem during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, they become decoupled in about 1980, as productivity continued to climb while wages slumped and then recovered only modestly. And the gap between rich and poor grew more pronounced during the late-2000s recession, according to Timothy Noah at Slate, due to a jump in the poverty rate that was the highest in over a decade.

But did you know that the “Gini” coefficient — a measure of a country’s income inequality — was at 0.468 in 2009, nearly halfway up the Gini scale that ranges from zero (most equal) to one (least equal)? A high Gini coefficient is often associated with political instability and a poor standard of living, and most first-world countries rank lower on the Gini scale than the U.S. Some other nations that have had Gini coefficients similar to the United States’ include the Philippines, Ecuador and Rwanda.

I’m not making this up.

The Philippines, Ecuador, and Rwanda.

That’s just terrific.

 

 

13
Sep
11

bathroom fixtures and the circus

Apparently these have something to do with each other.

Who knew?

09
Sep
11

clothing with superpowers

Taking female competitiveness to a new level, and yours for only $198, not only do you appear to be elegantly and effortlessly “put together,” but you will revel in the memories of being a pampered infant where your every needs were met and no one expected more from you than to babble, drool, smile occasionally, and poop on a regular basis.

Oh, and everyone else is, apparently, em-bar-ass-ingly naked, making you, in comparison, not only better dressed, but not evidently “cuckoo.”

What more does a person need from a sweater?

The real problem is, it’s kind of a pretty sweater, and they have some other very lovely, interesting things, but this kind of behavior just can’t be encouraged.

06
Sep
11

cool beests

Check this out: http://www.strandbeest.com

The best are the video clips of Ordis 2007, Umerus 2009, and the Rhinoceros.

A little like tall ships meets George Lucas.

 

23
Aug
11

but is it food?

Making pizza for dinner, but our children don’t like what we put on ours (olives, caramelized onions, sun dried tomatos, etc.) so we’re going to make them what they REALLY want: frozen.

Here’s the list of ingredients.

That can’t be good.

But we can get $15 off a ticket to Six Flags, and the pepperoni is “reduced fat.”

At least there’s that then.

23
Aug
11

Available at fine groceries everywhere

If you eat them, do you get the munchies?

Or is it more something like this?

01 Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

12
Aug
11

well that changes everything!

Idiot.

14
Jul
11

how do you know when the honeymoon’s over?

Last night Husband and I found ourselves home, alone, for the first time in weeks, and we spent the next two hours, yup, you guessed it, unwrapping marvels of modern engineering and setting them up on the counter. There were no passionate embraces, no shedding of garments, no fevered groping amid piles of cardboard detritus and bubble wrap.

Why, you ask? Is this an indication of a loss of passion? Are the flames of love dwindling? Have we grown tired of each other, bored, listless about what was once, not all that long ago, the driving force of our existence?

Well no, not really; at least I don’t think so.

Rather, the phenomenon can be explained by this single act:

Husband just bought a new espresso machine and coffee grinder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are very nice, and very pretty, and very intimidating, and I hope I don’t set the darn things on fire or run the boiler dry accidentally or forget to temperature surf before making my next shots of espresso. (Don’t ask.) (Okay, if you must know):

(Who knew?)

ANYWAY, these “marvels of modern engineering” (I was corrected, firmly, a couple days ago after calling them “contraptions”) came via FedEx yesterday. This was a relief, as the monitoring of the check-in points along the shipping route and the logistics of making sure someone would be home at the pivotal moment was taking up most of our free time.

They are, according to Husband, the best machines available at a comparably reasonable price, with 237 grinding options (I’m not making this up) available on the Baratza Vario grinder and solid stainless steel construction plus some other features I don’t understand well enough to list here on the Rancilio Silvia (we will call her Silvia for short) espresso maker.  (Husband actually launched into a long explanation last night, but all I heard was “Wuh wah wah waaah” like when the teacher talks on Charlie Brown.)

Last night, after the lesson on tamping pressure using a glass and the bathroom scale (I still don’t tamp hard enough, as my espresso comes out in under 15 seconds, and we’re aiming for a leisurely 25), and my ignored Dance of the Seven Veils, I fell asleep while Husband read the instruction manual.

He did wake me at 7:15 this morning. . .

with an expertly foamed cappuccino, followed by a lesson on appropriate grinding (!), brewing, and foaming technique.

Alas.

He is very cute when he’s all professorial, and it was important that I learn how to run the MoME while home without him here as my barista.

I’m now working on my 5th and 6th shots of espresso, this time with milk that I actually foamed (last time it just got really really hot.)

I’m very proud.

I think they send the 2 lbs of coffee for “free” because they know you’ll use up one of them on Day 1 just practicing. Maybe they should include some tranquilizers to counter the effect of AlL tHaT cAfFeInE!!!!

11
Jul
11

sex as the draw

So, I’m on the Weather Channel website, tracking the big storms moving through the midwest while we sit under threatening skies, and my step daughter drives through another cell of storms north of Chicago.

On the right of the page I notice this woman:

with the advertising tag “How to Sleep Through The Night.”

Naturally, I’m curious about what a woman with ginormous breasts has to tell me about this, as, I imagine, any normal person would be.

Here’s the article.

No sign of HER anywhere.

I feel cheated, and ashamed.

In retaliation I’m going to show THEM and not read the article.

So there.

 

 

07
Jul
11

yeah, right

Here’s “Emily” before using ReJuv’s miracle-working face cream:

And here’s “Emily” after:

If you’re interested, you can click on either picture to get directly to the webpage.

Another benefit of this miracle-working cream, one which is not disclosed on the label, is that it apparently also changes the user’s eye color.

Who knew?

04
Jul
11

well that’s a relief

20
Jun
11

my own personal “core” club

An invitation to my newly opened “core” club

No “initiation” fees, no membership fee. You’re welcome to bring your gadgets, but please don’t “talk” on them while talking to me. I’ll feed you, make you coffee, share our latest under-$7.99/bottle wine discovery, and even do the dishes afterwards. You can dry, but only if you want to. I might commiserate over facial blemishes, but only if they are actually visible under natural light. If you are taking your family to any exotic country via your own private Gulfstream, I will NOT commiserate about the difficulties of modern travel. Your difficulties are not mine. I just flew coach, had someone’s chair back resting on my forehead all the way over the Atlantic, and was asked please not to use the bathroom in the middle of the plane anymore.

I can’t help but wonder if you or your spouse or your parents or whoever has earned all this money you apparently have, if any of you have actually done anything worthwhile for society. Some kind of contribution — cured cancer, invented a clean alternative energy source, taught first graders how to read. Somehow I doubt it.

I guess I shouldn’t be so hasty to judge. Some of the more exclusive clubs do go to great lengths to make sure you don’t have to stoop so low as to pop your own pimple. They will apparently even run out and buy your favorite beer at the corner store if one of their bartenders is a victim of his own bad judgment and they run out (I wonder what the price differential for that turns out to be; anybody want to guess? And I guess, once you earn a certain amount of money, it’s unreasonable to GO TO THE STORE YOURSELF).

But really, those luxuries are really just your rights once you are earning, on average, $13 million a year. Not really that much more than the rest of us. Last year, for example, I made how much you make in, just a minute, I have to get out my calculator. . . .hmmm, like a day and a half or something. Not really that far at all.

Whatever. We won’t run out for your favorite beer, but in the summer we usually have a few Coronas in the fridge, and a couple kinds we made ourselves in the basement — right now I think there are Viennese lager and a stout, but I might be wrong. There is a cat. She sheds, and is a little evil, but she’s very cuddly, and most people aren’t allergic.

There’s also a snake (in a tank in my daughter’s room), and, well, full disclosure requires that I point out that there are also a couple children. And a fish. But I have two tomato plants that the deer haven’t eaten yet, and the basil looks like it might do something this year, and the light, about 45 minutes before sunset, when it slants through the trees behind the house, is quite lovely.

I might ask if I can try on your Manolo Blahniks, since I really like shoes, and could never spend that much on a pair. Plus I have wide feet, and a bad back, so I probably won’t steal them or anything. But you’re probably privileged, and entitled, and snooty, and I’m generally intolerant of all of those things, so maybe it’s better if you just go to your club and I’ll just stay home.

Never mind. Sorry to bother you.

*****

Oh, and NYTimes, what’s up with the “precious” writing? “. . .honeyed streaks conjured by some magician at Frédéric Fekkai”?  “It was the handbag that told the story, of course, as a handbag often does”? Seriously?  I can’t tell if I’m reading an article, or ad copy. I expect better from you. Please try harder.

19
Apr
11

healthy news?

According to last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (April 17, 2011):

  • cell phones have not been proven to cause cancer
  • cognitive performance of most individuals declines significantly after only a few nights of less-than-8-hours of sleep
  • sitting more 4 hours a day is bad for you
  • sugar may be toxic, as the effects of processing it on your liver and pancreas cause cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and may lead to several common cancers,
  • and working out in a few short bursts of intensity followed by several minutes of rest is as beneficial of a long, endurance-based workout.

I have mixed reactions to the above news.

  • A link between cell phone usage and brain cancer may not have been yet definitively proven, but I can’t imagine holding something that emits radio waves right next to my head can be a good thing. I’m still going to use an earpiece.
  • I know this, and know that I am one of “most individuals,” but I hardly ever get 8 hours of sleep. I’ll admit that on the rare occasion that I do, I feel like a completely different person. The article offers little comfort, as it says that trying to split the difference between 8 hours (better cognition, focus, fewer mistakes) and 6 hours (decline in performance, inability to sustain attention) by getting 7 usually leads to results more similar to the 6 hours than the 8. Alas.
  • I sit for hours, both at my computer and at the piano. The good news is I have some form of physical ADD which drives me to get up and wander around my house every 15 or 20 minutes, even when I’m in the middle of something particularly interesting or challenging, and this tendency to move around, even for a little bit, triggers electrical signals from my muscles and a somewhat prolonged increase in metabolism. Am realizing as I write this that this tendency may be a result of the lack of focus which results from not getting enough sleep, so maybe I should just “decide” that these 2 things balance each other out and accept the fact that I while I may look and feel somewhat bleary for the rest of my life, at least I’m doing my muscles and my metabolism some good. Who knows, maybe the wandering around is actually aiding the cognitive process — haven’t there been studies done about the benefits of learning simultaneously with physical exertion?
  • Yeah, I know. I can actually keep my weight where it should be much easier by cutting out simple carbs than by any kind of sustained diet-end-exercise program. I also have a good friend who had astronomical triglyceride numbers until he stopped drinking 4 liters of Pepsi a day. I will be interested in following this subject, as my husband’s family has a history of cardiovascular disease, and everything we can know about what might cause it can only help. The book Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes, actually addresses many of the fallacies of the cardiovascular medical establishment, including evidence that low-fat diets may lower the symptoms of heart disease, they don’t actually seem to affect the incidences of heart attacks. He draws many of the same conclusions regarding the negative impact of white flours, easily digested starches, and sugar.
  • This is definitely good news. The recommendations are to go (bike, run) with as much intensity as you can for 30 seconds, rest (I would imagine walking slowly would count) for 4 minutes, and then repeat a few times. This gets an intense interval workout into about 15 minutes. THAT I can do (see bullet 2).

So, in a nut shell:

Talk on your cell phone as much as you like, sleep more, sit less/wander more, eat as little sugar as you can possibly manage, and count running for the tea kettle as one interval in a healthy and effective workout regimen.

Sound like a plan?

09
Apr
11

Dear . . .

Just read a post on this blog where an apparently 40-year-old woman is writing little messages to the younger versions of herself.

I’ve actually been thinking about this very thing lately in terms of my children, principally First and Second Son (21 and 17, respectively), and their unflinching and eternal optimism. I even wrote a poem to First son, once, on this very topic, and posted it on this very blog. You can read it here.

So this gets me thinking, what messages would I send myself, if I could.

To 18: Figure out who you are before you try to figure out who you want to be with.

To 20: It wouldn’t be the end of the world if you had to borrow $1,000 to finish college, so YES, take a year off and backpack through Europe. Once you’re a grown-up you have to be a grown-up for a very long time; what’s your hurry?

To 25: Not using birth control for one night maybe isn’t the best way to decide if you’re ready to have children.

To 26: Yes, there’s now a small, cranky stranger completely dependent on you for everything. You will do your best, and your best will be good enough. He will become a beautiful 20-year old with blue eyes and a generous heart, and you will know that you at least did this one thing well.

To 32: It’s a beautiful house in a crappy town on a busy road; don’t buy it.

To 35: Don’t chase things so hard.

To 40: Don’t despair. It’s not the end yet; it might not even really be the beginning.

To 42: Everyone you’ve ever known, everything that has ever happened, has helped make you who you are, and you kind of like you, so take a deep breath, and from somewhere inside yourself, Thank them.

To 25, 26, 27, 28. . .46  These are beautiful children: pay attention.

To 46: You have everything you need.

and

Your most powerful moments, leading to the most powerful and positive changes in your life, were those moments when you were willing to close your eyes, open your arms, and leap. Stop being afraid. Take my hand. One.Two.Three. Go.

28
Mar
11

child labor laws

So Second Son’s manager is a control freak.

She deems it appropriate to bully 17-year-olds into working more hours than is legal in our fair state under threat of being fired; a necessity brought on by the fact that she’s such a stark raving lunatic two people quit and one got fired in the past 7 days.

The turnover at this “restaurant” has been ~ 20 employees over the past year. I am actually quite proud of Second Son for sticking it out this long, but I think maybe enough is enough.

Out of curiosity, I decide to peruse our state’s child labor laws, and find this interesting list of prohibitions regarding tasks one might find in the workplace:

Restricted Occupations

Agency: Energy, Labor & Economic Growth

  • Minors 14- to 17-years-old may work in businesses where alcoholic beverages are sold as long as the sale of food or other goods is at least 50 percent of gross sales. Minors less than 16 years of age may not work where alcohol is consumed regardless of sales percentage.
  • Minors under the age of 18 cannot sell, serve, or furnish alcoholic beverages.
  • For information on Liquor Control Commission regulations concerning selling and serving alcoholic beverages visit http://www.michigan.gov/lcc or call 1-866-893-2121.

Minors covered by the act may not work in any occupation determined by act or rule to be hazardous.  Examples of hazardous work include, but are not limited to:

  • Contact with hazardous substances, chemicals, explosives or radioactive substances.
  • Driving and work as an outside helper (pizza delivery, etc.).
  • Jobs in the mining, logging and sawmill industry.
  • Jobs using woodworking machinery.
  • Brazing, welding, soldering or heat treating, for those less than 16 years of age.
  • Work on construction sites, roofing operations, excavation or demolition sites, bridges, streets, or highways.
  • Slaughtering, butchering, meat cutting, meat packing, rendering, or tanning.
  • Occupations involving power driven equipment, tools, saws, or machinery. (Bakery machines, paper product machines, meat slicers, metal-forming, punching and shearing machines).
  • Occupations involving the operation of, assisting in the operation of, and riding on hoisting apparatus including forklifts.  Minors 16 to 17 years old may work under elevated equipment.

Minors covered by the act may not work in any occupation determined by administrative review to be hazardous under the authority of Section 3.  Examples of hazardous work include, but are not limited to:

  • Occupations involving assembling, disassembling, and operating power-driven amusement rides.
  • Jobs with exposure to contagious diseases and bloodborne pathogens.
  • Operating a boat or other watercraft on a public waterway.
  • Loading and unloading goods from conveyors for those less than 16 years of age.
  • Handling loaded firearms of any gauge or caliber including those that are air powered.
  • Operating easy tippers used to lift garbage carts for emptying into dumpsters.
  • Operating golf carts and gator type utility vehicles on public roadways, for those less than 16 years of age it’s entirely prohibited.
  • Occupations as go-cart spotters for those less than 16 years of age.
  • Removing filters, pouring through filters, and moving receptacles containing grease or oil when the temperature is in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Un-jamming, servicing, or repairing Kansmackers.
  • Jobs using power-driven mowers, edgers, weed eaters, hedge clippers, tillers, wheelbarrows, thatchers, aerators, and snow blowers for those less than 16 years of age.
  • Life guarding at natural bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers.
  • Filling prescriptions, working behind the counter where prescriptions are filled or delivering pharmaceuticals by car, foot, bicycle, and/or public transportation.
  • Dispensing propane (LP) gas.
  • Operation of power-driven tire changer used to mount or dismount tires from vehicle rims.
  • Occupations involving door-to-door and street sales for profit making companies including mobile sales crews for those less than 16 years of age.
  • Jobs using chef, boning, butcher, meat cleaver, filet, and skinning or machete knives.

I’m good until I get to the 10th bullet in the last category.

Kansmackers?

Seriously?

This is listed so casually, between a long list of things I recognize: golf carts and filters and grease or oil and power-driven mowers and hedge clippers and natural bodies of water, it is obviously expected that I know what this is.

I think perhaps it has been included as some kind of a joke by a malicious state employee, perhaps to see if anyone is paying attention, but alas, no, this is an actual thing.

Who knew?

22
Mar
11

more of life’s persistent questions

Is it a source of concern that the ribbon of toothpaste in the bottom of the sink looks an awful lot like the ribbon of toothpaste probably looked on Only Daughter’s toothbrush?

Does anyone else wonder, after cleaning their bathroom, how it is that anyone still has any hair on their heads?

If First Cat repeatedly escapes, and spends more time with his Other Family than he does here, should we continue to let him back in and feed him?

Why is it that Governor Rick Snyder can overthrow elected officials and install hired “Emergency Managers” without a recall process, but we can’t do the same to him?

Who knew that nutella + banana = pure delicious-ness, and why wasn’t I informed of this sooner?

 

Do some things ever change?

16
Mar
11

Politics as usual

This just in.

First comment: 20%? Aww, poor babies. Welcome to the real world.

Second comment: What many are saying: What? You mean he’s going to cut taxes for businesses and pass the cost on to the middle class? You’re kidding! That’s outrageous!!! Let’s go protest and get arrested like we wish we had in the 70s but were too young or well-behaved. What the rest of us say: Well, duh? You’re surprised? You voted for him, what did you expect exactly? Then we shrug our shoulders and go about our insanely-overscheduled lives trying to keep our financial heads above water.

Is it actually possible that they didn’t see it coming?

I know, I know. Of course they didn’t. Alas, the average American just can’t pay attention long enough to make such predictions.

I’m so tired and disillusioned by this, and so many other things, I can think of nothing better to do than to go to bed and hide my head under my pillow.

Maybe by tomorrow it will all go away.

At least we’re not victims of a recent earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster.

That makes it seem so much better.

**************

p.s. What’s the difference between “As if?” and “Who knew?” I think I’ve inadvertently created a redundancy.

14
Mar
11

who knew?

(I know, we all did. Duh!)

 

07
Mar
11

how much older is older and wiser?

There’s a recent development among state judiciaries reversing the trends of the 80s and 90s where younger and younger juveniles were tried as adults, sometimes even as young as 13. You can read the article here.

It is now being recognized that these young people actually lack the maturity and judgment skills required to be able to make wise decisions.

Can I just say, well, duh?

Is there anyone who actually believes that teenagers function as adults? Has that person ever spent any time with a teenager? We don’t even let them some of them drive. Our biggest hope for many is that they change their underwear and/or brush their teeth at least once a week and do at least 60% of their homework.

My sons are 21 and 17 and I would hardly call them mature adults. First Son is home for spring break this week, and has spent most of his time interacting with Second Son by egging him on with “Your mom,” “That’s what she said,” and body function jokes. When not being cooked for, they live on cereal, Cheetos, and Creme Soda. It’s been proven that the male cerebral cortex doesn’t mature until around the age of 25. (I hold this out as a constant source of hope; it’s not too late, yet. I also think it’s ridiculous that we’ll allow 18-year olds to vote, get married and join the military, but not consume alcohol, but this is a topic for another time.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing the “struggles” my children face with the struggles faced by those in the judicial system. I am grateful every day for the relative safety and ample opportunity available to them in the corners of the world in which they live.  But to pose the idea that because the act of a “juvenile” is violent they should therefore be prosecuted as an adult is ludicrous. Besides their immaturity, which includes an inability to see the possible consequences of their actions beyond the immediate future, one also must take into account the problems (if not horrors) of their day-to-day lives and the incredible influence wielded by peer pressure.

[In a related “story” there has been much talk lately about the “Millenial Generation” and the tendency of those within it to delay the rites of adulthood well into their 20s. Apparently these statistics align with the circumstances of people in their 20s up to the second World War, and by many is considered to be a good thing. Maybe that Pew Research Study would have been more helpful if it had asked things like: Do you think it’s a good idea to be gainfully employed before having children? and: Do you think it’s a good idea to have the vaguest notion who you are before you decide who you want to marry?]

In any case, the cost involved in treating (rehabilitating) juveniles has to be less than the cost, both financial and sociological, of not. This is definitely one case where it’s better for everybody if we can take the long view.

06
Mar
11

a model of pretentiousness, a.k.a. The Wine We Had With Dinner

Should have been warned by the name: Tempra Tantrum

But wait, it gets better.

On the back label:

Go ahead and throw a Tempra Tantrum tonight by drinking in the passion, flavor, style, and emotion that embodies modern Spain. As a new generation global vintner, I love to blend international varietals with the quintessentially Spanish Tempranillo grape for a wine that is vibrant, plush, and in a word — sexy. I have a passion for innovative winemaking, and my 2008 Tempranillo/Grenache is crafted from my family’s low-yielding vineyards in a modern New World style. Critics call it a “Best Value,” but I call it an expression of my life.”

Ugh.

Now I’m not saying there was anything wrong with the wine — it was actually quite delicious — one might even say “vibrant,” although I’m not sure I agree with “plush.” And sexy? What makes a wine sexy? I guess if I drink enough. . . (at first I wrote “I guess if I have drink enough.” I guess that means I have.)

But the self-consciously self-promoting rhetoric is perhaps laid on a bit thick to go with my Greek burger and sweet potato fries, although it wasn’t bad with the Lindt dark-chocolate-with-a-touch-of-sea-salt.

The conversation at dinner went something like this.

Husband: I can’t read this label without my glasses.

Me: I’ll read it.

Husband: You can’t read that.

I read it.

Ugh.

Husband: But the wine’s really good; I’m going back tomorrow to buy a case.

Me: But that will only encourage him!

01
Mar
11

Hair!

Would this stuff work?

Should I try it?

Should I care?

20
Feb
11

cats like chicken, don’t they?

We have two cats, Qbert, a Russian Blue I adopted from my baby brother (and hold responsible for the ridiculous name), and Sophie, a Siamese we got for my daughter for Christmas a couple years ago.

Qbert is relatively old, although we’re never sure exactly of his age. 10? 11? He’s hyperthyroid — I know right? I’ve wished my whole life to be hyperthyroid, and instead it’s my cat — and therefore quite skinny, despite the medication we give him every day. Sophie is a healthy 2-year old cat, not fat, but she definitely could miss a meal or two without it doing any harm. (It also would help her survival chances if she would stop attacking my knitting projects. I call her Sophie-the-evil-Cat, and claim that she is a heroin addict, except the heroin is yarn.)

Everybody knows the stories about cats and the sound of the can opener. Qbert is even more “in tune” with the goings-on in the household. If I go stand at the kitchen counter for ANY reason, he comes to my feet and squawks. Just to be sure he won’t be forgotten, he also waits outside the bathroom door in the morning and squawks, even if my daughter has already fed him. Now if you happen to be working on any kind of meat or fish for dinner, he really puts up a fuss. We made the mistake of leaving a pound of ground meat out to thaw overnight and found about a fifth of it gone; not sure how much of the plastic wrapping he also ate, but it didn’t seem to do any harm.

Anyway, we were eating chicken last night for dinner, so Qbert paced and paced and sat by our chairs, and put his paws up on the edge of the table and sniffed, and paced some more. When we were done we cut the tough leftover bits off the bones and threw them into the food dishes. Qbert ate from one bowl and then the other, and then back to the first, while Sophie sat, looking like she had seen a picture once of how a cat should look when sitting, and waited patiently. We finally decided that maybe Qbert had had enough, so my husband picked up him and moved him over so Sophie could have a turn.

Sophie sniffed this bit, and then that bit, and then this other bit, and then licked one piece like it was a lollipop, and then looked at us, and then at Qbert, and then sniffed some more. It seemed she was asking us, “Do cats like chicken? I can’t remember. Could someone look this up on Wikipedia for me?”

We finally released Qbert, who politely ate from one bowl and allowed Sophie to eat from the other. Guess cats do, in fact, like chicken.

17
Feb
11

what makes the heart go pitty-pat?

I’ve always been kind of curious about the genesis of the valentine heart as a symbol of romantic love.

The theory, as I’ve always known it, is that it is a stylized picture of an actual heart.

But I actually think it’s something else.

Let me know what you think.

04
Jan
11

James Levine

Maestro Levine is a paragon of conducting in the United States, with extended tenures at such notable institutions as Tanglewood, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Boston Symphony.

His contribution to the canon is remarkable, as his longevity. He has reputedly not been up to his usual standard since around 2003, a result of various illnesses and resulting physical infirmities.

I have nothing but respect for his intellect, musicianship, and accomplishments.

But whenever I see a picture of him, I notice an uncanny resemblance. Maybe it’s just me.

22
Dec
10

don’t use that tone with me young man!

Apparently there’s a new feature available for certain email software programs called ToneCheck. This works much like spell-check, except rather than correcting your misspelling of “recommend” and overlooking the fact that you wrote “you’re” when you meant to write “your,” ToneCheck highlights content which exceeds some kind of preset filter for negative (or exceedingly positive) emotions such as anger, sadness, resentment, elation, etc.

ToneCheck was released as a plug-in with Microsoft Outlook in July, and will “allow for personal variations in tone, gauge a sentence’s level of emotional ambiguity and offer suggestions for revision.” Click here if you want to see it in action.

I can’t decide if this is really terrific, or laughingly absurd. We’ve all sent an email we’ve almost immediately wished we could unsend (the only thing I miss about AOL), we’ve all cringed at our own words when they come back to us at the bottom of a reply, many of us have probably adopted the if-I-write-it-when-I’m-upsetangrybitterlydisappointedresentfulstarkravingmad-I’ll-wait-for-24-hours-before-sending-it policy. But can we really expect a software program to be able to recognize the subtleties and intricacies of adult communication?

I guess the assistance of an objective “third party” giving us a virtual nudge and asking “are you sure you want to say it that way?” wouldn’t be a bad thing. I could always choose to ignore it. Maybe someone should develop a real-life version, something along the size of a digital recorder, which we can speak into for feedback before saying what we REALLY think at the next office meeting.

17
Dec
10

what we all wish we’d known

from I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron; (with omissions, with which I do not agree)

People have only one way to be.

Buy, don’t rent.

Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.

Don’t buy anything that is 100 percent wool even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on in the store.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years.

You never know.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money. (HA!!!)

The plane is not going to crash.

Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-five.

Write everything down.

The empty nest is underrated.

You can order more than one dessert.

You can’t own too many black turtleneck sweaters (or too many black sweaters of any type).

If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going to fit.

When you’re children are teenagers it’s important to have a dog (or a husband who loves you) so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

Back up your files.

Overinsure everything.

Whenever someone says the words “Our friendship is more important than this,” watch out, because it almost never is.

The minute you decide to get divorced, go see a lawyer and file the peprs.

Overtip.

Never let them know.

If only one third of your clothes are mistakes, you’re ahead of the game.

There are no secrets.

 

04
Dec
10

what makes us happy?

Can your spouse “make” you happy? Would a new job? New house? Car that gets better gas mileage? More respectful children? That vacation to Florence you’ve been postponing? Health? More money?

Contrary to popular opinion, none of those things will “make” you happy. Happiness is neither the result of physical nor emotional circumstance, but a state of mind.

If you don’t believe me, here’s the scientific explanation.

14
Nov
10

to smoke or not to smoke. . .

Apparently, as Americans learn that smoking is bad for you and they shouldn’t do it, cigarette companies are being forced to cast high and low for new markets.  These efforts include suing other countries for “excessive regulations.”

In a related story, Indonesia is resisting this anti-smoking tide, as it continues to refuse to sign a global tobacco treaty and targets women and children in their advertising.

The effects of this attitude are made manifest in a “viral” video of this chain-smoking toddler:

I’m not making this up.

His parents apparently started him smoking at the age of 18 months, although the report does not say why. One could speculate, I suppose:  calmed him down after a tough day in the sandbox, helped him develop those handy steering-the-toy-tractor-with-one-hand skills so crucial to child development. I guess, since he’s not wearing any clothes, it’s unlikely that he would set himself on fire, so that takes care of what would have been one of my main concerns.

You will all be relieved to note that the toddler has kicked the habit.

Now if only he could take care of his drinking and gambling addictions, he could get into that prestigious preschool.

Okay, that part I made up.

04
Nov
10

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Just had a food orgasm.

The filet was like butter, topped with an au poivre sauce with whole green peppercorns and butter; the mushrooms expertly sautéed in brandy and butter; the onion rings were so good I will probably never have another onion ring anywhere because it couldn’t possibly live up to this precedent; the shiraz a perfect complement to every bite. The cup of decaf and raspberry sorbet was a delightful punctuation to a really good meal, and thankfully did not come with more butter. The service was terrific.

But I am so full I can’t possibly imagine eating again until 2012. I asked the waiter, as he was bringing the coffee and sorbet, if they served Crestor in little dishes with the dessert. He thought I was kidding.

I was thinking, as we exited the restaurant, of the little cameras they have set up at crucially frightening points of roller coaster rides, so that you can see, and take home, pictures of yourself as you scream your head off. I was wondering if they had similar cameras set up so we could see how we looked after we had been beaten by a food club.

We walked all the way around the block to get back to the hotel so I could try to walk off some of the meal. To think I put a bag of Gardettos back at the Subway/Convenience store at lunch time because of the 7 g. of fat.

There isn’t enough Metamucil in the world to undo what I’ve just done to my body.

Unfortunately, Second Son will now have to go to community college given the size of the tab. Every single thing you eat there is priced à la carte, which is apparently a fancy way of saying really really expensive. I think they might have charged us for every time we used our napkin. The waiter did brush up our crumbs, and asked politely if it would be okay if HE put the leftovers in a box for us.

The reservation for tomorrow night’s dinner at the symphony is for 6.

Bon appétit!

27
Oct
10

just don’t mess with “my” Spanish coffee

Apparently there is a new beverage market out there among twenty-somethings for a drink that mixes alcohol and caffeine and is sold in brightly-colored cans reminiscent of Red Bull.

This is considered to be particularly dangerous because a) it is targeted towards young (barely-of-age) drinkers and b) the effects of the caffeine mask the effects of the alcohol, causing those partaking to be unable to recognize how “drunk” they actually are.

According to the story, one twenty-something was admitted to the hospital and found to have a blood alcohol level of .40.

Yikes. That can’t be good.

This does bring to mind a persistent question I have: why is it that it is legal in this country to get married (that is, decide you are ready to decide who you want to spend the rest of your life with, raise children with, etc., etc.) and join the Army (kill! kill! blood and guts and veins in your teeth [blame Arlo Guthrie, not me]) at the age of 18, but aren’t considered responsible enough to consume alcohol until you’re 21.

Just wondering. Maybe it’s just me.

10
Oct
10

When your food isn’t actually food

Which is, if you eat in most of America’s mainstream restaurants or eat any quantity of packaged food at home, most of the time.

Just finished reading a very enlightening book, The End of Overeating. The book is targeted towards people who have real problems controlling their eating, to the point where all they really do all day is think about food.

Now any of you who follow this blog at all know that I’d like to weigh a little less, and that I really like food. Especially good food. I’ve got a chicken roasting in the oven right now, stuffed with lemons and rosemary, and a bowl of tabbouleh chillin’ in the fridge; I’m really looking forward to tonight’s meal with a nice glass of Beaujolais.

I digress.

I’m not obsessed with food; I eat 3 pretty healthful meals a day, and sometimes a snack late afternoon — usually an apple, a bowl of almonds, a chunk of cheese, something like that. I struggle with cravings for potato chips, pretzels and blue cheese dressing, cheetohs, but can usually resist, especially if I don’t have any in the house. I try to limit snacking in the evenings — have discovered homemade applesauce and plain yogurt, or  a frozen Yoplait, can substitute for ice cream or sorbet, which my husband enjoys.

I digress, again.

The book revealed a few things to me which I did not know before, and which may not be common knowledge.

1. Eating food that you enjoy triggers dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel happy.

2. Eating food as a comfort, especially if it accompanies another sort of comfort — a plate of warm cookies from mom when you get home from a hard day of school, a rich dinner prepared by your spouse at the end of a long day — triggers a memory/conditioning response so that our desire for that food is triggered by a need for a similar comfort.

3. The food industry has very carefully deduced the prime combination of sugar, fat, and salt that triggers the production of dopamine, and therefore the desire for MORE, and just as carefully manipulates these combinations in the foods it produces.

White flour has most of the germ, bran, and fiber removed.

Chicken is processed, shredded, and then reassembled with binders, “supplemented” with saline, and then fried before being flash-frozen so that it is cheap, tender, juicy, dissolves in our mouths quickly (more calories, less work), and is easily digested (more calories, less work). Healthful-sounding meals like quesadillas include chicken that has not only been fried at the stage of production, but again at the restaurant, and accompanied by vegetables that have been fried in oil, 4 servings’ worth of cheese, layered into two white-flour tortilla shells which are again fried on the grill, and then served with guacamole (with massive amounts of added salt and fat in the form of mayonnaise or sour cream), sour cream, (sweetened) salsa, and tortilla “crisps” — more tortilla shells which have been shredded and fried.

The author of this book calls it fat on sugar on fat on salt on fat on fat.

Sugar is omnipresent — not just in cereals and jams but in peanut butter, bread, jarred spaghetti sauce. Even cereals that seem to contain a reasonable amount of sugar per serving are, in fact, ~ 1/3 sweetener of one sort or another. All they’ve done is constructed it out of 5 or 6 different versions — sugar, dextrose, corn syrup, etc. so they can move each of them a little further down the label. Apparently there’s almost as much sugar in a McDonald’s hamburger bun as there is in a home-made cookie.

Don’t even get me started on the sugar on fat on sugar involved in a Krispy Kreme doughnut. (They do look yummy, don’t they?)

And have any of you looked at the percentage of RDA of sodium in anything packaged lately? Chicken broth — no msg, no added sugar, reduced sodium, still contains 25% of the RDA per serving. The compensation for poor ingredients is salt; at least then it tastes like something.

Even reading the label on the tray of sushi I bought today gave me pause — does there really need to be that many ingredients in it? When I make it, it’s a sheet of nori, some rice that’s been seasoned with some rice vinegar, fresh tuna, and some cucumber. Granted, mine doesn’t stay in those neat tight little rolls when I’m done, but at least I know what’s in it.

Coincidentally, a facebook friend posted this picture of the meat that has been scraped from bones to be reassembled into chicken nuggets.

Gross.

If you read the article you’ll find out that the scraping of the bones is just the beginning: the meat is now awash with bacteria, so it’s treated with ammonia. Now it tastes terrible (as one could imagine), so artificial flavorings are added to mask the flavor. Because no one wants to eat chicken that’s the color of Play-Doh, it’s bleached/colored to look like chicken. Gives new meaning to the expression “tastes like chicken.”

The other thing to be suspicious of is restaurants who are packaging an “experience.” Watch out for the flashy menus with glossy pictures and publicized “ambiance” or “fun-loving atmosphere.” It’s not about the food anymore, but about the escape from your tedious, mundane existence.

The gist of it is, I’m now mostly eating at home, food that’s been purchased from the periphery of the grocery store. I’ll have to find my escape elsewhere — Scrabble anyone?

24
Sep
10

Salt of the Earth

Ate a naked burrito at Qdoba for dinner. It’s “Healthy Mexican Food” right? How can I go wrong?

Have drank (drunk?) at least 36 oz. of water since I got home. Wondered why, so went to the nutritional calculator on their website.

Nutritional Facts


Amount per Serving:
Calories 515 Calories From Fat 220g

Fat Total 25g
Saturated Fat 11.5g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 175MG
Sodium 1110MG
Potassium 980MG
Total Carbohydrate 28g
Dietary Fiber 14g
Sugar 2g
Protein 43g

Vitamin A 48% DV Vitamin C 18% DV
Calcium 34% DV Iron 16% DV

25 grams of fat? 11.5 of saturated fat? 1110 mg of sodium?

Now I know. This can’t happen again. Sheesh.

23
Sep
10

Mind Over . . . Body?

Just read a very interesting article in the New Yorker about Dr. Kataria and the laughter yoga movement.

Depending on how you look at it, there is now belief in or evidence on the healing power of laughter. Not only that it can lift your spirits, but alleviate pain, exercise your internal organs, boost your immune system, and help you sleep; it may even alter the progress of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons.

What’s really shocking to me is a study cited, performed by Robert Ader in 1975 at the University of Rochester. The purpose of his experiment was to see if rats could be conditioned to associate nausea with saccharin. The drug administered along with saccharin caused nausea. When the rats started to die, Ader stopped administering the drug alongside the sweetener; the rats still died. It was discovered that not only did the rats learn to associate saccharine with the drug, a drug which was discovered to suppress the immune system, but the rat’s memory of this immune suppression continued whenever they tasted the sweetener. “In other words, their minds were killing them.”

This led to the realization that positive physical, mental, and emotional “feelings” have the power to rehabilitate the body’s chemistry.

You can watch the video of Dr. Kataria and some of his laugh-yoga sessions here.

To contribute, I just spent half an hour trying to find the clip from the first 5 minutes of a West Wing episode which discusses a sex-education report and a regrettable use of the term “sticky wicket.” No luck. Please post if you can find it. THAT will make you laugh.

16
Sep
10

Birds of a Feather

I love it in the fall when the birds start to flock.  There’s an intricate set of over/underpasses near my home, and they always seem to play there, swooping and diving; great waves of bird. I imagine them all getting together and having these roaming discussions about whether it’s time to head out or not, practicing their formations, battling for hierarchical position. As I was heading home tonight at dusk there were thousands of them all in perched in rows on the power lines, and then this little group of about 11 off at the end like they’d been shunned or something — geeky birds with their pocket protectors and no social skills who weren’t allowed to sit with everybody else.

When I was a young girl in Catholic school we were taught that human beings were God’s chosen creatures, and that this was proven by the fact that we had language, social networks, and superior intelligence — demonstrated through our use of tools. Apparently this overlooked evidence such as apes and orangutans using long pieces of grass to get ants out of anthills or sticks to get bananas out of cages, and their elaborate familial societies. Elephants will stand over their compatriots as they die; geese will fly down and stand guard over a dying member of their flock, and swans mate for life; birds seem to sense when it’s time to go and have evolved an elaborate system for ensuring their success.

(About a year ago 30 deer stood in a line along the edge of our yard and waited while the lead deer looked repeatedly in both directions to wait for traffic to clear. [“gonna look both ways when I cross the street. . . .left. . . .right. . . .] She gave some sort of signal, and most of them crossed, one at a time, in an orderly fashion. A few at the back seemed to have realized that just because the traffic was clear when the line started didn’t mean it was clear still, and hung back. We watched as the last few deer to cross realized that they weren’t being followed, turned around to look at the stragglers, and then came back across the street as if to encourage them to follow. We narrated the conversation: “Come on, George, it’s fine.” “Nope, I’m not goin’, saw little Sammy get taken out by that dump truck just a week ago and it just doesn’t look safe to me.” “But Maud gave the all clear.” “Yeah, but that was over a minute ago, and who knows what’s comin’ over that hill.”  After a few more seconds, the 4 of them turned around and went back from whence they came.)

Who’s to say who’s smarter? A Michigan winter looms just around the corner, and I don’t even have my bags packed.

Continue reading ‘Birds of a Feather’

25
Jun
10

Can You Believe It?

It has recently come to my attention that not everyone can decipher handwriting written in the soap on his/her back in the bathtub/shower. I guess having sisters comes in handy in more ways than one realizes.

03
Jun
10

Lycra!

I HATE stretch jeans. I accidentally purchased a pair about a month ago, and didn’t realize it until after I had cut the tags off and worn them for an hour or so.

They fit so perfectly when you put them on, and an hour later they’re sagging like the skin around an elephant’s ankles.

I think we should start a movement where clothing manufacturers are required, if selling clothing one would not automatically assume contained lycra (i.e. yoga wear and bathing suits), to have a tag, at least 8″ long and 3″ wide and prominently displayed, that says WARNING: CONTAINS LYCRA on it.

One can only imagine that these women feel equally betrayed.


Please comment below if you would like to “sign” this petition.


02
Jun
10

Is it just me? or are men in better shape than ever?

There is now apparently a garment, labeled “Shapewear,” available to help men “streamline their appearance.” At first I thought this was some kind of a joke, a theory which wasn’t threatened in any way by the fact that one of the spokesman for the item is named Nickelson Wooster and that much of the article sounded like an advertisement “[Although Mr. Viscusi is 39, he wears Spanx* T-shirts routinely. He recently wore them to see executives from Bravo and VH1. ‘It gave me pecs, gave me definition, it gave me confidence,’ he said. . .”].

And maybe it could only be a good thing for the world if men felt a little bit more of the pressure women feel to look a particular way. A little shared pain in the interests of empathy and all that.

One problem is that the men who really need this particular item are most likely the men who are walking around without any shirt on at all.

The other is that I think most women would just appreciate a little less pressure.

Instead we have created yet another market to appease yet another set of insecurities people feel about their bodies. Instead of learning more about how to eat healthfully, taking actions against the salts, sugars, and chemicals hidden in our foods, getting more exercise, and developing self-esteem which includes acceptance of ourselves and our imperfections, we have managed to devise yet another way to improve our “appearance” without actually changing anything.

To paraphrase the woman who has looked in a mirror after having removed her Spanx “foundation garment” (now THERE’S a eumphemism), “I look like a blob, an amoeba.” Or how about the man realizing that the “shapewear” garment he wears routinely has only served to mislead his date, and can only cause her to wonder how he has managed to gain 45 lbs between the restaurant and the bedroom.

The thing that really cracks me up is the myriad ways men justify wearing these garments. Rather than just admitting that they weigh a little bit more than they should, they emphasize the fact that it improves their posture, eases their back pain, and/or masks their man boobs nipples. One man complains about the tendency of undershirts to bunch up, causing it to look like you are wearing “. . .a tire around your waist.” It’s not the shirt, dear, it’s the tire around your waist. They don’t even call it what it is — a girdle foundation garment — it’s “Shapewear.” But no, actually: it’s spandex and rubber made into a garment that’s one-to-two sizes too small for you and hides the fact that you eat ice cream every night when you really shouldn’t.

Apparently there is also such a thing as “profile-enhancing underwear,”

which seems to act as, and I quote, “the equivalent of a ‘push-up bra’ for men.” Seriously? Do we really want need to see more of That?

Supposedly these garments have not been designed to “take off” pounds. The woman who designed them points out that stars as lean as Gwyneth Paltrow wear Spanx, and that she herself designed them when she was a size 2. Maybe it’s just me, but what exactly is the spanx holding in if you’re a size 2? Your kneecaps? Your spine? And if Gwyneth feels the need to wear it

I’m thinking that maybe the rest of us should just stop going out in public altogether.

Maybe we should all just wear Spanx/Shapewear and never take them off.

*Why “Spanx”? Why?

24
May
10

Conflict of Interest? or Business as Usual?

Perhaps you’d like to sit down before you read this:  It has recently come to the attention of journalists at the NY Times that there may be conflicts of interest inherent in our political system.

I know this may come as a shock to anyone who has spent the past 100 years at the bottom of a mineshaft. But to the rest of us, well, Duh?

As long as our system of campaigning persists, where a massive amount of money is spent for political advertising over extended periods, what hope do we have? Politicians need to make money, lobbyists and powerful corporations want to have their voices heard, and nothing speaks louder than a check for a large sum. Rather than merely paying lip service to the idea of, and assuming we really want a government of, equal representation, (not just on a state level but on an individual one), this part of the process needs to change.

I propose we adopt a Canadian system, which limits the amount of money that can be spent, and which therefore encourages substance, frugality, and efficiency throughout.

16
May
10

Billy Crudup

Just trying to figure out how all this time has passed, and this is the first I’ve heard of/seen Billy Crudup.

Has someone been keeping this from me deliberately?

03
May
10

I’m Married to an “Older” Man

My husband (7 years older, a fair bit grayer than me, and NOT Tony Randall), my daughter (9), and I are at Lowe’s looking at tile for our kitchen floor. We’re also looking at wood for floors in adjacent rooms, so there’s a fair bit of traveling back and forth between 2 aisles. I’ve laid out several tiles that we like, and G has turned to go to the wood-flooring aisle to select even more differently-colored samples (we apparently do not have enough already) so that we can line them up against the tile and see how well they “go.” Meanwhile, a young man (30?) approaches, pushing his adorable little girl (3? 2 1/2?) in the cart. (Sorry about the number thing; it’s important to the story.)

She watches G walk away, and with a look of grave concern in her eyes turns to me and says, “Your dad went away.”

Now, I enjoy this just a little, repeat it to G when he returns, have a good laugh, etc. etc. (Okay, I’m not proud of it, but it was funny.)

What I realize (much) later is that his apparent departure was probably a source of great distress to her. She’s at the store with her dad, I must be at the store with my dad; if he goes away, she is/I am alone and vulnerable and that’s a scary thing to a child of her age.  Instead of laughing I should have reassured her; “It’s okay; he’ll be right back.”

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of our dependence and vulnerability, or at least our perceptions of these things, as we move through childhood and into adulthood.  Babies “know” they need something, somebody (if they can be said to “know” anything). Preschool age children want all kinds of independence until you ask them to put on their own shoes or put away their toys, at which point they “can’t do it” and “need help,” but even the most self-reliant are not able to get a job, drive, nor can they cook for themselves as they are not yet allowed to use the stove.

Does this dependence/independence change that much in adolescence? My teenager can drive, but he’s still not comfortable driving on the highway; he’s allowed to use the stove but has certainly never asked if he is “allowed” to pay into the grocery kitty; he doesn’t want me even to talk to him unless he wants to talk to me. Then, even if I’m in the middle of: writing a paragraph, planning a class, a sentence, and can’t acknowledge him immediately, he’s so offended from being “overlooked” that he stomps away in a huff muttering “nobody likes me.” (Maybe it’s a middle-child thing.) You’ve probably all heard of the book, Get Out of My Life But First Can You Drive Me to the Mall?  He knows he needs us still, and it probably, at least partially, makes him crazy.

My 20-year old held me at arm’s length for 9 years. He now, fairly regularly, seeks out, and seems to respect, my advice.

Would I not be as sad, as lost, if G “went away” as this girl would be at the loss of her father? Are we all just on a perpetual cycle from one type of dependence to another, the only difference being that as adults we recognize its worth, and call it interdependence? Maybe interdependence is just another word for dependence without vulnerability.

Then again, maybe “dependence” isn’t the right word at all: I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, even if I do find my whole day feels much better when my husband wakes me by brushing my back with his fingers, makes the coffee (he does make much better coffee than I do don’ttellhimIsaidso) and poaches my egg. I don’t rely on him for my survival (although sometimes it feels that I do); I would know that even without him I could support myself, drive, use the stove; but I’d be alone.

From the September 23, 2002 issue of the New Yorker, in a review of the poet W. H. Auden by Adam Gopnik:

Being everywhere at once while going nowhere in particular is what poets do, and Auden did it. Where journalists write about what people are arguing about in public, and novelists about what they are talking about in private, only poets seem able to show that what people argue about in public is identical to what they talk about in private, that what we are arguing about is the sum of our own guilts, fears, anxieties, hopes. And only a handful of poets show that what people are talking about in public and what they are talking about in private is always a variant of what they say to themselves when they are alone, and that, Auden knew, is simply ‘I wish I were not.'”

She knew this, that wee little girl in the cart at Lowe’s. And she was only 3.

25
Apr
10

Interesting Oil

My husband is reading the ingredients list on a box of animal crackers as a) we give my son a hard time for living on them and b) I hold out my hand asking for some.

I am initially encouraged by the fact that the first ingredient listed is enriched wheat flour. This victory of sorts is short-lived, though, as I read on and discover that the 2nd “ingredient” is actually a list of oils that “may” be included, notably “interestified soybean oil.” I’m afraid I can’t divulge what is done to soybean oil to make it more interesting; this information is not included on the package. I guess I might feel better if it was “increasinglyhealthfulfied soybean oil” but maybe the technology for that doesn’t exist yet.

Meanwhile, we continue to be astounded at how cheap it is to buy food that’s bad for you (i.e. McDonald’s hamburgers at $1.00 a piece) and how expensive it is to eat healthfully (i.e. I paid $5.32 for 2 leeks and $3.99/lb for green peppers today). I worry about this as my oldest son moves out of his dorm in a week and starts buying his own food. They teach a lot of things at that college of his, but how to buy groceries is probably not one of them. At the same time the food-packaging middlemen continue to shrink package sizes and sneak sugar/sucrose/corn syrup, msg, and things-that-don’t-exist-in-nature into our food. It may be “interestified,” but it would be even better if it was honest, healthful, and tasty.

16
Apr
10

The Human Cost of Coal

According to NationMaster.com, we consume 3.5843 billion short tons of coal per person per year in the United States.

This coal is extracted by men working in conditions such as this:

(Think about that next time you’re complaining about how claustrophobic your “cubicle” is.)

Granted, there are more dangerous occupations, namely logging, and fishing/hunting/trapping. And while I think we would all benefit from a little less logging in the world, I guess I would be reluctant to give up seafood Mondays.

It does give me pause, though. As the NY Times article points out, we have robotically-assembled automobiles and pilotless drones, but we still send human beings down into the depths of the planet to work in incredibly dark, cramped places, breathe noxious fumes and coal particulates, and risk death by explosion or tragic equipment accident, all in order to keep our refrigerators and factories humming. I wonder how many trees I’d have to cut down to get sufficient solar power to run my house (and then I have to ask myself, would anyone be injured in the process?)

(Of course, this doesn’t even get in to what the use of coal is doing to the planet, or what the cost will be to us and our children and our children’s children if we don’t find some alternatives and fast.)

I don’t suppose it would help if, for every 1,000 KW of power or every pound of fish consumed, or every time we bought lumber at our neighborhood home-improvement store to add on to our house or build a deck, we sent each of these workers a thank you note and a voucher they could apply towards their life insurance premiums.

Maybe we each ought to be willing to work in each of these fields for a day. Like many vegetarians say — if you’re not willing to strangle the chicken, you shouldn’t be willing to eat it.

13
Mar
10

Blogomania

Just read an article about blogging and how it’s taking off among stay-at-home moms as a work-from-home option.

You mean people make money from this?




Reader Appreciation Award

Share This

Share |

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 177 other followers

Follow me on Twitter: sheriji1

Blog Stats

  • 114,561 hits