Plastic Bags

So Julie’s already written an article on plastic bags, but I had no clue how bad they really were. Salon has a scary article on it. The Chronicle also has a good comic on this subject (I couldn’t find it online though), about the plastic vs. paper people duking it out.

I nearly had a melt down on Wednesday night, when the clerk insisted on putting our two items in a plastic bag even after I asked her not to. Julie and I had a nice little fight about this. I was having a bad day with the moving and stuff, but it still just gets to me. There are these tiny things we can do to improve the world, and it feels nearly impossible to make them happen. Julie did use the plastic bag for packing material though. And we’ll recycle them when we unpack. So I really shouldn’t have flipped out.

I guess I feel so passionately because it’s an issue in my life that I have control over. An issue that I can easily have a real impact. And there are so many other places where I’m fat and lazy and horribly detrimental to the environment. I feel so powerless when I can’t even have an impact with the small things I try to do.

Ok, so I lied

So, I said I wouldn’t talk much about the Baby Einstein thing, but this article brings up a much more disturbing comment:

…when you’re alone with your baby for hours on end, and especially when you haven’t been able to sleep more than three hours withing being woken up in months, sometimes you want to eat a meal or read the newspaper. You need something to occupy the baby, and a Baby Einstein video — which tends to make the babies smile and coo — is better than making them stare at the ceiling for twenty minutes.

I’ve read this sentiment before. First off let me say if you have a baby who is screaming for 2 hours and you’ve had no sleep and you put them in front of a Baby Einstein video – that I can understand. But, babies do not need to watch a Baby Einstein video rather than the ceiling. This is a disturbing trend I see mentioned more and more. The point of this study is that developmentally it is worse to put a kid in front of a Baby Einstein video than having them watch the ceilings. I don’t know what’s on the ceiling, but it fascinates them. Apparently babies learn a lot by doing what we would call “nothing”. I read an article in which a father basically created a TV schedule for his daughter, always turning on the TV for her at all meals. His reasoning was that he didn’t want her to be bored. Which is so frightening, because if there is anything a kid younger than 3 is never, it is bored. I mean, I’ve never tested this, but I have a feeling that Stella would play peek-a-boo with me for 7 or 8 hours straight. I’m the one who gets bored. She’ll keep exercising those brain cells forever. So let the kid stare at the ceiling. It’s good for ’em.

Random Wednesday

  • New Stella cuteness: She has started wandering around the house with her hands clasped behind her back. This is ridiculously cute, and you want to offer her a pipe to puff on. Well, I do. You might not if you are a responsible adult.
  • More studies on ADHD and TV watching. I think I’m going to be like Dutch and try not to editorialize on TV stuff. I don’t want to be the “I don’t watch TV” guy. But the stuff’s scary.

Our President is trying to kill us

I really think this latest move is starting to solidify something in my mind. Bush is not just a bad president. He’s not just incompetent. He really and truly wants to kill us. He wants to knock as many of us off as possible. Bush said he wants to “eliminate roadblocks” and “cut through paperwork” in rebuilding the collapsed I35 bridge. The only conclusion I can draw is that’s he’s not completely insane and that he is trying to kill us.

Body Image

So I was reading Kelli’s most recent post, and just really wanted to comment. Body image is a very interesting thing to me. Especially, since it’s so much about your brains chemistry. There are so many things that can influence it, and an outside source that can cause one kid to become wildly anorexic can have no impact on another.

I was always a good weight growing up. As a child I got fed a ridiculously balanced diet with almost no snacking or junk food (yes I’m one of the carob and sesame snack kids). Probably too good. When my Grandmother came to visit she’d buy us like $100 worth of junkfood and we’d binge for the entire time she visited. We got so sick. When I hit puberty in the Soviet Union there wasn’t a lot of protein, plus I had a fantastic case of Amoebic Dysentary so my body was not absorbing things particularly well, so I hit 6′ while weighing 120 pounds. I think my body’s been struggling to put on weight ever since then. I’ve had a metabolism that doesn’t quit. In high school I’d eat half a bag of oreos in one sitting. I’d often just eat an entire plate of pasta to “fill in the cracks”. I left high school 6’4″ and weighing somewhere between 130 and 140. My diet was not conducive to reliable weight measurement.

I didn’t actually start cooking until my first year of marriage to Julie. I got to the point where I couldn’t eat one more chicken breast, marinated in salad dressing and cooked on the George Foreman. My grandmother had recently started sending Julie a subscription to Gourmet magazine and so I started cooking recipes from that. I quickly moved towards being the only one who cooked in our house since I actually enjoyed it. Two years ago I realized that I was actually putting on weight. I had started to get rolls around my hips and a slight pot belly. Nothing particularly exciting, but for someone who has never been able to put on weight in their life it’s a pretty massive life change. So I started running. I initially said I was running so I could eat whatever I wanted. And I did. And it was fine. But eventually I realized that I was running these fantastic distances and I could eat 3500-4000 calories a day, but to what end? Why was I churning through this massive amount of food? And was I hurting Julie’s weight related goals just so I could be a glutton? So I started trying to cook better. We tried reduced portions for a while which worked, but made you feel like you were really working to eat healthy. Now Julie’s doing weight watchers (as am I by extension), and it’s been good to see that I should be eating about 2/3 more than her. Which is definitely not how we were doing things before.

I came in 3rd.

Wow, I came in 3rd in my age group in the Sunstroke 5k last night. Which feels pretty good. Until you notice that 1st and 2nd place came within 14 seconds of each other. And I was 6 minutes 9 seconds out of 2nd place. Yeah, I rock. 26:24 was the actual time if you’re interested. That’s over a minute worse than my last time.

I felt like I pulled a pretty good race out, though. I was feeling like I was hung over yesterday (which is always unfortunate when you didn’t do any drinking the night before). I was drinking water like crazy yesterday, but I couldn’t make the feeling go away. At about mile 2.5 I had to stop and walk because I was having that wonderful sensation of the lights going out. That’s definitely my favorite running sensation. I pulled through though. I followed a guy in, caught him, and would have passed him for the finish if the trail hadn’t been crowded. I’m not big into running people down. I did almost get run down by the guy who ended up winning overall last night. He took a turn really wide. Like, almost ran into the chain link fence I was running along wide. It was excessive. He could have cut the corner, I have no clue why he had to turn that wide. He was definitely running out of control. I also had to jump off the path to dodge a bunch of people taking up the entire track. Really rude. If you’re going to pass on the narrow parts of the course, you could at least have the courtesy to drop back if someone’s coming the other direction and not force them off the road. Ahh well. It was fun in any case.

Someday I’ll post about the fantastic-ness that was slapdash this year. And me going psychotic after being awake for 43 hours. But that day is not today.

Stigma and Obesity

I wrote a post a while back about social stigma and obesity. This article draws up some recent findings in a fascinating way. The crux of the study that came out is this is:

[Risk of Obesity -] Genetics can’t explain it, since having a fat friend was more likely to predict a person’s obesity than having a fat sibling was. Environmental constraints can’t explain it, since faraway friends made a difference, while next-door neighbors didn’t. Availability of food can’t explain it, since friends had a bigger effect than spouses did. Nor can sheer imitative eating, since faraway friends had as big an effect as local friends did.

This is fascinating. It’s saying that social shame and social validation are two of the most powerful factors in our lives. That’s crazy. Even more interesting:

Fowler cautioned that studies “suggest that having more friends makes you healthier. So the last thing that you want to do is get rid of any of your friends.” Christakis added, “We are not suggesting that people should sever ties with their overweight friends. But forming ties with underweight or normal weight friends may be beneficial to you.”

Which is even more fascinating, that your group of friends can have serious ramifications on your health. Julie and I are addicted to the show Big Medicine. It’s about 2 doctors who perform gastric bypasses in Houston, TX. It’s sensational and it’s voyeurism, but it constantly begs the question, “How do people get that big?” And this study makes me wonder. Is it just the lack of friends? Would they have been able to hold steady at 300 pounds rather than ballooning up to 500 if they had had skinny friends (or even other 300 pound friends)? If this is really true, then we are so important to each other. Our behavior impacts each other on such a fundamental level. How are we impacting the world? When we judge, are we judging to make it a better place, or are we judging to try to get others to join us in our misery? What part of our lives does this not touch? Are we perhaps less individuals and more like a herd than we’d like to think?

Slaw’s the answer!

So this post is mainly going to be about food. We had a good food night last night. I came up with something Stella liked. Really liked.

Pickle Pita

3 hot pickled okras, chopped

3 pickles chopped

1.5 cups diced green cabbage

1/2 cup roasted chicken cubed

1 pocket pita bread, cut in half

Mix okra, pickles and cabbage in a bowl. Line bottom of one half of pita with chicken, and then fill with slaw. Repeat with second pita.

I thought at the time that it had zero nutritional value, but now that I look it up cabbage is pretty good. Much better than iceberg lettuce. Okra and cucumbers aren’t fantastic, but they’re certainly not a twinky. In case you’re saying to yourself that you don’t like cabbage, don’t worry, it just tastes like a pickle relish. the cabbage is completely overpowered by the pickled vegetables.

Stella’s big into sour. The other night when I was cutting limes to get some fresh lime juice she demanded a wedge and proceed to suck on it for 20 minutes or so. So I figured she’d like the pickles.

When I handed Stella the pita she just looked at it. Then she picked it up and was about to dump it all over herself. I showed her how to eat it starting at the end, and she began doing so. It was amazing. She learned to eat a pita last night. And she loved the slaw. She was eating the slaw that had fallen out of the pita, while she still had bread left. Which if you know Stella’s bread addiction is shocking.

Then last night Julie and I had SPICE-RUBBED CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE TACOS WITH CILANTRO SLAW AND CHIPOTLE CREAM for dinner. It was fantastic. I love smoked paprika, and it was loaded with vegetables.

Remember that dish?

The one I said looked pretty, but tasted like Chicken Salad? Here’s the pictures. I think I’m going to try to rejigger this. I love the idea julienning a bunch of vegetables and wrapping them up in a little meat. It’s suck a nice way to get fruits and vegetables. This one unfortunately just didn’t work. Maybe I’ll try a hot and cool theme. Some of them will be a combination of citrus, peppers, and green apples. Some will be a combo of cucumbers, celery, pickles, and pickled okra. That would probably be good.

Update: New UNKLE out today! War Stories