Friday, November 30, 2007

Cold Friday night

Practically flooding outside right now. Catching up on bits and pieces. Last Kids' Cafe until next year. Fun, messy, sweet kids. Getting old and sentimental.

Listening to lots of music. Mind scattered. Multiple data threads spindling, forming, tearing their way through. May have to find a focus or dump site for those other ideas.

On Nutrition and Education, Part 1

As you may or may not know, I'm studying to be a registered dietitian (RD) right now. My first semester has consisted of nutrition from the cellular, biochemical, industrial, culinary, and lifecycle points of view. From my vantage point, it seems Western nutrition and its supporting science are still in its adolescent stages. We know more now but oftentimes the recommendations made by the authoritative organizations are colored by the influence of business, politics, and a lack of sufficient evidence. Not surprising, I know, but these factors make it difficult for nutrition professionals (let alone the public and me) to separate the chaff from the grain.

The food pyramid is a good example. When it first debuted in 1992, there was enormous pressure from food industry lobbyists - meat and dairy, mainly - over the wording and placement of the food groups. The most recent pyramid (MyPyramid) is designed poorly because of, yes, lobbyists from the same industries. Compare:

Even at a reduced scale, there are noticeable differences in clarity, effectiveness, and overall message between the two models. The latter does have certain improvements over its predecessor, namely, greater details and explanations, factors in people with lactose intolerances, and has an image stressing the importance of exercise. But the MyPyramid doesn't present some of the latest evidence and advice concerning diets and nutrition (supplements, alcohol, vegetarian diets, etc.)

This is where a dietitian (of which I will be, hopefully) should step in - and not necessarily a physician (I'll talk about this in future entries) - to provide the details and advice to the individual. I often feel as if I've been thrown into the middle of a jungle with nothing but a machete because the scientific evidence for many areas of nutrition (even RDAs [recommended daily allowances] have changed, often dramatically) can offer confounding preliminary conclusions.

Some of my goals with this blog are to share and clarify what I've learned in the classroom, find the islands of sensibility, and clear away my own fog of confusion surrounding nutrition.* There will be jargon and abbreviations, but I'll try to explain them whenever it seems necessary. Hopefully, we'll all have a stronger, more nuanced understanding of nutrition.**

*Caveat: please keep in mind that I am not qualified to offer any professional nutrition advice (yet). What I present here serves as a reference and method of understanding what I learn in my classes and of nutrition and health in general. Please consult an RD for any nutrition-related advice and guidance.

**Asian nutrition is something I'll address as well, even though it's not a part of my current training. This is an area that should be part of any future RDs' education, especially now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Too Cold to Think of a Snappy Title

Gah. It's 45º outside, probably colder in here. My feet and toes are purple and numb and the only things keeping my hands and fingers attached to me are typing, burning dog hair, and the metallic warmth of my computer.

My friend Katie posted something about adulthood recently. I've gotten into these conversations with Matt a few times, and my parents still consider me a child in many ways despite their equally frequent insistences that I am the opposite (I have to dwell in these contradictions constantly - maddening.)

So what is adulthood? As I told Katie, I have to fight disparities between my own sense of self and how others perceive me. It seems to be a head game from the start. These people are tracking the fluidity of adulthood. Some - myself included - may be tempted to say, "I know it when I see it." It doesn't feel that easy to me.

Physical maturity / emotional maturity / finish school or degree / financial independence / living independently / significant relationships / home / marriage / children /

These seem to summarize the main indicators of adulthood. The problem is that it presupposes a singular track of life in a certain order (not necessarily how I organized it, though) and just one view. For some people, it can also include leaving behind pre-adult interests: certain music, toys, movies, artistic pursuits, views of the world, friends.

So am I an adult? I'm not sure. I'm certainly old enough to be considered an adult; a quarter-century on this planet can do that to a person. Mentally, I've always been an adult who has been trying to be a child for once. In other ways, I would have to leave that to friends and family to answer.

Time to warm up the bed...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

For Everyone in Internet Funfunland!

To My (Future) Friends and (Future) Colleagues,

Ah, privacy...I don’t need it because I do want everyone and their supporting businesses to know what brand of soap I use whenever I shower (Dove, btw), the type of floss I floss with (Crest is my buddy-for-life), and the toothbrush I abuse (come here Oral-B!)

I keep thinking about the idea of modern-day ghosts (or “spooks” in Gibson’s latest novel), people who have no online record of any sort - bills, purchases, journals, search engines, email accounts, photos, personal records - nothing. They are essentially invisible. This has become a difficult entity to be without assuming a false persona since government, business, and personal records are increasingly accessible online.

If privacy is such a big issue for you (and I know it can scare the hiccups out of people who are fully aware of the situation), then don’t go online. Ever. Then you would only have to deal with the physical records and computer records kept as a result of what you do out in the “real” world. Simple enough, yeah? Or alternately, hook up with some good hackers and computer security folks and learn how they secure themselves (or better yet, become one of *them*).

Of course, those are the two extremes. What’s the average schlemiel do? (I can say that because I’m part Jewish and I study the Torah every day and there’s a sub-mitzvot that states the conditions for the use of that word.)

You can start by not doing anything online on a personal computer. This means putting any factual info about your actual self on a computer you bought and own. Don’t put up anything you’re not willing to share with the entire world, which would include possible stalkers, serial murderers, high-school-bombing terrorists, cannibal lovers, your friendly national government, or Prozac-happy salesmen wanting to show you their “new product” in their “bag.” This would include your real name (e.g. Ezekiel Jeremiah Deadman), your phone number (666-CALLS-ME), your address (corner of Baka and Chyun) and what-have-you.

So what I am saying is this: think about what you’re putting on your Facebook/MySpace/LJ/weblog/Flickr/Google/skin scroll the next time you’re online. Someone will be able to find that information without much difficulty - well, that last one may pose some problems but that should be the least of your worries, eh? So be safe, know all the facts, and join me in my paranoia.

(I’d wear something better than this.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spam, spam, spam

Well, I just got my first spam comment. Awesome. Time to moderate comments...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Music Discovered in 2007 - Preliminaries

I am not a music critic and I don't see myself as resembling anything like a music critic*. I don't have a very good memory for some names and songs, and I have a rudimentary understanding of music theory from playing the flute during middle school. I can't rattle off the influences and analogs of a band without a lot of research.

*I have some problems with how "music critics" operate nowadays.

I do like a good song even though sometimes I would be hardpressed to say what I like about a song and why. That said, there have been many good songs and albums up to this time of the year. Here are a few:

Dethklok's The Deth Album - a death metal album that is good technically and doesn't take itself too seriously.
The New Pornographers's Challengers - not as immediately rewarding as their previous albums (haven't heard Electric Version, though) but satisfying nonetheless.
Madlib's Beat Konducta vol. 3-4: India & Oh No's Exodus into Unheard Rhythms/Dr. No's Oxperiment - all of which are hip-hop instrumentals that can stand up as cohesive "albums."
Jens Lekman's Night Falls Over Kortedala - almost perfect.
St. Vincent's Marry Me - like Lekman's album.
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists' Living with the Living - despite some weak songs, there are many outstanding tracks (Sons of Cain, A Bottle of Buckie, Bomb.Repeat.Bomb, La Costa Brava, The Unwanted Things, C.I.A.)
Roisin Murphy's Overpowered - more of a Euro dance pop sheen applied this time around but the eccentricities are intact.
The Clientele's God Save the Clientele - a little better than Strange Geometry but with a much brighter outlook.
Electrelane's No Shouts No Calls - of course, like Sleater-Kinney, they go on indefinite hiatus after releasing their best album of their career thus far.
Feist's The Reminder - if having the songs pop up in Old Navy stores and on iPod commericals aren't enough of an indication, this is a really good album.
LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver - ditto.
Anoushka Shankar & Karsh Kale's Breathing Under Water - even with a guest appearance from Sting, the album is surprisingly addictive.
Blonde Redhead's 23 - some unfortunate timing with the Jim Carrey/Joel Schumacher film but much, much better than the film.

Waffles' "Need You" - the band and the singer push themselves on this song, and even though they overreach, the results are still wonderful.
Les Savy Fav's "The Equestrian" - because I like mixing horse metaphors and sex?

There will be more but I can't fit it all now...

Fashion Faux Pas, Part 1

Some of what I've seen and/or experienced:

Blazer or suit jacket's shoulders are too wide or narrow - the latter hurts while the former makes you look slightly robotic or as if you are wearing shoulder pads.

Gaudy t-shirts - man, you must have a lot of confidence and ego to even attempt wearing a loud and gaudy shirt. You probably also don't mind blinding people with your TechnicolorDreamcoat, either.

Too many shirt buttons unbuttoned - you might as well unbutton it all the way or forego the shirt in the first place.

Pants halfway down the derrière - unless you have a mic in your hand and you're rapping about your money/female troubles against a booming backbeat and your name is Jay-Z, this should not be seen.

Pants that are too big or small, too long or short - a huge problem. Too big and you look like you're wearing a skirt. Too small and it looks like you might be in pain and having a semi-erection all the time. Too long and you look short child who accidentally wore his father's pants. Too short and it looks like you can't wash your clothes properly or you're wearing capri pants - I have yet to see a man be able to pull off wearing capris.

Pants without belts - just plain look bizarre.

Butt cleavage - leave that to your plumbing professional.

No underwear or wearing thongs - shall we keep shaking hands and touching things in general to a minimum?

Most of your underwear shows when bent down/over - not a big fan. It reminds me too much of fat guys and strip shows, which conflates to fat guys who do strip shows - not a pleasant image. Also, the situation seems so unfair that I feel compelled to show you my underwear in exchange and no one wants that.

Too much cleavage - showing some is fine, but excessive cleavage is not so good if you want a man to talk to and look into your eyes and not your breasts.

*Revealing skin in general - to me, there is a lot of gray area here. Some women can wear a lot of clothing and still look fantastic. It depends on your comfort, confidence, body type, the type of look you are going for, and the kind of attention you want to attract. Personally, it seems more skill and fashion sense are involved in looking more attractive with more clothing than with less.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


It has been a hectic two weeks. Last weekend I was conducting interviews of family members for an essay about generational diet changes and doing research on beriberi outbreaks in the world for a group oral presentation the entire 3-day weekend and this past week. I'm halfway done with reviewing for a food science exam on Monday and have to finish reading an article from the ADA about aging and nutrition before this weekend ends.

So it's the end of the semester. Fun times.

Thankfully, a few things have been keeping me sane during this period of compressed learning:
Jens Lekman - his new album is I can't stop listening to that sweet nectar in my car. Or at home. Or whenever I take a walk. Or when I'm reading. Or...
Sally Shapiro - whose album finally reached the U.S. this past month and just in time for the winter season.
Soap - seriously.
Yotsuba&! - one of the rare books (let alone manga) where reading it causes me to laugh out like I heard a joke from my invisible friend.

Dress List

Overcoat, black or dark gray or light brown
Single- or double-breasted suits, blue and gray
Blazer, navy
Shoes, black and dark brown
White shirts
Blue shirt
Polo shirts
Tie, dark and slim
Jeans, blue
Belt, black and brown
Socks, black and cotton
Pants, flat or pleated
Sweater, crewneck

Baseball cap
Knit hat
Watch, metal and nonmetal

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Late Night Randomness and Friends!

-My friends are wonderful. Matt and Abby just sent me a copy of the entire run of Freaks and Geeks as a birthday present. YES! Can't wait to watch it once I have some free time. My eyes are still burning from finding information on beriberi for the past 4 hours...

-Since Halloween (well, much earlier actually) I've been feeling a little fashion-conscious, which comes and goes depending on where I am and whom I'm with. Right now, I've been looking at what passes for classic men's fashion nowadays. Granted, that last one is a little...unsavory and not classic in any sense whatsoever compared to the others, but I know of one too many male friends who seem to have a sense of style that comes from that last source. It wouldn't hurt to look at it, would it? Also, I'm fairly ignorant when it comes to any sort of fashion sense or developing a sense of style and that's something I should address as a man.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

For a Friend

1.) The Great Pyramid of Giza - background for the following links
2.) Chris Dunn's website
3.) Margaret Morris's response to Dunn
4.) Another response to Dunn, this time from Alan Alford
and finally, pages 20-22 of Crecy

Aside from Crecy, I haven't read Dunn's book and these articles thoroughly, but it's a good idea to maintain a healthy skepticism about these topics. Then again, we may just be rediscovering lost knowledge again and again. Personally, I think the Crecy excerpt sums up my view of people and technology from previous eras.

Friday, November 2, 2007

"Be thin to cut cancer, study says"

Of course, that's not the only recommendation made in the report, which is linked to the article and quite hefty (400+ pages). It's a comprehensive review of the latest literature on cancer and lifestyle choices. There's supposed to be a follow-up report next year - something I look forward to reading.