Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One more good reason to AVOID PACKAGED FOODS!

Photo found on Flickr

Here's another gem for the "Sneaky Blue Food" category that came in my nearly-daily Mercola newsletter this morning.

Is this ever a Hot Button for me. Read on and protect yourselves dear Friends...

If you pick up a can of soup and find that the sodium levels are lower than you expected, or that a food item advertises it has “less sugar” or “no MSG” ... then there may be cause for alarm.

A relatively young company, Senomyx, may be responsible for the sodium and sugar levels falling in various grocery store items. They may be putting chemicals into your food right now, without telling you and without you even realizing. Under the law, they don’t have to.

Senomyx has contracted with Kraft, Nestle, Coca Cola, and Campbell Soup to put a chemical in foods that masks bitter flavors by turning off bitter flavor receptors on your tongue. The companies can then reduce sugar and sodium levels by approximately half without affecting the flavor.

All of the companies declined to identify which foods and beverages the chemical additives have been or will be added to. These chemical compounds are not required to be listed separately on food labels; they are grouped into the general category of "artificial flavors."

Senomyx was able to obtain FDA approval and a “generally recognized as safe” classification from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association in less than a year and a half, based on a safety study of rats conducted for just 3 months.

Food items that are most likely to contain these new chemicals include soups, juices (fruit and vegetable), ice cream and sauces.
"We are helping companies clean up their labels," said Kent Snyder, chief executive of Senomyx.

Mark Zoller, Senomyx's chief scientist, says that his company has used the human genome sequence and identified hundreds of taste receptors. Senomyx's chemical compounds enhance those receptors to heighten the taste of salt or sugar. Under this premise, they go on to claim that their newly added chemicals are completely safe because they will be used in tiny quantities of less than one part per million whereas artificial sweeteners are used in 200-500 parts per million. This fact alone allows them to forgo the rigorous FDA approval process when introducing new food additives into the marketplace. Attaining the status of GRAS (generally recognized as safe) from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association for their most advanced product that replaces MSG, took this fledgling company less than an 18 month time frame by introducing a safety study of rats conducted for 3 months.

Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Michael Jacobson, commended Senomyx's strides to reduce MSG, salt, and sugar but warned against introducing a new chemical additive into the food supply without strenuous testing. "A three-month study is completely inadequate," he said. "What you want is at least a two-year study on several species of animals."

After pouring a total of 30 million dollars into research and development, the companies that have invested into Senomyx's products have been secretive, to say the least, about their involvement within the company. Some, like Kraft, have declined to divulge any specifics regarding their relationship with Senomyx but instead stated that Kraft was committed "to reducing the sugar and salt levels in many products."

Nestle and Coca Cola declined to comment. I think silence says it all.







Monday, April 28, 2008

The Mac Geek Ruminates

Make no mistake. I have a great Mac setup. In fact, for what I do, it's about as sweet as it gets. But when something as gorgeous and powerful as the new iMac comes along, I *must* sit up and take notice.

Here's a snippet of the specs:
"The updated all-in-one iMac introduced today offers the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors and the most powerful graphics ever available in an iMac. The ultimate all-in-one desktop computer includes faster processors with 6MB L2 cache, a faster 1066 MHz front-side bus across the entire line, and 2GB of memory standard in most models. And the 24-inch iMac now offers a 3.06 GHz Intel processor and the high-performance NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS graphics as options. Available immediately, the new iMac starts at just $1,199."

I swear, Apple simply cannot be topped for making a machine that is as tempting to the eye as it is intuitive and robust.

I recently read an article in Wired magazine about the "Evil Genius" that is Steve Jobs. It talked about how he doesn't follow any of Silicon Valley's "Rules" of "Employee-Pampering Corporate Culture." He regularly blows up at people... "but he's usually right." There is absolutely NO autonomy given to anyone and every single product must cross his desk before it is deemed worthy for Mac Snobs everywhere...

I don't think I would enjoy working for him, but I more than appreciate what his uppity attitude, perfectionist standards and charismatic personality (and the talented people who endure him) have achieved for the products that make my job not only possible, but absolutely enjoyable.

As a creative, the elegant physical design as well as the intuitive and visually appealing interface just make my brain at once settle down and get fired up. It's all just so beautiful to look at that it makes me want to sit and bask in the finely-tune ingenuity of it all.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I have but one question...

... I have *seven* cats. What does that make me?

You're right. I don't want to know.

Please note: it's not like I reside in a studio apartment with my feline throng... I live on acreage, People. This fact should be taken into account when forming your judgment as to the degree and severity of my psychoses...

Kitty People, enjoy the vid'!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rx for thought...

I just gave our very old cat his antibiotic liquid and was intrigued by the fact that it is BANANA flavored... and not just banana... really BAD banana.*

For a cat.

Is it just me or does it seem for more logical that medicine intended for a feline should be flavored like, oh I don't know, field mouse or maybe even tuna fish?


Who's idea was that?

*The reason I know what it tastes like is because I had to mix it up from powder and in breathing in a little of the powder, I got a hit of the very strong and disgusting flavor.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Beer... Me... Yes.

Try though I might, I have never been able to like beer. I WANT to like it, but that particular acquisition of taste has perpetually eluded me.

Hefeweizen has always been the closest thing to an enjoyable beer I have encountered, except for perhaps McMenamins Ruby Ale... a lovely, sweet and *girly* raspberry brew, but one can only get Ruby at McMenamins' fine establishments. *sigh*

While I may like a few sips of Hefeweizen, I could never be counted on to down a whole bottle.

I appreciate completely the culinary merits of certain food pairings. In fact, I can never eat pizza without *wanting* a beer to go with it but have never been able to complete the transaction.

This is me trying to enjoy some Widmer Hefeweizen at
Zippy's Pizza in Yamhill.
Photographic proof that beer will NOT make you more attractive unless someone ELSE is drinking it... what
a train wreck!

On Wednesday night we made fajitas for dinner and, like pizza, fajitas SCREAM to be served with beer. James cracked open a Pyramid Hefeweizen he had bought to try and gave me a sip...

Oh. My. Goodness.



Silky smooth...

No bitterness.

No aftertaste.

Just a mouthful of unfiltered loveliness that begged me to have another.

The taste of it was unlike anything I had tried before.

I couldn't get those fajitas made fast enough.

I raced to the table and enjoyed every single sip and bite. Completely astonished at this miraculous new development.

I finished off both fajitas and the entire bottle of malted goodness... then I took a nap.

Cheryle, Angelina, and others of you who have known and experienced my beer-averse frustration, I hope this day I have made you proud.

Cheers, Y'all and Happy Friday!

I know what you're thinking...

Your Superpower Should Be Mind Reading

(This little foray into randomness inspired by Beth.)

You are brilliant, insightful, and intuitive.

You understand people better than they would like to be understood.

Highly sensitive, you are good at putting together seemingly irrelevant details.

You figure out what's going on before anyone knows that anything is going on!

Why you would be a good superhero: You don't care what people think, and you'd do whatever needed to be done

Your biggest problem as a superhero: Feeling even more isolated than you do now

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Moment for the Queen

Two years ago today she ran back into Grandad's arms... and I can still feel them celebrating.

Here's to Queen Esther and her King George, to whom I owe so much.

I miss you both terribly, but know you are never far from me and continue to influence my life in profound and tangible ways.

I am so grateful to have been born to such Royalty.

Thank you for everything.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Confessions of a weak, WEAK woman

I have mentioned in past posts how I can resist candy and junk food all day long, but when it comes to baked goods I am rendered helpless.

Well, yesterday, my random act of kindness backfired and has come back to bite me square in the fanny... literally.

I decided James needed a treat so I called around Mac to find someplace that would deliver cookies to his office. I managed to find a florist who knows of a place that makes the best frosted cookies ever and can deliver them before lunch! Everything is working out perfectly so far. He feels all warm and fuzzy AND he'll gain weight and I WON'T! (insert maniacal laugh track here.)

The cookies arrive, he calls and thanks me profusely, to which my natural reaction is to ask, "So, how are they? What are the like?"

This is where the trouble starts.

"Oh, they're GREAT! They're the size of a DESSERT PLATE and SLATHERED IN FROSTING!!! They're SOFT and CHEWY and CRISPY on the edges and ONE just about put me OVER THE EDGE so I decided to share them with the office."

To which my dainty reply was, "DUDE!! You had better bring some home to me if you ever want me to send you cookies again!!"

And so he did.

Damn... er... bless him.

He brought home two. More perfect examples of superior bakery issue I have never seen.

I was entranced. The textures. The flavors. The quintessential pairing with ice-cold milk so fresh it was mooing that morning... NIRVANA!

I am powerless in the face of such forces.









So then I said to myself, "the only thing as good as the cold milk combo would be that of said ambrosia with, say, the perfect cup of coffee... and mere hours prior I just happened to procure nearly a pound of Organic Sumatra Gayo Mountain roasted only yesterday!

But, wait! I should save that cookie for the girls...

...though they don't even know it's there so they won't miss it..."

Oh, how the battle raged. But I did manage to get some sleep.

This morning, James brought me my coffee in bed. Wow! This new level of service is unprecedented and he better be careful with such indulgent behavior because I spoil faster than shellfish in July.

So, I go padding out to the kitchen, coffee in hand and what jumps out at me from behind the wine rack? Why, that dastardly cookie, of course!

After roughly .85 seconds of grappling, it was bisected and half was meandering blissfully down my esophagus, awash in cream-laden java. Ahhhhhh.

That... was... PERFECTION! But that's IT!

I have recently lost very nearly 30 pounds. Though involuntary and not a program I would recommend, still, I needed to be rid of the weight and plan to TRY to keep it off with exercise now that my appetite has returned, much to my chagrin.

Afternoon arrived, and along with it, lunchtime.

I had a pretty reasonable meal... half of a leftover chicken breast, rice and broccoli. Yippee for me!

As I'm taking my plate to the kitchen a quick whiff of freshly roasted coffee teases my right nostril.

I steel myself against it and press on to the sink.

I remind myself that the very complicated coffee maker would need to be completely dismantled, cleaned out and reassembled to make ONE STINKING CUP OF COFFEE only to have to repeat the whole process once again for the morning brew.

Way too much trouble for a single cup of afternoon joe.

Then, I turn to walk across the kitchen and my eyes fall on the other half of the morning's transgression... and my mind darts nimbly to FRENCH PRESS!!

One cup of coffee is a cinch in a plunger pot and if I get that blasted second half of cookie out of my life then I can move on and get back to focusing on carrot sticks and Yoga... Right?

Ok. I'm done.

It's gone.

I'm safe now.

When will that florist call me back and tell me where I can get MORE?!!! I can't stop thinking about THAT DAMNED COOKIE!!


Ok. I'm off to the kitchen to get more carrots. Yoga starts in four hours and fifteen minutes and I have some serious karmic reparations to make.

Ohm... There is no cookie... Ohm... There is no cookie... Ohm... There is no cookie...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Directive of the day

Do some unexpected kindness for someone close to you... or anyone, really.

Random acts of kindness and spontaneous expressions of love are never a waste of time and always make me feel even better than the person for whom I do them. It's the best antidote I know for my own bad attitude or personal funk.

I'm a total junkie for the response... and am horrible at keeping surprises... so, yea, it's totally a selfish thing for me to make someone else happy. I think it's a good kind of selfish, though. :)

Get out there and pay it forward, Y'all!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

God spoke to me through Thai food.

It's important to recognize when the fortune cookie is smarter than you are.

The wisdom delivered here hit me right between the eyes. It goes far beyond exposing the recklessness of deception. It's also a reminder I can't put anything over on God.

I have finally *really* figured out that I can't show God a particular side of me. He sees the WHOLE of me... "warts and all" as they say. What's more He LOVES the whole of me and doesn't hold my warts against me. He isn't even repulsed by the great big booger hanging off my nose. All He sees is the being that He created me to be.

Beautiful. Radiant. Flawless.

That doesn't mean anyone else sees me that way, or needs to, or that I think I'm perfect because God sees me that way. It REALLY doesn't mean that He thinks I don't need any improvement or correction. God has been correcting my ass off in recent months. What it means is that I don't need to be self-conscious, because I'm good enough, just the way I am, for anyone... even me.

Which brings me to the other truth that this fortune cookie revealed to me...

I can't outwit myself, either.

No matter what persona I project or how I wrestle parts of myself back in fear that people will be uncomfortable with me at "full strength," or perhaps they'll realize just what a doofus and fraud I really am, the "real me" is still there. Who I am lurks just below the surface clambering to be seen and heard in more than just regulated, censored cameo appearances... because that is the person God created me to be.

I can't change it any more than I can change the color of my eyes or the length of my legs.

I don't need to fear negative reactions because I say what I really feel. Someone just might be thinking the exact same thing. And if they don't agree, they are certainly entitled to feel differently. It doesn't mean I'm stupid, or wrong, or bad. We simply don't agree. It's not a crime or a sin to disagree.

The greatest disservice I can do those around me, especially those I love, is to withhold my honesty in a vain attempt to "protect" them somehow and display only what I think others deserve, or expect, or can handle from me. That's not to say that I need to be brutal or cruel. Just real. To say the truth and then work through their response with love and respect. That is the only way to have a firm footing.

To build a relationship while being who I *think* I'm supposed to be and expressing only what I imagine my loved ones want to hear is to live on a constantly eroding slope that will inevitably continue to fail and lack true stability until the bedrock is finally exposed.

What greater expression of Love for my family and friends could I offer than to allow the person God made me to be finally beam at full candle-power in stead of a feeble attempt at acceptable fashioned by my own floundering, myopic humanness? To quote Ani DiFranco, "I'm 32 Flavors and then some..." My family deserves them all... not just the ones I *think* they like.

How will they know they like pistachio unless I give them a chance to try it?

Mint Chocolate Chip?

Licorice, anyone?

What better gift and show of respect for my Creator than to quit camouflaging His design?

I'm done being afraid of who I am.

I'm pretty much done with fear in general. Fear is the opposite of Love.

I'm ready to Live Out Loud.

I'm ready to break free of self-imposed twilight.

At last, I am ready to shine... and maybe even sing.

Nothing like a little Pad Ginger with a good friend for lunch and a smack upside the head from God for dessert, eh?