Nutrition Update

August 14, 2007 at 8:26 pm (Beer, food, Health)

I have found lately that I’m not eating much for dinner.  I have further found that food takes up valuable stomach real estate, that the Free Market best allocates to beer.  A 12-pack of Hamm’s in a can goes a long way to meeting the body’s caloric needs.


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Waste not

February 13, 2007 at 5:23 am (Environment, Health)

I have a pretty good theory about why we Americans are so wasteful. I was just taking out the garbage when it occured to me: I am getting ripped off. I take my trash out pretty frequently, so my apartment doesn’t smell any worse than it otherwise does, but I only bother lugging my can to the curb when it is full. That is about once a month. But next door, a family of ten could generate three times as much trash in a week as I do in a month, and they would be charged the same amount for pick up. I tried to get my service reduced, but was told that there is a flat fee, no discounts offered.

What kind of incentive is there to be a little bit frugal? None. The rate that I do pay is about 5 bucks a week. That seems absurdly low to me, when you factor in all the resources that are required to fuel trucks, pay collectors, sorters, operate machinery at the tipping yards, ship the trash to a landfill, build, maintain and store trash for eternity.

Me and LogJammin’ were hiking in the Columbia Gorge this weekend, and a long freight train went by, probably about a hundred flat cars, each stacked 2 high with semi-trailers. As we descended to the parking lot, we noticed the logo on the side of them , and it was Waste Management, a nationally-known garbage company. Yes, that was Portland’s trash, being shipped out of sight, out of mind, to a landfill in eastern Oregon somewhere. It was quite a sight. I wonder how many of those trains rumble out of here every day?

I remember in 2000, some British guy visited us in Philly, and he was amazed that our trash pick up was free and unrestricted (free if you ignore the 4% income tax the city levies). He remarked that there was a limit in London to one small bag, with hefty surcharges over that modest limit. And the base rate was substantial, I don’t remember what, but you have a clear economic incentive to not toss stuff away willy-nilly. A relatively small government “interference” creates a demand for less wasteful packaging, more reusable materials, and less waste from top to bottom. And the whole system works better. Germany, for example, has a law that requires life-cycle production, in which manufacturers are responsible for disposal of things like household appliances. They manufacture them with this in mind, so that parts are generally reusable. There’s a lesson there.

Is our expectation for cheap and unrestricted garbage generation a cause or symptom of our societal gluttony?

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March fifth, young man

March 6, 2006 at 1:13 am (Health, Personal)

Today marks one month since I have eaten meat. Granted it is the shortest month of the year, but I still think that’s quite an accomplishment. Me and the gf–that’s right–had some fish at the coast yesterday, but as any good Catholic will tell you, fish isn’t meat. I’m not sure if I have decided to be a vegetarian or not, but I have been surprised at how easy it has been so far. There are myriad reasons not to eat meat, which I won’t bore you with, but here is a brief recap on how I arrived at today.

It all started over Christmas when I, being of Red Blood and American Heritage, sat on my ass for a week eating like shit and watching such instant classics as Utah Bible Technical College versus Southwest Louisiana A & M in the Bowl. Maybe it’s my old age, or a heightened sensitivity to things like this, but I never felt like I really recovered this year. I was getting heartburn regularly, lethargic despite exercising a lot, and producing enough methane to draw the ire of federal regulators (remember when FERC was looking at me?) I thought some drastic measures were in order.

Enter The Master Cleanse. In case you don’t know what that is (likely), it is a kind of fast, in which you consume an all liquid diet for a minimum of 10 days, consisting of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. Starting on Feb. 5 , I consumed 500 daily calories of this pure goodness, and recreated that scene from Dumb and Dumber every morning (if you don’t know which scene, then don’t ask). No coffee, no alcohol (accomplishes themselves), nothing. It was not as miserable an experience as I had imagined. I actually felt pretty damn good after about day 3, and emerged from the whole thing feeling better, physically and mentally, than I have felt in years. I lost a little over 10 pounds, I can actually sleep through the night, my CH4 production is down 98%, and if I do say so myself I am a far more pleasing person to be around. I would go so far as to say I had another Great Leap Forward. Why am I telling you all this? I’m not sure. I think I’m digging this vegetarian thing. I spend far less on food, I don’t eat nearly as much and I make the best baba ghanouj you’ve ever had. But soon I need to deversify my menu lest I start sweating eggplants. Recipes welcome.

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Home remedies

December 5, 2005 at 5:34 am (Health, Random)

Got heartburn? Stop wasting money on Pepto, try drinking some vinegar. The theory is that antacids make you produce less acid, temporarily masking the symptoms but ultimately making them worse in the long run. Eating acid (something that produces hydroxide ions in an aqueous solution, not LSD) will in fact make you produce stomach acid, curing your painful symptoms. And it works. Try using wine vinegar, then you can pretend you’re, like, drinking wine or something.


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March 13, 2005 at 9:12 pm (Health)

Let me be the first (ok, maybe not THE first) to say that the
anti-smoking hysteria has gotten out of hand. Smoking is unhealthy,
expensive, unattractive, supports global corporate hegemony, and people
shouldn't do it. As a mostly-former user of tobacco products, I can say
that. It's like being black and using the N-word (which I can't do).

However, this is just ridiculous.
Montgomery County, PA is considering a ban on hiring anyone who smokes.
If you want to know why this is just a silly idea, consider this:

"It's really a huge impingement on worker privacy," said Jeremy Gruber,
legal director of the National Workrights Institute in Princeton, a
spin-off of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Gruber said it is reasonable for companies to protect worker safety by
enacting no-smoking policies at the job.
He wondered, however, whether employees would have to reveal
hoagie-eating, skydiving, or risky sexual behaviors.

I can understand employers' motivation to reduce their
health care costs, and they sure aren't getting any help from
government. But what's next, testing fat people for elevated
triglyceride levels in their blood? Tell them you won't hire them until
they stop eating at McDonald's and lose some weight? I have a better
idea. Make people who voluntarily engage in legal but self-destructive
behaviors pay their fair share of expected health care costs in each
paycheck. Consider it a down payment on your lung cancer irradiation
therapy and your hip replacement surgery. It's a legitimate argument
that a company could make and not seem paternalistic. "Do whatever the
fuck you want, but damn if we're going to subsidize the consequences."

I like this idea more and more. My former employer covered all of my
health care costs (an unbelievable perk), which by the time I left was
over $1000 per month. They made a point to put it on my paystub, even
though it was separate fom my earnings and taxes. During 4 years of
working there, I visited the doctor exactly thrice. Once it was a
dentist, and once I could have won a malpractice lawsuit. If you
interpolate those costs over the term of my employment, that's almost
50 grand. I often wondered why I couldn't opt out of the system, pocket
the cash, and pay for a doctor when and if I saw fit to consult one. I
realize now the reason had a lot to do with my director needing a cane
to walk to the elevator and see an orthopedic specialist every other
week. A director who weighed 450 pounds and could down 2 cheesestakes
like it was an appetizer.

So the point is, stop telling me what to do. Incentives always work
better than regulations. Let me smoke crack if I want to, if it doesn't
affect my performance on the job it's none of your business. But once I
have to start paying for it, I bet I'll substitute a salad for fries.

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