I’ve been home sick today with my cold, and so my mind turns to health. Here are a few health-related articles I’ve noted:
- Getting Up. Have you ever sat on the floor? How do you get up? It turns out that the ability to sit and then rise from the floor is a strong predictor of the risk of death in middle-aged and elderly people, according to a new study. Alas, I wouldn’t score a 10 — I have to briefly use my hand for balance, and my knee for balance.
- TV and Children. Growing up, I had a TV in my room (a 9″ black and white set, if I recall). My daughter never did. Appears we did the right thing. A new study finds not only that kids with a TV in their bedroom tend to watch more TV, which in itself should make them fatter, but also that when compared to television watched in, say, a family room, the screen time a kid logs in his or her bedroom is linked, hour-for-hour, to more belly fat, higher triglycerides and overall greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Maybe there’s a reason I needed that hand and a knee.
- Old Deli, New Deli. Canters, an institution on Fairfax in Los Angeles for more years than I can remember, is changing their menu. No, they aren’t going to Indian food. But they are adding gluten-free breads (including bagels) for any bread on their menu. According to one of the owners, 40 new menu items have been added, including 15 panini and melts, new breakfast items, more burgers and now gluten-free bagels, gluten-free matzoh, even a house-made gluten-free bun for hamburgers. Among the new dishes is a pastrami panini — pastrami, pepperjack cheese and spicy mustard on a jalapeno bagel. They also have a pastrami quesadilla. Some things are going away: Short ribs and a pita wrap, or the Billy Gray’s Band Box sandwich, an open-faced chopped liver and egg salad sandwich with coleslaw. We’ll give them a try in a few weeks and see how they are. Perhaps they will convince Brents to add gluten-free breads.
- And Lastly… I couldn’t resist this short item. It appears that Sunset Station in Las Vegas is looking to replace their Hooters restaurant, which was closed recently. What I liked was the reason it closed: “Some have speculated that the Atlanta-based Hooters chain’s main marketing point — its Hooters Girls — has heavy competition in Las Vegas, where nearly every casino features scantily clad cocktail waitresses and tourists who are as likely to be dressed as provocatively as Hooters waitresses.”
Music: Cabin in the Sky (1964 Off-Broadway Revival): Make Way/The Man Upstairs
As you’ve figured out by now, I do a news chum post when three or more collected bookmarks form a theme. That’s happened again, and the theme for this post is junk food:
- The Twinkie Defense. Evidently, there is a baker’s strike, and as a side effect of the strike, Hostess Brands may file for liquidation if it continues. Yes, folks, that means the maker of the popular snack cake may go out of business (as early as today), and the branded Twinkie (as well, I guess, as Hostess Cup Cakes and Ding Dongs) may go off the shelf. But don’t worry. The ones left on the shelves will never go stale.
- Ruining Tea. Most people don’t go to Starbucks because their coffee is good. After all, if it was, why would they feel the need to doctor it with so much fattening crap. It’s gotten to the point where real coffee drinkers prefer McDonalds Coffee. Luckily, us tea drinkers have been relatively safe. Until now. Starbucks has purchased Teavana for $260 million. Teavana, which already had overpriced and overmarketed tea, is a perfect match for Starbucks. Starbucks said it plans to expand Teavana’s existing 300 mall-based stores while adding a “high-profile neighborhood store concept.” According to Starbucks, the Teavana deal is a “signal that we have moved our plan to fundamentally transform the consumer tea experience in both North American and international markets into high gear.” Sigh. I love tea because I drink it black… and I already have great sources for tea (Upton, Stash, Franklin Tea). I also believe it is important to support your local coffee or tea shop, not the megachains.
- Your Drink is Bad For You. We’re learning more and more what we drink is often bad for us. First it was large sodas. I’ve just talked about the junk people add to coffee. Today’s news brings a report of another hazard: it appears the calories people get from booze nearly equals the calories they get from sodas. According to the report, soda and other sweetened drinks are the source of about 6 percent of the calories adults consume, on average. Alcoholic beverages account for about 5 percent. A 12-ounce can of regular Coca-Cola has 140 calories, slightly less than a same-sized can of regular Bud. A 5-ounce glass of wine is around 100 calories. Now people are asking whether New York will ban large alcoholic beverages. Of course, I’ve got a different question. I only drink black tea. So where am I getting my extra junk calories .
Well, it’s Friday*, and you know that that means… time to clear out the links. This has been a quiet week for news, other than the debate (and I’m a bit disappointed that no one has commented on my debate post that addressed what I wished the candidates would have said — I know, it was probably “TL;DR”, but still…). Still, I was able to find a few articles of miscellaneous interest:
(*: I know, it’s not lunch, but it’s a vacation day… so deal)
- What’s For Dinner. An interesting blog in the LA Weekly takes a look at the Top 5 Things Restaurants Should Never Serve. These are not trends that have worn out their welcome. They are things that should never have happened in the first place. Number 1 on the list: Truffle Oil on Food. Quoth the article:
“It has an acrid flavor that tastes like a synthetic, ramped-up version of the real thing and also kind of like someone poured mushroomy chemical all over your food. It’s a cop-out of the highest order as well: a way to make food seem sexy without actually doing anything to that food to make it taste better. It’s the fake boobs of food.”
- Drive By Wire. One of the advances in airplane technology that had many people scared a few years ago was fly-by-wire. This was why many people would never fly Airbus at later model Boeing. Basically, fly-by-wire removes the physical connection between the driver and the wheels. Well, folks, it is coming to cars. According to an article on Nissan moving to driverless cars, they have developed two new technologies. The first is a system that will automatically steer the car away from another vehicle or a pedestrian crossing into its path if it detects the driver’s failure to do so. The car uses sensors not only to see the incoming object, but also to make sure the lane your car will swerve into is clear. That capability isn’t ready for prime-time yet. The other system. Quoth the article:
“To give the autonomous steering system complete and immediate control of the car’s steering, the mechanical linkage between the steering wheel itself and the front wheels needed to be removed and replaced with an all-electric system. This setup reads your inputs via the steering wheel and transmits them to the front wheels electronically, thus making the steering more immediate to your commands. Essentially, the only connection between your hands and the front wheels are wires and computers (don’t worry, Nissan says the system has plenty of redundancies built in).”
- Mars Attacks. Now, I found it funny that this article was on Fox News, home of paranoid conspiracy theories and paranoid conspirators. Basically, a government report has been unearthed that shows the US government attempted to build flying saucers. Well, actually, they contracted with the Canadians to build them, and they weren’t flying saucers but VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) devices, but they looked like flying saucers. Specifically, the disk-shaped craft (complete with an ejector seat and “ram jet” power) was designed to reach a top speed of Mach 4 and reach a ceiling of more than 100,000 feet, according to the “Project 1794, Final Development Summary Report”, dated 1956. The reported noted that the device didn’t work as hoped, wobbling uncontrollably (and you know that the US goverment just hated the Wobblies). Of course, Fox News just had to note:
“After all, the Air Force dubbed it Project 1794 — rearrange those numbers and you’ll get 1947, the year of the Roswell incident.”
- The End of an Era. Yesterday, the news was abuzz with the fact that Newsweek was ending its run as a printed magazine. This makes me a bit sad. I started subscribing to Newsweek back when I was in high school (as my dad subscribed to Time), and I maintained the subscription until two years ago. At that point, I dropped the subscription in favor of my Time subscription, because Newsweek had gone from being a weekly newsmagazine to a collection of in-depth, dated articles. So, although sad, I’m not surprised at all. Newsweek isn’t what it once was. LA Observed opines that Newsweek should have just been put out of its misery, quoting a Reuters article:
“Instead, Newsweek is going to have to suffer a painful and lingering death. There’s no way that first-rate journalists are going to have any particular desire to write for this doomed and little-read publication, especially if their work is stuck behind a paywall. At the margin, it will certainly be better to work for the Beast than for Newsweek: the supposedly “premium” arm will in reality be the bit which smells like old age and irrelevance. It’s not going to work. So, really. Why even bother?”
- Maps. I Must Have Maps. It appears that a large cache of folding and wall maps have just been donated to the LA Library. We’re talking on the order of tens of thousands of maps, if not more. The detailed article on the find describes some of what was there: There’s a 1956 pictorial map of Lubbock, Texas. A 1942 Jack Renie Street Guide of Los Angeles. Four of the first Thomas Bros. guides from 1946. An atlas-sized 1918 National Map Co.’s “Official Paved Road” guide to the United States. The acquisition will give the city library one of the country’s top five library map archives, behind the Library of Congress and public libraries in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Cataloging and organizing the maps will take as long as a year. The collection will take up about 600 feet of shelving. Here’s a description of what they found when they stepped into the house:
“Stashed everywhere in the 948-square-foot tear-down were maps. Tens of thousands of maps. Fold-out street maps were stuffed in file cabinets, crammed into cardboard boxes, lined up on closet shelves and jammed into old dairy crates. Wall-size roll-up maps once familiar to schoolchildren were stacked in corners. Old globes were lined in rows atop bookshelves also filled with maps and atlases. A giant plastic topographical map of the United States covered a bathroom wall and bookcases displaying Thomas Bros. map books and other street guides lined a small den. [...] Volunteer Peter Hauge was startled when he moved an old stereo. “Look at this!” he shouted. “He gutted the insides of the stereo of its electronic components and used the box to store more street maps. The front of the stereo still has the knobs.” After that, Hauge said he made a point to inspect the home’s washer and dryer and its refrigerator and oven for more stored maps, but found none.”
Music: Abbey Road (The Beatles): “Something”
Back in my college days, I was introduced to Dim Sum by my associates in the UCLA Computer Club. It was the 25th Anniversary Party for the club, and I remember big arguments about where to go to get the best bao. I mention this because today was a dim sum day; we did a run downtown to Empress Pavillion to get the kids dim sum before they go off to college (especially Jim, for who knows if he’ll find Dim Sum in San Antonio TX).
In the past, Empress has been reasonably good dim sum. Yes, you could do better in Monterey Park, but that was a bit of a schlep from the valley. Alas, today I must observe that the quality of the dim sum at Empress had markedly declined. The best example is my go-to dish. For me, that’s BBQ Pork, which serves as a carrier for mustard. The pork should be sweet and slightly carmelized; the mustard should be good and hot. Today? Bland. The pork had no flavor, and the mustard, according to my wife, had been Americanized. Other dishes were similarly blanded: the turnip cake had no punch; the dumplings were so so. It was as if the exquisite tastes had been removed. I also don’t recall seeing the variety of dishes we normally see.
I think next time we go for a dim sum run, we’ll try Monterey Park. Certainly not Empress.
Well, it’s Friday at lunch, and that means it is time to clean out the accumulated links that never quite formed into a theme:
- And The Plan Is… Let’s get some politics out of the way first. One of my big problems with the GOP of late is that their position seems to be solely what they are against, not what they are for. The LA Times captures this well in an article that discusses how the GOP focus regarding “Obamacare” is the repeal, and they have taken no actions — even actions they promised — towards finding a better solution. This was evidenced this week with the 33rd vote in the house to repeal the act, with knowledge aforethought that it would never pass the senate, let alone be signed. I think the GOP would have a lot more respect if they would work to modify the act into something better, as opposed to just tossing it out whole-cloth with no replacement.
- Whither the Resume? CNN has an interesting article on the potential death of the resume. Their basic question is this: In this era where our job history is easily available via LinkedIn or even Facebook, why have a resume at all? Work history can be easily found out.
- Broken Meters. Gov. Brown just recently signed a bill making it legal to park at broken parking meters. It takes effect January 1, 2013. But there’s a catch. Cities can create superseding rules… and it is expected that Los Angeles will be one of those cities.
- Side Effects of Heat. As you know, it has been hot. You had it in the east; we’re getting it in the west right now. It has been up into the 120s in Las Vegas. Heat has an interesting side effect: it makes air thinner, and thus it is harder for planes to take off. Luckily, the Las Vegas airport is one of the few engineered specifically for hot weather. Specifically, McCarran International Airport has two built-in advantages that help pilots deal with extreme heat: an exceptionally long runway and one that goes downhill just enough — 1.1 degree over its 14,505-foot-length — to help jets reach takeoff speed.
- Sequencing the Banana. Bananas are an interesting fruit. The best bananas are sterile, propagated by shoot. The majority of the bananas consumed are a single variety — the cavendish — because others do not travel as well or look as good. This has made bananas very susceptable to disease and hard to improve. Thus, it is significant news that they have sequenced the genes of the banana. No, not the cavendish, but something close enough that they might be able to use the information to improve the banana. In related news, did you ever wonder why people slip on banana peels?
- Pinning it Down. Lastly, an interesting article that explores the Apple iPod Dock Connector: why the shuffle uses a 4 pin connector; why that doesn’t work for most iPods (which have 30 pin connectors), and why there might be a 19-pin connector in the future.
- Compensating for Nick. CNN is reporting on how DirecTV is compensating for the loss of the Viacom channels. Supposedly, according to DirecTV’s facebook page, “to thank you for your patience until Viacom channels are returned, all eight Encore Channels (including Encore Family) will be made available to all customers thru July 31st”. Further, the article notes that some subscribers have gotten discounts on their subscriptions for multiple months due to the loss.
Music: Raisin (1973 Original Broadway Cast): It’s a Deal
A number of items related to food have shown up in the news today:
I know, I know. I’ve been quiet all week. That’s because I’ve been busy taking care of my wife (who had shoulder surgery on Tuesday) and dealing with various work stuff… plus there haven’t been a lot of articles that caught my eye. So, while I’m back and work and eating lunch, here are a few that did:
- Potential New SoCal RenFaire. The Ventura County Star is reporting that a number of groups are coming together to turn a 150-acre plot in unincorporated Moorpark into the first Nottingham Festival, an event similar to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire held for decades in Agoura and now in Irwindale. The event, planned for 2013, is being organized by Jan Glasband, creative artistic director and co-executive director of the project, who is also the artistic director of the Actors Repertory Theatre of Simi. Working with Glasband are Andrew Elkins and Josie Hirsch. All three live in Simi Valley and have history with Renaissance events. As for the site,the Cassar family of Moorpark, owners of the site, offered it to the nonprofit Simi Valley Cultural Association and Actors’ Repertory Theatre of Simi, which are partnering on the project. The festival will take place the last two weekends of August and the first weekend in September, including Labor Day, in 2013. The plan is to have more than 100 vendors, more than 1,000 costumed entertainers, horse tournaments and events for children and adults. ART of Simi already has a page up, and there is already a Facebook page.
- Misusing Language, Part I. A nice article on how people misuse the phrase “begging the question”.
- Misusing Language Part II. I posted this to Facebook, but it’s worth reposting. A nice article on how different cultures view colors, and naming colors, differently.
- Food for Thought, Part I. Interesting mental floss: How Aunt Jemima changed US Trademark Law.
- Food for Thought, Part II. How McDonalds “improves” its burgers for Advertising Purposes.
- (ETA) Making The Old New. How to antiquate your new technology. I love it! I especially like the rotary dialer app, the iPad Typewriter, and the iPod BoomBox.
Music:The Music of Smash (Megan Hilty): Let’s Be Bad
Well, it’s Friday at lunch, and you know what that means… time to clear out the accumulated links. This week, they are all across the board.
- Happy Birthday To You. I’m sure by now you’re aware of my tradition of birthday songs. I used to post these on LiveJournal, but LJ has begun to lose its audience, so I now post them on Facebook*. So naturally I was interested when someone posted a heat chart showing the distribution of birth dates. Most birthdays are clustered in the summer months (Jul-Sep, with a little overlap in Jun). This gives us an idea what people are doing come October and November. People also seem to avoid giving birth on major holidays (look at the anomalous coolness of July 4, December 25, and Thanksgiving… but seem to want to give birth on Valentine’s Day and just before the end of the calendar year (nothing like a little tax deduction).
*: If you’re an LJ reader and still want an LJ song, please let me know. Also, if you are a reader of this blog and haven’t friended me on FB, please do so. Please drop me a message so I know you’re doing this as a blog reader.
- Whose Garden Was This. At our previous house, I had a large collection of different varieties of roses. I would plant them in January or February as bare-root roses. I’ve been meaning to do this at our current house, but the last time I went to Lowes, they had an extremely poor selection. Here’s part of the reason: roses are fading away in popularity. People are buying fewer roses, and fewer growers are producing new varieties or maintaining old variety. This is sad. Having a bush of lovely fragrant hybrid roses is a delight to the senses.
- I’m Changing My Name To Chrysler. The movement of corporations and brands is something that fascinates me–it has going back to the debacle of the NBC “N”. So I read with interest that Motel 6 has moved from Accord to Hilton’s owner, Blackstone. I wonder if that means Motel 6 might connect to the Hilton reservation line, accord Hilton Honor points, etc. Could be interesting–I don’t think Hilton has a real budget brand. In other news, NBC is looking to push Microsoft out of the online version of MSNBC (they are already out of the TV network).
- Don’t Slay That Potato. A couple of food related articles. First, echoing the fact that “gluten-free” is the current in-fad (not that I’m complaining), Frito-Lay is joining the bandwagon in getting its snacks certified as gluten-free. It is important to remember that Gluten-Free .NE. healthy be default (just as Kosher .NE. healthy). Does it really serve society to have more gluten-free junk food? Speaking of junk food, a congressman has introduced a bill that removes pizza as a vegetable. In understanding this issue, it is important to realize that “pizza is a vegetable” is as meaningless a phrase as “Obamacare”. Pizza is not a vegetable: the real debate was whether a serving of pizza had sufficient vegetable material to count as a serving of vegetable. It’s like asking if spinach pasta is a serving of vegetables. The debate raises an interesting question: does eating tomatoes count as eating vegetables, and how much concentrated tomatoes (which is what tomato paste is) constitutes a serving. Further, what makes pizza bad as a food is not the tomatoes or even the crust — it is the fat that comes with the cheese and pepperoni. But we neglect educating the public on these facts, preferring the sound-bite of “pizza is a vegetable”.
- Made in America. Stupid debates (such as the one about pizza) seem to be made in America. We’ve certainly seen the dumbing down of America; this is demonstrated by the speeches that Congress gives. So is there anything good made in America? The answer, of course, is yes–as demonstrated by this list of 10 products still made in America.
- Take Me For a Ride in Your Car Car. Two transportation articles. First, it looks like Carmageddon II will be delayed. As you may recall, Carmageddon was when the entire I-405 was shut down in the Sepulveda Pass to demolish the southern half of the Mulholland Bridge. Part II was planned for June, but that looks to be delayed. Why? According to the article, “Workers have encountered dozens of unexpected utility lines that need to be removed or relocated from the area, he said. Retaining walls must be rebuilt because of manufacturing defects. Additionally, a $300 million lawsuit – filed last year by a Bel Air landowner – forced Metro to move a freeway on-ramp near the Getty Museum 150 feet to the west.The lawsuit, which claimed a planned, nearby golf course would be negatively impacted by the widening, was dismissed last month, it but still necessitated the construction changes. And then there’s the FBI. The agency works out of a building at 1100 Wilshire Boulevard, near the construction site. Government officials are demanding Metro workers go through security clearance before working on the sensitive FBI lines.” That last part is fascinating to me, as a security guy. Of course, when Carmageddon II happens, people will need to ride Metro. Guess what? They are going to have to buy TAP cards (the reusable card costs $1 on top of the fare) — gates will be locked, and there will be no more paper tickets.
Lastly, as a reminder to me: There are some interesting musicals previewing at the NoHo Arts Center.
Music: Ramblin’ Boy (Tom Paxton): Harper