A Radiolab Advertisement

(You guys, my neighbor asked me what my secret was for my tomato garden. This confirms it. I am a locally famous tomato raiser.)

Occasionally when I’m at work, doing something that requires minimal brain concentration, I’ll put on the ol’ headphones and listen to Blitzen Trapper or some other hipster artist on grooveshark or pandora. At some point last week, I realized that I could be listening to the news. So I headed over to NPR, where they stream all of their content on their website for FREE (NPR is one of my favorite things, right behind brown paper packages all tied up with string), and I started listening to the news. The News gets me all riled up, and it makes me sweat, and sometimes it makes me cry. So it’s not a good thing for me to listen to, as I just tear off my headphones and rage around the office. It’s very unproductive.

Then I discovered Radiolab.

And the Heavens sang. The great thing about Radiolab is that it is completely politically neutral. 100%. And it’s as rewarding as reading The Onion, or a passionate article on the NY Times, that is all about how Republicans are destroying the country in the wake of failed leadership by Obama.

Here are some mindblowing things I’ve learned on Radiolab:

If you tell people to remember a two digit number, and then tell them to go to another room and repeat that number back to an experimenter, and then a nice lady interrupts them in the hallway and asks them if they would like a snack of fresh fruit or chocolate cake, they are more likely to pick fruit. If you tell people to remember a 7 digit number, and then tell them to go to another room, and then a nice lady interrupts them and ask what they would like, they pick chocolate cake. WHAT! That story is here. They also show that people who lie to themselves more often tend to be happier, better functioning people than people who are more honest with themselves.

And then I learned that the nation’s best ultra runner (ultra runners are crazy people who run for days without sleeping. Ultra-runs range from 30 to 100+ miles) is a woman who is recovering from epilepsy. She had part of her brain removed by doctors to prevent seizures, and after that, she became a champion ultra-runner. Incidentally, the part of her brain that was removed is the part that deals with visual-spatial skills, and also deals with time. Yep, ladies and gentleman, when she’s out on a run in the Yukon, pulling dog sleds through the snow, she has no idea if she’s on day 4 or day 9. So she just keeps goin’. Basically, she doesn’t know when to stop.

There was this very, very, very cool story on how language shapes thought, and I can’t even begin to explain how awesome this podcast was. Even my grandpa liked it, and my grandpa and I can not agree on ANYTHING. Nothing. It was the most awesome thing I’ve ever listened to.

And there’s this musician who can memorize and replay symphonies in their exact tempo back in his head. He can keep track of four musical symphonies at once. Mind blowing.

Meanwhile, Bachelor Pad is going to be very satisfyingly trashy. Vienna is a horrible human being.

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God needs to come back and stop abandoning the Jews

you guys, you guys. (first of all, nothin against Jews, i love jews. Their curly hair and delicious…uh…delicious…uh…food….ummm….OH I KNOW, their awesome little hats! make them okay in my book!)

Evan has always told me that circumcision is weird. But I never really bought it until I was driving home from work yesterday and I was listening to an NPR conversation about hardcore modern-day-leftist Jewish people from California wondering if they really and truly wanted to mutilate their baby boy’s genitals for some crazy forgotten promise made by God a billion years ago.

So basically some schizophrenic prophet-type thought that God said, “Genesis 17:9-10 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.”

For those of you not properly versed in God-Speak, essentially God said, “You can be my people and be saved and shiznit, as long as you CUT THE FORESKINS OFF OF ALL OF YOUR MALE BABIES on the 8th day after their birth. Right after you stone all the gays and the divorcees. With big, jagged rocks.”

When I heard that on NPR, I just started giggling uncontrollably. I mean, I’m all about free religion and believe-whatever-you-want, but just the thought that in order to go to Heaven the tip of your foreskin has to be missing was just hilarious to me. I’m pretty sure that Abraham, or whoever it was, had a hearing problem. Seriously: Abraham also thought that God wanted him to sacrifice his first born son on the mountaintop, so he brought him up there, all ready with a crazy sharp knife and some rope, and then God was all, “JK, LULZ, HAHA, SUCKA!!!!!! Just a test! Go back down the mountain and write a poem about this.”

So, pretty sure God didn’t do that. I mean, LOL wasn’t even invented until 1992 A.D., and then LULZ wasn’t invented until 2008 sometime. Must have been Abraham misinterpreting his voices. I bet God actually said, “I’ll save all y’all, as long as you are CIRCUMSPECT in your decisions regarding your penii.”

If you don’t get that, please go to http://www.dictionary.com and draw your own conclusions.

But, since Abraham was a crazy motha, he heard what he wanted to hear, and then wrote it down in his personal diary, and somehow it made it into the history books, and as a result, billions of poor Jewish baby boys had their foreskins removed for the next several thousands of years.

Let’s just engage in some modern-day comparisons for a moment, shall we?

So, let’s say there was some psycho cult in western Iowa. And, let’s say that one of them really and truly believed that God came and spoke to them. And then let’s say, that God told them they were all saved, as long as they cut off their female babies’ labia on the 5th day after they were born. And let’s say that all of these people started doing this.

Okay.

I am pretty sure the NAACP, the ACLU, slate.com, and women in general would all be like, “OH HELL NAH,” and then they would descend like a crazy hornets nest on the cult and denounce them for the psycho crazies that they were.

And it would be called GENITAL MUTILATION and they would be ordered to stop doing it. So. How is penile circumcision any different (other than the fact that it is an effective preventive against the transmission of HIV/AIDS, but thats another story)? Well, penile circumcision does happen to be a million years old or whatever, whilst labial mutilation would only be like, two weeks old. Still. Does the age of something make it okay?

People. Everyone needs to rethink why the mutilate their child’s penii. CIRCUMCISION IS WEIRD. WE DO IT BECAUSE SOME CRAZY DUDE THINKS GOD TOLD HIM TO DO IT A BAZILLION YEARS AGO.

This is not okay.

Also, while we’re discussing Jews, wasn’t what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s way worse than what happened in Egypt in, like, 2000 B.C. ? Isn’t it time that God reappeared again and renewed the covenant, with something like, “oh hay Guys, sorry I abandoned yall for that decade, I was on vacay on Galaxy 91350EXYTI, IT WAS DA BOMB, falling stars all OVER the place! but my homies in the New World saved yall, so we cool? we cool! be fruitful and multiply, amigos! Oh, P.S., I really didn’t intend for anyone to cut off anyone’s penis, SORRY BOUT THAT.”

That’s what should happen. srsly. If God exists, he should really first apologize for abandoning his people in the mid 20th century, and then he should stick around to clarify a bunch of stuff. Like, what was the point of turning that poor woman into a pillar of salt? Why was Jesus so nice, but everyone in the Old Testament was such a freakin a-hole? How come he invented McDonalds? Why do Jewish people wear those silly little hats?

i have a million other questions for God. If he shows up, you let me know. I’m gonna go Alex Trebec on his ass.

Jesus exploded in my mouth the other day.

I have unfortunately come to realize in the past couple of days that I am no better than Mark Zuckerberg.

I, too, eat my best friends for breakfast.

I never meant to make my tomatoes my best friends. “Firm separation between garden life and love life,” I said. “Nothing good ever comes out of mixing personal and garden relationships.” Little did I know how this mantra would get blasted out of the water as soon as I caught my first glimpse of greenery poking out of the dirt.

In the beginning, all I wanted was a strong, healthy garden. The Garden Guru says to talk to your plants. So I talked to my plants. First I started with the radishes, then later I moved on to my tomato plants. Remember these guys?

Unfortunately, what often starts out as innocent conversation, eventually turns into maybe getting a beer together after work, and then eventually it becomes late night chats, and then all of a sudden you’re fantasizing about whether or not Cherry the cherry tomato plant would be a good spooner, or if Sherry the Beefsteak tomato plant might provide a little more cushion.  And then finally…you start baring the deepest, darkest parts of your soul.

Here’s how it happened for me: As soon as I saw that healthy little green sucker come shooting out of the dirt, all of the firm barriers I’d thrown up between garden/personal life immediately came melting down. I spent hours sitting in front of my tomato plants. At first we just idly chatted. Harry was jealous of Sherry’s top leaves. Sherry was jealous that Cherry got to sit closest to the window. Cherry thought I spent too much time chit chattering with Harry. But as we ran out of trivial things to discuss, I began digging into deeper fears. I wondered aloud about whether or not i was really getting osteoporosis at the tender age of 26. I asked them if they really and truly thought that they’d help me get blog-famous (they said yes! stupid sycophants). They confirmed that yes, that shirt really did make my boobs look too big but no, I really shouldn’t get a breast reduction. (Harry helpfully added that all of my jeans made my butt look too flat, and I huffily replied that those weren’t my jeans, it was just my butt, and then we endured the first awkward silence of our hitherto  honeymoon relationship).

Why, you may ask, Why did Evan not put a stop to this madness? Surely he must have known of the deep and abiding emotional attachment you were forming with these mere plants? These…these…these homewrecking, tomato producing, invaders!

Evan knew nothing. I put my cell phone on silent and held it up to my ear, pretending to talk to my mom, or to Clare, or to Elena, but really just talking to my tomato plants. It was quite deceptive. <avoided forced trip to mental hospital><pats self on back>

Eventually my besties started growing. Then, they grew big enough for their very first perma-week of sunlight!

Now, if i wanted to talk to them, I had to walk the ten yards out to the yard. Despite this significant obstacle, I went outside every day. Cherry, Sherry, and Harry would pop their little leaf-heads up at my approach, struggling to look a little taller and fluff their leaves out a bit. Sometimes, I’d go out with a measuring stick and I’d mark their names down on the ruler, with their age and date. Soon, they were all competing with each other for my attention. I organized photo-synthesizing contests, water drinking contests, anti-leaf mold contests. Harry Cherry and Sherry all struggled to do so well. My love for them grew in leaps and bounds. I even bought a best-friend heart necklace, broken into several different pieces, and each of them wears a piece of my heart around their leaf-neck.

We were in love.

The thought that someday I’d have to eat their babies crossed my mind every once in a while, but I just pushed that thought to the back of my mind. “They’re young,” I thought. “The day they bear fruit won’t happen for a while. I can enjoy their childhood and love them while it lasts.”

Oh, how terribly, terribly wrong I was.

It happened two days ago.

I came home from work. I popped out of my car, and Harry Cherry and Sherry all immediately started waggling their leaves at me, eager for me to come over and show me the cool new things that they’d done. At first, I just oohed and aahhed.

Those big green tomatoes were far too ripe for me to do anything about them. But then Sherry mentioned an itch she was having in one of her branch crotches, and as I leaned over to get to that hard-to-reach spot, a flash of red caught my eye and I glanced upwards.

Stars fell from the sky. Victory music blasted from the radio of a car driving by. A starving orphan in Africa was adopted by Angelina Jolie. They cured cancer. Rupert Murdoch was never born.

My tomatoes were edible.

All thoughts of how Cherry Sherry and Harry felt about my eating their babies fled from my mind. Shakily, and without permission, I reached out one hand and plucked that ripe little sucker right off of the vine and crunched down with my omnivorous molars, releasing the magic of sun, dirt, water, seeds and time into my body. Such joy, such a taste of Heaven, has never been experienced.

Jesus himself exploded in my mouth.

But wait…isn’t that the only time that cannibalism is acceptable? Is when you eat Jesus? That’s what I was brainwashed taught every Wednesday at CCD classes growing up, and thats what I’m reminded of every time I go home to visit my parents and am subjected to Catholic Radio Theology blasting through the house beginning at the ungodly hour of 7 am. On Saturdays. And Sundays.

Therefore, since Harry Cherry and Sherry were giving birth to little baby Jesuses, then it was totally okay to eat them! IN FACT. Every time I eat a little baby Jesus, I am forgiven all of my sins. Especially when I follow this up with the washing of someone else’s foot. Feet. whatever.

I’M TOTALLY GOIN’ TO HEAVEN, Y’ALL!

with my plants!

27 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg ate his womb-twin. Now he eats his employees for breakfast.

Ladies and gentleman.

Yesterday I was alerted to a horrifying new development in Mark Zuckerberg’s infamous pursuit of eccentricity.

Apparently, one of Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite pastimes is committing to a project for an entire year. These have included: wearing a tie every single day, learning Mandarin Chinese, and this year, apparently, he has committed to only eating meat he has killed himself.

It started out innocently enough. After watching Food Inc from the safety of his leather-encased home mega-theatre and in the ironic company of a bowl of Orville Redenbachers Ultra-Buttery popcorn, Zuckerberg, like all good liberal American 20 somethings, quickly began to feel shame and remorse about eating meat and non-organic vegetables and grains. Later, he overheard one of his coworkers talking about Eating Animals, and he was even more perturbed about the horrific slaughtering of the food that he ate off of his quadruple-gold-platinum-titanium clad plates and flatware every day.

unjust slaughtering of wilbur

Naturally, this was anathema to Mark. You see, Mark had grown up friendless, with only Disney characters to keep him company. You don’t get to be CEO of one of the world’s hugest companies by being friendly. No. The Social Network taught us that. (Poor Winkelman twins.) Anyway. One of Mark’s most favorite imaginary friends was Charlotte, of Charlotte’s Web, and since Charlotte’s most favorite friend was Wilbur, Mark thus also loved Wilbur. All of those years of his eating meat, he never made the connection between meat and dead animal — totally understandable, since when you go to the store, you don’t see pictures of dead animals, you just see packaged raw meat. WHO KNEW THAT STUFF CAME FROM ANIMALS BEFORE FOOD INC CAME OUT? When he finally figured out that he had been EATING his MOST BESTEST childhood friend all of those years, he puked in his mouth a little bit. And he resolved to himself not that he would stop eating his most bestest friend, but that he would only eat his most bestest friend if he could kill it himself. Because this is how Mark Zuckerberg’s mind works.

i know there are several things wrong with the perspective of this picture but you'll just have to use your imagination

And thus Mark developed a taste for killing.

Unfortunately, it soon started to grate on him. What kind of a person was he, that he could kill his best friends and then EAT them? He started having nightmares. Wilbur came to him in his dreams, crying, asking “WHY? WHY? After all of those years, and those songs! oh!” Mark started showing up to work with bags under his eyes, his hoodies on inside out, and mismatched flip-flops. People were worried, but nobody wanted to ask. Weeks went by, with Mark shut in his glass-encased super-mod office, where he brooded over his unjust killing of his best friends. Silently, he alienated those who were closest to him: Mary, who brought him coffee, Charlie, who stood in front of him in the lunch line, and Bertha, who cleaned the bottoms of his Armani flip flops. Even the Taiwanese dry cleaning lady noticed a hunch in his shoulders when he picked up the one suit that he owns.

It was when Mark started watching Season 3 of Dexter that he finally realized the problem. You’re supposed to kill your enemies, not your best friends! With a new, discerning attitude, Mark swept his eyes around the office. A young brunette in Accounting who’d previously spurned his late-night sexual advances laughed flirtatiously with John in Customer Service. Teresa in International Product Development gossiped with Mary in Public Relations, their heads bent together secretly, confidentially. And the CFO and COO whispered together about something, frantically waving their hands. They were all against him. Mark knew it. Nobody was his friend. Nobody whispered with him like that. Nobody laughed flirtatiously with him. Mark pounded his fist on his table. The world was black and white to Mark: if you weren’t his friend, you were his enemy. He heard the word “google plus” drop out of the conversation between the CFO and COO, and he knew they plotted to overthrow this company he’d crafted with HIS OWN BARE HANDS.

Well, they were about to see what else he could do with his own bare hands.

The reasoning went thus: why was it okay to kill your best friends and then eat them, but if you killed your enemies, you had to bury them? This made no sense to Mark. Instead, he reasoned, let your best friends live, and eat your enemies! The general social antipathy towards cannibalism was unfounded, Mark thought. It made sense to eat those who opposed you. It was just evolution, but more advanced. Mark silently praised his own out-of-the-box thinking, the same thinking that led to his domination of the world social empire. This, he thought, would revolutionize food, save animals, and rid the world of lesser human beings.

As the days passed, Facebook employees started disappearing. The bags under Mark’s eyes started lightening up. The dry cleaning lady noticed a general perkiness in his attitude. His personal flip-flop cleaner stopped thinking about going back to school and started taking pride in his work, working for a man with such a congenial attitude. And the lunch line was filled with laughter again.

Mark never knew the true reason behind his ready acceptance of cannibalism. You see, if you look very closely at his right shoulder, what he has always thought to be a protruding freckle is actually a tiny fetus penis, leftover from 27 years ago in the womb, when he ate his twin fetus, gaining dominion over the womb and setting him on the path to greatness.

schmeeple.

peeple, schmeeple.

Know what I heard on the radio the other day? These people were talking about how Jon Huntsman, former gov of Utah and former US Ambassador to China under the Obama administration, has recently declared his run for 2012 Republican Presidential bid. So, Jon Huntsman seems to be a pretty decent guy, as far as Republicans go. Unfortunately, the radio show I was listening to seemed to indicate that maybe “pretty decent guy” isn’t what Republicans want. Ha.

“Jon Huntsman made the announcement from the same place Reagan made his presidential bid announcement back in 1980. There, he declared that he was committed to taking ‘The High Road’ during his presidential campaign. The question is, do Republicans really want someone that’s going to take the High Road? Lately, it seems that Republicans have really been clamoring for ‘Red Meat Politics’…”

whaaaaaaaa? If that’s true, that’s effed up, and it just shows how dismally pathetic our nation’s politics have become. Nobody even wants to take the high road anymore. PATHETIC. And what does Red Meat Politics even mean?

In other news, USA and a bunch of other countries are going to release oil reserves to combat the price of rising gas — which is fantastic (SARCASM). Yes, let’s just prolong the painful death of our reliance on oil, and retard the progress of our movement over to solar, wind, geothermal, ethanol, etc. If you haven’t heard this argument, it’s basically that without expectations of prolonged higher prices of oil, investors aren’t willing to sink money into expensive alternative energy projects if they won’t be competitive against oil. This means we have to live with expensive gas for a little bit while we make the switch, unless the govt decides to sink in loads of unsustainable subsidies to get alt energy off the ground. Even still. NO PAIN, NO GAIN, SCHMEEPLE.

And, finally, in local politics, Evan and I went to revolution again last night. For those of you unfamiliar with revolution, it is a stark white, pseudo modern restaurant on Main street, where they don’t capitalize their sentences and their appetizers are called “small”, their main dishes are “big”, and their cold dishes are “cold”. And it’s ‘spensive. We’ve been before, back when we were rollin’ in the dough, but they sat us in the bar and completely, totally ignored us. This time we got to sit with the real people in the normal dining area, and they treated us pretty nicely. The food is excellent, and their waitstaff was nice. That, my friends, is the only thing Revolution has going for them. Didn’t we abandon stark white walls and uncomfortable chairs in 2002? Ugh, I hate the way that place is decorated. It’s awful. I much prefer comfortable grunge to uncomfortable stark modern whiteness. It’s so laboratory. Also, i have no idea where the name “revolution” came from. Revolution against…comfort? against…ambience?

While at dinner last night, we reaffirmed that our favorite local eaters are still Bali Hai (for me) and Chubbys (For Evan). Nothing beats cheap, fast, and delicious, in a comfortable atmosphere.

THAT IS ALL.

(One of) The Most American Thing(s) You Should Do

Join Costco. Seriously.

There are several things in life that scream,

“Americana!!!”

These include: guns, lifesavers, obesity, diabetes, reality TV, heart attacks, really overpriced medical care, fast food, golden retrievers, cowboys, underpaid Mexicans, Texas, tacos (this would be ironic, but Mexico and America are actually supposed to be the same country), baseball, racism, extreme wealth gaps, ranches, Sarah Palin, idiocy, nuclear weapons, Las Vegas, ignorance, camping, being unilingual, whitewater rafting, and a desire to return everything back to the way they were in the 1950s. Oh, and, hypocritical old people is sooo classic Americana. They’re all, “don’t you dare touch my social security or my medicare! back off, you young whippasnappas!!! We are entitled to our entitlements! Oh, poor black people need some help? well, EFF THEM, they should go get themselves a J-O-B!”

Anyway. Some of these things are terrible, some of them are awesome. At the top of the awesome list is Tacos, Texas, golden retrievers, lifesavers. And, you know, I really like Sarah Palin. Now that everyone thinks she’s a nutcase and she has no chance at becoming president, she’s got that accent, and she tries so hard to be American; it’s very entertaining. I loved reading the news stories about her RV trip across America. Shes a TRUE AMERICAN. Not like that Muslim impostor, Barack Hussein Obama (you have to say that in a very southern accent). Conservatives universally hate educated people. Not sure what that’s about…

ANYWAY. There are lots of things that are equally American, or equally adopted/loved by Americans, but not considered to be uniquely American. This is because people in other countries  also have these things. These include: hybrid vehicles, friendly people, vegetarians, homosexuality, electronics, marijuana, booze, good literature and artistic expression, and progressive ideals.

However. The one thing that really stands out amongst American awesomeness, is Costco.

Here are some interesting facts about Costco:

1. 80% of your fellow shoppers are obese, which is guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself. Especially when you compare your kart-contents, and you look down at your spinach and fish fillets, and then look over and see they are purchasing a pallet of diet cokes and Twinkies.

2. Free food before 5 pm. This includes diet cokes and twinkies, spinach and fish fillets, coffee, vitamin water, berry smoothie, YOU NAME IT, they’ve offered it as a free sample. Superbowl weekend is the most fantastic weekend of the year at Costco. I’m thinking about actually hosting a pre-game party next year at Costco.  Last January, they had this huge wing table set up, with like ten people working on cooking wings, and all the different flavors laid out with celery and carrots and several different dipping sauces, and you could just grab a plate, and pile it with as many wings as you wanted! oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

3. The ceilings are, like, one mile high. You can’t even see the top. But you can see the huge pallets from across the store. There’s nothing that makes you feel like an American more than a 10′ by 10′ pallet labeled “5 HOUR ENERGY DRINK,” stacked on top of pallets of dog food for your golden retriever. While we’re on the subject of 5 hour energy drink, can we discuss the last word in the name? I thought the use of the word “drink” was just a substitute for juice – like, Orange Drink, or Grape Drink (Dave Chapelle did a hilarious piece once on the merits of grape drink). Are they trying to insinuate that “5-hour-energy” is some kind of fruit? Or were they initially trying to appeal to the demographic that consumes lots of Grape Drink? Also, whats with those commercials? Were they shot by a 5 year old who doesn’t know how to alter the color perception of their video camera? And why would you want to forgo coffee in favor of 5 hour energy drink? I LIKE supporting Honduran coffee workers every morning at 8 am. I feel at one with the world. Also it’s the only time of day I consume dairy, so I can’t switch to 5 hour energy drink or I’ll get osteoporosis. And cancer, probably–who knows whats in any product that contains the word “drink” ?

4. You can not buy anything in less than one gallon quantities. And the majority of the time you must buy at least two of any one item. This is okay if you have several freezers with lots of space.

5. You can get a hot dog for $1.50. With sauerkraut and mustard and onions and ketchup, and i swear its one foot long. Or a slice of pizza for $1.99. Or an entire pizza for $8.

6. They do not accept any credit cards except for AMERICAN EXPRESS. See that? See? I should have started with that one. Last year, American Express sent us several hundred dollars in cash back rewards. It was fantastic. (Chase Freedom is better, but thats a topic for another day).

my poor abandoned little blog

Due to popular demand, I’ve decided to make a little comeback.

I know what you’re thinking.

Popular demand? Other people read this blog? <confusion>

OKAY, OKAY, OKAY. So there hasn’t been any “popular demand”…a couple people have wondered aloud at it’s death, but the internet remains largely unfazed by MmmmTasty’s nationwide exit. So, the truth behind why I brought the blog back?…..I took some cool pictures and wanted to post them somewhere.

 

this is what my blog has been doing:

This happened about a month ago:

Evan made rain barrels like a boss

 

And then all my radishes grew up into real plants

And I harvested some and ate some, and they were delicious

So they weren’t actually that delicious by themselves — they were a little spicier than anticipated. But the spice and the crunch go really well in a mango/tomato/radish salsa, and so I made some cod cakes with the salsa and spinach, and THOSE were delicious

Then, Evan took a picture of Napoleon loving me:

and we ran in this terrible race:

and then my plants grew up:

here we have artichokes, tomato, and basil, all at around 10 weeks old.

 

What to eat in order to make Super-Baby. Also a manifesto for veganism??

I know I’ve totally neglected this blog for the last five days, but I have my reasons. Which I am not going to reveal here, because, let’s be honest, who really cares about what I do in my personal time? I certainly don’t. (Disclaimer: this post isn’t very funny. It’s a serious lesson on what makes you healthy.)

Garden update: My radish babies have gotten HUGE and I’m going to pull some of them out of the ground on Sunday. I’ll let you know how that goes. My tomato seedlings, meanwhile, are just getting tall and not really doing much else, which is kind of boring, but highly expected for week 2 of development.

ON TO BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS.

Ladies and gentlemen, lately I have been inundated with tales of what makes a baby strong and healthy, and what makes a human being more likely to not get cancer. This first part is for everyone, the second part is on pregnancy:

VEGANISM? WHAT?

I am not a big fan of vegan diets. You can’t eat eggs, milk, dairy, animals, fish, cheese, cream, whipped cream, nothing. I would basically starve to death. And if you’re a true vegan you can’t wear leather. Once I was at a dinner party and I was wearing this awesomely rocking leather jacket, and I got cold so I put it on, and the person sitting next to me was vegan. We’re friends, so he can say whatever he wants, and he looked at me and wrinkled his little nose and said, “Is that leather.”

Not a question, just a statement. I said, “Yes.” and then, as his nose wrinkled a little more and his hands started flapping in distress, I said, “Why, can you -”

and he cut me off and said, “Smell it. Yeah, I can smell it.” Judgment was just oozing out of his pores, and he was so upset. To make matters worse, another vegan was sitting on the other side of him, and he was also staring at me in judgment. They then went on to talk about where you can buy vegan shoes (apparently payless is great, since they’re all made out of plastic — although how is a pair of shoes made by 8 year olds in an environmentally unsafe factory better than leather – otherwise you pay hundreds of dollars for ‘vegan shoes’).  At some point I stuck in a question about whether they felt awkward in situations where they went to dinner parties and there were no vegan options, but they just shrugged and said they didn’t eat anything if that was the case (they clearly didn’t understand that I was being snarky, and that this behavior is upsetting to hosts).

I was totally traumatized for a couple of weeks after that and didn’t wear my jacket anywhere else, but then I was like, screw that, I’m wearing my banana-republic animal hide. The Native Americans did it. (Aaron, if you’re reading this, don’t feel bad. That’s what i get for going to an evolutionary anthropology dinner party).

So Evan comes home yesterday, all a blazes about a new book he wanted to read. Immediately I sensed it would be non-fiction and I shut down. But then we pulled it up on wikipedia, and there’s no criticism section. What? How is THAT possible? Basically these scientist dudes (men, of course) went out to China to do a longitudinal study on diet and disease and blah blah blah (Why rural China? My best guess is that they wanted to do unsanctioned, IRB disapproved research, and that was the best place to do it, so the question remains: what else, exactly, were they studying out there?).

So they found that eating animal products and getting cancer has a completely linear, 1:1 relationship. This, apparently, was easy to study because people tended to eat the same things throughout their lifetimes in China. And they provide all kinds of comparative statistics about rates of cancer in China vs the US and what we eat, etc. Those claims are totally absurd and ridiculous, as there are so many other cancer-causing differences between the US and rural areas of China, that i can’t believe that part hasn’t been deleted from Wikipedia, or at least criticized.

My own critique: The basic statistics are probably correct. In rural China, people who ate less meat probably did get less cancer. But, people who don’t eat animal products in China are probably poor – meat is a luxury item in developing countries. You could probably redo the analysis and find that poor people are less likely to get cancer. So, one could claim by the same logic, having money makes you get cancer. This is wrong – poor people live completely different lifestyles than wealthy people, and the differences could be any number of different things – wealthy people drive more, and are exposed to pollutants more often; wealthy people visit cities; wealthy people drink contaminated water in cities; wealthy people use cell phones and modern electronics; poor people use their own clean water wells; poor people don’t use bpa-filled plastics; poor people walk more; poor people exercise more; etc, etc, etc. This stuff, of course, is specific to a developing country; you might find the opposite poor/rich behaviors in countries like the US.

I need to read the book, and it’s possible that they controlled for all of this. Still, it’s an interesting claim, that appears to be gaining some traction.

PREGNANCY:

There is an enormous amount of evidence that says that what the mother eats during pregnancy affects how well the child performs later in life. My mother ate two pounds of kimchi and non-nutritious white rice every day while she was pregnant with me, and thus, I have grown up with crippled mental capabilities and an inability to walk in a straight line, or update a blog on the regular. Also I have halitosis. And I crave salt. And starbursts. So, ladies and gents, the question is, what can all y’all learn from my mother’s mistakes, and the findings of science ? (i’m not ripping on my ma. i love my ma. What she handed down in diet and brain defects, she more than made up for in giving me a fantastic set of genetically-perfect chompers and a genome that keeps my body at a perfect 8-12% fat level, in spite of anything I may consume. In fact, I was thinking about redoing the SuperSize Me movie, because I’m pretty sure that not a damn thing would happen to me after three months of eating McDonalds every day for three months. HA, TAKE THAT, GENETICALLY DEFICIENT OTHER-PERSON-WHO-STARRED-IN-THEIR-OWN-DOCUMENTARY!)

On to the science:

Tina Williams, a Duke professor, discovered that feeding pregnant rats an enriched-choline diet made their babies have better memories that were stable throughout life — other rats weren’t as good at remembering how to navigate mazes, and their memories declined as they got older. This didn’t happen to the choline rats – they had better memories in the beginning, middle, and end of their lives.

LESSON: Eat lots of eggs and chopped liver during pregnancy.

On NPR yesterday, they discussed a study that found that mothers who were exposed to more pesticides during pregnancy had children who had significantly lower IQs throughout childhood. Three different, independent studies were published confirming this phenomenon, and they were all published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the premier journal in that field.They did look at abnormally high levels of pesticides, not organic vs inorganic food consumption, but still.

LESSON: Eat all organic foods. If you buy inorganic, wash them all. Even the outsides of oranges and bananas.  Don’t visit farms. Don’t work on a farm. unless its a hippy organic farm.

Eating folic acid during the first 28 days of pregnancy reduces the likelihood of spina bifida, a neural tube defect.

LESSON: Eat lots of spinach, chickpeas, melons, citrus, eggs, all of the time, if you think you might get pregnant, cause you might not know you’re pregnant until it’s past 28 days.

Cat feces cause toxoplasmosis.

LESSON: get rid of your cat. While we’re on the subject, everyone should just get rid of their cats. They’re evil and they communicate to each other using their little mental mind waves. They take joy in shitting in their weird little poop boxes and then tracking their poop-covered feet all over the rest of your house. They’re plotting the takeover of Earth as we know it, one poop-covered house at a time. Get. rid. of. your. cat. Consider yourself warned.

From Wikipedia: A 2006 study found that children who were exposed prenatally to the insecticide chlorpyrifos had significantly poorer mental and motor development by three years of age and increased risk for behavior problems.[72] A 2007 study using a mouse model suggested that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons prior to conceiving and when lactating reduces the number of eggs in the ovaries of female offspring by two-thirds.[73] A 2009 study of pregnant women exposed to tetrachloroethylene in drinking water found an increased risk of oral clefts and neural tube defects in their children.[74] A 2009 study found that prenatal exposure to phthalates, the chemical compounds used as plasticizers in a wide variety of personal care products, children’s toys, and medical devices, may be an environmental risk factor for low birth weight in infants.” [75] A 2010 study found that prenatal exposure to flame retardant compounds called polybrominated diphenyl ethers is associated with adverse neurodevelopmental effects in young children.[76]

LESSON: Don’t touch anything. Go live in the woods with chickens so you can have an unlimited supply of eggs, preferably in an untouched environment. This means nowhere in the United States. Canada, maybe, would work, or maybe somewhere like Bhutan. Yeah, go live in Bhutan. Bhutan is awesome.

Moral of the story: Bhutan is awesome

yeah, i went there, what! Tigers Nest, Buddhist temple nestled on the side of this sheer cliff. Only accessible via a 4-5 hour walk up a mountain. When the Buddhist need supplies, they load up pack horses. Yes, thats right. Pack horses, that walk up the mountains.

what a cool flag! It's a dragon, in case you couldn't tell

A monk leaves a Buddhist temple - Bhutan is like 98% Buddhist

Playing a Bhutanese sitar in this rice farming couple's Buddhist shrine inside of their home.

Ah, Bhutan. Greatest six days of my life.

The Week in Pictures: a smattering of topics

Chapter 1: Compost Rescue

So I’m at Bull City Burger and Brewery (really, really delicious burgers, ps), and i’m sitting outside, enjoying the warm sunshine and a delicious wheat beer, when a nice looking young man wearing an apron walks by. He has a clear plastic bag, and it’s filled with lemon rinds. All lemon rinds. And so i’m thinking, oh, cool, BCBB must have a compost pile, and they save the lemon rinds!

WRONG. He took all those lemon rinds to the DUMPSTER! I was horrified. Twenty pounds of rich, organic, compost-spectacular material, going to a LANDFILL? I stopped him on his way back.

Me: Hey  –

Humphrey: Yes?

Me: Uh, did you just throw all those lemon rinds into the dumpster?

Humphrey: Yes. They’re all the leftovers after they make the fresh-squeezed lemonade every day.

Me: You don’t have a compost pile?

Humphrey: No

Me: <stares incredulously. what kind of a new hip restaurant in Durham doesn’t have a compost pile???> (to be fair, i dont think any new hip restaurants in Durham have compost piles, but it never occurred to me that they might be throwing all of that amazing vegetable matter away)

Humphrey: Do you want it for your compost pile? I can go get it. It’s just sitting on the top of the dumpster. <all non judgmental-like, as though its tots normal for people to ask him to go dumpster diving for inedible food>

Me: <eyes widen in shock, both at his offer and at his totally non-judgmental demeanor> Why, yes, Yes, I would.

Humphrey:  <trots off to get the bag from the dumpster, double bags it in another plastic bag for me, then brings it back to me.

Me: Wow, AMAZING, THANK YOU SO MUCH. <hopping up and down in excitement. Jeremy stares at me like i’m a little crazy. I go to pick up the bag. It’s too heavy. i despair. I can’t carry that back to my car – i don’t have any muscles! Jeremy offers to carry it back for me. SWEET. I knew he’d come in handy one day.>

Humphrey: They fill up at least three bags a day. You can come back and get more anytime you want.

I HEREBY NOMINATE HUMPHREY OF BULL CITY BURGER AND BREWERY FOR EMPLOYEE AND CONSCIENTIOUS DURHAM CITIZEN OF THE YEAR. Thankyouverymuch.

P.S. Someone should really be collecting all of that compost from the restaurants and using it to fortify our gardens instead of adding to the trash problem.

Chapter 2: Caught red-handed

Remember how in this post, I accused my neighbor of murdering my weeds with some inorganic home depot-environmental-killing trickery? Well, ladies and gents, I have caught her in the act. This photo was taken from my living room window. I noticed her out of the corner of my eye while I was gazing lovingly upon my new set of jiffy pots filled with dirt.

see! she has a little bucket of cancer RIGHT THERE! to her left! see it?

I can’t believe it. I mean, I know I sounded pretty confident in my previous post that she was the one responsible for the scorched earth, and I WAS, but it’s a very strange feeling to actually see your neighbor intruding upon your yard to pre-emptively murder your weeds. With a bucket and a spray nozzle, no less. I feel very agitated right now. And sweaty.

IN OTHER NEWS

Chapter 3:

My tomato seedlings have almost all popped up. They’re beautiful. See here:

the trick is to keep them moist and warm, and talk to them every day as though they’re real people. Both the emotional connection and the carbon dioxide are good for the plants (no joke. This is science — Bradly in my 4th grade homeroom got third place in the School-Wide Science Fair with this little experiment.)

Chapter 4

I found a package of tempeh buried in the back of my freezer, so I unthawed it and asked Evan to bring home some red cabbage.

HOW TO MAKE TEMPEH SLOPPY JOES with red cabbage coleslaw: (ingreds: tempeh, onions, oil, brown sugar, tomato paste, salt, pepper, vinegar)

Tempeh is really very easy to make. Just crumble it (which i did by putting the package in a bowl and smushing it with a wooden spoon), then oil your pan, heat your pan, and add the tempeh. Stir it around — it smells soooo good; it has a nutty, meaty aroma, even though its just soy. Add in some chopped onions or peppers, or both. While you’re browning the tempeh, make your sauce by combining a can of tomato paste, add some heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, grind your salt into the mixture until your hand gets tired, and add a few dollops of red wine vinegar. Vigorously mix into a paste, and then dump into your pan with the tempeh. Mix it all around — it gets pretty block-ish, so add a glass of water, and then leave it to simmer. Meanwhile, chop up a quarter of a head of red cabbage, add a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise, some more red wine vinegar, grind salt in until your hands gets tired, then call your husband for help so he can grind some more salt in, then grind in some pepper, and stir vigorously.

VOILA. YOU’RE DONE. Easiest meal of the week. And its SO DELICIOUS … you can’t eat just one. In fact I went back to the store and bought another package of tempeh in the hopes of eating it again this week.

Deeeeeelicious. Red cabbage cole slaw with tempeh sloppy joes

red cabbage cole slaw

Chapter 5: What to do with leftover cabbage?

Answer: Make more coleslaw (this time only vinegar, no mayo), and add to breakfast tacos. Delicious.

Chapter 6: Some Handy Gardening Tips

1. Your soil should be 1/4 air, 1/4 water, and only 5-10% organic matter. This sounds crazy, but apparently you shouldn’t make a garden out of compost, or even 25% compost. 5-10%. This from my homies over at the manic gardener.

2. If starting tomato seedlings inside, you should keep your grow lamp only a couple of inches above their little tomato seedling heads. The farther they have to reach to get the light, the leggier they get – and the less likely they are to produce fruit. remember, stocky, wide tomato seedlings is the goal.

Chapter 7: My little radish babies are growing so fast, and they have such different personalities!

This ones all, "YAY SUNSHINE AND AIR!!"

This ones all, "Mmm-hmm, I know Im sexy, what? "

THATS IT.

Ask yo’self: What can high fructose corn syrup do for you?

Lately, I’ve been eating starbursts and peanut M&M’s by the bucketful. While I’m certainly well aware of the health impacts of consuming this non-food (Of which there are none! bahahahahah good genes!), let’s think of all of the other wonderful things that such consumption can do for yourself, your friends, and society as a whole. (DISCLAIMER. Some of the following things aren’t wonderful. I’ll leave you to decide which ones.)

1. Great Breath. Before beginning my starburst consumption, my halitosis was getting a bit out of hand. I was getting one too many anonymous emails suggesting I go to the dentist. Well, brothas and sistas, I ain’t goin’ to no dentist — I don’t have health insurance! Do you know how expensive dentists are? Maybe you should have voted for Obama TWENTY YEARS AGO if you wanted me to stop breathing my halitosis all over you. As for my part, why should I bother with listerine and tooth-brushing, when I can just ingest starbursts and breathe back out the Rainbow? I can’t go back in time and rig the elections. But I can eat all of the pink starbursts in a jumbo bag.

Before Daily Starburst Regimen

After

2. Inexpensive stool softener – no need to elaborate on this one

3. Napoleon pays lots of attention to me. Normally he ignores me or begs me to take him out to play fetch, but he has a thing for fruity bursts of goodness- starbursts, jelly bellys, skittles, gushers, oranges, you name it. Obviously I’m not going to give him any, I’m a responsible pet owner (not), but I do enjoy the way he puts his paws up on my chest and sniffs around my face, perks up his ears, and stares into my eyes, mentally communicating, “I wuv you. I weally, weally, wuv you. Can I have some pweeeeeaaaaseee??” And then sometimes he gives me tiny little kisses on my cheek, its sooo adorable.

4.  Look youthful. Adults don’t eat candy. That’s ridiculous – their taste buds have evolved only to appreciate things like arugula and brussels sprouts. If you carry around a handful of starbursts, people will think you’re at least 15, no matter how many little kiddies you have trailing after you. Those little snots? Psh…those aren’t the living breathing signs of your fertility…those are your SIBLINGS!!

5. Add to America’s credit card debt, one jumbo bag at a time. Can’t scrape up three dollars and seventy nine cents from underneath your couch cushions? Didn’t write in impromptu Kroger visits to stock up on starbursts into your budget? Thats cool! Do what everyone else admitted to doing before 2008, and lies about doing now — put it on your credit card bill! It’s only $3.79 now, but in ten years it will be $24,1u3,509,130,498, and that one bag of jumbo starbursts will be the hair that broke the proverbial camel’s debt back. Good thing I started learning Chinese all those years ago. Or Spanish. I haven’t decided which country is actually going to take over America – the Chinese with their diligence, or the Mexicans with their delicious tacos and tendency towards domestic servitude (a la Brandon Sanderson’s AMAZING novel The Way Of Kings). I am personally rooting for the Mexicans but I can’t allow personal bias to sway my omniscient analysis of pure fact.

Which brings us to your next topic: Mexican takeover? NO PROBLEM. As long as they combined the US and Mexico territories into one, and then I’d live my life on the white sand beaches of Acapulco, and Amanda and I could create a joint-organic-cleaning business and service the houses of people who have growing concerns about all of the chemicals in the oxyclean and bleach that their normal servants rely on. Yessss. I am totally rooting for the Mexicans. TACOS EVERY DAY, FOR THE WIN!!!

Couldn’t figure out what was wonderful and what wasn’t? here’s a breakdown:

Getting rid of halitosis = wonderful; not going to the dentist = bad; stool softener = good, depending on your intestinal situation; look youthful = good, depending on your partner’s inclination; add to america’s credit card debt =BAD! VERY BAD! LEARN SOME SELF CONTROL; Mexican Takeover = potentially good, as long as i get to live on those white sand beaches and eat tacos for a $1 a day; Chinese Takeover = bad, probably. I love me some egg rolls but the Korean deep down inside of me still resents them for trying to take over my people hundreds of years ago.