Friday, November 30, 2012

And Juliet is the Sun

Ta was waiting to make havdalah

"Owen, why don't you summon your bride?" I said to my brother. 

" 'My bride?' " he echoed. 

He's been married for fifteen years. 

"Because you see her the same way as the day you married her," I snarkily replied. 

He stood silent for a moment, then a smile spread slowly across his face. "You're right," he said, and cheerfully went to fetch her, navigating his way around his offspring, a baby on his hip

Owen never says I'm right.  

And yet he has raised the bar impossibly high. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kids Will Be Kids

I began to shriek like someone possessed when I saw this article on the front page of the Sunday Styles. 

Right there, for all the world to see, is a description of how our children don't behave in shul. 

Practically every time I am in a shul, ranging from chassidish, to heimish, to yeshivish, to Young Israel, to modern, a child, at some point, managed to disturb my davening.

While the author details it from a bar/bas mitzvah age issue, it certainly goes further back than that. If a child is led to believe that a shul is nothing more than a glorified playground, why should that magically change when that kid reaches 10, 11, 12? 
http://alphamom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/no-children-allowed.jpg
Via alphamom.com
A woman I know has no problem going off to the city for a shopping trip sans her toddler. But on Shabbos she'll arrive with a whiny two year old and start davening Shmoneh Esrei, while he loudly clamors for the attention she conveniently can't give. (By the way, if your child is making noise and disturbing others, one can step out of Shmoneh Esrei for that). 

Everyone likes to invoke the "old country" when it is convenient. OK, you wanna know how it worked in the alteh heim?

On yomim noraim, the shul in Ma's hometown hired a gentile woman to keep everyone under the age of 17 out. That's right, 17. And whoever was allowed in never sat near their mothers; they all went to the back. Think of the reverence and respect that 17 year old felt, finally permitted to enter shul on Rosh HaShana.

When my uncle was three, Babi insisted that Zeidy should take him to shul. "He won't know anything!" But Zeidy was adamant. "If he fidgets once . . . he'll disturb mine and everyone else's davening. No." My uncle takes both his davening and his learning very seriously; he emerged childhood "unscathed." 

The article describes how a school throws a faux-bar mitzvah in order to instruct the children on basic good manners. 

Considering how many girl-dating stories (plenty on the blogosphere) are of supreme cads, I wonder if it can be boiled down to the simple fact that we assume our kids will have grasped manners by a certain age, instead of actively teaching them. 

Children, in general, learn by observation. Is it possible that their role models are lacking? How do we each feel about the sanctity of the shul? Is it a burden to attend, or a joy? We cannot help but to socialize, but do we know when silence is absolutely paramount? 
Rabbi Adam Englander, a principal at the Hillel Day School of Boca Raton in Florida, lectures students three or four times a year about their behavior at bar and bat mitzvahs. He believes the new interest in decorum represents a larger shift in society.
“In my opinion, I don’t see it as a function of kids being poorly mannered,” he said. “I see it more as a function of schools being involved in much more than education. Schools are increasingly being asked to take on roles that years ago would have been considered the realm of parents.”
Stressed-out parents have less time to raise their children, he said. And with synagogues and day schools competing for customers, the misconduct of students often reflects poorly on the institutions they attend. “If one or two of my kids misbehave, even though it’s a weekend, I’m going to hear about it on Monday,” Rabbi Englander said. “That wouldn’t have happened 20 or 30 years ago. The inclination would have been to call the parents.” 
Schools have been distinctly loaded with more and more expectations. Once, if a student was failing academically, the parents blamed their kid for not applying himself. Now, it's the teacher's fault.  

What of these AWOL parents?
Mr. Jasgur said. “Today’s kids are just overprogrammed. Their focus isn’t there. Many of their parents are also part of this younger generation, so it’s not their fault. It’s the way they were raised.” 
I dunno . . . 

A member of my shul, in his mid 30s, arrives every week on time. He brings his two boys with him, very young. But they sit straight in their chairs. They are quiet. They never fidget. Exactly like their father, who never talks, slouches, or yawns. His focus is strictly on prayer, his back ramrod straight. If davening gets too long for his kids, they simply put their heads down quietly on the table.

When I was their age, I was running around outside trying not to get grass stains on my new white mary-janes. Note I emphasize "outside."

Kids will be kids. I don't deny that; after all, I was one once. But that means that there are certain areas in life they don't get to be a part of, yet. Like driving. Like voting. Like algebra. 

The Berenstain Bears and the Slumber Party is a good teaching aid.  The basic premise is that with privilege, there is responsibility.
http://images.betterworldbooks.com/067/The-Berenstain-Bears-and-the-Slumber-Party-Berenstain-Stan-9780679804192.jpg
One day they will be ready for the responsibility as well as the privilege. Like taking your car for a spin. But there's a whole lot of training that goes into that first.      

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The End of the World . . . was in 400 CE

I was reading William Dietrich's Scourge of God, a novel of the Hun invasions. 

There was a quote there that I find myself using often:  
The more ordinary a man, the more certain that his time is a culmination of history. 
Just consider the many various horrors and wonders that have occurred in the past. 

For instance, the Hun invasions, as described in the book. The Roman Empire was already on life support when they showed up. "Barbarians" from across the world, they appeared on their sturdy ponies and put everyone and everything to the sword. The "civilized" Romans were sure it was the end—Gog and Magog. But was it? No. Attila eventually died and the Hun conquests ended after a rather brief time. 
http://www.stentorian.com/2ndamend/children/huns2.jpg
Another example: The Black Death. A mysterious and murdering disease came and went, decimating entire towns and cities. Day to day life ceased as people remained indoors; loved ones who contracted the ailment were abandoned to die alone; bodies were unceremoniously chucked out of homes to be tossed into mass graves. (Jews did get sick, although not in such high numbers, but the price of their comparative cleanliness left them victim to violent scapegoating.)

If that doesn't qualify as the end of the world, I don't know what does.

I just get irritated how at every comparative hiccup nowadays some immediately invoke the end of the world. Seriously? Consider your position in history. One of trillions. Disasters came and went. Sure, humankind would be low for a bit, but then it bounced back.

Additionally, to God up there, everything is happening at the same time. Past, present, future, all is one. Who are we to say when the culmination of history will be or from what?
 
Oh, and the book is pretty good too. I recommend it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's With All the Cats?

While I tote a gung-ho attitude towards healthy living and the upsides of weight loss, I am annoyed how "heavy" women are represented in the media.

When I was in school the ring-leaders weren't all slender. The ones with the most personality and charm also happened to be, well, zaftig. 

In all honesty, I am rather puzzled how heavier gals were depicted on television: The nuchshlep, perpetually alone, susceptible to serial killers. Then there's the cats. Goodness, the cats. Like Sonia on the new NBC series, Go On. An entire episode is dedicated to her need for feline company. 
Take Drop Dead Diva. Despite the fact that Jane was a brilliant lawyer, she had no social life, owned cats (of course), and was crippled with crappy self-esteem. Only when infused with the soul of a ditzy skinny girl does she begin to act out with charm and confidence.

Countless episodes of Law & Order do the same thing to numerous size 18 characters. Needy, ignored, easily manipulated by a bad guy actually working for the Russian mob and he needs a place to crash. 

In the film Bachelorette, as pointed out in this NY Times article, the previous social structure has been upended (thankfully). From a group of high school friends, it is the overweight one who is getting married first. And no, she's not "settling."
http://www.csmonitor.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/content/2012/09-07bachelorette/13684586-1-eng-US/09-07bachelorette_full_600.jpg
That's right, Kirsten is single.
It happens in real life, too. That classmate from high school who was neither skinny nor pretty, but hysterical and magnetic—man, I had to hold onto something when I saw her husband. Tall, gorgeous, nice, and he didn't stop gazing at her.

The entertainment industry has finally smelled a little reality. But it is not home-free just yet; it's more like an accommodation of extremes, as Mindy Kaling puts so well.
“Since I am not model-skinny, but also not superfat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall into that nebulous ‘Normal American Woman Size’ that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I’m a Size 8 (this week, anyway). Many stylists hate that size because, I think, to them, I lack the self-discipline to be an aesthetic, or the sassy confidence to be a total fatty hedonist. They’re like ‘Pick a lane.’ ” 
Slowly but surely. At least they're getting rid of all those cats.    

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sympathy, Not Solutions

Modern Family, "Two Monkeys and a Panda"

Phil discovers forgotten gift certificates to the spa that are expiring that day, but Claire can't go; he spends the day in a green face mask with other gals, quickly becoming chummy with them. 
http://www.tvequals.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/MODERN-FAMILY-Two-Monkeys-and-a-Panda-4-550x366.jpg
When Claire calls he puts her on speaker; their daughter Alex borrowed her sister's sweater and tore it, and Claire is now frantically driving all over town trying to find a replacement.

Phil tries to tell her what she should rather do, but she shouts him down and hangs up. Phil looks around to find the other women in the room glaring at him.

They explain to him that when a wife complains to her husband, she's doesn't want his advice. She wants him to make sympathetic noises and give her a boost.

If she wanted a fix-it idea, she would ask, "What should I do?" But if she is telling her husband a tale of woe with no requests, just pat her back and say "Poor thing."

It's not just Phil. Like when I try to make idle conversation with my father and I end up being told what I should have done five years ago when the story happened. 

A kasha of a maaseh?

I wonder if it's a man thing.

I thought this idea was so original until I heard a Rabbi Yisroel Reisman shiur a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned the same thing: Women do not want your advice, gentlemen. They want "Oh, my, that must have been terrible!"

It's a win-win to fake sympathy, dudes; you don't even actually have to listen to the story to begin with.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Favorite Author: Gillian Bradshaw

When it comes to novels, there is only one genre I steadily covet: historical fiction. Finding authors that don't infuse their prose with modern sensibilities is not easy, let me tell you; life then greatly differs from life now, and I am most insistent on a semblance of accuracy.
Gillian Bradshaw has written books of both of history and fantasy, but her latter  genre I do not find satisfying; usually it is simply a hint of the improbable without explanation or background. My fantasy can't restrict itself to the occasional cameo; I want an entire culture, society, and so forth. But her historical novels have left me breathless and white-knuckled. 
  • The Beacon of Alexandria: To avoid an undesirable marriage, a young woman masquerades as a eunuch to learn medicine. And her teacher is a Jew. 
  • The Bearkeeper's Daughter: A young man seeks his biological mother, who is the empress of Byzantium. 
  • The Imperial Purple: A talented weaver is drawn into a conspiracy to overthrow the government; she struggles to save herself and her family from higher and stronger forces than she. 
  • Island of Ghosts: After his people are routed by the Romans, a prince of the Sarmatians makes a new life in Britannia, dodging betrayal, conspiracies, and his own dark memories. 
  • Cleopatra's Heir: Mostly conjuncture, a "what if?" had Cleopatra and Caesar's son, Caesarion, had escaped and lived.
  • Render Unto Caesar: A naive, honest merchant travels to Rome to seek justice, only to battle corruption and danger.
  • Alchemy of Fire: A royal concubine turned perfumer befriends a brilliant alchemist whose inventions could save their city in war. 
  • London in Chains: Based during the British Civil Wars, a young woman travels to London to seek a new life after being brutally gang-raped by soldiers on her own side. There she finds a cause to work for, friends, love, and her own strong self. 
  • A Corruptible Crown: A sequel to London in Chains.
All of these I greatly enjoyed and would happily re-read at any time.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cooing or Calculating?

I have been around babies a lot, and one thing I have concluded is that they are not given enough credit. They are not considered to be capable of a thought process until way after they have grasped speech, and the ability to talk is certainly not the first indication of intelligence. 

Way before their "goo"s and "gaa"s become more decipherable, infants can comprehend quite a bit. Baby talk gets on my nerves since replacing "r"s with "w"s does not exactly make the English language easier to grasp. 

No one wants to think that their shmoopsie poo is plotting world domination (like a certain animated toddler I know), but we should be able to accept the fact that those leaking bundles of joy can be quite crafty.   

"Oh, he's just a baby, he doesn't know what he's doing," is the excuse mothers give to their frustrated older children who complain the little one took their toy. I think he does know very well what he is doing. 

This past Sunday night was a fascinating 60 Minutes segment on babies. 

John Locke's premise of tabula rasa, the blank slate, has been accepted for the most part by the science community, that we are born dry sponges, soaking up all we need to know after exiting the womb. But studies being done prove otherwise. Very young infants, even as young as three months, actually possess a basic sense of morality. Yet there is also a predeliction for bias. 
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/05/09/magazine/09cover/09cover-sfSpan.jpg
Even adults prefer the company of those who have even the smallest of shared traits. Babies are no different. They actually have a liking for those who mistreat the "other." 

So much for "You've Got to be Carefully Taught." No wonder we have such difficulty with sinas chinum—we are programmed not to welcome all within our circle. Perhaps that is why it is so hard for us to shake free, divvying up all the fellow members of observant Judaism as those who are like us and those who are not, while in fact we are all really the same. 

These studies show that as children grow up, they have been taught further kindness and generosity, rather than evolution's claim of "survival of the fittest."

I used to be adamant that it is all "nurture," as Roger and Hammerstein posited. We are taught, I would insist. Then I had many nieces and nephews that exhibited behavior not that of their parents, but of the great-grandparents they never knew.

Nature counts. Bummer.          

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mirror Mirror

Kudos to Charlize Theron, who was the most rockin' evil stepmother ever—complete with killer wardrobe. 
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nwHc1Jn0mdk/TyeBf68kYAI/AAAAAAAABGc/LpO8h0rc6F8/s1600/snow-white-huntsman-charlize-theron2.jpg
There are many aspects to successful outfit assembly, but one item is desperately needed to be able to compute effectively. 

A full-length mirror.

When putting together a look, there is the idea of balance. For instance, if one is wearing a flary skirt, then the top has to be more structured and close-fitted. 

One cannot wear a boxy jacket with a full skirt. While the two items are chic in themselves, they have to be paired correctly. A mirror will help the wearer gauge that. 
http://www.neimanmarcus.com/products/mn/NM-1AML_mn.jpg
How pregnant does she look?
A box jacket is best worn by top-heavy individuals who gain up there but not down there, which means pencil skirts are the way for them to go.  
http://www.poshgirlvintage.com/bmz_cache/3/38dde22dfec4789b5fa90f7fa001725b.image.300x497.jpg
As I mentioned, I adore full skirts, but they do not return the favor. I simply look, well, gigantic. The above look would suit me, but not everyone. 

What should be worn with a full skirt? Tops that define the waist. A tucked-in blouse or sweater, perhaps with a belt on top. A structured jacket that follows one's figure, tapering in where needed. A blazer that is, of course, not too long.
http://data.whicdn.com/images/10176905/811897_a1_large.jpg
Via weheartit.com
http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m1cvzqP9Rm1qzm5dko1_400.jpg
Via sarahbee-in-the-stacks.tumblr.com

http://cloud7.lbox.me/images/b/201201/ts-ruffle-skirt-blouse-dress_iokw1326858429171.jpg
Via lightinthebox.com

And the fact of the matter is, for the pencil skirt wearer, while boxy and baggier tops are an option, there are more possibilities.  
http://vivasofia.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/black-lace-jacket-c2a3606-red-pencil-skirt-c2a3423-jexika.jpg
http://www.ruedechic.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Emma-Stone-looks-elegant-in-a-Calvin-Klein-jacquard-pencil-skirt-and-long-sleeve-silk-blouse.jpg


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--rVWD2_uGCo/TuBQg3SRndI/AAAAAAAAUDQ/tN0XLE_N6ws/s700/CH3.jpg
Carolina Herrera
Purchase a long mirror to make sure your look balances. It's not enough to assemble; the pieces must be compatible.  
http://www.alhambraantiques.com/webphotos/17088.jpg
Very Grimm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Match.com vs. Matchmaker

I have never been a fan of online dating. Quite simply, the data doesn't pan out. Websites give the erroneous impression that dating is about compatibility, but it isn't; it's about how two individuals interact, even with polar opposite personalities. And that is operating under the assumption that one is being honest on their profile.

Carolyn Bucior wrote an hysterical article chronicling her online dating adventures.  
The men wrote simple, declarative sentences like “I like to laugh” and “I like food.” One loved summer. Another loved fall. But they didn’t explore the issue. It was headlines only.
What was the rest of the story? I like fall because the crisp dry weather makes me feel energetic? I like fall because the first frost puts an end to my seasonal allergies? I like fall because I find it easier to hide the corpses under the freshly fallen leaves? 
Then the website insisted that a perv was definitely her "match."

And how did she end up meeting her man? 

A shidduch date. 

OK, fine, she was set up by mutual friends. Same thing. 
In the end, I met Alex the old-fashioned way: through mutual friends in Milwaukee. Friends who knew I was quiet, goal-oriented and overly critical. Friends who knew Alex to be thoughtful, brilliant, politically astute and uncompromising.
He lived far away (258 miles), and while we both had tried eHarmony, we had checked off that a match must live nearby . . . On our second date, Alex revealed a trait (smoking) that I would have considered a deal breaker on a computerized checklist. I didn’t criticize . . . 
We were married the next year, which was when he fully realized, very much to his discontent, that I chattered over breakfast. He pretty much hates that trait in me. But many mornings he compromises, an indication that the whole story of compatibility is more than the sum of our descriptors.
Annoying quirks are within us all, but when it comes to relationships, there is always what one is willing to put up with. 
I hope online dating never replaces one of the oldest professions in the world: in-person matchmaking. No computerized program can beat the intuition and good intentions of friends who are willing to introduce two middle-aged singles, step back and let them figure out if they “share extraordinary levels of compatibility in areas proven to create relationship success.”

In other words, if they can fall in love.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Discretionally Yours

"Did you see the baal tefilah today? He's sin-gle!" she sings. There is also a group of her overhearing contemporaries standing outside shul, swiveling to look expectantly in my direction. Next thing I know I find myself having to explain why learning boys and I do not get along, oddly being attacked by a mother of doctors and lawyers.

"I am so excited about this boy that you are going out with," she hisses in a stage whisper during leining. Ears casually incline. She continues to go on about him, much to the delight of eavesdroppers. The date in actuality was nothing to write home about, but in the meantime the whole shul thinks I have a fian.

At shalosh seudos, in the presence of her husband, her daughter, her son-in-law, and the daughter's friend, I find myself backed into a corner why I am not jazzed to go out with the guy she's suggesting. Her daughter's friend doesn't even know me, yet I am being told by an unmarried stranger to go out with him. If I had more guts I would've said she is welcome to date him herself.

And yet, and yet, when their own children date, I am certainly not aware of anything. Many conversations will take place where they magically manage to remain silent about their children's dating sagas. Then, out of the blue, engagements are announced.  

Yet why is my business public domain? Their children, seemingly, scuttled out the back door under cover of darkness to ensure no witnesses for their romances, perhaps employing elaborate disguises, yet my choices, my activities, my life, is up for their loud comments. 
http://i.chzbgr.com/completestore/2009/9/22/128981508236888077.jpg
Via cheezburger.com
Sigh. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Inseparable

"Where are you going?

He ignores my pleas, heading purposefully down the hall, cable line bouncing behind him down the steps. I stagger after, clutching a blanket around my frozen frame, finding that flannel pajamas is no match for such frigid temperatures

The darkness conceals his exit, but I rush as fast as I can, painfully stubbing thoroughly numb toes

"Wait!" I weep. 

Slam. He's left me.

Sniffling, I shuffle into the unlit kitchen and rummage for a candle. By the dim flame, I morosely pull out the bin from the pantry containing Kit-Kats, and get to work.  

Being single, I have had my share of dating disappointments. While current culture would have me emotionally binge after every letdown, I have managed not to. 

It was only by Sandy, when the power abandoned me, that I realized what I truly hold dear. 

Not light. Not heat. Not hot water. 

Television
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-U4rLofN1654/Tp8Q91Qx9hI/AAAAAAAAak4/Yyuirp7Wdcg/s400/t4qsjxoowmvcwfwfcb4b6402681af14_i-love-tv.jpg
When basic cable strode out the door, I went to pieces. 

After toying with me for nearly two weeks, he has finally come back, quietly clicking on, as though hoping I wouldn't make a big deal of his return. 

I decided to accept this belated apology, and we do not speak of his betrayal.

I only sigh with relief and joy, stroking the remote, and settling down to a Law & Order that I have seen at least four times.          

Friday, November 16, 2012

How Low Can You Go

When I initially joined Facebook quite a few years back, I was definitely threatened by the quantity of "friends" some had managed to "acquire." 

I even, to my chagrin, sent friend requests to those I was of glancing acquaintance in a weak attempt to raise my numbers. I was selective enough to refuse friend requests from complete strangers, but it was not necessary to friend some of those that I had.

One day, after lamely surfing about on FB, I decided to look up a recently engaged gal whom I know of. She had a grand total of 27 friends. 

Now I was insecure for the opposite reason. How could I, self-proclaimed Un-Carer of Societal Norms, have sunk to such depths?
 
I attacked my friend list with the determination to shrink its numbers. Let's see, who's getting the ax?

No, can't de-friend her, she'll be offended . . . 

Not him, he posts kinda entertaining stuff . . . 

She may come in useful one day . . . 

Instead of the weed-whacker approach, I ended up eyebrow-plucking instead.

It's still progress.         

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: Sugar and the Shakes

When walking about in the Jewish community, it becomes apparent that as a people, we are as much susceptible to the so-called "obesity epidemic" as is the rest of Americana.

And again, my concern is not about our "model" society, or thinking that "skinny = pretty" (it doesn't). It's about being healthy parents, setting an example for our healthy kids, so we can live fulfilling lives. Not all illnesses are preventable, but a good chunk of them are.

The temptations are terrible. The one business that continues to do well even in the economic downturn are eateries. Every supermarket is packed with the boxed and ready, bottled beverages and the like. Now there is some research to suggest that these pseudo-foods are actually addictive.

Rats, apparently, after being cut off from a sugar-rich meal plan, begin to get the shakes, and practically OD when they are given access to it again. If children are given sugary snacks, like drug addicts or alcoholics, they soon require larger "hits" to become satisfied. 
http://crossfitrebels.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/sugar-addiction.jpg
Via crossfitrebels.com
But funnily enough, "real" food doesn't encourage that sort of escalation.
“We don’t abuse lettuce, turnips and oranges,” says Dr. Brownell, co-editor of the new book “Food and Addiction.” “But when a highly processed food is eaten, the body may go haywire. Nobody abuses corn as far as I know, but when you process it into Cheetos, what happens?”
When foods have been processed, companies add insane amounts of sugar (and salt, but that is not the point of this post, so moving on). Whatever one adds to their own food is never as bad as having been churned out from a factory. 

When I quit suspicious foods, it wasn't exactly easy, but the end result was a body programmed to crave only the natural. One is just satisfied, and feels great, after such nourishment.

But it doesn't happen overnight. One has to hop onto one level, get it down pat, for however long it takes, then move on. So to begin: Water. 

Only water. 

No soda. No juice. No chocolate milk. No "vitamin-infused" H20.

ONLY. WATER. 

"Juice is healthy!" one may protest. Um, no, it isn't. Even if it says, "no sugar added," the sweetness is through the roof; it has been nuked to make it shelf-friendly for an indefinite amount of time, and because of a loophole in some sort of law there is ingredients in it the companies don't have to acknowledge.

Nothing "diet," either. That stuff is just plain terrifying. Shiver. 

And coffee? If one adds a packet of sugar, that's OK. But if Starbucks is sweetening it, no way. No whip cream either. That's just a miserable waste of fat.  

When my nephew asks for water, he it's because he's parched. When he asks for juice, he wants sweet. 

Sure, going strictly agua will be, initially, a killer. But humor me; stick with it for a month. Get a Brita or some such, since buying water unless it is nasty from the tap is kinda stupid, as there is no regulation whatsoever on bottled water; they could be getting it from anywhere (cities actually have the best water supply, so if in NYC, no need for Poland Spring). For a little extra taam add a squirt of juice from a lemon; it has great health benefits. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pardon My Gray Matter

"How do you know that?"

"Seriously?"

What is up with men who are flabbergasted if I know something?

We both went to college, right?

We both read in our spare time, no?

We both have access to that wonderful being, internet, correct? 

We both have an interest in the world that surrounds us, I believe?

Do I ask you how do you know something?

Why ask me?

Oh, right. I'm just a ditzy female. My bad. Pass me a cup so I can drool into it.  
http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs21/f/2007/233/e/2/___Brainless____by_Devilish_Girl.jpg

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gei Shlufen

I take my sleep very seriously. It just doesn't happen. No tv past 9, at least 30 minutes of reading, dim lighting, pillow like so, loving my new position of laying on my right with my head facing up. It seems to be working. 

But then to awaken at 3? 

DOOM. 

But that feeling of terror is spitting in the eye of nature. 

I had read elsewhere how the current sleep premise of 8 solid hours is a new being, and this article reminded me.

See, before there was electricity and many avenues for artificial light, there were candles. But candles were expensive, and only the wealthy could afford to burn them at night. So what did everyone do? They went to bed when it got dark out. 
http://uploads3.wikipaintings.org/images/zinaida-serebriakova/sleeping-peasant-1917.jpg
Sleeping Peasant by Zinaida Serebriakova
That sleep cycle, since it was so long, was in shifts of two. One would wake up in the middle of the night, and do some deep thinking, or potter about, pretty much relaxing. Then they would go back to sleep. 

Us techies freak out if we wake up in the night, running to the doctor to prescribe zombie-pills since being up at 2 am is unnatural. Right? Wrong.

Studies were done were the subjects were deprived of artificial light, and in no time their sleep pattern reverted to that of our ancestors. 

Instead of being expected to squeeze all of our productivity from 8 hours in bed, daytime naps should be permissible. Google, for instance, allows their employees a little shloof during the day, as do companies in China. 

Maybe that's why those ads for "Five Hour Energy" gets on my nerves. They need good ol' fashioned naptime, not a shot of caffeine.     

Monday, November 12, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: One Fiber to Rule Them All

Before I purchase any boxed, canned, or bagged food, I check out the nutritional facts. Along with serving size, calorie count, fat calories, and sodium percentage, I scan the fiber amount. 



Fiber comes in two forms; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in the stomach, forming into filling gel that keeps cravings in check. Slower digestion means balanced sugar levels which staves off a number of diseases; soluble fiber also lowers bad cholesterol by binding with bile acids and removing fat from the blood, also reducing the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver. 

Insoluble fat is what keeps one "regular," binding with waste in the lower digestive tracts and removing it from the body. That discourages colon cancer, among other things.

How much fiber does one need? About 14g per 1,000 calories. That doesn't leave much wiggle room. 

I don't touch white flour anymore, since: What is glue? White flour and water. Glue in the stomach is not great for digestion, nor for feeling energized.

Looking at nutritional facts of my favorite flours and cereals, I have noticed that in most cases the majority of fiber is insoluble, which, while of course providing a wonderful service, is not the version which keeps one full and away from the fridge. 

So I did a little research to see what has the most soluble fiber. And I was told: Oat bran. 

Oat bran, eh? 

Quaker Hot Cereal Oat Ban: 1/2 cup of oat bran has 6 grams of fiber, 3g soluble, 3g insoluble (oatmeal, even old-fashioned, has at most 2 grams of soluble.) 

It takes very quick to cook—about a minute or two—which is faster than the old-fashioned oatmeal (about five minutes). And 1/2 cup, which is one serving, comes out to a lot. A brimming bowlful! 
http://www.thesaladgirl.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/10-honey-green-oat-bran.jpg
Via thesaladgirl.com
Not only that, the consistency was lovely—like farina. Smooth, and slides right down. Perfect with a drizzle of grade A maple syrup.  

And was I full? Oh yes. Due to logistics of the day I never ended up having lunch (not a situation where I usually find myself) so I went from 8 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. with nothing but oat bran glued to my ribs. 

The oat bran hot cereal from Bob's Red Mill has the same wonderful 3 grams of soluble fiber in 1/3 cup; you get more for less. And 1/3 of a cup still makes a whopping amount. 

Since it is so finely ground, I throw some into my food all the time. Into a soup, for instance, as a thickener. Into cheese latkes. To bind fish patties. For a pizza crust. Or to coat shnitzel. 

What I couldn't understand is why I never heard of this before. TV health gurus are always yammering about oatmeal, but never mention oat bran. I tried searching for any negative effects, but couldn't find any except that oat bran used to be the primary ingredient in livestock feed, so it wasn't considered appetizing for human consumption. 

Well, I always was an animal lover. 
http://www.thetimesinplainenglish.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/FDA-ban.jpg