Archive for the ‘Science, Technology, & Mystery’ Category

The eating of food is a basic necessity of life, and without it no one could live. What is eaten, however, and how it is prepared may change from one place to another, or from one time period to another. Traditional food cultures may be replaced with new ones. Changes may occur because of innovations in agriculture or industry, or from publicity. A new food habit will not only introduce new varieties to a particular population’s diet, but also may introduce changes in lifestyle. During the twentieth century, transitions have taken place in many parts of the world. What we eat and drink today and how we consume these foods is a reflection of the food transition in a changing modern world.

What we do in our daily lives also helps mold, or shape, our culture. Soft drinks and fast foods are both reflections of our modern lifestyle. These food habits have also contributed to a growing ‘pop culture’ which defines the popularly accepted trends of belief, pattern, and behavior within our society.

Before the nineteenth century, carbonated drinks were usually sold commercially as a tonic or medicine. It was not until fruit syrups, and then later artificial flavorings and other preparations, were added to the soda water that made soft drinks more popular. Soft drinks, as opposed to hard or alcoholic beverages, were sold in soda fountains which became more prevalent during the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This resulted in the rapid rise of neighborhood soda fountains which were located in drugstores all over the country, and became accepted as places for social gatherings.

The popularity of soda fountains coincided with the growing temperance movement which encouraged the use of soft drinks instead of hard drinks. Prohibition laws against alcohol were passed, particularly in the southern states, and women’s groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union supported the growth of soda fountains. Soon after World War I ended the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed that prohibited the manufacture and sale of hard liquors throughout the country. The 1920s was known as the prohibition era and, by the time the law was repealed in 1933, soda fountains and the drinking of soft drinks had become a well-established institution in the American way of life.

The relationship between soft drinks, soda fountains, and fast foods began with the rise of the first fast-food stands that began to appear during the 1920s. Its popularity grew until after World War II when the industry experienced explosive growth. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the tremendous growth in the American economy made the ownership of the family car possible for most middle class families. A major factor during this time was America’s love affair with the automobile, and with the construction of an entire new highway system these factors encouraged the development of new and ever more distant suburban communities. Middle class families began to move away from congested cities in search of a freer lifestyle in the country. This also encouraged the fast-food industry to help feed those who lived there, and drive-in, fast-food restaurants were able to meet the new demand.

Initially, fast-food chains catered to automobile owners in suburbia. The concept of a readily available food outlet reflected the American culture which was now centered in speed and efficiency. More and more people prized the quality of the food and its unique preparation. Fast food and soft drinks not only reflected America’s values, but also helped shape a new lifestyle.

However, quenching one’s thirst by drinking a Coke or Pepsi was not the only matter of consideration. Advertisements associated soft drinks with new tastes and status symbols. Drinking a certain beverage would make you feel young, athletic, and fun-loving, and manufacturers of these products spent large sums of money on advertising to help fashion these images.

The fast-food industry also targeted consumers who came to appreciate the whole new experience that included drive-thru facilities along with toys and movies that were available at the checkout counter. Advertisements often portrayed popular sports figures to encourage potential customers to take advantage of their services. The experience of eating at one of these facilities was a whole new way of life which was based on an intrusive and subtle ideology of consumerism.

From fried onion rings to double-sized and loaded cheeseburgers, fast food is becoming one of the world’s fastest growing food types. It is estimated that about half of all restaurant profits in the United States are now derived from the consumption of fast foods, and the industry continues to expand. Both here, and in many other countries of the world, it is radically changing the way people eat.

The eating of fast foods has become a significant part of the younger generation’s diet in the United States, and increasingly throughout the world. However, the nutritional value of these products is being questioned. Studies indicate that consumption of some of these foods may be related to an increasing health risk, especially in children. A particular hazard is the E-coli bacteria that meat products are susceptible to. Because of the long supply chain through which the fast-food industry operates, the handling and sourcing of meat is very hard to monitor.

The consumer buys fast food because it is cheap, quick, and heavily promoted, but its benefits are often deceptive. Foods that are eaten in the car, or at a desk, are replacing home-cooked meals that were once enjoyed with other family members or friends. Around the world, the more traditional meals and recipes are yielding to soft drinks, sodas, burgers, and other highly processed and standardized items. Many fast foods are fried which facilitates quick preparation. They are high in fat content and salt, and low in fiber, vitamins, and some minerals. This high level of consumption is fueling a global epidemic that may lead to obesity, and other more serious and chronic illnesses.

Customers may be enticed to eat more than their daily requirements with the ‘added value option’ that some fast-food restaurants offer their patrons. For a small additional charge, people can order a larger size of certain products. This adds considerably to the calorie intake along with the other factors. A typical meal from a fast-food restaurant containing a serving of fries and a cheeseburger amounts to approximately 1,000 calories. This is about half of the recommended daily allowance for the average person. However, a ‘supersized combo meal’ may provide a person’s entire daily recommended intake of calories, but it will probably include very few of the essential nutrients.

The consuming of fast foods may be equated with bad eating habits. An extra large portion of a certain item may seem like a real bargain, but such features add excessive amounts of empty calories to the daily diet. This is due mainly to the large portions that fast-food restaurants are accustomed to serving. The tendency is for people to enlarge their appetites by eating far beyond their required limit.

A new type of health problem has arisen in recent years known as the ‘portion distortion syndrome.’ Along with the ever-increasing size of fast-food portions, the average waistline of the American consumer has also grown. According to recent studies, more than half the people are now in a weight range that increases the risk of developing health problems. These include heart disease, stroke, cancer, type-2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. Further, it is also reported that about one third of this number were considered to be overweight.

Part of the weight issue is linked to an increase in the size of the portion. With the gradual increase in the amount of food consumed, people have lost touch with reality and what should be considered a healthy amount of food to eat. During the last fifty years, North American portion sizes have increased dramatically without consumers even being aware of it. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reports some interesting statistics. In 1955, an average order of French fries weighed 2.4 ounces, while today it has risen to 7.1 oz. In 1961, Americans consumed 2,883 calories per person per day. By the year 2000, it had risen to 3,817 calories. A muffin had 200 calories and weighed 1.5 oz. Now it is 5.0 oz. with 500 calories. A bagel used to be 3 inches in diameter with 140 calories. Today it is 6 inches with 350 calories. Many convenience stores now sell soft drinks in 64 oz. containers.

One well-known restaurant now offers a sandwich that is bun-free. It features two chicken filets in place of the buns, with two pieces of bacon and two slices of melted cheese inside, and a mayonnaise laden sauce spread over it. It contains 540 calories and has 32 grams of fat. People have become gradually accustomed to the larger size portions and eat more whether they need it or not.

More on our Changing Food


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No… seriously, a baby squirrel did try to jump me!!

Unreal… never happened to me before. I couldn’t zoom fast enough on the thing, so literally I got up into its face and for this post found a pic as close to my original pic as I could… it was unbelievably cute but the whole situation was very odd…

…I was coming back from my usual walk from the parkway, (and you know, I normally see everything from live to dead birds, turtles, raccoons, frogs, and the other day several puppies passed by too) to my parked car, midday today, to head back to work, when a little jumping fuzzy thing began to hop towards me… and at first I thought “A) it has rabies—yikes go away…” I hesitated. It got closer…. I thought, “B) it sure is cute—maybe it has been tamed and is hungry” or “C) it’s sick—I can’t pick it up even if I could find a way to”… whichever it was, I had no time to find out. I had to get back to work pronto!!! Just then it tried to jump onto my jeans!!! I shush’d it and tried to move it with my foot very softly but it barely budged… so I began to clap loudy, beginning to become irritated that although this thing was dreadfully CUTE, I REALLY was going to be late for getting back to work and someone was covering for me as it was… well, it hopped then behind my car tire. I thought, “OH GREAT!! It thinks I’m its mother!!” I tried yelling at it although I really just wanted to clip its nails and cuddle it instead… as cars passed me, and surely people in them figured I was entirely insane… the baby squirrel would not go, and kept hopping around me and back behind the car tire as if to play with me… I finally started the car, sure the animal would jump out of the way… no, of course it wouldn’t… no jumping anymore either…it just hid there, sad that I didn’t want to snuggle with it… (and it’s terrible claws..) ack!!! WHAT TO DO!?!?! Finally, I knew I had to pull forward… slowly, carefully, hoping the thing wasn’t stupid enough to run in FRONT of the tires instead… and I got away… HA!!! Rather than it got away, **I** got away!!!

…and I saw it left there sitting alone on the street curb behind me, as tears rolled down my face.. no, its face… (no, not either really, but it sounds good for drama… but it was pretty darn cute and I can only HOPE it won’t get run over by another car—I didn’t know even how to move it though I considered it…) …and so I have to wonder, “DO I LOOK LIKE A SQUIRREL OR SMELL LIKE A NUT ‘CAUSE I SURE FEEL LIKE ONE!” …have to wonder, “is it the new coconut oil I’m using, ’cause I’m using it from head-to-toe and am going to have to research what squirrels are attracted to now… do they even like coconuts?? LOL!!!”

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“What’s Going On Here?” is a quote I remember well from the movie, “Legends of the Fall” but I’m actually referring to the natural disasters this summer in China, India, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Russia! I mean COME ON!!!

Moscow is under a MASSIVE HEAT WAVE with FIRES! China had a CRAZY LANDSLIDE! Pakistan had a MONSOON! They say it started as “high pressure” over Russia? And Germany and Poland had SO MUCH FLOODING!!

And now they say we can expect more snow this winter for El Nino too… here at National Geographic… what’s next?

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My first cell phone was a gift… a belated Christmas gift to me, by an exBF. I never asked for it. In fact, I tried to stay clear of having one… but within no time I learned to use it, and even to text. It was a silver LG Aloha cheap phone through Virgin Mobile, Pay-As-You-Go. Minimum text plan. Paid about $17/mo. About a year later I was having trouble with the phone and upgraded to another LG phone, this time a few dollars more than the other. Stayed with Virgin Mobile. Pay-As-You-Go. Upgraded to Unlimited Text Plan. Paid about $27/mo. After a year I had so much trouble with the darn thing, calling Virgin Mobile repeatedly about not getting my incoming texts, that I quit Virgin Mobile all together. I had no intention to buy another LG phone either… but I did. At Best Buy, a salesman swore his LG phone had never failed him in 2 years. I went with Sprint, for a 450/min talk plan, unlimited text plan, and $300 LG Remarq Eco-Friendly phone I got for $1 for signing up for a 2-yr plan of $49.99/mo… *sings “Moving Up”* I walked out shaking from the commitment, but have been reading all about it. It’s a SmartPhone. Capable of a lot more than either of my old phones. I don’t have a plan for sending data (internet) but I have capability, and for a few extra clicks and a few extra cents I can post a photo to my Facebook right now directly from my phone. It’s too bad a USB cable didn’t come with it since I can’t currently download photos taken with that camera to a computer yet. And it’s too bad I have to separately buy a memory card, but the phone itself can hold a few pics. So far I’m having fun with it. I also bought a monthly service for $6.99 from Best Buy as insurance. Should ANYTHING happen with this phone I am covered. And now I bought a $2 ringtone, “Aloha Oe” and off we go! 🙂

My plan:
Everything Messaging
Communicate without saying a word; with this plan, you can text, share and send your heart out.

This plan includes:
• Unlimited messaging: Text, pictures and video
• Talk: Unlimited Sprint mobile to mobile, night calling and weekends starting at 7 p.m., nationwide long distance and no roaming charges

Anytime Minutes: 450 / Monthly Price $49.99 / Additional Anytime Minutes: 45¢/min

LG Remarq

“The LG Remarq LN240 for Sprint is an excellent phone for the heavy texter that cares about the environment. The body of the phone is partially created from post-consumer recycled plastics. Additionally, 100% of the packaging is recyclable. The full QWERTY keyboard makes texting, emailing, chatting on instant messenger, and updating your status on your favorite social networking sites quick and easy. Capture fun times with the 1.3 megapixel camera and upload them directly to social networking sites, send via multimedia messaging, or store them right onto your Photobucket site.”

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Infinity from the Latin lemniscus, meaning “ribbon”; time without end.

Möbius Strip or Möbius Strip referred to as the “One, All”.

A line drawn starting from the seam down the middle will meet back at the seam but at the “other side”. If continued the line will meet the starting point and will be double the length of the original strip. This single continuous curve demonstrates that the Möbius Strip has only one boundary and one surface. The Möbius Strip was named after a German mathematician, Johann Benedict Listing, (and some say by August Ferdinand Möbi) who discovered it in 1858. Möbius Strips don’t follow common sense–but then again, neither do the mysteriously contracting rulers and lengthening seconds indicated by Einstein’s General Relativity.

This mystery, was demonstrated to me Saturday morning, at around 2AM, by my boyfriend during a conversation outside in the parking-lot of a stripmall… random? Perhaps, but relavant too according to him. He says we, as a couple, are the same as this Mobius strip: inexplainable, with only one continuous side, neverending.

A mathematician confided
That a Möbius Strip is one-sided.
You’ll get quite a laugh
If you cut it in half,
For it stays in one piece when divided.

This Möbius strip exists in three dimensions but, astonishingly, has only one surface. If a line is traced on the surface of the strip without letting the pen leave the surface you will find that when you are half way round you will be writing on the back of the paper even though you are still on the same surface. If you continue you will end up where you started.

Perhaps by using one’s powers of visualization and continued meditation it is possible to use the Möbius Strip model to enhance one’s experience of life together with another. My boyfriend’s visual, how he saw our relationship, was incredibly romantic–believe me, I was swooning, but it also made me become more interested in the phenomenon to research it further. Our love is infinite. To try to comprehend the Möbius Strip is like trying to touch god or prove a truth that has no tangible proof… the only difference is you can make one of these strips. You can actually touch it… but it’s still inexplainable. …and quite amazing if you ask me.

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