Wednesday, November 12

Free Laughs

Oh Virgina Tech, you're so funny. Do you miss having your soul? Or are you happier having traded the pesky thing for money?

Researchers at Virginia Tech gave me my free laughs of the week when they announced that they've done a study and concluded that "lunches packed at home are generally not as nutritious as school lunches."

Don't get me wrong, people can and do pack all kinds of crappy things in lunches for their kids (have you seen the latest configurations of Lunchables?).

But every a cursory reading of the parameters of the study, as mentioned in the article, makes the design look flawed at best. For example:
  • "Researchers compared more than 750 school meals with more than 560 packed meals given to pre-K and kindergarten students in three schools, analyzing them for nutritional value over five days."
Pre-K and kindergarten students are exceptionally limited in what they can do themselves. Seriously, we're talking needing help opening milk cartons and applesauce cups here. Obviously, parents are going to prioritize packing things that hold well and are easy to get into and eat. Redoing this study with older students - or even with a broader range of ages - would almost certainly change the game.
  •  As a whole, the packed lunches overall had more calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, vitamin C and iron than school lunches. In addition, meals brought from home generally had less protein, sodium, fiber, vitamin A and calcium than school lunches, according to the study.
Shockingly, growing children require fat - lots of it! Vitamin C and iron are pretty important too. As for Vitamin A and calcium, which are supposedly higher in school-produced meals, they don't actually count if they're synthetic, which they are almost guaranteed to be in school food.
  • To analyze the nutritional content of the lunches, the researchers used the 2012-2013 National School Lunch Program Standards as a guide.
Really people? Why did you even waste your time? These standards are universally acknowledged to be terribly skewed and completely twisted. Celebrity Chef Jaime Oliver tried to make exactly the kind of whole foods, healthy, balanced meal you'd make for your own family and couldn't serve it as planned in an American school because it didn't fit the National School Lunch Program Standards. (If I can find the link, I'll come back and add it here, because it's totally worth watching his utter frustration and disgust.)

And, finally the piece de resistance: 
  • "...actual consumption wasn't measured, only observations about the contents of the lunches. "
Pretty sure that one speaks for itself.

So thank you, Virginia Tech, for my laughs my week - this study was a really good joke!

Monday, November 10

Nature, Nurture, and Freedom of Choice

Common sense is rare in politics and governance these days, that I was really encouraged to see someone, somewhere taking such a reasonable approach!! Decisions like that should be made by an area's residents - not by a small handful of people who think they know what's best for everyone. 

More importantly, though, it provides a widespread opportunity for the real issues involved and productive discussion on what can be done to actually improve the situation. Dog attacks can be devastating and life altering - but they're almost always caused by stupid, vicious people (owners) rather than by an inherent flaw in a dog - much less an entire breed! Unfortunately for them, pit bulls - and many other breeds - are being used as tools by unscrupulous people. Tools to make money, to intimidate others, to suffer as the target of their abusive natures.

As in so many other situations in life, it is not the tool that is at fault for how it used. It is the user. I hope that Colorado sets a powerful and wonderful precedent, and that we, as Americans, start reclaiming our common sense and rejecting (and punishing) nasty people rather than the tools they use to inflict harm - whether those tools are guns, dogs, or anything else.

Saturday, November 8

Dear BBC, Thank You.

This is not up-to-the-minute news, given that my schedule has been to crazy to blog as of late, but I still thought it was worth sharing.

In response to the uproar in Europe about the new "right to be forgotten" hoopla, BBC News announced that it would "publish a continually updated list of its articles removed from Google under the controversial "right to be forgotten" rule."

The ISTJ part of my brain finds this an incredibly simple and elegant solution to a loud and messy public debate. In a world where quiet efficiency is all too often eschewed, polite, practical, and pro-active responses to conflict like this are all the more appreciated.

So dear BBC, thank you for demonstrating how simple it can be to work around crappy laws.
May we all be inspired by your example.

Thursday, November 6

The Power of What You Wear

I recently (and completely accidentally) ran across a great blog post titled Why I Am Wearing My Favorite Clothes Everyday.

(Take a minute to go read it. It's short and worthwhile!)

It's certainly not a new idea that what you wear impacts how you feel. From corporate dress codes to Raising Homemakers ebooks and challenges, it's pretty widely accepted that one of the fastest and simplest ways to change how you feel and how you approach a situation is to go change your clothes!

What I thought really set this article apart, though, was the way the author tied that idea together two other really valuable concepts: practical (and frugal) minimalism, and personal confidence/lack of unreasonable self-consciousness. In an era where we are constantly bombarded with messages about staying on-style/on-trend, but paradoxically finding ourselves facing tightening wallets, it was really refreshing to see someone come out and blatantly remind everyone that there's nothing wrong with investing in - and sticking to -a handful of high quality favorites that make you look and feel amazing. 

I tend to be pretty attentive to keeping my wardrobe small already, but that post has re-inspired me to take a fresh look at what I have, what I actually wear, and what I need to maybe let go of. So as we hurtle towards the holiday season - so often full of stress, consumption, and unhealthy comparison with others - consider taking a minute to read the article above and orient your brain to a way, less cluttered way of thinking!