July 14, 2006

Update on Evidence Gathering

In vain! In vain!

Bugger; lazy, pre-occupied Gertie missed the contestation deadline for her $75 ticket. I have all the photos and everything. I wrote the most eloquent and unobtrusive-but-give-me-my-$$-back letter one could write. But I did it 2 days too late. Hrmmph. That could've been a nice pair of shoes.

Another Charlie Rose Interview Riles Me Up and I Send an Email to An Interviewee

OK People. I know I should give you [two or three] a break from my love affair with Charlie Rose. But I can't help it! Especially since he and I have spent the last 3 nights staying up worthily past my bedtime in an intriguing round of conversations with Warren Buffett, finding out what makes him tick and why he gave a gazillion dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (and what they're going to do with all of that generosity). Don't get me wrong; I am bowled over by the philanthropic endeavors of both of the aforementioned and I hope it can do a world of good - in a magnitude that they may not imagine. Such a cool guy, that Warren Buffett; I wish he was my grandpa (for more than the obviou$ reason). But tonight, after barely listening to some flatly fascinating diatribe on the Iraq War situation (mainly because in these times there is simply too much information for one to absorb and still be happily functioning in society), my ears perked when Charlie completely switched topics to.... nutrition. Nutrition.

Enter Marion Nestle (pronounced ness-el, not ness-lee). [ed note: Ironic, the same name as candy.] Don't know her? Well, I really hope that she becomes a household name. Because why? First, let me tell you about the practically mandatory nutrition course I had to take at Universtiy of Colorado.

As an International Affairs major, I had significant credit requirements to overcome. As a transfer from a Jr. College in the far far West, I had even more to overcome, like fulfilling a missing science credit. Apparantly, my AWESOME biology class at the Marin JCC got discarded, even though that class actually taught me that, yes, I do like science very much, as long as math isn't too involved (we did life science I guess, because we did O2 analyses and spinning/balancing stuff and got to inspect a cadaver who was a 64 year-old smoker-man with a pace-maker named Walter). So with a minimal selection of non-mathical science stuff, I chose a nutrition class. I learned a myriad of things that are good for you, and and equal amount of what was bad for you, and although I got an "A" in the class, I ultimately walked away thinking that one good here brings in five bads there and vice-versa, so in my mind it was all, at the end of the day, a life-long crap shoot as long as you tried to balance things out.

Immediately after college I lived in France for a year. Food is treated incredibly different there and I don't even think they discuss nutrition (it's basically a non- issue). In France (ten years ago), there was no "snack food" aisle. The chips section was on a 3 foot wide rack and held a measley selection. I didn't care; I don't like chips much anyway. The meat section was extremely "raw" in comparison to American standards: you could actually tell that meat and poultry come from recently killed animals. I didn't have much problem with any of this. What I did have a problem with was all of the French people asking me why Americans were fat, and the fact that I had to come up with a real answer in a foreign language that I was just getting used to. And, after so many times being questioned, and really thinking about it, and then translating it (often times incorrectly, note: the word "preservative" in English does NOT translate to "preservatif" in French. "Un preservatif" in French is a condom, woops), I really looked the issue hard in the face.

This, among other things, is what Marion Nestle does. She points out the obvious (eat healthier, be more active, blah blah), but then BLAM! She blasts American culture, marketing and politics on how Americans are being trained to become fat. Boo-ya! THIS is an NYU professa'. Kick-ass.

Now, why am I so excited about this? Well, if you, dear reader, lived close enough to me so that we could go to coffee some time (Marion says coffee's OK and it has anti-oxidants [woo-hoo], not to mention the diuritic aspect of things), then you would perchance be one day bored to tears with my very aggrevated attacks on the status of the American supermarket, it's "coupon-o-rama" of crap food rather than healthy food, how big companies like General Mills and Coca-Cola are pushing our tri-glycerides one "buy one get one free" at a time. This, after my French Inquistion, is what I ended up with: a long hard look at what Americans eat and why they eat it. And to tell you the truth, Americans eat what they eat because the government and big business tell us to.

Since the few of my companions whom I've ventured to dispell the myth to have looked blankly at me in white-eyed wonder of what the heck I'm going on about, I've really had no good outlet or sense of solidarity in my viewpoint, except for with the few international new arrivals I've met here...and now, Marion Nestle! NYU Professor! Thank you! Think about it: the politics and marketing culture of America are pushing certain foods like drugs. And I say this because tomorrow they could decide to push it an entirely differnt way. Why? Because we listen to marketing. And Big Business influences American policy. And American policy gives to Big Businesses that support their Parties. And in return, to give all of those Parties and Big Businesses involved more money and more opportunity, Big Businesses market crap to us. And enough Americans buy in to this marketing because they are keeping up with the Jones', who are the people who think they know what the next big thing is and try to get there first, when all "the next big thing" is is the Big Business Marketing Team telling you that you "have to have this." And yes, I do buy $150 dollar jeans, but not because they're what's "in," but because they make my ass look great, thank you very much. Now go eat some broccolli.

Whew. You see why everyone gets wide-eyed and dazed when I talk about it? And that, dear People, is why I head-nodded and exclaimed "Hell yeah!" all the way through the Marion Nestle interview tonight. And it's why I ended up, just prior to this, writing Marion an e-mail thanking her for bringing this notion of why and how America is endangering lives and entrenching itself in anti-prevention, post-prognosis medical care, which is ultimately leading the least able of us down a trechorous path of illness and debt. OK. I know I am looking at the worst case scenario. And I am not a nutrition angel by any means. But People, please look at the reality of how we eat, and who, besides ourselves, makes us eat this way. I will not go into the depths that I could here: about the layers of awareness that come, with countries and individuals alike, with wealth and "idle" time. The similarities of theory in world economics and within this singular country are too great for me to explore and expound upon with you here tonight.

July 04, 2006

Ride, Gertie, Ride

"And all she wants to do is ride [Gertie] ride..." is the perception from my camping commerades this weekend! And they are so wrong (and to my surprise, so right).

It's not really true that I love to ride [mountain bikes], but that is the way it appeared to my fellow campers as we ended my first mountain bike ride in about 12 years yesterday. Believe me, the reason wasn't that I was determined that I finished the ride first. It's obviously not because I ride all the time, or that I'm anything close to "in shape," that I finished the ride first. It's because of my blood type. No joke.

As a kid, back in the days before the easily applicable Advantage flea deterent for pets, my pets had flea collars. Are you old enough to remember those? Or cheap enough to think they can miraculously banish the plague of fleas from your pets? Well, let me tell you: flea collars don't work. Because some blood is better than others, and I know this because I am the better blood, I am O+, and the fleas, in fact all blood sucking bugs, LOVE ME. As a kid I had rings of flea bites at the base of my socks, and in other various parts of my body, all the way up until the pets died. My parents and I breathed a sigh of relief (for different reasons: they because an extra duty was gone, me because the flea bites were).

Back to the camping/hiking/riding/kick Gertie's ass 4th of July trip: The fact that I finished a 2 and a half hour uphill, undeniably technical (i.e. big, loose rocks and steep steep inclines for a long long time, for you novices) ride, with an undenialble heavy and out-of-date mountain bike (fewer gears than they have now!), on an undeniably hot hot day, AND after 13 years of NOT being on a bike OR a mountain or any combination thereof, is NOT because I am a pro. It's because every time I stopped I was bombarded by Horseflies, who continued to stick to me, bite my skin, pinch me, suck my blood, and swarm around me some more to find an even juicier point of entry. Even as I rode on they bombarded me. It felt worse than being a slow-moving human circled by vultures (which, yes, has happened to me as well... I don't know why I don't avoid nature altogether....)

Anyway, I was identified as a mountain biking shark: similar to the nature of a pool shark; I faked being a smoker and out of shaper with a fake heavy bike with fake non-shock-absorbing forks and fake fatigue at all the right places and ended up first because I was faking it all the way. But if they knew, oh if they knew how bugs bug the essence of my soul, they would have understood that all of that hilly torture was NOTHING compared to Horseflies wanting a piece of me.

The funny thing is this. It is the fact that, despite the soreness in the cooch area due to "unusual sitting on a bike seat," the fact that I finished first over many experienced riders this weekend got me all pumped to go riding again. So, instead of leaving camp and going back to the boring foggy City, I went to my parents place up north, hosed everything down, returned the borrowed camping gear, and! hopped! on! the out of date mountain bike! for a quick trip to Pheonix Lake! Holy Crap! What has happened to Gertie? There were no Horseflies today, and my legs were jello from yesterday's ride, so I took a few breaks. BUT. I finished. And I loved it, and I can't wait to get in the saddle again. Hoo-ha!

Post Script: I CANNOT WAIT TO SLEEP IN MY BED TONIGHT! Screw that blow-up mat crap...