Friday, July 21, 2006

Fruity Whole Grain Goodness

I've got breakfast cereal on the brain. Part of it is the last post (in which I mentioned Boo Berry cereal) and part of it has to do with some articles I've recently read regarding the stuff. Whatever the case, I'm intrigued enough about it to write the thoroughly detailed analysis which is to follow.

Before we actually delve into breakfast cereal specifics however, I'd like to attempt to blow the lid off of a certain truth that really shouldn't be a truth. I have been telling people for years that the idea that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is largely bullshit, yet no one has believed me. Granted, whenever I make the argument for the statement being false, I almost never bring any evidence to back it up, so I usually have to resort to powerful testimony such as, "Umm... I read it somewhere." Not exactly the type of statement you want to arm yourself with when entering a heated debate.

Well, naysayers say 'nay' no more! I (finally) bear documentation supporting my claims. The following excerpt comes from the outstanding folks at the Bathroom Readers Institute, specifically their publication Uncle John's Sixth Bathroom Reader - a reliable and trustworthy source if ever there was one. Take note:

(Excerpt from the "Myth-Conceptions" entry on Page 66)

"Breakfast: Most Important Meal Of The Day

The idea that something dreadful will befall us unless we eat in the morning owes much of its popularity to the frequently cited (but rarely read)
Iowa Studies, most of which were published in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Blow the dust off them and you'll get a good lesson in how not to conduct research. First, the major measure of performance, referred to as 'maximum work rate,' was how hard people pedaled a bicycle - not a terribly relevant skill in most workplaces and classrooms. Second, each study was conducted with only six to ten subjects. Third, all of the experiments were funded by the Cereal Institute, a group that just possibly could have benefited from positive findings."

Admittedly, they don't actually prove that breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. However, they do point out that many of the reasons we have for thinking that it is are based on poorly conducted research. Eat that doubting Thomases. Now that that's settled, we shall move on to more pressing matters.

Breakfast has recently made a resurgence in my life after about a three year hiatus. It has come, as you might have guessed, in the from of cereal, specifically Whole Foods organic 5-grain cereal with soy and Trader Joe's organic fat free milk. I know. Even I'm astounded. There are two reasons for the health food. Reason# 1: That's what rubs off on you when your roommate of 3 1/2 years is a progressive vegan whose diet consists of lots and lots of organic locally farmed foods and produce. Reason #2) After years of not eating breakfast, the lunchtime stomach growls got just loud enough to be embarrassing. I had thought about going back to Golden Grahams, Honey Nut Cheerios', or my boyhood favorite, Cap'n Crunch, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Every time I reached for such a sugar coated delight on the shelf I could hear my father saying, "Eric, how can you stomach that stuff? That's like eating candy for breakfast." You know what? He was right. When companies like Nestles enter the breakfast cereal market and many breakfast cereal servings contain the same amount of fat as a bacon roll (although, picture aside, I'm still not quite sure what a bacon roll is), it might be a good idea to watch what you eat.

And so, each morning I grudgingly turn hippie and eat my natural diarrhetic, muesli-filled, healthy smealthy breakfast cereal, making sure to do so before showering or applying anti-perspirant to complete the effect. But, I haven't forgotten those halcyon days of high fructose corn syrup and milk. Nothing was better than bouncing off the walls after a bowl of Trix followed by Saturday morning cartoons... Actually, scratch that. Lots of things were better. The regular post-sugar high feelings had to have been among the more unpleasant of my childhood, but alas, I became a slave to my own addictions and good marketing.

To that end, I present you with some breakfast cereal links which are good for nostalgic remember-whens if nothing else (just please don't ask why. I've sat here for a good half hour trying to figure out why I'm writing a post about breakfast cereals, not to mention a way to end it. )

Boing-Boings little write-up on Roger Bradfield - a great artist who designed many a cereal box back in the day. Note the, dare I say it, class in which his artistry presents the product in question, unlike the ritalin inspired, halfwit, hyper-fest box designs of today. Honestly, it's a wonder half the parents purchasing this don't go into epileptic shock upon seeing it.

Because you just can't get enough Trix, a commercial from 1964. There is no way such a commercial would ever be allowed to air today. There just isn't. The uproar would be well... uproarious. Still, it's not without its charm.

Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide
- Not only does this guy refer to himself as Topher - no small feat - but he's compiled one of the most complete guides of breakfast cereal characters I've ever seen. Great memories. Here's to you, Topher.

And lastly... well, this is why I love Wikipedia. Because it's an online resource "for the people, by the people" it can be a great source of information when you're in dire need. But, every once in a while some smartass (or U.S. congressman) decides to edit the factual information and create something completely false, and often times quite funny. Behold the biography of Count Chocula - an excerpt of which follows:

By twenty-four, he appeared in his first "barrelled cereal" endorsement, as the Choukula family debuted "Ernst Choukula's Golden Wheat Muesli", a packaged mix that was intended for horses, mules, and the hospital ridden. Belarussian immigrant silo-tenders started cutting the product with vodka, creating a crude mush-paste they called "gruhll" or "gruell," and would eat the concoction each morning before work.

Enjoy folks, and don't forget - Murky Words and toast are part of this complete breakfast. Toodles.

Monday, July 17, 2006

From A to Zinc

Every morning for the past five days, I have been belching up fish. It is friggin' yuck times twelve. Tres disgusting man, and blueberries are to blame.

Yes, blueberries. Get ready, now! Here comes the logic!

For time immemorial my mother has been singing the praises of blueberries - particularly as a topping on breakfast cereal. "Honey, eatcha bloo-berries!" she would exclaim. Apparently, not only do they taste good, but they're good for you too! Who knew... Anyway, not wanting to poo poo my beloved mother's advice I decided to give it a shot (she's well versed on these things, and who am I to argue with a woman who looks twenty years younger than she is. Plus, she's a nurse and I figure it pays to follow the advice of a health professional. I'm, uh... also a bit of a mama's boy. Er... wait, no I'm not. I'm 31 years old, damnit - I am NOT a mama's boy. Huh? Oh... piss off.) My first attempt was to use them as a topping on a bowl of General Mills Boo Berry cereal. Imagine my surprise, won't you, when I discovered that I liked the fake blueberries better than the real ones, and I stopped voluntarily putting real blueberries on my cereal from that point forward. Why split hairs? No sense using the real ones when the fake will do. And besides, look at the box, for God's sake. They're whole grain.

This is not to say I got away from them entirely, however. There was a particularly drunk and hazy period in my mid-twenties when, unable to afford the ridiculous Boston rents (read: unable to save any money) I lived in my parent's basement. Not only did I get a full-on blueberry assault with my breakfast (the Boo Berry had been replaced with Quaker oatmeal by this point), but I also got a generous helping of ground flax seed sprinkled on top. The first time it was served to me, I choked. After all, I wasn't used to sand in my oatmeal. Throwing a nasty glance at my mother she merely said, "Please. I'm ya mutha. Ya think I'm gonna poison you? Jesus, Mary & Joseph."

She remained undaunted. Every morning I got my oatmeal with blueberries and flax seed, and every morning I scarfed it down. I got used to the stuff in short order, and seeing as I was receptive to a (relatively) healthy lifestyle, my mother suggested I started taking a multivitamin as well. I found it an easy habit to adopt, and I usually popped my pill every morning while taking notice that my parents not only took a multivitamin, but also about eighty gazillion other types of vitamins as well. I was appalled. It took them longer to take the vitamins than it did to eat breakfast (I'm exaggerating, but you get the point - in my mind they were walking pharmaceutical factories. I could just picture it - they're walking along the beach hand in hand and playing fetch with some golden retriever - which they don't own - and as they get nearer one says "Centrum Silver!" while the other says "Because balanced is better!" Alright... clearly I'm insane.)

Understand that my parents, in this as in most other matters, are pretty darned influential. They're both in ridiculously good health. They eat right, exercise daily, and take very good care of themselves, and as a result, they're able to live very full, enjoyable lives. They will also tell you, I'm fairly certain, that all those vitamins they pop every morning, play an integral role. So, about five years ago, taking a cue from them, I figured I'd at least do the vitamin thing. I mean, you can't argue with results (although it had not occurred to me, at that point anyway, that there were several other factors involved. I ate so poorly that breaded lard would probably have been healthier by comparison, and I smoked enough to make Yul Brynner cough. He's dead, you know. From smoking. Just so you're aware of that and all... Thankfully, I have quit both the cigarettes and the crap food.) In addition to the multivitamin, I started taking Vitamin C and Calcium, for no other reason than they seemed like decent vitamins to take.

That was about four years ago. Now, a little older and a little wiser, I have legitimate reasons for taking both vitamins, and I've added several more to my morning repertoire. In fact, lets run down the list just to avoid any confusion, shall we?
  • Mutlivitamin: As mentioned, the very first vitamin I started popping. The all-purpose Mac Daddy Pimp of them all. They cram a lot of shit into that tiny little pill. It makes you wonder if they're lying on the back of the label. Apparently I'm getting my daily dose of copper with this thing, which is good because I didn't know I was supposed to be taking copper, and would have no idea how to get it otherwise. I suppose I could start swallowing pennies or something, but why the hell would I want do that? Disgusting.
  • Vitamin C: Way back when, I started taking this for a few different reasons, all of them preventative and really no longer applicable. As I mentioned, I smoked a ton at the time and I had heard that smokers lose Vitamin C much faster than non-smokers. I'm still not sure if it's true, but I figured it couldn't hurt. Also, I was always catching colds back then too, and, well, you've heard the theories about Vitamin C boosting your immune system, I'm sure. There's still no evidence that it actually does but, whatever. Even though I never get sick anymore, I'll still take it because I figure it doesn't hurt not to. At the very least, I'm avoiding scurvy. Plus, it's tangy. You have to be careful though. Too much Vitamin C and you could end up with a case of the runs... or the dribbles... or the splats. Ewwwwwww.
  • Calcium: Because at the time, I was probably getting little to none. I almost never drank milk or ate green leafy vegetables. While I knew my bones were fine in the short term, I didn't want to start suffering from brittle bones in my later years. I'm amazed that I had the foresight, really. I still take it because, well, I'm a 31 year old male, and you know, osteoporosis could be right around the corner! Help.
  • Vitamin D: I only started taking this one within the last year after reading about a study done that showed it's believed to help significantly decrease the risk of prostate cancer among men (not like women will be getting prostate cancer or anything...) Although at relatively minimal risk for it now, this is one disease I want to seriously avoid in the future, if I can at all help it. Can you imagine what a pain in the ass prostate cancer must be? (I meant figuratively, actually, but if the shoe fits...) To say nothing of the fact that it's life threatening, there's the potential for all sorts of complications for those living with it. It's hard to treat. Lots of chemotherapy, sexual dysfunction, etc... And really, do you want to be the guy yapping about your prostate in general conversation and making everyone else uncomfortable? Didn't think so. Start taking Vitamin D, son.
  • Vitamin E: I'm not sure why I started taking this, actually. I have no idea what it actually does, although I do know that too much of it can be toxic to your liver... or something. Well, might as well find out now. WebMD says "This medication is used as a dietary supplement for prevention or treatment of Vitamin E deficiency. (Gee thanks, guys. That helps) OTHER USES: This medication may also be used to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent leg muscle cramps." Ah. Well... learn something new. Wait, what did it say?
Which brings us full circle to...
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Now THIS is what I started taking five days ago and the reason why I'm belching up all sorts of foulness. You see, Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essentially nothing more than fish oils and, as someone who generally loathes our seafaring friends, this was not exactly an easy sell. Yet, when told by a friend that it "improves everything" - a fact concurred by no less an authority than my mother - I reluctantly gave it a shot. I was not aware that wretched breath and a gag reflex would result. Too bad it doesn't come in a minty fresh flavor. I feel like The Incredible Mr. Limpet for God's sake. Still, I'm committed. I've been told that the fish breath is only temporary and according to WebMD, it really does fix everything - or at least comes damn close: "Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as "fish oils", have been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, high lipid (fat) levels in the blood (hyperlipidemia), certain skin/scalp conditions (e.g., atopic dermatitis, psoriasis), ulcerative colitis, or certain blood circulation problems (e.g., Raynaud's syndrome). OTHER USES: This product has also been used for asthma, cancer, painful menstrual periods (I really have to watch out for those, you know. They can be excruciating), lung diseases, hay fever, certain mental/mood disorders (bipolar disorder), and to help prevent heart disease." Wow! Watch out, ladies! My breath may stink, but my psoriasis and tuberculosis are ALL under control.
So, as you may have guessed, I am now immortal. These secrets were revealed to me when I held aloft my magic sword and said, "By the power of Grayskull!"


Actually, I'm just kidding. I'm not really immortal, and I only like to pretend to be He-Man, but, you can bet your bottom dollar he took vitamins! I mean, he'd have to! He couldn't tackle Skeletor on just oatmeal and orange juice alone. So, between He-Man and my parents I feel I'm headed in the right direction. I'm taking positive, proactive steps to ensure my good health both now, and in the future. Immortality? I might revisit the idea somewhere down the line, but I think I'll leave it alone for now. Realy, it's just not all that feasible. I simply don't eat enough blueberries.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Not So Deep Thoughts

Well, we're screwed. I'm plumb out of ideas (cool word, plumb) and YouTube links. This blog needs a jump start, damnit. Time to fall back on an old standby once again -- the written brainstorm.

You see, back in 2nd grade, my bitch of an elementary school teacher had us all write down a full page of whatever nonsense happened to pop into our head. She called it simply "brainstorming", and told us it was a good way to get ideas for writing. She was mostly full of shit but, fearful of her wrath (and hers was most certainly a wrath to be fearful of), we all completed the exercise anyway. Most of the boys wrote about the Celtics, Return of the Jedi, and our pet dogs. The girls wrote about Paddington Bear, Strawberry Shortcake, and Ricky Schroeder. If memory serves, I wrote about half a page of "I hate you. I hate you. Die. Die. Blood. I hate you. Die. Knives hurt. I hate you. I HATE YOU!!!!!!!" before the kid next to me, Jonathan Berkowitz, raised his hand and told on me.


I was just foolin' y'all. That thar's a joke. I don't actually remember what I wrote, but I do remember that Jonathan Berkowitz liked to tell on me a lot, that my teacher was in fact Lucifer incarnate, and that the 'brainstorming' exercise was largely a useless one. I've often employed it in the many years since those days, and not once has it gotten the old creative motor running again. It does display some interesting results though, as those long time readers of this blog can attest, and since I can't think of anything else worthy of 3,000 words, well, here we go. (For purposes of readability each individual thought is separated by it's own bullet point.)
  • Bullet points rock da house, yo.
  • Come on, type something asshole, don't just sit there lightly tapping the keyboard waiting for words to fly into your head. Sheesh
  • Oooh!! Red Sox are on. Shall we watch? Yes, we shall precioussss. We shan't finish with the nasty posteststses... Yessssssss... *switch to personality 4 of 16* No, no, NO dammit!! You... you sit around here, with your filthy ideas, and your stupid sports teams and you stare at the walls, and you expect the whole world to revolve around you! Well, it doesn't, Mr Potter!! In the whole grand scheme of things I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider... and... and that goes for you too!
  • I'm taking a day trip later this summer and hitting a bunch of ice cream and custard stands. I love ice cream. I'm not so sure about custard. I don't know that I've ever had custard before. The name itself sounds kind of yicky... like I'm eating a bowl of frozen phlegm or something. But, I'm open-minded about this particular venture. There's even a custard stand in Middleton that sells Grape Nut custard. Phlegm, indeed!
  • I think about moving away from Boston... often. It's way too expensive. The winter weather can be brutal (although this past winter was a wonderful exception. Yay, global warming!) There's a sense of undue entitlement among it's residents that is unlike anywhere else in the country - and not in a good way. The local government and public works are corrupt and full of croneyism. The list goes on and on. But then, I walk through Copley Square and the Back Bay at dusk on a warm summer day and I realize that there are few places anywhere that are more enjoyable, and that to leave it behind would be borderline insanity.
  • There are no new messages in my Inbox. There weren't any new messages when I checked 30 seconds ago, either.
  • Baked Kettle Chips are the best culinary invention so far this year. Apples are a close 2nd.
  • This France v Italy World Cup final is, to my mind, the 2nd least desirable final possible. The least desirable would have been France v Brazil with a stadium full of Italian fans.
  • Gotta switch the laundry. Today is laundry day. That usually means ironing is involved. I don't do well with irons. I usually end up with finger burns and the area rug in my bedroom has a nice iron shaped burn in one corner of it. Help.
  • In addition to being laundry day, today is apparently - unofficially, of course - Gilbert & Sullivan Day (Don't ask me. I didn't declare it.) I wonder what happens on Gilbert & Sullivan Day? Are we all honorary modern major generals? Do we have to sing all our conversations? Are all the men gay and the women frustrated? What happens?
  • This is going to sound very rude... but the people in my neighborhood need to stop having children. If that's asking too much then perhaps they should teach them that, when engaged in conversation, it isn't necessary to scream. They don't seem to grow out of this habit until they reach their thirties.
  • I wanna rock right now. I'm Rob Bass and I came to get down. I'm not internationally known, but I'm known throughout the microphone, cuz I get stupid. I mean, outrageous. Stay away from me if you're contagious. Cuz I'm winner, no I'm not a loozah... and so on.
  • When I was growing up, I kind of disliked Sunday. Although it was a weekend day, it filled me with nervousness and dread. Not only was there church and Sunday school, which I didn't want to go to, but there was all the homework I had to complete for real school the next day. Hell, simply even knowing that I had to go to school was enough to put knots in the stomach Was I crazy? I think I was crazy. Or just a Negative Ned. In any case, I'm glad I don't have a job which gives me homework and that I don't care enough about where the thought of going to it tomorrow gives me agita.
  • I wonder if I should watch Hustle & Flow tonight. I too, can learn how to be a stone cold gangsta.
  • I wonder if I should read Harry Potter instead (I'm on the most recent one... finally.)
  • I wonder if I should go outside and enjoy the day.
  • Nah... being lazy and surfing the Internet is more fun.
  • Crap! Two outs in the bottom of the 9th and the White Sox just tied the score. Jesus. I'm turning the game off. (Expletives not suitable for print being uttered here.)
  • So, I could quit here and call it a post, but does what I have written here inspire me towards writing any future posts? NO! Screw you, 2nd grade teacher, you were wrong.
  • I hate you. I hate you. Die. Die. Blood. I hate you. Die. Knives hurt. I hate you. I HATE YOU!!!!!!!
  • Hi, Jonathan Berkowitz. What are you doing here?
  • The "delicate" load of laundry is now done. This, oddly enough, features some of my more delicate articles of clothing. Linen shirts and such... Hmm... why do I feel like singing a Gilbert & Sullivan tune?
  • I've information animal and vegetable and... la, la, la, LA!
  • Time to go. I've plenty more ideas, but no more time.
  • No, really. It's time to go.
  • WHAT THE HELL! Everytime I hit return I get a new bullet point. Stop, already!
  • STOP!
  • Screw this. I'm Audi-5000.
  • OK, I'm walking away now!!