Curb your food cravings

'Tis the season for stuffing and sweets. Unfortunately, this season is also part of a horrendous cycle that many people submit themselves to every year.

For Americans, it begins with Halloween; the binge of sweets overflowing from store shelves tempts the will of shoppers. Following Halloween, Thanksgiving then sets the stage for months of indulgence. People devour a variety of foods, excusing themselves from previously set guidelines.

What guidelines? Well, observe the continuation of the cycle.... The indulgence lasts into January, then the shock of approaching Spring causes panic. As a result, New Year's Resolutions are born; people swear to lose the holiday weight. Some people will succeed, others will fail.

In both cases, the approach of Summer causes another surge of panic, "gotta fit into those Summer clothes". Summer activities have a tendency to shrink waistlines or at the least the perception thereof. With satisfaction in success (or surrender), many people will re-enter the cycle when it comes around again.

Through understanding what your body is really telling you, you will be able to combat the extra weight, thus relieving you of the cyclical weight struggle.

Food contains nutrition essential for the normal function of the human body. Some foods contain more of those nutrients than others, but we tend to associate those nutrients only with the most familiar foods. For example, the body says, "I need protein", the mind says, "Get me a cheap cheeseburger!" instead of "Some beans or lean meat, please".

I found a small webpage [NaturopathyWorks] which shows some common cravings and the substitutions which can be made with those cravings. For example, it suggests that if you're craving chocolate, you may need Magnesium; which means you should try eating raw nuts and seeds, legumes, and fruit. Another of their examples is that if you're craving bread/toast you may need Nitrogen, so you should try consuming high protein foods such as fish, meat, nuts, and beans. There are many other substitutions listed on that page. (Please note: I do not think that naturpathy actually works as an "alternative" to established medical science. So, take that website only as pseudo-scientific suggestion.)

Additionally, you can try to understand how your body initiates its food cravings. Recently a study was done [MedicalXpress] to learn how protein intake affects how much people desire to eat. Basically, the study found that until you consume a certain percentage of protein in your diet, you will most likely still desire more food.
Dr Gosby commented: "This result confirms the 'protein-leverage' effect in humans and importantly, shows counting calories is not enough to manage appetite and body weight. In the western world, where food is abundant, if you reduce your calorie intake but fail to reach your protein target you will find it hard to resist hunger pangs."
In essence, I'm trying to point out that you should always choose the right things to eat and never eat too much of anything. So, as you enter this season of assorted holidays of abundant temptation, remember that the choices you make now will affect you all year.


Rollin' With Zach

Ever since I learned of Zach Anner (thanks to The Daily What). I've been following his ride toward getting a chance to host his own show. Oprah Winfrey awarded Zach with his own travel show after an amazing number of internet voters pushed him to the number one slot in her OWN show competition.

His show will be entitled "Rollin' with Zach"; "rollin'" because Zach has cerebral palsy, so he moves about by wheelchair. Now, he'll be travelling all over the world doing things he's only dreamed of and taking us along for the ride.
Zach Anner is obsessed with travel. In Rollin' With Zach, he takes an authentic and often humorous approach to seeing the country, as he hosts his own half-hour travel series. Zach may have cerebral palsy, but that's never stopped him! In every episode, Zach explores a new city and conquers his "top five" list for the destination.
Congratulations, Zach! Your humor and positive perspective on life is uplifting and inspiring.

Official Trailer: Rollin' With Zach

Rollin' with Zach will premiere with back-to-back episodes beginning Monday, December 12 from 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.


Politics, Religion, and Sex

Those who are different, change the world. Those who are the same, keep it that way.
The momentum of our changing world is driven by controversy and compromise. Change cannot happen without discussion and disagreement.

There are three things that society advises against discussing in polite company: Politics, Religion, and Sex.
In the spirit of investigation and progress, I am going to discuss why I question that logic. I do think there is an appropriate time and place for all things, however I think that the priorities and concerns with the discussion of these "taboos" have been so confused that there is no longer any room for the important intelligent discourse which drives discovery and change.

I would like to begin with the topic of Politics. By the very nature of what it is, Politics is a public matter. Your political opinion -- whether educated or ignorant -- affects us all through the magic of democracy. It is, therefore, very important that we all nurture mature and well-informed political opinions. That doesn't mean that I think that everyone should always stand atop a stump and proclaim their opinions to the world; in fact, I think that practice is part of the problem with the discussion (and practice) of politics. When did being right become more important than doing right?

Standing atop a stump or screaming in someone's face will never produce change. Remember what I said in my most recent article? "I learned years ago that you cannot change to a new system through confrontation or arrogance; you change through education in the new system while simultaneously slowly moving the old practice toward obsolescence." Education is the best way to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the idea/opinion currently held and the idea/opinion you would like to see.

I propose that political discourse is appropriate wherever a willing person or group is found. Please take note of the word "willing"; I've discussed previously that it's always important to me that a person's choices not interfere with the choices or freedoms of others. So, handing out pamphlets is acceptable, but physically stopping a person from carrying out their choices is definitely not. You should attempt to educate, not alienate.

With Religion, things get a bit more tricky. I think Religious preference is a personal choice and therefore should only be announced or discussed within familiar circles. I think it is fine that one would become excited about their personal choices, but it is very important that it be recognized and accepted that no one else should have to agree.

Quiet presentation is really the only appropriate method. Religion is generally something coached and conditioned throughout life, so it's deeply set. If you wish to discuss religion, I suggest that you spend more time asking questions than you do making your own statements. All-too-often a person will push a religious (or anti-religious) opinion which would not have been said without the religious pretense. Simplified, this is the "No offense, but..." approach to discussion. You hear someone say this and you already know that what they're about to say is wholly insulting, but they think a passive-aggressive statement will be less abrasive.

Recognizing my initial point that religion is a personal choice and should be mutually respected, should eliminate the desire to "change minds" and instead promote an intelligent exercise in listening and understanding.

Sex is a topic which I think American society has gotten completely backwards. The typical American family is frightened to discuss the topic, so they wish a class into schools to discuss it. The schools, in turn, have to dance around the two previous taboos (Politics and Religion) as they explain something perfectly natural to a classroom full of curious adolescents and/or teenagers.

In the home, a discussion about sexual choices should be as comfortable as a discussion about religion. Why is it that some parents can tell a child about one man murdering another (Cain and Abel), but they can't talk about eggs and sperm? What's worse is that this lack of communication is a learned behavior; sex has become an exercise in shame, instead of an exercise in relational interaction. Similar to religion, I think that sexual interaction is a personal choice. As long as that interaction does not hinder the freedoms or choices of another person, it is not something to be hidden or shamed.

So, how do people learn? If they don't already understand something, such as the example of a room full of students in a high school class, where do people turn when they want to learn? By building this wall of shame and taboo, we've prevented a healthy investigative process. It's important that this type of discourse happens first among friends and family (a place of already-known safety). Not only do you strengthen the feeling of trust for the individuals involved, but you have also possibly introduced new questions to a place where ideas and opinions have a tendency to stagnate.

The fascinating fact about discourse is that ideas and opinions change. The discussion of these topics through considerate exchange is the only way to truly evaluate the strength and logic of our ideas and opinions. However, one must recognize that these topics are tied closely with personal identification and security, so it is a horrible violation if you do not first ASK if you may talk about the topic of choice.

Furthermore, if someones decides they're done with the conversation, then it's over. Thank them for their willingness to participate in whatever fashion they already have (e.g. taking a paper, a few minutes of questions, sharing their opposing opinion). It's time to show some respect in discussion, maybe that'll change our mood about beginning them.


Normality has been restored

An hour ago, the last clocks in the Northern Hemisphere were freed from Daylight Saving Time (DST). Sadly, there are some in the Southern hemisphere which have recently began their ritual of madness; for them I offer consolation with my article on "Why I hate Daylight Saving Time".

I am content to be rid of the odd adjustment for a few months and was set on climbing atop my soapbox and repeating a few of the reasons why you should be too. However, I noticed something this last week which gave me a bit of satisfaction. Discussions (both online and off) about DST have turned largely to criticism. I would overhear people on the bus who were "glad that Daylight Saving Time would be over soon, so that they could have their mornings back". I read many postings through social media of friends complaining of the troubles they had starting their day due to the dark mornings.

You see, DST was extended in the United States in 2007 by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 introduced by Joe Barton, Texas Republican and member of the Tea Party caucus. It should come as no surprise that Joe Barton was a consultant for an Oil and Gas company [Joe Barton - House.gov]. Barton has also been involved interfering in matters of environmental protection. Joe's Act was a success, by the way, a boon for the corporations interested in shifting consumers home earlier in the Summer afternoon (meaning, more AC) and awake earlier in the Winter morning (meaning, more heating). I'm going to stop myself here though about the involvement of energy corporations, mainly because it's all been said already and -- to my satisfaction -- I think most people get it now. (See my article in 2008: "Ditch Daylight Saving Time".)

Observers of DST have a bit of a conundrum, similar to many other system we're seeing protested these days, we're all subjected to the system as long as we continue to participate in it. Unlike oppressive big-brother governments, big financial institutions, and mass food-chains, time isn't just something we can institute locally; in fact it's actually federally prohibited in the USA [Gazette, The (Colorado Springs)]. It was that inability that caused me to realize something about Daylight Saving Time which I hadn't considered before: the practice of DST is similar to the use of the US measurement system. Meaning, it's hardened into the minds of its participants.

In dealing with Metrication, I learned years ago that you cannot change to a new system through confrontation or arrogance; you change through education in the new system while simultaneously slowly moving the old practice toward obsolescence. By the time you suggest removing the old system, most people (which is what matters in democracy) don't care if you do because they've been primarily using the new one anyway. For DST, this means that behaviors have to be changed in such a way that it won't matter what "time" it really is. In keeping with my choice in March, I am still going to avoid telling you how you might choose to spend your day, but I will tell you what I've chosen to do for myself.

Daylight Saving Time is all about "moving daylight". Repeating some text from eight months ago:
The idea of Daylight Saving Time is to make the most of the hours of daylight available during the Summer. That's fantastic! Unfortunately, people use DST as a crutch to hobble a few days of good feelings out of "more" daylight. You've heard this before, but I'll say it again: If you want more daylight, then use it when it's there. Consistently.
All of this shift is around the accepted "9 to 5 day". In a "9 to 5 day", 13:00 (1pm) is made the center point. I thought that was odd, considering noon (12:00) is supposed to be midday, so I chose to rethink my "day" as beginning at 8, thus I reset my midday to 12:00. Under DST, "high noon" occurs at 13:00 for nearly 75% of the year. (You can imagine how much that screws up how to "Tell time using the Sun or Moon".)

Now, my shift in thinking does not mean that I get to leave my job sooner, nor does it mean that I always greet my alarm with happiness in the morning. Similar to my state-of-mind with measurement -- where I use SI (aka Metric) in my head, but convert for the convenience of others in conversation -- I still participate in the daily schedules of those around me. Work is work and if you're lucky enough to have a job right now, you work the hours to which you and your employer agree upon. I do enjoy at least one advantage though, because of my choice I have freed myself from the lock-step of the populace. My choice to change my thinking allows me to shift my non-work activities to whatever feels right for me: I'm able to get in a bit of exercise, while the "9-to-5er" is just waking up; I can stop by the store on a dark Winter morning instead of dodging shopping carts in the aisles in the afternoon.

Another reason that this works well for me is that other parts of society have shifted as well. In the hopes of drawing more customers and more revenue, businesses have been lengthening their hours of operation; some banks are now opening an hour earlier than they did years ago and some retail stores even earlier than that. The minds and traditions of society have also adapted, the American dinner hour used to be 18:00 (6pm), enough time for the bread-winning father to stroll through the door after his 9-to-5 and sit down at the dinner table with his patiently-waiting wife and two or three kids. Now, due to the prevalence and popularity of "primetime television", meal times have been shifted earlier. Besides, now father is expected to help out after the meal and if anyone in that household expects to do anything after dinner that evening, the meal will shift earlier out of necessity.

You see, our observance of DST isn't only about time, it's about lifestyle and tradition. And the beauty of humanity is how we change and adapt, replacing old tools and techniques with new technology and better understood ideas. Don't get too comfortable with those new ideas though, they'll change eventually too.


Privacy and control

Technology is everywhere, always watching, always tracking, and always within reach. Meaning, our gadgets have or will be taking on qualities commonly associated with gods: omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. In the 2006 film V for Vendetta, a man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask fought against the control of an oppressive system. As a result of that film, "the use of stylised Guy Fawkes masks, with moustache and pointed beard, has become widespread internationally among groups protesting against politicians, banks and financial institutions. The masks both conceal the identity of individuals and demonstrate their commitment to a shared cause." [Guy Fawkes Mask - Wikipedia]

Some people view the rise of our god-like technology with terror; should we thus all dawn Guy Fawkes' masks and attempt to hide from our digital overlords? Or should we accept and embrace this fact and attempt to mold it?

I recently watched the TED talk "FBI, here I am!" by Hasan Elahi, an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland and an interdisciplinary media artist.
In the talk, Hasan articulates his opinion -- with which I agree -- on data, privacy, and control:
"I've come to the conclusion that the way you protect your privacy -- particularly in an era where everything is catalogued and everything is archived and evething is recorded -- there's no need to delete information anymore. So, what do you do when everything is out there? Well, you have to take control of it. If I give you this information directly, it's a very different type of identity than if you were to try and go through a get bits and pieces."
I welcome the discerning consumption of information, as I discussed in my previous article touching on the subject of "A Hierarchy to Understanding". So, as the omnipresent technology logs my words, locations, and activities, it gathers a glimpse of my identity, but what you see is not the whole of what makes me who I am. To echo some of Hasan's words, "In this barrage of noise that I'm putting out, I actually live an incredibly anonymous and private life; you know very little about me, actually."

Consider this: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. These are the beginnings of how we gather data; the investigative questions we all learn at an early age.
An outside observer can only gather some data through their own perspective: Who, What, When, Where, and How. You'll notice though that a fundamental question cannot be answered with dry data: Why. If you've been reading recently, you'll know that the "Why" is of highest importance when it comes to understanding and actualization. The "Why" is what is formed individually. It is the "Why" that creates our psychology, personality, opinions, motivations, cravings, and connections.

I am unafraid of the omnipresence of technology because I am more than the facts and data amassed. I choose not to attempt to hide the cataloging of my data because I try to never act without intention. Let me be entirely clear about another opinion I have of data and surveillance as it relates to freedom. There are those who would choose to use the gathering of data as a way to prevent others from having the freedom to act of their own will. This is never OK. In my opinion, a person should be allowed to act however they choose; as long as those actions do not prevent another person from making their own -- possibly opposing -- choice.

I also acknowledge the courage of those who choose to exercise their own freedoms even if those choices result in consequences born of ill-conceived systems of control. (Again, I reiterate that the initial choice must not hinder the freedoms of others.) For example, it is currently illegal (meaning, there is a law on the books) to drive a black car on Sundays in Denver, Colorado. In my opinion, choosing to drive a black car on Sunday does not take away the freedom of others. Therefore, I respect those individuals who choose to ignore such a strange law and drive their vehicle of choice on Sunday. Let it also be said that I greatly respect the law enforcement officers who choose to ignore the law and therefore do not enforce the legal penalty currently dictated by the system.

In this technology-dominated world, true privacy is a result of control and intention. Some may choose to disseminate the details of their every bathroom visit, others may choose to disclose nothing, but the nature of self is not in what you do and who is aware of it; it is in why you do it and how you define yourself as a result. In actuality, I know no more about the "Shitter Twitter" [Urban Dictionary] than I do about the man hiding behind the figurative curtain, what I do know is how they have chosen to present themselves to me. The beauty of freedom is that you may choose to disagree with me on any and all of this and I respect your choice to do so.