Friday, June 27, 2008

Idiocracy Mocks Stoopid Breeders (Movie)

That's how Mike Judge's Idiocracy starts. A dumb schlub played by Luke Wilson is frozen for an Army experiment, but his pod gets lost once the program's funding is cut. He wakes up in 2505 and suddenly he's the smartest person in the world! Check out the preview for more on that:

President Camacho is for serious my favorite part of the movie. I would totally vote for him! But, um, yeah, smartie pants was also sent back with a prostitute that he feels responsible for until she ends up saving his life so that he can go on to save the planet, which is quickly running out of food (because they're using a sports drink to water the plants!). If you're looking for something to make you laugh, this will definitely work.

Related posts:
Nick Swardson - Comic Fabulousness
Science in the 21st and a Half Century!
My Vision of the Future

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Detox Your Summer (How To)

It's officially summer and with it comes special health risks, especially in Kansas City, where our air quality takes a sharp turn for the worse - often breaking EPA regulations. With that in mind, and with my years of experience of hiding from the sun as a freaking redhead, I offer you some tips on keeping your summertime as healthy and positive as possible.

1. Avoid excessive sun and use protection
The sun is a big beautiful thing, but that doesn't make it's rays good for your skin. Most of us know this generally, but posted a great resource listing 13 dangers of excessive sun exposure that you should check out. They include sunburn, lowering your white blood cells (and your ability to heal) and causing rashes, migraines, cancer and cataracts. In fact, sun damage to our eyes is such a big problem that Prevent Blindness America has an entire educational component dedicated to it. Their tips on protecting your eyes include wearing shades and hats. Hats are some of my favorite accessories in general, so I am loving the chance to use all my sunhats. Of course, you should also wear sunscreen, making sure to apply it properly (pdf).

2. Be aware of the SkyCast and act accordingly
SkyCast is our local resource for air quality, run by Mid-America Regional Council. Their updates are daily and are often aired on the TV and radio news during the summer months. You can also receive your daily update as an email or through a RSS reader.

For those of you who don't know, the 4 levels are shown above. Sensitive groups include children, people who are usually active outdoors and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma. Each level has a recommended way of acting to keep you from breathing in as few toxins as possible. Be sure to check out the orange and red alert actions, which generally include re-scheduling normal activities like filling your gas tank or mowing your lawn.

3. Drink plenty of water
Dehydration is another problem in the summer. Water is such a vital part of our bodies, that it's been estimated that if we lost 10% of the water in our bodies, we'd no longer be able to stand! suggests you "drink at least one-and-a-half cups of water every half hour and at least one-and-a-half cups of water 20–30 minutes before playing or exercising in the heat." They also list the signs of dehydration, so you can recognize it: flushed face, rapid pulse, dark yellow urine, sunken eyes, skin that doesn't bounce back after you pinch it, irritability and irrational behavior. Dietitian Joanne Larson says that chilled water is the best way to satisfy thirst and it is absorbed more quickly by your stomach - so keep a nice cool (filtered) pitcher in the fridge and drink often! Because by the time you feel thirsty, you're already a little dehydrated.

Related posts:
Detox Your Life
Detox Your Petcare
Take a Deep Breath

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What I Wish I Knew When I Became a Vegetarian

Let's see... how many bodily functions I can possibly talk about on this blog? So far I've covered breathing, pooing, pissing and ejaculation (vaguely) so I guess it's time to bring the ole "M" word out. That's right, boys: Menstruation! Run away in fear!

This post isn't really about that, but I want to start there because this is the very first period I've had this year since going veg that I wasn't relying on iron pills to ensure a normal flow (and, some months, even to start the damn thing). What that says to me is that I've finally gotten my diet to a point where I am getting much more of the nutrients my body needs from my food and not from pills. Hooray! Which brings me to my point: If I could do it all over again, I would have been much smarter about how I became a vegetarian. So I'd like to share with you some info from Farm Sanctuary's Guide to Veg Living, because this is stuff I wish I'd known in January.

The most important point is to let yourself eat less meat gradually. That way your body can adjust more easily and so can your mindset about food. That's one of the things I didn't do! I just stopped all of a sudden and I think it was kind of a shock to my system and might have led to some of my sickness this winter. Here's the FS's tips on "making the switch:"

1. Eat veg one day a week.
Ease down on the road to vegetarianism by eating veg one day a week. Turn to animal-free foods you already enjoy, like veggie stir-fry or bean burritos.
2. Find some new favorites.
Once you get more used to incorporating new foods into your daily regime, try making animal-free versions of your favorite dishes.
3. Have fun and experiment with your food.
Really start exploring and enjoying the wide, incredible world of vegetarian cuisine by purchasing a new cookbook, attending a cooking class or searching for some new, exciting recipes online.
I have to say, I think the first and second tips are the most important. I was lucky enough to receive How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for Christmas last year and it is hands-down the best one-stop resource for eating vegetarian that I've ever seen. And I've been looking. It covers everything from all the basic veg foodstuffs and how to generally cook all of them, then provides detailed and unique recipes that we still turn to more often than any other cookbook.

Another neat detail that FS's guide provides is "The Four New Food Groups" as they related to vegans, really (here's one that includes some animal products), but it's a good place to start with getting your mind around how to nourish yourself on what some people consider to be fewer options:
Whole Grains (breads, cereals, whole grains, and pasta)
  • 6 or more daily servings suggested
  • Provides energy, protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, iron and B-vitamins
Vegetables (fresh, raw, frozen or cooked)
  • 3 or more daily servings suggested
  • Provides vitamin C, beta-caroten, calcium, iron, riboflavin and fiber
Legumes, Nuts and other Protein Foods (beans, lentils, dried peas, soybean products, nuts and seeds)
  • 2 or more daily servings suggested
  • Provides protein, iron, calcium, zinc, fiber and B vitamins
Fruits (fresh, frozen, raw or cooked)
  • 2 or more daily servings suggested
  • Provides fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene
MMMMMmmmmmm... delicious!

Related posts:
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Ted's Montana Grill: Vegetarians Vaguely Welcome
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Detox Your Life (How To)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Missouri Men, Beware Falling Sperm Counts!

Guess what, guys? Men in Missouri have the lowest sperm counts in the nation! Current information is pointing at environmental factors, which might include drinking water and pesticides:

After getting the initial results, scientists subjected the sperm samples from 50 men to a battery of new tests to look for pesticides. They found "significant" links between three common pesticides and low sperm counts in the Missouri men and possible associations with two other pesticides. ...

One of the three pesticides that showed a significant association with low sperm counts was found in 24 of the samples - an insecticide called diazinon (pdf), which is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency in drinking water. In 2004, diazinon was banned from residential use, though it is still lawfully used in some agriculture. Another herbicide used for weed control - metolachlor - showed up in 34 of the Missouri semen samples. It also is on the EPA’s list of candidates for designation as a contaminant. (Columbia Tribune)
Of course, they're not sure it's just the water. It could also be tobacco use, foods or something completely different. All I know is this: I'm sure as hell glad we use a filter pitcher at home these days and, uh, maybe you should think about getting one too.

Related posts:
Detox Your Life (How To)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Midwest
Don't Drink the Water!
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Mustaches (and other body hair)

I tell ya, if I was a man, I would have lots of fun playing with my facial hair. I'd always be doing something crazy with it.

But I'm not, so I don't. But I did finally shave my pits, because sweaty time is coming and it lost all its titillation factor, which - incidentally - is exactly why I love mustaches.

Related posts:
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Being Zen on the Mountain

The city of Grand Lake with Shadow Lake
in the back ground

So being in Grand Lake, Colorado last week meant that I had no internet access, no TV, no DVDs, very little alcohol (which isn't really normal for me... I'm kind of a partier), no music and none of my usual comfort zone. It was quite depressing actually the first couple of days. I hadn't been to CO since I was a senior in high school and coming back to mountainsides covered in dead trees really got me down. It wasn't until we had a lecture about how the pine cones that were dying were pioneer species that should have died long ago by fire to let the rest of the forest live that I started to feel better and was able to enjoy the view.

Our view from Rempel Lodge

We were tucked right up against Rocky Mountain National Park and experienced snow storms on two different days. The first time was like a giant grey curtain was pulled across the mountains pictured above, because the snow was so thick they disappeared from sight. The second time was when we were hiking in the park, and the snow fell in large, light balls like tiny beads of Styrofoam out of a cloudless, sunny sky.

Even though I was freezing the whole time, it was a delight to be able to relax more and more into nature every day, letting the sound of the wind sing me to sleep and experiencing the strange time-freeze that mountain peaks have always made me feel. I was happy to know that I still have my childlike patience to sit and watch the grass grow and even enjoy it.

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Recently Read: Bears, Flowers and Alternate History! Oh My!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Recently Read: Bears, Flowers and Alternate Histories! Oh My!

I got a lot of reading done on my trip, so I thought I'd share with you. I haven't had a booky post in a while and I think it's about time.

On the way out to Grand Lake, I read The Golden Compass. I haven't seen the movie, which I hear is completely different, but I have to warn you that this book is a total downer in the end. It was really surprising to find in a children's book so I feel the need to warn anyone thinking about reading it. Otherwise, the book is a fascinating adventure.

Lyra is guided through the murky events of the pseudo-religious scientists in her world by a mixture of kindness, tenacity and luck. She sets out to save children being kidnapped for experiments of an unusual nature and ends up saving all but one of them. Told she is an orphan, Lyra also discovers the true identities of her living parents and is forced to choose between her father and her mother and what she believes is right. It's a great book, which is much more than I hear about the recent film.

While I was hanging out at the lodge, I picked up one of their "library" books, Purple Hibiscus. An African novel, it is set in Nigeria before and after a coup. Told from the point of view of a wealthy, religious, community figure's daughter, we see a heartbreaking picture of a family held in fear of their father and husband as the nation becomes fearful of its government.

For those of you who, like me, didn't know that purple hibiscus is something unusual - it is. Normally they're red. I didn't know that when I started reading and it's something you can pick up as you go along, but it doesn't really tell you that the title is supposed to be intriguing that way.

The strange flowers are a gift to the teens in this novel who are trying to accept a world of interest and excitement apart from their father's strictly scheduled life for them. An ardent (and crazy) Catholic, he enforces "god's will" with an iron fist - or sometimes worse. Their mother suffers two miscarriages due to his abuse in the novel, eventually leading to her passive-aggressive plan to kill her husband. Full of drama and beautiful but sad, this is something for those who liked Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible.

On the way back to Kansas City, I finished up the science fiction/alternative history book I'd briefly started before being distracted by Adichie's novel. Called Darwinia and set in the 1900s, this novel explores a world where Europe is destroyed not by world wars, but by a "miracle" that replaces the entire continent with a savage, otherworldly, jungle version of itself.

At the same time as this shift happens, men are starting to find themselves possessed by beetle "gods" or haunted by ghost soldier versions of themselves. The "science" in this book is very nonsensical, but the main gist is that the consciousness of the Universe decided to record everything that ever was in an Archive before it is destroyed, but now the Archive - and hence the memory and the soul of everything - is in danger. The beetle "gods" are the incarnation of an intelligence that wants to replace the Archive (which is now the world somehow) with just themselves, destroying everything else. Confused yet? I was too.

So the "miracle" turns out to be a type of invasion, and the men possessed by the beetle "gods" are working to bring their vision to a reality on Earth. Meanwhile, the men who are haunted by the ghost soldiers (who are crossing over from their World War reality to help) are faced with the task of saving the world and cursed or blessed with immortality as their reward. Very weird read, but it was pretty amusing. It's very much a Jules Verne-wanna-be.

And that's how I passed the time on my trip. Good story, right?

Related posts:
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Amnesia Moon Rising
Babes in History and Fiction parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm Back and Worse than Evar!

It's nice to be back in Kansas City after the weirdest trip to Colorado I've ever been on (sleep deprivation + altitude sickness = much weirdness), but I still feel all woozy thanks to my horribly-broken sleep schedule. And, yes, I'm the kind of person who gets wonky when their sleep isn't following a routine. So, as a result, you'll have to deal with a sub-par blog in which I chin-nod three websites that have been upping my readership as of late. - A lot has been said about this site on the blogosphere and else where, but if you don't know anything about it, imagine a Digg site that actually works and you've got Mixx. This is a place for sharing anything online, and is much more inclusive than most sites. As a bonus, Mixx is actually interesting enough to keep me engaged. When I started using Mixx, I stopped using just about every other content-sharing site I was using, because I just didn't care anymore. Mixx is all I need. - Once again, this is a site that has been much talked about, so I'll only say that I'm very impressed with how easy it is to network with something so seemingly trivial. - This is a site (still in beta) that hasn't received as much attention, but it's both interesting and valuable. Bloggers are displayed by location on a world map, so you can find people as close to you or as far away as you want. It's a site that doesn't take up a lot of time, but provides some interesting connections and has exposed me to new blogs to read as well as new readers for my blog. Win-wins are good!

I hope you all had a lovely week and I will be back with actually interesting content tomorrow (I hope)!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I'll Be MIA

I just wanted to let you all know that I'll be on vacation tomorrow and Friday. Then all next week I will be in Grand Lake, Colorado on a staff retreat. So I won't be updating until the 16th.

Hopefully you can live without me that long ;)

Take a Deep Breath [How To]

Breathe in deep for me. Hold it and let it out. Now breathe in again, but this time pay attention to which parts of your body are moving. Your shoulders? Your chest? Or is your belly? Because according to this book I've been reading, most of us aren't breathing well enough to promote optimum health. In other words, you can feel better and be healthier just by changing the way you suck in air.

First, let's look at what we're doing wrong:

  • Clavicular breathing - Clavicular breathing is the most shallow and worst possible type. The shoulders and collarbone are raised while the abdomen is contracted during inhalation. Maximum effort is made, but a minimum amount of air is obtained. It is especially easy for pregnant women and mothers, men with "spare tires" and people who slouch or smoke cigarettes to fall into this breathing habit.
  • Intercostal breathing - Intercostal breathing is when the diaphragm is pushed upward, and the abdomen drawn in. The ribs are raised somewhat, and the chest is partially expanded. Many people breathe this way, but it can be seen most obviously in basketball players and other atheletes whose chests are heaving as they breathe.
A lot of the reason we don't breathe properly is because we were trained to stand up straight and tall with our bellies tucked in, instead of allowing our stomach muscles and diaphragms to do their work. But, knowing is half the battle and now you know! So let's find out how we should be breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing uses the diaphragm to breathe into and fill the entire lung. The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle of breathing. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs. Your abdominal muscles help move the diaphragm and give you more power to empty your lungs. Benefits you receive from breathing deep from your belly include alertness, increased energy, relaxation, improved functioning of your waste-removal system (that goes for expelling toxins in your liver and kidneys as well as your poo), improved cardiovascular functions and a stronger diaphragm.

wikiHow suggests this method to learn abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing:
  1. Put one palm on the belly, an inch below your navel, the other on the sternum.
  2. Exhale through your mouth and gently pull the abdomen in.
  3. Inhale through your nose and expand your abdomen, focusing on expanding the lower abdomen.
  4. Let the chest stay relatively still.
  5. Repeat as many times as you like. Recommended: try nine times as a start.
So breathe deep now. Feel any difference?

Related posts:
Detox Your Life (How To)
The Best & Worst Stretch In the World
Proper Posture: How to Get It
How To Poo

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nick Swardson: Comic Fabulousness

Ever since I saw him in Reno 911! I've thought Nick Swardson was one hilarious mofo. After seeing him in Grandma's Boy, he became my absolute favorite comedian. If you haven't seen him yet (and you should by now - he's been in an assload of things recently), you must check this out:

Love him! Who makes you laugh?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Your Mamma Shoulda Told You: Don't Treat All Women Like Hookers

This entry is going to be short and to the point.

Your mama shoulda told you that unless a woman's a hooker, she doesn't want to be propositioned on her way to work!

I am so tired of being harassed by men who have nothing better to do than stand around on street corners and make comments to me about my appearance. Dressing up cute for work doesn't make me a whore and I don't think I should have to fend off the lecherous during my commute.

Wake up, guys! No woman walking past you is into you - she just wants you to shut the hell up.

Related posts:
Your Mamma Shoulda Told You: Clean Up After Yourself

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