Friday, November 30, 2007

Chicken hands

We went out to eat tonight and Mari, in the parking lot, said she wanted to eat: "Chicken hands! Chicken hands!"

You want to eat chicken hands?

"Oh, no!" she said, "I mean 'chicken fingers'!"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Laziest/most informative post ever

Wondering what we've been up to this past week? Check out my sister's blog, Meaningful Drivel. If you're reading this years from now, you should be looking at her November 2007 posts.

Yes, I write for the future.

It was great to have Pauline here. Besides being great company and fun for the kids (Mari gave her a hug every morning) she motivated us to get out and do things like skate at the Frog Pond. Come visit any time!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Not Starring, a website that lists parts that actors chose not to take. Like taking a tour of alternate-universe Hollywood.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mari's Gymnastics class

I think my editing is getting better. This time I tried to cue up with the music more (music is from Manu Chao's latest).

Friday, November 09, 2007

Book review: Mindless Eating

This book has a great subtitle: Why We Eat More than We Think.

I saw Wilson's mention of Mindless Eating and gave it a read. Good stuff! Brian Wansink is a professor at Cornell and he's spent a career doing psychological experiments on people in restaurants, bars, and fake movie theaters to see how people decide what, and especially how much, to eat. For example, he gave stale popcorn (perfectly clean, just stale) to people at a matinee. People complained about the popcorn's taste. But they still ate it. And the people who got bigger containers ate more than the ones who got smaller containers. So: people will eat mindlessly at a movie, and the more you give them, the more they're going to eat.

The book is full of hilarious experimental designs. In one, they created a never ending bowl of soup.

Some fun facts: Wansink suggests portioning out your food in the kitchen and keeping to those amounts (you can serve the vegetables on the table "family style"). Make good foods easy to eat and bad foods harder to eat (put the chips in the back of the cupboard, leave fresh fruit out on the table). Use smaller containers (if you buy at Costco, put the food in smaller Tupperware in the kitchen, and keep the massive amounts out of sight) and smaller serving utensils (taller cups look bigger than wider cups; dinner plates are now 12" diameter whereas a generation ago they were 8" [for the record, ours are 10"]). The person who shops and cooks controls 72% of the family's nutrition.

He also points out that we don't notice 100 calories a day either way, so if you just cut out that 100 calories, you'll lose weight. Another fun fact: 3500 calories is about a lb. of body weight.

Oh, the answer to the obvious question is Yes, food companies use his research in designing restaurants and menus, but No, he does not take corporate money for his research which is published in respected journals like JAMA and others.

There's a website that goes with the book here.

Public Radio Podcasts

Some thoughts on podcasts that I like:

Val suggested I try listening to Radio Lab. Good call, Val! This is now my favorite radio show (sorry Wait, Wait and TAL)! Each hour presents stories on scientific ideas. They do a great job of explaining experiments and the conclusions. The production is also really creative and slick. Some of it involves using audio tricks to "illustrate" the experiments or ideas, but they also have a wonderful use of overlapping voices. The latter is hard to describe, or explain why it's good, but check it out, it sounds very casual and conversational but they manage to pack a lot of information in, and emphasize the important information in the conversation.

Anyway, some favorite episodes: "Musical Language" has some great stuff about perfect pitch, and baby talk and what it means to have musical style. "Sleep" includes amazing experiments on "half-sleeping" animals and a funny piece about Tetris and dreaming. "Memory and Forgetting" will change the way you think about, well, thinking. I think this is the one that got me hooked. The series only produces five shows a year, and has been on for three years, so there's time to catch up (as I'm still doing).

This American Life recently re-aired the worst show I've ever heard from them. It was "Mapping" and it's about ten years old. Starts out with promise, but the premise is pretty loose and the stories are a bit choppy and are especially ethereal. Although I do love the guy who was eating his way down Pico Blvd.

On the plus side, I heard "Act V" for the first time. It's a story about a prison drama group that is performing Hamlet in parts (because they are not allowed to congregate in large groups for more than 45 minutes or something like that). These guys really relate to the struggle with revenge killing and guilt. A great pitch for the idea of the Humanities as essential to moral education.

Oh and you have to hear Starlee Kline on "Break-up" trying to compose a song about her relationship and getting help from no other than... Phil Collins.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Halloween pictures

Multiple costumes!

For the Jamaica Plain Lantern Parade (pic):

Going to school on Halloween day (Mari's teacher may not have realized she was dressed differently than usual):

And for trick or treating, a Peter Pan theme: