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Travelogue Day 3 – Endulgence

by on Jun.10, 2010, under family, health, The World

Finally I’m getting on track with my sleep … sort of.  After barely staying awake through the second training session yesterday afternoon, I came to my room to collapse for an hour nap.  This helped me get my second wind and stay up until midnight (more typical timing for me).  I still found myself awake at 5 AM, but I belligerently stayed in bed until my alarm went off.  As a result, this post is now coming later in the day than the last two.  I’d say that I’m sorry about this, but I’m really not.

So as part of my efforts to enjoy my trek, I’m making a point of sampling various local cuisines whenever I can.  Since the conference is providing a number of meals for us and I have a decent meal stipend, this is working out fairly well.  I’ve only eaten from the hotel restaurant once so far – apparently the head chef is a contestant on The Next Food Network Star. If the eggs Benedict with crab meat I had for breakfast yesterday was any indication,  then I can see why.  The other samplings I’ve tried while out here include an elegant seafood dinner on Pier 39 (complete with a view of Alcatraz), breakfast at Mel’s Diner, and Jack-in-the-Box (we were aiming for a Japanese sushi place that came well recommended, but they were too busy so we settled).  The catered food so far has been pretty impressive as well – many including well prepared fresh and local produce.  I haven’t planned out the remainder of my dining experiences for the week, but I am trying to skirt the line of adventurous and cautious (I’d rather not end up sick for the rest of the week).

While I am seeming to get my sleep schedule adjusted, I somewhat dread becoming completely acclimated as I will just have to shift back in a few days.  I definitely think that if I plan a vacation out this way anytime in the future (which I’m strongly inclined to do), I will pad it on both ends.  Though I may have to wait until the kids are older (I can just picture Grasshopper bouncing on me in bed at 4 AM ready to take on the world).

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Food Horizons

by on Apr.05, 2010, under family, health, parenthood

I was always a finicky eater.  As a kid I probably disliked more foods than I liked.  I would eat spaghetti with butter and grated cheese rather than sauce.  I wouldn’t eat anything that contained onions, peppers, mushrooms, or beans.  I’ve gotten better over time both through some forceful nudging by my parents and my own expanded spirit of food exploration.  And at this point there are very few things I won’t eat (though I’m still not a huge fan of peppers or onions – mostly a texture thing, though – I don’t mind the flavors).

But now I have kids of my own, and the last thing I want to do is to pass my own food aversions on to them.  So I’ve made a point of exposing them gradually to a variety of foods in these formative years and trying not let my own food preferences influence their own.  I’m currently working on gradually breaking down Cricket’s spice aversion (she is learning that spices aren’t always spicy, and can make foods tastier), and exposing them to some vegetable options my own parent never pushed on us (e.g., brussel sprouts).  I also recently fooled her (and myself) into eating mushrooms by finely chopping some and replacing a 3rd of the meat in a lasagna with them (I also added a good amount of spinach – it was quite good and I didn’t tell her until after she was finishing a second helping).

Grasshopper is a bit of a different nut t o crack, though.  He will actually eat a number of veggies without a problem.  And whereas Cricket I need to force to drink milk every day, Grasshopper will chug it day and night.  But he is not a big fan of meat.  This is not truly a bad thing – there is nothing wrong with a diet of mostly produce as long as the proteins get in there somewhere.  He is only 3, so I figure it is a phase he will eventually (at least partially) outgrow.  I can now add another non-meat protein source to the list of things he likes, though.  My mom came to visit for the weekend, and due to her own digestive health she came with groceries.  Upon departure, we were left with two cartons of Silk soy milk (one chocolate, one vanilla).  I’m not really a fan and neither is my wife, but I’d hate to just toss it.  So as an experiment, I gave some to Grasshopper the next time he asked for ‘choca-milk’ – he guzzled it down as if it were no different.  And both last night and this morning, he asked for a cup of ‘soil milk’.

I’m sure my kids will develop their own tastes and food aversions – we all have them (I know I still do).  I’ll continue to fight the important food fights (e.g., wanting a treat every time the ice cream man drives down the street).  But luckily so far neither of them are too finicky (at least not as finicky as I was).

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Tiny Belgian Cabbages?

by on Nov.06, 2009, under health, home & stuff

I’m a foodie.  I like to eat, I like to experiment with cooking, and when there is nothing else to watch the Food Network is my natural time filler.  And one thing that I’ve noticed on the Food Network lately is a number of shows highlighting brussel sprouts as a side dish and doing anything but steaming/boiling them.  Due to my parents’ shared dislike of them, I never had either the pleasure or misfortune of eating them as a kid and thus far it hasn’t really come up as an adult.

Until now.

After noting yet another show where oven-broiled sprouts was on the menu, I mentioned to my wife that it might be interesting to try it (she HAS had them, but it had been decades).  Fast forward to the next day and my wife is IM’ing me at work to let me know that dinner will be chicken and brussel sprouts.  Fast forward another hour later and I’m home with a full plate including a nice juicy chicken breast and a generous helping of slightly charred little balls of green.

I have to say that I did in fact like them a lot.  They tasted like little grilled cabbages – not too pungent, not too bland, just enough salt and a slightly nutty flavor.  On the down side, my kids did not seem nearly as thrilled with them (which is a bit odd as they both LOVE broccoli and cauliflower).  So the likelihood of this veggie being in regular rotation is fairly low.  Ah well.  At least I gave it a shot.

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Where Do Bad Folks Go When They Die?…

by on Sep.02, 2009, under health, philosophy

I don’t plan to die (at least if I can help it).  Don’t get me wrong – I know that odds are strongly in favor of me eventually kicking the bucket.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Plus I think science may someday have my back on this one.  This may seem an odd assertion and indeed an odd topic, but it is an issue that came up recently in a conversation of hypotheticals that apparently left my wife wondering at my sanity.

So there was this quiz.  And in this quiz, one of the questions was if you had the choice, how would you die and why.  Giving the matter some thought, I decided that if all other things being equal – my death being unavoidable but having complete control over how it would happen – it might be interesting to indulge my own sense of curiosity in the process.  Sure there are lots of quick and painless ways to die and truly I would be happiest not having to suffer when my time comes, but I felt to choose something so mundane was a disservice to the question at hand.  Thus, I answered that I’d prefer to be beheaded so that I could personally find an answer to the mystery of how long one could remain conscious and cognizant after such an event.  Okay, I’ll admit that it sounds pretty crazy.  But I’m a curious person – I am interested in the mysteries of the universe.

Anyway, death is a strange and touchy subject.  Everyone has their own ideas about what death means and when death is appropriate.  Personally I’ve decided that I’m not a fan of the death penalty but I am a fan of euthanasia.  I figure that if an upstanding citizen is suffering and death is inevitable yet slightly out of reach, a little help is not too much to ask.  But killing a serial rapist is not justice – the punishment doesn’t nearly fit the crime (though some time in the right prisons on the wrong rung of that social ladder might be fitting punishment).  Is that too “an eye for an eye”?  Maybe.

Perhaps it is my beliefs that have me such at odds with common views of death (taking heaven and hell out of the picture certainly can lead to that).  In general I think that we place too much importance on death (or more pointedly on life) – whether our lives have a deeper meaning or not, they are gifts to be cherished or squandered as we each choose.  None of us will every truly get it perfectly right.  I say live and let live or die, make the most of the time we have, and don’t waste our time worrying so much about whose unprovable ideas are most right.  We will all get proven right or wrong in the end … well except me – I’m not planning to die.  There is too much of the world to experience to fit it in a century or less.

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Blurbsday: Sleep

by on Jun.11, 2009, under family, health

I remember a time before I had kids when I would sleep in on the weekends until 10 or 11 – sometimes later.  I recall days when I could stay up until 3 in the morning and still be able to function semi-normally the next day.  It seems that those times are in the past.  No matter when the kids go to bed, they are inevitably up by 8am a the latest (including the weekends).  And if I’m up past 1am, I’m usually groggy for half the next day.  And yet I put my kids to bed at 8pm and stay up until midnight almost every day.  I know I should go to bed sooner so I can get a full night’s sleep.  But after getting up with the kids, going to work, coming home to the family and putting the kids to bed, I need some time just for me.  So I take it … sleep will be there when I need it.

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