Monday, February 1, 2010

Book Review - The Omnivore's Dilemma

First off - this is a great book. It's one of those non-fiction reads that is so compelling you feel like you're in the midst of a novel. With some of the food facts contained in between the covers, you'd wish it was a novel!

I've been working towards a mostly local/organic diet for the last couple of years, so it was great to hear some stories about just why the current processed food phenomenon is so sucky. Michael Pollan frames the omnivore's dilemma as the question, "Is this safe to eat?" This is a question that human's have been asking for thousands of years. The author breaks down the analysis of this question into four sections.

First off is a discussion about where we get our regular everyday cheap food from. He tracks corn from the fields of Iowa all the way to our fast food cheeseburgers with a very interesting tale about the politics of the corn industry and how we've really been subsidizing junk food more than anything else with our nation's farm policy.

Next up Pollan takes a look at the industrial organic farms that churn out large monocultures of your favorite organic greens or soybeans or [insert ecologically damaging but concious clearing food here]. I try not to get onto my soapbox too much about food. I firmly believe you should eat what you want to eat. I do wish that it was easier for us to determine exactly what it is we are eating though. The organic culture leads us to believe we're putting healthier foods into our body and that that it is being grown in a way that will keep the planet spinning a little longer. After reading this portion of the book, I'm not sure we're quite there yet.

The third section of the book discusses what may be described as a biodynamic farm. This is a farm that uses very few inputs to generate all of their outputs. The story of Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms is nothing short of astonishing. This is farming and business done the way it should be. The mind blowing processes that Salatin uses to create this well-oiled farm machine make this book well worth the price of admission!

The last section of the book goes through Pollan's process of growing, hunting and forraging for an entire dinner party meal. It's a tall order, but a fascinating tale of how things used to be.

I highly recommend giving this a read. If it's a toss up between reading this, or In Defense of Food (Pollan's second book in the 'change the way you eat' series), I would go with Omnivore's Dilemna. You may need to be ready to change the way you eat though!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Born to Run! A book review...and other stuff

I read Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, about a month ago and I'm still thinking a lot about it. The book begins with a description of the author's inability to run without getting injured and his doctor's advice that if he wanted to avoid running injuries he should probably stop running.

What an appalling thought? Is it true that we weren't built in a way that allows us to run? As a chubby guy who loves to run, I can't believe it (although at the the time of writing of this blog, I've been having some foot pains since an-ill advised 10 miler I ran a couple weeks ago:)!

The book travels all over the globe, and essentially back in time, to spend time with the Taruhumara, a native tribe in Mexico, who are widely considered the greatest running people of all time. Their obscene running journeys make us weekend warriors look like, well, fat, lazy americans!

One of the cases McDougall makes in the book is that our running shoes make us MORE prone to injury, not less. All that padding on our heels allows us to run with an unnatural gait that causes a lot of pain and disruption in our lower limbs. Damn You Nike!!! One of the characters in the book (and they are characters!) is "Barefoot Ted", a no-shoe-enthusiast who accompanies the author and others on a trek to take the world's greatest race to the Tarahumara homeland. He swears by the Vibram Five Fingers as the only protection you need for your feet on a long trail run. They look more like a glove for your foot than anything else. When the whether warms up a bit, I'm thinking about checking them out!

I'm not sure if as a species we were meant to run or not, but I do know I'm a heck of a lot happier and healthier when I am. When I'm running I pay more attention to what I put into my body - that whole garbage in, garbage out thing is pretty accurate when it comes to running. It really helps me clear my head and when you're out in the woods by yourself, all that other stuff that's bogging your down really doesn't seem that important.

Anyway, it's a great read and even if you don't really like running, the characters in the book and the insights into how you may have gotten to the place where you don't ever want to run again make it very interesting

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 9 - It's Not Who You Know, It's Who Knows You

Wednesday January 12, 2010

Everybody who writes sales books talks about the importance of networking. This is one of my big goals from 2010 and one of the most daunting. When I was in college, I was an amazing "networker." I'd go to leadership conferences and introduce myself to all 500 attenders before the weekend was out.

I think the real world knocked some wind out of my sales though, and I don't seem to have the same gumption that I used to, or maybe I don't see what the point is anymore. I was at a forum today from small businesses in Oregon and Washington and it was hyped as a great networking event. I'm not sure what a great networking event looks like, but I know this wasn't it! We were in rows of chairs looking at the backs of most of the panel. The panel discussed ways to secure government contracts through various bid and non-bid processes.

Now that I've typed that though - I realized I really didn't take enough initiative to actually get some networking done. I guess anything can be a good networking event if you bring enough business cards. Next time, I'm showing up early and shaking hands with everyone who comes in the door!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Soccer Breakdown

I pieced this together from a clip on the Dan Patrick Show. This is Gary Miller from ESPN back in the day with "Soccer Breakdown." Some of the funniest audio I know of. Check it out...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Funny Story Involving a Monster

So, as Aiden is approaching is 2nd birthday, his imagination is growing and growing. The last week he's been convinced that a monster lives under the bed (and that it has a basketball...I think he's a point guard).

I've been playing along a little and rustling the sheets and he is both in love with and afraid of this monster. He frequently requests "More Monster!" when we're upstairs playing but sometimes he looks at me and says "Scary!"

Last night, Lindsay's cat Nax (aka - spawn of satan) decided to pay us a visit in the middle of the night. He's been quarantined in Lindsay's room because he's got an infection from a catfight he got in and isn't supposed to be around Aiden for a while. He pushed the door open and jumped up on my nightstand, but unbeknowst the him the nightstand was full of alarm clock, white noise machine, cell phone, and various baby hygiene products. With nowhere to land, he shot himself right onto by back and arm, scratching me quite a bit and in the process tumbling items onto the floor. The combination of noise and pain roused me very quickly and there may have been a couple of non-choice words directed towards the cat - which woke Aiden up and in his mind the only possibility for this occurance must be "BIG MONSTER, BIG MONSTER, BIG MONSTER!"

It's very funny today, not as much last night though...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Dance Jams

I'm not sure what it is about the summer, but this time of year the only way I feel comfortable doing chores or barbecuing in the back yard is with some serious dance jams on in the background. Here are three of my recent favorite albums for movin' and groovin', guaranteed to make you forget you're scrubbing the toilet or mowing the lawn.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

The first track, Lisztomania, is such sweet sunshiny goodness, I heard when Kevin Bacon heard it, he stopped what he was doing, kicked his car and just broke out dancing right there in the middle of a field...wait...that was, nevermind.

Anyway, it starts there keeps on going until track 4, Love Like a Sunset (Parts I & II), where it slows down a little bit, giving you some time to catch your breath. Lasso follows that though, and brings the bpm back up and continues through the final song.

Matt & Kim - Grand

I met Matt & Kim at the Doug Fir a couple of years ago when they were opening for somebody (Whoever it was couldn't have been that good, cuz I remember Matt & Kim, but not them). They're a super energetic duo with Kim rocking (and I mean rocking) the drums and Matt on the keyboard and running some digital loops.

I'd forgotten about them for a while until the other night I was watching tv and caught a voice I recognized on a Bacardi commercial. Sure enough, it was Matt of Matt & Kim. The song was Daylight, and it's track 1 on their new album. This might be a little too experimental for some folks out there, but I promise if you give it a chance, you'll be glad you did.

PS - they'll be playing the Hawthorn Theater on September 2nd and I'm definitely going to put my dancing shoes on and check it out (a sight not too be missed, I assure you).

Discovery - LP

The keyboardist from Vampire Weekend and a guy who plays something in Ra Ra Riot put together a sound that's a mix between techno, today's R & B hits and something else I can't really figure out. I like it! It's like if the Postal Service added T-Pain (of "I'm on a Boat" fame, for all of you non hip-hop peeps out there) to the production crew.

If Matt & Kim was a little too much discovery for you, Discovery will be way too much...but c'mon folks, let's get outside of our comfort zones a little here and get our groove on!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blog on Blogs

Adam introduced me to an extremely funny blog called Tremendous News and I wanted to share it with you all (you all being my wife and potentially one other person who was really looking for Justin Timberlake's blog), then I realized I would be blogging about a blog...but seeing as how much of each day is spent on these various time-wasting sites and activities, that's all I really have to share about today anyway, unless you'd like to hear about the current international container drayage rates in the Pacific Northwest...