When and What, two important questions

Regarding the question of school shootings and increasing safety the question of what to control may need to include questions of who and when. It has been said that guns don’t kill people, people kill people and that is true but people can be more lethal to themselves and others when guns are more readily available. Nations such as Australia had a significant reduction in the number of suicide by gun after increasing gun regulations. So the question of who might be answered with more help for those at risk of suicide and the question of when might be answered with sleepless teens.

A very simple change in timing of high school and university class schedules has been recommended as research suggests attendance and grades are improved with a later start to the young adult’s school day and also it may help with reducing impulsiveness and suicide risk. (page 89-93, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel H. Pink, Riverhead Books, New York, 2018) (penguinrandomhouse.com/when-the-scientific-secrets-of-perfect-timing) The book includes a range of tips and research examples about our bodies biological clock and best time to achieve more of our goals.

Sleep deprivation has been associated with oxidative stress in the brain, reduced memory ability and decision making ability. While modifying the schedule of young adult education would have some difficylty for adult caregivers and school personnel the strategy has helped increase grades and reduce dropout rates in the few places it has been tried.

Making guns less accessible has been found to reduce suicide rate in countries where it has been tried but gun access is only part of the issue. Helping reduce the number of young adults and others with suicidal tendencies is also important and modifying schooling for young adults might be a strategy that could help. The nation of Iceland has a large number of guns per capita(average number of an item per average citizen) and yet they have a much lower rate of gun violence then in the U.S.. they also have an education system that is very supportive of extracurricular activities for students. Funding is provided to support groups of sports or other interest groups and all students are encouraged to participate in some extracurricular activity.

Addition, May 18, 2018: The mental and physical benefits of adequate sleep for adolescents is also discussed in the book Nurtureshock.

Nurtureshock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (https://www.amazon.com/NurtureShock-New-Thinking-About-Children/dp/0446504130)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes. 

 

Thinking Outside the (Tote) Box

This post is a discussion of creativity and a return to an earlier post about a do-it-yourself project for travelers – a sleep platform for the backseat of a car in case of emergency stops or for the person willing to sleep in a car occasionally instead of getting a hotel room. the sleep platform is better than sleeping on the seat but not as comfortable as a hotel room. It can save time however for the person traveling fast to be able to have a nap when needed to make a long car trip less a risk of drowsy driving. See this post for more tips about signs of drowsy driving and tips for staying awake or signs that it is time to pull over and nap in the front seat or on your handy sleep platform built on storage totes if you are me. (Traveling Shows the Beauty of Our Land and People)

Regarding creativity and “Thinking outside the box” – that doesn’t mean start from a blank page it means start with the box – start with the present known knowledge base. A box is a great invention and if you add a hinge then the lid is easier to use, add wheels and you have a wagon or a cart or a car. Even the blank page is a great start. That phrase dates back in time to school children who started with a blank slate each day. Paper was rare and so were books. The teacher would copy out sections from a book on the large chalkboard/slate on the wall and all the school children would copy it to their individual personal slates to memorize the text or practice the math or grammar exercise. The chalk would rub off when they carried the slate home in their lunch pail so the memorization of long passages of speeches or poetry was common. See works by Laura Ingalls Wilder for more information about slates and teaching in the 1800s. (biography/Laura Ingalls Wilder)

This website is not named for the phrase Think outside the box. It was named for a passage from the Tao Te Ching – start with the universe – start from traditional knowledge – start from square and transcend that, think beyond our limits and explore the great unknown. (Tao Te Ching, Verse 41)

For more information on thinking creatively and effectively working towards a better solution to difficult decisions rather felling forced to choose one of two less preferred choices I recommend the book Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking, by Jennifer Riel and Roger L. Martin (2017, HBR) (hbr.org/Creating Great Choices)

Do It Yourself, storage totes to sit on or use as an exercise bench or mini-couch, or to sleep on in the back seat of your car:

To make a padded top to a tote, make a paper pattern of the inner section of the lid and the full size of the total surface. Newspaper sheets taped together can make a sheet as large as you need for creating patterns – also handy for upholstery replacement or copying a favorite pair of pants.
Check how much material will be needed for all the pieces. this project required two additional camp mats. Enough of the second was left to make an additional layer to cover all three totes. The smallest tote was slightly shorter so it needed three layers to reach the height of the two larger totes.
Draw an outline of the pattern for easier cutting. I used a utility knife and cut through the two layers of the mat with two cuts. I used a scissors to trim any loose pieces. The camp mats have antimicrobial and quick drying features so I decided not to add an Duct Tape to the edges as anything that can hold water out can also hold water in. Allowing the edges to remain open allows them to be able to air dry more effectively.
Adhesive backed Velcro (TM) is available for garage tools that can hold up to ten pounds of pressure and is good to temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit. Using a measuring tape and marker to help position the sections I applied 3 or 4 inch sections of Velcro (TM) to the totes and sections of mat. The smallest tote was not flat so the pieces are lined up with the areas that were flat. The larger tote’s Velcro (TM) is at the corner because that is where the most pressure would be likely to occurring when sitting or laying on the pad.
The completed padded Totes, sitting on the mats I used for the car sleep platform. They are still full length and I use them as exercise mats when not traveling.
The project left one section of camp mat that nicely fits over the three totes with less excess. The surface is firm and doesn’t skid with the other mats underneath the totes. It is a good size to use as an exercise bench or as individual seats or as a mini couch surface. Standing on a Tote would be possibly too much weight for the lid. Sitting or laying down across the extended surface spreads out the weight more evenly.
When not in use the totes can all be stacked and are useful for storing things. The three exercise/camp mats can all be coiled into one column and secured with a belt or some other fastener. The mats have elastic bands that may be too small for the diameter but they could be combined into a longer elastic band for the purpose.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

 

Revisiting superstition from the perspective of economics

What do imaginary goods, virtual cats and superstition have to do with each other? – Economics. ‘Imaginary goods’ is a term used by an Austrian economic theorist from the 1800’s, Carl Menger, to describe goods that might be sold but which did not meet all the criteria of a ‘goods‘ – a thing of value which could be sold or purchased. Imaginary goods could also be sold but they did not meet all of his criteria for ‘goods‘ because their value was more transient – in the imagination of the buyer and/or seller rather than clearly apparent to any normal consumer of goods.  (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

As I’ve been working on devising ways to make pomegranate peel edible I’ve been thinking about the idea of a market or demand for a good versus the actual value of the good. You can’t sell something of value if no one considers it valuable even if it fits the criteria of being ‘goods‘ – fulfilling human needs; while it recently was brought to my attention, a refresher course having grown up in era of ‘Pet Rocks,” that some people will pay for anything if it is popular – if other people are bidding on the item too. I was astonished as a child that anyone would pay real money for a rock in a box just because it was called a ‘Pet Rock‘ – just go outside, find a rock, stick it in a box – there you go, your very own ‘pet rock’ captured from its wilderness and tamed for your own enjoyment. The current trend that was brought to my attention is less solid but requires an imagination – virtual cats, bred to have unique characteristics, the bidding is based on the uniqueness of the characteristics (investopedia.com) – my thought, too much time or too much money, and too little space for a real pet cat.

People need love and affection as it promotes oxytocin and dopamine which are hormones that promote positive feelings.

For those with limited room in their lives for an expensive virtual cat, consider going outside and looking for a wild rock to tame instead.

Bringing this back around to the New Year’s Day topic of good luck black-eyed peas and the following day’s topic of superstition – Carl Menger includes in his examples of imaginary goods items that might be considered good luck charms and also medications that aren’t effective.

Pomegranate peel might be effective but until there is proof that it is effective there might not be a market of consumers willing to pay for it let alone even try it. So Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel -> make it appetizing and if people also feel good after eating it then they will return for seconds -> thus creating a market that hadn’t previously been known.

Carl Menger’s four criteria for what makes something a consumer ‘good’:

“If a thing is to become a good, or in other words, if it is to
acquire goods-character, all four of the following prerequisites
must be simultaneously present:

  1. A human need.
  2. Such properties as render the thing capable of being brought
    into a causal connection with the satisfaction of this need.
  3. Human knowledge of this causal connection.
  4. Command of the thing sufficient to direct it to the satisfaction
    of the need.” page 52 (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

According to his theory something can lose its value as a consumer good if it stops fulfilling any one of those four criteria, to paraphrase – if we 1: stop needing it because the problem it solved no longer exists, 2: the thing no longer works to solve the original problem  3: we forget that the thing is useful for fulfilling the need, 4: the thing is no longer something humans have access to (the WiFi goes out and the virtual cat breeding stops functioning) :

“Hence a thing loses its goods-character: (1) if, owing to a
change in human needs, the particular needs disappear that the thing is capable of satisfying, (2) whenever the capacity of the
thing to be placed in a causal connection with the satisfaction of
human needs is lost as the result of a change in its own properties,
(3) if knowledge of the causal connection between the thing and
the satisfaction of human needs disappears, or (4) if men lose
command of it so completely that they can no longer apply it
directly to the satisfaction of their needs and have no means of
reestablishing their power to do so.” -pages 52-53 (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

So for those who may have forgotten (reason #3), – caring for living people or pets can help one’s own health through increased oxytocin, dopamine and reduced oxidative stress. If owning a real pet is not possible due to housing issues visiting a local Humane Society type agency and volunteering to help care for the shelter animals is generally possible and appreciated. If money isn’t a problem hiring a human for a service that involves touch such as a manicure is helping others by providing money for jobs and providing oxidative stress reducing touch from the hands-on service. If owning a real pet or hiring human hands-on service isn’t possible than oxytocin, dopamine and possibly even reduction in oxidative stress may be provided by a caring relationship with a houseplant that cleans the air of toxins (ferns and other types), or by enjoying looking at art objects that have to do with nature or possible the touch of a smooth natural object such as a rock or crystal or wooden object.

While my search of oxidative stress and art didn’t turn up the link I was looking for it did find a review of research on male infertility, oxidative stress, antioxidants (vitamin E, C and CoQ10) and ART, assisted reproductive techniques, while it doesn’t mention iodine it’s worth saving for reference and smoking is mentioned as risk: http://ccf.org/reproductiveresearchcenter/docs/agradoc261.pdf

Smoking increases intake of formaldehyde as well as other toxins. There are also other common sources of formaldehyde in modern living environments. Tips for reducing risk of formaldehyde exposure and links for the houseplants that help detoxify indoor air from formaldehyde and other common volatile chemicals are included in an older post, Formaldehyde (volatile – chemicals that might be easily released from plastics or carpets into the air – ie “new car smell”).

The topic on nature and art and oxidative stress is discussed with links in the section Art – Food for the Eyes on another website, effectivecare.info, 10. food Helps Too.

Returning to the Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel,  – it is helping my mood and health more consistently than the 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds did but it is quite acidic. I’ve taken to using a couple spoonfuls in my bean soup instead of the lime juice or apple cider vinegar that I had been adding as a digestive aid. I’ve also tried it on salads in place of lime juice.

As a beverage I occasionally have the original blend of approximately 3 ounces of the pomegranate extract/soup stock with about 3 ounces of water and 1 ounce of cherry juice with four pinches of Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) to make it less acidic. Sugar is inflammatory in itself so I’v stopped using much of it. After the review of the blueberry/rhubarb jam recipe I bought some blueberries and will try a combination of the pomegranate extract with the less acidic fruit. Cherry juice is also acidic. Blueberry juice concentrate is available in specialty stores but I wasn’t at one.  The Baking Soda may be too much sodium or something in the pomegranate extract or the level of acidity it adds to the diet may have a diuretic effect like coffee – so like many things in life – it’s not perfect. But being sick isn’t either.

When you start thinking about food as fuel and as your body’s natural medicine cabinet then taste is something that can be acquired and adapted to suit the needs of health – but first the mind has to overpower the habit of “I always eat what my family ate, or what I got used to at college, or whatever my friends are eating.” Social settings and food are very strongly linked and it can be viewed as rude to refuse an offer of food that is being offered – sometimes life isn’t perfect either.

Good luck and best wishes all you Master Chefs out in virtual reader land – I know you can take on whatever culinary challenges you choose.

If at the beginning of 2017 someone predicted that I would successfully be using pomegranate peel, baker’s cocoa, cardamom, and leafy green herbs and vegetables instead of medical marijuana for my autoimmune health condition I might have thought they were imagining things – but Carl Menger was right we have to know the causal connection between a good and a problem it might solve before we go to the effort to purchase, prepare, and use the good for solving that problem/need (health care improvement in my case). pages 51-58, (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English).

A tastes better than it looks salad – Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad.

Bring two and a half cups of water to a boil and add one cup quinoa (or amaranth or cracked wheat for a more traditional tabouli like salad). Cook for twenty minutes at a simmer. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the saucepan. Once the water is fully absorbed remove the pan from the heat and add about (all of the following ingredients are estimates except for the avocado- this is a first try) one tablespoon coconut oil and stir into the hot cooked cereal. Add about one cup of frozen or fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen or fresh pomegranate seeds, 1/4 cup pomegranate peel extract, one chopped ripe avocado, one tablespoon dried tarragon and one tablespoon dried basil (or more if fresh is available), and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Stir the mixture thoroughly. The cereal will turn purplish color from the blueberries. Serve a cup or so of the mixture over a plate of chopped salad greens and top with a pretty 1/8th cup of fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds.

I always add salt to taste at the table. We taste only the salt on the surface of food, not what has been cooked into a food or stirred into a mixture as much.

The flavors and textures work well together, sweet and tanginess from the fruit, creaminess from the avocado, quinoa and coconut oil. Tarragon adds flavor, the basil is milder and wasn’t noticeable in the amount I added here. Tarragon has a slightly minty flavor. The walnut is a stronger flavor and the crunch and flavor balance with the flavor of the blueberries and crunch of the pomegranate seeds. This was a success flavor and texture-wise no matter what it looks like and it would be nutritionally balanced with protein, essential fats and carbohydrates and plenty of fiber and trace nutrients and antioxidants. Walnuts and blueberries have both been found effective for cardiovascular health and male health issues.

Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad
Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.