Category Archives: link ‘o the day

Cedar Rapids: The Movie

I happened to check the Apple Quick Time movie trailers page, as I sometimes do when I want to kill time at work (amongst other things…), and I found this little movie coming out February 11th that I had never heard of. Cedar Rapids stars Ed Helms (The Daily Show, The Office) as a small town insurance agent that has never been “to the big city” until he’s sent as his company’s representative to an insurance convention in the bustling metropolis of Cedar Rapids, IA.  The movie also stars Sigourney Weaver, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, and other notables.

To be quite honest, the movie itself doesn’t even look all that funny and may even be a bit cliche, but I’m quite curious as to whether any of it was actually filmed on location in Cedar Rapids, which is a whopping 10 minutes from our house.

Anyway, I just didn’t know this movie existed.  We may need one of Meg’s Grandmas to come up and babysit for a nice in mid-February.  :-)

Moderation

I was listening to OnPoint from NPR on the way home today, and their subject was about childhood obesity in the US.  The discussion vacillated from point to point, including taxes on soda, the rise of “Super Size” fast food meals, and the subsidies toward corn farmers that allows for all the high-fructose corn syrup in snack foods of children.

I was struck, however, by two callers to the program.  One of them complained about how they find it difficult, as a parent, to prevent their kids from getting high sugar snacks, as schools and day-care programs still offer them (along with fruit, veggies, etc.).  Another parent pointed out that they only allow their children to have soda “on special occasions, like parties.”

For the record, I used to drink quite a bit of soda, especially in late-high school and college.  Only after getting married (i.e. having someone to make healthy dinners for me…) did I lose the 30 lb I gained over that 7 year period, primarily by not eating Hot Pockets every day for lunch and upwards of 64 oz of soda per day anymore.  I would estimate that my Linsenbardt/Plochberger genes probably kicked in around the same time, allowing my metabolism to bring me a bit closer to my family’s general body size.

Growing up, however, I can’t say I was over-weight.  I drank soda.  Mom sent fruit snacks along in my lunch (even though those “fruit snacks” contained maybe 0.001% actual fruit…).  I ate chips.  I ate candy bars.  I ate ice cream.  And, to this day, I still do.

I think one thing those callers, and many overly-liberal parents, are missing is the “moderation” piece of the puzzle.  Denying your children soda, or making your kids eat exclusively organic food, will not solve the obesity problem amongst young people.  Preventing your children from watching more than 1 hour of television a day, or keeping them from video games, will not prevent your kids from being over-weight.  These approaches can help, but they are, by no means, a silver bullet.

My intention with Meg, and any future kids, is to try and instill a sense of moderation from the beginning.  Yes, she can drink soda.  Yes, she can have candy bars.  But will I let her down a 32 oz soda on the way to Wal-Mart and another one for the trip home?  No.  Will I send a “snack size” candy bar in her lunch, and then let her have a “king size” one for a “snack” when she gets home from school?  No.  Will she eat all the vegetables on her plate like her Dad does (even if she and he don’t like them)?  Yes, she will.  Will those vegetables be organic?  Sometimes, but it’s more important that she eats them at all, along with the rest of her “balanced diet.”  It isn’t a black-or-white issue of only eating some things and not eating any of another.  It’s the same reason Prohibition didn’t work out so well.

Maybe my opinion(s) will change over the coming years, but I guess that’s where I stand for now.  Lest she turn out like Cartman.

Edit: The USDA came out with some new info on the potential benefits of a soda tax recently.  Some of the info is summarized in the following chart, and quote:

A tax-induced 20-percent price increase on caloric sweetened beverages could cause an average reduction of 37 calories per day, or 3.8 pounds of body weight over a year, for adults and an average of 43 calories per day, or 4.5 pounds over a year, for children. Given these reductions in calorie consumption, results show an estimated decline in adult overweight prevalence (66.9 to 62.4 percent) and obesity prevalence (33.4 to 30.4 percent), as well as the child at-risk-for-overweight prevalence (32.3 to 27.0 percent) and the overweight prevalence (16.6 to 13.7 percent).

The Atlantic has another article discussing some of the proposed benefits, as mentioned in the new USDA report.

Collecting Data

So, I am still maintaining the Webster Hills UMC website, which will hopefully undergo a redesign in the upcoming months (depending on whether I get the “go ahead,” and when they decide what system they want to use…but that’s another story). Within the last few months, I instituted use of Google Analytics in order to help track where the web traffic was coming from, what search queries led people to the site, and generally which pages on the site visitors were viewing.

I instituted the same system on this website as well. We were running a similar bit of software to do the same thing, but the Google system is quite a bit more powerful and, as it’s built into Google, it’s very easy for me to access anywhere and look at who is visiting Linsenbardt.net.

Google Analytics tells me a variety of things, such as:

  • 57% of visitors use Firefox; 22% use IE; and 16% use Chrome
  • 26% use cable internet; 16% use DSL; and the remainder use other things (T1, OC3, etc.)
  • 86% of visitors are “returning,” and 14% are “new” to the site.
  • Most visitors are from Missouri (and now Iowa).  Wisconsin, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are the next in line for visitors to the site.

I find the “keywords” to be amongst the most interesting data, however.  The top keyword used to find the site is “andy linsenbardt,” followed by various others, including “brooke and andy” (which, by the way, is crazy that searching for “brooke and andy” on Google takes you to our site…as if we’re the only ones on the internet?!).

The keyword that prompted me to write this post in the first place, however, was “lee strobel drop denomination.”  Sure enough, if you search for that phrase, you find a blog posting I wrote way back in 2005 as the sixth down the page.  Apparently, in one of his books, Lee Strobel suggested that it’s alright for churches to drop the denomination from their name (e.g. rather than “Webster Hills United Methodist Church,” call it “Webster Hills Community Church”).  Incidentally, if you search for “Lee Strobel is an Idiot” on Google, my blog post comes in at #10.  Not bad!

On a side-note, I’m starting to get a bit bored with the WordPress theme we’ve been using. It’s really only been up for a few months (September?), but with the newly announced WordPress 3.0 upgrade, I figure I may make a few changes. Could take a bit – depends on how motivated I am!

Chocolate Cheesecake

DSCN1110

Earlier this week when I was looking for something to make, I remembered this really easy recipe from an old Arch UMC cookbook, but I couldn’t find it. After a frantic search of my recipe box, I finally located it and promptly made it! So, just in case I ever lose the recipe again, I’m putting it here for your enjoyment and posterity’s sake.

Ingredients:
1 box chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
16 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Process:
Separate 1 cup of the cake mix and set aside. To the remaining mix, add 1 egg and oil. Mix well and press into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. In a mixing bowl (an electric mixer really does best for this one), cream sugar and cream cheese. Mix in 3 eggs, then add milk and the 1 cup of cake mix. Pour over mixture in pan and bake in a 300 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate to serve cold with Cool Whip (real whipped cream would be a waste for this one).

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street!

It’s hard to believe Sesame Street is as old as it is, and still kicking.  Today marks the beginning of its 40th season, with Michelle Obama as the guest, talking about healthy eating, amongst other things. It’s crazy knowing there are literally over 4000 episodes of Sesame Street, providing quality television for young children now for generations of people.  I learned to count to 10 in Spanish from Sesame Street, amongst all the other things.  This is a show that taught kids it was alright to be different, that reading is fun, and that playing outside is good for you…oh, and cookies are yummy.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cookie Monster
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor U.S. Speedskating

By the way, I still enjoy seeing celebrities go on Sesame Street.  You can always tell that they have fun with it, even though they’re standing next to muppets.

Brooke and I were hoping to ask for Sesame Street DVDs for Christmas this year, but at least on Amazon, it looks like you can only get DVD sets for the really early years, and some Elmo-specific compilations.  So if you run across any collections from the 80s, let us know.  That, or they’d make excellent baby shower gifts. :-)