My Dream Just Might Come True…

Winter food drop spurs wildlife visits
ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/01/2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Homeowners in the Ozarks are being warned against leaving food outdoors because of the danger of luring hungry bears onto their property.

In urban areas like Kansas City where there isn’t a danger of bears, residents could see a sharp increase in the number of mice that invade their homes.

A freeze in April and drought in August have stifled the nut, fruit and seed production on many plants and trees, experts say. That means more wildlife than usual will be forced out of fields and into people’s yards looking for food.

“With mice, people better get ready for them this winter,” said Alan Branhagen, horticulture manager at Powell Gardens east of Kansas City. “They’re going to want inside the house because the food crop is so bad.”

In the Ozarks, black bears that typically gorge on acorns to prepare for hibernation will have to look elsewhere for nourishment because the nuts will be scarce. The white oaks that provide food for the bears and other wildlife such as turkeys, squirrels and songbirds, didn’t produce a crop.

On top of that, papaw trees that usually produce a soft fruit that ripens in early autumn and is eaten by many times of wildlife didn’t do so this year.

“We’re probably seeing more animals such as raccoons and possums out and about scavenging for food in the park,” said Conrad Schmitt, director of the Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City’s Swope Park.

For bird watchers, however, the lack of food in nature could mean a big increase in the number of birds that flock to feeders.

That doesn’t necessarily mean a surge in the most-typical birds that are seen at feeders, said Larry Rizzo, a natural-history biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. But there should be more birds such as robins, cedar waxwings, bluebirds and mockingbirds that usually rely heavily on fruits in the winter, he said.

“When you have less food available, birds will push into the feeders quicker than usual,” said Mark McKellar, an ornithologist who operates a feeder supply store and tracks bird trends. “We’re already seeing it this fall.”

The "Gap" of grocery stores…

Brooke and I visited Whole Foods for the first time last night… I’ve done my best to avoid this place since we first heard about it, largely because I’m generally against the idea (and fad…) of buying organic food products… Anyway, the prices at Whole Foods weren’t quite as bad as I thought they’d be in all products, but there were some items that were a bit more than expected… For example, wines and most produce weren’t much higher than the Shop ‘n Save variety (except for organic varieties), but cans of vegetables ranged from $1 to $1.50, and I saw organic olive oil for $16… However, as Brooke pointed out, they had a heck of a lot of bulk foods available, and they had stuff that Shop ‘n Save, Dierberg’s and Schnuck’s don’t carry (lentils, for example…multiple varieties of barley…etc.).

Overall, the experience wasn’t terrible, but I still can’t justify the cost increases when averaged out across all products. Are the cans of corn that Whole Foods sells for $1.50 better than the cans we get from Aldi for $0.29? Maybe… But are the cans really $1.21 better than the Aldi cans? Absolutely not! Actually, even beer was $2 more expensive than Shop ‘n Save… As Brooke pointed out, the prices at Whole Foods are comparable with buying name-brand products at Schnucks or Hy-Vee…but since we never do that, it just seemed rather expensive…’cause there’s no off-brand offered…

On another note, many things around the place were deliberately misleading. For example, there was a sign in the produce section saying how Whole Foods supports local farmers. I’m sure to an extent that they do…but find me someone in Missouri growing corn right now…or peas…or oranges… Obviously, all of that produce is coming from somewhere else, likely another continent (i.e. South America). So by the time the food makes it up here, being all organic and not including preservatives, it’ll go bad within a day of getting it to your table, thus increasing the consumer prices because the food that isn’t sold is thrown out within days of arriving…

I especially liked their “educational materials” that can be found near the checkout lanes. I picked up a few pamphlets, on irradiated foods and genetically engineered foods, specifically, the latter of which is particularly intriguing… The pamphlet states that Whole Foods as a company wants to inform their consumers of foods that are from genetically engineered sources (while using wording that makes you think that genetically engineered foods are bad for you). Of course, practically every form of produce they sell is “genetically engineered” through generations upon generations of specific breeding and growing, only selecting seeds from good stocks and not planting seeds from the bad ones. That’s still genetic engineering, folks… They go on within the “food irradiation” literature to discuss the idea of irradiating produce to kill things like E. coli and Salmonella, and how irradiating foods can also destroy some nutrients within the food. Again, the literature states that all they want is to have federal guidelines whereby growers need to disclose whether the food has been irradiated or not, while including language in the pamphlet that really makes you think that irradiation is a bad thing… Maybe when they get sick from eating infected food, they’ll come around…

So yeah, while the food wasn’t quite as expensive as I thought it’d be (although close…), I was more disturbed by the yuppie “our store is better than your store” sentiment Whole Foods left on me. I’m not against educational materials for shoppers. I’m not completely against the idea of organic foods (…though mostly against…). Frankly, we were asked if we needed any help 2 or 3 times while we were walking around, which is more than I can say of my neighborhood Shop ‘n Save, Aldi and Schnucks…however, I can’t say I like the place… If I can save $20 a trip buying food that’s just as good from another store, and instead buy a DVD or donate it to help cure AIDS, I’m all about it…

The “Gap” of grocery stores…

Brooke and I visited Whole Foods for the first time last night… I’ve done my best to avoid this place since we first heard about it, largely because I’m generally against the idea (and fad…) of buying organic food products… Anyway, the prices at Whole Foods weren’t quite as bad as I thought they’d be in all products, but there were some items that were a bit more than expected… For example, wines and most produce weren’t much higher than the Shop ‘n Save variety (except for organic varieties), but cans of vegetables ranged from $1 to $1.50, and I saw organic olive oil for $16… However, as Brooke pointed out, they had a heck of a lot of bulk foods available, and they had stuff that Shop ‘n Save, Dierberg’s and Schnuck’s don’t carry (lentils, for example…multiple varieties of barley…etc.).

Overall, the experience wasn’t terrible, but I still can’t justify the cost increases when averaged out across all products. Are the cans of corn that Whole Foods sells for $1.50 better than the cans we get from Aldi for $0.29? Maybe… But are the cans really $1.21 better than the Aldi cans? Absolutely not! Actually, even beer was $2 more expensive than Shop ‘n Save… As Brooke pointed out, the prices at Whole Foods are comparable with buying name-brand products at Schnucks or Hy-Vee…but since we never do that, it just seemed rather expensive…’cause there’s no off-brand offered…

On another note, many things around the place were deliberately misleading. For example, there was a sign in the produce section saying how Whole Foods supports local farmers. I’m sure to an extent that they do…but find me someone in Missouri growing corn right now…or peas…or oranges… Obviously, all of that produce is coming from somewhere else, likely another continent (i.e. South America). So by the time the food makes it up here, being all organic and not including preservatives, it’ll go bad within a day of getting it to your table, thus increasing the consumer prices because the food that isn’t sold is thrown out within days of arriving…

I especially liked their “educational materials” that can be found near the checkout lanes. I picked up a few pamphlets, on irradiated foods and genetically engineered foods, specifically, the latter of which is particularly intriguing… The pamphlet states that Whole Foods as a company wants to inform their consumers of foods that are from genetically engineered sources (while using wording that makes you think that genetically engineered foods are bad for you). Of course, practically every form of produce they sell is “genetically engineered” through generations upon generations of specific breeding and growing, only selecting seeds from good stocks and not planting seeds from the bad ones. That’s still genetic engineering, folks… They go on within the “food irradiation” literature to discuss the idea of irradiating produce to kill things like E. coli and Salmonella, and how irradiating foods can also destroy some nutrients within the food. Again, the literature states that all they want is to have federal guidelines whereby growers need to disclose whether the food has been irradiated or not, while including language in the pamphlet that really makes you think that irradiation is a bad thing… Maybe when they get sick from eating infected food, they’ll come around…

So yeah, while the food wasn’t quite as expensive as I thought it’d be (although close…), I was more disturbed by the yuppie “our store is better than your store” sentiment Whole Foods left on me. I’m not against educational materials for shoppers. I’m not completely against the idea of organic foods (…though mostly against…). Frankly, we were asked if we needed any help 2 or 3 times while we were walking around, which is more than I can say of my neighborhood Shop ‘n Save, Aldi and Schnucks…however, I can’t say I like the place… If I can save $20 a trip buying food that’s just as good from another store, and instead buy a DVD or donate it to help cure AIDS, I’m all about it…

Silly vegans…

So, we’re learning about the GI tract in class now, and we heard about protein digestion today. Here’s some info from a slide presented to us by our professor today:

  • A normal adult requires around 0.75 g/kg body weight per day of highly digestable, high-quality protein
  • A person that’s ~130 lbs (59 kg) would require around 44 g of protein per day
  • A 3.5 oz filet mignon cut of beef contains ~30 g protein and 6 g of fat
  • A cup of peanuts contain 25 g of protein, but 46 g of fat
  • Plant proteins are digested poorly compared to animal proteins
  • Less processed foods are higher in protein content than processed foods

So yeah, I’ve never really believed in the vegan argument that one can get the same amount/quality of protein from non-animal sources, but I can’t say that I’ve ever really delved into the information… Regardless, I found these figures to be rather interesting.

Any rebuttal on this? I don’t know many vegans, but I know some of you do and have probably had this discussion with them before… One argument is that while peanuts and other legumes have fat, it’s more “good fat” than “bad fat.” Sadly, in either case, it’s still “fat” and you’re only supposed to have a certain amount of it per day…

Just a thought…

Pumpkin

As I was watching Brooke brutally attack and disembowel a pumpkin yesterday for our jack o’ lantern, I had a thought: can one be a “meat-itarian” (or carnitarian)? As in, one who only eats meat and no plant products. …’cause, logically speaking, if you’re against the eating of defenseless-creatures, aren’t pumpkins and carrots more defenseless than cows and bears? I mean, cows and chickens can run away and fight back…not effectively, but they can do so more than, say, a potato. On the other hand, potatoes and carrots are able to hide underground from predators and try to use root systems to chain themselves to the ground, but that’s even less effective than a deer trying to evade a hunter.

So yeah, I think it makes more sense to be a meat-itarian than a vegetarian…that, and meat tastes better, besides… Just think of the horrible scene played out in my kitchen when Brooke sacrificed an unknowing pumpking and you’ll understand.

Just a thought…

I Forgot…

But, I had my first gambling experience last weekend. My parents came down for their anniversary (26!) and so I met them at Ameristar for dinner. We ate, then Dad gave me $20 so I wouldn’t feel guilty wasting away my own money. Mom and I went to the penny slot machines where we bet 5 cents a time. We changed machines every so often since Mom has a policy of not losing more than $2 to a single machine. Mom kept losing, but I won $13 and some change on one machine, then lost about $5 of that to end up with $10 more than I started with. So, woohoo to me! Plus, it was quite entertaining to see my parents away from the way I normally see them and to spend some time with them by myself..it made me feel very grown-up!

And then, an update…

So I’m at the lab, killing time until my 96-well plate is ready to be read… Figured now was as good a time as any to update the world on happenings…

Brooke and I went up to Hannibal for last weekend to visit with family and friends… Saturday was really good in that we got to shoot off fireworks, had an excellent dinner via Brooke’s Mom, and I got a lovely sunburn whilst laying on a raft in their pool. Overall, a successful weekend! My parents came into St. Louis on Monday night for some BBQ and we made some really good ribs. Brooke put them in the crock pot for a good 6 hours along with brown sugar, paprika, and just about everything else on the spice rack. They were some of the best ribs I’ve ever had, honestly…very tender and tasty… It was also good to be my parents for once! We didn’t really do anything for the actual 4th of July holiday, however. The weather wasn’t terribly cooperative in St. Louis…but we didn’t really feel like going anywhere, either. It ended up being a relaxing day, which is all I could really ask for.

Otherwise, my Biostatistics class started on Monday (yes, July 3rd…seriously…who starts a summer class the day before the 4th?!). While I’m telling myself that extended knowledge of statistics is useful for my chosen career path, I just have to wonder if reminders of Confidence Intervals, hypothesis testing, and SPSS are really worth 3.5 hours of class twice a week… Needless to say, I’ll be ranting about this waste of time for the duration of the class (another 5 weeks remain…).

I guess it’s time for the weekend again… I think Brooke is heading up to Louisiana, MO (Ma’s garage sale…) on Friday, so I’ll need entertainment Friday night (’cause Sci-Fi Friday doesn’t start up until next weekend). Keep me posted.

Yum!

So, we were actually in town all this weekend and it was great to just relax here for once! Saturday, Josh came over to play computer games with Andy and Sharon came in the afternoon and we went to the pool at our apartment complex for some sun time since it was such a nice day (don’t worry Mom, I wore spf 30 and didn’t burn). We came back inside and watched some Food Network and did some research on interesting restaurants. We ended up picking a Honduran restaurant in the city. We were the only people in the place the whole time we were there, but the food was really good and not too pricey, so if you’re looking for an adventure and up for pointing at things on the menu you want, I’d say give it a try. I found out about it in the Riverfront Times restaurant review section of their website and they had lots of helpful reviews that we’ll probably be checking out in the future! Oh, I’m sure Andy will write a review for you, but we also saw CSA: The Confederate States of America at the Tivoli and had Blue Moon at Blueberry Hill before since we were there a little early. All in all, another good weekend, and there’s the possibility of a bit a of a job that I’m waiting to hear about!

LNSEMSF

Courtesy of Steve Hosack, I present to you the Leonard Nimoy Should Eat More Salsa Foundation official website. If any of you actually have souls, you should join.

From the site:

“We here at the LNSEMSF believe that Leonard Nimoy is excellent, and salsa is excellent, and if Leonard Nimoy would eat more salsa, he would become an unstoppable force of excellence. For anybody doubting this belief, we have researched the projected level of Leonard Nimoy’s excellence with and without salsa.”

They even have data to support their findings.? I’m in awe…

…of tropical storms and homeless people…

I’ll try to make this mostly brief…but there is lots to tell… First of all, there are pictures posted in the Photos section now; click on “New Apartment” to see pictures of our mostly-set-up place and “New Orleans” for our trip down south… There are some pictures in “Hermann” of the B&B we stayed at a few weeks ago…

So yeah, we got down there in the middle of Tropical Storm Cindy…and needless to say, there was lots of water… There were over 250,000 people without power on Wednesday morning; thankfully we still had power, yet no cable…grrrrr… Anyway, the next day we walked around the French Quarter and explored a bit…went to a cafe, had some French food, etc… Essentially, we just explored a bit that first day…and it was gorgeous out, surprisingly… On Thursday morning, we went on the Nat’l Park Service historical tour, which was quite cool. We explored some more and then took the afternoon off (nice and humid), then went and got muffalettas (a New Orleans specialty…something like a Schlotsky’s sandwich, I think…but with lots of pickled olives)…which were also incredible… The cool thing about Thursday night was that we went to Preservation Hall and saw some really, really good jazz music…go buy a CD…it’s worth it… On Friday morning, we went on a cemetary tour, lectured by the guy who maintains the historic tombs. These tombs were above ground, so that was kinda cool…this is done for religious reasons, but also because the water table is very, very high in New Orleans. We also chilled Friday afternoon in the A/C and then went out to a nice place for dinner (mmmm…jambalaya…) and then walked around Bourbon Street for a bit…

Anyway, overall, the trip was good…the weather could have been a bit better, but I guess we did decide to go a). in hurricane season and b). when it’s really humid. It was certainly interesting to see people preparing for Hurricane Dennis; some people cared and others didn’t… The one thing I wasn’t expecting was all the homeless people. I mean, I’ve seen them before, but have never seen so many in a concentrated area and certainly had never walked by them before on the street…really kinda sad… Apparently, Louisiana has 1 in 4 people below the poverty line… Regardless, I guess it was a bit more shocking than I expected…

So yeah, check out the pictures…they’re online and all pretty-like… I’ll write more later…