Archive for June, 2010

The Center For Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is threatening to sue McDonald’s because of the toys they include in Happy Meals, claiming the chain “unfairly and deceptively” markets the toys to children.  The upshot is that the toys are advertised on TV.  The children then nag their parents until they take them to McDonald’s to get said toy.  And in the process, the kids consume an unhealthy meal that in turn makes the kid fat.

So childhood obesity is all Shrek’s fault.  I knew it!!!!   You can’t trust an orge!  I mean, they are green and have that Scottish accent.  And also, they are fat!!!!  My god, that’s it!  Shrek is trying to make kids into his image!  First he is going to get them all fat.  Then he’s going to turn them green and give them Scottish accents!  That fiend!!!!…..ok, maybe not.

Just doing a little research, I see that McDonald’s actually offers substitutes for their Happy Meals.  For example, instead of french fries you can get “apple dippers”.  Instead of a soda, you can get either low-fat milk or apple juice.  Ah, but CPSI argues that kids order the unhealthier items most of the time.  Hmm, I wouldn’t think the kids actually would order anything, with the lack of actual income and all.  I mean, we have to be talking kids aged 10 and younger, right?  I think most of us moved past the Happy Meal phase of our lives when we got to junior high, right?  Surely if parents can’t keep from making a trip to McDonald’s because of nagging kids, they can at least make a trade-off of juice for soda in return for the toy.

But even if that is not the case, looking at the nutritional information, the Happy Meal is not THAT bad.  I’m not suggesting that kids should go on a Happy Meal diet.  But I am willing to bet they consume meals that are a lot worse.  The highest caloric combination I could come up with is the regular cheeseburger, small fries, child’s soda combo.  The total calories is 640.  Looking up general guidelines for children, it appears that the total caloric intake requirements for a day ranges from 1,550 calories for 4 year-old girls to 1,970 for 10 year-old boys.  So the Happy Meal doesn’t look to be that big of a deal, especially if it is used just as an occasional treat.

Despite being suspicious of Shrek (my eyes are on you!), I bet that the real culprit behind childhood obesity is not an occasional trip to McDonald’s.  I bet it has more to do with kids eating that meal, and then eating again.  And again.  And again.  I bet it has to do with kids having a little too much control over what foods they do and do not get.  I bet it has to do with kids generally not being active enough (an active kid can burn the heck out of some calories!).  I have no studies to back that up, just my gut feeling.  Just thinking back to my own childhood, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a ‘take it or leave it’ household when it came to food.  Believe it or not, most of the time you take it rather than go hungry!  I also grew up before the video game systems that exist today.  We had the Atari 2600, which was great and all.  But it wasn’t something that was going to keep you inside sitting on your butt all day!

I just don’t think the McDonald’s toys are an evil that is that worthy of fighting.  (Actually my recollection growing up is that I realized pretty early in childhood that Happy Meal toys were really crappy imitations of actual toys.  Has that changed?  Or maybe my memory is off, and I really begged to get my hands on those!)

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Bad race strategy.  I wanted a really good time today, and I tried to force it.  As a result, I went out way too fast and pretty much ran out of gas a mile and a half in.  I finished the first mile in 8:30.  I finished the race with my slowest 5k time ever, something around 31 minutes.  When I achieved my fastest times, I didn’t set out to do it.  They just happened.  I just tried to set a pace that felt comfortable and let whatever happened happen.  That’s how I should run races.  I should just do the best I can do on that given day and not go in with any preconceived notions of what the result should be.

I also think that I am just going to have to get use to the idea that my performance just isn’t going to be as good in the summer months.  My sweat rate is just so high, it’s just going to be a constant battle to stay hydrated.  Now I am still going to try to figure out how I can be at whatever my summer best can be.  I’m bringing much more water with me on training runs.  I am trying gels, GU Chomps (those are off the list!), and whatever else to replenish my electrolytes.  Next week I am going to start experimenting with sports drinks.  Maybe I can find something that will set OK on my stomach!

I have to give kudos to my running partner Lael.  She didn’t get suckered into my fast pace early in the race, actually had caught me by mile-marker one, and went on to finish her personal best 27-something (I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I know it was well under 28 minutes).  I think I would have been MUCH better off if I just let her pace me.  But oh no, I had to do the stubborn guy thing!  And she did the smart gal thing and just ignored what I was doing.  The result, she kicked my ass! 🙂  I’m so very happy for her!  I have the best running partner in the world!

The race itself was awesome!  Usually I can think of something that I can make a complaint about or at least come up with a suggestion that would improve the race in my opinion.  But for this one, I have nothing.  It was as well-organized as any race I have been in.  Every mile was marked off, every turn had a person standing there with an arrow, and the race was timed with timing chips.  After the race, they provided water which is pretty standard.  But a nice touch is that they also provided a cold wet towel.  The post-race food spread was also pretty darn nice.  They had every kind of fruit imaginable.  Plus, they had these muffins that were still warm (I have no clue what kind, I just know they were good!) and peanut butter and banana sandwiches which are one of my favorites!

This is definitely a race I will do again!  So my next race is going to be a 10k at the end of July (Sprint for the Spill).  It’s to benefit the Destin charter boat fishermen impacted by the BP oil 
spill.  And of course we will be ramping up our training for the half marathon in October (since that race is in Apalachicola, Florida; hopefully that race will help businesses in that region as well!)

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I’ve been sitting here thinking how lately I don’t think I have been interjecting enough humor into the articles I have been writing.  I like writing about politics and current events, but if you want in-depth analysis, there are better places to go.  I would like to think though that I can make it a little funny.  But I’ve been struggling in finding ways to make, for example, the oil spill funny.  Haha, BP broke the containment cap and now the oil is leaking again unimpeded!  Those zany guys at BP, they broke an ocean!  See, it just doesn’t work . (Of course, Jon Stewart manages to make the oil spill funny every night.  I guess that’s why he has a show on Comedy Central and I don’t!)

But maybe while I am having trouble originating the funny, I can still lead you to the funny.  Politicalmonkey2010 (her blog, as all of the ones I have linked over there to the right, also reeks of awesomeness!) has posted some hilariously awesome commercials from Egypt selling Panda Cheese.    You do not say no to the panda!  Check them out!

Lighter Side Of Life: Cheese Commercials

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It is just blowing me away that there is opposition to the temporary moratorium on deepwater exploratory oil drilling.  How can one know that millions of gallons of oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of an explosion that killed 11 workers and not support a temporary timeout on drilling of new wells just to make sure we can really do this in a safe manner?  (Heck, we didn’t even shut down existing wells, we are just strictly talking about holding up on digging new holes.)  And yet, that’s exactly what many leaders in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are doing.

The argument is that jobs are on the line.  If we do not allow exploratory oil drilling, companies may pick up and go elsewhere.  But on a recent show, Bill Maher responded to the fact that the oil industry creates jobs by stating, “so does the kiddie porn industry.”  Now Maher is a comedian, so of course he is being absurd.  But it does highlight the point that while job creation is a factor in determining if something is a worthwhile venture, it is NOT the only factor.  You do have the also weigh the costs that go along with the benefits.  And right now, the fact that the Gulf of Mexico is turning into the Black Sea is a pretty darn big cost!

Even if you do want to look at this from just a jobs perspective, what about the impact of this spill on the jobs for fishermen, hotel workers, restaurant workers, and other tourism related jobs?  Are those jobs somehow less important than jobs on the oil rig?  Do those workers for some reason not count?  If we save jobs for oil rig workers, only to cost jobs for others on the coast, how are we coming out ahead?

I suspect that the big difference between oil industry jobs and jobs in other industries is the amount of money the oil industry contributes to political campaigns.  Frankly, that’s probably a big reason why we got into this mess into the first place.  This is why oil companies were allowed to drill with few limitations and pretty much no oversight.  Make no mistake, while BP may be a special kind of bad, as more information is coming out, it is apparent that the other oil companies are no better prepared to handle such a disaster than BP.

So really, asking for a brief timeout to evaluate how we can prevent such accidents and how to better respond to such accidents when they do occur is almost the least we can do.  Let’s face it, we are far too dependent on oil in this nation for this moratorium to be anything other than temporary.  I fully expect that the moratorium will be lifted after 6 months whether we have any answers or not.  But can’t we at least take this short timeout to make up for a little lost time?

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Uh-oh!  BP has spilled coffee!

More Alabama political ad greatness!  Is Dale Peterson watching your back?

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There have been a lot of crazy political advertisements in Alabama this year.  But I believe that Rick Barber has outcrazied them all!

Wow!  Just wow!  You tell ’em Rick Barber!  He is coming to lay the smackdown on that IRS with that thing they call the progressive income tax and he’s bringing the Founding Fathers with him!  That’s right, G-Money, Sammy, and Benny Frank are his boys and they are gathering the armies to kick some red coat ass, just this time it’s communist red coats!

Kind of funny, I thought EVERYONE called the type of income tax we have in this country a progressive income tax.  Guess not.  Though really Rick, if you want to do that right, you really should have done the air quote finger gesture when you said “progressive”.   Oh, and somebody really should have told Obama that he could just have the IRS “cram” health care “down our throats”.  Really would have saved him time!

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So I have survived!  No injuries, mission accomplished!  My time, 1:25:03.  This is just a brutal course, and that’s that.  It doesn’t help that it is June in Alabama.  But just to give you some idea, my fastest 10k time is right at 56 minutes.  Heck, I ran 7 miles just this past Monday in 1:09.  But it took over 15 minutes more to do about a mile less on this course.

I cannot overemphasize how brutal the humidity was today.  I’m still sucking down Gatorade even as I type this, I lost so much liquid out there.  I dropped a good 5-6 pounds of water weight.

That said, all-in-all I had a pretty good time.  I was afraid of going out too fast, so I paced myself running with Russell, another friend from work that runs.  He is a little slower, but he keeps a nice steady pace and I thought that would be good for me!  And it did work out well because I had more left for the “yellow trail” part.  I was able to run more on the flat parts and the downhill sections than I was able to last week.  But I just didn’t have much for going up the hills, and I don’t think I would have much for that even if I was allowed to start right at the “yellow trail”!  Those hills are just so steep!

As an added bonus, I found out why it is called a “Mud Run”.  They mentioned at the beginning that we would be running through a mud pit.  Having ran the course the previous weekend, I didn’t know where they could possibly create a mud pit.  Then I had my “duh” moment as we were finishing.  Yeah, that big lake over there at the end?  It just might have some mud in it!  So the course turns toward the lake and I finally get to the “mud pit” part.  I look at it and I’m thinking the water is about knee-deep, no problem.  Fatigue had obviously set in, because I misjudged that!  More like waist-deep!  Well at least my…er…”graceful” entrance into the pit earned major applause from spectators!

I was bunched in with the same group of runners for a lot of the race, and I think that’s why we ended up being more talky than most races I have entered.  That was fun.  I started to crack some jokes like “Hey, it’s another hill.  Just what I was hoping for!”, where another runner immediately responded “You too?!”  And as I was passing another runner and approaching yet another hill I asked “Are we having fun yet?” and laughed.  He said he wasn’t sure if he was having as much fun as I was because I was still laughing.  I realized at that point that I WAS having fun.  The course was tough, but I was doing it.  May as well have fun while I’m at it!

As far as the race itself goes, the race organization itself was awesome!  The trail was clearly marked, and even if it wasn’t, volunteers were at every possible place where you might go wrong to direct you.  We received our times and placements within a minute or two of finishing.  The post food spread wasn’t super awesome, but it was OK.  They had bananas, oranges, grapes, muffins, cookies, and bagels.  Actually this one of the rare times I’m not sure I could have handled much in the way of food, at least right after the race anyway.  I needed fluids and lots of it!  The technical shirt that we got is very nifty.  It is also very black, so it won’t get much wear during the summer!

Drawbacks included the supposed “expo” which as far as I could tell consisted of two tents, one with sunglasses holders and one with overpriced running shirts.  Getting into the park was a huge pain!  Not only was the XTERRA races scheduled for this weekend, but also the Buster Britton Triathlon.  So it was a major traffic jam at the park entrance, probably made worse by the fact that the park opted not to open the back entrance until 7 am.  I would have thought considering two major events were occurring at the same time that they might open all entrances into the park early, but apparently not.

But the big thing for me was the June weather.  If they were to schedule this in March or April, I could probably talk myself into taking another shot.  I should be in better shape by next year barring injury.  But that course is just so tough in the heat.  If it is June, I will probably take a pass next year!

I won’t have to wait long for my next race.  The Race To The Courthouse 5k is in just two weeks.  I’ll have my running partner back and we will be ready to kick some butt!

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