Tuesday, November 22, 2005


So my husband is an avid rock climber and he works at a rock gym. He is teaching me to climb. I'm not very good (5.8 is the hardest climb I've done successfully), but it is pretty fun so I tag along about once a week. Yesterday he had me try something new. I bouldered. I was pretty nervous about this at first because I'm not very good compared to all his buddies in the gym and they were all in the bouldering area when we walked in trying this super hard move. As the gross feeling in my stomach started to become apparent he told me it was my turn. I tried it and failed. I felt pretty dumb. Then I wateched them all do things and fail. Then I got more confidence. I never made it to the top, but I did get past one pretty challenging section. Next time I'm going to dominate. I think bouldering is probably my favorite type of climbing! It is challenging, but totally ok if you can't get up to the top because everybody is testing their limits on this. Plus, it's social! Since the climbs aren't that high a group of people just stand around chatting and watching the super-human dynamic moves of the other climbers. (I can't do dynamic moves.) Well, one of the times I was trying a route I fell and as I was going down I smashed my knee on a hold. Where it hit swelled up. I was so excited because that would mean I was going to get a bruise that would most likely be pretty gnarly. That way I could show it to my sister and it would be worse than hers. She bruises like a peach and thus always has tons of them on her knees even when she didn't really do anything to get them. This morning I woke up and checked out my knee. To my dismay the bruise is only about the size of a quarter. Although it is darker than usual it is nothing special, except for the fact that the fabric from my pants rubbing across it hurts like mad.

Monday, November 21, 2005


So I decided last Sunday (that means a week before yesterday) that I wanted to be more social and get to know some of the people in my ward. I also decided that I wanted to use the turkey roasting pan I got for our wedding (It's pretty much the coolest pan I own). That is why I decided to have a pre-thanksgiving thanksgiving dinner. It was just going to be a small gathering of 8, but then when you start to invite people you just can't stop. I did finally regain my self control when the small group of 8 turned into a small group of 15. I bet you all are wondering how I managed to fit in 15 people into my 1 bedroom apartment with no real kitchen. Well, I'm pretty talented. Plus, Phill has a truck and we borrowed tables and chairs from the institute building. Don't worry, they're being returned today. The turkey was fabulous! I was a little worried because, although I've seen a turkey being cooked about a billion times and I know it's not hard, I've never done it on my own. Not only that my mom was going to be in church for the three hours preceeding the big event so I couldn't call her if I needed to. I decided to get the next best thing by making sure my sister would be available in case of any emergency. I called her and asked if she would be free. Unfortunatly she was sick, which fortunatly meant she would be free--or rather laying on the sofa trying not to move anything and still breathe.
Phill delivers the table and chairs at 5:30 PM. I decided they looked really dirty and I didn't have a table cloth so I set out to giving them a deep scrub. Worked like a charm. I don't know that those tables have ever been so clean. The turkey came out of the oven at 6:30 PM and it was fabulous! So juicy so perfect looking! YEAH! I decide to make the carrots and grapes with brown sugar glaze to complement the turkey (it was potluck so everyone else brought the usual Thanksgiving side dishes). I forgot how much butter and brown sugar to use so I decided it would be a good idea just to call my sister and check. I dial her number and it rings and rings and rings. Her voicemail. No big deal I'll just do what looks right. So I did and it worked out ok. Ta Da! No help needed!
Everyone came and ate and laughed and played and had loads of fun! Now I just can't wait for the real thing!

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Break

So I thought I'd take a break from intellectual posts, which were rather entertaining for me. I could get addicted, but I wont because they take up too much of my time. I don't mean my free time, I mean the time I spend sitting in class thinking about how I will say what I want to say instead of listening to how to develop a HACCP plan for the 100th time. Anyway, here are the updates to my life.

Anyone who has actually spent time with me during the months of October to March knows that I wear mittens. I try not to ever take them off. I have been given different mittens through the years, but none of them have stood the test of time like the pair I got in high school. They are blue with snowflakes on them and I love them. I am also a little crazy about how I wear my mittens. Yes, I admit it I have to wear them a certain way. Indoors there's no special way to wear them so long as they are on my hands. Outdoors, however, I can't wear them unless they are tucked into my coat sleeve. That way there can be no cold air leaking through the gap onto my skin. Consequently I sometimes have to take my coat off and put my mittens a couple times before I'm ready to go outside. My husband finds this ridiculous, but I say, why wear mittens if you're just going to let your writsts get cold anyway.

I'm so tired of fog in Oregon. A person might think to themselves, as I thought to myself, "It's Oregon, it doesn't snow here! It must not be cold." Technically this is true. It was only 37 on my way to school this morning. In all actuallity though, you would be wrong! The truth about the situation here is that this stupid fog that has been here every morning and doesn't go away sometimes all day makes the 37 degree weather seem ice cold. I wear my new coat with the hood up and sinched about my face so that the only skin showing on my body is my eyes, nose, and sometimes mouth. Grrr! I'm tired of fog. I kind of wish it were like those really cold clear days in Utah where it's freezing, but at least you could see all the beautiful snow! I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Food and Health

Yesterday's post was more or less about the economics of food production so I figured today might be good to look at the health impact of industrialized food production. This topic is much harder for me to approach just because there are (a) so many different aspects to health and (b) so many misconceptions. I'll try my best. If it doesn't make sense tell me. If you disagree with me, that's fine, I'd like to hear your opinion. My one request is that you be respectful. I have noticed that people tend to become belligerent when their health and convictions are questioned on this matter. I'm not attacking you, I'm just stating what I think.

The first thing that a person needs to know about being healthy is that it requires monitoring and thought about what you eat. You can't just go to the store and walk down a row grab everything you see and say, "What's wrong with food producers these days? They're giving me so many unhealthy choices!" Realize that eating fruits, veggies and whole grains are going to be the best for you. Period. There is no debate on that issue. It is always better to eat things that as you eat them, they look just like they did when they were growing. Eating a banana is much better than eating banana creme pie. Eating a potato is much better than eating potato chips.

Given the above fact, it is not the food producer's job to only give you healthy choices to eat. That would mean they would lose out on a whole lot of revenue for people who value taste, and quality more than health. It is common to hear about the "Supersize Me" documentary where a man ate nothing but supersized meals from McDonald's and then had all sorts of horrible health reprocussions. What you don't hear that often is in a reaction to that documentary another study was done where a man ate at McDonald's for a month and actually lost weight and got healthier. He just chose the healthy choices at McDonald's over the supersized meals. It is YOUR choice to eat healthy. Nobody is pushing you to eat what you do, but you. (With the exception of small children of course.)

Another concern that is emerging and growing in popularity is the "organic" food. First of all I think this term is a complete misnomer because as it was originally used in science, organic meant of, relating to, or derived from living organisms, or in chemistry it just means that the compound is based on a carbon structure. Guess what? We live in an orgain world. EVERYTHING we eat is based on a carbon structure. Just about everything we eat is from an animal or plant origin.

The newer definition and the one accepted by the consumer of organic foods is a substance, especially a fertilizer or pesticide, of animal or vegetable origin. This means that an organic food is one in which all the pesticides and fertilizers are not synthesized, but derrived from animals or vegetables. As I understand it this means that consumers of organic foods reject any food that has been in contact with antibiotics, or pesticides. Take chicken for example. They can be given antibiotics while they are growing to prevent Salmonella contamination of the lining of their colon. This gives rise to the question of antibiotics in the foods we eat. WHICH IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION. The answer can be found when you do a little research about the regulations of chicken antibiotics in the United States. They must have a period of withdrawl before slaughter to ensure the antibiotics are out of their system and we don't eat them. Yes, statistically speaking you could get a chicken that has antibiotics in it, but the probability of that is minute. There is lots of testing of chicken carcasses before they go to market for quality and safety to the consumer.

Here's another example. How about organic vegetables. The consumer of the organic vegetable says it is healthier for them because they will not be consuming any pesticides. Well, the days of DDT are over. I admit that there are rather unhealthy pesticides that have been invented, but in order for a pesticide to be used on a crop there must be a "reasonable certainty of no harm" to the consumer in any and all of the various exposure routes to the cosumer (ingestion, inhalation, skin contact.) Many pesticides have come out in the past decade that are much better for the human and the environment. Many degrade naturally into innocuous metabolites. Yes, there is a risk of exposure to pesticides, but the body's response of an unhealthy person depends on other things:
  1. What is the hazard?
  2. What is the exposure to that hazard?
  3. How much of that exposure actually makes it into the body as a dose?
  4. The higher the dose the higher the response.

There may be a hazard there, but there have been regulations and guidelines that the US government have set out on how much and what types of uses pesticides can have to reduce the exposure to that hazard low enough that the actual dose into your body is miniscule. In fact your exposure to that hazard has to be low enough to have a 100 fold margin of saftey to the lowest response level. Bottom line, yes the risk is there, but it is really very small.

I think that's enough for today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Here is another facet of my opinion on food production in the United States. Here in the US we are an industrialized country. Our food has kept pace with that industrialization. We produce massive amounts of product everyday. I remember going to the SaraLee Bakery and just being amazed by the volume of product in this very little factory. It is all mechanized and flows continuously from one step to another and ensures the same quality of product from the first output of the day to the 100th to the 1,000th to the very last. We, as americans in general, like the fact that when we open the bag of Grandma Sycamore brand bread we know what it will taste like, the texture, the amount of air. If it is different or unsatisfactory in any way we can contact the company and get a refund. If a person doesn't like the idea of industrialization, then the United States really isn't the country for them. Even farming has been mechanized. For the most part we view industrialization as positive because it makes for a better product at a cheaper price.

The impact of industrialzation on our food product is that we need to use ingredients that will create the the appropriate properties that the consumer will want. For example, we have to investigate which polysaccharides will stand up to the high pressures of flowing quickly through a pipe to be pumped into the mix and still retain the consistency. Which sweetener will retain the water necessary to remain soft in the cookie, but not become sticky? The answers to these questions have lead manufacturers to use the best fat source for their textural properties or the best carbohydrate for the appropriate taste. By and large these are ingredients that have been extracted from one food source to be used in another. It is the unfamiliarity with the names of these compounds that have many people nervous about processed foods.

Take sweeteners for example. A general person would likely be OK with seeing "sugar" or "sucrose" on the ingredient label of a cookie. Sugar has been extracted from sugar cane. The reason they are ok with it is because they are used to consuming it and they are familiar with it. Maltodextrin on the other hand can make that same person a little more nervous about it. If they knew it was made from starch (which can be extracted from potatoes) cut into smaller segments perhaps they wouldn't be so nervous about it. Most if not all ingredients in foods are extracts from other foods.

The exceptions to this rule are notable, aspartame, for example. These synthetic substances go under EXTREME study before they are sent out to the public.

There is another side to this, about growing consumer demand for "natural" products, but I have to write up a lab report before my class so that will just have to wait.

Monday, November 14, 2005


So here are the preliminary points about food consumption and production in the United States
  • Fact #1: There are four factors people want/need out of food. They are; (1) appeal- under this category can be found appropriate energy/nutrition sources and good taste(2) safety-being free of microbes and other deliterious substances (3) getting to the consumer fast and (4) not costing a ton of money. Other factors can be put into these basic categories.
  • Fact #2: There is really no way to get ALL four of these at their best.
  • Fact #3: Producers of food would like to supply all four factors to their consumer. I do not say this as an altruistic sort of thing, but as a practical matter. If the producer does not meet the needs/wants of their consumers they will lose business and money. It is true that many people that work in the food industry DO care about their product because the large majority of them are passionate about food. They like to produce a good quality product that they can be proud of and take home to their family.

That's about it for today. The bottom line of these three facts is that there is a give and take in the process which is largely driven by the priority that the consumer puts on each of the different factors.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Just as an update for everyone. I have two tests I have to take this morning. The first I just completed on Carbohydrates and I'm pretty sure I aced it. I really mean aced. I don't think I got one answer wrong! YIPPEE!

Now I have to go to my Food Microbiology test. I'm a little nervous about this one. I find it a ton less interesting because it's just memorizing. I think the subject is interesting, but the class makes me want to poke my eyes out just for a good excuse to leave. Well, wish me luck on remembering the important things about Listeriosis, Staphylococcal food poisoning, Botulism, Cholera and much much more! I'll update you as to how it went when I'm done.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Six Hours

It is now 9:30. I started studying at 2:30. I took an hour break for dinner. I have reviewed 55 pages of notes, 1 past test, 1 study review guide, and memorized around 9 structures. If you have any questions on carbohydrates--chemistry, functionality, physical nature, properties, reactions I'll know at least something. I better do well on my midterm Friday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Also in my toxicology class today there was a statistical chart of LD50 for DDT the chart was a little fuzzy because he didn't have time to fix everything since his computer crashed yesterday. The line of animal models read a little like this, rat, guinea pig, rabbit, dog, cat, moose. I had a little chuckle to myself about all these moose in a lab and was about to raise my had to ask about that until I realized that the last animal was a mouse.


Last week, or was it the week before, I watched a series of documentaries on PBS called "Rx for survival." It was all about world health and disease and stumbling blocks, setbacks, and success stories that surround the issues. One of the hour long segments was on malaria in Africa and India and how it seems like an insurmountable disease. They talked about the use of DDT to control the mosquito population (the carriers of the disease) and how effective that had been in the Americas (I mean more than just the US here) at reducing and controlling the disease. So much so that it's almost unheardof here. So why isn't that done there? The answer is that it is being done.......well, sort of. Countries who use it get most of their DDT from China. From what I understand this source of DDT can easily be contaminated making it more detrimental to overall health of humans and the environment.
Skip to my toxicology class today where the topic of lecture was DDT and other man made chemicals. DDT has a relatively low toxicity compared to any of the naturally made toxins so for humans the health concern is pretty low. The United States went DDT crazy when it came out and then it was banned for use in the US in the 70s. Ever since DDT's effects on the environment and bioaccumulation of the chemical with the very long half life has been studied we, as US citizens, realized that perhaps crop dusting of the stuff was a bad idea. We were worried about Rachel Carsons's Silent Spring happening all over the world. Now we are trying to get a worldwide reduction and eventual elimination of the use of the chemical. This is a good idea when approached from the environmental view. The problem comes when you realize that using DDT was how we got malaria under control in our country and now we are trying to tell other countries not to do it. People who are impovrished and can't afford the medicine to treat malaria could never get the disease if DDT was applied appropriately and not used for crop dusting. The seesaw of benifits to risks seems to be unbalanced. Perhaps this is just another instance of the situation where Americans are more than happy to spend millions of dollars to help a person get better, but not the hundreds to prevent them from getting sick in the first place.
Don't get me wrong, I think DDT is a risk to the environment and at ridiculously high levels to human health. There are risks. My only question is what about the benefits? Where does the seesaw balance out?

Meatball Stew and Raw chicken

Last night I made meatball stew for dinner. What a success! The only bad part was that I thought my finger was heat resistant enough to touch a pan that had just been taken out of a 425 degree oven. The only thing that saved me was my fast reflexes. The finger is still pretty sore.
After dinner my husband had his first practice of the banjo. He has decided it is the best idea ever to play the banjo. He wants to play a duet with me. Him on the banjo and me on the fiddle. I would like to learn to fiddle (even though this would be yet another instance of my following my sister's lead). I just want to try to figure it out on my own and we don't have money for fiddle lessons. I found out that they're $20 a lesson at their cheapest. Yikes.
Today I did microbial testing on raw chicken. I'm so excited to see what turns up next week. I tested for total microbial load, psychrotrophs, yeasts and molds, pseudomonas, lactic acid bacteria, coliforms, bacillus, and one other that I can't think of right now. I can't wait to see all the plates growing little things! YEAH! So that's today's installment.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Long One

Well this past Saturday my husband and I took a mini trip up to Portland. It was the best weekend ever. We got to sleep in all the way until 9:30 and then drove up to Portland, listening to the book on tape we started on our trip back from Utah. We got to meet Garth Tingy's (I know you're not supposed to use full names, but I really like his fully name) fiance, who seems very nice, even though he never told us her name. We then went through a session at the temple, which is one of the most beautiful ones I've seen. (Not that I've seen that many.) It was SO BIG compared to the little Spokane one I'm used to. It has a solarium next to the waiting room that is just beautiful. The past few weeks or so I've gotten pretty homesick for my old school and really been having a hard time adjusting to the new one. I've had tons of time alone on my hands, which is never a good idea when you are "homesick." While in the temple I decided that I will make recieving blankets for babies at the local hospital whose parent's don't have anything to take them home in. I have a serger and I have time. I told this to my husband and he said that we could go talk to the lady that runs the free clinic that he used to translate for last year to see who to talk to in the hospital about this. Also maybe some avenues I could go through to get fabric. Although I have time and talent, I don't have fabric. Anyway, that got me excited.
Then we went shopping for Christmas presents for some family members. Did I mention that I love Christmas? I found out my husband's LOVE of Christmas music. I love finding things about him that you would never guess and that nobody else really knows. He loves Christmas music and will join right in when I start carolling in the car.......or the kitchen.......or the mall.
We then made it to another mall which had a Macy's in it because we got our $80 star rewards card and had to spend it. The following information shows how he is so amazing! We purchased all things for me on it! I wont say everything we bought because some were presents for my "readers", but they were clearly for me to give to people. Besides the presents we bought we also bought a great present for me! He decided to get me a new Columbia jacket that has a hood so I don't get all wet in the rain! YEAH for no wet! It is really cute. The one and only drawback is that the sleeves and cuffs are white. Even so I still love it. Everything was half off that day so we really had a good deal. I think that was probably why he wanted to get it. That and the fact that he loves me so much. We spent all but 69 cents from that card. Now I will wear my coat everyday, except for when it's really snowy and cold and then I'll wear my down coat.
On our way home I remembered a gift card we have to the video store so we went in and purchased Elf (another of his ideas, I think he's a secret Christmas fanatic like I am).
After shopping we went home and had sandwiches and soup for dinner. I thought that was great since it has been raining the whole past week and it will continue to rain this coming week. Soup sounds like the best food right now. We played Uno together which is probably my favorite game to play with him. We watched the Legend of Bagger Vance on DVD which we had purchased from Fred Meyer earlier and never watched. It's pretty ok.
Sunday we found out that my husband was called to be the Elder's Quorum second counsellor. Pretty exciting for him. We watched the CES broadcast last night which was really good. We came home and watched one of my favorite programs on TV, extreme home makeover. I love that show. I talked to my mom and then we went to bed. What a good weekend!

Friday, November 04, 2005

it IS the most wonderful time of the year

This morning my getting-ready-for-the-day routine was enlivened by the wonderful sounds of Christmas music. (Harry Connick Jr. Thanks to one Miss Heather Higgins-now-Schaffer) Yes, my husband finally gave into my fanatic love for the glorious seasonal sounds and let me listen to it while getting ready. On my 20 minute walk to class I was thinking about Thanksgiving and how I will get the gingerbread house(s) completed without being in the way too much. This year I wont be getting home until the night before Thanksgiving and I don't want to take up any of the kitchen space during the big day. The gingerbread needs to be stiff and relatively dry for the houses or they wont stand up very well so I can't make it the day of. I decided that I would make the pieces at school and drive with them home so that they will be perfect for Tree Day. (That is our family's holiday. It marks the beginning of the full Christmas season.) I'm a little worried about that because everything in Oregon is always soggy (including our bath towels which NEVER dry) and I don't want the gingerbread to take up all the relative humidity it is surrounded with. I'm going to chance it! Also, while in my food chemistry class, while I was thinking about carbohydrates I thought of a new thing to try for the windows this year. Usually we just use cellophane, which will probably end up being what we use again this year, but I thought maybe a colored sucrose film would work well. I'll have to experiment. I love Christmas!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Silly Putty

Today my professor was talking about visco-elastic properties of polymers in conjunction with polysaccharides (since they are polymers). He used silly putty as a non-food example of a visco-elastic polymer for demonstration purposes in class. First he demonstrated the elastic properties by bouncing it. Then he demonstrated the viscous properties by stretching it. Next was his big mistake. He bounced the silly putty again to re-demonstrate the elastic properties. Since the silly putty was no longer a spherical shape it did not bounce as he had planned. Luckily he has good reflexes or his groin would still be hurting.

Wedding Photos

No, this post does not include wedding photos. The reason for this is that I don't currently own a computer in our house. I just use the ones on campus. That means I don't have a scanner for my photos either. Plus, none of my photos are digital. I am nominating Miss Katie Timothy to scan in some of her photos and post them. I think that would be best for all involved.