Archive for the ‘Questions to the reader’ Category

Domestic Terrorists, Serial Killers, Mass Murders, and Dieters…

August 6, 2012 Leave a comment

What gets you going in the morning?

What makes you want to keep going when you know other people would give up?

What makes you wake up one morning and just do something that forever changes your life?

What motivates people to take action?

I live in South Eastern Wisconsin.  Central Wisconsin had long been the location for one of the state’s most notorious serial killers, Ed Gein.  Between 1987 and 1991, Milwaukee played host to our most prolific serial killer, Jeffery Dahmer.  In the city of Delavan earlier this summer Ambrosio Analco shot and killed his girlfriend, two of their children (a third was shot in the chest but didn’t die), his girlfriend’s sister and a friend before killing himself, making him the latest mass murder in South Eastern Wisconsin.  And Just yesterday morning Wade Michael Page walked into the Sikh temple in Oak Creek and killed five people, including one police officer, before he was shot and killed, making him Wisconsin’s first recognized domestic terrorist.

This has gotten me wondering.  What is it that makes a person wake up one day and decide to do something?  To dramatically change their lives?  What is the motivation?

The broadest definition of motivation is a desire to do something.  That’s pretty broad and doesn’t really explain why people will seemingly one day just up and do something.  Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is still widely used to explain why people do things.  I don’t think it adequately explains why people just suddenly one day decide that today is the day.  Then again, I’m not a psychologist so I could be wrong.

Let us leave the dramatic behind though.  Murder, sometimes just can’t be explained.  Some people are broken and for them it must seem, at least in the moment, that they are making perfectly rational, logical decisions.  No, let’s talk about something perhaps more positive.

Dieters.  More specifically the person who after a lifetime of being fat suddenly one day just changes everything about their life  so that they can become the thin person people never thought they could be.  You know, the fat girl in high school who when she shows up at the 5 or 10 year reunion looks like a super model out of the pages of Vogue.  Or the fat, dumpy, nerdy guy who drops a hundred pounds, goes to the gym and gets in fantastic shape.  When asked they usually give an answer like, “One day I just woke up and decided I needed to do something about the way I looked and felt.  It was all for me.”

Was it really?

Is that what truly motivated them?

Or was there somewhere back in their mind, hidden behind all the altruism and positive self-help platitudes, a seething desire to just show the people who tormented , ignored, or belittled them that they were wrong.  And really is that such a bad motivator?

Really, isn’t it OK at times to say, “Screw You!  You didn’t think I was good enough for you when I was fat.  And now that I’ve shown you I’m not defined by my weight, now you want to be my friend?  Well screw you, we’re not friends.”  Isn’t that a valid motivational reason?

I myself am fat.  I’m working on changing that, but I’ve been thinking about what is my real motivation.  Yes, yes, health, longevity, better able to deal with moving around and all that, but is that my REAL reason?  A little history I suppose is in order.

I was a thin youth.  I mean really thin, and I suppose at that age one might have expected me to be a very attractive man as I grew older.  I had some traumatic events happen in my youth though that I guess subconsciously made me want to hide and withdraw from the world.  Well as a youth in elementary, middle, and high schools, you really can’t withdraw.  You’re going to have contact with people no matter what.  As a result though, I started to eat poorly, gain weight, and kind of let myself go.  It was never too bad, because I was still active and therefore didn’t really get to be too huge.  I was big enough though as a teen for my father, who could be verbally very cruel, tell me he was going to have to have me fitted for a bra.

I would have to say that this is one of my first “Screw You” motivators.  I have a higher fat content in my chest because I was put on an estrogen precursor in my teens as a way to deal with my eczema.  Something that I should have been on and monitored for about 3 months I was on for 4 years completely unmonitored.  Is there any wonder I looked like I was developing feminine breasts, though they really weren’t that big, I also have thick pectoral muscles under the fat because I was a wrestler and Olympic  power lifter, which can make them look much bigger than they really are.

To say I was self-conscious would be an understatement.  With the trauma that motivated me to withdraw, and my father’s less than kind and inspirational attitude toward me, I wasn’t very outgoing.  I went to college, met a girl, quit school and moved out and got a job that didn’t leave me much time for anything other than work.  Somewhere in there I decided to start working out again, just like when I was younger.  I got pretty darn buff and was even considering becoming a body builder.  Then I went back to school to finish my degree.  At first it was part-time, which meant I had to cut back on my workouts.  Then the food pyramid started to be pushed as the ultimate way to eat right by all the body building magazines, if I may say a huge fucking mistake, and I decided to go to school full-time while still working full-time.  Bad eating, little sleep, deep mental scars that hadn’t been fully explored, and lots of stress lead to giving up me gaining weight.  And I gained it quickly.  Even though I was still trying to workout at least 3 days a week I gained a hundred pounds in less than a year.  By time I finished my degree, I had stopped working out all together and my weight was over 350 pounds.

Getting my degree eased the stress somewhat and my weight gain slowed.  It didn’t stop, but it slowed.  Six years later when we were getting ready to adopt our daughter, I was closing in on 400 pounds and I wasn’t happy.  My weight stayed steady for several years, I guess the stress was easing, or I had hit the point where my body just wouldn’t let me gain any more.  In those years though I got some I guess I have to say odd information directed at me.

We had a friend visit us.  I don’t know what she was expecting.  I’m not sure at that point and especially at this point in my life I really care what she expected.  But at some point in the week she confided in my wife (the very cute girl who somehow took a shine to me in college) that I wasn’t the kind of guy she was looking for.  That’s OK, I wasn’t even thinking along those lines anyway, but nice to know.

A few years later at a party, I was talking to a female friend and her then boyfriend, now fiance, soon to be husband, and she said something very similar.  She added that it was specifically because of my weight.  Once again, nice to know, but I wasn’t really interested in her that way either.

It’s now a couple of years later.  I’ve since lost about 70 pounds, but I’m still just over 300 and finding it hard to stay motivated to do the right things.  My major downfalls right now are working out and getting enough sleep.  I do eat much better.  No longer do I bother indulging in fast food, and I use to adore Burger King.  I’ve given up wheat and breads pretty much completely except for our once a week pizza night.  I had gone gluten-free for a while, but I really didn’t like the substitutes.  So six days a week I’m completely paleo and Friday night we have pizza.  For over a year I’ve been struggling with breaking that 300 mark so we’ve joined a gym and are now trying to get  back into the habit of working out at least 3 days a week.  We haven’t made a full week of it yet, but we will.

Anyway, this all leads me back to my main point.  Motivation.  Is Screw You a good motivator?  I think in my world it just might be.  Yes I know all the reasons why I should lose weight and get in shape.  But when it comes right down to it I really want to tell (metaphorically) those people who put me where I am or told me I wasn’t good enough for them the way I am, “Screw You!”


What ever happened to femininity…

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I have some wonderfully beautiful women friends.  They come in all sizes and shapes, and I love them all.  They are the ones who make me ask this question.  Not because they aren’t paragons of feminine beauty, but because my lady friends represent the gamut of physical shapes.

What you are about to see may be shocking:

This was posted on Face Book by a number of my female friends.  I think it speaks for itself.

I think that the women in both sets of pictures are beautiful, but why won’t advertisers acknowledge this.  The average size woman in the United States currently is a size 14.  Yet designers and advertisers push thin models.  From Modeling “In checking around it looks like for Fall 2003 they are back to tall and very thin – 5′ 9 to 5’10”, size 2 to 4 but I think they would love size 0.”  In general they advise women that size 6 – 8 in the norm, but if you look at any of the runway models during any fashion event, you know that not a one of them is anywhere near the larger sizes.

Either way, that is a far cry from the average woman.

If in the past, the average model was roughly one size smaller than the average woman, than today’s fashion models should look more like size 12 model Katya Zharkova:

Is it possible for fashion designers and advertisers to come a little closer to this?  Just a little closer to reality…

What’s the Next Cupcake? Nothing, Cupcakes are Cupcakes…

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I was reading the website of my local newspaper, and they asked this question in a pole.  The link will take you to the results page.  It appears that pie of some sort is in the lead.

But I say, we shouldn’t compare whatever comes next with the cupcake.  It makes no sense to me.  One trend just doesn’t mirror another enough to make a decent comparison.   Yes we’re talking about desserts or sweet treats here, but the choices given are different enough that they don’t compare easily.

So I guess we’ll have to discuss the options here so you can get a better idea of my thinking.

Cupcake:  Well, like the name implies its a small cake.  It lends itself to a variety of cake flavors as well as fillings and toppings.  It can be treated like a small cake and frankly a good cake can stand on its own or make up for a lacking filling or frosting.  Or a delicious filling can add flavor to a lack luster cake.  Essentially, you have three elements that work together to make the cupcake delicious even before any design element is added to the topping.  So you can make it delicious then worry about pretty.  And you have options in how you’re going to do that.

Macaroons:  I love macaroons.  But in the end, its just a cookie.  And a good macaroon isn’t a big cookie that can take being decorated like a cupcake.  What it essentially comes down to is you can dip the macaroon in chocolate, white or real.  Maybe add some other flavor elements, but there’s not much going on there.  So the macaroon has to stand on its own, which means it has to have the absolute best ingredients and be done perfectly.  No room for error, and no way to cover it up.

Doughnuts:  This would be my choice personally.  I love doughnuts.  Even bad ones are generally edible and who doesn’t love fried dough.  The thing with doughnuts is that like cupcakes you can fill them and top them to make them even more delicious.  And like the cupcake you can make up for shortfalls in the dough by having really superior fillings or toppings.  Unlike cupcakes, nobody expects doughnuts to be overly decorated and pretty.  Better to be good than beautiful.

Mini-pies/tarts:  I love pie.  Pie is where I started my cooking career.  I would spend the entire morning on Thanksgiving baking pies for the family dinner.  I was about 7 when I started baking pies.  Pie crust is all about ingredients and technique.  If you don’t do it perfectly, you get a bad crust.  Unlike a cupcake or doughnut, a killer filling can’t rescue a bad pie crust.   In fact, a good filling only emphasizes a bad crust.  And the filling has to be able to stand on its own.  As well as a whip cream or meringue topping.  In pie, you have three separate elements that not only have to work together, but have to stand on their own as well.  So pies and tarts absolutely have to be perfect in every way to be the next big food trend.  Also, unlike a cupcake, macaroon, or doughnut, even mini pies don’t lend themselves to eating out of hand.  If the crust is made right, it’ll be strong enough to hold the filling just until it’s broken by the first bite.  Then it starts to flake, crack and break apart.  That’s when the filling drops out and lands all  over your chest.

Whoopie pie:  I had to look this one up as I don’t know much about them except that a few of the bakers on Top Chef Just Desserts made them.  So from what I gathered its a puffy cake/cookie sandwich filled with cream.  So, an Oreo sandwich cookie that isn’t all dried out.  I could see variations, different cake/cookie elements.  Flavoring the cream filling.  Maybe dipped in chocolate.  Like the macaroon though there’s not much going on there and very little room for error.  Ingredients and technique are all going to have to be spot on to make that killer combination that will make it THE dessert to have.

As I said, these are all very different desserts that don’t compare well.  They do contrast well though, and I could see a tasting plate with mini versions of each.  That would make a good dessert indeed.  So, what’s you’re choice to replace the cupcake as THE dessert?  Macaroons, pies, doughnuts, or whoopie pies?  Or maybe you have something else in mind.  I also happen to be a big fan of freshly made churros.