21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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Crunchy on The Inside – Carnivore’s Edition

May 19th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

What my family eats is on my radar. I’m fighting years of sloppy code, poorly written nutrition updates and buggy performance in general. In my attempts to live a healthier lifestyle, I still get the blue screen of high fructose corn syrup all the time. Au-Teen gives me a Fatal Exception Error when it comes to drinking more water and easing off the sugar beverages

Making The Shift To Vegetarianism

Fresh Vegetables

Growing up in the United States means you were told that meat is an essential source of protein and other nutrients. The livestock industry is subsidized by our government. Vegetarians are seen as weirdos. It’s all about the beef here in the land that brought you the golden arches and hardened arteries.

Eating meat has become less appealing. I still enjoy the taste and texture of many meats, but it takes a toll on my conscience. Stories about factory-farm raised chickens and the treatment at cattle feedlots are almost enough to make me want to swear off meat. I’ve already stopped eating veal. These calves are kept in the worst conditions and slaughtered within days of being born.

Being a better steward of our Earth and vegetarianism go hand-in-hand. There are environmental reasons for going vegetarian. Did you know that:

  • Eating a vegan diet reduces more carbon emissions than replacing your conventional car with a hybrid.
  • Approximately 55 square feet of forest is destroyed for each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land.
  • One pound of beef requires an input of approximately 2500 gallons of water.
  • One pound of soy requires 250 gallons.
  • One pound of wheat requires only 25 gallons.
  • With the water used to produce a single hamburger, you could take a luxurious shower every day for two and a half weeks.

Activism isn’t going to turn us all vegetarian overnight. However, we can all do a little to reduce the demand for meat. A decrease in demand will not go unnoticed by the livestock and poultry industries. Fish farms do their share of damage to mother Earth too. There’s wild-caught fish, but are we fishing faster than the supply replenishes? One has to wonder.

Quitting Cold Turkey Cold Turkey

I’m not prepared to go full-time vegetarian, despite the benefits. Special dietary needs and travel don’t mix well. It really puts a damper on “souvenir dining.” I still know people in Philadelphia. There’s nothing quite like a steak from Rick’s in Reading Terminal. Mmm mmm. And what about sushi? Butter makes everything taste better. 🙂 As of today, going 100% vegan is out of the question. There’s a little thing called feta cheese that’s near and dear to me.

I continue to unsubscribe from long-held beliefs on my personal development journey. Everything is on the table. What I decide to eat is also under the scrutiny of this audit and subject to change. I truly believe there is a better way.

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Weekend Roundup

February 10th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Investment Tip – Buy Stock in The Company That Makes Febreze

My Take on the Dave Hill LookLast Wednesday was the Au-Teen’s birthday, so we hosted a massive all-weekend hangout and sleep-over, complete with junk food, soda, and video games. At one point, there were 5 teenage boys in the house.

The living room smells like a hockey skate.

Not just any hockey skate, but a Game 7 quadruple overtime in the Stanley Cup Finals kind of skate. If you have teenage boys, a Costco or Sam’s Club membership can be justified even if Febreze is the only thing you ever buy there.

I might even get one of those large pesticide sprayers and fill it up with Febreze. A wimpy little pump spray bottle is woefully inadequate.

Despite my beliefs about food and nutrition, I’m letting the boys have their fill of pizza, nachos, Doritos, ice cream, and soda. It’s my hope that I’m reinforcing the “special occasion” nature of the soda and these other enemies of good health. Soda is not an everyday beverage and it doesn’t do anything to quench thirst. We are a nation of dehydrated sugar addicts. You need 6-8 glasses of water every day.

I know that one of Au-Teen’s friends actually reads my blog. So if you’re reading this, listen up! Soda is not a thirst quencher. It does not count toward the 6-8 glasses of water you need every day. Yes, you need 6-8 glasses of water every day. Each caffeinated soda you have counts against the total. So for every glass of soda you have, you need to make up for it with an additional glass of water. Did you know that your body often mistakes thirst for hunger? When you think you’re hungry, you might actually be thirsty. Burn this information into your brain and drink up!

Blog Housekeeping

If you’ve been paying attention, the header image changes randomly. I’ll be able to tell if you have finally realized that. My pageviews will suddenly go through the roof and my Google AdSense click-thru-rate will plummet. Gee, thanks a lot guys!

I haven’t figured out how to add more to the rotation, so I swapped one out. That’s a PHP thing. Yes, I may be be Asian but some things about computers confound me. It was a feature built-in to this WordPress theme. I didn’t code it. The only thing I did was use some of my Photoshop Ninja skills to customize the look of it.

Some of the more astute readers will also notice the Entre Card widget in the sidebar. If you’re a fellow blogger, it’s definitely worth checking out. Whether you are a blogger or not, the widget serves up advertisements for other blogs. While fellow Entre Card users solicit me for ad space, I have the final say. I’ve lined up some great blogs for the ad space there. The ad changes daily, so keep coming back if you don’t want to miss out on some awesome blogs. Moms, fellow dads, environmentalists, personal finance, and general parenting sites are all in the lineup.

I also spent some time sorting out the categories a little better. There are now some sub-categories. This helps break up the long unordered list into visually manageable chunks.

Then there are the largely invisible things like correcting typos and adding appropriate hyperlinks within posts.

How’s The Baby?


This is the number one question I get asked. I don’t mind answering it. Little Twilli has been doing great. A wise man once said, “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” I don’t have to buy bewilderment. I get it for free every day.

Twilli continues to amaze me. On Friday night, I had her sitting on my lap while I was looking at my Facebook profile. She clearly recognized my photo on the computer screen and didn’t fight hard to contain her excitement.

We’re both in this adventure together, and I think she has emerged as the leader here. I’m learning all about infant potty training of all things!

The photo you see here is a Strobist experiment gone awry. I was trying to trigger the remote flash with my point’n’shoot, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1. The remote didn’t fire, only the winky little pop-up did. It’s a great pocket camera for DSLR users. It has full manual control, a useful zoom range (it goes a little wider than most pocket cameras), and the native 16:9 format of the sensor gives your creativity a nice boost.

My Junk Food Dilemma

January 31st, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Randy’s Donuts

Nutrition is on every parent’s radar. Some are better at it than others. I’ve learned over the years what makes for healthy eating habits, so imagine how appalled I was at Austin’s eating habits, which are, for lack of a better term, &*@#$! horrendous. Unfortunately, this knowledge doesn’t seem to do me much good since I encounter steadfast opposition to my efforts to reform this family’s eating habits.

When I met Renee, her eating habits weren’t the best. They weren’t the worst either. To her credit, she eats her food deliberately, takes her time to chew it thoroughly, and doesn’t overindulge with huge portions. She is usually willing to try my creations, as long as it doesn’t have shrimp. Single mothers have it tough, and one of the things that slipped through the cracks was nutrition. As a result, Austin didn’t develop sound eating habits.

The last thing any parent wants to see is their children suffer. It’s especially maddening when it’s the child’s own poor nutrition habits that cause this suffering. Then your efforts to help are met with resistance.

  • He usually struggles with the first class in the morning and the one right before lunch.
  • He has trouble concentrating and focusing.
  • He has trouble waking up in the morning.
  • His stomach is easily upset.

All of the above can be mitigated or even eliminated by making smarter food choices. But like most teenage boys, making his choices is far more important to him than making smart choices.

I was at the classic car show last week when it hit me. I’m the kind of guy who only cares about basic maintenance of a reliable automobile. This is in stark contrast to the level of care these car aficionados put into their vehicles. A car is a necessity, at least in the suburbs. Food is a necessity. I happen to care more about the food I eat. I love variety and I love knowing that what I eat is good for me. Austin only cares about getting from point A to point B, and there’s only a handful of ways he’s willing to do it. I prefer a Lexus and Austin is content with a ratty old clunker that belches smoke and leaks fluids.

A popular piece of advice for parents is to “pick your battles.” Rest assured I have a wide selection to choose from. Will the dinner table be another battlefront? This is my dilemma. His diet is less than optimal. I’ve warned him. He’s chosen to ignore my suggestions. Am I being a bad parent by letting this one slide? When I prepare something healthy, he isn’t hungry. When I stock up on pepperoni pizza Hot Pockets and Capn’ Crunch, his appetite returns. Isn’t it worse to let him starve? Weigh in on this one by leaving a comment.

To his credit, he tries a good amount of what I present to him, but like most teens, he will always choose the path of least resistance for short term gratification. Now that I started adding pureed vegetables wherever I can, he’s eaten more broccoli in one week than he has in almost 14 years. Heheheheheh.

I normally supply my own photographs to illustrate my articles. This one was too cool to pass up. The photo of Randy’s Donuts is by Carol Highsmith, and used here under a Creative Commons license.

Sneaky Vegetables

January 17th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

I don’t post every day, but I write almost every day. There are several articles in the works, both here and over at ReneeAndElliott.com, our repository for off-topic articles. There is other non-writing work that goes on behind the scenes. Then I have to go live my life so I can blog about it. So yeah, I’m toast.

Even in this impaired state, I can still offer you one quick cooking tip. It’s an oldie but goodie with a new twist.

We all wish our children would eat more vegetables. Some parents have better luck than I do. A trick favored by many resident chefs is to puree vegetables and add the mix to various sauces.

The other night, I pureed a pound of carrots, added some to the spaghetti sauce. The remaining puree was poured into a couple of freezer bags. Next time I need some vegetable puree, I’ll just break off a piece and add it to the sauce.

For the next round, I’m going to use the ice cube tray to make things a little easier.

It’s so simple, a caveman can do it.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup Scorecard for 11/26/07

November 26th, 2007 . by admin

Dr. PepperI didn’t do the last grocery run, and I didn’t do a scorecard. This week, I purchased 67 food items at the supermarket. 5 items contain high fructose corn syrup. The usual suspects were there, but there were a few surprises. As you know, I am continuing to expose the products that contain this substance and highlight the ones that do not.

This week’s scorecard features some obvious culprits, a surprise appearance in some foods, and one surprise absence.

Read the rest of this entry »