1 Weird Old Tip Scam

Nothing irritates me more than a certain ad on webpages. You know the one – a belly that inflates and deflates. “Cut down a bit of your belly everyday by following this 1 weird old tip.”

I have ignored the ad until today. Today I wanted to find out just how weird this tip could be. Would it be as simple as My Strawberry Diet (which was not really so much a diet as a matter of eating a bunch of strawberries and working hard all week.)

So I clicked the picture. This led me into the world of those who would like me to believe that the answer to the obesity epidemic is the African Mango Diet. If you had clicked the ad, you would likely have been led to a different weird old tip because the same ad is linked to any number of other small diet-product sellers. (If you are interested in how these diet scams work and what the Federal Trade Commission is doing about it, there are a few stories on the internet.)

But let’s get back to the African Mango Diet. It is a pill made from the African Mango seed. It is sold by any number of online companies who want you to believe there is a miracle pill that will make you skinny. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t believe there is a diet pill out there that has no serious side effects, and causes people to safely lose 22 pounds in a month.

There might be, however, online companies who want your credit card number so they can keep charging you month after month for products that don’t help your battle with the bulge, but do a good job of making your bank balance smaller.

There is no such thing as a weird human being, It’s just that some people require more understanding than others.
– Tom Robbins –

Unsubscribe, Unfollow, Unclutter – It’s UnFriday!

Drat. I missed Clean Your Computer Day – it was February 13. Please forgive me for being four days late in telling you all about the latest cleaning tool in my arsenal. It is called Unning – from the verb un. I know you think that un has to be a prefix, but I think it has the potential to be a rather good verb. Under what circumstances, you ask?

Let me give you a few examples from the unning I did this week, while I was connected to three large Clouds:

– I had some Facebook acquaintances who, it turns out, aren’t really people I would choose to have as real life friends, so I decided I would unfriend them. But not yet – for now I’ve hid them – unfriending seems a bit harsh.
– I had about 200 Google RSS feeds that I never had time to read, so I unsubscribed to them.
– I  had about 250 WordPress Blog feeds that I also never had time to read, so I unfollowed them.

Collectively, all this unfriending, unsubscribing and unfollowing can simply be called unning. Of course, I expect I will be unned in return, but I don’t mind. We all have to do what we have to do.

Unning can be done to things too. I unned my clothes closet the other day and now I have a bag of good, unfashionable, used clothes to take to Goodwill. I unned the book shelf and collected a box of books for the book exchange. I unned the chocolate box and  picked out all the bars that were just past their best before date and I ate them.

Today is Friday, which is a fine day to do some unning, so I propose we call it UnFriday! I’m looking forward to hearing all your stories of how you used the day to unclutter your life!

Bloggers that Post Once a Day

Happy April Fools Day, all. When we were kids, we called it April Spruce Cake. Our misinterpretation of the intent of the day was based, I guess, on our hope that there was something more to it than a few lame jokes.

Totally unrelated to the day: WordPress has a Post-a-Day Challenge called Daily Post. The idea is that WordPress Bloggers post something every day, thus building a community of people who want to be more active writers, bloggers, and creators. While I admire those who can do this, I’m not sure I can keep up with doing a daily post. But it is something I am willing to try.

I’ll have to find something much interesting and creative in order to post once a day. Unfortunately, I have yet to come up with the right thing. Others have, though, and here are some of the ones I’ve found. Maybe they will inspire you to start a blog of 365 things too. Or maybe you will think of something very creative that you think I could do and blog about for 365 days… If you have some ideas for me, remember that I am a Jack of All Trades, Master of None, basically quite lazy person.

A LEGO a Day: Combining LEGO mini-figures with actual backgrounds, the LEGO a Day site is well into the second year of publishing entertaining dioramas. The site just celebrated 1 million views, a tally I expect on my blog in about 54 years.

Skull-a-Day: Now into his fourth year of skulling, Noah Scalin, posted his own creations for a year. After that, skulls took on a life of their own, and Noah posts submissions from his readers. At least three bloggers took on skull-a-day projects as well.

The Julie/Julia Project: Julie Powell was looking for a challenge. 365 days. 536 of Julia Child’s recipes. It worked out well for her. A Book deal, then the book was made into a Movie. I liked the book, and loved the Movie. But her personal life got a bit strange after that, so I quit following it in the media.

Daily Drop Cap: Jessica Hische posted an illustrative initial cap each day to prettify the internet and beautify readers blog posts.

A Year of Slow Cooking: Stephanie O’Dea has done well with her Crockpot. She has lots of recipes, and a couple of books! I think the recipe called Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork is one I could pull off…

365 Spiders: Amy makes her spiders out of wire and beads. They are very beautiful little creatures.

Well, it just dawned on me that I could do a Post-a-Day of photos of Unfinished Projects that lurk in all corners of the Red House. Like this nice little cross-stitch English Country Scene that is about 1/3 done.

Wait a minute – here is a blog called The Unfinished Project Project. But this person actually tries to complete all the unfinished projects. As does Mama Bee at Mama Bee’s 101 Things in 1001 Days.

I, on the other hand, don’t have those expectations, so perhaps that would make my blog unique… Maybe I have found my 365 project – The Red House of Unfinished Things... 

Blogs that Use More than Mere Words

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why Bloggers like to use one or two per post. Apparently, the average attention span of blog readers, once they have decided to read beyond the title and first few lines, is about 500 words. The average blog reader, then, would spend about 2 minutes to read a post of this length. It would take only a few seconds to view a picture, but that would be like adding a thousand words to the blog, yes?

Some bloggers make extremely good use of pictures to tell their stories. Some of these artistic souls are:

Angie Stevens shares her sketches at Doodlemum. If you have children and a cat and a husband, or have ever known children, cats or husbands, you will be absolutely smitten with this blog.

Salman Khan Educational Videos
There is an interesting TED talk by Salman Khan, explaining the concept and development of the Khan Academy. The goal of the Academy is to deliver a world class education to anyone, any age, anywhere in the world. The Khan website contains links to over 2100 videos covering many subjects. Each series starts with a simple explanation of the topic, and then gets progressively more complex.

Lighter Shade of Grey

Black and white. One viewpoint or the other. This or That. No compromise.

Shades of Grey. Not Black, not White. Somewhere closer to a common ground. Possibility of compromise.

A Lighter Shade of Grey. Serious contemplation, but viewed with a more light hearted perspective.Yes, I like that.

Which is why, for a while, I named my blog – A Lighter Shade of Grey.  I like to change things around now and then. Especially the furniture. But  the Never Ending Reno has resulted in furniture being placed such that moving options are pretty limited. Once the TV was mounted on the wall, the Car Guy gave me that look that said, “Eternity, this thing is here for eternity”. And that pretty much defines where the sofa and chairs need to be. The Dining Table is rectangular and the Dining Room is rectangular. And so on. Close to Black and White now, actually.

But words in a blog – now those are nice and grey. Not like a book, where, once printed, the white pages and black words are immutable. Blog words can shift and reshape themselves as circumstances dictate. Today I can look at something and think it is light grey. Tomorrow, I might have some new information, and my viewpoint might change a bit. I can rewrite and give it a different shade of grey.

Grey – the Shape Shifter. Kind of describes my hair too…

Fat Facts – An Obesity Epidemic or a Beauty Bias?

FAT. How can so small a word have such a bad reputation? The dictionary lists 42 synonyms, not a single one of them complimentary. What a bad rap for something we all have and need!

There is only one body type that doesn’t appear to have much body fat, and that is the one coveted by Runway Models. These people are classified as Underweight, and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 18.5. If I was to be in that category, I would have to weigh something less than 99 pounds, a figure I haven’t seen on my scale since I was a youth. Statistics indicate that 1.8 percent of the adult American population is underweight. A Recent Joint Study by Stats Canada, Kaiser Permanente, Portland State U, Oregon Health U and McGill U, indicates that Underweight people have the highest risk of death of all the BMI categories. Eating disorders and digestive diseases are associated with this group of people.

Next in line for risk are the Class III Obese people – extreme obesity. These folks have a BMI of 40 or higher. If I was in this category, I would have to weigh 215 pounds or more. US Statistics for 2008 indicate that 5.7 percent of the adult population are extremely obese. Their lives are shortened by 8 to 10 years.

These two classes represent 7.5% of the American public, and their lives are significantly shortened due to their weight. 92.5% of the population will have no appreciable shortening of the length of life. And while increased weight is considered to be a significant risk factor in Cardiovascular disease, (which is the number one killer in the USA with 39% of the deaths each year) the vast majority of those deaths are people over the age of 75. (The average American life expectancy is a bit over 77 years.)

In the category of relatively normal life spans, 33.8% of the people are Class I and II Obese. These people have BMI’s of 30 to 34.9, and 35 to 39.9 respectively.  Apparently Oprah Winfrey just slightly nudges into the Class I Obese category. (I would have to weigh 161 pounds or more to be Obese). These people’s lives could be shortened by 2 to 5 years because of their weight. Obesity has been on the rise since 1960, when the percentage of obese people was 15%. This increase leveled off in 1999, so while there are more obese people, the percentage of them is not increasing significantly.

Next in line for life expectancy are Normal  weight people. They have a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. USA statistics for 2008 indicate that 24.7% of the population was normal weight. ( I would have to remain under 134 pounds to be in this category, a feat I have rarely achieved for any extended period of time since High School.) But apparently that is okay, because Normal Weight people have a higher risk of death than overweight people. I suspect this could be because there are still more smokers in this category, but I have no figures to back this up. Smoking, by the way, has decreased by just over 20% in the same time period that human weights have increased by a similar percentage.

Overweight People, with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, live longer than any other category. USA statistics for 2008 indicate that 34% of the adult population was in this category. These are the people who have more muscles, bone, adipose (fat) tissue and/or water than normal weight people. While this will include many types of athletes, it will also include many older people who put on weight because they slow down as they age.

While these three classes of people will statistically live a similar length of time, there is no question that the people in the Obese class will generally have more health problems, resulting in a significant financial burden on the economy. Of course, this statement is equally true for those people who smoke, and abuse alcohol and drugs. It is also true for the simple reason that our population is aging. The older we get, the more likely we are to develop an ailment of some sort. Invariably we all die from something, few of us simply expiring because our bodies gave out at 125 years of age…

When it comes to public acceptance, 26.5% of the population try to make 73.5% of the population feel miserable. That is because people are more obsessed with looks than they care to admit. In an essay titled Mirror, Mirror Kate Fox notes that studies show that the ‘bias for beauty’ operates in nearly every social situation. People believe that ‘beautiful is good’ as it relates to intelligence, competence, social skills, confidence – even moral virtue. Today’s culture defines the most beautiful people in the world as being underweight or normal weight. The rest are called Fat, and they don’t stand a chance of being treated equally. The so called Obesity Epidemic is as much a Beauty Epidemic as anything.