Posts Tagged ‘brain game’

Grab Bag Price Detective:

So I just learned that Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and probably other retailers have a code built into their pricing that let’s employees know at a glance if the item is full price, discounted or a final stock that will not be reordered. 

The Costco info comes from a pretty thorough blog on the topic, written by Len Rappaport. Read the article on Costco pricing here and for this 2012 holiday season here.

Here are the highlights:

Items with prices ending in $__._9 are the original price

Items with prices ending in $__,_7 are reduced for clearance

Items with odd price endings like .89, .79 or .49 usually mean Costco got a special deal from the manufacturer and are passing it on to you.

Items with an asterisk (” * “) in the right hand corner of the price tag will on the price sign will not be re-stocked.

Also look for “Manufacturer’s Rebate”, which is often an exclusive deal Costco has negotiated with the manufacturer.

Here are some examples price codes and rebates Len Rappaport found this holiday season at Costco compared to the same items available on Amazon:

This Cuisinart Food Processor has been reduced and will not be reordered.

Selling for $37-$95 on the internet

Price codes at Target:

Items with prices ending in $__._9 are the regular price

Items with prices ending in 8,7,6,5 and 4 are discounted.

If the price ends in a 4, such as $5.94, that signifies that it is the last time an item will be marked down

The small numbers in the top right corner of the price tag indicate the percentage discount you’re getting off of the regular price (for example, if you see “75”, that’s 75% off the regular or original price)

If you see ” * ” it mean these items have more than one location somewhere on the floor, like and endcap.

Grab Bag Egg-ceptional Choices:

So… is there REALLY a good reason to buy free-range eggs? Ummm… ya… looks like there is. Phil Lempert, food editor for NBC’s Today show and creator of the website SupermarketGuru.com, reports on recent testing on free-range eggs:

According to Mother Earth News (motherearthnews.com), testing was carried out on 14 chicken flocks around the country that range freely on pasture or are housed in moveable pens, rotated frequently to maximize access to fresh pasture and protect the birds from predators. They found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial, “conventional” (i.e., from confined hens) eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene.

In addition to the health benefits for humans, the chickens benefit, too. Many times commercially raised chickens are crowded into small spaces and never see the light of day and are fed a diet that consists of corn, soy or cottonseed with additives. When you buy certified free-range eggs you can support more humane conditions for the chickens, comforted by the knowledge that they have foraged on real pasture, under real sunlight or rain and be assured that their natural diet, which includes green plants, insects and worms, has ensured their nutritional superiority for you the consumer.

Grab Bag Medical Meditation:

Here’s your prescription…. meditate for 12 minutes a day and call me in 20 years…. and you will likely remember.  The good doctors Oz and Rosen from RealAge.com have this to say about the practice of meditation and how it affects memory:

We firmly believe that daily meditation transforms the mind, body, and spirit. It makes grey (and white) matter grow in brain regions that affect learning and mood. Plus, meditation reduces stress and strengthens your cardiovascular system.

New findings add to all that! Seems that people with mild memory loss can prevent the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease by increasing cerebral blood flow, boosting mood, and relieving anxiety, tension, and fatigue with as little as 12 minutes of daily meditation. That helps restore their recall ability and prevents future memory loss.

For those of us who don’t have memory loss yet, meditation has many benefits, including brain health. If you want to give meditation a try, follow this 4-step meditation plan:

  1. Set aside 12 minutes a day to meditate, and keep that time in your schedule sacred.
  2. Get thee to a quiet place. No cells, no music, no Internet. Turn it all off so you can tune in.
  3. Sit in a comfortable position with good posture. Breathe in through your nose slowly for 4 seconds and exhale slowly through an open mouth for as long as you can. Build to 8 seconds.
  4. Repeat the breathing rhythm while you let your mind drift. Recognize thoughts as they appear and let them go. Say OM — and OMG, you’ll feel clearer and stronger.

Grab Bag Clever Cuppa’:

Some people are just plain clever. How about this as a an alternative to disposable coffee cups, now probably numbering in the billions in our landfills?

Take a Mason or Bell jar with the two-part lid, and use the collar portion to secure a plastic hot cup spouted lid. Coffee/tea/whatever on the go, with so little waste 🙂 Even feel OK about grabbing a cardboard “hot sleeve” from your local coffee place, or invent one of your own.

Grab Bag Clean Crafter:

From the Queen of Clean and Craft, Martha Stewart, comes this simple recipe that is touted by many to battle water spots and tub grim better than anything you could buy in a store:

Here’s a nontoxic but effective way to clean your tub and shower: Add one teaspoon of liquid soap and several drops of a naturally antibacterial essential oil (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint) to one cup of baking soda. Add just enough water to form a paste, and use it with a sponge or brush to scour bathtub surfaces.

Grab Bag Pumpkin Patch:

In case you want to get a jump on next autumn’s decor, check out these pics from the Arboretum in Dallas, Texas for some inspiration:

Grab Bag Brain Game:

The colored balls float in and out, disappearing behind the target. Track their speed and direction with your mind and click the corresponding ball under the image when you think it is in the bullseye.

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

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Grab Bag Picture Perfect:

I have a decent digital SLR camera (an old Canon Digital Rebel, but I love it) and have taken some pictures I’m fairly proud of with it. It works well, as long as I am in Auto mode or one of the other“pre-set” modes and the lighting conditions are within the range they have set for the prescribed settings.

But there are so many settings I just don’t use because I never got comfortable with them. No more 🙂

Here is a great tutorial that is short, succinct and really helpful. It should get us all shooting pics like a pro in no time. In the words of the author:

If you have an SLR camera and are nervous to take it out of auto mode, this is the tutorial for you. You may have heard words like aperture, exposure, and shutter speed and wondered just how on earth they come together to give you a better photo. I’ll give you a brief introduction on what they do and how they affect your photos turning out too bright, too dark, too blurry or JUST RIGHT.


So read up, pull out that camera, charge it up and get snappin’. Plenty of holiday opportunities are around the corner for your new mad skillz.

Grab Bag Frame Worthy:

Not pictures, per se, but living artwork. Succulents artfully arranged, framed and hung for all to enjoy….this would make a cool gift for someone’s back yard.

Try Sunset’s tutorial here to create your own living work of art.

Grab Bag It’s a (3D) Wrap:

All that ribbon. All that effort, making a fluffy bow. Time. Money. And they rip through the gift wrap in a few seconds. Let them pause, at least for a moment, and receive a gift BEFORE the gift.


Comes with 2 sheets of paper and 3D glasses for the recipient.

The ultimate in “I was in a hurry” giving 🙂 I know it sounds crazy phony but this is real, and you can buy this. Click on the picPopmart.com sells this cheaper than anyone ($8), and they offer FREE US shipping on everything.

Grab Bag Water Wonder:

You: “I know I should drink more water,  but I just can’t get into it“.

Have I got an idea for you… a “Flavor Infuser” pitcher… add fruit(s) and/or veggie(s), of your choice, sometimes ice, your best fresh, clean water or tea, place in the fridge and voilà, fantastically flavored beverages, calorie free!

Here are a few choices… click on each for a link to buy with full description:

Grab Bag Book Booker:

Give a book, get a book, everywhere a book book.

Check out Bookcrossing.com, a website designed to help books find new readers, and readers find new books… for FREE! You can register a book you are willing to release out into the wild, and send it to someone new who wants it….. or … perhaps more fun… start a cyber tracking game by leaving it somewhere in public…. then hope the new owner will follow the directions you left with it, and register it on the site so you can track it’s journey online as it leaps to new readers, all through its little book life.

You can also look for books you want to read and see if someone has one they are willing to give you... from all over the globe or right in your back yard.

Here’s how Bookcrossing.com describes themselves:

Label. Share. Follow. Breath new life into books instead of letting your old favorites collect dust – pass them along to another reader. Our online archival and tracking system allows members to connect with other readers, journal and review literature and trade and follow their books as lives are changed through “reading and releasing”. Users are able to tag and track their individual books by marking them with BCIDs (BookCrossing Identity Numbers). Each BCID is unique to each book – once it’s registered on our site, the book can then be followed and journaled forever. BookCrossing is free to join and free to play. So don’t be ‘shelf’ish with your books – read and release!

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Doug would rather drink muscatel than chianti.
He prefers his hash browns scattered but not smothered.
He thinks that location matters more than price.
And he’d prefer to wed in a cathedral instead of a chapel.

With all these in mind, in which of these
Idaho cities would Doug like to reside?

Boise, Idaho Falls, Pocatello

 Put your answer in the Comments section linked below and I will post the answer in a few days.

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

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(… a few days late)

Love these artistic takes on the human skull…

(cannot find artist attribution for these… but bravo)!

Grab Bag Pom Pom Pump:

This little planet of ours is truly a miracle. Contained on this speck of the universe, we have been provided numerous medicinal wonders for our healthful benefits. The natural pharmacy around us should usually be our first stop on our quest to cure what ails us.

And so it is for the modest pomegranate. A tough-looking fruit that does not yield its treasures easily, science has been looking more closely over the last few years at what benefits this unusual fruit holds for us.

Lauded for years for its antioxidant properties, more recent studies show some pretty impressive discoveries, as RealAge.com reports:

The latest report: If someone you love (you?) has high blood pressure, heart-threatening high triglycerides (over 100), or low heart-protective HDL cholesterol (under 50), put pomegranate juice on your weekly grocery list. Drinking just 10 ounces of it a week for a year could impressively improve all three. We say this because pomegranate juice did exactly that in people who need all the heart help they can get: kidney dialysis patients, who are intensely vulnerable to cardiac trouble. (Pomegranate juice may also keep your colon cancer-free.)

Grab Bag Supermarket Shop Tips:

More from Dr. Oz….

Doctor O, along with food safety inspector Roy Costa and registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth share a list of 5 tips to heed in the supermarket to keep your food sources safer:

1. Look for the cold line
What do you do when you buy eggs? Do you take the carton from the top, open it and check for cracked eggs inside? Not good enough, says Costa. His advice: Buy eggs that are stacked under the cold line. This colored line is painted on the wall of the dairy section cooler. Retailers aren’t supposed to stack eggs above this line, where the temperature isn’t sufficiently cold. According to Dr. Oz, eggs stored there can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria. Instead of grabbing the top carton, look for that cold line and grab from underneath it.

2. Never buy meat to freeze
Smart shoppers buy meat or chicken on sale and freeze what they don’t plan to use right away. Or do they? According to Costa, meat that’s shipped to the supermarket is already frozen. It’s then thawed before it’s put on display. When you take that meat home, you have no idea how long it’s been in the display case. That means it could harbor bacteria. The moral of the story: Cook the meat you buy within a day. (Note from LK: You can safely freeze if you can find a source that skips the supermarket, thereby avoiding the freeze-thaw-freeze risk, such as: mail order, ordering from a butcher, or buying direct from the rancher.)

3. Beware the use-by date
The manufacturer stamps that “use-by” date on the package, right? Not always.  According to Costa, retailers are responsible for stamping the date on foods that they process and package. That means they can change the date as many times as they want until the product sells. Costa says that retailers will sometimes continue selling the product until it looks green and moldy. Next time you buy food, look at the date, but also make sure the food looks fresh before you add it to your cart.

4. Avoid the manager’s special
Items with these stickers might as well be stamped “old food.” Francis Largeman-Roth says to run—not walk—away from them. They are the items the supermarket is trying to get rid of, which means it’s probably been on the shelf for a while and may not be safe to eat.

5. Shop on Wednesdays
Wednesdays are the days many supermarkets start their sales, so the shelves are fully stocked with fresh product, says Largeman-Roth. Avoid shopping on Mondays. Supermarkets get most of their deliveries on weekdays, not weekends, which means the food in the store on Mondays has likely been there since Friday or earlier.

And here’s a bonus tip on buying spinach:

If you have a choice between bagged spinach that may be stacked up and largely blocked from the (artificial) florescent light, vs. the clear plastic tubs which allow in more of the florescent rays, choose the plastic tubs. In a recent study, researchers discovered that spinach stored in clear plastic tubs under fluorescent lighting actually became more nutrient-rich in a short span of time.

Grab Bag Party Planner:

Gearing up for the holidays.. this is a tip I have used, with great success. Make a beautiful “lotus blossom” looking flower from a napkin, thanks to Martha Stewart. Tip: Soft fabric napkins are a challenge... works best with a stiffer fabric.

1. Fold a dinner napkin in half diagonally both ways, pressing to crease; press all folds as you go. Open the napkin, and fold each of its four corners to the center, creating a square.

2. Fold the four new corners of the napkin to the center of the smaller square.

3. Repeat, folding in the corners to make an even smaller square.

4. Flip the napkin over. Fold the four corners in to meet at the center of the square.

5. With a finger pressing the center of the napkin, reach underneath and tug on the flap at each corner so a cupped edge is formed.

6. Pull the remaining corners from underneath into cupped petal shapes. Place the napkin on a plate, and tuck a roll in the center.

Step-by-step visual how-to can be found here. 

Grab Bag Thoughts for the Week:

Grab Bag Brain Boost:

Not a game, but a simple mental exercise to improve memory:

When you’re lying in bed at night ready to fall asleep, you review what you did that day from start to finish. You start with the time you got up out of bed until the time you went back to bed. Do this in as much detail as possible, visualizing in your mind each and every step from beginning to end. At first, you wont recall much detail, and you’ll probably jump very quickly from task to task or think of the day in large blocks of time. But try to slow down and remember as much as possible, in as much detail as possible. Over time, you’ll get better and better at this and you’ll be able to remember more and more detail.

This simple mental exercise has the following benefits:

1) It will improve your memory

2) Your power of observation will improve. In fact, you’ll find yourself during the day performing a mini recall of your day thus far because you know that later than night you will be trying to recall it again.

3) You will be more in the moment throughout the day. Again, because you know you will be recalling your day later, you pay more attention to details throughout the day.

4) Your ability to visualize will improve.

5) You will improve concentration.

6) You will  fall asleep faster because your mind will get tired much like counting sheep at night in order to fall asleep.

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

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Grab Bag Healthy Eating Tips:

• For ease of use and cleaning, as well as boosting your source of iron, invest in a cast-iron grill pan which can be used stove-top. Grill veggies, chicken, fish and low-fat beef. Just watch the blackened, charred bitsnot healthy to eat those.

To release a nuttier, richer flavor, toast quinoa, brown rice or bulgar wheat in a dry skillet on the stove before steaming.

• Healthy eating is a lot like real estate, in that there is a central theme to work from. In real estate, it’s location, location, location. For health conscious eating, it’s portion control, portion control, portion control. 

The fast food/restaurant culture has duped our sensibilities into thinking that huge is normal. 

So get real, use smaller plates, bowls and glasses, and if you are still confused, check out


Grab Bag Biker Chicks:

These girls probably practiced for, like, at least a week or two….

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Grab Bag Deal Tip:

You know we all pay a premium for the latest electronic must-have gadget. So does our environment.

If you’re looking for a deal and willing to consider a refurbished item, not only will you find big savings, but you will be contributing to boosting the recycling market, which keeps more perfectly useable parts out of landfills, and uses far less natural resources.

Reliable sources include Dell Outlet and Sony Outlet for computers, Apple Refurbished for all things Apple and NewEgg for all sorts of electronics. 

A good analysis of the advantages and possible problems with purchasing refurbished items can be found at this link.

Grab Bag Fitness Crowbar:

Sometimes we just need a new perspective, a different voice (internal or external), a new set of motivators. I kinda like what’s going on over at Zen to Fitness. Might be worth following for a nudge at just the right moment, when all reasoning to exercise escapes you in the face of a bowl of ice cream and a movie...


Grab Bag Sweet Stuff:

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Cool!! A 3-D version of the classic game of Concentration. Originally made for the iPhone, you can spin the graphic by clicking and dragging rather than a finger-tip gesture.


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to re-frame or reinterpret the first part.  It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax.

• I used to be indecisive.  Now I’m not sure.

• I always take life with a grain of salt, plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

• When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

•  You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

• To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and  call whatever you hit the target.

• Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

• Some people hear voices.  Some see invisible people.  Others have no imagination whatsoever.

• A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

• If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?

• Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

• Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

• Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

• Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?

• Behind every successful man is his woman.  Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

• A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

• You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice..

• The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

• Always borrow money from a pessimist.  He won’t expect it back.

• A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.

• Hospitality is making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.

• Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

Thanks to Tally D for these.

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So…. took a bit of vacation last week.…hope you all enjoyed the 4th festivities… I loved them. Fireworks don’t happen nearly enough in my opinion. So I’m just gonna throw some in here for the heck of it…. because I can 🙂

Grab Bag Snail Mail, Email:

Dead as a Doornail?

Thoughts on The Evolution of Social “Need-ia”

For purposes of this discussion, I think most will agree that regular mail runs a distant also-ran when it comes to important, time-sensitive communication.

Have you noticed that your kids rarely check their email? It’s not just your imagination. From 2009 to 2010, email use by SENIORS increased by 28%. During that same time, email use by TEENS dropped by 59%.

Although business is still most often conducted through electronic mail, personal communication via email is dying.

In case you wanted to put some current (2010) numbers on what you surely have noticed, here we can look at the dying methods:

170 billion pieces of real, tangible, paper mail were sent – most of which seemed to be catalogs or credit card offers that ended up in my mailbox.

107 trillion emails were sent – most of which seemed to be offers for Viagra or penis-enhancement which ended up in my Inbox, so to speak 🙂

And here is a look at the rise of the next communication dynasty:

36 billion photos shared on Facebook – most of which probably embarrassed somebody, somewhere.

25 billion tweets were Twittered – most of which could be classified as “too much information” or, “why would I care“.

And for the overall perspective on the changing of the Social Media guard, from AOL to Facebook:

• 2004 Users of Facebook:1 million

• 2010 Users of Facebook: 600 million

• 2004 Users of AOL: 23 million

• 2010 Users of AOL: 4 million …. Ouch

What does all this mean? I know that many like me in an “older generation” wonder how this will mold our kids. Frankly, I don’t get Twitter (other than for promotional purposes)and I am pretty suspicious of Facebook.

And what of Facebook? Is it here to stay, or will it fall out of favor, much like MySpace?  To quote blog writer and author Joel Postman, “I think Facebook is on its way to becoming the next AOL. Just without CDs.”

It’s moments like this that make me feel old 🙂

Grab Bag Rare Earth:

There are no free lunches…. not yet anyway.

As we laude the coming of alternative energy for cars and other power-hungry devices, we must also realize that those alternatives will require massive amounts of…. alternative materials.

I’m not trying to be Nancy Naysayer, I just think we need to know what we are getting ourselves into when we commit to alternatives and new technology.

To make a global shift to hybrid cars, high-tech electronics and fluorescent lighting will require an increasing dependance on rare earth elements.

This 3½ minute video does a great job of shining more understanding on this issue… one we are all party to:

Additionally, here is an excerpt from an excellent article on rare earth elements (full text here):

Mining and refining rare earths makes an environmental mess, leading most countries to neglect their own reserves, even as demand soars. China has been the main exception since the early 1990s, dominating global trade with its willingness to intensively mine rare earths — and to deal with their acidic, radioactive byproducts. That’s why the U.S., despite large deposits of its own, still gets 92 percent of its rare earths from China.
Maybe it’s a better story than oil…. maybe not…. maybe it’s just different. To “go greener” with battery and other high-tech electronic solutions will still pollute, will still be finite, and will still skew global economies in ways that delight commodities traders.
Note to self: Reduce, Reuse, Recyle

Grab Bag Road Warrior:

At least this guy is thinking. Yes, this would be costly. Most major commitments are, in some fashion or another. We need alternative energy sources…. soon. And those will have their own costs (like rare earth metals, above).

So the question is, can we afford this or any other major infrastructure shift?

Or maybe a better question is…. can we not?

Grab Bag OMG:

I know we’ve all wanted to answer the burning question…..

How close to a train track can you set up a vegetable market?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Grab Bag YouTube U:

Here are some nifty tips and tricks to make YouTube useful (Yousful?), rather than just fun:

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Memorize the pictures (the sooner you hit the Continue button, the higher your score), then answer a random question about that picture. Great observation skills builder.

In between questions, adds will pop up on the right side of the screen… don’t click on those.… just wait for the button below your answer to appear… takes about 3 seconds.

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:


More on observation skills…. this is the best lesson for paying attention that one can imagine.

First-year students at the Purdue Vet School were attending their first anatomy class with a real dead cow. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet.

The professor started the class by telling them, “In Veterinary medicine it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor. The first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the animal’s body.” For an example, the professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the cow, withdrew it, and stuck his finger in his mouth.

Go ahead and do the same thing,” he told his students. The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the butt of the dead cow and sucking on it.

When everyone finished, the Professor looked at them and said, “The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention. Life’s tough but it’s even tougher if you’re stupid.

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Grab Bag Celling the Public:

The debate on the safety of cell phones has been both hot and cold over time. My take has been to exercise caution, limiting direct exposure when possible (see Grab Bag Speaker of the House in this post from April). 

The voices urging caution are beginning to grow, and coming from more reputable corners.

“Are you being told everything you need to know about cell phone radiation? Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates….”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thanks to Roxie S. for sending this in.

Grab Bag Exploding Fruit Syndrome:

Need some more motivation to spend the extra bucks on organic produce? MSNBC reports that melon farmers in China have been playing with growth hormones, with recent disastrous results.

Forchlorfenuron is chemical growth stimulator that is approved in the US for kiwis, raisins and grapes. Spray it on and the flowers (and then their fruit) get bigger, faster!!

Seems farmers in China used a little too much, and under very wet conditions… and their melons exploded. Hmmmmm. 

Then there’s the hormone oxytocin. It makes fruit grow larger and ripen faster. In India it has been used on eggplant, watermelons, pumpkins and cucumbers. It’s not legal to buy it in India, but can be found at most fertilizer and pesticide vendors. They are using it freely. 

That’s just two small examples of what is being used on produce to increase production and profitabilityRead more of the story, and what it may mean to us here.

So check the origin of your produce before you buy. And please, buy organic whenever you can. 

From Dr. Mercola on the subject:

If you eat conventionally grown produce, not only are you exposing yourself and your family to a variety of pesticides; you may also get hormones and chemical growth promoters—all of which have the potential to devastate your health, especially that of young children. Remember, conventional produce sold in your local supermarket comes from all over the world! So you cannot brush off this information as being a potential threat affecting just the region in which the produce was grown.

Grab Bag Lunch Pot:

 The Japanese found a great solution to the brown bag concept for lunch on the go: the Bento box. 

Great for Japanese cuisine…. not so great for American fare like soups, salads, yogurts, etc.

Enter Black+Blum, a design firm who sold 100,000 of their Bento Box-inspired containers in nine months. Looking to do the same for a more Western approach to food-from-home, Black+Blum released the $22.00 Lunch Pot, a stackable, two-piece affair that can well accommodate a vast array of mobile munchables.

… and while we’re on the go... I’ve been asked a few times if I know of a good way to “take and shake” a protein shake.

FYI… I am in preference of whey protein shake mixes (4PM magic… have one then and you’ll feel like eating a small and very reasonable dinner). Spiruteen makes a good one, and there are others.

But back to shakin’ them up on the road…. most shake powders clump if you just add fluid and shake them in a sealed cup. This one I have heard some good things about….. it looks pretty decent and affordable (~$9).


Grab Bag “The Future is Here”:

Rodent Riches: The Story of the $95,000 Lab Rat

You: a smart, creative (and wildly good-looking while we’re at it) bio-scientist

Your job: Finding new ways to research new treatments for old diseases, cheaper, quicker and more efficiently. 

Old Game: Wait for lab rats or mice to offer up naturally occurring mutations that help to isolate the specific treatment you have in mind.

New Game: Check the catalog of SAGE labs in St. Louis for a strain of lab rats that have been bred with any one of several different genetic changes, right off the shelf.

Newer Game: Order a custom breeding pair of rats to your specifications…. for about $95,000. 

Wow. That’s not a sci-fi pitch for a TV episode. That’s real. 

Here’s how it works:

SAGE (Sigma Advanced Genetic Engineering) has discovered how to inject synthetic enzymes called “zinc fingers” into the embryos of rats, precisely at the point in a DNA strand where they want to eliminate a gene. For example, gene p53 inhibits tumor growth – if you eliminate that gene, the resulting rats will more heavily rely on the pharmaceutical treatments it is given to slow tumor growth.  

SAGE snips the DNA chain, in this case, at p53 in a bunch of embryos. 3 weeks after birth, 90% of the babies have repaired their DNA back to normal (nature is wise like that!). But the remaining 10%…. ahhh….those are the celebrities…. and when bred together, they produce a lineage of rats ready to test new treatments for human maladies. 

Big Pharma is stepping up to till to buy these designer rodents, looking for answers to autism, cancer, Parkinson’s and more.  

While this holds a lot of hope for future discovery, complex issues are rarely solved in a linear fashion. Thomas Hartung from Johns Hopkins explains it best, “Very few diseases are explained by one gene only. An animal, or a human, is a damn complicated thing“. From my personal perspective, after twice sounding the depths of the dissection lab, and feeling I have barely seen the tip of light there, I so agree. 

Take Away: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound (and $95,000+++) of cure. Let’s take care of ourselves, as best as we know how

Story read in Fast Company (FastCompany.com), a great magazine 🙂 

Grab Bag CO₁ Burger:

In the old days, when hamburger or steak in your fridge was starting to go, the first sign might be the waning of pink to brown color. Not so now. Many beef producers want their beef to stay pink and appetizing as long as possible. So they gas it with small amounts of carbon monoxide. 

 Yummy 😦 

What to Do: 

1. Ask your grocer if they carry CO processed beef (I can’t swear you’ll get the straight answer, but ??). Some chains (A&P, Kroger, Stop & Shop, Publix, Whole Foods, Wegmans) say they refuse to carry it. 

2. Buy from known local sources, offering certified grass-fed and organic beef. 

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Silly and addicting… slingshot the smiley face around to munch all the berries. 


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Comedian Kyle Ray profiles the gullible… wondering why he wasn’t taken …. the day after the “Rapture That Didn’t Happen

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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May 15th

Anne Boleyn began her trial for treason and adultery on this day.

She was framed.

Grab Bag Too Much of a Good Thing:

A published study in Molecular Cancer Research Journal last October found that cancer cells (in vitro) that had been “wounded” by radiation actually survived BECAUSE OF increased levels of a protein called Hsp-27… and one of the main stimuli for Hsp-27 in the body is intense exercise. 

Oops. This small study flies in the face of other research that shows exercise is beneficial for cancer treatment.

Suggestions are offered that it may be a good idea to keep exercise quite moderate a few days before, during and after radiation cancer treatments. Seems reasonable. More research is certain to follow.

Grab Bag Minute Help:

Online Volunteering

Is that minute, as in 60 seconds, or minute, as in tiny? Well, it’s both.

We all know that big accomplishments are just a culmination of a lot of small efforts. The brilliant folks at Sparked have found a way to tap into the extra minutes we all have that could be harnessed into something bigger, and for good causes. Putting a few minutes into something important can be part of a big success:

Sparked helps us donate our time to worthy causes, even when all we have is a few spare moments. They match your skills with needs from non-profit to create small tasks you can do right from your desk.

They call it “microvolunteering.” It’s the idea that while you might not be able to donate an entire afternoon, you could totally use a few minutes of your “Late Afternoon Facebook Time” to help others.

You can lend a hand with everything from design to web development to tweeting. Breaking down the needs of non-profits into smaller tasks lets entire projects be crowdsourced to microvolunteers like Team Netted.

Everything you do brings us a tiny step closer to solving huge problems.

Grab Bag Salmon Quandary:

Recently listed in Sunset magazine’s Top 100 Cultural Trends Shaping the West:

#28: Eat salmon without the guilt

For many of us Westerners, dinner doesn’t get any better than a buttery side of rich pink salmon. Plus, it’s our heritage fish, a centuries-old food for all who have lived along the Pacific. But order it from a waiter or at a fish counter these days, and the person next to you might hiss. That’s because stocks in certain areas of the Pacific are crashing, and farm-raised salmon are tagged as polluting and disease-spreading. What’s a salmon lover to do?

At risk of getting the fish-eye ourselves, we’re here to tell you that you can eat salmon without fear of social ruin. For a start, always go with wild over farmed: All salmon fisheries off the West Coast are responsibly managed, so any salmon from these waters is sustainably caught. Wild salmon stocks from Alaska are particularly healthy and strong, and Oregon salmon from north of Cape Falcon (on the coast roughly west of Portland) are doing well too. So are salmon fished off of Washington.

Take one of these wild fish home, grill it until it’s crispy on the edges, and savor it with a good glass of Pinot—and a clear conscience. Because the West doesn’t taste any better than this.

… And don’t forget… market price will drive availability. Wild salmon will always be more expensive…. and may get prohibitively so should stocks begin to drop dangerously low. That’s our economic version of “natural selection” 🙂

Photo by Joel Sartore for National Gepgraphic

Grab Bag Shoe Savior:

Awhile back I posted about the potential damage done to knees by high heels. I think we can safely assume that feet, ankles, hips and back are included in that concern.

But there’s a side to many women that isn’t ready to wave the white flag on fashionable footwear.  Can comfortable feet and healthy spines co-exist with good looking shoes? 

That’s what Scarpasa aims to do. Their website is all about mid to low heels and flats… and searching the globe for just that. Here’s what they say about themselves:

At Scarpasa we do the work for you, scouring the world for quality flats and low and mid-heeled shoes. We curate an international collection of the hottest wearable footwear from independent designers so you can look good and feel good while doing what you do best.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by many of their offerings when I looked at their site. They also make it easy to narrow down just what you’re looking for:

So here’s hoping you can look like Manolo but feel like Nike, and rescue your gorgeous musculoskeletal structure in the process 🙂

Grab Bag Listing Agent:

Never used Craigslist? You don’t know what you’re missing. This king of internet want ad sites can help you buy, sell, rent, or give away anything you want.

BUT, Craigslist is not fancy. Noooo…. it’s not even very good at making it easy to find what you want. It’s just HUGE and somewhat organized. Definitely could be improved.

So along comes Craiggers, tidying up what the original lacks. Just go to Craiggers.com and search for the item, the category and the location, and Craiggers provides a MUCH better interface.

After you enter your search, a list of your items, in your specified neighborhood, pops up. When you see something of interest, click on it and an additional column pulls out on the right, showing the description and any picture attached.  

Thanks to the smart kids at Craiggers…. a vast improvement on the original.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Typing random letters… a good deal more difficult than real words… sharpens observation and coordination.

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

This one has spread over the internet like wildfire, but in case you haven’t seen it….

You like food? Huh? Yes?

And…. a fine compilation of years of feline faux paws 🙂

Have something to say? Love to hear it. Click the word “Comment” below and leave yours 🙂

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