1. Finally, a use for old potatoes: if you have added too much salt to a recipe, toss in a peeled potato while your dish is still cooking to prevent your tongue from shriveling up like a slug upon first bite. (Just don’t use taters that have any green tint creeping into the flesh. That’s a sure sign of the toxin solanine. Generally, solanine will not hurt you in small quantities, but just to be safe, avoid the kryptonite-hued spuds.)
2. Did you burn your finger? Immediately rub the singed spot with spicy mustard to draw out the pain. Bonus: this is a lickable solution.
3. Leftover wine? Pour the remains of the bottle into an ice cube tray, freeze, and store for future use in your drunk marinara. (Leftover wine = good problem.)
4. To remove the smell of garlic and onions from your fingers, simply run your digits along a stainless steel blade. Carefully! This won’t work for your mouth.
5. To keep sliced apples and avocados from browning, drizzle with lemon or lime juice.
6. Did you catch one of those invisible hair-like splinters that rivals a paper cut for the Most Annoying Pain Possible award? Simply press a strip of tape gently to your skin. This works far better than scraping away at your skin with fingernails or tweezers.
7. Don’t hatch your batch. To prevent cracked shells when making boiled eggs, simply add a pinch of salt to the water.
8. Keep tomatoes and citrus fruits like lemons far from the refrigerator for the nicest fragrance, juiciest results, and truest flavor (we’re horrifying grammar teachers everywhere, as we speak. Write. Read. Surf. Arrrgh!!!). Oh: nestled in a bowl in the sun is best.
9. To clean those ever-impossible crevices in vases and pitchers, just drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets, fill the item with water, and wait.
10. To prevent your eyeballs from putting on a miniature waterworks show when you are cutting up onions or shallots, simply press your tongue to the roof of your open mouth (and do not breathe through your nose).
11. Rather than taking harsh detergents to your pots and pans, scrub them clean with a dry paper towel and coarse salt. This is invaluable for cast-iron cookware.
12. To remove those fossilized food splatters in the microwave, place a water-soaked sponge inside and “cook” on high for two minutes. Leave the microwave door closed for another five minutes (you don’t want to scald yourself). The steam will loosen up the food and you can easily wipe it all off without the use of chemical cleaners.
13. Fix a finger nick with clear nail polish (wait for the bleeding to stop, silly). The polish will s-t-i-n-g momentarily, but you’ll have a waterproof, instant bandage that won’t get in the way of your slicing and dicing…food, this time.
What handy tips do you recommend? Speak up, baby!
I’m curious: Is there a survival benefit conferred to us by being stubborn, or is it just immaturity? (Or any one of a litany of emotional and psychological issues.) I’m starting to think there must be a benefit.
It’s amusing, this human lust for proving others wrong, this need to be justified. It’s as if “they” all witness the brain’s imaginary blotter of record and are apprised of how the points of personal justice add up. Ever caught yourself imagining “they” are watching?
Who are “they”, exactly, and why do we want to prove “them” wrong?
It’s obvious enough in the embarrassing daily scenes with which we have verbal feasts, our gleeful elation barely concealed (“Honey, you are not gonna believe what just happened with this guy at the bank. Total meltdown…”). It’s having the last word with the insouciant hot dog vendor. Arguing with the airline attendant for the sake of satisfaction. Debating automated service technology with the hapless phone rep.
Ah, to bathe in the hormonal rush of stubborn! We know such reactions are immature at best, rude at worst. Often, stress has pushed a sane and polite person to the brink. But gosh, sometimes it just plain feels good. He who has not sinned, pick up the first numbered line ticket (or press 1 for English).
But proving “them” wrong goes beyond insecure displays of frustration with trivialities to major life choices. We all have stayed in relationships, romantic or otherwise, that don’t really “fit”. We chew on situations that have long since expired. We cling to a role that no longer serves anyone, least of all ourselves. We stay, and stay, and stay. Why? And to play my own devil’s advocate, is this really so bad?
(A caveat: Though I am a proponent of change, I’m not saying anyone has to change a less-than-ideal situation – only the individual really knows the reason, or reasons, for staying. We’re all controlled by forces and emotions of which we have yet to become aware. Getting into the many reasons people don’t change would make for a very tedious post, and it’s Monday and I know we’re all just getting perked up at this point. Also, I hope it’s clear that I’m not talking about persistence and diligence. Those are admirable qualities, and in this instant-gratification culture I think there’s too much giving up. I’m talking about harmful pride and stubbornness.)
I think that beneath all the “reasons” – both the superficial good ones and the comfortable lies – the root issue is simply that we are determined to prove “them” wrong. I’ll show them! Because when you’re wanting to prove “them” wrong, you’re really just wanting to prove yourself wrong. “Mistakes” cut into the old ego like the dickens. We’d rather save face.
Now we’re at the real question: why do we want to prove ourselves wrong?
We’re all blessed with instincts, some stronger than others. But from an early age, we’re taught to suppress our instincts. Authority knows best; the rules are always right; if it looks good on paper it must be good. As a result, we give words a chance when actions are not commensurate. We believe pundits, politicians, mass marketing, cheating lovers. We doubt ourselves before others (and it’s the last people who ought to doubt themselves who are the first to do so).
They say when you ask for advice, you already know the answer. I believe when we try to prove others wrong, we’re really just trying to prove ourselves wrong, because we already know the answer. And we’re loath to make a mistake. We’ve been taught that mistakes are bad.
I believe in the the maxim “a wise man keeps his own council” – but what confidence this takes! Ignoring our instincts is not only a recipe for an unfulfilled life but exerts a harmful level of physical stress that is probably cumulative and maybe more destructive than all the pizza and Twinkies we worry about. So why is living this way – it’s more like just-barely-existing – so commonplace?
A bit of a qualifier: I’m assuming you believe in the power of instinct as I do (if not, go read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink). And I’m asserting, rather unoriginally, that proving “them” wrong is just psychological projection – whether in the form of tirades, meltdowns, lectures, denials, reproach – because we’re uncomfortable with experiencing our own feelings or confronting what we know to be true deep down.
Is suppression of instinct mere social conditioning, a necessary evil for the good of the group, or does it benefit the human species in some deeper way? Remember, a “benefit” in evolutionary terms is not always rosy. It would seem the evolutionary mechanism at work, if there is one, is a harsh one. While I don’t go in for the “America causes cancer!” fear-mongering, I do think it is clear that our modern lifestyle is grossly out of step with our genetic blueprints.
So, I really doubt there’s an evolutionary benefit to being stubborn (denying the truth to yourself). In fact, being an idealistic science nut, I believe the opposite: flexibility and willingness to change are the things that keep you alive, keep you healthy, and push the limits of longevity. And I believe that’s why we have instinct. Instinct is the evolutionary mechanism, not saving face for the good of some abstract lofty social notion or some emotion like fear.
Proving ourselves wrong: though it can feel “good” in the short term, in the long term, it just hurts everyone. It slices at your self-esteem. It beats you down. Many have been doing it so long, they don’t even realize what a battering they’ve subjected themselves to. I don’t think it’s natural, I don’t think it benefits anyone, and I don’t think it’s necessary to keep society churning. I think it’s an outdated social superimposition. Even if it is “natural”, aren’t we innovative enough to find a way of living that is both beneficial to society and the individual? Ignoring what we know to be true creates a dissonance, and projection is bound to result. This festering reactivity tears the individual down, turning adults into unsatisfied, miserable infants.
We’re going to have to move away from the hierarchical structure that teaches people to subvert their own intuition for some supposed survival benefit or “the good of all”. It’s fear-based, and it’s just not healthy. “Keeping people in line” with guilt, shame, and regrets may have been effective in the Middle Ages, I guess, but we don’t need it. That was society out of balance with nature, yet we’re still clinging to it psychologically.
Stop proving yourself wrong – it’s not benefiting anyone, least of all you. I don’t believe that life is a Hegelian zero-sum game. I believe we’re smart enough to make life a win-win.
Foibles. Scruples. Mistakes. Welcome to life: don’t let the regrets hit you on the way out.
More Monday Moments:
One of the most stupid maxims in the history of humanity is “Better the devil you know.” I’m sure you’re familiar with this phrase. I get really tired of hearing it. No axiom is better if you want to fritter your life away.
Essentially, the idea is that if you’re stuck in a less-than-ideal situation, it’s somehow better to stay stuck, because changing the situation might make things worse. Ostrich and mud metaphors aside, apparently comfort and familiarity are more desirable than living.
To play my own devil’s advocate, “the devil you know” might serve as a sensible note of caution against change for the sake of change. But I don’t see why the little gems we all seem happy to live by need to be put into binary terms. The opposite of “the devil you know” isn’t necessarily change without purpose, an obviously foolish thing. Restless is one thing (there can be character-building value in sticking with a “devil” you detest). Fear is another thing entirely. When I hear “the devil you know,” I hear fear. I hear defeat. I hear a negative outlook on life.
“Calculated risk” isn’t much of a risk at all. Comfort is just death warmed up. Making a change when you’re stuck is scary – that’s the whole point. So what if you fail? Do you think you’re going to go through your whole life without making some big mistakes? Would you really even want to?
Embrace your fear, embrace the gray, go grab the new devil by the horns. The one you know? He’s you.
(P.S. Things that are more interesting than the devil you know: wet toast, cardboard, reheated oatmeal).
Short answer: probably a lot longer than you want.
Long answer: I tend to cover a lot of nutrition, food marketing and diet issues, but fitness is also a crucial factor in overall health, so I’m eager to discuss exercise issues in greater detail. Truth is I spend a fair amount of time coaching, speaking and writing in the fitness world, particularly triathlon but weight loss to some extent.
Exercise is a vital component of not just weight loss and weight management, but stress relief, energy, sleep, aging, disease prevention, bone health, and on and on it goes…but it’s easy (and maybe more fun) to exclusively focus on the nutrition and diet issues and forget that we have to move our lazy buns once in a while. Leaving exercise out of the wellness equation is far more destructive to your health than any number of diet “sins” you might commit. Notwithstanding the fact that I believe our standard American diet is largely responsible for most of our health problems and most common causes of death, the importance of exercise cannot be overstated.
We don’t exercise for many reasons.
Eating is not a habit, but a necessity. After all, no one really forgets to eat for very long. And it’s usually rather enjoyable to change food selections and to modify our diets for the better, for we get immediate psychological rewards: control, accomplishment, tangibility. Exercise is also a necessity, but as it’s no longer integral to our daily lives – few people plow an acre of sod nowadays – it feels like a chore. No one likes a chore, and establishing a chore as an ingrained habit is tough. Life’s rewards require elbow grease, and that will never change. If exercise were easy or yielded quick results, I suppose everyone would be doing it. Exercise is certainly worth the effort, and not in spite of the challenge, but because it is a challenge. The long-term health rewards of exercise – outside of the brief blast of endorphins following your workout – are not always initially apparent and certainly not immediate.
If we don’t view exercise as an unpleasant chore, we view it as a means to an end: getting a leaner or sexier body. Those fitness infomercials feature guys with six-packs and Christie Brinkley for a reason – we all want to look like that. But the reality is that even the fittest folks are not necessarily going to end up looking “like that”. You can only maximize what you’ve got. I believe that we have to stop thinking of exercise as a vanity tool and remember that it’s simply a basic necessity of life. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited about using exercise to lose weight if you hope to shed some extra pounds. But we fall off the proverbial treadmill over and over again because we’re getting on it for the wrong reasons in the first place – exercise is about far more than weight loss.
So, how long before you see results?
You really can’t fight your genes. I witnessed one young woman I coach become sleek and toned after seemingly two sessions with weights and a few rounds of yoga – it’s easier when you’re young, of course. Another guy I work with exercises day in, day out, and has for two years now; although he’s fit and lean, he will never look like Bruce Lee no matter how hard he tries. (It’s worth noting that if you start your children on exercise – such as a sport – from an early age, they’ll develop muscles that will stay with them for a lifetime, even if they gain a little weight down the road as we all tend to do.)
There is some justice: the longer you exercise, the easier it will be to make changes to your shape. That said, results are different for everyone. It’s a complex equation of existing muscles, your natural build, metabolism, fat distribution and many other factors. You actually do get an immediate health boost from exercise, but let’s be honest: how many are really after that? Most of us give up on exercise after a few weeks or even a few days because we don’t see the desired physical results. People like the aforementioned young lady are rare; most of us have to put in months before seeing any real improvement.
The point is, if you’re asking that question – how long before I see results – the answer is almost always: much longer than you want. Hang in there; change will happen. We all want to look good, and many of us want or need to lose weight. Those are healthy and admirable goals. But while exercise can and does help with these goals, at the end of the day, we’ve got to realign our thinking and remember that exercise, more than anything, is just a necessity for health, and despite what the marketers would have us feel, that is reason enough.
Please share your thoughts on exercise, your challenges, and your successes, with me in the forum. I’d love to hear your perspective.
More Sisson Said What? posts
Hi everyone! As you know I’m always scanning the web for the latest healthy developments in Web 2.0. Though I’ve retired Aaron’s Additions in favor of Aaron’s Awards (because who doesn’t love a good laugh now and then?), I can’t help but be impressed by the insane popularity of fatblogging. I want to highlight fatblogging because I am such a big fan of positive social trends. Though I rant from time to time, ultimately it’s the positive healthy developments that get me the most excited. I spent all weekend checking out literally hundreds of inspiring, funny, excellent, and, well, not-so-excellent fatblogs. I am including my favorites here because I want to provide a little inspiration to you if you’re feeling compelled to make a change to your waistline or your health (or both!). These people prove that it can be done. The coolest thing about this? You’ve got a whole network of support ready to go! If you want to lose weight, consider joining the fatblogging phenomenon. There’s a whole web of friendliness there for the asking.
Share your favorite weight loss blog with fellow readers, or tell us what you think about the fatblog trend in the forum!
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