Monday, June 28, 2010

Normalized energy flows

Some of you readers leave insightful comments. I'd maintain Just Enough Craig even without readers (because I write for me), but those occasional comments of yours fill my sails and make blogging a more rewarding experience.

In my previous post, I wrote that there doesn't exist a word in the English language for obviously connoting (or denoting) the opposite meaning of a conspiracy but offered “opportunity” as a possible best-fit. My greater point in that piece was that push-up understandings of causal relationships within complex systems are generally easier to grasp than push-down ones, and naturally the conspiracy more easier supplants nuanced world views that entail greater systems pushing their influence onto the very components they comprise.

After my piece, reader Filc suggested another antonym for “conspiracy”: “evolution”. Whereas, “opportunity” connotes parts profiting from the emergent behavior of the whole, “evolution” connotes an unplanned series of changes in the parts based on selective pressures of the whole—definitely some push-down causality going on in both cases. “Evolution” a good fit, not just for its standalone semantics, but because the very “intriguing idea to quantify complexity” I said I wished to write about in a future post originates from Eric Chaisson, a scientist in the field of cosmic evolution.

In the freely available paper The Rise of Complexity in Nature, Chaisson describes his idea of a normalized energy flow as a scalar metric for complexity. Before hitting on the complexity part of this, let's spend a little time with the idea of a normalized energy flow.

Simply put, a normalized energy flow is the amount of energy that flows through a system after dividing that energy-flow amount by the mass of that system. Dividing by the mass of the system allows us to compare big systems, such as stars, with small systems, such as bacteria. (Because otherwise big systems' sheer size would allow even the lowest density of energy flows to outweigh even the highest-density energy flows of small systems.) So, for example, our sun puts out a great deal of energy (high energy flow) but is itself really massive; as a result, the sun's normalized energy flow turns out to be rather low: about 2 erg/s/g. (To understand how low this is, consider that an erg is an amount of energy equivalent to one ten-millionth of a joule, and a joule itself is about as much energy as is used by an energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulb during one blink of the eye. (In other words, it takes on the order of 100,000 kg of sun, fusion-powered though it is, to generate enough power to run one energy-saving light bulb.) Thus, our sun is outputting a rather paltry sum of energy after taking into account how big it is. As for our microscopic bacterium, its normalized energy flow is about two orders of magnitude higher than the sun's (~103 erg/s/g). Humans are yet another order of magnitude higher (~104 erg/s/g). If nothing else, the concept of a normalized energy flow is interesting because it means we humans, powered on burritos and peanut butter sandwiches, have way more energy flowing through us than equal-massed portions of stars, fusion-powered though they are.

Chaisson's point with the idea of normalized energy flow is that it serves to rank rather reliably systems in terms of complexity. Our sun is big and hot, but it isn't terribly complex; it's mainly just a lot of hydrogen fusing into helium. Even the simplest of microorganisms are obviously more complex—more intricate—than stars, and we observe an obvious increase in normalized energy flow to match. Up the scale you go: bacteria, plants, animals, brains. By this measurement, the most complex self-supporting system that we know of—anywhere in the universe—is that of industrialized human society with its nearly $10^{6}$ erg/s/g normalized energy flow. (But then again, perhaps we should seek clarification of the term “self-supporting”!)

At the bottom of the last page of the Chaisson paper I linked to above, there's a logarithmic graph showing normalized energy flows of various systems versus when those systems emerged within the universe. It's an interesting graph, if for no other reason than you don't often see a exponential curve on a logarithmic graph. The graph shows what appears to be an inexorable march by nature to ever greater normalized energy flows and thus ever greater complexity. It's complexity emerging from &ellips; what, exactly? This is not clear. Chaisson is suggesting that the driver behind this upwards march is ever greater normalized energy flows and further suggests that the energy flows themselves are “engendered largely by the expanding cosmos”. Thermodynamically, nature's march towards greater complexity is explained as ever smaller pockets of increasing order created at the expense of ever bigger pockets of increasing disorder elsewhere.

This evolutionary view of the universe with energy flow as a driver for greater complexity is a topic I'd like to write about in a future post.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pushing

There exists an entity that I call “I” and others call “Craig”. Within this entity called Craig, there exist individual, constituent parts—systems and organs with names like “cardiovascular system” and “stomach”. Craig, then, is said to be made up wholly of these systems and organs and all of these systems and organs together make up Craig.

The question I propose is: which exerts more influence and control on the other? Is it the individual systems and organs over the whole or the whole over the individual systems and organs? Hopefully it's clear to you that both are exerting at least some influence and control on the other. For example, on the one hand, my stomach may have a bad reaction to my previous meal and begin sending pain signals to the rest of me with the effect that I curl up into a ball on the floor for the remainder of the day. On the other hand, I can will myself up a steep hill on my bicycle as fast as I can with the effect that my cardiovascular system will greatly increase its productivity. It's a two-way street with the bigger affecting the smaller and the smaller affecting the bigger. But which way is most of the traffic flowing?

In I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter, quoting Roger Sperry, asks this question of “who pushes whom” of the human mind and brain. The mind, the topmost level of abstraction where consciousness lies, pushes around the various, layered physiological substrates all the way down to the neurons. But it is those same neurons and other brain structures that create the mind. Who's pushing whom?

The phenomenon of a higher-complexity structure pushing around a constituent, lower-complexity structure is pushing down. A lower-complexity structure pushing around its containing, higher-complexity structure is pushing up. I find this an intriguing question to ask of complex systems in general: how much of the control is pushed down and how much is pushed up?.

My earliest memory of meeting some form of this question head on comes from high school world history class and preparing for its final exam. A week or so before the exam, we students were given a list of many possible essay questions, from which a few essay questions would be selected for the final. (So, as Yogi Berra might say, we knew what was on the test without knowing what was on the test.) Being a world history class that breezed through a few thousand years of human history over the course of the school year, there were many of these potential questions, yet one in particular interested me greatly: “Does man make the times or do the times make the man?” We were supposed to answer the question with examples from history. And, no, that did not end up being one of the questions on the test. Good thing too, because it's now about seventeen years later, and I continue to spend a lot of time thinking of new ways to approach this question.

Though, to be frank, ever since those teenage years my position is that the times make the man. I'm a natural push-down kinda guy. I suppose a lot of my philosophic education since then, both formal and self-taught, could be said to be an exercise in confirmation bias for this idea.

Many people see it the other way. They are as hopelessly push-up as I am push-down. These are people who are likely to subscribe to conspiracy theories and paradigms that squarely place individuals in control of humanity. They believe that the man makes the times and that nearly any social effect we observe in the world must necessarily be the result of an orchestrated effort undertaken by one or a few individuals. Ironically, it's the push-up thinkers who are most apt to believe in top-down power structures where most effects have planned causes and little is left to chance. Inversely, I'm apt to discredit most top-down power structures as being largely illusory in that attempts at wielding power in directions against the “will” of the system are about as productive as spitting into the wind.

My experience as a push-down kinda guy has made me realize an important meta thing about push-down versus push-up: push-down people and push-up people speak different languages when discussing philosophical matters. You can't convince a push-up, conspiracy-believing individual that conspiracies exist in no greater frequency than would be expected by a statistically random distribution of the emergent behavior of the system. It's not only because the conspiracy-believing individual will think that you too have been suckered into the conspiracy's web of control. Rather, a person who is apt to believe in conspiracies cannot imagine a world in which it is the world that is bossing us individuals around rather than the other way around. There isn't even a good word—in the English language, at least—that connotes the opposite of a conspiracy. The closest word I think of is opportunity. That is, the system emerges behaviors and properties unpredictable according to its constituent parts alone; some constituent parts quickly adapt to take advantage of these behaviors and properties. They are opportunists. I believe that opportunists greatly outnumber and outweigh conspirators.

Back to this entity I call “I” and you call “Craig”. Who's pushing whom, here? This is a systems question. It's a question of complexity, and this is to say that we don't yet have a science for answering it. But some people are trying to formulate one. Some of them are push-uppers, and some of them are push-downers. My guess is that the push-downers will have the best say in the matter and that mathematical models of the parts will ultimately tell us less about the whole than mathematical models of the whole will tell us about the parts. In a future post, I'd like to describe what I've so far discovered to be the most intriguing idea to quantify complexity.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heartbeat sweet spot

The lifespans of cars are often measured in years and miles. The lifespans of humans are measured in years alone. Might there exist a miles-equivalent for humans? One such contender is number of heartbeats.

Contrast the cases of (1) a sedentary person who doesn't exercise, (2) a fit person who exercises quite a bit, and (3) an elite athlete who exercises because it's his full-time job to do so. As a lazy blogger (and a philosophical one to boot), I'm going to make up some numbers to illustrate a point. This is way easier than actual research.

Let's say the sedentary person has a resting heart rate of 70 bpm. With 1,440 minutes in a day, this heart rate equates to 100,800 heartbeats in a 24-hour period. (1440 min ⋅ 70 bpm = 100,800 heartbeats.) Because the person is sedentary, we (generously) assume that the heart rate remains resting all throughout the day, though I suspect that climbing a flight of stairs would register quite a blip in the ol' heart rate monitor for this guy. But let's keep things simple.

What about the fit person? Let's assume he has a resting heart rate of 50 bpm but spends two hours each day exercising with an average, much elevated heart rate of 140 bpm. You may notice that the difference between 140 bpm and 70 bpm is bigger than the difference between 70 bpm and 50 bpm but that 22 hours is bigger than 2 hours. So does the fit person's heart beat more or fewer times than the sedentary person?
((22 hr ⋅ 60 min/hr} ⋅ 50 bpm) + ((2 hr ⋅ 60 min/hr) ⋅ 140 bpm) = 82,800 heartbeats
It turns out that the 22 hours of a lowered resting heart rate greatly outweighs the 2 hours of an elevated, stressed heart rate, and our fit person is racking up “miles” at nearly a 20% slower rate than our sedentary person. Good for him.

Finally, what about our elite, ├╝ber athlete? Let's assume this elite individual has a resting heart rate of 40 bpm and spends an average of 6 hours a day at an average heart rate of 160 bpm. How many total heartbeats does this person accumulate in one day?
((18 hr ⋅ 60 min/hr) ⋅ 40 bpm) + ((6 hr ⋅ 60 min/hr}) ⋅ 160 bpm) = 100,800 heartbeats

The first thing you may realize is that our elite athlete's heart beats the same number of times as our sedentary person's heart and that the numbers I'm making up are probably not entirely random. That's what happens when bloggers make points. However, I think these numbers are probably somewhat close to the truth.

It seems common sense that too much exercise can burn a person out, like how a brightly burning candle burns quicker, and that perhaps part of the root of the issue lies with failing to minimize one's heartbeats. I used this concept as an excuse to make the following chart to illustrate visually how I imagine a sort of sweet spot in terms of how much exercise a person should undertake.
You will notice that there are no numbers and no units anywhere on the graph. The exact numbers and units, after all, constitute the big question, a question which probably varies from person to person. However, I'm going to stick with my previous assertion that an average of 1½ hours per day—about 10 hours per week—serves as a good heuristic.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Philosophy of Training

Each person has what works for them. In this post, I describe some of my philosophy towards training by using the last six months as an example. My philosophy works well for me, and while I think aspects of it would work well for others, this post certainly constitutes no universal truth about exercise.

Let's begin with the training schedule I ended up with for a typical week by mid-spring this year.


MorningEvening
Mon
  • core workout (20 min)
  • swim (30 in)
  • [run (20 min)]
Tue
  • HOP ride—group (2 hr)
  • [spin class (1 hr)]
Wed
  • core workout (20 min)
  • swim (30 min)
  • [run (20 min)]
Thu
  • HOP ride—TT (2 hr)
  • [run (30–60 in)]
Fri
  • [FMR ride (90 min)]
  • core orkout (20 min
  • swim (30 min)
  • [run (20 min)]
Sat
  • long/group ride (4–6 hrs)
  • run (30–60 in)
    Sun
    • [spin class (1 r)]
    • [hiking (2–3 hr)]

    Though, I never had one week that went according to this schedule. I'm the type who does better without a set training regimen. Some people prefer the opposite, where they know in advance exactly what and how much they'll be doing each week; those people do better with structure. I prefer to listen to my body and to make it up as I go. However, like most everyone else, I don't train within a vacuum; I have “real life” constraints to deal with, and so certain scheduling patterns emerge in even the most structure-less of plans. For example, I find that it's generally easier to train before work when I'm focused and enthusiastic than after work when I'm more inclined to work on, say, composing a blog post.

    So we begin with the end. The above schedule marks what I was doing by the time I had gotten myself into good enough shape to be able to train. This itself is an important point: a major intermediate goal of any good training program is to be able to increase the intensity of the training program itself. In this schedule, each day is split into two columns—“morning” and “evening”—which for Monday–Friday clearly distinguishes between workouts done before work and those done after work. The items in brackets ([]) denote workouts that I considered optional or non-essential; I sometimes or frequently didn't do them. The ones not in brackets I considered essential and did most weeks. Doing only the non-bracket workouts would entail 11–13½ hours per week—almost 2 hours per day; doing all workouts would entail 18–22 hours per week—almost 3 hours per day. Keep in mind that I spend an additional hour per day commuting by bicycle as well as walking errands in my car-free lifestyle. This is a lot of exercise—honestly, an unsustainable amount of it. Allow me now to describe a little bit about how I evolved into carrying all this out.

    December 2009 – mid-January 2010

    This is the first winter I went into with realistic expectations about my fitness. The shorter days, colder temperatures, and holiday atmosphere all conspire to limit my emotional tolerance for training, and so this year I cut back intentionally with the goals of (1) maintaining a good core level of fitness and (2) building enthusiasm for a strong spring.

    During this time, I cut out all bicycling except for my year-round utility riding (e.g., commuting to work) and one long ride on the weekends. Because I was only doing one ride, I made that ride a long one—120–180km, 4–7 hours—though of only medium-level intensity, with the goal of “teaching” my body to be comfortable with staying active for long periods of time and not to rely upon sugar alone for fuel. Some people talk about heart rate zones for burning fat and such. There's not really much secret to it; I find that if I want to condition my body to burn fat for fuel, heart rate alone won't get me there; I must train to stay active for half a day or more. And by “active” I mean going uncomfortably fast, not dawdling. (Some of you may wonder why someone with my thin build would worry about burning fat; it's for conditioning my body to use every fuel available to it.)

    By not doing my usual morning rides during the week, I was free to run to the gym (1½ miles each way) and do about half an hour of swimming before work. At the time, I was still very much in the beginner phases of learning the front crawl, and my swim workouts mainly entailed swimming laps at a slow speed doing a full catch and focusing on relaxing in the water and becoming smoother and more efficient. These workouts were important for laying a solid foundation for the spring. Giving up most cycling for six weeks or so was a decision that in hindsight now seems brilliant.

    On Wednesday nights I played indoor soccer, which constituted good wintertime cross-training.

    late-January – February

    After the mood of the holiday season dissipated and Wednesday-night soccer ended, I began doing the Tuesday-Thursday morning HOP ride. “Hour of power” is a bit of a misnomer for the ride during winter; Mike, one of the few year-rounders of the ride, calls it the “hour of cold and dark”. The previous six weeks of building up enthusiasm came in handy here; this ride this time of year entails waking up at 4:30AM, donning lots of cold weather clothing, and strapping a good headlight to my helmet. Not many guys show up to do a two-hour morning bicycle ride that ends well before sunrise, and so the pace was not so fast. After a week or two of getting comfortable again in a group, I began focusing on taking multiple, steady pulls at the front at about 40-45kph for a few minutes each. In this way, I treated the ride as an intensity workout, varying between high intensity for a few minutes and recovering for a few minutes, with the goal of increasing my aerobic output. Each week I came back feeling stronger and faster.

    Cycling in the morning pushed my swimming sessions into the evenings after work. Sometime in February, I think, I began bricking long runs after my Saturday morning ride, which continued to be long, mainly solo efforts. Also, I made some efforts to run during Thursdays evenings. However, not once this year did I establish consistent training for the run except for those Saturday morning bricks. I run mostly on natural talent and bicycle fitness, which is probably why I've performed inconsistently in races.

    March

    By March I was feeling like I was on my way to my all-time best level of fitness. I was strong in the Tuesday-Thursday ride, and my swim was coming together. Lady Luck had different plans: I came down with several cold viruses over the course of a few weeks, one of which left me racked with bronchitis. Bronchitis makes endurance training difficult, and I therefore was set back and lost the opportunity to do the Bartlett Lake triathlon, which is my kind of triathlon because the bike course is all climbing—no flat road at all for 40km. Instead, I spent several weeks coughing up phlegm and continuing to work on my swimming.

    March highlights an important maxim in training: you can try your hardest but you can't guarantee results.

    April – early June

    By April I had recovered from bronchitis and was back into my full schedule. The morning rides were predictably gaining in both sunlight and popularity and thus were speeding up. It was jarring to get back up to the increased speed after a few weeks of illness and taking it easy.

    For Saturday mornings, I switched from long solo rides to shorter, faster group rides. The idea here is that the previous months' long rides had improved my metabolism and that with a few races coming up, now was the time to go for speed and speed alone. I concentrating at staying in the front of a group as much as possible and pushing hard on climbs. One doesn't get faster by working out at the same speed one has gone in the past.

    By May my three-times-a-week swimming schedule had me feeling rundown. Not physically rundown. Emotionally rundown. I was spending an average of about 15 hours per week training (plus that additional hour per day of casual exercise), and I was finding it difficult to work a full-time job, spend time with Laura, blog twice weekly, and continue training. My life was revolving around little else than these four activities, and so I made another switch and began taking an hour lunch break at work to do my swimming at the gym nearby my office. In deciding the priorities of “real life” and training, real life should win out, but sometimes a creative solution will allow for both.

    Lastly, I must mention Friday Morning Ride. This is a great ride that makes me appreciate that I live where I live within Phoenix. Though the ride begins and ends in Tempe, the part I do is the five climbs on the south side of Camelback Mountain. The group treats each climb as a separate stage, and with the right, competitive attitude a cyclist can really bust a gut on those steep roads. I show up early and ride the five climbs solo before doing them again with the group. It makes for a 20-mile ride with about 2000ft of intensity-interval climbing (and over half of those 20 miles are flat!).

    Final thoughts

    The main point of this post is to make training sound like a lot of planning and hard work because it is. There's little way around that (1) you have to know what you're doing and (2) you have to work hard to realize improvement. Even then you need (3) luck, like avoiding injury and illness.

    I think it's important to note that hard training is probably not the way to better health. I think that with health as the only consideration, about ten hours per week 1½ hours per day) of moderate exercise (like hiking) with a dash a intense exercise (like sprinting) is optimal. Beyond that and a person is better off focusing on flossing daily and attuning his or her sleeping schedule to the natural rhythms of the day than by adding more exercise. More exercise will make you faster, but I think that speed past a modest level of fitness will yield marginal returns in terms of health benefits. A training schedule like mine is largely luxury and vanity.

    And fun.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    First loser

    This previous weekend I participated in my second triathlon of the year, the 5th Annual Payson Sprint Triathlon. The men's results can be found here. If you follow the link you will observe that I lost the event but managed to beat all other losers. I feel good about that result and my personal performance, though I think I may have been a little too relaxed during the run and could have squeezed a little more time by going for broke. I ran a faster per-mile pace in the Tempe Olympic-distance a month ago, and the Payson race was half the distance. But I safely blame my slower run in Payson on the higher elevation and the empty course and subsequent lack of external motivation—chase bunnies—which I've grown accustomed to having in order to bust a gut.

    The Payson race was my last triathlon of the “season”, meaning that I have nothing lined up this side of bicycle prison. I'm now trying to figure out what to do. I have thoughts of shifting to a heavier bicycle-oriented training schedule—despite the heat—and doing the Mount Graham hill climb and trying to vindicate myself in the Skull Valley Road Race. I have other thoughts of taking an “off season” of sorts and focusing on my swimming. Focusing on swimming is both practical because it's my weakness and refreshing because summer in Phoenix is hot. But swimming is, well, just not as appealing as riding a bicycle.

    While I'm trying to figure out what training to do in the future, I'd like to take a few posts to describe the training I did so far this year. Whatever I end up doing during the rest of the year, the first half entailed what I rate as the best continuous bit of training I've carried out in my life, and I feel that I've continued to learn useful information about how exercise works and is suppose to work. I'd like to share that wisdom. However, I'm out of time for meeting my Monday publication deadline, so we'll have to wait until Thursday to begin my Philosophy of Training.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Bicycle fuel economy

    Nearly two years ago when the price of gasoline spiked, I wrote this blog entry comparing my fuel cost of operating a bicycle versus that of operating a car. The point of that blog entry was to demonstrate that bicycling is not the zero-cost cornucopia that many would believe it is, and I quantified it by explaining my estimate that I was saving only about $1 per day on fuel costs despite gasoline being four times that amount for only one gallon.

    On the way to that $1-per-day conclusion, I started with an assumption of traveling 126 miles per week and derived burning an additional 3614 kcal of food energy to do it.

    Here's another way of looking at it. The rule-of-thumb number I come up with in my Google research is that for each 1 kcal of food energy we Americans ingest, an average of 10 kcal of input energy are used within the agricultural, transportation, and food processing industries to grow that food and bring it to our pantry wrapped in its cheery, colorful packaging. So those 3614 kcal of food energy I burn through to bicycle 126 miles themselves require 36,140 kcal of input energy, and we all know by now that the fuel for that input energy is nearly exclusively fossil fuel. But how much is 36,140 kcal of fossil fuel?

    One answer is that it's about 1.2 gallons of gasoline. (A gallon of gasoline contains about 31,000 kcal of energy.) In truth, there's probably not much actual gasoline that goes into the production of the food I eat; rather, it's instead fueled by diesel for farm machinery and trucking and coal and natural gas for electrical generation. But let's suppose for simplicity that any one kcal is the same as any other kcal. In that case, what's my fuel economy on the bicycle?

    Answer: about 100 miles per gallon (126 miles / 1.2 gallons).

    A fuel economy of 100 mpg is still way better than every mass-produced vehicle we have on the road today, but I suspect the figure is way lower than most people suspect. And hopefully the figure sheds some light on just how deep our energy vulnerability is in this country.

    To end on a hopeful note, let's keep in mind that I could buy some land, start a garden, and grow organic sweet potatoes and other calorie-rich foods and greatly reduce my personal 10 kcal input-energy figure by simplifying my food-supply chain. Also, it's worth pointing out that the bicycle has a great advantage over most other vehicles on American roads in that its fuel economy is not “hardwired” into the machine. It is thusly that I think that the bicycle does have a role to play in grassroots, self-adopted protections from our nation's energy vulnerability—even if it's not a cornucopia.

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Hot dogs and salads

    Imagine everyday you have two options for lunch: a hot dog or a salad. On the one hand, Mike's Hot Dog Stand. (In that hand) you have a calorie-dense frank wrapped in a warm, savory bun and topped with your favorite zestful condiments, and while you're pretty darn sure that you'd be better off health-wise eating just about anything other than this here hot dog, it's so cheap, easy, and tasty that it's plain hard for a mere mortal to resist.

    On the other hand: Hippie Dave's Salad Stand. (In that other hand) you have a crispy, green salad. You know it's more healthful for you, but even after adding a goodly dollop of your favorite, healthful organic salad dressing, the salad still falls a bit short of filling you up completely, and furthermore, it costs twice as much as one of those oh-so-convenient hot dogs. We don't know exactly why this is, but we're not too shocked by the idea that it costs more to fill a bowl with a medley of fresh fruits and vegetables than it is to create a meets-minimum-standards sausage of emulsified meat slurry.

    Such is life. So everyday for lunch you decide which to eat and try to balance the cost- and calorie-benefits of the hot dog to the healthfulness of the salad. Most days you opt for the hot dog because, well, it sucks to be hungry hours before dinner and it's good to save a buck.

    But you're told not to worry. They say that soon your dilemma will be resolved, for (or so you're told) the price of hot dogs is bound to increase sooner or later. This is because the nasty, stinky feedlots producing the emulsified meat slurry that makes up those hot dogs are unsustainable and therefore there simply won't be as many hot dogs in the future as there are now. Economics being the simple thing it is, the supply of hot dogs will decrease and, amidst steady demand, lead to that promised price increase. How does this help? Simple! If the price of hot dogs were to double then there would be no price incentive to choose a hot dog over a salad, and if the price were to quadruple then there would be no price incentive to choose a hot dog over two salads! And even two salads are probably enough to keep you sated until dinner. Even better: Hippie Dave doesn't sell a lot of salads with things currently as they are, so with more competitive pricing we should expect a economy-of-scale benefit by way of decreased salad prices. Hurray progress!

    “Wait a minute” you say as you think this over. “This means that my lunch is going to cost more in the future than it does now. This is no good!”

    “Well, sure lunch will cost more. But these salads are sustainable and healthful. Both you and the environment will be better off, and surely paying a little more for lunch is a small price to ask of such an enlightened (and rather attractive) citizen of the world.”

    “Ah, I see your point. Yes, I think I can ever so nobly pay a little more if it means making the world and my waistline better and smaller places, respectively.”

    But what they are not telling you is something you might want to begin asking yourself: what does Hippie Dave himself eat?

    Hippie Dave, despite his high-falutin' earth-friendly ways, knows in his heart of hearts, that it's a hard for a man to live by salad alone, even if he is a hippie. And so, every day, while no one is looking, Hippie Dave sneaks over to Mike's Hot Dog Stand and purchases for himself a mouth-watering, calorie-dense sausage of that juicy emulsified meat slurry that's sure to take the edge off of his lettuce-laden hunger.

    And so, what they are failing to mention to you, is that when the price of hot dogs inevitably begins to increase, Hippie Dave must raise the price of his salads to make up for his increased cost of “doing business.” Sure, the price increase of a salad will be less than the price increase of a hot dog, but by how much less? Maybe not much less. How many hot dogs has Hippie Dave been sneakily buying? How dependent upon hot dogs is the creation of that salad?

    Though it will be attractive to believe them when they say it, don't be fooled when someone says that a such-and-such price increase in a non-renewable resource will make attractive the act of making the world a better place. Be prepared to do your own research and find out where Hippie Dave buys his lunch. You may not like the answer, but I assert that it's better to find it out for yourself.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Banana bread recipe recipe

    Ingredients:
    • 1½ cup flour
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 pinches of cinnamon
    • 2-4 ripe bananas
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/3 cup melted butter
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 sheet of paper
    • 1 pen, any color ink
    Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Mash bananas into a smooth paste.
    3. Combine banana paste, melted butter, beaten egg, and vanilla into bowl and mix.
    4. Add flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 pinch of cinnamon into bowl and mix to form batter.
    5. Grease bread pan.
    6. Pour batter into bread pan.
    7. Sprinkle an additional pinch of cinnamon on top of batter in bread pan.
    8. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until done.
    9. Use pen and sheet of paper to write the following body of text twice in succession with the second copy of the body of text indented from the first:
    Banana bread recipe recipe

    Ingredients:

    • 1½ cup flour
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 pinches of cinnamon
    • 2-4 ripe bananas
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/3 cup melted butter
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 sheet of paper
    • 1 pen, any color ink
    Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Mash bananas into a smooth paste.
    3. Combine banana paste, melted butter, beaten egg, and vanilla into bowl and mix.
    4. Add flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 pinch of cinnamon into bowl and mix to form batter.
    5. Grease bread pan.
    6. Pour batter into bread pan.
    7. Sprinkle an additional pinch of cinnamon on top of batter in bread pan.
    8. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until done.
    9. Use pen and sheet of paper to write the following body of text twice in succession with the second copy of the body of text indented from the first: