Take My Survey, Please!

October 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm 12 comments

It looks as if the drought of 2012 is causing us to zip, double-speed, through the autumn color changes that usually spread out over several weeks.  That has to be a bummer for eager innkeepers peppered along the traditional routes for fall foliage tours.  It’s kind of disappointing for us staycationing types, too, as the leaves turn and then drop in a matter of days. 

During my morning constitutional through the park last Monday, trees lining the walking path arched to form a stunning bronze canopy overhead.  Then on Wednesday, I encountered a single deciduous tree ablaze with red-orange leaves standing tall and proud, like a benign flame, among the stands of evergreens at the park’s entrance.  But by Friday, most of that earlier gloriousness was rattling, dry and crispy, under my feet – piles of hastily shed leaves having fallen as in an avalanche, virtually overnight.

Time to shift gears, I guess.  The drop from 78° and sunny one day to 48°, cloudy, and blustery the next forces me into a  New Work State of Mind.  “New work” as in, no more heading outside to putz in the yard because it’s too nice an afternoon to waste on inside stuff.  

Being a “comfortable in my rut” sort to start with, the chill air and abrupt changes in the landscape help awaken my senses and set my brain to clicking – one of the benefits of season-change.  I’ll try to remember that when the wet snows inundate, and I’m earning my way out of the driveway with 90 minutes’ worth of shoveling.  But for now, I plan to ride the momentum of nature’s gentle kick in the tush, and dive into some new projects and a few experiments: 

This month I resolve not to buy another non-essential grocery item, no matter how good the sale price, until both my side-by-side and chest freezers have been emptied of their frozen treasures.  That should greatly relieve the food budget for these two months leading up to the Christmas season.  Now, if only I had stocked up on gas when it was under $3.00 a gallon. 

I further resolve to keep plugging away at my bucket list of must-read books.  Just finished David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge:  On the Dismantling of American Culture.  This guy is brilliant.  So brilliant that I almost gave up trying to wade through the first two chapters, but was very glad to have forged onward as everything fell beautifully into place in all the succeeding chapters.  I returned my borrowed copy to the library and plan to order a paperback through Amazon, so I can underline to my heart’s content.  This could just be that common sense almanac of modern politics that critical thinkers have been hungering for. 

I also propose to test my assumptions more regularly, since this invariably proves to be enlightening.  A case in point relates to my early morning power walks through the local park.  I love these walks.  I recently moved them from pre-lunch to pre-breakfast when we got stuck on “heat wave” last summer, and it’s a bonus all around.  For one thing, I have met some lovely people, most of them retired gentlemen walking their dogs, who always offer a friendly greeting and a smile.  The gentlemen, that is.  But it’s also a joy to have their furry companions – Penny and Betsy and Ellie, et al. – gallop to meet me and collect their pat on the head.  The presence of both the owners and their pets makes me feel as if I am among friends. 

There is this one middle-aged fellow, however, who gives off a very different vibe.  He stomps along, head down, shouting orders at his cute little pups – one a puggle, the other a schnauzer mix.  “Stop,” he bellows gruffly and arbitrarily, as if this display of control is intended to impress.  And sure enough, those furry little bottoms hit the dirt pronto, on command.  He had never spoken to me as I passed him, as the other walkers do, maybe because he could read the disgust in my expression.  (I used to cuss this guy mightily under my breath – it doesn’t count if you do it inaudibly, right? – and then pray very hard that God would protect the dogs.) 

Then one day I decide to approach those cute little mutts and give them some love.  “Do you allow people to pet them?” I ask rather snippily.  “What?” he bellows.  I repeat the question.  “Oh, sure,” he responds, and the ice is broken.  He begins to expound proudly on the charms of his little “girls,” showing me how adorable they look with the hoods of their sweaters in place, and revealing a softhearted dog-lover I would never have predicted could inhabit that crusty exterior.  This discovery delivered the blessing of relief, the gift of another park friend, and a bit of wisdom I hadn’t possessed the day before.    

And finally, I have decided to step out on a few limbs and develop a project I’ve been mulling over for several months. So here is that survey question I lured you in with: 

Would you have any interest in reading a month’s worth of short daily blogs about making healthful eating choices at fast food restaurants? 

My motivation for this project started germinating when I read, or tried to read, another of the books on my list, Don’t Eat This Book, a spinoff of the Supersize Me “documentary” film by Morgan Spurlock.  Spurlock, in his movie- and book-selling scheme, claimed to accomplish his goal of negative health effects by eating three meals a day at McDonald’s for a month.  This self-fulfilling prophecy of a stunt included accepting every “super-size” offer and two-for-one special available. 

Having heard so much about the popular appeal of Spurlock’s exploits, I expected the book to at least be entertaining and readable, but “sorely disappointed” doesn’t begin to cover my reaction to it.  (Since when did profanity become a substitute for wit?)  Rambling rants, dissembling diatribes, cultural clichés, asinine accusations.  Paragraph after paragraph of verbal flailing and finger-pointing.  If that’s your idea of a good read, then this book is 266 pages of heaven.  If not, I hope I’ve saved you the bother.   

I am responsible for my own wellness.  At least that’s what I’ve always believed.  Seems like a perfect example of a self-evident truth.  But grand-standing clowns like Mr. Spurlock are intent on blaming purveyors of the very items people clamor for – provided at a reasonable price, in a short amount of time – as junk food pimps. 

There also seems to be a sort of media conspiracy to draw the wrong conclusions from raw data.  If that data fails to support pre-conceived notions, a university can simply apply for a taxpayer-funded grant to pay “study” participants $3500.00 to eat nothing but fast food for several months, and then be enrolled in weight-loss programs to undo the contrived “damages.”  Seriously.  This is happening. 

A recent study of Americans between the ages of four and 19 revealed that they ate at least one fast food meal a day.  A lot of busy adults match that frequency.  My goal is to demonstrate how progressive the national chains have been about offering healthful options by eating a representative sampling of one-to-two meals a day at local fast food outlets for four weeks, from January 2 through January 30, 2013.  

I’ve done my research, and plan to emerge from this experiment just as healthy as I am going into it.  I’ll get an official record of my blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol stats at my local clinic on December 29, 2012, and publish them at the start for comparison purposes. 

As a matter of routine, I currently work out a lot and prepare 95 per cent of my meals from scratch at home.  Still, I know a lot of people who either don’t have that inclination or don’t have that luxury.  In my January experiment, I plan to critique, analyze, and provide nutritional break-downs for selected fast food menu items.  I’ll also let you know if I feel well-fueled, and how much I have to supplement with easy-grab fresh fruits, or whatever else may be missing from available offerings. 

Does this kind of campaign make sense to you?  Would a half-page daily diary recording both food choices and light-hearted observations – about my fellow diners and the neon ambiance that comprises the World of Drive-Throughs, for example – be helpful and/or interesting to you?  Is one restaurant meal a day sufficient to illustrate the point?  

Please respond in the comment section below.  Let me have it, from the hip.  I can take it, and I’ll build, or even nix, the plan based on your comments.  Think of the sense of power! 

Meanwhile, I recently stumbled upon a computer file I’d composed back in January, Things to Do in 2012.  I guess I’ll be biding my time waiting for your responses by measuring my progress in “Household To-Dos,” “Personal To-Dos,” and “Ideas for a Weekend Well-Spent.”  Or maybe I could accidentally delete those pesky, outdated guilt-inducers…

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Entry filed under: Advice For Life, Musings of a Midwestern Foodie, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , .

Autumn Awakening Breaking Through the Winter Fog

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Keith  |  October 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I don’t know if it would appeal to me, but probably not. Have never been much of a reader on food, et al and have managed to keep approx. 35# off simply by portion control and not deprivation. Having said that, I do know of many people that would probably be interested so I say go for it!

    Reply
    • 2. kirkhams  |  October 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks. That’s helpful. (Maybe I should do a post based on the good comments I get back!)

      Have a great weekend.

      Reply
    • 3. Trudy Wales  |  October 19, 2012 at 5:05 am

      Since I started really watching what I eat, I ask at restaurants for their chart with calorie information – it is amazing what you learn – for instance at Arby’s the highest calorie item on their menu is the turkey sandwich – over 600 calories and I’d bet most people (like me) would think that was the healthiest choice. I’ve found that sticking with grilled chicken and salad is always the best option and avoid the high calorie dresssings. Anyway, yes I would be interested in reading about food:)! Good food!

      Reply
      • 4. kirkhams  |  October 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm

        Thanks for the feedback, Trudy. That’s us too; we hardly ever eat at fast food places. But I have researched most of the menus and the online nutrition breakdowns, and you make an excellent point that the items one might think were the best choices, nutritionally, may carry a load of hidden empty calories that nobody needs.

        I’ll talk to you on Sunday about setting a date for our interview, okay?

  • 5. Rae Harris  |  October 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Reading about food, or watching someone prepare food doesn’t much interest me. Sorry. But don’t go by me, there are apparently many folks consumed (no pun intended) by their quest for more information.

    Reply
    • 6. kirkhams  |  October 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      That’s helpful to know. And I agree that I may have to expand my audience for this one, by finding a way to reach other nutri-foodie nuts like myself!

      Have a great weekend, Rae.

      Reply
  • 7. Mary Eggert  |  October 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    IF we go out to eat, it is SO rare that we go to a fast food restaurant -so it wouldn’t be as useful to us, as it would be merely interesting. I am sure there would be some very enlightening findings!

    Reply
    • 8. kirkhams  |  October 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks, Mary. I’ll file this in the “yes” column, and you can watch for the final results of the survey to be posted in December. (Ooh; the intrigue of it all. Bet you can hardly contain your excitement!!)

      Have a great weekend.

      Reply
  • 9. Deborah Ude  |  October 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Reading about your experiences under the conditions you lay out would be interesting. I admire anyone who can enter a fast food place and not fall victim to the calorie laden fries and burgers. Nine times out of ten I go for the grease. Even when the boys bring fast food into the house I am compelled to impose my ‘mother tax’ and eat a few fries or take a bite of the burger. My brain already knows what I should choose, my taste buds, however, have the final say. Your observations and chats with patrons, people watching, vicariously, would keep me reading.

    Blessings,
    Deb

    Reply
  • 10. Craig  |  October 19, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I would be interested in reading it on a daily basis. I too have been surprised when I’ve looked at the calorie chart in some of the fast food places & see how many calories are in some items. At Taco Bell I now get one item off their low calorie menu & one off the regular menu. I am more aware now that I should get things grilled & try to do that. Look forward to your writing.
    Craig

    Reply
    • 11. kirkhams  |  October 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks for the helpful input. I’ll put you in the “yes” column. Looks like those are stacking up pretty nicely!

      Reply
  • 12. Chris Lentz  |  November 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Hi Sue Anne,

    Good for you to make this inquiry of your readers. I like your writing style. When the subject line said “take my survey” I was expecting a link to a survey. I read for awhile, and then just went to the comments section to see what the deal was. Maybe some posts could be shorter? I think the fast food commentary is a good idea. Personally I don’t want a daily anything except a devotion in my e-mail. Maybe a twice weekly post would be nice. I like your updated site too. Way to go! I’m just trying to figure this blogging thing out and admire how long you’ve been at it. See you Sunday.

    Chris

    From: Your Recipes For Life Reply-To: Your Recipes For Life Date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 12:58 PM To: Chris Lentz Subject: [New post] Take My Survey, Please!

    WordPress.com kirkhams posted: “It looks as if the drought of 2012 is causing us to zip, double-speed, through the autumn color changes that usually spread out over several weeks. That has to be a bummer for eager innkeepers peppered along the traditional routes for fall foliage tours”

    Reply

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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