This article on The Wall Street Journal will warm anyone’s heart who has seen someone busking for change with a pet, and instantly worried for that dog/cat/bunny’s health. I am one of those animal loving saps, who often finds myself concerned that when someone is having that much trouble providing for themselves, their animal friend might not get the food and veterinary care it needs. Am I concerned for the person’s health and well-being? Yes, a thousand times over. But do I still worry about their pet’s needs? What dog lover couldn’t?
Now there is a nonprofit that will ease your fears called Pet Food Stamps whose mission is to eradicate the gap for people who subsist on food stamps that prevent the purchase of pet food and supplies. The organization was founded by Marc Okon, is privately funded, and allows anyone receiving government aide to submit an application to receive free pet food. The goal is to prevent pet owners who have fallen on hard times from one of three equally difficult options: feeding a pet before themselves, not being able to feed a pet, and having to give up an animal to a shelter (where it could potentially be euthanized) because of food costs. The organization is currently swamped with applications, but is accepting donations for anyone who wants to help.
Well hello! I have had a busy few weeks, seeing the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, learning the flying trapeze, watching a performance of Fleetwood Mac, doing a run for elephants in the Bronx Zoo, watching Scandal from the start of the series, and feeling quite fancy drinking expensive cocktails at the Top of the Standard. Here are some of the articles I’ve read in between.
If you’ve ever been a server, this article
will probably crack you up.
What have you read lately?
I went through a phase when I was really into energy drinks. Like, I had a complex rating system just in case the convenience store was out of my favorite. I would always go for Diet Rockstar because it tasted delicious, then the Mountain Dew Amp because I figured if the soda had a lot of caffeine, the energy drink must be a mega dose. After those two, I would drink pretty much whatever was in stock (except the Sobe energy drinks-those are gross). I was working full time during my summer off from college, and still maintaining a social schedule like I had all day free. There was more than one party that I feel asleep on the couch in the middle of a room full of people. Then one day I picked up a guy friend of mine, and he commented about the creatine in my energy beverage, noting that people on his football team took that to get big, and that’s when I realized maybe I should cut back on the caffeine and factor back in a few hours of sleep instead. Looking back, I laugh about how obviously unhealthy my choices were.
Yet energy drinks remain popular, even in the face of lawsuits alleging they cause serious cardiovascular problems, and even death (we all remember how popular Four LOKO was, no?). I mean, a simple scan of the nutrition label will reveal sugar counts that are through the roof. And now The Scoop reports that they may be even worse than you thought. The beverages may contain ingredients not listed on the label, and not approved by the FDA. They may have compounds known to clog arteries, or linked to cardiovascular problems. And their claims are typically exaggerated or false. So next time you’re looking for a quick pick me up, think twice about the can claiming to improve your focus or stimulate your metabolism, and maybe just reach for a coffee instead (especially since it may even make you live longer).
Do you drink energy drinks?
When I was on vacation in Costa Rica, we saw a sloth from a distance in the rainforest, in a tree, with binoculars. And it was one of highlights of my trip. I love how slow t hey are, how adorable, and though I wouldn’t freak out quite as much as Kristen Bell, I would be pretty excited to meet one. If you’re a sloth lover like me, check out Slothville for a solid couple hours of video watching, funny meme, and cute picture gazing. You can even buy the book if you’re really hooked.
When I was growing up, I owned a Kirsten doll and her accompanying stories about the trials the Swedish immigrant girl faced living on a farm after many of her friends died during the voyage to America. She made me actually care about tensions between Native Americans and settlers through her friendship with Singing Bird (a feat I can’t say that history class ever accomplished). My sister owned a Samantha doll, and we both read the series for most of the American Girls that addressed issues was wide ranging as living in the American Revolution (Felicity), and learning through her friends about poverty and class struggle while living in an affluent childhood (Samantha). While the dolls and all of their matching outfits were a fun complement to the novels, the books were the real stars, taking me through different historical periods, and embedding life lessons into the back stories that went along with my toys. Sadly, American Girl has decided to “archive” the classic dolls in favor of a new line.
Anndddd the new line comes with new story lines. The fresh “Girl of the Year,” and “My American Girl” dolls are designed to be more relatable to modern children. They are modeled after their images and the characters, living in present day, face challenges like not making the gymnastics team rather than navigating the complex social landscape of cross-class friendships during the industrial period. Additionally, the brand has cut back from the previous 6 books for each character to a measly 2, suggesting that these American girls? Well, they just don’t read as much. While it’s always sad to see a classic toy from your childhood retired, I’m not the only one who was saddened by the changes in the brand. Check out the opinions on The Daily Beast, NY Mag The Cut, and The Atlantic.
What do you think about the changes America Girl is making?
If you’re looking for an fast, simple way to make your diet a little healthier, Self’s Andrea Bartz recommends 4. When you’re shopping for pre-made or packaged foods, make sure that they don’t contain the following:
- Sodium or Potassium Benzoate: These preservatives often turn up in baked goods, and they may break down into a carcinogen.
- Potassium Bromate: This compound can be added to flour to make it rise higher, and is often used up in the baking process, however, its been banned in Europe and Canada for potentially carcinogenic properties.
- Phosphate: It turns up in soda, packaged baked goods, frozen food, and condiments. When you consume it in high amounts, it can knock pH off balance and leech calcium from your bones.
- Partially Hydrogenated Oil: These are also known as trans fats, a compound not found in nature. When they are added to some spreads, cheeses or junk foods, they can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease by blocking circulation.
See how easy that was?
Some choices are easy, and not wrought with self-doubt, pro’s and con’s lists, and endless waffling back and forth. I’m thinking of the decisions in life like, “Do I marry Ryan Gosling or Leonardo DiCaprio?” (a win-win obviously), or “Do I avoid the middle airplane seat?” (you know that’s a guaranteed lose). Some situations are easy because both options are wonderful, or there is a clear cut definition where one is much much worse. It’s those decisions where both are OK, or there are too many variations on the outcome that leave most of us spinning. Think about how difficult it can be to pick out an outfit when you are confronted with a hundred tops, lots of bottoms, and nearly infinite combinations of the two. But new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research (and blogged about by Women’s Health The Scoop) found that even when making the decision may be hard, there are simple tricks people can use to feel satisfied with the choice they have made.
The short answer is to give the decision a physical act of closure. If you’re between two items on the menu, shut if after you have picked. If you selected a dress from your clset, close the door. If you’ve decided you don’t need to eat any more chips, zip up the bag and put it in the cabinet. After struggling with an email, and sending it-close your laptop. Scientists think that this triggers your mind to believe that the item is final, checked off of your to-do list, and now it’s time to move on. Then it shifts its focus to the item you picked, rather than all of the other options you’ve recently given up by making that choice. (Which sounds a lot like how your mind creates synthetic happiness to me!)
How do you stick with your decisions, after they’re made?
It just might make you live longer. A study I read about on The Huffington Post found that women who drank 6 or more cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of dying young by 15% when compared to people who abstained completely from the glorious beverage. The benefit goes up the more coffee you drink. Scientists credit the caffeine and antioxidants as having a protective effect on health similar to small doses of aspirin. Your morning cup of joe can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, respiratory illness, diabetes, and infections. So stop feeling guilty about that mid-afternoon Starbucks run (as long as you’re not buying sugary frappacinos and pastries), after all, it’s good for your health!
So you need a gift for the animal lover who has everything. Check out Zoo Portraits! It’s an entire website by Yago Partal dedicated to selling cards, framed prints, canvases or posters of your favorite zoo animal all dressed up like a human. Hilarious (and adorable)! My favorite is the Lemur sticking his tongue out. You?