When I am out and about in a neighborhood of NYC that I don’t know that well and I get hungry or want a drink, my first instinct is to whip out my phone and enter what I’m looking for into Yelp. Or, if I’m planning dinner or a night out, I’ll turn to the reviews for a sense of what the ambiance is like, and how the food is (if I can’t get in touch with one of my foodie friends). So today is a sad day that exposes around 16% of yelp reviews as fraudulent. I knew that certain retailers (my hair salon included) will offer incentives or service credits if you write a positive review, but I had no idea the number was so high. Yelp tries to screen out the most extreme reviews by filtering them, to conceal potentially fake raves that are just too-positive, or overtly negative reviews that might be planted by a business’s competitors, but fake reviews are sure to slip through the cracks. It’s just a reminder to take what you read online with a grain of salt.
In these days of having to pay extra to check a bag (remember when that was included?), there are so many inconveniences to carrying on. I can’t bring my favorite perfume because there is no container small enough. I have to dump out my reusable water bottle and risk using the sketchy water fountains in the airport, or spend $20 on an overpriced, environmentally un-friendly bottle to stay hydrated. You have to bring about 20 travel size lotions to really be able to keep properly moisturized for more than a day’s trip. And, I recently had an artisanal fig and cinnamon jam confiscated by security because they probably thought it looked delicious, and apparently pastes/gels fall under that pesky 3oz restriction. But maybe not for long!
There is a new machine in the works that would end the ban on gels, aerosols and liquids in carry-ons. It would be able to identify and catalog the type of liquid, aerosol or gel to separate out what’s safe (e.g., baby food), and what’s potentially deadly (e.g., homemade bomb), by using ultrasound and radio pulses to determine the material’s chemical properties and compare them to database of items deemed harmful. I, for one, and VERY excited.
I’m not sure when posting pictures of your food became such a thing. I think it has something to do with a combination of things – the popularity of food/recipe blogging, the rise of being a foodie as a hobby, and the fact that most people carry a camera phone linked to instagram in their pocket. I happen to be lucky enough to live in a city where the food is amazing. I can eat Thai, Russian, French or American in any given week, and frequent places that specialize in making one thing awesome (think Potatopia, Rice to Riches, Taquitoria). At many a dinner, I have been interrupted-about to take my first bite- by a friend who wanted to take a photo of our spread, and promptly upload our dinner to the web for the world to see.
Now this little habit we seem to have developed as a culture can help solve one of the world’s major problems, child hunger. Feedie, a new app will donate money to The Lunchbox Fund every time you take a photo of your food at one of the participating restaurants and upload it using their app. And the bonus? It’s totally free for you. The money comes from Feedie’s restaurants who cover the cost of the donation. The Lunchbox Fund will then translate your photo into real food delivered to school children in South Africa, and I have a feeling that if they get enough support they would expand worldwide. The best part is that it’s restaurants you (or at least I) would want to eat at anyway with participants including Babbo, Buddakan, Otto, The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and tons more. Check out the Feedie site for the full list of restaurants participating, and go download the app already. Work towards helping people with something you’re doing already. It couldn’t be any easier!
It’s a rare work day without a single meeting. When I encounter this lucky scenario, I cue up my soul pandora station, and plug away at my tasks to the tune of Etta James afternoon. It can make any work a breeze. Here are a few of my favorites.
I’d rather go blind
All I Could Do Was Cry
Take It to the Limit
As anyone who has had a stomach ache from over-indulging in desserts knows, it’s easy to have too much of a good thing. Dr. Jennifer Tomlinson points out that the same adage is true for relationships, especially when openly praising your significant other. In research she completed in collaboration with academics from Brooklyn College, University of Rochester, and University of Waterloo, she found that when couples feel over-idealized in a relationship, it can cause problems. They measured over-idealization of traits (e.g., friendly, smart, helpful) versus abilities (e.g., social butterfly, athletic, excellent cook), and found that when a person felt they were being put too high on a pedestal by their partner, they created distance in the relationship. This negative effect was stronger for men who felt over-idealized, and when abilities (rather than traits) were over-praised. Check out the full article covering her research in The Vancouver Sun here. And, if you are interested in more research by Dr. Tomlinson, mosey on over to this post.
Of all the pumpkin things that appear in stores this time of year, my favorite has to be the Reese’s peanut butter pumpkin. I prefer the Starbuck’s Christmas Eggnog latte to the #PSL pumpkin spice cult that has developed in fall. While I can have a Saranac Pumpkin beer and not dislike it, I would never pick up a six pack. I don’t love pumpkin bread, muffins, or pancakes. But when I see a peanut butter pumpkin by the register as I am checking out, I just can’t resist.
I feel the same way about all of the seasonal Reese’s: the trees, the eggs. I watched a “How Its Made” episode about it once, and the reason these seasonal treats are so much more delicious than the regular cups is a more favorable (in my opinion) peanut butter to chocolate ratio. The pumpkins are packed with PB, with only a light chocolate coating instead of the ridged edges of the cup. Good thing they start putting Halloween candy out in September!
It seems like there is always a new addiction popping up in the news. When a celebrity philanderer is caught, he’s a sex addict. When someone gains an immense amount of weight suddenly, they are addicted to eating. Now it turns out that your friend you’re always getting mad at for surfing the web while you’re having dinner might actually have a disorder. The latest addiction I’ve spotted in the news is Internet Addiction. While it is currently not recognized by the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, a hospital in Pennsylvania is opening an inpatient treatment center for people who cannot stop using the web. It joins a community of centers that have appeared all over the country to treat people who are unable to control online messaging, web-browsing, or game playing. And experts recognize that it is possible to develop unhealthy behaviors around internet usage, including dependency on the constant instant feedback or feel-good experiences of playing online. The risks of such dependency include carpel tunnel syndrome, potential diabetes or weight gain from inactivity, and excess anxiety or stress from being “on” at all times when logged in. Think you might be crossing the threshold from enjoyment to addiction? Check your levels on the digital distraction test to see if you need to cut back.
In the latest designer-retail superstore collaboration, the Philip Lim for Target collection is now available in stores (as of yesterday). And even better, for those of you who live in urban locations where the selection gets picked over at lightning speed, it’s available online without having to make a trip, only to be disappointed.
I have read several articles on how sitting all day is bad for your health. It can increase your risk for heart disease, decrease overall health, and lead to death at an earlier age, even if people who sit all day exercise. This is unfortunate news for the huge number of Americans who spend their days chained to a desk, but the negative health impact extends to riding in the car, or sitting on the couch watching television. And now, the news has gotten even worse. For women, sitting for nine hours a day or more results in an increased risk for depression (47% higher!) when compared to those who sat down less than six hours daily. Scientists chalk it up to lower circulation that decreases the movement of feel-good hormones to the brain to boost mood.
However, the effect may be temporary. When women started moving again, they were able to shake the depressive symptoms, indicating that sitting only brings down mood in the present. Additionally, the researchers believe that regular exercise after sitting periods can help to prevent potential future depression. While there is no way to reverse the poor health effects of sitting, making a point to get up and walk around every 20 minutes can help make them less severe. Now there’s an excuse to go say hi to your coworker on the other side of the office!