Wednesday, June 15, 2011

10 Things The World Can Learn From Japan

-taken from Business in Japan Group, Linked In

Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.
People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.
Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reporting.
When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly. That's Japan.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough...

It's been a tough few days.  Both of the jobs I was trying to get somehow fell through.  Everyone else seems to have a hiring freeze on, which could last through this year and into next year.
One piece of bad news after another...

After 9 months out of work, I am starting to worry about money, something I haven't had to think much about for the past 12 years or so.  It's hard.  Now I have a family, too.  I have always been able to find a job...except now...

These are the situations when depression is likely to strike.

The telltale signs are:

1) Trouble Sleeping
2) Lack of Energy
3) Changes in eating patterns
4) Short temper or irritability (maybe I always have this)
5) Increased alcohol intake
6) Wild mood swings
7) Frequent headaches

Some days you just don't feel like getting out of bed in the morning.  You want to escape from this situation; run away; click your heels together and say "there's no place like home".  Well, you ARE home.  Now what?

These problems are made worse by worrying about the family.  Will the kids be able to keep going to good schools?  Will the wife be able to continue to buy the things she needs/wants?  What needs to be cut back?  It is very hard for the family to suffer when we feel it is ourselves to blame.

The most important thing to do is to recognize the above warning signs, and do something about them before they creep up on you and destroy you.  Here are my tips:

1) Establish and Keep Routines
Keep going to the gym.  keep waking up on time.  Patterns and routines establish stability.  Stability is good especially when other aspects of life feel uncertain.  Keeping busy is also an important way to avoid boredom and overthinking the issues at hand.

2) Watch Your Diet
there is a big tendency for emotion to express through food.  Eating too much or too little, or switching from sensible foods to junk foods, or the like.  Pay attention to your eating and drinking.  Write every meal down if you must.  Our emotions are also influenced by our diets, so it is important not to slip here.  This can cause a downward spiral.

3) Communicate
Talk to your family and friends.  They love you and want to be strong for you.  let them.  Even talk to your children.  Trust me, they will understand.  Don't try and keep the feelings bottled in.

4) Cry
It's OK, really.  Let it out and cry if you feel you need to.  It's OK to be alone for this, but also OK with someone you trust.  We have all been there, and most of us will be there again.  There is nothing at all to be ashamed of.

5) Sunshine
Get outside, even for a few minutes a day.  Let the sunshine help heal you.

6) Exercize
Keep working out. if you can't afford the gym, walk in the park or do whatever you have to.  Endorphins help calm nerves and generate positive energy.

7) Love
Don't shut out your partner.  Let them be there for you.  It will help deepen your relationship further and make them part of the solution when it comes.

Everyone goes through depression and negativity sometimes.  Take solace in the fact that this is one of the cyclical aspects of our lives.  Hang in there.  DON'T DO ANYTHING STUPID.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Why Fast Food Isn't Cheaper Than Healthy Food

Had to post this.  Think about it.  Eating vegetarian is even cheaper! - John

Why Fast Food Isn't Cheaper Than Healthy Food  - by Tim Harlan, M.D.

I get a lot of questions during lectures from people wanting to know how they can eat better when eating healthy is so expensive. They base their questions on claims that unhealthy choices are cheaper. For instance, I saw a recent news story where the reporter walked around Walmart and looked at the value of foods based on the measure of calories per dollar. This is really nothing more than a cute parlor game to say that one dollar will purchase close to 1,000 calories of candy bars but only a single large apple, because it doesn't tell us anything about what we get for our money. Calories are certainly an important part of our diet and weight control, but it is the quality of those calories that matters to our health.
The conclusion often from studies and news reports is that the subsidies on more calorie-dense foods are the culprit Because our government provides funding to farmers growing calorie-dense products like corn (which is processed into sugars) and beef, the typical fast food menu can be advertised as being "cheap, cheap, cheap," and candy bars can be sold for 33 cents each.
This is, however, one of the great myths about healthy eating -- ranking right up there with the fallacy that eating healthy doesn't taste good. I believe it's more economical to cook a fresh, healthy meal than to eat junk food.
The argument I hear most often is that it's cheaper to eat at McDonald's. After going to McDonald's recently and putting together a typical meal for four (mom, dad and two kids), I came up with a total of about $14.00 (I didn't actually buy anything, though). For that money, you get almost nothing of nutritive value, but bland white bread, greasy burgers and fries with a sugary soda.
That same $14.00 will purchase two pounds of lean ground beef, a pack of eight whole wheat buns, lettuce, tomato and enough potatoes to make oven-baked french fries and salad ingredients with money left over for some fresh fruit. The best part is that this is twice as much food as at McDonald's, so there's plenty for leftovers later. Better food at half the price: that's pretty simple. I'll allow that there's no soda included in the home cooked meal, but no one should drink soda anyway and a full pitcher of iced tea costs pennies to make.
At KFC, they sell $5.00 "complete" meals. I say "complete," but they really aren't since there's far too much refined carbohydrates and the only vegetables are deep fried potatoes.
These meals serve one person and generally include two pieces of chicken with fries and a biscuit (no veggies) and a soda. That comes to $20.00 for the same family of four, and for that you can purchase a whole chicken for roasting, four ears of corn on the cob, makings for a side vegetable or a salad and have money left over for fruit for dessert. Sure, the KFC meal is right at 1,000 calories, which makes it 200 calories per dollar, but there's also only 2 grams of fiber in the meal, more than a teaspoon of salt and 16 teaspoons of sugar. In the long run, those poor quality calories end up costing a lot.
The same home cooked meal with one roasted chicken breast, one roasted chicken thigh, a side salad, corn on the cob and an apple comes in at around 600 calories with about a quarter teaspoon salt. There's 11 grams of fiber and half the sugar, but the sugars are from natural sources and not table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. It's a healthy meal for less than KFC.
Sure, if you count this as calories per dollar you come out behind, but not all that much -- and the food is far, far better. The home cooked meal costs 120 calories per dollar, but these are great quality calories: low in sodium and added sugars, high in fiber, much more satisfying and, in my opinion, much tastier than KFC.
I spend a lot of time in grocery stores and it's amazing how much convenience food I see. Take the Healthy Choice penne in tomato sauce frozen meal. For the same family of four that it would take five of these (or maybe even more, considering the amount of calories that each member of the family might need).
At $2.80 per serving, that's a minimum of $14.00. That same 14 bucks will buy a box of whole wheat penne, onions, tomatoes and cheese with money left over for salad and fruit -- and it'll make six servings.
I do get people who want to argue that there's no time to cook, but this is also a myth. Putting a chicken in the oven to roast takes one minute to season and 5 seconds to put in the oven. Same with roasting the corn on the cob. Making a salad dressing and prepping the veggies takes all of about 10 minutes. That's less than 15 minutes work time to make a fantastic dinner. You might stand in line that long at the fast food joint.
There are so many recipes available online that are quick, easy and family friendly. They are inexpensive and delicious, but even those requiring more expensive ingredients are still cheaper than eating out -- and they're so much better for you. These are difficult economic times. One of the best ways to save money and get healthier (which also saves money) is to cook your own meals.
The myth that eating junk food is cheaper is just that: a myth.