Friday, January 26, 2007

Kaitlyn Ready - Photographer

Today Kaitlyn's school is celebrating it's 100th day by having a "100-day" museum. Each of the kids was asked to do a project involving 100 items, and bring it in to display.

As many of you know, Kaitlyn loves to take pictures, and so she decided to take 100 pictures and bring them in to display. Amy showed her how to zoom in and out with her SLR camera, and set her loose around the house. Kaitlyn wandered around for much of the afternoon taking photos of whatever she thought was "interesting to look at."

After dinner, I downloaded the images to my laptop so I could print them out for her. Amy and I were amazed at the results (not that I'm biased or anything). It's fun to see what she likes to look at, and getting the 5-year-old-3-feet-off-the-ground-perspective is pretty neat as well. But what I was most amazed with was her choice of things to photograph. Several of these are simply patterns or macro shots that I would have never thought she'd think to photograph. Seeing her aiming and shooting with a giant SLR camera was pretty funny as well.

One of my favorites is on the page here. There's a link below to view the whole 100-photo ensemble. Keep an eye out for the cat paw print in the show, the zoom in of some plastic baby gates, and the smiley face of pool balls shot from the side. Kaitlyn was particularly proud of those.

Of course, daddy was up until 1:30am fighting the printer to get all these things to print out.

Link to Kaitlyn's 100-day Project:

Load that up, then hit the "slideshow" link in the menu to the right.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Supertaster test scores revealed!

So thus far, I've tested a variety of people for tasting ability using some test strips I ordered from a science teacher supply company. Using a somewhat unscientific scale of "tell me on a scale of 1 through 10" here are the results:

non-tasters: Dana, Collier, Mom
low-normal: Mike, Stacey, Carl
high-normal: Phil, Eno
supertasters: Amy, Jeff, Scott, Dad
Because among the "normal" tasters I've noticed two different reactions (and associated numbers reported), I split it into high and low categories, but under the strict 3-category system, these would all be considered normal.

And with limited results, we've got 25% non-tasters, 42% normal tasters, and 33% supertasters. Since just two families make of almost half of those tested, I'm surprised that the numbers line up as close as they do to the overall US population. From what I've read, the overall split would be 25/50/25 or 30/50/20 depending on whose study I'm looking at.

I can only hope that we supertasters use our powers for good and not for evil. :)

Monday, January 22, 2007

What's that? Bears/Colts you say? Boulderdash!

Well who would have thought, Bears/Colts in the superbowl! That is just crazy talk. Too bad it wasn't being hosted in the midwest, because what a chaotic party that would be. I'm going to be cheering for the Colts, but I can't say I'm going to be terribly disappointed if the Bears win, but you do have to pick a side to make it more fun.

In other news, I'll give some props to Hawkins for posting up a Hillary Clinton Saturday Night Live funny.

Also, yesterday we had our first snow of the year, and probably got about 4 inches. Katilyn and Hailey were so excited! Hailey woke me up by saying "Daddy! Daddy! There's a big toe outside!" lol. Kaitlyn must have played outside for two hours, building a pretty impressive snowman with Vincent from next door.

Now I'm en route to California for a couple days. Northwest canceled the only direct flight from Indy to San Francisco, so I'm back doing the connection thing, which adds a couple hours to the trip. Ugh. But, the good news is that, with a little help from Hawkins, I've been given Gold Elite status, which didn't get me first class on this trip, but it did get me into the exit row and out of the middle of row 33. And, connecting through Detroit gives me the chance to use the airline club room feature of the Amex Platinum card, which is the only reason I even keep that thing. If you've never used an airline club room, it's basically the difference between sitting in nice hotel lobby vs. sitting at the Greyhound station. Food, quiet, desks, and couches. Not as nice as a direct flight, but it could be much worse.

I'm sure Ames will have some pictures of 'Frosty' the snowman up on her site soon. He was a good looking pile of snow!

Go Colts!

Friday, January 05, 2007

I TOLD you that lettuce tastes like gasoline!

So Amy is reading this book, and in it the subject of "supertasters" came up. The book goes on to explain that supertasters, in general, will sense tastes much more intensely than the average person, in particular, bitter tastes, or for some people, sweet tastes.

This is not really new information to us, but it caused me to dive a little deeper into the subject this evening during some downtime. I knew from an experiment a few years ago that I qualified as a supertaster, and for those that know my eating habits, this is no surprise. Amy did as well, although to a slightly lesser degree than I did. Here's the test.

Swab some blue food coloring on the edges of your tongue. Take a piece of paper in which you've punched a 3-hole-punch type hole, and lay it over your tongue. Count the red bumps in the circle. While these aren't your tastebuds themselves, these little bumps are where your taste buds live.

If you have more than 30, you're a supertaster. 15 would be about normal. Less than 5 is a "non-taster", i.e, the guy that will eat anything. I have about a trillion I think. Well, not really, but depending on what part of my tongue I put the circle on, I had anywhere from 37 to "they are packed in there so close I can't possibly count them without a still photograph and photo-enchancement."

And, as it turns out, whatever you see there is probably in greater density down the back of your tongue (way back, as in, down your throat).

So I did some research and it's pretty interesting and "taste science" is a pretty new area, relative to the technologies out there. About 25% of people will be supertasters or non-tasters, and 50% will be normal tasters. For the supertasters, the variety of foods liked/disliked can vary wildly (much more so than with the other groups), but in general they are less likely to enjoy fruits (hello, Amy), and vegetables (hello, Jeff) because they taste so bitter.

In fact, what might taste intensely bitter to a supertaster might have no taste at all to a normal taster. This explains that I call the Lettuce Phenomenon (TM). You see, a lot of people don't understand how bad lettuce tastes. In fact, a suprisingly high number of people have told me that lettuce has "no taste" or "almost no taste at all" to which I respond -- "if you knew that that lettuce really tasted like, I assure you, you wouldn't be eating it".

Further evidence is the McDonald's Lettuce Factor (TM) in which I am able to determine that there is a piece of lettuce shrapnel on one side of a burger simply by tasting the other non-lettuce side. I've also been able to tell when lettuce *was* on a burger but was removed before it was handed to me. And finally, after years of wondering why, once in a while, my fries from McDonalds/Wendys/etc. tasted faintly like lettuce, I learned that the often-bored crews at these fine establishments will sometimes toss a piece of lettuce into the deep fryer, because the the high water content of the lettuce will cause a bit of a mini-fireworks display. Mystery solved.

The funny thing is, while most people that read this won't even believe me, those that are supertasters will know exactly what I'm talking about.

It also turns out that most kids err to the supertaster side and then move towards normal during adulthood. This is the explaination for why there are foods that you hated as a kid, but like as an adult. You think your pallet is more refined, but in fact, you just can't taste the food anymore. Haha.

Amy was asking me why I thought supertasting existed in people, and I told her that it was so that some of us would survive the Taco Bell/tainted Spinach/E. Coli outbreaks. As it turns out, this is not that far from the truth. The supertasting gene (and I didn't mention above, but they have traced this to a single gene), is thought to have evolved from areas where the ratio of poisonous plants to edible plants was highest. The ability to detect small amounts of bitterness saved us while our cohorts keeled over while choking down green onions from Taco Bell. Likewise, the non-taster gene evolves from areas where that ratio is lowest, allowing for the greatest taste tolerance in areas where almost everything is food.

Foods most often enjoyed by supertasters include meats and fats. Again, this is shocking news, I'm sure. Foods often disliked by supertasters include alcohol (hello again, Amy), mustard (hello Jeff), vegetables with the exception of corn, potatoes, and green beans (I'm not making this stuff up), raw tomatoes, coffee (Amy again), and peanuts & peanut butter (hello Jeff).

Also interesting is some association with texture and tasting. Supertasters identify texture as something that is likely to be a key factor in food dislike. Apparently (much to my surprise), for normal tasters texture was most likely to be noted when it contributed positively rather than negatively, and for non-tasters, well, they could care less about texture. However, no one has figured out why there is this texture association, but I speculate that perhaps the little bumps we counted earlier also contribute to how much you "feel" the food as well as taste it.

This also contributes to supertasters not liking foods with, what they call "double textures", for example, a sauce with bits of stuff in it, or as I have lovingly referred to this in the past, sauce with "chunks of nasty". At least I'm not alone. This too is tied to the same gene and is suspected to be evolutionary like the poison thing. Basically mixed textures (in the wild) could mean, dirty or contaminated instead of clean and pure ("boy, this water is chewy. oh well, drink up!").

And finally, while people, in general, can develop a "taste" for just about any edible food, this is not always the case with supertasters. The bitterness of the food in question can, in some supertasters, trigger an actual gag reflex (hello Jeff), in which case it is very unlikely that the person will ever be able to tolerate the food.

For me, peanut butter and rice are two foods I don't like, PB for taste, and rice for texture, but neither one actually triggers the aforementioned gag reflex, so maybe there's hope. However, pretty much all raw vegetables do, as well as raw tomatoes, as was reflected in an unfortunate childhood dinner-table incident involving a slice of salted tomato, a napkin, and a dash for the toilet.

I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on supertasters. While it does nothing except confirm that I'm a freakish eater, at least I know I'm not alone. See you at McDonalds.

PS - in the research, I also learned that the little diagram we all learned in school about the parts of the tongue and where you taste sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, is all a load of bullcrap. You can taste all of the above at any one tastebud, and there is no association at all with tastebud location and sensitivity to a particular taste. Spread the word! :)

Wild Card Weekend Predictions

Also, vote for the Superbowl winner in my new PollDaddy poll to the right ->

Here we go for this weekend.

Dallas over Seattle
New England over the Jets
Philly over the Giants

and... ummm....

Kansas City over Indy. Ugh.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cowher to become next Dolphins Head Coach

Well, maybe. Actually who knows, but there has been quite a bit of rampant speculation (led by yours truly) as to who might be the next Dolphins head coach.

For those of you that don't know (which means just about everyone but me), Nick Saban, former Dolphins head coach, resigned yesterday to take a head coaching job with Alabama. This, after Saban has been denying such rumors since November. Thanks to the fine folks over at, I've had the inside scoop on this for a long time.

And now, these guys are reporting all kinds of speculation as to who might be the next coach of the Dolphins, but the good news is that all the names being floated so far are guys I'd love to have.

First up is Bill Cowher, current head coach of the Steelers. All season there has been reporting of his "retirement" after this season, even though he's got another contract season with the Steelers. However, the PFT guys are reporting that what he really wants is a big payday, which he can get by ending his tenure with the Steelers and cashing in with the highest bidder. Who can blame him either? He's done a great job with the Steelers and he doesn't get paid anywhere close to what some other coaches do. As it happens, the two coordinators of the Dolphins were both former coordinators under Cowher, so he could potentially drop right in, not have to change systems, and hit the ground running.

The second candidate is Bill Parcells. Word is the Parcells has had his fill with Jerry Jones, and I'd assume is coddling of Terrell Owens. And who can blame him for that either. So, he could be looking to move on as soon as Dallas loses a playoff game, and the Dolphins will be looking for a big name like him. PFT also reports that the GM of the Dolphins and Parcells are friends, and so that might be another good fit.

Finally, Bill Belichick of the Patriots. Strange as it may seem, there is a lot of "mystery" surrounding his contract with the Pats, and again the PFT guys can been speculating that "something is going to go down" with the Pats after the season. Rumors of some of the Pats staff headed for the Giants among them. If the organization gets blown apart, perhaps Belichick will be looking for new ground and a payday of his own.

In any case, this is at least something to keep we Dolphins fans interested in the off season. In the mean time, Go Colts! (and good luck with stopping Larry Johnson... yikes)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! As the first day of the post-holiday season, today also ends my 2-and-a-half week hiatus from exercise and worrying about what I was eating. It was fun while it lasted. I'm back on the band-wagon today, and I've got 5 days to try and get reasonably ready for a soccer game on Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday, this Sunday I got to cash-in on my birthday present from Amy and the girls by having a family trip to the Dolphins-Colts game on Sunday. Unfortunately, we didn't win, but it was close and came down to a Dolphins try at a Hail Mary pass at the end of the game. There was even an (unsuccessful) flea-flicker tried during the game, so that was exciting as well!

I made a make-shift "Cleo Lemon" jersey out of my Dolphins jersey to show my support for our quarterback who made his first NFL start today. Using duct-tape to make a "17" and also to cover the old name and write "Cleo Lemon" in it's place was a real crowd pleaser. I'm fairly certain I was the only one in the stands with a Cleo Lemon jersey - LOL. While in line for a dried-out-and-not-at-all-warm "hot" pretzel, and older guy behind me said "now he's a fine looking young quarterback who could do good things for your team in the future, good for you for supporting him!" I'm not sure how he can cast that judgement after seeing him play all of one half of a game, but hey, go Cleo!

Today we're off to the Children's Museum. Kaitlyn is off school until this coming Monday yet, and both she and Hailey (and Amy) have been sick since the day after Christmas. Today they seem to both be feeling well enough to do something (we hope).

Anyway, Happy New Year to all 7 people that read this!