Apparently some of you wonder if engaging in intimate relations with your significant other the night, or even morning, before a race is detrimental to your race performance. I tackle the subject in an article published here by Triathlete Magazine. Hint: if you’re among the wonder-ers, then you have not researched the topic well enough ...
I saw this on facebook:
SIGN THIS PETITION: Encourage the Girl Scouts to sell an allergen free Cookie.
This petition was started on May 8, 2011 in honor of Celiac Awareness Month and Food Allergy Awareness Week. For those with a food allergy, many, if not all of the Girl Scout cookies are off limits. Consumers have a choice not to buy the cookies. However, members of the Girl Scouts are encouraged to sell the cookies to learn skills, obtain prizes and be part of an organization. Despite this, the organization isn’t doing enough to support and incorporate its members that have food allergies.
The Girl Scouts license their cookies to two companies: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. Both companies have been contacted by myself and others inquiring about them producing an allergen free cookie and I have been advised that there isn’t enough of a market to support such a product. ABC Bakers even states on their website that there isn’t enough of a demand for a cookie that is free from either sugar or gluten. However, what these two bakers and the Girl Scouts have never tried is to market just one cookie that is free from the top eight food allergens.
Read the entire petition here.
First of all, let me state that I am the parent of a child who suffers from a severe tree nut allergy. He’s had a severe allergic reaction simply from being near someone (me, oops) who ate tree nuts. So I am intimately familiar with the issue of children who suffer from food allergies.
But can we please look at the big picture here? Do we really need to petition the Girl Scouts and the makers of Girl Scout Cookies to include an allergen-free cookie? Or a gluten-free cookie so that gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant children who sell, or want to eat, Girl Scout Cookies do not feel left out?
How about petitioning the Girl Scouts to offer healthier choices alongside their brutally tasty and addicting cookies – like fruit or vegetables, for example? Are there not better ways to raise money than to peddle cookies laced with gluten, and some other some crack-like ingredient that causes unsuspecting cookie lovers to drool three months in advance of Girl Scout Cookie season?
Let me answer my own questions, if I may – No, and No. The first chipper little Girl Scout that shows up on my doorstep and tries to sell me an apple or a bag of kale will be promptly shoed next door. I want my Tagalongs, dammit – and I’m willing to pay three times the price of the poser, imitation Girl Scout cookies my local grocery store sells.
The Girl Scouts claim that they are the premier leadership organization for girls, that their $700 million Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led business in American, and that the girls learn five important life skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. According to Wikipedia, the local Girl Scout troops selling cookies receive 10-15% of the retail price, the local Girl Scout council about 50%, and the cookie manufacturer gets the rest. Since 2007, it’s estimated that 200 million boxes of Girl Scout Cookies are sold per year. In 2008, a 15 year old girl from Dearborn, Michigan sold 17,328 boxes of cookies. That’s a lot of Thin Mints.
Based on this information, I’m willing to submit that the Girl Scouts made the right choice when they decided that selling cookies was a good way to fund programs for the kids while teaching the five life skills that they feel are important and essential.
I’m all for promoting a healthy lifestyle for our children, but I also love cookies. So instead of trying to convince the Girl Scouts to sell allergen/gluten-free cookies so none of its members feel left out, can we focus on teaching our children that 1-2 cookies is a serving – not an entire sleeve. And can we be thankful that there is much more awareness these days for children and adults who suffer from food allergies, and that there are more and more products being produced and marketed with food allergy sufferers in mind, than there were in the not so distant past? Maybe we can also try to figure out what the heck has happened to wheat, over the years, to cause so many people to have issues.
Here’s the deal: A cookie, by definition, is a small, flat, baked treat, usually containing fat, flout, eggs, and sugar. No one is going to buy a sugar and gluten free Girl Scout Cookie, because, among other reasons - it wouldn’t even be a cookie. So to any and all Girl Scouts and parents of Girl Scouts: Please don’t try to sell me allergen-free cookies. I like them just the way they are - allergens, gluten and all.
This is the time of year for me that I make some long travels. It’s too cold for triathlons in the U.S., therefore I must venture to the southern hemisphere for some action. This year I went to Chile and Brazil.
Every year there is a new adventure associated with flying halfway across the world. This year the big brouhaha was over reducing the amount of carry-on items to two; one on some airlines. I didn’t foresee this as a problem for me, since I only travel with my trustee backpack and a small travel guitar about the size of a tennis racket. I was sure, however, that this was going to be an interesting dilemma for 90 percent of travelers. You want to check as little as possible when you fly halfway around the world. You never know where your checked stuff may end up, so many travelers bring a lot of stuff into the cabin.
So I’m at the counter checking in for my flight to South America and the check-in person asks me how many bags I’m carrying on. I tell her I’m carrying on my trusty backpack and my little (about the size of a tennis racquet) travel guitar. She asks me, “That’s makes two, right?”
I wonder if this is a trick question. I actually get flustered as I add up the pieces in my head. I add, and then re-add just to make sure. “Two,” I tell her. “Unless I’ve added incorrectly.”
“That’s good,” she tells me. “Because you’re only allowed two carry-on bags.” Then, after she asked me if I’m the only one who packed my bags and if any stranger has given me something to take on the plane, she looks at my two carry-on bags and tells me they may be a little too big to carry on. She tells me the gate attendant will let me know if my two carry-on bags are the appropriate size to carry on the plane. I tell her that’s fine, knowing I’ve never had a problem with these two pieces in any of my previous travels.
So I’m in line waiting to board a big ole plane to Chile. 747. Lots of room on that baby. I notice as I’m standing in line that everyone has carry-on bags of various sizes. I notice some other peculiar things as I wait to board the big ole 747.
I notice most of the men are carrying on big garment bags and either a briefcase or laptop computer case. That makes two, I notice (if my math is correct). A garment bag by definition must be pretty big. It carries garments, after all. Assuming the average man is 5’10”, a garment is a decent-sized article of clothing. And, by law, a garment can only be folded one time. And it can only be folded for a short period of time, meaning that usually upon entering the plane the garment bag is unfolded and either hung up in a closet or laid out in the over head bin.
I look at my backpack. It’s fatter than most of these garment bags, but in terms of cubic inches, it’s much smaller. The gate attendant doesn’t even give these garment bags a second look. I relax, knowing that the check-in lady was just making me sweat a little. I’m not even worried about the lack of overhead bin space due to excess garment bag stuffage, because I know from experience that my trusty backpack fits comfortably beneath the seat in front of me.
I notice the women as I’m still waiting in line. Most of the women have the following: one big black suitcase/appliance dolly with wheels and a retractable handle to ease the strain of rolling 230 pounds of clothes, cosmetics, irons, blow-dryers and such through the airport; one small suitcase or duffel bag that contains extra cosmetics, spare brushes and combs, shampoos and conditioners, spare blow-dryer, and other possible emergency items; one extremely large purse with a double reinforced strap that they try to shove under the seat in front of them, in which they carry things they may need while in flight such as magazines, romance novels (at least 3), snacks, a laptop computer, a large wallet, toothbrush and toothpaste, water bottle (1.5 liter); and a small purse in which they carry the personal things they may need in flight like those fold-out mirror things that you can look at your face in, some lipstick, perfume to spray on before you depart the plane, and other feminine products that don’t take up too much space. If my math is correct, this makes four carry-on bags. (Please don’t think I’m sexist or anything. It’s just that I travel a lot, and I notice things. And I did say “most” women, not “all.”).
I’m astounded, as I wait in line, to see the gate attendant letting these women on the plane. They clearly appear to me to be exceeding the two carry-on bag rule. Maybe they’re cutting these extra-carry-on-bag-carrying women some slack because the plane isn’t that full.
As I reach the gate attendant/carry-on bag inspector, I notice him giving my trusty backpack the evil eye. He must be jealous that he doesn’t have such a wonderful, trusty backpack. He looks at my backpack and says, “Sir, I’m afraid that bag is too big to carry on the plane.” “What do you mean it’s too big?” I say. “It’s a backpack.”
Then the gate attendant tells me that if my backpack doesn’t fit in this little box he has on the ground beside him, that I must check it. I look down at the box. It’s a small box. Some of the ladies’ purses couldn’t fit in this box. No garment bag could even think about fitting in this box. I look at my backpack, then the box, and then my backpack again. It reminds me of that children’s game when you’re a kid, where you try to put a wooden block into the right-shaped hole. I can see my backpack is not going to fit in this box.
“Sir,” I tell the gate attendant. “I fly every week, and every week my trusty backpack fits comfortably beneath the seat in front of me.” “Sir,” he tells me. “We have new rules now. If your backpack doesn’t fit comfortably in this box, you’re going to have to check it.”
“Oh, it’ll fit,” I angrily tell him. Then, just like when I was a kid playing with the wooden blocks, I proceed to make that backpack fit in the little hole. I shove, slam, and squish my trusty roundish backpack into that little rectangle hole. When it didn’t seem like it was going to make it, I thought about all those giant garment bags I watched some businessmen carry on. I thought about the suitcases attached to an appliance dolly I watched some women roll on, not to mention their three or four other bags. I felt like the gate attendant was discriminating against me because I didn’t have proper-looking carry-ons. I stepped my 140 pounds up on that box and I jumped up and down on my trusty backpack (squishing my two bananas, breaking my water bottle, which leaked all over my magazine and paperback, and severely scuffing my trusty backpack) until that sucker fit into the little rectangle box. I was wracked with flashbacks of my youth when, sledgehammer in hand, I bragged that I could make any wooden block fit into any shaped hole.
“There, it fits,” I told the gate attendant. “May I board the plane now?” “Go ahead,” he said, as he and quite a few passengers (all with carry-on bags bigger than my backpack) looked at me with astonishment.
I barely made the flight by the time I pried my bag out of that box. And when I finally did get on the plane, there was no space in the overhead bin for my guitar…but that’s a whole other story.
As I finally take my seat (after helping a lady hoist an incredibly heavy suitcase into the overhead bin) and carefully tuck my trusty backpack beneath the seat in front of me, I can’t help but smile. I love traveling. It’s only my first race and already a new adventure. I glance down at my trusty backpack…it’s going to be a good year.
- 10. Office coffee is better than Starbucks coffee.
- 9. By the time you order and receive your Grande, no foam, light whip, half caf, triple shot, short, double mochaccino, with 3 splendas, 2 raw sugars, stirred, and exactly 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the NYSE will have closed shop for the day.
- 8. You will inevitably find yourself sitting next to a 30-something-ish man sitting cross-legged on one of the couches, barefoot, picking his toenails, and sipping a warm cup of whip cream (non-fat) while reading the latest issue of Real Simple Magazine.
- 7. You’ll have no choice but to listen to a 30-something-ish woman who is talking way too loudly on a cell phone, to her mother – informing her mother that her baby brother (also 30-something-ish) should not, under any circumstance, be allowed to play in her room.
- 6. You’ll have no choice but to listen to 12 or 13 teenage girls on lunch-break, talk about things you absolutely do not want to hear – especially if you’re the parent of a girl. On the other hand, some of the things they speak about could prove helpful if you’re the parent of a boy.
- 5. Approximately 1.3 times per minute, you’ll be forced to listen to someone (mostly females, but a surprisingly large number of males) order a Grande, non-fat, 1, 2, or 3 pump (WTF), vanilla latte.
- 4. If you are a reasonably attractive middle-aged man and appear to be single (ie: you are alone), you will repeatedly get hit on by a seemingly endless stream of 60-something-ish women who are all hopped up on Chai tea and non-fat lemon cake with icing.
- 3. Scones. (So good and so not non-fat.)
- 2. No personal assistant. If you do bring your personal assistant, it’s not work – it’s a coffee break.
- 1. Starbucks is a coffee house (sort of) and not an office space. Your presence will cause hoards of people eager to order complicated coffee drinks that have very little to do with coffee and then congregate around tables and on couches and gossip, socialize, ponder, listen to music, talk about music, laugh, and lots of other things that people typically do at coffee shops, to go elsewhere because your papers and file folders, portable printers, computers, and other office items that are more appropriately found in an office, are taking up two tables worth of space just because , for some weird reason, you feel that you’ll be more productive working at a Starbucks than you would be in an office.
- Did I miss any?
As I was walking past a Starbuck’s in an airport the other day, I heard a gentleman order a, “Three pump Vanilla Latte with two extra shots, at EXACTLY 120 degrees.” The brazenness of Starbuck’s patrons never ceases to amaze me.
Therefore the boycott continues until Starbuck’s gets a coffee only, line – or better yet, sets up a self-serve station on which rests a pot of their above average tasting (in my opinion) coffee, and a money jar. I would love the opportunity to dash into a Starbuck’s, fill a cup with coffee, chuck some money in the jar (plus a tip), and then hot-foot it out of there before hearing someone order a “coffee” drink that requires, among other things, a thermometer.
With the above off my chest, I recently purchased a package of Starbuck’s instant coffee, called Via. You simply tear the top of the tiny packet, dump the coffee into hot water, stir, and then enjoy some surprisingly tasty coffee.
It’s great for the road, and allows me to enjoy Starbuck’s coffee without having to actually enter a Starbuck’s. Give it a taste.