28 Jun

Links for a Sunday Morning

work hard

A World Without Work – The Atlantic (long read)

For centuries, experts have predicted that machines would make workers obsolete. That moment may finally be arriving. Could that be a good thing?

Is Obesity a Choice – Dr. Spencer Blog

Do you believe that obesity is due to laziness and a lack of will power? Do you think the solution is simply choosing to eat less and move more? Consider this story. . .

Many Ask, Why Not Call Church Shooting Terrorism? – NY Times

“If the same violence is committed by a white supremacist or apartheid sympathizer and is not a Muslim, we start to look for excuses — he might be insane, maybe he was pushed too hard.”

What’s behind Canada’s newfound lust for luxury? – Maclean’s

As for Canadians, in particular, our appreciation for the finer things in life has risen alongside the country’s booming housing market, which has made homeowners feel a whole lot richer than our biweekly paycheques would suggest.

We Tried On Victoria’s Secret Bathing Suits And This Is What Happened – Buzzfeed

“This is like the pose you make when you’re trying to act natural around your crush, so you decide to wrap your arms around your body so it looks like a straitjacket. That is to say, “natural” poses do not look natural on a lot of people.”

The Harry Potter Personality Test – The Atlantic

Researchers found that, for the most part, people’s personality traits tended to mirror the stereotypes of each house: Ravenclaws scored highest on “need for cognition.” Slytherins scored highest . . . narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism; Hufflepuffs, true to form, were the most agreeable.

This is Where Body fat Ends Up When You Lose Weight – Science Alert

Our calculations show that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat.

Medicare has a mental-illness gap. It’s time to close it – The Globe and Mail

Why are treatable diseases that affect one-and-a-half times more people than cancer still not properly covered by medicare? We’re talking about depression and anxiety, ailments suffered by 80 per cent of the millions of Canadians who have a mental illness.

24 Jun

Grain of Truth Book Review

I was recently sent a copy of Grain of Truth: The Real Case For and Against Wheat and Gluten by Stephen Yafa by the publisher. It’s probably because I love bread, I think gluten is fascinating, I make my own sourdough, and I am skeptical about people touting gluten as being worse for you than poison (or whatever it is those Grain Brain and Wheat Belly folks are claiming).

Grain of Truth

The subtitle is a bit misleading because the book definitely trends to the “for” side of eating wheat and gluten (not that I’m against that), champions the artisan bread movement, and refutes claims made by Grain Brain and Wheat Belly.

Yafa argues a good case, but the points he makes are probably just as speculative as those books that he is refuting. So if you’re not celiac and don’t have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) then this book will make you feel better about passing on gluten-free pasta in favour of the stuff that actually tastes good.

The author clearly did extensive research visiting and talking with producers at every level from farm to milling to processing, including enormous industrial bakers and small scale artisan bakers and stone millers.

He explains that industrial bread baking has a fermentation time of about 4 hours from flour to package which, if you’ve ever made bread from scratch, you’ll know is extremely short. Nature would have dough ferment in 2 or more days and it is this natural fermentation process, better known as sourdough, that Yafa speculates is the key to better digestion of wheat.

Home bakers and artisan bread makers tend to use naturally fermented dough (sourdough) and a longer slower fermentation time compared to industrial bread bakers. Yafa argues that this long process encourages lactic fermentation, which cuts through the large gluten molecules that are difficult to digest and breaks them down into smaller parts that are more digestible. Additionally, the probiotics that are produced as a result of long fermentation are readily absorbed by and beneficial for the body.

All in all, the book was a very interesting read. I was fascinated (in a really geeky way) about the details he discussed about the growth patterns of different type of wheat and the history of the production of flour. And of course I love that he’s championing home baking, especially with sourdough.

I think the book is lacking a little on the science side but overall it was an easy and interesting read, especially for people who like their cake and want to eat it too.

Grain of Truth by Stephen Yafa on Amazon

11 Jun

6 Things to do in Stratford Ontario

Matt and I recently visited Stratford Ontario for a weekend getaway. It’s close by (only a few hours drive from Windsor, and there’s even a direct bus from Detroit and Toronto), Matt has never been, and we thought it would be a cool place to see.

We spent 2 nights in Stratford at the Forest Motel and were able to keep ourselves relatively busy all weekend with theatre and eating and shopping and swans and yoga and boating and chocolate.

If you’re interested in taking a trip and are not exactly sure how to keep yourself occupied, here’s my recommendation for 6 things to do in Stratford Ontario:

See a Play

Kind of obvious. In fact, that’s probably why you’re planning a visit there in the first place.
And if you’re going to see one, why not see two? The Stratford Festival has a packed schedule of plays and musicals in the summer, up to 5 a day, so there is a lot to choose from.Hamlet - Stratford

Matt and I saw Hamlet. Not to be confused with Macbeth which, when we purchased our tickets, is precisely what we did. Imagine our surprise when there were no witches.

I’ve been to the Festival Theatre a few times and never had a bad seat, including that one time I was sitting in the nosebleeds and literally got a nosebleed (but that’s a story for another time). So you can still have an enjoyable experience in the cheap seats.

(Bonus: If you’re under the age of 30 you can score tickets for $15-$35 on the Play On Weekends.) 

This time, however, we splurged on front row tickets which were so close to the action that I was afraid of distracting the actors by putting on a sweater when I got chilly.

Make Chocolate

The candy-making workshop at Chocolate Barr’s was our favourite part of the weekend. Derek, the head candy-maker, taught us how to properly temper chocolate by hand, how not to burn chocolate (which, as I learned, I do all the time), how to make chocolate bark, and how to make truffles.

We came home with everything we made, which was a lot, and consumed it way too quickly to be socially acceptable.

Chocolate Making at Chocolate Barr's

Our truffle making skills were weak and the resulting truffles hideous in comparison to the stuff sold at Chocolate Barr’s, though we could spin it as “rustic, hand-dipped, and artisanal” and the hipsters would love it. They were delicious regardless.

Derek gave us lots of samples of the Chocolate Barr’s products, answered my million and a half questions about his shop, and only made fun of us a handful of times in the process.

Highly recommended.

Call or e-mail the shop in advance to organize a time. It’s $75 per person and totally worth it.

Stroll

Stratford Avon River Walk

Stratford is a beautiful place to stroll, particularly along the Avon River. I say stroll because the pace is leisurely: partly to accommodate the abundant waterfowl, partly to observe the beauty, and partly because of the geriatric nature of the patrons.

The river stroll is really quite nice so it’s no wonder it is so popular with tourists and locals.

If you walk far enough west along the river, away from the downtown and the theatres you’ll find the Avondale Cemetery which has some prominent local individuals going back to the late 1800s. You can even take a self-guided heritage walking tour of the cemetery. Or should I say strolling tour?

 Afternoon Tea

In Stratford eating is an event in itself. The restaurants definitely cater to the theatre crowd and offer really high calibre meals but I didn’t find the price points totally out of reach. We dined at Mercer Hall, Pazzo Taverna, and Canadian Grub and I didn’t have a meal that I disliked. (Tip: it’s a good idea to make reservations for dinner pretty much everywhere, especially on Saturdays)

My favourite meal was at The Parlour Inn where we had afternoon tea with an abundance of sandwiches and scones and spreads and pastries. But of course I’d say this, being the Anglophile that I am.

Afternoon Tea Stratford

The Parlour Inn has afternoon tea service on Sundays from 1-4pm for the very reasonable price of $22 per person. They used to have it posted on their website but don’t appear to list it any more. Either way, you need to call ahead to book a reservation.

Take a Yoga Class

Of course I’d say this. I actually managed to convince Matt to take a yoga class with me while we were in Stratford. We took a Hot Yang/Yin class which was exactly what my body needed though Matt is not a fan of the slow pace of Yin practices.

Downtown Stratford has two studios, Moksha Yoga Stratford, where we took a class, and Yoga Collective.

Drop in rates are $21 and $18 respectively.

Canoe/Kayak

The Forest Motel, where we stayed, was on a tiny lake and they had canoes and paddle boats available to use for free to people staying at the hotel so Matt and I took advantage.

You can also rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats right on the Avon River in the middle of town at Avon Boat Rentals for $15-$23 per hour depending on the type of vessel. If you don’t want to do the paddling yourself, they offer river cruises for the reasonable price of $7.50.