Tag Archives: book recs

Mind over… platter

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, PhD is an insightful read through a series of tests where a few variables were altered in any given environment where people tend to consume food. And I love the subtle statement of the book cover design.

In the book he compared a European– namely French– eating style to an American style. The main difference is, though the French eat food that's just as fatty as that found in the American cuisine, the French as a culture have learned to eat until they are no longer hungry vs. Americans having learned to eat until they're full. Americans also tend to use external cues to tell them when to stop eating. The plate or bowl isn't yet empty. People continue to serve more food. Or Americans just eat until the tv show or movie they're watching is over…etc.

Based on these cues five things that contribute to mindless eating are
1) People eat more when you give them a bigger container. Shown by a movie popcorn experiment.
2) Thinking something is good will lead one to eat more of that food. The reverse is also true. There was a baby feeding study done where it was shown that the caregiver heavily influenced what a baby did or did not like to eat within a remarkably short time span. I think the example used was baby food carrots but it could have been anything. One caregiver who didn't like carrots managed to subconsciously convince the baby to not like "carrots" too. The baby picked up on the caregiver's stink face [yes, that's the scientific term] while being fed the "carrots." Magically the baby began to reject that food within a couple weeks.
3) When food's in front of someone they are more likely to eat it regardless of the amount.
4) People tend to base "being full" cues on volume of food eaten, not calories.
5) When a portion size is increased or decreased by a small amount, up to 20% one likely won't notice a difference in fullness either way. Beyond that it gets very noticeable.

Other highlights include

Re-engineering your environment.The more hassle it is to eat the less we eat, shown by shelled nuts vs almond-in-shell experiment plus a snack proximity experiment.
Cons of wholesale (club store) grocery shopping. Customers end up buying way more than they'd buy under normal circumstances and then feel the need to consume all of it to make it worth the purchase.
Normal vs. obese dining habits. Obese people are much more likely to use forks in a Chinese restaurant.
Also, the more television you watch the more likely you are to be overweight. His studies find that people tend to mindlessly snack while watching tv, even if not hungry.

Even those who try to pay attention to what they eat are not necessarily better off than the rest of the country because marketers, grocery stores, theatres, and restaurants and any number of parties continually use psychological tricks to mess with those trusty external cues that will dictate how much one will eat and we are horrible about estimating how much we've already eaten. Read this book if you want to learn how to combat mindless eating and who knows, you could mysteriously be ten or fifteen pounds lighter by this time next year with not much more effort on your part.

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Are you a doer or a complainer?

Secrets of Powerful Women is a call-to-action for its readers to get involved; particularly the women who feel like the world of politics does not benefit them. A number of these politically active women who were interviewed were overwhelmingly raised with a sense of social awareness of a leader's impact from a young age. The awareness was generally instilled by their mother, grandmother, etc. or another female role model who simply went against the gender norms of her day with a bold foray into leadership.

These women were taught that to get something changed for the better it is necessary to DO something about it and not just complain to others. They all emphasize that it's important to encourage and invite other women to get involved in leadership within a community, school group, political campaign, or whatever sparks their passion. The best part about this collection of essays is that they all answer the same set of questions so it gives you that man– er, woman on the street feel. Check it out.

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How not to accumulate wealth: Spend more than you earn.

Just finished this over the weekend. The Millionaire Next Door is a case study that summarizes the profile of the average American millionaire by examining peoples' financial habits and plopping those people into certain categories based on their saving-to-spending ratios. The types range from prodigious accumulators of wealth to poor accumulators of wealth to everything in-between. The book's main idea is in order to accumulate wealth you should not spend more than you earn. In fact, the opposite behavior comprises the big "secret".

This is the biggest takeaway. Regardless of your actual income, you should try to live WELL BELOW your means if you wish to become wealthy. It's not amount of money that you earn that causes wealth, but the lifestyle decision to maintain a relatively low consumption-to-income ratio that will pay off drastically over time.

The other takeaway was a little disheartening and boiled down to everything depending on a good cohesive inter-generational goal of preserving the family's wealth.  What tends to happen to millionaires that live below their means to accumulate wealth is that within a generation they achieve their goal. They have kids and those kids, having every need and just about every want provided, never really learn to live below their means. Compound that with the tendency of wealthy parents to think nothing of providing their adult children with annual allowances, money for a house or the actual house, college tuition, and the like.  When the time comes for the kids to inherit the large sum of wealth they'll likely consume and blow through it all within a short period of time unless the parent provided some type of clever trust fund direction that would propagate that wealth into perpetuity no matter what their kids do with their inheritance. Crazy, huh? Not so much. You see this scenario all the time.

I would recommend this book to all would-be prodigal children (and adults) and their parents, or anyone who'd like to see by many an example the difference between trying to achieve wealth by earning a lot of income vs. wisely not spending most of the income you already earn on mindless consumption.

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You complete me: the quest to become a triple-threat musician

The New Complete Guitarist
Richard Chapman

As a singer-songwriter I've learned that there are three aspects, or skills, of the craft that need to be mastered before one can be truly good.

You should be able to use your voice well.
You should be able to write well.
You should be able to play your instrument(s) well.

Most performers I've seen live are good at one or two and at least passable with the third skill. Two out of three is not bad because it takes a good deal of work to get to that point. However, to be considered a triple threat we singer-songwriters should really develop and master all three skills to be our best. I took guitar lessons for one year– twelve years ago– and that's what I sound like when I play the guitar. So now I'm working to improve this skill.

Recently I read an interview (by Derek Sivers, CD Baby founder) with touring musician extraordinaire, Amber Rubarth. After reading about the hours of practice a day she puts into her music I was inspired to go on a search for a tutorial-style book to work on improving my guitar sound. After a couple hours at bookstores and then my local library I finally picked up this gem: The New Complete Guitarist by Richard Chapman.

I'm only about fifty pages into it but I love that it is very visual and packed with information about my instrument (an acoustic-electric cutaway). It also includes info about other types of guitars with historical tidbits. It's like the music book equivalent of the TV show Good Eats. Hey, I might even learn why the guitar neck's 12th fret has double dots. Does anyone really know about that?

Another thing you may not know is that this is February Album Writing Month. If you're interested in the challenge of writing fourteen songs in twenty-eight days let me know so I can add you to my watch list. If you want to follow my writing progress, here is my page: fawm.org/fawmers/madeline/

Happy music making!

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WordCamp Los Angeles 2017

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