Monthly Archives: February 2012

IT’S ELECTRIC!

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I am proud and extremely excited to announce that I purchased my first Electric Forest Festival ticket today!! I am beyond souped. It was a tough decision to decide between Bonnaroo and Electric Forest; I wish I wasn’t a broke college student and could a) afford to go to the two (amongst many others) and b) be able to take the time out of work/whatever I land this summer for both, but alas… c’est la vie.
I recommend you check out the set-list for both festivals, they look beyond amazing. In all honesty, Bonnaroo covers the majority of my musical spectrum, but I’ve gone for the passed three years (yes, I am addicted. I know) and needed to change it up a bit. The fact that Tennessee is HOT AS HELL in the middle of June (limited trees, hard to access water) was also a big decision maker, and at least in Michigan I will be able to escape the heat by hanging in a forest (which apparently talks, score).

Well, that was my exciting thing of the day. That, and in my lesson this morning I rode Kasuga, one of our lovely UVM Dressage Team ponies, who also happens to have an extensive amount of brain farts on a daily basis. I can’t really blame him though, he’s a neurotic thoroughbred with back issues who spent a lot of his life in pain, so I think I would be a basket case, too. I rode him in a hackamore, which is a bridle without a bit, and he decided to spend the majority of the lesson going sideways… in the walk, trot and canter. I give him props, it takes an extensive amount of energy and is way harder to move sideways than straight, so I’m letting bygones by bygones. Plus, when he was actually moving in the forward direction he looked splendid. Ah, life with horses. There was a boarder riding in the ring during my lesson, and maybe she pitied me or something, because she offered to let me ride her horse Gabel (who owns a bright red valor blanket, which geeks me out. It’s dubbed his “Hugh Hefner” blanket), so now I have a date this Friday to do that. I miss my horse being up here, so I’ll take whatever I can get.

My Muffin Man (Taxi)

 

Goodnight, Moon

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So I was really voracious and ate all the beef I had, and I didn’t do anything exciting or even document my meals, je suis désolé. I cooked them in a pan, quel plaisir, non? So nix the beef, and let’s move to chicken, because that is not what I have in my freezer to devour. Cheeeekin. Include beef too if you so have the urge.
In actuality though, I just wanted to share my outrageous ‘would you rather…’. Dig in. Oh yeah, I wanted to have this song play for the poll, but I seem to be challenged in that area, listen to the song though it’s pretty cool; it’s an “electronic poem” from 1958.

Poeme Electronique (Edvard)

Disclaimer – the lobsters are giant mutants, almost think of them as shark-like so when they claw you it’s a nasty wound for the maggots. Tasty.  

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

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For some, it’s easier said than done. Yes, material things and experiences can aid in creating happiness, but it goes a lot deeper than that. There are three “Happy Messengers” in our brain that are the key contributors to our happiness. These messengers are Serotonin, Noradrenalin, and Dopamine, and these are the brain chemicals that begin to malfunction when stress levels become more than a person can handle, which can lead to a multitude of bad things. Let’s focus on these little nuggets for a second, so we can understand what they actually do (I find this kind of stuff fascinating, sorry if you guys aren’t on the same wavelength, but I think it’s beneficial).

  1. Serotonin is what lets you sleep, and it must be working properly in order for you to get a good nights rest (it makes sure that your body’s physiology is ready for snoozing). No serotonin, no restful sleep… and we all know how grumpy people can get when functioning on too little z’s. Serotonin is more often than not the first happy messenger to fail under stress, hence why the first sign of overstress is inability to sleep peacefully.
  2. Noradrenalin is what gives us energy (it’s a cousin of adrenalin), and has multiple important functions in the body’s nervous system. Proper functioning of Noradrenalin in the brain is uber necessary for you to feel energized, and without enough of it in our brain we automatically feel like a tired, lumpy sack of potatoes. People with low levels become exponentially lethargic, and if the levels aren’t increased eventually, we would just crash.
  3. Dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter (a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells) – the human brain uses five known types of these receptors. When Dopamine function declines, Endorphin function also declines, which causes the loss of our body’s natural pain killer. Dopamine is also responsible for our body’s “Pleasure Center”, the area of your brain that allows you to enjoy life. When stress interferes with your Dopamine function, the Pleasure Center ceases to function. Several important diseases of the nervous system are associated with dysfunctions of the dopamine system (Parkinson’s disease, Schizophrenia, and ADHD to name a few).

So yeah, those are the little guys that keep us happy on a daily basis. There’s a bunch of different things you can do to increase your levels of happiness (here‘s a random list of “scientifically proven” ideas), but what I really want to talk about is food, mmm.
Certain foods contain specific chemicals that are scientifically proven to lift your mood; particularly foods that are rich in omega-3 fats, folic acid, selenium, and vitamin B12. Ainsi, here’s a list of things to munch on if you’re feeling a bit blue, or just want to maintain that nice sunshine-y feeling:

  • Chocolate, my mild addiction (the darker the better I say). This yummy treat contains anandamide, a brain chemical that helps lift your spirits. Scientists believe that other chemicals in chocolate cause anadamide to stay longer in the brain, which is never a bad thing. It also contains caffeine which creates a mild stimulating effect, and its high sugar content leads to the release of serotonin (some anti-depressant medications). The fat and phenylethylamine in chocolate also triggers endorphins, a hormone in the brain that leads to natural feelings of euphoria.
  • Spinach. This vegetable, most often despised by kids and adored by Popeye, is filled with folic acid, a vitamin that is essential for production of serotonin, the “feel-good chemical”. A single cup of spinach contains 262 micrograms of folic acid (the recommended daily intake is 600 micrograms). [Asparagus, beans, and broccoli can also boast of a high amount of folic acid – broccoli is a strong anticancer food as well, proven in laboratory studies to inhibit cancer cells].
  • Nuts. They are nutritional powerfoods, rich in protein, minerals (notably selenium), and omega-3 fats. Nuts also contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that fights stress. Along with lifting our mood, nuts are considered “brain food” due to their high content of omega-3 fats, which help improve the blood flow in our brain. Walnuts in particular have high levels of omega-3 and uridine.
  • Milk.  Preferably skim, but all milk is a fantastic source of tryptophan, an amino acid that our brain needs to make serotonin. The other valuable nutrients of milk include vitamin D, antioxidants, vitamin B12, and calcium – and it also reduces aging.
  • Sunflower Seeds. Seeds are an excellent source of fiber and protein, but sunflower seeds have a ton of selenium which is a chemical that can lift your mood almost instantly. Right on.
  • Carbs (rice, bread, noodles, pasta). Eating carbohydrates can increase our serotonin levels, but to prevent sudden jumps in blood sugar, going the healthier route is always best. This means carbs like brown rice and wheat bread. Whole-wheat carbs are digested more slowly, which in turn leads to you being happier for a longer time.
  • Bananas. The high potassium levels in bananas can prevent cramps, but it also has tryptophan, a serotonin derivative. Bananas are also loaded with magnesium, which leads to lower anxiety levels and a better night’s sleep.
  • Oily Fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines). Oily fishes contain a plethora of omega-3 fatty acids, with studies showing that people who eat more fish are less likely to be depressed (high doses of omega-3 may even be used to treat clinical depression). Most fish also contain vitamin B6 and B12, which help produce serotonin.
  • Beans and Soybeans. Beans are loaded with a ton of soluble fiber, folic acid, and omega-3 fats, as well as being excellent sources of iron and calcium, (which can increase our red blood cells). More importantly, soy contains genistein, a weak estrogen-like substance, which may prevent prostate and breast cancer.
  • Coffee. Coffee is cracked out with caffeine, one of the world’s most popular mood-enhancing drug. Coffee boosts your energy levels, makes you feel more alert, and can improve your memory, but only drink it in moderation (take heed, coffee addicts); too much coffee can also wreck your disposition, cause heart palpitation and anxiety, and make it difficult for you to sleep. So maybe eat a banana with your coffee before bed if you’re an addict?

Well, there you have it. Stay happy people, the world would be a dreary place otherwise. [If you need a goofy mood booster, click here … or here. Sorry if you don’t share my sense of humor, but it’s a grade school throwback that I felt deserved a shout-out].

Nothing says happiness like a Narninian Zeeble

 Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Shpongle My… What?

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So there is this musical group called Shpongle… consisting of the core members Simon Posford and Raja Ram, and their home base is the United Kingdom. They started this masterpiece in 1996 and are still going strong today. I read the following description of the band and realized I couldn’t say it better myself, so here it is:

Dongle and Mongle are the only two other words rhyming with Shpongle…a strange hybrid of electronic manipulation and shamanic midgets with frozen digits squeezing the envelope and crawling through the doors of perception, find a new pair of dice…extra numbers and colours an infinite expanding bubble, filled with a bizzare, strange world of dripping halucinatory wallpaper, a garden of earthly delights…Outer Shpongolia…a place of well being, and reflective surfaces, morphing like an Anacondas skin and shimmering like a million colour changing squid, at fifty fathoms. . truly unfathomable like separating water from it’s wetness, the Ineffable Mysteries unweave …

Yes, I understand that this sounds insane, and in reality, it is insane! I had never heard of Shpongle until a few years ago, and my first time seeing them live was Bonnaroo 2011 which was The Shpongletron, an insane experience that I recommend everyone partakes in. That same summer I was lucky enough to see them again at Camp Bisco 2011, but this time it was Shpongle Live, and equally bizarre yet mesmerizing endeavor (the fact that there was a CRAZY thunderstorm rolling over our heads in the middle of nowhere New York just added to the magic).

The sound of Shpongle is a mixture of eastern ethnic samples and western contemporary psychedelic synth music. Posford does the synth and studio nonsense and Ram adds in with the flute. The music is only half of the experience though, and both are responsible for the intense visuals. Seriously, it is indescribable. As far as my research tells me, Shpongle has six albums released, which are as follows:

  1. Are You Shpongled? (1999)
  2. Tales of the Inexpressible (2001)
  3. Shpongle Remixed (2003)
  4. Nothing Lasts… But Nothing Is Lost (2005)
  5. Ineffable Mysteries From Shpongleland (2009)
  6. The God Particle (2011)

I strongly encourage everyone to at least watch the videos (which are posted in the music category under videos – one of the shpongletron and one of the live performance), their music is pretty awesome, and they’re weird and unique, which is right up my alley!

I took an amazing video of the Shpongletron at Bonnaroo, but last semester (during finals week, of course) my computer decided to doom me and crashed, and the video is out there lost in cyber space =(^2. I did however recover one of the photos I took there, so I’ll share. It’s not very good, but you can at least see the tron.

Behold the Shpongletron

Concert Alert ::
I am addicted to concerts, and living in the Burlington area during the school year and the Providence area the rest of the time, I am lucky enough to have a constant influx of amazing concerts where I can get my fix. Under the music category, there is aconcerts section, which I recommend everybody to check out. Now, usually it will be concerts that I plan on attending, or wish I could be attending, or have already gone to, but that is not to say I want to limit myself. If anyone has any concert info or wants to share, let me know, I love spreading the love of music around.

That being said, Shpongle is coming to Burlington!! The date is May 3rd, 2012 (show at 8:30) and it is via their Masquerade Tour, and they will be playing their DJ Set. Tickets are only $22, and it’s going to be playing at Higher Ground. Come join the experience people!!

Let’s Talk Beef…

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So I was a vegetarian for four years, which surprises me sometimes.
It wasn’t horrible, but it was kind of a bummer only being able to consider uhm, about 7% of every menu – this excludes veggie friendly restaurants, but let’s be real, I don’t like weird cow food. After I converted back to the land of omnivores, I realized that I am so much healthier now because I am consuming flesh (yes, it sounds vulgar, but come on, its the truth. The first step is admittance).

Anyway, now that I am blessed with living off-campus (yay, house!), I am starting to cook more and more. However, I am horrendous, and am in dire need of some help. I love to ogle over the delicacies on foodgawker, but let’s be real: I am a broke college student with a very limited amount of supplies. That then lead me to perusing supercook, but even then I still manage to struggle. I honestly think cooking appliances may have minds of their own, and decide to rebel against me whenever I want to cook something. No matter; this is why I would adore some public input. Anyone feel free to chime in, even if you are not a broke college student with some simple recipes to share, anything is welcome!

I do however want to only focus on a specific food item every week (or so, whatever tickles my fancy). This way it will be way more realistic; I can go to the grocery store, buy the specific supplies and cook up whatever sounds most appetizing. Feel free to add other ingredients to the main food item, and all ethnic food groups are welcome with open mouths.  I’ll share the results here, but I cannot promise they will be pretty… remember, I am cooking challenged. So, this week let’s talk beef. Pan fry it? Grill it? Bake it? Whatever! Cook on lovelies.

Oh yeah, and here are some of the sites I’ve been scoping out to better my beef cooking knowledge. If you know of any better ones don’t hesitate to share.

Mooo

Kisses for cows for letting us eat them* (thanks Devyn) - although it is not voluntary.