Wooden food, Classroom IV’s, and a Whole Lotta Smiths

I’ve got the brain of a four year old. I’ll bet he was glad to be rid of it.”  Groucho Marx.

This quest to learn has become an obsession.  It’s quite scary actually.  Everything that I encounter in my everyday life is suddenly inspected closely for an “a-ha” moment.  A cereal box is perused for unusual ingredients.  The Young and the Restless is listened to with intense studiousness.  I even find myself pondering the origins of my kitchen utensils.  My husband hasn’t said it yet, but I’m pretty sure he thinks I’ve lost my mind–which would be a shame considering all the work I’ve been doing to expand it.

But here are the 3 juicy tid-bits that I have selected just for you.

1) Many of you know that I have been trying to lose weight and I have to say that a lot of “diet” food tastes like cardboard.  You know what I’m talking about–melba toast, Ryvita, and worst of all, the coaster pretending to be a rice cake.  If God had intended me to eat wood, he would have made me a beaver.  Right?

Wrong.  Apparently, I have unknowingly been eating wood for years.  And so have YOU.  No, you won’t find “wood,” “bark,” or “knotty pine” written on any food labels, but you will find the innocuous term “powdered cellulose.”  It sounds innocent enough, but what exactly is it?

Beaver food.  Ground up wood pulp and other plant fibres.  Talk about roughage.  And we’ve been eating it in our favourite foods for years–waffles, cake icing, pasta mixes, cocoa, cheese, and ice cream, just to name a few.  And it is especially prevalent in foods that have been labelled low fat or high fibre.  I thought fibre was supposed to be good for the colon, but who wants a bowel splinter?

Just goes to show you that slick marketing will get us to eat anything.  Forget pumpkin pie or butter tarts.  Soon those mint-flavoured toothpicks will be dessert.

2)  We’ve all heard of test anxiety.  You may have experienced it yourself–profuse sweating that no amount of Lady Speedstick can help, butterflies in your stomach, and the dreaded blank mind.  I realize that some of us are perpetually in a state of blank-mindedness, but we’ll save that for another post in another blog.

Or maybe you have stayed up to the wee hours of the morning, cramming as much information into your exhausted brain as you possibly can, only to find yourself in a sleep-deprived stupor the next day.

It would appear that the Chinese have come up with a solution, albeit a strange one, for these exam-related problems–classrooms retrofitted with IV drips.  Yes, no need to interrupt your studies with pesky chores like eating or sleeping.  It’s far easier to pump amino acids directly into your vein.

Is this bizarre or is just me?  I’d love to hear your comments.

3)  Thanks to my eternal quest for the perfect pen name, I ended up in a conversation today about knowing more than one person with the same name.  I have known three Jim Smiths.  And two Jennifer Jones.  It’s not all that surprising.  Jim and Jennifer are both common names.  And so are Smith and Jones.

The conversation then moved on to trying to guess what the most common last names are.  I said Smith.  It turns out I was both right and wrong.  It all depends which side of the border I am on.

According to the majority of web sites that I found, the top 5 most common surnames in the United States are:

  1. Smith
  2. Johnson
  3. Williams
  4. Jones
  5. Brown
Interestingly, Canada’s list is quite different:
  1. Li
  2. Smith
  3. Lam
  4. Martin
  5. Brown
And for all my relatives…the 6th most common last name in Canada is:  ROY.  Ha, for years people have been telling us we’re strange.  Turns out we are common. And we have the numbers to prove it.

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