Running Down a Dream: Running a Restaurant for a Day

This is one of my last projects as an undergrad at Oregon State University.

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First, let’s give a big shout out to managers, food production staff, etc. that help restaurant operations run smoothly, because holy shit do you all have a tough job.

As part of my requirements for my degree, nutrition students have to run an on-campus restaurant for one day.  This includes everything, from setting up a theme, to the marketing, and even designing the menu.  Fortunately, I wasn’t alone.  I had a group of very talented people to work with.

Our theme was Thai food (with more of a focus on the Americanized versions, since that is what we were familiar with).  We focused on foods that were simple, quick to make, and we were sure were going to sell.  Some of our highlights include pork meatballs, spicy chicken wings, and pad Thai.  No, our focus wasn’t on making healthy food.

I was in charge of the design elements of the event, seeing as how I had the most technical know-how out of my group.  I we came up with the name “Tongue Thai’d” for our theme name.  As such, I pulled a classic move and modified the Rolling Stones logo for two reasons:  I didn’t want our group to use the raw logo like what was proposed and I liked influencing the event with my rock/metal roots anyway.  I modified the logo by putting a twist on it, as in I made the tongue look like it was knotted or twisted.

Sooner than any of us wanted, we were freaking the fuck out ready for the event.  I was on running duty, meaning I was basically a combination of a bus boy and waiter.  We hit a few snags initially, such as our tea being salty (someone mistook salt for sugar), so we had to prepare new batches and replace and serve them.  We also wound up selling out of a couple of our items, which is a good and bad thing.  Good, because that meant we had a lot of sales, but bad because we potentially lost sales, too.

This is one of those experiences I won’t forget.  The months of planning, tasting recipes and making adjustments, the mistakes and successes made along the way.  All of it is valuable in dietetics practice.  Food service is a very important part, since people like to eat.  People eat in places other than home (such as an on-campus restaurant).  Having a dietician on hand helps with food decisions, such as:  balancing meals, ingredient substitutions, or possibly legislation.

Shout out to the talented people I got to work with on this project.  You all helped to make this project as smooth as possible.  Congratulations on graduating, and may you all do great things in your field!

Success

Some college senior talks about things that helped him be successful.

Matching for the Dietetic Internships (DI) is wrapped up.  For many juniors in the program, this is a scary time.  There might be a lot of time now, but it will go by fast.  For sophomores and freshmen (maybe even the juniors or seniors too) in nutrition programs, you have a bit more time.  I have some words of encouragement for you.

  1. Find something that scares the shit out of you and do it.  You can talk about this during the DI application, how you started off scared of something (e.g. public speaking), and how you improved.
  2. Be bold.  You really want to stand out in some way.  There are a lot of ways you can do this.  Oftentimes, hobbies or lifestyle choices can benefit you if you spin it in a certain way.  For example, playing on a sports team shows dedication and the ability to be part of a team.  Being involved in student organizations shows potential leadership experience.  Hell, if you really want to, starting a blog is pretty easy.  I mean, lookit this guy.
  3. Be good at what you do.  One piece of advice I got from a professor was to pick a couple things you are good at, and flaunt them to whoever will want to see them.  For me, I tried to stay active on Twitter, WordPress, Facebook and others.  Eventually due to burnout, I stopped being so active on Twitter, and keep my Facebook for friends and family only.   I found it difficult to keep up with everything, and this was only a small smattering of social media.  However, I have also started to take up fiction writing.  It can be intimidating trying to get everything done that dietetics classes recommend, so I will be the contrarian.  Find some hobbies you like, and do them well.
  4. Be yourself.  One would think that being a potty-mouthed metal-head shows me as less professional than many of the other students in the program.  However, when I have tried to “fit-in” with the crowd, I felt very artificial.  I despised giving more professional presentations too.  However, I have found ways to maintain my sense of self, while being appropriate for work, and maintaining a professional demeanor.  I still go into class with band-tee shirts, but when the time comes I try and put on professional face, while still maintaining the quirkiness I try and provide.
  5. Have fun.  I wish this was as easy as it sounds.  Studying can be a big pain, even if it’s something you’re interested in.  Sometimes you need a break to figure out what you need.  Sometimes having fun is doing something else, like watching a movie, playing video games, or even spending time with friends and family.  I am wrapping up my fifth year of college.  If it wasn’t for my hobbies, or friends and family I would have lost my sanity a long time ago.  Or at least, the last remaining bits of my sanity.

Success can be seen in many more ways than I listed.  Success is also loosely defined.  You can do all of these things, yet fail at what you do.  Just remember, that is not the end.  Not everyone’s path is the same, and it is up to you to determine if you succeeded or not.

Fake News: How to Navigate Information

There is a lot of trash on the internet. This is some of my advice on finding what is useful to you.

Wow, look at this!  Mr. Blogman is back at it again.  Maybe this term will be kinder to me by actually allowing me to have freetime.

Fake news is one of those terms that people throw around like crazy.  Something for your point is valid, whereas if something goes against it, it becomes the increasingly cliched term “fake news.”  However, within the realm of food and nutrition, there is a lot of fake news.  I jokingly tell many people in my dietetics cohort “anyone online who is writing about nutrition either knows jack-shit, or is a dietitian.”  While this is a hyperbolized statement, it highlights the fact that there are many blogs out there from people who have no idea what they are talking about.  This post (which may or may not be fake news) is going to help you navigate the confusion.

Who wrote the article?:  This can show a lot about how reliable the article is.  Moms are fantastic people.  In fact, one helped to make me the sarcastic asshole  intelligent young man I am today.  However, a good portion of them are not educated in nutrition or medicine.  A mommy blog arguing against vaccines and promoting homeopathy is not reliable, because they are going against the vast amounts of research done showing the contrary.  Same goes for scientists as well.  Science is attacked by everyone, including other scientists.  When I research a topic, I look where there are more voices, rather than the loudest.  If 99 published articles say something (like fruits and vegetables are healthy), and one opposes it (if they say that fruits and vegetables are actually going to give you cancer because of some compound in all plants), then we need to examine the one that’s against.  Sometimes, this is can find something new that we did not know yet, and warrants further education.  Other times, they are full of shit.

What do they have to gain from writing the article?:  Nobody does anything for nothing.  Hell, I write this blog because I want to get my nutritional foot in the door.  Most times, articles are written for money.  Most of the times, money comes from ads, and advertisers want view and engagement.  This means articles get trashy and worthless.  Sometimes these articles will use catchy titles to bait you into clicking on them (for example, THIS one Food in Your Kitchen is DEADLY, and You are EATING It.  The answer is water, because it can be dangerous when super heated, and can cause electrolyte imbalances if too much is drunk).  Emotional trickery, especially anger, can lead you to share the article with people, leading to more views.  Sometimes, health professionals and amateurs can be paid to sponsor a product.  This does not mean it’s a healthy product, but that someone paid someone to say something valuable about it.

How reputable is the source?:  Sometimes the platform can make or break a source.  Several media outlets have shown themselves to not be reputable with their reporting, and this is used against one side or another (be it politics, health, or current events).  I can assure you, whether you are for or against a topic, there are good and bad sources on either side.  On social media, I’ve seen so many image macros (or memes) about bashing one side or the other.  There are valid points to both sides, yet it gets lost with who you are talking to.  I can even praise homeopathy for a component that modern medicine lacks:  empathy.  Some sources have tarnished their credibility to Hell.

Where Did the Punk Go?

When it rains, it pours.  And because it’s Oregon weather, it rains for several months on end.

I wound up getting VERY busy over the last two months.  College has a tendency to do that.  The good news is that I have been refining my writing skills, and branching out.  The bad news is that it’s been two months (almost a whole term at my university) where I have not written anything here.

I branched out into fiction.  Since high school started, I focused only on non-fiction.  This includes things like literary analysis, and science papers.  In college, I focused more on writing technical documents.  However, I did take some fiction writing classes before I declared myself a writing minor.  Now, I plan on taking more.  In fact, I might even post some of my favorite assignments into a portfolio and share it with my readers!

I also got hired onto a new job.  This job is through SNAP-Ed, so instead of recruiting people to sign up for SNAP benefits, I am assisting in developing materials to publish online for those who need it, or are interested.  I’ve only JUST started working there, but so far so good.

I’ve also been working on three video projects all at once.  This was a HUGE time-sink.  One of the videos I had to do completely.  I really did not care for this one.  I started to run out of time, and had to rush it a bit.  It probably does not help that I am not super confident with video editing.  The second one I liked better.  I got to work with a group of three other people.  We made an instructional video for the university’s food service explaining why it’s important to check meat temperatures, and how to properly do so.  The last one has been the biggest time-sink of them all, as the project has spanned almost this entire year.  This one is an educational video on the changes to the Nutrition Facts panel that is happening in the summer of 2018.  We wanted to ensure all the information was accurate, and that the video was entertaining enough, while incorporating enough classroom materials for the videos to supplement a lecture.  This one has been fun!

So what is the future of The Nutrition Punk?  Right now, I am working.  This takes less time than classes, so I definitely plan on blogging WAY more.  Once next school year begins, I will probably have to be away from my blog intermittently to wrap up my last year at university, and to work on getting my materials together for a post-college life.

Fat Country: A General Guide for Different Fats

Food and nutrition can be confusing.  One such way is with fats.  There are so many types out there, and debate about if they are healthy or not.  Thanks to its poorly-moderated nature, the internet has all sorts of misinformation out there.  Today I am going to be making a short-hand guide to hopefully help you be a better educated consumer!

 

FAT:  This is a general term for boring biochemical stuff.  It comes in one of three forms in foods (I know there’s a lot of different ways this stuff can end up before or after being eaten, but this is a general short guide for any of you science people out there who want to criticize me for overly simplifying this!).  It can be found in saturated, unsaturated and trans-fat varieties for cooking.  Other forms are used in the body for various functions

SATURATED FAT:  This is the kind that doctors call “unhealthy fat.”  It plays a role in increasing blood cholesterol, which can cause damage to the blood vessels and heart.  It’s found in foods like butter and other animal products.  Typically, this is found in a solid form at room temperature.

UNSATURATED FAT:  This is the kind that doctors call the “good fats.”  It can help lower bad cholesterol in the body.  These are found in liquid form at room temperature.  Foods like nuts and avocados are high in saturated fat.

TRANS-FAT:  These are most commonly found as synthetically made fats (they can actually exist in nature, but they are pretty rare).  Essentially some food chemist does their mumbojumbo science stuff to some unsaturated fats, and it becomes solid at room temperature.  They are also more shelf stable than other kinds of oils.  However, they also increase the risk of developing heart and vessel issues.  In fact, the FDA removed it from the “generally regarded as safe” list!  This means that foods with trans-fats in them must undergo reviews to ensure consumer safety.

TROPICAL OILS:  These are things like palm oil and coconut oil.  Many people think coconut oil is a healthier option when compared to butter.  Unfortunately, this type of oil has A LOT of saturated fat.  More so than butter!  Some websites proclaim this as a healthy oil, but so far my research does not indicate that.

 

Any comments, questions, or anything else you would like to say?  Leave them below!

Happy fcuking birthday: My One Year Blog Anniversary

I hit a milestone of one-year of blogging!!

Well, it’s been one year (and one day, because classes prevent me from having too much fun!) since I started posting to this blog.  This started off as a project in one of my nutrition classes (I actually submitted the first post as an assignment!).  Since then, I have kind of built up my blog further.  It’s been interesting for me.  I never thought that I would ever get this kind of exposure!  I’ve had friends and family discussing and sharing my blog with others.

To celebrate, I am going to write up a summary of what I have learned during this year.  There were many changes for me, in all works of life.

Make Adversity into an Advantage:  The blog was done as part of an assignment in one of my nutrition classes.  However, during this time, I was facing some problems.  Because of several issues with class scheduling, I wound up being a year behind schedule.  Meaning I had to take another year, with most terms having too few credits for me to keep my funding.  Instead of bitching about it, I opted to take on a minor.  I enjoy writing (if that wasn’t evident enough), so I decided to take a few extra writing classes to boost my schedule.

Strive for Improvement:  I push for personal improvement in life.  I have a hard time really feeling satisfied with what I am doing.  On assignments, I usually get to the point of saying “fuckit” and turning in what I have done.  I know that I am going to consistently miss small details here and there, and with the stresses and time constraints.  I do take criticism with stride, though.  I try and take the feedback received by classmates and professors alike to improve my own work.  I also look at test scores as a sort of feedback.  If I am hot satisfied with a grade I got, I examine the habits I have and try to improve them to get the score I want.

Have fun:  Life is one of those interesting things.  Life can be incredibly fun and you can love everything that is going on.  But life also can be a huge drag and bore the hell out of you.  On top of this, it can change on a whim.  One moment, you can be having the time of your life, and then suddenly be bored or stressed or some other negative emotion.  So, what can be done about things?  Well, I try to maximize the amount of times I have fun.  I love learning (otherwise I would have not gone to college), and I love putting my knowledge to use.  I am finally at the point where classes are less knowledge cramming for tests, and applying the knowledge I learned.  Instead of viewing what I have to do for classes as chores, I view them as something fun.

This was one helluva year to say the least.  I am not going to get into too many personal details that are irrelevant, but I am glad I started working on this blog.  Here’s to another year of blogging!  I can’t wait to have more stories to share!

What the F**k is Wrong with You?: The problem with Self-Diagnosing

How Googling symptoms can lead to unexpected problems

A lot of people often use online sources to find out what their problems are.  Hell, even I have done web searches to find out some illnesses I’ve had.  The problem with doing this is that you probably are not a doctor (unless you actually are a doctor of medicine, in which I shall shut the fuck up and let you do your job).  Using the symptom checkers can often lead to conclusions that are not quite logical for the situation.

For example, let’s say you ate a whole can of beans for some reason.  Hours later, you have a belly ache.  There is some pain in your abdomen, so you look up the symptoms.  It’s a sharp, moderately severe pain with a feeling of fullness.  Using the symptom checker, this person can have issues that are relatively severe, including diverticulitis (sacks that develop in the colon which then get filled with bacteria and poo), dermatomyositis (rare disease which causes muscle pain, weakness, and blotchy patches), or, quite simply, gas pains.

While it is important to monitor your health, sometimes a doctor is not needed.  If you are just farting a lot due to eating a whole lot of beans, there probably is not much a doctor can recommend, save for some anti-gas medications that you can get over the counter.  In more severe cases, like if you wound up having some blotchy patches in addition to the pain, then yeah, maybe see a doctor.

Looking up symptoms can also lead to hypochondriasis like conditions, and I know I have fallen into such trap.   An example is thinking the slight discomfort from eating the beans is a sign of severe gastrointestinal cancer.  Thinking the most severe situation after a short duration of time can lead to unnecessary doctor visits, which can add up financially when insurance gets involved.

Now, I am not saying to forgo going to the doctor for ailments, I am simply saying to be smart with it.  If the pain came from eating a whole can of beans, or if you have a sore, runny nose and it’s cold season, then it probably is not a severe gastrointestinal issue, or even nasal polyps.

So what do you guys think?  Has online symptom checkers helped find diseases you never knew you had, or did it lead to a trip to the doctor that was not needed?