We’ve got COOL, now let’s get … TAMS?

As of today, the new COOL (Country-of-Origin Labeling) law goes into effect.  Basically this means that any fresh produce sold in the US must have a label declaring what country it’s from.  The government is giving growers until spring before beginning to fine them, but you should at least begin to see the new labels at stores.  More details about the law and its implementation can be found here.

And that’s great.  I think it will promote consumer awareness and help alleviate some of the worries of food scares and give us a little more information about where our products come from.  But I want more.  I was thinking that I want to know when my organic radishes are from the farmer two miles away and when they’re from Texas.  I want to know where my veggies have been shipped before they came to me, and where they might have stopped in transit, and how long it took them to come.  Ripeness is an issue.  Health is an issue.  Environmental impact is an issue.  I want to track that.

I propose the Tracking and Management System.  I want to know where my stuff went, where it came from – including a little blurb about the farmer – and how long it took to get there.  I want to know details of its shipment, including how far it travelled and at what environmental cost.  Lastly, I want to know the conditions of its transport – was it sent in a refrigerated box?  Was it overheated?  Unintentionally frozen?  I know they’re doing this sort of tracking now with wine, and I know for more commodity items, it’s probably less fiscally feasible.  But still, I want it – and I think it’s something other consumers, even at a more speciality store level which would provide this kind of information, would want it.

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Beyond Privacy

Today I’ve been handling some of the incidentals of moving to (yet another) apartment.  Basically that translates to filling out countless forms just to change my address.  While the advent of the internet allows me to update most of my information ‘virtually’, that still means typing in the same new address over and over again.  While it does mean i now know my new zip code, still I’d rather not.  If I had my druthers (whoa, and the spell check on wordpress recognizes druthers as a word!), there would be only one form to update for all of the endless financial, governmental, and work-related groups I need to update on my new home address.

But there is no universal form, basically for reasons of privacy.  Your home address, just like your phone number and social security number, is meant to be private.  That’s why people can choose to be ‘unlisted’.  That’s why you have to update others as to your new address, rather than some widespread system (outside the post office) tracking the change.  In addition, each of these groups does not have the right to know you belong to any of the others.  So, it’s your prerogative to tell or not tell as you like.

I appreciate the privacy.  I don’t want every hobo on the street knowing where I live.  I don’t enjoy the idea of putting myself on endless lists of interest in certain products or at the mercy of various interest groups.  But I do like my convenience.  I like Amazon recommending new books or CDs to me.  I like the idea of being able to update every aspect of my life with one fell swoop.  And all of that is based on allowing others access to my private information.

How much is too much?  Where do I draw the line and say, “No, I’m not going to tell you what type of creamsicle I like best”?  When do I realize it’s too much to re-enter my music preferences each time I visit Pandora?  Is the internet really breaking down traditional barriers and ideas of privacy, or are we merely revealing information to a new community – international users and service providers, rather than those neighbors and friends in our immediate physical area?  Is any of it a good thing, and to what extent?

Curly-hair products and other womanly things

I am a little hesitant to put up an entry with ‘womanly things’ in the title. Womanly things tend to be those things that are not discussed in polite or ‘mixed’ company. Actually, that whole embarrassment over regularly occurring events such as menstruation or drying your boxers on a line outside your apartment is a little weird. Still, I’m at least grateful to not be in Japan, where laughing is so embarrassing for a girl that she has to hide it. I’d have to use both hands.

Digressions aside, I still think ‘womanly things’ is an accurate way to discuss my topic. Unless you happen to be a straight male with an intense fondness for styling product. If so welcome! But try not to goo on me when I give you a hug.

The wonders of modern consumer tracking often amaze me. There I am, scrabulously minding my own business on facebook, when I happen to notice the ad in the margin. It was an ad for curly-hair products, no doubt aimed at my distinctive fro. As far as how that specific ad linked up to me – did my sisters call me fro-head one too many times on facebook? had I recently visited some website related to anti-frizz product that it tracked onto? – I am still in the dark. But the skill at which internet target marketing is expanding amazes me. Some people take this as invasive, but I’m ready for the day when I’ll only have to shop through the stuff I actually want. Ah consumerism! In the wake of Christmas, how you enliven my little footpads!

I did check out the curly hair place, for those of you who are interested. Not all that great or unique, but their marketing department definitely wins.

Gyminee for me.

So, in my renewed commitment to being healthier this year, I have been to a yoga class at my gym class once so far this week. That’s probably not very good exercise-wise, since it’s the only time I’ve been to the gym, but it’s definitely a more complete stretching of muscles than I normally accomplish on my own. Witness: my rib-muscles (wherever the ones directly over your ribs are called) are still hurting.

Be that as it may, I did accomplish one other thing, which is to regularly start tracking my daily ‘health vitals’ – my weight, body fat, exercise, and food/beverage intake. It’ll be interesting to see if I can watch any trends between these things. Of course, most of them are not indicators of health per se – I would like to also be able to track my heart rate or some other vital signs, but this will do for a start.

As a part of this process, Mike and I signed up for this little online service called ‘Gyminee‘. It’s not a bad little service, for what it is. Granted, we only signed up for the free part, but that still lets you track a fair amount of nutrition information. Individuals enter specific product information which is available to all participants, so you can usually find an entry comparable to what you’re eating by searching. And it will chart your intake over the period of time that you regularly enter information, as well as other statistics – resting hear rate, weight, and various body size measurements (waist, arm, etc.). The downside is that it doesn’t really allow you to track your exercise without signing up for their special services, which is how they make their money. Also, the charts leave a little to be desired, as they only track one thing at a time. So I can see that my weight went up-down-up-up-down over the past few days (mine tends to fluctuate alot), but that doesn’t tell me anything in comparison to how I’ve been eating or exercising.

So I decided to make one of my own.

exercise-2.jpg

I ended up putting it on two charts instead of just one, and I think it’s not that bad.  A little hard to read, but I can do a  bit more with line weigh and colors to spruce that up.  Anyway, I can’t post Excel files here, but if anyone wants a copy, they can email me (miamaya222@yahoo.com).  Is my email listed someplace here?

Oh! I just thought of something. It would also be useful to try and track other eating habits at the same time – such as when eating is typically done, how much eating is done in one meal or a series of little snacks, and how quickly you eat. But that will have to wait for another day – I’m all pooped out of Excel and figuring things out.