Sunday, November 26, 2017

Separations During Stressful Periods to Save Relationships

During a break at work, I was speaking with one of my colleagues about his kid and girlfriend.  He’s a younger guy, in his early 20s, and he and his girlfriend had an unplanned pregnancy about two years ago.  This would mean that the whole life change took place when he was in his late teens or early 20s.

Anyway, after the surprise pregnancy came up, his girlfriend moved out to live with her parents.  She has remained there for about two years, and it was just recently decided that she would be moving back in with him.  Everything sounds like it’s pretty stable, in that they’re getting along well and genuinely want to live together again.

After hearing the whole story, it made me wonder: Would it be beneficial to the long-term sustainability of relationships if couples separated during stressful periods, eventually getting back together after the stressful period has passed?

We all know that stress breeds more stress, oftentimes producing substantial conflict in relationships (of any kind).  This is especially true with people living together and even more so with couples.  However, what stands out to me regarding romantic relationships is the fact that people break up; that is, friendships seem more likely to survive stressful periods, and family relationships (brother-sister, mother-son, etc.) survive even more, whereas couples seem to break up (and stay broken up) a lot easier.

Now, the above is all opinion/anecdotal; I haven’t looked at or seen studies to support what I think I’ve seen.  Actually, there might be studies that disprove this thought, so I might be way off base here.  In any case, thinking of my colleague’s story and leaning on intuition, it feels like temporary separations really could help romantic relationships.  This is especially true for young couples since they’re less capable (some would say not mature enough) to make the best long-term decisions.  For one, you’re not around each other non-stop, so you don’t have the opportunity to take stress out on each other all of the time.  Secondly, in the case of pregnancy and assuming the option is available, moving back in with family (especially parents): 1. provides valuable support and experience; 2. might actually strengthen family relationships; and 3. leverages relationships that are more likely to survive stressful periods.  And thirdly, by being apart, you might cherish and enjoy your time together more than you otherwise would have.

So, I wonder if this is a good way to combat stressful circumstances in relationships, such as unplanned (or even planned) pregnancies, and especially pregnancies at a young age.  This could even apply for career changes, a death in the family, or other life-changing events.  If there haven’t been studies on this, my intuition tells me that it might be worth investigating.  You never know!

Anyway, just something I came across and was thinking about.  Thought I’d share!  Let me know what you think!

And if for whatever reason I’m way off here and the idea is a bad one, you know what to do: Blame it on fast foods!

- Steve

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fast Food Restaurants closing

It is without question that my jaw dropped when I came across the headline, “Fast-food restaurants closing as Quebec unemployment rate nears all-time low.” The article associated with the headline relates the temporary closing of a McDonald's in a small Canadian community of Val-d'Or and the closing of a KFC in the small city of Lévis, both in the province of Quebec, Canada. The author, Benjamin Shingler, writes that these are “among a number of Quebec restaurants forced to close its doors because of a staffing shortage.”

The article suggests that given the lowest unemployment rate that the province has seen in decades, the fast-food industry is having difficulty finding staff. In an attempt to recruit employees, some restaurants launched social media campaigns offering wages above the $11.25/hr minimum wage. Given that the economy is booming, employers will have a harder time “filling both skilled positions and low-wage jobs.” The labour “crunch” has resulted in many fast food chains struggling to survive. This reality has forced some restaurants to reduce their hours, while others have had to close their doors.

At first, I had a hard time believing how this could happen (not really!). However, after a bit of thought (very little in fact!), everything made sense. Considering that fast food restaurants are in the business of making money by producing low quality goods (in this case foods) as quickly as possible, the companies must keep expenses at a minimum. Not only are the ingredients of low grade (cheapest to be frank), the wages must be kept low so the conglomerates can make as much money as possible as quickly as possible. This includes making money off the back of their employees. The reality is when jobs are scarce, people will take whatever jobs are available, even at fast food joints! However, now that better paying jobs are out there, people quickly move on.

To me, the expression “you reap what you sow” clearly applies. As illustrated above, it is the fast food conglomerates that created this situation by trying to get the better of people through selling inferior products while simultaneously taking advantage of their employees by paying them the least amount possible. As fast as the fast food industry produces its garbage, employees will leave if given the opportunity. Hopefully, people will also move on to better quality foods. So as a result, we can genuinely say … Blame it on fast foods!

-B.J.T. Pepin

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Celebrities, People, and Politics/Intellectual Debate

In recent times, it seems more and more frequent that celebrities, often entertainers, are weighing in on politics and complex intellectual subjects.  They’re vocal on things like racial inequity, legislation, foreign policy, and so on.  Of course, every single person has the right to voice an opinion and to have their opinion heard.  However, just because you have an opinion, it doesn’t mean that anyone has to value it.  Is math related to science?

I think a major issue in public debate nowadays is confusion around the right to voice an opinion and whether or not others have to appreciate your opinion.  There is a big difference between restricting one’s right to an opinion or to voice an opinion and disagreement with an opinion and/or thinking an idea is dumb.  For example, you have complete freedom to think that the world is flat, but that doesn’t mean that I have to respect that thought; just as you have the right to believe something stupid and voice that stupid idea, I have the right to believe you are stupid and voice my opinion that you are stupid.  Everyone can have an opinion and has the freedom to express it, but that is not the same as freedom from objection and criticism.

Similarly, many celebrities appear to be confused about their position in the world.  Celebrities are extremely well-known and have large platforms on which they can voice their opinions.  That said, regarding intellectual debate, it’s important to remember why they have these platforms.  Did they gain their popularity from their ability to debate on politics?  Oftentimes, no.  Actually, in the case of entertainers, it’s often simply because they’re entertaining.  So, if you’re popular, does it also mean that you have something smart to say?  No, not necessarily.

The one last part that people also forget is there is a difference between respecting or not respecting an opinion and respecting or not respecting the person.  Just because I think your idea is stupid does not mean I think you are stupid.  Actually, it doesn’t even matter if I think you’re stupid anyways.  The truth is I can think your idea is stupid and that you’re not intelligent while also respecting you as a person and your freedom to be, think, and say anything.

Intellectual debate and progress do not give out participation awards.  Having money and popularity and using both in order to push ideas does not guarantee that people will value your ideas because they might be garbage ideas; popularity doesn’t necessarily correlate with intelligence.  As a result, while celebrities (and all people, for that matter) have every right to an opinion and to voice an opinion, don’t be surprised if everyone thinks your ideas are stupid.  Know your strengths and your place in this world and get over yourself.  And if you’re lacking in an area and want to be better, then work hard and get better.  The same goes for each and every one of the rest of us.  But, if you can’t handle people calling you stupid and don’t want to do anything to be better, do the next best thing: Blame it on fast foods.

- Steve

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Recommended fat intake should increase?

Recommended fat intake should increase, Canadian researchers say” is definitely an article title that caught my attention. The study cited suggests that “Low-fat diets have led to dangerously high carbohydrate consumption.” It goes on to say that policy on nutrition has been too focused on fat reduction and that we should limit carbohydrate intake. The report points out that “people who ate a lot of carbohydrates (more than 60 per cent of their total calorie intake) were at higher risk of death overall, as well as death not related to cardiovascular disease.” It stresses that “moderation in all foods, including fats and carbohydrates, is important.”

Given that many people in our society today struggle with being overweight and are considered “fat,” at first, the idea of ingesting more “fat” appears counterintuitive. For decades, it was believed that fat was the culprit, so the push was to replace the fat with carbs. With this in mind, the fast food industry jumped at the opportunity to peddle relevant products. If you were to sneak a peek at most fast food joints’ menus, it is quickly apparent that the “food” served is mostly made up of carbohydrates. However, by replacing fat with carbohydrates, the result was that people ingested more carbohydrates and inadvertently became “fat.” In essence, the fast food industry literally “fed” right into this craze and, in the process, padded their pockets at the expense of people’s health.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the fast food industry was actually behind the research that criticized fat and condoned carb intake. Politicians and nutritionists alike were likely paid off to promote one over the other. Bribery and subterfuge at everyone else's expense! For the umpteenth time, blame must be place where it belongs: Blame it on fast foods!

- B.J.T. Pepin

Friday, August 04, 2017

Fast food packaging - A health hazard

In his letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer urges the FDA to launch an investigation into fast food packaging.  Senator Schumer cited the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics report and seven-year Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study that assessed the chemicals used in the production of fast food packaging and the adverse health effects on the human body.  He points out that the FDA has “done little-to-nothing to investigate these health concerns and protect the public from chemicals contained in the fast food products that wrap our sandwiches, hold our drinks or carton our fries.”

If the harmful effects that fast foods have on human health weren’t enough, now it’s the packaging that puts people’s health at risk.  To make matters worse, research clearly outlines the risks, but the FDA appears to be oblivious to the situation and hasn’t taken any action to rectify matters.  This is tantamount to adding insult to injury!

"How is this possible," you ask?  To me, the answer is simple: Like fast foods are allowed to exist, by extension, the packaging is as well.  It is all a matter of dollars and cents.  There is so much money involved in the production, packaging, and consumption of fast foods that too many conglomerates would lose money if laws were put in place to remove or disallow such harmful products.  Some might even say that the fast food conglomerates have the FDA in their back pockets!  It’s easy to have certain things “overlooked” when you throw money at people to sway their interest!

This is yet another example of how the fast food industry continues to control the government and our countries’ people.  Once again, blame must be place where it belongs: Blame it on fast foods!

-B.J.T. Pepin

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ban Fast Foods

While scanning the news, I came across this article out of the U.K. entitled:  “Fast food should be banned from public transport to tackle 'guzzling on the go', say obesity experts.”  The article points out that “experts at the world’s largest obesity conference urged politicians to make sweeping changes to limit the availability of junk food on public transport.”  This push for restrictions would hopefully reset social norms and shift the public out of the current custom of round-the-clock snacking.  Essentially, the “guzzling on the go” is fuelling Britian’s weight problem.

The head of the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, Prof Halford, suggests that people eat so much because eating opportunities are always available.  He goes on to say that in the 1970’s, food in general as well as the type of food was more restricted as compared to today.  Also, people had to prepare their food.  Speaking at the European Congress on Obesity, Prof Halford pushed politicians to take radical action.  Like smoking and alcohol were banned from public transport, so should fast food. 

By George, the Brits appear to have gotten it right!  They are suggesting that the only way to curb the consumption of fast food by the populace is to restrict the availability of junk food in public venues.  I must admit that although I believe in the freedom of choice, when it comes to food, the conglomerates’ cocktails of addictive fast food have clearly gotten the better of our society.  Maybe it is high time for the politicians to step in on behalf of people and protect them from themselves!

Given the potential benefits of this push to restrict fast foods on public transport in the U.K., maybe the same should be done in North America.  With this in mind, I might have to change my slogan to “Ban Fast Foods.”  On second thought, I don’t think I will.  Regardless, the ingredients in fast foods are still to blame for society’s addiction to the slop.  So once again I say: blame it on fast foods!

- B.J.T. Pepin

Monday, May 01, 2017

Menu labeling rule in limbo?

While I was taking a look at the news, I came across an article entitled: “Menu labeling rule in limbo as feds signal last-minute delay.”  The federal rule to take effect on 05 May 2017, “would make it mandatory for all restaurant, supermarket and convenience store chains to post calorie counts on their menus…” Now, just as it was about to take effect, the FDA indicated that the rule could be delayed.

So what do you think is behind the delay?  Some would say that it is a last ditch effort by certain forces to lift regulations that are burdensome to businesses, because of the additional costs associated with the production of new menus.  A counter argument would suggest that since the food industry is already producing some form of labelling, the so-called additional cost is nothing but a smokescreen.

So what are some of the benefits to such a rule?  Foremost, consumers would be in the position to see the calorie counts before buying food and would tend to order less calorie-laden options.  Also, a directive that requires the food chains to admit on paper the ingredients they put in the food they serve is a godsend.  It would allow consumers to be better informed on the chemicals/poison readily put in most foods.  Social pressure for healthier food could, potentially, lead the food conglomerates to produce healthier alternatives.  So far, this sounds pretty good, right?

What do I say?  It’s about time that such regulations are put in place!  It would force the food chains to disclose to all their customers the kind of garbage that they serve!  Therefore, it isn’t surprising that forces within the food industry are trying their best to prevent such law from coming into effect!  However, my darker side believes that such a law really won’t make much of a difference.  Why, you ask?  Because the populace is so addicted to the hollow, sugar-laden foods served at fast food joints!  The same is true for the quick-cooking/time-saving trash available at supermarkets!  The result is that most people wouldn’t/couldn’t alter their choices! 

I find it sad to admit/realize that a potentially great law would not make much of a difference.  This is a clear case of the food industry controlling the populace for such a long time that the people have become powerless.  So where should we place the blame?  To me it is simple.  Blame it on fast foods!

- B. J. T. Pepin

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fake news? You mean that not everything we read on the internet is true?!

Back in late February, while my dearest was watching a recording of the Doctor Oz show, something caught my attention: The term “fake news” was used to describe information presented by certain websites.  If you aren’t aware of the term, Wikipedia describes “fake news” as “a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation…with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically.”

During the broadcast, Dr. Oz’s guest, Jestin Coler, admitted to creating fake news websites and profiting from them.  What surprized me most were the comments suggesting how and how many people are actually drawn into the scams.  In order to trick millions of people into believing and sharing content, the websites involved would copy the look of more reputable news websites.  This included creating web addresses that closely resemble those of the well-known websites, “banking” on the fact that many people only see the first part of the address.

Later in March, CBS’s show, “60 Minutes,” also looked into the topic of fake news.  Although Jestin Coler was again center stage, what came out of the interview with Michael Cernovich was significant.  Looking beyond the content of Cernovich’s stories, “the 60 Minutes team realized that the very definitions of words like ‘true’ and ‘false’ were not agreed upon by everyone in the room.”  The discussion on this topic suggests that “there is a basic fundamental disagreement right now in the country about what is false information.”

To me, the last comment really sealed the deal.  It is crystal clear that many people will choose to believe anything.  Why?  Well, either they are daft and will believe just about anything or they use the lies to push an agenda in one way or another.  The most recent presidential race in the United States is a perfect example.  It is sad to see that people will buy into it!

But where does this come from?  It’s simple: We live in a society that is built on “smoke and mirrors.”  What I mean is that the populace is willing to buy anything and everything.  Whether or not what is bought is real or good, it is that which appears to them as real or good that is most important.  Sad but true!  People simply believe what they want to believe.  The purchase of fast foods presented as “healthy”/“healthier” is another example of this reality.  I really think that fast foods have rotten our brains!  So what do I say in the face of fake news and people believing the fabrications?  Blame it on fast foods!

- B. J. T. Pepin

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

It must be someone else’s fault! What did you do?!

Unless you were totally isolated for days and without access to any type of electronic device, you heard about what happened at the Oscars.  On one of the biggest stages out there, announcing the best picture proved to be quite interesting…and challenging apparently.  In her article, Rhonda Scharf describes how we were witness to what should be acknowledged and praised as prime examples of grace and class by both Jordan Horowitz and Warren Beatty.

Producer Jordan Horowitz was well into his acceptance speech when the error was recognized, and without waiting for someone else to handle the situation, he came forward to make the correction and announce that it was “Moonlight” that had actually won the award.  Afterward, instead of placing the blame on Faye Dunaway (or anyone else), Warren Beatty simply explained what happened.  Without question, I agree that these two individuals demonstrated how one should act in such a situation: with grace and class.

Then, shortly thereafter, Jimmy Kimmel came into the picture.  He proceeded to question Warren Beatty and say, “What have you done?”  Now, some would say that Jimmy Kimmel was just trying to add some levity to the circumstance, but I wholeheartedly disagree!  He actually demonstrated what the majority of people in our society would have done in this situation: point the finger at someone else in an attempt to take the spotlight off of one’s self!  I would add that Kimmel was the best example of what NOT to do after witnessing the positive behaviour of Horowitz and Beatty.

The following point is most important: The appropriate thing to do on such a stage is to applaud the good such that it can overshadow the not-so-good.  Actually, no!  That’s too boring!  Someone has to ruin things!  Wait, no!  I just contradicted myself!  Oh well…I’ll take the easy way out and blame it on fast foods!

- B. J. T. Pepin

Monday, February 13, 2017

A need for discipline?

As I was checking out some funny stories, I came across one that stood out.  The article entitled, “Awkward Family Photos: 12 Detention Slips Only A Millennial Kid Could Get,” included several examples involving students who had reportedly “misbehaved” and the detention slips that were in turn produced by the concerned teachers.  At first glance, I agreed that the student behavior was in line with the times and, in my view, rather harmless.  However, one story caught my attention. 

The case in question involved a student who was given a detention for “improper usage of a computer.”  As outlined in the note, having finished his classwork early, the student proceeded to take a laptop computer and began looking at pictures of “pugs.”  As a result, the child ended up spending the lunch hour in detention.

Some readers might say that since he didn’t ask permission to use the computer, the teacher was justified in giving him detention.  Others would say that the child should actually have been praised for demonstrating initiative.  In essence, rather than being disruptive in any way, having completed the required tasks, he occupied his time by looking at totally inoffensive pictures of dogs.  In addition, we might question the teacher’s seemingly lack of direction and attention, failing to delineate the limits within which the students could function if they finished their work early.  Last but not least, how did the teacher fail to see the student take the computer?  Was she sleeping?  Did she fail to ensure appropriate supervision while she left the class?

My belief is that the teacher felt guilty for having failed to provide suitable limits and attention, in turn taking it out on the student by blaming him for her failure.  I will add that the entire situation provides us with a good example of bad teaching.  No wonder why today’s kids do not strive to excel or do anything over and above what is required or asked of them!  What do you think?  Is this so far off the mark? 

No matter what we think, some of us might take the easy way out!  You got it: We can always blame it on fast foods!

- B. J. T. Pepin

Monday, January 09, 2017

2017 New Year’s Resolutions

What is our society’s fascination with making New Year’s resolutions?  To get a better idea, let’s consider some definitions.  The Oxford Dictionary defines a New Year’s resolution as: “A firm decision made on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day to do or refrain from doing something over the course of the coming year.”  Similarly, the Cambridge Dictionary suggests: “A promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.”  Lifehack further clarifies what it’s all about for most people: “re-evaluating some of their life choices.”  Therefore, it is evident that the intent is to make some type of positive change in one’s life.

Most of us would say that we have a good sense about the things that we should work on or change, but some might benefit from a nudge or some ideas.  With that in mind, the following are my favourites from Lifehack’s article.  I hope that one or more of these will prove helpful and provide you with some direction.

- Stick to the good healthy habits you’ve developed—not everything you’re doing is bad; make note of and give yourself credit for the things you’re doing right
- Get more quality sleep—better sleep leads to better performance
- Start eating healthier food and less food overall—a better diet leads to better health and performance
- Get in shape
- Give up cigarettes and start drinking in moderation or quit drinking altogether
- Go see your doctor more often—be preventative rather than reactionary
- Spend less time on social media and watch less TV
- Face your fears and insecurities
- Learn to control your emotions—if you pull the emotion out of things, decisions can be a lot simpler
- Reduce stress—stress is bad for your health and performance
- Learn to be happier with your life—everyone has their own struggles, so be happy for what’s good in your life
- Spend more time with the people that matter—being around the right people will make your life better
- Become more organized—if you aren’t organized, how are you supposed to get anything done?
- Learn how to be more self-reliant—the more control you have, the more you can influence your situation
- Learn how to defend yourself—gives you one less threat to worry about
- Pick up useful skills or fun hobbies—better yourself!
- Read more and learn more about art, music, culture, etc.—enrich your life!
- Earn more money, get out of debt, and start saving money
- Turn your hobby into a career—make money off of what you love and are already good at!
- Start expressing yourself artistically

So, now it’s up to you to take action and make the necessary adjustments/changes.  Of course, if any number of these resolutions don’t quite work out, you can always…blame it on fast foods!

- B. J. T. Pepin