Whatever I Want Wednesdays: Where Is Fancy Bred? (Caution: Rant in Progress)

Okay, to be honest… I thought it was “bread”. I always thought that Benvolio was looking for a specific baker that made this particular loaf of Pumpernickel. Which was rather odd because he was gambling for his life at the moment. Maybe picking the right casket made him…hungry…what was I talking about?

Anyway, this quote:

“…Where is fancy bred? In the heart, or in the head?”

-William Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice)
Forget for a moment that this quote is more noted for being in a certain movie, this question basically asks: “How should we love? Passionately, or wisely?” Implying, of course, that never the twain shall meet. As with many things attributed to the bard, this quote could easily be applied as a life lesson for many things other than amorous crushes. Would it be too far removed to ask, “How should we live?”

I never gave too much credence to any so-called “Self-Help Gurus”, or “Life Coaches”. Perhaps it was the jaded nature of my generation that casts a wary eye to these individuals. Our childhood dominated by experiencing the Vietnam War on a nightly basis, the ripple effect left by Watergate, and the seeds of the Cold War being planted and cultivated may have also formed our mindset. I remember being herded into our high school gymnasium on a yearly basis to be screamed at wowed by these “Motivational Speakers”with their big hair, loud Cosby Sweaters and go-get ’em attitude telling us to be MOTIVATED!!….apparently for the sake of being….MOTIVATED because your typical high school teacher had no idea how teach it themselves and had to get someone else to do it. Someone else that was hired by…I don’t know…let’s say Texas school text book publishers. Someone who thought that getting some dude in his forties would be the perfect candidate to communicate with the kids, because they’re cool and rad too! THEY know how to reach the kids! THEY know what they want…because we tell them to like what they want…Look! He’s singing along with a Foreigner song! He MUST be one of us! He’s so relatable! I mean, forget that its a band made up of old dudes and the only people listening to them are your crazy uncle who blares it from his 8-track in his customized van, forget that a kids in the 80s (the cooler kids) are more inclined to listen to Van Halen than to a band that came out 10 years before we got old enough to appreciate it!….I wish MTV would hurry up and get here…but YEAH! He’s rockin’ out and telling us to be good little subservients! And he’s got concert lighting and smoke machines! I wish he were MY friend.

If the iPad was invented thirty years earlier, I guarantee you every face would be pointed towards the floor as every student Tweeted about how much of a poser this guy was. We didn’t have that back then. All we could do was give him the blank stare and fidget in our seat and wait for the lunch bell. For some, the result of having to sit through this painful ordeal had a positive effect and made (somewhat) of an impact that lasted a day or so. For the rest of us, we regarded it is bullshit window dressing designed to waste time before some of us went to vocational school. The people in the office buildings would say that their efforts paid off. The kids that it was directed it had a different opinion.

The 80s kids never listened to this, because we failed to see the point in it. We failed to see the point in it, because we felt we were being talked down to, and dressing it up in loud clothing and putting a cocaine induced smile on its face wasn’t making it any better. For all our trappings and our ambivalence, we failed to see the point in it, because your message still wasn’t reaching us, and we’re not that stupid.

But, no matter. We leapfrogged from the days of Leo Buscaglia and Deepak Chopra, and graduated to Tony

Robbins and motivational posters when we entered adulthood. Soon, the backlash happened. We figured out that we could buy our own platitudes for encouragement. We figured if we were at the point of needing help, and were motivated enough to go to the bookstore to by motivational poster or a self-help book by some New York Times Bestseller…then we are pretty much motivated to do…well…anything.

Soon, the Motivational Speaker craze gave way to a different animal. Soon, the Cosby Sweaters were replaced by slick, 80s throwbacks with their supposedly expensive suits, sitting on their Lamborghini that’s parked outside of their palatial mansion and telling the late night television viewing audience that they have the secret to success as bikini-clad models drape over their arms. These men have claimed to make it big in real estate and flipping houses, or knowing the right algorithms of the stock market, or some other far-fetched scheme, and they could give their knowledge to you…that’s right…YOU! All you have to do is sacrifice your entire weekend, write out a check for $1500 while you let this guy scream at you to buy his book while you fidget in your seat at the convention center while you check the clock and patiently wait for the time when you can go to the bathroom.

Where is fancy bred?

We are not that stupid. We failed to see the point of it because what you were selling has fallen on deaf ears and empty wallets…


Can you personally build a better business system than McDonald’s?

No, Mr. Kiyosaki, I can’t. But, I suppose you could distill the essence of attaining an MBA into one weekend retreat? Oh…also, thanks a bunch  for trying to make me regret not getting accepted into Harvard where I may have had a chance to build a better business system were my proclivities drawn to such a direction. Not all of us are so lucky. Not all of us are successful. Not all of us can afford to buy and sell real estate to flip for a profit. If we could afford it, then we wouldn’t plunk down hard earned cash to listen to you drone on for days.

I don’t mean to pick on the guy, but I don’t get the people who try to hammer his point home either. As if I needed any help in understanding a principle.

Well, that’s just it. Isn’t it? We have to redefine what “quality” means. When it comes to McDonald’s churning out a quality product, McDonald’s is way down on that list. Consumer Reports had them practically at the bottom. But since the individual experience doesn’t matter, and we’re talking a macro level model, then yes, you’ve got me that McDonald’s metrics on cranking out the same “quality” food on a consistent basis. I mean, they employ such winning tactics as that whole “Pink Slurry” thing as well as exploiting their workers to maximize profits, I think the question should not be “can I build a better system”, but rather should be, “can I build a better system that I can in good conscious live with myself after implementing?”

But, just for a moment, consider that all the consistency in the world isn’t going to do you much good where you’re churning out crap. Saying that, “McDonald’s customers aren’t really expecting that much” is saying something to the effect of: “…where the common customer had a choice from the dollar menu or consuming a shovel full of dirt with cheese on it, the customer will almost always pick the dollar menu…” It’s like they considered the shovel full of dirt. Does anyone else see this? Implying that McDonald’s is the only kid on the block is also pretty ludicrous. Sure, the field is a little smaller as of late as Burger King flies the coop to Canada, but they’re on the same level of crap slinging as its rival is. If an American institution pulling up stakes to head north to avoid paying taxes like a draft dodger trying to avoid the Vietnam War isn’t enough to get you to stop patronizing these places, maybe waking up one day and realizing that much closer to diabetes every time you eat there will? Maybe? No? Oh…okay….Oh LOOK! The McRib is back!!!

“Take a number? Yeah, sure. No problem.”

The Big Two of McDonald’s and Burger King aren’t the only kids on the block. Quality may not enter in the equation now. You may not see it now. But what about the long term? If these guys are placing at the bottom of the list as far as customer satisfaction goes, pretty soon that little nugget of infomation will catch up to them. 5 Guys, In-and-Out, Fatburger, White Castle, all consistently crank out an infinitely better product, and their business isn’t hurting either. Are they using the same model as McDonald’s? Their product is more expensive, and yet there’s a line out the door at my local 5 Guys and nobody seems to mind, myself included. The lines are quick at any one of the dozens of Mickey-D’s in my town, and I see red every time I order a burger that has been obviously been microwaved. Is that a better business system? Is that something I should try and emulate?

I guess what’s really getting to me is that people still confuse quality over quantity. Success isn’t necessarily a numbers game. Yes, there is about 10 McDonald’s and Burger “Great White North” Kings to every one 5Guys, but that doesn’t mean that those restaurants are any better. It just means that people don’t know any better. And don’t give me that whole, “well, it’s cheaper” argument. That’s another discussion for another time. Cheaper doesn’t mean better either, it just means people can’t afford to take a chance on anything else, and we suffer for it.

Personally, I could care less. I can’t stomach fast food anymore, but that’s not the point. What’s really getting to me is that most people will always go for the dollar menu and not be bothered to take a chance on anything of sustenance, like cooking something for themselves that doesn’t involve a microwave, or reading a blog that doesn’t have a list on it.

Where is fancy bred?

It will always be the heart. But I’m trying really hard to feel it from the head.



Top 3 Reasons I’m Sticking With Almond Milk (In response to a Salon.com article).

Photo by John Phelan

I don’t normally talk about this, but years ago, when I was in college…

Call it being a product or a victim of my environment; it was all around me and it was only a matter of time before my impressionable, young mind succumbed and joined the hive. I kept it private at first. Stealing a moment or two while no one was looking, just to see if I liked it. It wasn’t long before I brought it out into the open. I was half expecting to suffer the consternation of the general public, waiting to see the looks of, “oh look…another one.” roll across their eyes as they take my lunch order. But it never happened. I was part of a collective. I was comfortable in my own skin for once, and soon there came the time where I could stand in a crowded room or walk out into the street and declare to the world…


Yes. I was one of those pain-in-the-ass, holier-than-thou, non-meat-eating bastards that would flaunt their newly found lifestyle choice any chance they got…
“Ugh…you’re gonna eat THAT? Man, some people will put ANYTHING in their body!”

“Do you realize how many turkeys were murdered to make that sandwich?”

“Sorry, I can’t go out tonight. I have to put in some time at the co-op and then I’m scheduling a meeting for my local Greenpeace chapter.”
I had all the passionate trappings of your typical contrarian; I would get in peoples’ faces about my choice of diet and lifestyle, and yet I smoked and drank like a rock star…so, there that is. 
It went on like this for years. I graduated college and still managed to tow that crunchy, patchouli-smelling line. There was a time though where I was at my darkest and almost went full Vegan. That is, until I met this girl…

Since that time, if it flew, crawled or swam, I was putting in my stomach. First it was sandwiches. Big, meat sandwiches. Then I soon graduated to Filet Mignon, braised rabbit, shark, alligator, sushi, pulled pork. I was eating meat and there was no looking back.

…Still though…

Some habits die hard and to this day, I still carry at least a crumb of that previous life style. Make no mistake, I have turned to the dark side and found my protein from a once oxygen breathing source, it does not mean that I won’t appreciate a decent vegetarian meal every so often. Yes! Bring on the firm tofu and legumes! Make a spaghetti dinner made with Quinoa pasta. Bring it all on! I fear no plant! I look forward to it. I look forward to it to cleanse my pallet. I look forward to alter my perception and change my mood, at least for a few moments. I also look forward to it, ultimately, because my heart depends on it.

That’s right, I am predisposed to have a bum ticker. Heart disease pops up in my family every once and a while and the wheel of misfortune just happened to land on me this time. I lived a life of excess and I almost cashed in my chips in my mid-thirties when I suffered a mild stroke. Nobody is supposed to suffer a stroke in their thirties. So as a result of almost dying, I had to make a few adjustments in my life. Removing red meat from my diet has proven to be beneficial, but to remove it completely is unacceptable to me. I eat a vegetarian breakfast almost every morning; glass of juice, bowl of Kashi with rice milk and I’m ready to go. Coffee would come later. This was my Monday through Friday routine and it was fine. At least, that’s what it was until recently when I discovered almond milk. Then it got…marginally better.

I started with soy milk. Awful stuff, I don’t recommend it. When you add milk to your recipes or your cereal, you don’t expect to have a dominant MILK flavor. Soy milk has a tendency to move in and take over like a multinational corporation. It does not work and play well with others. Rice milk quickly took the place of it; it resembles skim milk in more than one way, save for the lactose aftertaste. It is much more palatable. It wasn’t until recently that I gave into the latest food hype and gave almond milk a try. Almond milk is closer to whole milk, which is a lot more satisfying when I pour it on my cereal, and in the end, it’s all I use it for anyway. I’m not lactose intolerant, nor do I worry that I ever will be. I use a dairy alternative not to rub it in anyone’s face or to feel superior, I view it as a form of penance. I just want one meal, everyday, that I don’t have to hate myself later for eating. And of course, there’s that whole issue of the “trying not to clog arteries” thing.

As it turns out, I’m doing my body a world of good using this. If I can’t be careful by what I put into my body, I can at least be mindful about it. Here are my top three reasons for sticking with my choice:

  1. It Helps Keep My Weight Under Control:  Big deal, right? When moderation is a applied to everything, weight loss is a cinch. Granted that outside of the occasional baking product that I produce, the only other thing I use milk in is cereal and I don’t use that much anyway. But considering that a typical serving of almond milk is 60 calories compared to 86 calories in skim milk, even in moderation, the numbers make a difference.
  2. It’s Good For My Heart:  I almost went completely broke a few years ago trying to sustain my gym membership and vitamin regimen at the same time. I used to smoke a lot of weed, now it’s the Vitamin Shoppe that’s acting as my pusher. I remember swallowing copious amounts of Omega-3s as a way to strengthen my heart and aid in repair of my blood stream. Apparently, all I needed to do was pour almond milk on my cereal. It is loaded with Omega-3s and contains no cholesterol or saturated fat. Everything a growing heart needs…
  3. There Is Little to No Impact on Blood Sugar Levels: Hallelujah, I get to keep my leg. Get lost, diabetes. Take a hike, heart disease. Almond milk has a low glycemic index, which is a fancy term for food that allows my body to burn through carbs first before sugars have a chance to get stored as fat.

These top three reasons are the absolute LAST things I think about as I graze peacefully leaning against the kitchen sink. I like it. It tastes good. That it’s good for me is a bonus.

Bu bu bu bu buuut wait! What about them crazy carregeenens? Thems are bad for you!

Absolutely not true…depending on who’s reporting it and who’s palms are getting greased. Either way, yes, it’s going to harmful to you if you drink a gallon of it everyday. It’s like the time when I had to stop drinking Diet Coke because it turned my pee brown. I switched to drinking water, no more brown pee! Amazing how that works. Yes, there are studies out there that link certain kinds of manufactured almond milk to certain kinds of cancer. I’m sure aspirin has the same detractors. It comes down to this, I would rather risk maybe getting cancer because of some packaging flaw than definitely know that I’m clogging up my arteries with something I have a hard time digesting.

I started this post about two and half weeks ago before I had to pack up everything in my house and move. I started this post a while ago with full intention of retaliating against some random article I read on Salon.com with their typical snooty, elitist journalism. But after I made the list, I made my point. For the record, I do agree that most food fads border on the ridiculous. For instance, the Great Vanilla Brainwashing of ’98 and the Cranberry Invasion of ’02. But to say that all of a type of food is overrated and possibly harmful based on anecdotal evidence just isn’t fair. Sure, it might be a fad and it might be more beneficial to make it myself, but seriously, Ms. Abrams used one brand as an example for the whole thing. Just because you didn’t like it, doesn’t mean all of it is awful.

It’s almost as if she just turned vegetarian or something….

List based on research conducted by +Krissy Brady