Friday, January 31, 2014

SNAP Challenge Day 4

Lydia ate the following:

Apple, 1/2 grapefruit, coffee, mate

Panera salad (work lunch - provided by work)

Lentils with broccoli and yogurt

Zach ate the following:

Apple slice, 1/2 grapefruit, coffee, leftover bagel from Lydia's work

Soup (week + old)

Happy Hour with New Genesis: 2 glasses of ice water and complimentary appetizers (Mary Spaulding did not buy me a beer! Nor did Fritz.)

Lentils, rice, broccoli (roasted), yogurt
This was a very tasty meal!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SNAP Challenge Day 3

SNAP Day 3 - Wednesday.


Repeat.  See days 1 and 2.  Today we added a smoothie to breakfast made of one banana ($.30), coconut milk ($.50), and flax seeds ($.25).  Results, drink deliciousness.


Zach consumed leftover lentil soup with some freshly made rice. Eating like the rest of the world.

Lydia also enjoyed some of the leftover lentil soup from last night, but scored half of a veggie sandwich as part of a company catered lunch. The soup/sandwich combo hit the spot:

Apparently, there was a catered breakfast at work today too, so Lydia snagged a leftover bagel for Zach; perhaps he will have it for breakfast tomorrow.


Zach, once again, was the beneficiary of a generous companion. After explaining to a friend our SNAP challenge and inviting him over for a simple dinner, Zach was instead treated to dinner by the friend who was willing to pick up the tab to ensure Zach stayed within his budget. Dinner at The Kitchen Next Door in Boulder was a treat for Zach - roasted chicken, smashed potatoes and a hoppy, brewed beverage (or 2).  Zach closed his evening with a cup of hot cocoa at the home front; nothing purchased for this item, but costs appx. $.60.

Lydia stayed on the SNAP track, consuming items purchased at Whole Foods on Sunday and making dinner for her friend.  Sauteed two potatoes, roasted cauliflower ($1.95), poached eggs (free from our chix), and 1/4 of a red onion (appx. $.50).  The friend contributed 4 mushrooms that were in dire need of consumption.  Tasty and inexpensive; a theme is developing.

We are now three days into this SNAP challenge, and neither Zach nor Lydia is feeling deprived, hungry, or bored with meals so far this week.  We have observed that participating in this challenge is nothing like being in poverty: friends buy you lunch or dinner; company food is plentiful, esp. when you have access to the executive kitchen and leftover catered meals; and, access to good food at excellent supermarkets (Whole Foods) means that healthy, delicious food can be easily provided at $4.40 per day/person.

We have also noticed how this experience impacts day-to-day relationships (social, professional, and others) that involve food. Lydia has been sharing with co-workers what we are doing this week; co-workers' responses have been to offer food to ensure that we have sufficient food for the week.  A large bowl of pasta salad was offered as a goodwill gesture; it was declined.   Also, friends are willing to tolerate $4.40/day as part of a week long challenge.  What would happen with those friends if this was our norm? I hope that they would still be there, but perhaps the socializing would decline because of an inability to do those things we normally take for granted (a $5 beer at a restaurant or making a delicious meal after spending $20-30 on provisions).

We are grateful for this experience, recognizing the challenges of those living in poverty, when food and money are scarce (and chickens don't run in your backyard).  We are grateful for this experience because it reminds us of all we have to be grateful for and how lucky we are.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SNAP Challenge Day 2

What's shaking SNAP fans?  It's Tuesday evening and...

Day 2 went like this:

Porridge, banana bread, and coffee.

(The banana bread was baked on Sunday night from leftover bananas, 1.5 c flour, .75 c sugar, some butter, vanilla & baking soda.  All costs will be tallied and included in our SNAP budget.)

Zach sort of cheated and had his lunch bought for him by a friend he was pre-arranged to meet (prior to SNAP Challenge). I ordered the cheapest item on the menu: Grilled cheese $6 and water.

Lydia packed the same lunch as Monday, but forgot tortillas. So, it ended up looking like a random assortment of hodgy-podgy misfits. She also snagged some random office condiments (sort of cheating). So we both sort of cheated.
Here's what hodge-podge looks like:

Zach ate some left over pasta (from a week + ago) at 4:45p. It will be deducted from the overall budget (but minimally - a week + old, gimme a break).
Lydia made a dinner from items purchased at Whole Foods Sunday eve for a grand total of $3.75 maybe $4. It was scrumptious, served 3 people + leftovers, and wowed one of the most discerning palates in Boulder.

Red lentil soup with brown rice and yogurt:
Recipe c/o 101Cookbooks blog: (but we skipped the spinach, as it was not in our budget).

2 Days down and we're totally satiated and screaming through this thing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

SNAP Challenge Day 1

Lydia and Zach decided to join with Central Presbyterian in eating for one week at the poverty line: $4.40 per person per day. For ease of planning we are working from a budget of $52.80, as we are participating for 6 days and will spread that cost over the 6 days - day-to-day costs will fluctuate, but the goal is to live on $52.80 for the five days, an average of $4.40 per person per day.  

We asked ourselves:
How do you eat well and also for very little money?

Our response: 
Eat like the rest of the world eats. 

We went to Whole Foods to shop. Yes, Whole Foods. You'd be surprised how competitive they are on certain items. You may not be surprised how much more costly it is to buy packaged items at King's or Safeway versus bulk lentils and beans and rice at Whole Foods. 

Here's what we were able to purchase for $27.56 at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods):

  • A large container of organic 365 brand whole milk yogurt.
  • Various produce items: a large yellow onion, a small organic cauliflower, organic broccoli, yellow organic potatoes, and a large organic yam.  Oh, and one pink grapefruit, the one piece of fruit we added to our purchase, an expensive indulgence at $1.79 for one!
  • Lots of bulk items, many of which were on sale, including dried black beans, organic red lentils, organic french lentils, organic brown rice, and organic rolled oats.  
  • Two packages of tortillas; 2 dozen for just under $2.00.

We learned a helpful tip at WF: they will cut off your broccoli stems or cut out the core of your cauliflower (or at least our produce person did), reducing the weight and the over cost of these items sold at price per pound.

And, we bought the least expensive coffee we could find:

This can of coffee was $2.00. 

A simple breakfast this morning of oats and coffee.  We did use some leftover milk and brown sugar in our house, but we are tracking the costs of these items and will total them at the end of the week to see how we fare.

Zach's Lunch

This was my plate of food for lunch (1/27). Two tacos: 1/16 of my leftover Indian meal from Sherpa's ($.75 cents added to our budget). Three thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese from a block of cheese we already had in the fridge (add $.20 cents to budget). Half of an avocado. Sprouts (add $.15 cents to budget). Dollop of plain yogurt. Ramekin of black beans (cooked in a Crock-Pot the previous night). 

Lydia's Lunch
Abiding by the $4.50 per day becomes tricky when you go to a workplace overflowing with free food and beverages.  Here are some of the FREE items I encounter at my office: teas and coffee; coke, diet coke, and gatorades; various bowls of candy; a bowl of mixed nuts; small bags of chips; half of a cookie that my boss offers to me after his lunch; and, sometimes leftover lunch or breakfast items from catered meals.   All of this plentiful food for just showing up at work.  Amazing the items we take for granted in an average day and week.   

Often, as mentioned above, I have lunch at work for no cost, but to immerse myself in our weeklong commitment, I brought my lunch to work, and it was quite delicious -- two tortillas, black beans, sprouts, hard boiled eggs, and mustard and mayo.  To be fair, I found the mustard and mayo packets in the kitchen at work (leftover from a previously catered lunch) and the eggs were free from our backyard chickens.  Lunch was great and probably one of the cheapest that I've eaten in years.  


Natty Light is approximately $.60 cents a can. We just happen to have a few cans leftover from New Year's Eve party (one of our beer savvy friends brought it to the party).  Add $1.20 to the budget (Lydia and Zach both had a Natural Light with dinner - Lydia added a lime to hers add $.05 to budget). 

Tacos for dinner. Two times in one day? You bet!

Tacos included: Corn tortillas, sauteed red onion (1/4 of an onion used; add $.25 to budget), 4 crimini mushrooms (add $.50), black beans, rice, yogurt, 8 peppercinis (add $.25), avocado (used 1/2; add $.50 to budget), 4 slices of cheese (add $.30 to budget). 

That's a day. We're satiated. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NCAA athletics

NCAA athletics, what a mess. 

Regulating athletes and underregulating athletics is nonsensical. 

Some say the University President system of leading each school in the way they will go athletically is in need of updating. Perhaps. But, realistically, nothing will change given the will of the people involved, people paid by the university system.  

Some advocate a rounded out leadership team, with different interests at the table. 
This means putting those that have experience as athletes or coaches onto the leadership team. Not a ridiculous thought. But will this change anything for the better? These ex-jocks will, through self love (we can generously call it love for the game), advocate the hell out of allowing sport to have an even larger, more lucrative presence. And why wouldn't they? They will, in most instances, seek a better monetary deal for their constituants (themselves in an updated version): the athlete. 

The 'team of leaders' will be in a collusion of self interest, and nothing will change. NCAA sport will only grow bigger. 
Better? Doubt it. Better is about simply the thrill of competing, teammates, in short, experiencing the relationships of the sport. 
We can do that in leather helmets sans human growth hormones, transcontinental flights, elite facilities, multi-million dollar contracts to coaches, and so on. 

We could offer the option of restructuring athletics into a proper human proportion. This is a good lesson for 'student-athletes' as it is the lesson we all need to learn so that we don't tank the world with our over-consumptive ways. 

Sport could play a starring role in leading the way forward. Or not.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Right worship. This is the meaning of the term: Orthodox. Quite an imposing term. Quite a statement of certainty. One might presume synonym phrases, such as: Truth, Righteousness, The Right Way, The One True Way, We Have It All Together, We Have It From the Source. The term Orthodox conjures in my mind's eye images of men in black with beards, either Jewish or Greek, or maybe Russian, but then, the Russian ones are always in white robes and have white beards to match. In my mind's eye mind you.

As of late, the word Orthodox is a coveted term. And it is hardly wonder why it is a coveted word, in a world groping for answers and moorings.

For some this flail for certainty and 'right' answers sends them off trotting in one of many directions, often in circles, trying on many ideas and exploring a bevvy of behaviors, in pursuit of the relativley firm feeling that they have finally put the pieces of their working philosophy together and can now begin the "praxis."

For others, this means laying hold of what has gone before, perhaps "first", in their chosen tradition/religion. Nevermind that "laying hold" of intellectual or spiritual property is a subjective act in itself. Nevermind again that the intellectual property was subjectively gathered.

Take for instance the Russian Orthodox Church. I'm a fan of it, to whatever degree I can be, given that I have never darkened the door of a ROC Church. My fan-ness comes mostly from having read The Brothers Karamazov and really liking Father Zosima and the youngest brother Alyosha who is so influenced by him. Other than this, my only exposure to the ROC are the strange documents I found while hiking in the mountains west of Boulder near an old ghost town named Caribou. The documents were yellowed and crinkled and water stained and stuffed into one of several vw beetles rusting as invalids in the yard of an old unfinished hippie shack with three still handed clocks that faced out from a window with a sign that read: All humans who enter will not leave. Three stools were visible through the curtain and a piece of coal sat atop the middle stool. In the big room sat a large pipe organ. Silver pipes if I remember correctly. Clothes and furniture were strewn haphazard. Nothing orthodox about the house that I found the Orthodox histories and understandings of various Saints.

If the Russian Orthodox are Orthodox in the Christian sense of the word, then do their differences with the Greek Church matter? For the ROC was certainly born from the Greek Orthodox Church - which is perfectly fine, as far as I'm concerned, but what about all of the cultural embellishments? Is that Orthodox? Or does Orthodoxy not depend on cultural influence? If it did, then perhaps the Greek Orthodox would not be orthodox, for the first Chrisitians were not primarily Greek.

T-Rex and the fish

The common fish bumper decal has morphed in many different ways. Each morphing another ontological perspective using a plastic stick-on decal to do the lifting.

Today I saw a decal that was only an allusion to the fish. It expanded the fish shape riff - it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex holding a little fish and no doubt just about to gobble it up, as any T-Rex would naturally do.

Not a big deal, just another fish riff. We have seen the big fish eating the little fish already. Same idea. But, it struck me in a different way. Here was the baddest predator on land with a little damn christian fish in its claws. Sort of said to me, "Fuck you and your little piss-ant, make believe religion. The real deal is a terrible predator."I'm no doubt exaggerating the sentiment intended just a skosh, and I get the irony (whether the owner of the decal does or not I'm not sure): T-Rex is a predator that is extinct. How can an extinct predator hold a fish?
It unnerved me in that this person would prefer to champion extinct T-Rex over make believe fish story. Mind you, a fish story, make believe or not, that has incredible wisdom and themes, not to mention motifs and leitmotifs, such as love, mercy, forgiveness, humility, peacemaking. These are not make believe qualities, these are qualities we are in desperate need.
Championing the terrible extinct T-Rex, and the modern day equivalent, over the christian fish, is, well, strange to me. It is not really a scientific point. It is tedious and frankly boring to relive, seemingly everyday, the all Christians, all believers in God, are enemies and disbelievers of science. Please.
So what is the modern equivalent for T-Rex? A tiger? Not ferocious enough and the tiger is nearly extinct too. Lion? Same thing. Great White? Yes, maybe in the water. But the big fish eating the little fish has already filled that role (which is why the T-Rex is not really a novel idea).
No, the way T-Rex was used in this little decal was more like an Atomic Bomb, or a Bushmaster set loose on an elementary school. It was screaming to me, "Power and might is the only thing that matters, the rest can go to hell."
Red in tooth and claw is not the victorious way, not even in evolution. Cooperation is more in the direction of successful evolution and successful relationship and I dare say, happiness.
Just as the T-Rex.