Overcoming My Only Irrational Food Fear

When it comes to healthy food, I pretty much like everything. I’m the opposite of a picky eater. I love eating new and interesting foods. Organ meat, fish eyes, insects – bring it on! When it comes to food, as of yesterday I am fearless. I even have a spreadsheet of food challenges.

What happened yesterday? I tackled my only remaining food nemesis: the orange. I told the story of how I grew to loathe oranges in the 2007 post Why I Don’t Like Oranges.

Is it OK to have just one irrational food fear? Maybe. But for me I decided it was no longer serving me. It had been almost 20 years since the airport incident. Did I really want to avoid oranges for another 10 or 20 years? No.


Photo by Suzette

I started the process of warming up to oranges years ago. In the early 2000s I started with fake orange flavors, such as Tang and orange Popsicles. In the past two years I have been drinking more and more orange juice. I started with the no pulp and then mixed in some of the pulp varieties. My issue with oranges was never really about the taste. It was the smell. I know that sounds weird, but go back and read the story link to understand where I am coming from.

Yesterday I put on some kimchi gloves and cut up an orange into slices. Kimchi gloves are those thin loose fitting clear plastic gloves sold in Korean grocery stores. Then I ate the entire orange down to the peel. Afterwards I smelled the peels. This is something that would have caused a gag reflex just a few years ago. I was fine. The smell wasn’t pleasant. It was neutral. A huge win. I defeated my fear of oranges.

I still have a few rational food fears, such as french fries cooked in vegetable oil and dark roasted coffee. But now I can eat any healthy food. I no longer have an issue with oranges. Do you have any irrational food fears? Any interest in overcoming them?


King of the Road

Today I am Waze Royalty!

waze royalty

Driving sucks. I know. But if you need to drive, then why not get some points and a rank? I explained all this in the post Learning to Hate Driving Less. Waze may seem silly to many, but it not only made driving more pleasant (less painful), but gave me the idea to use gamification for something more beneficial.

That turned out to be the language learning application Duolingo, which I covered in the post 30 Días. Well 30 days is now 132 days. I’m on Level 14 and just hit the 6% Fluency level. Several of my friends have now joined me on Duolingo. My group the Coffee Club of Seattle now has eight members actively learning Spanish. A few are learning French and one Portuguese. It all started with the Waze scoreboard.

Duolingo 6%

We live in great times. A year ago I hated driving and was too unmotivated to even start the process of learning a foreign language. Today I drive around with Waze turned on while listening to Spanish lessons (Pimsleur). I feel like a King.

Are you using any educational applications that take advantage of points, ranking, streaks or competition with friends?

UPDATE January 2016: Having fun with the new Language Zen program.


Change Your Security Question Answers

I mentioned this briefly in another post, but I thought it was important enough to cover again. The sensitive financial accounts you have often will use security questions to prevent unauthorized people from accessing your account. This may have been an effective level of security at one time, but not anymore. There are databases that do nothing but collect data about you. Every point of data they can. Some of these entities are good people and some are bad people. And just like you, they can be hacked as well.

I can change my password in minutes, but the answers to the security questions these institutions ask are the type that aren’t suppose to change. Some examples:

  • What street did you grow up on?
  • What was your high school mascot?
  • What was your first car?
  • Where does your nearest sibling live?
  • What is the name of your oldest nephew?
  • What is the birthday of your youngest sibling?

Even an amatuer sleuth could discover the answers to every one of those questions about me. A professional hacker probably already has them. Someone with malicious intent could call my bank claiming to be me stating he lost “his” password. The bank would then ask the security questions, which are easily discoverable on the Internet. And with major hacks such as the Premera Blue Cross Cyberattack where millions of health records got exposed, I must assume at some point even my Social Security Number will fall into malicious hands.

Not to be too paranoid as banks have other forms of security such as 2-factor authentication plus text and email alerts. But not everyone signs up for them and they may not be offered where you bank or invest. And for that layer of security, you need to trust your financial institution. There is nothing you can do should they mess that up.


Photo by Angel Arcones 

However, you can control your answers to the security questions. The answers you use to bank security questions can not be truthful. Here is an example of how I might answer these questions. These are not my answers, just an example on how to think about answering the questions.

  • What street did you grown up on?  celery mustache
  • What was your high school mascot? boxes of paint
  • What is the birthday of your youngest sibling? shampoo day

You can store your answers to these questions inside your password manager. If you don’t use a password manager, come up with a single answer that you can remember, such as “SlipperySamSofa“.

One last tip is do not use any words that are tied to your likes. This especially applies to password choices. If you LIKE Star Wars on Facebook, you can bet there is a dictionary of Star Wars terms hackers will use when they try and crack your password. Hackers have software that can scan for interests across blogs and social media and then use that information to build hacking lists. Before I started this project, I used “kimchi” as part of one of my passwords. Not anymore. The words I use in passwords, passphrases and security answers have zero connection to my interests.

I’ve also assembled a Best Of page for accessing the Online Security posts.


For Over 30 Years I Believed I Rigged an Election

I was passing by a television at my gym a few days ago when I saw the Major League Baseball All-Star game was getting ready to start. Whenever I think of the MLB All-Star Game, I immediately think back to the spring of 1981. I was just a little kid growing up in Columbus, Ohio. We didn’t have a major league baseball team, we had the AAA Columbus Clippers. That spring I can remember going to at least two games.

I don’t remember a single thing about the games. What I remember was the punch card All-Star ballots. This is back in the day when fans would go to the ballpark, grab a punch card and vote on the All-Star lineup. Me and my sister didn’t grab one ballot, we grabbed stacks. And we spent most of the games voting repeatedly on the All-Star lineup. I would estimate that we voted well over 100 times.

The only player I remember voting for was Pete Rose. Even though he no longer played for the Cincinnati Reds, he was still a sports legend in Ohio. My sister and I punched every single card for Pete Rose.


Me from May 1981

This is about the same time that I got interested in the numerical aspect of baseball. I started reading the sports page daily. I poured through statistics. I kept a baseball standings board in my room, which I updated daily. One of the things that our Columbus newspaper reported was the current tally of votes by position for the MLB All-Star game.

Up until two days ago, the last tally I saw in the newspaper showed that Pete Rose beat out Steve Garvey for First Base by less than 100 votes. For over 30 years, I have believed that me and my sister were responsible for throwing the election for Pete Rose. But I just discovered this week that I hadn’t seen the actual final vote count.

1981 MLB All-Star1B

From the August 4, 1981 Chicago Tribune.

Pete Rose had 726,170 votes. Steve Garvey had 575,563. Rose won by 150,607 votes. My sister and I had nothing to do with Pete Rose being the starting first baseman in the 1981 MLB All-Star Game.

I started to wonder how I could have been so off on the numbers, so I actually invested another hour going day by day into newspaper archives, not just for the 1981 game, but other years around that time. What I noticed was there was a big dump of ballots counted at the very end. Unlike in today’s digital world, the vote counts I was seeing when I read the paper weren’t real time.

Oh well. My cool story turned out to be false. Maybe someday I’ll get another opportunity to rig an election. Ha! 🙂


Newsletter #4 – Security

It has been a while since Newsletter #3 – Eliminate. For #4, I wanted to take a break from fitness and nutrition for one issue and focus on a topic that we can all benefit from. With all the data breaches and hacking that has taken place in this year, I thought a Security theme newsletter would be good to share.

Regular readers may have already read those posts and implemented the ideas, but if you haven’t, this might be a good time to start locking down your digital security.


If you have any additional ideas on Security, drop a comment. This is an ongoing battle.


Photo by Dennis Skley