Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Can Lead a Horse to Water...

Back when we lived in Ireland Melony and I used to like watching this young hip chef named Jamie Oliver on the BBC. His show was called the Naked Chef and it was basically him energetically cooking a simple Northern European style meal for his friends. His recipes weren’t particularly “healthy” as we Americans typically define the word, but they were constructed of whole ingredients and assembled without pretense. He was fun to watch and he taught me how to roast a chicken.

Jamie got married, had kids and inevitably started to grow up, and when he did he realized that his children were going to be fed total crap when they started public school in Great Britain. So began Mr. Oliver’s second incarnation (actually it was his third as there was the 15 campaign in there but who’s counting) as an advocate for improved school lunches. In a BBC show entitled Jamie’s School Dinners he goes up against a set in her ways lunch lady and tries to improve the lunch program at a suburban London public school. I must admit to feeling a bit tearful as I watched these kids toss out Jamie’s beautiful food and literally go on strike demanding the return of chicken nuggets and pizza. He did find some moderate success – most of which was the physical makeover of the lunch lady – but it’s tough telling a bunch of kids addicted to sugar, salt and fat that they should chose asparagus soup over chicken nuggets.

Now Jamie has taken on the herculean and thankless task of transforming the eating habits of Huntington, West Virginia – labeled America’s most unhealthy community. His efforts are chronicled in an ABC series called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution which began last Friday. His first mistake was to go on a conservative radio program where the shock jock was savvy enough to recognize that he’d get more publicity out of opposing Mr. Oliver than supporting him. The blowhard is cut from the Howard Stern model – screw civility, screw respect, screw intelligent conversation, bring on conflict, bring on controversy and then sit back and count da money. I felt bad for Jamie as I watched him getting a good dose of the tried and true shock jock formula.
I expected push back from the lunch ladies as he is asking them to do one heck of a lot more work: cooking from scratch is much more time consuming, difficult and risky than opening a can or reheating some processed nugget type thing. The big shock, however, came from the superintendant and the woman who is in charge of the district lunch program. I mean a world class chef is volunteering his time and heart in an effort to teach what is undeniably true and they treat him like some kind of high minded radical. The poor guy says you shouldn’t feed kids pizza for breakfast the lady treats him like he’s talking about tai chi or zazen meditation (both of which, by the way, would probably be good ways to start the school day).

I wish the guy the best of luck but as the old saying goes you can lead a horse to water but you can’t get him to drink. I think folks who are healthy and aware just naturally want to spread the good word – not unlike a religious missionary. But also like a missionary you’re going to have to experience a lot of heartbreak just to find that one convert. Bottom line is that folks don’t like to be told what to do and the more you tell them the more they will resist. This line of thought comes to a screeching halt when it comes to school lunches however. Our children should taste some real food at least once a day and there is no excuse for serving our children crap processed foodlike substances and sugar drinks. Let’s hope this is the start of a true revolution.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Roz Rows

Last night Mel and I went downtown to listen to Roz Savage speak about her trans Atlantic and trans Pacific rowing adventures. She was a very interesting and entertaining speaker who definitely doesn’t look the part of a blue water adventurer. Roz was a successful management consultant in London before embarking on a life of adventure, and she rolled off a quote that stuck with me:

“Doing a job you don’t like to buy stuff you don’t need.”

I think a lot of folks can relate to that.
Looking at Roz’s website I also found a link to another cool adventure:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Saturday morning Sam and I saddled up and rode our bikes to the Bike Expo here in Seattle. Our route took us along the Myrtle Edwards bike trail - a scenic pathway along the coastline of Elliot Bay. Not much to see at the Expo; the ten bucks to get in would have probably been better spent on a coffee, a hot chocolate and two doughnuts, but you don't know if you don't try. One company I really liked was Alchemy Goods they make bags, wallets, belts and bottle openers out of throwaway stuff: a cool company with a cool idea.
I also enjoyed looking at the vintage bikes - true works of art.
I'm not one for missing a racy sign or label and was glad that I had the camera along to capture a few fun tidbits. Dick Power was a real bicycle manufacturer out of Long Island, NY, you gotta respect the guy, he didn't play it safe with Richard or Rick, he went all out and said "the name's Dick - Dick Power."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gimme a Bypass

When it comes to deciding on whether or not I should do something the metric I typically use is: would it make a good story. Such was the reasoning behind my decision to go to the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, Arizona.

My family and I were in the forty seventh state in order to attend my daughter’s gymnastics meet. We were part of a large group and as I’m sure the two of you reading this know, getting a large diverse group moving in any one direction is close to impossible: some prefer the Olive Garden while others wouldn’t even go into an OG to use the restroom, and instead want to survey what the local taco trucks have to offer. Our group was no different, and whenever it came time to discuss lunch or dinner there was a lot of hemming and hawing. The one exception was a dad – let’s just call him Steven – who consistently brought up the Heart Attack Grill as he’d seen it late at night on the Food Channel.
Most parents just smiled and moved on to other suggestions, I mean who could blame them why would a bunch of healthy folks want to go to a place that brags about how unhealthy its food is. Well I’d rode 113 miles two days before and had just run half a marathon in the desert so I figured I was due a little reward and volunteered myself up as a companion. The Heart Attack Grill now how can that not be a good story.

In the end I convinced my friend Keith, who also brought his son Kallen, to come with us in the Chrysler Town and Country. Melony, Sam and Sophia were also part of the group. Melony, Queen of the Navigators, was on the job and we drove lickety split to the place; Steven, on the other hand, fed with bad intel from Google maps was left circling a Home Depot parking lot.
The first thing I noticed about the place was the ambulance parked out in front. The second thing I noticed was the red and white sign declaring Caution This Establishment is Bad for your Health. The third thing I noticed was that our waitress was wearing red underwear. The wait staff were all decked out in skin tight nurses outfits that came just below the hips, black push-up bras and red underpants. Sam is in sixth grade and couldn’t take his eyes off of the floor, Kallen is in eighth and couldn’t take his eyes off of our waitress.
We finally managed to get six seats and upon sitting down we were each put into an open at the rear hospital gown and fitted with a hospital ID bracelet which declared I had a Bypass at the Heart Attack Grill. The Bypass refers to the Bypass Burger, you can get a Single, Double, Triple or Quadruple Bypass. The quad was two pounds of meat stacked twelve inches high. The menu was deliberately sparse: one of four burgers, fries dunked in lard, Mexican Coke (read made from sugar not high fructose corn crap) from a bottle, Pabst Blue Ribbon and filterless Lucky Strikes. I went for the single bypass and Coke. I rarely drink cola, or any soda for that matter, but Coke from a glass bottle is good, damn good, maybe that’s why they sell so much of it.

Keith is a good friend and a great bicycling companion, but he’s also a bit of a celebrity (I’ll let you figure out his idenity from the picture), and I noticed the minute we sat down that these two burly guys were eying him. Finally one spoke up and said, “you look familiar, how do I know you?” Keith was very gracious and introduced himself, he even took it one step further and had a long conversation with the two fellas. I thought that was very cool, I wonder if he took some kind of class on being cool to his fans, because it sure wouldn’t come naturally to me.
The food took a while and Melony and Sophia were getting antsy. Luckily some sinewy older guy, a man who had obviously worked hard out of doors his entire life, approached Mel and complimented her on how well behaved her children were – technically the compliment was mine, but I let her have it. All I could think of was “thanks old man; that got me one step out of the doghouse.”

Finally the food did arrive, nothing worthy of the Food Channel, but it looked edible. The single was more than enough and it nearly slid out of my hand when I picked it up – Keith later pointed out that they dip the buns in molten lard. Mel and Sophia split a burger and then split themselves leaving us men folk to gawk and pose for photos.
The two things I learned about going to the Heart Attack Grill are either come hungry or come fat. If you eat the Quadruple Bypass you get a free wheelchair ride to your car and if you weigh over three hundred and fifty pounds you eat free – no sharing.

After lunch we grabbed a Starbucks to cut the grease and while we were in line Keith sent a tweet: “went to the Heart Attack Grill, good burgers great buns.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Being a Contributor

I grew up in a family that promoted the idea of bringing something to the table, in other words if you showed up at someone’s house for dinner you contributed something to the meal. Whether it was a watermelon, an apple pie or simply intelligent conversation you were expected to be a contributor.

Being a contributor is, I suppose, a metaphor for life: is what you’re doing a net positive. I like what this Laird Hamilton guy has carved out for himself. Obviously I don’t know him personally, but he’s been around for a long time, one of those guys who always pops up in an interesting article or unbelievable photo. He seems to have balanced the self promotion/narcissism thing quite well, which is to his credit as most self-promoters just end up looking like jerks.

On the other end of the spectrum you have the Glen Becks the Bill O’Rileys, the Limbaughs and every person who ever appeared on Celebrity Apprentice or Wife Swap. Unfortunately our system seems to reward the Becks far more than it does the Hamiltons.