This Sedentary Life

It snuck up on me. It may be sneaking up on you, glaucoma as you read this.

I sat in front of a computer all day. And all night. It was what we web developers and designers did. We counted the number of hours we worked in a row like they were badges of honour. Only 6 hours sleep over the last 3 days? Awesome! Pulled an all-nighter to get that code out the door. I rule!!

Many of us in this profession got into this industry because we had experience and passion for the web. Our hobby became our job, sale our career, click our calling.

There’s a problem when what you choose to do with your free time is also what you do with your work time. The two blend together seamlessly as though they are one. It leads to 12, 15 or even 20 hour days at the computer. We entertain ourselves with the exact same tools we use to make our living, and that does nothing but encourage inactivity, addiction, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

I know. I was there. Flickr doesn’t lie.

In 2005 I hit an all time high of 215 lbs. I’m only 5 foot 7 inches tall, and I’m pretty sure my ideal weight is somewhere in the 160 lb range. Eep.

Fast forward 5 years to 2010. In a few short weeks, I’ll be competing in my third IronMan triathlon in Lake Placid, USA. I do crazy stuff now that I’d never have thought possible, and certainly wasn’t when I weighed too much and didn’t take care of my health. For me, I started taking care of my body and mind by getting fit through triathlon. I found something significant to do, that was not in front of the computer.

I’m not saying that everyone should become a triathlete. What I’m saying is that if your leisure time and work time are spent doing the same thing, you’re in danger of becoming part of this sedentary life.

Choose to do something other than be in front of your computer. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a walk at lunch instead of staying at your desk and working or watching videos. Get out for a run, or a bike ride. Do situps and pushups every day, or regularly take a yoga class. Anything.

You owe it to yourself to start, before your body says stop.

WTF is RDF?

I am a person. I am interested in technology. I have a website at http://csarven.ca/. I know the person at http://tobyinkster.co.uk/#i.

We rely on a shared agreement of the vocabulary above i.e., audiologist what it means to be a type of thing, to have an interest, a website, and knowing some other thing that’s a person. It allows us to have an absolute frame of reference to things in order to make sense of our world.

This framework is pretty close to how we explain our world to machines.

Enter Resource Description Framework (RDF).

RDF is a general-purpose language for representing information in the Web. Uniform Resource Identifier (URI)s provide a generic way to identify the things we talk about, as well as for the relationship between them, at different sources. The relationships are conveyed using precise vocabularies. We can reuse, create, or mix any vocabulary to make statements about things. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is used as the retrieval mechanism.

For example, “the thing at this URI is a type of person” can be stated like this in RDF, using the Friend of a Friend (FOAF) vocabulary:

<div about="http://csarven.ca/#i" typeof="foaf:Person"/>

Not only does this let any entity to make a statement about something else, all sorts of data can be discovered and used in various ways. By creating structured statements about our world and linking to global data, we essentially create a scalable Web of Data.

Hence, semantically Linked Data leads the Web to its full potential.

Temperature Matters

Temperature matters. Whether you’re grilling a steak or cooking rice, ask
the chemical reactions in food occur in well-defined temperature ranges. One protein in steak, stomatology
myosin, begins to denature around 122°F, while another, actin, doesn’t do so until around 150°F. The starches in rice begin to gelatinize—absorb water and swell up—around 160-175°F.

Why is this important? Because it’s these reactions that we care about when cooking. The reason medium-rare steak is so, well, yummy, is because a large percentage of the myosin proteins are denatured (which changes its texture) while most of the actin proteins remain native. (There’s no general rule about denature protein having better texture; it just happens that we find the texture of meats with myosin denatured and actin native to be more pleasing.) With rice, the temperature has to get even hotter. This is why we don’t generally simmer lean meats in pots of rice: the meat would overcook before the rice has a chance to gelatinize.

Next time you step into the kitchen, take a minute to think about what effects you want to achieve. And keep in mind whether you’re roasting meat or grilling it, the proteins in the meat are going to undergo changes at the same temperature points, albeit a bit faster (and with a steeper doneness gradient) in the hotter environment of a grill. Instead of thinking about the temperature of the environment, think about the temperature of the food itself, and go from there.

© 2010 Jeff Potter; released under CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0

http://www.cookingforgeeks.com

If you’re the innovative type who asks why just as often as what, my book, “Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food” will show you a new way to approach the kitchen. See http://www.cookingforgeeks.com/ to learn more.