Reducing the meat problem

Living healthy starts with eating right. Unfortunately if you are not a fitness-, cooking- or calories nerd, it’s not easy to decide what to put on the table every day. As for me, most of the time I end up buying some meat, roasting it and, serving with bread, call it a dish. Now this came to an end.

I would not want to go cold turkey (ha!) and become vegan, especially for all the excellent salamis and great wild meat out there. The only thing I want to stop is the mindless defaults: why would anyone eat chicken wraps and Frankfurters anyway? 

Somewhere I’ve read that an average grown up person in Europe would eat something like 50 kilograms of meat a year – my consumption seems to be fairly close to this, although I’m trying to be on the healthy end.

Ready-made products and those with unidentifiable origin seem to be easy to avoid, but then again: the recent horse scandal shows that even if the label looks very accurate, it’s rarely the case. Döner kebab is not something you would have high expectations about, but even Nestle and other, seemingly reliable companies sold horse meat as beef products.

Not that I’m picky with animals, I would eat whatever – my biggest complain here is that if we don’t even know the type of the animal, how would we know such very important facts like whether the unlucky pig was raised in a cage with hundreds of others, or: if it has ever seen the sun.

There I can get very picky actually. How much more awesome is to know that the animal I eat was in good health, free of weird antibiotics and full of energy! (Before it got slaughtered.)

If you just search for some minutes, you will see that some chickens are living a total of 32 days before you find them as ‘chicken wings’ in McDonalds. I can’t see how this is not bad for the public health and the environment – in the race for low-price meat, the food industry is leaving us with antibiotic resistant germs. (And even worse: food snobs, who only eat stuff coming from Bio Company shops.)

So here is my plan: I quit being a part of the problem and will reduce my food consumption to a more eco-friendly level, with the following:

  • Emerge new defaults: breakfast with cereals, choosing hummus and falafel when eating out (kill all the chickpeas!)
  • When buying non-vegan products, going for organic: looking for meat directly from farmers
  • Not buying minced meat or similar all-in kind of products
  • Keeping track of my food: keeping meat products below 500g a week

Please be aware of the fact that I’m in no way more clever than you with this. I’m not a doctor, have no idea of biology, fitness, health – so you better don’t follow anything you read here.
This post might be a good food for thought though. And please, feel free to send me further readings, hummus recipes, or just get in touch and encourage me / tell me I’m a fool on Twitter.

I might return to this topic later, if anything significant happens – although, I would be surpised if that was quite soon.

j j j

Which cities does the music from?

Here in Berlin we like to think that this city is: the European capital of music. This is where artists can flourish, where all cool stuff comes from, where early adopters get what they want the most. Only that the European capital of music is not Berlin. It’s Oslo.

The alternative point of view: Wimagguc
From the paper: The geographic flow of music

Last.fm has a great pile of data about what people in the world are listening. This is a detailed snapshot of user’s taste in space and time. One can see what kind of music people are listening to and also how the taste of music changes: a flow across genres and place.

Based on this data, a research shows that music preferences are closely related to nationality, language and geographic location. Also (with a similar method I used in my masters thesis!) they figured that some cities are consistently early adopters of new music – the interesting part is that these hubs are not that easy to guess.

In Europe for example, would you have guessed that the capital is Oslo? Or that all North-America is following Montreal?

j j j

Sickness resolutions

I’m sick for quite a few days now, which means spending most of my time in bed and skipping all the fun. This is a no-go, especially on possibly the last warm days of the year here in Berlin.

The worst part of the whole thing is the mood. Not being able to do anything that’s not a must. This is to get over with first: it’s not enough that I haven’t written in weeks, but reading the starred articles in Google Reader should be the bare minimum. (Now I’m finally doing these both. How proud.)

Being nailed to bed didn’t come as a surprise: I had quite enough signs and there were a few things I shouldn’t have done. First, a week with fifteen meetings and four parties in three countries. Eating out in cafes ways to often. Not taking the weather seriously enough: after the first time having 15 degrees in the room I should have switched on the heating.

So now, as soon as I got better and be able to do sports again, there is going to be a new deal.

1. Vitamins. I raised my Vitamin C intake to 2g a day (plus shitloads of oranges and paprika).

2. Sports. Running four times a week, short daily yoga sessions.

3. Being prepared for sub-optimal weather situations. Always having a scarf and another layer in my bag. Switch on the heating as soon as it’s needed.

To be organized is the new deal.

j j j

Goodbye Nike+, welcome miCoach

As you may remember, I started to track my runs with Nike+ just about two months ago. Since then we shared a few moments (ten sessions and 50 kilometers) – quite enough time to know: I need something else.

Adidas miCoach - about Android, web, tech from Richard Dancsi
miCoach – slightly less style

The main reason for the break-up was something that’s not the really Nike’s fault: their app is only for running. Because I like to track my cycling routes as well, I had to have a separate app for almost the exact same thing: see some speed and location data on a map.

And since miCoach from Adidas (the Android version) was already there, I couldn’t help to see the advantages of it:

1. Better statistics: shows my actual speed in time (not only green/yellow/red colors), average by kilometers, fastest km, elevation data etc. Just perfect.

2. Works without registration. (Now, I registered anyway so that I can see my data online, but I really like the fact that I didn’t have to for using the app.)

3. Feels more accurate. Sometimes Nike+ showed 100m as the distance so far, right at my 600m turn (I used to run on the same route a lot.)

Some drawbacks:

1. Slightly worse UI. Not bad, not ugly, but well… Nike+ really was top notch on that.

2. miCoach asks for a code every time I start it. (Why? Anyone who gains access to my phone, could check my emails, Twitter, even payment data – but not how far I ran? It really doesn’t make sense.)

3. I have no idea, how the achievements work.

Well, let’s see how long this relationship lasts.

j j j

Why does Android look dodgy?

As much Android deserves the love for the great freedom it gives to its users (try to install a file manager to your stock iPhone or copy music to a friend’s computer), the user interface is just not there. They surely have put a lot of effort into Jelly Beans, but the devil is in the details. Look at these widgets, for example.

Android widgets: power control, music and weather
different colors, sizes, outer glow – on stock elements

In every operating system, at least the stock widgets should look alike – but, to mention just a few flaws, the three main widgets (power control, music and weather add-ons) are different in size, colors and they use different spacers between the buttons. The widgets coming from 3rd party developers in Google Play are not much help either: even the ones that claim support for the stock Ice Cream Sandwich are missing the guidelines with a mile or two.

Maybe Google’s development teams don’t work together very well. Maybe the UI teams’ quality assurance is missing. Maybe they just don’t care, because manufacturers like Samsung, Motorola and HTC have their own design tweaks anyway.

Either way, in 2012, the pixel-perfect paradise is not here yet.

j j j

Breaking: Frederique for iPad in Emanata

Emanata is a great new app to discover indie comics and emerging artists. From today, your ol’ man is among those visual storytellers featured in the app – this, looking at all the others drawings, is a great honor.

Frederique will come every two weeks to Emanata. I have to admit, I’m really excited about working with this new format.

Get the app from the iTunes.

j j j

Barbecuing down the Spree

Probably the coolest mean of transport in Berlin: the grill-boot. Sitting around the table, drinking beer, cooking Frankfurters on the barbecue, while floating around on the river. During today’s run I could capture a close enough shot of the grill boat, so here you go dear readers:

Barbecuing down the Spree - grill-boot in Berlin

For the full experience, please imagine some minmal techno while viewing the picture.

j j j

Look at the guy with the screwdriver

…fixing a Leica C-Lux-1 camera’s misplaced lenses!

Some say, the easiest way to make money is not spending it. According to this, I’ve just earned 250 EUR, cash: that’s what my girlfriend’s camera (which I shamelessly broke) was worth.


Before… and after!

What made a guy who knows next to nothing about cameras, to actually try to repair one?

First, I was sure that I will replace the precious object with one with similar specs, so I already considered the money as a loss. Furthermore, according to the service, the camera was beyond repair – so trying couldn’t do any more harm.

Second, whereas I know less about repairing cameras, I know quite a lot about photography – and in this case, the lenses seemed to be in one piece. Based on the sounds, the engine was not broken either, so there was a slight chance that the pieces are just misplaced.

And last: I love doing things like these.

With all that, it wasn’t an easy job. For starters, it took me a week to buy the proper screwdriver set. So I’m actually a hero here.

And also: it takes quite a camera to survive a drop like that. So if you ever think about buying a Leica (or in general – to spend some extra money a premium product), I can just say one thing:

go for it.

j j j

Prisoner’s dilemma: want to win?

Princeton University mathematicians discovered a previously unknown strategy for the prisoner’s dilemma, which guarantees one player a better outcome than the other. As the game has been widely used to understand to situations like the climate change negotiations or the Cold War, the new findings will surely rise a couple of questions.

That’s a monumental surprise. Theorists have studied Prisoner’s Dilemma for decades, using it as a model for the emergence of co-operation in nature. This work has had a profound impact on disciplines such as economics, evolutionary biology and, of course, game theory itself. The new result will have impact in all these areas and more. — Technology Review

Much more information in the paper: Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma contains strategies that dominate any evolutionary opponent

j j j