I’m not a picky eater

A number of my friends really like to give me a hard time for being a picky eater (yes, that means you Big  Steve).  After reading this story in today’s N&O about what a truly picky eater is like, Bill Boettcher has already apologized to me.

Nearly 2,200 “picky eaters” are now catalogued in the first national registry of picky eating, a collaboration between Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh. The registry, known as the Food F.A.D. Study (Finicky Eating in Adults), aims to understand a phenomenon that researchers say has long been overlooked in medical and mental health circles.

The database is not looking for those who simply eschew broccoli.

What researchers call adult picky eaters are the handful of people who face an uncontrollable, instinctive disgust reaction to new foods, as if someone were suggesting that they gorge on garbage.

Picky eaters share some striking similarities. The limited assortment of “safe” foods they can tolerate are typically white foods with bland textures. Bread, French fries and pasta are common favorites. And they say they have grappled with their extremely restricted food inclinations their entire lives.

The persons profiled in this story mention the extreme social difficulties that come with their problem.  While I can most definitely relate, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to sit at a meal with an empty plate.  The thing is, I totally relate to the overall mindset of these people.  There are a number of foods which I truly find revolting (not to be mentioned, to keep my friends from chasing me with them; except for mayonnaise, as all my students already know I have a “no mayonnaise” policy in class).  Fortunately, there’s not all that many of them.  In my early 20’s, I realized that there were a lot of foods I simply did not eat, but did not actually disgust me.  I decided I’d give them a try and vastly expanded my diet (which is still pretty restricted by most standards).  I think how I’m more like the people in the article is that there still are those foods which I find completely revolting and others, whether they actually enjoy them or not, find completely normal.

I think I’ll have to save this article for next time somebody criticizes me for being a picky eater.  I can show them what a real picky eater looks like.

Marriage is not zero sum

In a pretty nice critique of Ross Douthat’s column on gay marriage, Kevin Drum makes a really solid point that I have certainly realized, but never thought about explicitly in these terms:

We can recognize and honor same-sex marriages without changing even slightly the recognition and honor we give to hetero marriages. This is not a zero sum game. We all end up better off when we allow everyone to form stable, lifelong marriages that are honored and cherished. This is, quite simply, a very, very positive sum game on a whole bunch of different levels. Conservatives have no trouble understanding this when the human system under discussion is the free market. So why so much trouble when the human system under discussion is the structure of family life?

I’ve certainly made the point many times that I think whether gays get married or not has absolutely no effect on my own marriage (usually, by telling my students that my wife and I have been fighting more lately because of all the damn gays wanting to get married), but I like thinking about this in the positive sum vs. zero sum framework.  If stable, committed relationships are a social good, even if gay marriages are less good than hetero marriages (not that I’m looking to get into that debate), there’s really no harm to straight marriages and even the idea of hetero marriages as a social ideal.

Observations on 20th High School Reunion

So, went to my West Springfield High School (class of 1990) 20th Reunion over the weekend.  I had an amazingly good time.   I missed the 10th reunion because it was at the same time we moved out to Texas, so, there were a number of people I had actually been pretty good friends with whom I saw for the first time in literally 20 years.  Pretty cool.  So, a number of miscellaneous observations

1) Facebook has changed the world, but it has really changed reunions.  I knew all sorts of stuff about people, their lives, and families, heading into this that I never would have known already without facebook.  That enabled us to re-connect more easily and start off our conversations from a better place.  I’ve got a number of facebook friends from HS that I don’t really notice, but a number of them I’ve really re-connected with in meaningful ways.  That’s cool.  I also realized that there’s a number of HS friends that I am FB friends with, but probably shouldn’t be, and vice versa.

2) It’s good to be an extrovert.  At least at a reunion.  I basically didn’t stop having fun conversations for 7 straight hours and could easily have gone another few if I didn’t really need to call it a night at 2am (probably the latest I’ve been out since my undergraduate days).

3) Yes, my High School was white, but I don’t remember it being that white.  A somewhat disturbing lack of diversity.  I suspect that there was some degree of selection bias in the racial balance of who came back for the reunion.  Of course, I could just flip through my yearbook if it wasn’t buried in a storage compartment somewhere.

4) Likewise, I was amazed at how many of my former classmates had settled in the NoVa area, but, of course, there’s a huge selection bias in reunion attendance based on geographic location.  I’m sure there are people who came from further than Houston– but that’s the farthest I know of.

5) Damn, it’s fun to see how people change.  People age so differently.  Some people who were average looking at 18 are beautiful at 38.  And vice versa (of course, if you are a HS friend reading this, you’re definitely one of the ones that got more attractive).  One big tip to any youngsters reading this– stay out of the sun.  Sun damage was a huge factor in that, but even beyond that, it was just interesting to see the differences.   Almost none of the differences were from weight gain or weight loss.   I may be wrong, but it also struck me that there was a lot more variance in how well the women had aged versus the men.

6) Some people you had a lot in common with when you were in HS, but there’s just no connection now and others who were maybe a peripheral friend, you now get along great with.  But, it’s really hard to predict how that will work out.  To a considerable degree I was surprised by the nature of who I still really clicked with, who I didn’t, and who I liked way more now than I did in High School.

7) For my HS, I’m an early reproducer.  I’m sure there were a lot more out there, but I only talked to two people who actually had a child older than David.  At the 10th reunion, parents were clearly a minority, but here they were an overwhelming majority.  One of my best friends from HS is still single, and he basically said he felt totally alien in the environment.  I think he actually left with a divorced class-mate– still waiting to find out what happened there.

I could go on, but that’s enough.  Don’t want to ramble too much.

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