Blog of Sara Jakša

I Want the Drugs to be Legalized

When you read the title above, how did you feel? Did you agree with me? Were against me? Indifferent? Thought I am a junky? Become angry? Become sad?

There are not a lot of people, that do not have opinion on this subject. Or at least I have not meet them yet. Let me show you my thinking on that.

I do not believe, that by forbidding the drugs, we are doing anything to lower the consumption. After all, in most countries on the world, most drugs are forbidden to either sell or use or both. After all, in the USA, the amount spent on cocaine only is more than 30 billion dollars. I had seen the information, that only USA spends around 50 billion dollars on illicit drugs per year.

And yet all of these drugs have been outlawed for years, if not decades. And if that is helping to lower the amount of drugs that people take, then it is not an effective way.

But let take into account, what would happened if the drugs would be legalized.

The first effect would be, that the ‘forbidden fruit' effect would be gone. In the forbidden fruit hypothesis, the scientist proved with the series of three tests on students and based on their relationships and their aptitude towards cheating, that if something is forbidden, then it becomes more desirable.

With the drugs no longer forbidden, the effect gone, which might actually help to lower the number of the people, that actually try the drugs.

The second one is government revenue. I find the current taxes, at least in our system, to high. But if the drug market would be taxed as well, then the revenue of the country would increase. That would lead to one of the two consequences. Or there are going to be more benefits for people or the other taxes will lower. But the first one has higher probability of coming true.

We would also had a lot better statistics about how much drugs are actually consumed. And they would have to be created in the safe environment. Also the drug would have to go through clinical testing, before coming on the market, making the drugs safer.

Also, with legalization of the drugs, there are going to be big organizations, that will probably control this market. Could be, that some of the already existing ones would take additional programs to their company. Or they would be new companies created.

That would have two consequences.

The first would be, that all the criminal activity concerning drugs would have moved from the streets to the people in the highest position. That would make at least some of the cities safer.

The second one would be new jobs. Companies need sells people, workers that prepare the products, accountants, logistic people and so many more. All of these new jobs could maybe lower the unemployment.

There are a lot of value related counterarguments, and there is not a lot of possibility, that the cartels would allow that, if they would not be positive, that they would continue making profit out of it. But I hope, that someday it will become true.

The Rice Pudding

Rice pudding. For me it was always the food of my grandmother, that I simply adopted. But I recently realized, that I made, in different variations all over the world.

I was first introduced to the rice pudding through my grandmother. Every time, my parents were away from the house, she would cook it for my sister and me. I think it was simply because it was easy to make and it didn't matter much, if it was made in advance. But my sister and loved it, and it was the only time, when eating chocolate with the meal was expected.

The smell of the milk, the texture of the rice and the chocolate on the middle of it. I still try to get the perfection, that my grandmother created, but I am unable to came closer. It is sort of like competition with myself, so that it why I do not want to ask her.

But we did get the same dish in school. It was rare, but all the kids loved it. It was always included as breakfast, never at lunch.

But then, since I couldn't replicate the greatness of my grandmother, I started experimenting. What if I add cinnamon here? More or less sugar? Chocolate directly into the rice pudding? Or rather cacao? Fruits?

There were many variations that I have tried, some more successful, some almost uneatable.

But then I wanted to know the English word for it. After all, some day I might want to write about it.

I was surprised. In Slovenian language, we call that dish, direct translation, rice with milk. I might have thought about milked rice as a possible English name, but not anything even resembling pudding.

I guess I always did associate pudding with either dessert or a snack. And rice pudding was not either for me. It was a meal, not lunch, but good enough for breakfast or dinner.

So I read the Wikipedia page, and realized, that this dish in present all over the world, in different forms. So that got me wondering. How do people around the world perceive this dish?

Will The Food Kill Us?

The short answer I have is ‘I hope not'. But in the end, what we eat can influence our life and in the end, even kill us. So the real answer would probably be ‘it depends'.

There are many ways food could kill us. There are some that just make us sick. But also, just taking some precautions, it probably won't.

Eating something that is poisonous. That one is obvious. If you eat something poisonous, you can die. But there are still cases of mushrooms poisonings and shells poisonings every year. People are not careful, what they pick to eat (as in case of mushrooms) or do not know how to correctly prepare food (like mussels, a type of shells - if they are open before starting to cook, or closed after cooking, that people shouldn't it them). Even raw potato can sometimes be placed in here (if it is still green).

The second one is also poisonings, but it happens because of bacteria, than type of food. Here I am talking about salmonella poisoning, or E.coli poisoning, that happened from eating unwashed vegetables.

The third one is overeating. The more we overeat, the more mass we bring on ourselves. As we get more and more obese, that means, that our bones and muscles need to be stronger, since there is more work to be done. But neither boons not muscles can get stronger in intensity, and eventually the body can't take it anymore.

Also, the overeating can use too much of the blood resources for digesting, and there might not be enough oxygen for other parts of the body, leaving the other organs, like brain, to die just a bit quicker.

The fourth one are food addictions. It might seem like it is like overeating, but it is not. Food addictions are, when you can't stop eating one type of food, but the other types are not a problem. I had chocolate addiction for some time. I got withdrawal symptoms, if I didn't eat it at least twice a day. There can be different types of food involved here, but if you can't go a couple of days without some specific food, than you are probably addicted to it.

The fifth one in not eating the right food. Our body need different types of nutritions and is using different types of nutrition to digest the food. For example, eating animal proteins gives us all the amino acids, that our body needs, but the body uses calcium to digest it. That means that eating too much meet with no calcium rich plants, like nuts or green leafy vegetables, to lead to too little calcium inside the body. And to digest milk, you need calcium, so it is not a great way to replenish calcium.

There might be other ways, how food could hurt us. But as long as we are eating properly, I don't think we have anything to worry about.

Is The Universe Trying To Tell Me Something?

Recently, I had a couple of accidents, that are all pointing in the same direction. I think the universe is trying to tell me, that accepting the given things, without worrying what to give back is all right.

I am always worried, if I am providing value, to the people around me. I actually do not like to be praised so much for it, since to me it is a second nature. Not in a way, that I am going to say yes to everything the people ask me to do, but in a way, that if it is for the long term good of a person, then I am going to do it. And I always try to provide value back to anybody that had done something for me.

Then I started to exchange mails with the person, that said to me, that I should not worry about providing value back. He would not remain in my company, if he would not like it.

I read that, but it wasn’t really registering inside my mind. Why not worry? I do not want to take more than I can give back. I do not want to grow up into an adult leech, but into adult responsible person.

And that incident was not the only one. But it was the most recent one, where I got the message like that.

But I guess the universe started to get annoyed with me to be unable to get the message, so it sended me a lesson, to reflect on myself.

I was in the pub, like I spend most of my Monday’s evenings. I was seeing food, but I didn’t order anything, since I was not that hungry. I knew, that I will not be able to eat the portion, if they were as big as they seemed on the plate.

But I somehow wanted to try on of the foods...

So not a tex minutes later, the associate of mine comes, and announces that there is the free food. I was confused. Why would there be free food? But he didn’t know.

I came there, and nobody was watching. I was looking at the food, being suspicious of the offer. Looking for the reasons, why they would do that. Then the lesson hit me. And I started laughing.

I like cooking, so I surprised people with prepared food before. I didn't want anything in return, but if they are inclined to tell me their opinion, I would be more than satisfied. I like seeing people eating the food they like. I just hoped, that I can make them experience that.

But if they are thinking the same thought as I was in that moment, there is no way, they can really enjoy the food. There is always ‘what if...’ involved.

So I relaxed, and stopped questioning it, tasting the food I wanted to try.

I know I am still far away from truly learning to accept the gifts, but I think I finally got, what the universe was trying to tell me. And I make my promise here to it, that I will do my best to not fall back on my old habits.

How Much Food We Are Throwing Away?

Sometimes, one piece of information can expose a problem, that we were blind to it before. At least in my case, it happened like that.

I never liked throwing my food away. I remember in my first grade, when I couldn’t understand, why everybody would be throwing the insides of the apples away. I used to do that, but seeing dozens of half eaten apples in the trash bin, I decided, that I would be different.

I remember to start investigating the food, as a newcomer in the primary school. I was determined to figure out, what could I eat, and what would either kill me or make me sick. If it wouldn’t kill me or make me extremely sick, than I would try to eat that.

I am not saying, that I was not a picky person, I was. But I simply never even started eating the food, if I knew I will not be able to finish it. So somebody else, that might like that food could eat it.

That was one habit that stayed with me. Even these days, I am unable to throw food away. The only exception being, if there are animals inside, but even then I am thinking about it. I had eaten vegetables and fruits, that had started going bad, because I forgot before. I started making new recipes, just so I could eat the remainder of the food, I didn’t know, how to use otherwise.

So the problem of food waste didn’t really register in my mind. I didn’t see the problem, so I was not thinking about it.

But then I saw the short documentary on television by accident, and read the article in the political magazine, because I was bored.

The documentary went to the better of parts of our capital (we do not have big differences, but there are some). They looked over the trash. There were pieces of chicken, still packed like they were in the supermarket, the fruits and vegetables, that most people would find satisfactory, the remainders of cookies, or more like the half empty package.

The article on the other hand took a different turn. They started with how much food the supermarkets throw away. The story in the introduction was, that the worker in the supermarket was throwing kilograms of bread away, since it was the the end of the day.

They introduce the two point of view on the problem. The consumers and the industry.

The consumers wants more and better all the time. The industry is accommodating it his wish, as they want to increase sales.

The more we, as consumers, are going to be demanding, and the more we show, with our collective actions, that we want more and do not look at the long term consequences, the more the industry is going to accommodate us. It is one of the free market applications.

So in the end, the question is not ‘How much food are we throwing away?’. It is ‘How much food do we care to throw away?’.

What are Your Children Eating Today?

The globalisation had enormous impact on our eating habits as well. We entered the era, where food from all over the world is freely available. Where the companies can offer us similar food all over the world.

Is there any other reason for McDonald's advertisements to be seen all over the world?

It is an era, where instant food is becoming cheaper than fresh one. Where most of the packed food is full of added sugar, fat or additives. Where some people are getting addicted to food.

But what I am most worried about is the next generation. The children, that are going to inherent our earth.

According to the scientists, the children of today might be the first generation, that is going to live on average shorter life than their parents. That are going to start losing their vitality, eyesight, flexibility and so on at the time, their children will be moving out or getting the children of their own.

People are extremely inflexible people. Especially concerning our diet. On average, person eats 10-12 different foods long-term. Meaning, that our own diet doesn't change at all. It is extremely hard to change diet.

Part of the reason is, that changes are hard and scary. The other part is because we don't know how. Considering that child's dietary habit gets developed before the age of 2, you can imagine, that the people in power to influence it are their parents. And they aren't likely to change it.

We probably all heard the stories of picky children. Or tried to get a child to try something new. Food related. As if to try and eat. I came across a story, where a child would prefer to give up his dreams, instead if eating normal, unsweetened yoghurt.

That is why I am pleading to all the parents here. Think about your child's future. Do you want to be healthy? Or not? Think about that and answer the question...

What are your children eating today?

How Much do We Need to Eat

When was the last time, you had felt hunger? The feeling of you stomach contracting, the sound of the rumbling, that seems loud as the earthquake. The fatigues that came with it. If you are like me and live in a first world country, than the answer is probably a long time ago or never.

I am surprised at people, claiming to be hungry barely a couple of hours after eating a meal. Like our bodies would need the food every couple of hours. I can think of a numerous reasons, why constitution like that would get us killed thousands of years ago.

So sometimes, people like that still surprise me. Like, for example, when we went to the conference together. We first stopped for really late breakfast, but that part didn't surprise me, since some people do not eat breakfast at home. Even I eat something.

But then during the conference, which only lasted about six hours, each and every one of them snacked on something.

Not only that, after six hours, they all ate dinner, and offering me food. I wasn't hungry, but I did try a piece of something, before realizing, that they are going to be keeping offering me food. The reason? They couldn't believe I wasn't hungry.

After dinner, one person ate even on the way back. Right after dinner.

I mostly eat about two meals per day, and if I get so distracted, that I do not eat for more than 24 hours, than the rubbing of my stomach will remind me, that I am hungry. Or if I eat too little in the long run, I am going to feel weaker and will have a bigger appetite, until my reserves replenish.

I like the food, and I like the cooking even more. But I think it is wasteful to make so much food and eat it. But it is true, that throwing the food away is even more wasteful, and I never do that.

Considering, that most people in first world countries eat too many calories anyway, I wonder sometimes... Do they simply need so much more calories, since their bodies are created differently than mine, or is it not a hunger but a habit?

Do You Know, What are You Eating?

Think about your eating habits? Just quick one. Now, are you sure, that is what you are really eating? If you are anything like me, then the answer is no.

Recently I noted down what I had eaten for a whole week. Every time I would have eaten something, I took a note of it in my notebook. The results were interesting.

I thought I eat a lot of fruits. In that week, I did not eat even one piece of fruit. In the whole week.

I thought I eat almost no vegetables. I ate a little more than three cups of vegetables per day.

I thought I snack a lot and have three regular meals. Most of the day I had 2 regular meals, and my snacking was a lot more limited (the only exception was, when I made chocolate desserts, then the snacking was on the expected level).

There were a lot more examples of assumptions about my eating habits, that were broken with that simple exercise.

But the exercise was illuminating, and while it would be annoying doing it all the time, doing it once per three months or half a year would be great, to see if I improve or if I am sinking into illness.

What I was actually satisfied about, was that I barely eat anything, that I couldn't name the ingredients from the top of my head. I cooked a lot, and the only ingredients, that had one than one component (no counting salt and water) was Provençal herbs.

But I imagine, that for many people, naming the ingredients, inside the food that they are eating would be problematic. Ingredients inside the yoghurt? It better be the simple one with 3-5 ingredients and not the fruits one, where there are a lot of them.

Or chocolate. I still remember the ingredients list on chocolate, that I had bought, before learning how to make one myself. It was a long list.

But all of that bring even more confusion is what a person actually eats. I eat simple foods, and I had too many assumptions about what was going inside my body.

What about you? What is going inside your body on the regular basis? Do you even know? If you do, please share it with me. I like reading, what other people are eating.

What I Find Wrong With Ingredient List

There are many different types of food there. There are meats, cheeses, milks, fruits, nuts, vegetables, desserts, prepared food, frozen bakeries and many more.

What I realized, when I moved to different country was, that I suddenly did not understand the labels on the food. I haven't even realized it before, how much did I used them.

Without my thinking or any aware part of me, I started to buy only food, that were either so simple, that they didn't need any labels (like fresh fruits and vegetables) or food with three ingredients or less. Where I knew, what they were.

I like to cook, so that was not a problem for me, and now I have an excuse to try to make a homemade versions of all my favourite desserts, that I usually bought at supermarkets.

But it got me thinking. I finally noticed, that I am reading the labels, but even when they were written in my language, did I understood them? Or did I read them simply for my pleasure?

Labels are a way, that we, as consumers, can know, what we are buying. If we leave the whole idea, that the company could be lying on them, they still have some problems.

The one problem that I find really annoying is terminology.

The first problem with terminology is using the E system in Europe. If you ever bought anything in Europe before, that was processed food, that you probably saw the Exxx written among the ingredients before.

I still remember the times, before we went to EU, when baking soda's ingredient list read: ‘sodium bicarbonate'. These days it is written as E500. But there is no way to really know, what that is, except if you have a book with you and check every single E on it.

The second problem is inconsistency. The same ingredient can be written on different products in different way. Sometimes beta carotene is written as a name, and sometimes just as colouring.

Witch bring me to the third problem. The generality of the terms. When I see colouring, natural colouring, natural flavours and similar written on the ingredient list, I have no idea, what could it be. The terms can mean a lot of things. I mean, in some cuisines, the blood of the animal could be considered natural flavour, just the same as adding the oil of the spices. And I would prefer to know, what kind of flavour did they put in it.

There is also a fourth problem, the ‘it contains' or ‘it can contain' part of the ingredients. As useful as it can be for the allergic people, doesn't it make you think? If these ingredients could have come in this food with cross contamination, with other ingredients also made way to this product?

There are also the conspiracy theories behind them, that claim, that companies are trying to lie to us on what they put inside. But there is so much inconsistency, them might not have to.

German Language Learning Resources: Extr@

In my quest to learn languages, I am always looking for the new ways to try to the new resources to test.

Since I had recently decided, that I am going to become more serious in my German studies, I was looking around and found this.

Extr@ is a TV series, made for language learning. Not is a way, to introduce the conversation and then explanation, but a TV series, like the watch them on TV. Just the level of language is lower.

This particular series is offered for learners of English, German, Spanish and French.

The story is about Sascha and Anna, worker and a student that are living together. They have neighbour called Nic, and the get a visitor from America called Sam. They have everyday problems like talking with the boss, and losing the winning lottery ticket and so on. It is a comedy, that mostly concentrate on ever-changing love interests.

I normally do not watch these kind of shows, but I do find them entertaining. That is why I can make myself watch them in the name of the language learning. Since there have German subtitles as well, if I don't understand something, I can usually double-check in them, using the similarities with English to understand. Or use dictionary, since I know the spelling of the word.

The situations are also easy to understand just by looking at the actors and seeing their reaction. They sometimes overact, but I think it was made with beginners learners in mind. I didn't bother me, but it might bother some.

There are only 13 episodes, each the length of a little more than 20 minutes. It is not a lot of time to invest, considering how much time a language learning can take, but it can be encouraging, to understand what is going on, with no subtitles.

I can recommend this series to the learner of German language, that like watching television. The series can be found on YouTube on page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urQYFFMIVJs&list=PL5C7D58D38FADABDE