Stop it with the zero-calorie sweeteners

I love my Sodastream carbonator. But I don’t like how all of its soda syrups have “50% less sugar” by them replacing it with Stevia or sucralose. Yesterday at Target I saw that they had a new line of syrups that claimed to be made of just fruit juice, and I looked at the ingredients, and didn’t see anything problematic, so I bought some.

Just now I made a cup of soda with it, and at the first sip realized that they’d snuck Stevia in. I looked at the ingredients again, and there was at the very end, steviol glycosides – the distilled essence of what makes Stevia Stevia.

So, that’s $10 down the drain, literally.

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waffling

Just an incredibly dorky ramble I posted on a Slack chat, which I am saving here for posterity.

okay so someone put the idea of getting a waffle fry cutter in my head (not naming names, as it was in a private channel) and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy one only to find that the BB&B herre closed down sometime, and so I went to Target and found that they had, like, no knives or cutters anymore. I’m not gonna spend $100 on one at Sur La Table so I guess Amazon is my best bet. Anyone have any suggestions on waffle fry cutters there?

Rippled knife is okay, mandolin-style slicer would be better. In the latter case, it’d be great if it’s a good mandolin on its own too.

I already have a decent flat-blade mandolin cutter but I wouldn’t mind an upgrade in that department either.

or I mean I guess I could just buy pre-made frozen waffle fries too, honestly that’s probably a better deal

From a TCO standpoint anyway

Frozen waffle fries are about $2/pound and potatoes are about $1/pound. Waffle cutters seem to be $10-20 depending on style so that means needing to make at least 10 pounds of waffle fries before it pays off.

But think of all the other things I could waffle cut!

Like, I dunno, carrots or cucumbers or something

Jicama

Also I could experiment with the geometry of doing waffle cuts at angles other than 90°

Imagine equilateral triangle waffles

Or with some extra work, penrose tilings

the possibilities are endless. or at least finite-but-unbounded

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My review of the new Amazon Go store

There’s a new Amazon Go store on the way home from my therapist, and I was feeling too tired to think about dinner so I decided to just check it out.

There’s a little seating area in front and a greeter who watches you to help people out (and probably make sure they aren’t up to Shenanigans). I suspect that there’s actual human intelligence going on and it isn’t purely AI like the marketing leads everyone to believe. Still, I have some ideas for things to test.

Food selection is pretty okay. The prices are fairly reasonable for Seattle. It’s mostly sandwiches and salads and snacks, and I think they’re all made elsewhere (probably at the flagship store downtown).

I ended up getting a “Tex-Mex Salad with Beef” and a caramel latte. The salad was $8.50. The coffee was $1.85, on sale, although the regular price is $2.35 which is still really cheap for Seattle. The cup and lid were Starbucks-branded, but the cardboard cozy thing said Amazon Go on it.

The salad was pretty okay. It had too much quinoa and not enough lettuce for my taste, but it was tasty and more or less filling. It did have an expiration date of today. I wonder when it was actually made.

The coffee was a bit too sweet and also wasn’t very hot by the time I got home and I suspect it wasn’t actually freshly-brewed hot. They did have regular and decaf options, but no non-dairy milks. It tasted okay. They let you bring your own cup, which is nice.

Not a fan of how it’s yet another case of tech displacing workers from jobs and automating everything away while driving even more of a wage gap and an overall wealth divide.

Also the salad selection could be better.

All in all I think it’s a place I’ll go to get cheap, quick coffee but I don’t expect to make a habit out of it.

They’re also opening a gigantic flagship store a block from my home. I look forward to seeing what the anarchists do to it.

The ongoing MSG discourse

It seems like the pro-MSG camp is really ramping up their Discourse again lately, and it’s getting really frustrating.

Yes, it sucks that MSG sensitivity was labeled “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” Yes, it is probably the case that a lot of supposed MSG sensitivity was psychosomatic and due specifically to that name. And yes, glutamic acid does exist in a lot of things naturally and does in fact contribute to the “umami” flavor. I don’t disagree with any of those things.

What I do disagree with, however, is the mischaracterization that everyone who has an MSG sensitivity is just faking it or being “racist” or whatever, with the same strawman “gotchas” like “Did you know it’s also in Pringles and Doritos?!” (Yes, I do. It was Doritos which first gave me a reaction, for that matter. Long before I’d ever heard of MSG or “Chinese restaurant syndrome.”)

It turns out that there’s a high correlation between MSG sensitivity and fibromyalgia. And like many things that cause fibro problems, it’s not a single isolated incident that causes problems, but an accumulation of issues. If I have something with a low-ish amount of MSG on its own, I probably won’t have a problem. But if I have something with a lot of it, or if I’ve had it several times over the course of a week, I will have a problem and it will ruin the rest of my day.

And yes, glutamic acid occurs in a lot of things, but not bound to sodium and not in the high quantities that it occurs in with processed foods!

Several studies have shown MSG to be safe for the general population. And I do not doubt that it is. But these studies don’t include people with nerve disorders like fibromyalgia or epilepsy, or with a general history of migraines or the like. MSG actively amplifies the action of the pleasure centers in the brain. Fibromyalgia’s main issue is an inability to downregulate nerve receptors. Can you possibly see how this might cause a problem for some?

These fucking thinkpieces completely ignore the very real problems that a lot of people encounter, and also encourage people to actively put MSG into their food and not disclose it to be a “gotcha” for people with problems.

It’s like putting gluten into the food of someone who has celiac disease because of the backlash against fad gluten-free diets.

It’s like giving someone sugar-based Coke when they ask for diet, because they think it’s funny. Or giving someone diet Coke when they ask for normal, because they think they should “lose some weight.” Both are disastrous for diabetics who have planned their glucose intake for the day. (And incidentally, artificial sweeteners are also a major migraine trigger for me.)

It’s like “testing” someone’s stated food allergy by putting that thing in on purpose. Or not worrying about cross-contamination, or thinking, “Oh, it’s only a little bit.” Which can cause people to die or at least have a very bad time.

Don’t FUCKING do that.

Generally: if someone has a food sensitivity, believe them. Even if you think it’s made up, there’s no harm in believing them, while pretending you know better than them for their own issue can be incredibly harmful. Even fatal.