Category Archives: food

How much toothpaste should I eat?

This is not a question most people ask of themselves, and those that should don’t think to ask it.  It’s left to us parents to wonder: How many Crest commercial brushloads can my kid eat before I should worry about the fluoride?  Here’s a calculation to help answer that.

The safety data I’m using is from the 2013 article by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fluoride.  They state that regardless of age and condition, the adequate intake is 0.05mg per day per kg of body weight.  For a 20-kg person (44 lbs), that works out to 1mg per day.

How much toothpaste to get to 1 mg?  It depends on the toothpaste.  Most toothpastes have an indication of fluoride ion content.  We have a children’s toothpaste (Elmex) which states 500ppm fluoride ion, and a regular toothpaste (Crest) that indicates 0,15%.  Our fluoridated table salt contains 0,025% fluoride.  This works out to 2g of toothpaste for Elmex, 0,7g for Crest, and 4g of table salt.

That’s all very well, but few people visualize grams well.  For the salt, an online converter tells me we’re looking at 0,7tsp.  My not terribly precise kitchen scale indicated that for the Crest toothpaste, it corresponds roughly to one TV commercial brushload; for Elmex, to three such brushloads.

And then there’s tea… which weighs in at anywhere between 1.5mg/liter to 4mg/liter, perhaps even more, depending also on whether your water is fluoridated.  AcneEinstein has a more detailed treatment of the tea question, which also links to WHO guidelines that seem to only partially square up with the EFSA guidelines.

The upshot: monitor and train your kids, but don’t freak out if they eat a little toothpaste.  And don’t raise them exclusively on iced tea…

Giant Pumpkins

I’ve previously posted about my chemist’s brother’s giant pumpkins, for instance last year, when a tiny hole kept his pumpkin from being the first to make the metric ton.  Better luck this year: Beni Meier set a world record in Berlin, beat it in Jona, and beat it again in Ludwigsburg at the European championships, where his baby became the first official pumpkin to weigh over a metric ton.  Click through the pictures: the last two in front of the castle are quite impressive.

Pumpkins – big and small

Last year, my chemist’s brother set a European record for the largest pumpkin.  This year – well, his pumpkin shattered the metric ton mark, but it won’t count because it has a thumb-sized hole on the bottom.

So what do you do with a disqualified one-ton-berry?  Carve the sucker!  I’d mentioned Ray Villafane before: here’s what he does with a giant pumpkin:

World’s heaviest pumpkin (unofficially) in Ludwigsburg

As for my pumpkins: the largest butternut weighed in at 976 grams, and the lone pumpkin is probably around 7-8 kilograms, too heavy for the kitchen scale to tell.  So I’ve beaten my own record – and would beat Beni Meier’s giant in an official contest, too!

Good Bye, Beer Butt Chicken

I’ve had some success with beer butt chicken in the past, but having color transfer from can to chicken and reading the experiments reported on Naked Whiz and genuineideas made me rethink.  About that time, we had a surplus of wire hangers, and an idea was born:

Wire Hanger Chicken Stand

Wire hanger chicken (or domestic chicken, as Janet calls it) is every bit as tasty as beer butt chicken, but it’s cheaper (unless you drink a can anyway) and safer (no spilling hot beer when you try to get the chicken off the hanger onto a carving plate).  And if you still feel the need to stuff the inside of the chicken, use fresh herbs instead.

Father’s Day

One specific advantage of marrying an American woman is that she’ll remember Father’s Day, and this time I got a whole day off to myself.  I got up bright and early to catch a 5:46 bus, so as to arrive in Stuttgart shortly after ten.  My goal: a writing workshop on historical fiction led by Tracy Barrett.

My Y chromosome set me apart from everyone else present, but that soon faded into the background (except for the occasional group “Yay”) as Tracy took us through the Ten Commandments for Historical Fiction (though I still haven’t found out which of them was condensed from originally two).  After lunch and a free writing exercise the workshop concluded with animated chatting and, for some of us, a manuscript critique.  It was the first time I’d had my manuscript critiqued, and I found Tracy’s comments encouraging and helpful, especially her suggestions on what might be painlessly cut.  Kirsten Carlson organized a lovely event for her swansong as Germany/Austria RA of SCBWI; her successor, Maria Bogade, has some large shoes to fill!

On the way home I got to finally sink my teeth into Stephen Lawhead’s “Skin Map,” a Christmas gift.  It’s a quick read, though everyday life has me stalled even on that.  Maybe it was the workshop, but I have some nits to pick about his research (nobody in Macao would call a foreigner “gaijin”).  Back in Lucerne at 21:49, I dashed into the Drinks of the World shop to use up my point cards I’d rediscovered while decluttering.  I figured that with a closing time of 22:00 and my bus leaving 22:02 getting enough Newcastle Browns to total just over 5 francs would be easy, but I’d discounted that the local youths would be grabbing their last breezers and swelling the line.  On a whim, I checked the Scottish beer section and – Happy Father’s Day! – discovered that Drinks of the World had heeded my plea and added Innis & Gunn to their offering.

The bus driver wasn’t too happy to see me board the bus with two beer bottles in my hands a minute or two before departure, but I assured him I wouldn’t drink those lukewarm, and set to gently arranging them in my backpack.  I emptied one the following day to go with my Father’s Day meal, and the other’s waiting for another momentous occasion.

I wonder if I can wait until July 14th…

Izakaya Gentaro (居酒屋源太郎)

While I was at the Nichibei Kaiwa Gakuin back in the summer of 2007, I discovered the Izakaya Gentaro for its reasonably priced but very tasty lunches (particularly the Satsuma-age / 薩摩揚げ).  While I was decluttering today, I found the business card of the Izakaya Gentaro, and decided I’d post the information and chuck the card.

The Nichibei Gakuin has since moved, but in 2007 it was temporarily in a location between Iidabashi station and Kagurazaka.  The Izakaya Gentaro is across the large intersection by Iidabashi station with the following address: Miyako Building B1, 1-13 Agebacho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (東京都新宿区揚場町1-13ミヤコビルB1).  Should you want to call: +81 (0)3 3267 9599.  Open 10:30-14:00 and 17:00-24:00, closed Saturdays and Sundays.  It’s all in Japanese, but just pick something at random and it’ll be tasty.  The chef, 田代正夫 (read Masao Tashiro, most likely), appears a little moody at first, but he’s not nearly that bad.

If I put this much effort into every old business card, I’d be in trouble, but this restaurant deserves to be remembered.

How Joseph threw up in the car and saved the day

Joseph had never thrown up in the car – until yesterday.

We were in Titterten (yes, that’s what it’s called), which is where you get if you turn left after Bubendorf and keep driving past where a reasonable person would build a settlement.  Nevertheless, a village is there, and in the past two friends and I had organized a yearly birthday grill in that area because one of us had grown up there and thus had the requisite connections.  And so it was no surprise she would have her wedding party in that same village – with plenty of yummy food and plenty of excitement (read: toys and other children).  Joseph ate quite well, particularly the salami and pretzel bread, and then entertained himself with Lego and balls while the music trio played Swiss and Israeli folk tunes on a hammer dulcimer, a violin, and double bass.

But all good things must come to an end, and we still had the drive to Emmen ahead of us.  We walked to the car, with a brief stop at the playground, and though Joseph had enough energy to go down the slide, he wanted to be carried to the car.  I held him and let him open the car by placing the mobility card over the reader, and then manoeuvered him into his car seat and buckled him in.  We were running just a tad later than anticipated, and it was beginning to rain, so I wanted to take the fastest route, which was over the hill down to Liedertswil and Oberdorf, down the valley through Niederdorf and into Hölstein, then across a lower hill to Diegten and onto the Autobahn.  I thought I was doing fine and not driving too wildly, but I suppose it was too wild a ride for a little boy holding a new toy up to his face and studying it intently in the dusk.  Somewhere between Hölstein and Diegten, just as the rain had increased, Joseph started complaining.  It sounded like ordinary complaining, but Janet turned back and exclaimed: “Oh no, Joseph!”

“Joseph threw up,” she said.  “We should pull over.”  We pulled over into the driveway of a farm – just ahead of the farmer and his family, who gave us strange looks as we stopped half off the driveway to let them pass.  By now it was pouring and they probably wondered who might be lured by their “plums for sale” sign in this weather.

Janet leaned back and started to clean Joseph off, but there was more of a mess than had initially seemed.  I couldn’t do much from the driver’s seat, so I figured at least I might get the umbrella from the stroller in the station wagon trunk and help a little through the door.  I ran to the hatch, stood underneath it for rain cover, and fiddled with the little umbrella to get it open.  Then I shut the hatch again, bowed my head against the weather, and opened Joseph’s door.  As I straightened up to hold the umbrella over the opening, I spotted something on the roof.

It was my wallet, sitting on the mobility card.  I had put them there when I put Joseph in his seat.

I’ll spare you the grisly details of cleaning Joseph up in the pouring rain, and instead offer a map of the road my wallet traveled.

Größere Kartenansicht

Supernova and Milky Way

I’m in Japan again, and it’s another short trip, where the total travel time isn’t much less than the time spent in the country.  I neither slept much on the planes (Zürich-Bangkok-Tokyo) nor last night in the hotel, but I was surprisingly awake this morning when I got up for church.  I went to Tokyo Union Church this time, instead of out to Chiba, because I hoped to meet Mindy and her fabulous engagement ring – I mean, her fabulous Ryotaro. 

I got there with some time to spare, even though a film crew stopped pedestrian traffic for a while just in front of the toy store, where I encountered the Rubix 360°, which is like a cross between the Rubix cube and those annoying put-the-ball-in-the-hole coordination games.  From the film crew I learned that (a) the crowded street scenes are shot with a telephoto lens, with the crowds removed where the actors are, and using the background crowds down the street for the crowd effect, and that (b) one need not be a good actor to make it on TV. 

After church I stayed on for the young adults group, where I wasn’t the only newcomer.  I don’t know how I would have dealt with a newcomers group for a small group study – I found it somewhat awkward to answer personal questions in front of total strangers – but it seemed to work alright for most participants.  At least one person wasn’t a Christian, which surprised me a little.  Maybe Asians are more likely to actively explore another faith than Westerners. 

I went shopping afterwards.  Harajuku was crowded, and a store opening with the attendant lines at the entrance didn’t help.  Although my Harajuku source was out of black toe socks, the girl there pointed me to their Ikebukuro branch, which I found without too much difficulty.  They had the right socks, and that’s where the galactic references begin.  I suppose it’s appropriate that in the Sunshine city complex I came across the band ChoShinSung (Supernova) greeting fans, and snuck in a photo before some frantic guy came to tell me it wasn’t allowed. 

From there I went across the street to a supermarket to purchase a number of Japanese food items.  I’d been asked to buy green tea, which brought me to the second floor, where to my surprise I found a couple cans of Ginga Kogen beer, which translates into Milky Way Plateau beer.  It’s the only Japanese wheat beer I can think of and probably my favorite Japanese beer.  I support good quality, so I bought a few.  (I drink responsibly, so I don’t expect to see stars…) 

In closing, a few pictures of Tokyo, and one from the Munich airport from my last Asian trip. 

ADHD airplane
Here’s hoping the pilot isn’t what the plane ID says. 

Mydentity Converse Ad
I thought the ad was clever – and subtly frightening. 

10 Fashion rules, contradicted
Note how the rules (where they make quantifiable sense) are contravened by the mannequin’s garb. 

Fashion Rules in Harajuku
Standing in line to shop for clothes. 

No Smorking
Harajuku cracks down on crime – and smorking. 

ChoShinSung greet their fans
The girl in red got in line about five times, to the amusement of the bystanders. 

Krispy Kreme Tokyo
Oh, look, another person who must have stood in line today. 

The view from the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa
I don’t know of many other places with as clear a view of the Tokyo tower.  I can also see a part of the Rainbow Bridge (not on the picture).