Thursday, May 25, 2006

It’s True…Something We Already Knew

Chocolate is a food group. Chocolate is a vegetable (thank you, Barbara D’Amato.) Chocolate is right up there with oxygen, water, and sleep, as one of life’s necessities. And now we know that the good feeling you get really is good for your brain.

A bit of chocolate, and memory and reaction time improve. We’ve heard cautious optimism about dark chocolate before, but this time they found good news about milk chocolate improving cognitive performance. Read the CNN story here.

Milk or dark, chocolate is good for you. But you already knew that.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Another Lovely Word

Here I go again talking about a delightful word. This one caught my eye because…well…it’s my name.

Margaritaceous. At first I thought it described the tipsiness of someone who has had a few too many tropical drinks rimmed with salt. Or perhaps the drink itself, having been left on the bar too long, solidified into something with the consistency of granola.

It’s neither. Margaritaceous describes some people’s teeth, a gleaming jewel, and irridescent hummingbirds.

Margaret. Margarita. Margarethe. However they’ve spelled it, most languages seem to agree that the name is of Greek origin and means “pearl.” A few baby name web sites also list it as a Persian name meaning “child of light,” a lovely alternative.

Margaritaceous appeared in my mailbox this morning courtesy of A.Word.A.Day. If you are a linguaphile, sign up for their free daily email; one day the word might be your name too.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Chocolate is NOT the Same as Potato Chips

I’m a great believer in scientific investigation and in the publication of peer-reviewed discovery. But this time I have to disagree with a recently published study that claims chocolate’s effect is fleeting, and that eating potato chips can give you the same kind of lift.

To quote Nero Wolfe, “Phooey!”

Most women know that chocolate is a friend in time of need, whether physical or emotional. Good chocolate wraps you in warmth and comfort; its silky sweetness fills your mouth and calms your soul. Dark chocolate has been found to actually be good for you and your heart. Of course I know that doesn’t mean I can eat a dozen bars of Cadbury dark chocolate or a bag full of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises. Well, I can, but I’d better not.

This food of the gods has been recognized for centuries for its calmative and restorative powers. Chocolate can ease the pain of a broken hand or a broken heart – just try doing that with potato chips!

Now please excuse me…the Baker’s Catalog order just arrived, and I need to make sure that bar of Merckens bittersweet is up to standard. Purely for medicinal purposes, of course.

Friday, May 05, 2006

On Overlooking Things

Fortune Magazine and CNN have recently spent ink and electrons pondering the challenges that knowledge workers face, deluged as we are by interminable electronic input. Who has not experienced the two-way cutting of the technology sword? It makes our lives easier in many ways, but it also claims parts of our lives that used to be off-limits. We are busier than ever, seemingly connected constantly to everyone in the world. So why is it that we seem to get less done?

I’m not immune; the sight of an un-read message in my email in box is like a bell to Pavlov’s dogs – I must read it! Now! The conditioning is so effective that I will check my email every few minutes unless I slap my own hand as it reaches for the mouse.

So I have set myself a task – a difficult task for one so digitaddictive. No email, not even a peek, for the next full hour. During that hour I will focus on only one project from my endless to-do list, and give it my full attention. When it’s done, I get 10 minutes – no more – of email before the next task. After that, it’s an hour and a half before email.

I can do this. Yes, I can. In a few days I’ll be up to three or four hours between emails and I’m sure my task list will be a lot shorter.

The Fortune article included a timely thought: "‘The art of being wise,’ philosopher William James wrote more than a century ago, ‘is the art of knowing what to overlook.’”

May we all be so wise.