Tuesday, October 17, 2006

According to some unknown authority, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When I am working, I rarely eat breakfast, except of course on the weekends, but then it is more like lunch. Lately, I have had the opportunity to enjoy breakfast almost every day. Unemployment has its perks.

One of my favorite grab-and-go breakfasts of all times has to be the Sausage and Egger at A&W, followed closely by the Sausage and Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s. Back in the day, when I worked at the meal hall at Acadia, they used to make a knock-off that they called an “egg-o muffin.” It was also delicious, and I would often enjoy one or two after my Saturday morning shifts.

Since I am now a penniless hobo, I can’t afford to indulge myself at our finer fast food establishments, and I have been forced to come up with my own knock-off breakfast sandwich. Fortunately it is quite easy, and I will share my recipe with you now.

1. Split an English muffin and toast

2. In a ramekin / coffee mug / small bowl scramble an egg with about a tablespoon of milk and some salt and pepper. Microwave 90 seconds at high

3. (optional) Butter the English muffin

4. Place a slice (or two) of processed cheddar cheese on the toasted English muffin

5. Place the cooked egg on the cheese and place the other half of the English muffin on top, making a sandwich

I hope you enjoy my famous breakfast creation. It sure is a lot easier to just go buy it at McDonald’s, but for those times in your life when you are struggling to make ends meet, or McDonald’s is just not accessible, you now have a viable alternative. Feel free to share this recipe at will.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In my first semester at Acadia, back in 1994, I was taking introductory Economics from Dr. John Connor. I recall at about mid-term he started walking into class, and before he said anything he would write on the blackboard, “Nash, Harsanyi, Selten,” nothing more, nothing less, every day. Slowly he started to allude to the names and started asking people in the class if they had any significance. Perhaps weeks later, on a Monday, he directed everyone to an article that had appeared in the Globe and Mail the previous Saturday. The article was about the peculiar life of John Nash, a mathematician who did ground-breaking work in the field of game theory, which has since become an important branch of Economics. Nash suffered from schizophrenia for much of his adult life, but was able to get it under control and lead a relatively normal life starting sometime in the 80s. In 1994, John Nash won the Nobel Prize in Economics along with John Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten, all for their contributions to the study of game theory. Nash’s life would be immortalized in the biographical film “A Beautiful Mind.”

It was Dr. Connor who really sparked my interest in Economics, and in fact when I decided to pursue my second degree, I went to him for advice on how I could make it work. I will never forget his advice at the time. He said (approximately), “Economics will do you a hell of a lot better in the long run.” Whether that statement is true or not is still up for debate, but one thing is for sure, I still remember everything I learned in Economics like it was yesterday, but if you were to ask me to write a program in Modula, I would be hard pressed to produce anything.

On Monday, the Bank of Sweden announced the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics. This year it is being awarded to Edmund Phelps for his work on intertemporal tradeoffs in macroeconomic policy. Every year when I hear the announcement, I think back to those early days at Acadia. I imagine how, if Dr. Connor was still teaching, a class full of freshman would stare perplexed at the name on the board until someone figured out to whom the mystery name belonged. Each year the Nobel Prize announcement reminds me of what a great five years I had at Acadia, and of course of one of the great influences in my life, Dr. John Connor.

Monday, October 09, 2006

There is a new threat to humanity, and it is carrot juice. Apparently, tainted carrot juice is behind a string of recent botulism cases here in North America. This comes just a few short weeks after a bunch of fresh spinach was found to contain E. Coli.

This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, and as usual we prepared a chicken with all the fixings, and had a great feast. One thing I am always careful with is making sure the bird is done. I double and triple check it with a thermometer and let it go extra long just in case. I would certainly rather eat dry meat than have a case of salmonella.

One thing I would never imagine is that food that I trusted to be good for me could actually kill me. If I were to open a bottle of commercially packaged carrot juice or buy a spinach salad (OK, I ask you to use your imagination on both counts), I would not expect that I should be worried about ending up in the hospital. Unlike when I roast a chicken, there is really no way for me to determine if fresh fruits and vegetables are safe to eat. I guess we have to count on the producers to ensure that this food is handled in such a way as to not pose a threat to our health. These cases in recent weeks clearly demonstrate that they are not doing enough.

I don’t know what should be done, but one thing I do know is that I will not be going out of my way and paying a premium to eat “healthy food” if horror stories like this keep showing up in the news. I am pretty sure that eating vegetables from a can is better for me than needing kidney dialysis.