Sad Coffee Monthly #3 (September 2016)

Something Inspirational

In Kid President We Trust

Sit down, eyes to the front. Class is about to start. Today’s topic: 20 Things We Should Say More Often to Brighten Someone’s Day.

Something Educational

What Do The Numbers on Plastic Containers Actually Mean?

Contrary to popular belief, the embossed numbers found at the bottom of plastic containers don’t actually give us the full picture.

The numbers, from 1 to 7, make up the Resin Identification Code (RIN). It’s a universal system that indicates the container’s resin composition (as seen in the image above). This labelling is mostly meant for recycling companies as it makes it easier for them to sort out the different plastics for reprocessing.

As a general rule, ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘4’ and ‘5’ are safe to be used as storage for food and beverages. However, ‘1’ is designed for single-use only as it is susceptible to build up of bad bacteria and contains antimony (potential carcinogen) which can contaminate your food over time.

However, a 2011 study showed that “all commercially available plastic items” are capable of releasing estrogenic chemicals, which can disrupt the body’s hormone production and negatively alter the structure of human cells. According to the researchers, plastics are prone to releasing these chemicals when they have suffered wear or been exposed to boiling water, sunlight (UV), and/or microwaving.

One such chemical is BPA (bisphenol A), which is why many established 
manufacturers who produce reusable water bottles or containers have gone “BPA-free”.

To be clear, there’s no evidence yet to prove that the safe plastics (‘1’, ‘2’, ‘4’ and ‘5’) leach enough toxic chemicals to cause actual, measurable harm to humans if used under normal conditions.

Containers that have the “three squiggly lines” symbol means they have supposedly undergone stringent tests to ensure they do not break down and leach toxic chemicals after being exposed to microwave oven radiation.

The problem with plastics is that there is no way of knowing which plastic makers adhere to safe and proper manufacturing processes. It’s best to err on the side of caution and replace frequently used plastic containers every few years. If you have to use the microwave oven, go with glass or earthenware instead.

Something Nifty

Apex Stand

Hey Laptop Lovers, Take a Stand for Your Posture

If you spend hours at a time working on a laptop/tablet that’s resting directly on a desk, you might want to look into getting a laptop stand.

Desktop monitors come with built-in stands that provide enough height to ensure that the screen is level with your eyes when sitting upright. However, getting a decent viewing angle with a laptop or tablet requires the screen to be tilted back, which encourages slouching. Expect strained necks and back pains over time.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fixes. Telephone directories are the no.1 recommended free solution. Then there are the cheap rigid stands sold at any PC/gadget shop. You could also check out the two best laptop stands on the market: The Roost 2.0 and Apex Stand

In case you haven’t noticed, you’re going to have a hard time using the laptop’s keyboard while it’s propped up on a stand. Well, boo-hoo. It’s time you stopped using a lame membrane keyboard anyway. Take this opportunity to invest in a proper mechanical keyboard that satisfyingly goes clickety-clack when you type on it. You’ll thank me later.

Something Healthy

Mo’ Milk, Mo’ Problems?

For years, cow’s milk has been touted by celebrities, health authorities and even doctors as essential to a healthy human diet, because it’s rich in calcium, vitamin D and potassium.

Never mind that only about 35% of the world’s adult population actually produce lactase enzymes to properly digest the lactose in milk, which means people who can drink milk without problems are the real weirdos.

This averseness to milk was one of the reasons that led to the invention of cheese. The fermentation process removes most lactose in cheese, and, as a bonus, allows it to be stored for consumption during periods of poor harvest.

Milk is also one of the most common food allergens, especially for children, affecting up to 3% of kids under 3 years. Dairy allergy is separate from lactose intolerance, and the symptoms include hives, stomach upset, vomiting, bloody stools and anaphylaxis.

Commercial Milk is Never Fresh From the Farm

Milk sold in stores today is often pasteurised and homogenised. Pasteurisation is the process of heating the milk up then cooling it rapidly to eliminate certain bacteria so that the milk can be kept fresh for longer periods. While debates rage on about whether this reduces the nutritional value of the milk, one thing pasteurisation does is make certain enzymes inactive, which is partly why it’s difficult to digest.

Homogenisation is a mechanical process that occurs after pasteurisation. It breaks down and evenly distributes the fat in milk so the it doesn’t rise to the top to form a layer of cream. Like pasteurisation, this process prolongs the shelf life of milk as the more fat that’s exposed to the air means the faster the milk turns stale. Farmers also do this so they can mix the milk of different herds together..

Milk Does Not Offer Exclusive Nutritional Benefits

One thing we can all agree on is that milk has lots of calcium and calcium makes our bones stronger and staves off osteoporosis in later age. Right? Actually, calcium is just a part of the equation. Exercise and genetics also contribute to bone density. Furthermore, for calcium to be absorbed by our body, it needs to be supplemented with vitamin D, which is not found in processed milk. Milk producers add vitamin D in artificially and not all of them use the most appropriate type. Check the label, you want vitamin D-3.

What’s potentially troubling is that a study suggests that too much calcium, especially without sufficient vitamin D, could increase hip fractures. Experts are constantly arguing about the sweet spot of calcium intake, which many top nutritionists say is only 300 mg a day, not the 1000+mg levels often quoted in advertisements.


The Thing About Domesticated Cattle

But the real tragedy is that rapid human population growth from 2 billion in 1927 to 7 billion in 2011 ensured that the animal farming industry kept its focus on meeting product demands while neglecting animal welfare standards.

Few countries have enforceable laws to protect domesticated cattle from stressful living conditions. So many live in tight quarters for the entirety of their lives and do not get to graze on open fields. Many cows also suffer from mastitis, a painful udder infection caused by excessive milking and unsanitary living spaces. If that isn’t enough, when a cow gives birth to her calf, they are immediately separated because the bond between mother and her young grows stronger by the day.

The good news is there is nothing milk can provide that we can’t find in abundance in plants. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, black turtle beans, chick peas, soybeans, raisins are just some of the healthy foods that have relatively high calcium content.

Vitamin D3 can be had from fatty fish like salmon and mackerel and egg yolk. Supplements work fine too. Oh, one more thing, our body produces its own vitamin D3 after about 15 minutes of exposure to the sun. How about that?

Something Productive

Soon: A To-Do List on Steroids.

We all have our own ways of tracking our to-do tasks, but if you’re looking for a slick mobile app to help you remember TV shows you plan on watching, or books you wish to read, or restaurants you’ve been recommended, check out Soon. It’s currently only available on Apple iOS devices unfortunately, but watch their website for news on future releases for other platforms.

Soon sets itself apart from similar apps by integrating with various media databases. For example, when you search for “Stranger Things” in the app because you heard that it’s the greatest TV show ever (true by the way), Soon not only finds the show for you, it gives you a link to the trailer and includes details about the show including a synopsis so you can decide right then and there if it’s something worth adding to your list of things to do.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a contemporary app if it didn’t allow you to share your lists on your favourite social media platforms. Invite your friends to view and critique your lists, or recommend more stuff to do — actually I don’t know how the social media features work. I don’t have social media. Or friends.

Something John Oliver

Fighting For Net Neutrality

In recent years, American internet service providers have tried to push nationwide legislation to allow them to charge companies more for bandwidth usage.

This would’ve likely resulted in high traffic content providers like YouTube, Netflix, Instagram and Whatsapp, passing those increased costs onto consumers. Consumers who didn’t fork out additional fees would risk having to deal with slow, disruptive internet speeds at those aforementioned sites because cable companies wouldn’t be widening their data pipes to accommodate the “faster lanes”, they would simply be tweaking their bandwidth speeds to favour content providers that paid them more.

Fortunately, in March 2015, the FCC (America’s internet regulatory body) passed a landmark ruling to prevent cable companies from unbalancing the playing field with multi-tiered pricing schemes.

Tragically, there are no such net neutrality laws in Singapore. IDA currently allows local ISPs to sell “fast lanes” to content providers, and in true corporate spirit, they already are. According to this Straits Times article, ISPs are only legally required to provide websites or content providers with just enough bandwidth speeds so that they are not totally “unusable”.

It remains to be seen if net neutrality polices will improve in Singapore as we strive to be Asia’s leading tech hub. Paying for decent bandwidth speeds might be an unnecessary obstacle that Internet start-ups and small companies have to contend with.

Something Cool

We All Need to Remember the Virtue of Patience

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t let modern media’s preference for short, instantly gratifying content cause you to miss out on real stories.

Something Puzzly

Something Quotalicious

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” ~ Herm Albright

That’s all for this month! Hope you found a thing or two that tickled your neurons. If you would like Sad Coffee Monthly to be sent directly to your inbox, subscribe here. No spam. I promise.

Until next month, let the right stuff in.

Disclaimer: Sad Coffee is not affiliated with any of the products/services/companies/brands being featured, unless otherwise stated.