So. Congress has done its level best to ruin your holiday. Basically: it has done nothing, and that’s all you need from Congress, these days. This time, nothing has turned into a doubling of the interest rate on your student loan.

While the media squawks on about the effect student loan interest rates will have on new students, very little attention is being paid to the fact that, long after you graduate, you’ll still be paying off your student loans.

Loooooong after.

In fact, some estimates say as much as a billion dollars in unpaid student debt exists in this country, with about 37 million borrowers.

So kick back and relax. Get ready to spend the rest of your days paying off those loans. And while you’re doing that, Jillian and I have prepared a Spotify set list to help inspire, enrage, sympathize and in some cases, enable you through it all. Enjoy!

14. Pink Floyd Money

Tom – For those of us old enough to have owned a Walkman (dear god, did I just write that?), no such list would be complete without Pink Floyd’s 7/8 time classic, Money. From the first sampled ::ca-ching:: of a cash register to the driving insistence of the tell-tale funky, cocksure bass line, there is something about this song that tells you right away that you’ll now be marching to the beat of the cash. Whether you’re leading that parade or getting dragged along in the rear doesn’t matter. You will march:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Xl6NfQyNLto

13. Plain White T’s – Happy Someday

Tom – “I’ll be happy someday.”

Relax dude. No, you won’t. Hope you find your life enriched by that advanced degree in Medieval dance music. Because Great Lakes Higher Education would like a word with you about your two months past due balance.

12. Fountains of Wayne – Strapped for Cash

Tom –So, your buddy just got out of prison and needs you to pay back that loan? Oh, if only this wasn’t so familiar a scenario to me. And if you’re just graduating from college, brace yourself! You, too, will be “robbing Peter to pay Paul” like the protagonist in this Supertramp-inspired song.

11. Fiddler on the Roof – If I Were a Rich Man

Tom – Fair question:

“So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?”

Topol starts us out straight away with a plaintif question for his god. It’s a simple question, but the rest of the song, in which he fantasizes  about his awesome rich existence, never mentions “I wouldn’t have to go a week without my anti-anxiety medication so that I can afford to pay the loans that are giving me anxiety.”

10. Donna Summer – She Works Hard for the Money

Tom –So hard for it, honey. So seriously? How ’bout a little debt relief for the waitress with a Masters in chemistry? This is not someone whose service you want if you’re a member of the House of Representatives and have a weak constitution for exotic brews of restaurant cleansers.

Actually, I just love this song for the first 12 seconds of extra-synthy, extra-dramatic intro. For a second, I couldn’t tell if this was a Donna Summer song or the intro to an ’80’s PBS show about computers…

9. Cyndi Lauper – Money Changes Everything

Jillian – Yes, Cyndi, it sure does. This little 80s gem pays homage to a wonderful mindset many of us Americans still share, and that’s “buy now, pay later”. Whether it’s shacking up with the unemployed dude down the street or signing on the dotted line for an exorbitant amount of student loans at the tender age of 18, chances are, the money portions of these decisions will be making a much larger impact on you later down the road, just as Cyndi warns.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eebu7sM2QbM

8. James Brown – Give it Up or Turn it Loose

Tom – For no apparent reason other than fuck yeah, James Brown:

7. The Beatles – Can’t Buy Me Love

Tom – No, money cannot buy you love. Which is nice, because you won’t have any, regardless.

Do your best to embrace this carefree, non-materialistic attitude early, because your iPad requires a wireless contract. Otherwise, it’s just one more paperweight in your broke-ass studio apartment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1DoYhOM77Q

6. Notorious B.I.G – Mo Money, Mo Problems

Jillian – Oh, Biggie. I admit it, when this song made its debut, all I could think was “Poor rich rapper, rolling in money, cars, and women. Yes, those certainly are problems – jerk.” These days, though, I think Biggie may have been on to something; however, if it were up to me, I would have called the song “Mo Money, Mo Debt” or “Mo Money, Mo Taxes”, but those just don’t quite have the same ring, do they?

5. They Might Be Giants – Minimum Wage

Tom – Embrace it. Minimum wage means minimum loan payments. Remember when you were encouraged to go to college so you could earn more money? Now because of college, maybe it feels like, for a little while at least, it might be best to avoid your high-income future.

4. Hoyt Axton – Boney Fingers

Jillian –I grew up with this song on my parents’ turntable and the upbeat tune will definitely fool you. This song is chock full of all the little things that go wrong and make adult-life terrible, always circling back to the mantra,

“Work your fingers to the bone, and what do you get? Boney fingers!”

It’s not that we don’t work and earn a paycheck, we just don’t see much, if any of it. And hey, if you’re on that “Income Based Repayment” system for federal student loans, don’t worry! If you earn a raise, you get to pay more in student loans each month! At least Hoyt leaves us with hope, adding in “maybe things will get a little better in the morning.” We’ll see, Hoyt. We’ll see.

3. Steely Dan – Black Friday

Tom – Lest we forget, your local banker is the one guy not upset by raised interest rates. The same raised interest rates that will bring you to sobbing, Ramen noodle slurping destitution will be purchasing him a new set of golf clubs and a hooker.

Some of those bankers will know enough to get out right before the bubble bursts, just like on the infamous Black Friday. Donald Fagan recounts:

When Black Friday comes, I’m gonna collect everything thing I’m owed. And before my friends find out, I’ll be on the road.

2. Stevie Wonder – Money (That’s What I Want)

Jillian – So do the loan collectors and your government. See, we’re not really all that different! At least Stevie sympathizes with us. Maybe we can’t all follow in the footsteps of Stevie Wonder, but if you’re looking for a tune to snap you out of the overwhelming debt blues, this one will at least have you singing and dancing around your kitchen, and that’s a step in the right direction.

1. Tennesee Ernie Ford – Sixteen Tons

Tom –I remember laughing at this song when I was a wee lad. Once I started piling up a heap of debt, I wasn’t laughing anymore. But if you’ve gotta cry over your mountain of debt that you cannot make a hole in, do it with the best, Tennessee Ernie Ford.

I’ve been a horror movie fan for as long as I can remember. Over the course of many discussions, one common theme I’ve recognized in scary movie lovers is the older we get, the more the movies frighten us. I could have had a Silence of the Lambs/Rosemary’s Baby/Hellraiser all-day marathon and more when I was 13 and not bat an eye. Today? I’ll keep my fiancé up all night because of the house noises I think I hear or because I just can’t turn my brain off after watching something like that. Why? Simple – I understand more than I did back then. The very same thing can be said about my relationship with the ocean.

I had my first yearly family vacation to the beach when I was barely 5-months old and apparently, I was hooked instantly. Each year, we’d travel to the same place and I’d be one of those kids with balls of brass, charging right into the waves, not caring how deep the water was, how big the waves got, or what kind of creatures were near me. Now, you’re lucky if I get past ankles deep in the water, and this is why: the ocean is full of weird shit that I want nothing to do with.

4. Sheepshead Fish: because human teeth belong in humans.

Dude. Uncalled for.

Look at this guy – just look at him! No, it isn’t photoshopped; those human-like teeth are real, and they aren’t some freak-show accident, either. Unfortunately, this weirdo, known as the sheepshead fish, is fairly common; however, he won’t cause you to trip balls and he’s also not a hermaphrodite, so hey, there’s that.

3. Two-headed Shark: because fuck no.

Let’s just say, this one looks like it was made to attack mammals.

Then, we have this – er – these little fellows here. Yes, ladies and gentleman, we have a two-headed shark. While we may not see them very often, two-headed sharks, snakes, and even lizards are not overly rare; we just don’t see them often because they tend to die shortly after being born.

2. Cannibal Lobsters: because if you’re too eager to wait for the clarified butter, you don’t belong near my ankles.

This is what Wegmans looks like in horror movies.

Who could forget this? The touching tale of the cannibal lobsters in Maine. Apparently, overly warm water environments lead to cannibalism. Sure, unless you’re a lobster, you probably have nothing to worry about, but who really enjoys swimming with cannibals of any sort? Certainly not I!

1. The Ugly One: because anything that can survive Lake Ontario waters is probably undead.

Those beastly fangs. Those soulless eyes. And he’s not even from Buffalo.

I suppose I could be thankful I live in Rochester and therefore, hours away from any creepy underwater creatures, but nothing is ever that easy, now is it? I don’t know about you, but I still haven’t forgotten about “The Ugly One” – Lake Ontario’s very own mutant ninja…whatever.

I’d rather see all of the above in some terrible, barely B-rated made-for-tv SciFi movie than swimming past me and nibbling at my toes when I’m trying to keep cool on a hot summer day. With that said, I know as soon as the weather is right, I’ll be back at Charlotte Beach. We all have our weaknesses, isn’t that what horror movies are all about?

Happy SciFriday, Everyone!

How many of us grew up hearing, “respect your elders; they know best”? As much as we may not have wanted to hear it at the time, as we grew and matured, we gradually started to see it was true. Perhaps our elders were always one step ahead of us – even prehistorically.

In early January, archaeologists investigating an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany uncovered a unique find: a tightly closed tin container with extraordinarily well-preserved medicine dating back to approximately 140-130 B.C. The results of deep analysis offer a sneak peek into the true complexity and sophistication of ancient medications. According to lead researcher Gianna Giachi,

 “The research highlights the continuity from then until now in the use of some substances for the treatment of human diseases. The research also shows the care that was taken in choosing complex mixtures of products – olive oil, pine resin, starch – in order to get the desired therapeutic effect and to help in the preparation and application of medicine.”

Were our ancestors paving the way for our medical advancements? Maybe; but perhaps not in the exact way we would think. Instead of thinking technologically, let’s consider something even more primal: nature. To many, this discovery indicates that natural medicines are not only practical, but have been used for thousands of years because of their effectiveness. Quoting Alain Touwaide, scientific director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions,

 “This information potentially represents essentially several centuries of clinical trials. If natural medicine is used for centuries and centuries, it’s not because it doesn’t work.”

Although the shipwrecked boat, the Relitto del Pozzino, was first discovered in 1974, the analysis of the ancient pills found on board only began two years ago. After several studies conduced by light microscopy and a scanning electron microscope to analyze the pills’ organic elements, it has been determined that the medication was actually used to treat dry eye, a condition still prevalent today.

Since very few ancient medications have been discovered elsewhere, this finding provides great insight into prehistoric medical treatments. Additionally, it shows us that common problems facing men and women thousands of years ago haven’t changed, even today. That, or our ancestors were just always looking out for our best interests – even for our eyes. Remember: take your pills and eat your carrots!

According to the groundhog’s predictions earlier this month, spring is just around the corner – and nothing says late winter/early spring quite like a bombardment of spiders. Wait, spiders?

Although the months of February and March may bring hodge-podge visions of overpriced candy and flowers, beads and boobies, and bunnies and neon-colored eggs to mind, this is actually prime time of the year for spider play; or, at least, that’s what the past two years in recent history seem to show.

Last March, we reported the heebie-jeebies filled story of the ballooning spiders in Australia that were essentially cocooning over 8,000 homes to escape from flooding. Creepy, and kind of gross, but a once-in-a-lifetime unfortunate turn of events, yes? No.  Just this past Sunday, a web designer in Brazil captured this little gem on video:  footage of what appears to be thousands of spiders falling from the sky.

Unsettling as this scene may be, according to Leticia Aviles, student at the University of British Columbia,

“The phenomenon observed is not really surprising. Either social or colonial spiders may occur in large aggregations, as the one shown in the video.”

Okay, so it’s normal, but why are they doing this? The answer is simple: it’s how they hunt. Are the hairs standing up on the back of your neck yet?

The good news is the spiders are not actually raining from the heavens, nor are they flying. What’s happening here is similar to a real-life optical illusion. Experts say the spiders in the video are spread out across a large network composed of individual webs which are very fine and mostly invisible – hence the falling or flying illusion. Oh, okay. So the spiders aren’t falling, they just have a gigantic invisible web in the sky. I feel much better!

What experts can’t seem to agree on, however, is what species of spider these sky dwellers belong to, or where they’re headed. Some scientists believe the spiders to be of the social species, Anelosimus eximius, which weaves communal webs, live together throughout adulthood, and share  childcare duties. Other arachnologists are of the thought that these spiders actually belong to the Parawixia bistriata colony, a species which also works together in a community but are known to dissolve before the spiders make their own single families. Think two different hippie colonies: one stays together for life, while the other splits up before moving on to have babies and a family of their own, away from their wild  youths. Ladies and gentlemen: hippie spiders!

It remains uncertain whether these spiders are setting up camp for a while or simply in the process of dispersing, and unfortunately, those answers may remain unanswered until someone – or something – can get a good photo of the translucent web or an up-close shot of the spiders. Fortunately, despite which species these spiders fall into, their venom is not believed to be harmful to humans. So, who’s ready to make their first million-dollar photograph?

 

Although I admittedly feel the need to use it in professional circumstances (ie, work email exchanges with clients I’ve never met), I can’t stand the greeting “happy holidays”, but not because it makes me feel religiously slighted; no, I think it just makes me sound like a pretentious asshole. Happy holidays! Season’s greetings! Look at me, I’m politically correct! No one shall feel offense to my cheery, generic, void of any creativity well wishes! Barf.

Anyway, despite my distaste for the “happy holidays” bullshit, I’ve found that it actually does have one solid redeeming purpose, all political crap aside. December is full of weird, random holidays, and this is a great way to incorporate every single one of them! Sure, we have the obvious ones like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, but those are just the tip of the ice berg! Let’s take a look at a few of the lesser celebrated December days, shall we?

Festivus, December 23.

Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated as an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism associated with Christmastime. Practices include the airing of grievances, which occurs over a meal with everyone informing everyone else how they’ve disappointed one another over the course of the year, and the feats of strength, which involve wrestling the head of the household to the floor. Although Festivus was introduced to popular culture by a Seinfeld episode in 1997, it has been celebrated by Seinfeld’s screenwriter’s family every year since 1966.

Boxing Day, December 26

Growing up seeing “Boxing Day” on the calendar always led me to believe Canadians were bad asses who headed to the boxing ring to duke it out every year the day after Christmas. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I learned the childhood dream crushing truth; Boxing Day isn’t about the sport of boxing at all. No, Boxing Day actually finds its roots quite literally in “boxing” as in the day everyone boxes everything up. Apparently this is worthy of a bank holiday, but hey, who am I to argue with an extra paid day off?

Saint Stephen’s Day, December 26, 27, or January 9

Although no one can really agree which day to celebrate it on, Saint Stephen’s Day is pretty cool. This public holiday, celebrated in many Eastern European countries as well as Ireland and Wales, commemorates the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen. Common celebrations include parades, festivals, and a gigantic feast appropriately known as the Feast of Saint Stephen. Former Welsh traditions included bleeding out livestock and beating late risers and female servants with holly branches, although these festivities were discontinued in the 19th century. The popular Christmas carol, “Good King Wenceslas” tells a heartwarming tale of the Feast of Saint Stephen, sans bleeding livestock and holly branch beatings.

Whether you light a menorah, decorate a Christmas tree, or beat your loved ones with seasonal flora, from the DragonFlyEye family to yours, we wish you an honest, heartfelt, “Happy Holidays!” What are some of your favorite offbeat December customs? Share your best, nontraditional traditions below and we’ll share ours, too!

Ever notice that whoever wrote the “12 Days of Christmas” song had a severe bird fetish? At least six of these 12 days of true love gift giving are bird related, and possibly more. History has debated that the fifth day’s gift of “five golden rings” actually referred to ring-necked pheasants, not fancy finger jewelry. So! There we have it. The first seven days of the 12 Days of Christmas are birds, equaling a grand total of 28 birds from your true love.

Um, thanks?

Culturally, we may not typically celebrate 12 days of Christmas anymore, but Rochester is certainly on board with Day 4, albeit perhaps unintentionally. Day 4 is another commonly misinterpreted verse to the 12 Days song, with many singing “four calling birds” when in fact, it is actually “four colly birds.” Okay, well that’s all fine and good, but what the heck is a colly bird? According to our good friends at Wikipedia, colly bird is the old-fashioned term for a black bird. Merry Christmas, Rochester, indeed!

The crows are back in town, and they’re back with a vengeance.  Earlier in the year, the city put forth extensive creative and technological efforts to disperse crows from downtown areas, however, the colder weather has brought them back, much to the city’s chagrin. Earlier this week, wildlife biologists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture began their most recent attempts to chase the overwhelming amount of crows out of Washington Square Park, which, on Sunday’s count, clocked in with over 25,000 crows.

The USDA has been working through the night using non-harmful techniques such as spotlights and pyrotechnics to rid the crows, however, these colly birds aren’t leaving without a fight. Several crows have flown away or moved to other trees while others have barely budged. Back in February, we reported that crows have an uncanny sense of memory – perhaps they’re calling our bluff?

According to USDA wildlife biologist Mark Carrara, these things take time and will decrease gradually, comparing the techniques to pet training, which may not be such a far-fetched comparison. For whatever reason, these crows do seem to believe they’ve found a home in Rochester. Perhaps Rochester should be more selective when choosing its “true love” next year, or at least one that blesses us with better gifts. In the meantime, happy eleven months of the fourth day of Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope. It’s Pac-Man! Perhaps everyone’s favorite ghost gobbler from the 80s isn’t making a comeback to our television or computer screens just yet, but that’s okay. He’s found a much larger place to reside: in one of Saturn’s moons.

Scientists with NASA’s Cassini mission have spotted this second Pac-Man shaped feature on the moon Tethys in Saturn’s system. That’s right; this is not the first Pac-Man on the moon. The first space Pac-Man was found on Mimas back in 2010. According to Carly Howett, lead author of a recent paper in the online journal, Icarus,

“Finding a second Pac-Man in the Saturn system tells us that the processes creating these Pac-Men are more widespread than previously thought. The Saturn system – and even the Jupiter system – could turn out to be a veritable arcade of these characters.”

The Pac-Man shapes were found in thermal data obtained by a composite infrared spectrometer with the warmer areas making the Pac-Man shape. Scientists theorize that this is caused by the high-energy electrons bombarding the lower latitudes on the forward-facing side of the moon as it orbits Saturn. In turn, this bombardment then converts the area into hard-packed ice. As a result, the altered surface does not respond to heat or cooling as quickly as the rest of the surface.

Although you have to admit that Pac-Man in Space would be a pretty cool video game plot, this finding actually paves a lot of ground for future research beyond gaming. The origins of this particular Pac-Man provides scientists with deeper insight into how planets and moons are shaped, as well as the diversity of the processes in Saturn’s system. Moving forward, as Cassini project scientist, Linda Spilker says it,

“Future Cassini observations may reveal other new phenomena that will surprise us and help us better understand the evolution of moons in the Saturn system and beyond.”

To Saturn and beyond? For Pac-Man, anything is possible.

Like many cat owners, I opt to keep my fluffy friend an indoors-only kitty. I live in an apartment complex near a busy road, but even if I didn’t, he would still be an indoor cat. The average life expectancy for an indoor cat is 12-15 years, while the average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is only 2-5 years. This is due in part to the typical dangers of not living a cozy, sheltered life, as well as a much higher risk of deadly diseases, such as feline leukemia.

Although I know I have his best interests at heart, I do admit to having mixed feelings about keeping my cat cooped up indoors, away from the world at all times. A cat is meant to be a cat! They are hunters and full of energy! You can see it in the way their ears perk up when they hear a bird, their eyes fixate on the smallest of movements, and in their notorious daily episodes of running around the house like a mad animal for no particular reason. However, this is the Digital Age. If we can’t have something in reality, we’ll simulate it! Thankfully for indoor kitties everywhere, Hiccup has done just that.

Whoever said video games are only for humans is obviously not up with the times. 2 years ago this month, Game for Cats debuted on the Apple iPad, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a game for cats. Originally an imitation of a laser pointer, today’s most recent update of Game for Cats also simulates mice to play on cats’ predatory instincts. Although it is only a myth that cats can see in the dark, they do have superior motion-detecting vision, which explains how their eyes can dart around a room countless times within a split second when trying to catch a string – or in this case, a mouse on an iPad screen.

If you’re like me, and often deal with the split dilemma of keeping your kitty safe while wanting him to play to his predatory heart’s content, feast your eyes on Game for Cats. Of course, it does require you to have an iPad, but never fear about leaving your fuzzy friends to their own devices with such an expensive toy; many tests have ensured that sharp kitty claws will not pierce the iPad’s durable screen.

One of my favorite parts about visiting my soon-to-be in laws is the food. Yes, my future mother-in-law is an excellent cook, but the best part is that they live in Maine, and you know what that means: lobsters on the cheap! And really, who can resist a nice lobster dinner? Not many people, and apparently not the lobsters, either.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg0PCaolOMk

Cannibal lobsters? Yes, it’s a little weird, a little gross, and completely true. Noah Oppenheim, a graduate student studying at the University of Maine, caught this little gem on film. For those of you who don’t have the stomach to watch your food eating your –  er – food, the video depicts adult lobsters grabbing and scarfing down adolescent lobsters. That’s one way to deal with obnoxious teenage angst!

Although lobsters in captivity have been known to occasionally snap and eat their own kind, scientists in Maine say Oppenheim’s video is the first direct evidence that lobsters practice cannibalism in the wild. It’s not yet determined if this change in appetite is due to warmer water temperatures or a decrease in typical lobster predators, but fear not. Lobsters are not expected to eat themselves into extinction and Maine’s lobster boom will most likely return next summer. And hey, if you’re really lucky, you might even find a smaller lobster inside your lobster – now that’s what I call a 2-for-1 dinner!

By the way, don’t be shy! Check out our other great posts on cannibalism! Get a whole fist full!

Black Friday: even in the prime of the Digital Age, the tradition of leaving your home well before daybreak to get the best sales of the season lives on. With so much excitement and sleep deprivation, it’s easy to forget all about the exorbitant amount of leftovers from the previous day’s feast; but don’t forget for too long! You put too much blood, sweat, and tears into your perfectly delicious Thanksgiving dishes to let them fall prey to food spoilage. Let’s begin by understanding the culprits that drive good food to go bad:

Air & Oxygen

Because air is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it is often forgotten as a food spoiler. Don’t be fooled; although oxygen is essential for life, it can also have deteriorating effects on fats, food colors, vitamins, flavors, and other food constituents. Oxygen can cause food spoilage in two ways: it can provide conditions that enhance the growth of microorganisms or damage food with the help of enzymes which cause oxidation. To avoid simple air from killing your leftovers, be sure to keep all leftovers sealed tight until you’re ready for the following days’ lunches, dinners, or snacks.

Moisture

Water is one of the most common substances on earth – it is also one of the most common components in foods. Excess amounts of moisture can either result in food spoilage due to microorganisms or chemical reactions. Water helps microorganisms dissolve their food, gain energy, grow, and release their waste products. Yummy? Not for us. Moisture in our food also allows chemical reactions to occur between components. This form of spoilage typically occurs with changes in humidity and can most commonly be detected by the appearance of mold. Make sure to use up foods with high water or moisture percentages like fruits or breads soon after the holiday to prevent unwanted “science experiments” in place of leftovers.

Light

Unless you use an ice box and prefer to cook and eat in pitch darkness, your food will be exposed to natural or artificial light at some point. The prolonged exposure of food to light can result in photodegradation – light specific food spoilage. This form of spoiling usually occurs in pigments, fats, proteins, and vitamins, resulting in discoloration, vitamin losses, and negative changes in flavor. The light sensitivity of food is dependent on the oxygen concentration (see bullet point one) and temperature, as well as the light source’s strength and type, and duration of the food’s exposure to the light. Typically, if you aren’t letting your leftovers sit in the sun or in an incubator while you’re out shopping, you should be okay, but use your best judgment.

Microbial Growth

Bacteria, molds, and yeasts are the big culprits here. The main sources of these microorganisms are in the air, soil, sewage, and animal wastes. Naturally present microorganisms on the surface of foods grown in the ground as well as those found in animal’s internal organs, skin, or feet can cause food spoilage and contaminate meat and fish, especially in ground meats. Again, by making sure to eat these leftover in a timely manner (including milk to prevent souring), you can avoid the risk of zombie food wreaking havoc on your home and in your stomach.

Temperature

For every 18 degrees fahrenheit rise in temperature within the moderate temperature range where most food is handled (usually 50 to 100 degrees fahrenheit), the rate of chemical reaction is approximately doubled. As a result, excessive heat will increase the rate of natural food enzyme reactions, affecting protein and emulsion breakdowns, causing changes to color, odor, and flavor as well as vitamin loss. On the flip side, uncontrolled cold temperatures can cause foods to freeze, crack, and provide gateways for microbial contamination. Moral of the story: if it ain’t meant to be frozen, don’t freeze it!

Don’t let these food spoiling facts scare you. Knowledge is power! Instead, see if you can come up with some creative recipes to use up leftovers quickly without becoming bored of the same old meal. My family always went the pseudo-Asian route (despite the fact that we basically epitomize the U.K. in ancestry) and enjoyed turkey chop suey the days following Thanksgiving. Got some fun leftover suggestions of your own? Let us hear about them in the comments below! We did a Turkey Day playlist this year, but maybe next year we can make a DFE leftovers cook book!

 

 

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a good cry. This is especially true when chopping onions, although not for the emotional release. The component in that pungent misty stuff in onions that irritates the heck out of our eyes is scientifically known as lachrymatory factor, appropriately derived from the Latin word lacrima, which means “tear”. Interestingly enough, lachrymatory factor is actually doing us a a few excellent health favors, possibly even protecting us against cancer. Doesn’t seem like such a terrible chore now, does it?

Onions are naturally rich in two health-benefiting compounds: flavonoids and sulfur-containing compounds. Flavonoids are typically found at high concentrations in the skin and outer layers of onions with yellow, brown, red, or purple coloring. These compounds are also potential antioxidants that could protect us against heart disease, cancer, and aging. The sulfur-containing compounds are where onions give us their taste, odor, and – you guessed it – misty tear gas. So what does this mean?

When an onion is cut, sulfur compounds are released into the air. These compounds are broken down into an unstable intermediate and can then either turn into lachrymatory factor or spontaneously turn into thiosulfinate. This thiosulfinate is not only responsible for the onion’s distinct odor and flavor, but also converts into other sulfur-containing compounds with potential health benefits including anti-inflammation, anti-blood clotting, anti-cancer, anti-asthma, and lowering cholesterol levels. Sounds great to me, and I don’t even like onions!

Maybe you do enjoy onions in your favorite Thanksgiving recipes but you don’t particularly enjoy crying – who could blame you? Never fear; scientists have been working on bringing tear-free onions to the general market since 2008. Tear-free onions were originally developed by Crop & Food Research of New Zealand and House Foods Corporation of Japan. These onions look and taste like regular onions but have lowered activity of lachrymatory-factor synthase through genetic modification and thus do not make your eyes water upon chopping or crushing, but still increase the production of beneficial thiosulfinate – which means none of the tears with all of the health benefits!

Unfortunately, commercializing genetically modified foods is no simple task, so it will probably be a few more years before we find tear-free onions in the Wegman’s produce section. However, the largest share of the liquids and therefore, of the phosphates that make us cry are found in the tips of the bulb – the northern and southern hemispheres, you might say. To avoid getting too much juice out into the air and minimize the crying, try not to cut into the poles too much. This is why classical French technique only has you cut into the poles once, as demonstrated here for a tear-free Thanksgiving feast preparation:

In the meantime, keep chopping your onions with the knowledge that through your tears come wonderful health benefits! And hey, while you’re at it, check out our Turkey Day Turkeys playlist and tell us which “turkeys” you think we should add!

Call me crazy, but I’ve never really been able to “get” the whole Thanksgiving thing. As a kid, I found the holiday annoying because it meant my cousins and I (which in reality, just meant me I since I was the youngest and smallest) would get stuck washing a ton of dishes while the adults napped. They would of course always wake up right around the time the dishes would be done and want coffee and pie which would then mean more dishes to wash, so yeah – I can’t really remember ever looking forward to Thanksgiving.

As an adult, I still have trouble wrapping my head around it. Never mind the fact that the holiday’s historical relevance makes no sense whatsoever, I’m just not a fan of gorging myself to the point of being stuffed , nor do I enjoy shopping, so for me, it’s always just been a random paid holiday, which is fine in my book. Sure, taking inventory of the things you’re thankful for is great practice, and since I couldn’t care less about the holiday for myself, I plan to spend it volunteering somewhere, which I’m sure will be a great way to spend my time. However, as a whole, I still give Thanksgiving a giant WTF. Sorry, Mr. Turkey.

While I may not be big on Thanksgiving, I do very much enjoy both music and embracing the ridiculous things in life; and what says “Happy Thanksgiving!” quite like a playlist full of the worst songs ever to make their way into your ear canals? According to us here at DFE, nothing! So that’s exactly what we’re doing – Turkey Day Turkeys, coming your way just in time for Thanksgiving 2012!

If you’re like me and the biggest celebration you have on your Thanksgiving agenda is a Bloody Mary while watching the Macy’s Parade (and I know there are at least a few of you out there!), help us rack our brains for the best – and by default, worst – songs you’ve ever heard in your dentist’s chair or gyno’s waiting room and let us have it in the comment section below! At the very least, it will give you something to torture your dish washing slave younger cousins with after your dinner buzz.

So, Spotify friends, to keep up with the list, subscribe to our set list here.