Workday Reading

Belle’s Weekend Reading: May 5, 2014


As I mentioned last week, I spent 72-hours this weekend on a religious retreat.  We’ll talk more about how something I learned will deeply impact my professional choices moving forward on Work Wednesday, but I wanted to go ahead and share the punchline with you now in case Monday is being especially unkind.

While my mind is still sharp, my eyes are burning with the fire of one-thousand blazing suns, and I can’t keep them open for one minute longer than necessary. So I thought I would share a “mini-sized weekend reading” post because I found so many good things in my inbox, Twitter and Pinterest accounts when I finally got my iPhone back this evening.


1) William Shakespeare originated many words and phrases we use today, like cruel-hearted and laughing stock.  Shakespeare also used nearly 30,000 words throughout his works, possibly giving him the largest vocabulary ever.  Now, use this sweet infographic to compare Shakespeare’s word bank with some of the most popular artists in the hip-hop canon.

2) The Blake Satchel from Milly is calling my name.  It’s also available in black.  Spending a week’s pay on two purses is a sound financial decision, right?

3) “Why microwave popcorn is an absolute health nightmare.”

4) 40-percent-off of full-priced items at Banana Republic.  I snagged some pieces to carry me through summer like this ombre striped halter dress and this ikat-print shirtdress.  Also, if you’re looking for a relaxed alternative to jeans, I thought these wide-leg chambray pants would look great with a white utility shirt or a brightly colored tank.

5) Since I left the traditional 9-to-5 workforce, I’ve begun a too-talented waster of time.  I’ll just check Pinterest real quick…  Forbes has three ways to stop squandering the seconds.

6) Who doesn’t love a good-looking, inexpensive shoe?  These $35 Zara sandals are my favorite pair right now.  Snag ’em while you can.

7) In life, there are great mysteries.  One thing that has always baffled me is the refrigerator crisper drawer.  What does that selector switch do and why do I need it?  Lifehacker has some answers.

8) How much do I want this Assouline coffee table book about designer Elie Saab?  It’s too much gorgeous for one book to contain.

Leave a Reply to JL · cancel comment


  1. Megan says:

    I clicked on the microwave popcorn article with some interest – I’m looking for ways to be healthier. Then I saw it was another gem from the self-styled “Food Babe.” There are a whole long list of articles I could link you to debunking her, but basically the girl is a looney tune with an ingredient list. Her understanding of science is incredibly rudimentary, and she’s fomenting panic about all kinds of things that don’t warrant it. She’s also veered into anti-vaccine territory, if that tells you anything.

    Since I don’t want to be all negative, thanks for always providing such great reading and food for thought – I’m glad your retreat was a good experience!

    May 5, 2014/Reply
    • LaReesa says:

      Agreed. I just read through it and she cites Dr. Oz — sure sign of accuracy! Microwaveable popcorn is definitely a waste of money (so much cheaper to make your own) but I hate those alarmist blogs that aren’t based on real science at all. She probably has a point with some of that stuff but people with pitchforks shouting “all chemicals are bad!” make me crazy.

      May 5, 2014/Reply
    • Sarah says:

      She can be weird. But she’s also the main reason that Subway was outed for the yoga mat material in their bread and took it out. I don’t think we can completely overlook the extent to which the food industry would you-know-what over our health if people like her didn’t shine a light on it. Factory farming alone (antibiotics and excrement in meat is bad enough, even if you ignore animal welfare, which I don’t)!! It’s not that hard to get an air popper and it’s probably even cheaper. Certainly better for you.

      May 5, 2014/Reply
      • Megan says:

        Sarah, if you read down to the last couple of paragraphs on the first page of this article from the Montreal Gazette, it seems that Subway caved to public pressure, not that the compound is actually unhealthy or even unnatural. The full article is here:

        and the relevant section to your concern is here. She didn’t “out” anything – she just created a public pressure campaign based on a misunderstanding of basic food chemistry.

        “Now to the issue of the “yoga mat” chemical, azodicarbonamide. Yes, it can serve as a source of nitrogen, the gas that creates the tiny pockets that characterize plastic foams. It can also be used as an additive to flour where it acts as an oxidizing agent that allows protein molecules to link together to form the elastic network we know as gluten. This traps the carbon dioxide gas released by the action of yeast, and helps give bread a desirable texture. At the same time, azodicarbonamide oxidizes some of the natural dark pigments in flour, giving it a whiter appearance and increased consumer appeal. As with any food additive, regulatory approval is needed before use.

        In Canada and the U.S., the chemical can be used in dough up to 45 parts per million, but it is not approved in Europe. There, the issue is the small amounts of urethane and semicarbazide released when azodicarbonamide is heated. These chemicals can cause cancer when fed to animals, but only in doses far higher than any that can be found in baked goods. It is also noteworthy that urethane occurs naturally in wine, whiskey and soy sauce at higher concentrations than can possibly occur as a result of azodicarbonamide breakdown in bread.”

        May 5, 2014/Reply
        • JL says:

          Megan – Love your post. I’m having a chemistry nerd-gasm! Especially appreciate the artful way in which the first post was relatively subdued…but when pressed, behold, the power of science!

          May 5, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Thanks for the tip. I wasn’t aware this was a problem source. I’ll keep that in mind in the future.

      May 5, 2014/Reply
      • Sarah says:

        I think you misread my point. By speaking up, I don’t endorse her fully, and I’m not a scientist. But, I am a criminal defense attorney who routinely cross-examines scientists. Scientists who often disagree with one another. The power of science is awesome, but let’s not pretend “science” is one monolith of correctness, especially in the face of disagreement among scientists. Food Babe’s main point in the Subway campaign was that this particular restaurant has a slogan implying the food is fresh. Anyone paying attention can figure out that it’s not without her help, but many people DON’T pay attention when it comes to food. One only needs to watch the bookend premiere and finale of the first season of Mad Men to know what advertising does (“It’s toasted!”). I don’t think we can trust the FDA to protect us fully. I go back to my point about factory farming as well. The response of many local lawmakers to videos exposing cruel conditions and disgusting things going into our meat and eggs and milk was to ban animal rights organizations from videotaping at these farms. The response wasn’t for greater regulation of those farms. Microwave popcorn doesn’t get magically healthy just because someone silly like Food Babe says it’s unhealthy. She may be right. She’s not THAT incredible. I am skeptical of the FDA; I’m skeptical of large corporations; I’m skeptical of Food Babe; and I’m skeptical of “!” arguments. The point of eating local food, local meat, real food instead of processed food is valid, no matter who makes it. Sure, maybe that Subway chemical wasn’t the worst thing in the world (most of the news articles at the time pointed that out), but why is it there if it’s not needed? What else is there? Why is this company pretending everything is totally fresh when it’s not? They are all questions worth asking and eliminating or reducing processed foods may save your health. Food Babe is silly, but I’m sort of glad she’s out there agitating things and making people ask questions.

        May 5, 2014/Reply
        • Sarah says:

          I fully admit that I tend to be one of those, who, from your article, tends towards the concept that we need to protect ourselves to the extent we can. This is the quote I mean. “While the azodicarbonamide issue is a tempest in a teapot, it does propagate the notion that we are at the mercy of incompetent regulatory agencies that fail to protect us from the flood of toxic chemicals unleashed by corporations that care only about profits and not one iota about consumer safety.” It’s a bias, surely, but, as I’ve paid attention to these things more and more, it’s what I see. Not just food. Pretty much everything. The recent GM testimony on the Hill, etc etc. I fully admit to that bias. But I still live in the world. I tend not to talk about things like this too, unless they come up naturally in conversation. It’s only very recently that I’ve started to pay attention to food, and I came from a place of caring about animal welfare, which has tended to just dovetail with the “natural” people. If I think about it all too much, it makes my head hurt, though, and I still do have to live in the world as it exists.

          May 5, 2014/Reply
  2. DontBlameTheKids says:

    I was surprised the Eminem was in the lower middle range. His vocabulary and word twisting has always impressed me.

    May 5, 2014/Reply
  3. Anna says:

    I used to eat one of those 100 calorie microwave popcorn bags everyday as my afternoon snack. I also tended to get headaches in the afternoons, not bad enough to take meds and not everyday, but often enough. I figured it was from staring at a computer screen or something. I ran out of popcorn/got tired of eating it everyday and a month or two later I realized I hadn’t gotten a headache in a while, haven’t had one of those kinds of headaches since. Mentioned it to my mom, and she says she always gets headaches when she eats something with fake butter. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily bad for your health, but I think I definitely had some sort of allergy or reaction to it. I prefer to stick with real food anyways and avoid weird sounding chemicals. They may be perfectly safe, but this is just what makes sense to me. Homemade popcorn is so simple and you can flavor it any which way you want. I usually make it on the stove, but I’ve heard you can use a regular paper bag and put it in the microwave just like the prepackaged stuff (not sure if bag are treated with something icky though).

    May 5, 2014/Reply
  4. B says:

    I’m confused by the 40% off BR link. When I clicked on the link, it doesn’t say anything about 40% off full priced items. Is there a promo code that we should use? Thanks!

    May 5, 2014/Reply
    • A says:

      This also didn’t work for me. I couldn’t find any reference to a BR sale anywhere.

      May 5, 2014/Reply
    • Elizabeth says:

      The code is BRCINCO.

      May 5, 2014/Reply
  5. Belle says:

    Sorry about the confusions, I found the info on the old navy page. I think they were probably trying to lure people to Gap and BR. Thanks for putting the code up.

    May 5, 2014/Reply
  6. Joules says:

    That rap lyrics link was really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    Style by Joules

    May 5, 2014/Reply
  7. Ann says:

    That book is by one of the insufferable real housewives of new york.

    May 5, 2014/Reply
  8. Morgan says:

    The Blake Satchel is also listed on Piperlime – currently having a sale, just a heads up.

    May 6, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Milly is usually excluded from the sale. It’s sad.

      May 7, 2014/Reply