Valentine’s Day Story Starters

Candy Is Dandy – For Gaining Weight, Says Professor

Professor Ballard of Texas A&M UniversityCupid never had to count calories: candy may be dandy for romance, but it can mean love handles in a hurry. Valentine’s Day often means sweets for your sweetie, but it’s not so nice once the chocolate is gone, says a health education professor at Texas A&M University. “Just about everyone likes candy during Valentine’s, but most people still are not aware of just how much exercise it takes to burn off just a few pieces of chocolate,” says Dr. Danny Ballard, a professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M. “One chocolate candy bar contains about 240 calories and it takes about 36 minutes of walking to burn the number of calories in this piece of candy.” It’s not uncommon for a box of candy to contain 10,000 calories or more, and there’s no escaping the fact that if you eat more in calories than you burn off in exercise, you’re going to gain weight. “The plain truth is that as a nation, we tend to be very sedentary – we don’t exercise as much as we should,” Ballard says. “A most disturbing statistic is that about 17 percent of our children are obese; our nation will continue to pay the price for overeating and lack of exercise for years to come. Don’t deprive yourself of a piece of a candy now and then, but when you sit down and eat half a box at once, you’re asking for trouble,” she concludes. Contact: Danny Ballard at (979) 845-7649 dannyb@tamu.edu

Prof Researches Origin of Kissing

Professor Vaughn BryantSome believe that kissing as we know it is instinctive and began millions of years ago among other mammals when mothers fed their young. Later, some believe that human kissing grew out of ancient kissing habits humans inherited from our ape ancestors. According to Texas A&M University anthropology professor Vaughn Bryant, however, kissing is not instinctive and in fact is very recent and is strictly a learned cultural pattern. As he reports, “References to kissing did not appear until 1500 BC, when historians found four major texts in Vedic Sanskrit literature of India that suggested an early form of kissing. There are references to the custom of rubbing and pressing noses together. This practice, it is recorded, was a sign of affection, especially between lovers. This is not kissing as we know it today, but we believe it may have been its earliest beginning. About 500 to 1,000 years later, the epic Mahabharata, contained references suggesting that affection between people was expressed by lip kissing. Later, the Kama Sutra, a classic text on erotica, contained many examples of erotic kissing and kissing techniques.” Contact: Vaughn Bryant at (979) 845-5255 or vbryant@tamu.edu

Investigating The Laws of Attraction

Psychology professor Paul EastwickPsychology professor Paul Eastwick investigates how people initiate and maintain romantic relationships and why people are attracted to some individuals instead of others. His three major programs of research are 1) What people desire in an ideal romantic partner and how those ideal preferences affect people’s choice of romantic partners. Although people often have strong preferences about what they want in a partner, these preferences do not do a good job of predicting who people will eventually be attracted to. 2) Attachment bonds between romantic partners: how are they formed, when do they form, and what do they tell us about our mating psychology? 3) Evolutionary approaches to mating – which he does by incorporating anthropologists’ and archaeologists’ knowledge of the timeline of evolutionary events in the lineage leading up to modern Homo sapiens. Contact him at Eastwick@tamu.edu

Give The Valentine Gift That Keeps On Growing

Professor David Byrne of Texas A&M University

Professor Bryan Pemberton

For Valentine’s Day, nothing says, “I’ll love you forever,” like red roses.
But even under the best of conditions, that expensive rose bouquet will wilt after a few days. So how about giving your significant other a gift that will last for years?  Texas AgriLife Researchers Dr. Brent Pemberton and Dr. David Byrne, who holds the Robert E. Basye Endowed Chair in Rose Breeding, suggest giving a rose garden instead.

There are no secrets to enticing a properly selected rose bush into producing beautiful flowers year after year, they say. You do need to provide the plant a few essentials and have basic gardening skills. There are, for example, at least 15 categories of roses, from China to old European, a host of colors, several bloom periods and large shrubs, tree-like roses, miniatures and everything in between. Giving flowers as a way of sending non-verbal messages dates back to Europe in the 1700s, Pemberton said.

Entire volumes were dedicated to the message meant by sending particular flowers. “For example, a yellow rose meant jealousy, daisies meant loyal love and innocence and bluebells, humility,” he said. Contact: Dr. Brent Pemberton, (903) 834-6191 or b-pemberton@tamu.edu or Dr. David Byrne at (979) 862-307 or d-byrne@tamu.edu.

Protect Your Pets From Food Hazards During The Holidays & Beyond

Mark Stickney of Texas A&M UniversitySweet treats and fancy meals are hallmarks of Valentine’s Day celebrations, but for many of our furry friends, these same indulgences can be dangerous. Dr. Mark Stickney, Director of General Surgery Services at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explains how we can keep our pets safe while enjoying the holiday season.

A major food danger to pets during the holidays and beyond is chocolate. Eating chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can cause toxicity in dogs and cats, which can result in death. “While chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats we see chocolate toxicity much more often in dogs. This is simply because dogs are much more likely to eat it,” notes Stickney, “However, it is important to keep it away from all pets just in case.”

Other foods and vegetation can also be very harmful to dogs. For instance, grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs, while Easter lilies – or really any flower from the lily family -can cause kidney failure in cats, Stickney says.

While these foods are especially dangerous, feeding any table scraps to your pets can cause them harm in the long run. Because of this, Stickney stresses the importance of keeping your pet’s diet regular year-round.
Contact Stickney at (979) 845-2351 or jugrnot@tamu.edu

Favorite Valentine Gift Ideas:

Marketing professor Cheryl Holland Bridges, director of The Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M, offers the following tips for gift-shopping this year:

For her or him:

  • Fragrances (look for gift-with-purchase promotions to expand the fragrance gift with extra goodies)
  • Personalized accessories engraved or monogrammed
  •  An e-reader with a book that your loved one would treasure
  • Music (your favorite artists or your “song”)
  • A great movie or sports event to watch over and over again
  • Decorative letter box to store treasured cards like the Valentines for this year
  • Chocolate anything!
  • Gift cards to favorite restaurants to keep celebrating throughout the year
  • Travel maps and accessories for a future trip together
  • Photo “story” album or calendar or coffee mugs with past favorite times together

Especially for her:

  • Flowers
  • Jewelry with a “heart” inspired theme (bracelet, necklace, earrings, or pin)
  • Accessories – silk scarf, wallet, handbag
  • Loungewear/lingerie

Valentine’s Day Quiz

What is more important to women about a box of Valentine’s Day candy: the box, or the candy itself?

Answer: The box, says sociology professor Edward Murguia.

The reason: To women, the box symbolizes the value the man places on the woman to whom he is giving the candy.  A nice box is substantial, visible and long-lasting. The candy, on the other hand, can be seen as fattening and as a guilty pleasure.

Murguia also can discuss the differences in men and women that lead men to respond to problems by saying, “Just deal with it,” and women telling other women, “I know what you mean. I feel the same way.”

The responses are rooted in how boys and girls are socialized in our society.

Contact Murguia at (979) 845-3157 or murguia@tamu.edu

Contact: Kelli Levey, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4645


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