Tuesday, December 31, 2013

rant alert

If I read another overstated caution to hypothyroids about low-carb diets by half-educated quacks I think i'll ... WRITE YET ANOTHER RANT.  ;-)

There's a new pseudo-reason for people with poor thyroid function to eschew VLC -- I guess the nonsense about LC "causing hypothyroidism" has been efficiently branded as bullshit, and the wannabe-gurus are grasping at new straws!  This time we hear that VLC is bad for us because [gasp] "insulin is required for proper thyroid-hormone conversion."

REALITY CHECK:  if you eat adequate protein and are not T1-diabetic, there's plenty of insulin available for any reasonable process.  BULLSHIT CALLED.  AGAIN.

And even more BS (if one needs more evidence of inadequate competence in some circles) -- promoting foods such as sweet potatoes and yucca to a hypothyroid is just plain ignorant.  They're GOITROGENS, you moron.

Not everybody NEEDS a VLC diet, but some of us feel much better on one, largely because our bodies react badly to higher blood-sugar, and to those mild toxins which other people praise as "antioxidants."  Hormesis is only a good thing if you don't cross that poison-dose threshold, and for some of us that threshold is very low.

The symptoms of hypothyroidism can be induced by any significant insult to the bodysurgery, infection, malnutrition, severe physical or emotional stress, "poisoning" by histaminergic foods and environmental factors, chronic lack of sleep, deleterious gut-bugs, and excessive exercise and low-calorie dieting among others.  For self-anointed "experts" to proclaim a low-carb diet to be "stressful" is ... oh, i'm inclined to call it FUCKING STUPID ... but some people are offended by that kind of vehemence.  It's not stressful to the body in and of itself, or a lot of hunter-gatherers wouldn't have been marvelously strong and healthy eating that way.

VLC eating is only "stressful" to people who jump into it without learning how to do it right, to those who have severely messed-up metabolisms, and to the suckers who have been sold the idea they can eat whatever they want and still lose weight and thrive on ANY kinds of food, so long as they take their multivitamin every day and limit calories.  I.E., it's stressful psychologically if you think you're entitled to eat like an obesity-resistant young jock, and feel deprived.  It's stressful if you've lost your metabolic flexibility and haven't taken the time to adapt to burning fat as a primary fuel.  It's stressful if you eat nothing but muscle-meat every single day for extended periods.  It's stressful if it's only a junk-food diet in low-carb clothes. 

LIES like "the body requires carbohydrates" bring out the berserker in me.  There is NOTHING we require that is in carbohydrate foods but can't be found in more absorbable and complete form in animal products.  Anyone who says otherwise either has an agenda or ... is gullible enough to think that what is taught by BigPharm/BigAg-financed institutions is actually true.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

why systemic enzymes are important for me?

I've been a proponent of systemic enzymes for years now.  23andMe may be giving me a hint as to WHY.

It's been established for a long time that one's production of enzymes is generous in childhood through young-adult years, then begins to dwindle after the age of 27.  An easily-visible example of this lies in one's wound-healing as one gets older, the writers on this subject tell us -- we get a cut or skinned knee in gradeschool, and after it heals the scar tends to be thin and pliable, but in later life one's scars are thicker, stiffer and more unsightly.  I see the difference between pre-supplementing scars and the ones that I've acquired more recently;  when Spense bit me six or seven years ago, he really ripped up the skin beside my left thumbnail, but you can't see the traces unless you use a magnifying glass.  Not so, for the first scar he gave me!

"Authorities" like Dr. Wm. Wong tell us that this happens inside the body as well as outsidesurgeries and other internal insults cause fibrous scar tissue to build up, and our organs' functionality can suffer.  Supplemental proteolitic enzymes travel about our bodies cleaning up the excess fibrin that our natural supply did when we were younger.  Fibrous plugs in our smaller blood vessels, fibrin thickening our lymphatic fluid, fibrosis in our lungs and other organs, all eaten by the serrapeptase and nattokinase in systemic enzyme supplements....

As a child, my wounds didn't heal as invisibly as some kids' did.  Look closely at my knees, and you can see the Ghosts of Bike-Spills Past.  When i was about ten, i ruptured my spleen at Girl Scout campthe surgical scar is bright and clear and well-raised, after all these decades.

And guess what 23andMe reveals -- some risks of fibroid disease (pulmonary) and keloids (and maybe some other fibrosis-related disorders that i don't know enough about to speculate).  I should have expected it.  But this thing has started me wondering, did i suffer from inadequate endogenous enzyme production in my earliest years perhaps?  My old scars would seem to be evidence in that direction.

Whatever the case, i'm inclined to hypothesize that anyone who observes a genetic risk of fibrotic diseases, whether by DNA testing or simply the existence of hypertrophic scarring, would probably benefit from supplementing with a good systemic/proteolytic enzyme!  ...Oh, and zinc too (thanks, George!).

Saturday, December 28, 2013

information beginning to trickle in

I got good news yesterday -- my 23andMe sample has been analyzed, and the data is starting to arrive!

Only the preliminary health information has arrived, but it's interesting so far.  First, they tell me that I have 3.3% Neanderthal DNA.  I was predicting that THAT was going to be on the high side, because of my stocky build and unattractive profile, but I probably wouldn't have expected being in the 99th percentile....

Of the "high confidence"-quality associations, it turns out that I don't have VERY high likelihood of being predisposed to illness save in age-related macular degeneration, gallstones, lung cancer, bipolarity, and limited cutaneous type scleroderma.  Since i'm a non-smoking low-carber, i'm not too worried.

Interestingly enough, some things I have minor risks for, I also have ameliorating genes for as well.  Take the bipolar thing -- I have a 0.20% risk as compared to the 0.14% which is "normal."  However, on the list of "decreased risk" results, I ALSO have bipolar disorder -- one reduced-risk marker, and two "typical" ones.  Mercifully, there's no record of other family members having a problem with this disorder.

Predictably I have two increased-risk markers for hypothyroidism alongside three normal ones, and I have a moderately-increased (not "substantially-increased) risk on the one gene they identified for Hashimoto's thyroiditis.  Looks to me as though the wrong diet is enough to epigenetically push a borderline case like me over into active hypothyroidism.

I eagerly look forward to getting the rest of my results over the next couple of weeks, and to plugging my results into the other SNP-decoding services I've heard of.  But the first wave of information I've received is not bad -- i'm sure glad I did this!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

my answer to overindulgence

Under circumstances like the christmas holidays, i'm not as strict with myself as I am ordinarily.  This week has been one of those times.

It's not that I practice austere privation on an everyday basis -- i'm NOT an austere kind of person!  I always fully appreciated dear Mr Wilde's epigram "Nothing succeeds like excess."  [evil grin]

No, I just know how much better I feel when I eat what a lot of people would consider an extremely limited diet!  Coffee (both hot and iced), beef, lamb, a modicum of eggs, pork and poultry, a small amount of cheese and wine, and a little garnish of vegetable matter like mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and nuts, and i'm thoroughly content.  The "paleo musts" like big-ass salads and fermented vegetables do nothing but chap my innards, and 85% chocolate I actually find rather boring and not at all life-enhancing.  Butter is something I put on vegetables to make them palatable, or on cuts of meat which are too lean, like tenderloin or white-meat.  Cream is how you make poor coffee drinkable, and another way to boost the satiation potential in naturally-low-fat dishes.

But occasionally, a day is made less stressful by NOT going to great lengths to find ideal food.  When traveling with others, for instance, it sometimes saves a lot of time and trouble to cave in and get lunch at the fast-food place that's close to the highway, and where it's easy to eat in the car because you can't leave the dog alone.  Then there was the time we went to the special dinner benefitting a local arts group.  Yesterday I could have been a lot more disciplined, too -- I blame the champagne.

What to do when I kick over the traces?  Hate myself?  Throw everything to the winds and binge?  At my age, I've probably tried every choice there is at one time or another, but I like to think i'm a little wiser now.  I just take the situation as a cue to start a 20-hour coffee fast and consider the whole experience as a carb re-feed.  What some people might consider a failure, I prefer to think is an opportunity to teach my body that resources are plentiful and it can afford to waste energy via a leptin surge.  It's not a setback!  It's an indirect signal to my thyroid that my body does not need to conserve resources.

There is a philosophy that calorie restriction is life-prolonging, but it does have repercussions that don't get talked about much.  Constant deprivation may encourage autophagy but it also raises stress hormones.  Leptin, the satiation hormone, "dries up."  After a few days, the body DOES respond to a diet of inadequate energy intake by slowing down -- but a slower metabolism not only makes our vehicle "run cooler," it also makes our brains sluggish and our systems less hardy. 

If there's no danger of triggering a PROLONGED binge simply by feasting for a short time, I suspect that that feast is good for us occasionally.  It's important not to do it "just this once" EVERY SINGLE DAY (or week), but if it's truly an unusual occurrence, the signal we send our bodies is they are not in danger of starvation, that they can afford to spend energy for heat and to fuel activity. 


UPDATE:  i wrote the preceding a few days ago, but [busy busy busy] didn't manage to finish it.  Since then i've been continuing my evil ways, so the day after Christmas is going to be one of those fast-days i wrote about!

The extra carbs i've been indulging in have done nothing but stoke my appetite!  Most of the family- and restaurant-meals have been less protein-replete than i usually eat at home, too, and NOTHING affects satiation for me as well as a big chunk of beef or lamb!  On Monday we had steaks and BOY did that help....  Yesterday's stroganoff (over zucchini noodles) didn't come close to satisfying as well.

It reinforces my understanding and resolve to have experiences like this.  I'm not forgetful enough to fall for the short-term lack of nasty repercussions caused by eating things i shouldn't -- i know that i WILL suffer from unpleasant effects even if i don't feel crummy yet.  I already do notice some joint pain, and i wake up in the morning with the stuffy head that used to be the norm, but is no more.  (I won't go into details of the change of bathroom habits....)

But this once-a-year orgy IS pleasantly celebratory.  Yesterday, my daughter and i went to visit a friend, and we tasted a few favorite-family-recipe cookies at Gina's house -- we broke each one in two and shared them, and they were VERY GOOD.  :-)  Our pleasure in being naughty probably equalled the pleasure that G's mother had in receiving our compliments on her "masterpieces."

And giving and receiving pleasure and thanks are some of the best aspects of this season, aren't they? Happy continuing holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

ooh, he lost TWENTY POUNDS!

Or, as I entitled a blog post a few days ago -- OY ... again.


I get really tired of the over-reactions of certain individuals making a huge deal out of unremarkable accomplishments by poster-kids in the LCHF and paleo/primal world.  So-and-so lost twenty pounds, and improved his sinus and skin problems by adopting a better diet, and now has a book out about it!

You know what I think is impressive?  Karen at the Garden Girl blog, Dave the "bulletproof" guy, Terry who cured her MS, Yasmina who conquered histamine intolerance, Wooo, Sidereal, and many more who have lost LOTS of weight and kept it off, having been REALLY metabolically deranged before discovering what works for them.  People who have worked their butts off (literally and figuratively), people who have been sick and in despair, and when they learned what actually WORKS to improve health and lose burdening fat, who engaged their determination and accomplished something above and beyond. 

People who have been obese since childhood.  People who have struggled for decades, and finally triumphed.  People who were in a wheelchair, unable to hold a job, or sickening toward their deaths, but found the answer and turned their lives around.  People who ACHIEVED, and then started writing so they could share what they learned.

So when I read that Mutual Admiration Society (which the paleo/primal blogosphere can sometimes be) lauding to the skies some Johnny-come-lately who has climbed into prominence on the backs of the REAL INNOVATORS, I got a little testy.  Low-carb, whole-food dieting has been around for over a century and a half.  Paleo-diet theory has been around for about a third of that.  Why, in the names of all the gods, are we seeing praise poured out for a young, well-to-do male -- THE EASIEST DEMOGRAPHIC TO IMPROVE IN HEALTH AND BODY COMPOSITION??? 

He lost TWENTY POUNDS!  He got rid of pimples and sinus problems!  He wrote a book, containing information which has been around for years!  Whoop-whoop -- lets all get really excited about his accomplishments!

Not.  I prefer to save my admiration for those who have STRUGGLED for their place in the sun.

when is a menopause symptom NOT a menopause symptom?

...when it's actually a histamine-intolerance issue!

Estrogen irregularities set off histamine problems.  Environmental chemicals set off histamine problems.  Tyramines and salicylates set off histamine problems.

Every time I get those nasty pseudo-feverish feelings these days, I review what I ate in the past half-dozen hours.  It doesn't happen ACUTELY very often anymore because I try to be cautious in my eating.  When we visit restaurants, though, we can never be sure of what kind of additives may be put into the hamburgers or rubbed on the steaks. 

A lot of people would advocate not eating out regularly, but for some of us it isn't practical to ALWAYS cook for ourselves.  And there's only so long one can snack one's meals with cheese, boiled eggs, nuts, and dried meats; to survive an airplane flight, yes, but more than a day is inclined to drive me to ANYTHING hot and savory!  Coping strategies are in order.

If, despite how careful you are to avoid foods to which you're sensitive, you get those uncomfortable feelings in the hours after a meal, your best friend could be benedryl.  It's an antihistamine available over-the-counter in the US, but alas other countries often require a prescription I hear.  :-(  The next best thing I've found is less intuitive -- NICOTINE GUM.  It has anti-inflammatory properties as well as antihistamine ones.  I have also tried the diamine-oxidase supplement DAOSIN (it's like Histame), but compared to diphenhydramine and nicotine, it's pretty wimpy.

I heard an interesting hypothesis recently -- someone observed that though smoking rates are low here, there is no diminution of teens STARTING, and opined that they're getting a vitamin-B boost from it that they need.  I might offer a counter-suggestion -- perhaps the hormonal storms of adolescence are causing histamine reactions which are tamed by the nicotine in cigarette smoke.  I DO know that the beneficial qualities of nicotine have long been known, but they've been downplayed.  To announce a GOOD side of cigarette smoking is not going to help when you're trying to get people to STOP.  By using the gum or patch, though, you avoid the admittedly-nasty tar and toxins you get when pulling smoke into your lungs intentionally.

So when I feel the suspicious weariness or downright SLEEPINESS, or the puffy hands/feet, or the hot-flash after consuming something questionable, I reach for the benedryl or gum.  It's AMAZING how fast it helps.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Ya know, I really do dislike being negative more than 10% of the time.  Unfortunately, the big virtue of having one's own blog is the opportunity to blow one's frustrations off into the cyber-void.  When one doesn't have a sympathetic audience to LISTEN to one's grinchings, the Internet Gods are there ... whether they actually LISTEN or not.  ;-)

Mark has fallen into the trap of recommending the impossible again!  How can we move from finding the holiday season stressful, to finding it more enjoyable and life-affirming?  Hint:  don't be poor, or associated with conventional family and friends, or "responsible for the happiness of others" ... and it would probably be wise to not be female, either.

In my experience, Mother is the one who finds the holidays most stressful.  Coincidentally, 40% of the population see a lot of stress and ... probably 40% of the population is that female and maternal demographic in question.  Mother usually does most of the decorating, gift-choosing and making/buying, cooking and entertaining.  She stays up late on Christmas Eve wrapping presents and filling stockings, while Dad (in a lot of houses, anyway) dozes off in his easy-chair.  She is expected to provide all the traditional goodies, at the same time as fighting to RESIST cookie-eating and eggnog-swilling, etc -- because if she "loses her figure" it's her own damn fault that her health goes down the toilet, her husband deserts her for the student-intern, society sneers at her, and she hates herself as well!

In a perfect world, there are no monetary worries and everyone will LOVE exactly what you give them for your holiday of choice.  No-calorie treats will taste exactly the same as the ones full of butter and sugar.  The string of lights will NOT go dark the minute you finish hanging them, and there will be no internet outage as your order from Amazon is being processed.  Your favorite Christmas special will be aired on the one night you don't have a delightful party to attend.

Most people don't live in that world.

As educated SAD sufferers can tell you, there are biological reasons our bodies get fatter and more lethargic in the fall and early winter.  We are DESIGNED to slow down just at the time our culture insists that we speed up, revving our brains with the resuming school year and autumnal observances....  The winter-solstice holidays are logical celebrations of the "return of light" -- not because of silly oh-my-god-the-sun-is-disappearing superstitions, but because the lengthening daylight is energizing and mental-health-promoting to those who are sensitive.  If a light-box helps you, then Christmas/Chanukkah/Diwali make PERFECT sense.  (thanks, Wooo, for all you've taught me)

So what to do to reduce seasonal stress?  Well, it's going to depend on your particular situation.  If you're a young family, you can condition your kids and spouse to have different expectations from "the norm."  If your family is reasonable, you can make a pact to simplify and share the load.  There are probably ways to ameliorate almost any difficulties, even if you can't remove them entirely.  OF COURSE you want perfection, but if you don't make yourself miserable with a sense of failure when it doesn't happen, you will be less stressed.  Do YOURSELF some kindnesses as well as all you insist on doing for others.

If any of my readers have traditionally been a more passive enjoyer of the season's pleasures, you can make everyone happier by being more proactive.  Even a patient, appreciative and cheerful attitude will be a blessing on the household! 

Happy relaxing holidays, everyone!  :-D

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

once upon a time...

We're off for the holidays again!  After a few exhausting weeks of test-driving vehicles, we finally replaced Oly the Volvo with Klaus the Audi, so we've been having fun working on providing ourselves with entertainment on this 14-hour drive, using the fancy media possibilities we now have.  Part of our preparations included recording a schmeer of vintage radio plays.

Today we've listened to a couple of Sherlock Holmes adventures, a Radio Mystery Theatre episode, a few Philip Marlowe stories (straight from Chandler's pages -- I was impressed) and some miscellany.  Though we've enjoyed a number of SHes in the past, they were all sponsored by one company; today's episodes had different advertisers, and at the end of one adventure there was a plea for help on behalf of the suffering people of Europe after WWII.  A ten-dollar donation to CARE would provide a significant amount of food for, say, a French orphan or Belgian widow, as examples.

Once upon a time America actually did GOOD in the world.  I'm ashamed of how we've slipped.

We used to come to the aid of our allies because it was the right thing to do.  I won't claim we had nothing but altruistic motives, but ... how things have changed.  The closest thing one sees to charitable generosity, these days, is taxpayer funds being handed out to already-prosperous businessmen and foreign governments which turn around and stab us in the back at the first opportunity.  Individual Americans pour out their private donations to charities which don't do what they claim to, or enrich mega-churches and their showmen "pastors."

Nice, kind, good people i know are heard to say that they don't want their tax-dollars going to help "freeloaders" who "don't want to work" to help themselves, while they don't want to learn that the ones they punish are mostly children, the elderly and disabled.  Our famous food-stamp issue hides the fact that a lot of the money in that program goes not to poor people needing help feeding their children, but to BigAg businesses.  These then turn around and bribe the FDA and USDA and anyone else they can influence to make BAD food CHEAP, and promoted to busy or less-educated people as "healthy" choices.

There are some really screwed-up priorities in the world today, and though we don't have a monopoly on it WE might be the worst example.  How the mess will pan out ... well, i'm hoping that the pendulum's inevitable backward swing will come sooner than later, but won't be holding my breath.  :-(

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


^ ...that wasn't a typo.  ;-)

The last week or so, I too have wandered into the "desire for fattening foods" slough.  :-)  This slough is a demonic association between Nature and Culture!  Due to the seasonal biological drive to put on fat before winter, our bodies have a head-start on making us vulnerable -- but it's the "holiday season" which springs the fatal trap.

It starts with the first cold stormy weather!  We start fantasizing about our favorite autumnal foods like thick rich stews and chowders.  Halloween is the first approach of the Chocolate Demon -- hey, very dark chocolate with its small quantities of sugar is virtually beneficial!  It has those lovely antioxidants, and it's luxuriously delicious, and for some people the sugar-free version that's sweetened with sugar-alcohols make it "completely innocent" ...  bwahahahaha!

Weeks into November, we're still finishing up our chocolate stash when along comes Thanksgiving!  We find all kinds of ways of lowcarbifying traditional favorite dishes, but we often manage to eat a higher-carb diet than USUAL -- just one meal, right?  I know from personal experience that all I have to do after a particularly decadent meal is to fast for 24 hours and I won't have any negative repercussions ... except something like additional knee pain if I've eaten some proscribed ingredients like wheat or oats ... or too much cheese ... or histamine trigger foods or ... uh-oh....

Then come old family Christmas favorites.  The slough is around my ankles, trying to suck me down before I even know it.

The autumn/winter holidays are centered around food for biological and cultural reasons.  In "the old days" it was HEALTHY to gain weight for winter for a number of different purposes.  Back when things like sugar and dried fruits were rare and special, one used them for the most important cultural celebrations.  The best brandy was used in the Christmas pudding.  Hours could be spent cracking and picking nuts, and stoning raisins.  "Important" households in the Old World hired extra servants for the extra work -- after all, when people went to visit their friends and relatives before the age of railroads, they didn't stay a weekend but months, frequently.  Celebrating Christmas was "big business" even before universal-present-buying became the norm.

For those of us who put on weight easily (or are otherwise easily damaged by the wrong foods), this season is a challenge.  It's best, of course, to do any solstice-season celebrating in a manner that does NOT center around foods.  Those with "conventional family" to deal with may find this horribly difficult, though.  These people most benefit with the low-carb work-arounds that are so generously found online in LC and LC-paleo circles.

The trick I find most helpful is to use the treats as replacements rather than add-ons.  If you ARE going to have the reduced-carb party mix, skip the carrots.  If the LC eggnog is going to be your dessert, have a lower-fat main dish.  Control like this is most easily acquired if you can manage to be the host, or have a host who is amenable to your schemes!  Despite the "a calorie is not a calorie" theory, it's STILL possible to "eat too much" of almost anything on the holiday menu!

The other day, I cooked a lovely roasted, pastured chicken with a sort of walnut pesto, and had a little mashed purple sweet-potato with it.  Fat content too low!  Around midnight I found myself "too hungry to sleep" so I went downstairs and made an eggnog for my third meal, and it did the job;  eggnog is, after all, liquid food.  This is how I like mine:


1 pasteurized egg, cracked into a pint measuring cup and well-beaten with immersion blender
1/2 c. cream or rich coconut milk
tiny pinch salt
tiny dollop vanilla extract
4 drops liquid sucralose, or stevia to taste
jigger brandy or rum, or combination
sprinkle of nutmeg on the top of the foam in a pretty cup -- AHHHH!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

karma ... and catch-words

I feel the necessity to speak of a great "natural force" which is widely misunderstood in the western world.  Karma isn't like HELL, a punishment visited upon the wicked for their past sins.  That's the over-simplified concept people seem to identify with the word -- I killed you in my last life, and you kill me in this; he was a villain in his previous incarnation, and so came back as a cockroach.  Amusing as well as satisfying when you see the wicked prospering like a green bay tree, with their victims unable to get justice on the earth plane, ... but complete nonsense.

See, the purpose of karma (which is defined as "volitional action") in our philosophy is not to look upon the suffering and judge them -- save that judging BS for sanctimonious puritan types!  According to the "masters of wisdom" the only appropriate response to suffering is compassion.  As a matter of fact, it's probably a big mistake to think of karma in reference to other people, and their good or bad fortune, at all.  At its best, this doctrine is a tool to help you form YOURSELF into the best person you can be.

I happened to have mentioned karma to a facebook acquaintance the other day, and she got extremely upset.  One who believes in karma is a horrible person, because that means BLAMING THE VICTIM!  One who believes in reincarnation is deluded and psychotic.  One who believes in anything spiritual is stupid and unrealistic because she is too smart to have fallen for group hallucinations and fairy tales -- and if she doesn't believe in it, it just ain't so.  She's a secular humanist, and obviously a better person than anyone who believes in any kind of life between lives: she does right BECAUSE it's right, and people who do right while believing in an afterlife are expecting to get a reward out of it, so they're impure or something.

She reminds me of conscientious vegetarians.  You know, they're better than people who eat vegetarian for health reasons.  It's not enough to do the "right thing" -- you have to do the "right thing" for THEIR reasons.

Rather a strong response to my statement of belief, I thought.  I briefly tried to explain that karma is more complicated than she seemed to think it, but no, I was a victim-blamer and a horrible person because I have reason to believe that a politically-incorrect tenet is real.  She spoke as though I had invented a dreadful system of heaping coals of fire on the heads of innocent sufferers.

This afternoon while doing some holiday baking I had plenty of time to muse on her comments.  How did a central belief of one of the most gentle and compassionate World Teachers turn into a hateful and ugly concept?  Buddhists SHOULD be lovely people!  Why do bad things happen in countries where they predominate?  ...Of course, there are probably as many ignorant and unevolved Buddhists as there are ignorant and unevolved Christians, but that's what happens when people are brought up in (or converted to for political reasons) an exotericized belief system for which their spiritual development isn't ready.  Blaming the Path for unprepared travelers upon it isn't reasonable.  I started googling "blaming the victim and karma Buddhist philosophy."  I waded through a lot of garbage before I found this:

"Sometimes this teaching is decried as a harsh doctrine which blames the victim, and even justifies social abuses. If someone is born poor, this argument goes, karma makes a convenient excuse for leaving them that way, because it is their own fault from a previous life. This is a gross distortion that cannot be justified from the Buddhist teachings. On the contrary, karma means that we have a responsibility to act compassionately towards others. To fail to do so is to make negative karma for ourselves. Judgmental attitudes are negative mind-states which cause bad karma in and of themselves*."

People are extrapolating from a social-psychological trap into an esoteric complexity, and getting tangled in the subtleties.  We WANT there to be justice, so we invent philosophical systems that explain OTHER PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS ... but when it comes closer to home AND WE KNOW we didn't ask for the hardships we are experiencing in this life, we have a conundrum on our hands. 

"But what of the case of someone born with a physical challenge like blindness? Some critics find it cruel to 'blame' the person's previous actions. This is also a misunderstanding. The emotive word 'blame' should not enter into it. The determining power of karma is not a moral judgment, but simply an explanatory tool. If karma is rejected as an explanation, are the alternatives any less 'cruel?'  It is then either the deliberate act of a creator-deity or the result of blind chance in a hopeless and meaningless universe."

My facebook acquaintance obviously prefers the latter, and goes out of her way to make a virtue of unbelief.  Again, like a religious person who lives a rough, joyless, hard-working life, she convinces herself that the life she MUST lead is the life ALL SHOULD lead.  If the frontier-dwelling church-goer does her damnedest to be a good, god-fearing person and her short unpleasant life is the high-road to heaven, why, the high-road to heaven is defined as an unpleasant one, filled with hardships and sour pain.

People like our archetypal frontier "soldier of the cross" see any pathway different from their own as a path with an entirely different destination.  If s/he experiences a special affliction or hardship, it's God testing her/his faith, BUT if that "different" person is visited similarly, The Other is being punished.  It's just human nature, but as Katherine Hepburn's character in "The African Queen" declares:  "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above."  And that is EXACTLY what the Buddha prescribes.  We're here to learn to improve ourselves, rather than be the condemnatory, self-important prat we started out as, in our first incarnation (or earlier in this one).

Actually, the Buddha's teaching goes that there are many other forces in action that influence our lives -- karma isn't responsible for it all.  We have various purposes, and we are sent experiences which will teach and prepare us for what we need to do.  Naturally, if one doesn't believe in anything "unseen" one will not believe this either.  But great things have been done by people who have been "sent" afflictions either personally or via their loved ones.  These innovators -- like Bell who in attempting to develop an aid to hearing for his deaf mother and wife, gave the world telephony -- don't just SEE a need, they FEEL it; they rise to the occasion and apply their gifts in truly inspired ways. 

Sometimes a highly-evolved individual actually CHOOSES to be a "sacrifice" for the good of his/her group.  Am I blaming the victim for pointing out that such an individual is responsible for the plight s/he is in?  I don't see it that way.  I bow before their amazing unselfishness.

So when we see someone who has been treated appallingly, either by fellow humans or by the fates, we don't know if this person is being taught a lesson for past misdeeds, or if s/he is "a human angel in disguise" doing special work for mankind.  Don't judge.  At all.  The ONLY appropriate response to suffering is compassion.

*  quoted passages from http://www.arrowriver.ca/torStar/karmanote.html

Friday, December 6, 2013

calling in a sub

I just finished the last bowl of the chili I made the other day.  Let it be known I LO-O-O-O-OVE chili on chilly days.  :-)  When I went low-carb I made it much less often, because chili without beans is NOT the chili I grew up loving.  It CAN be made with frozen green beans (frozen, because they're not already overcooked and they're cut a convenient length), but it doesn't look quite right and hangs off your spoon....  A lot of other vegetables are either too starchy or sugary, or don't fulfill the bulk requirement.

This happens a lot when converting favorite old foods to low-carb.  How do you make clam chowder, or vichyssoise, or other dishes which traditionally carry a lot of potato- or rice-bulk, if you can't handle what your body does with all that starch?  Hot soups and stews are winter comfort foods!  It's just not SATISFYING to come in from the snow and chow down on broiled fish and buttered greens -- at least, not to me....

The paleo world is full of recipes using cauliflower or turnips in place of potatoes, and from a low-carb standpoint, they work all right.  As a hypothyroid, I DON'T want to be eating these things every day, even though some of their deleterious qualities are reduced through cooking.  Furthermore, the gas would keep me awake at night (mostly second-hand).  Thank you, i'll save cauliflower for holiday mash and J's wonderful casserole, and turnips (which I find too strong in most recipes) as the topping for shepherd's pie.  For years I sought in vain for potato-replacers, and I've settled on two that I really like. 

Jerusalem artichoke (aka sunchoke) will be no surprise to those who saw my harvest* photo.  Their flavor is mild and artichokey. and their texture very potato-like.  It's true that the first time I tried the stuff, I tasted some raw and had some flatulence issues, but the experience hasn't recurred, as I always cook it now. 

Celery root is a favorite!  So many soups and stews really "sing" when celery stalk is added -- celeriac has a double benefit because it adds celery flavor and potato texture.  The big problem with IT is the expense and difficulty in finding it in groceries.  Only a few places in St. Louis can be relied upon to carry it consistently:  the chance of finding it in, say, Hutchinson, KS (hi, M!) is microscopic.  (Hell, our "borrowed daughter" in San Diego couldn't find sunchoke -- we ended up sending some to start her garden with.)  Next year, we plan to try cultivating celeriac ourselves.

So how did I solve the chili dilemma?  Well, my sunchoke harvest included about a pint of large-pea-sized tubers.  The first year, I would have left them in the ground for future growth, but now that the bed is well-established, I don't think that's necessary any longer.  I washed them off, let them dry, and stored them in the basement fridge along with a bigger bag of respectable-sized chunks.  After the onion was sautéed in red palm oil, the ground beef added and browned, the tomatoes and spices cooked down a bit, (about an hour before I was ready to serve) I poured in that pint of  'chokes and let them simmer till tender.

YES.  The chili had the flavor and texture it was supposed to have.  The skins of the 'chokes kept them from mooshing, just like bean-skins do. 

Of course, if you're not growing your own, you won't end up with the pea-sized bits I had.  However, cutting larger ones to size will work just fine, and if you don't reheat several times (like I do), they shouldn't overcook.

How about my "Gentle Readers" -- do you have favorite potato-replacers I haven't mentioned?

* dammit, I plant tomatoes and squash and rhubarb and not much happens.  the only things that I can produce in decent quantity are jalapeños and sunchokes!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

the magic of glutathione

What a crazy year 2013 has been....  A lot of people have had to deal with a lot of changes!  For me it hasn't been very bad, but I HAVE had some shocks and adjustments.  It's been like that story:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer....
Through my dog getting sick and me catching something of his infection, thus triggering a severe histamine reaction and setting off my under-the-radar chronic fatigue issue, I studied up and learned some remarkable things.  I discovered Rich van Konynenburg's methylation hypothesis, and added some recommended supplements to my regimen, most notably GLUTATHIONE. 


Within HOURS of taking the first capsule, I felt a tremendous difference.  The fatigue that had flattened me was reduced significantly.  The lingering effects of the infection (inflammation) began to fade.  Ordinary daily chores were no longer exhausting.  I "survived" the trip to Phoenix and my mother's visit here without undue weariness.  We've been shopping for a new car and test-driving "crossovers" for a week -- and I really dislike shopping and dealing with sales-people -- and I'm still standing.  It's a miracle.

There have been days when I experienced the detox/die-off symptoms (basically, a revisitation in brief of the fatigue, brain-fog, etc), but they pass pretty quickly with a little extra rest and careful eating.

Eating!  Brother, do I easily observe what foods set me off!  It's the histamine/tyramine trouble foods which I should avoid.  And guess what -- most of them are "Neolithic agents of disease"....

I've been using glutathione for two months now, and my energy level may not be HIGH, but it's so improved, I could hardly ask for more.  I feel like I've discovered the answer to "life, the universe and everything."  ...Could glutathione have any connection to the number 42?  ;-)