Thursday, June 2, 2016

June 2 Link Log

Categories: Animals, Food (Yum), Food (Yuck), Fun, Funny, Health, Mental Health, Obituary, Technology.


Irony: While looking up the author of a book due for review this week, I found that she'd retweeted this unbearably cute baby bird story. I retweeted it too, and I'm linking it here, just for the commenter from Scott Adams' blog who said that Canadian news is depressing. This is definitely not. But meanwhile, people who were retweeting this story, tragically including Margaret Atwood, were backing a lamebrained "lock up all the cats, save the ground-nesting birds for the rats" campaign. North American birds, even the ground-nesting species, have evolved alongside free-roaming wild cats who were bigger and hungrier and more efficient hunters in every way than our pet cats will ever be. A few endangered populations need extra protection, but basically North American birds coexist well with cats. If you doubt this, visit the Cat Sanctuary--the birds will soon stop singing for the summer, but every year (as birds have recovered from the DDT era) the cats have coexisted with more birds of more different species. The cardinals and phoebes really yelled at each other all through March; the cardinals won, as they've always done, but every year more phoebes have been quarrelling longer about the territory the cardinals have occupied at least since 1972. And meanwhile, back in Newfoundland, these precious baby birds are...indoor pets! If they're not coexisting with a cat, they're undoubtedly coexisting with rats and mice, who are even more likely to want to eat them...or else they're being protected by free-range outdoor cats.

Ugly little animals that belong in the garden...that was the title of an AC article I wrote that did fairly well, so I reposted it here, and it tanked. Anyway here's an update with a fresh fun fact. What do Coccinellids (ladybugs) have to do with Ken Cuccinelli (politician)? Answer: Medieval Europeans cooked food in little dome-shaped ovens, for which an Italian name was cuccinelli; red-orange, dome-shaped ladybugs reminded people of miniature versions. (The Mother Earth article goes beyond ladybugs. Did you know there were "good" stinkbugs?)

Recently we found a recipe for making spongecake in a rice cooker. Here's a batch of things people have managed to cook in a coffeepot:

Food (Yum) 

"Mrs. Dash" (not a real person) has been concocting new spice mixes for different flavors. As with curry, garam masala, bouquet garni, etc., the idea here is that tiny amounts of ten or twenty different spices mingle (in the jar and then in the food) into something that tastes different and interesting. You're not sure what it is but, if you're trying to add flavor while subtracting salt, a little dash of "Mrs. Dash" will do that. Here are four recipes for four versions of "Mrs. Dash."

Food (Yuck) 

One of my pet peeves from bygone years...our President wants to take the blame for making it even worse. Many people need to eat less sodium. The way to eat less sodium is to eat less pre-packaged, processed food, and more fresh food. People who don't want to take the trouble to do that have already given manufacturers the bright idea (not!) of using less salt to preserve those processed foods. Well, sorry to burst the cardiovascular patients' bubble, but salt happens to be the least toxic to humans of all the substances that preserve the quality of vegetables (or meat). Sucrose is another relatively safe preservative for things that are supposed to taste sugary-sweet, which, in most foods, many people find disgusting. Some spices, like rosemary, also work as preservatives but they're less reliable and potentially, in the quantities in which lazy Americans would be likely to ingest them, less safe than salt or sugar. So the alternatives to salty-tasting meat and veg are (1) rotten-tasting meat and veg, (2) sugary and disgusting meat and veg, or (3) meat and veg preserved with some weird new chemical that may turn out to be toxic over time. People can add their own salt to food at the table if they just want a salty taste, but adding salt at the table does not make rotten food fit to eat. I'm sorry--people who want to avoid cardiovascular syndrome (yes, I'm old enough to be in this category) have no realistic alternative to eating fresh veg. And food manufacturers should stick with what works, use enough salt to keep food fit to eat, and hold customers responsible for monitoring their own balance of fresh and canned food as their own blood pressure readings indicate.

Fun Stuff 

The historical origin of the Melungeon clan/tribe is of course in Tennessee. Some Melungeons did, however, settle in Wise the bus tour of "places of interest" in their history starts in Big Stone Gap. $20.

For those who don't want to spend $20, the museum also offers an "outdoors" guided tour, free.

Funny Stuff 

Food puns, and your chance to win fame with an election song parody...

People pay for this?

If you went to any big-name school except Yale, this one's a hoot. Well, I laughed.

Health (physical) 

I just shared the full text of an annoying "reply" I got from a complaint posted to a link to a book hypothyroid patients can use to banish Cytomel, or even more expensive animal thyroxin, from their lives. In that post I mentioned that my mother used information presented in Maximum Metabolism to recover from Hashimoto's Disease, even before she realized she shared the celiac gene with me.

That information guided her to the McDougalls. The weight loss diet that was the original selling point in Maximum Metabolism is not for celiacs, nor is it for vegetarians, which Mother wanted to be for philosophical reasons. The McDougalls have been using the information about how to balance our diet to speed up (or slow down) our metabolism for many years. Well, Mother read Maximum Metabolism as a secondhand book in 1992, The McDougall Program in 1994. John McDougall, M.D., was already writing about success using a vegan diet--tweaked as necessary--to cure all sorts of chronic conditions. This temporary link illustrates what is, in fact, typical of people who follow a McDougall diet:

As regular readers know, Dr. McDougall is still doing "webinars." (In fact I came online just too late to link to one that's going on as I type.) He's still slim, still perky, and still hosting spa retreats in California and Hawaii. If you are seeing a doctor, and want to be near other doctors before you try any radical changes like going vegan, these retreats are for you. A major attraction of the retreats is irresistible vegan food prepared by Mary McDougall. If you mention thyroid issues, no worries, you will be guided toward the McDougall Program specifically for those. If you're not all that sick, yet, but you do want to keep your metabolism from slowing down excessively with age, you can simply fit recipes from any McDougall cookbook into your own Maximum Metabolism plan. There are different McDougall books for different audiences; this is the one that seems most relevant to hypothyroid patients.

For anyone who's keeping track...I went gluten-free after developing celiac sprue in 1996. I didn't want to believe I could have the celiac gene (I don't look Irish!), but when you have sprue you have to do something, fast. Mother didn't want to believe she had the gene until 1999, but she did--and although she'd had impressive results using what she'd learned from Drs. Giller and McDougall, she enjoyed even better results when she finally took the dare and went gluten-free.

Many McDougall recipes in each book are gluten-free; most of the others are easily edited. All are vegan, and all are delicious. These are the recipes to use if you want to feed some vegans and some carnivores--and have the carnivores complaining that there's not enough of the vegan food for seconds. (No worries! Your cat or dog will take care of the leftover meat.)

Mental Health 

My thanks to the Tweep who shared this. It calls attention to the fact that relationships with "senile" patients are still possible.


Yes, it's a nasty Facebook link. I apologize. This is where Mark Warner chose to post his memorial tribute to Stephanie Rader, an early U.S. spy, 1915-2016.


Every time the wind blows, in my part of the world, the power blinks. Wifi blinks. Internet connections have to be rebooted. (That's why I'd only consider blogging from town--down in the valley where there's not much wind.) Frozen food thaws, in summer. Water lines (and sometimes houses) freeze, in winter. I've been thinking we need more underground cables, fewer high-rising cables, for a long time. I'm not expert enough to assess the costs and benefits, but...