Revenge of the Red Snapper

He was a handsome red snapper, eyes bright, that committed the crime. He had a somewhat startled look on his face, as if to say: “What the hell happened?!?” He had reason to ask this, of course – he was dead, and on the command of my wife he had his guts pulled from him. He didn’t care about that part – being dead removes these sorts of concerns from a fish’s mind – but this never-sentient, now non-being, would exact revenge for my wife’s rendezvous with the fish monger.

There was no grand gesture he could make to get back at us for his life being taken as he lie wrapped in paper in our shopping cart, but he could get us in a dozen different ways. The first occurred at the checkout: $15.44 it would cost us to cart his dead body home.

The second insult he perpetrated on us was the leakage of his fish fluids on our vegetables. You can’t rinse that off and put away your salad greens after – it meant cooking up something with the vegetables impromptu, and because it was impromptu, it went uneaten. From the pulling out of the sautée pan, the chopping board, the spices and the oil, the chopping, sautéing, then storing in a dish in the fridge, the cleaning of the board, the pan, and the utensils, and the eventual tossing of the uneaten vegetables a week later and the cleaning of the storage bowl all likely added up to probably $8 in wasted food thrown away and an hour of a human’s life for all that taking out, cooking, cleaning, storing & tossing.

Well played, red snapper, well played.

And he wasn’t done yet.

He was bought without a plan – which fit neatly into his. He was ours because we felt he’d be a meal ‘some time during the week’ but his arrival in the house without immediate utility meant that he would have to compete for space in our overcrowded fridge, and since dead red snapper have lost all of their competitive nature, we would have to take on the challenge.

He was a leaker – we already knew that, so we took extra care to wrap him in a plastic bag and find him space on the lower shelf, where competition was fierce. He ended up as bedding for a carton of eggs and when we finally found him a home, he was promptly forgotten as he had hoped.

A fresh red snapper is excellent broiled with some ginger and scallions with a little soy sauce and sesame oil. The simple preparation brings out the delicate flavor of the fresh fish. Not so the less-than-fresh red snapper – as ours proceeded into with each subsequent day he was forgotten in the hustle and rush of typical weekday.

Now, way past his prime – not yet foul but not still able to wear the label of ‘fresh’ – he was discovered late in the week during a random rummage. This was perfect for our snapper’s plan for revenge. He was still too good to just straight toss and this would be his grand finale of destruction and revenge for our pescetarianism.

It was thought that he might not be a smart candidate for a light broil due to his age, but he might fare better as part of a fish soup, cooked a little more thoroughly. Out came the soup pot and the cutting board, some complimentary vegetables, and the prep and cooking time needed to make our sunk-cost fallacy – and the snapper’s revenge – complete.

The kids and the husband wanted nothing of Mom’s impromptu fish soup made from fish rescued from the trash, so they ate leftovers. Mom had a bowl, but that left a pot – a huge pot – on the stove. There was no room for it in the fridge so it took up residence on the stovetop with a lid on it – and was forgotten again.

Only when Mom walked in from work two days later and said: “What’s that smell?” Did we realize that the snapper had begun to exact the most fragrant part of his revenge – saving the best for last. Getting rid of a large pot of ripening fish flesh is like dealing with nuclear waste – one must carefully think through the options or the cleanup could be worse than the problem you are trying to deal with.

We removed enough dishes from the sink so as to allow us to pour the remainder of the soup into the food disposal and with a whir and a run of water, he was gone, though we needed to throw a lemon in there to get the fish smell out of the disposal.

There was still the pot to be dealt with, however. The red snapper had left a portion of his skin on the pot-side like an inner-city gang tag spray-painted on a random wall – he would not let himself be forgotten that easily. It was late and the pot seemed too much a task to clean, so it was filled with hot soapy water and left to sit.

And it sat. Having no established kitchen cleaning rules except ‘somebody is going to have to clean that up!’ means that the family plays a game of ‘kitchen-chicken’: while the utensils become less and less and cooking pots scarce, the sink fills more and more, arguments ensue about who is the biggest culprit in filling the sink. The blamestorming and finger-pointing can continue for days while the cups and utensils get further depleted and tensions build. This particular week was particularly contentious because of the black pot of now-fermenting snapper, now with a slight lavender scent from the soap detergent, that awaited the first person to blink in the high-stakes game of: ‘who’s going to clean the kitchen?’

Dad played the ‘sick’ card having been actually sick – why not use it to his advantage? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – right? But no one else did it either. Dad started feeling better and the kitchen began to drive him nuts, so he blinked and began to clean.

He saved the pot of the end. It was omnipresent while Dad cleaned around it, and dreaded the entire time. A half-measure was taken: drain out the fermenting water that had been soaking up the fish remains for 2 days and replace it with fresh water and soap. This bought some time, but then the showdown came – and it consisted of Dad sticking his arm in the pot and scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing the fish skin off the side of the pot. It did not want to leave. The fish laughed. Dad scrubbed. After what seemed like a few hours, elbow grease and scalding hot water finally yielded a clean pot.

The snapper was finally gone, leaving in his wake two containers of mostly wasted food, innumerable dishes and utensils to clean, pots to scour, fish remnants to toss in the trash, a fishy lingering smell in our kitchen, hours of human life taken never to return dealing with the results of his revenge, and probably a total of $25 for 1 bowl of old fish soup.

Next time I’ll recommend the wife have a bologna sandwich instead. Who says convenience foods suck?

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The April Fool: Day 7 Continued

I got up late – most likely due to the fact that I woke up choking in the middle of the night. Ugh. I also felt like merde. My breakfast of black coffee didn’t seem to bother me much – my body is far too used to this to consider it abuse – in fact, I sometimes find black coffee *settles* my stomach – but I don’t know how THAT works.

Lunch was a Fage yogurt with EZ-Sweetz and by then I felt a heck of a lot better. Not 100%, but not like I did when I rolled into work. Mid afternoon I felt a slump coming on and treated myself to Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream – of course I always get the largest container they have.

Late afternoon was 3 pieces of American cheese and 2 hard-boiled eggs with ketchup.

At home we had a friend over and my wife had ordered pizza. I came in a bit late after having to detour to the high school to pick my daughter up from practice. I said my greetings, avoided the pizza and garlic knots with mariana dipping sauce and went for my oldest avocado. I mixed it up with some salsa and sour cream and sat down with them at the kitchen table next to a plate of my younger daughter’s half-eaten pizza and knots and ate my dip with chip.

My friend knows of my – ahem – peculiarities – in eating but it came into the forefront because I was sitting there eating like this in front of him for the first time.

“So what do you eat?”

“Well, I tend to eat a lot of fat. I feel better this way. I try to get 70% or more of my diet from fats.”

“You avoid saturated fat, right?” He smiled.

“Oh no – I eat plenty of saturated fat.”

His smile froze. He was born and raised in France and is one of the nicest and most gracious people I know, and he wasn’t going to be impolite and tell me that I was insane.

“Saturated fat isn’t actually all that bad for you, its seed oils like sunflower oil and peanut oil that you find in most processed foods that contain way too much Omega-6 that I believe is bad for you.”

“So I suppose you don’t eat a lot of nuts.” He offered.

“Well, some nuts are worse than others. I avoid peanuts but I eat macadamias. It depends on the nut. I drink almond milk, which isn’t that bad. I really can’t eat the way most people eat – I feel awful and get fat doing it.”

I then said: “I suppose you can call me a food faddist. Yes – my diet is a bit extreme. But before I ate this way I was 265 pounds. I ate this way and lost 80 pounds – and the only reason I’ve gained weight is because I DON’T always eat like this.”

“Look at me.” He said. “I eat whatever I want.”

“You are a product of a culture that always ate freshly prepared whole foods. You’ve always been athletic. You moderate your intake of sweets. this stuff was ingrained into you from childhood. I lived in a culture where you grab a box of processed crap, add water, microwave and you have Mac & Cheese. 30 years of you eating and living your way left you thin and fit. 30 years of eating my way left me metabolically-damaged.”

“I’m not telling you to eat the way I do.” I continued. “You’re fine. Me – I eat they way I eat and avoid a host of problems.” I then told him this story that I wrote but never became a blog post but now it is.

I go to the grocery store and the woman at the checkout asks if I’ve ever tried the grass-fed frozen beef I’m buying. I tell her no, and say that I sometimes buy the grain -fed organic. She answers: “I *only* eat grass-fed.” For the brief time it took for me to check out, we found common ground in keeping grains to a minimum, shared a laugh over one of her fat-phobic customers, but differed on whether low carb is ‘going too far’.

In work, a pair of perpetual dieters do the low-calorie, low-fat diet and exercise. Not being one of ‘them’, I diet alone. Lean Cuisines and low-fat yogurt populate the fridge at work, brought in by others who keep their dietary habits more mainstream.

On a business trip, at dinner, the person to the left of me told us they were a vegan raw foodie who ate whatever they wanted when they traveled, but at home lived on vegan paleo smoothies. A strapping, handsome guy – it apparently suits him well. The person across from me was into Crossfit, the exercise cult, and was being pressured to go full-blown Paleo but was only doing it part way, to the chagrin of her trainers.

To the right of me was a fellow who ‘ate meat only when offered’ and said he ate a lot of hummus.

My wife inundated me with daily diet tidbits from her social network, apparently filled with people beginning to feel their age and catching glimpses of the spectre of death for the first time: “if you avoid/eat X you’ll live 20 years longer.” She’ll say sagely.

On the phone with a colleague I noticed her speaking about 30% faster than normal. I didn’t recognize her voice initially and told her.

“Oh, I’m doing a cleanse and it must be the energy shake I take every morning.”

Maybe it’s me, but it seems like everybody is following – or trying to follow – a diet routine chosen somewhat haphazardly or even randomly – a friend recommended it, Dr. Oz recommended it, or they just cherry-picked a bunch of rules and rolled their own diet.

The French culture has a healthy relationship with food for the most part. My friend never *had* to think about these things because the habits he was raised with are by their nature healthy and come to him without much thought.

“You mentioned you have a blog – what is the name?”

Now I got uncomfortable.

“I keep it anonymous. This way I can write freely. I wouldn’t be able to write it if people I knew read it – it’s an experiment in authenticity. It’s really a sort of private diary that I should probably keep to myself but instead I post it.”

“It’s really quite boring.” My wife chimed in.

“It is.” I agreed. But people still come. There are a lot of little niches out there and some people – especially people trying a low carb diet – find this stuff interesting.”

“I think it is also somewhat voyeuristic.” My wife added. “People like to look into the lives of other people.”

“That’s true. People have admitted that to me. But I also get comments about how a particular post resonated with them, or how my blog keeps them going on their own diet. Because I post frequently, Google is very kind to my blog and people who are starting low carb stumble across mine. One post I dashed off years ago has gotten 70,000 hits – some famous authors haven’t gotten that many people to read their stuff in times past. This year I am on track to have 750,000 page views.”

Thankfully, the subject got dropped about this time and we moved on to other topics. As I might have mentioned before, my anonymity is important to me. If I know my friends were reading this I would censor myself – and there would be little point in continuing. Discussing my waking with GERD the other day is TMI for my circle of friends. Unlike most miscreants, I don’t use my anonymity to be an idiot to other people – I use it to express myself without the burden of my public persona. If you think about it, this is how it was for the vast majority of writers even 50 years ago. Few people would ever tie them to their work. Even using their real names, they had an expectation of anonymity for the most part.

Today with the Internet, maintaining an Internet presence becomes a part of your public persona. Before you go on a job interview, the HR person is going to Google you. I think this has led to a very great loss: the pursuit of unattractive authenticity. Honest, deep feelings get left on the cutting-room floor because we need to meet certain societal norms. To some extent we’ve become an Internet of ‘posers’ and are constantly warned through stories about people posting honest opinions that sometimes there is a price to pay for honesty.

It’s why I hate Facebook: my friends – who are my friends because I felt a deep connection to them – seem like cartoon cutouts of their real selves. There’s a community pressure to conform and breaking this means you can be forever typecast, labeled, and once labeled, discarded. Labels are a way of drawing conclusions and moving on. You become: ‘the lady ow always posts cat pictures’ or ‘the guy who posts bible quotes’. All the rich complexity that is ‘you’ disappears and you become as deep as a minor character in a bad sitcom.

All that aside, after our friend left I ate a bit of the cheese my daughter pulled off her pizza and went to bed to read.

It sucks not having pizza. It sucks not eating the raspberry ice cream my daughter left on my nightstand – but I felt a hell of a lot better by the end of the day than I did at the beginning.

And that truth would not be posted for those of you who find value in it without my anonymity.

The April Fool Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 223.4

Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 223.4

Small 2 lb. drop. Given I felt I ate a lot the night before I was slightly surprised.

38.5 pound to go to reach my September 1 goal of 185.

The morning was my typical coffee and cream as well as coconut oil and cream a bit later.

My first meal of the day (aside from caffeine and pure fat) was some of the lovely Applegate American cheese and a mini brie. I also ate fruit – an avocado.

I’m feeling that ‘weird’ feeling that means the onset of ketosis. It shouldn’t be hard – I haven’t been exactly binging on carbs for a good part of the previous month. My carb intake might have been higher than I’d have liked bit it was probably less than half of the average person’s already.

As is usual during the ketosis conversion, my head is clear and I feel OK – just weird.

If I was in ketosis, though, it was only light ketosis. Not what I expected.

I finished up that tiny bit of chicken / bacon / sour cream combo from the night before, then made a tuna salad with scallions. I put in what amounted to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise but it seemed a bit dry, so I tried adding a bit of sour cream – my thinking here is the sour cream is a better choice than another 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise – and perhaps it will add the creaminess without eliminating the flavor notes of the mayonnaise. I also added about 4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce.

It came out good. I’ve come to find that Worcestershire sauce works well for more than a steak.

I ate this on pork rinds and left it unfinished – again, trying to get into the habit of not eating to the container. I washed this down with the ‘comfort food’ flavor of almond milk sweetened with EZ-Sweetz.

I went to bed early as the wife was studying there and my younger daughter was doing her homework in bed with her. My wife was watching some concert on Youtube – I don’t share the same musical tastes as my wife usually. As of late I’ve been listening to Caravan Palace (I love the cartoon on this one):

She was watching Chris Botti with the Boston Pops. I usually tune out whatever she’s listening to, but this particular concert was unique: a symphony orchestra backing up a jazz ensemble, with appearnaces by Yoyo Mah, Sting, Steven Tyler, and John Mayer, among others. That’s not your usual lineup. The music was eclectic and unexpected – and the musicians truly looked like they were enjoying themselves.

I had no idea who Chris Botti was before this – I want to check him out further after seeing the concert.

I’m reading Do you Believe in Magic? (http://amzn.com/0062222961) which details nicely my concerns with supplements and how we have come to a place where entirely unregulated pills can make whatever wild claims they want and get away with it. As with most things I read in this area, the book is not without its own biases, but the information is interesting.

For example:

On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn’t . Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer. “It’s been a tough week for vitamins,” said Carrie Gann of ABC News.

These findings weren’t new . Seven previous studies had already shown that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease and shortened lives. Still, in 2012, more than half of all Americans took some form of vitamin supplements.

Offit M.D., Paul A. (2013-06-18). Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Kindle Locations 613-616). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I have a funny feeling that some of you are feeling a distancing from me as I quote the above. Most people love their vitamins and herbal supplements.

My choice in music might also distance you. When I add details like this that don’t jibe with your preferences it prevents you from projecting things onto me that, since I typically leave them out, you can be free to assume.

“Let’s see – this guy listens to Chris Botti and Caravan Palace – and he thinks supplements are dangerous – I’m outta here!”

Oh well – unlike most bloggers, I’m not trying to get the most hits – this is an experiment in authenticity in a world of posers and I want to see where that takes me.

The concert completed with the book as I stopped to watch some amazing performances.

In bed, reading and watching the concert, I finished off the evening with a few squares of the Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate and a Fage Yogurt with EZ-Sweetz. I was up a bit later than usual reading after the concert was over, then quickly fell asleep.

Another giant rabbit-shaped sugar cookie appeared on my bed stand – my younger daughter snacking on it as she did her homework between Mom and Dad. I almost reach for it a number of times when going for my iPhone.

Sugar cookies are following me.

Does Fluoride In Your Water and Toothpaste Make You Fat and Screw With Your Brain?

[Update: I got one comment: “What does this have to with low carb??? Do NOT send this crap. And… I disagree with your logic.”]

I am old enough to remember the 60s when crackpots were labeled as such because they thought water fluoridation was some sort of government conspiracy. I don’t consider myself a crackpot, though your opinion might differ.

What I AM doing is taking the tack that modern science, particularly when it comes to our complex biological processes, really has little clue what is good for us and what only appears to be good for us, so my only defense is to minimize the number of ‘modern marvels’ – processed foods, man-made chemicals and the like, and try to eat as little of them as possible. For me, that means eating organic as much as I can afford it, avoiding the household cleaner aisle – or at least staying away from the nastier stuff that lies there and using more old-fashioned cleaners, using glass containers for food rather than plastic, not drinking bottled water that comes in plastic, and putting a water filter on my tap water to remove the God-Knows-What that is contained therein.

It is not that I am convinced beyond a doubt that these things matter – it more that I believe the jury is still out on, say, if the plastic in plastic water bottles leaches into the water and screws up our internal chemistry.

I don’t know – so I’ll avoid it as much as I can.

So I went to purchase a new replacement cartridge for my Pur water filter the other day. When I got it home, I just happened to read the box, which listed it’s features. One jumped out at me (here it is on their website – search for ‘fluoride’):

  • Removes 95% of mercury, while leaving beneficial fluoride in the water.

Beneficial flouride. Hmmm… I did a little digging, and came across a website named Flouridealert.org. I found this on their page ‘50-Reasons to Oppose Flouridation‘:

In the first half of the 20th century, fluoride was prescribed by a number of European doctors to reduce the activity of the thyroid gland for those suffering from hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid) (Stecher 1960; Waldbott 1978). With water fluoridation, we are forcing people to drink a thyroid-depressing medication which could, in turn, serve to promote higher levels of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) in the population, and all the subsequent problems related to this disorder. Such problems include depression, fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pains, increased cholesterol levels, and heart disease. It bears noting that according to the Department of Health and Human Services (1991) fluoride exposure in fluoridated communities is estimated to range from 1.6 to 6.6 mg/day, which is a range that actually overlaps the dose (2.3 – 4.5 mg/day) shown to decrease the functioning of the human thyroid (Galletti & Joyet 1958). This is a remarkable fact, particularly considering the rampant and increasing problem of hypothyroidism in the United States (in 1999, the second most prescribed drug of the year was Synthroid, which is a hormone replacement drug used to treat an underactive thyroid). In Russia, Bachinskii (1985) found a lowering of thyroid function, among otherwise healthy people, at 2.3 ppm fluoride in water.

The above was written by a Paul Connett, PhD – a Professor of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University. He appears to be a legitimate professor (at least he was when I first wrote this 6 years ago – it appears he has since retired).

Oh, Jeez – here’s another thing I know nothing about. Another thing to make me seem even crackpottier than I already am. There is a huge crackpot element that opposes fluoridation. Here’s a comment from Yahoo Answers that shows the kind of nuttiness that gravitates to this subject:

Fluoride is accumulated in your pineal gland. This gland absorbs more fluoride than any body part and in very large quantities; it is now thought it has a lot to do with many of our health problems like early onset puberty in girls. As i have been able to awaken my pineal gland in the past thus access the crown chakra I will use my own self for the control. I do not know another person who has accessed the crown chakra or achieved christos. The feeling of oneness with the Creator and of travelling as if in deep space is gorgeous. The feeling of unconditional love and of peace makes me want to be able to do it or go there more often. Once awoken it is always awoken but you can fine tune it.

After the first two sentences, utter and complete New Age nonsense. But because whack-jobs gravitate to it, does that mean that it’s untrue? So now I’m led to the question: how did the notion that fluoride was so good for us that it should be put in most water supplies in the US come about? Think about it – that’s a massive health experiment – making everyone, young and old, with a vast spectrum of health concerns, all take a mandatory medication – that’s essentially what it is, isn’t it? So a visit to Wikipedia gave me an answer:

Community water fluoridation in the United States is partly due to the research of Dr. Frederick McKay, who pressed the dental community for an investigation into what was then known as “Colorado Brown Stain.”[8] The condition, now known as dental fluorosis, when in its severe form is characterized by cracking and pitting of the teeth.[9][10][11] Of 2,945 children examined in 1909 by Dr. McKay, 87.5% had some degree of stain or mottling. All the affected children were from the Pikes Peak region. Despite the negative impact on the physical appearance of their teeth, the children with stained, mottled and pitted teeth also had fewer cavities than other children. McKay brought this to the attention of Dr. G.V. Black, and Black’s interest was followed by greater interest within the dental profession. Initial hypotheses for the staining included poor nutrition, overconsumption of pork or milk, radium exposure, childhood diseases, or a calcium deficiency in the local drinking water.[8] In 1931, researchers from the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) concluded that the cause of the Colorado stain was a high concentration of fluoride ions in the region’s drinking water (ranging from 2 to 13.7 mg/L) and areas with lower concentrations had no staining (1 mg/L or less).[12] Pikes Peak’s rock formations contained the mineral cryolite, one of whose constituents is fluorine. As the rain and snow fell, the resulting runoff water dissolved fluoride which made its way into the water supply. Dental and aluminum researchers then moved toward determining a relatively safe level of fluoride chemicals to be added to water supplies. The research had two goals: (1) to warn communities with a high concentration of fluoride of the danger, initiating a reduction of the fluoride levels in order to reduce incidences of fluorosis, and (2) to encourage communities with a low concentration of fluoride in drinking water to add fluoride chemicals in order to help prevent tooth decay. By 2006, 69.2% of the U.S. population on public water systems were receiving fluoridated water, amounting to 61.5% of the total U.S. population; 3.0% of the population on public water systems were receiving naturally occurring fluoride.[3]

So it seems that dentists and an aluminum company thought it would be a good idea for everyone to take unmeasured and varying amounts of a toxic element because it appeared to prevent tooth decay. I have nothing against dentists, but they are tooth-centric, and aren’t exactly the health professionals I want to advise me about a substance that might impact other parts of my body. And why ALCOA, the aluminum company, would be involved is beyond me. This question puzzled me, so I thought to look at who supplies the fluoride. I found this page on the CDC website, which talks about shortages of fluoride, though it mentions. If you read the CDC page, it makes it appear that lack of fluoride is an immediate health crisis – enough to make you panic:

Adjusting the fluoride content of water is a safe and healthy practice that provides significant oral health benefits for a community. For the greatest benefits to occur, it is important to consistently maintain optimum fluoride levels. The three fluoride additives used for water fluoridation are derived principally from phosphate fertilizer production. Although shortages of fluoride additives for water fluoridation are infrequent, they do sometimes occur.

[You will note that some of the links referenced above don’t lead anywhere. Perhaps the CDC has quietly had a change of heart on the ‘safe and healthy’ practice?]

I wrote the above maybe six years ago and never published it. I thought it a bit too crackpot – but during that time I’ve eliminated as much fluoride as possible from my diet and my family’s diet. We still get dosed with the stuff – I still use the water filter that lets through the ‘beneficial fluoride’ but I don’t get fluoride treatments from the dentist for my kids and don’t buy fluoride toothpaste.

Then an article hit the news cycle  about common everyday chemicals that are affecting our brains – and fluoride was one of them.

I don’t consider The Atlantic to be a crackpot site, so I thought maybe I can be comfortable in letting this post see the light of day.

Here’s a link to the article – The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains.

And here is a recent bit of writing I did on the topic. It interweaves with the first part and a good writer would integrate the two to craft a single, coherent article.

But since I don’t have the time nor inclination to do so – nor do I feel the burden of wanting to be seen as a ‘good writer’ – I’m just going to put this out there:

Imagine this. Allergists, in conjunction with a technology company, find that a poisonous industrial waste, when given in very very small quantity, prevent people from developing allergies. Sometimes even severe allergies. What these groups decide to do is lobby the government to have this chemical put into the water supply so that everyone can benefit from the allergy eliminating effects of this substance. Now it is known that it does not work 100% of the time. It is also known to have some side effects. Additionally, depending on how much water you drink you might get a lot or a little so dosing would vary across different people. Children, adults the elderly, the very big, the very petite would all be getting essentially random doses of this chemical. It is also known that not everyone has allergies and so people who have no need for this chemical would also be getting it.

Would you think this is a good idea?

Believe it or not this more or less has already happened. The only difference is instead of allergies its cavities and the chemical is fluorideFluoride has a bizarre story. In the early 1900s a group of people were discovered to have spots on their teeth. These people also had no cavities. Investigations show that the water that they drank had a very high level of fluoride. This caused the speckles on their teeth as well as their lack of cavities. Then the story seems to get a bit murky. Somehow we went from a situation where it was found that a particular chemical could prevent cavities to putting a unregulated dose of a chemical that essentially is like a medicine with side effects and indications and potentially contraindications for people who shouldn’t be taking it and putting it into the water supply. How the hell did that happen?

My understanding of the events in so far as I feel like researching it at the moment has to do with World War II. During the draft of World War II so many potential soldiers were rejected for service because of bad teeth that a decision was made to add fluoride to the water.

This is also a time where we decided to take American citizens of Japanese nationality and lock them up in prison camps. Not every decision that we made because of World War II was a smart one.

The problem with labeling fluoride as somehow bad for you or the results of poor thinking suffers from one big problem: crackpots love this. Dissing fluoride has become a sure fire way to label yourself a crackpot fool. You can’t even question this without people immediately labeling you as slightly unhinged. Why is that? Why can’t we revisit this without being labeled a crockpot? We know a lot more now than we did then and we even know things now that were known then that but weren’t brought up as part of the discussion.

Remember: World War II was a war like no other. Hitler’s plans for America was to essentially turn us into a slave colony. There was a real potential that this could happen. We haven’t had a war since that mobilized the entire country to focus like we did then. We can be excused for the excesses of that war because it truly was a war of good and evil. Studs Terkel the famous author wrote a wonderful book about World War II with that exact thesis: The Good War.

Perhaps almost 70 years later it’s time for us to revisit some of the assumptions without being labeled a crackpot.

Fat, Dumb & Happy Day 12 & 13

March 21, 2014 – 219.6

What was different than yesterday? Little. Same hectic day. Maybe more tension. Didn’t eat all day. Went out mid afternoon for coffee and to clear my head a bit. Dunkin Donuts had a power outage and I had to make due with Starbucks – not a huge fan of their coffee but I compensate by adding cinnamon & nutmeg, which I like a lot. No nutmeg though – they were out of it.

At home, had my roast beef and cheese with mayonnaise and had some wine before bed. I also had a few small pieces of watermelon and a big mug of almond milk.

March 22, 2014 – 219.2

I have to work this weekend.

My weight is *slowly* creeping downward. Today is the lowest weight during this go at ketosis and the lowest weight in a month. It seems to be inching down somewhat slower than is usual but bodies do not like to change their weight downward.

At this point, however, I feel OK, have few cravings, mood seems to be less volatile, mind is clear and productive and I don’t feel particularly deprived. It’s really not a bad place to be.

I’ve been keeping tabs on the news in between everything else and there’s been a few articles worth noting – I might sprinkle future posts with brief mentions.

News: Woman treats brain tumor with low carb diet

It has been said that ‘sugar feeds cancer’. Cancer cells apparently don’t thrive in people on a ketogenic environment because cancer cells are carb addicts.

As this particular woman is the director of operations at a biochemistry research firm, I can only assume that she has the smarts to make an informed decision when she decided to forego normal cancer treatments for this approach.

Ditching traditional cancer treatments is a game of ‘You Bet Your Life’. Steve Jobs tried this and lost. I’m sure this was a tough personal decision and I wish her the best.

Here’s the link: http://www.examiner.com/article/woman-battles-deadly-brain-cancer-without-chemo-using-low-carb-ketogenic-diet

(If anyone can explain to me why Examiner.com is almost always the source of pro low-carb news in my news feed, let me know.)

11am

I had made my kids eggs and toast for breakfast and thought: why not have a breakfast yourself? If I was at work I probably could had done a day 3 of not eating all day but I’m still not sure it’s necessarily good for you.

I made myself 3 eggs in lots of butter and grated cheese over the top. They were lightly cooked. I play the odds, betting that the extra $ I pay for top-notch eggs makes the odds greater that I will get salmonella.

Way before former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted nanny-state laws like regulating the size of sodas, my great state of New Jersey was in the vanguard of this trend and in 1992 banned ‘runny eggs’ being sold in restaurants. New Jersey is a nice state that gets a bad rap because parts of the state have some curious pecadillos. It’s a complex place – the same state has one of the richest counties in the country – and one of the worst cities. Organic farmers dot the bucolic central region. The Jersey Shore suffers from multiple personality disorder: we have a hippy-dippy nude beach (I think the only one on the east coast), uptight law & order beaches that are quiet because no radios or food is allowed like Spring Lake (also known as the ‘Irish Riviera’ because of the enclave of Irish that inhabit the area), and then we have what the word thinks of as the ‘Jersey Shore’ – Seaside Heights – tawdry, tacky, and tasteless.

But for our legislators to broadcast to the country their laser focus on fixing problems that don’t need fixing instead of focusing on the problems that actually matter and making ‘runny eggs’ illegal made New Jersey a laughing-stock at the time. The law was quickly repealed and whoever came up with that waste of taxpayer dollars probably wore a fake beard and sunglasses so as not to be recognized.

Here’s the story: (http://photos.nj.com/star-ledger/2013/04/eehdiner.html)

4 pm

Worked, did some errands and was hungry. I’ve drank surprisingly little coffee in comparison to most days and I’m tired. Looking for something to eat I found a polish kielbasa in the meat drawer. I cooked it up and ate maybe 8 or 9 ounces with mustard.

Then I looked at the label: ‘Use by December 29, 2013’.

Will I be in trouble?

It tasted fine. I’ll guess we’ll find out.

9pm

A somewhat troubling day from the diet standpoint – and it isn’t done yet. The kielbasa has produced no ill effects so far, but I’ve had a powerful thirst – no doubt from the salt. The kielbasa had no nitrates and proudly proclaims only 5 ingredients – all ones you don’t need a chemistry degree to understand.

I drank a LOT of water and almond milk. I don’t like to overdo it on the almond milk but I would say I did. My younger daughter came back from a friend’s house around 6 and was hungry. My wife and older daughter had taken a day trip and nothing was prepared for dinner. I asked the kid what she wanted:

“Pizza.”

I thought to myself: “You’re up to this.”

I bought her three slices: plain, pepperoni, mushroom.

The kid did the usual: pulled off a lot of the cheese and toppings.

At the risk of drawing the wrong conclusion, the kielbasa was a bad idea. I’ve had this unquenchable thirst after other meals – and this usually signals for some reason my eating everything in sight and gaining 5 pounds at least. Kielbasa goes on my ‘Bad Foods’ list. Not a great loss if I’m wrong and some other thing caused this. I eat this maybe three times a year, tops.

There were more than a few times I wanted to snatch one of the kid’s slices. She ate slow and kept the box open. I’d close it so I didn’t have to look at it.

Then my wife and daughter came home with leftovers from Legal Seafood.

As this is the best seafood restaurant ever, all this was a bit much for me. I did have a taste of their fried cod – excellent – and some of their fried calamari – also excellent. I did NOT have the french fries, any pizza, nor the bread rolls.

I did have their tartar sauce that might have contained some sugar as well as a bit of their coleslaw.

Considering my day of living really low carb, the small amount of carbs shouldn’t put me out of ketosis.

I ate my chocolate before bed and also had wine. I do not have my glucose meter to determine if this works long-term as a blood glucose control or was just a fluke that after this combo the other day when my blood sugar was normal in the AM without meds, but I should have it in a few days.

Explaining what ‘Smart’ Means to a 7-Year-Old

I had the following conversation almost verbatim with my 7-year-old daughter the other morning. I was driving her to her early morning school program before going to work and started driving in the wrong direction, then suddenly realized it and corrected myself.

“Stupid Daddy.” I said aloud to myself. “I almost forgot to bring you to school.”

“You’re not stupid, Daddy – you’re very smart.” She said.

“What do you mean by ‘smart’?” I asked. (I’m the kind of guy who attempts a socratic dialog with a 7-year-old at 7am.)

“Well, you’re very good at remembering things.” She offered.

“A lot of people have good memories but do dumb things. So what does ‘smart’ mean?”

“Your brain!” She was grasping at straws now.

“Everybody has a brain but not everybody is smart.”

“Then I don’t know.” She surrendered.

“Well then, do you want me to tell you what ‘smart’ is?”

“OK”

“Being smart is simply acting smart.”

“What do you mean, Daddy?”, tossing the socratic dialog back into my lap.

I was ready. “Well, we all have lots of thoughts, and some of them are good, and some not so good. Acting on the good thoughts is being smart. Imagine that you have 2 people in your head and one says: ‘it would sure be fun to crawl out the window and sit on the roof!’ And then you have another thought that says: ‘if I crawl on the roof I might fall and kill myself.’ Then YOU listen to these different thoughts and decide: ‘I should listen to the thought that said not to go on the roof.’”

“You mean like in the cartoons where the angel and the devil appear on somebody’s shoulders?”

“Exactly! You need to know which one to listen to. We all have plenty of thoughts and some people think every thought they have must be good because it’s theirs. YOU need to realize that your thoughts aren’t you and decide which thoughts are the smart ones.”

There was a flash of recognition that came across her face – her thoughts weren’t her. She got it.

I think I successfully explained the psychological concept of Executive Function – the theory as to why smart people do dumb things –  to a 7-year-old – a concept some people never get their entire lives.

I hope she really did get it.