Regarding Chauvinism

It rubs me the wrong way when people say “I’m proud that the XYZ place exists in my country” (e.g. a monument, or a natural place). Why would anyone be “proud” for something they had nothing to do with, is beyond me. For example, why would you be proud if Parthenon, or Santorini is in Greece, for example? You had nothing to do with either the building of the Parthenon, nor the volcano that created the Santorini island.

The correct vocabulary would be “I’m happy to live close by to such a place”. Anything more than that, is chauvinism at worse, or stupidity at best.

Panasonic LX100: Best P&S Ever Made

I’ve been a vocal supporter of Canon in the past, both for their dSLRs and their P&S cameras, but rest assured, these days are over. Canon is left behind in dSLRs when it comes to video, while they consciously removed existing video features from their new P&S (exposure lock and custom colors are now omitted from most new P&S), making them utterly useless. I sincerely can not recommend any new cheap Canon P&S anymore for video, while their 3 year old models performed better in terms of feature-set.

Sony has made some evolutionary steps in the right direction, but it’s Panasonic who has come to its own with their 4/3s cameras (particularly the GH4), and their P&S line. Their latest offering, of their popular LX line, is the LX100, arguably the best P&S ever. It comes with a large 4/3s sensor, a very fast f1.7 lens (with a 43mm thread to add filters!), 24p/30p/60p frame rate, 100 mbps bitrate at 4k resolution (!), full manual control, and some color control too.

Basically, it makes it the perfect video camera for indie filmmakers who don’t want to bother with lenses (e.g. if they shoot guerrilla-style all over the place), while retaining the large sensors found in dSLR-type cameras. The 4k quality you’re going to get for $900 is unparalleled too.

Now, if you don’t want to bother with 4k editing (which can be slow), then the tiny Canon EOS-M mirrorless camera is still the best bet (coming with all the video features one would expect from a Canon dSLR). It’s now selling for about $230 on eBay, as new, which makes it very cheap for what is capable of. You’d still need to buy 2-3 lenses for it though. Overall, with a wide prime, and a cheap zoom you’re probably be paying about $500. Which is still cheaper than the LX100’s $900. But you don’t get 4k or the ease of mind of using a P&S.

Personally, for the type of videos I shoot (art-type stuff), these are my best options right now.

Oopsie buns

Oopsies are the Americanized version of the French souffle. My French husband loved them. They can be baked in ramekins for a more authentic souffle taste (in this case omit the almond flour), or as bread buns. They’re extremely low carb, and Paleo/Primal.

Ingredients (makes 6 buns)
* 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated in two bowls
* 3/4 cup of creamy goat cheese, or shaved emmental cheese
* 2 tablespoons of almond or coconut flour
* 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar (or baking soda)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). On the bowl with the whites, add the cream of tartar.
2. Beat the whites in high speed until very-very stiff, about 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the cheese and flour to the yolk bowl, and beat until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
4. Fold the yolk mixture slowly into the whites, and mix carefully with a spatula for a few seconds.
5. Spoon the mixture in 6 pieces, on a baking sheet with a parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Per Serving (3 buns): 430 calories, 3 gr of net carbs, 36 gr of fat, 25% protein, 83% Lysine. 45% B12, 72% Riboflavin, 63% choline, 55% A, 23% calcium, 59% phosphorus, 31% selenium, 33% copper.

10 Foods to Survive on a Deserted Island

Let’s assume you shipwreck on a deserted island (knock wood). Somehow, half-buried in the sand you find a magic box with a message in it. The message asks you to specify 10 foods that the box will magically bring to you every day. These will be the same foods every day, so your choices have to be very specific. If you choose foods like pizza, which hold no nutritional value, you will die within a few months.

I was inspired to write this blog post because of the story about Napoleon. He was imprisoned for a while in the 1800s, and was asked what food he would like in prison. His captors would serve him the same food daily, hoping that he would expire “naturally” out of malnutrition.

But here’s how to trick the magic box (or your captors) to give you the highest bang for your buck, not only keeping you alive until rescue arrives, but to make you thrive!

1. 150 gr of pastured beef or goat heart
The heart must be cooked in bone broth with onion, garlic, sea salt, and grass-fed butter. We pick a heart over muscle meat because it’s more nutritious and it has the highest levels of CoQ10. We don’t pick liver because its extremely high levels of copper and A will work against your health if consumed daily (although liver must be consumed once a week on different living conditions, of course).

2. 150 gr of wild Alaskan salmon, sashimi raw
Very high levels of omega-3 and many other nutrients. Wild sardines or wild trout would be my No2 choices.

3. 100 gr of wild, raw oysters
If liver is the most nutrient-dense food of all, oysters is the No2. We pick it because of its high levels of zinc among others.

4. 1 pastured duck egg, raw or fried
Chicken eggs hold nothing to duck eggs. Duck eggs are more nutrient dense per gram, and they create fewer allergies than chicken eggs. Cooked in coconut oil if fried.

5.30 gr of sunflower seeds, soaked for 4 hours
These have very high levels of B1 and E (higher than that of almonds). Extra B1 is needed on a diet that doesn’t contain legumes or enriched flours.

6. 100 gr kale, raw
The most nutrient-dense vegetable. Served with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

7. 250 gr of white potatoes, baked
We need some starches, no matter what keto people say. We carry friendly bacteria in our gut that can only live on starch. White potatoes also carry the important resistant type of starch.

8. 100 gr of asparagus, or 100 gr of an avocado
Asparagus seared in coconut oil. Avocados would be my personal second choice, but you might want to pick that instead, if you are after more fiber and even more nutrition.

9. 500 gr home-made raw, full-fat goat kefir
Fermented foods are needed, and some calcium too. Kefir is the definite powerhouse in this case.

10. 1 pink grapefruit per day
Antioxidants and enough vitamin C. If grapefruits are unavailable (due to season), 150 gr of blueberries will do.

And of course, lots of natural, spring water.

As you can see below (click to view larger), that set of foods daily give you pretty much over 100% of your daily needs for most needed nutrients. You can’t go wrong with these!

Don’t be afraid about the trans-fats shown there and the low omega-3 shown in the chart. The database that contained similar foods did not include their pastured/wild versions, and so the data in that respect are a bit skewed. The vitamins/minerals are pretty much correct though.

Best Cauliflower Rice Tips

Cauliflower fried rice is the best substitute for Chinese fried rice on low carb and grain-free Paleo diets. Here’s a generic recipe for it, but accompanied with hints and tips on how to make the recipe work best. You see, if you treat cauliflower like rice, you will end up with a mushy, cabbage-smelling dish. Following the tips below, will bring your fried cauliflower much closer to the real thing.

Ingredients (for 2)
* Half a cauliflower head, in small florets
* 2 chicken eggs, or 1 duck egg
* 4 tablespoons of olive oil
* 1 small leek, cleaned and chopped
* 1/2 cup of frozen peas
* 1 cup of boneless chicken, or shelled shrimp
* 1/2 cup of mushrooms, chopped (and/or carrots, peppers, broccoli etc)
* 1 green onion, chopped
* 1 clove of garlic, chopped
* 1.5 tablespoons of gluten-free tamari soy sauce, or coconut aminos
* 1 teaspoon of turmeric (optional)
* black pepper to taste

Method
1. On a small frying pan, with a tablespoon of olive oil, crack an egg on low heat. Using a wooden spoon, swirl continuously the egg, until you achieve a scrambled egg consistency. Turn off the heat before the egg is fully cooked, set aside.
2. On a wok or frying pan, add the chicken (or shrimp), 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, peas, mushrooms/veggies, leeks, garlic, and black pepper. Stir occasionally. Add the soy sauce. Cook in medium heat until the chicken is done and the leeks have become transparent and soft, and there’s no liquid left in the pan. Set aside.
3. Using a food processor and its S blade, add half of the cauliflower in it. Give it 5-6 jolts until the cauliflower has become “riced”. Do not make the pieces too small, but it should still feel a bit chunky. Set aside, and process the rest of the cauliflower.
4. On a very large frying pan (I used a 14″) that is not wok-like (but rather it has a flat surface), add 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, the turmeric (if using), and the cauliflower. Under high heat, fry the cauliflower, stirring occasionally, until it starts to get burned marks and it starts to feel dry.
5. Add the meat mixture in to the big frying pan with the cauliflower rice, and stir. Add the scrambled eggs, green onion, and stir. A minute later, turn off the heat, and serve.

Tips
1. We use a very large, leveled frying pan instead of a wok because woks tend to trap moist. We’re trying to get rid of as much moist from the dish, because it’s that moist that brings the cabbage smell to cauliflower.
2. We’re using leeks because these emulate the sweetness of rice. Without it, the dish comes out a bit flat in taste.
3. Do not process the cauliflower too much, or too much moist will come out of them.
4. Do not crack the egg on the same pan as the cauliflower. While scrambling the egg on the side of the pan works with rice, it doesn’t work as well for cauliflower. Same goes for the meat mixture.

Extant: a review

Watched the first two episodes of “Extant”, the new Spielberg-produced sci-fi show, starring Halle Berry. There are several problems with the series. It’s really a surprise having a veteran like Spielberg allowing such easy mistakes from his writers.

The biggest mistake is that the series is a localized story. No sci-fi show or movie ever survived in the long run by only telling a localized story without providing a larger “universe” for the world that the story is taking place. We don’t know what the year is, we don’t know what kind of technology is available (from one side we have high AI and interstellar space travel, but then we have old fashioned cars and button-pushing washing machines? Really?), we know nothing of how the world is organized in that time, and we know nothing about how humans got so far in space, or how far. This is a grave mistake for any sci-fi story. It shows no vision. It just shows a guy with a script getting the go-ahead to shoot the series, but that’s not the type of vision that creates cult, or successful shows.

Cult shows are cult because they make their extended universe believable by providing a lot of information about it. It’s as simple as that. People get hooked with believable detail, even if the show might even mildly suck in other perspectives. For example. Babylon 5 was a tragedy in terms of filmmaking (camera, sound work, and even dialog was the worst), but the believable “large”, epic story it told, and the detail it provided for the world it operated on, it made it a cult show. Star Trek and Star Wars owe their success to this type of “complete universe” vision too. Extant is not such a show. It’s just an idea, set in a non-descript world.

And then there’s the AI. Halle Berry and her husband in the show have adopted a child android as their son, which behaves 99% like a human. This itself is unbelievable. Having worked in AI myself for years, such type of AI won’t be developed for many hundreds of years later, *if ever*. People have talked since the ’70s that “true AI is just 10 years away”, but of course this hasn’t happened. The kind of AI that we WILL get (most likely through Google) is going to be similar to the computer on Star Trek: TNG. Smart enough to carry away complex actions, but not even close to be “human”. This whole AI subplot weakens the series as a believable sci-fi show. Of course, Spielberg himself created an “AI” movie back in the ’90s, so he’s obviously a fan of the concept. I’m willing to forget about this, since he has personal ties to the subject matter, but not insisting on universe-building from the get-go, it shows that the series is amateur hour that has come across to lots of money.

My advice: watch it for fun, but don’t invest in it, because it will disappoint.

Paleo Tuna Casserole

Ingredients (for 2-3)
* 2 small cans of tuna (solid chunks), or a tuna fillet
(* For veg*n, you can use 150 gr of “chicken of the woods” mushrooms)
* 2 large zucchinis
* 2 tablespoons of olive oil
* 1 cup of ‘cream of mushroom’ soup (recipe with dairy, or without)
* 1/3 cup of frozen peas
* 1/4 cup chopped onion
* 1/2 cup coconut, almond or full-fat dairy milk
* 1/2 cup of crumbled pork rinds (optional)

Execution
1. Wash the zucchinis and cut them in half. Using the Blade A of the spiralizer device (the blade with no triangles that creates ribbon-like noodles), spiralize them. Then cut the long spiralized ribbons to not be so long. If you don’t have a spiralizer, cut the zucchinis in half, and then cut thin slices out of them (about 3″ long each). Preheat oven at 400 F (200 C).

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2. On the stove, use a deep frying pan and pour the olive oil in it. Under medium heat lightly fry the onion and peas in it for 3 minutes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
3. Add the cream of mushroom soup, milk, and stir until the mixture becomes smooth, it starts bubbling and most of its liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat.
4. Drain the tuna cans, and pour the tuna into the hot mixture, and very gently stir 2-3 times. Add the zucchini noodles and frozen peas and stir gently again a few times.

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5. Pour the whole thing into a baking dish. Crumble the optional pork rinds with your fingers and spread them on top. Bake for ~30 minutes until it gets golden brown, and there’s not a lot of liquid left in the dish (zucchini tends to release liquid). Serve hot.

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Regarding honor killings

“Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death after marrying for love. ‘Honour killing’ in broad daylight outside Lahore high court involved father and brothers,” says The Guardian.

Terrible news, of course. But the also disturbing thing is that the commentators at the Guardian continue to get it wrong. They place “religion” and “non-education” as the reasons why these honor killings happen. I’m sorry, but these people, these supposedly progressive and smart readers of The Guardian, think only skin-deep.

YES, religion is often the vehicle where this terrible action materializes. But it’s not the reason why it happens. As someone who was beaten rather regularly by my traditional Greek father for having my engagement break apart in the early ’90s, I can tell you, there was no religion behind it. And education has often little to do with all this too.

It was primarily social pressure.

You see, when you live in tribal-like communities (like most non-Westerners do), where everybody kind of knows everybody else in the vicinity at large, there’s extreme social pressure to maintain status and control within both the group, and within the family. My father constantly used to tell me that “we live with others”, hence, in his mind, he was supposed to maintain an IMAGE. The image of a strong family man. A man who had everything under control. A man where you could TRUST to give him a job (my father was a house builder, a profession that requires trust).

As such, having a daughter breaking up her engagement to a man from the same village, it was a social disaster for him (in his own mind at least). The gossip that ensued was unbearable for my family. So he acted out any way he knew how to maintain his illusion of control.

I have forgiven my dad, I hold no grudges whatsoever. In fact, there is nothing to forgive, because I know where he’s coming from. Exactly because I can understand his limited point of view, and even if I don’t agree with it, it’s enough for me to not hold grudges.

Besides, the people who carry out these acts are victims themselves. Victims of their own inability to escape cultural programming, and victims of the closed society they’re in. Close societies like that do have their advantages (they never let one of their own go hungry, for example), but you gotta play with their unwritten, irrational rules to gain their support. Societies are exactly as twisted as humans can be, because they’re made out of humans.

So, Primary reasons of honor killings/beatings:

– Re-assuring of one’s social status by doing what others expects you to do according to the local societal rules.
– Power and control within the immediate and extended family (ego and super-ego at play).
– Illusion that this way they save the rest of the family (by taking out the bad apples, the family is again pure enough for the society’s expectations).

Secondary reasons that act as permission, rather than as the main reasons:
– Cultural traditions masquerading as religious laws
– Low educational status
– Dowry and other such financial assets getting lost

So there you have it.

More Lucid Dreams

Great lucid dream I just had. I woke up this morning at 8:45 AM when the gardener outside started making noises, but I slept again half an hour later. So I became lucid, during two dreams in a row. The second dream, I was supposed to be this old executive in NY, and had a daughter who despised me. So I get into a meeting where they started talking finances and stuff. Well, I had enough playing along with that bullshit. I got up without saying anything to anybody, get in the hallway of the building, and I proclaimed loudly that I’m not going to participate in such a boring, shitty dream.

Next thing I know, everything goes black, or static, or something. I truly felt that I had died in my sleep. I had reached the void. I got scared (and I’m not easily scared in dreams anymore, but I felt as if I died) and started shouting for Esther, my Spirit Guide. Within a second or two, I was back at the same hallway, and Esther was there. She was not amused.

There was a conversation that took place about some things that at the time I was thinking that “I should not forget them”, but I did forget them. But I did remember two important questions and answers:
– Is Heva, as my Higher Self, real? The answer was “yes”.
– Are past lives real, and the past lives I experienced under hypnosis real? The answer was also “yes”.

At that point, two people, one man and one woman appears, with files on their hands. Esther seemed to be feeling a bit anxious. She introduced them as “tax collectors”, or at least, something important in the whole life-death-afterlife circus. Their one question to her was:

– “Why is she so evolved already?“, and that had a connotation of “having evolved spiritually faster than others within a given set of past lives, or at least since I became spiritual about 10 months ago”, and also “why are you helping her by giving her answers?”.

I didn’t let Esther reply. I did my own replying. I “excused” myself for my “premature” spiritual growing by telling them that I did some spiritual work and meditation in previous life, and that seems to have stuck (I was referring to my past life in Israel). They were satisfied with the answer, they both checked something on their files, and they went away.

Esther was adamant to get me back to play along in the dream. I complained that the “script” was boring and ridiculous, and that I wanted to have more interesting dreams. She claimed that this dream is one of the best if I was to let it play out, and that I should really give it a try. I finally conceded.

So the dream continued from where it had left off, like nothing had happened in-between, and towards the end of it, I was a super-hero. Not my average dream, indeed. It was fun, I guess. It had its moments.

I just wish I could remember what I told myself to remember, but forgot…

Regarding OBEs

So I had quite a few OBEs yesterday & today (out of body experience, aka astral projection). After waking up in the middle of the night and sleeping again, lucidity is easily reached. Then, you simply induce an OBE through a lucid dream (this method is called DILD, other methods include WILD and FILD). So I went to a few places, including my hometown, Preveza, Greece.

There, I met with another girl from a nearby town, and I told her my name and where I was from and where I now live. I told her to ask for me when she wakes up, to see if we actually shared the same dream. She was the only one I found in the crowd who was also lucid, the rest of the people there were dreaming, and behaved like sleep-walkers. On my way back, found another lucid person, and we exchanged a thumbs-up, after thinking that “if we could go wherever we want to when we’re lucid, who the heck cares on travelling in real life?”

I also visited a wormhole (with some spaceships in there too), the void, visited some people I care about, etc. I had no trouble going from one place to another, although visiting other planets was time consuming it seemed.

But here’s the thing. OBEs are not literal, they need interpretation. While they can be pretty lucid, the things that happen in there aren’t as “solid” as in real life. Reality there fluctuates, just as it does in dreams, deep meditation, or when taken psychedelics. PhD researcher Aardema says in his book about OBEs that when we don’t use our mechanical brain to filter stuff out, our consciousness exists in a type of reality where many different quantum possibilities are probable, that’s why things can morph or change, based in our perception. That New Age belief that “thought can change reality” is true, but not as much in our reality, but for the reality that lies beyond our brain’s filtering mechanisms. The further you go into that type of consciousness, the more formless, shapeable and alien reality becomes.

So anyway, my conclusion is that it’s important to have this kind of experiences, because they get you ready on accepting death. There’s nothing to be afraid in death, apart from your own belief system (if you believe in Hell, you’ll surely find it because your consciousness will construct it). I’d go as far as to say that I’m probably ready to even face ego-death.

But as far as it goes about our current daily lives, these types of experiences are often irrelevant. Entheogens might provide some insight about how to live our daily lives, and certainly my own meetings with my Higher Self and Guide have been very helpful, but I don’t see them as mandatory. They’re interesting, for sure, but an already “stable” person don’t need such experiences to live their life. They already know what to do and how to do it deep inside.

My point is, that people who judge others for not being “spiritual” (e.g. caring about psychonaut-related matters), are mistaken. Not everybody needs such experiences to function properly in the society, or even to the world beyond. They’re some well-adjusted individuals who simply don’t need OBEs, entheogens, meditation, New Age crap etc. My husband seems to be such an individual. I now know that I don’t need them either, although I did need them last year, when I reshaped my world views and found my place in the universe. I now see all that stuff as tools to live well and get prepared for the next step, not as the end-all. After you’ve used the tool to construct or fix something, then you might not need it again.

As well-known pop-philosopher Alan Watts said: “If you get the message, hang up the phone“.