Archive for June, 2012

Field Trip at the Galaxy Cemetery

Title: “Field Trip at the Galaxy Cemetery” (aka “The Capture of Knowledge”)
License: Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0/US. Click for 18″x18″ printable version. Credits in the EXIF metadata.

The Conception

Title: “The Conception”
License: Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0/US. Click for 24″x36″ printable version. Credits in the EXIF metadata.

The music of Fiona Apple

I think that I have finally understood why I don’t like most of that highly-lyrical/vocal music (e.g. Fiona Apple, Bob Dylan, Florence etc).

So, I was listening to Fiona Apple’s new album, which has gotten great ratings, and the whole meat of her music is really the lyrics. There’s little music to speak about, and the one that exists, usually gets muffed by the voice. When listening to the admittedly well-crafted poetic lyrics, I realized that it’s all about the internal angst of these human beings. For Fiona for example, her life was changed when she was raped at the age of 12. From then on, all her songs are about dealing with it even if the songs are not all very clearly about it. Not to be insensitive about it, but that’s the impression I get from that type of music: “me, me, me, look at me, look how I feel now, me, me, me”.

Well that kind of music just doesn’t represent me. And it’s not just about music, but movies and visual art too. I can’t stand dramas, for example. I can’t stand visual art where the artist reflects his inner struggles of who he is in every single painting.

GET OVER YOURSELVES, God damn it. The world is not just about you and your silly existential bullshit. You’re just an ant in the cosmic sea of creatures. Alone, you don’t matter. I don’t matter either. Together, we could, at some point, but alone, we aren’t.

This is why I prefer art that is about grand things, that deals with a society that are over and above their little problems, where the people have accepted who they are in the cosmos, and they’re working towards a better common future, rather than crying all day long about some abstract thing that they themselves don’t know what exactly it is. I mean, they should definitely sing about REAL societal problems (e.g. being alone in a city full of people, how money changes people etc), but when there’s some abstract “oh, I’m so sad right now, but I don’t know exactly why” type of bullshit, well, I’m just not interested in hearing that.

I’m not saying that the human psyche doesn’t matter at all, or that we shouldn’t sing about it, it’s just that when 95% of the music out there is about silly bullshit about depressed people with psycho-complexes, it irks me the wrong way. We should be looking at the future through art as a complete species, as a multiplicity, not as an adult individual who hasn’t accepted his/her place in the world yet.

Oneohtrix Point Never, Health, and John Maus are just some of the few artists that make sense in my mind. They make music sounding like it’s from 200 years in the future: where the WE matters a lot, and the ME matters less. And their music features actual music, rather than over-mixed, over-powering vocals.

Recipe for home-made toothpaste

I will be transitioning to a home-made toothpaste. Even on the low-carb hard-core Paleo/ketogenic diet, I still grow a bit of tooth plaque within a few months’ time. My goal is to not accumulate ANY plaque on my teeth ever again, to have fully re-mineralize my teeth (already healed ~80%), to have fully heal sensitivity in my front teeth (already healed ~70%), and to fix receding gum lines (healed only about ~10% so far — sorry for the ugly picture). Overall, my teeth are hundreds of times better than they used to be pre-Paleo (I used to have transparent teeth, I was *that* sick from nutrient malabsorption in the last 10 years), but they’re still not fully healed yet in the 9 months I follow the diet. Obviously, more radical steps are required.

I use a fluoride-free & SLS-free toothpaste, but the commercial ones are still not as optimal as they could be. I will be combining the following home-made paste with:
1. The Paleo diet ( + goat/sheep fermented dairy, primarily home-made goat kefir)
2. Some supplementation (primarily D3, Ω-3, Mg, K2 Mk4)
3. Flossing before going to bed
4. Soft-brushing 2-3 times a day (depending on how many times I eat a full meal).
5. Cut-down on snacking between meals as much as possible.

After searching for days on research papers and elsewhere online, I have decided on the following ingredients. Here’s the recipe in short, although I haven’t figured out the exact dosage yet, and obviously I don’t know if they chemically react together in a bad way or not (hopefully not):
– virgin, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil (anti-microbial, anti-fungal)
– CoQ10 Ubiquinol (capsule’s liquid, regenerates gums. Make sure it’s not Ubiquinone)
– concentrated Trace Mineral Drops (re-mineralization)
– calcium carbonate powder (abrasive agent)
– oregano oil (diluted, anti-microbial)
– aluminum-free baking soda (whitening, cleaning)
– vodka or ouzo (anti-microbial, taste – γεια μας!)
– sea salt (minerals, optional)
– peppermint oil (for its taste, optional)

Calcium carbonate should not be used every day, and baking soda should be used only a few times a month after you have reached the white color you desire.

While most of these ingredients are found in various home-made toothpaste recipes online, they are not all usually found in a single recipe. And the one ingredient largely missing from these “traditional” home-made toothpastes is Q10-ubiquinol. Anecdotal reports claim that the specific Ubiquinol form of Q10 can work magic on your gums & teeth (and wrinkles) when applied directly on them, and not just when ingested (I personally eat a lot of offal that contains Q10). Crack addicts have been using the trick for a few years now, to regenerate their gums and teeth!

I don’t have any cavities left, but I believe that with this whole protocol even small cavities can be fixed (big ones still require a dentist). I will be reporting again with my progress and findings about all this in 6 months time.

In other news, we had a great sashimi lunch with JBQ, in our balcony: 6 kinds of raw fish, and salmon eggs. I didn’t used to eat fish eggs, but now I’ll have to, in order to get enough vitamin K2 in the Mk-4 form (menaquinone-4). Apparently, chicken eggs don’t have as much Mk4 as goose, duck and fish eggs do. Grass-fed butter contains Mk4, but according to tests done to such commercial butters, depending on the batch and season, you get very different results about how much Mk4 they actually contain!

Mk4 specifically drives calcium to bones, hair, nails and teeth, instead of having that calcium calcifying our arteries. The Western diet is highly deficient of Mk4, while it’s abundant in hunter-gatherer societies. In fact, pregnant women there are fed preferentially foods containing MK4, as it’s the only K form that can reach the placenta and help the fetus grow a skeleton. Enough daily sun (D3), Mg, and Mk4 are the main reasons why hunter-gatherers don’t need dentists, they have larger and stronger teeth than we do, and they’re perfectly pearly-white, and in the correct shape.

And where do these “uncivilized” societies find the bulk of their K2 Mk4? Yes, there’s some in the offal of game, and some in fish roe, but the bulk comes from insects, and possibly also insect eggs & larvae worms. We either go back to eat what we’re evolve at eating, or we will die from diseases of “civilization”.

Well, either that, or we just need a shaman. 😛

Update, Feb 17th 2013: No new cavities, no plaque on this protocol. Works for me! Thanks to an orthododist, I found the reason of my receding gum on the specific tooth, pictured above: It’s not nutrition or bad hygiene to blame (as most of my older dentists claimed), but rather its neighbor tooth which is severely out of alignment, pulling the gum around it (it’s been doing that since I was 7 years old). To fix this, I’ll be putting braces this coming week!

My 2012 garden

Some of my plants this year. Unfortunately, my tarragon, sorrel, radishes, cilantro and some others were eaten by slugs just when they sprouted. Hover your mouse over the images to read what kind of plants these are. My crown jewels this year are in the last picture, beets and carrots.

I love omelets!

With that new non-stick frying pan I can make some killer omelets. I usually use oyster mushrooms, but for my brunch today I used chopped sausage in it, and chopped green onions. I fried these in coconut oil. A few minutes later I added a small handful of spinach, a minute later I added two eggs with a a splash of milk (beaten together), and salt & pepper. Then I lifted the edges of the omelet a few times so most liquid gets cooked, while moving the pan in circular motion. Finally, I added blue cheese (soft goat cheese log is also great) on top. As long as the omelet is then left to cook enough underneath (another minute or so), in medium heat, it comes out easily from the pan in one piece (shake the pan forwards and backwards a few times to get the omelet to unstick). Yum!

Artistic images flashing through my head

I only started getting seriously interested in non-video visual art in Oct. 2011. For a month, while reading books about art etc, I had flashes of artworks (not artworks I’ve seen before, but new ones, created by my head). I stopped being that interested in visual “static” art around November, and the flashes disappeared. Started getting interested in visual art again in April 2012 (collages etc). The flashes returned!

I get some astonishing *abstract* visuals flashing in my head, usually when I have intense thoughts about random stuff (3-5 times a day). No, I’m not into drugs btw. I’m certain that these flashes are healthy, my brain is simply deep into creative mode (I’m left handed btw). Another artist I asked about it told me he has the same kind of flashes too!

Only problem is that I don’t know how to materialize these visuals, especially since I can’t paint in canvas, and my Photoshop skills are mostly about sketching and photo-manipulation. If only there was some hardware we can hook our brain up to capture these images! As much as my collages might look lame, my art flashes look really amazing! I wish there was a practical way to bring these to life and share!

A little secret about bone broths

One of the superfoods of the Paleo/Primal diets is the bone broth. Drinking it as-is, or cooking stews with it will provide the individual with a lot of minerals and other nutritional advantages: from calcium, to phosphorus, and collagen and Magnesium. Mark Sisson has a great article about the how and whys of bone marrow broths.

However, I have a little known secret about how to get a good bone broth, at a fraction of the price of grass-fed beef bones. See, the few times I bought grass-fed beef bones (and they were not even marrow bones), cost me $22 here in the Bay Area. I’m sorry, but that’s an excessive price for a bunch of bones. Unfortunately, since bones (and liver) are the mirror of how the animal lived its life, I’m not willing to buy non-grass-fed beef bones, and I’m definitely not going to use chicken bones. The quality of the animal must be top-notch to make a bone broth (or eat its offal).

Speaking of chickens, it defeats the whole purpose of the bone broth if it is made from chickens that are younger than 2 years old. We have a saying in Greece: “it’s the older hen that has the extra juice”. Young chickens, especially those that have never walked in their lives, are near-useless when it comes to extracting nutrients out of them. They are sick, and undeveloped. Free-range, older chickens, ducks and turkeys are the better choice.

So if most chickens are unsuitable, and good beef bones are too expensive, what to do? My suggestion is that you go for lamb and goat bones! They are just as nutritious as beef (if not more, especially goats), and the great thing about them is that 90% of them in the US are pastured-raised! Exactly because most Americans don’t eat much sheep/goat, the meat industry hasn’t put its claws around these animals yet to industrialize them. So when you buy meat from these animals, you have a huge chance of actually buying healthy meat!

The best place to buy such meats (including their equally nutritious offal) is Mediterranean shops, but some Mexican markets also carry them. Avoid Chinese markets, unfortunately they carry the cheapest, dead-looking meat I have ever seen (in my big, local Asian market, the only good quality meat I found was duck gizzards and fresh fish).

From lamb, go for lamb shanks ($3.99/lb in my local shop, dirt cheap). From goat, go for a whole leg (not boneless, includes cartilage for extra collagen/gelatin, $6.99/lb). You can also get lamb/goat stew meat if their bones are intact ($6.99/lb). The cheapest deal is of course the lamb shanks. Just make sure you ask the butcher to cut the shanks in two (on the short side), so the marrow is exposed (otherwise, use a sledgehammer at home just before preparing for the bone broth). Basically, you get the bones for cheap, and essentially you get the meat that comes with them “for free” (since a bone broth is the main purpose of the purchase). Financially and nutritionally, they’re the best deal overall!

After you cook and eat the meat, or you remove the bones before cooking, you can freeze the remaining bones, until you have enough to make a bone broth.

* 1 to 1.5 lbs (450-700 gr) of lamb/goat bones
* The juice of a small lemon OR a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
* 1/2 of a large onion, wedged (avoid if on Fodmaps diet)
* 1/2 cups of celery
* 1-2 chopped carrots

1. Fill your slow cooker with water. Put the bones in. Juice the lemon (helps with extraction of the nutrients). Cover and let simmer for at least 12 hours.

2. 3-5 hours before turning off the heat, add the onion, celery, carrots.

3. If your bones had been cooked before (e.g. in a stew, or roasted), let the bone broth simmer for 20-24 hours, otherwise, 15-16 hours is enough.

4. When done, turn off the heat, uncover, and let cool. When cool, pass the broth through a strainer and discard the bones/veggies. Do not discard the fat. If you have been cooking marrow bones, eat the marrow!

5. Fill up 1-2 big glass jars with the clear broth and store it in your refrigerator for up to 1 week. From that glass jar, you can either cook with (e.g. in stews), or you can pour a cup, add a bit of lemon, microwave it, and drink it as-is.

6. For the rest of the bone broth, using a large ladle, pour 1-1.5 cups of the broth into plastic bags. Seal them well, and place them carefully in your freezer, for up to 3 months. When you want to use some for cooking, you can easily remove the plastic bag by tearing it, while the broth is still frozen.

Artificial Intelligence, Siri, Voice Actions

Artificial Intelligence. Or just a wanna-be service. It doesn’t matter really, Siri and Voice Actions are running the show today when it comes to “intelligent” assistants. But Siri is bound to be left behind, eventually.

Of course I had the suspicion for a while now, but after checking out the WWDC keynote today, it becomes clear to me that Apple does not aggregate the Internet to present information in a tight manner, but it rather bonds deals with big web sites. Then, they have to provide Apple with an API that provides access to specific data, and present that information in a beautiful UI.

As cool as this looks, it doesn’t scale. Sure, for year 2012 it might be good-enough (since we’re coming from an era that had nothing like that before), but by year 2020 this would be the wrong way to do AI. Apple can not possibly hard-code support for this decades’ 500 new major web sites. It’s too much work, error-prone, and “500” is still a small number of the web sites that people would be interested in. Apple will hit a wall with this type of engineering.

Even the opposite doesn’t work (every web site adding API hooks specifically for Siri, on a special URL with an API key). Do you remember, Mac OS’ Sherlock (and its third party equivalent “Watson”)? Old Mac OS users should remember this app! This would be the same thing! But also remember how often these APIs were broken on the various plugins consisting these apps, eventually leading to their demise. They didn’t scale because people running the various sites didn’t care to keep compatibility!

The only way to go forward with an AI that scales, is for the AI itself to aggregate the internet by hooking itself into a search engine in a more specialized way, find the right info, and present it to you. And because Google already owns and operates a “smart” search engine, is in the unique position to prove a much more useful service later on. Sure, it looks bad now UI-wise, and it’s way less attractive or interesting (it doesn’t make me wanna use Voice Actions), but it’s got more potential than Siri in the long run.

If any of the two reach the Singularity, it would be Google’s solution. I called it. Unless Apple acquires a bunch of startups, plus acquiring or licensing Bing. Then it can get interesting.

Paleo going mainstream

Wow! As much as I can’t stand Bill O’Reilly, he got it right about the no-wheat diet on his show. If that was not enough, had an article today that eating like a caveman is the way of the future. Paleo is going mainstream big time, and this is not because it’s a more efficient weight loss diet than calorie restriction (it’s not, at least for me it wasn’t), but because so many people found their health back that it makes them advocate it strongly. I do so too, since I got my life back because of Paleo, and this has put me at odds with people who are not open to the possibility that this is not a fad diet, but rather a cure for many diseases of civilization (from immune, to inflammatory, to hormonal, to mental conditions). I know how this makes us, Paleo advocates, sound crazy to many people who expect science to find a “magic pill” for them to get cured, but I know when I’m right, and I know when to shut up when I’m wrong. This Paleo (+fermented goat/sheep dairy) thing, it fucking works better than any drug (for most situations).

When I decided to go public describing all my health problems on my blog, it was a difficult decision, because admitting publicly and eponymously that I had alopecia, IBS-D, situational depression, and a gazillion other illnesses (I was with one foot to the grave), is not an easy thing. But I thought to myself that if in the process my story helps ONE person in this world, it’s worth all the ridicule I can get. From what I’ve been told, my story helped a number of people. This fills me with joy, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that you helped someone getting healthy again and living their lives to the fullest.

As for the people who don’t necessarily doubt Paleo’s health-healing abilities, but they didn’t follow through with the diet because “giving up grains is too difficult”, then one thing is clear: “you are not desperate enough”. When you get desperate enough, as I was, giving up grains will be the easiest thing in the world.

I will close this admittedly annoying blog post by sharing a little story. September 7th 2011. Just 4 days of Paleo at the time. JBQ and I we are on the plane from Paris to SFO, a full flight. Everyone looks like a zombie on the plane. Babies are crying, parents are pissed off, and everyone is looking so freaking tired. And then it was me. iPod on my ears, volume jacked up, and I’m seriously headbanging. I had more energy than anyone else in that plane, heck, I had more energy than I had in the last 10 years of illness put together! Later, my husband told me: “seeing you in that plane so alive, that was the moment I knew that this diet, at last, would change our lives”.