Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spring awaits

Spring is springing in these parts, despite arctic vortexs and sub-zero temps in the recent past.

At the Cornell Bird Labs, the red-tailed hawks, Ezra and Big Red, are getting serious about re-building their nest. I captured Ezra this morning, although he didn't seem to be really doing anything. But, I can see that the nest bowl is more defined, and there's some greenery being added, presumably for softness. This bunch looks a lot like thyme (he brought it after this photo was taken). He is such a beautiful bird. I just love those fluffy white feathers, and the brown speckles here and there. Big Red, the mom, is bigger, redder (duh!) and has more speckles, doesn't seem to be quite as delicate as this fellow. Remember, in the bird world it's generally the male that is the more beautiful, splendiferous and gaudy. Eventually, all those spread-out twigs will be rearranged from the platform into a beautiful round nest, waiting for some eggs and fluffy white babies.

While you're at the Cornell site, click on the link on the 'Bird Cams' tab for the Kauai Albatross. Another adorable little chick, and birds most of us never see, since they spend most of their lives on the ocean.

Closer to home -- I went out to the garden awhile ago to grab some lunch makings, and a bluebird swooped down from somewhere, landed not far from me to grab a worm or insect for lunch before swooping away again. I absolutely love seeing these bluebirds every spring! They just make me smile all over. I probably won't miss a lot when I leave here, but I'll miss the bluebirds.

Daffodils and tulips are up out there and all around town. Yesterday, I spotted a few yellow heads bobbing, but in my yard there's nothing but green shoots yet.  Days have been sunny and relatively warm for the most part, but we have a couple of nights coming up forecast to be in the low 20's again.

Speaking of lunch -- today's 'experiment' proved to be a good one. I had a small can of solid albacore tuna (only kind I buy) and wanted to bump it up a bit. Out in the garden, the spinach I planted last fall is emerging from its subzero stunting and putting out new, if small, leaves, so I grabbed a bunch of that, a small leek, some newly-rising garlic chives. Minced the chives, shredded the spinach and sliced the leek, then mixed some sriracha with mayonnaise and added that to the mix with a little salt. Have to say, it was pretty good. Not all my experiments turn out that way. Last time I think I tried curry powder in the mayo, and while it wasn't awful, it's also not likely to be repeated.

Spring is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Garlic and bioflavanoids

Nutrition fascinates me -- and has since my late 20's, which was over 40 years ago.  I'm always looking out for new research, new information, places I can learn and understand more. Listening to the radio the other night I caught the last 10 minutes of an interview that led me to search out the man being interviewed. I wanted more. His name is Bill Sardi -- don't know anything really about him, but I know enough to realize he knew what he was talking about, and his website confirms that. He also cites studies for about everything he states, with links.

I learned a lot in my brief perusal of the site yesterday. One -- that L-theanine is 'nature's beta blocker', I mentioned yesterday. In that article he talks about staying out of trouble when taking supplements, something I also care about and love to fine-tune in my own life.

One thing that caught my attention was the proper use of polyphenols/bioflavanoids, which are one of the current nutrition rages. I've written about some of them here previously (cinnamon and turmeric), although I didn't call them polyphenols or bioflavanoids.  He says that these things work best in modest doses, because they are actually biological stressing agents. They are detected by the body as a biological threat and in response activate internal antioxidant defenses, but this only happens when modest doses are consumed. And, an excessive dose negates the proposed beneficial effects and may even worsen existing conditions.  His point was that supplement users are not hearing any precautions about dosages, a case where too much of a good thing is bad for you.

These polyphenols, or bioflavanoids are found in lots of things -- he cites citrus rind, berries, tea leaves, grapes, pomegranates, spices, coffee beans, more specifically, turmeric, red apple peel, green tea, coffee beans, milk thistle and resveratrol from red grapes and wine. He says he expects that many serious supplement users have numerous bottles of these items in their daily supplement regime, and suggests they'd do well to limit the dosages.  This is where L-theanine comes in. It, along with various other things are natural anti-stress agents, or adaptagens, that will counteract overdosages of the stressors -- to a point. It's easy, he says, to get caught up in taking lots of stressors, more than the body can conteract, then start taking these adaptagens or theanine to counteract the stressors, setting up an endless circle.

I tend to prefer getting any possible nutrient direct from food. My diet includes lots of turmeric because I like curries, and it's a major ingredient. I also use a good bit of cinnamon and lots of cayenne, berries, coffee, etc. For me, the theanine is a separate issue -- meant to counteract an over-zealous heart, rather than over-zealous use of supplements.

One more article, on garlic, was also interesting. I've often wondered if the therapeutic value of garlic existed outside the raw garlic clove, and for the most part, he says it isn't, and that most garlic supplements on the market don't really have much value. The therapeutic allicin in the garlic only occurs when a fresh clove is smashed (presumably grated or minced, as well).  Fortunately, that's how I like my garlic best, in salad dressings, hummus and other foods -- although I also use lots in cooking just for flavor. If you take garlic supplements, you might want to read this article, because you just might be wasting your money.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kudos to Le Creuset

I arrived home from the gym this morning to find a lovely present awaiting on my front porch. I knew it was coming, just didn't know when. What is it? A warranty replacement for a large Le Creuset dutch oven. The process has taken a few weeks, but well worth it, as replacement cost for this item is $280, much more than I could ever even think about spending these days.

I am a long-time Le Creuset fan -- bought my first ones back around 1976, bought this second bunch in the early 90's sometime. All of the originals plus a couple of the newer ones are gone (some from user error, I assume, although I've always been careful not to use high heat and the enamel cracked anyway). I never tried using the warranty before because frankly, I forgot all about it. It's a lifetime warranty, and when someone suggested I contact them because of the issues with this large pot, I thought it was worth a try. I have to say the process was painless (other than the $20 ship the pot to them). They couldn't have been nicer, no questions posed to me regarding possible user damage. Just a brand new replacement. Can't beat that. Now, I look forward to using it. Have really missed this pot because it's my go-to pot for so much.

Worked the chest and triceps today -- chest isn't burning, but triceps sure are, and that's a good thing. My muscles are not nearly as mushy as they were just a few weeks back when I started working them again. I do more, with heavier weights, all the time, and it all gets easier. So, success!

Great weather this week -- started yesterday or the day before. Sunny, in the sixties and even up into the 70s on Thursday. I can handle that! Love to go sit on my front steps and soak up the sun and heat, and get a little feline-love from the neighbor's cat.

Tried to find some L-theanine at Kroger and Rite-Aid here in town -- forget about it! Just a bit too esoteric for local folks, I guess. I can and will order some soon, but I wanted it now. Supposedly, a natural beta blocker. I take a beta-blocker, have for over 30 years, but it's gotten pricey. The docs say I could go off it, but when I do my heartbeat becomes too irregular and strong, and I don't like that. I take only a tiny amount, and if I can find a natural substitute, I'm willing to give it a try.

So -- that's my quiet day so far. Let's hope it stays quiet, and warms up nicely.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

One person can make a difference

Wisdom 2.0 began yesterday -- so looking forward to the next two full days of speakers and presentations. Three things stuck with me from last night's talks: First, from humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine, whose photos will knock your socks off:

'If you really want to grow, go looking for something that will change your mind.'

And from Vivienne Harr, a young (8, I believe) girl who started selling homemade lemonade in her front yard to raise money to stop worldwide child slavery:

'I have a Giveness, not a Business'

By the way -- that front yard lemonade stand has already raised over $1,000,000 for the purpose. After her impromptu appearance on-stage at last year's conference, where she had a booth pushing her lemonade, someone from Twitter asked if they could buy the lemonade for their offices. Someone else, I believe, offered financing. Now, it's being bottled in two flavors and continues to grow -- all because one little girl heard about childhood slavery on the TV, and told her parents she wanted to do something to help.

Never doubt that you can't do something to make a difference in the world merely because you're just one person.

I don't remember who said that, but it's a good take-away from the evening.

The link above takes you to both the live streaming page (when something's happening) and videos of each presentation, as well as presentations that weren't live-streamed because they took place in a different room.  Take a look! There were some technical issues last night that didn't happen last year -- no audio on streaming at first, then low audio. Choppy segues from speaker to speaker. Last year it ran like precision clockwork, and since this is, after all, largely sponsored by Bay Area tech firms, I expect it will all be ironed out by today. Worth watching, regardless. I can handle the glitches, since it's free and I'm particularly grateful to be able to have it at all.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day -- Wine Style


A friend in the wine industry forwarded these this morning, and since they made me smile, thought I'd share them here. I can relate to all, although many things make me want to wash my mouth out with red wine and chocolate. Two of my favorite things!