Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

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Whole 30, Whole Life

I’ve learned that oatmeal gives me terrible heartburn. I’ve learned that eating a breakfast loaded with fat is just fine by my stomach and body. I’ve learned that processed foods have cut hours of food prep out of our lives on a daily basis. I’ve learned that when you’re cleaning-up after every meal your kitchen is at once more clean and more dirty depending on how accessible the surface and where it’s placement is in relation to the stove top. I’ve learned that meal planning has nearly eradicated the thought “What do I want to eat.” from my brain. And when there is only one thing to eat, I eat it and feel happy about it regardless of how well I like it.

Jeannine and I moved in together March 1st. We are in the process on doing home rennovation. We are planning a wedding. As though this context were not challenging enough we added having a go at Whole 30 food plan on March 13th. For thirty days we would consume no added sugar, no legumes, no grains, no dairy. This forbidden list effectively removed all processed and packaged foods. All of them. All desserts. All grain based breakfast items. All the cheeses, the yogurts, and the cottage cheeses. All the pastas and the pastries.

Upon embarking Jeannine was hoping this experiment would alleviate her GERD symptoms, her hip pain, and trim down a bit. I was along for the ride thinking that I had no food allergies or sensitivities or ill effects from my dietary choices. I was hoping to shave off a few pounds, but otherwise I had no expectations.

That the American diet is saturated with soy, corn, and wheat reflects more on food subsidies and profit margins than it does anything else. Dollar bills drive the percentage of our calories these substances. If the things we put in our mouths greatly determine our health, we should probably allow something other than a large corporation’s profit margin determine our diet.

By all measures this isn’t working well for most of us. Americans are obese and sick. And these outcomes seem to be a feature of the American diet, not a bug.

I didn’t need convincing that exploring extensive diet changes might teach us new and valuable lessons. So, although I was skeptical of the testimonials of the diet curing an absurd number of symptoms. But hey, if you count up the cells in your body and the organisims in your gut, we are mostly the organisims in our gut. Our human cells are a fraction of what makes our bodies. Maybe those critters do drive or influence multiple bodily systems.

We got the books, and followed the meal plan for the first week. One aspect of this new reality became immediately clear. The trip to the butcher and the grocery store would need to be planned to the smallest detail. Otherwise we would be making daily shopping trips to fetch missing ingredients. We both work fulltime and daily grocery trips would not be sustainable.

The first list took me roughly three hours to compose. Never before had I needed to make every single meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner from scratch without the aid of boxed or ready to eat foods. The days of walking into the store and putting whatever appealed to me into the cart would be banished for the near future.

Prior to this diet I rarely prepared meat at home. When I assessed the many pounds of meat on my list, I thought the best place to get either local and/or sustainably raised meat was Avril Bleh’s on court street. Of all the positive things to come of this experience, getting to know and trust the jovial buys behind the counter at Avril Bleh’s is my favorite. From the first moment on, the guys were knowledgeable and helpful. When I was unsure of what I needed they would ask all the right questions to get us to certainty. Their pricing for local/grass fed beef is competitive with larger grocery chain’s organic offerings, making it obvious that their superior service and product were worth the weekly trip.

After what can only be described as a middle-aged Friday night and Saturday morning spent gathering groceries, we were ready to go. Another aspect of this new reality became clear. After just two meals, I knew I would spend far more time in the kitchen for the next thirty days. And, that I did. Prior to Whole 30 we spent an average of an hour a day doing food prep and cleaning. After Whole 30 we spent an average of three hours a day prepping food and cleaning.

Three things surprised me in the first week. I felt alert and sharp at all times of the day. After lunch fatigue disappeared. My sleep improved. And I could get less of it and still feel alert all day. I also ceased to feel bloated, and my incidents of over-eating dwindled to none. This was particularly surprising because my perception was that I was eating a ton of food. I always ate just until I was full, but I was used to eating no breakfast and a light lunch. Going from that to eating substantial breakfasts and lunches it seems a pretty dramatic uptick in food consumption.

I became aware of what a craving felt like and how it differs from hunger. I would become hungry in the hour leading up to my meals. But I would crave a sugary treat in the evenings after dinner. It took a couple of weeks to figure out how much I needed to eat a lunch to feel full until close to dinner time. And on the days that I ate too little I would feel very fatigued in the late afternoon. And I found that my instinct was to get a sugary snack. I realized that this instinct had less to do with hunger and more to do with my habit of combating drowsiness with bursts of sugar.

The Whole 30 book describes the first 12 days as being challenging due to your body moving from running on carbs to running on protein and fat. I didn’t experience much of this. But Jeannine and I did seem to go through a bout of allergies in the first couple of weeks. I’ve read on message boards that some people think these symptoms might be part of your body detoxing, it just happens to be doing so through your sinuses and respitory system. Because both of us suffer from spring allergies, we can’t really know what was at the root of these experiences.

In week two I considered the effects of the diet on out budget. We took a hit. We went from spending about two hundred dollars a week at restaurants and the grocery to spending and average of two hundred and fifty dollars a week. But we were also eating higher quality food. We went from eating pizza and Indian carryout to eating grass-fed local filet, fresh scallops, and organic wild caught fish and loads of fresh fruits and veggies. Not a bad trade-up for an extra fifty bucks a week.

Consolidating the grocery list got easier by the time we rounded on week four. We missed our desserts and pizza, because who wouldn’t? But I had to admit I was feeling considerably better without it. We also found ourselves to be about six pounds lighter each. I have never felt so full and satiated while losing weight before.

By the time we moved into the reintroduction period, we both agreed we wanted to eat at home like this all the time. The recipes were excellent. We both enjoyed foods we didn’t think we liked. And we liked the way we felt enough that we wanted to continue. We will still enjoy the occasional pizza or Indian carry-out. But we will enjoy them a bit less often. We will still go out to eat with friends. We will still enjoy a glass of wine here and there. But whole 30 is turning out to be more like whole life.

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What Does The Fox Say?

I have been at the gym in the mornings watching CNN and Fox side by side. Boy. Is that illuminating. We don’t understand each other, because we are literally living on two different information planets. Skip to the bottom for a summary. 🙂
Here’s what CNN was talking about yesterday morning.
-The CBO’s findings on the Trumpcare and features of the bill.
This will will effect most Americans, and it is rightly taking up 20 min of the 7am hour.
-The intelligence community announcing they have no evidence of 45’s claims on being wire tapped.
A sitting president has accused our past president of illegal activity. Seems that is rightly taking up the 7am hour.
Here’s what FOX covered the same morning.
-A full fifteen minutes was spent interviewing a man whose wife died in a car accident with an illegal immigrant.
Without question, this is sad, but by having this at 730am for fifteen minutes it implies it is one of the most important things that has happened today for everyone in the US rather than a very very sad thing that happened to one man. It also implies that most motor vehicle related deaths are due to illegal immigrants. Spoiler, they are not.
-Allegations that HRC’s people had contact with Russians
I assume they covered this to avoid everything RE 45. Except, again, spending 10 minutes on this at 730am implies this one of the most important things happening today. But who has more power to impact every American, a sitting president or a citizen who is holding no office?
-Obamacare’s inventor complains about Trumpcare.
I think they covered this to avoid the CBO’s release. This man’s complaints were consistent of what I have heard from multiple sources, but by having these words come from *gasp* a filthy Obama cohort lots of Foxers can just dismiss everything he says as biased.
-The deficit. PBS was mentioned and it was said in a way that implies that if PBS is de-funded it would resolve the deficit.
Spoiler, not even close. They failed to mention anything about how 45 is gonna pay for his wall, the additional ICE agents, or his extra 60 billion to defense. I assume this too is to combat the negative feedback about Trumpcare. And in a number of online conversations conservatives are suddenly talking about the deficit, and that we need to cut Meals on Wheels because the deficit. Except Meals on Wheels is like a fraction of a percent of the deficit… As is PBS. If cutting the deficit is the goal then either medicare, medicaid or defense has to be cut or probably all. Or we raise taxes. But you would never know it watching Fox because their discussion didn’t show the discretionary or non-discretionary budgets. Not once. Seriously that pie chart is everywhere, but they don’t want their people seeing that.
TLDR Summary: If all you watch is Fox News you think illegal immigrants driving cars are your greatest bodily threat. HRC colluded with Russians too so it’s cool. Obamacare people say things about Trumpcare no conservative cares about. The deficit will destroy us but we can fix it by taking away PBS. If you watch CNN you know the numbers the CBO came out with and that 45 doesn’t have wire tapping evidence. NOTE: I think part of this is because Fox considers their AM programming commentary and not actual news. But how is that obvious to anyone? It all looks like talking heads.

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100 Books While 40: THE GIVER

Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Published: 1996

The summary for this book is ignorance is bliss. And if you find ambiguous endings insufferable don’t read it. Most of the population in this diytopian future community is blind to history and blind to differences. They cannot see color, and they are not allowed to make choices. 

The benefit of not experiencing differences or making choices is the inability to make a bad decision. There is no bad choice when there is no choices to be made. The culture has fully normalized killing unsuitable babies and old people. But really the same point could be made with brown people or those with minority religious views. 

There is one keeper of history and knowledge of difference and he selects a young boy to take over for him. The boy questions the way things have always been leading the keeper to reconsider his own part in the transfer of knowledge. 

Life is in the choosing. Making the choice is more important than if the choice was right or wrong. Knowledge can be hard to live with. When injustice is shown to me I feel compelled to act against it. The exhausting aspect of that is that there is so much of it in this world.


100 Books While 40: THE SUN ALSO RISES

Title: The Sun Also Rises
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Published: 1926

It is ok to have feelings if you are always drunk while fishing or watching bull fighting. I guess it is manly to feel but only when you do incredibly manly things like watching bulls gore a horse to death. Where I a man, I would not find this reassuring.

Once you have seen the carnage that was WWI, I imagine it difficult to get excited doing your desk job. What is the point after you have seen how indiscriminately lives are destroyed? It would be difficult to come to any other conclusion than this one: the only thing that matters is that you enjoy your moments. Apart from that, we are promised nothing.

When I think about life through this lens, I know exactly why Hemingway lived as he did. He took joy from the things that he could. He wrote because he enjoyed the struggle. He drank, watched bullfights, and traveled because these things brought him pleasure. The end.

Maybe it’s hubris that makes many of us think there is anything else. That we agonize about meaning, or strive to build businesses or homes, are all folly unless we take joy from the effort itself. Investing in the future at the expense of the now, assumes something. It assumes that life is fair.

These moments of reorientation happen for me periodically. There is a paradigm shift, and then I struggle to make sense of the implications of it. If I had to summarize 2016 it would be thus. What I perceived as indulgent, incorrect actions resulted in excellent outcomes. What I perceived as the hard, correct actions resulted in horrible outcomes. Maybe I need to take up bullfighting and smoke more cigars.

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Out West

We spent Thanksgiving in Denver visiting Jeannine’s brother and his family. We ate. We hiked. We ate some more. We experienced flight delays on Frontier, which seems the norm. 

I am still having nightmares about going into hiding. But here’s these pictures. Who knows how long I have this ability.

Frozen Bear Lake

Bear Lake is in Rocky Mountain National Park. I joked it will be the sight of the next Trump hotel. For a mere 2000 dollars you can play golf there. It will be great.

Bear Lake in Colorado

We climbed some rocks there, and it was great.

Falcon Mountain

This is on the trail up to the top of Falcon Mountain. I don’t know it it looks like a falcon or was home to many falcons. Or none of the above.

John Brisben Walker house ruins

John Brisben Walker built a 10 bedroom stone chalet there. It burned in a fire, and he said fuck it I am out.

John Brisben Walker house ruins

It was super cool to wander the ruins. Apparently the fire places needed to be brick and not stone. Also, the brick aged better.

John Brisben Walker house ruins

That fence is hampering my freedom to casually destroy the ruins. Don’t tread on me fence!

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Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot
Published: 2010

Who is entitled to our genetic material? If my cells enable a drug company to create a profit generating drug should I get some of the proceeds? As the laws are today, I couldn’t. Sharing the profits with me would cause drug companies to stop making drugs, or so they say. That last sentence is so absurd I laughed a little while typing it. 

Henrietta Lacks signed off on giving her cancerous cervical cells to research. Years later her cells have been reproduced enough to encircle the world. They were used in developing several cancer treatments. In essence these cells were the precursor to billions of dollars of medical services and treatments. Meanwhile Henrietta’s children and grandchildren cannot afford healthcare.

Something is deeply wrong with this. Although I am not of the opinion that The Lacks family should be millionaires off their mom’s genetic material, it does feel unjust that her children cannot afford the treatments that their mother enabled. At the core of this book is the conflict inherent in capitalism as our caretaker.

We are engaging with a set of economic causes and effects, all the while pretending there is some morality to it. There’s nothing moral in supply and demand, it is better a display of amoral power. Those that have can extort those that do not to greatest degree possible. And when they do so we consider that “good” business. 

If we question the outcomes of this blind system, we are always scolded with the dramic choice between no healthcare and a more equitable system or healthcare for the wealthy. This either/or proposition has been demonstrated as false by Britain’s NHS and Canada’s healthcare. But we still believe that to control morally bankrupt capitalist forces in our healthcare is to handover our decisions to a soulless government minion. But a profit-seeking insurance agent is just peachy.

Lifting this rock a bit more reveals our unspoken, toxic adoration of wealth as being synonymous with right and good, and poverty being only a moral failing rather than a systemic feature of capitalism. Most of the rich people I know have overcome less barriers than the poor people I know. If what we really value is hard work, my time waiting tables should have been better than my time spent in my cushioned office chair directing project meetings. But that isn’t what my pay says. 

Meanwhile I will enjoy my yearly checkup in a few weeks. I will get my teeth cleaned with no out of pocket expenses. And I will think about a those years waiting tables with no healthcare. And I will consider that I must have become more morally good since then.