Book Review: “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World”

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“To explain this peculiar phenomenon, Jost’s team developed a theory of system justification. Its core idea is that people are motivated to rationalize the status-quo as legitimate.”

We’ll begin there.

I have never been one to accept the status-quo as a reasonable reality, in any situation.

Granted, the status-quo has its usefulness: it provides stability through groupthink, and entire institutions have been built upon the status-quo to support the principles and ideologies which turn the (very slow and broken) wheels of progress.

Where would we be if we didn’t have the status-quo of “workplace attire”?  Would East Coast banking institutions have the same credibility if they did not require their employees to dress professionally in a gray fitted suit? Agree or disagree with dress codes, but they are put in place to provide the environment with a familiar, safe and stable culture through which individuals can work as colleagues.

Similarly, artists are taken more seriously if they arrive at the studio in more creative, relaxed apparel. It doesn’t make any sense arriving to your workbench dressed in slacks when you are just going to get paint/clay/sweat on you during the day.

Like it or not, there is a time and a place for everything, and everything has a different time and place.

However, the status-quo can work against people in constrained environments.

As Matt Wagner puts it, “Internally, the impact of the status quo is a stagnant culture that pushes away top performers. Your best employees are driven by the need to do something great. When they run into obstacles that don’t make any sense to them, they start thinking about greener pastures. Of course, the opposite is true of your bureaucrats and your go-along-to-get-along employees. They hope to milk the status quo for as long as possible. They hate change.”

So, what do you do if you thrive on change.

How do you survive in an environment that refuses to hear alternative methods.

What does a person do when they are faced with a reality which presents obstacle after obstacle of stifling conformity, blatant unwillingness to adapt to disruptive innovations, and stand firmly rigorous in bureaucracy?

Sure, some crazy people might jump ship. That is definitely the easy way out.

Others build a better reality.

Others, like Originals.

I was sold on this book by just the title, alone. Once I started devouring the contents, I’m sad it is only 257 pages. This book is so densely packed with information, experiments, sidenotes, observations and conclusions…you are just hit in the face with situation after situation where people are succeeding, failing, or learning.

I love it.

My favorite chapter is 4, “Fools Rush In: Timing, Strategic Procrastination, and the First-Mover Disadvantage.”

This chapter is mostly about start-ups, which I love.

But the questions it asks in this section revolve mostly around “when.” “When do you take original action? When you’re preparing to row agaist the tide, you have choices about whether to start at the crack of dawn, wait until midday, or hold off until twilight. My goal here is to overturn common assumptions about timing by examining the unexpected benefits of delaying, when we start and finish a task, as well as when we unleash our ideas into the world.”

I am a person chock full of ideas. I have ideas brimming over the cup and coming out my nose. I can stay awake all night just coming up with ideas, and then rabbit trails off those ideas on how to improve the original idea, and conquer the world.

Which can make me a little more on the impulsive side…and I beat that force down with all the strength I can muster. For the greater good.

So, the qualitative notion that planned procrastinating can actually benefit your cause, rather than kill it, was an incredible idea. For example, one scientist they interviewed “used procrastination as a form of incubation to stave off a premature choice of a scientific problem or solution. Often when I am procrastinating, I really have something on the back burner and I need the time to work it through…some ideas just need time to mature.”

I have fleets of things on the back burner, so this new definition of procrastination was delightful. Instead of being a slacker and just ignoring the problem, sometimes a problem needs time to ferment and become something bigger…something more structured and more hearty than the original concept.

There is also the differing concepts of Young Geniuses, and Old Masters.

Young Geniuses are the superstars of history. Einstein published his revolutionary paper in his midtwenties. Mozart wrote his concertos in his youth. The Beat Poets changed the course of literature and poetry in their 20s. And here am I, 38, and I have one book to my name.

Fortunately for the rest of us mortals, Old Masters are highly respected, as well.

Robert Frost wrote his greatest poems after 40. Hitchcock made his most popular films in his 50s and 60s.

The difference between these two types of geniuses, is the young are generally “conceptual innovators,” focused on big ideas; the older are experimental innovators, keen to solve problems across the course of their lives. “Conceptual innovators are sprinters, and experimental innovators are marathoners…innovation can be done quickly, because it doesn’t require years of methodical investigation…experimental innovation can require years, or decades, to accumulate the requisite knowledge and skill, and it becomes more sustainable source of originality.”

This is a relief for me, who is taking learning and creating through the length of my life. I’m not slow, I’m just pacing myself!

All in all, every page in every chapter was fascinating.

If you love the information and analysis of Malcolm Gladwell, and are fascinated with how people work, and how things work, and how things fail, and how people succeed…

you will love this book.

Go buy it-Amazon.

 

 

Single Ladies: Marriage Isn’t A Sleepover.

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Marriage is more of a “I love having coffee together” than “let’s braid each others hair”

 

The other day I saw a post on a (younger) friend’s facebook wall that said, “Can’t wait to move into a simple apartment with the love of my life & cook dinner with them & have random midnight trips & be spontaneous.”

And the only thing I could think is, “So, you want to have a sleepover.”

My husband and I met in the same grade in high school, and we got married 3 years after we graduated. He tells people that he was ready sooner than that, but I “made him wait.”

Which is kind of true…we both come from dysfunctional, broken homes and we met in high school.  That is just fraught with statistics saying the relationship wasn’t going to last; so, I wanted to get married after I turned 20. I didn’t want to get married as a teenager. That was my condition, and, so, 6 days after my 20th birthday he proposed to me and we were married a couple months later.

We have been together for 23 years, as of this May, and we have been married for 18 years, as of this July.

And I don’t really have the heart to tell girls, who are  in their early 20s and have Pinterest pages dedicated to their future husbands, how it isn’t going to be.

Marriage is great.

My husband and I have been able to conquer things together that would have been impossible on our own.  When I was 20, it was my husband who happened to see a poster in a doctor’s office explaining different types of seizures, and he went to every EEG and MRI with me when I was  finally diagnosed with epilepsy.  Before then, I just thought I was crazy; you see, I didn’t have grand mal seizures. I didn’t haven have complex seizures that result in a physical seizure. I had partial simple seizures, so my aura is panic and my symptom is hallucinating; and I had been having them ever since I was 11, after a car accident; I just didn’t know what they were.  As a junior high and high school kid, I had to accept that I was crazy, and I was afraid to tell anyone, or I would be “sent away.”

I had warned him  that something was wrong with me before we got married, and I told him he needed to be prepared for it.

However, I wasn’t prepared for the unconditional support he gave me in finding a diagnosis, and ways to control the epilepsy. It has been with his support and his holding my hand the whole way through that has gotten me through the worst times, and by now I haven’t had a seizure in about 9 years.

In our marriage we have never gone to bed at the same time. He stays up to study and work late in the garage, and I tend to wake up much earlier than he does.

In our marriage we have put each other through college, work and start-ups life, and stayed up together to watch “Blacklist” after we put the kids down for bed.  We haven’t had spontaneous midnight trips to…I”m not really sure what’s open past 9, so it would be a spontaneous midnight trip to realize everything is closed at midnight?  He doesn’t braid my hair while I am watching  a movie, and I don’t fetch him beers while he watches F1 racing.  We don’t have pillow fights in our pajamas, and we don’t paint our fingernails while talking about friends.

We do go exploring with our kids a lot, and we do spend hours on the front porch drinking whiskey and talking about theology.

We do ask the other person what they think about what we are wearing…and what we aren’t wearing. I love cooking dinner for the family, and he loves taking the kids hiking in the forest.  We enjoy laughing together and debating together, and living together.

Marriage isn’t a sleepover. I’m sorry to break it to you.

But sleepovers end when the sun comes up; marriage lasts past morning coffee, and that is what makes it great.

Drowning the Shamrock

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The traditions for St. Patrick’s Day are far and wide, ranging from anything green to anything gold.

Truth be told, my family is Scottish. So, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the same way that a distant relative might. We celebrate it, but hardly with the fervor of Ireland.

And, with any distant relative, it is important to remember what traditions are important besides the obvious (see: corned beef).

I think the most interesting tradition I have learned in my familial research has been the fact that, according to History.com: “Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.”

Wait, wait, wait…Irish bacon and cabbage??

I thought it was corned beef and cabbage!!

According to WiseGeek: “The term Irish bacon has confused many an Irish person, as well as most from the UK. In Ireland and the UK it is simply referred to as bacon. This food is a close relative to what those in the US think of as Canadian bacon…”

So, why are we eating corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day? According to Irish Central:

Beef was not readily available in Ireland and was considered a luxury and that’s why the traditional Irish meal centered around ham, the bacon.” When many Irish immigrated to America, they found that corned beef was now the meat they could easily afford, and thus the tradition became.

Furthermore, at the end of the night the Irish had the custom of “drowning the shamrock,” by putting a shamrock into the bottom of their cup and drinking a toast to St. Patrick, who had brought Christianity to Ireland.

So, a toast to St. Patrick, and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

1) 5 Non-Alcoholic Green Drinks For St. Patrick’s Day

This is a really fun way to enjoy something green today! You can enjoy these at home, at work or with friends! Some of the easy recipes are “basil lemonade,” a “cool kiwi mocktail,” or a “green tea mojito,” which is only green tea, lime juice, mint leaves and sugar. This is a fun way to spice up the end of the week!

2) Alton Brown’s Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Well, when in America, have beef. This corned beef recipe is fantastic, hands down. Corned beef is such a tough piece to cook, since you need a low temperature and lots of time. You absolutely cannot rush corned beef…however, Alton Brown has a little trick up his sleeve. The total prep time for this dish is 243 hours and 30 minutes. Yes, you read that right. You are going to spend 30 minutes preparing a brine, and 10 days marinating your brisket in the fridge. So…maybe this is more of an “end of the month” dish than “tonight.” But it is so worth it.

3) Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew

Total prep time: 15 minutes. Total prep time: 8 hours. That is a little more reasonable, and something you could get going after you finish your morning coffee, and will be able to enjoy for dinner in the same day! This is a delightful recipe which not only incorporates the flavors of Ireland in its malted Guinness, but you get a hot dinner at the tail end of winter. How lovely!

4) St. Patrick’s Day Snack Ideas

If you need some ideas for snacks, these guys have you covered. There are ideas you could use for work, for school, for a potluck, for after-school, after-work, or during a movie after dinner. I am kind of a sucker for lime Jell-O, so that one stuck out in particular. But the lime sherbet floats also may have caught my eye…

5) Enchanted Learning: St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

Sometimes it is fun to jump in to some good, old-fashioned paper crafts with the kids on holidays. Enchanted Learning has always been a great resource for finding these treasures. Looking for a kissable Blarney stone? A rainbow streamer made out of a paper plate and crepe paper? A leprechaun marionette? They got you covered!

Sona Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

Sound Homeschooling

Okay, I think I’m ready.

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A few years ago, I got real frustrated real fast with homeschooling.

Not the teaching aspect…I love that part.

But there are a million resources in a million places, and everyone has a different opinion on everything.

You know. Homeschoolers.

The thing is, I am incredibly resourceful. I collect resources and links whenever I find them. I like to know what is available, to whom, for what subject, in what format and for what price.

So, a few years ago I made a little webpage for me and the kids where we could easily find all of our information and resources.

However, over time we have grown, moved, adapted and found new interests. Which means I need to adapt and move the website so it works for where we are now.

So, I created Sound Homeschooling.

It isn’t a club, it isn’t a group, I don’t have an email list for it, we won’t have meetings and I don’t want to see any TPS reports about it.

It is simply a resource place for homeschoolers in the Puget Sound area.

My parameters were: if you can get to it by ferry, or if the city is near the Puget Sound shoreline, then it gets on my resource list.

This all being said, I am very happy to introduce:

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Sound Homeschooling covers every subject, every law, Common Core, curriculums, events, communities, classes and libraries around us.

For exapmple!

 

These are just some screenshots of the pages for STEM, Crafts and Events…but there are hundreds of links on this site.

I also have a Sound Homeschooling Facebook page…that you can like for updates, events, ideas, etc.

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I am sure over time I will continue to add more resources…and if you have something that should be on here, please let me know!!

 

But in the meantime: enjoy 🙂

What Are You Reading This Spring?

Book Shadows

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

I can’t say I blame her at all for this sentiment!

Truly, the first piece of furniture I bought when I moved out on my own was a bookshelf. Because I have a load of books…and these books need a home.

Books on top of books and in front of books on the shelves, with books in between.

Ahh, the love of reading.

The thing is, I can get into a rut with reading.

I remember one season in college when I read every single Vonnegut book there was. (You can’t really read just one of his books to understand what he’s saying…you kind of have to read a few.)

But after that…then what?

I’ve read every single Brontë sister book ever published (including Anne’s books), most of Austen, Shelly, Wordsworth, Frost, Dickinson, Henry James, Kate Chopin…Steve Martin…

What do you do when you’ve read the entire academic catalogue of literature?

You consult professionals to give you more books.

 

What To Do When You Finally Figure Out Why It Feels Like Your Head Is Being Torn Apart: Cluster Headaches, vol. 1

YOU.

WHINE.

Because you know who has time for this???

NO ONE.

Especially not this lady, who has been dealing with headaches ever since the scent of puberty breezed past her in Jr. High and then landed firmly upon her like an albatross, and is well versed with sundry stupid, “not life threatening,” “intense pains” for no good reason.

I swear, if I could boost my immune system with this sucker, or if there was something positive about it, like “cluster headaches increase the ability to see infrared light,” or “cluster headaches allow the user to bend the fabric of time,” that’d be one thing.

But nnnnnnooooooooooooooooo….

Okay, here’s what’s going on.

Last week I was having this pain on the left side of my face/head. No big deal, I’ve had headaches on the left side of my face/head before. I’ve had headaches on the top of my head, the bottom of my head, the middle of my head….all in all, this isn’t my first walk in the park with headaches. NO BIGGIE. Take some Motrin, as I have been advised to do by every single doctor I have ever spoken with about all of my headaches.

Good to go. It goes away, at least to a “dull roar.”

And then it comes back.

And then it goes away.

And then it comes back.

And then it goes away.

And then….OH COME ON. 

There has been no pattern as far as I can see. The headache comes for a few minutes/hours, and then goes away for minutes/hours. I might think it is finished, and then all of a sudden it’s back and I am holding the left side of my head, like it’s about to fall off.

I am hydrated (always the first thing to check, fyi), fed, rested, stretched, light exercised, rested again, showered, I am not bored, I am intellectually stimulated (for us cerebral types, the lack of intellectual stimulation can lead to intense frustration, which can lead to headaches or anxiety). I am not depressed, I am being deliberate about being happy, I am taking my Motrin (because sometimes I am so deeply annoyed with being in pain, again, that I don’t want to give it the satisfaction of being treated. Us overly-stubborn types know what this is about).

I have considered maybe I am having these debilitating headaches because I have a vitamin D deficiency, even though I have never tested low….but who the heck knows, maybe I am now. So I’m taking Vitamin D. And iron. I have Fish Oil on the stand-by…

I am willing to take anything that solves this problem, because it feels like my head is being torn apart from behind my left eye, and the pain is searing to the point that I cannot stay conscious and I am drugging myself and sleeping the pain away, and this, frankly, is bullshit.

I have completely run out of ideas on what this stupid, coming and going headache could possibly be. It isn’t anything I’m eating. It isn’t anything I’m doing. It comes in waves, and lasts a while, and then goes away….and comes back again, and this has been going on sporadically for two weeks.

So, anyway, that’s a cluster headache.

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According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Cluster headaches, which occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head.”

Oh. That’s fantastic.

“Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, can last from weeks to months, usually followed by remission periods when the headaches stop.”

According to WebMD:

“We don’t know what causes them, but we do know that a nerve in your face is involved, creating intense pain around one of your eyes. It’s so bad that most people can’t sit still and will often pace during an attack. Cluster headaches can be more severe than a migraine, but they usually don’t last as long.”

“A cluster period generally lasts from six to 12 weeks. The starting date and the duration of each cluster period might be consistent from period to period. For example, cluster periods can occur seasonally, such as every spring or every fall.

The pain usually ends as suddenly as it began, with rapidly decreasing intensity. After attacks, most people are pain-free, but exhausted.”

Gotta admit.

I’m pretty exhausted.

 

 

I. I Literally. Can’t Even. Keep My Eyes Open.

Okay, I am working on outlining a huge 40 day Lent writing fest….

 

The problem is, our family’s theme for Lent is “40 Days of Health.”

 

And that means exercise.

I have done two days in a row, pre-Lent, of ballet Pilates.

Two days.

In a row.

My body is so sore. I am typing this with my eyes closed.

Because Lent is about returning to God, repentance, forgiveness and giving up something you enjoy.

I enjoy not working out. Because working out is hard, painful, tiring and painful.

But.

It is returning to health.

So that’s what we’re doing.

I will write something more substantial tomorrow. Right now I’m going to bed. After I take Motrin.

Getting To Know You, Getting To Know…Some Selected Things About You

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Sometimes on a blog, you can get lost in your writing.

For the most part, the reader can get a good sense of who you are through your writing; yet, there are a lot of little things that make you up, on top of the big ones.

Sure, we homeschool and have a bundle of kids…but we aren’t the only ones who homeschool with a bundle of kids.  Are we doing Waldorf? Classical? Eclectic? Secular? Virtual? Charter?  What do we do and why have we chosen our curriculums, exactly?  I make all of our meals from scratch, but what does that mean in real life?

Am I one of those neurotic women who obsess about food, and use buzzwords like kale, local or organic? Or is it just an interest?

If I do make all our meals from scratch, and we homeschool, and we have a bundle of kids, why aren’t I writing more articles on organization or couponing? (this is not going to happen)  I have been married for over 15 years, and together for over 20…why aren’t I writing about healthy relationships?

 

I like punk music, so why am I wearing mom jeans? (I’m not really wearing momjeans.  I’m really wearing green plaid pajama pants.)

I drink endless cups of black coffee every day…how is this possible?

I like Science Fiction, and shun the Hunger Games series.  Am I a snob? (yes)

I hate 99% of chick flicks, and I only watch a small handful of musicals.  Am I simply opinionated, or am I a hater? (debatable)

 

There are so many things that make up a person.

In person, am I really an altogether groovy chick, or are you going to feel incredibly awkward when you meet me?

Who am I, really?

This question plagues me, and it is definitely the fuel that keeps this fire under me going.  I have grown and changed so much in my adult life, that I wonder if I am even the same person I was.  Yet, when I look back…I have kind of painfully been the same person this whole time.  Some little things have changed, but the big ones haven’t.

 

I thought I’d break format a little today, and answer a few “Getting To Know You” questions from GoodReads.

 

I know! Me too!!

 

 What is your favorite subject in school?

English, obviously.  I loved reading literature, analyzing the material and writing amazing essays in the end.  It was like finishing a puzzle for me.  Very satisfying to complete.

 What is your favorite flavor of jelly beans?

I am very particular with jelly beans, actually.  I like the bags of assorted jelly beans, but I eat them two at a time: coconut and lime, popcorn and cinnamon, apple and cherry.  I love mixing the flavors, but it takes forever to eat a bag when you are just eating them two at a time.

Which flavor of ice-cream do you prefer?

I am not an exotic ice-cream aficionado, but I am particular about what I enjoy.  The absolute best ice cream is Ben&Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Fudge Swirl.  It is the perfect balance of creamy vanilla, and the perfect caramel and fudge texture.  This ice cream got me through quite a few pregnancies.

 What do you think is your very best feature or characteristic?

I can adapt to just about anything.  Long term is a little harder, but short term is no big deal.  Snow? Water? Heat? No problem. Need and event organized? Got it.  Need some ideas? I got your back.  However, this makes “settling down” pretty tricky.

 

 What do you usually do when you have leisure time on your hands?

I know this is going to sound crazy, but if I have free time I am either reading or writing. Or planning homeschool adventures. Right now I have a paper next to me outlining our next adventure into the Medieval times…we’re going to be doing timelines, kings, a little theater the kids are going to perform, illuminated manuscripts, wars (there were so many), what peace means: innovation, 1450-the Gutenberg press, the Great Schism of 1054, Black Death, Magna Carta of 1215, Vikings and how they were not dragon flying peacemakers who played games all day in harmony, I’m looking at you Hiccup, Marco Polo and mapwork. 😀

 

 What is your favorite home cooked meal?

Probably my rosemary and garlic roast lamb.  It’s pretty phenomenal.  Also my stroganoff.  It’s kind of out of this world. My Old Fashioned is also pretty freaking amazeballs…

 

 How many siblings do you have?

2, and I’m the oldest.  I have “first child” syndrome in a big way.  Something is happening?  Here, let me take over.  No, I got it…no, no, I got it give it to me, I got it.  I’m learning how to back off.  Sometimes. Not really.

 

What kind of vehicle do you usually ride in?

I refuse, with all of my being, to buy a minivan.  I just can’t do it.  It feels like giving up something…so we have a Crossover with 3 rows of bench seats, and we can fit everyone in our car.  We just can’t fit anyone else in our car.

 Do you have pets?

I have two dogs: a cocker spaniel, Captain America, and my Pomeranian, St.Sebastian. I also have a lovely gray cat named Esther who is allowed to go outside in the morning and catch forest shrews.

When was the last time you visited a park and what did you do while there?

Y’know, there are far too much forest and beach access out here that we love…to go to the park. Granted, sometimes we do. There is a fantastic park nearby that we hit when it’s sunny, which also means we haven’t been there in a couple months. But I think the point of this question was finding out how often we go outside, and that’s easy: every day. Right now I’m starting to see all the bulbs I planted last fall start to sprout, which is so exciting. I am going to have a ton of daffodils this spring! The kids make forts and hideouts in the woods, and I generally keep the Pom out of the forest because he could walk underneath the ivy and I would never see him again.

What do you usually do when you meet someone for the first time?

I always shake hands, even for rather informal circumstances. It’s just a good ice-breaker. Otherwise, I generally lead the conversation because I have found people will open up when the environment feels familiar, so I just treat people as old friends, and it is better for everyone.  Which is a total INTJ response to conversations.  But it works, and that is what I am going for.

Do you plan to go to college?

I went to college, and our kids are planning on going to college.  Glenn has already told me that when he is in his office, I can call him at lunch, but not before. Because he is working.  #melt

What job do you think you would most enjoy as an adult?

I would love to either be an editor, or go back to teaching in university…actually, I kind of like that idea better.  I love the classroom.  Give me a chalkboard, a projector, and a slew of dusty textbooks and I’m a happy camper.

Or, you know, I could just be a writer in the forest.

What was the last item you cooked and ate?

Baked turkey for dinner guests. Turkey is the greatest thing to make for a lot of people…it goes a long way. I also am the greatest turkey cooker (link).

How many books did you read last year?

I….have no idea.  I have books all over the place. Some of the ones I have read are “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History” and “Patton: Blood, Guts, and Prayer” and “Without: Poems” and “The Selected Poems of Donald Hall” and “The Coral Island” and “Porcelain: A Memoir” and “Bossypants” and “The Royals” and “Fortune Smiles: Stories” and “Dear Mr. You” …

and a few others, but those I had directly in my Kindle library so they were easy to fetch off hand.

 

How many pairs of shoes do you currently own?

A couple. One pair of boots, one pair of hiking shoes, a few heels (that I don’t fit in anymore) and gold boots. And muck boots.
Which one fashion accessory do you like better than others?

Y’know, I really don’t know. I don’t really use a lot of accessories. They’re distracting.

Have you ever been horseback riding?

Yep. I love horseback riding. However, I don’t do it because it’s expensive and you only get to ride once. Unless you have your own horse…

Have you ever been water skiing?

Yes. I freaking hate water skiing.

What do you most like to do in the snow?

To stay in the car. Or make sculptures. I made a bust last time we were at the snow and I gotta admit, it was pretty stellar.

What is your favorite all-time movie?

The Philadelphia Story, with Kate Hepburn

Can you change a tire?

Yes. But make sure your jack is big enough and can actually lift the car entirely off the ground. Otherwise it WON’T WORK.  #experience

Is your room more clean or more messy?

The house is okay.  My room is okay, besides the laundry. But I just made some good progress on getting 85% of it folded and the kids put theirs away last night. Otherwise, I’d say it isn’t messy.

 

Do you prefer a bath or a shower?

Shower. You can’t wash this hair in a bath. I also don’t really like getting wet, so showers are just quicker, and we have sucky water pressure (well problems) so it takes for. ev. er. to fill the bathtub anyway.

 

Do you like drinking from the cup or a straw?

I kind of prefer a straw, because I have less of a chance of spilling anything/everything on myself if I use a straw.  I am a little very clumsy.

 

Do you like ice in your cold beverages?

Sure, but only a couple.

 

 What is your favorite sandwich?

Hands down: squaw bread, sprouts, provolone, thinly sliced tomatoes, spicy mustard, sliced turkey and avocado. But: celiac.

 

Where is the farthest you have ever traveled?

Beijing, China.  I would go back in a heartbeat.

 

Have you ever won anything? If so, what did you win?

I notoriously win the body lotions at bridal showers or baby showers…and I can’t stand body lotions.  I don’t really like rubbing stuff all over my skin, it just feels gross.  I also have trouble smelling, so they just don’t do much for me.  However, I will win them most of the time. And then give them to someone who really likes them.

 

Have you ever been in a musical drama or play? If so, what was it?

Baby, I write the plays.

 

Do you know how to iron your clothes?

Kind of.

 

Can you sew a button on your clothing?

Buttons are easy. Pants are harder.

 

Have you ever cut your own hair?

I have been not cutting my own hair successfully for the past million years (as in, I just don’t get it cut. Just let it grow forever. It’s getting pretty long at this point).  I do trim my bangs by myself, against all good advice from serious hairstylists.

 

 

sangria-glasses-cheers

You made it!  Cheers!! 

Celiac Discussions: Let’s Talk About Beer.

As a Celiac American, there are many things I cannot eat.

Things which will make me very sick. Can’t breathe. Heart palpitations. Muscle tension. Flush cheeks. For 8 hours…

You know, the basics.

So things I avoid like death are:

Doughnuts. Pizza. Sandwiches. Scones. Crumpets. Eclaires. Toast.

You know, things that taste wonderful.

My journey into Celiac territory has always been interesting. Not only do I get to enjoy foods that are naturally gluten free, such as steak, sushi, ice cream and wine, but I also get to explore new ways of cooking in order to still enjoy recipes that traditionally use flour.

I’m lookin’ at you, gravy.

 

However, I have always enjoyed beer.

Whaaattt….beer?? But…beer is made from wheat, rye and barley?! You can’t drink beer.

What if I told you I have never had even the smallest reaction to beer.  Ever. Because beer is gluten free.

 

 mind. blown.

 

 

Here’s the deal: there is science to back this up.  I am going to be quoting many (many) places which have the results of what the question is, what it means, how it compares to other products…and then we can all continue to enjoy Irish Death in peaceful harmony.

 

Thank you.

1) What is gluten, and why do beer companies claim their products are gluten free, if they are using rye, wheat and barley?

 

Celiac.com: “There have been numerous claims that traditional barley-based beers are gluten free or that all beers are gluten free. Unfortunately, the area is very grey and substantiated on technicalities. The purpose of this post is to eliminate the confusion about gluten as it relates to beer.

Gluten is an umbrella term used to describe a mixture of individual proteins found in many grains. Celiac disease (celiac sprue or gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity) is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by the ingestion of some of these glutens.

People with classic celiac disease are intolerant to the gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and a couple other lesser known grains. All these grains have a relative of the gluten protein.

Interestingly, corn, rice and sorghum also have gluten proteins but are not toxic to celiacs.

Herein lies one of the fundamental problems; the use of the term gluten intolerance to cover only certain gluten containing grains is confusing for consumers and food manufacturers alike. Unfortunately, it seems that the inertia for using celiac disease and gluten intolerance as synonyms is unstoppable. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of both consumers and manufacturers to make sure the terms being discussed are defined and understood.

As this relates to beer, there is a gluten protein found in barley. This protein is known as hordein. Wheat gluten is known as gliadin. Rye gluten is known as secalin. Presently, assay tests (or lab tests) are only commercially available for the testing of gliadin. We are unaware of any tests for hordein or any manufacturer that presently tests for hordein (Note: If you know of anyone that does in fact test specifically for hordein, please let us know). Therefore the idea that a barley based beer can be considered gluten free based upon the lack of testing is very difficult to fathom. It should be understood that a company using an assay test for gliadin to test for hordein will not return accurate results.

There has been widespread speculation that the brewing process eliminates these hordein proteins making all beers gluten-free. Although commercial assay tests for hordein are not available there is conclusive evidence that the brewing process does not degrade hordein to non-toxic levels. A research study in Australia on improving beer haze shows that hordein is still present in beer after the brewing process (http://www.regional.org.au/au/abts/1999/sheehan.htm). Therefore, claims that hordein or gluten is destroyed in the brewing process is unsubstantiated and clearly, based upon the Australian research, is highly questionable.

Based upon the continuous claims by beer companies that beers are gluten free, it is clear that the issue is misunderstood and, as always, it is up to the consumer to educate them on the facts. Hopefully, the information provided here will give consumers and manufacturers alike the ability to discuss these gluten issues intelligently and effectively.”

 

 

2) So, why can people with Celiac have 20ppm of gluten, if gluten is technically a toxic entity in their bodies?

Gluten Free Dietician: “In 2007 Catassi and colleagues assessed the effects of consuming capsules containing 0, 10, and 50 milligrams of gluten on the intestinal morphology of persons with celiac disease who reportedly were compliant with a gluten-free diet (Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:160-166). During the study participants maintained a strict gluten-free diet  and were only allowed to consume specially marked gluten-free cereal foods containing less than 20 parts per million gluten. Gluten intake from the diet was estimated to be less than 5 milligrams. Researchers found a significant decrease in the villous height to crypt depth ratio in the group taking the 50 milligram capsule. No significant change was found in the vh/cd ratio in the group taking the 10 milligram capsule.”

So, we can have up to 20ppm of gluten in one serving of food before there are any adverse affects to our bodies.

 

3) How much is 20ppm, for those of us who are not science-inclined?

Gluten Free Dietician: “To break it down, 20 parts per million is the equivalent to 20ppm per kilogram of food. An average slice of gluten-free bread containing 20ppm of gluten (which is all of them- link to results) would contain 0.57 milligrams of gluten. Even if you ate ten ounces of foods containing 20ppm gluten, that would be just 5.70 mg of gluten. This level is just over half of the 10mg found by Catassi’s study to be a safe level so you would need to eat a whole lot of 20ppm food each day to surpass the “safe” level.

We must also consider that 20ppm is the highest level of gluten that foods can contain to be considered gluten free so most of the products you are eating will contain less than this amount.”

 

celiac.com

Also…

The Chameleon’s Tongue: “Fasano’s study tells us that 50mg of gluten per day damages the bowel of coeliacs, even though it doesn’t cause symptoms or show up in blood tests. That’s about as much gluten as 1/100th of a slice of standard wheat bread contains. A normal western diet contains 10–20g of gluten each day, which is 200–400 times the minimum amount of gluten that damages the small intestine of a coeliac patient. Fasano’s work also showed that there is a lot of variation between coeliac patients, and some experienced symptoms with as little as 10mg of gluten daily.”

My tolerance to gluten is definitely going down, the older I get and the longer I have been on a gluten free diet.  My tolerance level, at this point, is at about 20ppm, at which time I am in bed in pain.

So it is roughly the equivalent of 1 slice of Udi’s bread.

 

4) Get On With It!! So, how much gluten is in beer?

 

BeerAdvocate:

“My impression is that many beers (including craft, of course) have pretty darn low levels of gluten, say around 10-15 ppm. Many obviously have a lot more (stronger, fuller-bodied, wheat beer etc.).”

 

  • 10-15ppm of gluten is 0.01mg of gluten.
  • A 1oz slice of white bread contains about 3.5g of gluten.
  • 10-15ppm of gluten is equal to half of 1/100th of a piece of bread.

 

 

“You also have issues with how much a person can tolerate, under 20ppm is typically considered safe for someone with celiacs, however there are people who still react even at those low levels.”

Also,

This one was cool, you can actually test for gluten in the beer. Some had more than others, but most had <5ppm.

Then there was this:

Celiac Disease, Beer and Brewing
By Michael J. Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Brewing Science
Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis
“Some celiacs drink modest amounts of some beers without triggering overt symptoms of the disease and some beers do not register, and most barely register, on the scale of analysis currently used to measure gluten (personal communications). There is therefore good reason to examine the proscription of beer from the diet of celiacs. “
“Ordinary processes of beer manufacture completely eliminate native barley proteins from beer; some polypeptides survive the process. However, because prolamin-derived polypeptides (hordeins) cause haze problems in beers, brewers have a direct interest in removing them; processing to achieve a gluten-free status, therefore, is perfectly in line with brewers’ practices used to manufacture a haze-stable product. Celiacs and brewers have common cause.”
Two questions arise: Can brewers make a good argument for beers as being gluten-free? Or, in addition: Can brewers envisage reasonable processing practices that will make some beers (at least) gluten free? The answer to both questions is “Yes!”

 

“Thus there are many reasons why beer might be considered naturally gluten free and might justify the risk some celiacs take in consuming some beers, especially light beers. Also, as discussed, many strategies suggest themselves by which beer might be rendered gluten free. There is however one consideration, referred to earlier in this paper, that needs to be revisited here: all the arguments of why beer should be considered naturally gluten free or rendered gluten-free by process modification, depend absolutely and ultimately on one thing: brewers must be able to demonstrate without equivocation that they have succeeded in producing a gluten-free product. This can best be done if the nature of the offending peptide is known and reliable methods for measuring it are developed. (Currently an ELISA method linked to wheat gliadin is used (1); beers barely register on the scale of measures by this method). Therefore, the brewing industry might usefully join with the medical community in seeking a more exact definition of the peptide sequence that triggers the celiac reaction and help to develop methods to analyze it. Beyond such analysis is the potential for clinical trials to demonstrate directly whether or not beer can trigger the celiac auto-immune reaction. “

5) Finally, just be careful. No matter what science says.

Food Republic: “If you have a food allergy that isn’t life-threatening, try carefully fiddling with it like one lactard friend of mine does with aged cheese — cream cheese would bring her right down, but a little grated parmesan on her pasta is fine. Another friend who’s allergic to most fish discovered that salmon doesn’t affect him the way shrimp would, due to its lower iodine content. Now his hair is super shiny from all the salmon he’s been eating. You’re stuck this way for life, friends, and allergies have their quirks, so find a silver lining. Or in my case, a silver bullet or six.”

 

So there you have it folks.

Beer has the same amount of gluten, if not less, as the average gluten free product.

Which is why beer is gluten free, in the same manner that Udi’s Gluten Free Bread is gluten free.

 

I don’t always spend all day looking up scientific research,

but when I do,

it is so I can drink beer.

New Seasons! New Habits! New Routines!

I’m not even going to try to make this an interesting concept, I’m just going to be honest with you:

My dog is pooping outside.

giphy-1.gif                                                            Across the board excited.

Right now, at this very moment, at the brink of morning I am wearing my cement-gray slippers, Ben’s hoodie and a quilt my mom made (and pants, just to be thorough)…on my front porch.

It is a balmy 43F right now, but with no wind and a bright, patchy blue sky.

What would draw me outside at this hour, you might ask?

Well, ever since St.Sebastian got his casts off, we have been able to go outside to poop. See, I couldn’t take him outside when his casts were on because it was wet and rainy outside, and I didn’t want his casts to get wet. So, we tried to have designated places for him in the house…

This was a 25% success.

Because 25% of the time, he used the puppy pads we put out. The rest of the time we would find his spots, which was getting tiresome.

However, now that the casts are off…and it is not 27F outside and the ground is not frozen and I can go outside with a hoodie and pajama pants and not freeze solid…we are starting new routines! New habits!

New successes!!

Every morning for the past week I have taken St.Sebastian outside for about an hour. I have had my coffee, blanket, hoodie and laptop and read the news outside, watching little man explore the front yard and all its foresty smells.

I am just excited about this because the dog has to stop peeing in my kitchen at some point.

And now we are a normal dog family where I have to take him outside every so often, like a normal dog.

It’s just nice when things work out the way they are supposed to  🙂