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Just Because It’s Spring

Just Because It’s Spring

I can’t help it, I love my own little brown squirrels. They entertain me all day jumping from branch to branch. They do, however, antagonize Stanley who, in the spirit of Flash, goes absolutely nuts. Hard to write when the dog is hysterical. 🙂

Well, This Is Scary… Arsenic in Rice

Well, This Is Scary… Arsenic in Rice

I’ve been doing a lot of research on nutrition lately and by that I mean I’ve been reading interpretations of cohort studies and other research papers.

I’ve discovered some things I wish I’d known earlier, such as that rice contains arsenic. Did you know? I sure as heck didn’t. For years I ate low carb so it was never an issue for me.

Consumer Reports released a study in 2012 recommending that people eat – at most – two servings of rice per week. (That also includes things like brown rice syrup, rice cakes, etc.) Rice evidently accumulates ten times more arsenic than other grains.

(The following information is from nutritionfacts.org.) “…the source of that contamination is arsenic pesticides, now banned, but previously used heavily on cotton crops, and arsenic-based antibiotics given to poultry in large-scale farming operations, which come out in their manure. In addition, you know that rice absorbs arsenic so well that it may be used to help clean up contaminated soils, but should be discarded afterward, not eaten. Now you know that, for example, China has much stricter standards for arsenic contamination of food than the US does, and that some of the worst contamination is in the southern US.”

U.S. rice averages twice the arsenic of Asian rice and it looks like California rice is safer than rice grown in Texas or Arkansas.

And here I was just eating brown rice all dumb and happy. Jeesh.

I have thrown out all my rice. That’s too much of a cancer risk for me. (Arsenic is classified as a Class 1 carcinogen – which is the highest level. Up there among asbestos and smoking.) Nor do I want to suffer from arsenic poisoning. (Arsenic impacts the immune system.)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23237657 (Arsenic and Rice A Call for Regulation)

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/how-much-arsenic-is-in-your-rice/index.htm (Consumer Reports)


Thoughts on Notre Dame

Thoughts on Notre Dame

Back in the dark ages I lived in Paris for several years. I had a number of favorite spots in the city: the Arc de Triumph where I sat and fed the pigeons, now forbidden. Sacré Coeur – the beautiful church in Montmarte – and Notre Dame.

I would take the bus from our home in the suburbs of Paris down to the cathedral. Notre Dame was huge, impressive, and slightly terrifying. When I walked inside the cathedral and sat in one of the pews the majesty of the structure overwhelmed me. I could feel the force of God, the sheer weight of God around me.

The church was begun in 1163 and took nearly 200 years to build. The fact that it is nearly 900 years old is awe-inspiring.

I would sit and simply absorb the atmosphere of Notre Dame. It was a working church. It still is. Parishioners would come and go, always genuflecting, always respectful. I wasn’t a Catholic. I was Presbyterian, but it didn’t matter. I was in awe of the exquisite beauty created by people in service to God. Sometimes I’d explore, following a whispering tour guide who led her troupe of tourists through those public areas not sequestered from view, but mostly I sat still and silent in that overwhelming cathedral.

History solemnifies me and I’ve never experienced a more impressive place than Notre Dame. I imagined all the pageantry that had happened there, all the hundreds of thousands of souls who had sat where I was sitting. The Crusaders prayed in the cathedral before beginning their pilgrimage. In 1804 Napoleon crowned himself emperor there. In the 18th century it was decided that Notre Dame would be the center of France, so all distances were measured from that point.

I wondered at the workmen, their families, the congregants who bragged that their church was Notre Dame. I wanted to know about the men who’d designed the buttresses. How long had the rose windows taken to construct? A hundred other questions always popped into my mind in a pre-internet era.

When I heard that Notre Dame was in flames I cried. I’m certain that my emotions were mirrored by thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The cathedral survived the French Revolution, World War II, and countless other upheavals, including the Algerian riots and the recent political unrest in France.

Notre Dame represents more than history, in my humble opinion. It is the embodiment of the talent of countless artisans, men who worked tirelessly to create the statues on the outside of the building, the magnificent stained-glass windows, and the impressive, soaring ceilings – to mention only a few details. Notre Dame was filled with incredible works of art. We humans are fragile creatures, but we sometimes create beauty that lives beyond us, that represents the best of who we are. I think Notre Dame is one of those icons.

However, the fire is simply an indication that nothing is truly permanent, as much as we might want it to be.

I hope that the investigation about the fire will prove that it was an accident and that it wasn’t a gesture of spite and hatred. Or worse, religious intolerance.

A Couple of Things…

A Couple of Things…

Don’t you just love it when people you pay to do things do them well?

My landscaper saw a leak on the side of the house and let me know. Forty minutes later my plumber (a company I have used for years) had it fixed. Is that brilliant or what? It’s J.L. Hearn Plumbing for San Antonio residents. He’s honest, fast, and reasonable. What more could you ask for? As a plus, he’s funny and personable.

I saw this the other day and it cracked me up. It’s about time she looked real. 🙂

Did you know there was such a thing as a dog calorie calculator? This website gives you how much your dog should eat every day. (Stanley and I have been playing ball in the afternoons outside. He loves, loves, loves chasing balls. He actually returns them to me, but getting them out of his mouth is a challenge.)

I saw the following photo a few months ago and stuck it in my photos/blog folder. I can’t get over it. I don’t have the courage of Tess Holliday. I don’t weigh as much as she does, but I’m not at my ideal weight, either. Still, I don’t know if I applaud her courage or bemoan her lack of self-awareness. What do you think?

And, probably in the same vein – or not too far away from it – I found this product (on Amazon) the other day. It’s chocolate fudge that you can use as a topping or an ingredient. It’s absolutely yummy, is sweetened with fruit, and doesn’t raise my blood sugar, either, which is a plus. So, for a treat, I highly recommend it:

Have a glorious spring weekend, y’all!

New (Continuing?) Amazon Ears

New (Continuing?) Amazon Ears

Have you read this article, or one like it? Basically, it mentions the team at Amazon that listens to recordings made by Alexa. We all knew it was going on. After all, “Alexa” is the wake word. How is Alexa going to respond, unless it’s listening for the wake word? It can’t. Consequently, it listens all the time.

A few months ago I got rid of Alexa and then resurrected the units in my bedroom and kitchen. Yesterday I de-selected them, tossed them in the trash, and took the trash to the curb where the big yellow truck trundled them off to the landfill.

Sorry, Amazon, you’re not listening to me anymore.

I am invested in the Amazon “system,” just like I’m invested in the Apple ecosytem. I have Apple everything, but Apple doesn’t spy on me. (I don’t have their in-home speaker similar to Alexa, though.) I thought about getting rid of Amazon Prime, but I decided to keep it since it’s convenient for me. I am reducing my participation in other Amazon products, however. My website is no longer backed up to Amazon’s web system. I’ve duplicated all my music from Amazon Music. In other words, I’m chopping off Amazon’s tentacles little by little.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.