Thursday, January 29, 2015

Label Foods with DNA? Really?

A recent survey by Oklahoma State University found that 80% of Americans favor a ban on labeling of foods with DNA. The online survey was "weighted to match the US population in terms of age, gender, education and region of residence."

DNA is the self-replicating material found in all plants and animals. It's the carrier of genetic information. (You've heard of genes, haven't you?) It's necessary for life itself--just like dihydrogen monoxide.*

Oh, the horror! Just look at all those chemicals! From
*Also known as "water."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Back in Training for Mudderella

I happened to see a video on Youtube that reminded me of my favorite day of Basic Military Training School. It showed an event called Mudderella, a five- to seven-mile obstacle course through the mud. (One difference: I did not end up falling in the water and getting wet during basic training.)

It looked like so much fun I signed up for it and started doing the Navy Seal Workout to get in shape. The organization automatically set up a donation page on my behalf for anyone who would like to contribute to  Futures without Violence, an organization that gets four out of four stars from Charity Navigator.

This short vacation will also function as a chance to adapt myself to some hardship, something the ancient Stoics recommended to keep your desires in check and appreciate what you have. The obstacle course might be fun, but the training, the three-hour drive and, probably, staying at another hostel-style hotel won't be.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Some Great Products I've Found

I've found some great products over the past couple of weeks I'd like to share. I'm not affiliated with the companies that make or sell these products.

Organicville Sesame Teriyaki Sauce

Image from

With four grams of carb in a tablespoon, this sauce is a lot lower-carb than most others. It's not too sweet, either. It has a bit of soybean oil, so it's not paleo-kosher, but it's just a condiment, eaten by the spoonful. I stir-fried some onion, broccoli, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, added some pulled pork and sauce, and had a dinner worthy of my favorite Chinese restaurant in 15 minutes. Purchased at Sprouts.

Nutiva Shortening

It's shortening without transfats or frankenoils! This shortening is made with palm fruit oil, unrefined red palm oil and unrefined coconut oil. Palm oil is a source of CoQ10, carotenes and vitamin E. According to some other sites I've read, palm oil shortening is made by removing some of the polyunsaturated fats, making the oil solid at room temperature. The product is soft, tasteless, and easy to work with; I made a terrific batch of low-carb cookies with it. Purchased at Sprouts.

Hada Labo Replenishing Hydrator: Super moisturizer/healer

For the most part, I haven't had dry skin since starting a low-carb, high fat diet. But through some neglect of my health last year, my lips got very chapped (a lifelong problem before low-carb) and weren't improving much, even with Carmex. I got a new moisturizer the other day (Hada Labo replenishing hydrator) and tried a tiny amount on my lips--and the stuff was magic! The active ingredient is hyaluronic acid, something your body makes, but diminishes with age. Super hyaluronic acid (its proprietary ingredient) attracts and binds water and is capable of holding 1,000 times its own weight in water. It's not just a cosmetic, it has healing properties. I use it in combination with a regular lip balm. And as the web site says, it plumps your skin--my lips are as puffed up now as a pouty model's. Note that the product isn't indicated as a lip balm, but doesn't say to avoid ingestion.  (ETA: it does, in fact, say "for external use only.") Use it this way at your own discretion. Purchased at Ulta.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Free Course on Evolution and Genetics

If you're interested in genes v. environment, natural selection, evolution applications v. misapplications, check out this online course through Duke University:

Introduction to Genetics and Evolution is a college-level class being offered simultaneously to new students at Duke University. The course gives interested people a very basic overview of some principles behind these very fundamental areas of biology.  We often hear about new "genome sequences," commercial kits that can tell you about your ancestry (including pre-human) from your DNA or disease predispositions, debates about the truth of evolution, why animals behave the way they do, and how people found "genetic evidence for natural selection."  This course provides the basic biology you need to understand all of these issues better, tries to clarify some misconceptions, and tries to prepare students for future, more advanced coursework in Biology. No prior coursework is assumed.

I'm enrolled in the course, and the instructor gives terrific lectures. The first assignment is due January 12, so enroll while you can.