Sunday, March 08, 2015

A formula for healthy living that doesn't drive me nuts

Sometimes observational health studies differences in risk functionally are not very large. Dr. David Katz was on the America's Test Kitchen Podcast and cited this study, that had a large population - over 23,000 participants, over a relatively large period of time - 8 years, to show that an 80% reduction of risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes was due to four relatively simple things: 

  1. No smoking,
  2.  3.5 hours per week of exercise, 
  3. A diet based on "high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread and low meat consumption", and 
  4. Low body mass index.

Too often trying to understand what to eat is a minefield of fads, personal testimonials, advertising, and hype.

 He describes this in another article, "What REALLY Kills Us." as doing the right things with our hands, feet, and forks:


"In other words, the actual, underlying "cause" of premature death in our country fully eight times in 10 comes down to bad use of our feet (lack of physical activity), our forks (poor dietary choices), and/or our fingers (holding cigarettes).  (David Katz, 2013)"

The other component that he talked about that I agree with 100% is that people need to feel loved. We need social interaction that is meaningful. We need to feel like we we have family and friends. We need a social net to catch us when we fail, when we mourn, when we age, when we are sick.  I think this is why in the Book of Mormon the people pledged:

 8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
 9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— (Mosiah 18:8-9)

A healthy lifestyle and a healthy community I think is the secret to a long life over all.  Individual tragedy can be healed only with help from outside.  



Friday, March 06, 2015

It's the little things.

As I was gearing up for this next trip to Abu Dhabi I was struck thinking about how much Huxley feels like home. I was washing my hands in the airport next to a very frustrated Muslim man trying to wash his feet so that he could do his evening prayers before getting on the plane. This place was so frustrating he told me. The last straw was the inconvenience of trying to wash feet in a lavatory sink. We have moved around quite a bit from Utah to Texas, Indiana and then Iowa. I was think those little things make the difference.

Some recent things that make Iowa even better. 

1. Date night - Emily has grown old enough to babysit the rest of the minions and we finally don't have an infant. This has made our lives so much better.  We aren't real inventive. Mostly we go out to eat. On date night we have found:

El Palomino in Des Moines.  Small Latino market with fresh masa, posole, menudo, bulk dried peppers, and cuajada!

Pamel market in Ames - schwarma, biryani, samosas, and gyros. Nice Turkish  family. 

The Ames movie theater. The dollar theater closed. They couldn't afford to upgrade to digital projectors. 

2.  Mr Quick's hardware store. It is nice to be able to stop in and get advice on how to do just about anything. 

3.  Mike and Lisa next door. I was feeling itch and lonely Super Bowl Sunday. I dropped in uninvited and was given a spot on the couch. 

4.  Our ward. We have been there long enough that the teens I taught in Sunday  school are on missions, or home from missions and getting married. 

5.  Farmers cheese at Fairway.  Everything fairway. I could write and ode to that store and one is opening in Huxley. 

6.  The owl in our tree. I haven't heard him recently but all winter long as I lay awake in Becca's room I listen to that owl. 

7. The bike trail. They made a trail out of the  old railway lines between Slater and Cambridge. It actually runs most of the way across the state but my/our section is the only part I have used. 

8. Ballard schools. I am proud of the good teachers, the band, that the middle school principal tells Kate that she brightens his day when she cuts through to use the bathroom. For some reason she won't go at her school but waits until she gets off the bus and then cuts through the middle school to do her business there. 

9.  Honey, eggs, beef, pork, gardens. We buy honey, beef, and pork from coworkers home farms. A woman in Kelly sells us eggs. It is more common to have a vegetable garden than not. 

10.  My kids think of Iowa as home. They have good friends without seemingly the pains I had as a kid trying to fit in and make friends. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Back blogging

Emily's awesome self portrait. 


I have been thinking a lot in the last few weeks about what I have been doing online. Between work, email, Facebook, Studio C, Slate, google news, and the weather I have felt like the internet was shrinking. So I have been trying to expand what I do online and improve the quality of what I do. What do you use the internet for besides chasing links on Facebook. I have enough of that. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Work in progress

Leila stripped off one layer of wallpaper only to uncover four more to go. I watched a number of YouTube videos that argues that hot water and a scraper would work as well as a steamer without all the mess. 
I went to Quick's Hardware and Mr Quick was skeptical. He told me that I would need the steamer and that he would see me at 8 AM to pick it up. He was so right. Again. He is the owner of the hardware store in Huxley,  It is a small hardware store, but with just about everything you could need.  Mr Quick takes great pride in his customer service and really isn't comfortable with people wandering through the aisles looking for stuff.  He knows where it is and is eager to tell you what to do.  I tried to by an oil primer once.  He was insistent that I really wanted the latex primer, but I was firm that I did not.  He had oil primer, but refused to sell it to me.  He told me I was welcome to buy it at Lowes, but he was not going to sell me a product I would regret using later.  I don't regret the oil primer, but I have learned that I can get a lot of great advice, fast service, and sometimes a discount if I go directly to him when I go into the store and tell him what I am trying to do.  

Such an improvement. The wallpaper came right off and it was less mess than hot water. That Mr. Quick was right again.
While my mom was here over Thanksgiving we were have having problems with the kitchen sink backing up, the toilet clogging, and then leaking at the base. The original plumbing looked like something at a waterpark with tight turns and dips.  I thought maybe it was plugged somewhere so took it apart.  Looking again on youtube I decided that maybe the problem was that the sink is not connected to the sewer vent.  Why it would stop working now after 20 years of no venting, I can't explain.  I showed this picture to Mr Quick and he found me all of the new pipes I would need, cut them approximately to size and showed me how to put it together on the counter along with advice on how to assemble it dry, mark it, cut to size and then glue together.  
 Here is the finished sink pipes, remarkable similar to his demonstration.
 This is harder to see, but the black cap on the PVC pipe is the vent that really did help the sink drain better.
For once, feeling like home repair is not impossible.  We also tackled the toilet problems.  Our downstairs toilet gets most of our use and has been clogging a lot recently.  I mean a lot.  Then it started to leak.  I tried to replace the gasket underneath with Emily late one night, but after a big clog, it started to leak again.  On Thanksgiving.  When my mom was here.  And friends from church.  So we went to talk to Mr Quick.  He had a new toilet in stock that he assured me would not have the problem.  He also had a reinforced toilet wax seal that was easier to install and wouldn't smoosh off or fall out of place for only two dollars more.  That Mr Quick was so right again.  
Now, I just need to finish the walls we stripped, redo the bathroom upstairs, take off the garage gutters and fix the wood in the corners, replace that last piece of siding, and then start the kitchen remodel.  Ugg.  Maybe I will go ask Mr. Quick about that. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

How transparent is the GMO regulatory approval process?

I posted this to Facebook today, but wanted to post it here as well. 

A student of a friend of mine recently asked me about the regulatory process around GMO's. She wanted to write about how the process should be more transparent. As part of my response I was excited to find that all of the regulatory documents and decisions have been compiled in a searchable database:
If you are interested in reading thousands of pages of regulatory approvals and environmental impact statements, they are actually available.
Too often this kind of thing feels like something from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is from his exchange with demolition crew boss come to demolish his house to make way for a bypass.
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
GM Approval Database (GMO Database): ISAAA presents an easy to use database of Biotech/GM crop...
ISAAA.ORG

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Finally getting back to normal

Fall hits like a hurricane for me.  Every year I think, I have it all together.  I have a good plan.  I can do this.  Then, reality hits.  Everything not related to corn harvest and data analysis gets shed, which means this blog, running, church callings, and anything fun or productive around the house.  I tried to stay home for a few hours while the kids were awake, but even they were neglected.  Leila really covered for me.  However, I am determined to get back to normal or better.

It has started to snow and winter is here, but I still have chores that need to be finished, now in the cold.


  1. Insulate around the upstairs 
  2. Replace siding by the kids bedroom. - should have that done Monday. 
  3. Finish stripping wallpaper in computer room - I chafe against calling it the computer room and would rather call it the library, but the computer draws our attention in like a moth to flame and we don't notice the half removed wallpaper so much. 
  4.  Repainting the hall.  
  5. We ordered a door for the kitchen - that is an expensive upgrade, but the cold air slides through the current door all winter long.  
  6. Make stuff in the workshop.  I don't have a clear plan, but I would like to re-upholster a chair and make some benches.  I really want to take some classes from this woodworking shop/museum that is near here.  They teach classes for 250, which includes materials and three days of instruction.  Anyone want to join me?

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Walking corn fields across Iowa

I spent most of the last few weeks looking at plots around the state. 
For someone who doesn't like to drive, I have spent most of every day driving from place to place. I have been in Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Manitoba, and Wisconsin.  




Last of the garden harvests

This year the garden and weeds got away from me. I had two wheelbarrow loads of potatoes. But so many weeds.