Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I read this book when I was 16 and it changed my life. I was in a school that allowed me to design my own curriculum, so I did. I moved to Chinatown in NYC and got a job and credit for it.

If the emotions are free the intellect will look after itself.
― A.S. Neill

A child is innately wise and realistic. If left to himself without adult suggestion of any kind, he will develop as far as he is capable of developing.
― A.S. Neill

Hate breeds hate, and love breeds love.
― A.S. Neill

You cannot make children learn music or anything else without to some degree converting them into will-less adults. You fashion them into accepters of the status quo – a good thing for a society that needs obedient sitters at dreary desks, standers in shops, mechanical catchers of the 8:30 suburban train – a society, in short, that is carried on the shabby shoulders of the scared little man – the scared-to-death conformist.
― A.S. Neill

No one has the right to make a boy learn Latin, because learning is a matter for individual choice; but if in a Latin class, a boy fools all the time, the class should throw him out, because he interferes with the freedom of others.
― A.S. Neill

Simple Cocoa Cake

I saw this on-line and realized it was exactly what I had on hand. I used whole wheat flour and my liquidy homemade yogurt in place of buttermilk. I added a bit more salt to compensate for the oiliness in the whole wheat flour. It came out great!!

Recipe: Chocolate Cake

I was reading More Home Cooking by the late, great Laurie Colwin the other day and ran across a recipe for chocolate cake that looked as simple as any one I've seen. Who can resist having at least one super fast chocolate cake recipe in their repertoire? Pas moi.

I made it this afternoon. The mixing and clean-up took no more than 20 minutes, then it baked for 30 and that was it. It is rich and moist and crumby, a very good basic cake that you could whip up at a moment's notice. I had some leftover sauce from a recent bittersweet chocolate bread pudding and I've been wondering what to do with it - I'm genetically programmed never to throw any food away - so once the cake had cooled I cut it in half horizontally, threw a big glob of the chocolate sauce on the bottom layer, smoothed it around and then put the layers back together. The chocolate sauce has a lot of cinnamon and cayenne in it so there's the smallest hint of a bite to the cake now. A scoop of ice cream would be perfect...hmmm, perhaps the leftover Cherry Garcia whose sweet siren song is calling to me from the freezer?

Karen Edward's Version of Buttermilk Cocoa Cake
Yield: 12 slices

Got to give credit where credit is due. Laurie Colwin notes that this recipe originally came from Marion Cunningham's Fanny Farmer Cookbook. I presume that the Karen Edwards she names in the recipe title is a friend of hers. If you stock your cupboard with a few basic ingredients you'll never be at a loss when a sweet craving hits.

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and set rack in middle position. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
2. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt.
3. Add buttermilk, oil or butter and vanilla to dry ingredients. Stir till mixed.
4. Turn batter into cake pan and bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before turning out of pan.

OPTIONAL chocolate sauce, courtesy of Gourmet magazine
NOTE: Pregnant women, children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system or who should not eat raw eggs should not eat this sauce.

1 TBSP unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I use Scharffen Berger)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Cook butter, cream, chocolate, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring nearly constantly, till chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, 1-2 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and whisk in egg until combined.
3. Let cool to room temperature or refrigerate till needed up to 3 days.
4. Cut cake in half horizontally. Spread 1/4 cup of sauce, or more to taste, on bottom cake layer and fit top layer back on top.

I LOVE Laurie Colwin

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.
― Laurie Colwin

For the socially timid, the kitchen is the place to be. At least, it is a place to start.
― Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

The old days were slower. People buttered their bread without guilt and sat down to dinner en famille.
― Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.
― Laurie Colwin

Once my jars were labeled, I felt contentedly thrilled with myself, as if I had pulled off a wonderful trick. People feel this way when they bake bread or have babies, and although they are perfectly entitled to feel that way, in fact, nature does most of the work.

Fulfillment leaves an empty space where longing used to be.
― Laurie Colwin, The Lone Pilgrim

Traditional Japanese Breakfast

This sounds so great to me.
Traditional Japanese Breakfast
By Setsuko Yoshizuka

A traditional Japanese-style breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, and various side dishes. Common side dishes are broiled/grilled fish, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), tsukemono pickles, nori (dried seaweed), natto, and so on.

Traditional Japanese Breakfast Items:

Steamed Rice - Plain steamed rice is an essential dish. Okayu (rice porridge) is easy to digest and is also good for breakfast.

Miso Soup - Common ingredients are tofu, chopped green onion, wakame seaweed, aburaage (deep-fried tofu), and lots more.

Natto (fermented soy beans) - When eating natto, place it in a bowl and season with some soy sauce. Add various toppings if you would like and stir well. Place the natto on top of steamed rice and eat with rice.

Nori (dried seaweed) - Dip a strip of nori in soy sauce and roll some rice with it. Seasoned nori called ajitsukenori can be purchased in Asian grocery stores.

Tamagoyaki (rolled omelet) - grated daikon radish is often served on the side.

Broiled Fish - Broiled salted salmon or dried horse mackerel (aji) are popular items for breakfast.

Tsukemono (pickles) - Various pickles and umeboshi (pickled ume plums) are often served.

Imitation Crab Meat: Surimi

Imitation Crab Meat
by Sara Ipatenco

Imitation crab is formed to look like real crab legs.

Imitation crab is made with a type of fish called surimi. Manufacturers add fillers, flavoring and color to surimi to mimic the taste, texture and color of real crab legs. Imitation crab meat is a versatile ingredient that costs far less than the real thing. The meat can be used in many dishes and contains certain nutrients that are essential in a healthy diet. However, imitation crab does have nutritional drawbacks that decrease its overall nutritional value.

Calories, Fat and Cholesterol

Imitation crab is low in calories and fat, which makes it an appropriate addition to your diet if you are watching your weight or trying to shed excess pounds. Choosing low-calorie and low-fat foods is also a healthy way to protect yourself from chronic illnesses such as heart disease. A 3-ounce serving of imitation crab meat contains 81 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. The same serving of imitation crab provides 17 milligrams of cholesterol, making it a useful option if you are on a low-cholesterol diet.

The primary nutritional drawback to imitation crab meat is the amount of salt it contains. The recommended upper limit for sodium intake is between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams each day, though many people get far more than this, reports. Your risk of kidney disease, stroke and high blood pressure increases when you eat a high-salt diet. A 3-ounce serving of imitation crab meat contains 715 milligrams of sodium.


Imitation crab meat contains a healthy dose of phosphorus. One percent of your body weight is made up of phosphorus, which is found in every part of your body -- most of it in your teeth and bones. Phosphorus plays a role in the health of your bones and teeth as well as the proper function of your kidneys and muscles. It also keeps your heart beating regularly and supports healthy nerve function. You need 700 milligrams of phosphorus each day and 3 ounces of imitation crab meat supplies 240 milligrams toward that goal.

Take advantage of the nutrients in imitation crab by including it in a tossed green salad or by stirring chunks into a seafood stew or pot of vegetable soup. Combine imitation crab meat with low-fat mayonnaise and fresh herbs to make a flavorful sandwich filling. Stir diced imitation crab meat into a carton of low-fat sour cream, then sprinkle with pepper and fresh herbs to make a dip to accompany fresh vegetables or whole-wheat crackers. Watch your portion size to keep your sodium intake low.


I love imitation crab meat and I love imitation watermelon, but not together.

Sunshine in the Pool

Nothing like having your health go sour to make you re-evaluate your life. Swimming and sax playing build up my asthmatic lungs. Hurray for the pool and the bari sax. Today the sun was in the pool and it was warm. I just kept swimming and I was there for over an hour all alone, swimming like crazy. My personal pool.

Tri Color Pasta

I boiled tricolor pasta and added my balsamic vinagrette, cooked kale, sliced red onions, Adobo, hot sauce, frsh black pepper, raw baby spinach and white mushrooms. Sooo good.

Balsamic Vinagrette

While swimming I started planning a balsamic vinagrette: garlic, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, adobo, kosher salt, extra virgin olive oil. Buzz it in the blender and pour over cooked vegetables or salad greens. You can use mustard honey and poppy seeds for variations. You can add tofu or yogurt for a creamy dressing. Have fun! This is good on pasta and boiled potatoes. Great on bread too.


I am obsessed with mismatched salvation army enamelware cups, mugs, spoons, bowls, and ladles. Here's a treasure trove. Colorful!

Bellydancing and Improvisation

In general I find health clubs to be unimaginative. I'd love to teach belly dancing or improvisational dance! Dancing is fun!


'If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?'

e.e. cummings

Let it Go

let it go - the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go
it was sworn to

let them go - the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers - you must let them go
they were born to

let all go - the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things - let all go

so comes love.

by e.e. cummings

Ice Picnic

The sun is out and it is in the teens. I love this weather. I'm having ice picnic at my backyard table. I sit outside with my dog and drink hot black coffee and kibitz with neighbors in the sun. Happy New Year!

Healthy Snacks for Swimmers


Good Luck and other Traditions

There's a tradition at Hogmanay known as "first-footing": If the first person to cross your threshold after midnight is a dark-haired man, you will have good luck in the coming year.

Here in the United States, the custom of raising and dropping a giant ball arose out of the time when signals were given to ships at harbor. Starting in 1859, a large ball was dropped at noon every day so sailors could check their ship chronometers.

The Times Square celebration dates back to 1904, when The New York Times opened its headquarters on Longacre Square. The newspaper convinced the city to rename the area "Times Square," and they hosted a big party, complete with fireworks, on New Year's Eve. Some 200,000 people attended, but the paper's owner, Adolph Ochs, wanted the next celebration to be even splashier. In 1907, the paper's head electrician constructed a giant lighted ball that was lowered from the building's flagpole. The first Times Square Ball was made of wood and iron, weighed 700 pounds, and was lit by a hundred 25-watt bulbs. Now, it's made of Waterford crystal, weighs almost six tons, and is lit by more than 32,000 LED lights. The party in Times Square is attended by up to a million people every year.

Other cities have developed their own ball-dropping traditions. Atlanta, Georgia, drops a giant peach. Eastport, Maine, drops a sardine. Ocean City, Maryland, drops a beach ball, and Mobile, Alabama, drops a 600-pound electric Moon Pie. In Tempe, Arizona, a giant tortilla chip descends into a massive bowl of salsa. Brasstown, North Carolina, drops a Plexiglas pyramid containing a live possum; and Key West, Florida, drops an enormous ruby slipper with a drag queen inside it.

-Writers Almanac

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Too Cute

The children say their parents never argued.

“If we were discussing something, we never went to bed until it was over,” she said.

That’s part of their secret. Ray provided the rest:

“I would say, love one another deeply,” Ray said. “Don’t argue, but sit down and discuss matters. Take care of your children. Give your children a lot of love. Make sure they get a good education, and you’ll have a happy life.”

Marie agreed.

The couple has kept fit by eating right — Ray does most of the cooking — and by dancing and, after retirement, golf. In their 80s, they walked with a group at the Warwick Mall, and now they do laps around the house.

They keep mentally sharp with crossword and word-finder puzzles. Marie usually has a jigsaw puzzle in progress. She also crochets. He does woodworking in his basement shop.


Paul Bowles

We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
-Paul Bowles

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year’s Day BYOB Brunch at the Elmwood Diner

There will be a New Year’s Day BYOB Brunch at the Elmwood Diner, 777 Elmwood Ave., Providence, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A virgin cocktail menu will debut. Drink as is, or bring your own liquor to add. Brunch cocktail mixes available for favorites like mimosas, bloody Marys, screwdrivers, and more. A holiday brunch menu will include Potato Pancake Benny, Corned Beef Hash, Fried Chicken Waffle Sandwich, Hangover Burger, Pancakes, and more. Call to reserve at (401) 781-0777 or visit the Facebook page for more information.

Circadian Genes, Dopamine, and the Biology of Psychiatric Disorders

Colleen A. McClung PhD

Dr. Colleen McClung, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, will present a seminar on Circadian Genes, Dopamine, and the Biology of Psychiatric Disorders, as part of the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Research Seminar Series.

Dr. McClung’s research focuses on circadian rhythms and their importance in mood and addictive disorders. By studying the mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms and individual circadian genes, the regulation of mood and addictive behaviors can be better understood and successful mood stabilizers for treating mood disorders may ultimately be identified.

Each year, a select group of young investigators in the biomedical sciences are invited to participate in the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Research Seminar Series to highlight the cutting-edge research being conducted in various departments of the health sciences. For more information contact the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Research Seminar series.



Trend from a Friend

Savory Granola
A new restaurant trend, these grain, nut, and seed clusters add a satisfying crunch and healthy hit to salads, veggies, and more.
Servings: Makes about 3 cups

1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup raw shelled pistachios
½ cup walnuts
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup raw sesame seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large egg white, beaten to blend
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup (nectar)

Preheat oven to 350°. Toss oats, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, salt, and cayenne pepper with egg white, oil, and agave syrup in a medium bowl. Transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring once, until golden, 25–30 minutes. Let cool.

Recipe by Dawn Perry BonApetit

Clear Diet for Exams


Make Your Own Clear Broth

I just simmered two heads of kale and celery in a big pot and added bullion to make my own clear broth.

Orange Flavored Coffee

For another twist to your coffee, try adding small pieces of fresh orange rind.

Black Coffee with Molasses


Exercise and Asthma

Breath of Fresh Air: Feature Articles
Chapter 4: Exercise and Asthma
It is a well-recognized adage of our modern, mostly sedentary society that exercise is good for you. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your cholesterol, help to control your weight, and improve your body image. But what are the effects of exercise if you have asthma? Sometimes, exercise can set off your asthma and cause wheezing, chest tightness, cough, and shortness of breath. Some persons experience their asthma almost exclusively when they exercise and are said to have "exercise-induced asthma." Is it also good for persons with asthma to exercise?

Is it true that exercise is good for you even if you have asthma?

It has been recognized for hundreds of years that exercise can bring out asthmatic symptoms. In the last 20 years scientific research into exercise and asthma has shed light on what it is about exercise that stimulates narrowing of the bronchial tubes in persons with asthma. Much of that research was done at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

It turns out that exercise triggers bronchial narrowing in asthma by bringing large volumes of air deep into the chest. When breathing quietly, about one gallon of air enters the lungs during each minute. The air that enters the lungs is warmed and has moisture added to it by the nose and mouth and throat. By the time the air reaches the bronchial tubes inside the chest, it has nearly the same temperature and moisture as the walls of the bronchial tubes themselves. On the other hand, if you run to catch the bus or to catch a fly ball in baseball, your level of breathing may double or triple to two or three gallons per minute or more. Then you exceed the ability of the nose and mouth to warm and humidify completely the inspired air.

Exercise causes more air to be brought onto the bronchial tubes, needing to be warmed and humidified.

During vigorous exercise, the bronchial tubes themselves are called upon to give up warmth and moisture to the incoming air. In persons with asthma, cooling and drying of the bronchial tubes causes the bronchial muscles to contract, narrowing the air passageways and making it difficult to breathe. You have probably noticed that if you exercise on cold days, you are more likely to set off your asthma than if you perform the same exercise on a warm day. The colder (and drier) the air that you breathe during exercising, the more warmth and moisture the bronchial tubes give up and the greater the stimulus to contraction of the muscles that surround the bronchial tubes.

It has long been said that swimming is the best exercise for persons with asthma, and with good reason. The air that you breathe while swimming is usually warm and moist and so the effect of exercise on the breathing tubes is less.

In asthma, loss of heat and moisture from the walls of the bronchial tubes makes them contract.
Wheezing, chest tightness, and cough often come on just after you stop exercising. If you simply rest, the symptoms usually go on their own after about 30-60 minutes. If you use your inhaled bronchodilator, the asthmatic symptoms go away immediately. Unlike other triggers that set off asthma, especially allergic triggers like dust and cat dander, exercise has no lingering effect on the bronchial tubes. After you have recovered back to normal, there are no late effects that night or the next day.

The effect of asthma on your breathing usually goes away after 30-60 minutes.
A variety of strategies work effectively to prevent the symptoms of asthma after exercise. Often on a cold day, you can trap a little bit of warm, moist air in front of your mouth by using a scarf pulled up over your nose and mouth. Face masks are also made for this purpose. For serious athletes, a warm-up period of light exertion helps to reduce symptoms during competition. Medications taken before exercise are effective in blocking asthmatic symptoms. One or two puffs of your beta-agonist bronchodilator (for example, albuterol) inhaled ten minutes before exercise usually prevents exercise-induced asthma. Cromolyn (Intal®) and nedocromil (Tilade®) are also effective when inhaled 15-20 minutes before exercising.

Several strategies can be used to prevent symptoms of asthma after exercise.
Generally, the more active your asthma, the more susceptible you are to developing symptoms after exercise. The goal of good asthma care is to keep your asthma quiet and to allow you to exercise as fully as you wish. As you know, many Olympic athletes have asthma. Their asthma has not inhibited their exercise performance, and your asthma need not limit yours.

Testing the Waters

Lily jumped into the arms of the water man testing the water at headquarters, as we walked by.
"I just lost my Lab," he said.
"I'm sorry. I hope you will adopt again," I said
"I will, eventually," he said.
"Lily's a great girl she's so good it hurts! She loves to swim at Harris Pond," I said.
"I didn't hear that!" he said smiling.
Oopsy. A watershed area.

Clear Liquid Diet for Tests

Healthy Lifestyle
Nutrition and healthy eating

Clear liquid diet

A clear liquid diet consists of clear liquids — such as water, broth and plain gelatin — that are easily digested and leave no undigested residue in your intestinal tract. Your doctor may prescribe a clear liquid diet before certain medical procedures or if you have certain digestive problems. Because a clear liquid diet can't provide you with adequate calories and nutrients, it shouldn't be continued for more than a few days.

Clear liquids and foods may be colored so long as you are able to see through them. Foods can be considered liquid if they are even partly liquid at room temperature. You can't eat solid food while on a clear liquid diet.

A clear liquid diet is often used before tests, procedures or surgeries that require no food in your stomach or intestines, such as before colonoscopy. It may also be recommended as a short-term diet if you have certain digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, or after certain types of surgery.
Diet details

A clear liquid diet helps maintain adequate hydration, provides some important electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, and gives some energy at a time when a full diet isn't possible or recommended.

The following foods are allowed in a clear liquid diet:

Water (plain, carbonated or flavored)
Fruit juices without pulp, such as apple or white grape
Fruit-flavored beverages, such as fruit punch or lemonade
Carbonated drinks, including dark sodas (cola and root beer)
Tea or coffee without milk or cream
Strained tomato or vegetable juice
Sports drinks
Clear, fat-free broth (bouillon or consomme)
Honey or sugar
Hard candy, such as lemon drops or peppermint rounds
Ice pops without milk, bits of fruit, seeds or nuts

Any foods not on the above list should be avoided. Also, for certain tests, such as colon exams, your doctor may ask you to avoid liquids or gelatin with red coloring.

A typical menu on the clear liquid diet may look like this.

1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
1 bowl gelatin
1 cup of coffee or tea, without dairy products
Sugar or honey, if desired


1 glass fruit juice (pulp-free)
1 bowl gelatin


1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
1 glass water
1 cup broth
1 bowl gelatin


1 pulp-free ice pop
1 cup coffee or tea, without dairy products, or a soft drink
Sugar or honey if desired


1 cup pulp-free juice or water
1 cup broth
1 bowl gelatin
1 cup coffee or tea, without dairy products
Sugar or honey, if desired


Although the clear liquid diet may not be very exciting, it does fulfill its purpose. It's designed to keep your stomach and intestines clear and to limit strain to your digestive system, while keeping your body hydrated as you prepare for or recover from a medical procedure.

Because a clear liquid diet can't provide you with adequate calories and nutrients, it shouldn't be used for more than a few days. Only use the clear liquid diet as directed by your doctor.

If your doctor prescribes a clear liquid diet before a medical test, be sure to follow the diet instructions exactly. If you don't follow the diet exactly, you risk an inaccurate test and may have to reschedule the procedure for another time.

If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor, dietitian or diabetes educator. A clear liquid diet should consist of clear liquids that provide approximately 200 grams of carbohydrate spread equally throughout the day to help manage blood sugar (blood glucose). Blood sugar levels should be monitored and the transition to solid foods should be done as quickly as possible.

It's a Lonely Job

Saturday night we stayed home cooking dinner curled up with our dog and radio.
A song came on that was inaudible.
"We should tell him," I said.
I called the radio station. The disc jockey, was so grateful to jump off his horse and chat.
He could've talked all night, I told my husband.
It's a lonely job.

Food: Too Good to Waste

The Issue:

Food: Too Good to Waste

According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, at a time when one in six Americans is food insecure, 40% of the food in the U.S. is lost somewhere from farm to landfill. Food waste is the number one component in our nation’s landfills, and costs American families $165 billion each year.
The Program:

Food: Too Good To Waste (FTGTW) is a program to help residents reduce the amount of food that becomes inedible in their homes, before it can be eaten. We can all make simple changes at home to dramatically reduce the amount of food we have to throw out (or even compost.) The following has been adapted from
Four Smart Strategies to Implement:

1. Smart Shopping: Buy What You Need. By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money, time, and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.


Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home and the timing of your next shopping trip. Will you eat out this week? Be realistic
Shop your fridge and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have.
Include quantities on your shopping list to avoid overbuying. For fresh items, note how many meals you’ll make with each. For example: salad greens - enough for two lunches.
Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities more often so you waste less while enjoying fresher ingredients.
Choose loose fruit and vegetables over pre-packaged produce to better control the quantity you need and to ensure fresher ingredients.
Keep a running list of meals that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose a meal to prepare.
Don’t think you have time for meal planning and lists? Try these free mobile apps and web-based tools to make it easier.

2. Smart Storage: Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh. We waste fresh fruits and vegetable most often. We usually overbuy or don’t use them in time. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them.


Learn which fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer inside or outside the fridge.
Learn the best way to organize things in your fridge:
Use online storage guides for all types of food.
Try using storage bags or containers designed to help extend the life of your produce.
Use your freezer – if you can’t eat a food in time, you can often freeze it for later:
Separate very ripe fruit from fruit that isn’t as ripe. Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other produce spoil faster.
Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes separately, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins. Wash berries just before eating to prevent mold.
If you like your fruit at room temperature, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the fridge in the morning.
Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, sauces, pies or smoothies.

3. Smart Prep: Prep now, eat later. Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.

When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
Befriend your freezer and visit it often. Freeze food t be able to eat in time.
Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.

4. Smart Saving: Eat what you buy. Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.


Move food that’s likely to spoil soon to the front of a shelf or designated “eat now” area.
Casseroles, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers and odds and ends. Search for websites that provide suggestions for using leftover ingredients.
Make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
Are you likely to have leftovers from any of your meals? Store them in lunch-sized portions so they are ready to go the following morning and/or plan an "eat the leftovers" or “smorgasbord” night each week.
Share food you won’t get around to eating with friends or neighbors before heading out of town.
Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.

Needles in my Yard

Disposing Hypodermic Needles (Sharps)

Sharps are needles and lancets that you use at home to inject yourself, your child, or your pet with medicine. Needles that are not thrown away properly are dangerous because used needles sometimes injure innocent people.

Safe sharps disposal is important to:

Provide an environmentally safe option for disposing of sharps.
Prevent injury to humans and animals.
Keep sharps out of household trash and recycling bins.
Prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Remove used needles from circulation and prevent the sharing of needles.

It is important to remember that sharps are only a problem when they are not handled properly.

To help you properly dispose of your needles and lancets, make sure that you are disposing of your sharps the right way. Please follow these simple rules:

DO keep containers in areas that are child and animal proof.
DO use a container that is puncture-resistant and is not see-through.
DO place full, sealed containers in your trash bags with the rest of your household trash.
DON'T put sharps in soda cans, glass containers, or milk cartons.
DON'T put sharps containers in your recycling bin.

DON'T flush needles or lancets down the toilet. (Sharps that are flushed down the toilet may end up on our beaches and riverbanks.)

Home Generated Medical Waste Disposal Guide

The RI Resource Recovery Corporation, RI Department of Environmental Management and the RI Department of Health have created a guide for safely disposing home generated medical waste. Please click the document to the left to view or download the guide.
Disposal at an Eco-Depot event

As of July 1, 2014, sharps may be dropped off at any Eco-Depot collection event. They must be properly prepared and contained in order to be accepted. Please follow this procedure if bringing sharps to the Eco-Depot:

When making your appointment with the Eco-Depot, note on the online form that you will be bringing sharps, or if calling in for the appointment, alert the customer service that you will have sharps with you.
For drop-off, Sharps must be contained in rigid plastic containers.
Upon arrival please notify an attendant that you are in possession of sharps.
Residents will personally place the container in either the supplied bio box or on a staging cart.

Disposal by Mail

You may also dispose your needles by mail. An internet search on the phrase "sharps disposal by mail" will direct you to multiple companies offering this service.
Disposal in MA

Massachusetts also currently has some special drop-off containers available. To find a container that might be convenient for you visit click here.

I've Walked in it All

On shore, Christine Uralowich headed east with her dog, Bert. She walked slowly, a smile on her face. She walks every morning in the winter (the three other seasons, too).

“I walk in everything,” she said. “I’ve walked in rain, I’ve walked in snow. I was here for the hurricane. I was here for the blizzard. I’ve walked in it all.”


Mood Lifter


Lasky's 8,000 Miles


Billy Collins

Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes

by Billy Collins

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water,
and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

-Billy Collins

No More Robot Food


Emily Yoon


by Emily Yoon

the street drummer
calls out in Korean
no doubt thinking it
a compliment
a pleasant surprise
cinched with red ribbons
for Christmas the day
select theatres will gift us
with The Interview
a comedy in which
two American journalists
ignite Kim Jong-un's face
freedom has prevailed
the film's star Seth Rogen
says about the release
the same was thought
at the time of Korea's release
from the Japanese Empire
though then the Korean War
began and compared to war
what's so bad about a movie
anyway even war can be funny
and now a drummer
in New York says
you got a smile
that could light up
the whole town
though I'm not smiling
thinking about villages
and cities of what became
North Korea set on fire
sending puddles of twilight
into sunless skies
as if flames could stab
but his freedom
of speech prevails
freedom always prevails
which is why we get to see
two Americans
incinerate a Korean face
on Christmas
hold our popcorn
and chocolate bars
and laugh as the dictator
explodes in tune
to a pop song
laugh as American
soldiers would laugh
at Korean children
chanting hello hello
gibu me choco-let
with wartime hunger
laugh as they choose
which face
to light up

-Emily Yoon

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Caffeine + Asthma

The effect of caffeine in people with asthma

This version published: 2012; Review content assessed as up-to-date: August 11, 2011.
Plain language summary

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks and cocoa. Caffeine is a drug that is very similar to theophylline. Theophylline is a bronchodilator drug that is taken to open up the airways in the lungs and therefore relieve the symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing and breathlessness. Scientists are interested in finding out whether caffeine has the same effect on the lungs as theophylline.

There are two major reasons why it is important to know if caffeine is a bronchodilator. The first is because it may be beneficial for asthmatics to take caffeine in order to relieve the symptoms of asthma. The second is because consuming caffeine may affect the results of important tests that determine how bad someone's asthma is.

If caffeine acts as a bronchodilator and widens the airways, then a patient who has consumed caffeine before taking the test would show a better result in a lung function test than they would have if they had not consumed any caffeine. The potential problem with this is that if the test results are better than expected doctors may prescribe a lower dose or a weaker drug than is really necessary, which can lead to problems with asthma management.

This review carefully examines all the available high‐quality clinical trials on caffeine in asthma. This review was conducted to discover if people should avoid consuming caffeine before taking lung function tests.

This review found that even small amounts of caffeine can improve lung function for up to four hours. Therefore caffeine can affect the result of a lung function test (e.g. spirometry) and so caffeine should be avoided before taking a lung function test if possible, and previous caffeine consumption should be recorded.

It is not known if taking caffeine leads to improvements in symptoms. It may be that in order to improve the symptoms of asthma, caffeine is needed in such large amounts that the drug's adverse effects would become a problem, so more research is needed.

Another clinical trial looked at the effect of caffeine on exhaled nitric oxide levels and found that there is no significant effect, so it appears unlikely that patients would need to avoid caffeine before taking this type of test. However, this is the result of just a single study so more research is needed to clarify this.

Background: Caffeine has a variety of pharmacological effects; it is a weak bronchodilator and it also reduces respiratory muscle fatigue. It is chemically related to the drug theophylline which is used to treat asthma. It has been suggested that caffeine may reduce asthma symptoms and interest has been expressed in its potential role as an asthma treatment. A number of studies have explored the effects of caffeine in asthma; this is the first review to systematically examine and summarise the evidence.

Objectives: To assess the effects of caffeine on lung function and identify whether there is a need to control for caffeine consumption prior to either lung function or exhaled nitric oxide testing.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Airways Group trials register and the reference lists of articles (August 2011), an updated search in June 2011 yielded one potentially relevant article which has been added to 'studies awaiting classification'. We also contacted study authors.

Selection criteria: We included randomised trials (RCTs) of oral caffeine compared to placebo or coffee compared to decaffeinated coffee in adults with asthma.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently carried out trial selection, quality assessment and data extraction.

Main results: We included seven trials involving a total of 75 people with mild to moderate asthma. The studies were all of cross‐over design.

Six trials involving 55 people showed that in comparison with placebo, caffeine, even at a 'low dose' (less than 5 mg/kg body weight), appears to improve lung function for up to two hours after consumption. Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) showed a small improvement up to two hours after caffeine ingestion (standardised mean difference 0.72; 95% confidence interval 0.25 to 1.20), which translates into a 5% mean difference in FEV1. However in two studies the mean differences in FEV1 were 12% and 18% after caffeine. Mid‐expiratory flow rates also showed a small improvement with caffeine and this was sustained up to four hours.

One trial involving 20 people examined the effect of drinking coffee versus a decaffeinated variety on the exhaled nitric oxide levels in patients with asthma and concluded that there was no significant effect on this outcome.

Authors' conclusions: Caffeine appears to improve airways function modestly, for up to four hours, in people with asthma. People may need to avoid caffeine for at least four hours prior to lung function testing, as caffeine ingestion could cause misinterpretation of the results. Drinking caffeinated coffee before taking exhaled nitric oxide measurements does not appear to affect the results of the test, but more studies are needed to confirm this.

Editorial Group: Cochrane Airways Group.

Publication status: Stable (no update expected for reasons given in 'What's new').

Citation: Welsh EJ, Bara A, Barley E, Cates CJ. Caffeine for asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001112. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001112.pub2. Link to Cochrane Library. [PubMed]

Logo of John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Copyright © 2012 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Sunset Walk

We walked along Edgewater Drive to Harris Pond as the sun was setting. The air was cool and clean and the sky was full of dramatic streaks and the moon was a pink "D".

Isaac Bashevis Singer

Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Night is a time of rigor, but also of mercy. There are truths which one can see only when it’s dark.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer, Teibele And Her Demon

Tranquility Swim

Our house is cold especially on a raw day. I snuck out to the pool early this morning and enjoyed the place to myself.

Purple Skinhaler Cover

This is perfect for carrying on keys and a lovely color. See it here.

Luxuriating in Leftovers

Leftover broccoli and cauliflower stir fry and roast beef sandwiches on my sourdough with red onion and mustard. Life is good. Everything tastes better the next day anyway. That's when the flavors land.

I think we should bring back the Sunday family dinner, don't you?

I LOVE Rebecca Solnit

Admiring houses from the outside is often about imagining entering them, living in them, having a calmer, more harmonious, deeper life. Buildings become theaters and fortresses for private life and inward thought, and buying and decorating is so much easier than living or thinking according to those ideals. Thus the dream of a house can be the eternally postponed preliminary step to taking up the lives we wish we were living. Houses are cluttered with wishes, the invisible furniture on which we keep bruising our shins. Until they become an end in themselves, as a new mansion did for the wealthy woman I watched fret over the right color of the infinity edge tiles of her new pool on the edge of the sea, as though this shade of blue could provide the serenity that would be dashed by that slightly more turquoise version, as though it could all come from the ceramic tile suppliers, as though it all lay in the colors and the getting.
-Rebecca Solnit

Lung Health

I am seeing the relationship between my swimming, sax-playing and lung health. Don't let asthma stop you from getting strong the healthy way.


So next time I am going crazy or in a mood or whatever you want to call it, get me in the pool (or even better, in a lake)! Even when I say I can't or don't want to.

Saxophone witll Help Asthma



Nuts contain unsaturated fats, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals and make a good swap for snacks like chocolate bars, cakes and biscuits.

Sunflower Seeds

My husband swears by raw sunflower seeds for helping muscle and joint pain. We purchase a ten pound box every so often from the baker's supply company.

Nutrition content of sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds
The seeds contain Vitamin E.Sunflower-Seeds
This can help protect cells against the effects of free radicals and substances that oxidize and harm protein structure, the cell membranes, including DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). This nutrient also helps in the maintenance of blood circulation and production of red blood cells (RBCs). One ounce of sunflower seeds has a total of 10 mg of vitamin E in it. Fact sheets for dietary supplements indicate this is already 35 percent of a person’s recommended daily requirement of Vitamin E.

Other health benefits are attributed to the seeds’ content of Thiamine, a B-vitamin.
This nutrient functions to stimulate cell catalysts or enzymes to stimulate chemical reactions that cells require in order to work efficiently. When a person has adequate levels of thiamine in the body, this assists in obtaining energy from food and generates the basic units or nucleic acids that comprise human DNA. An average human male requires 1.2 mg of Vitamin B1 daily while a female requires 1.1 mg. Every ounce of sunflower seeds contains 0.4 mg of thiamin or Vitamin B1.

Sunflower seeds also contain copper.
This mineral is excellent for maintaining the skin and hair. One ounce of the seeds contains 512 mg of copper or more than fifty percent of the recommended daily intake of this nutrient. The body utilizes copper to produce melanin responsible for giving the hair and skin their nice healthy colors. The minute particles of this protein pigment can take in the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. In this way, people are protected from damaged tissues due to overexposure to sunlight. Copper also supports the mechanism of the body’s metabolic processes to assist body cells in producing energy.
To sum up
Including sunflower seeds in your daily diet regimen is very easy. Aside from eating seeds in raw form, you can just mix an ounce of the seeds in your cold or hot beverage or sprinkle them over salads and other food servings. You can even eat these with a sandwich, a bowl of oatmeal, breakfast cereal, or with a cup of non-dairy ice cream or yogurt. Another way to incorporate sunflower seeds to your meals is by soaking them in water and then later on combining it with your pureed soup. This not only fortifies the food with essential nutrients but it also adds a hint of flavor and nice texture to the food. There are numerous ways to get more sunflower seeds and thus consume more of the nutrients needed by the body.

Lung Volume and Proper Breathing

Health benefits of swimming

Swimming gives your body the workout minus the harsh impacts. swimming Another awesome benefit is the living longer factor. You prolong your life and have higher brain activity with a regular swimming program. Control your weight and have a healthier heart plus lower your risk of diabetes, stop asthma symptoms and have a higher quality of life.

Swimming can offer anyone of any age a huge range of health benefits. You might just feel and look younger, have stronger muscles, and (according to a long time swimmer) better hair. Although you might not have awesome, shiny and chlorine enriched hair, you can find at least ten other reasons to swim.

Living Longer

Swimming has been proven to be the fountain of youth. The University of South Carolina surveyed and studied 40,000 men for more that thirty-two years. This study found those men who swam regularly had a fifty percent lower death than their non-swimming peers. Following 40,000 men for over 32 years old is a very impressive study. With those types of numbers, swimming is definitely becoming more attractive.

Exercise Stronger

You can work your body in a swimming pool without high impact to your bones and muscles. As you submerge in water you automatically become pounds lighter. If you are immersed just to the waist your body bears only 50% of your weight. Sink to your neck and let the water bear up to 90% of your body weight. How awesome is this! While you are partially submerged, do aerobic exercises. Take a water aerobics class. If you are stiff and sore in muscles and joints or if you are overweight and suffer from arthritis, water is the perfect place to exercise.

The Arthritis Foundation suggests that stretching and strengthening muscles in a pool brings on quick relief. Try swimming a few laps in the pool, do aerobics and see how great you feel. One young lady with rheumatoid arthritics claimed she was pain free when in the water.
Swim and exercise in a heated pool and the warm water will help arthritis sufferers loosen up tight and stiff joints. Those with rheumatoid arthritis do receive huge benefits to health when they swim and participate in hydrotherapy. Swimming also reduces the pain of osteoarthritis.

Stress Reduction and Brain Building

No one in the world is immune from stress and everyone needs to build brain power. Stress
As you merrily swim laps and do water aerobics you are also gaining the advantage of feel-good chemicals releasing throughout your body. These endorphins are one of swimming’s happiest side effects. You can relax, enjoy a “natural high” and feel good all at the same time. Swimming brings on the relaxation response that is also found in yoga class. The constant stretching and relaxing of muscles combined with rhythmic deep breaths is the key. Mediate as you swim laps with only the sound of your own breathing circling your brain. The splash of the water acts as a chant and drowns out distractions.
Change your brain for the better by hippocampal neurogenesis. If you are stress free or in the process of reducing stress by swimming, the brain is replacing those stressed and dead brain cells. Build stronger brain cells by participating in stress-relieving swimming. “Nothing is better than swimming laps,” states a former high school swimmer. “All the boy problems, the school problems, and the life problems just go away when I am in the pool.”

Control Your Weight

Swimming is one of the most recognized calorie burners around. It is awesome for keeping your weight issues under control. It is difficult to determine the number of calories you burn when swimming; this depends on your own physiology and the intensity you swim. A general rule: for every ten minutes of intense swimming you burn up to 150 calories. Swim the freestyle and burn 100 calories and the backstroke will take away 80 calories. To increase calorie burn utilize interval training in your workout. Work hard for short bursts of time and then rest. Swim fifty yards, rest, swim 100 yards rest, and so on. Keep the pattern going until you can swim up to 300 yards. If you think you will never reach this goal; think again. Swimming tends to come easier than you think.

Muscle Tone Improvements

If you think that swimming is purely recreation, think about the dolphin and competitive swimmers. body toning You have probably never seen a flabby dolphin or a fat competitive swimmer. Swimming is one of the best ways to increase strength plus muscle tone. A physical trainer recommended swimming to an overweight man to improve his stomach line. This man argumentatively said, “I don’t want to change my clothes and get wet.” Oh come on now! When was exercise ever perfectly convenient?

Running might be drier, but when a runner runs around a tract your body is charging through air. A swimmer is propelling through a medium that is ten times denser than air. Every stroke and kick is a resistance exercise. Resistance exercises are the best ways to build up strength and muscle tone. If you are menopausal, swim! It will improve your bone strength.

Yoga-Like Flexibility

Exercise machines only work on one part of your body at a time. Swimming gives you a wide range of motion to keep your joints and ligaments flexible. Your arms move in a wide arch, hips are engaged and legs cut through the water. You also twist your head and spine from side to side as you swim. With every stroke, you are reaching forward and lengthening your body. Body length makes our body more efficient in the water and gives a good stretch from your head down to your toes.
Stretch before and after swimming. The more you swim the more you will be able to balance, be flexible and swim longer. If you want to take a yoga class, your swimming exercises will help you look much more graceful.

Asthma and Swimming

If you have asthma, take up swimming. The moist air gives your lungs a chance to work out in an asthma friendly atmosphere. Lung volume and proper breathing techniques are some of the reasons asthma symptoms disappear with a swimming regimen. If you want you or your child to have a better quality of life without the snoring, mouth breathing and emergency room visits due to the inability to breathe during cold and allergy seasons, take swimming lessons.

Heart Healthy

One of the most important muscles in your body is the heart. Swimming is an aerobic exercise and provides life-giving exercise to the heart. It gives the ability to pump more efficiently which in turn leads to improved blood flow. Aerobic exercises have also been proven to combat the body’s inflammatory responses that lead to heart disease. Healthy heart-swimming

It is advised that you exercise at least thirty minutes a day and you can use swimming. If you only swim for thirty minutes per day your coronary heart disease is cut by almost 40%. Blood pressure, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine, is also improved by swimming aerobically. Swim away high blood pressure, live longer, and avoid coronary heart diseases.

No More Cholesterol

The perfect ratio of good and bad cholesterols in your blood can be provided with swimming. The aerobic power of swimming will raise HDL (good cholesterol levels). In reverse, the bad cholesterols of LDL will be reduced. For every one percent increase in HDL, the risk of heart disease drops by 3.5 percent.
The thin layers of cells that line your arteries (endothelium) have an easier time remaining flexible when you do aerobic exercises and particularly when you swim. Those in their sixties who work out or participate in aerobic exercise have endothelium functions that are similar to those in their thirties. Arteries expand and contract as you swim and keep their hosts healthy and fit.

Lowers Diabetes Risks

Diabetes is rapidly becoming a disease of epidemic proportions. Nothing works better on relieving diabetic symptoms and the actual disease than aerobic exercise. By burning only 500 calories a week, men reduced diabetes risk by 6%. Only thirty minutes of swimming the breaststroke three times a week would burn up to 900 calories. You now have reduced your type 2 diabetes risk by over 10%. Women could reduce their risk by over 15% with the same aerobic swimming program.

If you already are experiencing type 1 or 2 diabetes, swim to increase insulin sensitivity. The American Diabetes Association urges every diabetic to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity to augment glycemic control.
With the benefits of swimming in mind, hit the pool, bring your friends and family and make it a friendly competition to see who can swim the farthest and healthiest.

Stanley Wong

How swimming shaped me.

A Lovely Day

Since I do not like birthday cake, I made my hearts-desire supper last night and stuck a candle in it. I stir-fried broccoli cauliflower with garlic, hot sauce, red wine, soy sauce, olive oil, and kosher salt. We added quartered brussels sprouts too but they tasted like plastic wrap for some reason so we avoided them. I added chopped turkey butt-ends that we picked up at Market Basket deli section. I threw in some baby spinach, green olives, and sliced raw red onions at the last minute. It was delicious supper after a lovely day.

Stan Lee

It's the birthday of the man who popularized the saying, "With great power there must also come - great responsibility!" That's Stan Lee (books by this author), born Stanley Lieber in New York City (1922). The line comes from the Spider-Man comic, about a teenager who's bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes a crime-fighting superhero. Stan Lee also helped create the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and the X-Men. In addition to their capes and tights, Lee's heroes often possess very human fears and insecurities.
-Writer's Almanac

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ladies of the Water

In the ladies locker room this morning we all had an instant rapport. We got talking about breast cancer, prednisone, asthma, our families and more. We all come to the water for different reasons and it heals us. I am so grateful for the pool and the community of devoted and inspiring swimmers.

Stephen Carroll Changing the World


Johannes Kepler Explained the Tides and Moon

Saturday December 27th.
It’s the birthday of astronomer Johannes Kepler, born to a poor mercenary in Württemberg, Germany (1571), who tracked the orbital path of Mars and published his three famous laws of planetary motion — which validated Copernicus’s theory of a sun-centered solar system — and later helped Isaac Newton discover the law of gravity. Kepler was nearly blind from a smallpox epidemic when he was three, and he developed the first eyeglass designs for nearsightedness and farsightedness. He was also the first to explain that the tides are caused by the moon, the first to propose that the sun rotates on an axis, and the first to use planetary cycles to calculate the year of the birth of Jesus Christ.
-Writer's Almanac

I LOVE George Bilgere's Poems

Beautiful Country

by George Bilgere

When Dave calls from California
to tell me his girlfriend is pregnant,
it was an accident
but she wants to keep it anyway,

although Dave’s not so sure, he has his doubts—
in fact, when he really thinks about it,
not in this lifetime
nor in any foreseeable lifetime
does he see himself actually becoming a dad—

I realize the two of them are about to embark
upon a long and dangerous pilgrimage
through a wilderness called Confusion,
leading to a scorching desert called Pain,
and down into a rocky valley
called Couples Counseling.

They’re x-raying their relationship
like a couple of art collectors
trying to figure out if the Rembrandt
they bought last month is a fake.

They’re giving their love the third-degree
under a hot and blinding light,
and by God they better get some answers.

Meanwhile, every day
that tongueless little sachet of cells
is finding more and more articulate ways
of saying, What about me?

But I’m just strolling in my garden
with a glass of cold white wine,
watching the daisies wave their yellow flags
from that beautiful country
called Not My Problem.

by George Bilgere.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Zachary Petit's Article on Ann Rule

Ann Rule on Breaking Into True Crime
By: Zachary Petit | July 13, 2012

Bestseller Ann Rule had a heck of a journey to becoming a writer—something she never really wanted to be in the first place. “All I ever wanted to be was a police officer,” she told the crowd in her ThrillerFest session “How to Stalk a Serial Killer and Tell the Gruesome Tale: All You Need to Know to Write Great True Crime.” “The one thing I knew I didn’t want to be was a writer.” Rule thought it was all too hard—heck, you’d have to rewrite what you already wrote.

As a kid, she would visit her grandpa, who was a sheriff, but to see him she’d have to go to the jail. There, she was given the job of bringing prisoners their meals. From an early age, she was fascinated by crime—not the how, but the why.

“I think that we come to our genre naturally,” she said.

Following her passions over the years, she took any ridealong with law enforcement she could get. Attended classes. Got an associate’s degree in criminal science.

And along the way, she began writing, collected innumerable rejections, and penned pieces for true detective magazines, which she realized could pay the bills.

“You have to write about what you know about,” she said.

Back then, not even her children slowed her down. “Unless the kids were actually fighting on top of the typewriter, I could keep writing.”

And then there’s the famous story that led her to her first book, her breakout The Stranger Beside Me.

Her brother had committed suicide, so she decided to volunteer at the crisis clinic in Seattle. The clinic paired volunteers with work-study students. At night, they’d be locked up in the building all alone together. Her partner was a psychology student getting paid $2 per hour.

His name was Ted Bundy.

After his crimes became apparent, Rule attended Bundy’s trial, and the rest of the story is history, amazingly documented in The Stranger Beside Me.

Her writing passion went on to encompass documenting the suspects and victims involved in crimes, and describing their lives before their paths crossed—along the lines of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

In her presentation, Rule pointed out that pros are always saying that you only have a 1/10 of 1 percent shot at becoming a professional writer. But she decided that she was going to be in that 1/10 of 1 percent.

“You can’t let the naysayers make think you can’t make it, because you can,” she said.

If you want to be a true crime writer, Rule said the best thing you can be is immensely curious. And, you should go to trials—something anyone can do. From a life spent in courtrooms, here are Rule’s tips and etiquette for doing just that.

You can usually get a press pass, but there’s often a deluge of writers trying to obtain one. Rule calls the prosecutor’s assistant.
Study the witnesses, watch the jury, and soak up the entire experience.
Try to obtain the court documents from the court reporter or the prosecutor, or purchase them.
Observe the other reporters in the room, and analyze what they’re doing.
If you’re sitting out in the hall with potential witnesses, don’t ask them about anything. You can comment on the weather or the courtroom benches being hard, but “Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth pretty shut.”
Don’t take newspapers into the courtroom.
Know what you’re getting yourself into. “You don’t want to start a nonfiction unless you’re really in love with it, and usually you want a go-ahead from an editor.”
Absorb detail. “When I’m writing a true-crime book I want the reader to walk along with me.” Rule describes the temperature, how the air feels—“I think it’s very important to set the scene.” As far as the writing, you can novelize, but keep all of your facts straight.
Don’t use the real name of a rape or sexual crime victim in your writing. (Though Rule has written about a few who have asked to have their names included.) As Rule said of her subjects at large, “I always care about my people. And if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”

Olympic Swimmer Discusses Life With Exercise-Induced Asthma

Peter Vanderkaay
How's this for strange headline of the week? Sweating during intense exercise may protect the body against asthma, suggests a new study. The connection between sweat glands and lungs seems nonexistent at first, but researchers from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego say that athletes who sweat the least and produce the least amount of saliva may have drier airways—a trigger for lung inflammation and asthma attacks.

If you have asthma or have ever experienced symptoms of exercise-related breathing difficulties, this news may be interesting—but not exactly helpful. You can't very well control how much you sweat, after all. But the study results do support what doctors already believe: Keeping airways moist while you're working out may help reduce your risk. Here are a few strategies to try.

Stay hydrated and avoid dehydration during workouts.

Cover your mouth and nose with a loose scarf during cold weather.

Exercise in a warm, humidified environment, if possible.

How an athlete copes with asthma
I recently had the chance to meet Olympic gold medalist Peter Vanderkaay; he swam anchor in this year's 4x200 freestyle relay with Michael Phelps, and won an individual bronze as well. Vanderkaay has been swimming competitively since age 7—but around age 10 he began to experience asthma symptoms (chest tightness, trouble catching his breath, wheezing) when he was in the pool or playing outside at recess.

Vanderkaay sought treatment right away, and today he's one of countless professional athletes living—and thriving—with asthma. He's partnered with, a site dedicated to helping patients get their asthma under control and their lives back to normal. (Asthmyths is sponsored by Merck & Co., maker of the asthma drug Singulair.)

"I remember being a little bit worried, early on, that I wouldn't be able to keep swimming," Vanderkaay tells me. "But once I found the right long-term action plan, I was able to get where I am today. My doctor, parents, and I worked as a team so that I could continue training. And when I got to a higher level of competition in college, I realized that a lot of athletes have asthma, and it's something they deal with on a day-to-day basis. It's not something that has held me back, at all."

Although the air quality in Beijing didn't worry him (since his events were all indoors in the air-conditioned Water Cube), Vanderkaay does have to monitor his asthma on a daily basis. He stresses that each case is different, and anyone with symptoms should talk to their doctor about preventive measures—such as avoiding common triggers and learning how to recognize the signs of an oncoming attack—and emergency treatment options.

More than 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, according to the National Institutes of Health, and that number is growing each year. Are your workouts affected by asthma? How do you manage your symptoms?

For more tips on managing exercise-induced asthma, visit's A-Z Health Library.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ciderkin, sometimes referred to as water-cider, is a kind of weak alcoholic cider traditionally drunk by children, and made by steeping the refuse apple pomace in water. Ciderkin is currently listed alongside Cheate bread and Butter on the "Bill of Fare" for the Plimoth Plantation 1627 Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims. However, according to the Plimoth Plantation Food Historian, this is not true 17th century ciderkin; Plimoth uses the term to differentiate between modern pasteurized sweet cider, which is served to guests, and period hard cider. Stagecoach and Tavern Days, written by Alice Morse Earle, describes a 16th Century New Hampshire settler proudly recounting "he made one barrel of cider, one barrel of water-cider, and one barrel of charming good drink" from his first apple crop of eight bushels. According to Earle: "Water-cider, or ciderkin, was a very weak, slightly cidery beverage, which was made by pouring water over the solid dregs left after the cider had been pressed from the pomace, and pressing it...sometimes a little molasses and ginger was added.” In Berkshire Stories, by Morgan Bulkeley, ciderkin "was deemed especially suitable for children", especially compared to the stronger ciders widely consumed during the American colonial period.


Swimming Changed my Life

Swimming has always been a part of my daily routine, and has evolved from something my parents wanted me to do as a kid, to an activity I was heavily dedicated to, to my rescue path to stay healthy and fit in heavy startup mode.

During every one of those phases, I was at a different age and I wanted different things in life; swimming was helping me get there. In college, I chose to be an engineer, and I wanted to land a top-notch job at a multinational firm. I was very competitive, and being part of the swimming team and winning competitions meant proving that I was determined and had sportsmanship and talent, and gave me an edge over my colleagues. Ironically, it is swimming that has led me to the complete opposite lifestyle I have today, and that has inspired me to create Instabeat.

With no time to train competitively anymore, I replaced my 2-hour evening training with a one hour long early morning session, and it is only then that I truly started to appreciate the magic of swimming, far beyond the physical aspect of it.

1. Meditation

I have been reading a lot of articles about people meditating every morning for 10 minutes for a better start of their day. To me, my morning swim is my meditation time. When I am in the water, I cannot hear or see anything that’s happening outside, I am locked in my own head, and this pushes me to reflect on the past, self-assess the mistakes I have done and determine how I am going to improve. I have taken some of my best decisions in the water.

More: How does swimming relieve stress exactly?

2. Planning

As an entrepreneur, you have so many things to do, and planning is one of must-have skill sets. A common tip most of the time management resources give is to check your schedule first thing in the morning and plan your day accordingly. It works well for me because with my morning swim, I am forced to do it. I am up at 5:30 AM, I check my schedule for the day and pack for the next 12 hours accordingly: I need to pick the right clothes depending on my meetings, get my prototypes and goggles if I have a presentation. I also need to make sure that all my bathing supplies are there; otherwise my (very) curly hair will look like a complete disaster :).

3. Perseverance

When I hear the alarm go on at 5:30AM, I start wishing for the world to end right at that moment. I can barely open my eyes, and all I want to do is stay put in my bed. However, there is a little voice inside my head that keeps telling me to get up or I will regret it later. And as a matter of fact, the few times where I end up sleeping in, I feel really bad about it the entire day. This mentality has helped me a lot in the startup world: there are so many things that I really dread doing (hello accounting and legal), but if I don’t do them today, things will pile up and I will regret it later.

4. Energy boost

Swimming is one of the only two complete sports that work out every single muscle in your body. Beyond burning more calories than most other sports, and having a low injury rate, it stretches and flexes every joint in your body and you feel absolutely amazing once you are out. Think about it this way: You need to warm up your car engine before driving. Swimming warms up my inner engine, it gives me a tremendous energy boost as I feel really good about myself after my workout and I am overly excited to get to the office and start my day.

5. Cleanliness

I swim in a chlorine pool, and unfortunately when I get to the locker room my skin is all dried up and I smell, well not so good let’s say. So I purposely pick odorized shower gels and clean twice as hard my hair and skin. So this makes my team extra happy J Well this is kind of a joke but if someone in your office smells bad, I suggest you offer them swimming classes using as an excuse the 4 points above.

Cinnamon Toothpaste and Vacuum Cleaner Bags

I'll admit I am very uncomfortable receiving gifts, especially at Christmas. There's a problem with my lack of money and feeling undeserving and all of that. That said, the best gift I received this year was from Jeff; cinnamon toothpaste and vacuum cleaner bags.


This site is maintained by Sandor Ellix Katz, aka Sandorkraut. I have been fermenting since 1993. In order to share the fermentation wisdom I had learned and demystify home fermentation, I wrote a book called Wild Fermentation, published in 2003 by Chelsea Green. Since the book's publication, I have taught hundreds of fermentation workshops across North America and beyond, taking on a role I describe as a "fermentation revivalist." Newsweek called Wild Fermentation "the fermenting bible." Inspired by people I met talking about fermentation, I wrote a book about diverse activist projects to reclaim food, called The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved (Chelsea Green, 2006). In 2012, with a decade more experience behind me, the unique opportunity to hear countless stories about fermentation practices, and answering thousands of troubleshooting questions, I shared an in-depth exploration of the topic, The Art of Fermentation. All three books are available for sale on this website, but the larger purpose of this website is to connect interested people with the abundant resources for learning about different fermentation practices that exist on the World Wide Web.

Swim in the New Year

Swimming is a unique and effective alternative to other types of cardio workouts like running or biking. Swimming is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise because it works the entire body, but also provides a low-impact form of exercise. Regardless of your swimming ability, with some practice, you should be able to hit the pool and lose some weight when swimming.

According to the American Heart Association, 30 to 60 minutes of swimming 4 to 6 days a week can help individuals both lose weight and reduce health risks such as stoke, diabetes and heart disease.

Unlike running, biking, and many other forms of cardio, swimming provides a full body workout. Muscles in the lower body, upper body, core, and back will all be worked and strengthen during a good swimming workout. In addition to these muscles, swimming also helps strengthen both the heart and lungs.

Swimming is often recommended for individuals with joint problems. This low-impact exercise does not put additional stress upon knees, hips, or backs, unlike running or biking.

Friend in Fermentation, or She's got Cultcha!

I was given kombuchu tea from my sister-in-law with a mother to make more.

I have always been fascinated by home farming; yogurt-making and sourdough bread-baking. This year I must try making my own sauerkraut.

We bought double smoked garlic sausage from KRAKOW deli which made an amazing addition to my kale soup.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I am going to celebrate by getting my saxophone repaired!

Carolynn Aristone, MSW, LCSW

How to Overcome Fear of Rejection

December 2014 • By Carolynn Aristone, MSW, LCSW,

Historically, if a human being did not belong to a social group, he or she would more than likely die due to harsh conditions. It took a village to survive and you needed to be a part of that village. In an article titled The Pain of Social Rejection, written by Kirsten Weir for the American Psychological Association, she wrote that our need to belong, for acceptance, links back to our early survival skills.

Weir quotes Kipling Williams, PhD, at Purdue University as saying, “Evolutionarily speaking, if you’re socially isolated, you’re going to die and it’s important to feel that pain.” Weir also cites brain research which reveals that the areas of the brain that register pain due to physical injury, the dorsal anterior cingulate and the anterior insula, also register the emotional pains of rejection.

It’s quite smart of our bodies to create such a strong reaction to rejection. Due to our early programming, rejection—a lack of belonging, a lack of acceptance—meant death. So the brain sends us strong signals of pain to warn us that if we don’t try to reconnect, our lives are in jeopardy.
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Rather than value this warning sign, this important bodily communication, we fear it. The pain becomes unbearable. We attach all kinds of meanings to the pain, to rejection itself. We perceive rejection as an absolute truth about who we are or what we can achieve. Somehow, this primitive survival signal creates a slow, painful death—of our spirits.

We stop reaching out. We stop trying. We give up on finding the right partner, the right job, the right friends. While our modern-day culture allows us to survive in isolation, what quality does that bring to our life? We may not die physically, but what about mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

Romantic relationships include various forms of rejection. You may reject your partner macro style, the total breakup, or micro style, such as the quiet zingers you launch over dinner. You may reject in obvious ways, such as sleeping in a separate room, or less direct ways, such as developing and feeding a sexual dysfunction.

As a result of these rejections, you may continue to coexist in your relationship but shut down connection. Or the whole relationship might break apart. This separation can wound so deeply that you may fear ever trying to form another relationship.

If you want to overcome your fears of rejection, here are five ways to transform how you respond to this difficult experience:

Rejection is not about you and it is about you. This tenet is twofold. On the one hand, rejection usually has more to do with the person rejecting and less to do with you. That person has his or her own history that influences the person’s ability to connect with and accept you. The person may have his or her own emotional obstacles to confront. At the same time, there may be threads of truth woven into the person’s perspective about you. It behooves you to try to learn what you can from the experience. It takes two to make a relationship work or to tear it apart. How does this rejection become a learning opportunity for you? How do you become constructive instead of destructive with these threads of truth?
Expect rejection SOME of the time. I have no idea where I heard this, but someone once said to me, “You see that gorgeous girl? Someone, somewhere, is sick of her [crap]!” Like that girl, you, too, will be rejected, no matter how attractive you are, how much money you have, or how nice you are—someone will “get sick of you” in some form. Not everyone is compatible, and you will not meet everyone’s needs at all times. If you can accept this, you can decrease the personalization of rejection, maintain faith, and keep trying.
Stop making rejection your whole life story. Assuming the identity of “victim” will not attract or keep a mate. The more you cling to the “rejected” role, the more you suffer. There is more to you than your rejection. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you. These people serve as a reminder of your worth. They are a part of your love story. To overcome rejection, you must connect with people who love you.
Vulnerability is a relationship requirement and a rejection target. If you fear rejection, you might hold up a bulb of garlic when you see the word “vulnerability.” Yet without this vital relationship skill, your mate cannot ever truly connect with you, and may, in turn, reject you. Real intimacy is possible only when both partners become vulnerable. If you can transform what you choose to do with rejection, vulnerability might not feel so scary.
Risk is necessary for your emotional growth. When you choose to love someone, you risk loss. Whether by death, divorce, or separation, the risk of rejection is present. Is it better to love and risk loss or rejection than to not love at all? The answer is yes, plain and simple. Science shows us that we are wired to seek connection, belonging, and acceptance. Avoiding rejection closes the doors to many potentially fulfilling relationships.

Destructive responses to rejection shut you down to all relationships. Constructive responses teach you about yourself and others. Rejection is not easy. Your response sets the stage for your relationship experiences. What do you choose?


Weir, Kirsten (2014). The Pain of Social Rejection. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from:

© Copyright 2014 by Carolynn Aristone, MSW, LCSW, therapist in Haddonfield, New Jersey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day Breads

I baked the Christmas day sourdough breads starting in a cold oven. I put the temps up to 450 and covered the two dutch ovens. They rose up and I took the lid off in the last 1/2 hour. They are gorgeous. Now I am baking Jamie's top round nine pound roast for my family and it smells amazing.


Swimming is a miracle for me allowing me to breathe and stretch and dance all at the same time. I joined the pool and it is amazing to swim again.

Bolo Lêvedo (Sweet Muffin)

We bought Tony's Bolos Levedos last night at Job Lot and they are so delicious. They are good fresh as is or toasted. They are a local WHOLESALE bakery located at 196 Columbia St Fall River, Massachusetts 02721 Phone(508) 675-0015
Bolo Lêvedo (Sweet Muffin)

Bolo Lêvedo is a Portuguese sweet muffin typical of the Azores Islands. It is widely popular throughout the Azores as well as New England. The most famous are baked in Furnas, in the island of S. Miguel. Bolos Lêvedos are saucer size thin muffins, golden brown on either side and dusted with some baking flour. It has a delicious lightly sweet taste but the smell is unforgettable. Freshly cooked and toasted with butter, there might be no better pair for the morning coffee. If you want all the works, toast with Azorean grass fed butter and serve with freshly made Porto Formoso green tea. It’s to die for!

*Makes 16 Muffins*
1 (.25 ounce) packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups milk

1) In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water with a pinch of the sugar.
2) Set aside to ferment, about 8-10 minutes.
3) Transfer the yeast mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the sugar, eggs, salt, flour, and milk until the dough becomes a smooth and even consistency.
4) Stir in the melted butter, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
5) Cover dough with a cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes to an hour.
6) Divide dough into about 16 pieces, and shape them into flat round cakes about 1/2 inch thick. Place a cloth on the table and dust it with flour.
7) Arrange the cakes on the cloth, allowing space for rising. Allow them to set for 1.5 hours.
8) Place the cakes in a large ungreased pan, and cook over low heat.
9) Fry the cakes on each side until golden and place them on a platter once done.
10) Best served while hot but can be stored for 1-2 weeks in a refrigerator to maintain freshness.

Federico Fellini

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.
- Federico Fellini

Bread at Dawn

My sourdough is exhausted from sitting out in the warm weather so I added a bunch of flour at 4AM and I will hope for the best.

We lucked out at job lot (we do all the shopping there on Christmas eve every year)but Price Rite and Stop and Shop were CLOSED when we got there. OOPSY!

We Bought double smoked KRAKOW SMOKEHOUSE garlic sausage and added it to our kale soup. It was SOOOOO GOOD. I asked the woman if she needs me to help them bake sometime. The woman lit up. She makes sourdough rye and all kinds of bread. So I might have another kitchen to play in. Maybe I will learn a little polish or barter for borscht and pierogis.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Swimming is Yoga

Swimming is my yoga. I can breathe in the water. I joined the pool next door and I feel great, and I can breathe again. There's also a sauna in the women's locker room which is great since our house is sub zero.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace

Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace
Call us:
Established 1975

Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace, your local passport to a world of fine flavors. Explore our website to find out who we are, how we do business, and where to find us.

For over three decades, Ed Hyder's has been a source for families, foodies, and professional chefs, providing Worcester's best variety of premier quality International Imported Foods and Fine Wines. No matter what cuisine you prepare, choose from our selection of over 100 spices and herbs, dozens of cheeses, olives, oils, and vinegars, knowing that you have been offered the finest quality foods available on the market. Our soups, appetizers, and marinated meats and kabobs have garnered acclaim from our satisfied customers, resulting in our election to "Best of Worcester" lists in the Worcester Magazine, Telegram and Gazette, and Boston Phoenix readers' polls.

This is Bad Asthma Weather

How Weather Affects Asthma

By Katherine Lee | Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

Certain weather conditions, from extreme heat to extreme cold, from rain to thunderstorms, can prompt an asthma attack. Find out how to manage a weather-related asthma trigger so your asthma symptoms don't kick in.

While environmental allergens and pollutants such as animal dander, smoke, and pollen can prompt an asthma attack, a change in weather conditions — from cold air to humidity and even thunderstorms — can do the same.

“In people with asthma, the airways become hyper-reactive to allergens such as pollen and irritants such as perfumes,” says Stanley Fineman, MD, MBA, an allergist with the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic.

Humidity, temperature changes, and other weather conditions can also can also irritate the airways, according to Dr. Fineman. “Temperature changes in the airways can cause inflammation in the airways as well,” says Dr. Fineman. “For most people, this is not a problem. The nose controls humidity without difficulty. But for people with allergies and asthma, who may breathe air through the mouth more often, irritants, pollutants, and pollen are more of a factor." Because people with asthma already have inflamed airways, the more severe the asthma, the more likely the weather is to affect them.
Your Asthma Weather Report

Common weather triggers that can aggravate asthma symptoms include:

Cold air. Frigid temperatures can be an asthma trigger. “Cold air seems to predispose people with asthma to have more symptoms,” says Fineman. “Cold air can cause constriction of airways,” says Todd Rambasek, MD, an adult and pediatric allergist at ENT and Allergy Health Services in Cleveland, Ohio. For people with asthma, this can be a dangerous problem.
Wind and rain. Rainfall can increase and stir up mold spores, and wind can blow around pollen and mold.
Heat. In the summer months, increased ozone from smog, exhaust fumes, and pollutants tend to be higher and can trigger asthma symptoms.
Lightning. Thunderstorms, which can generate ozone, are now thought of as an asthma trigger.
Air pressure fluctuations. “Barometric pressure triggers sinus episodes, and sinusitis is a common trigger for asthma symptoms,” says Dr. Rambasek.

Managing Weather-Related Triggers

Managing the symptoms of weather-related asthma is similar to managing asthma that is triggered by any cause, like pet dander. Whether the trigger is heat, pollen, or a fierce rainstorm, the best way to avoid climate-connected asthma is to first identify what your triggers are. “Just as you would with other triggers of asthma, avoid these triggers and control your exposure,” says Fineman.

Specific weather triggers will vary from individual to individual. “If lightning storms tend to set off your asthma attacks, then stay inside,” says Rambasek. “If cold air is your trigger, use albuterol before going out in the cold and wear a face mask or scarf over your face.” If your asthma tends to worsen in hot summer months, use an air conditioner and try to stay in a controlled environment.

To stay on top of weather changes, monitor the weather forecasts — consider signing up for email and text updates from online services. Beyond temperature changes, watch the forecast for rain, humidity, air pressure changes, and ozone reports.

Another effective way to control weather-triggered asthma is by taking your prescribed asthma medications. “Regular use of controller meds is an important part of managing asthma,” says Rambasek.

While it’s not possible to control the weather, you can take steps to limit asthma attacks. Identify your weather triggers and then do what you can to protect yourself from the elements.

Sugar Season by James J. DiNicolantonio

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributors
Sugar Season. It’s Everywhere, and Addictive.


YOUR co-worker brought in brownies, your daughter made cookies for a holiday party and candy is arriving from far-flung relatives. Sugar is everywhere. It is celebration, it is festivity, it is love.

It’s also dangerous. In a recent study, we showed that sugar, perhaps more than salt, contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Evidence is growing, too, that eating too much sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and kidney disease.

Yet people can’t resist. And the reason for that is pretty simple. Sugar is addictive. And we don’t mean addictive in that way that people talk about delicious foods. We mean addictive, literally, in the same way as drugs. And the food industry is doing everything it can to keep us hooked.

Up until just a few hundred years ago, concentrated sugars were essentially absent from the human diet — besides, perhaps, the fortuitous find of small quantities of wild honey. Sugar would have been a rare source of energy in the environment, and strong cravings for it would have benefited human survival. Sugar cravings would have prompted searches for sweet foods, the kind that help us layer on fat and store energy for times of scarcity.

Today added sugar is everywhere, used in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. If you consider that the added sugar in a single can of soda might be more than most people would have consumed in an entire year, just a few hundred years ago, you get a sense of how dramatically our environment has changed. The sweet craving that once offered a survival advantage now works against us.

Whereas natural sugar sources like whole fruits and vegetables are generally not very concentrated because the sweetness is buffered by water, fiber and other constituents, modern industrial sugar sources are unnaturally potent and quickly provide a big hit. Natural whole foods like beets are stripped of their water, fiber, vitamins, minerals and all other beneficial components to produce purified sweetness. All that’s left are pure, white, sugary crystals.

A comparison to drugs would not be misplaced here. Similar refinement processes transform other plants like poppies and coca into heroin and cocaine. Refined sugars also affect people’s bodies and brains.

Substance use disorders, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, exist when at least two to three symptoms from a list of 11 are present. In animal models, sugar produces at least three symptoms consistent with substance abuse and dependence: cravings, tolerance and withdrawal. Other druglike properties of sugar include (but are not limited to) cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, opioid effects and other neurochemical changes in the brain. In animal studies, animals experience sugar like a drug and can become sugar-addicted. One study has shown that if given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater; the “high” is more pleasurable.

In humans, the situation may not be very different. Sugar stimulates brain pathways just as an opioid would, and sugar has been found to be habit-forming in people. Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. And although other food components may also be pleasurable, sugar may be uniquely addictive in the food world. For instance, functional M.R.I. tests involving milkshakes demonstrate that it’s the sugar, not the fat, that people crave. Sugar is added to foods by an industry whose goal is to engineer products to be as irresistible and addictive as possible. How can we kick this habit? One route is to make foods and drinks with added sugar more expensive, through higher taxes. Another would be to remove sugar-sweetened beverages from places like schools and hospitals or to regulate sugar-added products just as we do alcohol and tobacco, for instance, by putting restrictions on advertising and by slapping on warning labels.

But as we suggested in two academic papers, one on salt and sugar in the journal Open Heart and the other on sugar and calories in Public Health Nutrition, focusing narrowly on added sugar could have unintended consequences. It could prompt the food industry to inject something equally or more harmful into processed foods, as an alternative.

A better approach to sugar rehab is to promote the consumption of whole, natural foods. Substituting whole foods for sweet industrial concoctions may be a hard sell, but in the face of an industry that is exploiting our biological nature to keep us addicted, it may be the best solution for those who need that sugar fix.

James J. DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. Sean C. Lucan is an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.