Monday, May 26, 2008

A song for today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Using dreams

Once in awhile, no matter how long ago we quit drinking, we AA members still have a "using dream," in which we begin again, drinking or drugging. And wake up with a start and a cold chill, wondering, "Did I just flush my life down the john?!" For me they come at the rate of a couple times a year. Including last night.

Why? What does it mean? Is it just a way to renew my feelings of gratitude for the freedom my program gives me? Or is it a warning?

In my version of this dream (which may be pretty common), I don't dream that I'm overwhelmed by temptation. I don't say, "I want it, I mean to have it, pour me one!" Nope, in my using dreams, somebody hands it to me and I swill it without thinking. My dreams aren't about conscious decision-making, but about dimwitted unthinking auto-pilot behavior.

So possibly I have the dream when I've been playing with fire in some way. Maybe by longing for abuseable substances, but maybe with some other form of bad life management. Ignoring a cautionary message my smarter self is trying to hammer through my thick skull.

My latest temptation -- boy my blog is one thrill after another these days -- is cashew butter. Hey, for me it could be the road to perdition.

But it's s-o-o-o-o good. Oh wow. The colors.

I discovered a year and half ago, through dietary experimentation, that I'm allergic to peanuts. This was hard to face. Very.

I have to eat sugar-free and low carb. I hate low carb. In heaven, I fully expect my reward to be the ability to eat all the bread, potatoes, and flaky buttery piecrust I want. But it ain't an option in this life. On low carb, one can and should do small, sensible amounts of healthy complex carbs. I hate small sensible amounts.

Peanut butter is one thing I both loved with a passion, and was allowed on the diet. Besides, I've eaten vats of it all my life. This is one reason that I never attributed the -- um --- distress I experienced to my beloved peanut butter. A late-life allergy to peanuts is unusual but it happens, and I faced facts and gave it up.

Yesterday in the grocery store, I picked up a jar of cashew butter. Carefully, I checked the label. Organic stuff, and not processed with peanut oil, which nuts-in-a-can usually are.

Should I try it? I weighed the risk: at worst, I'd be looking at about three days of itchy misery but no danger, if my system handles it the same way it handles peanuts.

Took it home. Stirred it up. Spread it on a single slice of ultra-healthy whole grain bread, thickly enough so that I kept having to catch the ooze and lick it off my finger. It was delicious. It was magnificent. Forgive my emoting, but it's been a long, long time. [YouTube alert -- for those with slow connections]

By nightfall any reaction would be fully underway. I told myself, "Even if you can eat this stuff, that doesn't mean you can gulp spoonfuls out of the jar every day and overdo it, like you did the peanut butter. You need to do this sanely. Sensibly. As a treat, not a steady diet."

No allergic reaction. O joy! I missed my peanut butter so much, and here was a gift from God to compensate me.

That's very much the way I felt about alcohol when I first discovered it. And maybe that's why I had the using dream.

Overindulgence in cashews actually could be dangerous, if I end up in the emergency room with an allergic reaction. Botanically, cashews are nuts and peanuts are legumes, but most people with peanut allergies are sensitive to tree nuts too. Since there is a difference and since my allergy is mild, hives-oriented, and late-life, it was worth a try, but if I developed one sensitivity, I could develop another.

The question is: Can I do cashews in moderation, or is my basic tendency to overdo everything gong to take over? Will this treat be like alcohol, which I have to stay entirely away from, or like carbs, which I have to learn to do in moderation? We'll see.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do

Lucky readers! Here's a post almost as exciting as watching water boil.

A current bandwagon onto which plenty of cartoonists and news sources seem to be jumping is that of mocking bottled water buyers : "Why, bottled water is nothing but tap water sold at ridiculous prices to idiots!"

On the left you see the end product of 2 liters of my local tap water boiled down to half a cup.

On the right is 2 liters of the much-maligned Aquafina [TM], boiled down to, actually, less than one-half a cup. PLEASE NOTE: I tried to to catch the pot and remove it from the heat at the exact same point for each type of water -- that is, I tried to distill each to precisely one half a cup -- but waited a minute or so too long.
Yet it only proved my point better. The Aquafina is more concentrated, and yet still much clearer than the tap water.

My point is not to claim that the cloudy ingredients in the tap water are toxic. I have no idea what they consist of. There is no need whatsoever to condescendingly inform me that H2O containing NO dissolved matter is virtually nonexistent, that My Government Cares About Me, and that "simple minerals" are harmless and nothing to worry my pretty-old little head over.

I don't claim otherwise.
Another concession: The bottled water industry is self regulated, while municipal water plants have to meet government standards! Yippee. Well, anyway, no argument there either.

Nor do I claim that the environmental toll exacted by the process and by the plastic bottles is worthwhile. I don't know. To determine that would require more than just the hard figures of environmental cost. It would require an equally hard set of figures as to the benefits of drinking the bottled stuff.

Those figures don't exist. They probably cannot exist because :

1. health impact caused by gradual exposure and by delayed effects is hard to quantify;

2. the water in each service area differs, both in processing technology used, and in the stuff the raw product contains;

3. health effects also differ from person to person. Those seriously troubled by kidney stones, for example, need to avoid many dissolved minerals that are harmless to most.

My one and only point is that "purified" water is not "just" tap water. The price I choose to pay for a bottle of Aquafina is for the purification process, not for its source water.
However mentally challenged we may be, this concept is simple enough that most buyers do kind of grasp it in our slackjawed way.

That means the pundits probably know it too. This is what bothers me. There are honest arguments with which to criticize bottled water. But the cute images of a tap directly filling a name-brand water bottle are dishonest arguments and insult my intelligence.

Meanwhile, I dislike the taste and smell of my local water. I do not entirely believe in the healthiness of this yellowish muck in it. I am sure it meets government standards but I have long taken government standards with a grain of sodium chloride, as being based on acceptable risk weighed against unavoidable budget limitations. They define "acceptable." I don't get to.

I'll keep buying it and taking the bottles to the recycling center. That'll have to do.
If I need it, here's my disclaimer: I have no financial, nor any other, tie -- political, business, family, NUTHIN' -- to any product, company, or agency mentioned in this post. It is purely my opinion, and is strictly about my personal observations and preferences.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stymied [update]

This will be a rare spontaneous post from me. Usually I work 'em over thoroughly, rewrite them at least a couple times before posting, but all my plans have gone awry.

I will never buy another PC. Ever. It's Mac next time. This [bleeping] computer has (again) developed a host of problems. My work plans idled, I said to myself, OK, I'll do a blog entry I've been meaning to do. That's when I discovered that I can't upload pictures either.

But I can still scan! So for lack of anything better to do until a solution -- and that might mean taking it in to the shop -- here's a blog entry I did not plan, an assortment of scanned photos to ... um ... ponder.

Two pictures that I couldn't find for My Unillustrated Robert Goulet Post have turned up.
Me (in white) and my cousin Emily (in blue): The not-very-matched set of little girls our paternal grandmother -- who had two boys -- had always longed for. We're about 11 and 12 months old, respectively.

And a later pairing. 1959 is a guess. We look about 5 or 6. She got to have a ponytail, while short cuts were my lot in life. I'm still rebelling. Our plaid dresses do not match precisely, but you can see the effort at coordination. Whenever our clothes had a theme like this, it probably meant that our grandmother had bought them for us.

In unrelated scanning: Snakes are fire hazards??

Why did I take this picture? I have no idea.

Wait! Guy I was dating had picked the flowers for me. That's it.

Around the same time, I took this one as kind of a humorous still life. My unwashed dishes, spring 1988. I stood on the opposite countertop, my head nearly against the ceiling.

Last but definitely not least, my dear little cat Alpo, 1995, lounging in my Wilmington, NC, apartment window, as I look up from the walk below.

I'm afraid that's all the entertainment I can provide for now. This miserable machine may be in the shop after tomorrow. If it weren't so filled with toxins I'd be sorely tempted to dump it into the marsh.


An Alpo Update - Sherwood in a comment mentioned that Alpo looks like a tuxedo. On looking back at my initial post about Alpo, I see that he does look rather like one in both pictures. Neither gives a good view of his true colors, which were really dark tabby and white. This early 2000 photo shows him more clearly.

Our older daughter does share her life with a lovely tuxedo - Larry gave her an entry in the cat blog.

Meanwhile some computer problems are solved, thanks to Larry! Others persist. My Pakistani tech support friend is getting very tired of me, but hasn't yet run out of things to make me do. I tend to gravitate toward all-or-nothing solutions and hadn't really thought about Linux, but I may need to look into that!