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Yesterday, thanks to Twitter, I discovered an article in The Daily titled, Paula’s big fat secret.   The article claims the following:

  • Paula Deen, US Southern-style cook and cooking show host, has Type 2 diabetes.
  • Paula Deen hasn’t exactly shared that information with the public.  And she can’t eat her own meals anymore.
  • She is going to make millions as a spokesperson for a diabetes medication, probably for drugmaker Novartis. Novo Nordisk, according to the LATimes.

Here’s the thing that kills me:  Paula Deen’s cooking has always seemed, to me anyway, to be a lesson in how to give yourself diabetes! Or coronary disease.  Or other obesity-related illnesses, like colon cancer.

So she wins by teaching us to eat irresponsibly, and profits from it through her cookbooks and restaurant and Food Network show.  Now she’s going to profit by telling us to take a pill that treats the resulting illness.  Win-win for Paula.  And frankly, a smart move on Novartis’ part too.  Because most people aren’t going to care.  They think she’s nice.  They’re fans.  She makes food they enjoy eating.  And the poor woman was unfortunate enough to get diabetes, which really nobody can blame her for.  It’s an illness.


Paula Deen has long been criticized for irresponsibility when it comes to food.  Here are a few examples:

Normally, I wouldn’t criticize the woman so much myself.  Maybe she’s just ignorant about healthy diets and the implications of unhealthy ones.  But she responded to Mr. Bourdain’s criticism last year by saying,

“You know, not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills … It wasn’t that long ago that I was struggling to feed my family, too.”

I’m calling bullshit here.  I grew up in the South, and I know how fond they are of their diets.  Fried mac and cheese, fried green beans, fried donuts, fried Twinkies, chicken fried steak, etc.  At no time have I ever thought that I couldn’t eat healthy because I couldn’t afford a $58 prime rib or a $650 bottle of wine.  This is a false argument, and she’s catering to those Southerners who don’t like the prissy, elitist, crunchy granola vegan intellectuals who criticize the Southern diet.

Ever heard of quinoa?  Or cous cous and grilled asparagus?  Black beans and brown rice with a little sour cream & salsa?   Or fish?  There are some fantastic ways to make fish yummy. Here are some of my favorite healthy recipes:

I’ll stop here.  You get the point.  Most of these meals can feed four folks for $20 or less.

I’m not saying you should never ever ever eat a pepperoni pizzza or a bacon cheeseburger.  I love both of those things, and had pizza just last night.  But I can minimize their negative health impacts by choosing slightly healthier options (grass feed beef, or less cheese, or turkey burger etc).  Or, you can go ahead and eat that really terrible-for-you comfort food… but rarely, instead of regularly.

It’s not that hard to eat better.   Last year, I started making a few substitutions, stopped eating out as much, limited table salt, and added fresh fruits and veggies as sides or “dessert” to most meals.  That, and a little time at the gym, and I’m 35 pounds lighter.  My cholesterol is finally good.  I’m no longer “obese” and I’m about to fall out of the “overweight” category too.  My blood sugar and metabolism and blood pressure are “optimal”… and I feel great.

I hope Paula Deen can, too.

And I hope all of us can begin to support a new health care paradigm, one that focuses on creating wellness rather than treating disease.  But that’s another blog post for another time.


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Photo: Stephen Samuel

While I was putting myself through college at the University of Texas at Austin, I lived for a while in a small apartment complex in the Clarksville neighborhood.  It would’ve been the mid- to late-nineties.  For a brief time, Marc Katz’s ex-wife, a realtor, lived across the street from me.  She gave me her card once:  “Katz Always Kloses.”

But I digress.

I was trying to figure out some things about my life, make sense of my past and figure out who I was going to be in the future.  It was a heady time.  I had trouble getting quiet in my mind, though.  Friends of Bill W. suggested I might benefit from long walks along the Town Lake, and I did.  Five miles from Clarksville to the bridge where North Lamar becomes South Lamar, up to Barton Springs, through Zilker Park, up to MoPac, back to North Lamar.  A wonderfully quiet, nature-filled 5 mile walk smack dab in the middle of a bustling city.

I have fond memories of those walks.  Feeling the perspiration evaporate off my sweaty arms when I rounded the northern, shaded edge of my route.  The sound of my footsteps on fine gravel.  Long leaps to avoid mud puddles.  Neighbors greeting one another as they passed walking in opposite directions — even Governor Ann Richards if it was early Sunday morning and you were lucky.

There was a spot along Barton Creek where I always stopped to watch the mallards and geese.  I can still envision the late afternoon sunshine lighting up thousands of bright green and yellow leaves.  A gentle breeze made the flowers and grasses sway ever so slightly.

The Sony Walkman had just become affordable enough that I’d managed to obtain one.  I bought cassette tapes at Waterloo Records or Tower.  One of my favorite accompaniments to those long meditative walks was Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing.  Society was so high tech then; we could take actual recorded music in our pockets on a long trek.  Who would’ve imagined it possible?  These were good times. Sarah MacLachlan’s style was helping to usher in a new era of popular female vocals.

“Your love, is better than ice cream” the mezzo-soprano crooned as the newly out lesbian tried to figure out why she couldn’t get a date.

The very sound of Sarah McLachlan’s voice has brought fond memories to mind ever since.  Some of her nineties songs feel like audio hugs, lovely and comforting.  A walk down memory lane.  Warm fuzzy feelings pour over me every time I hear Sarah McLachlan’s voice… even today, right?

No!  Not anymore.  Not since she’s become a spokesperson for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

From the ASPCA’s commercial, on YouTube:

“Every day thousands of dogs & cats are abandoned, left to suffer alone .”

And that’s just the beginning.  I can’t bring myself to tell you any more.  You’ll have to watch the video yourself.  Gawd, I’m getting teary-eyed just writing about it.  I’ve been playing the video so I can quote it accurately.  Gah.  It’s killing me.

Damn it, I hate you Sarah McLachlan.

Hate. You.

Because I can’t stand, omg the kitten face, the sad hound… oh (dabs eyes with kerchief).  Okay.  I feel soooo guilty.  It doesn’t matter that I already live with two cats who might’ve ended up on the streets otherwise.  One came from a house full of teenagers who needed to find homes for a litter of kittens, and the other lived in foster homes or shelters the entire first year of her life.  But I can’t take on any more.  Nobody would rent to me ever again, I can’t afford vet bills for a third pet, and our Alpha Cat would just eat another animal anyway.  And right, I could send money, but the budget is tight these days.  Tight.  Besides, by the time the commercial tells us what the ASPCA is actually asking me to do, I’ve tuned it out.  The guilt causes an involuntary reflex.  One I’m not proud of:  denial.

Chosen ignorance.  A closed heart.

Damn it.

I hate you, Sarah McLachlan.  I really do.

Willie Nelson, you’re on thin ice yourself, my friend.

(Ed. Note:  Sarah has helped raise at least $30 million for the ASPCA.  But there’s always more to be done.  Donate here:  ASPCA.)

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What the hell people?  Why aren’t we running around screaming “serial killer!  serial killer!?”  How come people across Seattle are still leaving their houses in the early mornings to jog, alone, in tennis shoes?


  • August 20. 2007:  a man’s right foot, in a size 12  running shoe was found in the Salish Sea between Canada and Washington State.
  • Six days later: a man’s right foot; size 12 white Reebok was found on Gabriola Island in BC.
  • February 8, 2008:  a man’s right foot was found in a size 11 Nike in Canada.  Do you see a pattern here…?
  • May 22, 2008:  a woman’s right foot was found in a non-Nike sneaker, in BC..
  • June 16, 2008:  a man’s left foot, in BC.
  • August 1, 2008:  a man’s right foot inside a black size 11 shoe was found in Washington State.  Which borders Canada.
  • November 11. 2008:  awoman’s left foot, in Canada.
  • October 27th, 2009: a man’s right foot in a size 8 1/2 Nike shoe was found, also in Canada.
  • August 27, 2010:  a juvenile or woman’s right foot was found on Whidbey Island, WA.
  • December 10, 2010: a juvenile or a small adult’s right foot was found inside a boy’s size 6 Ozark Trail hiking boot near Tacoma, WA which sits along Puget Sound.
  • August 30, 2011:  a human foot was found in a man’s size 9 running shoe in BC.  Gender not determined.

Eleven feet.  We now know that 2 of those feet belonged to the same person, so we’re talking nine people here.  In the Seattle papers and newsrooms, you read that experts haven’t found any evidence that the feet were manually detached from the bodies. That ankles and wrists naturally detach in the water.  That the waters are surely full of missing people.  That running shoes make feet float.  Blah blah blah.  Sometimes they say one of the people died of “natural causes” or that the person was “depressed.”  Aren’t the sad and ill the weakest among us?  They are.  Blah blah blah.

There has to be a serial killer.  This is too weird.  Has somebody called Ann Rule yet?

Also, there have been hoaxes and copycats.  See Wikipedia for some detail on that.

Here’s what I think.  Have you seen the tv show Dexter? If you haven’t, you should. Dexter is a serial killer who owns a boat in Miami.  He chops bodies up, puts them in garbage sacks & tosses them into the ocean.  What if one of those bags came open after a year or two or three?  What is he chopped people at the knee but did bother with ankles?  Guess what you’d have then? A floating foot.  Or eleven floating feet.

Or more.

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Photo: Ryan Babel

In August 2009, it damn near broke my heart to see all the controversy surrounding South Africa’s young track star, Caster Semenya.  People thought she looked like a man and shouldn’t be allowed to compete against women.  Bah!

A lot has happened in Caster’s world since 2009:

  • Semenya won gold in the women’s 800 metres at the 2009 World Championships with a time of 1:55.45.
  • Elisa Cusma of Italy, who placed sixth, told the press: “These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she’s not a woman. She’s a man.”
  • Semenya was forced to take a gender test following her success in the 2009 World Championships.
  • Semenya got a makeover, so she’d look more like everyone expected her to.
  • Semenya was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the IAAF cleared her to return to competition (as a woman).
  • In December 2009 Track and Field News voted Semenya the Number One Women’s 800 metre runner of the year.
  • In 2010, the New Statesman included Semenya in its list “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010” (take that, Elisa Cusma… bet you didn’t make the list, did you??)

And just this past week, Semenya won a silver medal in the 800 metre race at the 2011 World Championships.  She still runs like the wind.  Congratulations, Caster!

Ed.note:  Cusma did not compete.  Looks like her career is over. 

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PCC Employee Missing

PCC Fremont employee Jeff Johnson is missing.  Jeff is one of the nicest guys you ever wanna meet.  Let’s all try to find him!

See flyer to the right >>>>>>>>>>>>

Jeff went missing Friday morning 8/26 on his way to work.  His truck was found in Carkeek Park Sunday morning, no sign of foul play.  And Jeff hasn’t accessed his bank accounts.

We’re hoping Jeff comes home safe & sound.  And soon.

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This blog has previously touched on two vitally important topics: alcohol consumption and weather.  Today, we combine these two wonderful themes and the Jim Cantore Drinking Games are born.

I no longer live on the east coast, so when Irene threatened the US coastline, there was no need to stock my cabinets with non-perishable foods or turn off the gas lines.  We didn’t have to secure our valuable legal papers in baggies and head to higher ground.  We didn’t fill the bathtub with water or put fresh batteries in all the flashlights.  But we DID watch The Weather Channel for hours on end.  I stocked up on snack foods like I was going to watch the Super Bowl and settled in for a long weekend of, as they say in Texas, rubbernecking.

Here’s how we made the most of it:  the Jim Cantore Drinking Game.  We’ve played this game for almost a decade now.  Take a shot when… Jim warns of flying palm fronds.

See, Jim really wants people to know the dangers of storms like Irene.  But we’re stupid humans, so he has to say the same things over and over.  And he has to warn us about things that he shouldn’t have to mention.  Like live power lines and standing water.  Or palms fronds hitting you in the face.   Even though flying debris of any type is very dangerous, warning us about flying palm fronds actually sounds pretty ridiculous.  Imagine Jim having to say, “Watch out for –oooof, oh my, there’s one now… I just got hit by a palm frond.  Palm fronds are not your friends, friends.”  A great drinking game.

But Irene did not spend a lot of time in palm-infested lands. What to do, what to do?  The game must go on!   So we’ve created a solution: Jim Cantore Drinking Game Variations.  Make your own version to fit any type of storm, any time of year, any location.  For example, take a shot when Jim Cantore:

  • mentions palm fronds, leaves, or shingles.  Or, if you’re in Maine, woodchucks.
  • puts goggles on
  • walks backwards or sideways due to wind
  • says, “rapid intensification”
  • mentions Twitter or “social weather”
  • refers to your hometown
  • reminds us who Fujita was
  • gets splashed by passing vehicles or snow plows
  • warns people to stay out of the water while crazy surfers ride barrels behind him
  • forgets what town he’s in (very, very rare, if it’s ever happened at all.  Probably best as a “bonus shot” and not a game itself.)

Now that you’re well-armed to endure the next Weather Channel live storm coverage, go forth & stock they cabinet.  You’ll thank me later.

Ed.note:  Jim Cantore rocks, even though I tease him here.  I admire Jim just like my father respected Harold Taft.

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Leslie Cochran

Have you ever been to Eeyore’s Birthday Party in Austin? How about Seattle’s Hempfest?  They’re pretty different, and I’ll tell you why below.

I got to go to Eeyore’s a couple of years ago when I took a road trip across the US.  It was right after college, and it was easy to make friends in new places.  One afternoon I ended up at this coffee shop on Sixth Street in Austin. I was smoking with my friend Bryon on the lawn in front of Book People and we noticed these two scantily-clad hot girls making flower wreaths & putting them in each other’s hair.  As you can imagine, we couldn’t look away.  After putting flowers in OUR hair, they invited us to follow them to Eeyore’s.  How could we resist?

Eeyore’s birthday party is in April every year, usually near 4/20.  (Heh heh)   There are drum circles and potato sack races, a donkey for the kids to pet, face painting, beer, pink cake, wood nymphs, girls dressed like faeries, and tons of people sitting in the shade smoking out while the cops look the other way.  A beautiful way to spend a day along Shoal Creek in Austin.

Now that I’m in Seattle, I had a chance to go to Hempfest and I must’ve expected something similar.  But it’s not.  Hempfest 2011 spans 3 city parks full of vendor tents.  You can get lemonade, donuts, pizza, bongs, edibles, tinctures, weed, and medical marijuana cards (in theory, medical records are required).  Cops are in the park as well as out, but don’t stop anyone from lighting up.  And there are 3 music stages, the main one hosts speakers like Dennis Kucinich and Mayor McBike.

Here are the major differences between Hempfest and Eeyore’s:

  • Hempfest:  best scenery (Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound)
  • Eeyore’s: best girl-watching
  • Hempfest: cops stand right next to smokers
  • Eeyore’s: cops hang out on the periphery with their backs turned
  • Hempfest: lots of street food but no alcohol
  • Eeyore’s:  COLD BEER
  • Hempfest: Mighty-O vegan donuts
  • Eeyore’s:  Mexican pink cake
  • Hempfest: 3 music stages
  • Eeyore’s:  a continuous, 2 day drum circle
  • Hempfest: groups of loud young guys looking for a place to smoke & hit on chicks
  • Eeyore’s: smelly people who need showers
  • Hempfest: no shade
  • Eeyore’s: lots of space to stretch out and chill under the trees
  • Hempfest: political activism
  • Eeyore’s: kid-friendly
  • Hempfest:  no Leslie Cochran

But even though they aren’t the same kind of event at all, they’ve both definitely worth going to.  So this post was pretty useless, wasn’t it?

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