sauna_modern, interior viewA wet sauna is also called a steam room. You get the picture: a room with steam in it. Hot, around 110 degrees.

What I want to talk about is a dry sauna, usually a minimum of 180 degrees, low humidity, and even though the temperature is much higher than a steam room, it doesn’t feel as hot as a steam room, at least, not when you first walk in.

What’s great about a dry sauna? Three hundred calories expended every fifteen minutes (according to all of the research I’ve been able to read on the subject).

Sweat is fat cryingSome people confuse this with lost water weight and say you’ll gain it all back when you drink water, again. You’ll gain the water weight back, but I’m talking 300 calories burned and gone in fifteen minutes from the activity of your heart and lungs and I’m not sure what else as your body exerts itself to keep your core temperature steady.

Why do we burn calories at all when we exercise? You probably assume it’s from your muscular output (skeletal muscles, that is), but I don’t think muscles are the biggest player in the game. Muscles are very efficient; evolutionarily speaking, they have to be.

Think about how fast you’d have to be running on a treadmill to burn 300 calories in just fifteen minutes. Imagine how fast you’d have to be running to sweat as much as you do in a sauna. I don’t run on treadmills but I do use the elliptical cross trainers, and at my peak I don’t come anywhere close to that level of exertion. The drippiest machine I’ve been on is the Stair Master, and it still takes a backseat to sauna conditions. [Read more…]


glazed donuts on a trayRichard Lopez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the FDA is moving to ban trans fats. The process is now in a 60-day comment period to give food manufacturers time to tell the FDA how long they need to take the trans fats out of their products.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were no trans fats anywhere in our food?

“The Institute of Medicine, an independent agency, has concluded that trans fat provides no known health benefit and that there is no safe level of artificial trans fat.”

(It isn’t as if food-manufacturers didn’t see this day coming. But then, as people tend to do, they probably procrastinated about it.)

There’s still an out for food manufactures, if they can prove trans fats are safe to eat. But science is not on their side.

I remember first learning about trans fats/ hydrogenated and partially-hydorgenated oils way back in the mid-90’s from the books of Dr. Dean Ornish. I’ve been avoiding trans fats ever since.

Reading about them, then, I knew beyond a doubt that what Ornish said about their deleterious effects was true. Sometimes when you hear the Truth, you just know it. [Read more…]

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Harpy form World of WarcraftThe theme of our post, today, is the frustration that comes from people telling me what to eat. I’ll bet a dollar that at some point in your life you’ve felt the same.

Hey, if I’m choosing to take a momentary leap off the good-food wagon for an indulgence, I’d appreciate not getting a pitchfork shoved into me in an attempt to haul me back onboard.

In a roundabout way, it reminds me of Phineus, a Greek king. Phineus pissed off the gods by revealing too much of the future to his fellow mortals. A whiz at foreseeing “the future” but kinda dumb about his own future.

Zeus gave Phineus a choice of punishments: either be killed or be blinded. Phineus reckoned being blinded was better than being dead, but the way he put it was that he “wouldn’t mind never seeing the sun again.”

Naturally, this pissed off Helios, the sun-god. (Greek gods: a bunch of temperamental babies with low impulse control and a wide streak of cruelty toward non-gods.) [Read more…]


sugar skulls and cross bones“Sugar is poison. Sugar is decrepitude. Sugar is disease and self-destruction. I must avoid sugar at all costs.”

That’s my daily mantra. It doesn’t lend itself to broad interpretation. I wrote it after reading yet another article about the horrors of sugar. I wanted to be as emphatic with myself as possible in a “scared straight” kind of way.

I know it’s true that sugar is evil. And yet, and yet, and yet, why can’t I stop myself from indulging in the darn stuff?

Sugar is the villain you just gotta love. It’s so sweet it’s charming. Beguiling. Addictive.

I’ve reduced my intake quite a lot over the past few years, and that’s some sort of success, but with what I know about the harm that sugar does to a body, and with wanting to be Mister Immortal, or some approximation thereof, you’d think it would be easy to really get behind the “avoid sugar at all costs” rallying cry and stick to it.

So, why don’t I? Why don’t you?

Sugar is ubiquitous, that’s one problem. Just today I stopped into an office and saw a bowl of candy on offer, a three-week trial run in anticipation of the coming Halloween leftovers.

Later at the bank I saw a container of free lollipops. Those are for the kiddies, only? I don’t think so. [Read more…]


raw vegetables, beets, radishes, carrots, potatoes, lettuces, grapes

Is this what Weight Watchers makes you think of?

In January, U.S. News and World Report published their annual Best Diets review.

With dismay, I read that the diet I have most sympathy for, the Paleo diet, out of 29 diets, tied for last place. Just above the Paleo diet sat the Raw Food diet, another eating regime I thought would have ranked much higher.

What study came up with these results?

No study at all. Turns out, the review was based on a survey of a panel of experts.

Oh, yeah? Which experts? How many of them?

[Read more…]


jurassic park gateThe true garden of the Gods and Goddesses belongs to my sister Angela who maintains a 30,000 square foot vegetable garden and fruit orchard at her rural Minnesota home surrounded by at 12-foot high anti-deer fence that when gazed upon recalls the feeling inspired at the start of Jurassic Park when Sam Neill and company pass through that movie’s Disney-esque gates for the first time into a land of miracles and danger.

Her garden is a work of envy—the buried drip hoses, the mulched beds, a layout like the scientific and precise architecture of a microchip. What does she use for bug-control? Ducks, geese and chickens roaming freely throughout.

All of that is more than I could hope for in this my second effort at growing my own produce. [Read more…]

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tim-ferriss“Recent research suggests that those who sit from 9-5 (more than 6 hours daily) and exercise regularly are more likely to have heart disease than those who sit less than 3 hours per day and don’t “exercise” at all.” from The Blog of Author Timothy Ferriss, March 13, 2012

Within the past week, I built myself my own standing desk. This isn’t such a weird and embarrassing practice, but I thought I’d ease you into the insanity, gradually.

All it took to make my regular desk into standing desk was running a piece of plywood over my table-saw, then propping it on the desktop with two wicker baskets underneath, which, happily, put the working surface at just the right height. Time of transformation from start to finish: about half an hour.

I now possess the talisman that will ward off the curse of shortened lifespan brought on by excessive (more than 3 hours) of sitting, the curse that no amount of exercise can keep at bay. [Read more…]

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An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation featured a young actor playing an alien shapeshifter named Salia who became the love-interest of teen-genius Wesley Crusher (Will Wheaton). During their time together, the shapeshifter frequently quoted from a list of personal rules, by number, such as: “Rule Seventy-Four: Always spread the peanut butter on before the jelly.”

Except, her rules were along the lines of Significant Life Lessons.

Star Trek Salia shapeshifter girl 01

Salia having one of those days.

What a wonderful idea (aside from the tiresome habit of quoting from the list every two minutes). How much more focused and effective people could be if only they remembered their useful experiences and applied those memories as they lived their day to day lives. Think of all of the wise insights you’ve had throughout your many years but have forgotten about—except you can’t think about them because, by definition, you’ve forgotten them. If you could have them all back in your mind, right now, wouldn’t you want to write them down so you’d wouldn’t forget them, again? Making a list and reminding yourself of what was on the list, it sounds like such a must-do idea. [Read more…]


Witches_Brew-1As my quest for better health and longer life picks up speed, I find myself confronted by unlikely concoctions, unappetizing substances, and gag-inducing taste experiences.

At an earlier time in my life, faced with such food choices, I would have said: Not a chance of that getting past my ruby red lips.

But, but, but—-I want the health benefits of raw chocolate, bee pollen, chia seeds, green drinks,  and coconut oil. How do I get them inside my body?

The only way to get them there is to open my mouth and swallow.

I banged up against this same dilemma a few years ago when I was bodybuilding and wanted to drink protein shakes in obedience to all of the muscle magazines. My first attempt was with egg protein. I don’t think I made it through the first glassful of that wretched stuff. [Read more…]

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Cup of coffee beansThis morning, I had my first cup of the right kind of coffee: wet-milled, shade-grown, bird-friendly, fair-trade, organic beans “grown on the eastern slopes of the Northern Andean Forest.”

Birds & Beans, the seller of the beans, promise they won’t roast the beans more than three days before shipping them. I don’t know if that makes them better tasting, but I like the way they operate.

When it comes to coffee, I’m a neophytic nincompoop, but even I can tell there is something special about these beans. They smell strangely good, even before grinding them. And they are shiny and glossy, something I’ve never seen before—is it their magical aura I’m seeing? [Read more…]

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aloe-vera-juiceA few months ago, Ms. Immortal ordered a bottle of aloe vera juice.

This was the special kind of juice that had the bad taste of the aloe vera taken out to make it so you wouldn’t want to throw up after drinking it.

He Likes It

I tried it. It perfectly lived up to its manufacturer’s claims of being flavor-free.

“But what’s it good for?” I wanted to know.

Digestion, Ms. Immortal said.

That sounded good enough for me. Bottoms up. [Read more…]


couch-potatoAs mentioned elsewhere, I don’t find myself in front of a T.V. often. The last time it happened, I saw an advertisement for a pharmaceutical pill called Celebrex.

What are the pill companies, in this case, Pfizer, selling?

A gray-haired man and woman exit their car at a trailhead. He doesn’t look happy to be there, but thirty seconds later, he’s chipper, yakking it up with another gray-haired couple, being social, taking in the beautiful mountain-lake view. As the voiceover unrolls what seems like two minutes worth of warnings about possible side effects, our guy is breathing deeply, lifting his chin, and clearly enjoying the wilderness trail.

Hold the phone—did I hear the voiceover mention the possibility of death, twice? [Read more…]


Meat Madness

newsboyWhile reading over an FDA document the other day, I came across a surprising item I had missed in my post on BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). Turns out that BSE usually only expresses itself in a cow as old as five years in a way you, or, more likely, a highly paid and terrrifically vigilant slaughter house worker, might notice—-that is, symptoms expressed as the cow being unable to walk up a ramp or remain standing.

(For a four-legged animal to have trouble standing mean things have to be really bad, don’t you think? Imagine if tables could get drunk: how drunk would they have to be before they fell down? I’m guessing pretty darn drunk.) [Read more…]


Hi Mom,

I did some research this morning about arterial plaque. I’d guess your condition is likely to turn out to be atherosclerosis. When you visit with the doctor, you’ll want to be sure of the names he gives you, because atherosclerosis is also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease, both of which sound a lot like arteriosclerosis.

“The following terms are similar, yet distinct, in both spelling and meaning, and can be easily confused: arteriosclerosis, arteriolosclerosis, and atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a general term describing any hardening (and loss of elasticity) of medium or large arteries; arteriolosclerosis is any hardening (and loss of elasticity) of arterioles (small arteries); atherosclerosis is a hardening of an artery specifically due to an atheromatous plaque. The term atherogenic is used for substances or processes that cause atherosclerosis.”

Atherosclerosis_diagramThe really good news is that atherosclerosis can be reversed with diet. It wouldn’t be as simple as eating an extra celery stick, but rather, cutting out the foods that cause inflammation (sugar and refined starches) and supplementing with omega-3s, fiber, and vitamins.

Not too bad, really. You’d have to give up Coke, but you know you shouldn’t be drinking Coke any more than a smoker should be smoking. If you did smoke, that is the first thing that would have to go, which is a lot harder to give up than changing your diet, so consider yourself lucky. [Read more…]


Twinkie box

Scarcity increases value, an economic maxim that showed its power when boxes of Twinkies (8 per box) started selling for $100 on Ebay after the announcement that Hostess was shutting down production.

I wondered if the failure of Hostess was because consumers had wised up to the dangers of junk food and were turning their backs on the venerable spongecake. No, not quite. [Read more…]


inner-beautyMy forty-ish, 215 pound female friend from Georgia asked me to write about inner and outer beauty.

“For many years, the ONE thing I wanted in life was to be beautiful.

“I wanted to look like a supermodel.

“If I were beautiful, people would want to be around me, they would respect me, I would have confidence in myself, men would be attracted to me, I would be invited to parties, I would have a good attitude about life, and I would have fewer problems.

“Can an improvement in physical health cause an improvement in emotional health? Can better health improve physical beauty? [Read more…]


mad_cow_disease_usdaThe really scary part for meat-eating humans in Martha Rosenberg’s Born With A Junk Food Deficiency is when she writes about mad cow disease.

The difference between bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), aka mad cow disease, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is that the first is what cows get, and the latter is what people get.

“Spongiform” is suggestive of “sponge” because that’s what BSE and vCJD do to brain matter: fill it with holes until it resembles a sponge.

prionsPrions are to blame. Prions are smaller and simpler than cells or even viruses. Like viruses, they are without nuclei—they don’t even have nucleic acids (which are what DNA and RNA are composed of).

Like zombies, they aren’t alive, so they can’t be killed. Without nuclei, they don’t even have figurative heads the way zombies do, nor any other vulnerable bits. [Read more…]


coffee-longevityWhen my counterpart, Ms. Immortal, told me about Dr. Mercola’s interview with Ori Hofmekler extolling the virtues of black coffee from freshly ground arabica beans, it sounded like a veritable fountain of youth. Sign me up for that.

Freshly ground—that’s important. Not freshly ground because it says so on the can, but freshly ground because you did the grinding yourself right before brewing (to protect against rancidity).

The only snag: the bean and I have never been friends. [Read more…]


Born-with-a-Junk-Food-Deficiency-How-Flaks-Quacks-and-Hacks-Pimp-the-Public-HealthLiving long and well has got a lot do with the foods we put into our bodies.

After reading Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks, and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, I am dismayed. I am dismayed by meat. I am dismayed by eggs.

I’m a bona fide, meat-eating omnivore. I fully endorse the Snorg Tee that says, “You either like bacon, or you’re wrong.” Thick-cut bacon, of course.

I don’t want to give up eating meat, but after what I’ve read in Martha Rosenberg’s book, I am stuck in a quandary half moral and half “I don’t want to risk it.”

You can’t accuse me of being ignorant of how meat makes its way between a hamburger bun. I grew up on a small farm in Wisconsin where, among other animals, we butchered chickens for our family’s consumption. My job was to hold the chicken to the chopping block, then release the decapitated carcass to thrash in the tall grasses without, I hoped, being sprayed excessively with sticky chicken blood. Then I joined in the de-feathering. [Read more…]


good calories bad calories book gary taubesI am alternately reading my way through two Gary Taubes’ books: Good Calories, Bad Calories, and Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It.

As Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes says in his blurb on the back of Good Calories, Bad Calories, “ [This book] is easily the most important book on diet and health to be published in the past one hundred years. . . If Taubes were a scientist rather than a gifted science journalist, he would deserve and receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine.”

Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It is Taubes’ Reader’s Digest version of Good Calories, Bad Calories, providing fresh evidence, building on his previous book’s work, and making the thorough presentation in GCBC a faster read for the casual reader.

This morning, in the chapter titled “The Elusive Benefits Of Exercise” I came across the radical idea that exercise may not, in fact, be useful for achieving weight loss.

But. . . but, that just doesn’t make sense. That’s like saying the world is flat and the sun revolves around it. [Read more…]


“Everyone knows that sugar isn’t good for you, but I didn’t know how dangerous it could truly be.”—-Crystal Matthews

“Everyone knows that sugar isn't good for you, but I didn't know how dangerous it could truly be.”----Crystal Matthews  In Sugar Nation, Jeff O’Connell blends his personal quest to discover the reasons and cure for his own pre-diabetes with a portrait of his father as he is gruesomely whittled down by diabetes. In this case, “whittled down” is more than a figure of speech.  If you thought the worse thing about having diabetes was finger pricks and injections, with a good chance of amputation or blindness thrown in, then you may be surprised that diabetes can get a lot worse than that.  Mr. O’Connell has written a page-turner that I found hard to put down, part autobiography, part expose. It read like a suspense novel. Perhaps that was because I was waiting for the benighted forces of medicine, the American Diabetics Association, and misled doctors to eventually get their comeuppance when commonsense and truth finally prevailed.  The sense in which truth prevails is the degree to which readers of the book respond to and use for their personal benefit (and for the health of those they love) the information O’Connell has synthesized from personal experience, peer-reviewed research and loads of interviews with top experts.  I’m not diabetic myself, though I suspect, during my soda years, I was likely pre-diabetic. Being as healthy as we can be, I believe, must take into account an appreciation of the role insulin has in our health. When our cell membranes get knocked on too often by insulin, they stop responding (known as insulin insensitivity, a bad condition for your cells to be in), which means the membranes stop letting in the glucose your cells need to survive. Without glucose, cells starve and die.  Insulin insensitivity is deleterious in other ways, too. The more insensitive your cells are, the more insulin your pancreas pumps out in order to inveigle your cells into letting the glucose through the cell membranes.   Meanwhile, all of that insulin floating around your blood turns the glucose that isn’t being absorbed by your cells into triglycerides (fatty acids). Eventually, the triglycerides get cleared out of your blood and stuffed into fat cells (called adipocytes, known to us as expanding waistlines, bulges and flab). Until that happens, excess triglycerides in the blood can cause problems that have been linked to arteriosclerosis.   Loathsome In Its Own Deliciousness  Fructose is the kind of sugar found in fruit, honey, table sugar (half fructose, half glucose) and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is to say, fructose is the kind of sugar found in just about everything you buy in a grocery store, especially soda.   Here’s the bizarre part: fructose does not have an effect on your glycemic load. (The glycemic index tells us how fast a carbohydrate gets into our blood; glycemic load takes into consideration how fast and how much. A lot of something slow can be as problematic as a little bit of something fast. Knowing the glycemic load is more useful than knowing the glycemic index.)  Hey, fructose sounds like what we want, doesn’t it? Fructose doesn’t mess with our blood sugar levels, doesn’t prompt a gush of insulin, doesn’t lead to insulin insensitivity and diabetes. This is good, right? This is something we should want more of.  Here’s the catch: because fructose doesn’t effect our blood sugar levels, we don’t get the signal that we’ve consumed enough calories and it’s time to stop consuming, so we tend to overeat and over-drink.  Where does the fructose go once it’s out of the guts? It goes straight to the liver and gets processed into triglycerides, which eventually get stuffed into fat cells.  Double-Whammy  With all of those triglycerides flying in and out of the liver, some lipids (fats) stick around and accumulate. Those accumulated lipids can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).   Having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease isn’t a good thing, but it gets worse: if the liver becomes inflamed, that can lead to cirrhosis. The complications and syndromes that accompany cirrhosis are legion. They’re bad, really bad. You don’t want to know. Suffice it to say that acute renal failure is on the list: no more kidneys.   Nothing about cirrhosis is reversible, but it can be stopped. How? Proper diet.  Fructose from fruits and honey, by themselves, aren’t likely to harm us because we don’t consume them in mass quantities the way we do high-fructose corn syrup. Also, the fiber in fruit acts to slow down the absorption of fructose and changes the picture entirely. It’s the difference between eating an apple, grapefruit or orange contrasted with drinking their juices.  For example, the glycemic index for an orange and orange juice is, respectively, 40 and 54, which doesn’t sound like much of a difference. For grapefruit and grapefruit juice the difference is a bit more: 25 and 48.   But consider the difference in glycemic load: for the oranges: 3 versus 12, a 400% increase for the juice; for the grapefruits: 3 versus 9, a 300% increase for the juice.   Fiber makes a whopping difference. Avoid juice. If you’re going to have fruit, eat it whole.  We’re not through beating up on high-fructose corn syrup, though; you need to know a few more crucial facts. First, most of the HFCS you encounter in your sodas, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, breakfast pastries, lunch meats (you gotta be kidding me), yogurts, soups, crackers, cookies, condiments and just about everything else, is called HFCS 55.   The 55 means that it is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. It’s another double-whammy: the 45% glucose raises your blood sugar levels while the 55% fructose raises your triglycerides and plays silly buggers with your liver, making you fatter and more susceptible to diseases coming and going.  If we consumed HFCS on a moderate basis, we would have our hands full, but with HFCS in nearly everything that comes out of a package or bottle, avoiding HFCS is hard to do, and consuming it in moderation nearly impossible.  Triple-Whammy  Here comes the sockdolager, the thing that fructose does worse than glucose does, a big reason why it’s really bad to have it in your system: “It produces what are called advanced glycation end products (“AGE”) at a rate ten times greater than that triggered by glucose. Normally, only a small fraction of your bloodstream’s sugar content becomes glycated; the rest is used for metabolism. But in diabetics with chronic hyperglycemia, AGE formation accelerates to a dangerous rate. The body can handle these rogue agents, but only slowly, since AGEs stick around twice as long as average cells. Especially prone are long-lived cells such as nerve cells, collagen proteins, and DNA; and metabolically active cells, which happen to include cells in the pancreas (beta), kidneys, and retina. Weakening of the collagen in blood-vessel walls leads to hypertension and heightens stroke risk. And fructose increases the oxidation of LDL particles, raising the specter of heart disease.” p. 171-172  Enough AGEs in your retinas equal cataracts. Glycation of the proteins in collagen and elastin (the fibers that support the skin) leads to wrinkles and saggy skin, hardly the stuff of immortality. After all, we want to be old but we don’t want to look old.  These and many more reasons to leave the sugar nation are laid out by Jeff O’Connell in his excellent book. Easier said than done, of course, even by me, a true believer in the eminently noxious and ultimately poisonous properties of sugar and refined carbs. Reading Mr. O’Connell’s words helped me every time I read them to renew my determination to eschew the bad stuff that is all around me tempting me almost beyond the capacity of my merely human willpower to resist. But the truth shall set ye free, and I found plenty to bolster my resolve in Sugar Nation.   This is a book for more than those afflicted with diabetes or pre-diabetes. If we are citizens of Sugar Nation, as we surely are, and without the benefit of extraordinary genetic gifts, and that includes most of us, then we are all headed down the road to the sinkhole of diabetes---if we live long enough. Jeff O’Connell provides the roadmap out of town and across the border. Pack your bags.                             In Sugar Nation, Jeff O’Connell blends his personal quest to discover the reasons and cure for his own pre-diabetes with a portrait of his father as he is gruesomely whittled down by diabetes. In this case, “whittled down” is more than a figure of speech.

If you thought the worse thing about having diabetes was finger pricks and injections, with a good chance of amputation or blindness thrown in, then you may be surprised that diabetes can be so much worse.

Mr. O’Connell has written a page-turner I found hard to put down, part autobiography, part expose. It read like a suspense novel. Perhaps that was because I was waiting for the benighted forces of medicine, the American Diabetics Association, and ill-informed doctors to eventually get their comeuppance when commonsense and truth finally prevailed.

The sense in which truth prevails is the degree to which readers of the book respond to and utilize for their own benefit (and for the health of those they love) the information O’Connell has synthesized from personal experience, peer-reviewed research and loads of interviews with top experts. [Read more…]


my soda addictionMy soda addiction took a turn for the worse while standing in front of a serve-yourself soda machine inside a Taco Bell. My sons wanted to know: “What’s Mountain Dew Code Red?”

“Let’s find out,” I said.

Mountain Dew Code Red is Mountain Dew with cherry-flavoring added. Something about that combination was irresistible to me. From my first sip, I was hooked, big time.

Later, my at-home Code Red drinking routine developed into something ritualistic. It started with a tray’s worth of mini ice-cubes stacked into the biggest glass in the house. Sometimes it would be a tray’s worth plus some extra, with the bullet-shaped cubes mounded up over the rim of the glass. Maximum cubage was necessary to assure getting the frostiest drink possible. God forbid that the bottle started out at room temperature; that meant a sub-standard drink because the soda would never be as cold as I preferred. [Read more…]


hannibal-lecter from silence of the lambs

“You do like soda, don’t you, Clarice? A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a cherry cola.”

Do you love a truly epic villain? Darth Vader? Hannibal Lecter? Me, too, but only when I’m watching a movie or reading a book. In real life, villains stink.

In response to a 2012 study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Beverage Association tells us that “The fact remains: sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving obesity.”


The American Beverage Association goes on to say: “We know, and science supports, that obesity is not uniquely caused by any single food or beverage.” [Read more…]


Jennifer LivingstonJennifer Livingston, a morning anchor with WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin, garnered national attention when she spent 4 minutes of air time responding to an email taking her to task for being overweight.

She accused the email’s author, a man, of being a bully. “You don’t know me; you’re not my friend.”

When I heard what the man had actually written, I didn’t think it particularly harsh, in no way malicious, and only possibly mean-spirited, depending on your point of view.

Closer to the mark would be to call the email presumptuous, misguided, and borderline rude. Admittedly, Miss Manners would rate it 100% rude for the fact of it being written in the first place, and I suspect she would be right. [Read more…]


male portrait composed of pills and capsules swallowing a red pillWhen I was a kid, we were made to take a daily vitamin. It wasn’t a gummi bear sprinkled with sour patch dust, or anything else remotely chewable, but a smallish red dot half the size of an M&M that was meant to be swallowed.

I didn’t know how to swallow a pill, even a puny dot of a pill. My method of consuming it was to  crush it between my molars and bear the cringe-inducing bitterness as best I could.

The problem, for me, with swallowing pills whole was that the action of my tongue had a way of pushing the contents of what I wanted to swallow up against my palate on the way to moving it to the back of my throat. A solid lump, like a pill or vitamin, always got stuck, jammed up against the roof of my mouth. [Read more…]


Ray Kurzweil is an inventor and futurist who wants to live forever. He used to take 250 pills a day to help achieve that goal. Now, he takes 150 pills a day.

On the weekends, he spends his time getting intravenous transfusions of a chemical cocktail meant to help him last. That’s hardcore.

ray kurzweil by jenterke

Illustration by Jenterke

If that’s what it takes to become immortal, then the vast majority of us are not sitting pretty.

Not only would we balk at the weekly transfusions, but 150 pills a day is a lot to swallow financially. Conservatively estimating the cost at a dollar per pill, that’s $4500 per month, or $54,750 per year.

Would an extra helping of broccoli suffice? I didn’t think so.

Dr. Terry Grossman is the co-author, with Ray Kurzweil, of Transcend: Nine Steps To Living Well Forever.

Transcend is a mnemonic  for remembering the Nine Steps. They are: [Read more…]


Our goal: live an extraordinarily long time in excellent health and with outstanding vigor.

What do we know for sure about the most likely paths to lead us toward that goal?

The Do Notsdont do it two funny cats

  1. Don’t be fat, heavy, overweight, obese, buxom, chubby, pudgy, podgy, beefy, bulky, portly, plump, roly-poly, rotund, stout, corpulent, broad in the beam, and Lord no don’t be elephantine, not unless you are preparing for a famine or a really cold winter .
  2. Don’t smoke.
  3. Don’t drink excessively—that is, no more than two glasses of wine or their equivalent per day. (Tom Waits: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” I heard Tom say it first, so I’m giving him the credit.) [Read more…]


“Come on, you apes; you wanna live forever?”

Sure. Why not?

I mean, I wouldn’t want to live to the point the sun makes it through its main sequence and evolves into a red giant, swelling up beyond the current orbit of the earth, not without heavy-duty central air conditioning.

But, until that happens in about five billion years, there’s things to keep a body busy.

A Prelude

When I was fourteen years old and living with my family on a forty acre farm in western Wisconsin, the United States had its 200th anniversary.

Gads, the yearlong hoopla we endured. The best thing I remember about it was the bicentennial commemorative quarter, along with the sixty-second history lessons during TV commercial time. 1976-bicentennial-quarter

The country had managed to survive for 200 years, of course, but that was something my fourteen year old self took for granted.

That same year, I came across a story by Isaac Asimov called The Bicentennial Man, specially commissioned to take advantage of the national birthday hype. The story went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novelette of 1977, a really big deal in the sci-fi world. [Read more…]