Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hero ALERT: I'm Going to See Al Gore Today

Heroes are in short supply these days...or maybe it just seems that way. The media rewards bad behavior by splashing it all over Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, Extra, and the net. The quiet, non-dramatic sort of good guys don’t get as much attention. It’s curious that doing good isn’t seen as being as sexy as going off the rails. I mean, really, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, it is curious: wouldn’t you think we’d evolve to be attracted to good, healthy behavior? I’ll have to ponder that one in my peppermint mind sometime after I have at least one cup of kukicha green and peppermint tea, and/or some protein. For now, it’s too early and pre-tea-n-protein in the morning, so I’ll move right along.

I have a few heroes in this world, two of whom are dead: Martin Luther King, Jr. is a major hero of mine, and so is someone he modeled his creative, non-violent resistance approach after, Mahatma Gandhi. A third hero of mine is very much alive, and I am going to see him tonight at a political rally: Al Gore. Now, I know that, for many on the right, he is the butt of jokes, mostly based on erroneous disinformation and urban myths. He NEVER, for example, claimed that he invented the internet. Look it up on Snopes, I don’t have the time or inclination to debunk all the hurtful bunk that is out there on Al Gore. I find it interesting just how vitriolic the right is towards the very mention of his name. I think it is because he speaks the truth in a civil, respectful, eloquent way, no matter how much they attack him, and he never lets the attacks bring him down to their level. He remains, always, what I just said: eloquent, respectful and civil. This is one aspect of what I admire most about him:  in a world desperately starved for civility and respectfulness, he embodies it. The other aspect I admire so much, which goes hand in hand with his character, is his actions.

As I recall, Al Gore first came onto my radar screen back in 1988, when I was a young voter. He was in a field of presidential hopefuls that was crowded with quality and potential: Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt and Paul Simon, just to name the ones that I thought were excellent in addition to Al Gore (Jesse Jackson impressed me, too, but also scared me because I felt he was anti-Israel...but I digress). Even in that crowded field, though, Al Gore stood way out from the rest to me. I’m a total policy wonk and his positions on the issues exactly jibed with my own, as did his priorities, plus his aforementioned eloquence really stood out. In the years since 1988, I have grown to admire the man more and more for all the things I’ve mentioned--his positions and priorities on the issues I care about, and his civility, respectfulness and eloquence--plus his great leadership, vision, imagination, intelligence, honesty, knowledge, patriotism (how he conducted himself in the 2000 election horror show, for example, always keeping what was best for the country and the rule of law as a priority), diplomacy, integrity, steadfast commitment and adherence to speaking the truth, and tireless passion for the environment.  He also has demonstrated an amazing ability to, as the cliche goes, take the lemons that life hands out and make lemonade.  After the heartbreaking and soul-crushing election of 2000, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and went on to do great things as private citizen Gore.  The awareness, education and sense of urgency that he has brought to the world about global climate change is profoundly impressive and important.  He has also provided us with concrete ideas on how to turn back from the brink of disaster and build a green, sustainable future that respects our mother earth.

Ever since the days (and no doubt before) when people didn’t want to hear that the earth was round and not flat, a majority of people always fear and, unfortunately, sometimes hate, the visionary, inconvenient-truth-telling leaders among us. But the ones who are truly great go on telling the truth despite all the fearful backlash that engenders, because they care passionately about doing the right thing, they are bright enough to see what that is, and they are brave enough to endure whatever comes their way in order to do it. This is why I love Al Gore and why he is, corny as this probably sounds, my hero.

He is sounding the warning on global climate change and the world needs to hear that and act on it now. This evening, he will be at a political rally for Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, here in Florida, and I will be braving driving in Tampa (!) to be there. I’ve seen him at a brief rally at the Sarasota airport in 2000 and that was a thrill. All of a sudden, Air Force Two appeared in the sky, made a brilliant landing as we all cheered wildly, and out popped Vice President Gore!  He gave a short but stirring speech to us, the party faithful, and then I forget if he got right back onto Air Force Two and flew off or got into a waiting car or what, but I didn’t get to actually meet him and I probably won’t this evening, either, which is probably just as well, as I am sure I’d be a complete and utter deer caught in headlights if it happened. That said, though, it would be a thrill to shake his hand. To meet a living hero up close and personal would be a very special thing. Perhaps it will happen tonight...or perhaps I’ll get lost in Tampa, never to resurface again. Most likely, though, I’ll just hear him speak live and rally the Democratic troops, and that will be exciting enough. I’ll love to tell him how much I admire his character and everything he’s done and continues to do for our country and the earth, both of which need as much help as they can get. I’d love to simply say, thank you, you are great, keep up the good work. That’s what heroes do: they keep up the good work. I just want to tell him I appreciate it. He’ll probably glean that from the WILD APPLAUSE AND SCREAMING I’ll be engaging in at various points in the going.

Releated link:  LA Times article, re: Gore to appear at Kendrick Meek rally

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Florida to Allow Gay Adoption: a Great Day for Civil Rights, Children and True Family Values

I was very heartened to learn yesterday that the overturning of Florida’s 30-year-old, wrong-headed law prohibiting gay people from adopting in the state has been upheld. This is a victory for our constitution, for civil rights and for the children of Florida.

There are so many kids in the system who desperately need loving homes. Under what was, in my opinion, the unconstitutional ban on gay adoption in the state of Florida, gay people were allowed to foster but not adopt, which makes no sense. If a single person or couple is evaluated by the state and found to meet the requirements for fostering children, why can’t they also adopt? There is absolutely no reason other than ignorance, prejudice and/or bigotry against gay people to deny them the same rights as straight folks, and to deny the kids of Florida a far bigger pool of potential permanent, loving homes.

When I was in 10th grade, I had a great sociology teacher. He was great because he wanted to teach us to THINK. Years later, I got my degree in cultural anthropology and sociology. Coincidence? You be the judge. But I digress. One day, this teacher somehow started our class on a discussion/argument that got extremely heated, and I recall that it was basically yours truly here against the entire rest of the class, especially one girl who was extremely worked up and vehement about her argument/point, which was, in my strong opinion then and now, based entirely on ignorance and prejudice. Don’t ask me exactly how or why this teacher, bless him, got his class of 10th graders arguing about prejudice against gay people back in, gosh, when was this, 1977? 1977!  The thought of gay adoption, let alone gay rights of any kind, back then was completely beyond RADICAL, yet somehow, he had us talking about it. I think maybe it started from a general discussion on prejudice and discrimination in society, but however it started, the argument between me and the class ended up being about, as I recall it, either “Why shouldn’t homosexual people be allowed to have kids just like heterosexual people?”, or it might have even just been (remember, this was 1977) “Can homosexual people be trusted around children?" I can’t remember what exact question got this argument going but I clearly remember that class because that was one time in my life when I stood up for what I believed in and did not back down, even though the entire class was sneering at my point of view and, like I said, this one ferocious girl was just FURIOUSLY up in my grill, attacking me vehemently over it.

Basically, this girl kept equating homosexuality to pedophilia (although I’m sure she didn’t know that word), saying that gay people are dangerous around kids because they might molest them. She kept using the word “perverted” and “perverts” and arguing that these “perverts” couldn’t be trusted around children, OBVIOUSLY. Every time she asserted that, I kept responding that a homosexual person is no more likely to molest a child than is a heterosexual person. There are heterosexuals who would molest children, and there are homosexuals who would molest children, but being one or the other as a sexual orientation doesn’t have anything to do with the likelihood of molesting children!

Well! This girl just got more and more FURIOUS with me, like how could I be so STUPID not to get her brilliant (not—try totally ignorant and bigoted) point that, apparently, all gay people are predisposed to be child molesters. And the more she kept insisting upon that, and literally getting in my face about it and egging on the entire class into attacking me, the more I would not back down and kept saying that homosexuality and pedophilia/being a child molester have NOTHING to do with one another!!!!! God knows there are plenty of heterosexual child molesters!  Sexual orientation, one way or the other, does not equate to pedophilia.

The reason I just harked back to that long ago, incredibly heated-n-lengthy argument in that great teacher’s 10th grade sociology class (and he, by the way, just sat back and did not intervene, as I recall, but the entire time, I felt like he was really proud of me, which helped me continue to take on the entire class and that one worked-up, intimidating-to-beat-the-band loon in particular) is because I think that, even though that was 1977 and this is 2010, unfortunately, those misconceptions and prejudices still remain to a degree in our society. While we have come a very long way in terms of attitudes towards homosexuality and how homosexuals are treated under the law, I think there is still the idea that somehow gay people are not to be trusted around children, which just makes NO sense to me. I’ll say it again: a gay person is no more likely to be a pedophile than a straight person is. So that argument against gay adoption just makes no sense.

There are other so-called “arguments” against gay adoption (and gay marriage and other gay rights), of course, but break them down into their essential components and they are all based on bigotry against gay people. Period.

The real facts on the ground are that children need loving parents. There are many decent, loving gay folks who would love to be parents. Why not add to the pool of potential adopters, when we have such a staggering number of children languishing away in state care, in the foster system? But as compelling as that argument is, it too misses the main point in a way: the main point doesn’t have to do with numbers of kids waiting for homes, it has to do with what is right, morally and legally, and what is right is that ANYONE who is a decent, loving human being and has the necessary means, support system and ability to parent a child should have the opportunity to adopt a waiting child. More importantly, any child who is waiting for a permanent family should never be denied the chance to have one if one is there! I hope that the state will see sense, and not appeal this. Surely they want all the children in their care now and in the future to have every opportunity to be adopted into loving families. That’s what I call true “family values”.

Further Reading:

Miami Herald article of 9/23/2010

New York Times article of 9/22/2010

ACLU press release of 9/23/2010 on commondreams.org

Saturday, September 11, 2010

By the Hand and By the Heart

This beautiful song by John Denver is my 9/11 prayer for the world:
Rhymes and Reasons, by John Denver

Friday, September 10, 2010

Go With Nature Instead of Under the Knife to Reach And Sustain a Healthy Weight

I had a special request for this blog topic by a wonderful woman named Kate, whom I really respect from the on-line diet community I’m a long-time member of (www.dadamo.com). I had started a discussion on that forum on the topic and she said, quote, "Dude, please write about this on your blog! Your thoughts are both accurate and hilarious." Well, I hope accurate and hilarious will translate into enlightening for at least one obese person out there who needs help--real help, not radical, violent surgeries, pills that suppress and go against nature instead of support it and harmonize with it, and harmful fad diets. I say below that I wish I could shout this from the rooftops. Well, I realize that this blog is my cyber-rooftop and I pray, in this case—actually pray, not merely hope, because I’ve been there and I know what a despairing place obese people can be in—that this blog will reach someone who needs it. There is help out there for you that is so simple and so natural. Even though I’ve now lost 76 lbs on the GenoType Diet and I’m no longer physically fat, I’m still a “fat person” in the sense that I know I could gain it back in a split second if I don’t take good care to acknowledge that this is a lifetime challenge for me and that I need to make choices daily that respect that fact and employ the knowledge, tools and experience that I am blessed to have now to stay at a healthy weight. The wonderful news is that those choices, once you know about them, are joyful, satisfying, balancing and sustainable. That said, I’m now climbing up onto my peppermint rooftop...

When it comes to the diet I follow, The GenoType Diet (GTD) by naturopathic doctor Peter J. D’Adamo, I'm in "wish I could shout it from the rooftops and make every man, woman and child on planet earth understand" mode again. I usually don't get this way anymore. I used to want to make everyone understand how great the Blood Type Diet (BTD, the first D’Adamo diet I was on) is, how much it could help them, blah blah blah. But several years into it, I realized that, as the saying goes, "when the student is ready, the teacher will come." You can't make anyone see anything or do anything that they aren't ready to see or do.

So, yes, I tell people about the BTD and GTD, even urge some to try it, but that's it. If they aren't game, I don't lose sleep over it, or I try not to. I just think to myself, “Fine: more good food/chi for me! Enjoy your NutraSweet.”

But every once in a while...

Like this week. I kept seeing teasers for a show on ABC called “Nightline Prime - Secrets of Your Mind: Why We Do What We Do”, about a “radical” (you can say that again!!!) new procedure to lose weight. Folks, brace yourselves: it is BRAIN SURGERY.

Sweet agave nectar, would you just try this "radical", "unproven" diet FIRST, before you let them CUT INTO YOUR BRAIN?!!!

Oh, but many retort, the BTD and GTD were not researched in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. They’re not "scientific"! No, better to have a scientific MD in a white coat saw open my head and attach electrodes to my brain. That isn't risky, like some unproven, unresearched diet based on organic, whole foods.

I want to scream.

These poor, desperate, morbidly obese people. I know what that despair feels like. I’ve been there. I just wish I could get to each and every one of them, tell them about the BTD and GTD, and make them try it before doing anything so radical as brain surgery. The simple little BTD and GTD are as powerful--MORE!!!--than any electrodes. They will stop your cravings, they will get your system into balance and normalize your weight.

What the woman in that ABC story needs is one of the Dr. D’Adamo diets (preferably the GTD, in her case, because if I don’t miss my mark, she is a fellow member of my genotype, a.k.a., a “Gatherer”—see link below re the GenoType Diet), not brain surgery! To wit (from ABC's site, linked below, about this story):

"The Brain and Food

Bashir takes a closer look at the brain's mysterious relationship with food and its impact on America's obesity epidemic. Go inside the brain of an obese person and see how the brain responds to fattening foods like chocolate cake.

Bashir reports on a story of an obese woman who has tried everything -- from diets to bariatric surgery -- to lose weight and manage her compulsion to eat all the time. She turns to brain surgery -- the most radical weight loss procedure ever attempted."

Mind you, I'm not blaming the person who is choosing this surgery, I'm just saying I wish I could get to her--get to them all--and teach them about Dr D's diets, before they hurt themselves like this.

Like I said, I usually don't work myself up anymore over people who need the BTD/GTD yet aren't on it. I tell them about it, and then, usually, I just say to myself: horse, water, up to it to drink. But in this case, the horse doesn't even know there's a pool of water for her. I wish I could at least lead all the horses to water. Up to them if they drink or not, but what breaks my heart are the desperately thirsty ones who don't even know about water. They try all these other things and still their thirst is not quenched. When all they need is the quenching water of the B or GTD.

Sad!

What I witnessed on that show was SO MUCH WORSE THAN I EVEN IMAGINED from the teasers. So much worse.

Upshot? This poor, long-suffering fellow member of my Gatherer genotype had "tried everything" (or so she thought--she never tried the GTD, poor thing), and she proceeded to rattle off a list of the most horrifying protocols imaginable, such as fen-phen, bariatric surgery, etc. Nothing worked. So now she was ready to be wheeled in for experimental brain surgery, wherein they drilled holes "ten centimeters into her brain from both sides" (!) to implant electrodes on the THEORY that MAYBE these could impact her cravings, which she was driven by. Her drug of choice, by the way, was Pepsi.

Well, post-electrodes, she was better on the Pepsi--and here is a VERY SAD PART to moi, although it was just a passing comment she made and no one other than a BTDer or GTDer would have probably even picked up on the significance: She said to someone she was shopping with, who was worried that a liter, or whatever it was she had of something among her groceries, was the dreaded Pepsi, quote "You thought it was Pepsi, didn't you? Don't worry, it's Crystal Light." Crystal Light! In other words: post-brain-drilling and electrode implanting, this poor, sweet-natured woman has learned NOTHING about NUTRITION. She is still ingesting toxic junk that TRIGGERS CRAVINGS and that keeps you addicted and out of balance, not to mention unhealthy. She has lost no weight in a year since the surgery, but is happy that she is no longer ruled by cravings. She has them, but they aren't as powerful.

That is the SHORT VERSION, but my strong thing is: God, the GenoType Diet could have "fixed" her. Cravings GONE, weight OFF, nutritional knowledge, IN, daily exercise, TAKING PLACE, balance IN THE HIZZZOUSE, and all without drilling into her brain and implanting electrodes!

This world has gone crazy. In a sad way.

And those "doctors" who did this! OMG, they were like mad scientists, like Frankenstein! They were just having some big fun with their willing guinea pig.

When I watched her "doctors", I kept thinking: "This is like when they used to do lobotomies on people, just to see if it would "work". All for the advancement of SCIENCE, you see (read: their wallets and/or fame in their field)."

I was out of control re food cravings driving me, when I first went on the BTD in 1997. And it took many years, even AFTER that watershed change, and many "slip and falls", lots of fortitude and faith (because I knew the BTD was the right track, I just still had my struggles staying on said track at times), and then finally getting on the GTD and putting it all together--everything I'd learned--to get to where I can now honestly and gratefully report that, not only am I not ruled by cravings, I don't have cravings. Maybe I get what normal people (i.e., non-Gatherers) would consider a "craving", but that is only because they don't know what us thrifty-genotype-sporting Gatherers mean by "cravings". I mean, sure, I get hankerings for certain things. Right now, I'm on a watermelon jag like you wouldn't believe. But that is DIFFERENT. Take a memo: a hankering is not a craving. It is not driving to the supermarket in the driving rain at 9:00 p.m. to clear the shelves of potato chips and sour cream dip, when you DON'T WANT TO BE DOING THAT...yet you do it anyway, like a drug addict drawn to her drug of choice.

The woman in that story could have achieved what she wanted in a natural, healthy way, but she didn't know it, and doesn't know it, poor soul. That's what kills me, so many folks simply don't know. I wish everyone knew.

True, it is more work in some ways to make lifestyle changes than to just pop a pill or even undergo a radical surgery. I have to walk for at least half an hour per day and I try for an hour, or I fear gaining my weight back. And there are certain foods that I have to avoid like the plague which are ubiquitous in our society, so in that sense, it is challenging to avoid them (not because I miss them AT ALL, but because they are in everything) and eating out, in particular, is a challenge. But I’ve learned to go the homemade route and I love it. I work full-time and am busy, yet I find the “slow food” lifestyle to actually be quite a timesaver and far more relaxing than constantly being “on the hunt” for take-out food. There is more of a learning curve, more time, more effort, required to go the natural route, but the pay-off is priceless: once you learn which foods are your friends and keep you cravings-free, satisfied, healthy, energized and in balance, YOU KNOW. No one can ever take that powerful knowledge from you. It, along with proper exercising for your type, can get you to a healthy weight and keep you there for life, with nary a craving, and always feeling very well-nourished and vital.

I implore any obese person out there who is in despair, as someone who has been there in spades: don’t be afraid to try this “radical” diet, versus what to me is the far more radical route of pills or surgeries. You can get there with whole foods, it is all about learning which ones to choose, which ones harmonize with your genetic makeup. This relationship between your individual hardwiring and specific foods is called nutrigenomics, and it is the key to helping you.  The power to change your situation, to reach and sustain a healthy weight, comes not from fighting nature, but from working with nature. It comes not from fighting, suppressing and attacking your body and brain chemistry, but from understanding and befriending it, eliminating the foods which throw it out of wack, and giving it the foods that put it into balance.

Informational Links:

Blood Type Diet

GenoType Diet

Nightline Prime - Secrets of Your Mind: Why We Do What We Do