Category Archives: Feed your head

Pinterest quackery

I’m beginning to think Pinterest has become the wormhole through which junk science enters the universe.

Sample du jour: an “alkalizing foods” chart telling people they can lose weight and prevent cancer by consuming certain foods to make their blood more alkaline.

Among the supposed “alkalizing” substances: lemon juice.

Those of you who passed chemistry class might, at this point, be giving that sentence an epic side-eye. But wait! You don’t understand! See, you put the lemon juice in water, which raises its pH, so when you drink it, it “alkalizes” your body. Science!




For those of you who flunked chemistry, let me explain:

Acids have a pH below 7.

Alkaline substances (a.k.a. bases) have a pH above 7.

Neutral substances have a pH right at 7. Pure water, for example, has a pH of 7.

When you add water to a strong acid, you get a weaker acid. When you add water to a strong base, you get a weaker base. You can’t convert an acid to a base (or vice versa) by diluting it. And you obviously can’t raise the pH of a substance by adding acid; that’s like trying to lighten paint by mixing in some more black.

Now for some biology:

Your blood is slightly alkaline, because blood is supposed to be slightly alkaline. The pH isn’t subject to the whims of your diet. If it were, a bag of Sour Patch Kids would probably kill you. The alkalinity of your blood doesn’t bounce around like your glucose level. It’s more like your body temperature: It has to remain within a very narrow window.

Even if your blood’s pH were subject to wild fluctuations, you couldn’t adjust it by means of diet, because anything you eat has to go through your stomach first, and your stomach is full of hydrochloric acid, diluted by your body to a pH somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5. To neutralize that, you’d basically (see what I just did there?) have to knock back a shot of Liquid Plum’r and chase it with a glass of Windex. I don’t recommend this, unless you’re just trying to die young, in the most horrifying possible manner.

What I’ve seen of the “alkalizing diet” isn’t particularly harmful on its face. It’s never a bad idea to go heavier on the vegetables and lighter on the aerosol cheese. But doing that won’t alter the pH of your blood — and it shouldn’t.


Folk Thursday: Kareem Salama

I love this video. The song is by Kareem Salama, an Egyptian country singer from Ponca City, Okla. (WARNING: Music starts automatically on his site.)

Having spent most of high school haunting the coffeehouses near SIU with my best friend — a Scottish-born Muslim girl of Pakistani descent — I find nothing particularly surprising or groundbreaking about the message in the video, but I have a feeling others might.


Unless …

As promised, I put together a Soundslides show last night for folks who may have missed the Tulsa Solar Tour but would like to learn a little bit about how the crunchy-granola half lives. It includes information on energy efficiency, recycling, water conservation, composting, organic gardening, chickens, beekeeping, woodstoves, LED lighting, solar energy, hybrid cars, carbon offsets, and more. The slideshow is set to John Lennon’s “Power to the People.”

To see the show, click here … then borrow some ideas and go do something to knock down your power bills. 🙂

On an unrelated note, the time/date stamp thingy on WordPress is acting weird. I decided the other day to join the ranks of the National Blog Posting Month participants. I’d thought that I’d missed a day or two in November, but when I looked back over my posts, I found that I hadn’t missed a single day, so I went ahead and signed up, figuring I could keep the streak going easily enough. Two days later, I glanced at the calendar on my sidebar and noticed there were some gaps in it. Apparently the time/date stamps had readjusted themselves in some strange fashion, so I had to go in and manually change them back. Weird.


Tulsa Solar Tour

(Cross-posted from House of the Lifted Lorax, because I am too tired to write a whole new riff here.)


I think our hens may have been even more popular than our solar panels this afternoon as we led tours of the House of the Lifted Lorax. They certainly made a big hit with my young neighbor, who has been watching them from afar (or at least from across the easement) for months. He wasn’t comfortable with the idea of petting them when we took them out of the chicken tractor, but he definitely liked watching them through the chicken wire. When his mom and grandma got ready to leave, we had to coax him inside with the promise of a cookie (oatmeal-cranberry-chocolate-chip, made with honey and eggs from our backyard).

Between 20 and 25 visitors from all walks of life stopped by to see the house and yard. We had some old friends show up, we made some new friends, we got to know a few of our neighbors a little better, and we had a surreal but utterly wonderful moment shooting the bull with a pair of self-described “old hippies” who could have been us in 20 years.

One of our visitors told us she’d come more for the chickens than anything else, and one couple on the tour walked out to the backyard to see the solar array but shifted their focus to the chicken tractor the minute they saw it. As it turns out, they’ve been thinking about keeping chickens but weren’t sure how to start, being city dwellers. I think our feisty, funny Bond Chicks offered them as much encouragement as anything I might have said. I hope they’ll post and let us know how they’re doing when they get a flock of their own.

Our bees were a big hit, too, and several people were interested in the LED “lightbulb” in my desk lamp, which isn’t the brightest light in the world but is pretty whizbang nonetheless.

If you missed the tour, the organizers are already planning to do another one next fall. I am also hoping to get a hand free in the near future to put together a kind of virtual tour to give you a sense of what’s possible … and in the meantime, you can
click here
to see a copy of the flier we handed out, explaining the various things we’ve done to reduce our ecological footprint.

I’ll leave you with one more dose of cute:


Have a good weekend, and go do something nice for the environment.


Handling temptation


Scout waits for me to give her the go-ahead to enjoy her favorite food: vegetarian sushi.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
James 1:12

When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought.
–Mary Baker Eddy

We took Scout along with us to a church picnic a couple of weeks ago. Scout is a very food-driven dog, and she’s amassed quite a repertoire of Stupid Pet Tricks that she can use to earn treats.

One of her tricks that gets a big response out of onlookers is something I call the Mine Game. I put her in a down-stay, and then I lay a treat on the ground in front of her and say “Mine!” in a very firm tone. Scout won’t touch the treat until I say, “OK — take it!”

It’s a cute trick to show other people, but the Mine Game also has some practical value: It establishes the owner as Alpha, it protects children (if the dog recognizes “Mine!” as a command, she’s less likely to bite an assertive toddler for yanking a toy out of her mouth), and it protects the dog from eating potentially harmful items, such as the bag of chocolate chips I spilled on the kitchen floor one afternoon a few years ago. (A quick “No! Down! Stay! Mine!” stopped Scout at the doorway and kept her from gorging herself on chocolate, which I’m told is toxic to dogs.)

Obeying this command is obviously very challenging for a little dog who really likes treats, so to reduce the temptation to disobey, Scout will turn her head away and avoid looking at the treat in front of her. If I push the treat closer to her, she just army-crawls backwards to get away from it.

Scout’s method of handling temptation is very different from most humans’ standard M.O.

We humans seem to have an affinity for flirting with disaster. Instead of trying to look away from the things that tempt us, we stare at our vices until we become obsessed with them. Instead of backing away from error, we dance as close to it as we possibly can. And then we wonder why we get ourselves in trouble.

Scout is wiser. Scout knows that if she yields to temptation, she’s going to get into trouble. Conversely, she knows that if she adheres to Principle by obeying her master’s commands, a blessing will eventually be forthcoming. It might not come as fast as she’d like, or in the exact way she’d like, but she knows that a blessing is coming sooner or later if she’s obedient, and she’s willing to wait for it.

No wonder people like her obedience demonstrations so much: In her feisty, funny, ornery-little-rat-terrier way, Scout is teaching her audience a valuable spiritual lesson.


Trivia contest

In my recent barrage of housecleaning and decluttering, I found some Route 66 items that are either duplicates of things I already have or are things I am tired of storing/displaying and would like to share with someone else.

In the interest of making sure these things go to good homes where they will be loved and appreciated, I am going to use them as prizes in Route 66 trivia contests.

Here’s the first contest. First person to post with all the correct answers wins a necklace (handmade by yours truly) with a pendant containing a piece of the road.

1. Where on Route 66 will you find a sign that says “Doofnac Xemi”?
2. Doofnac Xemi is an anagram for what?
3. I need a bottle of Yoo-Hoo, a package of Rit dye, a can of Strongheart dog food, a new jacket, a ham sandwich, and a flat of petunias. Where on Route 66 can I buy all these items in a single location?
4. How many patties are on the Big Okie at Hank’s Hamburgers?
5. It’s Thursday night. I’m sitting next to a bunch of steelworkers, eating free chicken wings in one of the oldest bars on Route 66. Where am I?

Good luck!


P.S.: Don’t forget: To prevent spammers from commandeering my blog, all posts are held in moderation, so if your answers don’t appear the minute you click “submit,” don’t resend the information. Your message will appear after I’ve approved it.

Good vibes

Someone found my blog while searching for “little five points hippie store.” I had no idea what that was, so just for fun, I Googled it. Lo and behold, I found out about an intriguing area of Atlanta called “Little Five Points,” which is just exactly the kind of place where one could reasonably expect to find a “hippie store.”

This article about Little Five Points reminded me of some places I love to visit. A lot of people are working on efforts to revitalize the Route 66 corridor through Red Fork right now, so I Googled five of my favorite haunts — Nob Hill (Albuquerque, N.M.); Austin, Texas; the University City Loop (St. Louis); the Washington Avenue Loft District (St. Louis); and the Makanda Boardwalk (Makanda, Ill.) — and sent the links to the girl who runs our neighborhood association.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I found a spiritual lesson in my research.

In thinking about these vibrant, eclectic communities, I noticed they shared a few important qualities:

1. Acceptance. The folks I’ve met in Austin, U. City, Washington Avenue, Nob Hill, and Makanda were all very friendly, very respectful of others’ backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures, and very indulgent (and even appreciative!) of others’ quirks. That outlook creates a fertile breeding ground for expressions of …

2. Creativity. Artists, musicians, and writers of all stripes are encouraged to express themselves in these communities. For instance, the revitalization of Washington Avenue began with artist/real estate investor Bob Cassilly’s amazing City Museum, which is essentially a seven-story assemblage of mosaic, sculpture, architecture, and everything in between.

3. Generosity. Just about every business in these districts will have a flier or ten in the window, advertising some good cause, whether it’s a photo of the humane society’s pet of the week or an invitation to a Habitat for Humanity project. Volunteerism is valued and encouraged. Looking around, you get the feeling that you’re surrounded by Good Guys … and you really want to be one of them.

You could argue that those qualities are just good business sense — after all, any business owner knows that in order to make money, you have to make your customers feel welcome and appreciated, give them the sense that they are experiencing something unique that they can’t find anywhere else, and present a community-minded image that makes them feel good about giving you their hard-earned money. But I think there’s something even bigger at work here.

Acceptance, creativity, and generosity are all spiritual qualities — expressions of God’s goodness. Those expressions make us happy. They give off what some of us hippie types like to refer to as “good vibes.”

The good vibes that fill a really cool business district are nothing less than the presence of the Christ, finding expression in thousands of tiny actions that radiate through the area and bless all those who are touched by them. Such neighborhoods are full of “reflection(s) in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love,” as Mary Baker Eddy says. No wonder we enjoy them so much!

I’m excited about the effort to revitalize this part of town.

I want people to recognize Red Fork for what it is: a fascinating area full of interesting, talented people. I want to see our historic buildings restored and used as engines of economic development.

But most of all, I want people to come to Red Fork to feel the good vibes that are found in places where expressions of goodness are valued, cherished, and cultivated, and where Love is encouraged to thrive.

It’s a time-honored formula for success: Seek ye first the good vibes, and all these things shall be added unto you. 😉


Feeding the multitudes

Today, in communities across the United States, we took time to remember and honor the life and work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Anyone who hasn’t been under a rock for the past 50 years is familiar with King’s leadership in the civil rights movement that brought about desegregation and made racial equality a matter of public policy.

In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, King said:

… [W]e refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

Intolerance in all forms — be it on the basis of race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, weight, height, appearance, or perceived ability or intelligence — comes from an ignorant belief that God’s ability or willingness to provide for all his children is somehow limited.

Fear of insufficiency leads humans to make foolish mistakes and commit egregious acts of intolerance, hatred and even violence against one another. We operate under the mistaken belief that there is not enough to go around.

Not enough of what? Food? Water? Fortune? Fame? Success? Happiness? Love? All of the above?

More than 43 years after Dr. King gave his famous speech in Washington, D.C., Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota — the first Muslim elected to Congress — invoked the idea of sufficiency in a written response to critics who questioned his decision to place his hand on a Koran rather than a Bible in a private swearing-in ceremony.

In his essay, which can be read in its entirety here, Ellison invokes the story of the loaves and fishes as he cautions us against using faith as an excuse for intolerance, exclusion, and the “stinginess of spirit” that come from a selfish, material view of the world:

In America today, we are encouraged to believe in the myth of scarcity — that there just isn’t enough — of anything. But in the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus, who the Muslims call Isa, found himself preaching to 5000 (not including the women by the way) at dinner time, and there didn’t appear to be enough food. The disciples said that there were only five barley loaves and two fish. We just have to send them away hungry. We simply don’t have enough. But Jesus took the loaves and the fish and started sharing food. There was enough for everyone. There was more than enough. What was perceived as scarcity was illusory as long as there was sharing, and not hoarding.

The idea here is not that there is a boundless supply of everything. Such an idea leads to waste and dispensability of everything. But the idea is that there is enough.

If scarcity is a myth, then poverty is not necessary. America need not have 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. It is a choice. Hunger is a choice. Exclusion of the stranger, the immigrant, or the darker other is a choice. … We can choose generosity.

Ellison’s point is well-taken. When we share, we cannot lack. We only get into trouble when we hoard the resources with which we have been entrusted.

More than 100 years ago, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, another deep spiritual thinker, Mary Baker Eddy, put it like this:

Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us.

Mrs. Eddy also wrote:

Let us reassure ourselves with the law of Love. God never punishes man for doing right, for honest labor, or for deeds of kindness, though they expose him to fatigue, cold, heat, contagion.

In other words: You can’t lose by giving, and you can’t be hurt by helping. If we give of ourselves, we are blessed. We can’t help it — it is, as Mrs. Eddy puts it, “the law of Love.”

I can’t begin to recall all the opportunities I’ve had to prove this for myself in the past couple of years. I have never found myself lacking what I needed to accomplish a good work. More than once, I’ve faced situations in which money, time, energy, or all of the above seemed to be in short supply, yet I’ve never run out. Every time I’ve taken a step motivated by love, I’ve been supported, and my needs have been met.

All we have to do is reach out in love, without regard to race, creed, color, or any of the dozen other hangups that try to dissuade us from loving our neighbor, and we find that loaves and fishes are as plentiful here and now as they were on that long-ago evening in the desert. When we allow fear and intolerance to hamper our work, we miss out on the opportunity to live the kind of life in which a “miracle” is just another day at the office.

Go seize the opportunity to make some sparks in the dark.



If the disciple is advancing spiritually, he is striving to enter in. He constantly turns away from material sense, and looks towards the imperishable things of Spirit. If honest, he will be in earnest from the start, and gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last he finishes his course with joy.
— Mary Baker Eddy

I did something a little out of the ordinary today on my lunch hour: I went out to Hunter Park and walked the labyrinth.

The labyrinth has been out there for about a year and a half. This guy from the parks department came up with the idea to paint the pattern on an abandoned basketball court as a unique way of reclaiming the space. He basically taped it off, painted the labyrinth on there with fog-line paint, and stuck a big rock in the middle so people can stop and rest if they want.

According to a sign at the park, a labyrinth is different from a maze in that there is only one way in and out, and while it has twists and turns — much like a maze — it does not have forks in the road or dead-ends designed to create confusion. There’s nothing to solve. It’s just a long, winding path that goes into the center of a circle. To get out, you simply retrace your steps.

It is impossible to get lost in a labyrinth, and it is impossible to take a wrong turn. You just have to trust the path and follow it patiently toward your destination. If you start looking too far ahead or shifting your gaze to one side or the other, it gets confusing — and a little unnerving. You lose track of where you’re going, where you’ve been, and how long it’s going to take to get there. You start to wonder if you’ll ever get done. You second-guess yourself, wondering if maybe somehow you did manage to overstep the lines and cross over onto the wrong path.

But if you stay focused and follow patiently where the path leads, you aren’t lost, confused, scared, or anxious. You simply are.

There’s a metaphysical lesson in the labyrinth. I’ll let you find it.

You can explore a virtual labyrinth here. (NOTE: Hippy-dippy-New-Agey music that sounds like it came from a “Hearts of Space” broadcast starts automatically when you hit the “click here to begin your journey” link, so turn down the speakers if it’s likely to bug anybody.)

If I can figure out where and how to do it, I want to put a labyrinth in my backyard. I don’t have a whole lot of space, but maybe I can come up with something involving stepping stones. We could certainly use some paths to help us steer clear of the little presents that Scout and Song and Jason leave for us when we’re trying to get to the garden. Might as well make the path interesting and aesthetically pleasing while I’m at it.

I wonder how much Sackrete it would take to build something fairly simple between the deck and the garden gate?