Archive for the Health & Food Category

A simplified guide to tea and temperature

Posted in Health & Food on April 4, 2012 by daviddiel

There are a lot of detailed guides to brewing tea on the web, like this one and this one. In an effort to simplify the rules at the expense of accuracy, I offer following table.

Tea TypeTemperatureBubble Size

Delicate Green 160°F Shrimp Eyes
Green 170°F Crab Eyes
White 180°F Fish Eyes
Oolong 190°F Rope of Pearls
Black/Rooibos 200°F Raging Torrent
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How to cook gourmet steak

Posted in Health & Food on December 14, 2011 by daviddiel

I received these tips on how to cook a gourmet steak from the head chef of a famous restaurant:

  • Choose the thickness of the steak based on how rare or well done that you prefer your steak. Thin cuts are better well done, while thicker cuts are better rare.
  • Get aged steak if you can find it. It will have a layer of stuff growing on it which must be thinly sliced away and discarded.
  • If the steak is not aged, at least dry it out. Wrap it in a paper towel and put it in a plastic bag. Change the paper towel daily for a couple of days.
  • On the day before you plan to cook it, put it in a plastic bag with your choice of oil mixed with Herbes de Provence (savory, fennel, basil, thyme).
  • Add either white wine or lemon to the bag a few hours before cooking.
  • Sear at maximum temperature on a cast iron pan with raised grooves.
  • Turn the steak only once near the end of cooking.
  • Allow it to cool somewhat before serving.
  • Pair with red wine.

Get to know your body

Posted in Education, Health & Food on November 18, 2011 by daviddiel

Don’t take my word for it. Your body is talking to you all the time. You probably notice it when you are overwhelmed, but it says so much more at other times. By the end of this message, I hope that you hear, or rather feel, something that you never noticed before.

By experience, I have decided that listening to my body is the most important activity I can do for myself and for others. That’s because I am in the best position to provide early diagnosis and treatment of myself. If something goes so terribly wrong that others have to get involved, then it is probably going to cost somebody a lot of money. That may happen at times, certainly at the end of life, but I want to avoid burdening others with my health. And, of course, I want to feel good. That’s why I started listening.

Here are a list of potential problems that can be avoided by noticing them early and taking care of oneself:

  • Feet – Do your shoes cause you to turn your feet inward or outward? Can you spread your toes in them? Do they chafe your heels? Can you modify them to improve your comfort and posture? Do your feet smell or itch due to unresolved bacterial or fungal problems?
  • Hips & Butt – When you sit down, does your belt restrict your waist? Do you clench your butt?
  • Back & Shoulders – How much mobility do you have in each region of your spine? What is the effect of bending and twisting? Are your shoulders drawn in toward your chest or up toward your ears? Are you holding tension in your neck?
  • Hands & Nails – Can you rotate your wrists through their full range of motion without irritation? How does it feel to spread your fingers wide? How long are your nails? Are their undersides clean? Have you cared for your cuticles?
  • Underarms – Can you feel or smell anything that needs to be remedied?
  • Scalp – How oily or dry is your scalp? What is the effect of increasing or decreasing how often you use shampoo, or changing brands?
  • Face – How open or clogged are your facial pores? Is your face irritated by bacteria, makeup, or chemicals that you are using? If you shave, what is the effect of changing how often your do it, or changing razors and creams?
  • Eyes – Are they dry? Are they cold? Should you be farther away or closer to what you are reading? If you wear glasses, is your prescription right for you?
  • Nose – Do you need to clear your nose or wash your sinuses? Do both nostrils feel the same? What do you smell? Can you feel the humidity of the environment, and do you need a humidifier?
  • Lips – Are they dried or cracked? Do you lick or bite them?
  • Teeth – Have you brushed and flossed since your last meal? Do you clench your teeth when you are angry, or during the night?
  • Tongue & Throat – What do you taste? Is there a coating on your tongue that needs to be brushed? Can you feel your tonsils, and do they need to be cleaned?
  • Respiratory System – Are you filling your lungs and emptying them completely with every breath? Do your chest and belly expand when you breathe? What is the rhythm of your breath?
  • Cardiovascular System – What is your heart rate? Is your heart tired? How stressed are you? Can you feel the restriction or openness of your blood stream?
  • Digestive System – How hydrated is your body? How do you know when you are hungry or full? Can you feel different types of desires for proteins, calories, vitamins, electrolytes, or various kinds of whole foods? Do you know when your body needs good bacteria from cultured foods? What causes gas or allergic reactions for you? When you eat fatty foods, do you feel how much bile your gall bladder has reserved to digest them, and do you know when to stop?

I hope this list makes you feel and think. A few years ago, I was only paying attention to a small percentage of these details. I knew that I felt awful most of the time, but I didn’t know why. Expanding awareness of these issues has changed my life and vastly improved my health. I only wish I had started sooner.

Standard bulk mail turns rain forests into landfill

Posted in Health & Food, Money on July 20, 2011 by daviddiel

The other day, I stopped by the mail room at my apartment complex, and I noticed that I didn’t have any standard bulk mail in my box. I was happy to get only mail that had been addressed to me. The usual junk was neatly stacked in these white bins:

Bulk Mail

Your tax dollars at work transforming rain forests into landfill.

The mailman must have been lazy that day, though I don’t blame him. Had he stuffed these papers into our boxes, nearly everyone would have dropped them into the white bins anyway, without a moment’s hesitation.

It’s nearly the physical equivalent of spam, and yet we’re paying for it! There have been a number of articles criticizing the US Postal Service (USPS) of costing taxpayers billions of dollars each fiscal quarter. The USPS is a government service that performs many useful functions, so operating at a loss is not necessarily a problem. But why, oh why, should we as taxpayers subsidize this particular kind of postal service?

Some people would like to blame the marketing companies that create this junk. Yet, in a free society, inspecting mail and judging the value of its content is a non-starter. Nobody can say that we are all better off with coupons or without coupons.

What we can do is stop subsidizing standard bulk mail! This would not stop mass-mailings, but it would reduce them. Marketing companies would think twice about sending full-priced, individually-addressed letters. The volume of mail would go down, and the price per piece would go up, which might be good for USPS finances.

But it’s not just about money. Above all, we should stop subsidizing standard bulk mail because it would have a positive impact on conserving the world’s rain forests. These beautiful forests are the home of many diverse animal species. They consume carbon dioxide and create oxygen. Have you ever received a piece of standard bulk mail that you wouldn’t trade for a breath of fresh air?

Variable Insurance Coverage

Posted in Health & Food, Law, Money, Sports and Recreation on October 24, 2010 by daviddiel

How much insurance is covering you right now? Without even putting a dollar value on it, how many types of coverage do you have? Did you make these choices, or were they chosen for you?

Sitting here in my apartment, I am double covered. If I walk over to my yoga mat, I am triple covered. But, if I walk down the street and hold up a protest sign, then I am completely exposed to the financial disaster known as medical liability. These circumstances are not of my choosing, and the existing health insurance laws in the US, Massachusetts in particular, actually prevent me from buying full 24/7 coverage without adding it on top of all of my other insurance.

Allow me to explain the marvel of injustice that insurance companies have conspired to create.

I rent an apartment just outside of Boston. As far as I know, every landlord in the area requires renter’s insurance for the property, and mine requires medical liability for myself and others.

I work at a company which provides substantial health coverage. If it were up to me, I would customize this insurance plan by making all of the deductibles equal, and raising them to something like $10000. It would be sad to pay such an amount, but wait a second… In the past four years of employment, my company has paid much more than that amount for insurance instead of putting it into my paycheck. I should cancel this plan, and get one that suits me better, right? No, not really. Strangely enough, if I turn it down, then I only get roughly 1/4 back in my pay check, or 1/6 after taxes.

I’m also a yoga instructor, so I’ve got yoga insurance. The government didn’t make me buy it, but every landlord and studio requires it, so again it’s a forced move. It covers me while doing or teaching yoga as well as my students and the venue. The standard coverage is probably enough to pay for hundreds of funerals in case somebody explodes and takes down the whole building.

Oops, I forgot something. Gosh, that always happens at just the wrong time. Did you read the fine print in the insurance document that your employer sold you? I did, and it says that I am not covered while participating in a protest. It’s hard to avoid the feeling that I have been manipulated here. Either my company or I would have to take on substantial financial burden for me to be covered while holding up a sign that reads “I protest the current senate bill” versus a sign that reads “I like the color blue”.

Finally, I can’t drive a car without insurance, so I’ve got that too.

All of this forced insurance coverage begs the question “What does society want to protect me from?” The answer: Doing yoga on the roof of my car while parked in the garage of my apartment complex. For that, I am quadruple covered.

Man thinks independently, loses party support

Posted in Health & Food, Law on October 28, 2009 by daviddiel

Here is news for the Democratic party: The fact that the current health care system is broken does not mean that everybody agrees with their proposals to change it. Joe Lieberman apparently disapproves of something in the bill, and the party immediately turns to ask So Why Was It We Didn’t Kick Joe Lieberman Out of The Caucus?

He has been pissing inside the tent for a decade, at least. His treachery was capped off by his opposition to Barack Obama in the 2008 general election. His whole raison d’etre is to harm the Democratic party… he does not believe in any kind of party loyalty.

No candidate wins his seat by promising to be a loyal slave of his party. When somebody thinks for himself and comes to a different conclusion than his party, I do not call that treachery. Many Americans have died to defend individualistic freedom, an idea worth more than all of the drugs and treatments the government will ever provide.

A party that does not tolerate independent thinking among their members does not deserve to run my country.

Health Shake Recipe

Posted in Health & Food on August 28, 2009 by daviddiel

I find myself drinking shakes often these days. Here’s what I put in them:

Main ingredients:
Organic Milk, Lactaid, or Soy Milk (whole or 2%)
Frozen fruit (berries, bananas, peach, pineapple)
Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
Cold water or ice (for desired thickness)

Optional food ingredients:
Yogurt (plain or all natural vanilla)
Juice (pomegranite, berry, or grape for sweetness)
Ground flax seeds (Spectrum)
Flax oil (Spectrum)

Optional powdered supplements:
Protein powder (Biochem 100% whey, one scoop)
Niacin (Solaray, 100mg/day, dumped out of the capsules)
Alive! multi-vitamin and mineral powder (half-scoop)
Vitamin C (Emergen-C)
Calcium powder (crushed Caltrate chewables)