19 December, 2007

Prostate Cancer Risk Reduced By Green Tea

. . . with a caveat: While this article makes perfect sense, due to the known antioxidant properties of green tea (when prepared right!) there is the caveat of evolutionary pressures.

If you're not of Asian extraction, then probably your body has NOT evolved to take advantage of the precise properties of green tea as the Asian bloodlines will have evolved to.

That said, you will probably not suffer any ill effects from downing a cup or three of green tea a day. Also of course, green tea should not be the one and only prong in your plan of attack, you should also follow the other guidelines of The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook because the balanced approach and proper use of the foods will be far more beneficial than just trying one thing.

Last thing - this is not just for prostate cancer prone people - many cancers could be avoided by following a better diet, and the The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook has a lot of tips for keeping a healthy diet.

No Fleas, yet No Pesticides

The easiest way to kill the fleas harbouring in the carpet of the house from where Tiddles scratched them and the little bugger bred and multiplied? "Quick Henry - the Flit!" is not the answer. Nor is getting the pest man in with his goggles and mask and his jolly toxic sprays.

Latest research seems to say - vacuum the little sods. Kills them dead. Apparently. Hell, I say - why stop there? Vacuum Tiddles too!

Honey, could you please check the fuel rods?

Yeah they're coming in thick and fast now, for no readily discernible reason. Here's another way to live off grid and probably get paid for contributing to the grid in fact: Toshiba's personal nuclear reactor...

If this is not a hoax, it will probably be quite expensive for the average householder, but for motels and roadhouses and office blocks, it could be an answer to the cost of powering from the huge, expensive, polluting, and ugly Grid, the power network that has to span almost every city, town, village, highrise, factory, farmhouse, and homestead in Australia to supply the all-important energy needs of those places.

Actually, you may find that suburban streets could probably band together and set these up, the output at 200KW is enough to power about 90 toasters or 220 refrigerators, so if you go figuring it out, about 10 - 20 houses average usage.

Contrary to my title above, these things are sealed and pretty much maintenance free. And if you buy one you'd better hope so too - I hate to think what a 100,000 hour service would cost otherwise...

This is the kind of technology that, while entrenched power monopolies would love to be able to malign and create FUD around, will end the global warming cycle. 10,000 of these deployed around Australia will take away the need for several hundred megawatts worth of generator plant burning dirty fuels, and (more inportantly) take away the need for grid-supplying power cable runs across tens of thousands of miles as we currently have.

Aside from returnng material like aluminium and copper to the stockpile, this clears visual pollution, traffic hazards, and the need for surge power capacity that we have to currently build into the grid. Combined with houses supplying some of their power with cheap wind and solar electricity, the need for surge capacity will largely disappear.

Once again - tell your local Member about it, write about it, bring it to public attention - we can make Australia an example of how to do it right.

17 December, 2007

Additives? Just say NO!

The evidence against additives keeps mounting up. I'm very glad I take the stance I do against additives and adulteration of whole foods, because if just one person more starts reading and taking note of the labels of the foods they eat, I consider that a victory and am glad to have given one more person a chance at healthy life.

In The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, I think I made that point, and at the risk of saying it again - it takes our bodies hundreds of generations to adjust to new foods. Even if the human species is evolving at a faster and faster rate, it's not going to be possible for YOU personally to "evolve" to adapt to additives and preservatives and other crap in your food.

Personally, I check every tin, every packet, and every sachet the first time I encounter it during shopping, and if the ingredients aren't listed or the list is made hard to figure out, or if the list looks like a chemistry experiment in progress, it goes on my ignore list. If you're at all concerned about your health and the health of your family, you'll do the same.

The best way to survive the next few decades will be to eat minimally processed whole foods, cook the food yourself, and remember that what our ancestors were eating 7,000 to 12,000 years ago is what we are just becoming adapted to now...

07 November, 2007

Another Biodiesel Problem, Solved!

With this breakthrough, biodiesel has become fun again! Now that Rice University boffins have found a way to digest the major slimy slippery waste byproduct into another fuel, (ethanol,) there is no reason to avoid biodiesel any longer.

I don't know about you, but I played with biodiesel despite having no motor to test it in, and what really stumped me was the litre of slippery glycerin that is left behind for every 11 litres of oil you crack into diesel.

Because larger players have been getting into making biodiesel, the demand for glycerin has decreased sharply, one might say... Being able to sell or give it away to an ethanol refinery would solve the major problem, once a month/year/whatever you can have your waste glycerin removed and turned into something useful!

According to the article, each litre of glycerin digests into almost a whole litre of ethanol, meaning there will be little waste to worry about, and I'm betting that the waste there is, will be something that is easily biodegradable, being just the waste from bacteria digestion.

I'm thinking here - car engines run on petroleum, and are not really suited to running on ethanol. Old diesel engines were not really made for biodiesel, either. But once the advantages of biodiesel became apparent, diesel engine manufacturers got wise and now there is hardly a diesel engined domestic car that doesn't claim to run on it.

Similarly, petrol distributors have been adding ethanol and methanol to petroleum, and slowly car manufacturers have changed engines so they will run on these augmented fuels.

Now here's another thought - diesel engines were also NOT designed to run on neat vegetable oil, yet some are capable. If a diesel engine could run on a blend of vegetable oil and biodiesel, then you could say that 15 litres of vegetable oil will make 13 - 14 litres of useable biodiesel blend, and 1 -2 litres of glycerin, which, according to the story I linked to, will become 1 -2 litres of ethanol.

Negligible waste - now that is something to aim for!

The beautiful thing is, that we know that car engines, both petrol and diesel, are capable of running on these alternative and much cheaper and cleaner fuels, so put pressure on car manufacturers. The best way we can do that is by avoiding products with pansified petrol-only-sipping engines or fussy-fossil-diesel-thanks motors...

So pressure away - it will finally be YOU and YOUR CHOICES that determine the future of the world.

05 November, 2007

No, THIS is the Most Bastard Marketing Evah...

Aside from this article I posted a few minutes ago on telemarketing with a new twist, I'd say what I found yesterday has to take the cake:

Went to my chemist the other day to pick up a script, and noticed another piece of genius marketing. Do you suffer from cracked heels? If you do, then you know that it's partly hereditary, parly down to footwear, partly to weather. And you probably know the name NS-8 Heel Balm.

So there's a cardboard display on the counter full of NS-8 bottles, and beside them, a stack of pink thongs. (Known as flip-flops to our Podean siblings. Yeah, rubber beachwear for your feet.)

And this is brilliant marketing because? Well, because the one type of footwear guaranteed to bring on dry cracked heels is - thongs. As you sweat, the sweat collects between your foot and the rubber and doesn't dry, and breeds the fungus that is one of the other causes of cracked dry heels.

Just when you thought you'd seen everything...

03 November, 2007

Food "Unbelievably Coupled" With Body Chemistry. Well Duh!

Look - this one should already be obvious by now, but it bears repeating, often - You Are What You Eat. I know this story is only tangentially related by one reference to the topic, but it shows how what should be the most important thing you take home from an article is often just one line, one concept.

"The food you eat is so unbelievably coupled with your body's chemistry," said Richard Mathies, who described his new technology in an article published Thursday in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

If Richard was the only person saying that, you could be excused for not picking up on it. But the fact is that almost every article you ever read on health and nutrition mentions this central tenet. You Are What You Eat.

The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook is based on this tenet. You Are What You Eat. Yet we still go out and allow someone to sell us foods laced with additives that are known toxins and poisons...

We let them lie to us about it, because it's either cheaper for us, or easier for us. We Are What We Eat. We eat foods that are described with lies, that are lies. Lying to ourselves that it's not really that bad for us, becomes easier every time...

If I look even in my refrigerator I can find a lie right away. The carton of milk reads "Low in Fat, High in Taste." That's bullshit of the first water, right there. First of all, the flavour we perceive, is fat. You want to make something tasty to homo sapiens, add fat. It's how our tastebuds and brains are wired. So if the milk is low on fat then it isn't high in taste, at all. And if you find it tasty, it's fatty, you can depend on it.

The other exhortation on the carton, is "Perfect Balance. Dairy Goodness." Need I go back to the last paragraph? If the fat has been removed then the milk is no longer in "perfect balance," nor is it "dairy goodness" any more. We Are What We Eat.

Yet we buy it because of those slogans and all the "research" that has been done proving that watering down milk by up to half strength, skimming off the cream, and adding stabilisers and preservatives, all makes the milk "better."

Despite vastly improved medical resources, we have more illnesses, cancers, inflammatory diseases, and immune system illnesses per capita now than we ever had. We Are What We Eat.

Our greatgrandparents boiled the milk, and succumbed to flu and illnesses related to lack of hygene, but had almost none of the modern illnesses. They Were What They Ate, Too.

I can't stress this enough. Our bodies have for millenia evolved to be able to use the foods at our disposal, and that NEVER included additives and preservatives and semi-toxic colourings, nor chemical splitting of foods, nor "enhancement" of foods by adding totally unrelated vitamins and minerals and "secret ingredients" to them.

Get smart, get Body Friendly, and avoid additives like the Plague. If you can, try growing some of your own vegetables and herbs. Over at the Zen Cookbook site, I'll soon be posting a series of projects for growing fresh vegetables yourself, and other projects. But do your body a favour and start giving it a chance...

27 October, 2007

No Nurse! I Said - Prick His - Oh Never Mind!

For readers of the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, you'll already know that despite the stress the diet places on unprocessed foods, tomato paste is the best form of tomato because the boiling process releases the lycopene better than other forms of cooking. Now we know that the same is true of peanuts.


"Lloyd Walker, chair of Alabama A&M University's Department of Food and Animal Sciences who co-authored the study, said these phytochemicals have antioxidant qualities that protect cells against the risk of degenerative diseases, including cancers, diabetes and heart disease."

Apparently, boiling doesn't destroy these phytochemicals as much as roasting does. And raw peanuts don't release the chemicals as easily as cooked peanuts do.

Similarly, the tomato lycopene is released by the boiling process and becomes more available to the body than raw tomato or other forms of it.

And we shouldn't forget that teas started as a way to infuse the healing properties of herbs into water and make them more effective. There's another important lesson here - some delicate properties of teas and herbs are destroyed in anything hotter than boiling water.

17 October, 2007

Roundup Of Recent Interesting Bits

Roundup:

Biofuels may become more attractive if this membrane that filters out methane and CO2 becomes widespread in use.
As I say, the wheel of life keeps rolling along, yes we have species extinctions but there are a lot of new species being discovered too.
Cloned animal (meat) products may be in your diet already.
But eating cloned meat may be okay of you use potato starch compostable cutlery.
And it all doesn't matter, because the Matrix is closer than you think, and Microsoft is going to be spearheading the changes. Apparently. Get set to be rebooting your brain several times a day... %)

11 October, 2007

New Psoriasis Drug.

New Psoriasis Drug - this should be good. I have a mild form of psoriasis and it was the first time in my life anyone had told me I had "an incurable disease" which was both upsetting and also rocked my faith in the medical profession.

But this is a 3 month injection and it apparently shifts the plaque form of psoriasis - inform your doctor if you have a need, you might find it is good for you.

10 October, 2007

Plasma, LCD, Energy Stars, And How To Pick 'Em

If you're in the market for a new TV, bear in mind that all plasmas and some LCDs will not pass energy star compliances, apparently.

That little finding is no news to me, as plasma TVs have always struck me as a pretty inefficient way to light one's home. (I mean, as in the amount of energy they consume for each candela of output, so that if you put the picture on a white screen, you'd use a light meter a standard distance away versus a power meter measuring consumption. Not that you'd use it for lighting, but this is the fairest test I can think of.)

The other day I was taking someone through the plasma/LCD jungle that electronics showrooms have become, and I hit on the best way to explain how to select the TV that's best:

I urged them to select the picture quality they'd be prepared to accept, then walk among those TVs and test the temperature of the screen with the back of their hand. Coolest display wins.

And that's as simple as it gets. Whether plasma or LCD, the amount of heat given off by the screen is a measure of the energy that this particular TV wastes. Heat is wasted energy, and also it prematurely ages the electronics and the actual screen elements, be they plasma dots or LCD domains. NOTE this does NOT apply to rear projection TVs or TV projectors, although the heat test is a reasonable guide to projector efficiency.

So that's the simplest thing you can do right now when buying, to ensure that the TV you buy os the most energy efficient. And you don't even need a Government dude with a pocketful of energy star labels to show you how it's done...

05 October, 2007

Fats and Meat Don't Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

Beef-eaters rejoice, your gonads are not at risk from fats and meats alone! They are under threat though, if you over-consume and thereby make yourself obese - that will definitely up the risk, and add the risks of Type 2 diabetes and a lovely selection of cardiac and respiratory illnesses.

As I point out in The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, meat has formed part of our diet for a really long time, and our bodies depend on it. An abundance of meat, not so. Meats and animal fats are our natural food and in order to have a sensible effective diet you need some meat, and it's about time scientists produced this result.

SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, September 15, 2007.

Change To Prostate Cancer Biopsy Procedures

This is still the least acceptable outcome in my mind. As some of you may know, I began developing prostate cancer at age 48/49 and I checked into the treatments available to me. Not good news, the most common intervention, being a surgical procedure, results in impotence and incontinence for the vast majority of men, and chemical methods and radiotherapy having figures not all that different.

I developed The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook diet because this option has no side effects, unless you count a slow 1Kg/mth weight loss as a side effect. Being a bit of a scaredy-cat, I used nothing else but the diet for seven months, and at the end of that seven months, my PSA had reduced from 4.8 to 0.8, and my urologist said there was no need to take a second biopsy set of samples because a PSA that low meant there was no more cancer.

The first biopsy? That showed over 60% of cells with high grade PIN, which is cells turning cancerous. I'm confident, two years later, that this percentage will be hovering somewhere between zero and naff-all.

I developed the diet from some food hints my urologist gave me, and seven months intensive research on the Internet, ultimately testing each combination on myself. And "combination" is a carefully chosen word here, because one of the things I as a generalist found and which most specialists would miss, is that some foods harmonise together extremely well.

For example, tomato is good. Tomato sauce is better, and tomato paste is best, at supplying several antioxidant groups to fight the cancerous cells.

But tomato paste and grape seed oil together are up to TEN TIMES more effective than tomato paste alone, meaning you can use a lesser quantity to cook with and still get a huge benefit from the combination.

So if your prostate cancer is still in the low stages, try the diet. It's now worked for several people to lower PSA, has helped a woman get over cancer of the womb, and (because certain causes are similar) a Type 2 diabetes sufferer reduce her cholesterol and blood sugar.

Moronic Statements are Oxymoronic

If I read this right, then we'll actually be unaffected on the whole. But a bit warmer...

Look, I'm all for bringing attention to bear on the fate of the world, and I'm all for everyone getting on that bandwagon and making people more aware of what's going on. What really shits me is when otherwise trustworthy, respected, and august bodies start dribbling crap and confusing people.

I don't care WHERE you live, drought and flooding are mutually exclusive. Sorry.

Australia may experience flooding in some regions and drought in others, that I can accept. We're a big country, with room for wide variation. But none of that is made clear by that article, it's just badly written and doesn't convey what may happen.

Temperatures rising means more energy in the weather systems. And there's no use saying Australia will be affected as though only Australia will be affected, the entire world is a system that constantly tries to balance itself out, and adding more energy to the system means everywhere will experience wilder weather and more extremes.

It's just that the whole article sounds like an exercise in panic-mongering, which is not as good as an exercise in gradual and coherent education would be.

Folks, batten down the hatches, because there is definitely going to be an interesting ride weatherwise in the next few years. But please don't go running around the streets bellowing "Fire! Flood! Drought! Famine! Doom and gloom!" because that will not help.

03 October, 2007

Bottler Of A Footprint

One last thought, this time about bottled water. I mentioned the sensationalist thing about using the most water per household (in indirect ways) of any country in the world, yesterday. Today, quite coincidentally, on TV was something that really DOES deserve headlines - bottled water.

They mentioned another footprint, the "carbon footprint" and I'll add two more, the "rubbish footprint" and the "greenhouse footprint." I'll readily admit, I made those two up on the spot, but they should all be forming part of our ecological awareness.

Do you know how much water/energy/material goes into making the bottles, filtering the water, and filling those bottles? Distributing them by the truckload? Displaying them in outlets and keeping them cold for you? And then, do you recycle the bottle or throw it in with the general rubbish? Are you aware how much water/energy/pollution is needed to recycle the plastic? Or that some so-called recycling plants actually just throw them into the landfill anyway?

I'll set you a thought challenge - it's not a very responsible challenge, but it should point out something to you. Collect all your rubbish for a week - including the fine plastic garbage bags - and pile it up on a fireproof surface in or around your home. Now seriously consider setting fire to it. Would you like that amount of smoke and smell and toxic fumes in your place?

I'm betting you wouldn't - yet oxidising and breaking down that rubbish in a landfill or waste disposal plant will release exactly the same amount of pollution to the ecosystem. Not only that, but between five and twenty times that much toxicity has already been released by the manufacture of those goods - that the rubbish is now the sad remnant of.

Think about that the next time you buy plastic bottles of milk, tins of foods laced with preservatives, and your week's worth of loaves of bread from a factory outlet in plastic sleeves, and carry it all proudly home in six plastic shopping bags driving your six cylinder 3.8 litre touring class vehicle. THAT'S where you'll start to make a difference!

Got Booze and Brains, Now Just Gimme Good Looks.

Always good to have a "bad habit" legitimised by research. God bless the Kiwis sometimes...

Depending on your body type, ethnicity, and habits, between one and four drinks a day increases "cognition." It makes you smarter. In one way, I knew that. We all know that, in some deep atavistic fashion. See? We're smart about alcohol!

Okay. According to my research for The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, it was already known that a glass of red wine a day confers a health benefit for most people, and especially for my target audience, prostate cancer sufferers. I also unearthed that other alcoholic drinks confer benefits, provided they are used in moderation. If you're European, in fact, you have a gene that confers some immunity from some effects of alcohol.

And there are certain forms of alcohol that are better than others for you, especially if they are made in the time-honoured ways without commercial chemicals. I'll just say this - I like cider, I like beer, I like red wine, I like mead. Now that I have a reason to imbibe one or two a day, life is distinctly looking up again...

02 October, 2007

Water Wail

We're bad at water conservation, if this study is anything to go by. I've had this article on the back burner for a while, until inspiration should hit me - and it finally has.

The thing here is, the hidden water costs are in things like making the fertiliser to produce the grapes or the feed for the beef, in processing those products, and then delivering them to us. But these things recycle. Eventually, all that water circulates back.

The trick for us is not to take it out faster than it can trickle back into the system. That, and the fact that a good percentage of that water that fell on the grapes or the feed for the stock, would have fallen anyway, and produced no benefit to us at all, had we not fortuitiously had a farm underneath it...

Once you realise that, the water footprint becomes a bit less of a scandal and a bit more of a "what can we do to reduce it?"

It's another example of blowing something up out of proportion. Yes a decent steak may have cost 100 litres of water to produce - but if you didn't create the demand for it by eating it, I estimate that 75 litres of that water would still have gone around the cycle anyway. So whoopee.

Those people who have a smaller water footprint are also invariably living in poverty and squalor. Don't forget that. They have no choice but to forego that steak. And if you counted how much water per person went through the aquifers and the hydrological cycle, I'm sure you'd find that this figure depends on the rainfall and water flows for the region, not the profligate lifestyles of the population.

I wonder how much of a headline that would make? "Australia has a lower population density than almost anywhere else in the world" sounds a lot less exciting that saying "AUSTRALIANS ARE THE WORST WATER WASTERS IN THE WOOOOOOOORLD!"

Sensationalising something doesn't make you an environmental crusader, just a tosser.

The Psychology of Food and Eating

Some good points on the psychology of food and eating here - chances are you have known this, subliminally, all along.

Just a few observations - if you present a big meal on a huge plate, it will look smaller and you'll tend to eat more to compensate. Better to sneak a smaller meal onto a small plate, your brain will make the "plate 90% full = huge meal" connection even when it *knows* the plate is smaller.

Eating while using a computer is a nasty habit anyway - and you do tend to munch more when distractedly reading your RSS feeds, so don't do it. Have snacks between meals, by all means. Just not while at the computer. And if you have snacks, try and skip a meal. Have a good breakfast, snack during the day, and skip lunch.

Are you the cook? Get a smaller set of saucepans, and when you read a recipe, mentally cut the fat in half and use body friendlier fats. Trust me, all these things work. Smaller serving sizes are great, but smaller serving vessels are even better. If there's less to go around, most people instinctively take a smaller serving on their plate. And if the plate is smaller too, they may end up eating a meal only two thirds of what they'd serve themselves if the serving vessel was huge.

Your brain is finely-honed and superbly tuned, just not for instances like this where old survival traits (like stuffing yourself at mealtimes) meet modern social requirements. (Like not becoming overweight, not taking the last serving, not appearing to be the "greedy" one.)

Unfortunately, when it has instances like this, your mind hands over to the old atavistic brain and that's why we need to fool it. So even if it sounds like utter crap to you, give it a go and be surprised.

27 September, 2007

Environmental IDIOTS Block - Wind Power?

Bad words! No <g> rating! You have been warned!

Stories like this one make me so ashamed to be known as "environmentally conscientious."

Their concerns that "400-foot turbines would loom over an adjacent wilderness area" is such a load of shit that I am just about struck speechless.

Really, when people act like total assholes like this I depair, and I think maybe we deserve to go extinct. Would they prefer a nice tail of nuclear fallout from another melted-down power plant "looming over" their precious effing wilderness area?

How about all the other wilderness areas in the world, they should all get placed under pollution stress because these dickheads are worried about one wilderness area being "loomed over?"

Pack of NIMBY assholes, I hope someone shits in your gardens and buries you and your fucking dog in oil sludge and soot and greenhouse wastes!

And to my regular readers, I sincerely apologise - but I hope that just ONE of these people reads this article and gets their head out from up their arse long enough to realise what a pack of pettyfogging shitheads they look like to the rest of the world...

24 September, 2007

Get More From Your Solar Array!

I've just posted an article to the Zencookbook Dot Com site which is hopefully the first of many, this one concerns an improvement that can be made to most solar array installations to produce a bit more output from both new or existing installations. I've also asked for someone to sponsor me with this and other experiments, so if you can help please contact me.

I've taken the step of just putting the whole idea online because right now, anything that gets more energy out of existing technology and thereby makes it cheaper to own, is desperately needed, and I'd rather see this idea in use than argue and fight with (so far) dozens of stupid company people who should know better but are all too tight-arsed to reach in their pocket and help develop an idea...

So it's public domain for non-commercial use, and if you find it useful maybe you can sponsor me or donate something I can use for further development.

19 September, 2007

Zencookbook Has A New Home!

After countless dropped-out connections thanks to the total crap Telstra are allowed to serve up and call phone lines in a capital city, I've moved Zencookbook to a hosting service, and while I was at it also changed from the rather ordinary HTML only pages to a a CSS based and hopefully compliant format. That means that only the front page is there as yet, but that's a start... Rest of site is now just a matter of transferrinf text to the new framework.

09 September, 2007

Jatropha. New fuel crop or regrettable mistake?

Keep an eye on jatropha - if this is half as good as they say, I'd say we'd be fools not to look into places where it can be planted. A lot of our farmers here in Western Australia in the last few years have discovered how much the drought can suck.

I'm not advocating turning a whole property over to jatropha production - again, as for the Mali farmers, food production should not suffer for fuel crop production - but in a drought, a crop that can produce income without needing the guaranteed rainfall might not be a bad idea...

Now for the negatives. Haven't we learned from cane toads and rabbits and tilapia? But apparently the Mali farmers manage to grow it between rows of crops, and that gives hope that it would be controllable. Also, I'm thinking of one other "weed" that I've found a use for.

Growing wild over enormous amounts of the land here are these small yellow melons, which are treated like a weed and which grow pretty much anywhere, unassisted. You can cook them into a pretty flat tasting melon pie, but the real value of them is in the seeds.

See, the seeds are similar to pumpkin seeds, and when dried and roasted, are a snack that seems to be rich in antioxidants and may possibly be an addition to the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook diet. Pumpkin seeds are one suggested food that helps our bodies to reverse cancer, but the seeds have tough outer shells and that means either nasty chewy splintery bits when roasted, or a lot of hard work hulling the seeds before roasting.

The pigmelon seeds have thinner outer coverings. Also, with pumpkins, you need to get the seeds when pumpkin is being processed, or grow pumpkins especially for seed. These pigmelons are pretty much good for nothing else but their seeds, except that the pulp and stems and leaves would make a good return to the soil of organic matter - since you're extracting the seeds, you can be pretty sure the plant won't get away under your crop because there's no seeds to grow from.

So it makes sense to me to grow some of the things that don't need precise rainfall and pH and NPK ratios, during the worst years of drought, and revert to mostly food crops and a bit of "insurance cropping" during the better years. And if demand for these products grows, who knows we may open up a whole new belt for more eco-sensitive farming.

27 August, 2007

Links To Articles Of Interest Aug 07

To CFL or not to CFL?:
First, a link to a guide to CFL light bulbs - please note that there are a number of things that can be described a bit more.

CFL lights are Compact Fluorescent Lamps and they combine the humble fluoro tube (a bit coiled in on itself and mangled, but the same, basically) with an electronic circuit which replaces the big metal ballast in a traditional fluoro light fitting. Ballasts, being a winding of wire, had some resistance and lost some energy due to heat, and were prone to buzzing when the core laminations began to separate. The electronics still wastes some energy as heat but is generally less wasteful and not noisy.

CCFL lights are Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps and they include a tiny inverter so that they can operate off 12V. Think of those older 12V powered fluoro light fittings that were so popular as car trouble lights in the late 70's and early 80's - this is them, married to a CFL style lamp.

On the drawback side, the article I reference above mentions that you might save $80 a year on an average household power bill by using CFL light bulbs, and that CFLs cost more to initially purchase, and that may both be true - but there is a far more compelling reason to buy CFL - you are saving pollution which would have been generated by the power station to supply the extra power. That alone make it imperative to switch to CFL or CCFL style lighting.

On the bonus side, using CFLs means you can light up some of the more dimly lit areas of your home and still generate less pollution. Also, CFL light globes are now a LOT cheaper than you think. Shop around, I'll give you an idea or two to start you off:

In Woolworths, a CFL bulb costs around the $5.00 mark, occasionally you may find two to a pack for that price, but in general, Woolworths is a grocery store not an electrical/hardware store. Going to Bunnings I can pay $9.00 for a blister pack of four of the same wattage CFL, and if you go to a discount store you can pick up two packs for $3.00 sometimes.

As the article also states, CFL are a fluorescent tube based light and include some mercury. Better to recycle these and return the mercury to the manufacturing process than let it seep through the water table from the landfill to your water...

BONUS POINTS: If you realise that by buying a solar panel and a gel battery and running CCFL light bulbs outside, you can have a garden lighting system that is as well lit as a fluorescent lighted garden, for no further outlay, no further energy costs, and no further pollution. I've been using this system with a small 300mm X 300mm 4W solar panel and a cheap $20 gel battery for a year, and it lasts well into the wee hours of the morning, I have a little timer on it so it turns on around 8PM and off again at 2AM and it has never let us down. And it has cost $0.00 in electricity or pollution since then.

Buy Fresh, Buy Local:
My second find of the month involves buying local and buying fresh. Don't think "oh, that's a simple concept, why is he bothering?" and dismiss it. This is at one swoop the best thing you can do for your quality of life, and if you don't do it you pretty much deserve what you get.

It's so simple - ask at your corner store, your grocer, your butcher, your supermarket - "Is there a local produce section please?" and if there is, buy whatever you can from there over the shiny offerings from the "national warehouses ensuring that you get the freshest produce ever."

Anything you can do to break the large supermarket chains' holds on produce markets, will result in a better quality of life for you and your family. If your local "SuperHugeMarket" isn't selling those tomatoes that they've had in the chiller room for the last eight months so they can name their own price for tomatoes this season, they will stop doing it. Their price of tomatoes will go up, but your local markets will have reasonably priced - and more importantly, fresh and healthy - tomatoes.

If you can do this, and avoid the trap of preservative-laden or "convenient" produce, you're taking a step towards a healthier life. If you purchase a copy of my Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, you'll be making another.

21 August, 2007

The Colour of Cancer-Free

Found a "fresh minted" article here that will help with the diet in the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, but it needs a bit of clarification I think. Before you go rushing out and buying everything in sight based on colour... hehehe...

First, this article, as in so many others, barely mentions the words "fresh" nor "natural." Not as in "the kind my supermarket would have you believe but in fact we've stored this stuff for up to a year already and bombarded it with chemicals to keep it looking bright and fresh" but the kind of fresh you get from taking a vegetable that has ripened in the ground, been harvested no more than a few days ago, and brought all nice and cool and crisp to the market where you've taken it home and cooked it within a day sort of fresh and natural.

Because, if the fruit or vegetable has been treated to make it keep longer, it's now contaminated with chemicals that are NOT in the human species' diet plan. If it's been stored for any length of time, the active ingredients have lost their potency and you may as well eat coloured starch. And most importantly, if it's out of season, then for most fruits and vegetables we've lost the other great natural healing force, the Pulse. In the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook I mention the Pulse for a range of ingredients and how it's actually a large part of the effectiveness of the diet.

Also note that not all things that are brightly coloured are automatically good for one. The beautiful red colour of Amanitae mushrooms hides a potent toxin that kills flies on contact and can kill a human almost as easily.

Also, bear in mind that the things that give a food the colour and the tart taste are the ingredients we want? Of grapes, it's the skins and seeds (especially the seeds) which give the antioxidant effect, and that is why red wine (which is brewed with the skins and seeds in the vat) is effective while white wine (which is brewed from white grape juice only, no skins or seeds) is not. The old saw that the "goodness is in the skin" of a vegetable is for a large part the truth.

Can I put it any plainer? Old wives' tales had to originate from something. Our ancestors didn't all know how to read and write, but they knew how to pass on observations. The family down the road, that peeled the skins off their vegetables and ate mostly potatoes and very few others, their kids sickened every year. It's as valid an observation as any made by a scientist in their laboratory today, and the way we passed that knowledge on was by repeating it until it stuck and became an old wives' tale...

So if you have any old lore like that, it needs to be preserved. If you leave it in comments here, I will try and collect it inot a coherent and searchable web page every so often. Meanwhile, have a great day, and don't forget to eat your greens, and your reds, and your purples.

20 August, 2007

Green is the new stupid

No apologies to using a hackneyed paraphrase. This is a hackneyed subject, no matter what. When I first saw the original article appear, my first reaction was "what a pack of eedjits!"

I haven't changed my mind, either. Let's assume, for this scenario, that black backgrounds really do save energy. (They don't on some monitors, by the way.) So how long do you typically spend on the serach engine results page? An hour a day in total? That's under 5% of the day. Assuming that your monitor uses 20% less power on that black screen, that's a saving of 5% of 20% of total power use, or 1% power saving. I could save that by hitting keys slower when working, so that my body doesn't produce as much heat load for the air conditioner to have to move...

Then too, the penetration of LCD monitors means that the backlight stays on at the same level, and switching pixels to black could actually increase power consumption. Also, on some older tube type monitors, clamping the EHT power supply down rather than switching it off can sometimes be used to produce black. Again, those monitors actually use more power when displaying black.

And of course, while the penetration of LCDs is estimated at 75% in the Google blog article, most of those are in a work environment, many home computer users still have tube type monitors. So the work related monitors are at best not going to experience a practical difference displaying black, and besides, most workplaces pretty much discourage keeping a search engine with a black background open instead of a crisp white document, so these will typically spend much less than an hour a day with that page on top, anyway.

And the homes users, they may use a search engine, but only to find new crisp white pages to read and crisp white games to play.

Best way you can save energy with your monitor is to turn it off when not using it.

03 August, 2007

1918. Hmmm 2018 is not far away.

It killed more people than several world wars, then vanished. The one year outbreak in 1918 - 1919 killed what was initially thought to be 40 million (!!!) to 50 million people but a more recent revision of these numbers says that figure is approximately double what was initially thought. Spanish Flu could very well have been the closest the human race came to a mass extinction event in recorded history. Let me put this into perspective for you. It is now believed that between 80,000,000 and 100,000,000 people lost their lives to that microscopic killer. That's between four and five times the population of Australia...

The Spanish Flu (or "La Grippe" or "Swine Flu" as it was also variously known) was one variant in the dance between predators and prey, and we weren't the predators in that round... That variant is still latent within the structure of today's viruses and can emerge again, and of course there are any number of other variants which could become even more efficient infectors. It produced extreme symptoms that masked their activity and caused the virus to be misdiagnosed by the much lesser medical knowledge of the time, puzzling doctors. One of the killers was the bacterial pneumonic and bronchial illnesses that resulted from the way the virus acted.

And I'm mentioning that because I believe that I've just survived the great great grandchild of that virus. As you may know, here in Western Australia we have had four young lives cut short by the virus and the bacterial infections it engendered, and in Queensland now, another child has lost the fight. And no-one has checked on how many of the older and more infirm have passed on from pneumonic infections this flu season, and how many of those were attributable to this new virus strain. I'm not even a little sure of any of this, because I am not an epidemiologist, but I think it should be investigated by one.

All I have to go on is the fact that I have never had a flu lay me low for over three weeks, almost four weeks in fact. And five children have been killed by a flu. And an unknown number of seniors. It may not be the global pandemic this year that Spanish Flu was back at the start of last century. But it's early days, and certainly the last 20 years have marked an ever increasing virulence...

One last thought: If anyone is a medical person out there, can the blood of person who has fended off a virus be used to produce an antibody that can be grown and used to inoculate those most at risk? Because if so I need to get me to a laboratory.

24 July, 2007

Killer Soft Drink

A new study about soft drinks has concluded that one soft drink a day will do you harm. Geez I wonder why I am not surprised and neither should you be. Soft drinks all contain additives and preservatives up the wazoo, to stop what's inside from spoiling on the can and leading to a nasty lawsuit when a drink does obvious damage rather than the hidden subtle damage.

Remember the additives? If a soft drink was composed of fruit, water, and carbon dioxide, then I'd say they would be okay in quantities of one a day. But in addition, every soft drink contains additional very processed white sugar or artificial sweetener, and very artificial and unnatural preservatives, colourants, flavourings, modifiers, and, if you're lucky, up to 5% fruit juice. (Which by the way is not guaranteed to be pure fruit juice even if they had trademarked the name "pure fruit juice" because pure fruit juice has to have some form of preservative in it too.)

Of course the soft drink manufacturers immediately struck back with their most powerful weapon, the old "no it doesn't, either, nyah nyah! You can't prove a thing!" ploy. And of course I'm going to believe their research with its vested interest only in selling soft drink - NOT your health - to give me the results that I can trust, as opposed to a whole range of bodies whose research is set up specifically to find out what things are harming my health. But I must be in the minority, because I still see those drinks on the shelves...

The study doesn't actually go far enough for me, there are a few things I'm curious to know. For example, what about soda water drinkers? Are they at greater risk of arterial plaques and heart disease? What about beer? What about microbrewery beers produced without the range of preservatives and additives? Ciders and meads?

Because I'm betting that if you add fizz to something, it will not harm you aside from maybe giving you hiccups, but as soon as you add something whose parent food is a chemical formula, things are gonna get distinctly dangerous.

One last thought. Making all those chemicals costs us heaps in energy and pollution. Processing it all costs a lot in energy and pollution. Drinking it gives you a raft of health problems that are better off avoided. So why?

23 July, 2007

Quick Easy and Cheap Nut Sheller

A quick trip to Instructables and I found that their design can be made a bit cheaper by using nursery plant pots, or three similar shaped pots in three different sizes. I won't add to the designs, it's easy enough to pick up the idea from that and the second article there, and then instead of "expensive fibreglass mold" substitute the words "cheap plastic plant pot" instead... Also see my comment down the page, explains in a bit more detail.

Also note that you can probably use this to crush the shelled nuts if you adjust the spacing closer. In fact if you get two tapers that are not quite identical you could conceivably mill cracked wheat and possibly adapt the idea to a fairly efficient flour mill too...

03 July, 2007

Allergy, Additive Be Thy Name

Doctors are finding an increasing number of young children have allergies. Doctors are"puzzled" by that, and sound a warning that in another six to eight years these kids will be rebellious teenagers and into experimenting, and many will die or end up in ER because they will trigger their allergies.

Taking the last point first. No no no - every report I've heard about kids with allergies says that their allergy has whipped them. They ask to make sure before they touch anything edible, and are generally more careful than most adults I know with allergies. What will be putting these kids in ER is something different.

First, to what's causing the ever increasing allergies, asthmas, type 2 diabetes, and other illnesses. I will crusade against this to my dying day, and I will tell you why it's bad, then tell you what it is, and then you can go to my zencookbook site and grab the free version of the e-book.

The thing that causes these illnesses is bad because: It takes millenia for the human species as a whole to adapt to particular foods. So in Europe, alcohol has been a part of the diet for 8,000 to 10,000 years in some form. And sometime in the recent past, Europeans have developed a gene that allows them to resist alcohol's effects more than say an Asian person. That's not to say that one day a person just became resistant - it took generation after generation of people dying from alcohol and thus failing to pass on their nonresistant genes before this happened.

Our bodies today are what the diets of 5,000 to 10,000 years ago made them into, lean mean WHOLEFOOD digesting machines. And as we've denatured our food and introduced additives we have been seeing increasing incidences of a range of illnesses. Cancers? Almost unheard of in the past. Diabetes mellitus? Oh yes a rare condition, poor unlucky souls that get it. Allergies? What, pray tell, might those be? We did have one boy in the village once, young Mongol, who perished in a most unpleasant way after drinking cow's milk but we aren't sure if that was the cause or not.

If you buy my book (which of course I recommend, natch) there's a listing of the additives and their effects on the human system. Sobering reading, around one third are outlawed in some countries, around half are not good for us in general, and the other half is the half that's least useful (and therefore least used) in modern food preparation and preservation.

Manufacturers need to stabilise food so it doesn't go off and result in a lawsuit. They need to colour and texture and flavour it so that today's flavour-driven buyers will find it appealing.

And you'll find that with the rise of every illness, there's a corresponding rise in the use of the relevant additive... Cancers increasing - a doctor whose children I know had made the connection almost 100 years ago that where white sugar and white bread went, so went cancer. I've noticed that when some additives became approved for food use and water use, the incidence if Type II Diabetes rose several years later...

"Yes," you can say, "our species adapted to new foods over a long time, but only because someone ate those foods and kept eating them."

And you'd be right, except that you're missing out the most important part of the equation: Of those earlier generations, those that first ate a particular item of food, died. So if you want to become a statistic today so that your great great great great great grandchildren won't get cancer from Exxx, you go right ahead.

But for those of us who want very much to not become a genetic statistic, it's far better to avoid that nasty stuff and let future generations grow up not resistant to Exxx...

Lastly, what will be putting those kids in ER. Think about the safe limit for additive Exxx - what is considered a "safe" dose? Well you can bet that Manufacturer A will make sure they don't use too much more than the "safe limit" in their product. And Manufacturer B also won't exceed the fabled "safe" dose. Nor Manufacturer C, and D and E and F. But you, who are going to eat the products from all six manufacturers in the course of your day, you still accumulated a dose six times more than the accepted safe limit of that additive... Now mix in a couple of bad tablets at a nightclub, and suddenly the real reason kidswill be at risk is a bit more obvious.

Why doctors are publicly lying about being "puzzled" when in fact they all have these same figures and statistics and are trained to put two and two together and comeup with Exxx? Who knows, but at least you can know better, and start reading labels for additives as if your life depended on it.

Because, you know, it just might...

04 June, 2007

Medieval Queen Of The Kitchen

Sabrina Welserin is a countrywoman of mine - she hails possibly from Germany, or more likely (to judge from her recipes) from Austria actually as I recognise some ingredients that weren't so well known outside Austria.

She's an unusual woman - in the 16th Century, she's educated, which places her in one of the larger households, she's a consummate cook, which makes her the lady of the house, and she thinks in pretty grand scale, because who would cook six chickens to "... lay them next to the other roasted meats ..." for just a humble forester and his family?

So you can safely say that this book is one of scant handfuls of cookbooks that made it through centuries to us, and is a snapshot of how life was. I note that food is important to Frau Welserin, was obviously important in the lives of her and the people around her, and they had quite sophisticated recipes. (A lot of these recipes is assumed to be known to the reader, one because it was a way to keep the commoners and non-cooks out, and secondly because it was laborious and expensive to commit every detail to paper.)

I'll be going through this and a few other recipe books from the early Centuries and seeing how well some of these recipes adapt to Body Friendly and modern cooking styles. Will be interesting, and recipes will be on TEdAMENU blog.

Read more Medieval recipe books and information here.

These Do Grow On Trees!

http://thesecomefromtrees.blogspot.com/ - good message but how about printing up your own? I'm all for conservation and ecological responsibility but I don't see how charging for stickers benefits the environment, whereas each person who wants to campaign printing their own, will spread the activism.

I'll see about some artwork for stickers that doesn't tread all over the copyright above and post it here.

Please remember if you do print your own stickers that the paper you print them on also comes from trees and be sparing with yours. And there are dozens of places where such stickers come in handy other than just paper towel rolls:

  • Try placing a sticker wherever there's a street stand giving away free advertising papers or real estate sheets, anything people will tend to pick up from boredom.
  • Your work's photocopier and the cabinet where the paper is kept.
  • Ditto, for the office printer.

That's only a few more places where these stickers would help, you will find more as you go about your daily routine.

Go get 'em!

29 May, 2007

Two Zen Things.

These two links here and here just have to be in here...

20 May, 2007

Species

Interesting reading, Charles Darwin's letters. He was both a dandy and a very astute thinker when he put his mind to it.

I find that I enjoyed reading those and will enjoy finding other Darwin letters online - yes I'll now be going to search for them.

For instance, I had a blue-eyed white tom cat - who was deaf. Darwin was very keen of observation to have picked that conection up before Mendel made his far more detailed studies which confirmed this and other genetic rules.

And, you know, history might have been quite different if Darwin hadn't written his book, so it's probably a good thing for us today.

08 May, 2007

Minus The Additives, Please!

In the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook, I have been pointing out the perils of the additives, and I keep finding articles like this one which find more and more things wrong with the "E" vitamins.

It's not surprising to see the modern childhood epidemic of such symptoms. We're allowing food manufacturers to conduct experiments in chemical tolerance on us and our children. The sad thing is that we will all pay for that, one way or another.

As I found out, our metabolisms have evolved over the millenia (five to ten thousand years, certainly) to make peak use of natural whole foods. Nowhere in our history until the last few hundred years have chemical preservatives additives colourings and flavourings entered our food chain, and it will take another five to ten thousand years before the first humans adapted to such chemicals will appear.

For us, right here and right now, these things are poisons. Nothing more and nothing less. You buy something that has preservatives to prevent natural spoilage, irritants to bring out natural colour, artificial colouring to augment the natural colour, and six different "agents" to prevent sticking caking clotting setting and slumping- and you have a cocktail that is almost guaranteed to throw your body into disarray.

Now look at everything you eat in a week. Take a note of only the additive chemicals, and add the amounts of each up. I almost guarantee that if you have an aveage suburbanite diet you will find that you are having more than the recommended amount of over half of those chemicals.

The scary thing is that each manufacturer makes the decision on how much of each additive to use, based on their product alone. After all, if you buy the competition's foodstuffs as well, then what have they to lose? If you come down with a case of poisoning, they can blame the opposition...

But if you read the ingredients on the label, remember that manufacturers aren't required to list all of them. It's a bit of a voluntary / legal / notsolegal grey area, and of many additives, manufacturers aren't required to inform you if the quantity is below a certain percentage. That means that while one manufacturer might tell you about the E614 they use, while three others won't.

Individually, those amounts may not be worth worrying about - but add upthe E614 in everything you eat during the week - admitted in the label or not - and you may come to a worrying result...

04 May, 2007

A Very Nice Appliance

Okay this is a very good appliance, it's pricey but as it replaces a dozen kitchen appliances I find it on the whole to be quite reasonable.

Read the review for what it can do, it's really very impressive.

03 May, 2007

Yahoo Serious Would Be Stoked!

CANBERRA, Australia - Scientists and Australian beer maker Foster's are teaming up to generate clean energy from brewery waste water — by using sugar-consuming bacteria.

The experimental technology was unveiled Wednesday by scientists at Australia's University of Queensland, which was given a $115,000 state government grant to install a microbial fuel cell at a Foster's Group brewery near Brisbane, the capital of Queensland state.


Now here's an energy source that is about as Australian as you can get, as desirable as you can get, and takes care of a bunch of pressing Australian problems.

As we know, our beer is made from beer, we are experiencing a drought, and we are trying to find ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The cell mentioned is perfect, if it does all that it claims. It digests the beer making wastes, produces 2000 watts of electricity, and the byproduct is clean water.

If the 2Kw is enough to actually power the device with some left over, that means it can also power the fridge that will hold the beers and cold water - dunno what you'd do with all that cold water though. Ah maybe the dog will appreciate it...

Also - only $115,000? Ah yeah I forgot John Bonsai Howard is serious about this isn't he? Come on Australian Government, put some DECENT money towards clean energy research!

02 May, 2007

Warming Warming...

Gauging people's reactions and opinions is never easy - take this article in the NZ Herald:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501154&objectid=10429662

But the believers and skeptics among the readership are about balanced. El Nino happens because of GW, other effects too. And even if other planets are warming up, don't worry about them, *OUR* planet is the one to worry about!

Body Friendly Zen Cookbook Rocks!

I went to see my doctor today almost two years after developing signs of incipient prostate cancer. My diet book rocks, and I rule!

(for anyone who's just tuned in, there's more history and an E-Book at the Zencookbook Dot Com site - I had really poor results on a certain blood test two years ago, worse news on a biopsy, and then rather than let a surgeon near my precious bits with a scalpel or a doctor kill me with chemotherapy, I designed and used this diet - adn nothing else - and the results speak for themselves...)

Okay - results are far better than expected:

09-06-2005 ePSA 4.6
For anyone unfamiliar with PSA it's an antigen in the blood produced in response to a variety of prostate ailments ranging from Benign Prostate Enlargement to more sinister things. In most cases the change of PSA level indicates a problem more than the actual level, but at my age then (48 years old) that was quite high.

??-08-2005 60% Hyperplasia
My urologist scheduled a biopsy and over half the samples showed hyperplasic cells. There are two kinds, and mine was not benign...

I spoke to the urologist about the alternatives and he suggested that certain foods had been shown to be helpful in some cases of prostate cancer treatment. As he never gave me any exact figures or foods to work from, I developed the diet and used myself as the lab rat, and so after seven months I had what I thought was a useable diet. It took another month before I could do another blood test but:

05-04-2006 ePSA 0.8
This is around the level of PSA a healthy 25 year old would have. My urologist was pleased, my GP was worried that I might have received some false readings, and I was over the moon as you can imagine. No sharp knife near my goolies, no chemicals to ruin my body chemistry - and this is a very easy to use diet - you can apply much of it to your current lifestyle!

I have also submitted the manuscript to a researcher at CSIRO for testing and this is due to occur this year. I expect a lot of good and interesting things to be discovered about the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook Diet...

19-04-2007 ePSA 1.0
One year later and the diet is now pretty much a proven in my view. I am at the low to normal end of the spectrum for my age group, and recurrence is not likely.

Over the intervening year I've had some sales of the book, and so far all results have been encouraging. Two women who used it for various "down there" cancers have reported lowering of counts, but both elected to also take surgery and/or chemotherapy so these results are not yet conclusive for me. But promising. Very promising.

And lastly, there are a whole range of illnesses caused by cell inflammation and this diet will help in all of them - ranging from the slower forms of cancers to urinary tract inflammations, type 2 diabetes, and arteriosclerosis which is the precursor for most heart attacks.

So there are some good reasons why you should get interested and pass this on to as many people as you know. One, this diet can be used in moderate amounts to prevent most of these illnesses and stop them developing. Two, it can help in so many illnesses to put the body into a better state for fighting the illness, thus improving your recovery. Three, it can reduce or even reverse some of the slow cancers and arterial plaques. And four, it gives you a healthy understanding of why some foods heal and some foods harm so your general diet habits will improve.

26 April, 2007

Salt-Cracking Biodiesel

I've just seen this in my searches but I don't know if I'm convinced. There are several companies that claim to be able to do this, here's one, but I wouldn't know if I would trust a diesel engine to this technology. Also, of course, there's the energy balance requirement, i.e. is it cheaper in terms of initial energy to produce several kilos of salt and then use an electric blender to crack the oil or will it turn out cheaper in energy terms to use the traditional KaOH method?

I've read that the magic crystals will absorb the ionic parts (like salts and alkalis) out of the fuel but that introduces another stage that needs energy to produce, being the crystals. (And if there's a way to re-use them, that too will cost energy.)

Plus, I wonder what the effect of pouring salty fuel into an engine? Since that can happen, if the absorbent crystals are spent or you don't do a good enough job of cleaning the fuel.

My money's on making biodiesel by whatever methods you find most useful, then washing it with water and evaporating the water out, preferably using solar energy. I still haven't had a chance to play with the technology yet but it's on my list, and then I'll try a variety of methods and keep you posted on the cleanest and most economically produced diesel. This will take a while but I will do it.

24 April, 2007

Subsistence Gardens

I have a few things on the go, for the high vege prices expected soon. Let's say - if you could grow some of your own veges with minimum hassle - would you? If so I may have an answer. And as long as you have a balcony or north-facing window, you too could be reducing your food bills.

I'll try and write up these instructions and get them online in the next few weeks, as I am experimenting as I go which always makes for slow going.

At the moment I'm making up a small frame to test how well it goes, and will try and keep it going through this winter as well. (As this should be able to produce vegetables all year around, otherwise we might as well shop at Woolies and pay top dollar for poor produce...)

Yes it will be Zen and no there will be no GroLites - you're welcome but the amount of speculation you'll put yourself up for is not worth the hassle... hehehe...

18 April, 2007

Where The Bloody Hell's Yer Head At?

I love a good solution to a water crisis, I really do. But this isn't it. Look, it was enough of a worry that we are looking at smaller and smaller dam water volumes every year, to the point where we may yet have to forego our great Suburban Icon, the Green Lawn. Politicians and spokespeople for the tourism and hospitality industries quite correctly point out that if we lose the Green City image and acquire a Brown City image, we will lose a significant amount of hospitality-related income. And I agree - that way lies a slow slide into the dustbowl. Less appealing city, less people. Less people, less rates and incomes. Less money, less resources to throw at the water crisis... Repeat until ghost town status is achieved...

So why is Mr Derry's plan not the answer then? After all he's right - the Kimberley has vast reserves of groundwater. Okay then let's examine the alternatives. I have a pretty green bias as most of you will know, and it will show in the following paragraphs.

My favourite plan(s):
Yarragadee aquifer / Collie dam / Desalination.
I recently had occasion to spend an evening at a BBQ with an engineer whop has been involved with establishing whether or not the Yarragadee aquifer would be viable and ecologically sound. His (totally off the record, totally honest - he had no idea I'd blog about it) summary is that the plan calls for 45GL of water to be drawn off the Yarragadee annually, and that this would reduce the amount of overflow from the Yarragadee from somewhere between 200GL and 340GL per annum to 155GL to 295GL - in other words, the aquifer would remain overfull at all times and continue to run off excwess water into the sea.

That kind of makes a hash of all the "ecologically unsound" protests which are being touted as the reason to refuse to do this. Combining this with Mr Derry's plan to blend saltier Collie water would produce a far cheaper source of water for the urban area. That's around 90GL extra water per year, at what turns out ot be the lowest cost, and the lowest impact on the environment. In combination with desalination plant, this can actually make the desal plant idea look good too.

Desal plants.
These are not desirable, not because of direct impact on the environment, but because of the energy bill. Energy bills have to be paid for with greenhouse gas emissions, unless someone can make solar/wind energy do the entire desalination process.

And the local impact? As measured in the fairly enclosed area of Cockburn Sound where our first desal plant has been running at 105% of nameplate capacity (around 155ML per day) for the last two or three months as a shakedown run: The plant returns saline water and the extracted salt back into the sea, and from there it disperses extremely rapidly. The extra salt was undetectable at any point 50m or more from the discharge pipe, that is, within 50m all that extra salt is redistributed by even the feeble currents in the Sound.

So if you combine blended water with desalination, you have three extra sources of water for Perth, the Collie Dam, Yarragadee, and desal water which will ensure that we have a chance of water supply continuing even if some mechanical failure strikes, it will rarely disable all three sources AND the existing dams.

Kimberley Pipeline:
The Kimberley has huge reserves it is true, but the point at which the water is to be taken up, but in reality it has not that much more overflow capacity than the Yarragadee aquifer. The same issues will apply there too - putting them a few thousand kilometres away from Perth doesn't make any difference to that. Yes there may be a few less people to be affected if anything goes wrong, but then where do you draw the line? How many people's votes does it take before you shy away from a plan? Because of course that's what it all boils down to...

But. With that said, we already have a prodigious pipeline carrying water, to Kalgoorlie. We know the technology of pipes works, and hey - will you look at that - we are actually one of the biggest iron ore resources in the world! Our politicians have for decades played vote-pandering with the idea of a smelter to produce iron locally. We don't have any such value-adding because everyone can find reasons not to start doing something productive. In truth, we could have a Government-subsidised smelter in the middle of the state near Karratha or someplace, and manufacture that iron into steel pipes, and then use those steel pipes to bring water down. Right past the plant, so that it can darw process water from the pipeline eventually, and because we're producing it here, the Kimberley Pipeline can suddenly become a cheap alternative.

Once in production, the pipeline will have the least environmental impact, and the dependence on Yarragadee and Collie water can be reduced, and in fact those pipelines can then carry water in the other directions if needed due to further climate drying.

The Derry Tanker Plan:
As I said, environmental footprint is my major concern. Building and operating a fleet of supertankers and coastal loading and unloading facilities is not an environmentally sustainable plan at all, I'm sorry. Come on! Several million tons of fuel oil burned every year just to push a tanker back and forth, and remember that one direction is totally unladen as you can't in all conscience carry anything else in a tanker meant to carry drinking water back up the coast, so that immediately wastes half the fuel, and means that the plan has generated two loads of pollution per tankerload of water we receive.

Building a supertanker costs hundreds of millions and well into the billions, especially since we would need to develop the tankers specifically for carrying potable water and making sure it stays potable all the way down the coast. You conceivably need at least two of them, and probably would need a fleet eventually. You need to set up a water loading and unloading facility and harbout for the tankers. In addition to the energy bill for hauling it and hauling the empty tanker back, you also have an energy bill to load the water, and another to unload it. And I realise Mr Derry is proposing to use oil supertankers but in all seriousness can you imagine the cost of just cleaning those tanks to make the drinking water safe, let alone re-lining them? Have you ever seen or smelled crude oil? Its main component is decomposed dinosaurs and trees, remember....

And there's maintenance. Ships are notoriously hard on maintenance costs, because there's a lot to go wrong. A pipeline, be it from the Yarragadee or the Kimberley, just has pumping stations along the way, and you can power those from wind and solar energy at each station, and if we do the clever thing and make the pipe locally, we have plenty of spares - eventually one could even build a redundant line to use while maintaining existing sections.

Conclusion:
I strongly urge every one of you who reads this to consider what we want. We don't want a quick fix, and we definitely don't want to create an environmental disaster. And right now, taking water from aquifers outside our immediate region may seem a radical thing to do, but increasing our consumption of fossil fuels is the best thing to do. There's no point in establishing a new water source if we're going to ignore the reasons why we have a water shortage in the first place, and exacerbate those very causes.

For those of you who question why an ecologically-minded person would countenance a plan to build a smelter - I am also aware of how much more dearly it costs us to mine the ore here, ship it overseas, then ship the finished product back. These things all have an energy cost as well, and it is an energy cost that's more than the cost of smelting and processing locally.

Lastly, I urge everyone who reads this article to start thinking not about the dollar cost of solutions, but the energy/pollution costs instead. Once you start, you'll automatically become more economical...

.

13 April, 2007

Cos Its The Season To Make Olives

Want to make your own but not sure how? Seeing as it's the season when the olive trees are bearing loads of plump little darlings, here's the lowdown:

GREEN OLIVES: Avoid them, the flavour is nice but the lye solution processing is hardly worth it. Well, okay - if you must, here are some other people's methods. Personally, I will leave green olives to the experts. Here's another page of olive recipes.

BLACK OLIVES: Two ways to prepare them that are quick and easy, the first way is more trouble and results in olives with less of the very compounds we want for a Body Friendly diet, and involves spreading the olives on a fine mesh and sun-drying them until they get wrinkled and then proceeding as for normal black olives.

To make olives that you can eat without a serious stomach-ache or worse, you need to soak the bitter compounds out for a while. For fresh ripe olives, (yep they will be the ones that have turned black) you need to soak them in plenty of brine for about 10 to 12 days, and a bit shorter for the sundried ones. Up to 14 days is acceptable but remember you're also leaching out the good compounds along with the bitter ones so only as long as necessary.

I tend to put about half a litre's worth of olives with a litre of brine, or even more brine if I have a big container. If using lots of brine like that it's okay to change the brine every second day, if you use barely enough brine to cover the olives you will have to make and change to new brine daily. Your call. I set up Google Calendar to send me an SMS on the afternoons I need a brine change, makes it too easy. Also, I tend only to use a few kilos of olives and process them in multiple small batches like that because that way if I stuff one up I still have the others. Again, your call.

Okay making the brine. People will give you "x" "blah"spoons of salt per litre/cup/ewer whatever of water but that leads to some weird brines and uneven results. The idea isn't to make the olives adjust to a different salinity level each time you change the water, as that stresses the membranes and results in olives that feel like they're soft-boiled. Once you know the measurements that make YOUR brine, stick to them for that batch.

Popular Arab and Greek wisdom says that the most useful brine of all is just barely strong enough that a raw egg will float in it. And it's easy to get to that stage. Here's what you need:
  • 1 fresh raw egg (The fresher the better as gas formation will make eggs float lighter as they age.)
  • Several litres (depending on your situation - I will give the quantities that are relevant, and once you've made your brine once, you will know your measurements) of fresh and preferably filtered water.
  • 2 kilos of rock salt (Don't use iodised salt it will taste horrible and discolour the olives.)
  • Small saucepan and large jug/bowl to mix and test in.
Okay this is the easy bit. Put about half a litre to a litre of water into the saucepan and bring to boil. Take note of how much water you used. When it's close to boiling add about six to twelve tablespoons of rock salt to the water, again take note how many spoonfuls you put in.

If all the salt dissolves, add another tablespoonful of rock salt, keep doing this until the salt can't dissolve in the water any more. There you have what is known as saturated brine solution, it can't hold any more salt no matter what.

Let it cool until you can comfortably dip a finger in it. Now measure a litre of water into the mixing vessel, or whatever amount you've decided is enough to do your batch of olives. I tend to go a bit more than I need. Carefully put the egg into it. It will sink, which is what you want.

Start adding brine and stirring it in carefully, until the egg floats up. Add just enough fresh water to just cause the egg to sink again, very slowly it will descend. That's the brine you want. Take the egg out, rinse the brine off it, and put it back where you got it from...

If you noted that you used about half a litre of saturated brine to about a litre and a bit of fresh water, that's about the right strength, and all you have to do is reproduce that again for the next batch. I.e. if you used 12 tablespoons of salt in a litre of boiling water and then added only half of that to make the egg float, you know that from now on you only need six tablespoons of salt in half a litre of boiling water per batch.

Allow that brine to cool (as water that's too hot will also fade the colour and make the olives too soft) and add it to whatever container you used to brine the olives, and make sure the olives are all submerged. The brine will make them float like crazy, and you need to make sure they are all under brine.

It's for that reason that I use a washed-out plastic cordial or milk bottle to brine the olives, and make sure it's brimful of brine, as the narrow neck stops the olives rising up out of the brine. Also, it's a waterproof seal so once or twice a day I can turn the bottle upside down and back the right way again to make sure that if a stray olive did float out of the brine, it will end up somewhere lower in the pack afterwards.

For storing the olives once they've been leached, use a clean preferably sterilised jar with a good lid and big enough to fit the olives with a bit of space left over, then make a brine as for normal, then mixing that half and half with a vinegar you like, and bring enough salt/vinegar brine to boil as you'll need for the final jar. I add two cracked garlic cloves to the brine while boiling it, and make sure they end up in the jar. Make sure the salt/vinegar brine is cooled properly before putting into the jar, and if you like you can put a thin layer of olive oil over the water. But that just ends up looking bad if you're storing the olives in the fridge, so I tend not to do it.

In the fridge these should last until the next year's crop, but if anything develops that looks nasty - stop and throw them out... Otherwise, take out the olives you want to use, rinse in fresh water, and depending if you like the pickle or not, you may want to stand the olives you're about to use in fresh water for an hour and up to a day beforehand to take the strong salt and vinegar taste off.

More Energy Thoughts

Time to start laundry days again, and get rid of energy-wasting lights and replace them with low voltage CCFL and CFL lights. I keep harping on this subject, I know. But come on - a cheap solar installation of two panels and regulator/batteries coupled with low voltage lighting will reduce your house's energy use by anywhere between 10% and 35%. Just switching to CFL globes will reduce your energy use (and associated greenhouse gas emissions and pollution) by between 5% and 10%. And either way will help rebalance our climate and environment. [note 1]

I'm still also urging city commuters to get onto their Member of Parliament about legitimising the REVA and other all-electric cars, and let's also see if we can't get a few local solar businesses to put some money into designing a "solar carport charger" for such cars. Think about it - you get a reasonably cheap little car, you get a reasonably cheap little solar installation, and you get to save the estimated $2250 a year in fuel costs as well as saving the environment! [note 2]

Oh - on the subject of electric and hybrid cars - one more snippet you may be interested in knowing: A certain well-known hybrid car that is widely perceived as very green, and in fact Ms McTiernan drives one, has a little conundrum attached to it. Because the car is produced on a production line same as all the other cars produced by that manufacturer, the basic petrol engined car costs as much in greenhouse gases and emissions as any other car to produce. That very large polution load by itself would be enough to render the relatively small advantage of the car irrelevant.

But wait - there's more! Because the car has to have batteries and electronics and electric drive motors as well as the fossil fuel components, it in fact costs far more in pollution load to produce, than it will recover over the life of the car...

One possible solution is for car manufacturers to switch their plant to environmentally friendlier power sources, use less steel and more easily produced plastics, and to stop dicking around with fossil fuelled cars and start seriously developing electric-only, biodiesel, and electric/biodiesel hybrid cars. (Electric-only cars, while the electricity still has to be produced by a power plant somewhere, at least don't use another lot of dirty fossil fuel, and thus have a lower impact on pollution load than petrol hybrids. And biodiesel is a cleaner and more "now" energy, you extract it from biomass that got the energy from sunlight in the last year or two, so there's no million-year-old energy being dug up and put back into the atmosphere, and it also burns considerably cleaner than fossil fuels.)

NOTES:
1. I'm averaging between calculated power usage for houses which have 60W filament globes, an inefficient refrigerator, a tumble dryer, and in about 45% of cases some form of air conditioning, and houses that just have a basic refrigerator, and that and the lights form almost all the power usage. I'm basing this on observations of houses around Perth, as air conditioning is pretty easy to spot, and so are things like average affluence and therefore likelihood of having the latest 4 energy star fridge versus a new 52" TV, etc.

2. I am basing this on our usage in an average six cylinder sedan, and including only the trips within the city for work and shopping that an electric car would be used for. We spend another $1000 a year on country trips and longer trips. If we had a biodiesel hybrid electric instead, we might conceivably use about a quarter of the fuel, a tenth of the cost, and only produce about a quarter of the pollution load.

09 April, 2007

Empirical Pace Setter.

I think this guy was responsible for Australia's renewable energy policies, and probably our Industrial Relations laws as well.

30 March, 2007

The Diet Is Also For Athersclerosis.

As I describe in my natural diet book, The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook (and the namesake of this blog) a variety of slow cancers and illnesses such as atherosclerosis, urinary tract infections, and more, are due to cell inflammation.

Chemical treatments can reduce these inflammations, in fact here's the article on how anti inflammatory and anti oxidant chemicals appear to be beneficial for arterial plaques, reducing them and thus the associated angina and risk of heart failure.

This is also the case for many so-called slow cancers, cell inflammation first makes the cells dysplasic (i.e. adopting characteristics of cancerous cells) and finally that triggers cancerous changes in the cells. It's a very layman's description but it suffices - inflammatory disease of the cells leads to irritation, which leads to changes, usually not good changes.

In The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook I describe how natural anti inflammatory and anti oxidant compounds found in various foods can be used to halt, reduce, and even reverse the progress of cancer, plaque, and other illnesses. A lot of it has to do with interactions between these active compounds, i.e. if you're not aware of them, you may well be taking two foods which cancel out one another's beneficial effects. Similarly, there are some combinations which increase the beneficial effects of those active compounds by up to tenfold.

The book also shows you how to avoid the things which cause cell inflammation in the first place. The recipes are redacted to include the right foods in the right combinations, and better yet, the book shows you how to apply the principles to all other meals you might normally prepare, so that you really end up with very low impact on your lifestyle.

The whole diet was chosen for this minimal impact, which is certainly less than the impact of chemotherapy or surgical intervention. Due to all these reasons, the diet is one which can be followed at any time, and which will provide benefits to you at any stage of health. It's a set of good general guidelines to follow in general, and a specific diet that you can use immediately to reduce symptoms, reduce the illness, and possibly save yourself a stressful trip to surgery. And it's always good, as in the article linked to in the second paragraph, to read more and more confirmations of what I've been urging in the diet book all along.

Of course, I don't recommend that you just self-diagnose and just go for the diet for reasons of illness - I urge every one of you to consult your doctor and go for initial advice and regular checks on the progress of any illness. We have the technology to both diet AND take medical advice, and it's always best to play safe...

18 March, 2007

Carbon Myths and Carbon Truths

You read about "carbon offsetting" and perhaps you wonder if it's all rubbish. Well, there are some figures around and some facts around and some myths around - and a LOT of predators who will bend you over for carbon credit input dollars. Here's my take so far:

To clear your carbon debt for the year, some articles claim that you'd have to replace 111 lightbulbs with CFL bulbs. They say you'd have to switch to smaller hybrid cars for X years to clear the debt for one year, and so forth.

In reality, every light bulb you replace with a CFL or CCFL bulb is immediately reducing your carbon debt. If you put the petrol-guzzler in the back of the garage and the scooter and the Prius near the front, you are immediately reducing your carbon debt. If you set your air conditioning to two degrees warmer in summer and your heating to two degrees cooler in winter, the effect is immediate, you use less fuel and create less pollution. If you put water pressure reducing discs in your shower heads and take shorter showers, that is something you can do right now which takes effect right now.

"But," I hear you say, "that only reduces the carbon debt, I want to cancel it!"

Well, you can offset all you like by adding trees or other activities like that but the sad truth is that just by living you add to the debt, it's unavoidable. And you can plant a tree to offset your carbon debt now but it won't produce any benefit for a few years, and even then it is a bit of a gamble if it will balance your carbon debt or will be way behind the curve.

Also, the carbon debt you acquire is out there and then you add an input, but the unavoidable thing is that for some period oif time, your pollution load *is* added to the atmosphere for a certain period, it's like injecting yourself with snake venom and then a shot of antivenene later - the venom will have been there for some period and killed certain nerve and muscle cells and no amount of antivenene will repair that damage.

So cast a jaundiced eye on the companies that say they will repay your carbon debt because A) they need money to survive and B) they don't generally care about global warming beyond how many dollars they can extract from you and C) they will want more than just "a little" money for their version of "saving the world..."

I'm not saying that inputs are bad, I'm saying that you will need to look carefully at what methods you should use, whom you should trust - and in the meanwhile, reduce your debt now so that there will be less to balance later.

06 March, 2007

Meat To Please You

I've neglected diet tips for a while now, but last Saturday I spotted another one of those things that make you go hmmmm and it was in relation to the meat purchases. Here are a couple of observations:

First, I buy very little meat from a chainstore supermarket. They have all the tricks down pat, how much they can inject the meat with saline, how much they can irritate it to stay red, how much they can preserve it.

That's important to you for several reasons. First - "inject with saline?" Surely no self-respecting butcher would do that? Right. No self-respecting butcher would. But these days most butchers buy their sides of beef or even bulk cuts from a meat processor/abattoir. They have no such compunctions and they want your money so they will do that.

It's done for a number of reasons, first being that thanks to Heart Smart ticks, the market prefers leaner beef. So abattoirs would prefer to buy leaner cattle rather than buy fat cattle by the kilo and then throw part of the profits away in the fat. So the meat is less marbled and bacause fat equals flavour, the meat tastes more bland. (Yes it's true bbq steaks tasted so much better when you were a kidf because the meat WAS more flavoursome.) So saline raises the flavour of the meat, and ensures YOU go back to your butcher more often, and in turn the butcher goes bak to that processor more often.

Secondly saline is a preservative, and can allow the processor to store the meat longer before needing to sell it. That increases their bottom line because they can stockpile cheaper beef against a time when beef prices are up, and make a few cents a kilo on the deal. Which adds up to hundreds of dollars in some orders.

Lastly, as a fringe benefit to the meat processor, saline increases the weight if the meat, thus making another few hundred dollars per order when the processor sells saline solution at the price of beef or chicken...

And your supermarket is generally either a meat processor or a meat processor outlet, NOT a butcher. Heck, your butcher may not even be a butcher but just handle bulk cuts and turn then into mince and saleable sized cuts. And unless they can tell you where their meat comes from precisely, assume that there's a meat processor involved.

One way to tell with beef is to put some in the freezer in a plastic bag, freeze it, then thaw it again. Beef with a lot of saline will produce a puddle of very thin and pink watery blood, whereas unsalined beef will produce slightly watery red blood.

The other thing to watch for is lovely blood red beef. It has been treated with a chemical irritant which causes the redness. It's done with minced beef particularly, but watch out for it on the steaks and other cuts, too.

Why should you care? Hello! Irritant! This stuff irriates the meat into presenting inflamed red blood cells, and then you eat that and you're made of... ummm what are we made of again? Oh yes MEAT! and then we wonder why inflammation-based diseases are on the increase. It can make sensitive people ill, cause hyperactivity in some, and can cause a range of symptoms.

How can you tell? Some butchers spray the irritant into the mince mixture, but most just spray the top of the tray, and over the tops of the trays of steaks and so forth. You can tell because meat normally goes grey after sitting for a while. So if your butcher lifts a steak out of the tray and there is a grey steak behind it, the top steak has been sprayed. If the scooped out part of the mince is grey while the surface is pink, it's been sprayed. (It was this that I saw at my local butcher and I'll be asking them a few questions next time I see the owner there, some very hard questions . . . )

Ask for the grey steak or mince. It will taste the same but be better for you.

Last thought for you. Would you eat the stuff in your rubbish bin? Well, why eat the animals that have been fed on stuff like that all their lives. Trust me the Japanese know why they will pay $1000 for a kilo of grain and red wine fed beef. The flavour comes through.

As far as I know there is only one mark that guarantees that the cow or chicken or whatever has not been fed ground-up other animal carcasses, chemical waste from other manufacturing plant, and a ton of antibiotics and steroids. That is the 100% Organic label. If you value your health, that's what to go for.

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