Saturday, April 30, 2011

Obama's birth certificate videos about faking demonstrate nothing untoward

I wrote to one of my sons-in-law, who does digital graphic work all day every working day:
Can you check out the claim of the nay-sayer?

Look at my blog post and see if what the guy I quote immediately beneath the video says is true. If you need a test scanned document converted to PDF and optimized in PDF, I've attached one for you. . . .

I have a ScanSnap S510 scanner I use regularly to transfer printed material into PDFs. If I want, I will leave the document in PDF form, or I will use the PDF to create a Microsoft Word document OCR (Optical Character Recognition).

Often, because the straight image scan is exceptionally large--way too large for emailing or posting on a website!--I will "optimize" the image. And optimization, I have found, is enhanced when I OCR and optimize.

So I sent Dave a PDF version of a high-end sales brochure I had scanned, OCR'd and optimized. The original scan had come through at over 15MB--way too big for emailing (which is what I wanted to do with it). After OCR and optimization, I was dealing with a still hefty, but far more manageable, 2MB document.

Dave replied several hours later:
Adobe Illustrator is, in fact, 'reading' layers in the file you sent me.
And he sent a screen shot of just one small portion of the document with certain portions of a few characters showing the "color shift" our analyst noted, and the remaining portions of those same characters showing no color-shift.

And then he commented--and I immediately recognized that what he said was true:
On a side note, I'm not sure why that kid said that the technology isn't there. I know that the little scanner you have can detect and separate images from text and it even converts text (that it thinks as being an image) to an image.

Nice to know we can debunk that rumor!

Friday, April 29, 2011

No way!!! Obama's birth certificate, Round 495 (or whatever) . . .

What!?! I thought for sure this has to be one more fringe wack-o. Is it true? . . . There are a bunch more videos like it.

Someone wrote,

"Scanning an image, converting it to a PDF, optimizing that PDF, and then opening it up in Illustrator, does in fact create layers similar to what is seen in the birth certificate PDF. You can try it yourself at home."

I don't have Illustrator. Who is telling the truth?

No matter who is proven correct, I would like to note what "SecularStupidest" says on his own version of the same basic demonstration:
We do not doubt the citizenship of the President, and agree with those who believe it is an unfortunate distraction. However, as we survey the "circus" transpiring before us it is clear that the Obama Administration is acting amateurish and cynically political by 1. Not releasing a long form until now, 2. releasing an odd digitally produced document, when the original was produced by typewriter. Why not a simple scanned image of the original?, and 3. having Pres. Obama waste face time leading a press conference about the issue, when the "world" is burning all around him. Fiddle anyone?


Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Is a Family Integrated Church?

Oh, boy!

Someone has written an excellent analytical rebuttal to the so-called "Family-Integrated Church" movement that is taking over a growing segment of the Christian homeschool movement in America today.

What Is a Family Integrated Church? by Pastor Shawn C. Mathis of Providence Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Denver.

I have been vaguely aware of the kinds of sentiments espoused by the movement's leaders. I have never done the kinds of fundamental research Mathis has done.

If you are running into some of the leaders of this movement--men like Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, and Kevin Swanson, formerly of Christian Home Educators of Colorado and now a plenary speaker at several homeschooling conventions--reading this paper will definitely be worth your time.

Sunday schools and day schools are all "variations of evolutionary hellish thinking"?!? --Read it for yourself. With references.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ben Bernanke's speech . . .

I got an email this morning from "Big A" of ETF Trend Trading titled "Academy Award Nomination: Ben Bernanke":
Have you ever watched someone lie to your face and know it the whole time? I’m sure you have, we all have, but if not get ready for a big one today as good old Ben puts on the performance of a lifetime.

The reason the market just isn't doing much is simple. Bernanke will be out with his statement on interest rates, the state of the economy, and inflation at 12:30 EST today.

The market will be hanging on his every word. We all know that inflation is completely out of control. If you don’t agree with that your head is in the sand. The market is waiting to hear what he has to say with regards to future rate increases that many are now worried about due to this runaway inflation

After he makes his announcement he will then take on a question and answer session for the whole world to hear starting at 2:15 EST. It's going to be one of the greatest Academy Award-winning speeches as he looks in the camera and tells us that inflation has increased some, but it's not bad at all. Not that bad! I believe the real inflation rate is double the posted rate, but I’ll save that for another day.

You'll have to try hard not to laugh out loud, or cry out loud, whichever one seems to fit the moment. He'll also lie and tell us that things are improving quite a bit and maybe, just maybe, he can start to raise rates slowly.

Nothing dramatic, just that our economy is rolling along well enough that he can now raise rates a tad. If he told the truth he'd say that inflation is like a gasoline fueling a huge forest fire, and that he needs to increase rates so a gallon of milk won't cost $12 in the near future. He won't tell the truth because, if he did, the stock market would take a nose dive into a deep pit.

So stick around for later today if you want to see what a true boldfaced liar looks like in real life. In fact he will be so convincing that you might even find yourself believing him if you had not read this email. Inflation comes from printing money and the US does a ton of that, it’s really that simple.

It'll also be a most interesting day to see how the market responds to his lies.
After that build-up, I wanted to see how Bernanke's performance went.

So I went to Google and did a search on bernanke youtube.

For some reason, my eye was drawn to Bernanke - Every Breath You Take. Got to the page and hit play.

I was a bit nonplussed that it began with George Bush nominating him for the position. Clearly, there was some political commentary coming my way.

But then there was a picture of a cigarette burning, and a Wall Street Journal, and the music started: "Every breath you take."

Oh, yeah! This should be fun. Or good. Or something.

Nice voice-over.

Uploaded April 27.

But . . . wait a second! 1,763,580 views!?!?!!!









In the last five years.

But, y'know. Somehow the commentary seems very up-to-date.


Senate passes bill that may jail food makers for speaking honestly about their foods

And now for the so-called "Food Safety Accountability Act." (The last one was called the "Food Safety Modernization Act.")

I got this notice from the Life Extension Foundation yesterday afternoon:
Despite protests from health freedom activists, the Senate passed a bill that enables the FDA to put food makers in jail for ten years!

If enacted by the House of Representatives, this bill would empower the FDA to imprison food makers if they quote findings from peer-reviewed published scientific studies on their websites.

This draconian proposal is concealed in a bill titled the Food Safety Accountability Act (S.216). This bill passed the Senate because it inflicts harsh jail sentences against anyone who knowingly contaminates food for sale. But there already are strong laws to punish anyone who commits this crime, so this bill instead serves the purpose of enriching pharmaceutical interests by censoring what healthy food makers can say about their products.

Drug companies now want to convince your representative that this overreaching law needs to be enacted to further empower the FDA.

The problem is the FDA can proclaim a food as “misbranded” even if the best science in the world is used to describe its biological effects in the body. The fear is the FDA will use the term “misbranded” in the same way it defines “adulterated” in order to jail food makers under the guise that they are selling contaminated food.

The big issue is that if this bill is passed in the House, it gives the FDA legal authority to threaten and coerce small companies into signing crippling consent decrees that will deny consumers access to truthful non-misleading information about natural approaches to protect against age-related disease.

Please tell your representative to OPPOSE the Food Safety Accountability Act (S.216) in its present form. You can do this in a few minutes on our convenient Legislative Action Center on our website.

Before you click through, let me try to affirm, with evidence, the truth of what they are saying about "misbranding." This is the part of the story I have been following for some time and, actually, about which I reported back in October of last year.

The problem: As the publisher of one of the newsletters I receive wrote in February:
FDA bureaucrats . . . last year sent an ominous "warning letter" to Diamond Foods, Inc.

[They] have an issue with the way Diamond referenced scientific and medical studies in their marketing. In essence, the FDA told Diamond Foods, Inc. – Walnuts Are Drugs! Here are some excerpts from the ridiculous letter (emphasis mine):
"...your walnut products are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes. Thus, your walnut products are also misbranded under Section 502(f)(1) of the Act, in that the labeling for these drugs fails to bear adequate directions for use..."
Just to be clear, we're talking about the whole food – walnuts. Not a molecule or derivative or modified extract made from walnuts. It's the same walnuts you find in a fruit cake!
"...your firm's website also contains several additional unauthorized health claims..."
The FDA doesn't have an issue with the validity of the scientific or medical research referenced, such as the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts. Its issue is that it did not authorize Diamond Foods, Inc. to say so.
"...You should take prompt action to correct these violations. Failure to do so may result in regulatory action... seizure or injunction."
It's Just Walnuts,
Not Illicit Narcotics or Poisons that Harm Consumers!

The FDA is taking on Diamond Foods, Inc. because it was promoting the health benefits of walnuts, nothing more.
  • Diamond was not using false statements.
  • Walnuts are not dangerous to your health (as are many FDA-approved prescription medications, whose side effects and improper administration kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year).
  • The scientific and medical research referenced by Diamond was true and accurate.
But because Diamond was promoting health benefits, the FDA claimed that it now has the authority to step in, classify walnuts as drugs, and force Diamond to correct violations or face "regulatory action... seizure or injunction."
There are other examples. I encourage you to read my Follow the money, Part 1 post from last year. Or simply read this brief section from that post:
[L]et me link to a few typical warning letters from the FDA, so you can see how they phrase things.

Check out, for example, this letter to Payson Fruit Growers of Payson, Utah, or to Cherry Lands Best of Appleton, Wisconsin. --Or take a look at any of the dozens of similar "Labeling and Promotional Violations" letters on the FDA website. --October 17, 2005 was a good date for cherry marketers.

As the letters explain, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, "articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man are drugs" and any health claims made for any product "cause [such] product to be a drug."
Because [cherries, walnuts, or whatever food are] not generally recognized as safe and effective when used as labeled, [they are] also . . . new drug[s] as defined in Section 201(p) of the Act [21 U.S.C. 321(p)]. Under Section 505 of the Act (21 U.S .C. 355), a new drug may not be legally marketed in the United States without an approved New Drug Application (NDA).
With all of this as background, then, the Life Extension Foundation urges us to use their Legislative Action Center, a very slick tool for contacting legislators, to . . . yes, contact our representatives.

I took the standard email letter they have already provided and edited it as follows:
Subject: Please STOP the Food Safety Accountability Act (S.216) from proceeding in the House!


I am astonished and dismayed at how the corporate interests of Industrial Agriculture and Big Pharma are taking over policy at the federal level. The so-called Food Safety Accountability Act (S.216) is "just" the most recent example.

Most disturbing: in its present form, this bill refers to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for its definitions of the terms "adulterated" and "misbranded." This enables the FDA to charge food makers with "misbranding" if they make completely true statements about the health properties of a food or food product but have not first acquired FDA permission.

Need some specific examples? There are many. But in case you are unaware, please consider what happened just a few months ago to Diamond Foods, Inc. when Diamond referenced scientific and medical studies in their marketing and on their website.

For their temerity in referencing such studies, the FDA told Diamond (see that they were obviously promoting the use of an "unapproved drug" and this "unapproved drug," their "walnut products" [whole walnuts!] were being "offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes. Thus, your walnut products are also MISBRANDED under Section 502(f)(1) of the Act, in that the labeling for these drugs fails to bear adequate directions for use." (Emphasis added.)

Is this ridiculous? I think it is!

Obviously, the FDA had no basis for an issue with the validity of the scientific or medical research referenced, such as the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts. Its issue was that it did not authorize Diamond Foods, Inc. to communicate about these benefits.

Talk about First Amendment issues!

Oh. Meanwhile? While FDA goes after Diamond for scientifically-backed claims about the healthy nature of their walnuts, a truly healthy food, what do they do about Frito-Lay and their health claims about Doritos and other such processed junk food?


(Please see FDA Says Walnuts Are Drugs and Doritos Are Heart Healthy.)

I ask that you take assertive action to block the introduction of S.216 into the House.

Thank you.
Finally, for a slightly (but only slightly!) different perspective on the issue, see the Eye on FDA ("RX for Pharma Industry Communications and Planning") blog, where the author, Mark Senak, an attorney for a major corporate PR firm who specializes in "the approval and marketing of pharmaceutical drugs, particularly as related to their regulation by the FDA," writes (January 19, 2011):
Last week, the General Accounting Office issued a report entitled “FDA Needs to Reassess Its Approach to Protecting Consumers from False or Misleading Claims” where – well, the title sort of gives away the gist of the thing, doesn’t it. FDA does need to re-think this. . . .

The GAO report is a really good primer for those who want to get familiar with [the topic of health claims], and includes not only concise definitions, but an overview of FDA activities around different health claims in food in general (with a table describing each action) as well as the two during 2010 that were particular to qualified health claims.

[O]ne of the conclusions of the report is that stakeholders find the various types and levels of health-related labeling to be confusing. All you have to do is try to sort through the various areas of FDA’s Web site about health label claims and one can easily see why. There is no easy way to discern the differences or any basic English communication that explains it. The GAO report also stated that the FDA has not given companies enough guidance on the types of scientific support needed in support of a claim.

On a side note, it is also important to point out that along with FDA, the Federal Trade Commission is also involved in regulating claims. There were at least two instances in 2010 where health claims and labels got in trouble with both the FDA and the FTC for the same product. As we head into an era of greater interest in health and food, it is important for the environment to be clarified and simplified for all stakeholders – manufacturers and consumers.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Something you need to be aware of concerning cancer . . .

How do you get good information about health care?

If you've been following me at all for the last year or two, you've probably noticed my growing disillusionment with a lot of medical practitioners. My experience tells me they are too focused on treatment of symptoms and nowhere near enough focused on causes. And so, while eliminating one symptom (and ignoring its cause), they create additional problems somewhere else in the body.

Well, this story, from an interview by Dr. Joseph Mercola with Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez (both MDs, by the way!), takes the cake: The Cancer Treatment So Successful - Traditional Doctors SHUT it Down.

I urge you to download the transcript of the interview.

It wouldn't surprise me if the FDA were to come swooping in on Mercola for this kind of commentary.

Mercola introduces his article and interview with these comments:
[Dr. Gonzalez] didn't set out to treat cancer at first . . . let alone treat patients. His original plan was to be a basic science researcher at Sloan-Kettering; a teaching hospital for Cornell Medical College. He had a chance meeting with William Kelley, a controversial dentist who was one of the founders of nutritional typing. Dr. Kelley had been practicing alternative- and nutritional approaches for over two decades at the time, led him to begin a student project investigation of Kelley's work, in the summer of 1981.
"I started going through his records and even though I was just a second year medical student, I could see right away there were cases that were extraordinary," he says. "Patients with appropriately diagnosed pancreatic cancer, metastatic breast cancer in the bone, metastatic colorectal cancer… who were alive 5, 10, 15 years later under Kelley's care with a nutritional approach."
This preliminary review led to a formal research study, which Dr. Gonzalez completed while doing his fellowship in cancer, immunology and bone marrow transplantation.

The "Impossible" Recoveries of Dr. Kelley's Cancer Patients

After going through thousands of Kelley's records, Dr. Gonzalez put together a monograph, divided into three sections:

  1. Kelley’s theory
  2. 50 cases of appropriately-diagnosed lethal cancer patients still alive five to 15 years after diagnosis, whose long-term survival was attributed to Kelley’s program
  3. Patients Kelley had treated with pancreatic cancer between the years 1974 and 1982

According to Dr. Good, the president of Sloan-Kettering who had become Gonzalez' mentor, if Kelley could produce even one patient with appropriately diagnosed pancreatic cancer who was alive 5-10 years later, it would be remarkable. They ultimately tracked down 22 of Kelley's cases. Ten of them met him once and didn't do the program after being dissuaded by family members or doctors who thought Kelley was a quack.

The average survival for that group was about 60 days.

A second group of seven patients who did the therapy partially and incompletely (again, dissuaded by well-intentioned but misguided family members or doctors), had an average survival of 300 days.

The third group consisting of five patients, who were appropriately diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer and who completed the full program, had an average survival of eight and a half years! In Dr. Gonzalez' words, this was "just unheard of in medicine."

One of those patients included a woman diagnosed by the Mayo Clinic with stage four pancreatic cancer who had been given six months to live. She'd learned about Kelley's program through a local health food store. She completed his treatment and is still alive today, 29 years later.

The Truth about Medical Journals: Why Gonzalez's Book Was Never Published

However, despite—or rather because of—the remarkable success of the treatment, Gonzalez couldn't get his findings published.

"We tried to publish case reports in the medical journals; the whole book, parts of the book, individual case reports—with no success," he says.

This is an important point that many fail to realize.

Those of us who practice natural medicine are frequently criticized for not publishing our findings. My justification for that is that it's not going to be published anyway, and Dr. Gonzalez' anecdotal story confirms this view.

His mentor and supporter, Dr. Good, was one of the most published authors in the scientific literature at that point, with over 2,000 scientific articles to his name. He'd been nominated for the Nobel Prize three times, and yet he was refused because the findings were "too controversial," and flew in the face of conventional medical doctrine.

If the cream of the crop is refused, how does a general primary care physician get an article published?

He doesn't…

"Robert Good was at the top of his profession: President of Sloan-Kettering, father of modern immunology, and did the first bone marrow transplant in history. Yet, he couldn't get it published," Gonzalez says. "He couldn't even get a single case report published.

In fact, I have a letter from one of the editors, dated 1987, who wrote a blistering letter to Good saying "You've been boondoggled by a crazy quack guy. Don't you see this is all a fraud?"

It was just the most extraordinary, irrational letter... [Because] the patients' names were there, the copies of their pertinent medical records were there… Any of them could have called these patients, like Arlene Van Straten who, 29 years later, will talk to anyone… But no one cared. They wouldn't do it; they didn't believe it.

They couldn't believe it.

It was very disturbing to me because I say, "It is what it is." I come out of a very conventional research orientation, and it was astonishing to me—I had assistance; I had the president of Sloane-Kettering who couldn't get this thing published because it disagreed with the philosophy that was being promoted in medicine; that only chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy can successfully treat cancer, even though the success rate was abysmal.

The idea that medical journals are these objective and unbiased repositories of the truths about science is total nonsense. Most of them are owned by the drug companies. They won't publish anything that disagrees with their philosophy."

The story only gets better from here. Names. Dates. Specific numbers. Even phone numbers and book titles. Who's telling the truth? Who's lying? I'll let you read the details for yourself.


Friday, April 15, 2011


My best friend from high school, with whom I did a lot of biking, posted a link to an insane bike ride in Valparaiso, Chile. You get to participate through a helmet cam.

VCA 2010 RACE RUN from changoman on Vimeo.

The blogger whose post I grabbed this from comments,
The Valparaiso Cerro Abajo Race is a legendary urban bike race and is more extreme than skydiving out of an exploding F-18 piloted by Charlie Sheen - while chugging a 2 liter of Mountain Dew.

I think I feel sick!

But I decided to "run" it again. This time from a chaser cam. You want to see what these guys wear in the way of safety equipment? I wonder how many people are permanently injured every year?

VCA 2011! from changoman on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Infuriating power grabs . . .

This just in from the Life Extension Foundation:

Senate Bill Would Jail Food Makers for Ten Years!

As if Congress does not have enough urgent work to do, a bill has just been introduced that would vastly expand the FDA’s power to put food makers in jail for ten years!

Just a few days ago, [we informed you] that a walnut [distributor] capitulated to FDA pressure and removed truthful health claims from its website. [I have copied the article below. --JAH] The bill just introduced in the Senate would grant the FDA far more draconian powers to censor this kind of health information.

This Senate bill will enable the FDA to incarcerate food makers if they cite findings from peer-reviewed published scientific studies on their websites.

The pretext for these draconian proposals is a bill titled the Food Safety Accountability Act (S.216). The ostensible purpose of the bill is to punish anyone who knowingly contaminates food for sale. Since there are already strong laws to punish anyone who commits this crime, this bill serves little purpose other than enriching pharmaceutical interests by censoring what healthy food makers can say about their products.

The sinister scheme behind this bill is to exploit the public’s concern about food safety. Drug companies want to convince your senators that an overreaching law needs to be enacted to grant the FDA powers to define “food contamination” any way it chooses.

The problem is the FDA can proclaim a food as “misbranded” even if the best science in the world is used to describe its biological effects in the body. The fear is the FDA will use the term “misbranded” in the same way it defines “adulterated” in order to jail food makers as if they were selling contaminated food.

While the new bill only refers to food violations and not supplements, the FDA may not interpret it this way. The big issue here is that if this bill is passed, it would give the FDA legal authority to threaten and coerce small companies into signing crippling consent decrees that will deny consumers access to truthful non-misleading information about natural approaches to protect against age-related disease.

Please tell your two senators to OPPOSE the Food Safety Accountability Act (S.216) in its present form. You can do this in a few minutes on our convenient Legislative Action Center on our website.

And the story of the walnut distributor?

Walnut [Distributor] Capitulates to FDA Censorship

Life Extension® has published 57 articles that describe the health benefits of walnuts.

Some of this same scientific data was featured on the website of Diamond Foods, Inc., a distributor of packaged walnuts.

Last year the FDA determined that walnuts sold by Diamond Foods cannot be legally marketed because the walnuts “are not generally recognized as safe and effective” for the medical conditions referenced on Diamond Foods’ website.

According to the FDA, these walnuts were classified as “drugs” and the “unauthorized health claims” cause them to become “misbranded,” thus subjecting them to government “seizure or injunction.”

Despite pleas from health freedom activists to challenge this blatant example of censorship, Diamond Foods capitulated and removed from its website statements about the benefits of walnuts.

FDA thus scored a victory by denying some Americans access to scientific data about a food that can reduce the risk of the most common diseases afflicting aging humans.1-15

You now have the opportunity to strike back

On April 5, 2011, a bipartisan bill was introduced into the House of Representatives called the Free Speech about Science Act (H.R. 1364). This landmark legislation protects basic free speech rights, ends censorship of science, and enables the natural health products community to share peer-reviewed scientific findings with the public.

The Free Speech about Science bill has the potential to transform medical practice by educating the public about the real science behind natural health.

For this very reason, the bill will have opposition. It will be opposed by the FDA since it restricts their ability to censor the dissemination of published scientific data. It will be opposed by drug companies fearing competition from natural health approaches based on diet, dietary supplements, and lifestyle.

The public, on the other hand, wants access to credible information they can use to make wise dietary choices. Please don’t let special interests stop this bill.

I ask that each of you log on to our Legislative Action website that enables you to conveniently e-mail and ask your Representative to cosponsor the Free Speech about Science Act (H.R. 1364).

Passage of the Free Speech about Science Act will stop federal agencies from squandering tax dollars censoring what you are allowed to learn about health-promoting foods.

Our Legislative Action website provides you direct contact with your Representative to let them know that you want H.R. 1364 (Free Speech about Science Act) enacted into law.

1. Ros E, Núñez I, Pérez-Heras A, et al. A walnut diet improves endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic subjects: a randomized crossover trial. Circulation. 2004 Apr 6;109(13):1609-14.
2. Feldman EB. The scientific evidence for a beneficial health relationship between walnuts and coronary heart disease. J Nutr. 2002 May;132(5):1062S-1101S.
3. Blomhoff R, Carlsen MH, Andersen LF, Jacobs DR Jr. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S52-60.
4. Mozaffarian D. Does alpha-linolenic acid intake reduce the risk of coronary heart disease? A review of the evidence. Altern Ther Health Med. 2005 May-Jun;11(3):24-30; quiz 31, 79.
5. Zhao G, Etherton TD, Martin KR, West SG, Gillies PJ, Kris-Etherton PM. Dietary alpha-linolenic acid reduces inflammatory and lipid cardiovascular risk factors in hypercholesterolemic men and women. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):2991-7.
6. Tapsell LC, Gillen LJ, Patch CS, Batterham M, Owen A, Baré M, Kennedy M. Including walnuts in a low-fat/modified-fat diet improves HDL cholesterol-to-total cholesterol ratios in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004 Dec;27(12):2777-83.
7. West SG. Alpha-Linolenic Acid from Walnuts P85 and Flax Increases Flow-Mediated Dilation of the Brachial Artery in a Dose-Dependent Fashion. Pennsylvania State University. American Heart Association’s 5th Annual Conference on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology in San Francisco. May 2004.
8. Iwamoto M, Imaizumi K, Sato M, Hirooka Y, Sakai K, Takeshita A, Kono M. Serum lipid profiles in Japanese women and men during consumption of walnuts. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jul;56(7):629-37.
9. Morgan JM, Horton K, Reese D, et al.Effects of walnut consumption as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet on serum cardiovascular risk factors. Int’l J for Vit & Nutr Research. 2002 72:341-347.
10. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 1998 Nov 14;317(7169):1341-5.
11. Chisholm A, Mann J, Skeaff M, et al. A diet rich in walnuts favourably influences plasma fatty acid profile in moderately hyperlipidaemic subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1998 Jan;52(1):12-6.
12. de Lorgeril M, Renaud S, Mamelle N, et al. Mediterranean alpha-linolenic acid-rich diet in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. Lancet. 1994 Jun 11;343(8911):1454-9.
13. Cortés B, Núñez I, Cofán M, et al. Acute effects of high-fat meals enriched with walnuts or olive oil on postprandial endothelial function. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Oct 17;48(8):1666-71.
14. Ros E, Mataix J. Fatty acid composition of nuts—implications for cardiovascular health. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S29-35.
15. Ma Y, Njike VY, Millet J, et al. Effects of walnut consumption on endothelial function in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Diabetes Care. 2010 Feb;33(2):227-32.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lambs frolicking

I had never seen anything like it. And it took several days before I realized I ought to make a video of it.

Every evening while I was in Virginia, about the last half hour before the sun went down, the lambs got frisky. They jumped and frolicked, played King of the Hill and butted heads, kicked their heels up and looked, for all the world, like shaggy puppies.

In this clip, I didn't quite capture everything I would have liked to. But you at least get the idea.

In the background, you can hear the tractor running and little Joe commenting on the lambs' behavior.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Praying for rain

I thought I would continue some of my meditations on the 12 days I spent in Virginia.

I thought it was interesting: during the time I was there, I experienced just about every form of weather imaginable. Snow, rain, hail, sunshine, clouds, wind (including very high wind), cold, warm, cool . . . even almost hot (mid-80s).

And in the midst of all that diverse weather, I came to appreciate how important . . . and almost hair-raising . . . weather can be to farmers.

A couple of days after I arrived, with temperatures below freezing, I woke up to find that a ninth lamb had been born on the farm this spring. The momma ewe, Ewok, seemed less than concerned to take care of her lamb, so Phil and Amy discussed what should be done. Would the baby would make it? Should they dispatch her?

"I will not shoot it," said Phil. "Let's let nature take its course. If she lives, she lives. If she doesn't, then that's fine, too."

Four-year-old Abraham took it upon himself to pray that baby Chestnut would survive.

At the end of the week, she was still tiny; her right front leg seemed slightly lame; but she looked as if she was very much going to make it in this world.

I'm going to leave this part of the story here for the moment. But I wanted to mention it to you because of where my post will end up.


On Thursday evening, March 24th (the day I arrived), as we discussed what I might do on Friday, Phil said I might not be able to work in our fields because the soil was too wet. It might dry out enough before I was ready the next day, but if it was as wet as he expected it to be, he would be unable to run the tractor over our land to pull the subsoiler through the dirt. The surface of the soil would be too slick; he would lack the necessary traction.

As it turned out, the land was dry enough by the next morning that Phil was able to cut swales and subsoil a couple of rows for me to plant.

It turned out I was able to plant trees every day I was on the farm, though several times we wondered. There were a couple of days when the soil came close to becoming unworkable--usually due to too much moisture, though a couple of times I wondered whether it would be too dry.

One day, I began work and the soil was just "perfect": not too moist, not too dry. But a mist began to fall. Very gentle mist. I was somewhat concerned, at the beginning, that it might soak through my water-resistant shell, but it never happened.

Then, sometime about an hour or two into the mist, the soil suddenly--I mean, in the space of maybe a minute--completely changed character.

Up to that point, it had been easy to work. I was grateful for the moisture. It made the soil pliable. But then, all of a sudden, in the space of about a minute, as I said, it suddenly turned gooey, sticky, nasty to work with. I was able to finish the rows Phil had already subsoiled, though it became almost twice as hard to open a hole as it had before the soil changed character.

At the end of the workday, about an hour or two later, I was unable to drive the heavy-duty, "dually" farm truck out of the field where I was working. Phil and Amy's neighbor, Butch, towed me out with his Caterpillar tractor.

So you get an idea of just how gooey the soil is on the farm, here are a couple of pictures of what I looked like at the end of one of that day. An overall picture . . .

From Drop Box

And a close-up of my boots!

From Drop Box


The next day, I was able to observe the opposite effect. When I first began work, the soil continued mucky, sticky, nasty; and then, an hour or two after I began, in the space of one minute . . . I experienced almost exactly the opposite of what had happened the day before: suddenly the soil went from gooey mush to friable. Amazing!

I titled this post "Praying for rain."

That's because, over the course of the 12 days I was on the farm, I became very much more aware of the weather and how it impacts a farmer.

I don't recall what day it was that Amy decided she had to move some of the young plants out of the green house into the outdoor soil, but that day came.

With great joy, she set the vegetables into their final places in the field.

And that night the temperature dropped below freezing.

Not a lot, but enough to cause consternation.

And there was the morning when Chestnut was born: Colder than we would have preferred for a lamb to be born outdoors.

And then there was my experience the last night I was in Virginia (Monday night/Tuesday morning this past week--April 4th/5th).

Monday was warm. Hot, even. And windy. Really windy. I'd pull out a shovelful of moist soil, and a minute later, after inserting a tree into the hole, as I went to put the soil back where it came from, it had turned dry and either crumbly or hard (depending on how much clay was present).

As I kept planting trees throughout the day, I began to worry.

Whew! It's hot! I'm adding a quart or two of water to the soil around each tree after planting. But what if it doesn't rain? These trees will die! . . . There is no irrigation, no artificial source of water. They are totally dependent on natural rainfall. When will the next rainfall be? Will they survive?

It's funny: I worked with Phil & Amy's neighbor, Butch, early in the day and he had made some offhand comment about rain coming that evening, but we looked it up: none of the weather services predicted any rain for the foreseeable future, anyway, and there were absolutely no signs of rain coming: the sky was clear, cloudless and warm. . . .

When we went to bed, it was still in the high 70s. I left the windows in the RV wide open. About an hour later, the winds came up strong enough that I closed one set of windows on the windward side. An hour after that, I closed the windows on the other side. And then, shortly after 3 am, I heard a tremendous clattering sound come from outside the RV and begin pounding on the roof: "Hail?!?"

My thoughts immediately turned to baby Chestnut and the other sheep and lambs out in the yard . . . and the cattle down the hillside . . . not to mention the chicks up the hill. . . . I was snug, warm and dry. But they weren't protected.

I looked outside and soon realized that the clatter had nothing to do with hail. It was simply raining hard. --Good news for the chestnut trees! Still potentially dangerous for a baby animal that is unprotected. But nowhere near as dangerous as hail.

Moments later, as I continued to look outside, I saw a figure with a flashlight in hand and/or a headlamp on its head steal across the front of the RV. Phil had come to check to make sure everything was all right in the rain.

It got me thinking: A farmer's life is almost like that of the mother of a newborn infant . . . virtually all the time. No deep, sound sleep; no solid rest; just a constant wonderment about what is happening with the animals and the crops: Is it too hot? Too cold? Too dry? Too wet? When will the next rain come? The wind? Is everything all right?

Amy's post, If not one thing, it's another, expresses well what struck me: A farmer's work is never done. And he or she is totally dependent on the mercies of God in terms of weather.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Milking a cow . . .

I am not a farm boy. I have never lived on a farm. I have visited a couple of farms for a few hours, total, in all my life. Until two weeks ago.

So much of what I observed on Amy & Phil's farm was really rather brand-new to me. And wondrous.

Even very mundane things . . . like milking a cow.

What does that look like?

Well, I found out on a glorious morning about a week and a half ago. The sun was golden, the air still filled with mist as Amy stopped by the RV where I was sitting and prepared to walk down the hill to milk their one lactating cow, Bianca, a milking Devon. (Bianca is named after a singer with a very loud voice; Bianca the cow has a very loud voice!).

I waited to begin videotaping until we were at the bottom of the hill and Amy had caught Bianca.

You'll have to turn up your speakers to hear the vocal interplay between Amy and Bianca.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


I had the privilege, the last two weeks, to spend extended time with our oldest daughter, her husband, and their four sons on their budding farm in Esmont, VA. My primary reason for being there was to plant 1,000 chestnut trees and 28 fruit (primarily peach) trees on the property "next door" to Amy and Phil. By hand. In a little over a week.

I wound up extending my stay by three days. The week-and-a-day I had planned on was just not enough time.

While I was there, however, I stayed with the Lykoshes in an RV Phil's parents have left on the property for their use. Since Amy cooks and, at least during less-than-ideal weather, the family eats in the RV, I had the privilege of sharing some fairly significant time with everyone. More, I imagine, than I have been able to spend at just about any other time in the decade that Amy and Phil have been married.

I thought this video I took while recovering from a long and muscle-wearying day was humorous and worth sharing: the way 2- and 4-year-old grandsons might show their love to their grandfather . . . and how a grandpa--this grandpa, anyway!--might show his love to his grandsons.

I was sitting in an easy chair, legs propped on the couch on the opposite side of the RV. Joe got up on the couch and started doing face-plants into my legs with wild abandon.

Only after about five or ten minutes of this did I get the idea that maybe I should take a movie. . . .

Anyone else see grandkids do this kind of thing?

Kind of unbelievable to me, actually.