Thursday, February 24, 2005

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Bittersweet homecoming today

Bittersweet homecoming today

Hit harder by combat death and injury in Iraq than any other California National Guard unit, a Petaluma-based company will celebrate its homecoming today at the armory on Vallejo Street.

More than one out of five soldiers in 90-member A Company of the 579th Engineer Battalion died or suffered wounds . . .


This really brings things a lot closer to home for me.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Fasting: Day 3

Day 3 and I'm feeling fine. The night before last I had strange, vivid dreams. Several of these were about food. The kind where I find myself eating something and then suddenly remember I'm fasting and say, "Oh, noooooooo!" Last night, nothing like that, at least not that I remember.

So, how on earth did I come across the lemonade diet, aka The Master Cleanser. It was sometime around 1998, I was working at North Coast Laboratories in Arcata. It was just after New Year's and two of my co-workers were talking about this fast that they were going to do. Fasting was something that I had always been intrigued by and interested in trying. They outlined what it was that they were going to do and told me the benefits they felt they had obtained -- basically detoxification. This really captured my interest and so they brought in their copy of The Master Cleanser. I ran myself off a copy.

The author, Stanley Burroughs, is one interesting guy. His fundamental assertion in this book is that all human disease is actually toxemia, that we are poisoning ourselves -- through the evils of "improper diet, inadequate excercise, negative mental attitudes and lack of spiritual attunement". The things that we call diseases are merely results of this toxemia -- bacteria, viruses and the like that are able to capitialize on our poisoned state. In fact, he says, in a healthy body, germs and viruses provide a service, breaking down and eliminating waste products; it is only when we saturate our bodies with waste that germs and viruses become a problem. Western medicine, he says, only compounds the problem with its emphasis on drug-based remedies, which themselves often have toxic properties.

These are interesting ideas and I think that they have some merit. However, there is certainly a lot to find fault with in this work. Burroughs is unapologetically unconventional as a scientist, or natural scientist as I think he would call himself. There are no initials after his name and he is comfortable backing up his claims with arguments like this, "Regardless of whether you believe [these principles] or not, it does not alter the fact that they may be true." And this one, my personal favorite, "Dozens of letters weekly, from around the world highly praise the many superior benefits of the lemonade diet. Thus we must conclude that since it does so much for so many it is truly The Master Cleanser." A bit of argrmentum ad populum, certainly an unrepresentative sample, with a bit of branding and marketing thrown in.

Burroughs is decidedly in the "New Age" "Alternative Medicine" camp, by association if not by choice. A couple of his other published works: Vita-Flex (pressure point therapy) and Color Therapy (shining colored light on the body to create balance) Perhaps most damning of all to his credibility (from the perspective of traditional western science) is the quoting of an article from the National Enquirer, by the premier astrologer and psychic of our time, Jeanne Dixon. Interestingly, Ms. Dixon's prediction, made in 1975, has turned out to be pretty prescient: "One of the greatest medical breakthroughs of the decade [?] will come from the common citrus fruit. Scientists will create fantastic new wonder drugs from these fruits for a wide array of ilnnesses that have plagued mankind for centuries. It will be learned that a chemical in the fruit can strengthen out natural resistance to many diseases." I don't know if the words biotechnology or nutraceuticals had been coined in 1975, but they certainly weren't as common currency as they are today -- and you'd better believe the folks at ADM are doing lots of playing around with oranges and lemons.

I know I've been a little harsh on ol' Mr. Burroughs. I actually find a lot of value in what he has to say, but quite a bit of it makes me uneasy. Next time: If I think the guy is something of a crackpot, why am I following his wacky diet?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Fasting: Day 1

6 p.m. and everything running smoothly. I actually felt really good all day, particularly in my mood. Some of this was probably excitement about the undertaking. Do feel a bit off in the head. Not aching, just like the blood running through there is thick. Thick-headed and slow. Effect of toxins starting to break down and circulate through the blood on their way out? Seems a bit soon for that. Im a bit conflicted over whether I should attempt to go to the weekly poker tourney tonight. I'd really like to, but if I truly am thick-headed it might not be the best idea. I also felt pretty tired earlier in the afternoong and since I can't caffeinate . . .

Think I'm going to go watch part of a movie and see how I feel in an hour.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Final Pre-Fasting Thoughts

It's the night before the fast begins. Just home from Andresen's Tavern, the local hang out for the old-school Petaluma poultry (and Petaluma Poultry) folks. Had three pints of Lagunitas IPA while chatting with Chris, Wayne and Dennis. Am about to go have a last meal at McNear's, with which I will indubitably consume another pint or two.

I don't remember feasting before the fast the last time I did it, but it does have a certain morbid appeal this time. And since weight loss is a goal this time around, a last gluttonous indulgance makes a certain amount of sense -- push that "before" weight up just a bit higher.

Why am I doing this fast, a pretty intense one at that? Detoxification is probably top of the list. I don't eat that well. I drink too much. And I smoke tobacco products -- in varying amounts but on average at an inarguably unhealthy level. Abstinence from these inebrients should will I hope at least return me to a baseline level -- at this point I have no plans or illusions of completely ceasing my use of either alcohol or tobacco. But of course I've had three pints so ask me in a day or so and my opinion will likely be different.

There's also the question of how much waste is built up in my colon. I may address this eventually, but probably the best said about it the better.

Weight loss is another incentive for the fast. I have increased my pant size several increments over the past 12-18 months. Not only do I hate having to shop for new and ever-larger clothes, I've recently come to the conclusion that I am verging on being decidedly unattractively and unhealthily overweight. The fast may be the final desparate move to avoid joining a gym. Though at fast's end, if not before, I do need to adopt some sort of regimen of physical activity. Again, keep me off the booze and the tobacco for a week and my attitude towards Gold's may be much warmer.

General health. The book in which the lemonade diet is described (again, I will describe and critique this in more detail later) includes all sorts of testimonials and claims about how it can prevent and cure any disease known to medicine, western or otherwise. My descent into unhealthy habits has left me feeling quite often on the verge on illness -- not to mention
"bloated and insecure"
.

"Because it's there." To speak frankly, willpower is not always my strongpoint. I'd like to think that this is due to my overwhelming nihilism and general lack of ambition and direction -- that if/when I really believed in something or wanted something I would muster the will to overcome any and all obstacles. Not that I'm an easy believer in the power of The Master Cleanser, but it was a remarkable experience the last time I did it. Can I make it the whole 10 days this time? Will I enter a "zone" and decide to push through and beyond the 10 day mark? What stores of resolve might I discover and capitalize upon during this time?

It's not a blog so much as a journal, this thing, but I wanted a place to record my thoughts and here it is.

Off to the last meal.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Provisioning


Ingredients for THE MASTER CLEANSER Posted by Hello

So, I'm going to do this fast. I did it about 6-8 years ago and it was quite an experience. This fast has a name. It's called The Master Cleanser. I have a photocopied version of the "book" (actually more like a pamphlet) and I have managed to keep track of it through two moves. I will go into more detail later about the book, its author and the more wacky new agey aspects of the whole thing. For the moment, let me just describe the simple facts of the regimen. You make this lemonade from lemons, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. The lemonade is all you consume during the fasting period; you can have some mint tea if you want and there's the whole internal salt bath thing but it's questionable whether the salt thing counts as "consuming". More details about that later. The book says that the minimum recommended period is 10 days, but claims that you can safely stick to it for several times the 40 days of Lent. I'm going to shoot for 10 days. From this Friday through the following Sunday.

What I want to talk about tonight is provisioning for this fast. I work in the "Natural Foods Industry" so, for better or worse, I am interested in what is available in which stores and what the differences are in quality, price, branding etc. I don't eat organic produce religiously, but for the fast I wouldn't consider anything but organically grown lemons -- detoxification is a big part of this and I plan on juicing the entire fruit so I don't want anything that may have had synthetic organic chemicals applied to it. Plus, I believe that buying organic is the right thing to do. The reliable outlet for organic lemons is obviously Whole Foods Market. They also have organic cayenne pepper in bulk so it's a no-brainer to pick that up there as well.

The maple syrup is another story. You need b-grade dark amber stuff for the fast -- more minerals (not to mention more flavorful). You're going to use about 12 ounces of it per day, so over the course of 10 days you basically need a gallon. The last time i undertook a "Master Cleansing", I lived in Arcata, California, making things much simpler. I would just take a 1 liter amber bottle to the Arcata Co-Op and fill it up with B-Grade maple syrup (organic? I don't recall) out of the bulk dispenser. Alas, the Whole Foods Market in Petaluma does not have any aqueous substances available in bulk beyond soaps and lotions -- not even honey. I had some hopes for Oliver's Market (a local two store crossover/gourmet enterprise), because I remembered that they have a liquid bulk dispenser. Basalmic vinegar? Yes. Tamari? Yes. EVOO? Of course. Honey? Three kinds. Maple syrup? No dice. At Trader Joe's I found quart jugs of B-Grade maple syrup (non-organic) for $9.49. I was impressed with the price but a bit suspicious about the provenance and the quality. Who the heck knows where TJ's gets this stuff; it could be right off the Canadian black market. Digging a bit deeper at Whole Foods, I discovered that they carry a quart sized jug of ORGANIC maple syrup under their 365 label for $9.99 a pop. 50ยข more for the peace of mind of the organic and WF labels? I think it's worth it.

So, the provisioning has become very simple. All ingredients come from Whole Foods. My friend Dan (a "team member") will be so pleased. Not to mention the fact that I own 1.5807 shares of stock in Whole Foods Market International.

Other supplies:
Bathroom scale: Purchased today at K-Mart. I don't plan on stepping on before 0-Day, could be too depressing.

In future installments:
Why do this?
Non-Doctor Stanley Burroughs, creator of the Master Cleanser
Critique of his book/pamphlet
Further preparations and embarking on the fasting journey

Initializing

My very first post in my very first blog. Something I've thought about for a long time. Finally did it because I'm considering doing a pretty intense juice fast and I thought I should record the experience. Being 2005, a blog would seem the way to go.

More about that later. Now I have to go see if I can dress the thing up a bit.