My Reading List

Monday, May 18, 2009

I finished Marion Nestle’s What to Eat: An Aisle-By-Aisle Guide to the Supermarket, which I really liked.

I also read Don’t Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock, which loosely chronicles his Super Size Me experience, and which had the perverse effect of making me want to go to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger.

Right now, I’m reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, which is making me think a cheesburger might not be a bad idea.

I also read The 100% Natural, Purely Organic, Cholesterol-Free, Megavitamin, Low-Carbohydrate Nutrition Hoax, by Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan and Dr. Frederick J. Stare, which was published in 1984 and which is interesting in combination with the Gary Taubes book, which talks about the history of the fat-is-bad hypothesis, which Taubes argues is more-or-less completely unscientific. [And yes I know I should try to re-write that sentence so it doesn’t have the word “which” in it four times but it’s late and I have other things to do so I’m just going to leave it.] The 100% Hoax book came out right around when the fat-is-bad “consensus” was achieved so it has some interesting counterpoints to today’s conventional wisdom about diet and health.

As an aside… I do think reading alternative viewpoints is good, but I have to say that Whelan and Stare lost me a bit with the discussion about pesticides and DDT. They offered a defense of DDT on the basis that it saved millions of lives that would otherwise have been lost to malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses, which is a perfectly valid argument, however they did not mention even in passing the terrible environmental consequences of DDT, including the fact that entire bird populations were nearly wiped out by it. I’m okay with defending some aspects of DDT, but I really think you have to at least acknowledge the downside.

I should be done with all the reading in three or four years and ready to start with my next project.

Just kidding

I’m a pretty fast reader. Shouldn’t be more than a year.

Happy Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Some Flowers For You

Hi Mom,

I’m late as usual getting something in the mail but I thought you might like these flowers from my garden. I hope you have a nice day and that dad cooks a nice dinner for you and grandma.

Your Daughter

In Memorium

Thursday, May 7, 2009

When I started my project in February, I sent a message out to more or less everyone I’d been in touch over the past two years, telling them what I was doing and sending a link to the blog. I got lots of responses (including one from my friend Will, who wanted to know if my message was really a plea for donations, he said he’d call the local Dominoes for me. My friends are so funny.)

One of the messages I got back was from my friend Kristy, who I had worked with at Island Press for many years, first in DC and then when she and I were both telecommuting from North Carolina (thankfully, the Kool-Aid eventually wore off both of us).

Kristy had been diagnosed with a form of neuroendocrine cancer in 2006 and had been through chemo, and as far as I knew had been doing okay. I talked to her on a semi-regular basis, and would try to meet her for lunch whenever I was over in her end of town.

I got together with her in December and she had started on a clinical trial of a new drug in September, and had been pretty sick in the fall but didn’t know if it was the drug or her disease or the horrible virus that had gone around that many people in our area had suffered from. She said she was feeling better, and nothing seemed to be too much out of the ordinary. She was helping her husband Michael with his business and ferrying their 8-year-old son Jason around.

So I was suprised by the message she sent in response to my announcement. She said that her health had taken a significant turn for the worse, that nothing they had tried was working and the tumors were growing. She said they were going to go back to the first type of chemo she’d been on, but her doctors weren’t sure if her liver would be strong enough to handle it. If it wasn’t, there wasn’t much they could do.

She sent a subsequent message a few days later saying that it looked like her liver could handle the chemo so she was going to start on that. A weeks or two later she sent out a message saying the results of the first round of chemo seemed promising and she was feeling much better already. She thanked everyone for their support during this difficult time. We were all so happy to get that message! We hoped she’d turned the corner.

I talked to her on the phone a few times over the course of my project and she was hanging in there, tired and weak but sounding pretty positive. She said she loved reading the blog and loved hearing about the media attention, and that the whole thing was really fun for her—she said it was a great distraction and could not have come at a better time. It really meant a lot to me to hear that.

So I’m incredibly sad to report that Kristy died last week. It still doesn’t seem real that someone who was so great and smart and talented could be gone so soon, and that it could have happened so quickly.

I wish I could say more, or say how I felt, or do or say something that would cause any of this make sense, but I can’t, and it doesn’t, and all I can say is that I’m very, very sad, and that I know I’m not alone in saying, Kristy, I miss you very much.