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Stacy Alexander

 

Welcome to Arte California!

 

 
© Stacy Alexander – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
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Stacy Alexander Arté California

The Joys of Wedded Bliss

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Photo credit: Kat Wilson, Reno, NV.

John and I have been together for 28 years. Last night, we celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary…..and it was blissful, starting with breakfast, and until the evening was gone altogether. Our day began with sunshine after a long, cold and gray period of winter. We welcomed with a long walk up to Hawthorne street, where we dined on healthful bowls of great food and smoothies.

Both of us worked for part of the day, but neither of us minded, as we both have exciting projects going on right now, and we’re both enthused and energized by our newfound prospects. John is teaching two classes this term, and I am working on a cookbook, a novel, attending training classes for my international retreat business, still working as a fact checker and researcher, and doing all of the things that I’ve always done. Add to that, going to the gym, yoga, childcare for our Ingrid and doing everything else that we both do, and you’ll see, our plates…and our lives… are full.

We both knocked off early and hung out together and watched a film about the outsider artist, David Beck. GREAT documentary, and fabulous work. Really enjoyed the guy’s imagination and creativity. We talked and laughed our way through that, and had such a pleasant time….which is usually the case. John and I actually LIKE one another. 😉

At one point, I was presented with a beautiful bouquet of red, long-stemmed roses, which is a standard gift from John, and we exchanged presents. I presented him with a very rare and valuable leather-bound, hand-written book that he had been wanting for his collection. Had to jump through a million hoops to find it, but I was so pleased to be able to present him with it, and he was thrilled…..but not as thrilled as I was when he walked in with a new Macbook Pro laptop for me. Retina Pro…all of the bells and whistles. Wow! What a difference that thing makes! Will certainly make my life a lot easier.

So, we went to Clarklewis, and we had one of the best evenings out that we’ve had in ages.

Both of us were in a great mood, so there was lots of laughter and lively conversation. After we shared a beautiful cheese tray layered with roasted nuts, rhubarb jam, house pickles of radish and onion, delicious house-dehydrated fruits and lavash crackers to go with our bottle of Torresella, Prosecco, the meal started with a market green salad with fennel, red beets, smoked feta, walnut granola and apple kombucha vinaigrette. It was fresh, light and delicious!

Next came the soup course, which was a beautiful carrot bisque with sunchokes, miso, spring onion and crème fraîche. I believe that was my favorite part of the entire meal, but it would be hard to say. ALL of it was fabulous.

The main course followed. We both had the risotto with forage mushrooms, rainbow chard, roasted garlic, parmesan stock and black truffles…and we both loved it. It was served piping hot with fresh ground parm on top. Full-flavored, rich, hearty….perfection.

For dessert, John went for the chocolate hazelnut panna cotta with white chocolate shortbread crumble, and I had the handmade butterscotch pudding with a vanilla whipped cream topping, sprinkled with slivered almonds. Yum-o!

My delicious butterscotch pudding
John’s dessert

The restaurant’s atmosphere is a fusion of fine accoutrements blended with a hip, industrial style. It was somewhat noisy inside, but it was also exciting and loads of fun. Can’t wait to take my sisterwives, Kat and Sutton, there when they visit this summer! Planning a lot of fun with those two Reno-ites!

I am so happy to be sharing this particular life adventure with John. I have loved every minute of being married to him. Couldn’t ask for a better husband. Happy 23rd….and, at least, 23 more to go! xoxoxo


Things just fall into place…..

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I have been working on opening my own international retreat business for more than 5 years now. Primarily, I have been working and saving money, conducting research, seeking out retreat locations and interviewing retreat owners. I have been writing a curriculum, conducting marketing research and doing major brainstorming about different offerings.

On my way!

I spoke with a number of friends, and got one friend to agree to do it with me. We talked about it on and off, and every time I spoke to her, she seemed enthusiastic.

Then I got stuck.

I just wasn’t sure what my next step was going to be. It seemed like all the pieces were in place. I just didn’t know what to do next. Then, an opportunity fell right into my lap, in the form of a Facebook ad that I clicked on. Now, my sails are set and I’m going full steam ahead.

I signed up for a training program that cost me thousands of dollars, but in the first day alone, I learned more than my accumulation of research that had transpired over the last years of trying to put this together. I am ensconced in a professional organization and coaching team that assures me that if I follow their program, I can expect to bring in from $20-100K PER RETREAT! This program is so extensive, so organized and so packed with the support that I need, that I’ve already made leaps and bounds. I am amazed!

So I contacted the woman I was going to partner with and asked if she was ready to go. She responded that she was booked up for the next year and that she was going in an alternative direction. There had been no discussion, no information….She simply changed her mind, while remaining open to the idea, but I needed more of a commitment than a person who was only willing to “remain open” to the idea.

Ok.

Would have been nice to have known this before I spent the thousands of dollars for the training….but she is a talented writer and in a great-sounding writing program, so it would be hard to hold any ill will toward her, and I do wish her all the best….but I felt somewhat dismayed about having been left high and dry.

Then, I posted about my endeavors on Facebook….and what happened next proves that when one door closes, another opens.

I was contacted by a woman who had been my art instructor when I attended a small, private university in New England that my husband worked at as Academic Vice President. Jessica has held retreats before in Italy, and has many great resources. She has years of experience and feels enthusiastic about working with me.

We had clicked when I was her student, but we moved away before she and I ever had the opportunity to arrange any type of working arrangement together. She told me this morning that she had always felt that our time together was “incomplete” and both of us feel that this was meant to be…..Therefore, I thank my friend who turned in another direction, because this looks like it’s going to work out for EVERYONE. It works out for the original person I was going to do this with, and it works out beautifully for Jessica and for myself.

The program’s work is very intensive and difficult, but I feel such joy as I embark upon completing it. I SMILE as I go through the homework. These women are true professionals that know this business like the backs of their own hands. They have already reached out to me repeatedly and have given me some amazing feedback.

This morning, I had a long talk with my husband about all of this, and asked for his advice. He reminded me of why I had attended the University of St. Thomas in Houston, where we had met. It was because of an ad that he had placed in the Houston newspaper when he was Dean of their Evening and Summer Division. The ad had said something about it being MY turn to complete my degree, and because of that ad, my life changed forever. That’s where we met, and as a result, subsequently married.

So now, I’m borrowing John’s idea….or it was given to me, I should say, and I have high hopes and great happiness. My retreats will be transformational by design, glamorous, luxurious retreats in the most gorgeous locations worldwide….in Italy, in Spain, in France. I can hardly wait.

My wanderlust is in control now!.

Better Food-Sweeter Dreams

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Did you know that the foods you eat can effect the quality of your sleep? It’s true. If you find yourself lying awake long into the night, it could have something to do with what you ate before you went to bed.

This article is being posted at the request of one of my followers, Miles Clements

This woman did NOT eat jalapenos before bed!

One of the worst culprits for keeping people awake at night is cheese. Hard cheese, especially, is higher in saturated fat, making it more challenging to digest. It also increases the risk of heartburn. If you do eat cheese before bedtime, try to delay going to bed to help reduce the chances of acid reflux.

Also, if it’s the calcium you’re craving, try a glass of warm milk instead. This will help you fall asleep pronto, thanks to its tryptophan content.

Chocolate will definitely keep you up at night! If you’re reaching for dessert and probably thinking that half a regular-size bar of dark chocolate is healthier than a slice of cheesecake—and it is. But that chocolate poses more of a threat at bedtime.

“Dark chocolate can be a polyphenol-rich treat, but it’s also a surprising source of caffeine,” says Moon. “It’s common to avoid beverages like coffee or caffeinated tea before bed, but it’s just as important to avoid food sources of this stimulant, which can make it hard to fall and stay asleep,” Moon explains.

A square or two of dark chocolate has about a quarter of the caffeine as a cup of coffee, and about half the caffeine as a cup of green or black tea, Moon says. “Keep in mind that some of us are genetically fast caffeine metabolizers, and others are slow metabolizers—meaning caffeine stays in the body longer and has more side effects. Unless you’re sure you’re a fast metabolizer, stay away from the dark chocolately stuff.

In general, it takes 6 to 10 hours to eliminate caffeine, so that means enjoy a dark chocolate treat no later than noon to four pm for a 10 pm bedtime, she advises. A good alternative is tart cherry juice with a few walnuts. Both provide melatonin to help regulate sleep and promote drowsiness.

Uh oh….

While you may argue that beef is an excellent source of protein and iron, its protein content and saturated fat can wreak havoc on the digestive system. If you eat a burger too close to bedtime, it is likely to make your stomach rumble and keep you awake for hours. Better option is to go with a veggie burger. The quality of the protein is arguably higher, and is much, much easier to digest.

Matcha


Matcha is one of my weaknesses. I drink it copiously, and use it in cooking such sweet delights as mochi balls or matcha cheesecake. The stuff is a green tea powder that is full of healthful antioxidents.

Matcha will definitely keep you awake at night, because a cup of it contains roughly the equivalent of a cup of coffee. Plus, if you eat processed matcha snacks, these can be full of sugar that will give you a wide-awake buzz for hours on end. Avoid it before you go to bed.

Cold Cuts…..(yuck!)


Personally, I don’t understand why ANYONE would eat processed meats. They are HORRIBLE for you. The World Health Organization says they cause cancer, too! These meats are extremely high in sodium, will raise your blood pressure, and will also keep you awake at night. Don’t eat them! Make yourself some garlic-avocado toast instead. Yum.

Citrus fruit

This is a hard one for me to avoid, because I love citrus fruit. I cook with it constantly, and always keep a sliced lemon in my refrigerator so I can squeeze it into my water before I drink it. However, citrus fruit should be avoided near bedtime because it is a diuretic, which will make you urinate more frequently. Just as you’re all snug and warm in your bed, you will have to get up to run to the bathroom if you eat citrus fruits prior to bedtime.

I hope you have found this information to be helpful. I am taking requests for future articles, so if you would like me to address a particular topic, please comment here, or drop me a line and I will be happy to see what I can do. Meanwhile, eat right and have sweet dreams…just like Patsy Cline!

Distorted Thinking

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Many of the automatic thoughts that pop into our minds are distorted in some way.  Perhaps they are unrealistically negative or leave out relevant information.  The result of these distorted cognitions is typically a negative shift in mood.  Can you think of a recent event that caused an automatic thought to pop into your mind (e.g., “Stupid” or “I’m a failure”)?

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

We have these automatic thoughts so frequently that it is easy not to notice them at all.  What we usually do notice is that we are suddenly feeling sad, angry, or anxious.  The challenge here is to learn how to identify common cognitive distortions, begin to challenge them appropriately, and start replacing them with thoughts more based in reality.

Common Distorted Thinking

According to Dr. Judith Beck, influential cognitive therapist (and daughter of the founder of cognitive therapy, Dr. Aaron T. Beck), identifies twelve typical errors in thinking in Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond (1995).

(1) All-or-nothing thinking

This type of thinking is polarizing or dichotomous – it locks us into believing that a situation can “only” be viewed in two categories (rather than in shades of gray).  Example: “If I’m not a total success, I am a failure.”

(2) Catastrophizing

This occurs when we believe that we can “magically” predict the future without considering other, more probable, outcomes.  Example: “I’ll be so upset, I won’t be able to function at all.”

(3) Discounting the positive

When we engage in this type of cognitive distortion, we unreasonably tell ourselves that positive events, attributes, or facts simply do not count.  Example: “I may have done that well, but that doesn’t mean I’m smart; I just got lucky.”

(4) Emotional reasoning

This is a common cognitive distortion wherein we believe in the validity of something because we “feel” it is true so strongly that we ignore evidence to the contrary.  Example: “I know I do a lot of things well, but I still feel like a failure.”

(5) Labeling

This distortion occurs when we put a fixed generalized label on ourselves or others without considering that available evidence may lead to a less disastrous conclusion.  Example: “I’m a loser” or “He’s a bad person.”

(6) Magnification / minimization

We engage in this distortion when we evaluate ourselves, others, or a situation while unreasonably magnifying or minimizing the positive.  Example: “Getting a low grade proves how stupid I am” or “Just because I did well, it doesn’t mean I’m smart.”

(7) Mental filter

This is also sometimes referred to as selective abstraction.  When we think this way, we pay undue attention to one negative detail rather than seeing the big picture.  Example: “Since that one part of the date didn’t go well, it means the whole thing was a failure.”

(8) Mind reading

We employ distorted thinking in this way when we believe that we somehow know what others are thinking – failing to consider other, more likely, possibilities.  Example: “I can tell she’s thinking that she doesn’t like me.”

(9) Overgeneralization

We overgeneralize when we make sweeping negative conclusions that extend far beyond the scope of the present situation.  Example: “Because I felt nervous at that party, I just don’t have what it takes to make friends.”

(10) Personalization

This is when we believe that others are acting negatively because of us, without considering other, more plausible, causes for their behavior.  Example: “She didn’t smile at me in the hallway because I did something wrong.”

(11) “Should” & “must” statements

This type of distortion is also referred to as imperatives.  It is when we have precise fixed ideas about how we or others should behave, overestimating how bad it would be if these expectations are not met.  Example: “It’s awful that I made a mistake.  I should always do my very best.”

(12) Tunnel vision

This common cognitive distortion occurs when we are only able to see the negative aspects of a situation.  Example: “He just can’t do anything right.  He’s so critical and insensitive.”

What do you see these common cognitive distortions as having in common?  Does it strike you that a common thread throughout these distorted automatic thoughts is their failure to take in all known information and to explore realistic outcomes based on evidence?  If you notice that you identify with some or many of these cognitive distortions, remember that we all think in these ways from time to time.  The trick is to begin to realize that there are other, more adaptive ways of thinking about ourselves, others, and events.

When we actually begin to consider the worst case scenario of events in our lives, we realize that the “worst” thing rarely comes true.  However, the fear of the worst case scenario can be paralyzing and debilitating.  Once we begin to identify patterns in our own cognitive distortions and recognize the possibility of more likely scenarios, we start to loosen the grip that these distortions take on our lives.  Try to “catch yourself” in these distorted automatic thoughts the next time you notice a sudden shift in how you are feeling.  What were you thinking just then?  What type of cognitive distortion might have just occurred to you?

Bye bye Black Strat….

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Kory Grow

David Gilmore to action guitar for charity.

david gilmour

This summer, David Gilmour will be auctioning more than 120 of his guitars, including many of his signature instruments. The most notable instrument in the lot is the Black Strat, the 1969 Fender that Gilmour bought at Manny’s in New York City and used to record everything from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon to his recent solo recordings and touring, including his jaw-dropping performance in Pompeii. It’s expected to go for between $100,000 and $150,000. The instrument, with the many modifications Gilmour made to it, is so legendary that there’s a book devoted to it.

The auction will take place at Christie’s in New York, which is calling it the “largest and most comprehensive collection of guitars to be offered at auction,” on June 20th. Proceeds will benefit charitable causes.

Other notable instruments in what Christie’s has dubbed “The David Gilmour Guitar Collection” include a white Stratocaster, circa 1954, with the serial number #0001 (played on “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”) and a 1958 Gretsch Penguin. Both are expected to go for between $100,000 and $150,000. He’s also auctioning the red 1984 Strat he played during Eighties and Nineties ($15,000 – $25,000), a 1969 Martin D-35 ($10,000 – $20,000) and a 1955 goldtop Les Paul ($30,000 – $50,000). There are also a number of less famous guitars going to auction with estimates for as little as $300.

The collection will launch at Christie’s London showroom on King Street and be on view from March 27th to the 31st. It will then go to Los Angeles for a showing between May 7th and the 11th with a final chance for people to see the instruments in New York between June 14th and 19th.

gilmour guitars

“These guitars have been very good to me and many of them have gifted me pieces of music over the years,” Gilmour said in a statement. “They have paid for themselves many times over, but it’s now time that they moved on. Guitars were made to be played and it is my wish that wherever they end up, they continue to give their owners the gift of music. By auctioning these guitars, I hope that I can give some help where it is really needed and through my charitable foundation do some good in this world. It will be a wrench to see them go and perhaps one day I’ll have to track one or two of them down and buy them back!”

Sitting…..

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I’m sitting here waiting for our food delivery from Whole Foods. I’m making risotto for dinner tonight, with a nice tossed salad. Friends who, like me, are itching to get away from all things football related, will be here later. We’re going to watch , “Russian Dolls” which was recommended highly by my friend, Scott.

I’m feeling good today. Have been fence sitting about an issue that is very important to me, the details of which are not important here. Long story short is that I have resolved the issue in my own mind and heart, and feel totally at peace. Turning in a new, more exciting direction.

Things are incredibly good right now. I feel so awake and alive…..so damned healthy. I’m smiling most of the time. So happy. My career has just turned a corner. I am elated.

Drinking Vinegars for the Masses!

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I have always loved the variety offered by the addition of vinegar to a meal. In fact, when I had my own catering company (“Artichoke”) I developed my own line of herbed/spiced vinegar that I hand-crafted and sold to my customers. I sold it faster than I could make it, but I never did have it manufactured. Guess I should have, because people sure loved it.

Fast forward to our first stint living in Portland. One of the first things we did was try out Pok-Pok, a world renowned Thai/Vietnamese restaurant that serves and sells bottled drinking vinegar, also known as “shrubs”. The first flavor I tried was honey, and it was delicious. That was my first experience with the stuff, and I’ve never forgotten it. Now, we live 1/2 block from Pok-Pok, so I have them often.

Drinking vinegar. It doesn’t sound good. Does it? I mean, who relishes the thought of taking a big swig of sour vinegar on a hot day? Well…I do….because drinking vinegars are different.

You should understand that not all drinks that have a vinegar base are equal. Some are simply comprised of water, apple cider vinegar and sugar or fruit juice. Others add colony-forming probiotics. The SOM brand that I purchase at Pok-Pok is hand-crafted and contains many herbs, spices, probiotics and other things that make them special.

Our son-in-law, Nathan, made some incredible raspberry drinking vinegar last summer. He did a raspberry concentrate that he stirred into the vinegar after everything was fermented. It was light, refreshing and amazing! The flavors are so bright with these drinking vinegars. They quinch the thirst like nothing else, so why not give them a try. You can buy Som online, or here’s a recipe for you to make your own. They are fantastic!

Lavender Plum Drinking Vinegar

Ingredients:

8 red plums, chopped

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 (1-in.) fresh culinary lavender sprigs

1 vanilla bean, split

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

2 1/4 cups bourbon or rye whiskey

6 cups club soda

lavender sprigs and plum slices, for garnish

How to Make It

Toss together 8 red plums, chopped, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 fresh culinary lavender sprigs, and 1 vanilla bean, split, in a medium bowl. Cover tightly, and let stand at room temperature 2 days.

Discard lavender sprigs and vanilla bean, and stir in 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar. Cover and chill 24 hours. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a small pitcher, discarding fruit.

For each serving, pour 1/4 cup of the syrup over ice in a 12-ounce glass and stir in 3 tablespoons bourbon or rye whiskey. Top each with 1/2 cup club soda. Garnish with lavender sprigs and plum slices.


More letting go….

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My father is dying. I am trying to brace myself for that which is to come. The heartache is immeasurable.

He is a good man.

I spend all of my energy sending him love and light and kindness. I ask the nurses to hold the phone to his ear so I can tell him that I love him. I break into tears, then pull myself together, because I know that is what he would want. I work hard because I know that is what he would also want. He is a good man. I ask the nurses to please be kind to him.

I’ve been writing myself notes while he is still alive. Today’s says, “I spoke to Dad today. As I write this, my precious father lay dying. This is in my mind every minute.

He is still alive. I will keep this note forever. It was written while he was still alive. January 22, 2019″.

I am afraid. I don’t know what the world will be like without knowing he is there.

The heartache is immeasurable.

He is a good, good man. I love him.

Clemson Burgers

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I pulled this from a Facebook post that did not give accreditation. When I find out what the author’s name is, I will post it here.

The problem with Trump’s McDonald’s party isn’t that McDonald’s is uniquely cheap or unhealthy or unfit for consumption or whatever other classist, pseudo-elitist, crap some of you folks seem to think. The unhealthiness of American fast food is generally overstated by almost everyone, as is its alleged inedibility, and the fact that people on a budget can conveniently access hot, delicious meals for the price of 15 minutes of labor is a miracle of the modern world and there’s no goddamn reason for an American President to be ashamed Americans know how to make some good, cheap hamburgers. Only a people as fat and comfortable and safe as Americans could be confused otherwise. Sorry, Belgium, you may have invented the french fry, McDonald’s made it into crack. Anyway, stop fronting. Y’all just had three cruncheritos and a mexican pizza from the Bell. Shit is good sometimes.

And the problem isn’t that Trump is a billionaire or that this repast took place at the White House on all their high falutin’ china, that fast food is somehow too undignified. America loves that shit. Billionaires eat McDonald’s, too (ask Warren Buffet), and when the fuck did we become the kind of nation that’s offended by our leaders having a goddamn burger on some fancy, company’s coming over, china, anyway? This isn’t Europe, the White House isn’t Versailles, as much as that doofus and our Centaurian first lady would like to pretend it is. McDonald’s is just fine on them high-class plates. (And by the way, the White House isn’t a palace because we don’t have kings and queens, we have employees, and as Trump’s employer, if he wants to snort addie off the Resolute desk and then piss on that big carpet seal while no one’s around, that’s fine with me. He should have the same right to misuse, abuse, and degrade his place of work as any other American worker. If your shirt is so stuffed shit like that is going to bug you, move to the 19th century or a Jane Austen novel or something.)

The problem, as always, with everything, is Trump. Trump isn’t just a rich guy, or the president. His every move, every thought, revolve around presenting himself as his own, vulgar, demented, version of what a rich man is. This is a man who lives in a gold tower and, so desperate to inhabit his sad, cartoon version of wealth, literally shits in a gold toilet. He is hyper-conscious of status signifiers, even though the signifiers he chooses signify exactly the opposite of his intention for anyone with a semi-functional aesthetic sense, the most famous, desperate, social climbing asshole in a world full of them. He is, always, always, always trying to look wealthy, special, “classy”, and terrified of looking otherwise. That’s the whole point of being Trump.

So this compulsive would-be elitist invites a college football team to the White House, many of whom come from modest backgrounds, to be feted by the leader of their nation on what should be one of the proudest days of their lives, looking forward to some sumptuous, chef prepared, eight course White House meal, and this cheap prick, rather than giving them something to remember, tosses a bunch of the same shit they’ve been eating their entire lives at them as a cute little publicity stunt. One of the players actually commented that he thought it was a joke.

Trump could have served almost any other guest to the White House exactly that meal, any president could have, and it would’ve been fine. Imagine Obama, or Clinton, or Reagan, serving a bunch of McDonald’s to Queen Elizabeth or Vladimir Putin. People would have chuckled a bit, and it would’ve shown the leaders to be human, just like us, juice dripping down their chins, just like every other “politician and foreign dignitary eat hot dog” shot.

But Trump is way too stupid to understand the endearing, folksy irony of that. Trump is never going to serve that shit to his Saudi buddies, or his Russian handlers, or any other VIP. He feeds those people steak at Mara Lago (because steak is his idea of the way rich people eat, of course).

Trump didn’t feed those kids McDonald’s because he genuinely loves McDonald’s, that would probably be a little endearing. Of course he genuinely does love McDonald’s, but that’s not why he did it. What’s bugging us all is that this compulsive, status-obsessed wannabe fed those kids McDonald’s because he looked at a bunch of working and middle-class kids, of various ethnicities, none of whom are famous or powerful, and he thought “People like this eat hamburgers, they don’t need steak. McDonald’s will be fine for these people.”

Trump, tone deaf and socially repulsive as always, managed to ferret out precisely the wrong thing to do and do it. Out of the sociopath’s inability to empathize with another, his would-be elitist’s obsession with class signaling, and likely just pure stinginess, he fed exactly the wrong food to exactly the wrong people, the one group of White House guests who really should have been treated like VIP’s. People who would have enjoyed it and allowed us to enjoy it.

What amazes us, what infuriates, us about Trump, is that while revelling in his abject personal grossness and complete lack of taste or class or style, as well as his touted working-class preferences, he has somehow convinced himself that he is the wealthy, cultivated sophisticate every fucking Burger King eating one of us knows goddamn well he ain’t. Somehow, some-fucking-how, he manages to both revel in his supposedly working-class appetites and then look down on people who eat the same shit he does. It’s fucking Apeneck Sweeney convincing himself he’s Louie the 14th because every day he voids his three Whopper lunch into a gold shitter, putting his nose up at the rest of us for having a cheeseburger and, you know, having porcelain in our bathrooms, too fucking stupid to know how completely, utterly, transcendentally boorish and cheap and gauche and truly nasty every single fucking thing he does and says is, as well as every toilet he has plated.

But under all that, what bugs us, what really bugs us, what’s so infuriating about that photo, is that smug ass look on his face. Like he just did those kids the biggest favor in the fucking world. Yeah, kids, here you go – I eat steak (ketchup steak, but still steak) every night because I’m the fucking king shit on turd mountain, but you peasants will be overjoyed when you see that I’ve thrown these lovely hamberbers to you.” That look says it all – sure it’s your first time at the White House, the biggest day of your lives, but you’re still just peons. Behold the generosity of your leader and the bountiful table scraps he has laid before you, this day.

In those pictures, standing behind that table, that smug, shit-eating grin fuck, presenting his grand $3000 repast, is looking directly at us.That’s him telling us “yeah, I’m using the highest office in the land as nothing more than a grift to line my pockets, I’ve given all my friends and the actually wealthy people I want to suck up to all the favors I can as fast as administratively possible, but here you go, you jerks, serfs, fucking peons, eat the fuck up. I’ll be having prime rib, but you look more like the type to enjoy a couple bucks worth of cold ass McDonald’s.”

Like a five year old thinking he’s stealing candy when everyone sees exactly like he’s doing, this dumb fuck thinks he’s getting away something. He thinks he’s terribly clever and crafty for pulling the most blatant, obvious, half-assed political scam in the history of the republic, and to make matters worse, he thinks we’re a bunch of dumb assholes for falling for it. That’s what’s so fucking obnoxious about it. This knuckledragging imbecile manages to stumble ass-backwards into office on a wave of reactionary race-hatred and he fucking thinks he’s Machiavelli and PT Barnum rolled into one, pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes, when we all see exactly what the fuck he’s doing. It wasn’t brains or cleverness or tactics that got him elected, he was just the most evil, stupid asshole around at exactly the point that a bunch of people wanted exactly that sort of evil, stupid asshole.

That’s what’s really bugging us about those photos. He’s the shittiest, nastiest, most classless little punk fuck, a complete, daddy-gave-me-everything, failure, and everyone knows it, but there he is, the most powerful man in the world, telling us “I’m better than you, so I take what I want and you’ll like it, but here’s some good-ass fries on a silver platter. Tuck in, losers.”

Just like he tells us every fucking day, every time he opens his mouth.

Things Your Essential Oil Salesperson Won’t Tell You

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This is what your essential oil salesperson isn’t telling you.

I first started using essential oils in 1977, about the time my daughter was born. I had a natural childbirth and was advised by my midwife at the time, that using essential oils could help relax me. It did. This was also the year I became a full-time vegetarian, started practicing yoga and introduced exercise into my daily routine on a more profound level. All of these things changed my life for the better. I continued to use the oils and learned to love them. I also became better educated about their limitations.

Over the last 5-6 years, the essential oil industry has flourished like never before, although they have been around for centuries. Sadly, essential oils are being peddled primarily by a large demographic of individuals with little or no scientific background, and who do not understand the differences between anecdotal and empirical research. They believe they’re going to get rich by selling these oils. Some do. The majority don’t. That’s how pyramid marketing works.

It is not unusual to hear an essential oil salesperson say, “I just slip two drops of Frankincense under my tongue and I never suffer from (fill in the blank) again. Well, I DIDN’T slip those drops of oil under my tongue, and I don’t have that ailment either….and I didn’t ingest the oil because scientific research suggests that doing so is risky. I trust science.

A lot of things about using essential oils is risky.

I know of 8 different people among my friends that sell essential oils. Some are even-headed. Some are irrationally enthusiastic. Some are in between somewhere. Even after 42 years of experience, because I refuse to go along with the financially-motivated findings of some of the large oil distributors, some of my oil selling friends won’t acknowledge that I know a thing about them. I’m quiet, and I don’t push my opinions off on people, so they just assume that my silence is one of agreement. It isn’t.

I have a master of science degree in Psychology, and many years of education in the area of research and brain chemistry. I work for a major independent research firm and conduct research on a wide array of topics and issues. In other words, I am a paid professional researcher who knows a thing or two about conducting research. I understand what real research is, and I understand what real research isn’t. I also understand how to read scientific studies, and while I know that some do, I am willing to bet that the majority of people selling essential oils do not have this knowledge. It took years…decades, in fact, to acquire, and involved intense education and supervised study to get to the level of knowledge that I have about research and I feel that I can only scratch the surface.

I remember presenting to a salesperson, some empirical scientific evidence that talked about the dangers of ingesting essential oils. The research had been compiled scientifically and was derived from empirical, peer-reviewed studies. It was quoted in a new book that had just been published about essential oils. The article was posted on a discussion group, and, of course, a salesperson from one of the major oil selling outlets commented that the person who wrote the article was “just trying to sell books.” The article had been heavily substantiated and had a long list of verifiable evidence attached. There was no counter-evidence given, no real discussion about the validity of the research, nothing. It was simply dismissed. The argument was that because the article had appeared in a book that was for sale, that the author must have made it up because she wanted to sell books. I was astonished, especially given the impressive substantiation that was attached. The person that made the comment had zero scientific background. In fact, the only qualification she had was being a top-tier essential oil SALESPERSON.

According to SPINS, an upper level marketing research firm, in the past year alone, U.S. retail sales of essential oils rose from $55 million in 2015, by an astonishing 14% to $133 million! This does not include the tens of millions in sales from multilevel marketers who bypass retail shelves and sell directly to people via independent distributors. The indies are their own animal. There are two major ones, the second being an offshoot from the first.

Those distributors, (most of whom conduct their own research), and a higher demand for over-the-counter “natural” remedies free of the side effects that can come with prescription drugs, has fueled a surge of interest in essential oils among people, especially those who use either alternative or conventional medicine. The oils can easily be found at major department stores, such as Target or Walmart, despite the objections of the pyramid-scheme style distributors that warn against using any brands other than their own.

As the popular use of essential oils exploded, so did the concerns about the oils’ safety. The truth is that a rapidly increasing number of people are turning up in emergency rooms with chemical burns, gastrointestinal problems, allergic reactions, respiratory issues, and other side effects from using essential oils. This doesn’t mean they are dangerous to use across the board. They can be used safely by most people. However, certain precautions should be observed.


The two major distributors of essential oils are infamous for overstating the potential of the oils while downplaying their risks.

There is very little scientific research on essential oils that can be considered valid and reliable. One of the reasons for this is that salespeople who are inexperienced with scientific research do not realize that when a retail company conducts its own research, by definition, that research is not valid and reliable. The research must be conducted by an independent research firm with no monetary interest in the outcome!

Many of the marketing plans of the major oil sales organization come up with schemes for their unwitting sales staff. For instance, one of the major independent distributors falsely claims that the FDA gave them a renowned “CPTG” designation, when, in fact, the company in question INVENTED that label FDA has nothing to do with it. CPTG Quality Testing is what they call their research….which is not independent research at all. The FDA doesn’t even recognize CPTG testing. It’s just a marketing ploy that fools many of the oil salespeople into thinking that this one brand is the exclusive brand of the hour, when, in fact, there are other brands with lower prices and quality just as high.

Among the REAL studies pertaining to essential oils are some promising findings. One recent scientific study found that lavender oil can lower cortisol levels. Inhaling lemongrass aroma before a stressful event can, in some instances, prevent anxiety. Studies also show that tea tree and oregano oils can fight microbes, making them popular treatments for dandruff and toe fungus, but they should only be used for these purposes under the guidance of a trained medical professional.

Some of the claims by essential oil salespeople are false or misleading. For instance, feeling sick to one’s stomach and throwing up after surgery is a common problem. Science has explored the possibilities behind treating nausea with ginger, but if you’re too nauseous to eat, what do you do? Researchers decided to put aromatherapy to the test.

Various studies have explored the possibilities that just the smell of peppermint help with nausea. Scientists had women take deep whiffs of peppermint extract…the same kind you get at the grocery store, and it seemed to work. While none sniffing plain water with green food coloring—the placebo—or the control group who didn’t sniff anything, felt better, 80% of the mint sniffers felt better within just a few minutes.

The study, however, was very small, and it did not use pure peppermint essential oil. Peppermint extract actually consists of peppermint oil and alcohol, and one scientist thought, “Hmmm. Maybe it was the smell of the alcohol that made people feel less nauseated! In 1997, researchers reported a simple and inexpensive treatment for postop nausea…which was the smell of isopropyl alcohol! They discovered that they could just effectively tear one of those little alcohol swab packets open and wave it under a patient’s nose, and this would relieve nausea and vomiting in more than 80% post operative cases. It’s been since shown to work as well as a leading anti-nausea drug, and may even work faster, cutting nausea in half within 10 to 15 minutes, rather than 20 or 25.

So was it the alcohol, the peppermint, or both? Essential oil companies LOVE to boast about how peppermint oil helps with nausea…so another test was conducted. Patients were instructed to take three slow, deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, smelling alcohol, peppermint, or nothing. The smell of peppermint cut nausea in half within 5 minutes, but then, so did the alcohol. However, so did smelling nothing. So maybe it had nothing to do with the scent; maybe it was just the instruction to take slow, deep breaths. That would make it a really cost-effective intervention. Maybe this discovery shouldn’t be so surprising, given the proximity of the vomiting and breathing centers within the brain, but the essential oil companies love to claim credit for it.

Controlled breathing was shown to be effective with or without any scent.

And this is the case with many, many essential oil claims. They are claims made by the manufacturers. They are claims made by the people that SELL essential oils….but they are not founded in science and, many times, the information is false. Thankfully, “double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials performed to evaluate the effect[s] of essential oils are gradually starting to appear in medical literature, but they are few and far between.

There are two bits of advice that I can leave with you, regarding this topic.

First, do NOT trust research conducted by the very company that is selling essential oils. They can make any claims they want to make. There are no laws yet governing these claims. They want you to drink their oils, because they sell oils. Period. And second…do not EVER ingest essential oils! Ingesting sage oil is associated with seizures in children. Ingesting oil of wintergreen can be deadly. Eucalyptus oil, when ingested, can cause seizures in adults or children. Camphor essential oil can be deadly when ingested. Essential oil of nutmeg can cause seizures, comas or death. The risks are simply too high.

I say use the oils. Use them sensibly. Use them for relaxation or for treating minor illnesses. Just don’t drink them, and don’t use the oils in place of advice from your doctor. There are safe ways to use them, and ways to use them in conjunction with any medical treatments your doctor prescribes. Be smart. Educate yourself with science and not with company-generated propaganda.

References:

Botma M, Colquhoun-Flannery W, Leighton S. Laryngeal oedema caused by accidental ingestion of oil of wintergreen. Int J Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 2001; 58:229-232.

Halicioglu O, Astarcioglu G, Yaprak I, Aydinioglu H. Toxicity of Salvia officinalis in a newborn and a child: an alarming report. Pediatric Neurology. 2011; 45:259-260.

Khine H, Weiss D, Graber N, Hoffman RS, Esteban-Cruciani N, Avner JR. A cluster of children with seizures caused by camphor poisoning. Pediatrics. 2009; 123:1269-2097.

Kolassa N. Menthol differs from other terpenic essential oil constituents. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2013; 65:115-118.

Vigan M. Essential oils: renewal of interest and toxicity. Eur J Dermatol. 2010; 20:685-692.

Woolf A. Essential oil poisoning. Clinical Toxicology. 1999; 37:721-727.


N Engl J Med.
 2007 Feb 1;356(5):479-85.

Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils.

Henley DV1Lipson NKorach KSBloch CA.

Are you a racist?

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How to determine if you are a racist.


You say “I’m not a racist” at least twice a week.
You say, “I’m not a racist, but…”
You say, “I don’t hate black people (or Mexicans, or Muslims), but why do they have to…”

You give what YOU feel are “cute” racist names to ethnic groups…such as “Mu-slimes” or “Nigg*ers”.
You feel compelled to point out undesirable characteristics or behavior by groups of people according to their skin color, birthplace, income level, religion, et al
You find yourself explaining to people why you are not a racist.
You defend racists, not for their racism, but for their “good qualities.”
You call any place where people of color live a “shit hole” or similar derogatory term. (Add an additional strike if you rent to them).
You tell people, “I don’t know the proper term to call you.”You have a black friend, or co-worker or one goes to your church. (We all do. But we like our friends, we don’t parade them like trophies. Get over it. Only racists feel the need to point to them like badges of honor.)
It’s important to you that people think you’re not a racist.
You say, “you don’t hear me complaining about Asians.”

You consider anyone who doesn’t adhere to white people socialization to be beneath you, wrong or inappropriate.


Scoring:If you fit two or more descriptions, you’re probably a racist. Four, you are one. All ten and you’re the President. And if you don’t think he’s a racist, that’s hint 12.
If you don’t think the President’s racist, you definitely are.

Move!

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“It’s been a wild ride.

A lot of miles. A road sometimes smooth, sometimes hard and ugly.

And I guess I could tell you that if you look hard enough, that just next door is just as interesting as the other side of the world.

But … That’s not exactly true.

If I do have any advice for anybody, any final thought, if I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move.

As far as you can, as much as you can.

Across the ocean, or simply across the river.

The extent to which you can walk in somebody else’s shoes–or at least eat their food–it’s a plus for everybody.

Open your mind. Get up off the couch. Move.”

Anthony Bourdain

I met him upon two occasions. Once was at a restaurant in New York with a group of movers and shakers that I still hang with when we can all get together. The other time was through a friend of a friend. Both times, I found him charismatic and intelligent, funny, albeit self-centered. He worked hard, and loved what he did….but he was also full of piss and vinegar with a cynical slant on life. It really doesn’t matter who Anthony Bourdain was, in terms of the quote that I posted above. Those words are the words that I live by.

I try to move.

I am moving forward at this point in my life. At times, it all seems to be going by too quickly. I have been presented with some amazing opportunities and am taking this chance to cash in on them. I do so excitedly and with gratitude. Simply put…I have it made.

I take good care of my mind and of my body.

I move.

That is the key to life….movement. Don’t get stuck. Don’t get stale. Keep moving forward.