Tuesday, September 06, 2016
I wanted to read Chasing Embers because the description sounded interesting and because I have always liked stories about dragons. I was wrong. The book is a tedious slog.
There are moments that sparkle and are exciting. I thought "now the story will get good." I was wrong. Another slog was dead ahead and was more tedious than the last slog and is the central problem with James Bennett's Chasing Embers.
Bennett writes action very well, but fails to rise above 2-dimensional characters that care about anything but fighting, chasing, and getting rid of Red Ben. At least the antagonists, for all their diversity, revel all too briefly in their brief victories -- all too brief. There is no connection to the characters, nothing that delves any deeper than a surface scratch. Why does Red Ben care about humans so much, other than the obvious carnal desire, which seems due to the lack of a female dragon to continue his line, but that is forbidden since only Red Ben among all the dragons may continue to exist in the human world. He signed the treaty that became the Lore 800 years ago when he was barely dry from is hatching. He had obviously not even hit puberty when he signed away his rights in order to keep living. Why fall for a human female when their lifespans are so short and mating so brief and fruitless? Beyond an orgasm, why does he care?
Khadra, the human the Queen of Punt possesses in order to be corporeal, is briefly interesting, very briefly. Bennet takes a very long time getting to the point that Khadra is giving up everything so her people will live. Her sacrifice will bring the rains to her dusty lands. So what? It isn't as if there is any connection between Khadra and her mother or the land of her human birth.
Red Ben loves Rose. So what? He walked away from her because he was bound by the Lore to hide who and what he is. He cares but not enough to bare his soul -- or himself -- and that is the heart of a book that has the beginnings of a story that matters, that readers -- that this reader -- cares about. Red Ben wants to keep living and cannot if there is another dragon in the world because it is against the Lore, the same Lore that he upholds while everyone bound by the Lore breaks it with impunity and promiscuous regularity.
In the end, Chasing Embers is tedious, pointless, and less than superficial. Give it a miss until Bennett rewrites the book or finds editors that can dig deeper than toothpicks scratching granite and expecting to make a lasting mark.
Monday, September 05, 2016
Convenience. We all want convenience. But convenience for what?
Convenience, it seems, is all about giving us more time to watch TV. We don't use the time to any real purpose, except for vegetating, and we don't use the time for making our lives better. It's all about convenience. Fast food stores are convenient. Markets are convenient. Grocery stores and superstores are for convenience. Letting the government handle business is convenient. The problem is that all of this convenience has put us in someone else's control. The problem with control is that the more you have the more you want and the more you will do to get control. It's like cancer.
The government controls, through its various agencies, what goes into our food, our water, our air, our linens, our clothing, the pots and pans we used to cook, and everything that we use in our homes. They control the content of our carpet fibers in our paint and everything in between. And everything they control is designed to poison people, poison us, poison our children, poison the world we live in. That's what control gave them, that's what convenience gave them, that's what is killing us.
In order to take back control we are going to have to give up convenience. The convenience of driving through a fast food place where the food is poisoned and guaranteed to kill us by inches or by mouthfuls. The convenience of going to the grocery store to pick up what we need, what is easiest, what is freshest, what is poisoned with chemicals and design to kill us by the mouthful. The same is true of every aspect of our lives, from our closing to our jewelry to the cars we drive and to the homes we live in. We need to worry more about what is poisoning our home environments and our neighborhood environments before we can take on the monumental task of cleaning up the world. Step-by-step, point by point, in order to get back control and free us of the cancer at the heart of our society, we must give up convenience and go back to self-sufficiency.
As for the health benefits of bread, there are scientists who say that bread is bad for diabetics, the glycemic index is too high. So what about whole grain breads? Scientists differ on that subject. Some grains are better for us than others and yet the glycemic index (or load) is still too high and must be offset by other exchanges, fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. and we are back to control again.
More people have diabetes now than ever before because they eat too much white bread, too many carbohydrates, too much this, too much that. There was a film maker who proved that a steady diet of McDonald's raised his cholesterol levels and ruined his health because of all the fats and white bread and French fries he ate. Okay, there were the egg McMuffins and hamburgers and cheeseburgers and milk shakes and everything else that McDonald's sells making him sick, but it was convenient and cheap, everything people want in their food.
Or do they?
Everyone pointed fingers at McDonald's for the problem, but McDonald's was only partly to blame. McDonald's shouldered the blame and offered more fruits and vegetables, a salad bar, healthier, low fat choices, and people still had the same problems with the same results. The blame should be taken back to its source -- the government.
The government, through the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) was responsible for what was and was not in the food because they approved the ingredients as safe -- or at least safe enough for human consumption. Have you read the latest about what the FDA has approved safe for human consumption? How about glycophosphates -- a scientific word for herbicide, a crop desiccant, the chemicals that Monsanto makes and sells, the same chemical that organic food growers don't want near their crops. Monsanto makes a lot of poisons and most of them go into food crops which eventually go into foods like bread, vegetables, fruits, and even nuts. The same foods that are sold to McDonald's and other fast food franchises at such cheap rates. Convenience again.
It is an inconvenient truth, to borrow Al Gore's phrase about climate change, that food is the fuel that people, humans, mankind puts into their bodies to support growth and health and procreation, and the food that Monsanto poisons with their herbicides, insecticides, genetically modified organisms (GMO seeds to fend off insects and bacteria and predators) is the same food that has resulted in birth defects, autism, Alzheimer's, fibromyalgia, and other autoimmune diseases. What is done at the genetic level to alter food and eradicate insects travels through the food chain and alters humans at the genetic level and attacks people's immune systems. It's a roundabout method of killing people but maybe that is the point. When we traded control of the food we eat and serve our families we gave entities like Monsanto carte blanche (a blank check) control over what they can and will do to our food supplies, and thus control of our health and lives. Is it any wonder people are sicker now than they ever have been in centuries past?
It's not white bread and carbohydrates that are increasing the risk of diabetes or the fat in the food that is making people fatter. It is what companies like Monsanto are doing to the food. Fat doesn't make you fatter, but pumping growth hormones into genetically modified chickens, pigs, cows, and sheep will do the trick. The soil is so full of chemicals and has been leached of its nutritional content that the food grown from the soil has fewer nutrients because fewer nutrients are available for the seeds to grow in and genetically modified seeds have changed the stakes and scientists don't even know what those genetic modifications will do and have done to the nutritional value of the seeds and the food that is grown from those same seeds.
The flour that is sold in markets and grocery stores and made into buns and pancakes and sliced and packaged bread is lacking in the essential nutrients that bread and buns and pancakes should have -- and used to have in abundance -- and the result is damage to liver and pancreas and every part of the human body that should be nourished and instead is being damaged and broken down. It's no wonder there is a health crisis in the United States because the government and the FDA have allowed companies like Monsanto to meddle with our food crops and genetically modify the food to the point that the result is damage to the human body, its immune system, the brain, and every major (and minor) organ in the body.
Scientists cannot agree on what causes diabetes or how to avoid getting diabetes, but I can point the way.
Start with good, nutritious food without the convenience of packaging, chemicals, and genetic modifications. Buy organic foods, like flour, from a reputable grower and ask the grower what kinds of chemicals and fertilizers are used on the crops from seed to harvest. It will likely be more expensive, but the cost is negligible when compared to the cost of drugs and doctors when you get sick from the poisoned food you've been eating. Vote with your pocketbook and bring your friends and neighbors and family along. More people buying their food from reputable farmers and ranchers will hit the government and the corporations right where it will hurt the most -- profits.
Join the health nuts. Buy organic flour, natural sea salt (or kosher salt), natural yeast, and filter your own water. Buy a good osmosis system to filter your own water or invest in a high end filter for your faucet or a pitcher and plenty of cartridges to filter your own water. Forget buying bottled water because you cannot be sure what they're doing to the water or what they're putting into the water. If you don't have a well, invest in high end filtration systems. The rest is easy.
It all begins with bread. The staff of life. It is as simple as baking our own bread. First, we need to buy flour that is grown organically and naturally and without insecticides and additives and preservatives of any kind. Then we need to get the other ingredients to make bread: water, salt, yeast. That's all it takes. That and time. Of course, we will need to slice the bread and preserve the bread by wrapping it up against oxidation and staleness. That is easily done. Buy a bread box and use fresh and organic linens that have not had the chemicals applied to them to wrap up the bread. The rest is as easy as the four ingredients it takes to make bread. Time.
You can learn to make bread by using the no-knead method. Simply put, a few ounces of cold or warm water and the rest of the ingredients stirred together, covered, and set out on the counter overnight will mean fresh bread to bake in the morning. While you're taking your shower or bath or while you're getting out your clothes for work, you can put the bread in the oven for 40 minutes and end up with a fresh loaf of bread two slice for toast, for sandwiches, and just for buttering and adding honey or cinnamon or jam for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The bread will have to proof (rise) for 30 to 60 minutes before it goes in the oven but that is a small price to pay. After a while, you and your family will get used to the process and the fresh, wholesome food that will be the result. And it is food that will nourish you.
There are tools to make slicing bread easier and more uniform, there are tools to conveniently store your homemade bread, end there are infinite benefits and ingredients to use to help find the bread that you like, or that your family will like, to add to your daily meals. That's the first step to taking back control of your life and your food and your health. One small step along the pathway to taking back control and taking back your life.
Check out the books by Steve Gamelin, Artisan Bread with Steve, and find the kind of breads you can bake in your own kitchen. The whole artisan craze is about small bakeries, small restaurants, and small bistros where one person, or a few people working under one person, make food. Artisans are the artists creating something uniquely their own one at a time, not mass produced so the finished product can sit on the shelf for who knows how long and must be preserved in order to still be fresh when you buy it? Consider your kitchen the home of your own artisan creations, artisan meals. Your family and your health will show improvement with just this small change. You can also go to the Jennycancook.com website and find Jenny Jones's recipes for bread as well. You have options and you control which options you take advantage of. It doesn't take a lot of money to get started and you don't need a lot of fancy equipment, just use what you have. Bread can be baked free form on a sheet pan or in a loaf pan. There are lots of options. Find one that works for you. You're the one in control of everything -- except nature and nature can take care of herself.
Choose a no-knead bread recipe you like (try a few different recipes first) and begin baking your own bread. You'll get into the hang of it and find trading convenience for the convenience of home-baked bread full of nutrients and without additives and chemicals is better for your health -- and your well being. Be brave. Buy a mixer with a dough hook or roll up your sleeves and knead your own bread. There is no better stress reliever than a session of kneading your own dough for home-baked bread and kneading costs less than Xanax and Valium and all the drugs Big Pharma has put on the market.
Take back control by taking control of the bread. Bake whole wheat bread or try honey oatmeal with raw honey. Give pumpernickel and rye bread a try, and not just for pastrami. You can learn how to make your own pastrami the way women did less than 100 years ago, and you can control the amount of salt and herbs and spices you add. And it all begins by baking your own bread in your kitchen. There's also barley, spelt, semolina, and so many other grains and flours you can try. Even potato bread is better for you than the store bought kind you got for convenience. You can learn to make hamburger and hot dog buns, rolls, baguettes, pretzels, and every other kind of bread-based food you like and your family will thank you. Teach your kids how to bake bread and reward them with homemade cinnamon rolls or sticky bun. That is how kids learned to cook and bake when I was young. Kids love to help in the kitchen if you teach them when they're young. What better to spend time with your children where the end result is good food prepared by hand -- your hands and theirs.
While you're at it, teach them where their food comes from and how it is made. Let them get their hands dirty -- or doughy -- and have fun. I used to help my grandmother when she cooked and baked. I learned to make noodles from scratch and roll out dough for pies. I got to keep the scraps which I rolled out again and spread with jam, rolled up, and Gram baked it when she baked her pies. The pastry was a bit tough, but that's to be expected; it was leftover dough handled again which made it tougher, but I didn't care, nor did my brother and sisters. I helped make the jelly roll and it tasted like success. Teach your children how much is in their control and let them find out for themselves what goes into preparing a meal, or the dessert, what it takes to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their thanks and smiles are memories they will cherish in and out of the kitchen. Be aware. Give up 15 minutes of vegging out or a couple of hours of TV or the few moments you saved stopping at McDonald's or the grocery store and take back control one food and one step at a time.
If someone is poisoned from your cooking -- or baking -- at least you'll know what poison you used and that it will be quick, of a bit painful, instead of the slow lingering death and cancer-causing insecticides, pesticides, and GMOs you've been buying that was passed off as food. The FDA just raised the acceptable level of glycophosphates in food sold to consumers -- sold to you -- to 1,394 ppm (parts per million) as countries in the European Union are banning glycophosphates completely and will accept no food or drink as safe for people if it has more than 1 ppm. Feel like a lab rat yet?
It's your choice. Take back control by changing your view and your life one food at a time. Bread is a great first start and I'll share more steps as we travel the road to change together. Did you know that not getting enough carbs and salt is all part of what is making you sick?
That is all. Disperse.