An Exclusion Diet

I've always known that psoriasis runs in my family but until a few years ago I thought that I'd been fortunate enough to have dodged that gene. I'm lucky in that I have a very mild case, yet it's annoying and it would be lovely if it went away.

Over the years I've done a bit of reading and am hearing more and more stories from friends and in online forums about people who have managed to make dramatic changes in their health simply by changing their diet.

I didn't pay this much attention until I was reading Andrew Weil's "Spontaneous Healing", he talks about how skin conditions are almost always a sign of something being wrong inside your body. He went on to say that any sort of topical treatment is at best treating a symptom and at worst pushing the problem back into your body. Say what you will about hippy doctors, this made too much sense for me to ignore.

As I started reading online I wasn't surprised to discover the mass of conflicting information (and straight up scam sites) about diet and psoriasis. The only thing which everybody (except western medicine) agrees about is that changing your diet can make things better, and in some cases “cure”, psoriasis. In general the four big baddies seem to be:

  • Alcohol (especially for men)
  • Sugar
  • Red meat
  • Caffeine

Which left me a little depressed, it doesn't leave many harmless vices! However after much reading, discussion and support from friends, my sister has agreed to join me in an experiment with an exclusion diet. The idea is that you remove basically “everything” from your diet for up to three weeks. During that time, and often much faster, your symptoms should completely disappear. Once you are symptom free you slowly add things back into your diet and figure out what was causing the problem.

In this case removing “everything” means being left with brown rice and water. Fortunately I quite like brown rice, I only hope I still like it when this is over!

Before I get lectured, I understand that exclusion diets are typically used for allergies, intolerances and skin conditions like eczema. I understand that psoriasis is actually an autoimmune disorder, but I figure I don't have a lot to lose. At the end of three weeks I either discover that diet doesn't make a bit of difference, in which case I can stop wondering and get on with my life. Or it “cures” me and I can get down to the business of figuring out what the actual problem foods are. Either way I win, so long as three weeks of brown rice doesn't break me!

Greg Bear: "Blood Music"

I love this idea from Greg Bear's "Blood Music". Hopefully it's intelligible without the proper context, if not I recommend you read the book:

Information processing—more strictly, observation—has an effect on events occurring within space-time. Conscious beings play an integral role in the universe; we fix its boundaries, to a great extent determine its nature, just as it determines our nature. I have reason to believe—just an hypothesis so far—that we don't so much discover physical laws as collaborate on them. Our theories are tested against past observations both by ourselves—and by the universe. If the universe agrees that past events are not contradicted by a theory, the theory becomes a template. The universe goes along with it. The better the theory fits the facts, the longer it lasts—if it lasts at all. We then break the universe down into territories—our particular territory, as human beings, being thus far quite distinct. No extraterrestrial contact, you know. If there are other intelligent beings beyond the Earth, the wold occupy yet other territories of theory. We wouldn't expect major differences between the theories of different territories—the universe does, after all, play a major role—but minor differences might be expected.
The theories can't be effective forever. The universe is always changing; we can imagine regions of reality evolving until new theories are necessary. The far, the human race hasn't generated nearly the density or amount of information processing—computer, thinking, what have you—to manifest any truly obvious effects on space-time. We haven't created theories so complete that they pin down reality's evolution. But that has all changed, and quite recently.

Catherine Carswell on D. H. Lawrence

I can't think of a more perfect way to be remembered. Now I need to read some of his writing! Thanks to Geoff Dyer for the introduction.

The obituaries shortly after Lawrence's death were, with the notable exception of E. M. Forster, unsympathetic or hostile. However, there were those who articulated a more favourable recognition of the significance of this author's life and works. For example, his longtime friend Catherine Carswell summed up his life in a letter to the periodical Time and Tide published on 16 March 1930. In response to his critics, she claimed:

In the face of formidable initial disadvantages and life-long delicacy, poverty that lasted for three quarters of his life and hostility that survives his death, he did nothing that he did not really want to do, and all that he most wanted to do he did. He went all over the world, he owned a ranch, he lived in the most beautiful corners of Europe, and met whom he wanted to meet and told them that they were wrong and he was right. He painted and made things, and sang, and rode. He wrote something like three dozen books, of which even the worst page dances with life that could be mistaken for no other man's, while the best are admitted, even by those who hate him, to be unsurpassed. Without vices, with most human virtues, the husband of one wife, scrupulously honest, this estimable citizen yet managed to keep free from the shackles of civilization and the cant of literary cliques. He would have laughed lightly and cursed venomously in passing at the solemn owls—each one secretly chained by the leg—who now conduct his inquest. To do his work and lead his life in spite of them took some doing, but he did it, and long after they are forgotten, sensitive and innocent people—if any are left—will turn Lawrence's pages and will know from them what sort of a rare man Lawrence was.

All About Rice Tea

I'm currently in the middle of an elimination diet which means that for the next two weeks I'm eating and drinking nothing but rice and water (more on that in a future post, I'm keeping a journal). It's been just over a week since I started the diet, and one thing I really miss is a hot drink in the morning. While hot water is way more satisfactory then you would ever guess, it still doesn't cut it. Last weekend a few people mentioned rice tea so I decided to do some research.

What most people refer to as rice tea is a Japanese drink called Genmaicha which is a mixture of green tea and roasted rice. The rice was added as a filler because it was cheaper then tea. Originally it was drunk by the poor but more recently it has become a popular drink on it's own. Sadly green tea isn't on the approved list.

There are also two Korean recipes for rice tea. Sungnyung is made by boiling the left over scorched rice from the bottom of the cooking pot. Hyeonmi cha is made by roasting rice in a pot and then boiling water on top of it. Technically these are both actually tisanes since they aren't made with tea.

Though the author calls it sung nyung I found what appears to be a less traditional recipe for Hyeonmi cha. The nice thing about this recipe is that you roast the rice first and then steep it in your cup. Now I can take my roasted rice to work for my morning cuppa!

I've just finished my first cup and it's really nice (yum!). The water doesn't change colour but gets a rich nutty flavour and as it steeps longer it gets a sweetness to it. A very pleasant addition to my rather boring diet at the moment!

I've put a recipe for Brown Rice Tea into the cookbook if you want to try it out. It's really easy!

Eva Zeisel: The Playful Search for Beauty

This is a difficult TED talk to listen too, Eva rambles quite a lot and doesn't get enough time to actually come to her point. However I loved the idea of novelty being a concept of commerce rather then one of aesthetics. I've transcribed the relevant section of the talk below, but it's still quite rambling and difficult:

I call myself a maker of things. I don't call myself an industrial designer, because among other things industrial designers want to make novel things. Novelty is a concept of commerce, not an aesthetic concept. The industrial design magazine I believe is called “Innovation”. Innovation is not part of the aim of my work. Well, makers of things, we make things more beautiful, more elegant, more comfortable than just a craftsman do. I have so much to say I have to think about what I am going to say. Well to describe our profession otherwise we are actually concerned with the playful search for beauty. That means the playful search for beauty was called the first activity of man. […] who was a mathematic professor at MIT wrote that “the playful search for beauty was mans first activity. That all useful qualities and all material qualities were developed from the playful search for beauty”. These are times. The word playful is a necessary aspect of our work. Because actually one of our problems is that we have to make lovely things throughout all of life, and this for me is now 75 years. So how can you, without drying up, make things with the same pleasure as a gift to others … for so long. The word playful is therefor an important part of our quality as a designer.

Lunch With Bill Loughborough

I met Bill Loughborough today. He drove into Portland and bought me lunch to encourage me (and all of us) to “keep on keeping on” because he thinks that the community wireless networking movement is vital and needs to be kept alive. He had a lot of interesting things to say about the semantic web and how it applies to accessibility and disabled people. He talked a bunch about the history of computing and the trends he sees, and has seen. A few things that stuck with me:

  • When I get frustrated with people over Personal Telco it's because there are two distinctly different visions from the members of Personal Telco. One is for a (possibly) zero-cost pervasive wireless network. One is for a free/open/public, community owned, pervasive wireless network. It's the “free/open/public and community owned” that motivates me.

    When I get into fights with people (over whether Open Source is important or the value of the adhocracy) it's because they see the decisions I make as being detrimental to the quick accomplishment of the first goal, they don't understand that what they propose detracts from what I see as the point of the whole deal. If all I wanted was a wireless network I'd just buy a GPRS phone or wait for T-Mobile/Boingo/Cometa. I don't want a monetized network, I want a community owned network. I want to build systems and practices which encourage everyone to participate in the free/open/public networks.
  • Cory Doctorow is right, the future wireless network is here, now. It's the Linksys Community network. If we keep at it, evangelising, educating and encouraging participation from all quarters, the pervasive network will arrive. We just have to make sure that people don't give up, the technology will link them all together eventually.
  • Bill said that the world is getting kinder and more compassionate. When I pointed out and said that “the world certainly seems to have been making all the wrong decisions over the last ten years”, he just laughed. He said all is in order, it's just that “we” are growing/changing/learning faster then the then rest of the world, but the rest of the world is still changing for the better. I hope I can believe that, my distopian paranoia gets me down sometimes. :-)
  • He talked about a company he worked for that was trying to make (the first?) chording keyboard. He mentioned that once you have a device which you “chord” data into, that you can also use it to read by having it raise the keys in the same patters. Reading with your fingers, this seems like a great way to escape from having to have a screen to get data out. He also said that learning to chord was hard work, but that once you knew how to do that, reading was basically a gimme.

    I imagine a small one handed chording device with data and CPU built in that sits on my belt. Inside it is a RDF repository of all my personal data with a query interface. Quietly and unobtrusively I can put my hand down and ask it a question (What is Gene's address?) and have the answer read back to me silently without interrupting a conversation or having avert my eyes from the road.

“We can't create a culture of freedom and innovation, but we can build a network which fosters its growth.” — The Wireless Commons

2014 by adam shand. sharing is an act of love, please share.