Archive for the ‘Personal Diary’ Category
I feel a lot better since I stopped posting on the FailsafeNT support forum a few months ago. Not physically, but mentally. When you are virtually housebound (in my case through preferred hermitdom), the internet provides a link to the outside world, and you can get very attached to people you have never met. I allowed FailsafeNT to take up a large part of my time and my thoughts, so when it all boiled over a while back, I was very upset.
This is going to be a very frank post. In fact it qualifies as a rant.
I don’t have a very high tolerance of stress. Being part aspie, part alien, I find people stressful full-stop.
FailsafeNT was my way of interacting with people who came from a similar perspective as me, so I only found it moderately stressful. Most of regulars on FailsafeNT are lovely and I enjoyed helping them with their diets. I made two very good friends whom I like a lot. I found demolishing various altie theories about FCIS (food chemical intolerance syndrome) fairly tiresome and I often felt frustrated that people couldn’t figure out the differing worth of various theories by themselves. But I accepted it as part of the job. However, sometimes the wrong person comes along and turns something that was only moderately stressful into something that is utterly unbearable, especially when that person is a senior WAPF member.
The thing is, some people can be over-emotional and take everything personally. Some people have never had the self-discipline or imagination to do the failsafe diet properly, despite having obvious FCIS reactions like eczema to both amines and salicylates. Some people have systems in place in their brain that do not allow them to think they have a food chemical problem, because they believe that food chemical problems are ‘unnatural’ or ’caused by vitamin deficiencies’ or ’caused by gut bacteria imbalances’. Some people ought to act on their intelligence rather than on their learned emotional responses.
People with FCIS – especially those on a very high chemical WAPF diet – can be very volatile and moody and generally act like the Anthony Colpos of this world. For some reason this seems to be particularly true of men. If you criticise something they say you can dent their ego and they will take it as a personal affront. They will start attacking everything you post on every subject. Off come the gloves and out come the politics and religion. Before you know it, you are being attacked for daring to suggest that evolution did, in fact, happen (rather an essential prerequisite in any scientific discussion of genetics), or you are being called a genetic ‘defective’ and how dare you be ‘political’ by couching genetic polymorphisms in such neutral terms as ‘polymorphisms’ when you are clearly a mutant.
Sorry, I must calm down. I seem to still be stinging.
You can win a lot of respect on a forum for being a big man, for being volatile, aggressive, patronising, and using long words in combinations that other people don’t understand, even if what you are saying doesn’t make logical sense. However, you can also make people afraid to answer you back.
You can also cause a number of people who are disgusted with the unfolding argument to quietly unsubscribe from the forum.
I don’t want to post in this kind of environment. It wastes my time, it wastes everyone else’s time.
I have decided I do not want to go through it again. For the sake of my mental and emotional health.
If you really thought the only reason I disappeared from the internet for five months last year was to renovate a house, then you don’t read the FailsafeNT forum.
I no longer want to interact with the individual(s) in question. I gave up trying to post some sense into the complete lunatic asylum that is the native-nutrition forum about a year ago for the same reason – two aggressive individuals who just became too much for me to cope with.
I don’t know why I ever bothered posting on native-nutrition in the first place. At the time I first started posting I was under the impression that WAPF was a more scientific organisation than it actually is. But it turns out that the things the general membership believe in are rather different than the things the WAPF magazine and website publish. Like flies to excrement, when faced with a choice between science and mysticism, native-nutrition members always go for the theory that smells most like BS. Law of nature.
WAPF no longer attracts scientific minds, and even the scientific minds who are there appear to be deeply religious and somewhat warped. WAPF has always leaned towards the altie, but in the early days when I got involved, WAPF spent most of their time critiquing the poor science that surrounds animal fat in the diet. This was the only reason I respected WAPF. But that isn’t WAPF anymore. WAPF is outright altie lunatic nonsense and fermented foods and GAPS diets these days (excuse me, where did Weston A. Price even mention fermented foods?).
Hence I am no longer a member, and it was becoming a contradiction for me to run a failsafe forum associated with WAPF. I’m sure I’ll elaborate on my reasons for leaving WAPF some day when I’m angry enough.
I no longer want to be a conduit for individuals with FCIS to discover WAPF. As long as Sally Fallon keeps avoiding the truth and promoting the misery of the GAPS diet to people with autism and ADHD, that will only be deeply harmful for them. The same goes for the promotion of raw milk as a cure for milk intolerance.
Meanwhile FailsafeNT has gone to seed and everyone has a crazy pet theory about the ‘real’ reason they are ill that could be demolished easily by any properly trained doctor. People who should have been told to STOP EATING AMINES are still eating amines. I feel this was inevitable. Ever since WAPF put a link to FailsafeNT on their website, a steady stream of alties have been joining the group and now there is nothing to hold them back. I await their reign of fermented cabbage and coconut milk kefir terror with an eager dread.
Sorry, am I doing that ranting thing again?
I will no longer link to any WAPF related websites. In fact, I won’t talk about them anymore.
Do I feel bullied off FailsafeNT? Hmmm.
There is a silver lining in every cloud; this particular silver lining being that I’ve been able to get on with my life. In the last few months I have become much happier and calmer, I’ve taken up fiction writing again, and I’ve almost finished the first draft of my novel. All the pressure and responsibility I felt I was under have dissolved. Instead of spending my day worrying about getting back to someone about something complicated and puzzling that they’ve posted and knowing they probably won’t like what I say, I spend my day thinking about the next scene in my novel, and it is so much more fulfilling. Partly because there are no people involved, at least, no real ones.
So for you who know who you are, here’s my last word and a beginner’s lesson in netiquette:
- Rule 1: Remember the human. Remember you are talking to other human beings who have feelings. It is easy to forget you are talking to real people when you are online. By saying unpleasant things you could hurt them, perhaps more than you think.
- Rule 2: Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life. Think before you post. Would you walk up to someone in the street and say that? Don’t be rude or aggressive, remember your manners, and don’t deceive people about your identity or condition.
- Rule 3: Know where you are in cyberspace. Acceptable behaviour in one forum is rude in another forum. For example, don’t promote religion on a science forum. Don’t talk about chocolate puddings on a weight loss diet forum. Don’t go into a failsafe forum and call people defective and FCIS unnatural.
- Rule 4: Respect other people’s time and bandwidth. Try not to bore other people with your rants and whines, they don’t want to spend hours of their time replying to your voluminous arguments. Don’t spend eight paragraphs saying something that could be said in one, or nitpick over every single irrelevant detail of someone’s post just because you are angry.
- Rule 5: Make yourself look good online. Make yourself look your best, check your spelling, and make sure what you say actually makes sense and has reliable references before you post it. By the same standard, admit when you are wrong.
- Rule 6: Share expert knowledge. If someone has a question you know the answer to – answer it, and answer fairly, not with prejudice. Don’t spend your time demolishing fundamental science just because you have a pet theory you can’t let go of.
- Rule 7: Help keep flame wars under control. Be friendly, be polite, and smooth over differences instead of antagonising people and trying to humiliate them.
- Rule 8: Respect other people’s privacy. Don’t pester people or come onto their forum and harass them if your attention isn’t wanted.
- Rule 9: Don’t abuse your power. Knowing more than others doesn’t give you the right to take advantage of them. Don’t try to dazzle people with fake science and long words. It doesn’t make you look good. Instead explain concepts clearly in layman’s terms so everyone can follow the conversation.
- Rule 10: Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes. Don’t make them look stupid or humiliate them. If it’s important, let them know politely and gently rather than trying to show them up. It doesn’t make you look good to make other people look stupid (especially if you turn out to be wrong).
Now read a longer version of the rules of netiquette.
You can take your vitamins and throw them down the toilet. Folate makes me manic and gives me eczema. B12 makes me feel a little bit too happy, very intelligent, too awake (great first thing in the morning, terrible problem at night), makes me easily stressed and irritable, and makes me gain weight quickly. After having stable weight for months and months, I suddenly gained several pounds in the space of a two month B12 (adenosylcobalamin) trial earlier this year. On the plus side it actually helped my residual winter eczema somewhat – though not as much as getting some sunshine has.
The weight gain that B12 causes I suspect is connected to B12′s ability to depress a form of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD67) that converts glutamate into GABA. And of course glutamate stimulates weight gain through insulin production. More on the B12 trials in another post.
So the upshot of this is that I’ve been back on a diet for a few weeks now to get rid of the weight. I’m on a ketogenic diet. Properly. Last year I did a moderate version that included a small portion of rice every day. I tried this because without any carbohydrate at all I tended to just flake out and feel starved. I couldn’t really sustain the rice version for long as I tended to feel just a little too hungry all the time. Of course this means I don’t have much variety in my diet right now. Largely I’m living on lamb, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, and A2 dairy (butter, cream, cream cheese), and Woodlands organic sheep’s milk yoghurt, which has turned out to be a life-saver (at last! a yoghurt that doesn’t give me headaches and cravings!). I’m not hungry at all. This probably sounds like a scary anorexic diet, but I am getting enough calories and vitamins, I assure you. I’m also feeling better than I have in years. Literally years, because I haven’t really done failsafe gluten-free for very long before, and I haven’t done it ketogenic like this. All my leftover aches and pains have gone – I suspect gluten and A1 milk bother me rather more than I liked to think they do. This time I have no real hunger, so I feel as though the diet is sustainable and I plan to stay on it for at least six months – or until I get back down to my minimum healthy BMI, because I like being slim.
And I’m calm. Totally calm. Ambien calm. It’s like someone found the centre of my emotional balance and nailed me there. No stressing out over minor things. No irritation. I’m also highly motivated. Hence less posts and more stuff getting done around the house. Like painting walls and constructing furniture and spring cleaning and unpacking boxes that are still left form the house move last year – all the stuff that normally tires me out just thinking about it. I’m not manic however – I’m just happy in a good, balanced way.
No vitamin could ever do this or has ever done this for me. The minor improvements I saw in myself on the B12 (which approached megadoses on occasion) are nothing in comparison to the sledgehammer effect of ketosis. And ketosis comes without the unpleasant side effects. My sleep is fine. I’m waking up fine. I feel sharp. And I’m losing weight instead of gaining it.
There was an earthquake last night at about 12:56 am. It measured about 5.3 on the Richter scale and about 9 on my “oh my God!” scale. I’ve never felt an earthquake before as I’ve always been asleep. I was awake or only lightly sleeping this time. I knew what it was straight away because the rumbling and shaking was so deep and ominous and grew louder and louder.
A couple of seconds in, my partner rolled over in his sleep. I grabbed his wrist and told him to be still, couldn’t he feel the earthquake? “Are you sure it wasn’t just me rolling over?” he replied. Downstairs the dog whimpered in surprise. I lay there with my heart pounding for ages.
This morning I had a bit of a paddy when the alarm went off loudly, and my partner told me not to have a meltdown.
Today I took Jasper out to the Longshaw Estate on the edge of the Peak District. Jasper needs an hour of exercise every day now. We wandered around the moorland and I decided to head off the path and cut across country to find a freshwater spring marked on the map. We wandered into some quite boggy ground downstream of the spring. There were lots of little gurgling brooks cutting deep paths through the peat. It was quite strenuous going and a fair bit of leaping and scrambling had to be done between the streams, through the reeds, and over the hummocks of grass and boulders. It occurred to me that I would not have been able to do this walk two years ago. I would have been wiped out for the rest of the day.
I’ve taken a few IQ tests recently. The highest came in at 145, the lowest 11 points below (to be fair, my attention-seeking puppy rather hindered me with that test). This means I have officially scraped the ‘genius’ category. Apparently this IQ is typical of top civil servants, professors, or research scientists. Which is kinda cool. This also means I’m even-stevens with my partner, but I’m still roughly 15 IQ points behind my Dad. Statistically, for every person as intelligent as my Dad in the world, there are at the very least 10,000 people who are less intelligent. He has savant spacial skills.
This is all very ironic because ever since I did sociology I haven’t really believed in IQ tests. When I was younger and a total leftie, I didn’t even believe in intelligence. Apart from problems with culturally specific questions, yada yada ya, if you change the weighting of questions that assess different skills between different tests, then of course you get different results. Different cultures place more emphasis on the value of different skills. I think it’s more helpful to assess different specific skills, like spacial rotation skills, pattern spotting, systemising, logic, etc, individually.
I’ve done quite a few psychometric tests recently. On left/right hemisphere tests I come out slap bang in the centre or marginally right-brained. My logic is impeccable. I’m also very good at pattern spotting. I’m pretty good at spacial visualisation for a girl. My weak spot really is maths. I don’t know why I am great at logic but bad at maths. Numbers just don’t add up automatically in my brain like they do in other people’s. I often end up adding up on my fingers or visualising dots in my head.
I think I’ve inherited the logic and spatial skills. They’re part of the aspie talent spectrum. Though bickering with my partner has definitely made me more logical! I’ve been working on some brain training during the last couple of years. Shortly after going on failsafe I got into sudoku, which has helped a bit with the maths. I also do lots of logic puzzles. I am sure they have improved my logic skills to the point where I can’t really score any higher. I think I’m going to have to teach myself maths again as it’s holding my score back. Can you even buy maths puzzlebooks?
IQ isn’t supposed to improve more than ten points in a lifetime. That’s funny, because mine has improved 18 points since the first IQ test I took as a teenager. I suspect my processed/vegetarian teenaged diet may have been holding me back. I’m sure adequate B12, folate and choline (eggs only) are quite important. Omega 3s are probably important for the 10% of the population who for genetic reasons can’t make their own.
I’m setting myself the task of breaking the 150 barrier this year. Not that I’m being competitive or want to beat my partner or anything you understand…
There are some extreme neurodiversity aspies out there who simply regard neurotypical/stupid on a scale with aspie/intelligent at the other end. I don’t think that. I know people just as intelligent as me who are far more social. I do think, however, that many of the genetic polymorphisms involved in asperger’s syndrome tend to increase intelligence. I also think there are other intelligence increasing genes that don’t affect sociability.
And I think there’s a good 20-40 points variation in the IQ that is influenced both by diet during pregnancy/lactation/childhood, and also by the environment. I was very lucky as a baby, because my mother was a trained nursery nurse who spent an awful lot of time mentally stimulating my sister and I as we grew. As a result I’m quite right-wing in my ideas about how children should be raised. I don’t care who is doing the raising (mum, dad, nursery nurse, whoever), as long as the child gets appropriate mental stimulation – something they may well not get at home, or in a nursery setting. I don’t really like neglectful mothers. It’s all I can do to keep myself from hot-housing my dog. Bless him.
Or not as the case may be.
It seems I have somehow survived hosting Christmas for the extended family. I don’t think I sat down once in the week before the big day, and I mean that almost literally.
As you can see I have a tendency to disappear from the face of the planet when things get too much for me. This is a coping mechanism I’ve used since childhood, and it’s my response to stress, being put under pressure, or any situation I find too emotional. I have in the past flipped out and walked away from exams, bolted from relationships, and terminated friendships. At some point my brain just goes AAAAAAAaaaaarrgh and the duck and cover response kicks in.
I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking very hard and asking myself some questions that relate to all this. Such as:
- How come I waste all of my energy posting in this blog and on forums when it isn’t what I want to do with my life?
- How come I find it so easy to reflexively post on forums, but so hard to put together Really Important, official, organised pages for my website that I desperately need to do?
- How come sometimes I can’t even post on this blog when it’s a Really Important post I really need to make? I must have two dozen Really Important posts I’m being totally impotent about.
- How come sometimes I can’t even face replying to people’s comments and emails? I have Really Important emails I need to write to friends that have been outstanding for six months or more.
- How come I used to be able to design websites until I had to do it for a living and it became Really Important, and then it all dried up? Now I can’t even design a simple logo for a friend. I actually dread it when friends ask for design help because I simply can’t do things for other people.
- How come I used to be able to write pages and pages of creative work until it became Really Important and I wanted to properly publish a book and imagined other people reading it?
I’m sorry – I do owe a lot of people replies to their emails and comments and I just can’t handle them right now because the length of time people have been waiting has bumped them up to Really Important status. In fact, as soon as anyone else asks me to do something for them, it becomes Really Important in my head, and I turn into a gibbering fuckwit who wants to grasp her head and groan and rock back and forth.
This is writer’s block. I’ve had it for years but I never really thought about how totally it permeates the way I behave and the decisions I make and the life I am leading today.
Yet here I am being tremendously prolific writing this blog. Until recently – when I started to realise how many Really Important posts I desperately need to make to explain everything, and I started to not want to write this blog anymore.
Tonight I came across a rather enlightening article in the BBC H2G2 DNA project. The article is about hypergraphia – being driven in a frenzy to write and write. Sort of like what happened with this blog. It’s caused by writer’s block.
The inability to communicate one’s ideas causes depression and anxiety, which in turn causes an inability to communicate and decreased activity in the frontal lobe where ideas are organised and edited – which is what writer’s block is all about. However, writer’s block is often genre-specific and the people who suffer from this condition often turn to other outlets for release – be it pouring one’s soul into poetry, chronicling one’s life in painful detail, writing lengthy letters or, in the age of electronics, marathon emails. Indeed, it has become a technique employed by writers in the rut – escaping from the block by writing about it, which is apparently what Coleridge and Wordsworth were famous for. Hypergraphia
So what I can say is that I have too much going on in the temporal lobes, too little going on in the frontal lobes? My writing tutor used to call this kind of behaviour a ‘displacement activity’ – doing anything and everything to put off doing real writing. I knew however, that I wasn’t doing it to put off real writing, but because I was totally incapable of doing any real writing and really frustrated about it.
According to the article, hypergraphia is a trait associated with temporal lobe epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and (you guessed it), asperger’s syndrome. It’s also a trait that runs in my family – my father and my sister both have it. They are both disorganised and are unable to do stuff that is Really Important like paying bills. My sister has been a total fuckwit about music ever since she left Hepburn. These are traits that are governed by dopamine levels. Says the article:
In cases where hypergraphia results as a consequence of genre-specific writer’s block, there are educational and psychotherapeutic treatments available. Alice Flaherty and Harvard psychologist Shelly Carson are now experimenting with ways to break writing blocks using light to relieve Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)-related blocks (SAD is a form of depression that affects people when the days get darker and colder).
SAD lights actually raise serotonin levels – serotonin tends to lower dopamine and vice versa, though SAD lights tend to raise neurotransmitters overall. However I actually tend to write better during the winter, and half of my problem is a lack of concentration, which indicates low dopamine – ADD. Sigh. But if I didn’t have those traits at all, I probably wouldn’t even want to be a writer.
Now I am going back into hibernation. I’m very sorry I’m not answering communications, especially not ones that ask questions. If I don’t do some Really Important writing soon I will never do it at all.
Well our house sale fell through, so I’ll have to wait a while longer before I can get my Yasko genetic panel done. The first couple who were going to buy Fern Cottage pulled out after delaying their survey for about six weeks, for unknown ‘health reasons’. The next couple who were interested just pulled out the other week because they were worried about teenagers drinking in the park, which isn’t actually a problem now the park has been renovated and opened up. We hope the cottage sells soon, as we are pretty stretched paying for two mortgages at once. But if it doesn’t we’re thinking of setting it up as a holiday home, something that we should break even on. It would be nice to be able to keep the cottage as I love it so much, but also nice to have the cash to spend on our new house!
Jasper (also known as “The Beastly Beast”) is doing very well. He has been on a raw meaty bones diet since about a week and a half after we got him. We had to introduce raw food slowly as he seemed suspicious of it and rejected it in favour of cooked. Then one day I plucked up the courage to feed him a chicken neck and from that day forward he refused to eat anything except raw chicken, with which he became totally obsessed. It turns out he was suspicious of raw food because he doesn’t like beef, which is what we’d tried feeding him! I am still anxious about him not crunching up bones properly so I feed him by hand, keeping hold of one end of whatever neck, wing or thigh he’s eating to make sure it isn’t gobbled.
During the first couple of weeks his digestion wasn’t very good and he kept having bouts of constipation and diarrhoea, but after we got him on raw food that started to clear up. Apparently a lot of raw feeders give pumpkin to settle the stomach, and just a tablespoon a day did the trick, though we didn’t keep it up as the pumpkin gave him runny eyes. Dog biscuits also seem to have this effect so we don’t feed them. The only time he gets doggy junk food is when he’s visiting relatives! The only other bout of upset stomach he’s had was recently, when he started eating tinned (cooked) tuna, which he loves to bits but apparently it doesn’t love him. One plant food he does get on with that he loves is sweet chestnuts, and he has been sharing a few chestnuts with me for lunch. He learned to ‘sit’ and ‘beg’ for chestnuts.
He has a lovely sleek, silky, shiny coat. He didn’t when we first got him. He had a dull coat and dandruff, and he was being fed some dry junk food puppy chow. He was shaped like a barrel instead of a dog, with a big pot belly. I was worried when we first got him that he might have a bowel obstruction or bloat as his belly was so big. We fed him some dry mix during the transition to raw food. He started looking dog-shaped after four or five days, once they had been withdrawn. He also had a horribly strong ‘puppy’ odour. Sometimes his ears had that horrible sweet fungus-spaniel-ear smell. Once he was on raw food all smell disappeared altogether. His ears and teeth are totally clean, and now the only time he smells is if he is fed smelly food – like pork (pre-frozen to kill the worms) – in which case he smells of bacon the next day!
He has a slightly undershot jaw so I’ve tried feeding him cod liver oil and very expensive ‘activator X’ butter oil to try to correct it with vitamins A, D and K. To be honest it hasn’t made any difference so far. Withdrawing it hasn’t made any difference to the shine in his coat, so I think he’s getting plenty of omega 3′s from his raw diet. We’ll keep going and see what happens.
He’s had a few ups and downs. There was a while when he was really hyperactive and bitey and was driving us crazy. We couldn’t figure out what it was, but sometimes it was after food – especially tripe which is very very high in amines. Dogs have a high tolerance for rotten stuff (amines), unlike cats who must eat fresh meat, but there is still a tolerance level that can be exceeded. Eventually we figured out that he was eating ivy. Jasper has had a strange habit of eating garden plants ever since we got him. Not grass, but actual plants. Every time he went outside the back door, he was stripping ivy leaves from the plant overhanging the wall. Ivy is the only plant listed as causing hyperactivity in dogs! When I found out I went outside with a pair of scissors and manually cut down every single stem. The next day he was calm. Totally calm and perfectly lovely. He changed from being a baby crocodile for 8 hours of every day into being a baby crocodile for only one hour of every day! I think the little devil was addicted, because for several weeks afterwards he would make a charge for ivy tendrils whenever he saw them during his walk. He is still taking up a lot of my time – he needs plenty of supervision and a decent walk once a day.
I’ve started to try to claw back my time from my projects and obsessions. I recently realised I now have so many nutrition blogs in my RSS feed that it takes me most of a morning to work my way through them all, so I’m going to start jettisoning. I’d much rather read Perez Hilton, but he’ll have to go too.
I started writing a post today but I honestly couldn’t be bothered to finish it. This blog has been my aspie perseveration for almost two years now, but I’m getting bored. I’ve had a great number of wildly different obsessions over the course of my lifetime, none of which have lasted more than about four or five years. I kind of admire people who can stick with one thing for their whole life. I tend to run out of steam when I feel I’ve reached the limits of knowledge on a subject, and I’ve felt like that about this subject for several months now. I feel like I need some new challenges and I want to move on.
Also I’m just tired of the battle. I need to grow a thicker skin. I read several autie/aspie blogs and sometimes comment on them, but it’s very difficult to get across to people how crucial it is that they should try this diet for their physical symptoms or their children’s symptoms. Failsafe doesn’t ‘cure’ autism, but it makes a lot of the unpleasant physical pain/symptoms go away and makes you less likely to melt down, stim, or get upset about things. Failsafe hasn’t changed who I am, it’s just made me much calmer and more focused. And unless your genetics are totally up the wall, it does work.
I’m tired of caring about this but being ignored. I haven’t made the headway I wanted to with the Weston A. Price Foundation. I spent a lot of time last autumn feeling distressed about being invalidated and dismissed by people on the WAPF forums. I suffered from a lot of insomnia and stress purely because of horrible things people had said. This happened to me again recently when I dared to open my mouth again there, only to be shouted down by someone who regurgitates WAPF brainwashing and who has busily been undoing all the hours of hard work I put in to trying to get some acceptance for failsafe principles.
Also, after all the effort I’d put in to getting the message across to WAPF about the failsafe diet, I had hoped by now that they would have published something in Wise Traditions, but instead every time I open the latest WT I see something erroneous about the causes of colic, or how to manage ‘fussy eaters’ who won’t eat vegetables. I know full well that some of the most influential members still believe failsafers have ‘vitamin deficiencies’, not based on evidence but purely because it validates their world view. I have been thinking of leaving WAPF altogether since last spring because I’m so sick of the preconceptions and prejudices members have. I don’t think I will be renewing my magazine subscription, because I don’t think they will change, some of their members make me feel decidedly unwelcome, and I’ll be damned if I’m the one who’s going to compromise.
There’s a similar story going on in the low carb community. People just aren’t open minded. Low-carbers fixate on carbohydrate as the source of all the world’s health problems, and it just isn’t so. For ages I was fed the message that ADHD was caused by sugar, which pretty much put me off the scent of the failsafe diet.
I imagine I’ll still blog now and then, but I want to start tying things up with a bow. I have about twenty posts or so that I haven’t got around to finishing, along with commitments on the FailsafeNT forum. I also feel like I need to make several posts about Yasko’s genetic panel. Taty has suggested I write some posts clearing up my stance on a few things, like the validity of low carbohydrate diets, and I think that’s a good idea.
I want to focus on getting the Plant Poisons and Rotten Stuff information website up to date. I have been putting off doing this for months as I get huge writer’s block as soon as I have to write anything important or ‘official’ and I feel like banging my head against a wall. Writer’s block has been stopping me from writing a novel for the last decade! I was supposed to start writing that novel two years ago, but instead I started doing this, and thank goodness I have a partner who is understanding and has supported me while I try to get to the root of my problems. I hope that instead of blogging here, I can plough what remaining energy I have on this subject into the information website instead.
What I really want to do is write that fantasy novel I keep threatening about. Apart from the day-to-day looking after of a small furry brown puppy, the novel is all I think about at the moment. So I have to go away and try and work out this writer’s block and not have blogs in the way as displacement activities.
I’ll be posting again with a progress update in the new year!
This is why I haven’t been posting much lately! This is Jasper, our new puppy. He’s eight weeks old and we bought him home with us on Friday. He’s an English working strain cocker spaniel. That means he won’t have the very long coat and ears and the domed head of the English or American show cocker spaniels, instead he’ll look more like a miniature springer spaniel when he grows up, with a pointier nose and a smaller forehead than the show strains. He’s chocolate with ginger points – eyebrows, inside ears, nose, and paws. He has very even markings and unusual olive coloured eyes. We think he’s going to be a bit of a ladykiller when he grows up. If you visit Hawcroft gundogs, you’ll see a picture of his paternal grandfather, Sandford Black Mamba. And if you visit Rytex gundogs, you’ll see a picture of his maternal grandfather, Danderw Druid, probably where he gets his looks! His mum was an absolute beauty – soft as muck, with a slender nose and sleek ginger fur, and it looks like this guy has sired a few similar to her.
We chose a working cocker because they are a relatively healthy breed. Apart from heart problems, show strain cockers can suffer from something called cocker rage, where they suddenly see a red mist and turn around and bite their owners for no apparent reason. It’s thought to be a form of epilepsy and has something to do with overbreeding to get the solid colours, particularly the gold and red colours. The roans, chocolates and blacks are usually rage free.
Cocker spaniels were originally bred to run with shooters and flush out woodcocks from the undergrowth, then fetch them back when they have been shot. In the 18th and 19th century, they weren’t really a distinct breed from springer spaniels, just classified by size: smaller spaniels were cockers, larger ones were springers. My grandparents owned a springer spaniel called Rhona, and she was an absolute nutter – she always had a ball in her mouth and ran around wagging the stump of her tail like a helicopter. She was once so excited she tried to climb through the cat flap and got stuck half way through!
Cockers and springers are bred to be unaffected by loud bangs and to be quite confident. Some breeds are a lot more sensitive to sounds, for example border collies are very sound sensitive to the point of hyperacusis. J., my partner had a border collie called Bruce who was very sound sensitive and constantly being startled by things that the family couldn’t hear. Bruce had a metal tag on his collar and a metal food bowl, and he hated it when his tag clanked on the bowl – J. says the sound used to go right through him! I suppose if there was a kind of dog with aspergers, it would be a border collie – very smart, bored easily, sensitive to noise, incredibly particular and fussy, and a bit clumsy and stupid socially. Bruce didn’t know that people were scared of him when he barked. He once tried to make friends with me by throwing the whole of his weight onto me on the sofa and winding me. Another time he managed to catch a rabbit and shook it to kill it. He was next to a canal, and he shook the rabbit and dropped it in the canal!
Jasper is remarkably good at fetching things. He doesn’t know how to sit and isn’t house trained, but he already responds to the command ‘fetch’! When we throw him toys he tries to take them onto his bed to chew, but he just can’t stop himself from bringing them back after about three seconds! It’s quite funny to watch as he wants to sit on his bed and be smug about winning his toy, but he can’t overcome the compulsion to return it to us! We think he is fighting his genes.
Puppies are hard work! It must be exhausting having a toddler. He’s already attached himself to me like a baby duckling and pads around after me, lying on my feet when I stand still. He seems to have a compulsion to chew anything remotely furry, including my long cardigan, and I can walk through the kitchen and he will attach himself to it by the teeth and trail along behind me, wanting to play. For the first couple of nights he woke up crying and had to be reassured, but he’s been very good really – his litter were raised outside in a shed, so he’s reasonably independent.
He doesn’t seem to respond that well to training with treats and isn’t particularly food-orientated, which is a good thing as we won’t end up with a fat dog. I think he prefers praise to treats. He makes a lot of eye contact and is very attuned to reading our body language – so he’s not an autistic puppy!
We’re fans of The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. Millan uses dog pack psychology to modify dog’s behaviour, unlike traditional animal behaviourists like Ian Dunbar that use reward/punishment training. There seems to be a bit of a debate online between the Millan enthusiasts and the Dunbar enthusiasts. A journalist has really distorted Millan’s teachings to try to make out that he is somehow ‘abusive’ to dogs. Anyone who has seen The Dog Whisperer knows that Millan loves dogs and is gentle but firm when dogs get out of hand. Millan works to pack psychology and the idea that packs have hierarchies and you have to teach your dog that you are pack leader. Millan answers the criticism here.
The journalist quotes someone who says this has put dog training back twenty years by detracting from behaviourists like Ian Dunbar. I thought this was rather a surprising comment, because I remember studying behaviourism in my psychology class at university. Behaviourism is really a very crude theory that was popular in the 1950s to understand animal and human behaviour in terms of basic reward/punishment association training. It’s a school that started with Pavlov’s dogs. I don’t see what is so advanced about this school. It is thought primitive and robotic compared to other forms of psychology.
I think this journalist is a liberal who had a kneejerk reaction against the idea that any kind of social structure could be innate. I’m a liberal too, but that kind of prejudice will inevitably lead you to promote behaviourist training and criticise dog psychology without making a fair assessment of them both. Dogs are not robots. Acknowledging that they live in a social structure does not mean that their social structure is exploitative or justify exploitative human social structures. Sometimes things just work better when there is one person steering the ship. I could draw an analogy here. This kind of prejudiced liberal thinking is also determined to deny that autism and fibromyalgia have a genetic aspect.
Jasper went to the vets today – we were unimpressed by the diet the vet recommended – she told us to feed him dried dog food and not give him any bones, but we just nodded along like we were going to do as we were told. I think Jasper would be unimpressed with her diet too. Whenever we add a bit of kibble to his dish, he picks out the meat and eggs and leaves the biscuits as best he can!
We plan to feed him a raw meaty bones/BARF style natural diet. He was raised on dry puppy mix and when we got him he seemed quite constipated and barrel shaped. He’s puppy shaped now! We’re introducing him to raw food slowly – mostly we’re feeding him gently home cooked meat and eggs at the moment, though we’ve tried him on some raw beef mince. He seems a bit suspicious of it, and it can cause stomach upset if you introduce it too fast, so we’re going slowly. We’ve tried to give him a beef shin marrow bone, but he’s scared and wants to play with it! I think it’s because when he pulls it across the kitchen tiles it sounds like it’s growling! He likes fish, he wolfed down our leftover fish skins the other day. I fed him a spoonful of my mince and potatoes, and it gave him hiccups. Which is interesting, because potatoes are the only thing on earth that give me hiccups.
Lots of people keep buying us puppy treats, but I’m keen that he shouldn’t get any additives. He doesn’t really seem to like treats and biscuits anyway, and I don’t want to encourage him to eat junk food. I bought a basic puppy advice book from a pet shop, and it says puppies can be hyperactive when they aren’t fed right – the book blamed “high protein diets or something else in the food.” I think puppies don’t tolerate additives, just like children and some adults.
Sherrie tagged me with a five things you didn’t know about me meme in January and I never got around to doing it. I spent a couple of months thinking “hmm, what can I write?” and “hmm, what should I actually give away?” since I can be a bit of a dark horse when I want to be.
I’m supposed to write five little known facts about me and then nominate five people who I want to pass the meme onto. Which will be a problem because most of the bloggers I know got memed before me. Second problem is I can’t count:
1. I’m a member of the Church of the Subgenius and a legally ordained member of the clergy of the Church of Spiritual Humanism. This means that in most of the United States I can legally marry people. I quote the Church of Spiritual Humanism: “The Scientific Method is the best way yet discovered for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion. [...] Spiritual Humanism recognizes that any religion not based on the Scientific Method can never fully reveal truth to its members.” Amen to that. I am a strong supporter of the Pastafarians. I also endorse Positive Atheism, and would like to nod my head in the direction of Richard Dawkins. My brief flirtation with religion is limited to a vaguely “spiritual” period when I was a depressed teenager. I was convinced that if I tried hard enough, I could make myself psychic. But that didn’t work out for me.
2. My little sister used to be a popstar. She’s a very talented bass guitarist and all round musician. She found herself a member of a girl guitar band. They had a number 8 single in the charts and two further top twenty singles. Unfortunately unless you get number ones for every single you release, your career is going to be short lived. She got to meet quite a few famous people like the groups Westlife, Steps, and people like Cat Deeley, Billie Piper, Kerry Katona and zillions of others. She appeared on Top of the Pops, CD:UK and so on. Sadly the band’s management were ripping them off and sowing a lot of division between the girls. The workload is exhausting, and she barely made any money at all, so she had quite a bad time in the end. When they went their separate ways, S. put down her bass guitar and never picked it up again. A real shame.
3. I’ve written three novels. About vampires. Seriously. Fortunately the manuscripts are mouldering away in a drawer, and one day soon I will have a cleansing bonfire. NO, before you say it, writing about vampires DOES NOT mean I believe in vampires.
4. I have two degrees. One is a BA (hons) in Social Sciences. The other is an MA in Writing.
5. I used to call myself a Marxist. This is because I have studied sociology, and Marxism offers an extremely strong analysis of capitalism and all of the hidden systems and social forces in society that direct our progress, our social relations, and even our very values and opinions. In fact no other social theory even attempts to explain human social history. I also believe in the fundamental right to equality for all human beings. In any hierarchy there are winners and losers, and it seems to me there are a heck of a lot of losers in this world (for example, most of Africa, and half of Asia and South America). Westerners often characterise a “right to equality” in terms of a meritocracy: we should all start out from the same point, and have the same opportunities, and then the people who deserve to be rich will be rich, and the people who deserve to be poor will be poor. Even if meritocracies were anything other than a shallow delusion, I do not believe in meritocracies. Just because you are not as clever, or not as educated, or not as able as the next person, does not mean you deserve to be penalised, trampled on, or forced to live in poverty. The idea of buying into an inherently war-mongering, violent social system is distasteful to me. However. I think a lot of human beings are also inherently war-like, violent, and desirous of hierarchy. I do not think a communist system could ever be free of hierarchy or truly equal because there are a lot of selfish people in the world. I think communism incarnate was pretty darn unpleasant. But my view of human beings is hopeful, not bleak. Perhaps at some point in the future – perhaps the distant future – we will have the opportunity to stop behaving like headless chickens and sit down, ask the big questions and actually design our society for the benefit of all instead of being thrown about by social conditions beyond our control. Will we ever find utopia? I wouldn’t want to say.
6. I’ve been a vegetarian twice in my lifetime, for a total of eight years. Having had the virtue of experiencing extended periods of both eating meat and not eating meat, I can say with utter certainty that I feel much healthier when I eat meat. Having felt something of an affinity with animals for my whole life, the morality of eating meat is something I have struggled with. For a while I was also pescatarian, but I felt utterly hypocritical, as I was causing many more animal deaths than I would have if I had eaten land animals. Then I did some maths, educated myself of a few facts, reassessed my moral code, and I will never go back to vegetarianism.
7. Hmm. No, I think I’ll leave this skeleton in the closet.
8. I seem to have a lot of friends who are goths. I have something of a gothic mentality. I am not a goth. Gothic is boring and conformist and not at all original. I go about wearing pretty, girly, properly structured, old fashioned clothes. I hate the sloppy, scruffy things we consider normal clothes today. Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Jackie O. are my style icons. My secret tribe would be the burlesque revivalists, like Dita Von Teese. I would rather wear a corset than a bra.
9. I also have an anonymous blog…
A fellow blogger contacted me last week asking where I was… Which has reminded me that I actually have a blog and has given me enough of a kick up the ass that I’ve found time to update it.
Where have I been the last five months? Renovating a house. Nearly three years ago we bought a pretty little cottage in the peak district. We bought the cottage as a fixer-upper. It needed some serious fixing – more than we had originally budgeted for, including a new roof. We decided to put in for planning permission for an extension, which took months and months to go through the system. Eventually it was refused.
Because he doesn’t drive (epilepsy), I’ve spent the last couple of years driving my partner to Sheffield and working from his office. Until last year I was working for him doing programming and graphic design work, but I quit working for him so I could get back to writing – my ambition has always been to be a sci-fi/fantasy/horror novelist. But this all coincided with me going on the failsafe diet, and a downturn in my partner’s epilepsy, and a sequence of family crises including a hospitalisation and a bereavement. Also, I was still working in my partner’s office which is open plan. To be frank, you can’t write a novel in an open plan office surrounded by neurotypical people who think you are the office oddball. To quote Virginia Woolf, “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. Instead I spent most of last year trying to get my health back on track, investigating and attempting to fix my food chemical intolerance, and trying to communicate the concept of the failsafe diet to a rather reluctant and ostrich-like Weston A. Price Foundation.
Following the planning refusal, we decided we needed to move house to somewhere bigger, and closer to my partner’s work. That way there’d be no more hour-there, hour-back commute, and I’d be able to work from home and actually do something constructive. We knew that if we sold our house in its current condition we’d lose money, because a new roof doesn’t really add any value to the sale price. For some reason people want immaterial things like artex-free magnolia walls instead…
The whole thing crept up on me. One day I was sat there blogging, the next day the removal boxes arrived and I started packing. We have too many books. It took me a couple of weeks just to empty our two sheds of books in order to move our kitchen utensils in there (we also have too many kitchen utensils). Then I was launched into a kitchen refurbishment, followed by more packing and unpacking, followed by an entire replaster of the house, new doors, carpentry work, and the entire downstairs floor had to be tiled. After the work was done I had to decorate. My laptop even broke for a while because of all of the dust.
The decorating took weeks. I had to seal all the plaster, then it took another three coats of paint to cover (Dulux Once should be renamed Dulux Twice in my opinion). Painting ceilings is exhausting! The tasks and snags just go on and on. At one point I had a list of about thirty tasks I needed to do, all of which would take me about half a day each. You do one job and it usually makes a snag, you fix the snag and in the process make another snag.
In the middle of all of this we were trying to shop for and buy a house. We found a rather attractive four bedroom Edwardian property in Sheffield. So, more packing, moving, unpacking, chaos, blah, blah… Amusingly we forgot to take the washing machine with us. Then I was commuting back to the peak district to finish the decorating and dressing the cottage (and do the washing). I finally finished it last week and it’s on the market now. Today we received the ironic and unexpected news that the planning permission for the extension to the cottage had been granted on appeal. But it isn’t over yet, I’m currently in the middle of decorating what will be my new study in the new house. I can’t wait, it will be wonderful to have a room of one’s own.
When I have had a chance to sit down and relax during the last few months, all I’ve wanted to do is slob out in front of the television. I suppose I could have kept up the blogging if I really wanted to, but I needed a mental holiday. It’s how I work. I deal with one thing at the time. I let it consume me and obsess me, and then I move on to the next thing. I don’t multitask. I should have gotten around to posting a message on my blog saying where I was, but at least I managed to post something to the FailsafeNT group.