Archive for October, 2008

Please join me in adopting “President Obama” as your new mantra.  Positive visualisation can only help.


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Snoozing puppies, live.

Click here for a live, streaming video of six Shiba Inu puppies.  (If you click and end up with a slide show, the puppies are doing other things.  Try back later to catch them snuggling.)

Sure to give you warm fuzzies.

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It’s confirmed.

I am officially allergic to apples now.  This is sad, bad news, especially as I’m in the world’s best place for apples, and I love apples.  Today at the farmers’ market there were dozens of beautiful varieties, all English-grown…

How, you ask?  How did this happen?

Believe it or not, it comes down to birch pollen.  I’m horribly allergic to birch, cedar, elm and maple pollen.  I didn’t used to be, but over the past several years my spring allergies have gotten worse and worse.  Apparently, I’m so sensitive to birch pollen now that I’m having a cross-reaction.  When I eat any stone fruit, including apples, my mouth and throat itch, my tongue goes numb, and the insides of my ears itch.

This is due to the fact that the proteins in these fruits are similar to the allergy-provoking substances in birch pollen, and my the immune system fails to see the difference.  So no more apples, plums, peaches, apricots, cherries.


At least I’m not allergic to onions, like my friend Tony Joe.  He can’t even eat them cooked!

I think I’ll be okay with cooked apples, though, so I’ll make some crumble or a pie and test out my theory…

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In your face, poo-head!

Some of you may remember the saga of poo-head.

I just got a letter from the IRS, a copy of one sent to her: I have been determined to have been an employee and not a contractor (as she had erroneously claimed).  This is very good news.  Next I will re-file my taxes from last year with emplyee status, and the taxes I owe will effectively be halved.

Guess who has to pay the difference.

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Click here.

Courtesy of Jan, one of our witnesses.  Thanks, Jan!

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Amino Acids and Depression

A few people have asked me about the use of treating anxiety and depression with amino acids, and I’m happy to share here what I know.

I take two amino acids daily: DLPA and 5-HTP. Both these can be found in most health food stores, and although they’re not exactly cheap, they’re definitely worth a try. And, unlike chemical anti-depressants, have little to no side effects.

DLPA (DL-phenylalanine) contains two forms of the amino acid phenylalanine. The “L” form is a natural substance found in protein-rich foods; it’s believed to bolster mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. The “D” form of phenylalanine is made synthetically in a laboratory and appears to block a nervous system enzyme that amplifies pain signals; in other words, DLPA slows down the enzymes that “eat up” endorphins.

It’s most commonly used to treat chronic pain (like that associated with rheumatoid arthritis), but is also used to treat depression, mood swings, appetite, and PMS. Some people with ADHD also have benefitted from taking it. For relief from the blues, DLPA appears to be most effective when combined with other natural antidepressants, such as St. John’s wort or SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) or the 5-HTP that I take. (Interesting to note, the combination of DLPA and St. John’s wort performs similarly to Effexor. Like the drug, the supplement/herb combo raises levels of at least two mood-elevating brain chemicals: norepinephrine from the DLPA and serotonin from the St. John’s wort. In addition, like Effexor, DLPA suppresses appetite by promoting the release of a hormone that curbs appetite.)

Dosage: 1,000-1,500 mg of DLPA daily, ideally in the morning. I take another dose in the afternoon, so you may need to play around with the amount that’s right for you.

5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP is a naturally-occurring amino acid, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin and an intermediate in tryptophan metabolism. Serotonin is an extremely important brain chemical involved in regulating mood, behavior, appetite, impulse control, and sleep.

Serotonin originates in neurons deep in the midline of the brainstem. Because these neurons profile diffusely throughout the brain, serotonin can affect various brain functions. It also interacts with many other neurotransmitters, either directly through neurons that use both serotonin and another neurotransmitter, or by serotonin neurons influencing neurons that primarily use these other transmitters.

The diffuse connections of serotonin allow it to affect many basic psychological functions such as anxiety mechanisms and the regulation of mood, thoughts, aggression, appetite, sex drive and the sleep/wake cycle. Multiple observations suggest that serotonin, one of the most abundant neurotransmitters, plays an important role in the regulation of mood and a key role in the treatment of depression.

Data suggest that serotonin is associated with reduced serotonin function. Studies of cerebrospinal fluid, whole blood, and plasma have shown that serotonin levels are reduced in depressed patients.

Dosage: start out with 50mg two times a day and wait a few weeks to allow your body to adjust. If you need more after that, increase the dosage by 50-100mg.

Amino acids should be taken on an empty stomach to maximize absorption. They should not be taken at the same time, since they can interfere with each other’s absorption. 5-HTP can cause mild nausea for the first few weeks you take it.

You should not take either DLPA or 5-HTP if you’re taking other anti-depressants/SSRIs. People with high blood pressure or diabetes should talk to their doctor before taking any amino acid. And of course, if you’ve got a bun in the oven or are breast feeding, you should check with your doctor.

Any questions? Let me know.

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As some of you already know, Francis and I are planning a wedding!  Woo hoo!

What some of you don’t know is that we’re already legally married.  We confess.  It wasn’t the ideal situation, but we found that for legal purposes it was best if we didn’t wait.  None of you should feel left out (please don’t feel left out!); it was just us and two witnesses (thanks, Matt and Jan!) in a civil service.  We dressed up a bit, there were flowers and a proper English afternoon tea afterward.  It really was very heartfelt, moreso than you might expect a civil service to be, but we very much want to have a celebration where we say vows in front of friends and family.

We’re planning on having two weddings, basically, one here in England and one in Florida, so don’t worry about travelling.  We might even have a little something in Portland eventually, so really don’t worry about travelling.  The English one will be first, but we don’t know when yet.  Possibly March (especially because Jennifer is planning a visit then) (Alison?  How about you, honey?), but that might be a bit soon to organise things.

Anyhow, I’ll keep you posted!

P.S. The name of our officiant was Trevor Love.  We got married by Mr. Love.

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