Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hot Sauce Only, Hold the Taco

There’s a great Mexican restaurant out in Mill Valley called Joe's Taco Lounge. It’s next to the 2 AM club and has enough variation on the menu to warrant repeat visits. I’m not a huge burrito fan because it usually means suffering through a two hour carbohydrate coma after eating one. The tostadas, however, are a perfect fit for Sunday afternoon brunch (or post hike feast). Choices include tofu, carne asada, grilled chicken - or my favorite choice - grilled snapper.

Alright, I’ll come clean. It’s not just the food, it’s the hot sauce. This place has a massive collection of hot sauce that completely fills the ledges encircling the restaurant. Plus they make their own chipotle salsa (it has a nice bite). Really I just order the food to hold the hot sauce.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stainless Steel - A better choice for a water bottle

I'm also saying goodbye to all the plastic water bottles in my life and hello to stainless steel. The bottles run about $10 - $25, depending on their size. Why switch?

First, do you ever ask yourself where the water comes from? Apparently the tap water in San Francisco registers at a higher quality than much of the water you purchase in plastic bottles, that sometimes can cost two to three times the price of a gallon of gas.

Second, the environmental consequences of all those plastic bottles being made, traveling somewhere to be filled, traveling somewhere to sit on a shelf and then heading for recycling or landfill, is huge.

And last, what is leaching into the water you drink from plastic bottles? Maybe it's nothing but maybe...

So far the stainless steel bottles have been great. They are a bit harder to drink out of until you get the hang of them (at first they are like a giant dribble glass). I fill them up when I'm in Lake County, which has some of the best water in the state (I always see the Calistoga and other water trucks filling up) or filter water from the tap in San Francisco. I ordered 10 of them from Amazon and they arrived in about 3 days.

Kiss the Trazadone Goodbye!

Insomnia: Part 2

A follow up to my Oct 4th post - Bye Bye Insomnia - finds me drug free. After taking a commonly prescribed sleep-aid called Trazadone for over 5 years I am finally sleeping through the night without it. However, the journey to get here was a tough road that came with a few unexpected bumps.

I was so eager to stop taking medication to sleep that it did not occur to me that going cold turkey might have consequences. For me, the major side effect was depression. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that I was able to open up to a friend about my dark state that she reminded me that Trazadone was initially prescribed to people as an antidepressant.

Also, after completing my 10 day Chinese herbal remedy, I slept soundly for several nights and then started heading back into the torturous cycle of sleeplessness. I was not in Lake County near the herbalogist and was extremely reluctant to take any Trazadone but a call to Rory lead me to try Anmien Pien (another Chinese herbal remedy that thankfully came in a convenient pill form and did not require an hour and a half of cooking). It did the trick. After a few days I was able to stop taking it and sleep without any aid.

And I have turned the corner on both my insomnia and short bout of depression so the report on the Chinese herbal remedy is still very positive.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Devastating Fires in Southern California

Thankfully the hot weather and Santa Ana winds have resided giving fire fighters in Southern California a break fighting the recent wildfires. Currently there are over 400,000 evacuees in need of help. While you're thinking of it, send a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. They are an amazing first response organization and will need a lot of cash to help with this recent disaster. Many years ago I had some friends who's apartment burnt to the ground. They lost all of their personal belongings. The Red Cross was there immediately to offer them vouchers for shelter and food as well as some much needed clothing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Downloading Movies

I realize that many people would agree that Netflix is a fantastic service but I would have to disagree because I've found movielink.com. Ok, upon first glance you would say that the selection is not great - and it isn't, but it's been enough to satisfy my needs. And the reason I give movielink a high rating is that often I decide to rent a movie at the last minute and this has become not an easy thing to do. If you have 'pay per view' then you are set up to watch recently released movies (soon to be on DVD) but what if you are in the mood for something Spanish? or something independent? Yah, well best of luck. A recently flopped blockbuster - well it is probably on every 'pay per view' cable selection.

Movielink offers a purchase and rental option, old and new release, foreign and independent, documentary and gay or lesbian, tv series and free releases. You can download a movie in about 45 minutes and if there is a problem an online agent will correct it (or so they have with every issue I've had to date). And they were just bought by Blockbuster Video so the selections should get even better.

I actually have an option to rent movies at a DVD rental store in Lake County (in the town of Cobb) and I hope they will stay there forever (but the business is listed for sale). It brings me back - to what - 2000, when you could actually go the DVD rental store and pick something up. I ask the owner what he likes and he recommends the best of the latest. I miss that option (not available in the city as all my neighborhood movie rental stores have long closed) but the city does still plenty of great movie theaters, even better.

Anyway, if you aren't in a city with a great choice of movie theaters and if you want to watch a movie on short notice (and netflix has not yet arrived) then I recommend giving movielink.com a try.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Couch to 5K - start running again

I used to run about 3 - 5 times a week, then it was twice, once and finally... And I have every excuse in the book why this form of exercise no longer is suited to me. But my sister recently directed me to a great running plan - the C to 5K. Instead of just heading out for a 20 or 30 minute run when you haven't run in years, this is a plan to slowly build you back up to running 5k (3 miles) in about 9 weeks. I'm starting next week so I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Urban Poaching

As if we don't have enough to get depressed about when it comes to the environment, I've just read about the growing threat of urban poaching. How bad is it? Wildlife officials now estimate that the number of animals poached last year equals the number taken legally (and that probably doesn't include road kill). Why are they doing it? Besides the fact that some sickos get a thrill from urban animal stalking, there's also a thriving black market for certain animal parts (the rest of the animal is just left behind). Fortunately people are cluing in to the problem. It's not just the loss of wildlife but also the threat to innocent bystanders from stray bullets or arrows that's making people take notice. There are huge fines and jail time for anyone caught. Rewards are also being posted to help catch the poachers.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Listen to This!

If you’re looking for a good internet radio station check out: http://www.iheard.com. This is a search engine for radio stations (currently in Beta) that offers the listener a well organized platform for finding all genres of music (main stream and eclectic). You can also listen to great talk radio, comedy and international stations. It is easy and user friendly, which is very important. I just added it to my favorites.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bye, Bye Insomnia

Having a 5-year bought with insomnia and having to rely on a nightly prescriptive sleep-aid (Trazadone) to sleep, I began to feel like the pharmaceutical companies had one up on me. Deciding to change my fate, I made an appointment with Rory of the local Herbal Collective in Middletown, CA to see what could be done.

Rory did some tests, including checking the moss on my tongue, which was hard to figure since I brush my tongue so diligently, there should be none left. But anyway, after a series of pulse counts, questionnaire filling, and poking here and there I was instructed that my herbs would be ready the next day for pick-up.

Five days later, as you can see from the photos, I am drinking an assortment of cooked and strained herbs. What’s in them? Don’t know. Rory is a terse British guy and other than the written herb-cooking instructions which were: ½ hour boil, simmer then strain followed by ¾ hour boil, simmer and strain, there was nothing else. So I cook up each bag of herbs (he gave me 5 bags to last 10-days), each one lasts for 2 days, drinking 2x each day between meals.

An insomnia cure? So far, so good, I've been sleeping without the use of Trazadone for over 2 weeks now. Stay tuned!