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December, 2011 Newsletter
Profound Knowledge, December 2011


This newsletter was originally entitled "Profound Knowledge", a phrase coined by Dr Deming. The trademark lawyers advised that I change it to strengthen my case. I'm now adding it back to emphasize the original intent of the newsletter: there are certain pieces of knowledge that have the potential for profound impact on our lives. As the internet age continues to amplify information overload, it is even more important to distinguish between mere trivia and the potentially profound.

The Brain Dancing Journey

It is now 18 years since I started my efforts to write the book Brain Dancing. I must tell you that I do not enjoy writing. It is very hard to portray complex multidimensional concepts in a linear fashion such that large numbers will find them useful. I'd much rather be out living life than thinking and writing about it. Occasionally I stumble across an idea or two begging to be told. I wrote Brain Dancing because I wanted to make a difference. It is with this in mind that I am going to start writing again about things so profound they deserve to be echoed. (update April, 2016) I recently wrote a blog post on this topic.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches - An Odyssey

My dad was as a carpenter who worked in heavy construction until his untimely death in 1972. My mother worked as a grocery clerk and retail clothing specialist. A very unlikely beginning for a software engineer who writes a book on optimizing mental processes. I mention this because I'm guessing there are a lot of people who may not be able to relate to what I summarized in Brain Dancing, which was the result of a very long journey of personal growth. The following example will clarify what I mean here.

When I was laid off from ENI Oil and Gas Exploration in 1982 as the company went out of business, I took my two weeks' severance pay and used it to purchase one of the first IBM PC's. I was so ecstatic about the potential I saw with PC's that I started a consulting company to help businesses implement the technology. My first year in business, I had a negative income. Money was scarce. My lunch was either mac n cheese or P&J sandwiches. Initially, I bought white bread that cost 33 cents a loaf, Jiffy PB, and strawberry jam. I realized this may not be the healthiest choice, so I eventually graduated to the brown bread which also cost 33 cents a loaf. I was on my way!

Eventually I moved to whole grains, then Adams PB, then organic PB, and organic berry preserves. When I really got going, I was using avocado sprinkled with flax seeds, honey, and covered with organic romaine lettuce. Sometime in the early 90's, I had learned so much about nutrition that one day I was walking through a Safeway store in downtown Bellevue starving. I literally could not find a single thing in the store that I could eat based on all of the knowledge I had acquired. Safeway has since added organic produce and other healthy foods. So where did this journey end? Currently my family and I are battling gluten sensitivity. What is the ultimate P&J sandwich after 30 years of learning? No sandwich at all because it is too inconvenient to make my own gluten-free bread. We have acquired a bread maker and large bags of Quinoa flour from Bob's Red Mills. Finding time and energy for this isn't easy. More on this as we perfect the recipes.

The Diet That Shook Up Tennis - The gluten wave has only just begun

Check out this WSJ article on how Djokovic conquered the tennis world, and the important role his gluten-free diet played. There are tons of resources on the web for exploring this topic. and Charlottesville Celiac Support Group - Meeting Highlights are a couple sites I found recently. Some people are having a tough time with this and I look forward to comparing notes with you as I learn more about this topic.

Scientists Say Bacterial Ecosystems Divide People Into 3 Groups - Gut Microbes Enter the Scene

I'm still digesting the significance of this discovery described in this NY Times article. I suspect that diet sodas, children's multivitamins, and even excessive use of children's boxed juices can alter the makeup of the gut microbes. I'd sum it up this way: when I eat well for a prolonged period, I'm betting that it alters my gut microbe ecosystem, and vice versa.

Can You Exercise Too Much?

Yes, according to this NY Times article. Moderation in all things Paul Harvey used to say. Nonetheless, being true to Chapter 2 in my book, I gave myself a reason to exercise by signing up for triathlons. Completing Ironman Canada in 2007 was one of coolest things I've ever done. The multi-year build up to this event lowered my resting heart rate from the low 60's to the mid-40's. Based on the research in the NY Times article mentioned above, we need to pay attention to our body when deciding where to draw the line.

Midnight, the end of 2011 is fast approaching, so I will wrap this one up here.

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