Howdy friends. Today is Thursday, and Thursdays are for two things:
2) Blogging about things I enjoy.
I suppose that, as the author of this blog, I could try and boost my traffic by switching it up a little bit and writing about the NBA playoffs or the career of that Kardashian Person.
However, as a scientist, I try to make every effort to avoid issuing opinions on topics that I don’t follow and that I simply do not understand.
Let’s promote positivity by avoiding pernicious and perplexing topics! I think I’ve dawdled long enough, here are a few things that I find delightful:
I’ve always liked beets. Boiled beets are delicious enough, roasted beets are basically candy in vegetable-form. Beets play heavily into the plot of my favorite Tom Robbins novel, Jitterbug Perfume.
Beets are packed full of phytonutrients, vitamins, and polyphenol antioxidants. Beets have high iron and calcium contents. I am a distance runner who also happens to be anemic, and once suffered a stress fracture; I’ll take all of the extra blood- and bone-building mojo I can get.
Those are all great reasons to love beets, but I have one more for you: beets apparently help improve athletic performance. Beets are naturally high in nitrates. Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in your bloodstream. Nitric oxide is a powerful signaling molecule that stimulates the activity of an enzyme in your bloodstream called diguanylate cyclase. This enzyme makes another molecule that tells the smooth muscles in your blood vessels to relax. When those muscles relax, your blood vessels open wider and you have increased blood flow. The increase in blood flow leads to more oxygen and nutrients getting delivered to your muscles. More food and air for your muscles means that you can go harder for longer. So beets act as performance enhancers through the vasodilatory effect of their high nitrate content. Viagra achieves its “Performance Enhancing Effects” through a very similar mechanism. Increased blood flow is increased blood flow…
This isn’t to say that if you eat twenty six beets the night before a marathon you are GUARANTEED to Boston-Qualify. I think you’d be more likely to pee red for a week and suffer some MAJOR gastric distress mid-race from all of that roughage. However, the science on the performance enhancing effects of beet juice seems pretty solid (controlled studies! meta-analyses! be still my nerdy heart!). The conclusion is: supplemental nitrates (either from beet-root juice or given on their own) are associated with modest increases in endurance and performance in healthy individuals. I’m not rushing out to buy a juicer, or buy strange nitrate pills. I will, however, continue to enjoy these ruby roots.
In the words of Tom Robbins:
“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.”
I think beets can help us all to be passionate, athletic, and serious.
2) My Christmas Cactus.
3) “Selfie” by The Chainsmokers
4) Sarah Emma Edmonds: The Cross-dressing, pro-union civil war spy.
I read this article about Sarah Emma Edmonds over breakfast this morning. Sarah was a Canadian woman who was stuck in an arranged marriage with an abusive husband. She decided to escape her situation and come to America by traveling incognito under the identity Frank Thompson. Once she got to America she needed to support herself, so she made a living as a traveling bible salesman. Frank Thompson did pretty well as a bible salesman, and Emma Thompson was a fastidious unionist, so when the Civil War erupted she, as he, decided to enlist.
Frank Thompson started out as a mail carrier, then started performing high-level espionage. After the war was over Emma Edmonds decided to live as a woman again, serve as a nurse to veterans, and publish a memoir titled “Nurse and Spy in the Union Army.”
I think the whole story is absolutely fascinating. I love that she was brave, self-determined and patriotic.
The previous tenant at my house left our lawn in a sorry state.
A few weeks ago I acquired a weed-eater, but my efforts were thwarted when I lost an important bolt. I finally got everything into working order.
I had forgotten how SATISFYING working with power-tools is. I ate a LOT of weeds, and my yard is starting to look a little more presentable. I think that big bare patch is going to be a perfect place for a fire pit. I’m looking forward to how this project will come together.
OK. That’s enough out of me. I’ll open it up to the class for discussion.
What are a couple of things YOU like right now?