Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Meat of the Matter

On a very short bus ride on the #9 from Broadway and Windsor to Commercial Drive, a white man maybe in his 70s or so told me a very interesting story. He was from Newfoundland, as best I recall, and he grew up having only one kind of meat, and that was moose that they hunted themselves. He said he used to hunt moose on a bicycle. "You don't really hunt them, there were so many around, you just picked out the one you wanted." He said that there was no such thing as tough moose meat, that no matter how old the moose was, the meat was always tender, and that it was the best meat in the world because it not only didn't clog the arteries, it cleaned them. He said if you ate only moose all your life, you could be 80 and have the arteries of a 20 year old. The only time you couldn't eat moose was in the mating season, "because they get so wild" and the meat was not fit at that time. He said he didn't blame them because it was such a short mating season, their only chance all year long, they got frantic and they would attack anything. He said the only other meat that was as good for you as moose was maybe kangaroo meat, and maybe ostrich. I mentioned that I had only eaten ostrich once and turned out I was allergic to it, I broke out in hives. And he told me that was certainly possible, because "every kind of meat has at least one enzyme that is not in any other meat."

It is always lovely to meet neighbourhood experts. I thank the uncle for the little lesson in about 8 blocks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Vote November 15 - the information you need

Voting is from 8 am to 8 pm only.

You can find your voting place with this handy Voting Place Search Tool:

You can only vote in the correct place for your address. (The City was supposed to have sent out cards telling registered voters where to vote, but at least some of the aunties say they never received them.)

If you're on the Provincial voting list, you're also registered in the City. If not, you can register on election day, but be sure to bring two pieces of identification - you have to prove your address and at least one i.d. has to have your signature. (Non-resident property electors* have to show more proof and have to get that information from the City clerk's office.) Here are some examples of i.d. you can use:

• B.C. Driver’s Licence
• B.C. ID card from Motor Vehicle Branch
• ICBC Owner’s Certifi cate of Insurance and Vehicle Licence
• B.C. Care Card
• Social Insurance Card
• Citizenship Card
• Property Tax Notice
• credit card or debit card
• utility bill
• Ministry of Housing and Social Development
(formerly Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance)
Monthly Report/Request for Continued Assistance (HSD 081)

You can't count on voting at the same place you did in previous elections, nor can you be sure the polling place is in your voting area. Mt. Pleasant Neighbourhood House, which is on the South side of Broadway at Prince Albert, is being used for voting by people who all reside on the north side of Broadway. There is a pedestrian light you can use to get across that busy street.

The city has a .pdf Voters' Guide here:

The map on this document is too small and ill-marked, use the Voting Place Search Tool - but there is other information including the profiles of ALL the candidates.

In this election, you get to choose:

• 1 Mayor
• 10 Councillors
• 7 Park Commissioners
• 9 School Trustees

All offices are held for a three-year term.

I have no idea how the CBC and other broadcasters get around the CRTC election regulations in not giving substantially equal hearing to all candidates. There are 15 candidates for Mayor, 32 candidates running for the 10 city council seats, 20 candidates for the 7 parks commission seats, and 19 candidates for the 9 school trustee seats.

Candidates backed by political parties will have the party name next to their name on the ballot. The NPA who currently hold the mayorship and a majority on all the boards are running a full slate. Vision Vancouver, COPE, and the Green Party are running a joint slate - so if you want to vote for mainstream progressives you can vote for all of those and don't have to vote against any of them. There are also candidates from the (federally-eligible) Work Less Party, and the lesser-known but intriguingly-named Nude Garden Party, plus a slough of independents.

Their profiles are all on that link I mentioned above, but there are also links to their "unedited nomination documents" on this page:

There will be people at many of the polling places handing out leaflets about the Single Transferable Vote referendum coming up in May. They are allowed to do this because STV is a Provincial referendum and not an issue in the civic election. If approved, this method would allow you to vote for more than one candidate to represent you provincially and to rank your choices from first choice to last. This can eliminate the dilemma of voting for someone you don't want in order to prevent someone you don't want even more from getting elected.

COPE (the Coalition of Progressive Electors) has its party HQ in a complex in Mt. Pleasant, on the Northwest corner of Broadway and Carolina (across from Mac's). They are recruiting volunteers to help get out the vote on election day. Getting out the vote theoretically does not favour a particular candidate, so it's not electioneering.

COPE had a policy conference of its members, and its platform draft is here:
Betty Krawczyk of the Workless Party has accused Ellen Woodsworth of COPE of supporting legalised brothels for the Olympics, but given what is in the platform and the known opinions of some of the names shown as having platform input to COPE, I doubt that. I have an email in to Ellen asking about it. One of the visible supporters of COPE is NDP MP for our area Libby Davies, whose opinions on this issue are discussed here

Voting is fun and exciting and will give you a sense of ownership over the politicians if people you voted for won. But no matter who wins, remembers, you're going to have to keep after them regularly between elections about the issues you really want to see actualized. Otherwise, it's just a shell game.

*One thing you might not know is that people who can vote in this election must be Canadian citizens, but they don't have to be current residents of Vancouver. Anyone who formerly lived in BC for at least 6 months before registering to vote in Vancouver and who owns property in Vancouver can vote in Vancouver city election even if they don't live here. However, they

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Really stinky dirt

A few months ago, landscapers laid down some really stinky dirt around the Production Way/University Sky Train stop in Burnaby. It was mostly put down under an overhang where the rain couldn't get to it, and it smelled so bad for months it would make you gag while waiting for or getting off the bus. It is a uniform very dark brown in colour and smelled like a pig feedlot to me.

Now, the same kind of terrible-smelling dirt is being laid down around the VCC-Clark Skytrain station, at the foot of North China Park. I asked one of the workers what it was, and he said it was a mixture of cow manure and dirt. I said "that's not like any cow manure I ever smelled, smells like pig manure to me." He said "there's probably some of that in there, too. Also residue from mushroom farming." I said "mushroom farming, they use dangerous chemicals in that." He said "yes, when this stuff is dry you can set fire to it and it will blow up."

Now, he may have been exaggerating, but I really think someone from the new high-paid Translink Board should be made to come out there and actually walk around the Sky Train station for a change and get a whiff of it. Maybe they would change their dirt contractor.

I believe in recycling manure, but that smells strong enough to burn up anything alive. If you go look at the Production Way Sky Train station where it was laid down months ago, the smell has diminished but there's still nothing growing in it. That's not healthy dirt - something would be growing in good dirt by now. You can't just put stuff like that at full strength on the ground - you need it to be worked on by organisms, first bacteria and then after it loses some of its strength, by the right kind of worms.

There's some information about the use of worms to recycle manure from pig farms in this review of The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Worms.

Just this week, CBC's The National exposed illegal practices being done with recycling electronic waste from the Vancouver area. Wouldn't surprise me if this dirt we're seeing around the Sky Trains is also the result of some illegal recycling. If not illegal, the way it's being prepared should be illegal. Go walk by there and sniff if you don't believe me.

Sun. Nov. 9, Bus Riders Union Protest, Main St. Skytrain Station, 1-3 pm

Event: On Sunday, November 9th: Speak out against privatization!
What: Protest
Host: Vancouver Bus Riders Union
Start Time: Sunday, November 9 at 1:00pm
End Time: Sunday, November 9 at 3:00pm
Where: Main Street Skytrain Station

To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:
(You have to be a Facebook user to log in to this, but you can apply for an account.)

I don't know what they're going to say, but I like the Bus Riders Union, it's a good concept and they work hard, both at the level of research and actually riding the buses and talking to folks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Voting - good, bad, ugly

I voted for the first time in Canada in this month's federal election. Some of the good things compared to the US included that I had no problem registering at the polling place on election day, that lines were very short when I went, and that the ballot was paper and was very simple to read (big type!) and to mark (big X).

Not everyone had it as smooth as I did, however. One senior auntie was upset because her polling place had been moved from the one closest to her house to one farther away. Another was sent home from the polls to get something with her address on it before she could vote. Always before she had been able to just show up and vote. This time, she had heard she would need i.d., but she didn't realize she would have to show two i.d.'s, at least one with her address on it. She also was not permitted to use her Care Card as i.d. - something that was not published anywhere. As she has no driver's license, she was told to bring a bill from home with her name on it. If she didn't have any bills in her own name, would she have been able to vote?

For people without all that proper i.d., a registered voter who knows the person is supposed to be able vouch for them. But an auntie told me she was only permitted to vouch for one person - a second person she knew who had the same problem was turned away without being able to vote.*

The requirement to show i.d. with your address was reported to have disenfranchised many homeless people in Vancouver, and I expect someone in the anti-poverty field may try to take this to court. But in general, I think Canadians are fairly unsuspecting about election rigging and this could be an early sign of it crossing the border from the U.S. Purging voters of a particular political leaning has gone very far in the U.S. recently. Among the films that document this is Stealing America: Vote by Vote, a new feature-length release by award-winning California documentarian Dorothy Fadiman. You can view that entire 90-minute film online here:

STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote from Concentric Media on Vimeo.

Another disturbing sign in Canada was reported in a Canadian TV news program I saw in the last year or so, which explained that the Conservative Party maintains a large and sophisticated database that includes answers people on the voter rolls have given to questions about their political opinions. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that homeless people are less likely than average to vote Conservative, but with such data it can be possible to target voter obstruction in a more sophisticated manner. Mt. Pleasant is in Libby Davies' Van East riding, and she won handily again.

Recently I interviewed the president of the Simon Fraser Student Society and we discussed the online voting system used for the first time in their last election. He pooh-pooed my concern that electronic voting is more subject to rigging than paper balloting, said voting electronically was modernization, and cited instances of known paper ballot rigging. I wish I had had this quote from the Fadiman film to tell him then: "It takes a long time to change 10,000 paper ballots by hand; it takes seconds to change 10,000 electronically."

At the conclusion of this film is a segment showing that the US state of New Mexico recently passed a law mandating a return to paper ballots statewide - the reason being, that with paper you have something to re-count. With electronic voting, the answer is only blowing in the wind.

*Votes cast in 2008 in Van East were 41,369, with 270 being rejected ballots. In 2006 there were 42,494 ballots cast, with 200 being rejected ballots. In 2006, Libby Davies (NDP) won by 56.6%; in 2008, by 54.4%. This proves nothing, aside from the fact that it doesn't contradict a hypothesis that vote totals may have been diminished this year by people being turned away from the polls.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Surround City Hall for Housing Saturday Oct. 18

Forwarded release from Stand for Housing:

Will you take one hour on Saturday, October 18 at 1:00 to surround our city hall?

A Call for Action
Oct 18 1-2 pm
This is a finale of a week long vigil and fast to end homelessness at City Hall
& Homeless Awareness Week (Oct 13-18)

Homeless action week has been amazing - a five day vigil and fast at city hall will culminate with our joint Vancouver wide housing stand on Saturday, Oct. 18.
Now we need a very large crowd to pressure the new city council. This action has widespread support from churches, unions and community groups but we need bodies on the street to demonstrate our determination to end homelessness and create affordable homes in Vancouver.

Please join us!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Analysis of Libby Davies' Work on Prostitution Issues and the Controversy Surrounding It

Many of the aunties in our Vancouver East riding support Libby Davies of the NDP to be returned to Parliament, but some of the aunties have been saying they are concerned about her views on prostitution. An auntie who has been volunteering with Davies' campaign inquired about this and sends some information about what Davies' position is and has been.

In 2002, Libby made a Speech in Parliament: Time to Review Canada's Solicitation Laws She was supporting her private members motion to create a parliamentary committee to review solitication laws. She includes the fact that if women get a criminal record that makes it harder for them to leave prostitution. In 2003, Libby released a press statement saying all parties had agreed that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights should review federal laws around solicitation, with a view to "recommend changes that would reduce the dangers facing sex trade workers and ensure safer and healthy communities." The report that came out in December 2006 is called THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE: A STUDY OF CANADA’S CRIMINAL PROSTITUTION LAWS. Libby discussed it in a January 2007 press release.

The government's 139-page report is interesting, among other reasons, because it shows that three parties in Parliament agreed that prostitution be viewed as a public health issue, while the Conservative party's dissenting section stated prostitution should be viewed as violence against women. This language, that prostitution is violence against women, is also used by the feminists who support abolition of prostitution; but clearly the Conservatives do not support the feminists' recommendations for a remedy, which includes a guaranteed livable income, housing, drug rehab availability, and other social services.

According to the auntie who volunteers on her campaign, Libby supports decriminalization but not legalization of prostitution, she wishes to reduce harm to women who are involved in the sex trade and reduce barriers to their being able to exit. The auntie said that even those who had some quarrels with Libby's position on prostitution would get farther towards their own goals keeping Libby, who is honest, works hard on the issue, and really cares about the prostituted women [even if she calls them "sex workers"]. She also said that Libby's positions are her own and not necessarily the same as those of the NDP platform. [I did not find prostitution mentioned in the NDP's platform, but here are sections of their platform on Women: Moving Forward on Equality and Building Strong Communities.]

Here are Libby's own words about prostitution from the 2007 release:

I will continue to call for law reform, immediate support for exit strategies, and the need for a public inquiry, to ensure that necessary changes are made at all levels of government, to best protect the rights and safety of sex workers and affected communities.

Current laws around prostitution make street level sex workers vulnerable to selective law enforcement as well as exploitation and violence. Survival sex workers are often poor and drug dependent, and are reluctant to seek protection under the law.

Cuts in social programs and spending, together with increasing poverty, particularly over the past decade, have forced more women into survival sex trade.

The Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights recently completed its report on prostitution laws, The Challenge of Change: a Study of Canada's Criminal Prostitution Laws. ... The report outlines the failure of the criminal code to protect sex workers and local communities. When sex workers are displaced to isolated areas as a result of the communicating law, they face greater risk for harm and death and become easier targets for predators.

There was near unanimous agreement from witnesses heard at the committee that the current status and regime of law enforcement pertaining to prostitution is unworkable, contradictory and unacceptable. It has created an environment of marginalization and violence, with negative impacts on both sex workers and affected local communities.

Sex workers are fearful to report violence, assault and coercion because of their illegal status. Their poor relationship with law enforcement authorities, contributes to the danger they face. Better training of law enforcement agencies is needed.

I believe the federal government must come to terms with the contradictions and impossibility of the status quo, and engage in a process of law reform that will lead to the decriminalization of laws pertaining to prostitution and focus criminal sanctions on harmful situations.

It is also critical for all levels of government to immediately improve the safety of sex workers and assist them to exit the sex trade if they are not there by choice, by providing significant resources for poverty alleviation and income support, education and training, and treatment for addictions.

In February 2002, I called on the Mayor of Vancouver, as Chair of the Vancouver Police Board, to support an inquiry into the police investigation of the missing women to determine what happened. This public inquiry still needs to happen.

In March 2008, the Workless Party hosted a forum titled "Should Prostitution Be Legalised Before the 2010 Olympics," organized and moderated by Carly Teng. This was recorded and produced as streaming video by Working TV. Among the participants, pretty much all wanted to remove the criminal penalty on women for "communicating" - i.e., offering to exchange sex for money - but there was a strong division over whether the johns, or purchasers of sex, should be criminalized (a.k.a. The Swedish Model - a law passed in Sweden in 1999 and emulated by a number of other countries, including Korea and Norway). It is significant that the success of Sweden's law has depended heavily on Sweden's survivable welfare rates and other supports to exiting both prostitution and drug addiction.

On legalization - which is not advocated by Davies - A recent report by Deutsche Welle, picked up by the Women's UN Report Network, is titled Europe Reconsiders Prostitution as Sex Trafficking Booms . Basically, legalized prostitution in Europe is creating a market and a cover for forced trafficking of women for sexual purposes.

Just as a footnote - from the same article:

In Britain, where paid sex is legal but prostitutes aren't allowed to solicit in public [like in Canada], a group of Labour MPs have advocated for replacing criminal penalties for street prostitutes with mandatory counseling programs to get them out of the business. "We don't criminalize people who sell kidneys, we criminalize the buyer," Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart told Reuters news agency.

I hasten to add that "mandatory counseling" is not part of Libby Davies' position, nor that of either the decriminalization or the abolition segments of Vancouver's activists on this issue.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is someone poisoning animals?

A neighbour says that she found her kitten dead with no apparent marks on her and blood coming out of her mouth. She thinks the kitten was poisoned. Both she and I have noticed a decrease in the number of squirrels in the neighbourhood. She wonders if someone puts out poison to kill squirrels and perhaps other animals are eating it as well. Reply if you know anything about this firsthand.

There has also been a theft of a small, curly black poodle in the neighbourhood. The owner of the dog has had it for 11 years and is putting up reward notices. She said the dog was picked up while it was urinating by a telephone pole a few feet away from her, and carried away by someone. A man who has a similar, but younger dog, told me a young, heavyset woman in her 20s picked up his dog while they were in Sahalli park and started to walk away with it.

John Graham case thrown out - back to grand jury

According to Doc Yip, our neighbour John Graham, a Canadian first nations man who was extradited to the US to stand trial, is getting another chance. The judge in South Dakota threw out his indictment, because of errors in it. So now, it goes back to the Grand Jury - a panel of citizens who review the evidence and decide if there is enough of it to hold a trial. Doc says that the evidence is extremely shaky - basically the coerced statement of one man who appears drunk in the videotaped statement. She says the police were putting words in that man's mouth and he was just agreeing. So, it's possible Graham could be freed without a trial.

Bad planning for contracted paving

A private contracting company is tearing up the brand new sidewalk on Great Northen Way, to the west of the VCC parking lot and across from the VCC Clark skytrain station. They say they are doing that to build a wider sidewalk. I have to question 1) why, if the City wanted a wider sidewalk there, they did't build it in the first place, and 2) why widen the sidewalk on that side of the street? Where it may need to be widened is between the Skytrain and the nearby Great Northern Way Campus. There is virtually no traffic on foot or bicycle on the side of the street where they are building, and they are narrowing the amount of nice green grass growing along there.

Who makes these decisions, and whom do they ask about actual conditions?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Working TV online

I just want to pay tribute to the work of Working TV in Vancouver, headed by Julius Fisher. Sometimes you can see their work on Shaw Cable channel 4, but you can watch all kinds of local events on their website, plus I just found some really good short video news clips of theirs on Facebook, including the Stand for Housing, the launch of the Walk for Justice, etc.

If anybody knows how to make direct video links that would play through a blog, please teach me!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reward for return of recorder

On Friday, Sept. 12, someone came up on my front porch at 7:30 in the morning and took my bag. The black handle-bag said What's the Word on it, and it also contained my new black fanny pack style leather purse, and also a cloth fanny pack with some audio recording equipment. The equipment was outdated, but I need it because I have discs recorded with it that won't play in other machines. Here are pictures of the recorder and the microphone:

If you have found or acquired any of this stuff, or have news of its whereabouts, please reply to this blog with a way to get in touch, to claim the reward. More info on request.

New Mural

Catch the new wall painting on the northeast corner of Fraser and Broadway. It depicts a scene that is more or less patterned after the False Creek area looking north towards the Science World geodesic dome. I saw three women working on it a couple of weeks ago but did not have my camera with me. The colours are more pastel than the one a block away at Prince Albert and Broadway. I hope this one, too, will be respected by the local taggers. Anyone with a picture of this mural, please post a link in the comments section.

Plant symbiosis

Sometimes when I walk around the neighbourhood, I see what I call "plant friends" - plants that seem to have established a friendly symbiosis with each other. There's an example of this just east of the southern end of North China Park. A very big tree in front of that blue house with purple trim seems to be something like a locust tree, with long compound leaves, but growing right out of it are well developed limbs of both a maple and something that appears to be a cherry tree.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tai Chi resumes at Mt. Pleasant Neighbourhood House

Tai Chi/Chi Gong classes resumed last week at the Mt. Pleasant Neighbourhood House (Broadway at Prince Albert - 1 block east of Fraser). They are weekly from 10:30 to 11:30 am. $3 per lesson, drop-in fee is extremely reasonable. Instructor is Lyla Yip, a well known Tai Chi practitioner in Vancouver and also a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Doc Yip is one of the models even for a tai chi sculpture group being planned for one of the Vancouver parks.

The basic version of Tai Chi taught in this class is "24 steps," a short form in the Yang style tradition. However, the class also includes a smattering of whatever will be good for our health or what Doc Yip is learning in her own Tai Chi studies - so, sometimes we work with fans, or sticks, or we "do the bear."

First time tai chi people are welcome as well as those with experience, and all ages can attend. I myself have studied off and on for about 8 years and while I am not by any means skillful, I've gotten a lot of enjoyment and much improved my balance, both physical and mental.

This class is one of the hidden treasures of Mt. Pleasant. It could use up to 3 or 4 more regulars before it becomes too full for the room, so please come on down.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Vitamin D you can get for free

Recently someone told me you can't get your vitamin D from sunlight if the sun is coming through glass. I looked this up online, and according to this site only about 5% of the Vitamin-D-forming UV-B form of ultraviolet light makes it through a pane of glass.

UV-B is also filtered out by the angled sun slanting through more of the atmosphere, so that it's really only possible to make much vitamin D through sun exposure if you go out in the direct sun between 10 am and 2 pm. (The source didn't say if this was standard or daylight time!) You should also expose as much of your skin as you can on this walk, to give more of your skin a chance to do the job. If you expose 85% of your skin, basically, go out in a bathing suit, you can pick up about 4000 international units, which is good. The darker your skin, the more sun time you need. And the oilier your skin, the more D you make and absorb (so all this bathing probably really does weaken us).

So, the dogs are right when they nag me to go for a walk in the middle of the day. We should all be out taking the sun - like "Englishmen" - around lunchtime. Then, you can eat some D-bearing foods for lunch, like egg yolks, shellfish, oily fish, organ meats, menudo and insects (so, don't throw away the worm!).

Not getting enough Vitamin D can cause lots of problems, and is suspected as the reason that MS (multiple sclerosis) is so much more prevalent in northern latitudes than farther south.

See ya in the park! Wreck beach, anybody?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Alcohol addiction and nutrition

Years ago, I studied with biochemist Roger Wiliams at The University of Texas. Williams was the discoverer of pantothenic acid, and already a respected professor emeritus in the 1970s. The course was called Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Individual Human Differences.

One of the things I learned was that people's need for various nutrients varies tremendously. Williams did experiments and discovered that rats deprived of nutrients would drink alcohol, but those that were fully nouristed lost interest. He developed a nutritional supplement to try to cover the nutritional bases of people who had unusually high requirements for nutrients.

He made two mistakes in promoting this discovery. The first was that he wrote a book stating that people who took this formula did not need to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. AA attacked him with such a vengeance that he recalled the copies of his book, because, he said he had been too arrogant. He had looked only at the physiological and not the psychological side of alcoholism.

The other error Williams made was that he gave the formula for these vitamins away free to several pharmaceutical companies. What this meant was that no company had a unique stake in promoting it to the public.

Back in the 70s, the formula was available from General Nutrition Centers in the US. I had a friend who gave these vitamins to her elderly mother, a lifelong alcoholic, and she reported that her mother spontaneously stopped drinking for the last years of her life.

I also started buying the formula for my lover. She stopped drinking completely for years, and then began drinking occasionally socially without falling back into binging. When GNC stopped making the formula, she changed to other daily vitamins, and soon went back to binging severely on alcohol.

For about a decade after Roger Williams's death, the Clayton Foundation at The University of Texas promoted information about alcoholism and nutrition. Through them I found that the Bronson company was producing the vitamins under the name Insurance Formula. For a while they seemed to have stopped making it, but they are now making an "improved" formula that still credits Roger Williams:

I gather there might be a supplement being produced by the Lilly company used in alcoholism recovery, including by the US military, but I haven't been able to get any details.

There's a tribute website about Williams by Donald R. Davis of the Biochemical Institute that is incomplete as to listings of Williams's work.

After much difficult searching online, I found this page that has a version of the Roger Williams formula that you can try yourself:

The author tells an anecdote very similar to the ones I mentioned - of a woman who was able to stop drinking completely and then drink occasionally while on this kind of supplementation.

I am going to copy the relevant portion of the text below, in case that site shuts down.

Here's the "doctor yourself" formula info:

There is a proven nutritional treatment for alcoholism," I said. "Roger Williams, PhD, a chemistry professor at the University of Texas and former president of the American Chemical Society, has written extensively on the subject. His work dates from 1950 to the mid-seventies."
"What does he recommend?" Betty said.
"Megadoses of vitamins and an amino acid called L-glutamine." I stood up and walked over to a bookcase, pulled down a couple of references, and returned to my squeaky brown swivel desk chair.
"Here we go," I said. "You might want to write this down. Thousands of milligrams of vitamin C a day, in divided doses; all the B-vitamins, especially thiamin, in a B-complex supplement, five times a day; and about three grams of L-glutamine. This, a general good diet, with an avoidance of sugar, is essentially it. ...

There is some more about the formula later on the page:

vitamin B-1 supplements are essential. And to get maximum results, additional nutrients must also be provided in abundance through supplementation.
Which ones, specifically?
1. Vitamin C to saturation (on the order of 10,000 to 20,000 mg per day and more). ...

2. B-complex (comprising 50mg of each of the major B-vitamins, 6 times daily). Extra thiamin and extra niacin may be helpful. Unlike drugs, the B-vitamins work best together.
3. L-Glutamine, (about two or three thousand milligrams). Decreases physiological cravings for alcohol.
4. Lecithin (2 to 4 tablespoons daily). Provides inositol and choline, related to the B-complex. Lecithin also helps mobilize fats out of the liver.
5. Chromium (at least 200 to perhaps 400 mcg chromium polynicotinate daily). Chromium greatly reduces carbohydrate mis-metabolism, and greatly helps control blood sugar levels. Many, if not most, alcoholics are hypoglycemic.
6. A good high-potency multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement as well, containing magnesium (400 mg) and the antioxidants carotene and d-alpha tocopherol.

That site is by Andrew Saul,author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works.

Now, here is another item I found online and have lost the link for:

Vitamin supplements for alcohol withdrawel and anxiety


I wish I would've had this information handy in my first 30 days! Be aware that many of these supplements are harmful to your liver when combined with booze!!

Many alcoholics are deficient in B vitamins, including vitamin B3. John Cleary, M.D., observed that some alcoholics spontaneously stopped drinking in association with taking niacin supplements (niacin is a form of vitamin B3). Cleary concluded that alcoholism might be a manifestation of niacin deficiency in some people and recommended that alcoholics consider supplementation with 500 mg of niacin per day. 4 Without specifying the amount of niacin used, Cleary's preliminary research findings suggested that niacin supplementation helped wean some alcoholics away from alcohol. 5 Activated vitamin B3 used intravenously has also helped alcoholics quit drinking. 6 Niacinamide-a safer form of the same vitamin-might have similar actions and has been reported to improve alcohol metabolism in animals. 7

Deficiencies of other B-complex vitamins are common with chronic alcohol use. 8 The situation is exacerbated by the fact that alcoholics have an increased need for B vitamins. 9 It is possible that successful treatment of B-complex vitamin deficiencies may actually reduce alcohol cravings, because animals crave alcohol when fed a B-complex-deficient diet. 10 Many doctors recommend 100 mg of B-complex vitamins per day.

Alcoholics may be deficient in a substance called prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) and in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a precursor to PGE1. 11 In a double-blind study of alcoholics who were in a detoxification program, supplementation with 4 grams per day of evening primrose oil (containing 360 mg of GLA) led to greater improvement than did placebo in some, but not all, parameters of liver function. 12

The daily combination of 3 grams of vitamin C, 3 grams of niacin, 600 mg of vitamin B6, and 600 IU of vitamin E has been used by researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in an attempt to reduce anxiety and depression in alcoholics. 13 Although the effect of vitamin supplementation was no better than placebo in treating alcohol-associated depression, the vitamins did result in a significant drop in anxiety within three weeks of use. Because of possible side effects, anyone taking such high amounts of niacin and vitamin B6 must do so only under the care of a doctor.

Although the incidence of B-complex deficiencies is known to be high in alcoholics, the incidence of other vitamin deficiencies remains less clear. 14 Nonetheless, deficiencies of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin C are seen in many alcoholics. While some reports have suggested it may be safer for alcoholics to supplement with beta-carotene instead of vitamin A, 15 potential problems accompany the use of either vitamin A or beta-carotene in correcting the deficiency induced by alcoholism. 16 These problems result in part because the combinations of alcohol and vitamin A or alcohol and beta-carotene appear to increase potential damage to the liver. Thus, vitamin A-depleted alcoholics require a doctor's intervention, including supplementation with vitamin A and beta-carotene accompanied by assessment of liver function. Supplementing with vitamin C, on the other hand, appears to help the body rid itself of alcohol. 17 Some doctors recommend 1 to 3 grams per day of vitamin C.
Kenneth Blum and researchers at the University of Texas have examined neurotransmitter deficiencies in alcoholics. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals the body makes to allow nerve cells to pass messages (of pain, touch, thought, etc.) from cell to cell. Amino acids are the precursors of these neurotransmitters. In double-blind research, a group of alcoholics were treated with 1.5 grams of D,L-phenylalanine (DLPA), 900 mg of L-tyrosine, 300 mg of L-glutamine, and 400 mg of L-tryptophan (now available only by prescription) per day, plus a multivitamin-mineral supplement. 18 This nutritional supplement regimen led to a significant reduction in withdrawal symptoms and decreased stress in alcoholics compared to the effects of placebo.

The amino acid, L-glutamine, has also been used as an isolated supplement. Animal research has shown that glutamine supplementation reduces alcohol intake, a finding that has been confirmed in double-blind human research. 19 In that trial, 1 gram of glutamine per day given in divided portions with meals decreased both the desire to drink and anxiety levels.

It's raining food in Mt. Pleasant

If you look around the neighbourhood, the last few weeks have been full of edible goodies on trees, shrubs, and vines, and it's not over yet. Fruit I have personally eaten in the last two weeks grown VERY locally includes apples, blackberries, plums, raspberries, and salal. I've been looking up to see if Mahonia (a.k.a. Oregon grape) is edible. It can be somewhat toxic unless fully ripe, from what I see here. Best to wait until after a frost or two.

While you're looking for wild food, note that the fall crop of dandelion leaves are very tender and only mildly bitter. I have added them and also the pretty abundant chickweed as ingredients in soup. There are also new, tender shoots of lemonbalm, which is a good tea or a nibble for your nervous system.

Mint is abundant, too, in places where runoff collects, but it's almost too strong this time of year. Nettle also loves damp places, and it's still around. Don't touch the green plant, harvest with gloves or tongs; then either cook it - makes a good soup green - or dry it in a paper bag and use for a nourishing tea throughout the year.

Friday, March 7, 2008

STAND for Housing on Saturdays

There's a great video of Stand for Housing on Facebook, posted by Julius Fisher of Working TV:

Below is a list of locations around Vancouver of people who have committed to bear silent witness to the need for action on affordable housing in this city. Looks like it should be possible to organize another of these - or several - around Mt. Pleasant. If interested, contact the organizers and get on the list.



Immediate Release
6 March 2008
Vancouver, BC CANADA

Continue this Saturday and next

Neighbourhood housing activists will again stand on Vancouver street
corners, Saturday March 8 for one hour, 1-2pm, with banners and
wearing vivid blue scarves. They'll be calling attention to federal
and provincial failures to build permanent social housing, and the
City of Vancouver's proposed abandonment of deals with Concord
Pacific for affordable housing in downtown condo towers.

STANDers will also be paying respects to the hundreds of dead and
dying homeless men, women, and children- victims of legislated
poverty and government neglect in BC and Canada. In Vancouver they
populate our streets and lanes, huddle in parks and encampments, burn
to death in doorways, are crushed in back alley garbage bins.

Ten "STAND for Housing-Homes for All!" sites have been confirmed for
this, the third of four weekly Stands:
- Main St. & 33rd Avenue (Kia Salomons and Community Advocates
for Little Mtn)
- Main St & King Edward (Ned Jacobs, Mary Ann Code, and CALM)
- Arbutus & King Edward (Homeless Nation and Random Acts Of
Kindness -RAOK)
- Broadway & McDonald (Candace Simmonds and Kitsilano CHC)
- Heather & 6th Ave (Rider Cooey and False Creek neighbours)
- Commercial & 1st Avenue (Anna Truong, Dave Diewert & Streams
of Justice)
- Cordova & Gore (Anne Kennedy and St James Social Gospel
Coordinating Group)
- Oak & W 49th Ave (Leslie Kemp and Unitarian Church Social
Justice Cttee)
- Commercial & Broadway (Lauren Gill, Homeless Nation and RAOK)
- Burrard & Nelson (Bobbie Phillips and the St Andrew's-Wesley
Homelessness & Mental Health Action Group)
- [Christ Church Cathedral, Georgia & Burrard, will resume next week.]

Some STANDs for Housing will pause over the Easter Break, Friday to
Monday March 21-24, then continue, calling for substantial funding to
be dedicated by federal, provincial, and municipal politicians to
building new, permanent, low- and welfare-rate housing. Using the
surplus billions in the prosperous economies of Canada and BC to
build the full spectrum of housing for all citizens is the primary
mechanism by which homelessness must be defeated.

The public and media are invited to join us at any of the above
locations. The idea of the STAND is based on the moving example of
the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, whose children were "disappeared"
by the military, 1976 to 1983. They stood every week in a city
square wearing white scarves until the generals capitulated. The
scarves became an international "brand" for protests against unjust
and inhumane governments.


Contact: Rider Cooey 604.872-1382
False Creek Organizer
Citywide Housing Coalition

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Night Walkers

It's a Friday night after 10 pm and I'm walking around with dogs, getting exercise on what may be the last dry night for a while. I notice quite a few groups of three or four tall white males in their late teens or early 20s. One group, in Sahalli Park, is standing around the table probably drinking beer and talking about things like girlfriends in polite tones. Another group are running down the sidewalk along Broadway doing mock kicks at things like bus stops and staggering a bit. With their long flailing legs and arms they look like people not to get close to, and the dogs and I stand back until they turn and head into the alley. It's not a full moon, that was last week. Maybe a preview of summer and who our neighbours have grown up to be.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Farewell to a Stunning View

The new construction behind the Vancouver Community College on Broadway (the one for which the new VCC/Clark Skytrain stop was named) is blocking off half of what until recently was, from the terrace, one of the most sweeping and majestic views of the city publicly available. Chalk another one up in the unacknowledged costs column.