Finished After Dark [4/28/2009]

The narrative style of After Dark is a very weird, it reads more like a play than a novel and it kind of bothered me. As usual for Murakami the characters are little off and sort of social outcasts. However, these characters were also a lot more lovable and easier to start caring about.

I like the fact that this book didn't have the foreshadowing that seemed to heavy in both Kafka on the Shore and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. But, it was also a lot shorter, and I would have liked it to go on for longer.

I would have liked to learn more about Kaoru and her past. I loved the scene between her and the pimp. I would like to know what continued to happen later between them. Overall, it was quite enjoyable and I'm now fully hooked on Murakami and plan to read all the rest of his books.

Here is a great review of After Dark:

Finished The Omnivore's Dilemma [4/23/2009]

I am unabashedly a complete novel junky. I regularly devour science fiction, fantasy, mystery/thriller, modern and classic fiction. I'd be lost forever in another world if I didn't occasionally try to sprinkle in some non-fiction to bring me back to reality. While I choose topics that are of great interest to me, I usually still struggle to finish. For example, I plowed through War and Peace in less than a week, but, it was many months before I was done with Collapse (despite being much more intrigued by anthropology than Napoleonic history). I had quite a bit of trouble getting through Pollan's The Botany of Desire. So, I was worried about The Omnivore's Dilemma. It turned out to be THE notable exception. Pollan's writing has improved significantly. He sucked me full force and kept me reading. The book was jam packed with non stop facts but, it was still easy to read quickly.

The breadth of what Pollan covered in The Omnivore's Dilemma really amazed and impressed me. I didn't expect a natural history to delve into such detailed analysis. I learned more than I ever would have imagined about modern agriculture in the U.S. and the food industry. I think everyone should read this book. I even felt the urge to write to the president and plead him to read it (I haven't yet).

A bit of warning though, at times I was overcome by hopelessness and anger that nothing can be changed. I'd compare this strange combination of awe and anger with how I felt watching An Inconvenient Truth, Fahrenheit 911, and Sicko. Yes, it is somewhat sensationalistic, but, it is also good investigative reporting and well researched.

If you want to eat healthy, and also be aware of the sociopolitical and environmental impacts of what you eat, I recommend you read this book. Pollan fully imparts the importance of sustainability to our future. If you don't already have a backyard garden, you will want your own, or, at the very least, you'll be looking into CSAs and farmer's markets.

Oran's Butternut Squash Yumminess [4/20/2009]

1 very large butternut squash cubed (or 2 small)
1 medium onion chopped
2 cups chardonnay
1/3 cup cream
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon white pepper
4 cloves garlic diced
4-6 sage leaves chopped
3 tablespoons butter

Add squash, onion and butter to pot and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the wine, chicken bouillon, pepper, sage, and garlic. Simmer until the squash is very soft. Stir in cream and serve.

Porter Sampling No. 4 [4/09/2009]

BreweryNameLocationShort DescriptionRating
Moab BreweryBlack Raven Oatmeal StoutMoab, UTNice Microbrew92
Sonoran Brewing CoOatmeal StoutPhoenix, AZYummy92
North Coast Brewing Co.Old Rasputin Russian Imperial StoutFort Bragg, CAHoppy, Rich86
Breckenridge BreweryDark Oatmeal StoutDenver, CODecent86
AldarisAldaris PorterisRīga, LatviaVery Nice94
Coopers BreweryBest Extra StoutAustraliaToasted/Roasted but Not Burned, Malty, Yummy94
Coopers BreweryDark AleAustraliaMild, Decent, Not a Porter Though89
Brouwerij HuygheDelirium NocturnumMelle/Ghent, BelgiumBitter, Strange, Not a Porter (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)85
Rogue AlesMocha PorterNewport, ORThick, Rich94
New Belgium Brewing1554 Enlightened Black AleFort Collins, CODelicious94

See Also:
Porter Sampling No. 7
Porter Sampling No. 6
Porter Sampling No. 5
Porter Sampling No. 3
Porter Sampling No. 2
Porter Sampling No. 1

On Notice: Walgreens [4/03/2009]

About a year ago, without warning Walgreens switched my birth control prescription from Barr's Apri to Watson's Reclipsen. The active chemicals (desogestrel and ethinyl estradiol) are supposedly the same and supposedly in the same amounts (0.15 mg and 0.03 mg).

So, despite freaking out I decided to try them anyway. I experienced a number of unpleasant differences. I won't go into all the details, but, it wasn't nice, and definitely was not the norm for me. I thought, maybe my body just needs some time to adjust, it is the same after all, right? So, I stuck with the new pills for 2 more refills a total of almost 3 months. I did not get any better, and my body did not adjust.

The pills were obviously different in some way. I wish I had a way to test them myself and find out what the difference is. Maybe it was one of the inactive chemicals, that actually has an effect? Maybe it was something about the manufacturing machines or process? Maybe Watson does not do as much quality assurance testing? I suppose it's even possible that just my mind knowing it's a different product could have caused a placebo like effect that made my body respond differently.

Luckily CVS carries Barr's Apri. I was able to easily switch my prescription from Walgreens to CVS and all went back to normal. Thank you CVS! Thank you Barr! And Walgreens, you are officially on notice. To think one drug is replaceable for another will end up costing you customers when they spot the difference.

I'm not the only one who has had medication switched by the pharmacy. Sometimes the consequences are much worse than my discomfort. I recently read this article in Prevention magazine that goes into much more detail about the problems these switches have caused:

Finished Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages [4/01/2009]

Anne Mendelson explores the history of milk starting with the prehistoric origins of goat and sheep domestication and ending with modern large scale dairies. I found her writing entertaining and wished the history section was longer. I was glad that she didn't just gloss over the science, but really delved into the particulars. The book also contains a number of recipes for milk products and dishes from around the world.