The Curious About Everything Newsletter #17
Best of the month about food, health, the natural world, and more. Like chickens.
Welcome back to Curious About Everything. Last month’s newsletter was a return to the normal format of the best items I read recently, after a happy deviation for your FAQs.
🏙️ Ottawa apt: due to my “overachieving immune system”, my move to Ottawa was delayed. I am, however, officially a resident of the 613 area code now. A picture, and some thoughts on finding joy when life is rough, here.
🦠 Post-Covid allergies/immune issues: Speaking of my immune system, I recently updated my mast cell activation syndrome page to include studies and articles addressing post-covid / long covid immune activation. Similar to what happened with me a few years prior, many readers are finding themselves with new environmental and other allergies, as well as systemic reactions they never had before. I hope sharing my own protocol, and what’s worked (and not worked) for me helps others in the same boat.
🏙️ Montreal city guide: I’ve updated my Montreal city guide for anyone wanting to visit this summer. It’s got a lot of restaurants for non-celiacs, but a robust section for those like me who are gluten free, including a long list of 100% gluten free bakeries.
🫀 Health / cardiology: waiting on a result for a holter monitor I got, to see if it provides some hints as to why my heart seems to have a mind of its own these days. I’ve gotten a lot of messages asking about it after my “robot Jodi” Instagram stories (with the holter), but no updates pending just yet!
The Best Things I Read This Month
A smorgasbord of many things.
🍲 Links about food 🍲
Some of these are from prior months, and I’m including them now as I haven’t had a ‘food’ subsection for some time.
How OXO Conquered the American Kitchen. The company that “diced, peeled, and salad-spun” its way into North America’s heart. So is it that good? I am a true OXO fan, and say yes. They consistently iterate on their products to improve them, and also have a line of kitchen accessories aimed specifically for those of us who are disabled. Slate
A new origin story for… chickens? Modern chickens originated around 3,500 years ago in Southeast Asia, later than scientists thought, spurred by rice cultivation. It led to the “transformation of wild fowl into a global menu item.” The earliest known chicken remains come from Ban Non Wat, a dry rice–farming site in central Thailand that roughly dates to 1650-1250BC Article here. Science News
Love gummy bears? This piece about their 100th anniversary, and the story of their creation, is up your alley. TIL that Haribo is an abbreviation of their German inventor, Hans Riegel Sr., and his hometown of Bonn. It stands for Hans Riegel Bonn. Smithsonian Mag
What happened to the majestic “Montreal Melon”? As a Montrealer, I rarely see them mentioned and was happy to find an article about them. They went missing, but “a medley of efforts, and one abbey’s monks, may bring back the forgotten fruit.” Atlas Obscura
Why are American chips so boring? If you’ve traveled abroad, you’ll see fantastic flavours like spicy basil chicken (Thailand) and poutine (here in Canada), and more. Yes, international flavours are more fun, but as this article explains, to do this Stateside would require "the snack industry to “have to change the way it does everything.” Eater
“The grapefruit is a troubled love child.” An ode to the grapefruit. Astra Magazine
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🌱 Links about the natural world 🌱
2022 Audubon Photography Awards: their top 100 images from the competition. Just stunning, and a lovely balm for the rest of what’s going on in the world. Number 16 makes me giggle.
The world’s biggest bacterium that was found in Caribbean mangrove swamp, visible to the naked eye and 1cm long. (Le yikes). Study here. It’s called Candidatus Thiomargarita magnifica. Associated Press
The pervasive problem and far reaching impact of tree poaching. Lit Hub
So, it turns out that mammals can absorb oxygen through their intestines. This quote was not on my newsletter bingo card this month: “New study suggests anal ventilation might one day help treat respiratory failure”. Most mammals breathe through their mouths and noses, like we’re used to doing, and send oxygen around the body via their lungs. Some sea creatures (like sea cucumbers and catfish) do breath through their intestines. But no one knew if oxygen could enter the bloodstream via mammalian intestines. And it turns out? It can. Science.org
This newsletter is chicken heavy, for which I am not even remotely sorry. Next up: photos of chickens, taken by chickens. A project created by Jacob Bijani and Noah Kalina consists of a Canon 7D, a speed flash, a Raspberry Pi, and an ultrasonic motion trigger. Whenever a chicken wanders in front of the motion sensor, the Pi snaps a photo on the camera, triggering the speed flash and then the Pi downloads the photo from the camera’s SD card, then uploads it to their website. My favourite one below. Chicken.photos
How feral peacocks divided a British Columbia town. Peafowl dominated the discourse for quite some time. The Walrus
⚕️ Links about Health ⚕️
How parents’ trauma leaves biological traces in children via epigenetic pathways in the body, passed down from generation to generation. Scientific American
In a first, a patient in New Zealand has undergone gene-editing to lower their cholesterol. MIT Technology Review
Post-covid, heart issues abound. JHU Health
Variants are coming fast and furious, due to to the complete disregard for prevention (by this I mean ventilation and mass masking based on transmission levels, not shutting everything down), some being overtaken before they’ve reached dominance. Here’s a state of Covid July 7th update from Your Local Epidemiologist, summarizing the data we have so far about BA.4/5, and the newer BA.2.75, which is taking hold in India, as well as her post about reinfections and how they percentage of cases that are reinfections are rising. YLE
Erin Topol updates on BA.5, including that “the virus doesn’t just get milder and fade away”, and that it may take longer to test negative/get over the virus (reader are reporting 9-12 days on average). Ground Truths
We’ve learned that the damage from infection stacks, too, and per the Independent, “the more times you get it, the more likely you are to be unlucky and end up with long covid.”
I read everything Ed Yong writes about the pandemic (and otherwise!), as he finds nuance when others do not. His newest asks, “Is BA.5 the reinfection wave?, and it reminds us that “[d]eath isn’t the only outcome that matters, either. Even without sending people to the hospital, infections can lead to the persistent and in many cases disabling symptoms of long COVID—a risk that vaccines seem to lower but not fully avert.”
“The only moral abortion is my abortion” - “What does an anti-choice woman do when she experiences an unwanted pregnancy herself? Often, she will grin and bear it, so to speak, but frequently, she opts for the solution she would deny to other women — abortion.” (From 2020, relevant still)
We’re not going back to the time before Roe. We’re going somewhere worse, writes Jia Tolentino in a powerful piece published after the decision was handed down. New Yorker
From her Instagram:
For me, no alternative but to keep fighting with the people in reproductive justice who have been working in anticipation of this moment for a decade or more; to refuse paralysis and commit to never getting used to minority rule; to understand this as another damning reminder of what happens when the rights and lives of poor and marginalized people are not understood as the bedrock of justice and fundamental to our own.
Researchers believe they have discovered the origins of the Black Death. Despite years of research, scientists had been unable to pinpoint where the bubonic plague began, but believe they’ve now done so: Kyrgyzstan, in the 1330s. BBC News
🖥️ Links about technology 🖥️
My friend Shannon introduced me to David Allen’s Getting Things Done method, and I ended up using it with Trello, the tool I used to organize my tasks and to do lists for my business. The method has its superfans and detractors like any other, but I’ve found it to be one of the most helpful ways to organize my professional (and general!) life. This illustrated primer on the GTD method is probably the best I’ve seen for those who want to give it a shot. Erlend Hamberg’s Blog
Leaked audios show TikTok employees are able to access personal data about the app’s users, including in the US. Follow up here, noting that the FCC has asked for the app to be removed from app stores. BuzzFeed News
Rest in Peace, Internet Explorer. You had a good 27-year run. The Verge
What's the deal with all those weird wrong-number texts? Digging into the world of "pig-butchering" scams, involving very detailed, personal intro tests that go from there. Read Max
🔗 Quick links 🔗
“At its core, happiness is accepting reality and appreciating the miracle of the moment without getting lost in craving for more.” Agree completely. Chasing happiness is an endlessly fruitless pursuit. Yung Pueblo
The ways we say “haha” online, in languages around the world. WHERE IS 555? This is my fave, from Thailand, since the number 5 is pronounced “ha” in Thai. Big Think
Stunning photography of animals by Brad Wilson. Brad Wilson
The strange business of insuring golf’s hole in ones. The Husle
What are the most common dreams we have? It depends on where you live. Daily Infographic
My friend Andi wrote a novel called The Five-Part Invention, a “a sweeping yet intimate story that follows several generations of exceptional women coping with trauma and persevering despite the odds stacked against them”, which has received rave reviews and is currently on sale on Amazon.
My friend Nick wrote a book about how to plan a 2-hour cocktail party, which sounds easy enough but his methods are failsafe and so much fun. Nick was on the repositioning cruise I took from Vancouver to Tokyo, and a good part of why we had such a great time.
6 Things To Know About Stock Market Crashes and Downturns. Morning Star (Via George from TravelBloggerBuzz, who also traffics heavily in finance. )
First, bear markets are normal and they come around often! At this point, we don’t know how severe this current market decline will be, how long it will last, or how long it will take to recover. If you want to take some risky wild bets please take only up to 5% of your portfolio and go at it. For the rest of your nest egg please have a sensible investing plan, diversification is paramount, keep costs as low as possible, rebalance in a set interval (I prefer every six months, maybe you do annually or even quarterly, the key is to DO it!) and make smart tax moves. And…focus on what you do best!
Bands like L7 and Heavens to Betsy were instrumental to the birth of the grunge scene, but for decades were treated like novelties and sex objects. Thirty years later, it’s time to reassess their legacy. Longreads
🎧 Podcast of the month 🎧
Some of the most successful people in life find their callings in their forties or later. Why? Because they’d given themselves permission to fail. Many many times over at many many things.
In the end, “hustle culture” has turned “FOMO” into a disorder, and it leaves us feeling more purposeless, more powerless, less joyful.
The Korean Vegan, on Episode 9 of her podcast, discussing how she went from a lawyer to a James Beard Award-Winning cookbook author. I’ve written her to see if she’d be willing to join a Thrillable Hours interview. I truly always enjoy her takes on life. (Full transcript at the link for those, like me, who prefer reading to audio)
That’s it for CAE 17! Hope you have as good a July as you can, given all that’s going on in the world right now.