Category Archives: Green

Sunday is as Good a Day as any to Save a Few Hundred Thousand Lives

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This is can of Swedish Snus by General, a division of Swedish Match (aka Svenska Tändsticks AB). You put it in your mouth so you can get nicotine without inhaling toxic vapors.

What day is it? Sunday? Seems like as good a day as any to save a few hundred thousand lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking causes over 400,000 deaths each year in the United States.¹  The CDC doesn’t have any statistics on smokeless tobacco deaths because the risks are too small to reliably track.

Yes, there are some reports from the WHO on the risks of smokeless tobacco in general — if you include all of the various kinds used worldwide — ones prepared with corn starch and lime and creepy additives.  But as for Swedish snus, even the WHO has to admit, “two studies from Sweden that were well-designed and controlled for smoking showed no association between smokeless tobacco use overall, specifically ever use of snus, and oral cancer.”

As Ken Warner (director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network) said,

“The Swedish government has studied this stuff to death, and to date, there is no compelling evidence that it has any adverse health consequences. …Whatever they eventually find out, it is dramatically less dangerous than smoking.”²

Basically, what it comes down to is.  If you are smoker, go to your local tobacco shop and get some snus.  Put it in your mouth and stop smoking.  It may save your life.  If every smoker in the U.S. did this it would save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Don’t believe me?  There’s a nice guy named Brad Rodu who runs a blog called Tobacco Truth, and he has a ton of information on his blog.  Brad is a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville.  He holds an endowed chair in tobacco harm reduction research, and is a member of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at U of L.  If you ask him questions on his blog, like I did, he’ll answer them.

Snus cans have government mandated warning labels that are not supported by facts.  How stupid is that?

Snus cans have government mandated warning labels that are not supported by facts. How stupid is that?

Still don’t believe me?  Read this report by the Department of Public Health and General Practice at the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Christchurch, New Zealand.  According to the report, snus does not appear to lead to increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or diabetes.

But you say, “Mitch, why do snus cans have those scary warning labels?”  Answer: Because there’s a law passed by our beloved Congress that says that all tobacco products have to have warning labels.  And, as we know, our Congress is full of people who are not swayed by facts.  Half of them are scientifically illiterate.  There are quite a few who don’t even believe in evolution.

It comes down to this.  If you aren’t addicted to nicotine, don’t start.  Clearly it’s better to avoid putting tobacco into your body altogether if you can.  But if you’re an addict and you can’t quit, choose smokeless products.  The risks are clearly less.

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¹ According to this CDC Fact Sheet.  They have smokeless tobacco fact sheet, but it’s uncontaminated by any hard statistics.

² Courtesy of this Wikipedia article.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

No More Free Rides

Starting today and going forward, the only way you can get one of my books free is to pirate it or go to a library.  But it’s not about greed.  It’s about commitment.

I didn’t charge for my first few books because I wasn’t confident in their quality.  Putting them up for free made it easy for me.  If people didn’t like it, I could say to myself, “Well, at least they didn’t get ripped off.”

The problem is that if a book stinks, the reader is still ripped off even if the book is free.  If a person sees your book cover, becomes intrigued, gets hyped with anticipation, downloads the thing, and invests the reading time, he or she has been ripped off by an inferior product even if it was free.

Putting some of my books up for no charge wasn’t giving the reader a free ride — it was giving myself a free ride.  If I charge for my books it’s a message to myself that says, “Mitchell, you owe the public a superior product, one that’s worth the reader’s investment of time and money.”

I took a step back and realized that my stuff is good — really good — and that I should stand behind it unequivocally.  And from now on I am.

As they used to say back in the ’70s, “Ass, cash, or grass — nobody rides for free.”  Especially me.

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Here are links to my eBooks at Smashwords — but if you prefer other websites, they are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Diesel.

Wisdom of Raven CoverWisdom of the Raven: The Mystic Way of Cabal Fang

By Robert Mitchell, Jr
Series: The Cabal Fang Martial Arts Study Course, Book 2. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 6,560. Language: English. Published: January 16, 2013. Category: Nonfiction
A blend of fact and fable, the practical and the esoteric, ‘Wisdom of the Raven’ instructs the reader in the spiritual underpinnings of Cabal Fang Martial Arts. Learn the basics of the Three Sisters — contemplation, meditation, and prayer — and how they come together to inform the mystic experience.

Cabal Fang MAM CoverThe Cabal Fang Martial Arts Manual

By Robert Mitchell, Jr
Series: The Cabal Fang Martial Arts Study Course, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 22,860. Language: English. Published: January 16, 2013. Category: Nonfiction
A seamless blend of the ancient and the modern, the physical and the internal, Cabal Fang has one foot apiece in the middle ages and the new millennium. Get a glimpse of what is at once a modern self defense method, a strenuous fitness regimen, and a spiritual framework drawing upon the Western esoteric tradition. For all fitness and experience levels — but not the faint of heart.

Ghilan_thumbGhilan

By Robert Mitchell, Jr
Series: The Montenegro Cycle, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 71,680. Language: English. Published: October 3, 2012. Category: Fiction
Ergie is a high-school slacker with too few friends, so when he meets Zack he welcomes the friendship. But he soon discovers that Zack isn’t what he seems, his parents have a hidden past, and everyone he loves is threatened by a race of ancient creatures known as ghilan. Can Ergie find the truth, and if he does, will he have the courage to do what he knows is right?

Chatters_thumbChatters on the Tide

By Robert Mitchell, Jr
Series: The Montenegro Cycle, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 55,780. Language: English. Published: October 3, 2012. Category: Fiction
Harold has lost his job, divorce is on the horizon, a religious cult believes he’s a prophet, and he’s being stalked by an eerie motorcycle club and its mute, wild-haired mascot named Gator. His skeptical wife Bonnie is fighting to free him from the strange world into which he has fallen while Harold struggles with bizarre and unusual revelations. Is he really a prophet with miraculous powers?

Turkey Stew, Quick and Dirty

imageHere’s my turkey stew recipe — fast, easy, four ingredients, and slow carb (I don’t think the 2 grams of carbs per serving you’re getting from the cornstarch are gonna kill ya).

It turned out kinda thick, so maybe it’s hash. What the hell is hash anyway?  I’m too lazy to go to wikipedia.  Screw it, we’ll just call it stew.

Quick and Dirty Turkey Stew

4 cups diced turkey (free range if possible)*
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups green peas (1 can if you’re lazy)
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1 tbsp. corn starch
2 tpsp. water

Cook carrots and peas. Add to turkey in a large saucepan.  Put cornstarch in a small bowl and add cold water by drops, stirring constantly, until you have a non-lumpy slurry.  Put stock in a small saucepan over med/hi heat. Add cornstarch slurry, drop by drop, stirring constantly.  Heat to boiling and keep stirring. When you have gravy, pour it over the meat and veggies in the large saucepan. Stir well, add salt and pepper to taste, and heat on low.  Serves 4.

* You can substitute free range chicken — much easier to get and cheaper too.

A Very Simple, Healthy, and Delicious Stew

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Making stew

When you start looking into low-carb and/or slow-carb diets you find out that it’s the old standby vegetables and starches from the days before mono-cultural, factory farming took over that are the best for your health and waistline.

Time was when people ate turnips instead of potatoes and parsnips instead of carrots.  Both have more fiber and nutrients than their more popular parallels.

Here’s a tasty stew that contains both.

Primitive Stew (Makes 5 servings)

  • 1 pound stewing beef (free range)
  • 1 small bag frozen organic Lima beans
  • 1 cup sliced organic carrots
  • 1 large organic turnip peeled and diced
  • 1 or 2 organic parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1 can of diced organic tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 cups of beef bouillon or stock
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook Lima beans on the stove by the package directions.  Brown the beef in a skillet.  Throw everything in the crock pot.  Add beef stock until the ingredients are not quite covered,  The mix will cook down, the veggies will give off moisture, and by the time the stew is done the liquid level will come up about an inch.  But don’t worry — if you add a little too much broth it won’t be ruined.  It’ll just be soup instead of stew.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

 

 

A Trio of Eerie and Ironic Car Crashes

It all started with the untimely death of Dr. William Coperthwaite, artisan, poet, educator, and author of A Handmade Life, in a single-car accident in Maine.  A modern-day Thoreau, Bill lived an existence infused with simplicity, art and peace.  He had no phone, no computer, and no email.  He steadfastly refused to put a motor on his skiff, paddling it instead with a cedar oar he carved himself.  Yet he was the man who started the yurt revolution,  a living legend in simple living whose name came up at every primitive skills meeting I ever attended.

His death behind the wheel on icy roads is the very definition of cruel irony.  The technology he eschewed resulted in his demise.  Hearing of his death and the manner of it chilled me as fully as if I had been standing by the snowy roadside where he perished.

Then came the story that exploded in the twitter-verse Thanksgiving night when Josh Romney pulled four passengers from a car and tweeted a photo of himself grinning at the scene.  Kudos to Josh for pulling four people from the wreck.  But his expression, pose and tone would have been more appropriate if he had been announcing that he caught a record breaking fish or proclaiming that his sow took first place at the county fair.

In the context of a narrowly averted tragedy however, his demeanor is creepy and surreal. Maybe it’s the untouched red-eye that glares out of those eyes, but my bones were once again plunged into a deep freeze.

And then last night, the third and final car accident: the death of Paul Walker, star of the car-centric Fast and Furious film franchise, in a single-car accident in Santa Clarita.  A father, outdoorsman, surfer, and BJJ Brown Belt, Walker was well-liked by his co-stars (and by my wife and daughter who have watched every one of his adrenaline-jacked films a dozen times).  Last night my daughter heard the news on Twitter and called out “Mom!  Paul Walker died in a car crash!”  and a pall came over the room.  He and friend Roger Rodas were killed after leaving a charity event benefiting the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.  In true Shakespearean fashion, the instrument of his greatest film success was also the instrument of his demise.

Bad things come in threes, and I have errands to run today.  Is there a cruel irony in store for me after I put the truck in gear and pull away from the curb?  Will there be a headline about a father of four, a local writer and martial arts expert, perishing in a pointless wreck?  Unlikely but distinctly possible.  After all, car crashes don’t come in threes, they come in hundreds and thousands.  Car accidents claim over 100 lives every day in the United States.

Yet we all keep getting into them thinking that everything is going to be just fine. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

 

 

 

 

Flying Your Flag in the Dark

Update 7/18/19:  My club still uses the flag but we’re now called Cabal Fang Temple, and we’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational charity.  Visit our website or purchase our 12-week personal growth program at Smashwords, Amazon, B&N, or wherever fine e-books are sold.

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Original post:

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The flag of the Order of Seven Hills martial arts club — flying in the darkness

My martial arts club meets outdoors Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons, rain or shine, twelve months a year.  We’ve had as many as eight people coming out regularly.  One afternoon I remember counting eleven.  Lately it has been more like four.

But there are some nights, like this past Tuesday, when nobody comes out besides me.  Totally alone in the cold darkness with paper cups blowing like tumbleweeds, I don’t turn around and go home.  I put up the club flag.  I work out and, when I’m done, I recite our closing pledge.

I do the same thing with my writing.  Do I have any books on the NYT Bestseller List?  Do I have thousands of fans clamoring for my next book?  Nope — but I strive to make every book I write the best damn book I ever wrote.  Even when nobody is reading but me.

Fly your flag.  Even if its dark, even if nobody is watching, even if nobody knows it’s flying but you.  It just may be that those lonely nights are the most important times of all to let it fly.