Farmer Garrett…Part 1: square foot gardening… 17May09 | 2

…doesn’t really have a great ring, huh…

We expanded our square foot gardening this year to two 4′ x 4′ plots. Added more lettuce, fewer tomatoes, more broccoli and cauliflower, and in general more things that we usually go through a lot of.  Started some plants indoors this year, some cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli and whatnot, which rabbits or deer cleaned out nearly immediately. Well, everything but the cilantro and lettuce. I then applied a bit of blood meal to the top of the bed and the immediate area. When Kelley came home with the bulk of the baby plants from Shaffer’s Greenhouse (I think I saw Jamie at the Tia a week or so ago but it’s been so long I probably couldn’t tell her from her sister anymore), I assembled the new bed, treated the top edges of the boards of both beds with Vick’s VapoRub and applied more blood meal to the new bed and area.  Finally, a bit of pine bark mulch on top to help hold in moisture (actually a problem with how much rain we’ve been getting lately, the basil in paticular doesn’t look happy).   Thought I’d taken a nice photo in the day, couldn’t find it on either camera nor the phone, so here’s a night shot taken a few minutes ago:

Hosted by

BTW I’m using for my temporary image hosting purposes these days, their clean interface has won me over from  Kelley bought Romaine and I mixed that half and half between the two beds, the very thick looking lettuce in the far (old) bed is from a seed pack labled “spicy mix”, some leafy stuff, some reddish stuff…doing very well!

Firefox 3.5… 05May09 | 0

…aka Firefox 3.1.  Since Ubuntu doesn’t include a decent version of Google Chrome (or Chromium as it’s called on the Linux platform), I was forced to use the vastly inferior Firefox.  With the most recent version of Firefox (well, recent beta), Firefox performance on Linux hasn’t been slow-ass-dog compared to Firefox on Windows for a change, and actually feels much closer to Chrome on XP (my gold standard)…even on my ancient Dell Inspiron 6000 and it’s ancient Intel Celeron 1.4Ghz processor.

So, how does one go about adding Firefox 3.5 to their computer?  I haven’t bothered trying it on Windows (why bother when I’ve got Google Chrome) but here is the link:

In Ubuntu, I had a heck of a time finding one website which had all of the steps necessary to do it correctly, in one easy to read sequence, with no bullshit…so here it goes…

I had to add a new repository.  There were builds for intrepid, hardy and jaunty (that I’ve installed myself, probably more).

echo “deb jaunty main” | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list

You also have to authorize this repository.

gpg –keyserver –recv 632D16BB0C713DA6

gpg –export –armor 632D16BB0C713DA6 | sudo apt-key add –

Then to install.

sudo aptitude update

sudo aptitude install firefox-3.5

Shut down your existing instance of Firefox before running the new version, as it will clone your current profile for you, preserving your history, cookies and bookmarks.  When you run the new version, the menu entry is under “Internet”, and called “Shiretoko Web Browswer” if you’re running Gnome.  Marvel in the rendering speed and reduced CPU & memory loads.

Oh, and every operating system ought to have trusted repositories.  Boy would it be nice to run sudo aptitude safe-upgrade on my gaming XP box…

Blood work… 04May09 | 3

…got some done last Monday, getting old and all.  Soon doctors are going to want to start sticking their fingers in my ass, but at that I draw the line.  They’ll have blood work to check for whatever fingers check for in assholes before I really need to worry, right?

Anyway, I had some bloodwork done in the summer of 2007, and comparing it to my bloodwork I just had done last week provides a good contrast between a typical American diet and being borderline vegan.  The summer of 2007, I was eating a lot of delicious bacon cheeseburgers and deep fried foods at the Tia, drinking like a fish and in general not giving a fuck about what I ate.  The past six months or so I’ve been swinging further from the typical American diet and further and further towards being vegan.  I still occasionally have some french fries or mozzarella sticks, and very rarely a small amount of animal flesh (a little incidental in say a vegetable dip, also had a serving of Sole a few weeks ago, thanks David it was delicious!).  At home, no meat, no eggs, no cheese or dairy…nothing but nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.

So…onto to the tests, results and commentary!

Lipid Panel

2007: Triglycerides 112, Cholesterol 199, HDL 43, CHOL/HDL 4.6, LDL 134, HDL/LDL .32

2009: Triglycerides 130, Cholesterol 162, HDL 44, CHOL/HDL 3.7, LDL 92, HDL/LDL .47

My triglycerides are higher than ideal because I take in too many calories (including drinking alcohol heh), my cholesterol dropped down to an ideal level, my HDL is still too low but my total cholesterol to HDL ratio is now near optimal (under 3.3 being ideal), and my HDL/LDL ratio is optimal (being well above .4).

Blood Pressure

2007: 140/90

2009: 118/74

My blood pressure is finally no longer borderline hypertensive.  It is actually, for the first time ever, actually lower than Kelley’s!  Previously, I’ve monitored my blood pressure regularly every month or two, first at Weis and later at home with a small electric blood pressure reader.  It has always been +135/85, usually closer to 140/90, for the past decade or so.

Glucose / Metab Panel

2007: Glucose 104, Metab Panel Normal, No B12 data

2009: Glucose 91, Metab Panel Normal, B12 479

My glucose used to be just a hair high above 100, now is considered ideal between 70 and 100.  My B12 levels are at 479 (243 to 894 being normal range).  This was what I was most concerned about, as a vegan diet significantly restricts your B12 intake.  I take a number of supplements, but usually fairly irregularly, and none at all for the week leading up to the blood work.


2007: no data

2009: RBC 4.49, Lymphocytes 43%, Other Values Normal

My Red Blood Cell count was just a hair low (4.49 instead of 4.5 minimum) perhaps because I gave blood the week before the test.   I’ve read it takes about two months to fully recover.  My RBC size was right in the middle of the normal range, meaning they aren’t over-sized from B12 deficiency, or shrunken from iron deficiency: no anemia.  My Lymphocytes were a hair high (43% instead of 42%), whereas the rest of my White Blood Cell counts and ratios were normal.  Lymphocytes attack tumors and viruses, so hopefully I don’t have cancer or AIDS…

So, I started eating different around summer of last year, so I’ve been slowly leaning towards being vegetarian and then vegan over the past nine months or so.  In that time, in nearly every category I’ve improved my health.  In nearly every aspect, with a minimum of effort, I have signifigantly improved my health, and reduced my risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.  Dropped my cholesterol by 40 points and my blood pressure by 20 points with no medication, just eating better!

The only thing I haven’t successfully improved is my weight (still around 205) nor my triglycerides.  I have to eat fewer calories to knock those numbers down.