Author Archives: Bix

Wood Thrush This Morning

What Is This?

Navy pilots are picking things up on their radar. No one is saying, or can say, what they are.

“These things would be out there all day,” Lt. Ryan Graves said. “Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”

‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects, New York Times, 26 May 2019

Here’s some of the video that was in the article.

A video shows an encounter between a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and an unknown object. It was released by the Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Source: U.S. Department of Defense, published December 16, 2017.

Is it something we built, or another country built, or some private group built? Why isn’t whoever is flying it telling the Navy, the Air Force, commercial airlines, it’s out there? At the very least to avoid “near collisions”?

I don’t understand how it stays airborne without wings, with no obvious form of propulsion, no jet engine, no exhaust plume. It emits no sound. If it can stay airborne for 12 hours without refueling, why isn’t this technology being adapted to other aircraft? And why aren’t there better photographs of it? This reminds me of all the blurry photographs of Big Foot. Unless you have some artifacts, in the case of Big Foot, some feces or a corpse, something you can touch and analyze, then the notion that it exists is questionable. So, maybe it’s some kind of weather event or other natural phenomena. What thinking person would not be curious about this?

Mediterranean Diet Post 13: World Health Organization Says “The Mediterranean Diet Is Gone”

This is a nice photograph but it no longer represents a way of eating for most people. The photo accompanied the Washington Post article below, with the caption: “A woman buys produce at a market in Barcelona. Fruit and vegetables have traditionally been a large part of the diet in Mediterranean countries.” The word “traditionally” is key there.

‘The Mediterranean Diet Is Gone’: Region’s Children Are Fattest In Europe

For kids in Greece, Spain and Italy, the Mediterranean diet is dead, according to the World Health Organisation.

In Cyprus, a phenomenal 43% of boys and girls aged nine are either overweight or obese. Greece, Spain and Italy also have rates of over 40%. The Mediterranean countries which gave their name to the famous diet that is supposed to be the healthiest in the world have children with Europe’s biggest weight problem.

The data comes from the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative of the WHO’s European region, which has been running since 2008 and now involves more than 40 countries that submit weight and height data for their children. The latest figures come from data collected between 2015 and 2017. “It is very high quality data.”

Mediterranean Children Stopped Eating The Mediterranean Diet, And They Now Have The Highest Obesity Rates In Europe

Surveys of adults in Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus, have found that younger generations tend to eat more meat and dairy and less fresh produce than older people.

“The Mediterranean diet is based on fresh, seasonal and local food,” [João Breda, program manager for nutrition, physical activity and obesity at the WHO Regional Office for Europe] told The Washington Post by email. “[Children today] eat much less fruit and vegetables, pulses and fiber-rich complex carbohydrates than their parents and grandparents.”

In some ways, this is not surprising. Most experts agree the traditional Mediterranean diet is not coming back. That diet was originally documented in the post-World War II era, when most families could not afford soda, red meat or dairy products.

Here’s my question. If people who live at ground zero for the Mediterranean Diet won’t eat food that is growing outside their window, what are the hopes that the rest of the world will eat it?

“The Mediterranean diet is based on fresh, seasonal and local food.” Where is the fresh, local food in Maine in January? Where are the olive trees in Alaska or New Hampshire? How fresh and local are are mushrooms or garlic or peas imported from China? Or Mexico? or even California? I’m not talking about the odd cabbage or tomato. I’m talking about enough fresh, local food to feed everyone everywhere. This doesn’t even take into account affordability. Fresh, local fruits and vegetables have become food for the wealthy.

I agree that the Mediterranean diet, the one that existed in the Mediterranean region prior to the turn of the last century (before 1900), was healthful. But we live in a different place, a different time. That older diet served a people who had fewer resources than we do today. It is ill-suited to our fast-paced, urban, technology-driven lifestyle. The newer Mediterranean diet? It is, as I’ve shown, a marketing gimmick promoted by industry.

People are not going to return to cooking beans from scratch, or taking several days to make a loaf of bread, or eating locally-caught, non-polluted fish (there aren’t any). People aren’t going to take a few hours to make a big pot of soup (from fresh, local ingredients, no less) when they get home from work, especially if their work was physically demanding (trash collectors, landscapers, construction workers) or involved travel (truck drivers, flight attendants). We need to provide processed and packaged food that’s healthful … canned and jarred soups, beans, fruits, sauces; frozen fruits, vegetables, and entrees; pre-made breads that are truly whole grain. We need to provide these foods without all the sugar, fat, salt, and additives that they currently contain.

If I hear someone promoting the Mediterranean Diet now I think they either don’t know what they are talking about, they’re just regurgitating something they heard, or they have a stake in the sale of a food product. The Mediterranean Diet is from a bygone era. We should let it go.

Heritage Loaf In A Loaf Pan

I’ve been making my Heritage Loaf free-form in a dutch oven but recently switched to a loaf pan. I like the bigger slices and the easier clean-up so I’ll be making it this way for a while. I didn’t like Heritage Loaf at first but it has grown on me. I always have some slices in the freezer now.

As you can see, very easy to remove from the pan and hardly any clean-up:

These slices toast up beautifully. A little jam or plain, it’s all good:

Here’s the recipe. It’s an old-fashioned, maslin-style crumbly loaf – a mixture of whole grain wheat and spelt flours, whole grain rye flour, and whole grain corn meal. The recipe is the same as the one I use for a free-standing loaf except there’s no preheating a dutch oven.


2 cups whole wheat flour (some spelt)
1/2 cup whole rye flour
1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sourdough starter (optional)


Combine flours, cornmeal, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir maple syrup and starter into water, add to flour mixture, stir until blended. Dough should be sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rest about 4 hours at room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Nudge dough onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands and a pastry scraper, knead gently until it forms a ball. This will happen very quickly, about a minute. Form ball into a slightly oblong loaf. Lift dough with pastry scraper and place into parchment-lined loaf pan. Drape with plastic wrap, let rest about 1 hour (less on a hot day, say, over 75 degrees).

Before the hour is up, preheat oven to 360 degrees F. After the 1-hour rest, bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Remove from oven and let sit in pan for 15 minutes, then remove by holding corners of parchment. Cool for several hours on a wire rack, slice and freeze.

Representative Katie Porter Describes The Difficulty Of Living On $16.50/Hour

Regarding food … $402/month is about $100/week.

That’s similar to what I figured a few years ago:

Americans earning a median income spend about $5,646/year, or $470/month, or $118/week on food. If there are 21 meals in a week, that’s about $5.62 per meal for the household.

I think my number ($118/week) is high because I considered pure income, not disposable income. I think Porter’s number is high ($100/week) but she indicated it came from the USDA so I’ll trust it. There are a lot of variables in these numbers, but I’m getting the sense that American families today spend less than $150/week on food.

Katie Porter is a law professor and attorney. She wrote the textbook Modern Consumer Law. She studied under Senator Elizabeth Warren while at Harvard. She currently represents California’s 45th congressional district in the House. I think she’s someone to watch.

David Attenborough Really Has A Way With Birds

Bird of Paradise.

I would love to experience birds like this up close. One time I had a blue jay eat from my hand, but that’s not common. This year there is a male cat bird that puffs up and struts on the deck. He swings his head from side-to-side while holding a large petal. It’s something else. His mate sits above him and watches.