April 28th, 2011

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Poem: "Hope of the Future"

There is a blog carnival running, A Carnival of Aces, on the theme of asexuality.  The current topic is "coming out."  I read about this over in asexuality.  So I thought it would be interesting to revisit one of my asexual characters, Hope, whom you may remember from "The Underground Gardens."  (You can read more about this series on my "Serial Poetry" page; I've added an entry for it.)


Hope of the Future


Hope was a calm and patient boy
In whom the gods took such great joy
They lent him their magic to employ.

While other boys were chasing girls,
Hope prayed his magic into swirls
And turned the falling rain into pearls.

A few boys chased the other boys,
But Hope cared nothing for such noise --
He was too busy practicing poise.

There lay a silence deep within
Where others' lust made storm and din,
And Hope was pleased with what lay therein.

Not for him, the courting and strife;
Not for him, a husband or wife;
Only the road, and a cleric's life.

Hope told his Da, who raised a shout;
Then his sister, who frowned in doubt;
But it was his Ma who threw him out.

Hope set out on the journey-road,
Prodded by gods and magic's goad,
Until he came to the town of Spode.

There he met with an elven bard
Fallen on times both dark and hard,
Sitting alone in a silent yard.

Elan confessed to Hope the cause
And how he'd crossed his people's laws:
Not elves, but dwarves, hooked his heart in claws.

Hope just shrugged, and said, "That is fine --
I don't care where hearts draw the line --
If you don't mind that no one hooks mine."

Elan smiled and tipped his head.
"Let us be friends," the young elf said,
So it was as friends they shared Hope's bed.

Elan could hunt as well as play;
Hope was happy to take such pay.
They stocked their packs, and went on their way.

They found a fighter, going west --
Druga the dwarf, hair in a crest --
And invited her to share their rest.

Camp they made by a creek so clear
It yielded fish with nary peer
And they ate their supper with good cheer.

They spoke of roads, and why they'd roam;
Druga had left her dwarven home
For loving elves, she said with aplomb:

"It's not a thing for laying blame;
I'm gruff and strong and fierce as flame.
I don't need a love who's just the same."

"I'm different than that, as you can see,"
Said Elan, leaning on his tree.
Hope just chuckled, and said, "Don't mind me."

Elan and Druga spent the night
In Druga's bedroll, bundled tight.
Hope slept alone, and that was all right.

Two became three, and on they went,
Pooling their funds to buy one tent,
Forming a family without dissent.

Heroes they were, young and untried,
Confident that fate would provide.
They had each other.  They'd find their stride.

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Healthy Eating

I came across this article about healthy eating being labeled as an eating disorder

Now, my benchmark for whether a behavior is sane or insane is practical: 1) Does it cause a serious problem with everyday life?  If not, it's sane.  2) If it causes a serious problem, is that problem greater or lesser than the problem quotient of life without said behavior?  If greater, it's insane.  If lesser -- and no other solution produces better results -- then it's sane.  Sometimes the best you do is damage control and the results are never going to be actually "good" just "less worse."

With food, the basic goal is body maintenance.  You need to eat enough, and the food needs to be safe and nourishing enough, to support the maximum level of health your body can attain.  So if you're avoiding foods because they would make you sick, that's preferable to eating them, even if it throttles your diet down to nearly nothing.  (This is, sadly, far more common than it used to be, as food allergies are skyrocketing.)  If you're avoiding foods for philosophical rather than physical reasons, and you cut your diet down so far that it undermines your health, that's bad and you should change it.

A key problem today is the food supply is so trashed that it's easy to wipe out most of a supermarket with just one or two allergies.  Seriously.  We have a friend who's allergic to high-fructose corn syrup, and we're trying to minimize our consumption of it too.  There goes about 95% of foods on the shelf, including some whole product categories.  What's left are single-ingredient things like raw vegetables, raw meat if it's actually packaged pure, and staples like flour or milk.  You have to read EVERY item on EVERY label because it's put in places it doesn't belong, like vanilla extract (which should have 2 ingredients: vanilla and alcohol).  Gluten is another allergen that's in a huge number of foods.  If you're sensitive to artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, etc. there goes almost everything except raw ingredients.  If you're averse to genetically engineered foods or think you might have an allergy to them, you're down to buying organic and praying that there wasn't any contamination.  And for any of those things, forget eating at a restaurant: it's a gamble, people are not careful, and if you do it then you will get sick sooner or later.  Ditto eating at a friend's house unless said friend can be relied upon to be meticulous about your health needs (unlikely unless they have their own dietary issues and realize the importance).  The lucky people just throw up or itch if they consume allergens; the unlucky wind up in the emergency room or dead.

So by the time you've thrown out the 95% or more of the food products that you can't eat, that's expensive and it looks crazy.  It's better than being sick all the time, but dealing with other people bitching about your "eating problem" just makes things a thousand times worse.  I have near-zero tolerance for that kind of harassment, not just of myself, but other people around me. 

Here's the bottom line: if a person's dietary choices make their health as good as it can be, that's fine, no matter how weird it looks.  If their choices make their health worse, that's a problem and should be addressed.  But unless you are their immediate family or health care provider, chances are you won't know which just from watching, and it's none of your business anyhow.