Yael’s Variety Hour: Changing the World (With Video)

Welcome back to the variety hour, where I share my favorite article links (or, in this case, videos) once a week.

How to Tell People They Sound Racist

Hint: focus on what they said, not what they are. This video really captures the best way to address racist language without getting into a pissing contest with the person you wish to confront, or giving them an easy out. Very salient points.

Sunitha Krishnan fights sex slavery

It amazes me both how prevalent the human trafficking industry is, how gruesome and truly disgusting it is, and the work heroes like Sunitha Krishnan are doing to help survivors. Very powerful, but not for the faint of heart as it features disturbing stories and graphic images.

And, on a much lighter note…

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language

Good editors are awesome. They use a light touch, helping perfect your writing by catching typos or suggesting minor changes (as opposed to putting their paws all over your work which is fine the way it is) and are both experienced and savvy. This video helps explain the delicate balance between respect for language and love of grammar.

Space Balloon

A very cool science experiment involving video from a camera attached to a weather balloon that rises into the upper stratosphere recording the blackness of space. This is pretty awesome

Shameless self-promotion:
This week’s posts are all MMA-related. I wrote about new heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and, just in time for Halloween, a piece on the most harrowing experiences between MMA fighters and journalists that I could find (with lots of video.)

‘Til next week! Ta ta!

Paleo Experiment: Days 1-7

As mentioned last week, I decided to embark on a 100% Paleo experiment for 30 days, and document the pros and cons and anything I learn along the way.

First, the answers to the five questions I originally posited.

1. Is it affordable?

My boyfriend and I spent $247.00 for the week. We had olive oil and some other foods we needed in our pantry, but not a lot. $123.50/person is ~500 bucks a month each, which is a bit more than we would like to spend.

We did buy almost all organic produce, much of which was purchased at a food co-op. We also bought all grassfed beef and free range chicken, which made things more expensive.

Ways we want to save money for week 2 include buying some food at Trader Joe’s, using some leftover grassfed beef we purchased in bulk from a local rancher, and being selective about which organic produce we purchase and which we can get away with conventional produce. (I actually wrote an article about this for the Performance Menu which you can read for about $3 if you’re not a subscriber.) We could also stick completely to seasonally grown produce, get a CSA membership or garden.

We could, of course, save money by eating grain-fed beef, but I feel pretty strongly about only consuming animals which are allowed to freely roam and are treated humanely.

2. Will it make me crazy?

My mood has been pretty decent for the past week. Ups and downs as always, but I do feel a bit more even-keeled. So no, avoiding grains and legumes has not made me crazy yet.

I was a bit hungry at first, but simply increasing portion size seems to have taken care of that.

I’ve also been sleeping fairly well most nights (though haven’t gotten to bed as early as I maybe should on most days).

Lastly, my digestion is pretty great on this diet.

3. Any cravings?

I am not going to lie. I always want sugar. This week I was specifically tempted with creme brulee, and I saw some amazingly sugary drinks at various cafes which had all sorts of whipped cream toppings. I know you’re not supposed to covet, but I did indeed, and my green tea and dark decaf coffee did not improve things. We did eat one dark chocolate bar each, which wasn’t all that helpful. I also had some sugar-free gum, which was okay. So I did crave sugar, but not grains, which I can live with.

4. Will it support my workouts and sport?

I’ve been primarily working on strength endurance and metabolic conditioning, and I’m happy to report that my work output is steadily improving. My recovery is also quite decent. I don’t know how I’d feel if I was still lifting very heavy things, but it is the type of work I’m doing now that I thought I’d need the most carbs for, and it looks like carbs in the form of vegetables and sometimes fruit are working just fine.

5. Am I going to lose weight?

My boyfriend and I both lost about 2.5 lbs. of fat, mostly around our bellies, in just one week. I’m in fairly decent shape already and he is in amazing shape. Needless to say, this was a pleasant surprise. I would’ve been happy with anywhere from 1/2 lb. to 1 lb. Not sure if this will continue, but of course I will keep you posted.

Other lessons learned:

Variety, baby

We were very impressed with the amazing variety of foods we were exposed to. Who knew that raw cabbage with tuna and toasted sesame oil = yum? Or that leftover rotisserie chicken is so good with salsa and avocado for breakfast? The diet made me remember that Paleo isn’t just eggs, chicken and salad greens but also salmon, tuna, pork, ham, bratwurst, lamb, shrimp, zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, asparagus, spinach, purple cabbage, berries and broccoli slaw.


Scotty’s recipes have very liberal doses of oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric, as opposed to the teeny tiny amounts I’d been using (and never really tasted) in my meals. Balsamic vinegar, unsweetened marinara sauce, Dijon mustard and various nuts were used in ways I hadn’t imagined. They all seemed pretty strange on paper, but when we actually tried them they were absolutely delish.


A week on the Paleo diet has offered great digestion, slightly improved athletic performance/recovery and slightly improved body composition. The recipes offered variety and the yum factor mostly made up for the foods we’re missing (namely sugar, for me.) The price of groceries wasn’t crazy but is a bit more than I’d like to spend, so I’m looking into adjustments.

Back next week with the second update.

Audio Interview #1: Pace and Kyeli!

I decided to start offering interviews every two weeks to highlight some of my favorite people around the interwebs and the great work they are doing.

This week, I spoke with Pace and Kyeli of Connection Revolution, formerly Freak Revolution. I was intrigued by the transformation, so decided to pick their brains a bit. Enjoy the 15 minute interview, where we discuss connection, finding common ground with our opposites and changing the world.

Special thanks to Brett Bakshis for the music, and Kelli Wise for editing.

My apologies for the echo and sound quality.


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Next episode, I’ll be speaking with Susan Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy and Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing (and freeing your creative process). Swing back by in two weeks, or sign up for the newsletter and don’t miss a thing!

Yael’s Variety Hour

Welcome back to the variety hour! Here’s my favorite links for the week, now with music!

Gem of the Week

This You. Beautiful post (and audio) on how powerful we can be when we stop hiding.

For laughs

Local Idiot To Post Comment On Internet and I’m Afraid We Will Never Win In Afghanistan Unless Central Command Gets A Pinball Machine are two great pieces from the Onion, one old and one new.

Hyperbole and a Half: Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Ebola. Probably is a hysterical piece about those dumb pain charts in hospitals nationwide.

Ever get tired of unsolicted advice?

Me too. Here are three songs about that… in very different genres.

Sara Bareilles – King Of Anything

Screeching Weasel – My Right

Ani DiFranco – Not a Pretty Girl (cover)

Shameless self-promotion

I have quite a few pieces up on the internet this week, so here’s just a few of them.

I wrote an article for Straight to the Bar on how to get your gym on the map–literally.

I was lucky enough to get to interview teen hearthrob MMA fighter Urijah Faber for MMA HQ.

And finally, I wrote a piece for MMA Ratings, MMA Fighters: What’s With the Attitude?

Yael’s Variety Hour

Is it just me, or was this week especially awesome on the internets? Here are seven great posts I found, plus two resources and a couple of my own articles around the web.

For Laughs

47,143 people liked this hysterical cartoon of obnoxious or annoying e-mail behaviors, so chances are good you’ve already seen it. But just in case…

From the Onion. Sounds about right.

For Foodies

Leslie Kruempel wrote this insightful article on reasons you should eat local, even if reducing your carbon footprint ain’t one. (She’s @realfoodmn on twitter.)

Michael Pollan is my hero. And who hasn’t wanted to make as many dishes as possible in 30+ hours for all meals? Got and produce and mushrooms, oh my!

For Writers and Bloggers

There are some! Kelly James-Enger explains.

Nuff said.

Without ripping them off from others.

Some recommendations

  • Wisestamp helps you create beautiful e-mail signatures on Gmail (using Richtext, on Firefox). They can also include your facebook, twitter and LinkedIn profiles as well as your latest blog post. And it’s free!
  • Remember the Milk is an awesome site for task management, including an online to-do list and other bells and whistles. Also free.

It’s Me! On Other Sites!

My guest post for Tim Brownson’s awesome blog, A Daring Adventure. I’m honored.

In which I accuse UFC president Dana White of whitewashing.

Your turn…

Any posts I missed from the past week that you thought were especially awesome? Leave ’em in the comments.

My Paleo Experiment (Or: 30 Days Without Ice Cream)

I’ve been almost Paleo for as long as I can remember. Meals are easy. I like eating eggs for breakfast, have been known to order freezer packs of grassfed beef directly from farmers, and absolutely love a nice fresh salad. It’s the snacking that always gets to me. As much as I love eating meat and vegetables, I also love eating chocolate, jellybeans and other sundry snacks. Sugary soft drinks were a problem when I was working as a teacher, and I find them slowly creeping back into my diet during high-stress weeks riddled with deadlines.

When I lived in Tucson, it was a lot easier to limit snacks to weekly or bi-weekly cheat meals. Living in Eau Claire has made this a lot more challenging. I can’t ride my bike to community acupuncture when feeling frazzled, and don’t really have anything that could be considered a support system (at least, not compared to my wonderful desert friends.) Finding an outlet has been pretty challenging.

However, as a long-time advocate of the Paleo diet (managing editor of the Performance Menu, one of the proofreaders for Robb Wolf’s book and co-conspirator in the T-Nation interview, etc.) I really want to put my money where my mouth is.

It helps that Scotty’s recipes are awesome. Plus, all the cool kids are doing it. That includes Tim Brownson and Tim Ferriss.

SO I am about to embark on the 30-day Paleo challenge. And as a huge believer in transparency, I’d like to cover this process openly. Here are the questions I’d like to answer for myself and, of course, for all of you.

  • Is it affordable? I’m not really big on pasta or anything, but have been known to eat rice and other cheap carbs from time to time. I’ll be documenting the exact cost of groceries for the Paleo diet, as outlined in the Paleo Solution, for two people.
  • Will it make me crazy? Specifically, I’m wondering if my mood improves after the first 10 days or so and how I feel on this diet (no cheats included). I was noting to a friend the other day that eating gluten always leads to existential crises, so even when I do start incorporating 10% meals again I’d like to completely eradicate gluten from my diet.
  • Will it support my workouts and sport? I’m a BJJ player on hiatus and am about to start this killer intense workout program written by Troy Anderson to help me get my cardio up so I’ll be ready to train again after we move in just over 6 weeks. As much as I think health is important, I’d be lying if I said succeeding in the gym and on the mat wasn’t a priority. Will I be tired on such low carbs, or will it help me ramp things up and kick some ass?
  • Am I going to lose weight? Actually, I’m more concerned with body fat percentage than poundage. Specifically, I am wondering how big of an effect my non-Paleo snacks have been having on my body composition.

I will not be doing blood tests at this time. The last time I got them checked my numbers were very good and my doctor even asked me if I was an athlete. It was a grand moment.

I’ll be posting weekly updates for the next month or so. Feel free to chime in if you’re also doing the 30-day experiment, or if you have any questions or anything to add.

The Sandhill Crane Migration

It was a beautiful, clear day when we decided to venture out to Crex Meadows for the sandhill crane migration. Although the birds were roosting further away, we did get to see them flying quite close overhead. Unfortunately, my video footage is not nearly as good as my video of us chasing capuchin monkeys, but I did take some good photos.

If You Are Here, This Is For You

If you are here, this is for you. That was the name of the one-man performance art show written by Rob Horne, which I saw it performed by Brian Ora Coya back in 1998.

I met Brian at Cleveland Food Not Bombs, where I’d show up every Sunday to help cook soup for the homeless. Brian was passing through on a two-day tour. (The second day he performed in Chicago at the amazing Hotel Kafka; read the Chicago Tribune review here.) Brian rode freight trains and did performance art, and he sold copies of photographs he took while he was traveling.

Although I’ve never wanted to hop trains myself, I was drawn to his ideas on freedom and following your dreams and finding your way in the real world, not the one that has been created for you. And yet there was such a strong sense of restlessness, discontent and longing… It was raw and honest and grating and real. I wanted to share some quotes from the script. I’ve left the typos, etc. intact to maintain the spirit of the piece.

“once, it was said of me that i showed promise, of what i am not certain, but i felt early on that this promise, in the world of those who would say such things, could only mean a slow spiritual death for me, and that if i were ever to assume the raiment of my true self that this promise must remain unfulfilled in the eyes of the world. in this way it could gain some sort of a meaning, even for me.

i have tried entering the gates of the spectacle, mingling with the guests, engaging in late night barroom confidences & drunken feats, great sudden pooltable smirks like a mongol in a mall, a haj in detroit, a flame under water. there is nothing there for me, nothing but laments, sighs and unsung dirges and from these i am tired unto wakefullness. i must leave….” [Read more…]

Yael’s Variety Hour

I’ve been inspired by Marissa Bracke’s Friday Menagerie, Havi Brooks’ Item! posts and Eric Cressey’s Random Friday Thoughts, and I want to play! I tried to come up with a good title, but words like smorgasbord and random miscellaneous came to mind, and that just wouldn’t do. Anyway, here’s my collection of random thoughts, observations and recommendations.

Life Skills
I went to Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Book Tour in Minneapolis last Sunday night. Chris wrote this amazing book called the Art of Nonconformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World and is currently in the process of visiting all 50 states and 10 provinces on a a whirlwind book tour which you should check out if he’s coming to your town. It was nice to see so many people come out to hear Chris’ message of living a meaningful life of purpose, and I was particularly moved by seeing so many young people there who are already asking the right questions and trying to figure out how to set their own terms for living–but in a thoughtful and nonconfrontational way. (I did the nonconformity thang as a teenager, but didn’t pick up on the latter part until much later in life.) Anyway, I’d highly recommend the book, and wrote a review up on Amazon.

Creative Writing
I am teaching a series of three creative writing workshops in Chippewa Falls, starting tonight, for the next three weeks from 6:30 to 8. I’ll be drawing on the work of  Natalie Goldberg, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge and Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (aka SARK). I am pretty excited about helping people turn blank sheets of paper into those filled with prolific, insightful prose… in three very different ways. If you know of any other writing experts with great practices, please leave their names in the comments.

Contemporary Social Issues
I actually enjoyed the book Eat Pray Love, but I also thought this interesting article, Eat Pray Spend: Priv-lit and the new, enlightened American dream, offered some pretty thought-provoking analysis.

I found an interesting article on what is called Suburban Warrior Syndrome in Psychology Today. It describes how fantasy movies can tap into our impulse to be heroic. My favorite quote? “Quiet heroism is showing up for your child’s school play when it’s  difficult to get off work, or being honest and ethical in the face of  someone’s disapproval or scorn,” says Tessina. “That’s the kind of  heroism that really counts in life.”

Dean Rieck wrote an excellent post on Copyblogger entited 8 Bad Habits that Crush Your Creativity and Stifle Your Success. Definitely worth reading.

Phys Ed
Got tight hip flexors? Check out some tips from Coach Keats on assessment and self-massage.

Wired magazine had an amazing article entitled Sex! Hackers! Embellishment! The Inside Story of the Facebook Movie. Not only was the movie fascinating, this article is so craftfully written that it made me wish I only read Wired and magazines like it.

Extra Credit
I wrote a guest post on ProBlogger, Five Ways to Prevent E-mail Overload, which you may want to check out if that’s an issue for you.

Thanks for reading and, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments–feedback on these articles or anything else I posted, interesting items you’ve found so far this week, or anything at all, really…

Book Review: The Paleo Solution

Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution has already made the New York Times bestsellers list, and was virtually sold out before it even came to print. He’s already made waves on T-Nation, Tim Ferriss’ blog and public radio and, of course, was featured prominently in Eat This: The Ultimate Food Resource Guide. I almost feel like a book review is overkill, but I definitely wanted to add my voice to the choir.

Giving up grains and dairy isn’t popular, which is why this book is so necessary. It outlines the scientific evidence for the “original human diet,” delves into the harmful effects of Neolithic foods and details the practical application of Paleolithic eating with a masterful combination of ancient wisdom and modern science.

The Paleo Solution is both informative and entertaining, comprehensive and accessible. Whether you’re a science geek or a cave dweller, there is something in the book for you if you’re interested in understanding Paleolithic nutrition, wanting to lose weight and reverse disease or are simply chasing improved health and athletic performance.

Here’s what you’ll get if you get your hands on the book:

  • The hows and whys of Paleo nutrition, written in an engaging and accessible manner
  • The nuts and bolts of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and hormones (including glucagon, leptin, cortisol and insulin-like growth factor)
  • Information on digestion, insulin resistance, leaky gut syndrome and other disease states, and their relationship to Neolithic foods
  • Solutions for reducing stress and controlling cortisol (primarily through sleep)
  • The recipe for the infamous NorCal margarita (not ideal, but better than gluten-rich beer or “froufrou drinks with umbrellas”)
  • Specific information on which blood markers to monitor if you’re looking to track your progress
  • A very basic workout program, specifically written for beginners or intermediate exercisers (and a list of resources for those who are a bit beyond that.)
  • A one-month meal plan, written by the amazing Scotty Hagnas (who writes awesome recipes for the Performance Menu each month, and has some cookbooks out as well). The recipes look simple, delicious and nutritious.
  • Comprehensive information on some important supplements, including what they do and how much we need.
  • A boatload of references (30 pages of them, to be exact)

I feel comfortable offering a blanket recommendation for Robb’s book because it has so much for everybody. If you’re not into the nitty-gritty details, you can simply read the overviews on topics you’re interested in. If you’re a scientist, you can geek out on the more comprehensive information included. Need some support in making the transition? That’s why the 4 weeks of meals and exercise program would come in handy. (And if you’re not sold on the Paleo diet, you’ll learn exactly which biomarkers to track before and after a one-month experiment, so you can make a more informed decision.)

If you’re a fan of Robb’s blog or podcast, you will love the book. Already got your hands on it? Would love to hear what you think in the comments.