Soy. Food of the Gods.

tofu-beijing-china1Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the “soy issue” has come up a few times. Not from doctors (who appear to care little about what you eat – hah!) but from friends. Well-meaning friends who wish to warn me about the “dangers of soy”, particularly for people with hormone-related cancers.

I’m a vegetarian. I eat soy. I love tofu and eat it in some form almost every day. (I go through a tub of Toby’s Tofu Pate a week. I must have put their kids through college by now). I like miso, but it’s so salty it’s more like a condiment than rib-sticking food. I admit I do like “vegan junk food” like tofurkey slices, smart dogs, and the like. I don’t eat this kind of processed stuff every day, but a couple of times a week I’ll indulge. I don’t like tempeh but will eat it very occasionally if it’s well-disguised. I don’t like soymilk, and rarely drink it. The exception is the occasional winter drink of hot soymilk with maple syrup and a dash of salt. Somehow, maple and salt make it divine.

Aaaaanyhow, my point is, I eat a little bit of soy, often. I don’t believe it gave me cancer. And I don’t believe omitting it from my diet will reduce the risk of cancer returning. Quite the contrary.

Japanese women have the lowest rate of breast cancer in the world. A lot has been written about the Japanese diet, and many epidemiological studies have demonstrated a correlation between soy consumption and reduced breast cancer risk there. Now I know that correlation is not cause, but epidemiological studies are all we have when it comes to understanding the long-term relationship between diet and health. You can’t do a double-blind, controlled experiment following several thousand people for 20 years, during which half of them eat real soy and the other half eat placebo soy. It’s just won’t work. So epidemiological studies are what we have, and particularly useful are meta-studies of those studies.

When a Japanese woman has breast cancer, she is more likely than an American woman to survive long term. Her cancer will likely be slower-growing, less aggressive, and hormone receptive. When a Japanese woman gets breast cancer, her tumor is easier to beat.

My tumor was slow-growing, less aggressive, and highly hormone receptive. There’s no way I’ll ever pinpoint the cause or my cancer, but based on what I understand, it might be the case that my 20 years of soy-eating (and general healthful practices) gave the tumor a less favorable terrain to get really nasty. It’s out now, and my task for the rest of my life is to make sure it doesn’t return. It’s a statistics game: I could do everything possible that’s right and good for health, and the cancer might still come back. But if I do everything that’s right and good, at least I’ll know I did everything I could.

So why does soy have such a bad rap among the general public, and also some alternative medical practitioners such as naturopaths?

If you look at the history, it’s apparent that soy’s reputation has slid for political reasons rather than scientific ones.

Here’s a link to a good article about soy and why the bad rap it’s gotten is based on politics rather than science: Is Soy Safe?

More info on soy and health can be read here: Soy improves breast cancer survival

One government that has particularly obvious anti-soy policies is New Zealand. New Zealand’s small economy is based heavily in animal agriculture. Milk there is like corn here: a massive surplus that the food industry mops up by adding milk products to a lot of processed foods, the way corn products are added to many foods here. (New Zealand is a hard place to be if you’re lactose intolerant!).

New Zelanders internalize anti-soy propaganda to the point where, e.g. my brother in law won’t eat tofu because it will “give him titties”. (Ironically, NZ has one of the highest rates of cardiovascular disease, due to high meat and dairy consumption).

Here in the US the economy is so huge and based on so many variables that pressure comes less from the federal government and more from particular industries. The effect is the same: spread of misinformation and fear-mongering.

So, say yes to soy! Food of the gods, in my opinion.

Hard drive as bento box


See the vertical division? The stuff on the left is my files. The stuff on the right is the system, including applications, in orange near the top.

See the vertical division? The stuff on the left is my files. The stuff on the right is the system, including applications, in orange near the top.

I was down to 4 remaining GB on my laptop. Photoshop groaned. Final Cut creaked. New client content threatened to fill up the remaining few slots. The situation was dire. Then I discovered Disk Inventory X. The way it works is to graphically show your files in a color-coded tile-like pattern. The color of a box shows the file type, and its size represents how much space each file is taking up on your hard drive. Click on the box and you learn exactly what the file is, and where it is. Thus I found and deleted such things as identical copies of videos used in long-ago job-applications. After a few such clean-ups my happy laptop hard drive is back to 53 GB! 

While trying to figure out how to dump a large and mysterious file not of my own making, I also learned about the sleepimage file. It’s a Mac system file that contains a copy of the contents of your RAM when you put the beast to sleep. The info is thus restorable if the juice runs out while sleeping. The sleepimage file is always as big a the amount of RAM you have installed, which in my laptop’s case is 4 GB. So that’s the big green rectangle near the bottom right. The other green things under it are other systems files. I *could* get rid of it by turning off the hibernation feature, but I think I’ll leave it be.

This also explains why it takes my laptop so damn long to properly go to sleep. Every time it does so, it first copies the RAM into sleepimage. I’d learned early on not to try and re-wake it during the first minute of sleep, because that sometimes caused it to get stuck for ages. It’s good to know the sleep delay has a reason other than sheer digital obstinacy.

The phlegm of a female deer

A typical mis-typing of ‘does not’ is ‘doe snot’. Google this for some funny sentences, particularly when viewed in their truncated search-results form:

“Garage Door opener doe snot close the door” (It’s a new lubricant. Works great)

“suspend doe snot work when X is running” (I try to suspend doe snot work at every opportunity)

“The PC doe snot boot” (There’s a hose out the back you can use for that)

“Widows Explorer doe snot open” (and when it does, it works like doe snot)

“Windows Media Player doe snot work” (seems to be pretty cervid and gummy up there in Redmond)

“Autumn Doe Snot Return” (It’s inevitable, I’m afraid)

“view doe snot copy” (or if you’d prefer to see the original doe snot…)

“Extreme 2000 doe snot show anything” (Extreme doe snot?)

“For Everone Who Doe Snot Like Me” (Hmm)

“Doe snot wirth the money” (That one’s from a hotel review)

“my subwoofer doe snot make any sound” (that’s because it has exceptional muffling effects)

“thanks – but no this doe snot help” (and neither did the buffalo snot)

“My niece is going to court for DWI and doe snot have a attorney” (Yikes. Just one shot of doe snot will put you over the legal limit)

“A team hat doe snot communicate and talk to each other about what the next move will be is going to lose.” (Mostly because doe snot makes a lousy hat)

“quality doe snot seem to suffer” (the cheap stuff, though, bounces right back!)

“instead just doe snot load the page” (that’s if you have no intention of ever reading it again)

“They only have a peace-keeping force that doe snot compbat terror” (Now why didn’t the UN think of this first?)

“remember that doe snot give you the right to be condescending and cocky” (or snotty)

“to ensure development doe snot” (this is critical for societal progress)

“Anarchy doe snot equal chaos” (Capitalist doe snot is worse, though)

“OH WAIT IT DOE SNOT FIT IN MY IPHONE” (That was the last call she made from that phone)

“As long as Valve doe snot articficially raise the dollar prices for people from Europe I still prefer Steam” (I’m watching the exchange rate and keeping my fingers crossed)

“the little bit of static that may be in the background doe snot” (which is kind of like the background cosmic radiation –  it’s everywhere)

3 very short videos featuring snow

Banana tree in snow. Our neighbors have a banana tree. Which is pretty ambitious here above the 45th parallel. Every winter it disappears, and every summer it pops back up over the top of the fence. Here it is receiving the shock of its life.

Swirly snow. A study in movement.

Hummingbird in snow. I hope it survives the upcoming week of below-freezing temps.



Walking in Washington Park today, my zoomy eye spied these secret and magical worlds. 

Okay, so my new camera has a macro function. Now that I’m losing the closeup range of my eyesight (just old age, nothing serious), this camera will have to fill in for me!




Getting and giving

Tonight I installed the driver for my new graphics tablet, installed After Effects CS4, and filled out my elections ballot, in between shoving candy at costumed kids who knocked at the door.  I think I got the better end of the exchange.

(Particularly since I got the tablet and the application on an education discount, because I ordered them during the week I was enrolled in an After Effects workshop and was thus officially, for one week only, a student again.)