Tuesday, March 14, 2017

At the cutting edge of Milk

Two threads of research into milk have come to my attention in recent days... which I thought I'd share, being the kind sort of sharing type of person that I am.

One is in terms of milk's interaction with the microbiome* of a baby - apparently natural human milk encourages good guy bacteria bifidobacterium to grow like crazy in the baby's intestine (so it becomes 80% of what's there), and that in turn sort of gives the child a good micro "fingerprint" for want of a better description, it shapes how their guts will work and what types of bacteria will live there for a good while into the future - reducing a person's predisposition to all sorts of diseases and yukkiness.
Now, the scientists love the bifidobacterium, partly because it's "Y" shaped, and partly because when they give it in spades to prematurely born babies they are 15 times less likely to get a nastly gut illness called NEC. So Mam's milk encourages this good bacteria, got it? Right, so what the scientists are now trying to do is figure out what the good bacteria is making out of it - basically what is it excreting, so that they can mimic this, you guessed it, and add this product to formula, bug poop.  I think this is a little strange, but admittedly fascinating. 

Two is that there's actually a lot of research going into Equine milk.  Yep, horses.  I know there's a brand called Cow & Gate and a scandal called horse gate, so marketing might struggle a bit more with that.  We don't mind getting a helping hand from Daisy to feed our babba's cos we're used to that idea, but Black Beauty, or Shergar?  Would that only make the kids too bloody fast anyway? Any parent who has raced behind a toddler in a terrifying game of multistory carpark chase, knows this is possibly not the best idea.  The boffins are looking into it because apparently horse mammies are very like human mammies and feed their young more often than cows.  I also wondered if this one will ultimately lead to Monkey Milk, which would surely be closer again, but again marketing might stop this bright idea in its tracks, sure it's unlikely the monkey equivalent of veal will have such a ready market.

Maybe easier to support mammies who want to use their own home made stuff, family recipe, passed down the generations, freshly batch prepared every time, perfectly adjusted according to the weather, age of the child, time of day, growth spurts the child is going through, and infections going around.  Just maybe. 


* for the science bit - the microbiome is the family of bacteria that we all live with, that live on and in us, they outnumber our cell's 10 to 1, but scientists think that ratio goes down to 1:1 after a good poop.  (sorry - gawd I seem to be apologising in my posts a lot lately)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Poetry is mainstream now - and sorry but so is humongous horrible suffering.

Almost 7 years ago, I posted two groundbreaking and prescient reports on the popularity of poetry

http://variouscushions.blogspot.ie/2010/05/poetry-getting-incredibly-popular-says.html

and

http://variouscushions.blogspot.ie/2010/05/poetry-getting-incredibly-popular.html
and now dear readers, it has come true.

Poetry is so popular, the wonderful Stephen James Smith was at the pre-Oscar's party last week reading his specially commissioned poem "My Ireland" well worth checking out if you haven't seen it by the way... I knew him before he was famous but after he was 12.

Then, you know what happened, a young poet, like younger than 200 years of age, was on the Late Late show on Friday.
Just to put it into context:  The late late is our barometer of what is mainstream in the world of Ireland.  You hear about a trend of people wearing bottle caps over their eyes for example in new york (so this is the start of the trend, 0.0000000001% in Ireland even know about it), then you see it on a cutting edge arty magazine that the experimental fashionistas in the capital are into it (so the top 0.0000005% in Ireland have discovered it), then you see a cooler than cool looking hipster in the local tavern with one (we're at 1% levels), and eventually someone on the late late has it (totally mainstream - up to 40% of the population are into it)
Anyway yerman Emmet Kirwan he was called, was brilliant and talented, eloquent, engaging and overall a really good representation of the power of poetry.

So now, that must mean that 30 - 40% of Ireland are into poetry in a big mainstream way at this stage.  Which is lovely and aren't we all great.  I'll have to start writing again soon to take advantage of it!

Unfortunately after him, there was a lady with a too familiar story of abuse, and horrific neglect suffered at the hands of supposed care givers. Rosemary Adaser spoke about the terrible things that happened to her, and I'm glad she did, and I'm sorry they happened, and I hope her telling us about it helps somehow ensure it is way less mainstream into the future.
Ryan said to her at one point "I don't know what to do with what you're telling me".  This is a natural reaction - it's like, don't be telling me sad things, It doesn't make me any happier to know about your sadness.
I do feel like the very act of living in the first world and having first world problems is a bit like burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the suffering in worse places, especially that caused by our wasteful habits, greedy insatiable appetites and climate change, but sure, feck it.  At least poetry is getting mainstream, isn't that great?  I've loads of lovely little notebooks bought for when the muse strikes again.  All made from recycled and recyclable paper and sure there's a lovely resonance there as the poems will be recycled too when they eventually get wrote.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Playground Challenge

Foolhardy of a Friday morning on a Parental Leave day off, I says to the kids, I says, Will we do a challenge?  We'll see how many playgrounds we can "do" in one day will we?

So we drew a map, and we made a list, complete with check boxes, to fill in on successful conquest of each site.

We started with the windswept seaside one.  It was busy for some reason, tripping over itself with toddlers.  A bit wet, and treacherous for climbing because of that, there were lucky moments (well I make my own luck by following the two year old closely) when I managed to catch a child that was otherwise about to stand up half way down the tall slide and trip over herself.

Then it was time for the one inland a bit, beside the GAA club.  There was a dog doing laps around the outside of it, and as always at this one, a good sprinkling of hippies within - one with a gorgeous babba strapped to her.  Kids climbed more, pretended they were kings of the castle.  This one has a particularly good spider's web type yoke.

Next up - the wilderness called - there were only two other families at this one.  Hardened by the elements, the mammies were chilling out, the kids running riot, falling off things from heights, and eating junk food - sort of junk food, crisps - that Danger Cushions was mad jealous about.  The energy was flagging on my side by then, so with a promise of our own junk food I enticed them back to the car to go home for lunch.

We set off again, making a pit stop for the promised junk food, and arrived the one between the marsh and the train tracks.  The rain was just stopping as we got there so we had it to ourselves for a few minutes but then they started coming out from the woodwork, mammy judging me for having my kids eating junk in the playground, judging me more for dragging them away after only 25 minutes, I wanted to shout "it's their fourth one today" but I didn't want to appear to be ungracious.  They clicked well with some kids here, but it was really time to be getting on to the next place, so we bade them farewell.

The next spot beside the community centre had a lovely little vibe to it, and really good mix of things for their age groups, ie a super easy side, and a just at the edge of the older one's ability side, so though I thought they'd be bored and just as likely to sit on the bench at this one, they continued to play, tirelessly roaring around it.

The last playground of the day was suddenly drenched by an arriving cloud that seemed to smile down at me saying "Niamh, you've done enough, the kids have been exercised enough for today" and the threatening looking teenagers within it finished the argument in my head, it was home time.  And if I don't win Mammy of the year after that, then I tell you it's not worth playing for!!!

(Whitegate, Cloyne, Lisgoold, Glounthane, Carrigtwohill & Midleton playgrounds were not harmed in the writing of this post)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Perspective

Have you ever watched the International Space Station live feed?  on youtube?

Here's the edge of night-time from over the atlantic - just off the edge of Canada, just as I type - screen shotted



You really gotta check it out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzMQza8xZCc


You can even see where in the world you're looking at on the map here

It makes you feel pretty small, and also freaks you out - i mean what if you see the other side of the world exploding, how long would the internet still work for?


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Worriers

Are you a worrier?  They sound a bit like the less glamorous cousins of the Borrowers... I'll admit it though - I am one.  One am I.

I have forehead creases to prove it, that's the only outward sign though.  Most people think I'm very relaxed.  I like to act that way, still haven't shaken the cool dude type act that I photocopied from my older brother when I was about 12 and took his advice to heart "Just act like you like the doors",  but deep down, I'm really not as cool as I seem.
Ok, ok, don't ROFL,,, those who actually know me in real life know that I don't seem as cool as that last phrase seems to suggest that I seem, but I mean cool in the sense of unworried.  I've had various people tell me that they think the world could fall down and I'd still be relaxed, unruffled, unworried, and maybe that's true.  I think the worry I talk of is more of an unreasonable type of thing, a less practical thing than being worried about the real things that you should worry about.  Now really it's not a big hard type of worry or actual anxiety thing, (see now I'm worried I'm falsely advertising it) my worries are a type of fuel to imagination perhaps emanating from the supernatural type worry generated by a Nun teacher when I was 9 years old telling my class the devil might actually be hiding under the bed, and also to say good bye to our parents carefully each day since they might die in our absence at school.  I have move on from such serious worries to WAY more trivial things.  Maybe I'm like trump, tweeting to my innermost mind the drivel of my opinion on entertainment shows to distract myself from more serious things.
For example - I worry about which lane I should drive in, in the Jack Lynch tunnel - the side with the phone or the side with the escape doors - I hate that they have them on different sides, but I suppose everyone would only want to drive on the side with both if they were together.  I also always hate slowing down at that point that has the sign post showing you are 50 metres each way to the door or the phone, how would one choose which way to go in that case, in the event of an emergency?
I was worried about winning that recent trip to the movie premier, not just about what to wear, who would mind the kids etc, but about whether or not to accept a bucket of popcorn in the extremely impossible chance that I ended up seated beside Ewan for the picture, like would my munching put him off the film?  I suppose that wouldn't matter too much though, as at least he already knows what's going to happen, unless they filmed alternative endings to keep it secret.
Of course others can stoke worries for us too,  Danger Cushions recently invented a whole new worry for Monkey Boots as she embarked on the adventure of  potty training, he called it the "poo monster", and said she had to be careful to go really quickly and run away when done.  He even found proof, a sample of the same monster's fur (otherwise known as cotton wool) which I duly confiscated to get tested in the lab at work.  Luckily she doesn't seem to have paid him much heed.  Her biggest worry is whether or not to accept the burden of ruling her kingdom as recently revealed in a late night conversation with herself.... in very serious tones... whispered... "I am the queen..... I am not the queen.... I am the queen.... I am not the queen"

Of course she will always be the queen of cuteness in my eyes.
Apart from the obvious (with the world kind of falling apart and all) what are your biggest worries oh dear readers?  I will try and set your minds at ease.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Food Musings


Food is Art.  Food is not just the visual art we are used to thinking of, the rainbow plate of amazing-ness - the mosaic - the bento box.  It's becoming more - it's deeper.

It is drama - the goji berries grown at high altitude surviving with their lectins giving them the edge to survive.  The stories on our food, the personalities selling it to us, the feelings it engenders are part of the opera that food is becoming.

Food is deeply personal, what we choose to nourish ourselves with becomes part of us.  The art we choose to consume also affects us, helps make us who we are.

Food was always a key part of human cultures, but it has taken off, at least in our culture, in recent years as a key cultural expression.  The theatre of food at Electric Picnic, along with numerous other food markets and stalls.  There's an insatiable appetite (pardon the pun), particularly among the millenials, for food to be part of how they express themselves.  Food is no longer a chore in Ireland, there I've said it.  It is becoming something that we are fascinated by, that we use to fascinate others.  (If you haven't tried the Okinawa purple sweet potato then you're among friends, but if you have - please tell me where to find it).

Food is a voting opportunity,  a daily political choice, a way to show the world your philosophy, a way to make the world more like the place you want it to be - whether by planting your own tomatoes, showing love through extravagant preparation of something for others or for yourself, or buying a premium ice-cream that promises at least an hour of orgasmic joy on the couch in return for a hefty price.

Andy Warhol (I'm reading a way too long biography about him right now) was inspired by food products, and consumer products in general, but food products are currently turning around and being inspired by art, with high end popcorn showing up with beautiful prints, impressionistic arrangements on plates, Mango strewn bento boxes.

Food is from nature, and nature & food always inspired art (remember your first drawing of a fruit bowl?), so it's no surprise how much food is seen as a visual beauty, but it's increasingly being used in a more challenging way.  At my xmas work party, I had a lemon thing for dessert that looked like a raspberry thing.  This was a head F&*K, this is what art sometimes does and what food is now trying to do.  Take you by surprise, laugh at your assumptions.

Food is poetry - mark my words.  The O- Cajun- al pun, will develop, the novels will be read while you browse, while you cook, the letters will be embedded in the apples, like they used to be in sticks of rock.  Bottles of wine will grow on trees, in the actual bottle, as food becomes sci fi.

Yes, I might've just been to Harrods.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On 2fm today

Had great fun today on the lovely Eoghan McDermott's show on 2fm, reading out the following monologue, my version of Choose Life, from Trainspotting - in an effort to win tickets to the premier of the difficult, 20 years later, second film, in Edinburgh.  Final winner will be decided on Friday, would be amazing to win altogether, but sure either way it was a bit of fun!



Choose Online. Choose a blog.  Choose a fear soaked headline.  Choose the family you like.  Choose a tiny screen.  Choose flashing memes, stars cracking a snap chat and elector-tainment.  Choose bitcoin wealth, slow food movements and mental endurance.  Choose interest in the dog fighting a pumpkin, the dog saved by a stranger, the dog with a friend who’s a cat.  Choose viral inspiral.  Choose your pretends.  Choose pleasure of the novel, and by that I mean new, things that take two seconds or less.  Watch DIY vines showing instant results.  Choose junk for the mind, lurk through charity posts and read about cults and life, god forbid, outside of online from the hole.  Choose falling in to it for any spare minute no matter the cost.  The lost bits of peace, the days in a daze, reading chats and ok’s and wondering where all the time went, day bright blue light invading your bed, blinding your head.
Choose your future.
Choose life.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why nothing is so popular

I'm obviously not talking the Neverending Story Nothing here


G'mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu: What is the Nothing?
G'mork: It's the emptiness that's left. It's like a despair, destroying this world.

No

I'm talking of a nothing that's popular and up and coming.  It's all the rage and comes in different flavours.  The first is head nothing.  Empty your mind, put down your head for a while and fill it with lightness.  Nothing in your head for a while, turns out it's a really really good thing.  Like from your childhood when you stared into space for a while, or like transcendental monks - leaving your brain alone for even a teeny little while, like 10 minutes a day, makes it stronger and more creative.  Try it if you don't believe me, but not just yet because there are a few other types of nothing that are big right now and if you switch yourself off you'll miss out.

Getting nothing done.  Otherwise known as exercise, is also particularly celebrated at this time of year.  Furiously working hard in the gym for example - moving things around, and putting them back exactly where you found them in the end - or going for long walks, starting and finishing in the same place after up to several hours of exertion - or swimming up and down in the same piece of water, all great examples of working hard - and getting a whole pile of nothing done.

Eating more nothing.  Also called dieting - Nothing-eating is an art form, and can be accomplished by many means - but generally a fashionable thing to do, a book called French women don't get fat, even advises avoiding places where the foods that tempt you are available so that instead you eat nothing in place of the sugar coated pastry of your dreams.

And my final nothing for tonight, the house proud nothing.  Nothing on any surfaces, nothing on carpets, acres of nothing in every room, surrounded by luxuriant materials chrome/ wood/ glass and what have you,  this is a particularly hard type of nothing to obtain in a plastic strewn house after xmas, but the big psychological boost towards it's achievement is that great big wallop of nothing sucked into the home when you shake off the xmas tree, to remove the decorations and get that fecker down - this makes you believe that your house is almost as tidy as pre-xmas and that with just a little bit of work and concentration some long term nothingness can be found.

Good luck to you all finding your little bit of nothing in the new year.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tips for a perfect 2017

I have decided to make 2017 the best year EVAHHH.

How you may ask?  I'm going to follow the following simple steps to having the perfect life:

I will stop insulting my mother in law by telling her I'm trying to write a funny blog post, and asking her to refrain from talking - definitely will not do that in 2017.  Especially since she now wants to read said funny blog post when it's done and now the pressure is on.

Speaking of pressure, I plan to put my self under all kinds of enormous pressure ("Niamh is thinking", my mother in law just told my sister in law, warning her not to talk!)... in the coming year.

I will follow every one of those "in just five minutes a day you can X, Y, Z your self to miracle hair, teeth, relationships, shoes" articles.  I will build on the success of these every day until I work up to one full 24 hour session of 5 minute portions of perfection by teeth pulling with coconut oil, tricks to sort out dodgy posture, loving questions for my children, (she took just five minutes a day and now her kids are perfect).

I will multi-master, no, I will multi-dominate.  No more multi-tasking for me, 2017 is going to be a year of brilliance, and all my limbs and faculties will be full on, full time, 100% of the day.

Speaking of full time, I plan to find and hold down four more full time jobs, so that I have one for each working day of the week, they'll all compliment each other and will sometimes mix and meld, so that no one boss will feel left out and all will find my work stupyfyingly amazing.  This will involve quite a few interviews and job applications at the start of the year, but I'll somehow squeeze that into lunch breaks, which will also involve a bit of yoga and choir practise, but sure you gotta sweat to compete, (compete pronounced to rhyme with sweat - there that's a new word pronounciation I've made up just there now, already and it's not even yet the year for the magic).

I will of course be pursuing my film-making career following the viral sensation that was my first "mini-Movie" but I will be pushing myself in this area and will warn my fans they may find some of my future work a little experimental (stress on the mental part).

There will be charidee work I will be also absolutely trouncing, with a skipathon, a ladies pole vaulting competition in fancy dress that I will win though dressed as a koala, and a massive round of homeless comforting which I will do during the wee hours every second thursday of the month.

I will dissuade Trump from doing anything too silly via twitter, and will also use the same tool to talk the english out of brexiting, I can't believe no one else thought of that, like no-brainer!!

I will stop celebrities from dying in 2017, not on my watch in the year of perfection.

I'd also hope to travel some more, see a bit more of Kerry, or even my own native Cork.  Cork's great so it is, you should go there more if you haven't already been.  I will also aim to try each pub in my local town and sing karaoke in each even if there isn't a karaoke night on.

I will try every recipe in my newly acquired on loan book of Bento lunch box ideas, all 501 of them, before I get half way through the year, so that I know which are my son's very favourites for back to school time.

I am making all these commitments very publicly here so that I may be judged and may judge myself on how I perform.

I hope this is somewhat helpful to inspiring all you readers to go on to greater and greater heights in the coming year.

xx

Monday, December 26, 2016