3,000 Year Old Temple of the Moon God

I’m still reading this book about the history of spices and the spice trade.  The book presents cumulative information from sources dating far back to ancient times relating to spices and their trade.  With almost every section on a different spice, it seems like it unlocks entire worlds.

The most recent world I am reading about is a land called either Sabea or Sheba, where the famous Queen of Sheba is said to come from.  It is mentioned in the bible that the Queen came to visit king Solomon, that she brought with her a gift of a balsam tree.

That would be Balsam of Mecca, Commiphora opobalsamum, which is also called Commiphora gileadensis or Balm of Gilead.  This very small tree is a sister plant of the myrrh tree, both of which are native to the southeastern part of the arabian peninsula, in what is now Yemen.

There are legends about this ancient place where the fragrant balsam trees grew, their scent wafting into the winds no doubt mystifying guests, sailors from far away lands, who encountered this world.

Over the past decade there has been work excavating a site of an ancient temple which is believed to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba, the Temple of the Moon God, Mahram Bilqis.

There have been numerous fragments found at this site with inscriptions in an ancient language.  It is important to remember that this temple is from a time which pre-dates Islam by something like 1,600 years.  People associate Islam with that region of the world and completely bypass another, ancient, grand history.

Some of the inscriptions that have been translated are magical, such as “…the universe of god’s house is produced from love…”

Interestingly it appears that this once highly valued Balsam of Mecca, which is an aromatic resin with a honey-like consistency, can no longer be found.  There are many substitutes based on trees from other parts of the world which are called Balm of Gilead but which are not.

Calorie Restriction Diet Calculator

This cool site has a calculator which can compute your Body Mass Index (BMI) and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) based on your height and weight.  Based on your amount of activity, it can then calculate the optimum amount of daily caloric intake for you.  Consuming below that amount of daily caloric intake means your diet is “calorie restricted”, i.e. less than the amount that you actually burn each day, thereby leading to gradual weight loss.  Another site recommends consuming 500 calories/day less than the optimal in order to lose weight.

I used to never think about calories, yet out of curiosity and the desire to be ever more conscientious healthwise I decided to start computing my caloric intake, just to see what it was.

It turns out that my daily caloric intake is actually quite close to the optimum level.  I do notice that my weight fluctuates very modestly +/- about 3-4 lb.  Even at the gym, after an intense workout and a lot of sweating, I will notice a drop sometimes close to 2 lb.  If I go to the jacuzzi and/or sauna and gulp a lot of water, I can actually see the weight come back up slightly.  Quite interesting.

My weight has been more or less static for the past 25 years.  I am noticing slight changes.  I’m not sure if they are attributable to changing gender or age.  More than likely some combination of the two.  The major change is that I seem to need less calories, and my appetite is somewhat less ravenous than it was for many years.

One thing I have noticed is that the taste of foods, the enjoyment of them, seems to have skyrocketed.  I don’t know why, but often the meals that I prepare are just absolutely mind-blowing – not just in terms of the flavor, which to me is still a kind of superficial thing, but in terms of the overall energy coming from the food.  I wonder if the gender change may have something to do with this as maybe food taste and craving is related to hormones?

Anyhow, I just started a new “calorie journal”, a daily log of my caloric intake, yesterday.  At the top of the journal I wrote down my weight, height, BMR, and BMI.  Then I listed the 10 most common foods I eat and what their calorie count is.

Right away I learned some interesting things.  I tend to love very large green salads and it turns out that the calorie count for mixed greens alone is very, very low.  And I love to put a lot of olive oil on my salads and that is where the calories come it: about 120 calories per tablespoon.  That’s still quite reasonable when you consider that you’re eating a huge salad and getting all that health benefit.

One cup of brown basmati rice is about 200 calories – a bit higher than I would have thought.  That is not a negligible amount and I like to eat sometimes a couple of cups, with olive oil mixed in, plus a few nuts sprinkled in, plus sometimes sesame seeds and of course other vegetables added.  But still, considering that this will be one of my main daily meals, the calorie count is still quite reasonable and the nutritional benefit is very high.

Because I really don’t eat that much processed food, it makes the calculation easier.  I pretty much try to stick with the same themes of whole foods so I kind of know the ballpark of what I’m working with in terms of calories and nutritional value.

Stop sitting up straight!

Imagine hearing your mother telling you this, or a school teacher.  Yet it may be the truth.

I always knew this!  LOL

Sitting straight ‘bad for backs’

On another note, I once heard somewhere that, in the time of Jesus, people used to eat laying on their sides, in a kind of lounging out position.  I’d love to see that come back.

Gini Coefficient Correlation with Life Expectancy

According to an article(1) that just appeared today on Alternet.org:

Over 200 studies since the early 1980s have now documented that people living in societies where wealth has concentrated at the top of the economic ladder live significantly shorter, less healthy lives than people who live in societies that spread their wealth more evenly.

The Gini coefficient is an index of a country’s economic disparity that was created in the early 1900’s by italian statistician Corrado Gini.  I have always been concerned about the direction the USA is heading in in terms of economic disparity.

Beyond this though is the emotional impact it has – its truly sad to live in a society where “the dream” or whatever you call it is an illusion, something that can only be had by those who grew up in the right neighborhood, attended the right school, had the right kind of parents, did all the correct things that one is supposed to do to be “successful”, etc.

Societies which throw away human lives are at the deepest level heart breaking.  When I think of college graduation ceremonies with all their pomp and mind-programming, I am always deeply saddened because all that the system of “higher” education does in the USA is reinforce inequality.  Those who have paid the price and jumped through all the required hoops find reason to celebrate, yet to me it is truly a moment of sadness because it is a moment of separation and estrangement.

I think that the USA is broken and has to learn how to not throw away human life.  The answer involves many things that affect the basic dignity of a person.  Even basic things like enforcement of housing codes for sub-standard housing can have a massive impact upon the health and well-being of a person.  Things like environmental toxins and noise are also serious assaults against a person.  There are multiple types of assaults that one can experience just being out in the world – physical, psychological, chemical, audial, visual, etc.

I even notice when walking along the sidewalk how people unconsciously tend to start the engines of their vehicles at the exact moment that a stranger passes by.  Its actually uncanny if you pay attention to it and notice that it almost always happens.  Its subconscious fear.  Yet many car companies play directly upon people’s unconscious fears and need for security in marketing and designing car brands.  Its essentially a suicidal type of practice that is engaged in for the sake of “profit”.

Starting a vehicle engine at the exact moment that a passing stranger is in proximity is total sickness.  Perhaps the sickest thing about it is that the sickness is not recognized.  I’m not talking about anything symbolic or metaphorical here either.  I mean the actual act of what is occurring, if you simply look at it, is insane.  One human being is blasting the auditory system of a passerby with the horrific assault of sound coming from the ignition process of an internal combustion engine and all the concomitant mechanical clashing and screeching noises that are at a decibel level sufficiently high to cause trauma and stress to the nervous and endocrine systems of the passerby, whose only crime was to think that they could go outdoors freely and walk in peace without being molested.

Of course, 99% of passer’s by won’t realize that this is even happening to their body, so sickened and tuned out are they already.  Yet when they notice unresolvable, ongoing health problems like obesity that they for one reason or another are incapable of healing, they never connect it with the damage being done to them.  And if one were to actually propose doing something about for example excessive vehicle noise, these same, ill people might actually become indignant at the proposal and want to defend the “right” to make noise!  In essence, we have conditioned ourselves into a suicidal race that enforces its own “right” to kill itself.

There are many suicidal tendencies that american culture is currently locked into.   For all the things that money gets wasted on at universities conducing research sometimes into the most ridiculous things, you would think that the science of life, of being human, would be better understood.  You would think that the need to have fundamental protections of our health and well-being would be overwhelmingly apparent, that the disastrous consequences of violating health would be so well understood that there would be no question as to the overriding priority of protecting it at all costs.

To look at it on a bigger scale, the air, the soil, and the rivers and lakes are our nourishment.  To poison our source of nourishment is prime insanity.  We live in a society which is addicted to sticking a syringe of poison into its veins out of some warped delusion about what it means to be well.

(1) Pizzigati, Sam; Radical Inequality Is Literally Killing Us; Alternet.org; 27 January 2010

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