[I found this -- an early, early attempt at writing wedding vows for my wife and myself -- while cleaning out my notes. I thought I'd post it here. Because I should post more things here.]

A: Some parts of marriage are easy.
J: Like the tax benefits.
A: And the monogrammed towels.

J: But some parts are hard.
A: Some parts take work.
J: And that’s why they have you make vows.

A: I promise to listen.
J: I promise to try.
A: I promise to keep making gluten-free pie.

J: I promise to scratch your back when it itches.
A: I promise you an equal share of my riches.

J: I promise that we will keep going on dates.
A: I promise to sit through presidential debates.

J: I promise to spectate sometimes when you run.
A: I promise to laugh sometimes when you make puns.

J: I promise to try to admit when I’m wrong.
A: I’ll keep waiting for that one.
J: You’ll be waiting long.
A: But seriously, I’ll try that one too.
J: It’s a hard thing to do.
A: It is hard, that’s true.

J: I promise to listen.
A: I said that before.
J: I think it’s a big one.
A: Okay, let’s do more.

J: I promise you babies.
A: You can’t promise that.
J: Okay, then I promise a series of cats.

A: I promise to slow down when life’s getting crazy.
J: I promise to keep up when I’m feeling lazy.

A: I’ll try not to notice when your gut gets bigger.
J: And I’ll shut my mouth when you lose your figure.

A: I promise to love you as long as I live.
J: I promise to give you all that I can give.

A: I promise to work and to play and to rest.
J: I promise to work, too, and to give my best.

I eat paleo.

I eat paleo.

Some people think that means trying to eat like a caveman. In fact, that’s the most common reply I get when I tell people that I eat paleo. The polite version of this is: “Oh, is that the ‘caveman diet’?” Less polite versions range from smarm (“Cavemen didn’t have [delicious food that paleo folks eat... bacon, let's say], you know.”) to strawman debunkery (“Cavemen actually ate [things paleo folks avoid], you know.” or ”Didn’t cavemen had a life expectancy of like thirty years?”).

I don’t care about eating like cavemen ate. Not exactly, anyway. “Paleo” is an unfortunate name in that sense. It evokes that club-and-tunic image immediately. I remember it did for me, years back, when a friend told me he was trying it out. I thought it was ridiculous.

But I was curious. Enough to learn a little bit more, at least. I flipped through Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution. What a pleasant surprise that was: The book was chock full of real, honest-to-goodness science, backed up by research. Exactly the sorts of things that can get you past my skeptical impulses.

And the overall message wasn’t so hamfisted as “hey,  you guys, we should eat like cavemen and we’ll lose weight.” It was more nuanced. I’ll take a crack at summarizing it: “Agriculture is pretty new, relative to the whole timespan of human evolution. Let’s consider the possibility that not everyone is well adapted to all the things we eat in the modern era. Maybe a lot of chronic problems we seem to have nowadays are tied into this somehow.”

I don’t care about eating like cavemen ate. I do care about not constantly being hungry. In my early paleo days, this was the big deal for me. I learned about blood sugar, and how processed carbs — especially grains — tend to wreak havoc on it, and make you eat a ton. I replaced these things with vegetables and meats — good carbs, good fats (and more of them!) and protein — and experienced a sea change in my appetite and my energy levels.

This could be huge news if you’re trying to lose weight. A lot of people tend to think that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and that you just need to cut them to trim down. But getting those calories from a slice of pizza is going to spike your blood sugar and then cause it to nosedive, which’ll then cause you to crave a late-night snack, and, well, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

This reminds me of another common reaction when I tell people I eat paleo. That it’s a low-carb diet, like Atkins. It is and it isn’t. Cutting out grains will cause you to eat less carbs, unless you go out of your way. So yeah, I don’t eat a lot of carbs. But I could. (There’s a wealth of material out there, in fact, on athletic training and how certain kinds of carbs are better at supporting it than others, because some get converted into liver glycogen and some get converted into muscle glycogen. Although there are also plenty of athletes who use fat for their fuel, too. Your mileage may vary.)

So I don’t try to eat a low-carb diet. But I know that if I have a baked potato at lunch, I might have bit of a blood sugar crash at two o’clock. (And when co-workers have those two o’clock crashes after having pizza for lunch, I pat myself on the back for eating my pulled pork & broccoli.)

Wolf’s book recommends an elimination diet. Essentially that means cutting things out of your diet for a few weeks and then reintroducing them to see how you feel and perform. The main targets are grains, legumes and dairy.

I don’t care about eating like a caveman. But I do care about not having to go to the bathroom within an hour of many of my meals. Cutting out dairy and wheat solved this problem for me. Especially dairy. We still go out for custard from time to time (I’ll contend that “eating paleo” doesn’t mean exclusively eating paleo, btw), and without fail, I am in the bathroom with gastrointestinal issues within an hour of enjoying a sundae. (Totally worth it once in a while, though.)

(Wheat is a trickier one. I have similar issues with wheat, but not always. I suspect that it’s related to quantity, although I accidentally had just a bit of wheat today, and I had terrible stomach pains, so I guess I’m less confident about what the deal is there. Still: avoiding it.)

I don’t care about eating like a caveman. But I do care about eating in a way that’s going to support my health and longevity. And I have a strong impression now that the conventional wisdom on nutrition is woefully underdeveloped. This has become a new hobby for me, almost: I’m always eager to read about new nutrition research (or hear about it from my scientist wife, who’ll often read the original research). And I think it’s sensible (I might even call it obvious) for researchers to take an evolutionary viewpoint to help them devise their hypotheses.

This might all be my own strawman, I guess. I don’t get to decide what “paleo” means. But this is what it means to me, and it’s made me healthier, happier, smarter, and even kind of good at cooking stuff.

2013 Music

These are the new releases I added to my collection in 2013:

Andrew Bird: I Want to See Pulaski at Night (EP)
Buke And Gase: General Dome
Christopher Owens: Lysandre
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories
Dawes: Stories Don’t End
Depeche Mode: Delta Machine
Ducktails: The Flower Lane
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Eels: Wonderful, Glorious
Free Energy: Love Sign
Frightened Rabbit: Pedestrian Verse
Haim: Days Are Gone
Iron & Wine: Ghost On Ghost
Jason Isbell: Southeastern
Josh Ritter: The Beast In Its Tracks
Junip: Junip
Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience
Kanye West: Yeezus
Local Natives: Hummingbird
Matt Pond: The Lives Inside The Lines In Your Hand
Mikal Cronin: MCII
Mayer Hawthorne: Where Does This Door Go
Mount Moriah: Miracle Temple
Noah and the Whale: Heart of Nowhere
Night Beds: Country Sleep
Okkervil River: The Silver Gymnasium
Phoenix: Bankrupt!
Phosphorescent: Muchacho
San Fermin: San Fermin
Telekinesis: Dormarion
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down: We The Common
The Dodos: Carrier
The Joy Formidable: Wolf’s Law
The Little Ones: The Dawn Sang Along
The Lone Bellow: The Lone Bellow
The National: Trouble Will Find Me
Travis: Where You Stand
Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City
Volcano Choir: Repave
Yo La Tengo: Fade

This list is longer than I expected it to be after a year in which I spent relatively little time seeking out new music. Relative to years past, that is.

Let me know if you see any glaring omissions.

2012 Music

These are the albums I added to my collection in 2012:

Aaron Freeman: Marvelous Clouds
AC Newman: Shut Down The Streets
Allo Darlin: Europe
Alt-J: An Awesome Wave
Andrew Bird: Break It Yourself
Animal Collective: Centipede Hz
The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter
Band of Horses: Mirage Rock
Beach House: Bloom
Beachwood Sparks: The Tarnished Gold
Ben Folds Five: The Sound of the Life of the Mind
Best Coast: The Only Place
Beth Orton: Sugaring Season
Big Boi: Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors
Big K.R.I.T.: Live from the Underground
Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue Vol III
Bloc Party: Four
Bob Mould: Silver Age
Bowerbirds: The Clearing
Brandi Carlile: Bear Creek
Bruce Springsteen: Wrecking Ball
California Wives: Art History
Cat Power: Sun
Chairlift: Something
Cloud Nothings: Attack On Memory
Colossal Gospel: Circles
Craig Finn: Clear Heart Full Eyes
Damien Jurado: Maraqopa
David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant
Dirty Projectors: Swing Lo Magellan
Divine Fits: A Thing Called Divine Fits
Dr. Dog: Be The Void
Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros: Here
Father John Misty: Fear Fun
Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Freelance Whales: Diluvia
Fun.: Some Nights
Glen Hansard: Rhythm & Repose
Great Lake Swimmers: New Wild Everywhere
Grizzly Bear: Shields
Heartless Bastards: Arrow
Horse Feathers: Cynic’s New Year
Hospitality: Hospitality
Hot Chip: In Our Heads
Imagine Dragons: Night Visions
Imperial Teen: Feel The Sound
Jack White: Blunderbuss
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, Yim Yames: New Multitudes
Jens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn’t
Joshua James: From the Top of Willamette Mountain
Josh Ritter: Bringing In The Darlings
Kathleen Edwards: Voyageur
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music
Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas
Lord Huron: Lonesome Dreams
Lucero: Women & Work
Lupe Fiasco : Food And Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part I
M. Ward: A Wasteland Companion
Menomena: Moms
Mumford & Sons: Babel
Nada Surf: The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
Norah Jones: Little Broken Hearts
Old Crow Medicine Show: Carry Me Back
Patterson Hood: Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance
Pop Etc: Pop Etc
Punch Brothers: Who’s Feeling Young Now?
Regina Spektor: What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
Santigold: Master Of My Make-Believe
Sharon Van Etten: Tramp
Shearwater: Animal Joy
Sleigh Bells: Reign Of Terror
Southeast Engine: Canaanville
Spiritualized: Sweet Heart Sweet Light
Tame Impala: Lonerism
Tanlines: Mixed Emotions
Tennis: Young & Old
The Lumineers: The Lumineers
The Magnetic Fields: Love At The Bottom Of The Sea
The Mountain Goats: Transcendental Youth
The Shins: Port of Morrow
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives: Throw It To The Universe
The Tallest Man On Earth: There’s No Leaving Now
The Walkmen: Heaven
The xx: Coexist
Titus Andronicus: Local Business
White Arrows : Dry Land Is Not A Myth
Wiz Khalifa: O.N.I.F.C.
Yeasayer: Fragrant World

I’ve been eating better. I’ve been, say, seventy percent of the time, adhering to this thing called the Paleo Diet. There are a lot of rules, most of which nudge you toward cooking your own food. So I’ve been cooking a lot of my own food.

We have, actually. Alicia and I. She’s been cooking breakfast, I’ve been cooking dinner. Lunch has been a collaboration, often made from leftovers. This has been going on for over a year.

I’ve learned a lot. How to cut onions, mangoes, green peppers, etc. Not to fill a pan too much, lest moisture accumulate. How to use the broiler and what it’s good for. How to use a crock pot (and how not to use a crock pot).

I’ve made flourless pizza dough from scratch and flourless banana bread, egg muffins, omelets, fried fish, broiled fish, baked fish, seared steaks and pork chops, fried plantains, curries, “breaded” fish and chicken and pork and even chicken fried steak. I can’t think of a vegetable I haven’t roasted, steamed or sauteed. My mashed sweet potatoes are fantastic. My stir fries are — actually my stir fries are sub-par. I need to work on those.

There’s a lot I need to work on, actually. I’m not comfortable juggling more than two or three dishes at once. Braising is intimidating. I’d like to get comfortable throwing a stew together from ingredients on hand. Reducing sauces (say, from pan juices) has been a challenge. I want to figure out a good spice mix to make my almond butter more interesting. I’m still shaky with allspice or fish sauce or, hell, let’s say about a third of the other spices in the racks.

So I’d call this a hobby now. Cooking. I’m not aiming too high or anything, just enjoying it, the work of it. Sometimes the results.

Music, 2011

Nobody cares, I tell myself. And yet the urge to compile my favorite music from the year remains.

It’s been a good year for music for me, although using a subscription service makes it easy to explore so much that I worry not only that I haven’t taken enough time to savor the good stuff, but that I might lose track of some of it. So: lists.

I enjoyed these albums in 2011:

  • Abigail Washburn: City of Refuge
  • Adele: 21
  • Beady Eye: Different Gear, Still Speeding
  • Beastie Boys: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
  • Bon Iver: Bon Iver
  • The Builders and the Butchers: Dead Reckoning
  • Cake: Showroom of Compassion
  • Cass McCombs: Wit’s End
  • The Cave Singers: No Witch
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Hysterical
  • Death Cab for Cutie: Codes and Keys
  • The Decemberists: The King Is Dead
  • The Dodos: No Color
  • Dolorean: The Unfazed
  • Eisley: The Valley
  • Elbow: Build A Rocket Boys
  • Feist: Metal
  • The Felice Brothers: Celebration, Florida
  • Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues
  • Fruit Bats: Tripper
  • The Green Apple Sea: Northern Sky, Southern Sky
  • Handsome Furs: Sound Kapital
  • The Head and the Heart: The Head and the Heart
  • Hooray for Earth: True Loves
  • I’m From Barcelona: Forever Today
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Here We Rest
  • Kanye West & Jay-Z: Watch the Throne
  • Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo
  • The Low Anthem: Smart Flesh
  • Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes
  • Mates of State: Mountaintops
  • Middle Brother: Middle Brother
  • The Middle East: I Want That You Are Always Happy
  • The Midwest Beat: Gone Not Lost
  • Noah & The Whale: The Last Night On Earth
  • Oh No Oh My: People Problems
  • Paul Simon: So Beautiful Or So What
  • Peter Bjorn and John: Gimme Some
  • PJ Harvey: Let England Shake
  • Ryan Adams: Ashes & Fire
  • R.E.M.: Collapse Into Now
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage: Departing
  • Say Hi: Um, Uh Oh
  • Sloan: The Double Cross
  • Southeast Engine: Canary
  • Steve Earle: I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive
  • St. Vincent: Strange Mercy
  • The Strokes: Angles
  • Tapes n Tapes: Outside
  • Telekinesis: 12 Desperate Straight Lines
  • TV On The Radio: Nine Types of Light
  • Wilco: The Whole Love
  • Wiz Khalifa: Rolling Papers
  • The Wooden Birds: Two Matchsticks
  • Wye Oak: Civilian

And this is a handful of tracks I enjoyed from other albums:

  • Apex Manor: “Under the Gun”
  • Bastille: “Flaws”
  • Cage The Elephant: “Shake Me Down”
  • Cut Copy: “Need You Now”
  • Dawes: “Fire Away”
  • DeVotchKa: “Exhaustible”
  • The Forms: “Fire to the Ground”
  • The Get Up Kids: “Shatter Your Lungs”
  • Gomez: “Options”
  • Lia Ices: “Love Is Won”
  • Lupe Fiasco: “Till I Get There”

I haven’t listened to the new Coldplay, Jayhawks, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jens Lekman, Deer Tick, Cass McCombs (he put out two this year!) or Black Keys records yet. They might deserve a presence on one of these lists.


Standing Desk, Six Weeks In

The standing was a distraction from work when I started doing it. I could stand for an hour or two before my body would fight it and I’d need to sit to keep focused on what I was doing. (Luckily, my setup allowed for this: Laptop in sitting position, desktop in standing position. Remoting from laptop to desktop or vice versa.)

Now, it’s rarely a distraction, aside from folks asking about it from time to time. I’ve been in the zone for hours at a time, completely forgetting that I’m standing up. I’ll still sit during lunch, and maybe for thirty minutes here or there. I’ll often sit if I’m reading something lengthy, for instance.

A few other observations:

  • Coming home after a day on your feet and crashing on the couch (or making a nice dinner and sitting down to eat it) feels good. Satisfying.
  • Come the weekend, if I sit all day or sleep too long, I’ll feel like crap. Restless, and sometimes achy in the upper back or head.
  • I’ve been finding it easier to get to sleep at night, and easier to get out of bed in the morning. Also been finding myself a bit more energetic throughout the day.
  • I’ve been drinking regular soda instead of diet soda every now and then. Mountain Dew cravings. This could be unrelated.
  • One of my knees has been bothering me a bit. I’d started doing Couch to 5K again for a while, and this may be because of a tweak during that, or a combination of the standing and the running after months of virtually no activity. Not sure. But I should point it out, ’cause it definitely could be because of the standing.

Best of 2010: Albums

(or: A Collection of Highly Enjoyable Albums from 2010, Roughly Ordered By My Estimation of Their Quality)

Rogue Wave: Permalight
The National: High Violet
Frightened Rabbit: The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Phosphorescent: Here’s to Taking It Easy
The Tallest Man On Earth: The Wild Hunt
Slow Club: Yeah, So
Broken Bells: Broken Bells
The Black Keys: Brothers
Steel Train: Steel Train
Freelance Whales: Weathervanes
Harlan T. Bobo: Sucker
Broken Social Scene: Forgiveness Rock Record
Frontier Ruckus: Deadmalls and Nightfalls
The Morning Benders: Big Echo
Delta Spirit: History From Below
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin: Let It Sway
Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More

LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening

The Futureheads: The Chaos
Kings Go Forth: The Outsiders Are Back
Titus Andronicus: The Monitor
Roky Erickson & Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil
Horse Feathers: Thistled Spring
Band of Horses: Infinite Arms
Futurebirds: Hampton’s Lullaby
Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett
Venice is Sinking: Sand & Lines
Hot Chip: One Life Stand
Typhoon: Hunger and Thirst
The New Pornographers: Together
Matt Pond, PA: The Dark Leaves
Josh Ritter: So Runs the World Away
Yeasayer: Odd Blood
Call Me Lightning: When I Am Gone My Blood Will Be Free
Fran Healy: Wreckorder
Belle and Sebastian: Write About Love
The Rescues: Let Loose the Horses
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Fang Island: Fang Island
Vampire Weekend: Contra
Suckers: Wild Smile
Beach House: Teen Dream

Also, off the top of my head…
Disappointments: Gorillaz, Ryan Adams, Spoon
Overrated: Dum Dum Girls, Best Coast

Best Albums of 2010 So Far

I’ve been working on my list of the best albums of 2010 all year long this year. So far, here’s the shortlist:

Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More
The National: High Violet
Josh Ritter: So Runs the World Away
Frightened Rabbit: The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: I Learned the Hard Way
Broken Bells: Broken Bells
Phosphorescent: Here’s To Taking It Easy
The Tallest Man on Earth: The Wild Hunt
Good Old War: Good Old War
Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can
Band of Horses: Infinite Arms
Free Energy: Stuck on Nothing
Avi Buffalo: Avi Buffalo
Dum Dum Girls: I Will Be
Hot Chip: One Life Stand
Broken Social Scene: Forgiveness Rock Revord
LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening
Steel Train: Steel Train
Peter Wolf Crier: Inter-Be
The Roots: How I Got Over
Anais Mitchell: Hadestown
Laura Veirs: July Flame
Call Me Lightning: When I Am Gone My Blood Will Be Free
The Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Jesca Hoop: Hunting My Dress
Futurebirds: Hampton’s Lullaby
Best Coast: Crazy For You

You can view the live list here: http://schultzy.tadalist.com/lists/1352872/public. I’m moving things above the first dashed line as I decide they’ll make the list, and checking them off as I decide they’re not making the list.

Staggering Resolutions: Weekday Veg

It’s been a long time since I introduced “Staggering Resolutions,” my plan to do a new mini-resolution every month. The first one of those resolutions was to quit smoking, and I’ve had serious trouble sticking to that one. But now I’ve got several months of not smoking under my belt again, and I want to move on to the next thing.

So I’m trying a new one this month: weekday vegetarianism. This means exactly what it sounds like: Monday through Friday, I’m not eating meat. On the weekends, I’m reverting to my natural, carnivorous state.

I’ve found it a bit difficult to explain precisely why I’m compelled to do this. It’s mostly for health reasons, I think, but it’s also kind of interesting to change up my routine. And already, I’ve found one meal near the office that’s absolutely delicious, and which I probably never would’ve tried without the constraint of vegetarianism. (The meal: Alterra Foundry’s grilled veggie burrito.)

Anyway, this is happening. And I might blog about it some more. We’ll see.