It looks as though the fire has pretty much been contained.  After several days of high winds, low humidity and brutal temperatures (up to 100° F), Santa Barbara late spring weather has reasserted itself.  We woke up yesterday (after a fairly sleepless night, what with a big red glow looming over the horizon) to cool, foggy weather.  The flames we could see leaping up the night before from the canyon above us, were completely obscured by the fog.

As one of the fire officials said in a welcome respite from ‘incidentese’, “Now we can chase the fire instead of having the fire chase us.”  Which looks like what has happened.  They have chased it and beaten it down. Most people are back into their homes, including those evacuees who were bunking in with us and got the word they could go back home at 10 AM today. We and our house escaped unscathed.  Not even a cinder or ash so far.

As I was transferring my fire photos from my camera to iPhoto, I realized I hadn’t transferred the photos I took a couple of weeks ago when we were in Tahoe.  It was nice to see some peaceful pictures without fire and smoke in them.  The one above is the view from my office window looking across the lake toward Squaw Valley just a little after daybreak.  That’s the time I love to get up, grab a hot cup of Americano, and start into my reading before the phone starts ringing.  If MD didn’t have a big concert coming up in a couple of weeks, that’s where we would be now.  And would stay at least until all this fire cleanup is finished.  It would be nice to be able to sleep without one eye on the skyline and an ear open listening for the wind.

MD and I thank you all for your good thoughts, prayers and well wishes during these frightening times.  I hope we don’t have to go through anything like this for a good long time – if ever.  Twice in six months is a little much.

A Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!  MD was treated to brunch today by a couple of our kids and our granddaughter.  I went along to provide the color commentary.


  1. Now that it seems you are physically safe, I think you deserve some kind of post-trauma treat, don’t you?! A nap, at the very least!

    Thanks. I did take a nap yesterday. First one in a long time.

  2. Am happy that you and yours are good ans safe, but have a fire related question…

    It seems like, in the three years I’ve been following the blog and the program (50 lbs gone and maintained off, more or less depending on diligence and motivation), I believe this is the third wildfire scare on your home. I know, from visiting, that the Central Coast is wonderful, but c’mon. You’re living in a luxury version of a flood plain. And not one of those 30 year flood plains where it might go a generation before the water goes “that high”, but on an annual flood plain, like the Mississippi delta. Only your flood is fire, not water. If you could live and work anywhere, why not just permanently decamp for Tahoe, where they don’t have massive fires every year? I’m sure there are good reasons, but this seems like a bit of cognitive dissonance. You know, sooner or later, you’re gonna have a fire that you have to evac from, and probably even rebuild from, right?

    There haven’t been big fires in this area in ages, then, bam, three in about three years. At this point, almost everything that could burn has burned, so we’re probably safe. We do decamp for Tahoe a lot of the time. In fact, while we were there last year fires in that part of the country were devastating. We weren’t threatened with being burned, but the ash, soot and air quality was worse than we’ve ever had it here.

  3. Thank you for the beautiful photo. I just made it my desktop background so that I, too, can see it every morning!

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. It is a grand view.

  4. Thanks for the update. Glad to hear you are out of harms way!

    On an unrelated note, I just came across a short article discussing a study that I have questions about. Briefly it concerns the effects of taking anti-inflammatories (Vit C & E here) on insulin sensitivity etc. in people on an exercise regimen. I realize it is just one study covering only two supplements, but as a consumer of alpha-lipoic acid, CoQ10, Vit D, MG, and a multivitamin I want to make sure I am doing no harm. Any thoughts???


  5. Pardon the interruption, totally off topic. (Glad you’re okay, of course.) I’m starting to put together clips of extra bonus interview footage that couldn’t go on the Fat Head DVD and posting them on the blog. You are among the experts featured in today’s clip. Thought your fans might want to know. http://www.fathead-movie.com


  6. We are happy that you are all OK.

    Slightly off topic. My old neighbor in Virginia (who was also my anesthesiologist when my first daughter was born) has written a book.


    Wow! I thought I’d give the book a shameless plug through you if you don’t mind. He’s a great guy.

    Here you go. One shameless plug. Hope he gets some sales.

  7. More off topic- Just read, in a Jim Mercola newsletter, that it takes 48 hours for vitamin D to be absorbed through your skin, and showering, at least with soap, washes it away! He suggests only using soap on underarm and groin areas.

    What do you think of this? Just when I felt I could cut out oral vitamin D because I’m out gardening every day!

    I’m skeptical of this claim. As I understand it – and, admittedly, I’m not the world’s expert on vitamin D – the reaction synthesizing vitamin D is between the UVB light and cholesterol within the skin, not on it. I don’t really believe that it can be washed away. I willing to be proven wrong, however.

  8. Any thoughts on this HFCS/glucose study?



    John W.

    Sure. Glucose is much better than fructose. Most of the problems laid at the doorstep of sugar are because of the half of it that is fructose. Glucose does raise insulin levels, however, so pure glucose isn’t a panacea. But, despite the fact that it doesn’t raise insulin levels, fructose is much worse in many other ways.

  9. Stay safe.

    BTW have you seen this study? I am sure we would all love your take on it.


    If you exercise to improve your metabolism and prevent diabetes, you may want to avoid antioxidants like vitamins C and E.

    That is the message of a surprising new look at the body’s reaction to exercise, reported on Monday by researchers in Germany and Boston.

    Exercise is known to have many beneficial effects on health, including on the body’s sensitivity to insulin. “Get more exercise” is often among the first recommendations given by doctors to people at risk of diabetes.

    But exercise makes the muscle cells metabolize glucose, by combining its carbon atoms with oxygen and extracting the energy that is released. In the process, some highly reactive oxygen molecules escape and make chemical attacks on anything in sight.

    These reactive oxygen compounds are known to damage the body’s tissues. The amount of oxidative damage increases with age, and according to one theory of aging it is a major cause of the body’s decline.

    The body has its own defense system for combating oxidative damage, but it does not always do enough. So antioxidants, which mop up the reactive oxygen compounds, may seem like a logical solution.

    The researchers, led by Dr. Michael Ristow, a nutritionist at the University of Jena in Germany, tested this proposition by having young men exercise, giving half of them moderate doses of vitamins C and E and measuring sensitivity to insulin as well as indicators of the body’s natural defenses to oxidative damage.

    The Jena team found that in the group taking the vitamins there was no improvement in insulin sensitivity and almost no activation of the body’s natural defense mechanism against oxidative damage.

    The reason, they suggest, is that the reactive oxygen compounds, inevitable byproducts of exercise, are a natural trigger for both of these responses. The vitamins, by efficiently destroying the reactive oxygen, short-circuit the body’s natural response to exercise.

    “If you exercise to promote health, you shouldn’t take large amounts of antioxidants,” Dr. Ristow said. A second message of the study, he said, “is that antioxidants in general cause certain effects that inhibit otherwise positive effects of exercise, dieting and other interventions.” The findings appear in this week’s issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Full study here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/05/11/0903485106.full.pdf+html?sid=9833dbe1-4afb-4a8b-946b-cc8789ac77cd

  10. Glad to know you guys are ok and doing well. I’ve never had to go through anything like that, except for when I lived in Omaha and experienced the tornado warnings. Never had a tornado though (thank God).

    Lovely photo of Tahoe. It would be very inspiring to wake up to that.

    Stay safe. Jim

  11. Interrupting our pause here to contemplate nature, may I raise a question regarding cholesterol?

    For the first time in 20 years, I recently presented myself to Kaiser Permanente for an ordinary check-up. After several months of eating eggs, cheese and cream with abandon, my blood tests produced the following: Total Cholesterol 544; HDL 123; LDL 409; triglycerides 59.

    My doctor ordered an immediate EKG and advised moving directly to medication to reduce LDL. On the basis of your work and others, I declined this advice based on the usual factors: my lipid ratios were ok; probably larger LDL particles; tenuous connection of Cholesterol to heart disease, and most importantly, the fact that I apparently have no risk factors whatsoever (familial or otherwise) for this type of disease.

    Still, I have to admit, in my reading I rarely see TC and LDL numbers this high. Any thoughts? If I should be concerned, could you briefly indicate why?

    For reference, I’m female, 53 years old, 5’4″ 125 lbs, blood pressure 107/68, no medical conditions with the exception of some menopausal symptioms.

    Thanks so much!!!

    You, of course, must consult your own physician on this. However, if you were my patient, which you aren’t, I would send you for an EBT (electron beam tomography) scan of your heart. If your calcium score were normal, I wouldn’t worry about it. I would sent my patients to get EBT scans as screening procedures instead of the other scans out there that most cardiologists recommend because these other scanning machines inflict way more radiation than I think people need simply for a screening scan. I have my patients seek out an EBT scanning center because for screening procedures these machines are as accurate as the others, but with significantly (and I do mean significantly) less radiation. Good luck.

  12. This is completely OT but wanted to let you know.

    My mom was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus a couple of weeks ago. She’s not that internet savvy so I decided to do some research on it. Of course, I found the standard advice. Cut the coffee, tomatoes, citrus, and fat. *sigh* Then, I decided to google “Barrett’s low carb” and yours was one of the first posts that popped up. Sure enough you wrote a post on it back in 2005. I’m not sure why I didn’t think to look on your blog earlier.

    I printed off your entry for her. She’s pretty scared of getting esophageal cancer, having had many cancers younger in life. She’s been on a low carb diet all of one week now and her indigestion is pretty much gone. She has tortilla chips the other night and sure enough, they caused indigestion. I have recommended she avoid carbs and those nasty inflammatory vegetable oils.

    To be honest, I’m really glad she came down with this. Her and my dad’s diet has been terrible all their life. Tons of boxed and canned junk. Now I think she’ll really make the effort to change… finally. She’s been a constant thorn in my side with regard to my grandfather, too, who is a Type II diabetic (always feeding him sugar, telling us we are spoilsports for trying to deny him, etc.) He, too, is doing tons better. He is now down 30 lbs. in just a few months, insulin usage down 60% since I sent him Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution.

    A big thanks to you! Your blog had made, and continues to make, a huge difference in my and my family’s health.

    Glad you’re getting value from the blog. There are no studies to prove it, but I would bet that your mother’s Barrett’s will improve them finally resolve on a good low-carb diet. Once the acid quits damaging the esophageal mucosa it should begin to return to normal.

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