Archived entries for Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

it tastes of california sunshine

I just returned from one of the most fulfilling afternoons for my foodie self at Hillcrest Farmer’s Market, about a 18 minute drive away from my digs here in Scripps Ranch. In this post, I will record my purchases. In the next, I will outline some of the major points Robert Sapolsky makes in Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers about stress and food consumption because although it is not directly relevant to the project with the babies, it resonates with a lot of people nowadays so I figure it worthy for the blog.

My purchases

-4 organic fennel bulbs, for 2 fennel fontina pizzas I’m going to make tomorrow in honor of Penny’s birthday (link is to my food blog, a collaborative effort with Scott Schnur ’10 over the course of the Spring 2010 semester)

-1 container of peanut butter hummus (yes, such a thing exists; so glad the stars aligned that way)

-lots of heirloom zucchini and summer squash for a vegetable lasagna I will also make tomorrow

-1 bunch of organic basil

-6 pluots (plum-apricot hybrid) that my taste buds forced me to buy after trying a sample

-1/2 pound of dried apricots, California style; was turned on to these by Harper Hubbeling ’11 freshman year, who taught me the proper pronunciation and mouthfeel of the dried delicacy; was informed by the saleswoman today that they taste of California sunshine

-2 bunches of candy-striped beets*

-1 container of cilantro-, chile- and garlic-ridden labneh (cannot wait to make sandwiches; yum)

-1 handcrafted ring featuring a stone of which I forget the name (I’ll ask them next time I go, in T-168 hours), fit to size in front of my eyes on a ring stretcher made in 1921

-1 organic iced coffee with soy milk and agave nectar that did not stand a chance against my thirst/fatigue

-1 spicy mushroom/garlic gourmet tamale that did not stand a chance against my hunger (finally, I know what Adam Mayer ’10 has been talking about regarding Mexican food on the West Coast-sorry any other Mexican food I’ve ever eaten; I would have eaten the husk if it were edible, I swear; no more California dreamin’)

-2 green glass tumblers made from recycled wine bottles for Jay ’73 and Penny as a sign of my gratitude, in honor of Penny’s upcoming birthday, and because I wanted to add to their collection of incredible cups (Jay blows glass, see below)

*P.S. In the spirit of eating healthily, not wasting food, and loving to cook things I’ve never cooked before, I asked what to do with radish leaves. The man I asked relayed my question to his son who was about my age who asked first if I was raw, vegan, vegetarian, etc. before he proceeded. His suggestion was to wash the leaves, spread them some tahini, hummus, or nut spread of my choice, pan-fry them, and enjoy. Nom x 1,000,000.

this time tomorrow, it’ll be three hours earlier

What a week! Preparing for my departure has been a full-time job, especially considering the added neuroticism of an individual who has ne’er-before traveled by air. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I’m about to embark on my first adventure in the sky. Here are some thematically-appropriate tunes, even though I already booked my flight and I’m not going over the sea.

I’ve been shopping to smarten up/California-ize my wardrobe and gathering all of the last minute necessities that have spent a little too long simmering on the back burner. I just finished packing my carry-on, which barely falls under the limit in both weight and size, and my personal item, a stuffed-to-the-brim backpack complete with airplane snacks and enough reading material for a time period equivalent to the length of my flight cubed.

Tomorrow, the Cherichello clan is getting up bright and early to have a family breakfast before Dad has to go to work and my brother (Johnny) has to set off to school. Mom is taking the day off to take me to the airport, which I greatly appreciate.

Anyway, on a note directly relevant to the project, I received an e-mail about a required Biomedical Ethics training course that I had to take online due to my involvement with this summer’s music therapy research with human subjects. This course, mandated by the UCSD Institutional Review Board (IRB), ended up taking me longer than expected because I became fascinated with the array of completely unethical studies throughout history that led to today’s cautionary procedures. One study that sticks out for quite a number of scientific errors intended to determine whether sleeping or being physically active allowed for more digestion. The researcher fed two prisoners a large amount of food, then sent one to bed and one to engage in vigorous physical activity. Going through the lessons and quizzes of this course brought me back to this semester’s Experimental Methods and Statistics (colloquially, “Psych Stat”) at Haverford, as they mark one of the many prerequisites to my first engagement with IRB-approved research as a role other than “participant.” Although I have conducted two group studies at school, both have been for lab classes and thus have not gone through the IRB. I feel so legit!

To further build on this legitimacy, I’m continuing my progress with Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers and Music Therapy for Premature Infants (I’ve yet to mention the second in any detail, but that post is soon to come). Both have incited in me countless a-ha moments, whether they regard my own experience as a stressed person, my (limited, but growing) knowledge of infant development, or the power of music. If I were already in SD,  it would be merely 12:30 a.m. and my eyes would not be feeling the wee-hours-burn, so this post would include some of the content of these “a-has,” but for now, they must wait.

One last exiting update is that I meet Dr. Patel for the first time over lunch at the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) on Tuesday at noon, after which we are both heading over to Rady Children’s Hospital for the first meeting with Dr. Knight. I have training at the hospital during the next few mornings and will my afternoons at NSI.

In sum: sleep, family breakfast, Newark airport, California by 4:30 (7:30…), readreadread, acclimation. I can’t believe this thing that I’ve been talking about for so long and thinking about for even longer is happening. Wish me luck!

Note: Posts following this one should be full of photographs, pending the purchase of batteries for my camera.

Stress 101

While I was waiting for my parents to pick me at Haverford, I started reading Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping by Robert Sapolsky, a book Ani assigned to me to introduce some of the concepts we would be dealing with this summer. I haven’t gotten far yet, but the entertaining and approachable writing makes me excited about progressing through the book.

The beginning of the book had already altered the way I think about stress. Sapolsky remarks that the stress-response is the set of bodily reactions that is intended to help the body return to homeostasis after experience of or in anticipation of a stressor. Most humans have very few of the acute and chronic physical stressors that plague animals like having to hunt their food, but all animals have adapted ways to effectively cope with these stressors. Much of human stress is chronic psychological and social turmoil that never manifests physically, and this tends to lead to physical illness. The energy that is expended on the stress response cannot contribute to development and maintenance of other vital bodily functions like the immune system.

The directly relates to the population of babies that I will be working with this summer because the stress of cardiac surgery and of constant NICU stimuli effects their growth and development. Music certainly has the potential to reduce stress, and stress reduction is particularly important for babies, especially those that are at risk. And now, a lullaby rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUWvYFRCm8o



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