Seafood Comes From the Sea, Right?

If you’re not lucky enough to live on a coast and have to buy your seafood inland, your choices are limited to supermarkets and maybe a fish market in a downtown strip district. I’m a writer, so why aren’t I writing my book like I did Something Fishy in Manhattan? Because sometimes I get stuck writing and my mind strays to what kind of FISH or SEAFOOD I’m going to make for dinner.  I started my research  by searching our supermarket’s weekly ad. A number of specials were IQF Salmon, fresh farm raised tilapia, and Alaska Sockeye Salmon: wild, natural, and sustainable; previously frozen.

I pictured dinner like this:Grilled salmon and vegetables Photo: Fotolia

What I didn’t know until I looked it up was that IQF wasn’t the company that provided the salmon but stood for Individually Quick Frozen instead. I had a lot to learn about fish, especially where it comes from. I’d finally gotten used to swai being sold at Walmart – it’s a “river-farmed catfish” of the Pangasius family – but according to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium in California (an authority on seafood and supplier to Whole Foods) the swai could be from the Mekong Delta or the Mississippi Delta which could make a difference in whether I bought it or not. Clearly I needed to research some more and find out the difference between farm raised and wild caught seafood.

50% of seafood worldwide is farm raised, according to NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), by aquaculture.

Opponents of this type of breeding claim substances like antibiotics and chemical polutants can be added and prove as harmful as mercury levels which can be higher in wild caught seafood. Fortunately in the U.S., companies like Whole Foods practice responsible aquaculture as do their suppliers, Blue Ocean Institute and Monterrey Bay Aquarium. But the U.S. imports 91% of the seafood that Americans eat and only inspects about 2% of it. It seems best to buy farm raised seafood from Whole Foods or at least look to see where it was raised. That is not to say that farm raised seafood from other countries is necessarily bad. You have to trust that your local supermarket is careful, that’s all. One of ours had an ad for Snow crab from the icy Bering Sea. I would have no problem buying that. Here’s an aquaculture farm:???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Photo: Dreamstime

The water looks clear and on the right, aerators add oxygen and provide flow.

50% of the world’s seafood, of course, is wild caught. I sometimes hesitate to buy it because you hear about higher mercury levels but the truth is that the health benefits (omega-3 acids) far outweigh the risks, and because the fish are not confined and swim freely they are less fatty than most farm-raised ones. That Organic Girl recommends wild caught seafood even though it can be 3 to 4 times more expensive. Incidently, there is not yet a standard for organic seafood so it is an incorrect usage if you see fish labelled “organic”.

The most enticing ads I saw were these two:

Wild Japanese Hokkaido Sea Scallops

Previously Frozen Wild Caught Fresh Scallops

I love sea scallops. I’m leaning toward getting the Hokkaido ones because we were just in Japan a few months ago. We ate all kinds of fish, cooked and raw, and had no idea where they came from. Everything was delicious including the green caterpillar (avocado and fish sushi) and ayu fish pictured below. Although Lent is over, the U.S. Department of Health suggests that we should eat more seafood – at least 3-6 oz per week or more – and that seafood on shelves at local supermarkets is safe to eat. In 2009, Americans ate 4.833 billions pound of it. Happy seafood shopping.

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I almost forgot one more fish thing: Don’t eat fugu (blowfish) unless you have death wish or you could end up like the villian in my book, Something Fishy in Manhattan (It’s less expensive on Smashwords, here, than Amazon above).

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What happens when you cry

Photo credit: Fotolia

Beautiful baby cryingThis little boy is in some sort of pain, don’t you think? Tears are starting to form in the glands under his eyelids and will soon drain through tear ducts that empty into his nose. When the tears and mucus mix, his nose will run and what mother wouldn’t give him a tissue? If you’re thinking a hug is called for, too, you’re probably a woman. Studies show that women give support more often to someone who is crying. Here are some other facts about crying:

* The chemicals that are cried out are ones that have built up during stress.

* Emotional tears contain different compounds than those from regular eye watering. The tears from slicing an          onion will be different than those after a lover’s quarrel. Tears when you’re upset contain enkephalin, an endorphin and pain killer.

*When you cry, your body shakes and your temperature rises.

*Your skin becomes more sensitive and your breathing deepens as you start to cry.

*Blinking of eyelids causes your tears to spread.

If you can get someone to laugh when they’re on a crying jag, though, here’s what happens then:

*Laughter promotes increased blood flow

* Stress hormones are reduced and your immune system gets a boost.

*Laughter promotes healing and produces disease-fighting compounds.

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Photo credit: Dreamstime

Laughter is infectious and could get you a hug just the same as crying can. It can even get you through a bad work day when you feel like crying.

Thank you Writing Community!

Thank you

In “Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of A Mistress”, Ben Franklin said it is preferable to choose an older woman over a young one because….”they are so grateful”.

This isn’t about sex, but gratitude has something to be said for it as a feeling.

Consider these two recent tweets:

“Gratitude creates a positive attitude” – NotsoAwesomeAlex

“Be grateful. Our energy is increased when we add a little gratitude to all that we do.” – Sean Gardner

When you consider all that writers do, I find it refreshing, and worthy of thanks, that people take the time to support, advise, encourage, and help other writers. Social media alone

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is quite a handful, not even counting writing a book, editing, revising, publishing, and promoting it. I have ten toes and  the Writing Communiiy has my thanks for at least that many things.

I hope I didn’t forget anyone, but here is my list of people to thank:

1. To friends on Google+, Twitter, Goodreads, BookandReader, Linkedin, and Facebook, thank you for finding time to comment (“nice blog”, “good review”, “interesting point”). It makes me feel like I’m part of group of people who care about what I do. It makes my day, sometimes, too.

2. Thanks to knowledgeable people who patiently explain things or offer suggestions on Linkedin or other discussions. This “free” learning is invaluable.

3. Special thanks to the people who read my books. I know that’s subjective, but I sincerely appreciate it.

4. Promotional sites may have their own agendas, but so many of them make it easy to promote books for free. I’ve listed them in a previous blog  so I won’t name them here. Many of them have easy to follow directions and even follow-up with an email to let you know what they’ve done. They definitely get a thank you.

5. Thanks to writers who “like” discussions, author pages, comments, and posts. When you recognize the names it strengthens your sense of community and provides new connections  and friends.

6. Kudos to writers who tweet or post interesting news about writing, editing, and publishing.  I also appreciate those who provide humorous and entertaining moments.

7. Thanks to the many professionals – cover designers, editor, publishers, and printers – who help us produce a good product. The self-publishing companies have earned my gratitude for making publishing for free so easy and fast. Whether it takes you 2 or 20 tries to get it right, they don’t judge. Mistakes can be corrected easily, too.

8. I also thank literary agents who send feedback even if they are not interested in my book.

9. Thanks to people who review books for free. This is a wonderful thiig.

10. My most heartfelt thanks goes to all people who read, which includes writers, of course. In this case, the audience deserves the applause for a change. Why else do we write at all?

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What type of books do you like to read?

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Do you usually read only one genre of books? Maybe, like me, you read a lot of different types of books, but still have a favorite variety. I’ve included children’s books, but since most people read to their children or grandchildren (at least I hope so), only choose that categaory if you actually read them yourself. I’m interested in what books are the most popular, but I also wonder if there is a correlation between WordPress readers and readers of a particular genre. Vote below and see the results here.

GROUNDHORSE Day better watching Puppy Bowl X

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Okay, Phil the Groundhog saw his shadow on February 2, 2014, but he probably wasn’t as frightened by it as the Denver Broncos seemed to be of the Seattle Seahawks in SuperBowl XLVIII. The event started off great with the reading of the Declaration of Independence by prominent football players, coaches, and dignitaries. Queen Latifa sang America the Beautiful and opera star, Renee Fleming, sang the National Anthem. (I was enjoying that immensely until she deviated from the straight tune at the end, like so many others. It’s no wonder players showcase when they make a big play – seems everyone does it). Even Joe Namath’s coin toss promised an exciting game, but a bad snap which gave Seattle a safety and did not bode well for Denver. Hey, only two points, right?  But soon, the Seahawks were up 23-0 and not even a strange young girl pushing Maseratis commercial or Charlie Brown and Schroeder playing the piano for Metlife could ease the feeling that the Broncos were being ground to a pulp.

Why didn’t Peyton Manning do what he does best – throw the ball 20 0r 30 yeards downfield and get first down after first down? Run plays and short passes accomplished nothing and with 1:45 left in the second quarter, Seattle had 9 first downs and Denver only 1. Oh, but there was the halftime show with The Chili Peppers and lots more commercials. But Jerry Seinfeld and George discussing using the bathroom in someone’s master bedroom and then joking around and getting coffee didn’t help much. That’s when we found the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. Eight adorable puppies played with a variety of footballs and toys on a scaled down indoor football mat. One puppy was called for “intentional growling” and another picked up a  toy and walked across the goal line. Touchdown! It was cute but a a little hokey. We had a serious football game to get back to.

Percy Harvin (Seattle)  returned the first kick for a touchdown as the second half started. 29-0 now and it got worse. But there was still hope and the promise of more commercials. Laurence Fishburne singing Italian Opera in the back of Kia, a bear ringing the bell on the counter of a country store to get more Chobani, and an American extravaganza with ferris wheels, Rosie the Riveter, and baseball moments for Chrysler (Imported from Detroit) failed to improve the situation.  The memory of some of the better ads in the first half helped a little. Colbert proclaiming “I think we’re done” after talking up Wonderful Pistachios and then a second commercial where his head opens to reveal a ‘stachio inside, was good. There was David Beckham in a tank top for H&M, a “the 80’s called, they want their store back” Radio Shack funny, Tim Tebow for T-mobile, and Ellen Degeneres dancing for Beats music. I have to stop and tell an Ellen story. She said, “My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 65. She’s 95 now and we don’t know where the hell she is.” Now that’s funny.

Okay, so Denver finally gets a touchdown and it’s 43-8. But the clock says only 11 minutes are left in the 4th quarter. Time to check the Puppy Bowl. The same pup, a labrador, that scored first has two more touchdowns and one of them was even with a toy football, not a tug-of-war toy. Relunctantly we turn back to the game for a few more ccommercials. John Stamos takes his pants off for Oikos, a cute puppy and Clydesdale ad for Budweiser is ususal, and a variation of the Mean Joe Green Coke commercial starring a kid who carries the football all the way from his homefield to a big-league stadium brings memories. But there is no getting around the fact that this is the worst Superbowl that I can remember. The best offense and the best defense in the League were supposed to offer an exciting game. But it was the worst ever, maybe. I guess someone will check and dispute that, but it’s over, thankfully, and there’s still more football to come on Puppy Bowl X. Even if it’s replays, puppies are cute.