Thursday, February 14, 2019

February nonfiction: Stealing Fire

I finished one nonfiction book so far in February. I have a couple more in pile for February, but one is my minimum requirement for 19 for 2019.

I chose Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal.

There are no official book notes because there is nothing I wanted to remember about this book.  I hated this book.

I bought it last year or so after hearing these guys on a podcast. It must have been a really fascinating podcast to get me to spend my money on this. It was bugging me that I hadn't read it yet, so I put it on my list, which was basically the purpose of the 19 for 2019 resolution.

The book is basically about what normal people call flow state, but more like an extreme version of flow state they call ecstasis.

They begin with a very interesting chapter about the SEALs and how their most critical requirement is the ability to achieve hive mind or group think or whatever you want to call it. And how this (mostly, so far) has been nearly impossible to screen for (which they then disprove in later chapter, ref: AI Ellie). I liked that they did not take one second even explaining what hive mind or group think is. Although I must say, if I had never experienced it myself (exactly one time that I can remember) I might have been skeptical right from chapter one.

They also go on to state right away that this ecstasis is also historically achieved through religious experience, psychedelic drugs, meditation, extreme sports, and dancing. I liked that they included "dancing" (they don't define it further) because my mind meld experience happened at a ballroom dance.

The following chapters reference a huge amount of research, books, etc on technology that is not available to us, drugs that are illegal, neurobiology, church, state, etc. I thought at some point they would describe a "try this at home" scenario that actually applies to home-schooling mothers who also have 3 other jobs. But the closest thing comes on page 137: But for the rest (of) us? Those with lives and wives and things that matter? Are we shut out of these "alternate universes"? Do we have to make an impossible choice between dedicating decades to practice or accepting intolerable risks to get there faster? 

And then sadly, they go on to answer their own question by suggesting that we book an appointment at iFly.

That's it. That's the answer. Book an appointment at iFly.

They don't actually go back and revisit their own statements about music (playing it or listening to it), dancing, meditation, even seeing a movie.

The research and "facts" are fraught with confirmation basis, and every page is dripping with Burning Man elitism. They actually acknowledge this in the last section of the book which must have been required by their editor or publisher, which is sort of a brief apology that their book has the tone that it does.  Unfortunately you have to read all the way to the end to even get this half-hearted apology.

I'm not really sure who the intended audience is for this book. If not Silicon Valley, who is already aware of the tech/neurobiology described, then who? I would assume it would be for more of the layperson like myself. However, it's not really cool to make a big show of showing us behind the curtain, when all that's back there is stuff that still doesn't apply to us. And for experienced biohackers, there's actually nothing in the book that I didn't already know. It is a good list of resources for further research, but if you're already in this field of study, you wouldn't be starting with this book. Perhaps this is meant to be recruiting type of book for someone just starting to study, someone at least 20 years younger than myself.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

January novels and classic movie

As part of 19 for 2019, I'm reading at least one novel per month and watching at least one classic movie per month.

For January, the movie was The Million Pound Note. 

It is currently available to stream with Amazon Prime. It is based on a Mark Twain story and stars Gregory Peck. I knew nothing about it. Mike watched it with me and he said he recognized the story from an Eddie Murphy movie. I had to look that up on the Internet and came up with the Eddie Murphy movie Trading Places. I haven't seen that one either. We liked The Million Pound Note although the love story is outdated.

I read 2 short stories for my January fiction.

The first was The Christmas Pearl by Dorothea Benton Frank. It is a fantasy/ghost story and it has great traditional Christmas imagery.

I also read The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie. It also has nice imagery and a happy ending. It's included in The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries which was released in 2013 as a book of vintage/pulp stories.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

{genealogy} Foote ancestry part 6 - John Foote

John Foote

Heather’s 12th great grandfather

John Foote was born about 1523 in Royston, Hertfordshire, England. He married Helen Warren in 1548 in Hertfordshire, England. They had four children during their marriage, including my ancestor Robert Foote. John died in 1558 at the young age of 35, assuming he was born in 1523. He left a will, so it is possible that he was ill. The will is undated, but was probated 18 Jul 1558. His parentage is unknown, both according to the Foote Family Association and NEHGS.

He owned a small manor house along with some land in the town of Royston, according to the Foote Family Association.

His will indicates that his occupation was tallow chandler.

Extract from his will:

His will revealed that he had a wife named Helen, sons Robert and John, and daughters Aves or Avis (Alice) and Elizabeth.

The will also eluded to the testator's brother Foote, first name not stated and his two older children.

He left to the church of Royston, 20s;
To wife Helen, all lands and tenements in Royston for life; and L80 to be divided among all the children;

To servant Maud Smythe L6/13/4 to her marriage;

L3 that my brother Foot oweth to his two eldest children;

To wife's brother Richard Warren the younger and to her uncle John Jenawaye of Stoone, 40s each;

To wife the rest;
To son Robert a goblet, feather bed and bedding;
To son John Foot a silver salt, feather bed and bedding;
To Aves Foote and Elizabeth Foote, daughters, each three of the best spoons, bed and bedding;

All the remainder to wife named executrix.


William Meede, citizen and grocer of London;
John Jenaway,
Nicholas Warreyn of Bassingbourn
Richard Warreyn of Bassingbourn.

Regarding the alleged Foote coat of arms: I hate to be a spoilsport, but it is not registered with the official College of Arms in the UK. In other words, it isn't really a coat of arms. It perhaps was just someone's fun idea of participating in heraldry 100 years ago, which is fine, but it's just art, not a coat of arms.

There is also no evidence of the existence of the alleged James Foote who allegedly received the award. Sorry!

{genealogy} Foote ancestry part 5 - Robert Foote

Robert Foote

Heather’s 11th great grandfather

When Robert Foote was born in 1553 in England, his father, John, was 30 and his mother, Helen, was 33. He married Joan Brook on June 18, 1576, in St. Leonard’s Church, Eastcheap, London, England. They had 9 children during their marriage (some genealogies mistakenly omit youngest son Francis). The 9 children included my ancestor, Nathaniel Foote Sr. Robert died in February 1608 in Shalford, Essex, England, at the age of 55. Joan Brook was baptized 11 May 1555 in St. Leonard’s of Eastcheap, London.  She died 10 Oct 1634.

Their burial location is unmarked. The original St. Leonard’s Church in Eastcheap was burned in a fire in 1666 and was not rebuilt. Another St. Leonard’s Church exists in nearby Shoreditch, London, and is often confused with the Eastcheap St. Leanord’s. Even so, that location was heavily damaged in WWII and no gravestones remain.

At one time some genealogies suggested that Robert’s father was also named Robert, and that his mother’s name was unknown. The American Genealogist by NEHGS published 2 deep-dive analyses on this family in 1977 and 1978. One needs to read both analyses together, but ultimately it seems proven that the person originally believed to be the elder Robert, actually does not exist. This Robert’s father is John Foote who married Helen Warren. Some records associated with John were confusing enough that early genealogists attributed his records to someone they thought was named Robert. Thus, the elder “Robert”, and the John who married Helen Warren, are actually the same person.

Robert’s father died when Robert was 5 years old. His mother Helen then re-married to John Hall, trumpeter. 

Here is Robert and Joan’s marriage record:

Robert had a brother named John Jr. who was a wealthy grocer (grosser) in London. Robert’s will indicates that he was by no means poor, but was not as wealthy as his brother. Robert was a yeoman, which meant “freeholder”, just under the rank of “gentleman”, and meant that one owned a small estate of land. Robert owned property in Shalford and in Royston, and had the occupation of fishmonger. We learn his occupation from the will of his father-in-law.

Here is text from his will:
Robert Foote of Shalford, Essex, yeoman, 27 January 1608, proved 15 Feb 1608.

To the poor in the parish twenty shillings. to the poor in Wethersfield 20s. To my well beloved wife Joan, during her natural life, all such yearly rent as to me is reserved out of my lease of certain tenements which I hold for divers years

yet enduring by the grant of Sir Robert Chester knight and lying and being in the town of Royston, the yearly rent whereof to me reserved is at this present eight pounds. I give her also one annuity of four pounds to be paid during her natural life by my son Robert.

To my son James 5oF.
To son Daniel 40L at four and twenty.
The same each to sons, Nathaniel, Francis, and Josua at like ages .
To daughter Elizabeth Foote 40L at day of marriage or at age of thirty.
To son Joseph my lease and term of years in a certain hopground called Plomley w hich I hold by lease from Mr. Josyas Clarke and his wife.

Other gifts to him. Certain household stuff to wife.

Elizabeth Ormes my maid servant.
To --Tibbet, wi fe of William Tibbett, 5s in recompence of her pains she hath taken with me.

To Mr. Richard Rogers preacher of God his word 20s.

The wife of George Elsing. Thomas Cott.

To my son Robert my free tenement or mansion house wherein I now inhabit, with the land and the stock of hop poles upon the hop ground, he to pay the legacies & c.

The residue of my goods &c. to all my children.

If it happen my daughter Mary Heewes to be departed then her part to be paid to her children.

For the execution of this will I do ordain, nominate and appoint my well beloved son Robert Foote to be my sole executor and I do desire my well beloved brother John Foote of London grocer and my son in law John Hewe s of Royston to be supervisors and assistants to my executors. Dorset, 21

{genealogy} Foote ancestry part 4 - Nathaniel Foote Sr.

Nathaniel Foote Sr.

Heather’s 10th great grandfather

When Nathaniel Foote was born in 1592 in England, his father, Robert, was 39 and his mother, Joan, was 37. He married Elizabeth Deming around the year 1615, in England. They had 7 children during their marriage, the first 6 being born in England, and the 7th probably in Massachusetts. One of those children was my ancestor, Nathaniel Jr. Nathaniel Sr. died in 1644 in Wethersfield, Connecticut, at the age of 52, and was buried there, in the burying ground in the rear of the Meeting House.

He has his own Wikipedia page here:

He is listed as a Puritan in A Catalogue of the Names of the First Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut, p. 133.

From A Modern History of New London, Connecticut published 1922.

NF being first of New England record at Watertown, Massachusetts, where he took the oath of allegiance in 1633. Later, he became of the first settlers of Wethersfield, Connecticut, where he died in 1644, “an intelligent, pious, and industrious farmer,” and one of the magistrates of the colony of Connecticut.

From The Great Migration:

Origin: Shalford, Essex
Migration: 1634
First Residence: Watertown
Removes: Wethersfield, 1635
Freeman: 3 Sep 1634, Watertown
Offices: Deputy for Wethersfield to Connecticut General Court, 9 Sep 1641, 9 Nov 1641, 5 Jan 1642, Apr 1644. Also served on jury twice.
Estate: Watertown had homestead of 16 acres and marsh of 2 acres. Acquired by Henry Curttris late 1635 or early 1636.

His birth estimated at 1592 based on his apprenticeship record, being age 16 on 21 Sep 1608.

In 1644, there is a reference to him suing Robert Rose and winning. (Robert Rose is also my ancestor.)

From 80 Immigrants, published 1969:

"Nathaniel Foote was one of the first 10 settlers at Wethersfield. They were known as “the adventurers” and he was the largest holder of so-called “Adventurer’s lands”, amounting in all to over 400 acres. His home lot was at the south end of Broad Street, and his name is still perpetuated there by a street known as Foote Path Lane. He died intestate."

(Heather writing:) The word “Adventurer”, though it sounds heroic and dramatic, actually is just derived from the word “venture”. Also, Foote Path Lane still exists at the end of Broad Street in Wethersfield, just as described in 1969.

From Hartford County, Connecticut, Memorial History 1633-1884

"In addition to John Oldham, the few persons known in the Wethersfield records as the “Adventurers” (that is, occupants of land not deriving their title from the town) were, either in person or by representation, the settlers of 1634. Among these were the following, all from Watertown: William Bassum, John Clarke, Abraham Finch, Sgt. John Strickland, Robert Rose, Andrew Ward, William Swayne, Leonard Chester, Nathaniel Foote.

NF had the largest share of adventure-lands, his coming to CT was not the earliest; it having been, according to all indications, in 1635. He was an elderly man, and among his posterity have been some of Connecticut’s most distinguished sons."

From The Great Migration Newsletter, 1993:

"This all may be true, without requiring that the permanent settlement actually began in 1634. The Adventurers may simply have invested financially in the move to Connecticut at an early time, and this would seem very likely for such wealthy men as Nathaniel Foote and Leonard Chester."

From Foote Genealogy Vol 2 by Abram Foote, published 1932:

Abstract of the record of the record of the apprenticeship agreement of our NF from the Court of Rolls of the Borough of Colchester as follows: “NF aged 16 years, son of Robert Foot of Shalford in Com. Essex yeoman doth put himself apprentice to Samuel Croylye of Colchester, aforesaid grocer and Free Burgess from the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel last past for the term of 8 years. Dated 21 Sep V James I (1608). Sealed and delivered in the presence of me Robert Foot and of me George Lumpkin.”

(Heather writing:) A “grocer” at that time was a “grosser”, meaning, a wholesale merchant. Someone who sold big lots of things, by the gross, not by the pound or small quantity. The Foote Family Association also reports that Nathaniel was a grocer himself as of 18 Oct 1619, when he bought a “messuage” from Beatrice Barker, located on East Street, St. James Parish, Colchester, England. A messuage is a dwelling house with outbuildings.

From Foote Genealogy  by Abram Foote, published 1907:

"Nathaniel Foote, one of the first settlers of Wethersfield, Connecticut, belongs, not to that great class of men who fill a large place in the world’s history, because called by some great emergency into positions of power and influence, but to that more meritorious class of pious and excellent persons, who, born to the great inheritance of labor, walk meekly along the paths of common life, perform every duty, public or private, love and help their fellow men, and act always as if in their Great Task Master’s eye. It is to such men that society owes at once its peace, stability, and progress, and yet history takes no note of such, and hence “The world knows nothing of its greatest men.”

His business in life was that of agriculture, necessarily the leading pursuit of New England in its early history.

From all that we can learn, NF came from Shalford, in Colchester, England, and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts. The first mention I find made of his name is in the Records of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, in 1633, when he took the oath of freeman."

Abram Foote goes on to write several pages of flowery language to try to paint a picture of what life in the New World was like for those early colonists.

Inventory taken after Nathaniel's death:

One source says that goats were a rare farm animal at that time.

Following Nathaniel Sr.’s death, his widow Elizabeth married Thomas Welles. When Elizabeth died in 1683, she also remembered her son Nathaniel Jr. as well as her grandson Nathaniel III in her will:

His grave is unmarked, but in 1908 the Foote Family Association placed a marker at the original home lot, now called the Broad Street Green. 

SEPTEMBER 17, 1908

In the foundation, under the base is a sealed copper box, containing a copy of the Foote Genealogy 1908, reports of the first meeting of the association, list of moneys given to the memorial fund, and the members of the association.

Rededication in 2009:

{genealogy} Foote ancestry part 3 - Nathaniel Foote Jr.

Nathaniel Foote Jr.

Heather’s 9th great grandfather

When Nathaniel Foote was born about 1620 in Shalford, Essex, England, his father, Nathaniel, was 27 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 24. He married Elizabeth Smith in 1646 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. They had 4 children during their marriage, including my ancestor, Nathaniel Foote III. He died in 1655 in Wethersfield, Connecticut, at the age of 36.

A Nathaniel Foote appears in the Connecticut census in 1650, in Stratford.

From The Ancestors of Russell Snow Hitchcock published 1947:

"The inventory of NF’s estate dated 23 Sep 1655 mentioned his children as Nathan then 7 years old, Samuel 5 years, Daniel 4 years, Elizabeth 3 years."

From The Great Migration:

Baptized at Shelford, Essex 5 Mar 1620. {Below, Abram Foote says it’s actually Colchester, Essex, England.} Married “by 1647” Elizabeth Smith. Marriage is derived from first child being born 10 Jan 1647. On 23 Sep 1655, the eldest child of Nathaniel was “Nathaniel, age 7”.

(Presumably migrated with his father and the rest of his siblings, in 1634.)

From Foote Genealogy Vol 2 by Abram Foote, published 1932

"I found the record in St. James Parish Church, Colchester (England), the baptism of NF Sr’s 2 eldest children as follows: 14 Jan 1617, Elizabeth and 5 Mar 1619, Nathaniel. (By our present reckoning these dates would be 1618 and 1620, respectively.)"


Nathaniel Jr died unexpectedly, and without a will. I do not know the circumstances of his death.

{genealogy} Foote ancestry part 2 - Nathaniel Foote 3rd

Nathaniel Foote III

Heather’s 8th great grandfather

When Nathaniel Foote was born on January 10, 1647, in Wethersfield, Connecticut, his father, Nathaniel, was 28 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 20. He married Margaret Bliss on May 2, 1672, in Springfield, Massachusetts. They had 9 children during their marriage, including my ancestor Mary Foote. He died on January 12, 1703, in his hometown at the age of 56, and was buried there, in the Wethersfield Village Cemetery, in an unmarked grave.

Nathaniel’s birth and death record, from the Barbour collection:

A transcript of his marriage:

From A History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, published 1886.

"Nathaniel III settled in Hatfield, Massachusetts; removed to Springfield, (Mass.), thence to Stratford, in 1679, thence to Branford, thence to Wethersfield, where he died in 1703 of consumption, aged 55 years. His widow died in Colchester Apr 1745, aged 95 years. He was a house carpenter at first, but eventually became a lawyer. On 24 Jun 1678, NF had liberty from the town of Stratford to settle at Oronoke. This was in accordance with a vote of the town in 1661, forbidding anyone making his dwelling more than 2 miles from the village. They had the following children between 1672 and 1694: Sarah, Margaret, Elizabeth, Mary, Nathaniel, Ephraim, Josiah, Joseph, Eunice."

From Foote Genealogy by Abram Foote, 1907.

"He settled in Hatfield, Mass., and married 2 May 1672, Margaret Bliss, dau. of Nathaniel Bliss, of Springfield. After residing in Hatfield 2 years, he removed to Springfield, like almost every householder, he was called into service of his country against the Indians, and was actively engaged in the bloody and successful attack on their encampment at the falls in Connecticut river, a few miles above Deerfield, since called Turner’s Falls, in commemoration of the brave Capt. Turner, who commanded the expedition. From Springfield, NF removed to Stratford, where his house lot of one acre was on Main Street, directly east of the old burial ground near the present Congregational Church. This lot he conveyed in March 1680 to Benjamin Lewis, having decided to move with his family to Branford, where in Feb 1679, he was admitted “a planter” of the town, and a “home lot” was granted to him, “on condition that it should have a tenantable house built upon it within 2 years, and that he come to settle amongst us, or else the lot to return to the town again.” In pursuing his “manifest destiny” to migrate, NF conveyed this lot with sundry other lots of which he had become possessed, to Jonathan Pitman, of Stratford, and moved to Wethersfield, where he continued to reside until his death, although he had, previous to that event, planned another removal to a new settlement begun under his enterprise, at “Jeremy’s Farm”, since and now called Colchester, on the road from Hartford to New London. An order authorizing a settlement at this place was made by the General Court in Oct 1698, and the new settlement was made to embrace the territory bounded north by Twenty-mile river, south by Lyme, west by Haddam and Middletown, and east and northeast by Lebanon and Norwich. This land was conveyed by Owaneco, Sachem of Mohegan, “for the consideration of love and affection,” to Nathaniel Foote, to be distributed by him “according to his discretion,” except 50 acres to be selected by himself, which he had the privilege of reserving to himself and his heirs forever. The settlement was commenced in 1701, but on account of failing health, Nathaniel Foote III did not remove. He died 12 Jan 1703, leaving a widow and 9 children, 4 sons and 5 daughters. His widow and 4 youngest children, 3 sons and 1 daughter, subsequently moved to Colchester. Mrs. Foote died 3 Apr 1745, at the age of 95. The children all married, and settled in the neighborhood of each other in the new town.  Although a house carpenter by trade, and as such was employed to repair the Meeting House at Bradford, Nathaniel Foote, after his return to Wethersfield, appears to have pursued the practice of the law, his name frequently appearing on the records of the County Court as Attorney in cases before the court."

From Genealogy of the Bliss Family, published 1881.

"'Jeremy’s Farm' was owned by Jeremiah Adams. Mr. Foote was a Quartermaster in the army during King Philip’s War, and was in the fight at Turner’s Falls (Conn. River) under the brave Capt. Turner, who, it is said, that night fought hand to hand with Philip himself. Next day Turner and most of his men were killed by the Indians, and Foote, though badly wounded, was one of the few who escaped."

From the dictionary: 
A quartermaster is a military officer responsible for providing quarters, rations, clothing, and other supplies.

This is Heather writing again:
When I read that Nathaniel was deeded land by a Native American, "for the consideration of love and affection," I was a little suspicious. Then when I learned that this same Owaneco also deeded land to another of my ancestors, I wanted to learn more. Owaneco, who is actually Owaneco Jr (he had a grandfather by that same name), lived from 1640-ca 1712, according to the Yale Indian Papers Project. Owaneco was the sachem (chief) of the small Mohegan tribe, and was something of a party animal perhaps, and definitely liked to drink rum and was easily persuaded by English colonists "into an opinion of their friendship to him" (ref: The Winthrop Papers, p. 309, also, Owaneco admits this in a land deed issued to Capt. John Fitch). It appears that once the colonists figured this out, it was really easy to get land deeds out of Owaneco, and Owaneco gave Mohegan land away "with reckless abandon" according to the Yale Indian Papers, and certainly evident by the pages and pages of land deeds that can be accessed various Connecticut history books. So it could be easily surmised that Nathaniel Foote was not actually a close friend of Owaneco, but may have only visited with him once in order to obtain the desired land deed. 

On the other hand, the Mohegans did fight alongside the colonists in King Philip's War, and as we know, NF 3rd was a quartermaster there and was wounded. Perhaps he did form friendships with the Mohegans.

It should also be noted that Nathaniel's aunt and her entire family were killed by Native Americans. I have not determined which tribe. Surely this, as well as the general attitude of the time, tainted Nathaniel's viewpoint as well.

The home that he never got to live in was started in 1702 and completed by his son. The building still exists today. It has been moved several times, and currently is found at 48 Norwich Ave, Colchester, Connecticut. It at one time was owned by the DAR, but I could not find evidence that they still operate it today. I believe today it is owned by the Bacon Academy Board of Trustees and is operated as a museum by the Colchester Historical Society. (Bacon Academy is a high school in Connecticut.) The Nathaniel Foote home is very small. Try to imagine at least 5 people living in it.

In 1704, Owaneco had a change of heart and tried to get land back from the colonists by writing to the Crown in England and complaining of the issue. Initially, England agreed to restore 7000 acres to the Mohegans. But the colonists appealed, and the ruling was overturned. Several more rounds of appeals were submitted over the next 50+ years, but England always ruled in favor of the colonists. 

{genealogy} Foote ancestry part 1 - Mary Foote

This series attempts to consolidate information on the Foote family descended from Nathaniel Foote of Wethersfield.

My line is:

My dad
My grandparents
Earl Ethan DurhamGrace E. Rose
Elbert Lee Rose – Catherine Margarite Rigoulot
Edward Rose – Ann Eliza Crandall
Arial Rose – Deborah Dilley
Timothy Rose – Elizabeth Pomeroy
Jehiel Rose - Tabitha
Daniel Rose – Mary Foote
Nathaniel Foote III – Margaret Bliss
Nathaniel Foote Jr – Elizabeth Smith
Nathaniel Foote Sr – Elizabeth Deming
Robert Foote – Joan Brooke
John Foote – Helen Warren

We'll begin with Mary Foote, my 7th great grandmother.

When Mary Foote was born on November 24, 1679, in Wethersfield, Connecticut, her father, Nathaniel, was 32, and her mother, Margaret, was 30. She married Daniel Rose on May 14, 1706, in her hometown. They had 8 children during their marriage. Her death date is unknown.

I have not seen the original birth record, but here is the transcript from the Barbour collection at NEHGS, naming her parents and stating that she was born in Wethersfield.

At the bottom, you can also see a marriage record exists in the Wethersfield town records, showing the marriage date and her father’s name. Mary and Daniel were married by James Treat, JP. (I assume JP is Justice of the Peace.)

We know from Christine Rose and NEHGS that Daniel and Mary had 8 children.

Many experienced researchers before me have tried to find a death date for Mary Foote Rose, but were unsuccessful.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

January nonfiction: Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Here are my book notes for my January non-fiction book.

I read Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

I don't remember why this was on my list. I must have heard him speak. Or maybe I read him someplace. I don't know.

Super Immunity was published in 2011. That is a long time ago in biohacking time.

But I read the whole book twice. To summarize the entire book in 2 words: Eat vegetables.

I'll put my conclusion here so you don't have to read the book notes if you don't want to.

Heather's conclusion:
If you are interested in this topic, you might look for a more recent publication. Things have changed since 2011. Example, the fact that he says fruit is ok to eat and doesn't even suggest that this is controversial, would actually be a controversial statement among nutritionists today. However, I have no doubt that he's on the right track, but do not take all of his hypotheses as any more than hypotheses at this time. His website is sales-y, but so are basically all M.D. websites that have books to sell. Dr. Fuhrman is not listed as one of Tim Ferriss's "Titans", and when I looked further, it appears that TF has never interviewed him, but TF's community indicates that Fuhrman is "biased" and has very weak sources for his "evidence" that meat is bad for you, for example. Since I checked a few of his sources myself, and 2 of the 3 that I personally checked were weak, I would certainly not consider him an expert researcher. Not to mention additional statements he made that were either flat out wrong, or misleading, though I believe in the cases I identified, he did not intend to mislead. But advising people to supplement with vitamin D without a blood test first is not a good idea. It is a bad idea. But now that I think about it, I believe in 2011 we didn't know that yet.

The term "superfood" today is being challenged, but I do not think he intended the term in a misleading way, either.

The basically vegan diet that he promotes is more challenging for someone to follow if they have a number of food allergies or sensitivities, like I do. However, there was still plenty left for me to eat even taking into account my food allergies. But I would not be able to follow his 7-day menu. I was glad to learn about the (alleged) benefits of cruciferous vegetable over other types of vegetables, mainly because those are the ones I'm not sensitive to. I will be able to incorporate many of his superfoods into my diet without much effort, but I do need a tracking system (one of my 19 for 2019).

Book notes:
Page 3: "Our immune system protects us from developing cancer." Goes on to say that a weakened immune system causes weight gain, allergies, infections, etc.

Page 7: quotes a JAMA study providing evidence that the use of antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This could be anywhere from 1 to 25 prescriptions over an average period of 17 years. (my note: the study sounds reasonable, but I wonder where they found a control group of women who had not taken any antibiotics at all for an average of 17 years, and then proved that they never developed breast cancer. That sounds like an incredibly long and implausible study.)

Page 9: "Food gives us energy and the building blocks to grow in the form of calories, but we have not fully appreciated the noncaloric micronutrients in food, including those that are neither vitamins nor minerals, but phytochemicals..."

Page 12: "With the recent discovery that superior immune function in humans is dependent on a broad array of these plant-derived chemicals...some people prefer to use the word phytonutrients..." He says these phytochemicals number in the hundreds. Examples, page 16, carotenes, alpha-lipoic acid, allium, etc.

Page 13: he specifically recommends berries, pomegranates, green vegetables, mushrooms, and onions. Page 23 he adds beans and seeds to the list.  "A combination of these compounds is more effective than a single agent, even in a high dose."

Page 16: "Neither processed foods nor animal products contain a significant load of antioxidant nutrients or any phytochemicals."

Page 17: "Phytochemicals have a broad array of beneficial effects outside of their antioxidant role, and these effects are still being studied and need to be further understood."

Page 18: Refers to a method of measuring vegetable intake. It is a blood test for alpha-carotene. This is a preferred measurement because it is not present in most multi-vitamins or supplements, and pretty much only comes from dark green or orange vegetables. Researchers found that increased alpha-carotene was associated with decreased risk of death "from all causes". And this was measurable across the scale. Just remember that the alpha-carotene was just a measurement and is correlation, not necessarily causation. What is troubling is that even after he explains this to people, he then goes onto list foods high in alpha-carotene. This is misleading the reader.

Page 19: Many phytochemicals are lost or destroyed in processing, including cooking.

Page 20: He reiterates that we don't know enough about individual phytochemicals, only that we need to eat a very wide variety of plant foods in order to achieve super immunity. He discourages eating meat, basically because it is not a plant, so it just wastes your time. However, note that in later chapters he describes other reasons he dislikes animal protein of any kind, for adults. (Animal protein is ok and necessary for children.)

Page 27: List of Fuhrman's favorite foods with a nutrient density score of his own design. It explains all the complicated math. The top 10 are kale, watercress, collards, brussels sprouts, bok choy, spinach, arugula, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower.

Pages 29-36 discussion of a nutrient-rich diet as prevention for viral infection.

Pages 37-56 are an attack on prescription medications and the flu vaccine. References the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and said they found weak evidence of flu vaccine efficacy. I checked for myself and found that what Fuhrman reported in the book was mostly reported correctly. Here is the review: and it actually says the flu vaccine prevents only 1-2% of cases in healthy adults. Fuhrman goes on to say the Cochrane organization is openly critical of the CDC's flu shot recommendations, but perhaps that is in the full abstracts, which I didn't read.

Page 49: "The fact that flu vaccination is heavily promoted by government and medical authorities, despite the marginal benefits, fuels distrust of the entire medical/pharmaceutical/government health complex, which reeks of collusion and conflict of interest."

Page 50: Fuhrman says the Cochrane group calls out the CDC for not being impartial, but rather, for quoting "anything that supports their theory". Fuhrman says that the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is made up of 15 people, and "almost all" of them have financial ties to the vaccine industry. His source: A year 2000 USA Today article, so now 19 years old.

Page 61: Cancer is cells growing wildly, this rapid division can be caused by methylation of a gene. This is adding a methyl group, but removing a methyl group also is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Researchers have found that people who ate more green vegetables had less DNA methylation and a lower risk of cancer. And vice versa, people who ate less green vegetables had more DNA methylation and a higher risk of cancer.

Pages 62-69: detailed chemical discussion of the cruciferous vegetables and the types of phytochemicals they contain that are proven to have anticancer activity, as well as anti-bacterial. Cruciferous vegetables are kale, cabbage, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radishes, and turnips. He gives specific examples of cancer reductions from just 1-3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week. Fuhrman recommends 1-2 servings per day, one of them raw.

Page 67: He says to get the beneficial phytochemicals out of the cruciferous vegetables, the vegetables have to be crushed. So, chew them really, really, good, or chop them, or blend/juice them. He said some benefit may be lost with boiling or steaming, so the maximum benefit is to eat them raw. BUT, you can also chop them first, and then cook or steam, and that is ok. Therefore, riced cauliflower or riced broccoli is ok to steam or cook into soup.

Page 69: discussion of mushrooms as a superfood because many (not all) types of mushrooms are said to contain a substance that enhances "natural killer T cells" that remove infected cells in our bodies. The best mushrooms, specifically associated with reduced breast cancer (page 71) are white button, white stuffing, cremini, reishi, and maitake.

Page 73: "Angiogenesis is a complex physiological process by which new blood vessels are formed from previously existing ones." This process is one that large cancer tumors initiate when they need their own blood supply.  Mushrooms inhibit angiogenesis, which can starve the cancer. This is true even of cooked mushrooms.

Page 75: There are also foods that promote angiogenesis, and those are white flour-based foods.

Page 75: "...increased consumption of allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer at all common sites." It is guessed that the beneficial compounds are released when the vegetables are chopped, crushed, or chewed.

Page 76-77: references a specific study showing eating onions was linked to significantly reduced cancer incidences in specific cancers. In the study the highest consumption was about 1/2 cup chopped onions per day.

Page 77: lists many benefits of pomegranate berries and juice

Page 79: describes research of berries in lab rats. The results were very positive in reducing tumors. The studied berries included blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and pomegranates. Dr. Fuhrman adds acai berries, goji berries, elderberries, and strawberries to the superfood list.

Page 80: Discussion of seeds as superfoods, including flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.

Page 83: GOMBBS: Greens, onions, mushrooms, berries, beans, seeds.

Page 85-107: discussion of the cold virus and all the things that do not cure it. Dr. Furhman says the following things are a waste of time at treating the cold: vitamin C, chicken soup, humidified air, neti pots, echinacea, increased fluids, any cough medine. And the following are helpful: zinc, vitamin D (at all times, it won't reduce cold symptoms once you have a cold), possibly elderberry extract, caloric restriction.  Never take acetaminophen as it is too hard on the liver.

Page 109: Health = nutrients/calories. A low-calorie diet is linked to longevity.

Page 113: Says we're allowed to eat steel cut oats and regular oatmeal.

Page 121: begin discussion of animal protein vs plant protein.

Page 124: What seems to be his biggest issue with animal protein, is that eating animal protein encourages our body to produce a hormone called IGF-1, which promotes growth. That is why this is important for children. But in adults, it only benefits a growing tumor. He goes on to list studies and examples illustrating why he promotes a mostly vegan diet. He is very insistent that animal protein and our excessive consumption of it is behind the cancer epidemic.

Page 130: Advises the following superfood summary in 5 points.

  1. Eat a large salad every day.
  2. Eat at least a 1/2 cup of beans/legumes daily.
  3. Eat at least 3 fresh fruits a day (focus on the superfoods).
  4. Eat at least 1 oz of raw nuts and seeds daily.
  5. Eat at least 1 large serving of green/cruciferous vegetables daily.
Page 130: Advises avoiding these 5 deadliest foods, which is actually a lot more than 5.
  1. Barbecued meat, processed meat, commercial red meat
  2. Fried food
  3. Dairy: cheese, ice cream, butter, milk, and for some reason he puts trans fats on this list even though that's not dairy
  4. sodas, sugar, artificial sweeteners
  5. white flour products
Page 136: Reiterates that it is the combination of adding fruits/vegetables AND reducing animal products which adds to the best longevity.

Page 143: exercise is key, heart rate to be elevated for at least 5 minutes per day.

Page 144: Begins discussion of vitamins and supplements. He recommends supplementation with vitamin D, B-12, zinc, and iodine. (Heather's note: it is not advisable to supplement with vitamin D without having a lab test first. Vitamin D must be within acceptable range. Excessive vitamin D is also linked to cancer.) P. 164, he does clarify that all nutrients can be harmful in deficiency or excess.

Page 145-151: He realllly doesn't like vitamin A and folic acid, so he cautions that if you are going to take a multivitamin, look for one without those things. Also see p. 146 where he doesn't like beta carotene supplements either. 

Page 146: his one sentence in the entire book about telomeres. Which is misleading, but then again most publications about telomeres are misleading.

Page 151: advises against supplementation of copper and iron.

Page 155: "Salt is the strongest factor relating to stomach cancer." (By salt, he actually means "sodium".)

Page 157: It appears that coffee contains phytonutrients. He's not sure.

Page 163: ok to avoid fish and just consume fish oil. Just make sure it is fresh. A vegan EPA or DHA supplement is ok too. He recommends getting a blood test if at all possible before you decided to supplement.

Page 166: questionable reference to the Environmental Working Group and the Dirty Dozen. (Heather's note: perhaps in 2011 Dr. Fuhrman was not aware that the Board of the EWG does not have a single unbiased/independent chemist or biologist or cancer researcher. There is one farmer, 2 MDs, and the rest are,'s actually pretty comical that these are the people who are telling us what we can't buy at the grocery store...see for yourself... .I guess this is sad because earlier Fuhrman checked out the Board of the CDC and found them to be biased, but he either didn't check the EWG or didn't care to.)

Page 178: 7 day menu plan and a bunch of recipes follow. He does reference his own food products for sale but is not pushy and indicates the recipes can be made without purchasing from him.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Caesar, Cleopatra, Octavian, and Marc Antony

We are still doing our history lessons where I read, and the kids draw while I am reading. And, as always, their drawings are a scream. I could upload them every day and they would always be hilarious. But today I show you what they drew when we went over the story of Julius Caesar up through the Pax Romana.

The first drawing is Libby's infographic where you can see "Cleo" and "Ceacer" holding hands, "Oct", "Mark", "PonPae" (Pompey, Caeser's rival), Caesar declaring himself "Presedent 4 Life", Caesar on a ship defeating the pirates, and "Oct" promoting marriage and families.

What followed all this drama is the Pax Romana, or 200 years of peace. See how Mae titled her picture.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

It's a Fine Life

Wrapping up a week of holidays. Everyone has been sick with a cold except for me. The kids are very stuffy nose, coughing, etc but I have been diffusing eucalyptus oil the last 2 days and that stopped them from coughing.

Christmas was really lovely although the kids finished unwrapping their gifts in about 20 minutes, and I tried new recipes for both breakfast and dinner and neither one worked out according to plan. Still, a great day and nice to be at home together.

Cousins came to visit on Friday and we had a really good visit and dinner.

Last night was New Years Eve and we watched Newsies (the Broadway version) on Netflix and now Carrying the Banner is stuck in my head. We let the kids stay up til midnight and I was able to tune in the Beat Bugs countdown about a minute before midnight. Libby and Mae knew it was a real countdown, because right at midnight someone started shooting off fireworks, so they could hear the loud booms and they were very excited.

Today we did our New Years resolutions, which I just love to do. This year we did them as a family, although many of the resolutions are just for me or for Mike. We were going for 19 resolutions, so we could call it "19 for 2019", but I believe we ended up with 30. They are not all fascinating, but here we go (some are business secrets and I left those off the list here):

  1. Meet with tax accountant to plan 2019 because I know there were some tax changes in 2018 and I think I'm too late to change anything for 2018, but could use advice for 2019. I will still be our accountant because I know WAY too many people who have burned by their tax accountants. 
  2. (ownself) Read at least 1 novel and 1 non-fiction book per month. To further keep myself accountable I will take book notes on the non-fiction book and post them here.
  3. Watch at least 1 classic movie each month. I'm defining "classic" as 1970s or older.
  4. Mike put this one in: Family game night at least once a month.
  5. Go whale watching.
  6. Go to Seattle (Mike's idea).
  7. Book one more night on because we're only one night away from our free stay.
  8. Go camping.
  9. Fill the freezer with freezer meals.
  10. Schedule and complete Libby's 3rd grade exam.
  11. Mike attend at least 2 local networking events.
  12. Use our dental insurance. This year we all have dental insurance.
  13. Mike and I to do our 23andMe DNA tests and check if we have the Alzheimer's allele.
  14. Mike to do a Y-DNA test.
  15. Plan our 2020 vacation. We are doing Mayflower 2020 and so need to do some detailed planning for the New England area.
  16. Set up a record player. I have a record player, but the speakers are terrible, and I need to fix the situation.
  17. Set up Mae's YouTube channel.
  18. Arrange for Libby to play Minecraft with her cousins.
  19. Go to Great Wolf Lodge for New Years Eve.
  20. Eat fish twice a week. Expand this one to a superfood checklist for kids and adults.
  21. Mae participate in a piano recital.
  22. Mae requested: set off our own fireworks on July 4th.
  23. Cardboard racing in the summer. The kids put that one in. It's like sledding, only instead of a sled you slide down a hill on a big piece of cardboard.

There are 7 more that are business secrets at this time. So I guessed right, we have 30 for 2019.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Two more sleeps 'til Christmas

More words than photos today, so I'm posting on the regular blog. About 45 minutes til my next event.

A year ago I recall feeling very b-word at this time and I commented to a friend that I had felt organized and put together until about October, and then it felt like everything got rushed and crazy. I said, is it just Christmas? Is that all this is? It can't be!

So this year I realize yes, it is confirmed, it is actually just Christmas that causes this. It is because there is so much that goes on to the calendar, even if we are limiting our traditions to just a few things, and doing just a few parties, that's quite a "few" things that have to get scheduled on to that last page of the calendar. And with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday thrown in, the extra things start in October. It is all very rushed but this year I think I enjoyed it at least a little.

Mike and I went to The Grotto in Portland by ourselves and we looked at all the beautiful lights and sat in the church for a 45-minute choir performance. It was the Vancouver Chamber singers and they were very good. I was surprised later when Mike said he had never heard that type of music before. I think he meant the 4-part harmony. They did a version of Christmastime is Here which was really special. With the 4-part harmony it was much better than the Charlie Brown version. Anyway, we both really liked those singers and it was nice to sit down for 45 minutes without the kids poking me and asking if we could leave yet.

my own photo of the Vancouver Chamber singers at The Grotto

I tried to take photos of the lights but it is impossible. At least, the internet says I need to bring a tripod if I'm going to attempt it, and I didn't care to bring a tripod.

photo from

For our charity donations I involved the kids for part of it. They had a home school assignment that included giving to others, so I decided to explain to the kids that Daddy and I always adopt a family or person each year and buy them gifts, but this year they could help. This turned out to be more effort than usual. (1) The charity that I have used the last few years, well, they really screwed up and they had to close temporarily. (2) I knew that in advance, so I had already chosen a different charity through a local senior center. But when I brought the kids there, they said they didn't need any more donations. (Occasionally this happens and I'm always dumbfounded when it does.) (3) The senior center sent us to a 3rd location which also didn't quite meet our requirements. (4) But luckily through Girl Scouts I happened to know of a local elementary school that had adopted a few families. So I took Libby and Mae to choose some items from the school's "giving tree". I expected the girls to choose the few kids who wanted toys. But instead, Libby chose a dad that wanted a coat. I was impressed with her choice. Then Mae chose a teen girl that wanted a hoodie. We filled those requests which also was a little more hassle than I thought because I had to deliver the items during school hours and this took 2 attempts and then we felt a little weird being on campus during school hours.

For our other charity donations Mike and I went to a charity auction and dinner hosted by the Elks Lodge and we got to see a Salvador Dali print valued at $15k. I had my bidding paddle all ready to go because I thought they would start the bidding at $100. But they started the bidding at $5k so I'm glad I didn't have a hair trigger on that bid. Instead Mike bid on some pickles and he won. There was a silent auction in addition to the live auction and I saw this cool vintage cowboy hat. Well, really I liked the box. But I did not bid on it.

Another tradition is to go see the lights set up at Portland Raceway. It is fun but the exact same each year. But the kids just love it even though it is the same. Last year Libby requested we go, and this year Mae requested it, she said, "You know, the lights with the dinosaurs at the end?" Because nothing says Christmas like lit-up dinosaurs. I could not find an image of the dinosaur lights but here is one of a sea dragon. A Christmas sea dragon!

photo from
We also attended Christmas events at OMSI, another kids event at the Elks Lodge, and 2 Girl Scout parties.

photo taken at OMSI
Kids party at the Elks Lodge
We've also been doing these cool Crayola Advent calendars that I picked up last year and saved for a whole year. I don't know if Crayola is still producing them, but they are really nice, I would recommend.

And now it is time for me to take the kids to another party and then Mike and I will go see the new Mary Poppins movie because Mike loves Mary Poppins movies and for some reason the kids do not, so it is grownups at the movies today. I will have more photos on the photo blog soon.


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