In early February, my sister Peggy alerted me that she had spent the extra money for the health information available with a DNA test on Ancestry.com. She learned that she carries two mutations that can lead to hemochromatosis, a disorder in which the body stores too much iron. I clicked the button on 23andme.com to get my health results and they were the same. Two tests were available to determine if the condition was active: Peggy and I are negative on both tests. We do not have the disease and we have both decided to donate blood regularly because, if we had the disease, phlebotomy would be the only treatment.
Now the good news. I also carry two GOOD mutations that bestow fast-twitch muscles.
This report is based on a genetic marker in the ACTN3 gene. This marker controls whether muscle cells produce a protein (called alpha-actinin-3) that’s found in fast-twitch muscle fibers. While some people don’t produce this protein at all, almost all of the elite power athletes who have been studied have a genetic variant that allows them to produce the protein. This suggests that the protein may be beneficial at least at the highest levels of power-based athletic competition.
ACTN3: More than Just a Gene for Speed
One of the most promising genes in that regard is ACTN3, which has commonly been referred to as “a gene for speed”.
Studies have found that most elite power athletes have a specific genetic variant in a gene related to muscle composition called the ACTN3 gene. This variant causes muscle cells to produce alpha-actinin-3, a protein found in fast-twitch muscle fibers.
On May 14, I posted this graphic to a Francophile Facebook group and asked why Germany’s deaths were a fraction of those in France even though they had about the same number of infections. Today, the NYTimes ran an article that seems to answer the question that is apparently circulating around France, too. The article is about the book “Strange Defeat” written in the early 1940s by
Bloch, a historian and World War I veteran. He volunteered to serve on the front lines in 1939 and later joined the Resistance, before being executed by the Gestapo in 1944.
In 1940, as a captain who oversaw fuel supplies at the headquarters of France’s First Army, he enjoyed an insider’s view of France’s defeat: an overly bureaucratic and rigid military leadership, hewing to theories and traditions, was incapable of reacting to the German threat.
While French leaders were re-enacting World War I with an emphasis on infantry and artillery, the Germans came with tanks, airplanes, trucks and motorcycles.
In a painful summary of France’s defeat, Bloch wrote: “Our leaders, or those who acted in their names, were incapable of thinking in terms of a new war.’’ He added, “The German victory was, essentially, an intellectual victory.’’
I have just watched the first two of seven seasons of “Un Village Français” which starts in 1940 with the German invasion of a village near Besançon. This article is a stunning insight into what I am seeing unfold in this series. I have just witnessed the “aryanization” of a Jewish-owned cement plant by the man in the center holding the hand of the woman in the red dress in the photo at left. It seems like France, itself, may be starting to recognize the pattern. The NYTimes article states:
In a meticulous analysis of the handling of the epidemic by France and Germany, “Le Monde’’ concluded that the crisis had led to another replay in the “eternal match between France and Germany, at the end of which the winner always seems to be the same.’’
It was the latest chapter in a relationship that has tortured and defined France since it was defeated by Germany in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, putting an end to French hegemony in Europe, said Pierre Vermeren, a historian who teaches at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
“In the 1870s, after France realized that it was outclassed by Germany, there was what was called the German crisis in French thinking,’’ Mr. Vermeren said. “France couldn’t understand: ‘How did the Germans do it? Why are their schools better? Why are their soldiers better trained? Why are their soldiers athletic, and not ours?’
“This has been going for 150 years.’’
We have been sheltering in place since March 18. Martha found the field of lupine about a mile from her house. As soon as we were allowed to walk to the parks (no cars in parking lots), we visited. Martha wouldn’t touch my phone, so she took this shot with her iPhone.
NYTimes article by Margalit Fox announcing his death.
In “Zara’s Tales,” written for his daughter, he quotes a line from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” a late-18th-century work by William Blake, that seemed to have been a touchstone for both his life and his art: “You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”
To those emblematic words, Mr. Beard appended a personal capstone. “If you crave something new, something original, particularly when they keep saying, ‘Less is more,’” he wrote, “remember that I say: Too much is really just fine.”
We have been been ordered to “shelter in place” for the past month to be safe from Corona virus. I am now wearing my expensive French perfume because there is no one to complain. Safe from the “scent-free” people of Northern California, my house is a cacophony of fragrance!
The light drizzle, the first rain in a month, made Taylor Mountain look like a faraway place. I loved how this fallen tree outlined the grazing cows.
This enormous oak tree dwarfed the hiker on the path:
Jill took this photo of me. I’m wearing the embroidered babushka that Peggy gave me because the fabric does a good job of holding my rain hood in place.
On Sunday, 26 January 2020, Peggy drove us to Blackie’s Pasture on the way Tiburon in her new Porsche SUV. Chris is “feeding” the statue of Blackie the horse who was pastured here for many years. Joining him are Mary, Peggy, Frank and Laurie, along with my shadow.
Blackie’s Pasture is on Richardson Bay, on the way to Belvedere where we drove around admiring the fabulous homes. Peggy had just returned from her fabulous vacation to Sydney, Australia, cruise around New Zealand, and a stay in Maui.
Chris and Mary Rose stopped by the Old Rail Bike Trail sign for a quick snap.
The day before, they visited Mom’s grave in San Rafael.
The Corona virus was sweeping Wuhan, China that weekend. Here’s Chris’s version of how it would affect us.
Another picture taken on Peggy’s terrace.
Here is a selfie that Chris took while we were at the park.
A quick note to self with some grounding practices. First, Max Strom as recommended by Therese Smith. I call this 4-6-8 breathing.
Second, the University of Rochester Medical Center 5-4-3-2-1 technique for coping with anxiety and to reconnect to your body and to the earth.
Slow, deep, long breaths can help you maintain a sense of calm or help you return to a calmer state. Once you find your breath, go through the following steps to help ground yourself:
5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. It could be a pen, a spot on the ceiling, anything in your surroundings.
4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. It could be your hair, a pillow, or the ground under your feet.
3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This could be any external sound. If you can hear your belly rumbling that counts! Focus on things you can hear outside of your body.
2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. Maybe you are in your office and smell pencil, or maybe you are in your bedroom and smell a pillow. If you need to take a brief walk to find a scent you could smell soap in your bathroom, or nature outside.
1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like—gum, coffee, or the sandwich from lunch?
Prioritize Yourself, Attend to your Internal State
Contact water will ground a dangerous electrical charge: take a warm shower, wash your face, wash your hands, take a drink of water.
NYTimes article on Cutting as a form of self-soothing.
Quotes from Carl Jung.