Experiences with a clover lawn

In my part of the world, clover in the context of lawn care is generally viewed as a noxious weed. People complain about the difficulty in eradicating it from what would otherwise be a beautifully uniform grassy expanse in front of their house. In days of yore, I heartily agreed with this notion, even though I have always viewed clover as one of the less vile specimens of the broadleaf weed category. However, as time marched on, my hostility mellowed. (Or possibly my apathy concerning picture-perfect yards grew and started crowding out clover hostility, there being only limited space in my heart for lawn-care-related feelings.) I began noticing that the clover patches of my lawn tended to be the areas that green up first in the spring and stay green later in the fall. The seed of an idea began germinating in the alkali soil of my mind.

I made the mistake of searching for some images of clover lawns. Done rightly, a clover lawn looks pretty neat! And of course, people tout the drought resistance and nitrogen-fixing properties of clover, both of which might be interpreted as beneficial to the neglectful groundskeeper living in an irrigated desert.

With the dark and ominous backdrop of botanical drama thus set on the horizon, now is a good time for a brief digression to comment on the nature of man. For the past few years, I have tried to get into the habit of doing something interesting each year. One of my perpetual goals is to be an interesting person, the sort of fellow who might tell you a surprising story at the dinner table or at whom you might, on occasion, cock your head to one side as an expression of mild disbelief. To that end, I try to find something notable to accomplish each year. And when, I dare you to answer, was the last time you heard of someone killing off their grass and planting clover instead? This explanation now in place, we return to the narrative.

Naturally (or perhaps “inevitably” is a better word), I decided that 2018 was the year of the Cloverpocalypse. The patchy backyard lawn’s days were numbered, doomed to be spent in quivering anticipation of the coming rototiller, that great equalizer of all landscaping.

A slight wrinkle in my grand scheme seemed imminent when my sister-in-law decided that said backyard – viz., mine – would be ideal to host her outdoor wedding in late June, but I am moderately proud to say that even this bold play did not deter me from my wild plan. I made my dogged intentions clear to the couple-to-be while thinking to myself that as a side benefit, this might deter them from what I considered to be their wild plan of having an outdoor wedding in my yard. However, they were not to be fazed, and as they say in poker tournaments, the stakes were raised.

The following months became somewhat blended together in my mind. Six days a week did I labor, and on the seventh I ached. I developed a sort of routine which I imagine to be the inverse of the Benedictine monk: getting up in the morning, spending a day at brain-labor, then rototilling, sifting old grass clumps out of the dirt, and levelling ground until darkness fell, at which point I ate dinner and went to bed. Somewhere around March, I believe, I seeded clover. Then, in a moment of weakness which brings me shame to recall, I seeded grass over the clover in mid-to-late April, because it became evident the clover was not going to fill in fast enough to supply a wedding-like turf by late June.

It was in these days of late spring that I began experimenting with mowing clover. This is when I discovered that the clover lawns they show you in the pictures have definitely not been mowed recently, or perhaps ever, because a mowed clover lawn is ugly. It is particularly ugly about two days after mowing, because the clover stalks like to compress themselves beneath the front wheels of the lawnmower, so it is literally impossible to get an even cut. By mow-day-plus-two, the tire tracks have sprung back up to a height above the rest of the cut clover and it’s all just kind of ragged. If you want to get anywhere close to an even surface, you must mow at least twice, in different directions, and preferably with a raking in between.

Additionally, if you have any grass whatsoever amongst your clover (and I found turf grasses coming up which I did not even plant), you will find that it grows much more quickly than clover and so about five days after mowing, right when the clover is starting to even out again, you’ll get a whole bunch of little grass stalks raggedly pointing up above the clover field. This also is not what they show in the pictures of beautiful clover lawns.

Thus we confidently state the first great disadvantage of clover lawns: they must be mowed, and mowing makes them hideous. I speculate that this is not problem if you seed not a “lawn” but a “deer forage”. However, my city neighborhood has no deer. Skunks, yes; deer, no, and therefore lawnmowers are indicated.

(For the record, yes, I did experiment with not mowing at all, but clover will grow to 6-8 inches high or sometimes even more, and that’s too tall for a yard that kids play in.)

The second great disadvantage of clover lawns is that clover is, as classified by the bigots, a broadleaf weed. This means it is susceptible to those magical potions which the chemical engineers sell us via promises to rid our lawns of broadleaf weeds while keeping our grass wholly intact. Most people don’t face a moral quandary here because they paint clover with the same broad brush as, say, dandelions or Canadian thistle. I like to think of myself as an individual with a finely attuned sense of moral discrimination when it comes to weed classifications. Feeling the keen distinction between a broadleaf dandelion and a broadleaf clover, I found it mildly troublesome that I would be unable to indiscriminately dump several gallons of chemicals into my lawn to assassinate the former without molesting the latter. I had initially hoped that if I allowed the clover to grow tall enough it would crowd out the other more noxious varieties of broadleaf plants and obviate my dilemma, but alas! This was not the case. Dandelions are happy to grow as tall as need be to find the sun above whatever tries to shade them out. I would not be surprised to learn that somewhere in South America in the middle of the rainforest there are 60-foot dandelion stalks poking above the canopy.

The third great disadvantage of clover lawns is durability. Frankly, the stuff’s not built with children or wedding parties in mind. When it has leafed out, it gives the impression of thoroughly covering the ground, but in reality the stalks are not nearly so tightly packed as typical grass. A slip-n-slide placed on an area of clover for the afternoon with kids playing on it will result in a literal mud pit beneath the pool. An impromptu fencing match will tear out clover by the roots and leave interesting scars. Standing in the same place for too long results in a foot pattern which lasts a couple of days.

A fourth, somewhat lesser disadvantage of clover is that it is wet. If you let it grow too tall and then need to cut it, resulting in a quantity of clippings, then you must be careful how you dispose of them because they stink to high heaven as anaerobic decomposition sets in. I will not describe how I came to learn this, nor the experiences I had out on the “compost” pile trying to spread the noxious cuttings out far enough to dry them up. Suffice it to say that the “compost” pile is half an acre away from the back patio and after I figured out where that hideous stench was coming from, I prayed that prevailing breezes had kept the miasma away from my neighbors.

And so we came to late August, when the days are warm, the nights are cool, the backpack sprayer is in top form, and the idle rototiller thirsts for telluric carnage. One factual tidbit here is that I’d never before planted grass in the fall, despite everyone saying it is the best time to plant it. Having now done so, I can join the chorus, because I have never before seen grass grow as swiftly as mine did after I sprayed the whole clover lawn with glyphosate, rototilled it up, and planted grass in mid-September.

Several people have asked me whether, given the opportunity to start over, I would plant clover again. The answer is that of course I would do the experiment again, because I still think a pure clover lawn looks lovely. But knowing what I know now, would I recommend planting one? Absolutely not…unless you’re looking for a way to be an interesting person, in which case I won’t tell anyone you knew better beforehand.

The 10×10 Hardcore Challenge

On January 2d of this year I committed myself (and, incidentally, those who are unfortunate enough to play board games with me) to a “10×10 hardcore challenge”. This was an idea I saw on BoardGameGeek, and as our gaming had waned somewhat, I thought it would be a good way to motivate us to make it more of a priority again. This proved true, and I successfully completed the challenge last Saturday on November 19th.

As a side note, gaming is like many other enjoyable things in that the more you do it, the more you want to do it. Once you are in the habit of doing a thing, it becomes much easier to continue doing it. There are likely useful life lessons to be drawn from this, but I will refrain from doing so here.

The games we played were:

One of the interesting things arising from the challenge is that prior to this, we would rarely play a game more than a few times in a row. Nothing about the challenge technically compelled us to play the same game all in a row, but in several cases (notably Wiz-War, Eclipse, XCOM, and Quantum) we did just that (over the course of weeks/months). This had the effect of revealing strategies in gameplay or even virtues of the game which would not otherwise have been apparent. In particular, I was not originally a fan of Quantum, but I recognized it had enough merit to make it worth trying out. It wasn’t until the sixth or seventh play that I discovered some additional strategic depth beyond that which was immediately apparent (to me, at least). I don’t think this means I’ll be inclined to give every game almost a dozen plays before passing judgement, but I certainly will be more open to diving into repeated plays of a game rather than sampling one of everything from the game closet buffet.

As the challenge progressed, we discussed whether each game was good enough to remain in the collection. A couple of games we had never (or hardly) played before the challenge – XCOM and Mage Knight. Quantum also only had a couple of plays before the challenge. Some I feared might fall apart after repeated play – such as Kingdom Builder.

Ultimately, only one board game definitely got booted from the collection following the challenge, and although I was firm enough in my resolve that I didn’t need any confirmation from my gaming colleagues, I think the decision was unanimous. But rather than simply spoil the surprise right here, I decided to take the effort to write a review of each of these games individually. Look for them in the coming posts!

As for whether I’ll do another challenge – I doubt it. Or at least, I won’t do another hardcore challenge where I pick all the games of the year ahead of time. I still think there’s some value to picking a game and saying “we’re going to commit to playing this X number of times unless we end up completely hating it”. Some games take some time to shine, and you may be surprised at the depth (or occasionally lack of depth) you discover if you play a game repeatedly within a short period of time.


If this blog is a record of my grand exploits, then it seems appropriate to note, in the interest of continuity, that about a month ago I accepted a job offer and am once more gainfully employed as a professional software developer. Assorted experiences of the past have taught me the prudence of maintaining the separation of work and blog, so that’s about all I shall express upon the topic, aside from praising God and rejoicing that I am again in a position to earn my keep from the comfort of my home office.

As I observed at the time, unemployment would be practically an ideal state of affairs if only one wasn’t continually feeling the pesky pangs of material want. After all, such a condition leaves one with plenty of time for the important pursuits, such as writing blog posts. However, life and sustenance being what they are, I am (on the whole) glad to once more have my daylight hours occupied in more fruitful pursuits.

That said, there are a few projects I have underway, and as the saying goes, though they proceedeth slowly, they are exceedingly fine.

The first such endeavor is a new WordPress theme for my wife’s blogs. This theme, which I believe the gracious call “minimalist”, is now live on her various and divers sites. She says she likes it and that it’s better than her previous themes (which I also authored). I’m not sure I agree, but if you do, it’s free for the taking.

The next project on the docket is an effort to sanitize the computer game World in Conflict of profanity so that my younger boys can play it. Happily, the developers were very mod-friendly and made a mod kit available in the day. Unhappily, that day was quite a while ago and it’s been a struggle just scraping together the tools from various corners of the Internet to make modding possible. However, I’ve now reached the point where I’m able to edit everything except cutscene movies, and it’s just a matter of doing the grunt work of finding the particular files which need editing and doing the editing itself. (By the way, I am here intentionally ignoring the debate about whether such “censorship” as this is worthwhile or a total waste of time. Assuming I get anywhere with the project, I’ll eventually be writing my thoughts on the matter in more detail.)

Third on the list is the construction of dice towers. Some years ago I invested in a number of Hirst Arts molds. Shortly after purchasing them, I cast a whole bunch of little plaster bricks and built a few neat things. And then they (along with a number of the bricks and some 70 pounds of Hydrostone) sat in my garage collecting dust. This really is quite inexcusable, but unfortunately it is the truth. I am now doing my best to atone for this neglect by pulling the various pieces out of storage and designing dice towers. Dice towers (of which I presently have an embarrassing shortage) are important to me right now because of the next project, which is…

Fourth: playing 100 board games over the course of 2016. I’ve signed up for a 10×10 challenge on BoardGameGeek, meaning that I intend to play 10 particular games 10 times each during the year. We didn’t play nearly enough board games in 2015, and I think this kind of challenge is just the sort of thing to change that. At a mere two games per week it doesn’t sound like much, but it’ll be a good deal more than before. Plus, although some of the games I chose (Dominion, Kingdom Builder) can easily be played a couple times in an evening, others (Eclipse, Mage Knight) are rather involved.

Of course, the final project on the list is blogging itself. I’m out of practice, and writing is a thing that wants continual exercise.

Speaking of continual exercise, I suppose that’s a sixth project. But I mean to say, really, you know, one wouldn’t want to be overwhelmed with projects.

The Myth of the Unemployed Programmer

A software developer should never truly be “unemployed”. Many professions require a certain capital investment or infrastructure to perform work–for example, if I am a cabinetmaker, I require woodworking tools, wood, stains, finish, and probably a shop to store it all (plus the works-in-progress). On the other hand, a software developer in the modern world merely requires a computer and Internet connection–all the other tools can be had for free. Even deploying a web application requires very little capital investment in a world where $5/month servers exist.

I have mused upon this concept in the past, but never with the sense of immediacy engendered by the events of the past week. As of last Wednesday, I suddenly became an “unemployed” software developer when I was laid off. This, of course, prompted many non-software-related activities (my résumé needed a rewrite and my online presence–including this blog–was sadly neglected), but after the initial flurry settled down, I was faced with the decision universal to the unemployed: how shall I spend my time?

The options are not infinite (financial concerns for most of us preclude a spontaneous sailing trip to the Bahamas), but they are vast. I could implement one of the many software ideas which perpetually rattle about in a developer’s brain. I could write new themes for my wife’s blog, or her other one, or her other one. I could try to catch up with my wife in website count. I could delve into any number of modern developments in technology, most of which are fascinating and directly applicable to my career. I could write a book, because as my wife observes, once you exclude teen romance and vampires (and vampiric teen romance) there is a certain dearth of quality literature for the juvenile boy. (Though, if I did write a book, I’m not sure you’d ever know about it. On the one hand, I feel like a man ought to write under his own name and take responsibility for it, but on the other hand, I consider it merely common courtesy to preserve his friends and acquaintances from ever feeling obliged read whatever drivel he produces.) I could even finish that basement remodeling project I started eleven months ago, but let’s not get crazy here.

None of these (home improvement excepted) require anything significantly more substantial than time and sterling intellect, both of which I now have in abundance. What a strange thing!

Having dwelt upon the matter at intervals in the preceding days, I have resolved that three things shall happen:

  • This blog shall receive some sorely needed attention. (There is an argument to be made for “quality over quantity”, but 22 months between posts is pushing it.)
  • My WordPress theme development skills shall be enhanced in the furtherance of my wife’s online empire.
  • I shall enhance my professional skills by writing an amazing web application, guaranteed to please. More on that later, but as a hint to those who have known me long, it might improve morale. Or at least keep track of it.

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as true unemployment for the modern creative, and in my case, it is time for some housekeeping. (As an aside, if you’d like to hire me, that’s fine too. I won’t take it personally when you attempt to deprive me of all this glorious free time.)

Day Thirty: Done and Done

Day Thirty: diet complete. The Whole Thirty has been vanquished. It’s been a rough thirty days, but this just goes to show you what grit, determination, and fighting spirit can do for you.

I imagine there may be certain pressing questions being asked by the faithful readership right about now, among them such gems as “How much weight did Matt lose in total?” and “What are you going to do now that you’re free?” and “Wasn’t yesterday Day Seventeen?” This last one I feel deserves some slight attention. You see, as I explained to you previously, time dilation effects are in play here. What we have is a serious gravitational field in the vicinity of the Whole Thirty diet, caused by the immense vacuum in my interior. When I realized that time was actually passing more swiftly for those outside the effects of the field than it was for me, I thought immediately of my blog and knew that in order for these posts to make any sense I would have to compensate for the time differential, as the day count would not correspond to that being kept by those following along at home. Doubtless the differential was already in play and you’ve been confused all along why I was calling day twenty a mere twelve and so forth. Thus, via the careful application of advanced mathematical calculation and a bottle of wine, I have determined that this instant in time is the correct one on which to post the Day Thirty summary.

My summary of the Whole Thirty diet is that it is a crock. It did not cure heartburn, it did not make me feel like a tiger, and I officially class the proponents of this madness alongside those runners who claim that running makes you feel good. I agree entirely with a good friend who expresses the candid opinion that most of the alleged health benefits gained by our paleo ancestors was not from their diet but from their habit of alternately chasing and fleeing from sabre-toothed tigers.

Unfortunately, it seems that I’m not yet entirely in the clear, because now my personal medical advisor has a new dietary plan for the treatment and cure of my pernicious heartburn. It has now become apparent, to those looking in the right places, that taking heartburn medication for the rest of my natural life will unduly shorten it via cancer, or ulcers, or salmonella, or some such disorder of the inner workings. Thus, it’s time for a new quacky diet to manage heartburn! This one is called FODMAP, or FODCIAKGB, or some such acronym which I have difficulty remembering. I couldn’t quite follow the details the first time through as they were explained verbally and rapidly by my medical advisor, but I believe the gist is it’s like Whole Thirty but you swap some fruits and vegetables for sugar and cheese. And on top of that, I’m taking some more pills filled with hydrogen chloride and pepsin (whatever that is) and I’m practically awash in apple-cider-flavored cleaning product and vitamin B solutions. The bottom line is that I’m still not allowed to eat any grain products, but I can (and did) consume two chocolate-dipped cocoa-nut patties this evening accompanied by a glass of wine. The ideology behind this diet also encourages fermented foods, though while hops are thoroughly approved of (as a bitter aiding digestion!), beer itself remains conspicuously absent from the recommended eating list. I feel like the omission of this most noble fermented beverage is a frequent and curious oversight amongst these fad diet practitioners.

I’m not actually sure what weight this Whole Thirty diet has cost me because my wife informs me I must weigh myself first thing in the morning and I keep forgetting to do so. I think it fluctuates greatly. Probably I didn’t lose anything important.

Day Seventeen: Isn’t This Over Yet?

Hello again. It’s the conclusion of Day Seventeen. That’s about all that can be said for the day. I’m alive. I’m still quaffing apple-cider-flavored cleaning product. I’m still thinking about glasses of wine with the excellent steaks for dinner and about largish bowls of chocolate chip cookie dough to follow them up. In other words, it’s Business As Usual.

The most curious thing about this diet is that it’s not over yet. I’m pretty sure we’ve been at this for a month or two already, but I keep this here blog which reminds me of the day and it says only seventeen days have passed. I wonder if time dilation is a factor. I understand this time dilation stuff comes into play with respect to objects moving at high rates of speed, and it can also come into play with respect to an object’s proximity to a gravitational field. I’m going to suggest a third situation, that being an object’s proximity to a Whole Thirty diet. The closer one is to a Whole Thirty diet, the slower the clocks run. It’s possible the people attributing long life to eating paleo-style diets have completely mistaken the true agent of causality.

Day Sixteen: Do Tigers Get Headaches?

It’s Day Sixteen, commonly touted amongst the crazed Whole Thirty advocates as a day filled with Tiger Blood. As such, I feel that this is obligatory:

But when it comes right down to it I’ve gotta say, “bro”, I ain’t feelin’ it. Maybe my problem is that I’m not banging 7-gram rocks.

Instead, today I woke up with a headache along with other vague symptoms of the onset of a cold. Do tigers even get colds? I don’t think tigers get colds. On the other hand, I’d sooner eat a breakfast of bacon and eggs with a cup of coffee than devour a raw wildebeast. And in fact, today I did so. Had bacon and eggs and coffee, that is.

I’m also reading some wild theories about heartburn and how it’s caused by not enough stomach acid instead of too much stomach acid, and also how taking omeprazole will cause cancer, salmonella, and generally rot your insides out. I find these assertions vaguely disturbing and likely credible but not sufficiently credible to convince me to start drinking kombucha anytime soon. And by “anytime soon” I mean “anytime on either side of eternity”. Nevertheless, at the suggestion of the general population of quacks on the Internet, maybe I’ll start doing some acid. Not that kind.

Despite this being Día del Tigre, this afternoon I heard worrisome rumbling of mutiny in the ranks. The two other hapless characters, who are either dragging me through or themselves being dragged through this dietary purgatory (the situation is not clear) are talking open rebellion. Turns out they’re not feeling like tigers either, for better or for worse, and they are ready to utterly throw over this entire experiment and trample upon it with hobnailed boots, afterward scattering its ashes to the four winds as a warning to other diets. In my characteristic ineffably effervescent manner, I explained that the thing is already halfway over and besides who wouldn’t want to eat this way for the rest of their lives simply out of solidarity with our supposed ancestors living amongst the primordial goo and woolly mammoths. This rather touching soliloquy was met with what I can only describe as a chilly demeanor. At the end of the day, one of these two mutineers is my personal chef, and if she goes on strike then the grand adventure will have unquestionably come to a sudden and abrupt end.

Until then, this your humble and distinctly non-feline correspondent will continue to supply reports from the front.

Day Fifteen: The Breaking Point

Here draws to a close Day Fifteen of the Thirty Days of Serious Dietary Inconvenience. Morale on this particular evening is good, but this past weekend brought troop morale to the breaking point.

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m the sort of plain fellow who likes to start a Saturday with four or five pancakes of no insignificant size. Following that, I rarely eat much (if any) lunch, and then am accustomed to a rather generous dinner (particularly when Saturdays are spent in physical labor). Following a double bacon cheeseburger with all the fixings and fries, there are Saturday evenings on which I consider having another bacon cheeseburger, and even some evenings on which I actually do so.

I’ve been told that eggs and bacon do have calories in them, and that said calories are of a special variety designed for long-term sustaining energy rather than the short-burst energy that pancakes provide. However, the Whole Thirty diet has apparently not yet repaired my metabolism to the extent that it knows about this fact. Saturday breakfast left me satiated at the time, but hungry by lunchtime. At lunchtime I made the mistake of just poking around at leftovers and not really going wholeheartedly into the thing. By dinnertime I was ready for about one and a half of those bacon double cheeseburgers, but it was not to be. Instead, the dinner was three hamburger patties and a pile of spinach topped with raspberry-flavored cleaning product.

It was at that moment, staring at children with delicious slabs of cheese and actual store-bought white bread hamburger buns, that morale nearly cracked. I sat there, a sort of bleak look on my hollow face to accompany the hollow feeling in my bleak stomach, feeling wan. This is not worth it, I thought. This is ridiculous. But I ate my blighted Whole Thirty dinner anyway. And afterward I could have eaten three more hamburger patties on the spot, but I didn’t, because I saw no point in it. I’d have felt the same hunger after eating them anyhow. I don’t know why this is, but meat alone has never made me feel full.

Next morning was Sunday, and instead of starting it off right with a solid stack of pancakes, it was eggs and bacon again. An even half-dozen of the former and two strips of the latter, and I was hungry all the way through church. That was followed up by a birthday celebration for my daughter, featuring (at her request!) a salad bar. (She loves salad. I cannot understand it.) I had two sizeable plates of salad generously topped with chicken, mushrooms, eggs, and more raspberry-flavored cleaning product. After that, I felt exactly the same as I did when I started. I could have eaten two more plates of the stuff, except my jaw was tired of chewing. I probably had a net loss of calories from that meal just from the chewing and work involved in digesting lettuce.

However, the story has a happy ending. (Well, “happy” as relative to the Whole Thirty diet.) My kind wife took pity on me and cooked up what she says was about two pounds of ground beef with seasonings and mushrooms and a can of tomatoes plus two large yams. I ate it all except about half a pound of the beef and a child’s portion of diced yam, and at last my stomach was full. In fact, that glorious feeling carried over into today, wherein I ate an average Whole Thirty diet and yet am not starving unto death.

On a sidenote, I learned that tobacco is actually verboten on this blighted diet, which just goes to show you that the rules are really only about the authors’ personal prejudices. I imagine Whole Thirty adherents will latch onto the two pipes I smoked earlier on as the reason it’s not curing my heartburn.

Though actually, heartburn hasn’t been so bad today, so maybe it is curing it after all. I’m not sure whether I would be happy or sad about that. But I’ve already decided that if this ordeal does cure heartburn, I’ll just have to take omeprazole for the rest of my life, because I’m for dang sure not spending the rest of my life eating this kind of diet.

Tomorrow is supposed to be “Tiger Blood” day. I’ll let you know if I find myself mauling any safari hunters.

Day Twelve: Biotics, Are You Pro or Anti?

Day Twelve of a Whole Thirty: I didn’t quit today, either. It’s primarily for the noble purpose of debunking the wild claims of the vegetable-eaters, I think. I’m holding out past at least Day Sixteen, which I am informed is “Tiger Blood”, which sounds promising even if not strictly true in the literal sense. At present, though the prospect of tiger blood coursing through my veins does have a certain appeal, I think I would rather be sopping some off my dinner plate with a large chunk of homemade bread.

I have chronic heartburn/acid reflux/whatever the chic term is, which the Whole Thirty people claim is caused by degradation of the stomach lining or something to that effect and fixed by their diet. Naturally, I was interested in fixing heartburn, but having given elimination diets their due in the past, I remain skeptical of this one being any different. It is my held opinion that diets such as these are generally cooked up to sell books, a rather cynical outlook supported by the existence of many contradictory diets. If measurable, repeatable results were behind any of these, there wouldn’t be so much argument about which is best.

To properly assess this diet’s effects on my personal metabolism, I stopped taking omeprazole (which typically manages the hearburn very well) earlier this week. The heartburn remains present. Doubtless the mere twelve interminable days consisting of this diet plus apple cider poison plus digestive probiotics aren’t enough to cure heartburn outright. It requires more time.

I haven’t talked about digestive probiotics yet, have I? They come recommended to me by my personal home medical amateur. And you know I follow all the advice of my personal home medical amateur, so I’m taking a capsule filled with who-knows-what (its contents involve approximately fourteen syllables and appear to be a dingy white powder) once daily. This capsule’s end is to help restore “friendly” bacteria in the recipient’s guts. I have taken the liberty of scanning the front of this product’s box for your viewing pleasure:

Digestive Probiotics for Happy Tummies

I have given no small amount of thought to the picture on the box and I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to draw from it. Do digestive probiotics cause pert tummies? Is the picture supposed to demonstrate the target demographic of digestive probiotics, viz. people who like to show off their midriff with saucy hip action? I note that they do not show the woman’s face. I like to imagine that her face is screwed into a horrible grimace suggestive of a recent dosage of apple cider vinegar. I briefly considered reenacting this photo myself for comparison purposes, saucy hip and all, but I quickly decided such imagery is not to be borne on a family-friendly blog. Sorry.

Anyway, on to the medical claims. The first thing we may notice is that the box is liberally sprinkled with daggers and asterisks. There is at least one dagger symbol on all sides of the box except top and bottom, and they follow most paragraphs of text. The dagger leads to the following statement, in bold:

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

As far as I can tell, this translates to:

† We pretty much made this stuff up so you would give us your money. We don’t know whether it will do anything to you or not, and we’d rather not have the government find out because the resulting loss of marketing copy from our label would be even worse than this disclaimer we now have to include here.

That helpful disclaimer out of the way, what exactly are digestive probiotics? I was helpfully informed of the answer according to digestive probiotic manufacturers when I examined the side of the box.

Poor diet, age, stress, travel, antibiotics and other prescription medications can tempt bad bacteria to flourish in the digestive system. Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that help restore natural balance in your intestinal tract. TruNature® Digestive Probiotic has been scietifically shown to help maintain digestive health and support a healthy immune system; promoting a general sense of well-being.†

I do not doubt most people consuming digestive probiotics have a general sense of well-being, as I am a firm believer in the placebo effect. Unfortunately it’s not working for me, as I was convinced these were a placebo from the start. The quotes around “friendly”, however, lend this paragraph a more sinister aspect. Are these bacteria only pretending to be friendly? Is this like the “mother”? Actually, I still don’t know what that really means, only that I find it vaguely disturbing. Same deal here. I don’t want my bacteria to have any lingering questions about whose side they’re on.

On an unrelated sidenote, I’ve decided not to write a new post for every day of the Thirty. I hold a general principle that if one has nothing to say, one should be quiet. On most days I now find that I have little to say that has not already been said. If the blog is silent, you may safely just insert some grumbling about how slowly time passes, or how empty my belly is, or how all is vanity and of the writing of diet books there is no end, and I’m sure you will be reasonably close to whatever vapidity I would otherwise have written.

Day Twelve. The end is kind of in sight! If you can see more than two weeks into the future, anyway.

Day Ten: The Slow Slog of the Deprived

Day Ten of Thirty down. There was no Day Nine, because the plague reared its ugly head and briefly incapacitated me. In fact, it was so serious I think I missed my dose of apple cider vinegar. However, today I’m back in action.

It’s diets like these which make one realize how slowly days do pass. Often and particularly at this time of year we are tempted to look back and reflect upon the year(s) gone by, and how time, like an ever rolling stream, does bear its sons away. Perhaps this sensation comes from eating well, and what those people who bemoan their lost youth need is a Whole Thirty diet to make them realize what time really is: an ever trickling jar of molasses, slowly dripping into a puddle on the floor. On the other hand, I will say that if anything’s making me old it’s the Whole Thirty diet. Strange paradox, this.

Owing to an unexpected opportunity for cross-verification at the doctor’s office, we learned that the bathroom scale in our house is not in fact displaying things five pounds on the heavy side. This is good news for me because it means my weight is not quite so low as I might have feared. This is bad news for me because this sort of news never seems to be taken as good news by the female members of the species.

My advisor informs me that Day Ten is the day when everybody quits, because it’s when you feel most like quitting. This is plausible to me, but I will refrain from making any final judgment until the end of tomorrow. After all, this entire diet has been one day stacked upon another, each full of desire to quit the ridiculous thing and fry a doughut already. So far as my experience takes me, every day is the day when you feel most like quitting. As yet I have no frame of reference for a day on which I would think of quitting this diet as a less attractive option than it was the day before.

Still, that’s one-third of a whole thirty days safely behind us, and apparently the best is yet to come.