Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sci-Fi TV & Movies (Updated 20160617)

This is to keep track of what I've seen and would like to see. My memory is not great. I might as well have an easily-accessible list.

This is not an all-inclusive list. I'm just populating it as I think of things.

Do not chew me out for not having watched your favorite. I may have seen it and forgotten to list it. That being said, please tweet me your suggestion (@binkytoes). :-)

I am not interested in debating whether something on this list qualifies as sci-fi.

To Watch:

-Mr. Nobody (movie)
-Brazil (1985)
-BSG classic (series)

-Barbarella (movie, I keep falling asleep when I start it lol)
-Cleopatra 2525
-The Expanse
-Falling Skies (maybe?)


-Star Trek TOS
-Star Trek Voyager
-Star Trek DS9
-Star Trek TNG (almost all)
-Star Trek Enterprise
-Revolution (some)
-Doctor Who Reboot (trying to stay current)
-Doctor Who Classic (all that's available for legal streaming via Netflix and/or Amazon Prime Instant)
-Sliders (some)
-Red Dwarf (all, including TV movie & 2012 episodes)
-Battlestar Galactica reboot
-Warehouse 13 (some)
-The 4400

-Falling Skies (some)
-Farscape (including Peacekeeper Wars)
-Stargate: SG-1
-Stargate: Atlantis
-Stargate: Universe
-Terra Nova
-The Tomorrow People (1 episode)
-Under the Dome (1 episode?)
-Extant (S01)
-The 100 (S01)
-Defiance (trying to stay current)
-Dark Matter (S01)

-Star Trek (not sure which/how many off the top of my head)
-Star Wars (not sure which/how many off the top of my head)
-Mars Attacks
-Cherry 2000
-Stargate: Continuum
-Stargate: The Ark of Truth
-Ex Machina
-2001: A Space Odyssey
-2010: The Year We Make Contact
-Equilibrium (1/3)
-BTTF (pretty sure I've seen all)
-Close Encounters
-District 9
-The Matrix
-Terminator (all)
-Total Recall
-War of the Worlds (Tom Cruise version)
-The Day the Earth Stood Still (yet can never remember the phrase "Klaatu barada nikto." Earth would've been F'd if it'd been up to me to deliver the message.)
-The Fifth Element
-Edge of Tomorrow
-John Carter (AND LIKED IT)
-Men in Black (all)
-Independence Day (first)
-I, Robot
-After Earth
-Vanilla Sky
-Minority Report
-The Brother from Another Planet
-The Last Starfighter
-The Abyss
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Monday, April 7, 2014


“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - St. Francis of Assisi

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I talk about (and/or RT items of interest pertaining to) Depression weekly if not daily. That's because I struggle with it daily.

I was diagnosed a bit over ten years ago. For much of that time, I was medicated. It helped somewhat, but the side effects were too much to bear. In particular, I could not sleep through the night. My doc ordered a sleep study and found that I had approximately 80 arousals per hour, but I had no apnea.

Because of subsequent events, I learned that my antidepressants were causing the sleep disturbances. [Update (January 20, 2015): The New York Times profiled comedian Maria Bamford a few months ago. I found it interesting that she sleeps ten hours each night. It never occurred to me to schedule in extra hours of sleep so that I'd get enough, and none of my doctors recommended it. They only told me to take my meds at a different time of day (that didn't help), or turn my alarm clock around so I wouldn't realize I'd awakened during the night (WTF??), and take a pill to sleep (Ambien) and a pill to help me wake up (Nuvigil). However, with the number of arousals I experienced during my sleep study, I don't know that 10 hours would've been enough for me, personally. It is something I will try next time I need meds, though.] Now I don't take antidepressants, and I still struggle with Depression and Anxiety daily in one aspect or another.

Since I am intolerant of antidepressants, I have had to seek out other ways to help me feel better. Some people may consider these measure "woo-woo" since they're not pharmaceutical-based or therapy done with the guidance of a psychologist, but none of it is faith healing and crystals.

Here are some of the things I've done and how I think they help:

1. Greatly reduced sugar intake; helps prevent dips in energy that lead to low mood. My GP is on board with this and said that once I cut out sugar, my triglyceride, glucose, and A1C results improved.

2. Take vitamins and supplements daily.
  •    Vitamin D: my GP found that I had a deficiency probably caused by the medication I have to take for reflux. My GP said that Vitamin D can affect pain tolerance. I've read that emotional pain is real, physical pain, so it makes sense to try to increase my pain tolerance.
  •    Iron (every three days): my GP found that I was slightly anemic which can affect energy levels.
  •    Fish oil: I read that it can help heal the brain but, even if it doesn't, there are plenty of other possible potential health benefits.
  •    Prenatal multivitamin: My GP said to take one, and I do seem to have more energy when I take it than I do if I skip it. Please note, I am 40 and do not want children. My doctor knows this, but I did not ask why in particular I should use the prenatal vitamins, I just do it. 
  •    Potassium & magnesium supplements: I've read that magnesium chelate and potassium supplements are recommended for those who avoid grains.
  •  Melatonin: I guard my sleep jealously. I go to bed early so I'll have 9-10 hours in bed before I need to get up. I take melatonin an hour before I go to bed (ideally). Here's an article that suggests that there is a correlation between sleep quality and Depression. There are extended-release melatonin tablets as well as those that are absorbed more immediately. Personally, I cannot take the extended-release tablets because it stays in my system longer than I'm in bed. It gives me sort of a sleepy hangover, if you will, which is one reason I stopped taking Benadryl to help me sleep. It seems like not all brands of melatonin supplements work, either. The brand I've found that does seem to work is NatureMade. Note: Melatonin supplements did not work for me at all when I was on antidepressants. I don't know why, but I wouldn't doubt it's the same mechanism that caused sleep disturbances when I was on them, whatever that mechanism is. (Added 3/30/2017.)

3. Tetris. The article I read recommended it for traumatic experiences. But it seems like Depression makes me an exposed nerve, so every disappointment or rejection is potentially traumatic. Sometimes I have invasive thoughts about long-past events that still elicit a strong emotional response from me. For the past week or so, whenever I notice on of these popping into my head, I stop what I'm doing and play Tetris while I work through the feelings. I don't know how it works, but it seems to have helped a bit. I feel happier and my mind is clearer. Obviously I'm not miraculously cured of Depression and Anxiety, but I think it has helped.

4. Check out Jane McGonigal's TED Talk on how games can add years to your life. SuperBetter gives me small, increasingly challenging daily goals that I can accomplish to help me build success and self esteem. It is helping me think of different aspects of my life that, because of the Depression and Anxiety, I may be actively avoiding or inadvertently neglecting. [Update (January 20, 2015): I haven't used SuperBetter in a long time, but I think it was one of the stepping stones to help me build confidence when I had none.]

5. I keep in daily contact with friends and family via texts, email, Facebook, and Twitter. My resources are quite limited right now, and none of my friends or family live within 30 miles of my home. I see my family about once per month. I limit my trips "to town" to once per week because gas is expensive. Keeping in touch online helps a lot.

6. I've fostered friendships on Twitter with people who have also experienced Depression and/or Anxiety. They are sort of my group therapy, and Twitter is available 24x7.

7. Offer encouragement to persevere to anyone who I perceive is struggling. Hearing encouragement pour through my own brain helps me convince myself that everyone has value and that life is worth living.

8. Comedy. Comedy podcasts, in particular. Most stand-up comedy in general. Many different kinds of podcasts in addition to the comedy ones. They are a welcome diversion, especially on my worst days. Sometimes they enable me to get a few chores done. I put in my earbuds, stick my phone in my pocket, and find out what The Nerdist or Marc Maron are up to. I have a list of some of my favorite podcasts here. If you want to know you're not alone, check out The Mental Illness Happy Hour. [Note: I added this item after I put out the link via Twitter. I can't believe I forgot to list it. Podcasts & comedy have been super important to my healing.]

9. Kindness. Be kind to others. Give them the benefit of the doubt. It becomes a habit and makes it easier to transition from negative to positive self-talk. Everyone is struggling with something. (Added 1/20/2015.)

I did not list it as something I do because it would be dishonest, but there is a lot of evidence to support exercising as a top way to work your way through Depression. I see being able to exercise as an ultimate goal. That is how deep in Depression I feel.  That's one reason why I use SuperBetter. I will get to the exercising regularly level someday.

I will never completely discount medication as an option. It did help me when I was first diagnosed. I think if I have a bad episode again, I will opt for medication. But until then I will rely heavily on my coping mechanisms and do what I can to make my brain physically healthy.

Wishing you peace.
You're welcome to follow me on Twitter: @binkytoes

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Veggie Italian Bake

NOTE: Oh, lawd. I finally tried it. Too many zucchinis, I think. Changed up the recipe some.

This is adapted from a low-carb (noodle-free) lasagna from the Dashing Dish blog.

Veg/Sauce layer:
3 medium zucchinis
1 large yellow onion, diced

1 (16oz) package frozen spinach
2 cups black beans (I made mine from scratch in a crock pot the day before. Cheap!)
1 (15oz) can or jar of pizza sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I use the stuff from a jar)
4 Tbsp Italian seasoning

Cheese layer:
1 (32oz) container of ricotta cheese (I've also made this using 16oz of cottage cheese, which was also good)
1/2 cup grated parmesan (using the powdered kind may help thicken up the juices)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (this varies, depending how cheesy I want it to be)

1. Slice all the zucchinis into medallions, salt them, and cook them until soft in a stock pot (not crock pot). Salt them lightly to draw out the moisture. This takes a while and requires quite a bit of periodic stirring. Alternatively, spread them on a couple cookie sheets and roast them at 425F for five minutes on each side.

2. If you haven't used the oven yet, preheat the oven to 375F. Microwave the spinach according to the package directions.

3. VEGGIES: In a large non-stick skillet, cook the onion, mushrooms, and garlic until the onion's soft. Combine the rest of the veggies (including zucchini & beans), the seasonings, and the entire can or jar of pizza sauce in the skillet with the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. CHEESE: Mix the ricotta (or cottage cheese) & the parmesan cheese.

5. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Begin with a layer of the veg mix, top it with a layer of the cheese mix, then sprinkle mozzarella on top of that cheese mix if you like. Continue like this until the casserole dish is full ending with a layer of mozzarella on top.

6. Cover with foil (try not to let the foil touch the mozzarella) and bake at 375F for 1 hour.

7. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and/or brown (brown cheese doesn't sound good, though).

8. CAREFULLY remove from oven. It will probably have a lot of hot, boiling liquid around the edges. Let the casserole rest for about 10 minutes before serving.


The thinking behind the modifications I made:
1. Beans instead of meat
I am a cheapskate plus I have a family history of gout, so I am trying to cut back on meat.
I realize this recipe probably does not count as low-carb since it includes black beans, but I'd rather have black beans than pasta if I'm having carbs.

2. Spices
I doubled the garlic & spices as per usual.

3. Pizza sauce rather than spaghetti sauce
This is a juicy recipe with all the veg, so you don't really need a ton of spaghetti sauce. I've also noticed that it seems to be easier to find pizza sauce that doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup (or other sugars) than it is to find a clean spaghetti sauce.

4. Zucchini medallions rather than strips
I made it once using the strips that the Dashing Dish called for. I found it to be too much trouble for a supposed structure that was lost when I dished up the portion, anyway. I'm far too lazy for such a low return on investment.

5. Omission of broccoli & cauliflower
I like broccoli but not in spaghetti sauce. It turns out that everything fills the casserole dish very nicely without the cauliflower, too (which was not as gross in the spaghetti sauce as broccoli, but still yuck).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Veggie Chili

This is adapted from the Chock-Full-of-Veggies Chili Recipe I found on

Basically, I think that celery is bullshit in any kind of chili and this chili was too bland, so I doubled the spices.

I also use kidney beans instead of pinto beans and added cayenne pepper.*

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped [I don't really measure these, I just use one of those little 8oz packages]
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced [I use the stuff from a jar]
2 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes [make sure you buy plain ones, and check the label for high fructose corn syrup]
Cayenne pepper to taste


In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add peppers, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook about 7 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add seasonings and continue to cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans and tomatoes with all their juices and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer 25 to 30 minutes, until chili is fragrant and slightly thickened.

I'm eating mine with grated cheddar cheese & a dollop of cottage cheese stirred in. I have beer, but I forgot to chill it. Maybe I'll have those with leftovers tomorrow night. :-)

*forgot to add cayenne pepper to the written recipe. Oops! Edited 3/11/2014.