The Ancestral Health Symposium 2012, Harvard Law School, Wrap-Up

It’s easier to criticize the good than it is the bad—because the bad ought to be obvious enough, needing not much elaboration.

And as easy as it is to criticize the good, It takes surprisingly little additional effort to praise it instead, to encourage it, to promote its continuous improvement process (thanks my old friend, Bud B., for that gem of an idea you gave me years ago).

…For me, the biggest difference between the inaugural AHS11 and the second round—AHS12—was that my wife Beatrice was not there with me this time. It was not to be anyway, because of commitments with her job (she and a team have been called in to fix a broken school). Then, about 14 hours before I was to fly out, she got an awful phone call about her one and only older brother she ever had, or ever will have. Within 2 hours, she, her younger brother, and the matriarch of the siblings were on a plane to SoCal (thanks, SWA). Upon my return from the drop off, I set about to make arrangements for the dogs (thanks, mom & dad), pack for AHS12, collect my thoughts as best I could, and summon my rational walnut.

It was assumed Sam Jr. was basically gone. Brain hemorrhage, or stroke; he’d last been seen Sunday, and was discovered Tuesday afternoon in his apartment by his dad. The medical authorities on scene initially speculated that there was likely no use for extra intervention. It’s always hopeless. Upon urging of the family, tests done to judge brain  function were highly positive, so they decided to operate to remove a clot and relieve the pressure on the brain, and to keep him under sedation. This process was going on the entire time I was there at AHS.

As I was leaving the Charles Hotel Sunday morning for the flight out, I got an email from Bea—after a conversation the night before that was very grim and depressing, to say the least—and everything had turned around on a dime…once Sam had gradually been weaned off the sedation. He could respond to commands, answer questions, etc. And by the time I got home last evening, he was changing channels on the remote, talking almost normal, and even joking.

Well, see, I love Sam too.

6a00d8341d0fcc53ef00e553ad19238834 800wi
Sam “JR” and Richard, 2008

He has that picture hanging in his apartment.

During the drive up to SFO a few hours later, after closing the door, leaving the doggies in the dark—in wait for my parents to show up later—with them having no idea why things were changing around them so fast, I felt very unwell. I had breached the subject with Beatrice immediately, of canning the whole affair and hitting the road with her and the doggies; but she urged me to continue on, and she continued to do so in texts over the course of the days of AHS.

But basically, I was in the position of no matter what I did, life was going to suck. And what sucked the most was hearing the deep sadness in my wife’s voice every time I spoke with her. That’s so not Bea…ever. And moreover, she was with her mom, dad, and her other brothers and sisters; and so the realization that I would be unable to cheer her up no matter what was a constant reminder of the gravity of the situation and was, well, depressing and very real.

Subsequent investigation suggests this was not an internal/structural hemorrhage or stroke at all, but the result of a fall. It appears his ankle may be broken or badly sprained. He has no recollection of what happened.

…OK, so now you know how, while I tried with as much gusto as I could summon to blog and tweet the whole thing blow by blow, I just didn’t have it in me like I did last year (here’s the list of posts about AHS11). Instead, here’s the 30,000 foot view from my perspective.


Got to the hotel in the late afternoon Wednesday, happy to see a couple single-serving scotch whiskeys in the mini bar. About time, I thought. Those didn’t take long at all, so I headed out and found the lobby bar decent enough—but I didn’t ultimately want to hang out by myself. Soon enough, I ran into Jan from Norway, the big guy who had me sign and comment in his The China Study book at AHS11 (and I was the first, and he now has quite a collection of signatures and comments from various names you know). We were out on the large square in front of the hotel for a long while, greeting those arriving to AHS and heading out (Aaron Blaisdell and jimmy moore sightings and greetings among them).

At a point, we went to dinner at Russel House Tavern upon the recommendation of a thoughtful tweeter. I had a dozen oysters, then steak tartare, then six more oysters. Couldn’t sleep worth a crap, later.

Festivities bagan around noon on Thursday and it was quite cool to be there, doing this, again. Everything went off just as I expected in terms of what I get from people: nods, handshakes, thanks, “I’ve read your blog for years,” can I get a picture with you, and now, this year: thanks for what you did [“there”]. And so thank all of you back. In fact, only one person said one negative thing to me the entire time, and he wasn’t even attending. I’ll get to that later.

The schedules and speakers are, at this point, somewhat of a blur in ways; partly because of the personal situation, and partly because I’m never truly at ease until mine is done—and that was two days away. But what I do recall is some measure of yawn Thursday afternoon. I suppose that owing to the venue and co-sponsorship—Harvard Law School and the Food Law Society—there was no way to get around having lawyers talk about how they’re smarter than the other guy who wants to tell you what to do, backed by the fining, seizing, imprisoning, murdering power of the state. So I din’t take much of any of that in, instead chatting here and there.

But perhaps I’m ignorant. Perhaps they just want to repeal all food laws and all food regulations and all food subsidies to growers of plants and animals…and replace all of it with nothing, such that they have nothing to agitate about anymore. If that’s the case, my sincerest apologies for implying anything to the contrary.

I headed back to the hotel mid-afternoon to work on my presentation a bit, nap…I don’t really remember…but be back at 6ish for Joel Salatin’s keynote address. It was good, kinda right up my alley in how something’s not right in society. Whenever I hear Joel (1st time in person) I’m reminded of how in the life of every fraudulent & scheming/scamming—but nonetheless dynamic—political, media, academic or religious personality, they could, at one point, have been a value to society like Joel—instead of a parasite, or a promoting host for parasites.

After Joel, we got bused over to someone’s house in Cambridge for the presenter & volunteer dinner. The caterers had started an entire pig in the smoker at 5am, and it was now about 8pm. How delicious and moist do you suppose it was? Alongside was yams, collard greens…and someone had brought a tub of fresh sauerkraut, and I’m gonna remember that (think coleslaw on a pulled pork sandwich). I contributed a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, which had been entirely dispatched last time I noticed.

It was really cool to once again chat with the folks who are making this happen, and meet a few new ones. Finally met Sisson’s lovely wife Carrie…who’s tall, beautiful and has big, piercing eyes. And I’m also privileged to have a special friendship with Nora Gedgaudas and her partner Lisa—and both are looking better than ever. I molopolized them and they me for a good while; and if all comes together, Beatrice & I will be hosting them at our home for the Wise Traditions Conference in Santa Clara in November.

Finally I got some sleep. Crazy sleep, counting for missing the first couple of hours of Friday morning’s presentations.

My general perspective on the presentations for both Friday and Saturday: you’re on your own. This is highly varied. Figure out for yourself what works. I particularly liked Matt “The Kraken” Lalonde’s speech on nutritional density. He covered all the bases, including the organ meats I harp on about. In chatting with him afterward, letting him know some of the stuff I’ve done comparing liver to fruit, bread, etc., he said that his biggest shocker was realizing how nutritionally poor fruit is…and he added that he though about my liver vs. bread comparison but concluded it wasn’t fair because breads have eggs and fat added to the dough, often, and that’s probably where most of the nutrition comes from.

AHS12 proves to me that it, and everyone else, can handle the Taubes/Guyenet dustup from last year and be adult about it, accepting that people are split on the issue, or somewhere in the middle like me. The hand wringing is fucking boring. There were plenty of voices on both sides at #AHS12, and that’s the best possible situation. Fuck “settled.” I want to see Gary and Stephan presenting at every single one, as well as those who side with one, the other, or half & half. Debate often turns to dialectic: thesis, antithesis, and finally, synthesis. Or maybe not, but it doesn’t matter because you’re still on your own.

Gary Taubes
Gary Taubes

I snapped that photo just as Gary motioned me to come over so that he could scold me a bit on my Internet “charm,” as I believe he put it. This was during the catered lunch for everyone on the quad in front of the law school: bbq ribs, 2 kinds of chicken, and fixings. I visited with Keith Norris—the very nicest guy in the Paleosphere—and his dynamic-dynamo wife, Michelle (with enough energy for many). Also, some other very nice folks at the table whose names I unfortunately do not recall. I’ll be visiting with Keith & Michelle in Austin (and Skyler Tanner) at the end of the week.

After lunch, it was Taubes and the now Doktor PhD Masterjohn, and of course, I was torn. Gary has a new presentation and this was the unveiling. Chis is Chris. So, I ended up getting a piss poor take on both, trotting back & forth between rooms. I’m looking forward to the videos.

My take on the safe starch panel. First, jimmy moore was a professional moderator in my view and I think perhaps Chris Kresser and Paul Jaminet had more total time than the two exponents. For my money, Chris and Paul had the more rational, sensible take on the thing. And they didn’t engage in a whiff of condescension, as did Rosedale.

I might have left early, not sure, because all I was thinking about was how J. Stanton was going to do with his food reward presentation, the last of the day. He did great. Took him like a minute or two to relax, and that’s good. Stephan Guyenet did challenge him in the Q&A, J was gracious, et cetera. In a chat later with Stephan, I told him that J would have loved to say a lot more and that owing to our conversations when he was my guest, I think they have a lot more in common than might be apparent.

After the day’s events I headed back to the hotel in a wonderfully pouring, humid warm rain, barefoot. Having been topped off in sleep, I decided to head out. Stopped by the lobby bar and was soon approached by Kamal Patel, a mainstay on PaleoHacks and one of the guys I scuffled with in comments here a while back on the controversy everyone knows about. We’d already exchanged greetings at the conference, and he kindly invited me to his table, comprised of a few others who had read my blog here and there. Included was a woman who had commented back when, and her husband. A wee bit into the drink, he misunderstood that it was his wife I’d used the c-word on (thanks, Kamal).

Luckily, I was only a teensy bit into the devil’s water myself, was able to deflect, and ended up with a handshake instead of a bloodied nose. The next day, Kamal apologized,—which was totally unnecessary—and thanked me for handling it well and not blowing up his group that was on the verge of dinner reservations.

I was a bit dazed & confused because things could have gone awfully badly, so took a walk. The rain had ceased; it was nice out. I ended up at a seafood restaurant across the square and ran into my friend Frank Forencich with whom I’d chatted at the lobby bar on night one, late. He was at the bar having dinner with James O’Keefe, also a presenter.

Raw Clams Oysters
Raw Clams & Oysters

So 2 out of 3 nights, raw dinner for me.

The next day, up to 1:55pm, is a blur. I still was not fully prepared. Frankly, I don’t really like canned presentations—for me. I’ve never given the same one twice, and this goes back to doing speaking at business conventions way back. I actually like to do the brunt of my preparation beginning 4 hours in advance, do one dry run taking stock of the time I take to stop and ask myself what the fuck I’m saying, and then go give it. Right then.

It went well. I presented right after Ron Rosedale, MD and opposite Terry Wahls, the MD who has largely improved her MS with a paleo diet and gained substantial notoriety, both from her TED talk, as well as the viral video of her son Zack—the articulate, artificially inseminated son of two women who love one-another romantically—testifying before people who believe themselves more competent to run your life than you. Nora and Lisa threw me a bone. Nora went to see Terry and Lisa came to mine. Nora b-lined it to mine when Terry’s was over, and I took note in those last few minutes of my presentation. How sweet is that? Here’s the most radical image I used in my Keynote.

Screen Shot 2012 08 13 at 5 23 10 PM
Least they have the decency to cover themselves

Soon, it was all over but the cryin’.

…Well, except for the Barefoot Ball. I didn’t get a ticket when I registered, deciding to think about it. It was held at The Charles Hotel, in a room bordering the square in front. I’d had a depressing call with Bea, decided I’m glad I didn’t go after all, but at the same time, didn’t want to do any more than the two scotch single servings in the minibar. I headed out and eventually met up with Jan from Norway again and a few others coming out of the event.*

I so much prefer the spontaneous. Shit, we musta been there shooting the shit to 1am or thereabouts. Fun. And it’s weird a bit…to speak with people you know absolutely nothing about but who know quite a bit about you.

OK, let me wrap this up with some random observations and thoughts.

  • Get off Stephan’s back, maybe? I talked with him enough privately to think that he’s under a lot of pressure…IF…he wants to be a force in helping people; and if you think that’s not his prime motivation, then why did he put so much into a blog long before he got his credentials?
  • I’m sorry I’m a lousy small talker and chatter. …Not that I think being so is a focus for any of the many who took the time and effort to say a word or two to me. But I’m always a little embarrassed, and really at a loss for what to say beyond ‘thank you’, and I hope, a show of gratitude and respect as best I can. I really, truly appreciate it, and I especially love those who tell me they hated me when they first came to the blog, but stuck around just long enough. Yep. That’s  what I want to be: Paleo-heroine.
  • Hot Chicks of AHS. Lindsay Stärke started it by being amused by me. I’ve now added Stefani Ruper and Ashley Tudor to my cadre of enviable hot chicks who tolerate me and smack me in the arm or make silly faces at me like a brother. Believe it or not, it’s a huge barometer. It’s not anything like adoration, and I doubt they are much impressed by me in any important way. I think I amuse them to some extent, they know I’m not hurting anyone, and it’s that that’s important. I pay attention to what they and the many other hot chicks think and how they behave towards me because…as go hot chicks, so goes the world. Lindsay and I made bad faces at each other on first sighting.
  • I vote Dallas and Melissa Hartwig the Homecoming King and Queen of AHS. So poised, such a beautiful, striking couple and a true showpiece for paleo living. Plus, I got Melissa to drop an F-bomb for me in a whispered conversation, and I value that sort of thing. It was so cool mixing it up with them and especially, having Dallas give me shit about wearing a suit the day of my presentation.
  • I loved it all, in spite of having a large part of me wanting to be with those I get to love more often, my wife and her amazing family.
  • My favorite tweet about me during the affair: PaleoPeriodical Who does @rnikoley sleep with to get these gigs? #ahs12

The thing I truly hate about unqualified, wide criticism in this regard—perhaps especially from people who didn’t even attend—is that this is a huge effort and undertaking, and it’s a truly non-profit, “gift to society” sort of deal; which I applaud because I don’t believe in forcing people to cause, so why wouldn’t I? People have half their fucking money stolen from them every fucking year of their lives in terms of Fed, State, and Local/Sales taxes and they can’t fucking wait for the next fucking election. Got it? Oh, but spend $250, travel and hotel, have things go off 400% better than anything the government does, then blast them because it’s not 500%, or whatever.

In closing about what should perhaps rightly be at the very top, I’d emailed around to get a list of the people who gave multitudes more of their time than is worth the $250 attendance fee…and I’m sure in many cases, more than the cost of your flight and lodging.

  • Beth Mazur, a mainstay of organization, hits it: Lisa Gizzarelli, Larry Kotovets, Vicky Vissering, Tori Kean, Annie Kreider, Judith Chapman, Tamara De Moor, Brady Gelvin, Amy Kubal, Nick DeTar-Koch, Andreas Dietzel, Moira Sherry, Stephanie Soscia, Shirley McLean, David McGee, Dustin Jones, and Ben Greenfield. Please go read Beth’s post to get her on-the-scene take of these people who made what happen happen—or otherwise it wouldn’t have.
  • The folks who do the work to get things in motion: Carlos Andres Toro, Katherine Morrison, Joe Johnson, Beth Mazur, Sam Osterling, Michal Naisteter, and Nate Rosenberg.
  • And of course, Aaron Blaisdell and Brent Pottenger for coming up with the whole deal in the first place.

Thank you, all the above. Thank you. My praise is well deserved and my criticism only such that I get to heap more praise next time around. Well done, men and women. Salute!

Ok, please do add your own impressions, praise, constructive criticism…and feel free to link a post or more it you’re blogged any or all of it.

* Unfortunately, the Barefoot Ball seems to have been a big disappointment for many in terms of the skimpy food served (many went to restaurants to eat after paying $55). Chris Kresser echoed the same thing to me the next morning in the boarding lounge for the flight home (he got one $55 chocolate covered strawberry). A Nor-Cal Margarita  was $10.50. I’m sure that will go to the lessons learned category for the organizers. All the other catering was superb and plentiful in my view.

Update: As I knew I would in oversight, I neglected to mention that I had a nice exchange with longtime value-add commenter Ned Kock. Here’s his AHS impressions.

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  1. The Paleo Rag | The Ancestral Health Symposium 2012, Harvard Law School, Wrap-Up on August 14, 2012 at 08:30

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  2. Lara on August 13, 2012 at 20:01

    So Terry and Nora are lesbians. Hmmm. I love how you name drop. Funny. Did you meet any regular folk? ;-)

    • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2012 at 08:49

      I’m not sure I get your point, Lara. The whole point of my blog is for “regular folk,” whatever that means. So I guess I could have jotted down the names of all the regular folk I met and chatted with and done a post about that but I was pretty confident people prefer to read about my interactions with those of mutual acquaintance or knowledge.

      Jan, the guy I spent the entire first evening with is regular folk and so are the half dozen others and Jan, with whom I spent the entire second evening and for that matter, so was Kamal and friends that I had a drink with on night 3.

      So again, I don’t get your point and I don’t think you read the post all that carefully.

      Finally, I feel no need whatsoever to withold writing about my experiences with “the anointed” on a blog based on some nebulous notion of name dropping.

      • rob on August 14, 2012 at 09:58

        I had assumed she was talking about “regular” in the sense of bowel movements and wondered “How the hell is Richard supposed to know how often they take a crap?”

      • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2012 at 10:01


      • Kamal Patel on August 14, 2012 at 10:08

        Ummm…why do you assume my friends were regular people? What I didn’t mention is that they all have more than two nipples. Except for one of them, who has none.

      • Heather on August 21, 2012 at 19:11

        Is this the Kamal Patel who is friends with my sister, Alison Mamatey? :-)

      • Lara on August 15, 2012 at 13:32

        I made that ASSumption, so sorry!

      • Richard Nikoley on August 15, 2012 at 13:56

        No problem, Laura. Really.

  3. Christopher Keith Haddock on August 13, 2012 at 20:02

    The lunches were great but I echo the comments about the bare foot ball….a bust. We went out to eat after attempting to eat from the tiny plates they brought out to feed a large crowd. Enjoyed your talk. All in all a great conference.

  4. Kelly Mahoney on August 13, 2012 at 20:02

    Sounds like you were only half there.

    The symposium venue is too curious to me: Harvard Law School.

    Did Willett and Hu ever stop by to throw in their 2 cents?

    • Pauline on August 14, 2012 at 08:42

      Heart thoughts to Bea. Those you share blood ties and memories – the potential loss tears life asunder and we are bereft, as tho there is nothing beneath our feet. Just emptiness and longing. Hope her brother fully recovers and that warm embrace of family stays strong. Life is fragile. We hold it all with tender hands. In it all you showed up and played your part. Thank you to Bea for that too. One strong woman.

  5. Penny McIntosh on August 13, 2012 at 20:18

    Great summary. The dinner at the farm was a wonderful experience, also. Btw…my husband, Mr. Paleo Lite, was entertained most by your presentation. He kept bringing up different parts during the past few days, he loved your bravery in expressing your views and researched your ‘day job’. Sounds like you are a successful businessman. Thanks for being ‘out there’.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 13, 2012 at 20:27

      Thank you Penny, and thnks to your husband as well. I just always figure that if I say what I really mean it’s the best way in the long run. Props to your husband for appreciating that.

  6. Dana Michelle of Eclectic Kitchen Evolved on August 13, 2012 at 20:56

    Richard, I am so sorrowed to hear about Sam. Praying for a speedy and full recovery for him. We definitely missed Bea’s presence here, please give her our love and we look forward to seeing you here in the ATX this next week. We missed you, the last night. Thanks so much for the sweet comments. They are so appreciated. I am so touched by what you had to say about me & Keith. I’m sorry that your week was overshadowed by what was happening with Sam. We’ll see you soon!

    Love & peace,

  7. Patty on August 13, 2012 at 20:56

    I’m so glad that Sam Jr. is pulling through and hope his improvement continues. It’s always been obvious that your family is very important to you, and never more than in this post. I wasn’t at AHS this year, but I still crack up at my attempt to say hello to you last year. I think I just said “Hi Richard, I’m Patty” and you replied “That’s what they have name tags for.” You smiled and kept walking! :-)

  8. Lara on August 13, 2012 at 22:58

    Patty! You were a regular folk! Tsk!

    • Patty on August 14, 2012 at 09:09

      True Lara, but I did kind of jump in front of Richard as he was headed into the hall. I only mentioned it because of Richard saying he was a lousy small talker and somewhat embarrassed in situations like that. I really thought it was funny, and his smile took away any sting I might have other wise felt. ;-)

      • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2012 at 09:28

        Patty, sorry I dissed you or appeared to do so.

        Let me put it this way. Back in 1984 when I graduated from college I got a commission to be an officer in the Navy the same day. The hierarchy is such that I’m immediately superior in rank to all the enlisted folk, even those who had 20 plus years of service. Just how the military traditionally works: officer and enlisted.

        I did a good job of sticking up for my guys and filtering bullshit from on high as best I could and I was popular amongst the enlisted, even with people I knew nothing about. It is strange, I tell you, to meet people who know a lot about you, and you know absolutely zero about them. And they are praising you, thanking you, and I have never been able to escape the embarrassment And humility I feel over that. It probably comes off as something else, but that’s what it is for me.

      • Patty on August 14, 2012 at 09:40

        Thanks Richard, but I really didn’t feel dissed. It was obvious you were not being rude or hateful. “Snarky” is one of my favorite attribute in a person…hence, one reason I continue to read your blog. :-)

      • Lara on August 15, 2012 at 13:37

        Dick — the hats you’ve worn. . . boggles me mind!

      • Richard Nikoley on August 15, 2012 at 14:00

        You know what, Lara? I never wear hats and I play only one role, and that’s 100% me, always for better or worse,

  9. Gene on August 14, 2012 at 02:12

    First things first: I don’t know you, Sam or Bea, but I sincerely hope Sam’s alright and things are on the up and up for all of you.

    Regarding Stephan: On the one hand, I think you’re right. He’s taken a lot of heat but has also provided a lot of stellar insight on a range of topics. I’ve never questioned his motives. On the other, as you know, he stepped into the breach when he started a blog, and moreso when he decided to step into the bully pulpit and begin pontificating on what does and doesn’t cause obesity and getting into the kitchens of (often devastatingly smart, witty) people who disagree with him. Quite predictably, he’s gotten pilloried every time some piece of information is circulated that knocks his theories down. If I can entertain a little of my own condescension, he made a young man’s mistake of hanging his junk out without checking the windchill factor first. I’m sure he’ll be better off for having to defend his ground and for learning the wisdom in that ol’ ditty about discretion and valor.

    • Sean on August 14, 2012 at 06:12

      I agree with Gene (and I wish Sam a speedy recovery).

      I decided quite a while back that Stephan isn’t intellectually honest. That doesn’t mean I think he doesn’t want to help people. I’m sure Dr Oz, Jane Brody, and T Colon Campbell all want to help people and are convinced they are doing so. I’ll take someone who is a big fan of Jack Kruse one week, then openly admits he’s changed his mind and thinks Kruse is a fraud a few weeks later over someone who’s never publicly admitted a mistake in his life and retreats behind credentials and “consensus”. Stephan went over to Petr D’s place making condescending comments and Petr slapped him down like a bitch. I’m pretty agnostic about CIH at this point, in fact I really don’t give a shit about any of it at this point (eat real food and fuhgeddaboutit), but I’ve got tons of respect for Petr’s intellectually honesty, not to mention his razor wit. Maybe I’m just prejudiced against people with no humor, for Stephan is way too earnest for my taste, but I simply don’t think he deserves a ‘break’. His recent post attempting to define real science I found especially egregious but not particularly surprising from a guy I don’t believe has an understanding of what real science is, despite whatever credentials he has.

      • Dr. Curmudgeon Gee on August 28, 2012 at 16:18

        i do believe in Stephans’ sincerity in wanting to help people.

        but then i don’t know any professional that complain about blogging “for free” & having to spend one’s own $ to attend conference (AHS 2012).

        also he belittled J Stanton as a “fantasy” writer.

        naturally, bunch of comments try to comfort him.

        methink if the kitchen is too hot for you, why do you start cooking in the first place?


      • Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2012 at 16:36

        Nobody will ever see me give a whiff of a complaint about what I get here, in comments. I have just words, and that’s enough. Because that’s all I have in the first place.

  10. Andre Chimene on August 14, 2012 at 02:25

    Dear Richard,
    I’m diggin your take on the Big Top Show…so sorry you are going thru this family health crisis. I am writing you because I want you to help Sam. I work with Dr. Ron Rosedale. He may not have the best social skills when it comes to hubris but then both you and I have been known to exhibit the same traits. That is one reason I like you both. No bullshit.

    My story is this..2 years ago my wife had a double brain anuerysm. 50% of the people with single anys dont even make it to the hospital alive. She had a double. She went to Cedar’s Sinai in Los Angeles to the Nuero ICU. One of the best in the world. The doctor that coiled her hemmorages and stopped the bleeding, was a life saver. On day 3 of the hell…the nuero on the floor told me..”look, we don’t know how your wife is still alive…we have never seen someone with this much bleeding live. 2 bursts not one. We have a big problem coming. Like aftershocks following an earthquake, these patients get vaso spasms. They are ischemic strokes where the blood vessels spasm and clamp down. From day 6-21 they come. We don’t know why they come but we will be there when we do. Because of her horrific bleed..if she lives, your wife has a 95% chance of being a vegetable for the rest of her life.”

    I thanked them for the positve future for my family. I picked up my phone and called Dr. Rosedale, whom I had met in India 3 months earlier. I explained the situation and he replied..”I am not a brain surgeon…but blood vessels in the brain should be no different than the bloosd vessels around the heart. The vaso spasms come because both glucose and insulin are vaso spasmotic. We have to get her off the nasal tube immediately”.

    The docs had placed a nasal tube down her and were pumping her full of a fluid that is 75% maltodextrin. She is not diabetic but her blood sugars soared to 200, which forces her own body to overproduce insulin and then the doctors answer to this was to inject her with more insulin. They believe that sugar and protein are good for the brain. That causes the vaso spasms! These doctors are the best and they are unaware of this.

    Dr. Rosedale flew down 3x, at his own expense, and with the help of a lawyer at the hospital made the changes he wanted. He made them stop the statin they were giving her. We fed her liquid magnesium and a ketogenic diet to give the brain what it needed to repair. Fat and cholesterol. She passed the deadline with no vaso spasm damage. The big shocks never came. Surprise.

    She was blind from the blood that had forced its way into her vitreous, unable to know who or where she was…like a baby.

    Cut to the present, after 2 1/2 years of following religiously (that’s for you) the program of healing Dr. Rosedale mapped out for her, she is 100% and back touring the country, headlining, doing stand up comedy. Her name is Beaumont Bacon.
    Please give Dr. Rosedale a call or email. Time is very important now. Ron would be happy to counsel with you and your family. Oh yeah…one last thing…he never asked me for a dime! His email is

    • Alex Saveski on August 14, 2012 at 05:38

      That’s an incredible story, Andre. Thanks for sharing. I actually hadn’t heard of Dr. Rosedale prior to AHS12 and didn’t quite know what to make of him. I’ve noticed that many of the low-carb zealots are clinicians who work with sick, broken people, see them improve on low-carb diets, and then extrapolate this to mean that everyone should do the same. This strikes me as an error in logic that disregards context, but it’s clear that in most cases these are caring individuals who believe they are doing the right thing.

      • Andre Chimene on August 14, 2012 at 07:41

        Dr. Rosedale is not some doctor who just works with sick people he’s originally an ear nose and throat specialist however most of the client came through the clinics that he worked at were diabetic.His philosophy was fix the diabetes first. He sees diabetes as a model for advanced aging since diabetics get all diseases of aging at an accelerated rate. He is interested in finding the way to a long and youthful, post reproductive older age.

      • Lara on August 15, 2012 at 13:43

        Andre — GREAT read/outcome
        Do you blog? Where? Let’s take this there?

      • Andre Chimene on August 15, 2012 at 23:18

        Lara, my contact info is…i am beginning a new blog this month. I am in India working with Dr. Rosedale. Thank you for your kind words. Lets start a conversation…here or on FB.

      • Lara on August 16, 2012 at 10:04

        Will be in touch. Grats

    • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2012 at 20:20

      Thanks for the concern and info. He’s doing much better by the day.

      Also, it appears there was no internal brain bleeding from an aneurism or stroke, but that it was internal cranial bleeding from blunt force trauma from a fall. The bleeding produced a clot against his brain and that’s what they had to operate to remove.

      I’ll pass on this info to the family on scene.

  11. Ned Kock on August 14, 2012 at 06:56

    I am sorry to hear about Sam, and wish him a speedy recovery. It was nice chatting with you Richard; you are a good man. My own impression of AHS12 are here:

    • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2012 at 08:39


      Likewise, and great write up. Thanks for the shout out and sorry for overlooking a mention of you which I will not correct in an update with a link to your post.

  12. Joe Johnson | Feeling Terrific on August 14, 2012 at 07:50

    was happy to host on Thursday… the sauerkraut was donated by Real Pickles, a local company in Mass. Hope to talk more next time!

  13. Skyler Tanner on August 14, 2012 at 08:03


    So very sorry to hear about Sam. May he experience a speedy recovery, as it seems like the worst is behind him now!

    See you later this week.


  14. J. Stanton - on August 14, 2012 at 10:29


    I knew something was off, but I didn’t want to pry because you were doing so well toughing it out. You and Sam both have my best wishes, even though you did manage to drop that projection screen on my head right before your talk. :D

    Yes, I’ll admit to a touch of trepidation as my presentation began: the room was full of people whom I respect greatly, who have directly influenced my own work., and who (in many cases) hold doctorates in related fields! I’m glad you found the result enjoyable and informative.

    I’ll close by echoing your positive thoughts about the volunteers and organizers. Let me add one for Bolt Coffee Co. and the A/V team. If the live sound and the multiple cameras are any indication, the presentation videos will be excellent!


    • Aaron Blaisdell on August 15, 2012 at 13:47

      I’ll echo JS in recognizing early on that you appeared a bit subdued. Now I know why, and I hope Sam is doing well. My own grandmother had another stroke during the time I was AHS12, and it was nice to visit her in Buffalo with her great-grandchildren (my kids) in toe before returning to LA. Family is fundamental. That’s rule #1.

      I was sitting next to JS and the others with whom he was chatting when the slide slowly descended to deliver its doom. I wish I had a video camera on him to capture his startled reaction on film. It was hilarious! Jamie (That Paleo Guy), Anastasia (Primalmeded), and I laughed so hard we split our sides.

      I digress…Richard you gave an outstanding talk. And so did Jamie and JS for that matter.

      best wishes,

      • Richard Nikoley on August 15, 2012 at 14:33

        Aaron, it’s fabulous that you still have a grandmother. I grew up with all 4 of them and a great grandmother–who didn’t pass until I was about 30 (she had my grandmother at 14, during the depression era).

        God, how amazing they all were.

        I’m glad your children will have, hopefully, a recollection of a great grandmother. It’s very very special.

      • Aaron Blaisdell on August 15, 2012 at 17:16

        Agreed. Frank’s talk was a particularly poignant reminder of the importance of family as a foundation of our identity and health.

      • Andre Chimene on August 15, 2012 at 23:22

        Aaron, sorry about your g ma…like I said in my offer to Richard…it aplies to you too. I can get Dr. Rosedale on the case for you. The recovery process can make all the difference for a positive outcome. Contact me, send me her labs etc…and lets get her better.

  15. Angela A on August 14, 2012 at 16:50

    Hey man, no need to make excuses for the lack of tweets. For an ancestral health community, it’s crazy that we’ve gotten to that point, especially after Frank Forencich’s talk. I was definitely saddened by seeing so many people with great posture, standing during talks and wearing their evo-appropriate sandals, yet GLUED to their handheld devices. I definitely understand how it’s social media that’s fostered this grassroots movement, but we definitely need a check on it.

    Heart out to you and Bea. I’m a sporadic reader of the blog, so I didn’t want to annoy you by approaching you, but you should know I got into Sanuks because of one of your posts. They should give you a cut ;)

    • Lindsay on August 15, 2012 at 08:12

      I had somebody trolling me during the conference with a similar sentiment (not saying you’re a troll, just that this isn’t the first time this has come up). Believe me, if I were following my bliss, my iPhone would have been tucked away the whole time. A whole heck of a lot of folks couldn’t be there, and as dumb as it sounds to call live-tweeting a form of journalism, that was what I (and a number of others) were trying to do. Spreadin’ the word.

      • Angela A on August 15, 2012 at 17:04

        Fair enough. Clearly, these networking sites are responsible for the majority of this community’s growth, so I’m no hater (or a troll, although I’m not as familiar with the term…). I guess it’s also a matter of timing: non-attendees can get more meaningful/in-depth info by looking to the blogs in the post-symposium week. Or, waiting even longer, they get the most significant info by watching the talks once posted. The word gets spread and re-spread.

        I’m just a sucker for being present in the moment, and my temple just recently had a dharma talk on mindful listening. Definitely a work in progress, as I was pulling out my phone to read news during the vapid moments.

      • Lindsay on August 15, 2012 at 17:06

        Yeah, I felt a little ironic offering a mindfulness meditation breakout group for attendees in between bursts of Twittering.

        Oh, humans. We’re so funny.

  16. Your Pal on August 14, 2012 at 18:43

    Hey, Dick, nice pic published by Jimmy of you sitting with that basketball stuffed in the front of your shirt. Why don’t you publish some more?

    • Bill on August 14, 2012 at 23:17

      Oh, look, it’s Evelyn’s fan, under yet another handle.

  17. rob on August 15, 2012 at 05:53

    I took some shirtless photos of myself this morning on account of my four year get-in-shape-by-the-time-you-turn-50 program is nearing its end, my reaction was “Is that all four years of constant effort got me?”

    Of course that’s because I forget that four years ago when I took my shirt off I looked like a beached whale.

    Still it is starting to look like I will only be able to turn back the clock so far, I’m not going to be 25 again, can’t pretend that growing older never hurts

  18. Brendan on August 15, 2012 at 07:05

    Haha, love the pic of Gary, especially because I’m in the background (blue shirt and jeans). It was certainly a great weekend, although the barefoot banquet was a disappointment. I didn’t manage to get ONE bacon wrapped scallop, no matter how hard I tried.

    Anyway, love this post. I totally agree about the Taubes/Guyenet thing, I was pleasantly surprised to not hear anything about it all weekend. Everyone was very respectful about their opinions. Also, I loved that Stephan opened his talk by saying “I’m Stephan Guyenet, and I’m not going to talk about carbs” I couldn’t stop laughing.

  19. Jack Kruse on August 15, 2012 at 08:00

    Rich sorry to hear about Sam. I wanted to share this with you after I read Andre C post above. It is from a future post I have written on this topic and I wanted to share it with you for Sam’s recovery. It takes a fire 5 minutes to ravage your house…….and it can take a year to rebuild. It take 4 minutes to give you a cerebral stroke due to lack of blood flow…….and takes a lifetime to recover from it. If your not mindful of circadian biology, it diminishes your hormone response by altered diet or light patterns slowly but consistently you pay the price………and you wonder why it takes so long to recover? Are you connecting any dots yet? An ounce of prevention saves you a pound of recovery in all things on this planet. This is the rule of evolution and life. It is a core foundational principle most remain blind too. Try be aware of the things you keep in your blind spot…….it is here where your primal instinct is buried” My best to him and his recovery.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 15, 2012 at 08:22

      Thanks Jack.

      So far recovery is amazingly rapid and no real bumps in the road I can detect from phone calls yet. Sam has been in good shape all his life, works out regularly, eats pretty well has a good body composition, etc. it appears from evidence such as a broken or sprained ankle (I haven’t got the final word on which), that he sustained a fall and head trauma. The bleeding was cranial but not from some spontaneous internal brain rupture.

      There is some concern that his personality is changed somewhat, but there too many confounders in my view to judge whether that’s a direct result of the injury or the situation he finds himself in as a result.

      • Andre Chimene on August 15, 2012 at 23:29

        Richard, when my wife came out of the coma she had no personality left. This from a woman who was a female equivalent of Sam Kinison on stage. Windows keep opening for her to this day. Sam’s is not nearly as traumatic as Beaumont’s…be patient while he returns.

        On the other hand Sam Kinison’s brother Bill said .”when Sam was a kid, he was the sweetest, most polite boy you would ever meet. Then, one day he got hit by a car running for a ball…coma for 2 weeks..when he woke up he was SAM!!!!….It might just be that your Sam aquires some new power and skills in his current trial….God, I miss Sam…I miss laughing so hard you think you might die.

  20. […] Posts RSS ← The Ancestral Health Symposium 2012, Harvard Law School, Wrap-Up […]

  21. Karen P. on August 15, 2012 at 18:11

    I can die happy. I won your favorite tweet of AHS12 award! I promise to introduce myself next time, I’m a bit of a lurker.

    So glad to hear that Sam is making a recovery. What an amazing story, and what a lucky guy to have such devoted family. Devoted family is so Paleo.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 15, 2012 at 18:32

      Karen it’s no shit. In fact, it was so good I didn’t quite know what to make of it and it kept me guessing and wondering. That’s good tweeting.

  22. Nora Gedgaudas on August 16, 2012 at 17:20

    Richard–thanks for all your kind words and acknowledgment. You are more of a kind-hearted gentleman than many would give you credit for. I’m so glad to hear that everything is working out with Sam and that things seem to be on the mend. I get how distracting this is. I’ve got some of this distraction of my own from serious health challenges happening with members of my own family. You held it together well at AHS12, my friend. I’m certainly glad you made it there. It simply wouldn’t have been the same without you. Please send my very best to Bea. Also, Lisa sends her love.

  23. […] not attend. Upon my return I had exactly 24 hours with Bea before I dropped her at the airport to attend to her brother on an hour or two sudden notice. Then I left for the Ancestral Health Symposium, came back, […]

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