Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Travel Time

I'm going to do something weird today. I'm going to user this blog to blog, like a normal blogger blogs. All personal and off the cuff and stuff. Don't get your hopes up! This won't last.

The endless slog through the presentations from the NIH state-of-the-science (I typoed this at stat-of-the-science, which works too) LI Conference came to an end just before I left on a vacation. Usually I predate a few posts and have them ready to appear whenever I have to go out of town. (What? Bloggers do that? Does that mean Santa isn't really real?) I realize that nobody reads this blog, but the numbers actually go negative whenever I skip my daily posts. Maybe there's a place to predate your non-clicking on links. I managed to lose a follower over the last 5 days. Come back, Shane. All is forgiven! (Early MAD magazine reference. If you get it, you're too old for the internet.)

You know to what lengths I go to in order to give you the illusion that I'm always blogging? No, of course you don't. That's the secret of a successful illusion. Ask Penn and Teller. Although I've been out of town several times in the past 18 months, the last "vacation" I took was a working vacation at the Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention, in Denver in August 2008.

Why didn't I take a vacation last year? I spent a lot of it prepping for and recovering from back surgery. Vacations aren't much fun when you can't be on your feet. And you didn't notice. Because I kept blogging. I blogged from the hospital, I blogged from recovery. I just checked. They were better - and longer - than usual posts.

Why didn't I mention it? Mostly because back surgery has nothing to do with lactose intolerance. And mostly because people are very nice (except for those who believe in quack medical treatments and like to tell me so) and I hate answering "how are you feeling?" over and over. And over. That's how you can cram two mostlys into one answer. It seems like way more than too much. Unselfishly selfish, that's me.

And my wife, who loves to travel and has had to put up with being housebound all this time. How do I get away with it? Because she can't get away from her job for more than about ten minutes at a stretch, and uses those ten minutes when she can grab them to go check on her parents, who have a variety of health problems of their own. (How elderly is elderly? They're too old to get that MAD magazine reference from the early 50s.) Which is another reason not to talk about my health issues. I don't have cancer or Alzheimer's or the stuff that any random sample of even my friends have.

So we decided to dip our toes back into the wonderful world of travel. Nothing major. A few days up in Toronto.

Rochester likes to kid itself that it is an actual city. No, really. People know that we live in the same state as Manhattan, but that's an exception. Nothing else is like New York and it doesn't really count. It's too big and too much. Might as well compare yourself to Oz. New York is Technicolor and Rochester is a Good Place to Live without all that annoying traffic and crowding and bustle and modernity. Besides, it's much, much prettier than Buffalo.

Toronto is a real city. Hip and funky and full of people of every part of the color spectrum, including a few who might have been puce. Toronto has those neighborhoods, and Rochester doesn't.

What do we do in Toronto? What you might suspect. Lots of used bookstores. Like Monster Records. I wouldn't have thought so either, and I wouldn't have stopped there if it hadn't been next store to a normal used bookstore. (Toronto is so full of record shops that you half expect four boys in leather jackets reading the Silver Beatles to be yelled at for smoking in public.) From the street, however, you can see three walls covered in books. Books on music, yes, and television and movies and popular culture, especially those paperback originals that flourished in the 1970s and you can never find any more. (Not as great as Kayo Books in San Franciscon, but nothing is.)

Lots of restaurants with interesting reviews. La Batifole, an inexpensive yet excellent place that bills itself as the best French Restaurant in Chinatown, where you can get chicken liver brûlé as an appetizer. You can't imagine writing any part of that sentence about Rochester. Or lunch at Fresh, a vegan restaurant with tons of potential ingredients that they'll let you combine in any way you like. And gluten-free cupcakes.

Or weird little museums. Rochester has a couple of world class museums, the Strong Museum of Play, perhaps the best kids museum anywhere, and the International House of Photography. Toronto has museums everywhere, with collections you never dreamed could be so interesting. My favorite this trip was the Bata Shoe Museum. Again, really.

Look at this thing. What do you think it is? I'll spot you a million guesses.

It's a chestnut crushing clog. A more efficient way to get the meat of chestnuts. Sorta like having a special shoe to tromp grapes in. And the shoes got much, much weirder than that.

Chopines started as sandals on platforms to lift womens' feet off the heated floors of bathhouses. With typical human vanity, more was better and so they got higher and higher. The ones above were used. The woman put a hand on the head of her servant to maintain her balance.

Truly, if you want to marvel at human ingenuity and remember that the species was insane long before the internet, you can do more in one room at the Bata than you can on the whole History Channel for a week.

And comedy. We've done every type of art in Toronto, from music to dance to textiles to experimental theater that moshed together all of the above and more. This time we comedized. A fine evening at Second City, followed by a night with Craig Ferguson and his manic stand-up.

Stand-up, I can't even sit-up! Wish that were a joke. Only a few days, yet my body feels like a speed bump on a road near an elementary school. I'll take a vacation again. In a few years. When I've had time to recover. In the meantime, I'll be back to information providing. Suffer.

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