Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

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Cosima___J
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Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Cosima___J » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:51 am

This ought to help:

http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/philly- ... d=20718440

This looks and sounds nauseating. If I'm going to forget about cholesterol worries, I at least want to enjoy the food I'm eating! Statin drugs can only do so much.

lennygoran
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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by lennygoran » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:03 pm

Cosima___J wrote: This looks and sounds nauseating. If I'm going to forget about cholesterol worries, I at least want to enjoy the food I'm eating! Statin drugs can only do so much.
Cosi thanks for the alert--we'll be in Philly in March for the great Philadelphia Flower Show--I'll look into this! Regards, Len :) :) :)

John F
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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by John F » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:49 am

With two deep-fried Twinkies? Now that's really excessive.

Deep-fried Twinkies have been around for a while, and not only that - deep-fried candy bars too. The ChipShop in Brooklyn says it will deep-fry just about anything - dip it in batter and drop it in the frialator. I'm not making this up:

http://www.chipshopnyc.com/menus/atlantic-menu

Their fish & chips is good, but this is ridiculous.
John Francis

Tarantella
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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Tarantella » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:45 am

We don't believe any American can make stuff up about food: the truth is stranger than fiction!!

Believe it or not, but I've just this minute finished watching a science program, made in Australia, about the cholesterol myth perpetrated by drug companies to sell more and more (useless) statins to unwitting patients. The program was not populated by quacks. The researcher, a PhD in science, interviewed the head of public health at Harvard University and 3 or 4 of the USA's leading cardiologists and researchers - all said tests and trials were mostly phoney (they did not ask the right questions in trials and some deliberately excluded people with side effects) and that doctors had actually known for some years THAT HIGH CHOLESTEROL DOESN'T KILL YOU. The place is buzzing in Australia as a result of this program. The program said 2 hours per week of vigorous walking and a "mediterranean diet" will keep you alive and healthy - statins have nothing to do with it. Indeed, these are actually injurious to health. My husband and I looked at each other: his best friend (68) take statins and is breathless when walking (and NOT overweight) suffers sleeping problems and memory loss - all of these well documented side effects of (non-necessary) statins!! Oh, and they also contribute to Diabetes!!

Another alarming fact: cholesterol is actually vital for good bodily function, particularly the brain, and one doctor speculated that reducing it MAY (repeat 'MAY') even actually help contribute to Alzheimer's or other memory deficit diseases. The medical researcher who was interviewed said there is no long-term information available on the detrimental effects to the human body of prolonged statin use. They said the only people who could be helped at all by statins are those who have already suffered heart attacks and strokes!! Nobody else.

Here's the link to our national broadcaster. The program is called "Catalyst" ("The Heart of the Matter') and the menu is at the right hand side of the page, in case you're able to get it from where you are.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by John F » Thu Oct 31, 2013 5:47 am

I'm suspicious of these sudden reversals of long-accepted medical wisdom. Of course some of them have truly been advances. But the script read by the pretty presenter at the beginning says that the relation between high cholesterol and heart disease "has been touted as the biggest myth in medical history." Nonsense! For a long time, doctors thought they could heal their patients by bleeding them. They also applied hot glass cups to the body, creating a vacuum as the glass cooled that - what? This practice that goes back millennia and there are still those who practice it today. More generally, medicine used to be based on the theory of the "four humors" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humorism). As a medical myth - if that's what it is - the cholesterol thing is small change.

Despite the extreme hype at the beginning, I'd be interested in watching the show, but all I get at the ABC link to "Catalyst Special" is a 30-second trailer.

As you probably know, cholesterol is not one substance but two - low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The conventional view of modern medicine, which my physician shares (his specialty is cardiology), is that HDL is good for you but LDL is associated with the development of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and/or peripheral vascular disease. The statin he prescribes and I take lowers LDL, as measured in my annual blood tests, and thus presumably gives me better odds of not having a heart attack. I don't know about you, but I'd rather take my statin and prevent a heart attack, if that's what it does, then wait until I have one and if I'm still alive, then start taking the pills.

You refer to "the head of public health at Harvard University." I'd like to see what he actually has to say. "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating," co-developed with the Harvard School of Public Health, is by Walter C. Willett, a high-ranking professor at both schools. For him, the adverse health effects of LDL are no myth. He advocates controlling them through exercise and diet, such as by replacing saturated with unsaturated fats, and says that drugs alone "reduce risk of heart disease only by about one-third, meaning that someone at high risk of heart disease will remain so when treated with a statin." He wrote this ca. 2001, so it's hardly front page news that statins aren't a cure-all. But a 1/3 reduction of the risk is surely not trivial.
John Francis

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by lennygoran » Thu Oct 31, 2013 5:58 am

John F wrote:The conventional view of modern medicine, which my physician shares (his specialty is cardiology), is that HDL is good for you but LDL is associated with the development of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and/or peripheral vascular disease. The statin he prescribes and I take lowers LDL, as measured in my annual blood tests, and thus presumably gives me better odds of not having a heart attack.
I have very good HDL but bad LDL--I take lovestatin 20 mg every day at lunch and the doctor says take the blood test every 4 months. Hope this helps me but can't be sure? Medicine seems to change a lot--coffee is bad for you--then they say it's okay. Eggs the greatest source of protein and its okay to eat--then they tell you it's bad for you. Wine bad for the liver--then red wine especially is good for you. Regards, Len [sigh]

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Tarantella » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:12 pm

John F wrote:I'm suspicious of these sudden reversals of long-accepted medical wisdom. Of course some of them have truly been advances. But the script read by the pretty presenter at the beginning says that the relation between high cholesterol and heart disease "has been touted as the biggest myth in medical history." Nonsense! For a long time, doctors thought they could heal their patients by bleeding them. They also applied hot glass cups to the body, creating a vacuum as the glass cooled that - what? This practice that goes back millennia and there are still those who practice it today. More generally, medicine used to be based on the theory of the "four humors" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humorism). As a medical myth - if that's what it is - the cholesterol thing is small change.

Despite the extreme hype at the beginning, I'd be interested in watching the show, but all I get at the ABC link to "Catalyst Special" is a 30-second trailer.

As you probably know, cholesterol is not one substance but two - low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The conventional view of modern medicine, which my physician shares (his specialty is cardiology), is that HDL is good for you but LDL is associated with the development of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and/or peripheral vascular disease. The statin he prescribes and I take lowers LDL, as measured in my annual blood tests, and thus presumably gives me better odds of not having a heart attack. I don't know about you, but I'd rather take my statin and prevent a heart attack, if that's what it does, then wait until I have one and if I'm still alive, then start taking the pills.

You refer to "the head of public health at Harvard University." I'd like to see what he actually has to say. "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating," co-developed with the Harvard School of Public Health, is by Walter C. Willett, a high-ranking professor at both schools. For him, the adverse health effects of LDL are no myth. He advocates controlling them through exercise and diet, such as by replacing saturated with unsaturated fats, and says that drugs alone "reduce risk of heart disease only by about one-third, meaning that someone at high risk of heart disease will remain so when treated with a statin." He wrote this ca. 2001, so it's hardly front page news that statins aren't a cure-all. But a 1/3 reduction of the risk is surely not trivial.
I was extremely skeptical about it too, but the program is thought-provoking and making the claim that it's the biggest myth in medical history is surely talking about the SCALE of the myth in terms of sheer numbers and the exponential growth in profits to drug companies.

The program's presenter is pretty but, I assure you, a clever PhD who is a regular presenter on that program along with all the other PhDs (physics, engineering, genetics etc.). Being pretty should not be a deterrent to credibility - she's not Barbie. One of the older generation presenters, Gail Jennings, is a PhD in Mathematics. She was good looking in her prime too.

The 'bad' and 'good' cholesterol were all discussed too, and it was suggested this is part of the overall 'problem'; but too complicated for me to explain. That good-looking man from Harvard Public Health certainly made sense, even though I was swooning looking at him. And the program carried a warning that 'it should not be interpreted as medical advice; you need to see your own doctor" etc. As to whether a one-third reduction in risk of heart attack is possible through the use of statins, I got the distinct impression from this program that this had NOT been proven in independent clinical trials!!

FWIW, we have a large number of very high quality programs like this, made in Australia, and presented by our national broadcaster. Current affairs and discussion programs present about one third of its daily content but the vast majority in this country choose to watch the television equivalent of land-fill. Too bad for them.

I'll find out more about how you can watch the program from outside this country. We used to watch it when we were in Vienna in 2011.
Last edited by Tarantella on Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Tarantella
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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Tarantella » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:25 pm

lennygoran wrote:
John F wrote:The conventional view of modern medicine, which my physician shares (his specialty is cardiology), is that HDL is good for you but LDL is associated with the development of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and/or peripheral vascular disease. The statin he prescribes and I take lowers LDL, as measured in my annual blood tests, and thus presumably gives me better odds of not having a heart attack.
I have very good HDL but bad LDL--I take lovestatin 20 mg every day at lunch and the doctor says take the blood test every 4 months. Hope this helps me but can't be sure? Medicine seems to change a lot--coffee is bad for you--then they say it's okay. Eggs the greatest source of protein and its okay to eat--then they tell you it's bad for you. Wine bad for the liver--then red wine especially is good for you. Regards, Len [sigh]
All this is very true - the 'conventional wisdom' changes - but this program took specific aim at the drug companies who are now squarely in the business of 'medicalising' just about every aspect of human behaviour because of the profit motive and, more alarmingly, is actively involved in funding the research and data collected in order to prove drug efficacy. On that basis alone one has to have serious reservations. Clinical trials funded by pharmaceutical companies is anathema to my idea of academic rigour.

Again, the program said the key to good health is 2 hours per week walking (which we do+) and a "Mediterranean diet". Not medication!! If you have an excellent diet and daily exercise regime, Len, and haven't had a heart attack you must fall into the 'healthy' category (like myself) and I do not take any medication and am over 60!! But I'm also NOT a doctor.

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by lennygoran » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:47 pm

Tarantella wrote: Again, the program said the key to good health is 2 hours per week walking (which we do+) and a "Mediterranean diet". Not medication!!
Sue thanks--I guess with the garden I get more than my share of exercise--however I gotta admit I'm not a "Mediterranean diet" person--I do cook a varied diet but love my meat and that's more than once a week. Both Sue and I love cheese as well--at lunch when we're out I love my bacon, lettuce and tomato toasted sandwiches and Sue really gets upset when I ladle on the mayo but I love mayo! Regards, Len [fleeing]

Tarantella
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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Tarantella » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:54 pm

The important part of all of this is that we ENJOY our lives and take as good care of ourselves as it's possible to do. That isn't easy for some who have disabilities and other medical issues. But for the vast majority of healthy individuals? Don't tempt fate by making poor choices and don't be swayed by the idea that there's a 'magic bullet' to fix everything that ails us!! My husband is 70 and has started painting the outside of the house - and it's a HUGE house; it's a big job. Many his age are languishing in hospitals or nursing homes!!

BTW, the first part of that program - aired last week - said SUGAR was far far worse for us all than actually having high cholesterol!!

And, of course, our qualities of life (on this board) are immensely improved, IMO, because we love great music. That's my drug of choice!!!

John F
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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by John F » Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:09 pm

Tarantella wrote:All this is very true but this program took specific aim at the drug companies who are now squarely in the business of 'medicalizing' just about every aspect of human behaviour because of the profit motive and, more alarmingly, is actively involved in funding the research and date collected in order to prove efficacy.
Well, but who else would pay the big cost of research and clinical trials? Not the government, at least not our government, which is in cut-back mode, and not non-profit institutions, which depend on philanthropy in good times and bad. The trials must meet certain standards for approval by the Food and Drug Administration, standards high enough and consideration long enough (longer than in Europe) that the pharmaceutical companies complain. If the data are falsified, the penalty can be enormous. That's good enough for me - and it has to be, because there's no viable alternative here. Is it different in Australia?
Tarantella wrote:The program said the key to good health is 2 hours per week walking (which we do+) and a "Mediterranean diet". Not medication!!
That sounds pretty simplistic to me. Dr. Willett's book about eating and drinking healthily is over 300 pages long, and while he endorses some general principles of what's called the Mediterranean diet, he incorporates healthy elements of other diets (such as stir-frying). He's not some diet fad purveyor but chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. He's created a healthy eating pyramid that's healthier than our FDA's recommendations, which he says are actually unhealthy. Here it is:

Image

The thing is, my own diet is pretty much according to the pyramid. I almost never eat red meat, white starchy foods, or sweets, never drink soda pop, seldom eat cheese and almost never eat or cook with butter, and only have milk with the breakfast cereal; and so on down the pyramid. I also walk more than 2 hours a week, though not very much more - my legs and back don't like it. Yet my cholesterol count, before medication, is above the healthy range, and only the statin I take brings it down to the generally accepted safe level.

I'm glad your diet etc. works for you, and if it conforms with what you saw in the TV program, I can understand why you feel as you do about cholesterol control medication. All I can say is, it ain't necessarily so.
John Francis

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Tarantella » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:31 pm

I agree about the drug companies being the only ones with the money for trials, but you do see the conflict of interest don't you? We need to keep that in mind when these issues are before us all (in society).

And I'm glad you raised the food pyramid issue because, yes, the original FDA one has been heavily criticized in the program and the one you recommended and shared with us is the desirable one these days. Your diet sounds very good and, according to the program, you may not need to be concerned about your cholesterol levels being above the "healthy range" (what's that anyway?).

It might not be "necessarily so", but neither is the use of statins to prolong life. As one expert said, 'cholesterol is but ONE small component of the health issue - just ONE - and we need to understand that spending billions on the most popular medication in the history of medicine (statins) just cannot be justified". (Paraphrasing.)

There should be an iView facility on the ABC website that helps international viewers to watch the program.

We Australians aren't ALL a bunch of mugs who fall for any old tripe on television. We have pioneers in the field of medicine and research (IVF being just one of these) and, without wishing to cause offense, I sometimes think you Americans are a bit patronizing about our little country. But we still love you!!

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by John F » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:39 pm

Tarantella wrote:I agree about the drug companies being the only ones with the money for trials, but you do see the conflict of interest don't you? We need to keep that in mind when these issues are before us all (in society).
That's why their products are subject to government regulation. The drug companies' interest is to get their products approved and on the market, and the only way they can achieve that in the U.S. is to conduct clinical trials by the FDA's rules and to the FDA experts' satisfaction. Cutting corners seems to me against their best interests, because of the damage to their reputations and bottom lines when they're caught.
Tarantella wrote:And I'm glad you raised the food pyramid issue because, yes, the original FDA one has been heavily criticized in the program and the one you recommended and shared with us is the desirable one these days. Your diet sounds very good and, according to the program, you may not need to be concerned about your cholesterol levels being above the "healthy range" (what's that anyway?).

The Mayo Clinic, one of America's most respected medical centers, has published guidelines on its web site - too long and complex to copy here, but you can read it at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/choles ... ls/CL00001

"According to the program"? I'm hardly going to take the word of a TV program I haven't seen, one which from the trailer seems to have a sensationalistic air about it, against the sober consensus of the American medical profession and the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nor do I go to my doctor in order to ignore his diagnoses and advice.

When I asked if drug testing is conducted differently in Australia than by the pharmaceutical companies themselves, I wasn't implying that you do things worse or better than we do - I meant only what I said. Nothing patronizing about that, and no need to get tetchy about it. Though from reading Clive James's memoirs I sense that Aussies do sometimes feel that they are looked down upon from abroad, even by their own expats, even when they actually aren't.
John Francis

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:48 am

Yes, you'd need to see the program first but I think what it has to say would only upset you. Better to leave it alone. I still think it's important and thought-provoking but I'm intellectually progressive and don't mind new and challenging ideas!!! :roll:

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by John F » Fri Nov 01, 2013 5:56 am

Tarantella wrote:Yes, you'd need to see the program first but I think what it has to say would only upset you. Better to leave it alone. I still think it's important and thought-provoking but I'm intellectually progressive and don't mind new and challenging ideas!!! :roll:
Look, Tarantella, I'm a grown-up, and especially in fields where I'm no expert myself (medicine definitely included), I'm open to expert opinion. My problem here is that the truly expert opinion available to me - which you seem to dismiss without discussion - is against the claims of a TV program I haven't seen and apparently won't be able to see.

However, I have found an article online that takes more or less the same line as what you say of the TV program: "The Great Cholesterol Scam," by K.L. Carson M.B.A. It's here:

http://diaryofalegaldrugdealer.com/the- ... erol-myth/

The author is not a doctor or medical researcher or scientist. She was a salesman for a pharmaceutical company (she doesn't name it) with the job of selling physicians on the benefits of that company's statin drugs. From this I accept that she is an authority on the business side of this issue, but she goes further - she claims that "There is no research that supports the assumption that lower LDL cholesterol reduces cardiovascular events or death in people who have do not already have heart disease." She cites some studies that she says show a relationship between low cholesterol and a higher death rate, though she doesn't go into the cause(s) of the low cholesterol, what kind(s) of cholesterol were low, and how low is "low." The article certainly gives me something to think about.

At the same time, I remain skeptical. With any controversial claim, especially when the weight of authority is on the other side, I consider the source, its authoritativeness and motives. Carson is making a case, she is trying to persuade us that she's right - and to sell her book, "Diary of a Legal Drug Dealer" (2010), which is what her web site is about, and which is self-published.

To a former professional in publishing, that in itself is suspicious. A book on this subject, taking this line, would be commercially promising; the houses I worked for would have bid for it and there would have been competition. Unless, of course, the book's accuracy is dubious. I don't say it is dubious, I don't know one way or the other, but if I were a trade book editor and this book by an unknown author came to me in manuscript, I would have it very carefully vetted before putting my company's reputation on the line by publishing it. When the author resorts instead to a vanity press (lulu.com), which uncritically prints whatever the author writes, at the author's expense, I wonder why.

Well, that's as may be. I accept that the Australian TV program isn't the only whistle-blower on this subject, and will look further to see if I can find out anything more from genuine authorities on the medical issue. That may be hard to find; barring severe side-effects, drugs already on the market aren't often put through more clinical trials, for obvious reasons. But we'll see.
John Francis

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by lennygoran » Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:27 am

Tarantella wrote: My husband is 70 and has started painting the outside of the house - and it's a HUGE house; it's a big job.
Sue hope it's not a job involving danger--many accidents occur when people are on ladders. Regards, Len

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:26 pm

lennygoran wrote:
Tarantella wrote: My husband is 70 and has started painting the outside of the house - and it's a HUGE house; it's a big job.
Sue hope it's not a job involving danger--many accidents occur when people are on ladders. Regards, Len
Well, I once had a ladder in my stocking and that was accidental!! :lol:

The house is single-storey and only about a foot under the eaves (we have 9' ceilings) requires couple of rungs of a ladder. There are 4 gables requiring a ladder, though, and I do take your point. I'm always there to hold the latter, just like the girl in the song, "James, James, hold the ladder steady"!!

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by lennygoran » Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:56 pm

Tarantella wrote: I'm always there to hold the latter, just like the girl in the song, "James, James, hold the ladder steady"!!
Sue that song is not familiar to me--is that Rossini or Donizetti? Talk about ladder work I will always remember the work the Met put Renee Fleming through when they did Susannah by American composer Carlisle Floyd--I remember her being up on a roof-scarey but she got it done! BTW it was a great opera experience for me and Sue! Regards, Len

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:22 pm

lennygoran wrote:
Tarantella wrote: I'm always there to hold the latter, just like the girl in the song, "James, James, hold the ladder steady"!!
Sue that song is not familiar to me--is that Rossini or Donizetti? Talk about ladder work I will always remember the work the Met put Renee Fleming through when they did Susannah by American composer Carlisle Floyd--I remember her being up on a roof-scarey but she got it done! BTW it was a great opera experience for me and Sue! Regards, Len
Len, I'm afraid "James, James.." is a cheesy popular song from the 1950's!! (My husband likes all that stuff.) At the moment he's out on the ladder (it's 36 degrees C here!!) and the radio has blaring some forgettable 50's song..."Itwzy, witzy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini"!! Wishful thinking, Len?????

I do envy you being able to see the best artists at The Met all the time and Renee is a fave of mine. And she's a good looking girl, too!! I don't recall having heard anything by Carlisle Floyd. How lucky you are to have Sue to share your love of music. And you sound like a real sweetie, too, Len. (I hope that didn't sound fishy.)

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Re: Is Your Cholesterol Too Low?

Post by lennygoran » Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:05 am

Tarantella wrote:How lucky you are to have Sue to share your love of music. And you sound like a real sweetie, too, Len. (I hope that didn't sound fishy.)
Sue not only music--when I was dating her she had a subscription to the NYCO--I didn't know from opera--also she introduced me to gardening--little did she realize I would become the Mozart of our garden while she remains a Salieri! Nothing against Salieri but he ain't Mozart! Regards, Len [fleeing]

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