This Monday ...

... is particularily troublesome when said on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

When you say this Monday, do you mean this Monday of this past week or do you mean this coming Monday of the week following this one?

And when you say next Monday, do you mean this coming Monday or the subsequent Monday following this coming Monday?

Image nabbed from here.





For the past while I have been noticing more and more people with things stuck in their ears as they shop, drop their kids off at school, or otherwise go about their daily routine. I think they look really silly.

It is even worse when it is actually on and they are blabbing away in public, staring straight ahead. I wonder if they could be marketed a product that cleans their teeth and freshens their breath with "vigorous foaming" action while they talk?

I can see were handsfree bluetooth headsets might be practical, but does the average person really need to be wearing one while squeezing a mango and yammering away? Does the average person really need to be connected / available 24/7?

So, if you are one of those with a bluetooth stuck in your ear, sorry, but I think you look silly. I thought it looked silly back in the original Star Trek series.

Disclaimer: this rant comes from someone who doesn't even own a cell phone.

Images nabbed from here and here.

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Sunshine in a pill

After campaigning hard to get us out of the sun, science is now developing sunshine in a pill.

Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin because it is produced by our bodies upon exposure to sun. Vitamin D is also known to reduce the incidence and rate of progress of various cancers.

The company Novacea is currently doing trials on a new drug called Asentar (DN-101) providing 50-100 higher level of vitamin D than normal.

As the promo literature says:

Drug makers came up with the idea because vitamin D from sunlight improves the prognosis of certain cancers.

However, the following sentence is rather odd:

But taking natural levels of the vitamin has no effect.

Vitamin D is an interesting vitamin because there is no clear RDA (recommended daily allowance) for the vitamin, since our bodies can produce it from sunlight (apparently a Caucasian will synthesize about 10,000 IU from about a half hour of sunlight exposure). However, the RDA is generally listed at between 200 and 400 IU for adults. Interestingly, if you eliminate all sun exposure and consume 800 IU daily, you will become vitamin D deficient.

So that oddly worded sentence really means that taking RDA levels of vitamin D have no effect against cancer or cancer prevention.

I am not sure what the exact composition of Novacea is. It is supposed to be able to deliver 50-100 times the nominal does of vitamin D (10,000 to 40,000 IU) without side effects. Vitamin D is metabolized by the kidneys into a more usable for, so perhaps the pill is the metabolized product rather than the raw vitamin. In any case, people who get lots of sun exposure routinely expose themselves to mega doses of vitamin D without any adverse effects. Vitamin D has a fairly low toxicity compared to many other compounds we routinely ingest.

Anyway … this type of research and progress reminds me of the arrogance o the 40s and 50s when science was going to gloriously regulate our lives while dispensing with "nature".

Image nabbed from here.

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I don't know why, but my mind has been very quiet the past 4-1/2 weeks. Starting from the time my mother went into rapid decline and her subsequent death.

It is an odd state to be in. The closest thing that resonates with me is the image of forgetting to turn the lights off.

I have no desire to withdraw, I do not feel hollow or empty, I am not anxious, nor am I lethargic, numb or indifferent, I have not becoem resigned to my life and circumstance. My mind is just quiet.

I am not preoccupied with any particular thoughts or images. Just quiet.

It is different from peace, or calm, or acceptance. It is just quiet. (The only side effect is that it makes it difficult to blog and to comment on other's blogs because there is not a whole lot running through my mind.)

Image nabbed from here.




On true and false friendship

You sent a letter to me through the hand of a "friend" of yours, as you call him. And in your very next sentence you warn me not to discuss with him all the matters that concern you, saying that even you yourself are not accustomed to do this; in other words, you have in the same letter affirmed and denied that he is your friend.

If you used this word of in the popular sense, and called him "friend" in the same way in which we speak of candidates for political office as "honourable gentlemen," and as we greet all whom we meet casually, whose name we have forgotten at the moment, with the salutation, "My Dear ..." - so be it.

But if you consider any man a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mistaken and you do not fully understand what true friendship means. Indeed, I would have you discuss everything with a friend; but first of all discuss the man himself. Before a friendship is formed, you must judge, after the friendship is settled, you must trust. Those persons who put the cart before the horse, violate the rules of Theophrastus, judging a man after they have made him their friend, instead of making him their friend after they have judged him. Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.

- Seneca

Image nabbed from here.

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Half a lifetime ago

That photo was taken 20.5 years ago - half a lifetime ago. It was for my student photo ID - I was registering for my final year in Electrotechnology at Dawson College.

How does it feel to be 41? How does it feel to be in my 5th decade of life?

To be honest, no differently from what it felt like to be 40, or 30, or 20. I do not notice the years. In my heart, the years do not pass, yet, when I look in the mirror, I see a stranger - an older, heavier, tired man who bears some semblance to myself. I find it hard to perceive myself with my inner eye as older than 16 - even 12 or 13 are comfortable ages for me. But, my body does not agree with me and reminds me more and more of my age. My years of knowledge, experiences and encounters dull my enthusiasm and temper my optimism with realism (and perhaps cynicism).

I wonder if there is any significance of the conjunction of the Chinese New Year of the Boar and my birthday this year?

Photo credits: Richard of Forbidden Planet.

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The downside of Winter.

You might think the cold, or ice, or long darkness, or even the snow might be a downside, but they are not.

The downside is shoveling snow. More specifically, shoveling the snow from the front of my driveway.

It takes me very little time to shovel the driveway - less than half an hour; today it was 20 minutes, the snow was light and powdery (it was also a brisk -20C (-4F) with a windchill of -37C (-35F) - like Renny said, there is no such thing as poor weather, just poorly dressed people).

The pain in shoveling snow comes in cleaning the snow the city crews plow into the front of my driveway as they clear the street of snow. Cleaning it usually takes between half and hour to an hour because (1) it is heavy, (2) it is packed tight, (3) it is frozen or has frozen bits. It becomes frozen because salt and slush are usually mixed in with it.

Oddly enough, it is illegal for me to push my snow out into the street (at least in Ottawa), but it is perfectly legal for the city crews to push snow back into my driveway.

"I would rather see a crooked furrow than a field unplowed." - Paul Jewkes

Image nabbed from here.

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Speaking with Sofia last night, she told me that I have a reputation to maintain at her office. Apparently the women are giddy with anticipation about her receiving flowers tomorrow - it appears that I am the only one who ever sends flowers to his missus.

I have elected to send something similar to the displayed arrangement (I say similar because I am never sure if the arrangement looks exactly the way it is photographed - think of the contrast between hamburgers seen in ads and the haphazardly dressed patty you get between two squashed buns).

Image nabbed from here

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Not quite Jacques Cousteau

I had bought some frozen calamari (squid) a while back and decided that it was time I actually did something with them. I thawed them out and cleaned them. I have never done this before and I am sure I was horribly slow and inefficient (it took me an hour to clean 2 pounds – 907g – worth).

You begin by grasping the body and pulling out the head and guts. Then you squeeze out the guck inside and then peel off the skin (or film) on the surface. As a bonus, most of the skin comes off when you squeeze out the gunk.

Finally you need to remove the spine. This was news to me, I thought that squid did not have any hard structure (aside from the beaky mouth). It is an interesting piece, when removed, it looks exactly like a piece of transparent plastic.

Still haven’t decided what to make with it, but I will cook it tonight.

Photo credits: Richard of Forbidden Planet

[Note: today, blogger forced me to change over to the new blogger. When I logged in, I could not see any way to log on to my old blogger account. Apparently, I am one of the lucky ones to be moved over so soon.]

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Cold Feet

One of the things I notice when driving long distances in the winter is that my toes get cold; even if I am directing the warm air to the floor. The car gets toasty, but my toes are still cold.

This only happens when the temperature outside is below –20C or so. It was –24C when I left this morning from Montreal to Ottawa - felt like –37C with the wind chill, but that is of little consequence while inside the car.

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Like Night and Day

That was how the guy who sold me my snow tires described the difference between driving with snow tires or all season tires.

I have never had snow tires before and, given that I do a lot of driving, I decided maybe it was time I tried them. I bought them 22-December-2006 and got to try them out during the freezing rain that fell that evening. I have Yokohama Ice Guard tires. They were the best quality Winter tires the tire shop had – given that they were significantly cheaper than the lowest grade tires the auto dealership would sell me, it was a no brainer to go with them.

I have to confess, that I see no difference between driving with snow tires and all seasons. Maybe if I could do a side by side comparison (rather than relying on my memory from last Winter) I might notice a difference. On ice, there is very little traction. If there is snow on the road, the wheels still slip. Granted, it is better than driving on bald tires.

Is the difference Winter tires and all seasons like night and day? Hmmm ... I think the difference is more like noon and midday.

Image nabbed from here.

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