Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Grand Rounds, and More

First it was Carnival of the Vanities, then Carnival of the Capitalists, then Carnival of the Receipes, and today, Grand Rounds:
Welcome to the debut of Grand Rounds, the weekly summary of the best of the medical blogosphere. It's our hope that this new feature will introduce a wider audience to the expanding array of talented doctors, nurses, techs and students writing online today.

Reading at 40+

Haven't been able to read fiction lately. Maybe Lileks knows why:
Now I’m reading again, and like many in their 40s, it’s non-fiction. The real world is more interesting than the manufactured ones, with all its tricks and gimmicks. By now I’d rather read a biography of the man who typeset “Les Miserables” than read the book again.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Noon Notes

On today's lunch-time walk I carried a few sheets of paper and a pen. I've been meaning to do this for some time since I have a lot of (great?) ideas when I'm walking. Today I wasn't going to miss anything. I would see for certain whether I really had good ideas on the walk - - better than I have sitting in my cubicle.

The Notes:
"w/e dig garden front." Translated that means that this weekend I had promised to help dig up some more of the front yard in furtherance of my wife's gardening ambitions. Digging up sod that's been there for over 40 years is not easy. Grass has roots - - tough ones.

"Benefits of long held pose - mtn e.g."
This is a reminder to see what sort of benefit I derive from holding my yoga poses longer, for example Mountain Pose. I recall reading somewhere that older (less flexible) people should hold their poses longer. Couldn't hurt - I tend to rush things.

"Sharp shin, lean, not as big, bulky as red-tail" [my notes also include a sketch] This means I saw a Sharp-Shinned Hawk - - at least I think I did. It was smaller than a red-tail, and had a longer torso - and tail.

These notes are kind of messy. Maybe I need to adopt the Hipster PDA.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Portion Size

Feeling kind of bloated lately, and feel I need to cut back at meals. Found this interesting article about how Americans are eating larger and larger portions of food at each sitting. Nothing new there, but thought this was an interesting way to determine if you were getting the "right amount" short of whipping out your scale at every meal:

"Usually someone's hands are in proportion to his or her body. The size of the palm is about how much meat is usually best for them.

"If they make a fist, that's a good portion of starch (such as pasta). If they cut a piece of cheese, the width of their thumb is a good indicator of the portion that's best for them."


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Big Bird, Small Bird

On Sunday I chanced to see Minnesota's smallest bird and it's largest bird (OK - almost the largest*) in the space of one hour, from that most excellent of birding positions - - shooting baskets in my driveway.

The smaller - Ruby Throated Hummingbird - must have been migrating through when it stopped for a drink from the Nasturium in front of our house. It hovered for a few seconds, then started flying directly towards me before quickly veering to it's left.

Almost an hour later I spotted a Bald Eagle circling the field behind our house. It was riding the thermals upwards and heating southwest.

Not bad for unplanned birding activity - no binocs.

*Without consulting my field guides I believe the Turkey Vulture is actually the largest in MN, Bald Eagle second largest?

Multi-task - kills neutrons?

Found this interesting post on BusinessPundit discussing a study on the perils of multi-tasking.

Dr. John Sladky, a professor of pediatrics and neurology at Emory’s School of Medicine and the chief of neurology at Emory Children's Center, notes that in visual scans of the brain, the amount of activity diminishes when multitasking comes into play. “A summary of more recent research would indicate that the brain doesn’t multitask very well, and unlike a computer that allocates an equal amount of energy for each task, the brain’s energy expenditure capability is limited. Simply put, energy for each task is finite.”
. . .
. . . stress induced by high levels of multitasking, or even other major causes of stress, can “cause a chain reaction in the brain to kill off neurons.” Short-term memory loss is a common result.

What was I saying - - oh yeah - I find this fascinating, especially the part about how humans evolved to handle stress in one way (Use the physical rush of seeing the saber-tooth tiger to make a run for it - - occasionally) and now we face stress from many sources all the time - - and we can't outrun it. No wonder everyone and their brother is on some sort of anti-anxiety/depression medication.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Starbucks in Paris

One thing I remember most about Paris was the great coffee. S always chuckles when she describes my reaction to that first sip. In honor of that memory is this,
You know, Starbucks made sense when the only coffee you could get was at the local diner, where the brew percolated hours ago and sat on a burner for hours. Hell, in English-speaking countries we don’t even have our own words for good coffee, so we have to use Italian. That’s why Starbucks was not such a bad thing. But Starbucks in Paris? Why would anyone order a grande-latte-no-foam when they can order un cafĂ© au lait en bol?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Velvet Fog

Listening to KFAI on the way in this morning. David Cummings (the Rockin' in Rhythm show) was celebrating Mel Torme's birthday (Monday, Sept 13 actually), by playing several by the "Velvet Fog". Torme is quite good. Having been introduced to him via Night Court where the Judge (Harry Anderson) was a Mel Torme fan, I thought the guy was sort of a "nothing". On that show, he seemed to be the butt of jokes, or rather the Judge seemed to be the butt of jokes for liking Torme. At least that's how I recall it.

Anyway, add Mel Torme to the list of CD's I need.

Step Away from the Keyboard

Wow - maybe this blogging stuff is bad for your health. If one looks at a blog as a sort of diary (which I do):

Keeping a diary is bad for your health, say UK psychologists. They found that regular diarists were more likely than non-diarists to suffer from headaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems and social awkwardness.

Their finding challenges assumptions that people find it easier to get over a traumatic event if they write about it.

“We expected diary keepers to have some benefit, or be the same, but they were the worst off,” says Elaine Duncan of the Glasgow Caledonian University. “In fact, you’re probably much better off if you don’t write anything at all,” she adds.
Fully story in New Scientist. Thanks to devclue.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sappy, but . . .

The Minnesota Ornithologist's Union (MOU) listserv has many interesting posts. There is a dedicated "tribe" of folks out there every day scouring the landscape for birds both ordinary and rare.

One of the member/posters has this line in her signature. It's kind of sappy, but also very nice:
Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun

On a related (bird) note, I checked out a bird-call CD at the library yesterday, A Field Guide to Bird Songs: Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides). The kids got quite laugh out of it as we drove home from the library. When you are not "in the field" but hear only the call over the car speakers, some sound quite startling, and some are just plain funny. Overall the effect is soothing. M asked me to put in the "Bird CD" last night and she fell asleep instantly.


I'll admit my birding skills are a little rusty, but I did spot a nice "group" - "flock" [kettle - I suppose] - of nighthawks on Saturday evening. It was about 6:00 pm and they were circling above my house moving slowly from the Northeast to the Southwest. There were about 12 or so. Up to now I've only seen single nighthawks, so I went into Google and searched circling nighthawks ramsey, and low and behold the first two posts were for MN sightings: This post from another Ramsey County birder, and this from a Dakota county birder.

Wake Up Time

Pretty busy Monday. I like busy, but now I need coffee. Since it's still Summer, or finally Summer, depending on your view - I will celebrate with an Cold Press from Caribou.

Yoga again tonight after a few missed classes - vacation and Labor Day holiday. Keeping up with the daily practice and I'm looking forward to tonight. Plan to sign up for another 16 weeks at the beginner level (lots of stiff parts after 42 years of living and 25 years of running).

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Better Butter?

Wow - and I thought the MN State Fair butter sculptures were cool. Check this out from the New York State Fair. Butter Farm.

"Let Go Mister!"

We are at the State Fair; kids start to fight, smallest makes a run for it, so Dad catches him and hangs on tight. Kid starts to struggle and says "Let go Mister". Oh, and did I mention that he bit Dad's arm?

A very creepy few seconds at the fair as I tried to break up the sibling fight, corral the younger from running off into a crowd of thousands, then pry younger one off my arm while he is attached by his teeth. But the scariest was when he called me "Mister". For a split second I imagined what would happen if someone thought I was just an anonymous "Mister" rather than "Dad". How do you prove that a kid is actually yours? Maybe I should have a chip inserted – right behind his shoulder. Shouldn't hurt much.

All in all the State Fair was a hit. When isn't it? Lots of kid rides, a modicum of food - M ate two "Fudge on a Sticks" - and Cotton Candy. Mom and dude left early, as he was pretty pooped. M and I stayed for that second Fudge, Cotton Candy, Lemonade, followed shortly thereafter by 3 consecutive rides down the Giant Slide.

Time of arrival: 10:15 a.m. - time of departure: 5:00 p.m. The kid (and Dad) has stamina.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Vacation and Lawn-mowers

Back from vacation today, a well-needed rest, and only 277 e-mails, not bad. Cleaned out my IE Favorites. Many I read out of habit. Getting away for a week broke the habit, and now I’ve pared it down to the bare essentials. Give me two weeks to add a dozen new Favorites.

Speaking of breaking things, I ran over a large rock with the lawn mower shortly before leaving on vacation. Not only did I bend the blade, but I also bent the crankshaft. The mower is lost. S wants me to buy an electric mower. They may cost a little more (for the cordless especially, but they are much quieter and pollute far less. Drawbacks? Some take many hours to charge – not a problem really. I also wonder if I can do my entire yard without stopping to recharge?? Absolutely will not work with a cord – super nerdy.

I am considering purchasing a reel mower again. They are real cheep – even the top-of-the-line models. One problem is that they are not too good on weeds. They tend to “caress” them, just rolling over the tops. Also – we have many trees and come fall it is nice to just mow over the leaves, turning them into mulch. On the other hand, I could always rent a mower for the one or two weeks of serious mulching. Also – the reel mower would be cool – very retro, and maybe the kids could start mowing earlier. I would hesitate to let them use the gas-powered model until they were around 12 or so.