Thursday, 30 October 2008

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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Temperature Falls, Heart Attacks Rise?


The claim: Changes in weather can spur heart attacks.

The facts: It sounds contrary to what common sense would suggest. However, a link between the onset of cold weather and heart attacks has been hypothesized for some time, with an array of possible culprits: inflammation from common colds, the stress and indulgence of the holiday season and higher blood pressure from narrowed blood vessels.
              Only in recent years have epidemiological studies looked for a connection and most have found one.
              In 2004, for example, a group of British scientists used data from the World Health Organization to look at changes in weather and heart attack rates in women over 50 in 17 countries on four continents.
              Their study found that a temperature drop of minus12.7 deg C was associated, in general, with a 7 per cent increase in hospital admissions for stroke and a 12 per cent rise in admissions for heart attack.
              Another study in France looked at 700 admissions over two years. It found that in people with hypertension, the risk of suffering a heart attack doubled when the temperature fell below 25 deg C.
              Most studies have had similar findings. But one, by Canadian scientists, that looked at heart attack rates and Chinook winds in Calgary – which can cause temperatures to swing wildly – found no relationship.

The Bottom line: Mixed, but most studies suggest that heart attacks rise when the temperature falls.

- The New York Times 

Monday, 27 October 2008

Giving


              A young man, a student in one of our universities, was one day taking a walk with a professor, who was commonly called the student’s friend, from his kindness to those who waited on his instructions. As they went along, they saw lying in the path a pair of old shoes, which they supposed to belong to a poor man who was employed in a field close by, and who had nearly finished his day’s work. 
              The student turned to the professor, saying: “Let us play the man a trick: we will hide his shoes, and conceal ourselves behind those bushes, and wait to see his perplexity when he cannot find them.” 
              “My young friend,” answered the professor, “we should never amuse ourselves at the expense of the poor. But you are rich, and may give yourself a much greater pleasure by means of this poor man. Put a coin in each shoe, and then we will hide ourselves and watch how this affects him.” 
              The student did so and they both placed themselves behind the bushes close by. The poor man soon finished his work, and came across the field to the path where he had left his coat and shoes. While putting on his coat he slipped his foot into one of his shoes, but feeling something hard, he stooped down to feel what it was, and found the coin. Astonishment and wonder were seen upon his countenance. He gazed upon the coin, turned it around, and looked at it again and again. He then looked around him on all sides, but no person was to be seen. He now put the money into his pocket, and proceeded to put on the other shoe; but his surprise was doubled on finding the other coin. His feelings overcame him; he fell upon his knees, looked up to heaven and uttered aloud a fervent thanksgiving in which he spoke of his wife, sick and helpless, and his children without bread, whom this timely bounty, from some unknown hand, would save from perishing. 
              The student stood there deeply affected, and his eyes filled with tears. “Now,” said the professor, are you not much better pleased than if you had played your intended trick?” 
              The youth replied, “You have taught me a lesson which I will never forget. I feel now the truth of these words, which I never understood before: “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Plant Lets Its Blog Do The Talking


             I find this interesting. I am one of those who wondered if plants have ‘feelings’, ‘emotions’, and ‘consciousness’. It would seem that they do – if the following is authentic. 

            It is a wonder how they managed to come up with a gadget to measure, read, and record a plant’s emotions. The wonder of technology – I guess. Too bad the blog is in Japanese. I would have liked to follow the blog.

              It has long been accepted that talking to plants can help them flourish, but have you ever wondered what they would say in response? Well, a plant in Japan has its own blog that may help you understand.
              Midori-san is a 40cm potted “sweet-hear plant” sitting on a cafĂ© counter in Kamakura, near Tokyo. Midori means green in Japanese.
              It blogs every day with the help of a sensor that measures the electric signals on the surface of its heart-shaped leaves. The signals are sent to a computer, which uses an algorithm to translate the data and other factors such as weather and temperature into Japanese.
              The words are automatically posted on Midori-san’s blog http://plant.bowls-cafe.jp/index.php 
              A posting on Oct 16 read: “Today was a sunny day and I was able to sunbathe a lot … I had quite a bit of fun today.”
              Said Mr Satoshi Kuribayashi, a researcher involved in the project at Japan’s Keio University: “We were initially interested in what plants are feeling and what they are reacting to that we can’t see.”
              He said he hopes that in the future, the blog will reflect even more accurately Midori-san’s feelings.

- Reuters 

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Two Days Of Freedom


There are two days in every week about which we should not worry – two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is Yesterday. 

With its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains, yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. We cannot erase a single word said. Yesterday is gone!

The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow. With its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promises and poor performance, tomorrow is beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise, whether in splendour or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

This leaves only one day ... Today. Any person can fight the battle of just one day. 

It is only when you and I add the Yesterday and Tomorrow that we break down. It is not the experience of Today that drives people mad – it is remorse or bitterness for something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring. 

Let us, therefore, live but one day at a time!

- Larry Bielat 

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Grape Juice vs Red Wine


The claim: Grape juice has the same benefits as red wine.

The facts: By now, the cardiovascular benefits of a daily glass of wine are well known. However, many teetotalers wonder whether they can reap the same rewards from wine’s unfermented sibling.

              Grape juice may not provide much buzz, but you can still toast to good health when it comes to its ability to avert heart disease.
              The substances believed to provide much of red wine’s heart benefits – resveratrol and flavonoids – are also found in grape juice, especially the variety made from red and dark purple Concord grapes.
              Independent studies have found that like alcohol, grape juice can reduce the risk of blood clots and prevent LDL, or bad cholesterol, from sticking to coronary arteries, among other cardiac benefits.
              One study, conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin and published in the journal Circulation, looked at the effects of two servings of Concord grape juice a day in 15 people with coronary artery disease. After two weeks, the subjects had improved blood flow and reduced oxidation of LDL. Oxidised LDL can damaged arteries.
              Other studies in humans and animals, including one last year in the journal Atherosclerosis, have shown that daily consumption may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Beware though: some varieties of juice have sugar and artificial ingredients.

The bottom line: Studies suggest that some kinds of grape juice may provide the cardiac benefits of red wine.

- The New York Times 

Monday, 20 October 2008

Enough Is Enough


              A long time ago, there was an Emperor who told his knight that if he could ride on his horse across as much land as possible, then the Emperor would give him the area of land he had covered. 
              Sure enough, the horseman quickly jumped onto his horse and rode as fast as possible to cover as much land area as he could. He kept on riding and riding, whipping the horse to go faster and faster. 
              When he was hungry or tired, he did not stop because he wanted to cover as much area as he could. It came to a point where he had covered a substantial area but he was exhausted and was dying. Then he asked himself, “Why did I push myself so hard to cover so much land area? Now I am dying and I only need a very small area to bury myself.” 

              The above story is similar to the journey of our Life. We push very hard everyday to make more money, to gain power and recognition. We neglect our health, time with our family and to appreciate the surrounding beauty and the hobbies we love to do. 
              One day when we look back, we will realize that we don’t really need that much, but then we cannot turn back time for what we have missed. 

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Which One To Go


Boss, to four of his employees: “I’m really sorry, but I’m going to have to let one of you go.” 
Black Employee: “I’m a protected minority.”
Female Employee: “And I’m a woman.” 
Oldest Employee: “Fire me, buster, and I’ll hit you with an age discrimination suit so fast it'll make your head spin.” 
To which they all turn to look at the helpless young, white, male employee, who thinks a moment, then responds: “I think I might be gay.”

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Night Urination Cuts Bladder Cancer Risk


              Don’t fret if you are one of those people who always need to get up and ‘go’ during the night. It might be good for you.
              People who wake up at night to urinate are less likely to develop bladder cancer, Dr Debra Silverman of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and her colleagues have found. They said that both men and women who urinated at least twice at night were at 40 to 50 per cent lower risk of developing bladder cancer.
              Their findings suggest that frequent urination may be protective because it reduces the amount of time the lining of the bladder is exposed to cancer-causing compounds in urine.
              Research in animals and some small studies in humans have suggested that frequent urination may reduce bladder cancer risk, Dr Silverman and her team noted in the International Journal of Cancer. To investigate the relationship on a larger scale, they compared 884 men and women who had recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer with 996 healthy people.
              The more a person urinated at night, the researchers found, the less likely he or she was to have bladder cancer. This effect was seen no matter how much water a person drank.
               Smokers who didn’t urinate at night were seven times more at risk of bladder cancer than non-smokers, but smokers who did urinate during the night cut their risk in half.
              Drinking water showed an independent effect on bladder cancer risk. People who consumed at least 1.4 litres of water daily and who urinated at least twice nightly were at 80 per cent lower risk compared to those who drank less than 0.4 litres daily and didn’t urinate at night.
              Night-time urination may be more protective because this is the period when people typically go the longest without voiding, the researchers said. However, if confirmed, innovative approaches will be needed to translate their findings into meaningful prevention of bladder cancer deaths.

- Reuters 

Monday, 13 October 2008

Four Seasons


              There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.
              The first son went in Winter, the second in the Spring, the third in Summer, and the youngest son in the Fall.
              When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.
              The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no, it was covered with green buds and full of promise.
              The third son disagreed. He said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.
              The last son disagreed with all of them. He said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfilment.
              The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had seen but only one season in the tree’s life.
              He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.
              If you give up when it is Winter, you will miss the promise of your Spring, the beauty of your Summer, fulfilment of your Fall.
              Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest. Don’t judge life by one difficult season.
              Persevere through the difficult patches and better times are sure to come.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

The Hired Killer


              Tired of constantly being broke, and stuck in an unhappy marriage, a young husband decided to solve both problems by taking out a large insurance policy on his wife (with himself as the beneficiary), and arranging to have her killed.
              A ‘friend of a friend’ put him in touch with a nefarious underworld figure, who went by the name of ‘Artie’. Artie explained to the husband that his going price for snuffing out a spouse was five thousand dollars. The husband said he was willing to pay that amount, but that he would not have any cash on hand until he could collect his wife’s insurance money.
              Artie insisted on being paid something up front. The man opened up his wallet, displaying the single dollar bill that rested inside. Artie sighed, rolled his eyes, and reluctantly agreed to accept the dollar as down payment for the dirty deed.
              A few days later, Artie followed the man’s wife to the local Safeway grocery store. There, he surprised her in the produce department, and proceeded to strangle her with his gloved hands. As the poor unsuspecting woman drew her last breath and slumped to the floor, the manager of the produce department stumbled unexpectedly onto the scene. Unwilling to leave any witnesses behind, Artie had no choice but to strangle the produce manager as well. 
              Unknown to Artie, the entire proceedings were captured by hidden cameras and observed by the store’s security guard, who immediately called the police. Artie was caught and arrested before he could leave the store.
              Under intense questioning at the police station, Artie revealed the sordid plan, including his financial arrangements with the hapless husband. And that is why, the next day in the newspaper, the headline declared: 

            “ARTIE CHOKES TWO FOR A DOLLAR AT SAFEWAY”

Friday, 10 October 2008

A Poem


I know a road that leads into a city
Also a lane that finds a cooling stream
Where ferns may look down at their green reflection
And sway with the winds and dream

I know a path that leads into a forest
Lined with purple shadows of the night
While poplars bend somewhere along a hilltop
Ringing their silver bells in quick delight

I know a trail that dances over hill-tops
Reaching high for clouds that sail the blue
But best I know a path that leads me homeward
A lane that takes me home to friends - and you.

- Author Unknown

Thursday, 9 October 2008

A Time To Live


Someday, we will all die, that’s a law of life, and there is nothing we can do about it. But while we live, did we live? Or did we just occupy space while we went through the motions of living? Did we truly enjoy our lives or did we manage to passively endure the dull moments?

Did we see the beauty in everything around us, share with our friends, love our work, or were we so obsessed with worry that life could not enter into our troubled minds?

Too often, we are content to sit back and do nothing, to let time pass us by.

Living means that we must live each day to the full – to forget our past errors and disappointments and our future uncertainties. We must live constructively so that time and again a smile might break through the pain.

Finally, whatever we want to do in life, we must do it now, for procrastination is a malady that can hinder our progress in life. So, Start living now. We end our lives in this world the moment we give up living – even when we are still alive!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Invisible Cold Busters


              Can you fight off a cold? It is possible, but you might never know it, said Dr. Jonathan Jacobs, an infectious disease specialist at the New-Presbyterian Hospital.
              He said that it is not possible to know at any point, when you feel a cold coming on, whether it will progress to a full-blown one.
              There is the issue of different levels of viral loading and not all of the people who have just some of a cold virus get the disease, he said.
              “In fact, for most infectious disease, including tuberculosis, most of the those exposed do not come down with a particular symptom,” he said. “The body would take care of it without your even knowing about it.”
              Even if symptoms have appeared, there are still individual responses to individual organisms, he said.
              Colds involve hundreds of viruses, not just one organism. Your response is based on your past history: Have you had previous exposure to the virus? Do you have antibodies that might be recalled to help fight this particular infection?
              There is probably also a genetic factor.
              For most infections, Dr. Jacobs said, the genetic mechanism is not well understood, but, with some viral diseases, some people are known to be less susceptible because of the way their genes are expressed, that is, producing or not producing a particular protein.

- The New York Times 

Monday, 6 October 2008

Giving When It Counts


              Many years ago, a little girl named Liz, was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. 
              The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.” 
              As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the colour returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. 
              He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” 

            Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her. 

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Examination Question


              Two guys were taking chemistry at the University of Alabama. They were so confident going into the final that two days before, they decided to go up to the University of Tennessee and party with some friends. They had a great time. However, they overslept and did not make it back to Alabama until the morning of the exam. 
              Rather than take the final, they found their professor afterward to explain why were absent. They told him that they went up to the University of Tennessee for the weekend, and had planned to come back in time to study, but that they had a flat tire on the way back, and did not have a spare, and could not get help for a long time, so they were late in getting back to campus. 
              The professor thought this over and told them they could make up the final on the following day. The two guys were relieved. They studied that night and went in the next day for the final. The professor placed them in separate rooms, and handed each of them a test booklet and told them to begin. 
              They looked at the first problem, which was worth five points. It was something simple. 
              “Cool,’’ they thought. “This is going to be easy.’’ They did that problem and then turned the page. 
              Question two said: “Which tire?” (95 Points).

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Thursday, 2 October 2008

My Artwork


This is a picture of a wall mural I did many years ago.