Thursday, September 29, 2005

Football Pool

I've entered a football pool at work. It cost me $2.00, but the chances of winning are way better than Lotto 6/49.

If it were a straight lottery, I'd be feeling better. But it is a pool and thus requires that you choose your answers carefully. I chose mine carefully. My tactic - to figure out who'd win a particular game - was to ask myself about the sounds of the state or city. I liked the way Tennessee sounded so I chose Tennessee. I'd been to Arizona and liked the 'z' sound, and so I chose Arizona. I just don't like the sound of Tampa Bay. It makes a harsh, tamping sound in my eyes and ears when I quietly voice it. It's like hearing flies when you're trying to sleep in on the weekend. Such an awful sound.

Sounds are important all over the place. I heard a cognitive scientist recently explaining some research she'd done that suggested that we think women with soft vowels primarily contained in their names as being more attractive. And men need hard vowels in their names. By doing A/B replacement stuff in their study, a clear and significant effect was picked up. But it was pretty small. I suspect the colour of your eyes has a much greater effect.

Sound was used to see if I had a kidney stone. Sound is how we put ideas about. Touch too, but that's not as pervasive. Street signs don't use sound, but some pedestrian crossing-lights in Toronto are augmented by a strange directional pipping sound - to help people who use sounds mostly but don't use sight. My cell phone uses touch, a vibration pulse to communicate an idea to me. Can't think of a good example where ideas are communicated using taste. Try to intentionally communicate with taste. "When you have a taste of roast beef, proceed to the collector lanes. When you have a taste of gin, please note that this plot of land contains iron ore. " Who'd bother? There are so many clearer ways.

Hope I win the football pool. Part of what I hope is that people will think (if I win) that I really know football and that they see me as being particularly talented in the ways of football (hockey would be a nice extra). That way I momentarily gain entrance to a club I've always a little liked to be a part of but won't pay the ticket to get in: sports enthusiasts. The ticket is enthusiasm about sports. I just don't have any. I have enthusiasm for my new book (actually ordered from a rare book dealer in Florida as an old, but hard-to-find first edition) called "Objects Relations Theory and Clinical Psychoanalysis". It cost $7 US more just to get it through customs. Weird. But just having a first edition somehow makes me feel closer to good old Otto (the guy who wrote it). It is such a nicely written text - he thinks so clearly. Wish I was like that.

Winning the $100 in the football pool would be the best.

Syrious Business

Syria Still Squirming says Jefferson Morley of the Washington Post:

"U.N. investigator Detlef Mehlis has not found definitive evidence to prove Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, the Daily Star of Lebanon reported today. Mehlis, who visited Syria last week to interview senior Syrian officials, reportedly wants more time to investigate.

"Ordinary Syrians are experiencing “excitement and fear” that Mehlis's probe could deal a "mortal" blow to the government of President Bashar Assad, according to David Hirst, former Mideast correspondent of the Guardian. People are excited about the possible end of the autocratic Assad regime that has dominated the country for 35 years, he says. But they are also fearful that Iraq-style chaos might follow.

"As if to underscore the government’s insecurity, Syrian police broke up a small meeting of pro-democracy activists in a town south of Damascus on Monday, according to an Italian news agency. "

I for one give a nod towards democratization of this country. Not western democratization, not democratization on rye, no agenda-riddled democratization. Just open the damn country up - people deserve to live freely.

Note: Syrian Intelligence agents - please don't kill me with a car bomb.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Food Energy

I've been interested in the biology of digestion since I took grade 13 biology class for a second time - I'd failed the first time around. So I thought I'd chat a little about getting energy from food.

Different food is made up of different things. Most of those things contain what I call biologically available calories -BACs (the ash contained in some foods, small pieces of grass, insoluble fibre, and small chunks of bone are not available to us - if we chewed our cud or if we were Osedax frankpressi we'd characterize some of this input as biologically available). We put BACs into the largest opening in our faces with our limbs, it travels into our gut void and with a little help from our smooth muscles is digested with more help from a bit of detergent we call bile acids (thanks in part to our gall bladder - more below), some regular old-fashioned gastric acid that helps break down connections between the chunks, good old fashioned mastication (which generally happens when the BACs are first introduced to the oral cavity), and the concerted and mindless mechanical attention of the (and here comes one of my favourite words) rugae, and other general biological encouragement (including non-human life forms like our cute little gut flora), and passes out through our anus and in urine out through our genital regions (our naughty bits) after much of the caloric energy, nutrients and water is separated out and pulled into our greater biological system. And if our greater biological system is already sufficiently primed with the different stuff in the different biologically appropriate regions in our greater biological system, we either store it, purge it, or force a bit more of it into freely available and ready stores (less stable, than say, glycogen hanging around in our liver - lipids swimming around our blood stream). I've always been intrigued by bile. Our gall bladders make bile - it's like sunlight detergent, fussing about with the fat from a Big Mac as we digest it. Keep in mind this stuff needs cholesterol and luckily our livers help out by creating a bunch of it.

Bile acids are facial amphipathic, that is, they contain both hydrophobic and polar faces - one face is nervous around lipids (fats) and tends to turn the other cheek, and this other check really isn't sure how it feels about lipids, so it kind of clings and grabs onto lipids in sheer terror. Like holding on tight to your keys after they fall through a gap in the fence - you have to let go in order to get them out, but that goes against your better judgement - hence you freeze. Their amphipathic nature enables bile acids to carry out two important functions:

1. Emulsification of lipid aggregates: Bile acids have detergent action on particles of dietary fat which causes fat globules to break down or be emulsified into minute, microscopic droplets, as I suggested above re: Big Macs. Emulsification is not digestion per se, but is of importance because it greatly increases the surface area of fat (remember your physics classes everyone), making it available for digestion by lipases, which cannot access the inside of lipid droplets. Lipases are enzymes, silly. Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions without breaking down themselves. Cute little buggers really. The chemical reactions are the things that liberate the food energy i.e. calories.

2. Solubilization and transport of lipids in an aqueous environment: Bile acids are lipid carriers and are able to solubilize many lipids by forming micelles - aggregates of lipids such as fatty acids, cholesterol and monoglycerides - that remain suspended in water. Bile acids are also critical for transport and absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins. We're talking about Vitamin A, and I think D, oh and E!

(On a somewhat unrelated note: If you consume a polar bear liver, the vitamin A in it will cause your skin to slough off and you will die a most unpleasant death. So don't do that. Women do this in a less drastic fashion - they apply Vitamin A acid - retinol - creams to their faces so their wrinkly skin sloughs off revealing younger looking more vulnerable skin. But the whole polar bear thing, you actually slough off all your skin, in great slabs. Now that's disturbing.)

Anyway, back to the point I'd started with. It's quite simple. Our bodies maintain a dynamic equilibrium - if it needs more stuff stored, it helps to give it lots daily. If it doesn't need more stuff stored, then try not to give it lots daily. If it needs more stuff freed up for chemical energy to be converted into kinetic energy in our muscles, for example, then it will free it up, and that means there's more room for more stuff.

I weigh 205 lbs. I believe I should weigh 185 lbs. If I think carefully about what I've said above, keep my gall bladder in good working order, keep away from polar bear livers, and be mindful of the dynamic equilibrium expressed by my body, I should lose weight.

And if I ignore what I've said, well, I'll likely stay fat.


Giant Squids: they're just like what I figured: aggressive and nasty beasts (Wash. Post).

How big do architeuthisologists (sic.) think they get?
Up to 18 m (59 ft) and up to 900 kg (1,980 lb, nearly 1 ton).

It's like that scene out of the latest Alien movie - those nasty things swimming throught the flooded chambers. Scary stuff.

I had one of its cousins for an appetizer at 360 restaurant at the CN Tower last week. It was so good. It was about 4 inches long, sliced and gently braised. I stopped to ponder mid-chew. It is like chewing a piece of rubber that's been softened in a nice marinade for a long while.

I love calimari.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

It would appear that I've developed a subconjunctival hemorrhage. But I never coughed or strained myself. I suspect an as-yet-undiagnosed brain tumour.

I smell toast.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Eat a Rib-eye Steak and know that the KGB Tried to Woo.

Ooh I can't wait to read The Mitrokhin Archive II: The KGB and the World. Read a little about it.
Ooh I can't wait to get my teeth into a steak tonight.

The Document

This weekend I produced a document. It was an estimate/responsetoarequestforproposal/business requirements document all wrapped up in one. I guess really a proposal should contain an estimate and a high-level business requirements document, so I suppose the document was actually more easily described as a proposal.

I hope I am chosen over the other company. I'd do a better job of it all.

However, for the last 6 weeks another client has been especially pig-headed over the information architecture and intentions I've made clear. I have no idea why I suggested working with them for such a pittance. Did I take pity on them?

But I am managing their expectations by making sure I toss everything back at them as quickly as they toss it over to me.

Me: "I will do this, and this based on our previous discussions. Please provide approvals."
Them: "We want you to do this [totally different subject]."
Me: "Okay, but what about that and that, as mentioned? [Wake up, pay attention]"
Them: "We want you to do this. "
Me: "Okay, but first, let's cover off that and that, as that and that needs to be covered before considering this, and briefly here is why: [I describe reasons briefly]."
Them: Expanding gulf of silence sucking in all sentient beings, all matter and all spirit. Days go by before I hear from them, and instead of phoning them and making short work of the issue, I let them digest my words.
Me: [Thought bubble -"Why did I suggest working with them for such a pittance?"]
Me: [Thought bubble -"Why don't I just phone them and get this sorted out?"]

The sign I made and stuck to my office wall at work says "Speak first, E-mail second". It works at work. Why shouldn't it work with freelance work? I suppose I'm just worried that they'll flounder and then it will take me $500,000 worth of effort and time to walk them through the rather simple process of doing this stupid job for them. And that is somewhat more money than I am charging them.

My fault. I should phone them. Really I should.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


It got close.

This was dinner one evening.

Algonquin Park

The mist lingered in the morning on Lake Louisa in Algonquin Park. Posted by Picasa


Me. Posted by Picasa


Hey. Whatcha doing? Posted by Picasa

A Walk in the Park

...and then we came back from the walk in the park. It was all really a blur. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Ultrasound

This morning I drove to a clinic to get an ultrasound.

The humourless ultrasoundist ultrasounded my ultrasoundable kidney and abdomen. She didn't look upset or anxious during the time she made me breathe oddly and squirm under the wand, as I felt the gel slurp on my stomach. After a while, I asked her if she'd found anything.

She looked at me and took a breath. She paused - and then said: "No."

Then she told me to wipe myself off with a huge tissue and get dressed. And left the examination room.

The ultrasound screen was still on, so I tried to see inside my throat, then inside my hand, then inside my chest, then inside my skull. I couldn't really make much out. Then I wiped myself off, as instructed.

Fine, stupid ultrasoundist. I don't want to know about my kidney stone. In fact, I hope your stupid ultrasound machine breaks - and catches on fire. That'll give you a reaction.

Wipe yourself, stupid ultrasoundist.

Phew. That feels better. But my kidney stone is still twinging.

"Cringing, Mungo felt the twinging".

That is all.