Saturday, August 29, 2009

Obese Brains

I'd like to vigorously respond to this vicious slander, but that would require both planning and memory, and I'm too busy with this candy bar just now:
A new study finds obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals, researchers said today.

Those classified as overweight have 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains appear to have aged prematurely by 8 years.

The results, based on brain scans of 94 people in their 70s, represent "severe brain degeneration," said Paul Thompson, senior author of the study and a UCLA professor of neurology.

"That's a big loss of tissue and it depletes your cognitive reserves, putting you at much greater risk of Alzheimer's and other diseases that attack the brain," said Thompson. "But you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer's, if you can eat healthily and keep your weight under control."

The findings are detailed in the online edition of the journal Human Brain Mapping.

...Obese people had lost brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes, areas of the brain critical for planning and memory, and in the anterior cingulate gyrus (attention and executive functions), hippocampus (long-term memory) and basal ganglia (movement), the researchers said in a statement today. Overweight people showed brain loss in the basal ganglia, the corona radiata, white matter comprised of axons, and the parietal lobe (sensory lobe).

Chiggy Wiggy

I always figured Kylie would fit well with Bollywood, but this seems a little strange to me.

Rapidly-Strengthening Hurricane Jimena

The long-range forecasts are showing rapidly-strengthening Hurricane Jimena will move up the west coast of Baja California and in a week disintegrate in such a way that the moisture could flow into SE Arizona and cause rains there. We’ll have to keep an eye on it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Excerpts From DMTC's Recent "The Music Man"

Laura was kind enough to pop 21 excerpts from DMTC's recent production of "The Music Man" up on YouTube.

"Rock Island": The Music's Man's opening

Charlie Cowell (aka myself) woos Marian The Librarian from 4:54 to 6:19....

Modern Media's Logical Conclusion

Looks like I missed some interesting news stories while I was out.

Where this man leads, others will follow:
Police have accused a TV presenter in Brazil of being involved in organised drug trafficking and ordering killings to get rid of rivals and boost ratings.

Wallace Souza, who is also a state legislator, says the claims are an attempt by rivals to smear him and that there is no evidence to back them.

But the police say he ordered killings in the state of Amazonas and alerted TV crews to get them to the scene first.

His TV show was halted late last year as police stepped up their inquiry.

Is Using A Minotaur To Gore Detainees A Form Of Torture?

Is Using A Minotaur To Gore Detainees A Form Of Torture?

Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon, 2 of 6

Interesting series of videos:
Somebody discovered that if you listen to The Dark Side of the Moon while watching The Wizard of Oz you'll see some interesting if not incredible coincidences.
Number 2 and Number 5 in the series seem the best.

And who says the Stoners of the Seventies wouldn't come up with something, eventually, if they would just apply themselves?

(I know, monkeys with typewriters, monkeys with typewriters....)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Tasks

Thursday morning, I went through my wardrobe and gathered clothes for Goodwill. I will have to dispatch even more clothes to make room for my Dad's clothes coming in! It felt good to haul all that stuff to Goodwill.

Persia came over to pick up stored boxes, but she could find only one box of interest (plus a painting her grandmother had once painted of her mother). I've been encouraging Helga to pick up her stored boxes, but she's been saddled wth caring for her ailing mother, and so that looks like a no-go for now.

I took some old dust-gatherers, like the the portable dishwasher that no one ever used, to the Sacramento Co. Refuse Transfer Station on Roseville Road, along with three chairs and other detritus. I threw two chairs away, but ultimately did not have the heart to throw the quality wooden rocking chair away (and people wonder where packrats come from).

Then, many tasks completed, I returned the gas guzzling U-Haul monster to its proper owners....

Folding my Dad's things into my own will require further materialistic heartbreak as I throw prized but defunct posessions away for good. The process will take two weeks, at least.

Empty Desert, Over The Sierras, And Sac-Town

Left: Looming mountains just west of Hawthorne, NV.

Left: West shore of Walker Lake, NV.

Left: Detail shows some birds enjoying Walker Lake's ambiance.

Left: Mountains along I-80 just east of Reno, NV.

I preferred to depart from Highway 95 at Schurz, NV, as I usually do on the ABQ-to-SMF run, and head west towards South Lake Tahoe, but because I was driving a big U-Haul truck, I decided instead to go to Fallon, NV and reach I-80. Now that's a highway built for big trucks, and much wider than Highway 50, particularly around Echo Pass!

Unfortunately, I forgot that I-80 is under reconstruction these days, so the drive along I-80 was far more harrowing than anything Highway 50 could have thrown at me, being far faster and bumpier, and along lanes heart-stoppingly narrow (when traffic wasn't stopped altogether).

I only had one scare regarding the truck. On I-80 just east of Reno, while driving in the left lane, westbound, unbeknownst to me a small car sidled against the U-Haul's side and fit comfortably into the blind spot there. I signalled to make a lane change and started to make the movement, and was startled by the presence of the car. I suppose I should have checked the truck's mirrors more closely!

I reached Sacramento around 5:10 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

Competitive Aussie

Refueling at the Shell station in Tonopah, I encountered an Aussie fellow in his 30's. He inquired about the rental rates for U-Haul trucks, like the one I was driving. Referring to the car he was driving, he said "I thought I knew in advance what the charges would be for this, but there were more." I commiserated with him - there were extra charges for my truck too. Plus, three years ago, when I went down there, I had been surprised at the low rental rates for cars. Any American car rental rates would seem like a ripoff in comparison.

"We've been at Wendover, Utah, preparing to take the land-speed record from you Americans," he offered. "And did you?" I replied. "Oh, we will, we will," he stated.

So, this vehicle competition hasn't occurred yet! That would be an interesting event to see! And Aussies love competitions, and love winning them!

"I visited Australia three years ago - Brisbane," I said. "It's a bit of a shithole really," he observed. From inside the car a peal of laughter came from his woman companion. "But, you see, we're a bit biased. We're from Sydney, you see...." I nodded in mock solemnity and said "I understand!" He nodded back with a smile, got back in his car, and drove off....

Overnight At Tonopah Station

Left: Looking east from Tonopah Station.

Interesting place. One rambling building containing a hotel, a casino, a cafe, a DMV office, a church, a weight room, a fitness room, and any number of empty rooms yearning to be put to good use.

Left: I asked the Tonopah Station desk clerk what was the scoop on McDonalds. "I have an unhealthy fascination with the place," I added. She replied that the restaurant was under new management, and quickly added that the Station's own cafe could provide any food service I might need.

Left: "Unlawful To Abandon Animals"

Sorry to say, but if you have to put up a sign, you have a real problem.

UFO Extravaganza

On a Tuesday evening, Highway 95 was not quite as bleak as first anticipated. For example, I saw a jackrabbit lope across the highway. In addition, I saw a coyote skulking by the roadside, and a mouse ran halfway across the road before thinking better of it, and ran back.

Entering the southern Nevada town of Beatty, I thought I heard breaking glass in my U-Haul rent-a-truck's load of furniture, so I stopped just to check things out. No problems: maybe someone broke a beer bottle at the roadside just as I passed by? At bit odd, that.

Traffic had been light, but leaving Beatty and heading north, the traffic all but vanished. Even the local traffic had disappeared. I was all alone in the night, half-listening to George Noory on the AM radio.

Suddenly to my left, I saw a light in the sky, heading south. The light looked like a very bright planet - like Venus - but in motion. I did a double-take, thinking it might have been a reflection in the driver's-side window of a stationary light located right of the truck, but that was not the case. Something was flying south through the air, not very high, and not very far away.

Just then, George Noory cut to a commercial. He promised his continuing listeners that after the break he would reward them with a "UFO Extravaganza".

A UFO Extravaganza! That's right! This is where UFOs gather! The Nevada Nuclear Test Site is just over those hills and Area 51 isn't really that far away!

It is quite plausible that the light belonged to a small private airplane. There is a small airport located just south of Beatty, equipped with flashing beacons for nighttime travelers, and the airborne light was heading in that direction.

But still, private planes are equipped with colored blinking lights for nighttime flight. This light was not blinking.


Drawn Like A Moth To Vegas

Left: Preparing to dive off the Colorado Plateau into the Colorado Desert.

Left: heading towards Laughlin, NV, and the mountains west of Kingman, AZ.

Left: Union Pass, and the vertiginous pediment leading to the Colorado River.

Left: Laughlin, NV.

Left: The waterfront at Laughlin.

Left: Academic excellence (or its equivalent) at UNLV.

Left: Heading west on Flamingo, towards the Strip.

Left: The Palms Hotel.

Left: The Rio.

Brief visit to Vegas. Win at Gold Coast ($29.50) Loss at the Palms ($159.50). Net loss: $130.

By the end, even though it was 8:00 p.m. - a reasonable time and place to stay the night - I felt the place was very alluring and dangerous to one such as myself. I HAD to escape, so I fled alone into the night, across the desert.....

Overnight In Flagstaff

I stopped at one of the two Motel 6's on the eastern fringe of Flagstaff. For dinner, I tried to take an easy jaunt over to Outback Steakhouse, whose neon lights I had seen from the freeway, but the restaurant was farther away than I had realized - about six blocks along the curving frontage road. Still, it was worth the walk. Nice cuisine from Down Under!

In the morning, I went for a brief jog (trying to make the most of the high-altitude conditioning). Finding a good trail was hard. I struck across a No-Man's Land, and deeply alarmed some kind of whistling ground squirrel, or prairie dog, or ferret living in a set of railroad ties (whatever it was, it was not happy at my presence). I also alarmed some crows. I ended up on the property of some kind of active concrete batch plant. Exercise gained? Not that much, really, but lots of things to see.

Back at the motel room, the heartwarming movie "Babe" (about the pig who wished to be a sheepherding dog) was on TV. I was transfixed by the charming tale from Down Under (I hadn't seen it before). At the end of the movie, I was in tears.

It was interesting that I could cry for "Babe", yet still have not cried for my own father's passing. Maybe that's to come. Hard to say for sure.....

West To Flagstaff

Left: While Arizona has been left largely dry this monsoon season, New mexico has been getting at least some tropical moisture. Here is a cumulonimbus cloud over Mt. Taylor, NM, as seen I-40 near San Fidel.

Left: Oh-so-pretty clouds, as seen from Gallup, NM.

Left: Starting the laborious westward climb from Winslow to Flagstaff, AZ.

Time To Leave ABQ

Left: A rainbow Sunday evening!

Location: 2nd & 4th St. intersection, Alameda, NM.

Dinner At El Pinto

Left: Left to right, my cousins Anthony Valdez, Dr. Cynthia A. Valdez, MD, and Philip Valdez. This is the first time I've seen Phil since the early 90's!

Phil could stay only ten minutes. He said he was moving from Minneapolis to NYC, but had to go to LA first to "drop a few things off". This explanation sounded utterly implausible, but he couldn't give more details, since he could spare only ten minutes....

Left: Family dinner at El Pinto. At the left is Bruce Warren, who arrived like the cavalry and helped us move a refrigerator and almost single-handedly loaded the U-Haul truck.