Friday, 2 May 2008

Odds and Ends #6

Fatty Acids

Just when I thought I had it organized and under control; along pops up information to mess things up or so I thought. Let’s recap: try and achieve a ratio of 2:1 to 4:1 of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids to permit proper utilization of the latter. Too much omega 6 spoils or prevents the chemical reactions of omega 3 into required compounds. Apparently this was much easier to accomplish before the advent of packaged foods – read filled with the wrong oils and loaded with preservatives. All I had to keep stuck in my brain was to eat plenty of cold-blooded fish, actually fish from colder waters like sardines, salmon etc. to attain a nutritional balance. On a quick glance at the headline, I assumed the new class of fatty acids would somehow have received a numeric designation to fit in with the existing 3 and 6 families. And therefore, I would be forced to learn a whole new set of ratios together with additional food combinations. What a relief to discover they seemed to have only discovered some previously unknown type of bio-machine oil. Now the meal planning for the next year can proceed as laid out in the Excel spreadsheet produced on New Years Eve.
As my finger hovered above the keyboard to send me to another site in cyberspace, I drew back in deep thought. Maybe better to hold on and tag the article for future reference. When my bio body eventually begins to break down, science has promised a plethora of cybernetic replacements to keep me going ad infinitum. Once I get the mechanical parts installed the sensors in the newly discovered fatty acids will help to relay information to my new-fangled on board computer monitoring the efficiency of my substituted limbs and organs. Plus the computer can arrange with the hospital for an oil change appointment.


Anything that helps me to locate my misplaced glasses immediately warrants my attention; so this item titillated my interest. That is, until I hit the first paragraph indicating my place in the universe might be amongst the ‘slower-witted’ or why else would I have succumbed to the enticing headline. When an article starts off suggesting I may be lacking in cranial acuteness, my anti-advertising awareness indicator pops up and warns me someone may be trying to sell me a remedy for what ails me. So now doing the odd sudoku and the New York Times crossword every weekend may not be as effective as computer based puzzles which tend now to come in plastic clad packages complete with $60 barcodes. And does throwing your weight behind a computer based system mean you have oodles of stock in the company? Probably! Not only that, but they proved me wrong and out-of-touch. Once on the MindFit site, I discovered the asking price was close to $150 – I wasn’t even close – MindYou, shipping is free! Unfortunately, I’m too slow-witted to understand the purchasing procedure; and therefore, unable to place an order. Talk about a Catch-22: in order to get smarter, I first need to order the MindFit program; in order to order the MindFit program, I must first get smarter. Help, I’m developing brain freeze without the benefit of an ice-cold drink.

Greener than Grass

I applaud anyone who allows their landscaping to reflect the natural condition of the land and refuses to worship the establishment of an anal retentive, manicured grass lawn. Over the years, I’ve tended to avoid being a slave to the dictates of the perfect green carpet: weeding, watering, fertilizing, mowing, de-thatching, rolling, aerating, raking, topping, reseeding and then starting over at the top. Unless you resort to hiring lawn service professionals for monthly upkeep, count on three to four hours hard labor for every hour relaxing on your greenery.
After being faced with almost a quarter acre of lawn to care for in my first house, I turned about two thirds into a vegetable garden which not only halved the upkeep, but provided enough produce for almost the entire year.
At another dwelling, while I was deciding what should be done with a barren back yard, nature took over to provide a year round display of greenery. For close to nine months, a tremendous variety of wildflowers went through their natural cycles presenting a constantly changing tableau with no need for any interference. Despite the absence of noxious weeds, the neighbours frowned upon the seeds being borne on the wind to settle on their putting greens.
And I’ve experienced the value of a moss lawn with its laissez faire approach to landscaping when I lived outside the city on a smaller acreage. Faced with a poor sandy soil – heavily infiltrated with rocks and stones – surrounded by cedar trees dropping needles adding to the already acidic earth, I watched as various weedy plants sprouted across the bare expanse and realized delicate grasses would never establish themselves without year long care (luckily snow covered it for four months to solve the blight temporarily). But with the aid of liberal areas of shade and the unique dampness of British Columbia, at least two types of native moss gradually began to spread outward from the trees and crept silently to attain full ground coverage by the third year. Left to its own devices, the mosses even crowded out the naturally occurring weeds, preventing any sunlight from encouraging their growth. Once thickened, we could enjoy a permanently lush green carpet without an ounce of effort or care.


For some reason I expected the headline ‘Dwarf Cloud Rat’ to relate to astronomy as in dwarf star or Magellanic Cloud and assumed the word rat had been co-opted as a new technical term. Little did I realize in other areas of the world rats make their homes in trees much like their sticky-pawed, bushy tailed cousins do in my neighbourhood. Most of my experience with rats has been confined to observing them scooting in and out of garbage piles. On the odd occasion, I’ve watched them slither up stucco or cedar siding gaining access to bird feeders or lapping up barbeque drippings on apartment decks. While I have picked and handled a couple in laboratory settings, never did I have the urge to keep them as pets or explore their habitat. Bad enough the Norway rat has managed to sail its way around the world to spread disease and set up shop as a local pest; the last thing I want are fuzzy rats hanging above me as I navigate the city streets – our northwestern crows problem enough. So if you choose moss over grass for your lawn as per the previous entry, beware permitting the moss to cover your trees for fear of inviting unwanted guests!

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