Sunday, April 24, 2016

My apologies to those few who trickle in here from time to time and find nothing new. My fault really since it appears that though my intentions were good I seem to have given up. Well, not really; I have been busy with other things and this has been put on the side. In due time though I do plan on bringing this blog back to life.

For those of you who are new, roam around and please feel free to contribute with something of your own.

Above photo: A little piece of southern China (May with friend: GuanQiao官桥).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Colors & How We Taste Things

Do taste buds work like colors? What makes something, whatever food, whatever thing you place in your mouth, taste the way it does? I don't only mean sweet versus sour versus hot and so forth. I mean this type of sweet compared to that kind of sweet; this kind of sour compared to that kind of sour; an apple compared to an orange compared to a cheese cake and on and on.

Years back I remember reading in Scientific American magazine an in depth article on the subject of how our mouth, and more specifically our tongue, tastes things and differentiates one taste from another. It spoke of flavor receptors (taste buds) which react and send messages to the brain. Interesting as the article may have been it didn't really answer the questions. What it did say is which part of  the tongue is responsible in tasting things; which part tastes sour, which part tastes sweet and so on. It also explained chemically how this is done--how the body responds and reacts to such a change. And it concluded that no two people taste things the same way--the same amount of sugar will taste sweeter to one person and less to the other. One concluded here that this difference in tasting is not cultural since culture (your family, your country and everything else that is part of it) will help you like or dislike some food but not command to what degree you find something bitter.

So what do I mean by, "Do taste buds work like colors?" 
Colors work in two ways; that is to say there is the addition method of creating and mixing colors and there is the subtractive method. When you mix a certain amount of any of the three primary colors red,blue and yellow with paints you get a different color; red and yellow will give orange. The more colors you add to the mix the closer you get to black. If you use light, on the other hand, cyan, magenta and yellow, you also get a result whereby a different color is produced, except this time the more colors you add (hence more light) the closer you get to white.

Back to tasting, I asked myself does taste work the same way--like light? If u add taste property 'X' with taste property 'Y' do you get X+Y=Z as with paints. This solution seems to be the logical answer. Sweet plus sour tastes sour-sweet. So it seems as long as you think it works like adding paint but what if it works like adding light. According the the sweet-sour example one would think it does indeed work like paint but I believe it also works like light: sweet + sour equals -sweet + -sour. My evidence for this lies in the fact that if you taste, for example, a pizza with mushrooms and cheese you can easily distinguish one from the other--both the taste of the mushroom and the taste of the cheese. On the other hand the more things you add to your pizza the more it becomes harder to distinguish one food from the other. Now the argument seems to favor the 'light' method of tasting, does it not?

Thinking about this further, once again the answer did not seem as simple, as obvious for what I think is happening to the mouth's tasting sensors when you mix a hundred things together is that it is getting confused--a sort of information overload. Too many parts of the mouth are tasting too many things at the same time.

Ah but wait, in thinking about this again another thing came to mind in adding things to a pizza one is neither really using the paint method nor the light method. Let me take this further, yes, if you eat mushrooms and cheese you will be able to distinguish the two and yes, if you put a hundred ingredients your mouth will get confused but what if you add all these things in a blender? Now this mix of tastes is being changed into one new taste--a true combination of all. What is the mouth now tasting? Why is the mouth no longer confused? Once again the answer is obvious with many different foods at the same time the mouth is trying to define many individual tastes all within different parts of the mouth, each part reacting differently in its own way according to its own sensors, one at a time and yet all at the same time. While the other, from the blender, is now a true combination of all but creating one and only one new taste.

Do taste buds work like colors? Oh yeah and I haven't mentioned the function of our nose in all this either--why complicate things?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thank you

My post is not even a month old at this point in time, mid-February, 2012. I don't know how people in Germany or Russia came to witness it and spend time on it. To you, those who have come, I would like to say, I am flattered. I truly thank you for paying me a visit and I hope, in a very small way, it has given you something.

This and That

A few years ago, while in a country which I won't mention, a woman had a stroke or possibly something else. Not being a doctor, I wasn't sure. Looking at her, and seeing this person on the floor, I acted as everyone else did--I froze not knowing what to think. But that only lasted a second or two when, in freezing mode, I was also aware that nobody was doing anything--everyone was just looking at this woman collapsing. Then, like ice being surprisingly thrown on your back, I awoke. I yelled "Call 911". Though I did not know, if 911 was indeed the number to call in that country for an emergency, I certainly did hope that someone would understand and call whatever number was appropriate. Having said that, I jumped to the person doing CPR, pumping her heart, breathing into her mouth again and again.. For a flash of a second, I was the same doctor, who wasn't a doctor, who had helped deliver a baby many years earlier. I really wasn't sure of what I was doing. I had never done this before, never taken a lesson in such a thing and all my knowledge came from what I saw on TV and had read here and there. Shortly after, some person or other who worked in an ambulance, by what at first seemed a lucky coincidence, popped up. He, being from an English speaking country, which again I won't mention to avoid ignorant racism, told me to stop. I looked at him in anger, thinking is he really who he claims to be? And if so, how could he be so stupid--how can he give up so easily? For a split second I looked at him incredulous and then, for a reason I could not understand, I called him an idiot and continued to work on the woman on the floor. About a minute later this woman started coughing and breathing again. I had saved her. She was alive. Strangely enough, for a reason I still don't understand today, instead of being happy about saving a person's life--which I was--I looked at the intern, or whatever he was, sadly, and apologized to him for being rude. I could sense everyone, and I mean everyone around me not only feeling something positive about me having saved someone's life, but also surprised at hearing me apologize to this person. What I said was, "I don't understand why you were ready to give up so I snapped at you in anger. I am sorry for sounding rude. It was not  my intention but I am also sorry for not realizing that perhaps when you said "stop" you did not imply to stop saving her but rather that perhaps you were in a better position to help this woman then I was."
Perhaps I did something good, at least so was the outcome. Nevertheless, I am also aware that I was just as easily lucky and the outcome could have been quite different. All of this, all of this story, to say one thing, or rather to ask one thing; To what degree should we follow our instincts?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

What to bring or not to bring if you are going to live overseas for a while.

  • Make sure you know what weight you could bring with you.  In your carry-on bag (which shouldn’t be too big) you may want to put heavier things in it like books and electronics.
Travel agencies do get confused and say the wrong amount of Kg. Do remind them that your final destination is, for ex. Hong Kong and not USA (which may be your first stop). This is important because each country has different weight restrictions. If you want to be doubly sure call the airline of your final destination and if there is a contradiction state it (to both the airline and your travel agent).

  • 2-3 shopping bags to put on your carry-on luggage—you’ll see why later.
·         Bring food items such as sauces you may not find in your destination—or at least the ingredients.
With liquids or anything not solid, tape the lid/cover well and carefully. Remember that during a flight everything in your luggage will face extreme differences in temperature (from +30 to -40) and large differences in pressure (things will expand and shrink). And they will get bumped around and moved a lot. A pack of potato chips for example will explode and burst open the minute it hits 2000 ft. What this also means is that should you take with you a sauce and place it in a jar make sure the sauce fills the jar to the top since air in it will expand more than the sauce.

·         If clothing is cheaper in your destination then where you come from do not feel a need to bring your entire closet with you. When you pack use socks and underwear to fill in the holes of your shoes (where your foot goes into). This way you save space and keep your shoes in shape for the long trip.
·         Pack heavy things on the bottom—wherever the bottom may be depending on how you’ll be carrying your suitcases. And it’s a good idea to write a list of all that you’re packing: 6 socks, 14 boxers, 2 shirts etc.
Start packing about a week b4 you leave. A week? Why?  Because during that week you’ll find yourself possibly wanting to add things and having no space or weight left. So be ready to pack and unpack a few times. I truly recommend this –and if you do add things do remember to add them to your lists (suitcase 1 and 2).
A list is also good so you could visually see what you have and may have forgotten (another reason why packing a week before is a good idea).
Books are heavy but you may want to bring some since often, at first at least, you may be bored and you may not find anything in your language (English is a huge exception in many places but this is more so in larger cities only.).

·         Do absolutely bring about 12 photos of family and those you consider close. You’ll find you’ll want to see them from time to time and you’ll want to show them to your new friends and co-workers.

·         Herbs and spices: You may no longer be surrounded with familiar foods and smells. You’ll soon enough be fed up of eating out and you will want home cooked meals; besides writing down some recipes from your mom, you may also want to bring herbs and spices. 

·         Give telephone numbers, emails and other info to your family (of people you may know of in advance and write these down for yourself as well). Let the people know the time difference should they want to call you (you don’t want to be woken up at 4:00 AM now do you?)
If the country you are going speaks a different language tell your contacts at home that when they call if they hear words spoken in a language they don’t understand they should hang up since it may be an operator saying the line is busy or something.

·         Do you like cheese? If yes, then do bring some since your favorite cheese may be non-existent.  If you decide to bring cheese have it vacuumed sealed. If you can’t do that then 1st wrap it up in newspaper than tape it, then cover it with aluminum foil and than a plastic bag. Tie it, twist it around and add another plastic bag and repeat for 4 bags, then tape it.  The newspaper is to absorb the condensation of the cheese; the foil and plastic bags are for making sure the smell, not even a little, escapes your bag. The same goes for any salami or similar stuff. BTW this, in theory is only legal if you bought it properly sealed at the airport duty-free (hence the vacuum sealing). What makes your s different? I don’t know. The customs form may also ask you, if you have or have had this or that disease. Answer no to all of them. If you have had something then take care of it later through the proper authorities.

·         Put on the top of your luggage things that you think may not be absolutely necessary, like for example a towel, this way it will be easy to remove should you have too much weight. (So do weigh your luggage @ home b4 departure). If you find yourself with a weight problem, be polite and beg to the person—tell them about your long trip; tell them you’ll be going away for a long time—or be ready to pay for the extra weight OR give it to whomever took you to the airport. Remember you can always take some heavy stuff away from your suitcase and change it with stuff on your carry-on.
Do not have anywhere on your body or your carry on anything that cuts, a small knife, a razor or anything like that—this you should already know.

About the plane:
·         DO go to the airport early--I’d say about 3 hours b4 flight time or a little more. When it’s your turn to get your boarding pass (unless you’re flying business or 1st class) ask for the emergency exit seat—much more leg room. The disadvantage of this is that the seat handles don’t go up.
Ask for a window seat since (a) you’ll be able to see the view and (b) you’ll have a place to rest your head. If you’re switching planes make sure you get this for all your airplanes. The disadvantage to this is you’ll have to inconvenience people every time you want to get up—hence some people prefer the isle.

·         Once you get on the plane, and your seat, immediately head for the back and front of the plane—1st on one isle than on the other. There should be 4 to 6 places near the bathrooms that have magazines. What you want is to be amongst the first to get a hold of magazines since you’ll have something to read—if you don’t get them somebody else will. If you end up keeping the magazines then your carry on will be heavier.
Once you get your magazines, if you’re a he, go to the bathroom and grab a shaving razor—there are only a few (sometimes not) and you may want to shave once you’re close to your destination.
·         Once you have these do sit down for a minute BUT be ready to stand up as soon as you see that most of the people have been seated. Why? Look around near you and see if there are rows of empty seats. If there are take possession of them. Lie down on them. Because that is possibly the only way you could sleep somewhat comfortably. Be aware that many people will have the same idea as you—so you may have to be quick—you may have to wait until the flight attendants have counted the passengers and the plane has started to fly. Use your better judgment.
The above is mainly true for the longer leg of your trip. If for example you are doing Ottawa-Montreal-Montreal-Hong Kong do not worry about the seats for your 1st plane.
Remember that you can drink as much wine or booze as you like but every one drink in the air is like having 3 drinks on land so you will get drunk faster. This may help you fall asleep BUT if you get weird when you’re drunk than you may want to control this.

Once you’re comfortable and flying do not hesitate to remove your shoes. The trip is long so you’ll be doing your feet and your back a lot of good.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Help Is Here

Florida Sky - Michael Campa

The purpose of this blog is to help people.

Now that you are here feel free to post whatever you want based on this blog's theme or just comment on something you see or read.

Note to my previous visitors: The other blog page no longer exists. I'm starting here from scratch. This is a work in progress. I hope you enjoy it, find it helpful or, at the very least, find it interesting in some way. 

Final Words: Inspiration comes from you or the world around you. Take it, hold it, use it and do so wisely.