Archives for April 2009

Potential Health Benefits of Blueberries

I thought that this article on WebMD was interesting.

In the study, presented at Experimental Biology 2009, researchers fed rats bred to become obese either a high-fat or low-fat diet enriched with whole blueberry powder or carbohydrates as 2% of their total diet.

After 90 days, the rats fed blueberries had less abdominal fat, lower cholesterol, and improved glucose control and insulin sensitivity. The latter two factors are markers of how well the body processes sugar for energy and are related to diabetes risk.

These health benefits of blueberries were evident in rats fed both high- and low-fat diets enriched with the blueberry powder. But the benefits were greatest among those who ate a low-fat diet.

In addition to the other heart health benefits of blueberries, those fed the low-fat blueberry diet also lost body weight and fat mass compared to those on the high-fat diet.

Although more research is needed to confirm these results in humans, a related study presented at the same conference showed that men with risk factors for heart disease who drank wild blueberry juice for three weeks seemed to experience slight improvements in glucose and insulin control.


Here is a new segment to be inserted into Fragments of Fiction.

A month or so ago my editor sent me an email asking for me to send over a rough draft my new novel. He said that he didn’t expect fireworks to shoot from it, but that he’d be pleased if it honked a time or two.

I must have read that line two or three times before I realized that he had really said that. What the hell does he mean about it honking a time or two. Instead of asking I sent him a note saying that I understood why I was the writer and he the editor. I then explained to him that honking made me think of tooting and that tooting was a euphemism for a stinky bodily function and that his line stunk.

If I hadn’t already published a half dozen books I probably would have been shown the door or at least read the riot act. Thanks to the almighty dollar I was spared that indignity.

Anyway, I had to give him something so I quickly banged out the words below. I hoped that it would buy me some time, maybe another week or two.

I have images floating in my head that I thought that I’d share with you. One is of a man and a woman walking down two parallel paths. As they go down these roads they encounter all sorts of different creatures, a girl and her small dog, a scarecrow, a tin woodsman and even a witch or two.

But since the roads are parallel they have to overcome these challenges without help, or at least it appears that way. To those who don’t know them it looks like they are fighting the flying monkeys all by themselves. But the reality is far different. Because even though they are physically separated there is more to them than meets the eye.
There is a connection that exists on a very deep level, deep enough that sometimes the two of them forget that it is there. But every so often it sends out a little ping and that reminds them of its existence and they remember that though they are not together now, they aren’t really apart either.

So they continue to walk on down the yellowbrick road and through the fields and forests. Under blue skies and grey they march to beat of their respective drummers. And if you look at them closely you can see that every now and then they check the horizon, peering out to see if they can catch a glimpse of the other.

Neither knows for certain if these roads will ever cross. It is too hard to see that far ahead and at the moment the all powerful wizard’s cellphone is broken. The trackball failed and in his frustration he flung it out a window, where it was taken by a large duck.

On and on they march towards the Emerald City because there is no turning back.

In some ways it is a screwy tale and if I was to give you the details I am sure that you would shake your head in disbelief. It is no secret that most writers write stories about what they know.

Or at least that is what they try to convince you in school. During my days as a creative writing teacher I used to say, “Writers write about what they know because they want to write what is right.”

I liked it because it was meaningless drivel that I knew would be picked up by someone and paraded around as if it was passed down from Mount Sinai to the Children of Israel.

Optimus Prime is Jewish- Who Knew

How to maximize frequent flier miles

CNN has some useful advice for how to maximize frequent flier miles.

The key to redeeming miles lies in how the airlines value them. Since miles rewards programs were introduced, the industry rule of thumb has always been that a mile was worth about two cents. The underlying formula: 25,000 miles were required for one round-trip domestic coach ticket, which was estimated to have an average price of $500. (In other words, $500÷25,000=$0.02.)

But discount airlines and Internet fares have forced ticket prices down: the average domestic round-trip fare was $362 in the third quarter of 2008, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. One mile has depreciated to around 1.5 cents today.

To decide how much an award ticket is worth, make some calculations. If you find a particularly good airfare deal, snap it up in cash and reserve your miles for times when fewer deals are available. Taking award seats makes the most sense when the cash value of a ticket is roughly in line with its cost in miles (say, when you find a last-minute flight to a popular European city that costs $600, and you can put down 60,000 miles — or 1 cent per mile — to buy it).

Is Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Really That Ignorant

It appears that Governor of Florida Charlie Crist is in need of some help. Someone came up with the cockamamie idea to offer religious themed license plates in Florida. The governor says that he doesn’t see any issues with the separation of church and state. His argument is quite weak. I am not in favor of blurring the lines in this matter. The First Amendment is very clear.

It is to all of our benefit and advantage not to engage in this sort of political tomfoolery.

Hat Tip: DB