December Sun – A Web Comic

September 27, 2008

Musings on nutrition

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:11 pm

hooray for my CD of royalty free images!

At Walmart today I was flipping through a book called “Anticancer”, an interesting enough book, but nothing really ground-shaking: at the core of it, the book is just repackaging health and nutritional information that you can find in countless other books, namely in books by the bald guy with the huge white beard who’s name escapes me now. I might have given it more thought had the book been cut down more to a handbook-size regarding health and nutrition. As it stands, it struck me in my browsing as being packed with fluff in order to fill pages and garner a $20 cover price as opposed to $5.95.
In any case, reading through this had me thinking about my own health “strategy” that I follow, if you could call it that, and I thought I’d list some of food guidelines here, if for no other reason to be interesting reading later on, to see if I veer much from this in the future. General nutritional/dietary pattern that I follow: I read all labels at food stores. Some I don’t bother reading, as I know that the product is generally “clean”. But here are the “big five” food additives that I avoid. If a product has any of these, it goes back on the shelf. I’m
listing them in order of nastiness, in my estimation:
- “Hydrogenated” anything. If the product has that word, it goes back on the shelf. Years ago I read a book called “Trans Fat: the Hidden Killer” (or something like that) and I was amazed by the number of scientific references describing how absolutely terrible this stuff is, not just in how it can contribute to diabetes, heart disease, but even down to the level of research showing that a pregnant mother who eats this stuff passes these plasticy fats to her unborn child, and these fats are prioritized over the healthy fats. Nasty stuff.
- Aspartame/Nutrisweet/Splenda. I realize that the FDA gives this stuff an ok, but I can speak of firsthand experience that if I eat a product containing this, I get a dry throat, a headache, and/or general revulsion from the product. It’s been like this for ages: I remember being disgusted at a Diet 7-Up when I was just a kid, whereas I generally enjoy the taste of 7-Up soda. I read once that they prepare this stuff wearing spacesuits because the chemicals that go into the manufacture of aspartame are so harsh they would corrode one’s lungs. Not sure if that was urban legend or not….
- Monosodium Glutamate/Autolyzed Protein/Yeast Extract. It can be hard to get around this stuff, but it’s possible. What I’ve read about MSG and it’s family of flavorings is that it’s best to avoid this stuff. What I find fascinating is that, from one report I read, scientists really aren’t sure how this stuff works, but somehow it gives a sense of fullness or satiety eating it. I can usually pick up that odd, off taste of MSG in a food, and knowing little about it, I err on the side of caution and try to avoid it.
- Sodium Nitrates/Nitrates. Generally in lunch meats and hot dogs. I recently read about some studies linking this to pancreatic cancer. As far as preservatives go, I think it’s best to try to avoid these. I’ve noticed that there are a number of popular brands that are packaging lunch meats, hot dogs, and bacon, etc, without nitrates. They’re on to something. I rarely eat these kinds of meats, but I do enjoy an occasional turkey sandwich for lunch, and Boars Head brand makes some fantastic meats, both turkey and chicken, without these preservatives and with minimal added ingredients. Again, I try to avoid processed stuff, but then the mood hits me…
and finally…
- High Fructose Corn Syrup. Hard to avoid this one, but I’ve found that there are some brands, such as Jones sodas, as well as others, that avoid this stuff and use cane syrup instead. I know that I should just be avoiding sodas in the first place, but every now and then I want a root beer with my turkey sandwich! I’m also fond of fruit juices, but I generally get the ones that are 100% juice and I’ll water these down, and enjoy them with lunch or dinner. However, sometimes the best bet is just pure water with some lemon or lime squeezed in.
There are more, such as red 40 and white flour, but these are the “big five”, and granted, I’m not perfect at following many nutritional guidelines, but I’ve been working at it. It’s a fascinating things to learn more about.
** Update – just a future modification, but I now post all of my nutritional and health musing in a separate blog over here: Nutritional Musing.

September 25, 2008

RIP, old hard drive…

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , — admin @ 11:59 am

Just heard back from the tech that my hard drive appears to be stone cold dead, and he wasn’t able to get any data from it despite his efforts. I can’t afford the thousand-dollar data retrieval specialist, so I think I just need to resign to the fact that the data is lost. I’ve found many of my backups, and it’s not the end of the world, but at the same time, I did lose a number of things I had been spending a LOT of time on, namely recent pages of December Sun #4. It’s frustrating, but it’s a lesson in the importance of backups…

Hurricane Ike damage in our neighborhood

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , — admin @ 9:37 am
Here are some pictures of our area immediately after Ike went through. Things are looking a lot better around the area now, but there is still plenty of cleanup needed. The picture above was across the street from the new Walmart near us.

We took some of these when leaving the area right after the storm. What was most alarming were the number of downed power lines. We saw a number of these, and I’m glad that most of these were repaired and taken care of by the time we returned.

Below is some of the damage to our home: our fence gate was completely ripped off its hinges. Our fence also was cracked in three different places, so that it’s not enough to just “straighten” the fence, but rather, it will need to be replaced. Notice also in the photo below that you can see the little tree in our yard, which now leans to the right. I honestly don’t know what to make of that: will it straighten, or will it keep growing at that bizarre angle?

In any case, the majority of the damage was outdoors – very much an answered prayer that there was no internal damage (other than the power loss and total loss of food in the fridge. We took what we could, but there was a lot of frozen stuff that was just impossible to get into a cooler to bring with.)

September 8, 2008

Musical "Cut-N-Paste" Lucas strikes again

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:17 pm

I recently posted this question in a John Williams forum. I think I was labeled as a troll. Ah well, reposting the comments here:

Without revealing any spoilers, while watching Crystal Skull I noticed that Lucas (not surprisingly) resorted to cutting-n-pasting music from John Williams from other films (this time from “Raiders” and “Crusade”. Going into Skull, I sortof expected this to happen: it happened with Clones (what a jaw-dropping crap experience to hear the same music from Phantom resurface again) and then Sith’s music reuse wasn’t a big surprise. So going to see Skull, I sortof expected Lucas to pull the same crummy tactic, and of course, he didn’t let me down. Again, without spoilers, it sounds as if Lucas lifted the “Flight from Peru” music from Raiders and pasted it in, as well as several of the “Father/Son” themes from Crusade into this film (they sound pretty darn identical.) Another nefarious practice appears to be (unless my ears misheard) was the “flight from Peru” music but SLIGHTLY slowed down, so as to sound original to anyone listening for new music (I think Lucas did the same trick in Sith when Obi-Wan was docking with the Correlian feighter thing… resued Phantom music, but slowed down. Oooh, how sneaky Lucas is.)I knew this was going to happen, and I actually wrote a letter to Lucas a while ago, asking him not to do this. Apparently he didn’t listen…

My question is, what is the situation here? Is it:

1) Lucas didn’t like Williams music so cut-n-pasted other old Williams music that he (Lucas) preferred more?

or…

2) Did Williams just decide that, heck, why rescore this? Let’s just add some of MY OWN music here again?

or…

3) What Lucas in a frenzy to add more CGI scenes to his film that Williams didn’t have a chance to adequately score the film? (thus the need to cut-n-paste material?)

As a life-long Williams fan, this practice has frustrated me beyond words, and I’m finally at the point of wanting to post this here, with hopes someone can tell me WHY the score was such a paste job. Same for the Star Wars films: what is the story? Frankly, I don’t get it. George Lucas has John Williams, JOHN WILLIAMS, the greatest composer of the last two centuries at his disposal, and he’s content to cut apart and ruin his
scores, thoroughly disappointing fans of Williams music?

Why? To me, this is the most nefarious practice for a film-maker to do for fans of film music. I’m the odd-ball who looked forward to Sith, not for the grand story-wrap up, but rather to hear how Williams would score the climatic final battle. Likewise with Indy 4: I only went to see this film, not to see the implausible story or silly acting, but for Williams music. That’s it!

I feel like I’ve been ripped off: paid to see a new film with new music, but instead paying to hear the same music surface again. I also feel like Williams has, once again, been ripped off, unless these reuses of tracks were his idea? Seems unthinkable.

September 2, 2008

The sad Sony saga continues…

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , — admin @ 10:21 am

Well, I removed the dead hard drive from my PC, and bagged it like the cold, dead rock it now is, and I installed a WD 160 Gig hard drive in it’s place. Not a ton of memory, but I don’t want a ton of memory. In fact, I tried to go with one of the lowest quantities of memory out there, because frankly I’m not sure how much more life in general this PC will give me. Ironically, 160 Gig is TWICE the memory of the previous dead drive, which was 80 Gig.

Anyhow, I reinstalled the OS, and now I’m going through the tedious process of restoring what I did have backed up. One of the nice things about having a new drive is just how screamingly FAST the computer works now. Over the 8 years I had the last hard drive, I had managed to clutter the drive with so much garbage, that even with frequent cleaning. scans, CCleans, etc, it still managed to be a slow, bogged system. Now its like the wind!

My problem now, I’m realizing, is that I’m missing the Microsoft Office software (I think I ran over one of the disks with my office chair) and Photoshop Elements is lost (Elements came with this Sony system, so I was hoping that it would have been included with one of the System Application Restore disks. Alas, it wasn’t, and all the disk had was ridiculous stuff like AOL…. sigh!) So I’ll have to make do somehow, and continue to research if there is a way to scrape any data off the dead drive…you can see my soul leaving my body!

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