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Growing your own vegetables

Lettuce in flower boxes
Growing lettuce in flower boxes

Two years ago, I planted some lettuce in the pots in the penthouse. I harvested it by trimming about half of the leaves, but I left enough for the plant to survive. In the autumn, the lettuce bloomed, and the dandelion-like seeds dispersed themselves in the wind. Last year and this year, I had many lettuce plants that returned from those seeds.

This year, I got an interesting surprise. The flower boxes in my balcony one floor below the penthouse had lettuce seedlings. The weather has been cooler than normal which is too cold for petunias, but perfect for lettuce. I will continue harvesting the lettuce until the petunias get bigger and then I will sacrifice the lettuce plants to dedicate the flower boxes for their decorative purpose.
Take a tour of the penthouse

Comments »

Gypsy Girl said,
2008-06-03 @ 15:33:44

Hi Tony, That goes to show you that you can grow veggies just about anywhere! Great idea.

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Are you prepared for your trip?

Travel Tips Don't Forget to Stop your Mail

If the high gasoline prices are not going to keep you from traveling this summer, you should prepare for your trip. If you travel frequently, you probably keep all your travel items together and you are not likely to forget something at home, but when you are an occasional traveler, it is always frustrating to have to buy something that you forgot at home. When you buy on the road something substantial, like a camera, it is almost always inferior in quality than what you left at home. You are not going to spend several hundred dollars on another Canon or Nikon because you need your cash for the trip, so you end up buying a disposable camera with a bad lens.

Avoid oversights, check this handy Travel Checklist and Travel Tips

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Wear Comfortable Shoes to have Healthy Feet

Footprint on insole

Most foot problems are caused by ergonomically bad shoe designs. The incidence of bunions (hallux valgus), bunionettes and hammer toe are four to five times more common in women than in men. The stylish and fashionable high-heeled women's shoes with narrow toe boxes cause increased plantar pressure and toe crowding which over time distort the bones of the foot. Although only 9 percent of 30- to 60-year-olds have bunions, approximately 16 percent of people over the age 60 have them.

High-heel shoes, and ill-fitting shoes hamper mobility and increase the risk of falls. Bad insole designs can increase the pressure on the nerves of the foot and make it uncomfortable to walk. Podiatrists perform over 400,000 surgical operations per year to correct foot problems that could have been avoided by wearing comfortable, properly-fitted shoes.

Bad shoe designs are so prevalent that there is a large market for shoe inserts such as gel insoles- that make it more comfortable to walk by distributing the weight of the body over a larger area of the foot.
Learn more about shoe design

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Internationalization of web pages

English is the most common language in international trade, but there are many people in the world who do not understand English. Over 313 billion web pages have been published on the World Wide Web, and approximately 70% of them are written in English. Here are some global internet statistics of web content by language:

Language - Percent of web content
English 68.4%
Japanese 5.9%
German 5.8%
Chinese 3.9%
French 3.0%
Spanish 2.4%
Russian 1.9%

It is important to consider that the native language of people using the internet is not always English. About 30% of the web surfers are English speakers, but 15% speak Chinese, and 9% speak Spanish. Here are some statistics of the percent of users who surf the internet.

Language - Percent users - Number of users
English 30.1% 379M
Chinese 14.7% 185M
Spanish 9.0% 113M
Japanese 6.9% 88M
French 5.1% 64M
German 4.9% 62M
Portuguese 4.0% 51M

From these statistics, it is evident that Chinese and Spanish readers are being underserved. Web sites seeking to expand their global audience should consider translating some of their pages to make them accessible to speakers of other languages.

ScientificPsychic.com uses the following national flags to indicate the availability of web pages in other languages:

English- English
Spanish- Spanish
French- French
German- German
Russian- Russian

To see an example of an internationalized web page see:

English Verb Conjugation and Inflectional Morphology

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Calculadora de dieta en español

calculadora de dieta en español Diet calculator in Spanish

Recientemente leí­ que los mexicanos han engordando tanto que ahora México esta en segundo lugar mundial en obesidad despues de los Estados Unidos[1]. Esto me ha motivado a traducir mi calculadora de dieta a español.

Espero que esta página web ayude a mis amigos y familiares en México a controlar el sobrepeso, aunque creo que también será útil para mis amigos en España y Sudamérica.

Aprenda Culturismo y Nutrición

[1] Mexico now the 2nd fattest country, after U.S.

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Machines now compete with humans for food

Automation has been wonderful for humanity. Many of the things on which we depend are produced by machines at a fraction of what they would cost if they were produced manually. Cheap watches, cheap cars, cheap clothing, cheap computers, everything is cheap, cheap, cheap because it is mass produced using assembly lines with many different types of machines.

In the past, people worried that machines would replace them. Labor unions fought against the adoption of automation that would result in job losses. Eventually, the proponents of automation won because the prices for products could be lowered while production could be increased thus saving the jobs. Our machines are powered by cheap coal and petroleum which originated from the decay of prehistoric plants and animals, but burning coal and petroleum increases the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a "greenhouse gas" that is associated with global warming.

Times have changed. Petroleum is not so cheap anymore. Greater costs provide an incentive to search for new forms of energy. The idea of burning biofuels, i.e, fuels derived from contemporary plant matter rather than from ancient organisms, has a lot of appeal because it provides an alternative to expensive petroleum and limits the increase of greenhouse gases. The carbon dioxide generated when a biofuel is burned, is the same gas that was sequestered from the atmosphere by the plant as it grew. Thus, there is no net increase in carbon dioxide. The use of ethanol from corn has been promoted as a fuel on the basis of this thinking.

However, there is one BIG problem. The World Bank estimates that the grain required to fill a 25-gallon sport-utility vehicle tank with ethanol could feed one person for a year. The United States uses approximately 375 million gallons of fuel per day. It is not possible to quench this tremendous thirst for fuel with all the corn fields of Iowa and Kansas.

In the past, machines used coal and petroleum products that were not suitable for human or animal consumption. Now, humans and farm animals will have to compete with machines for food. The use of human food to power machines seems inhuman, immoral, and short-sighted.

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Tyrannosaurus rex is related to birds

Phylogenetic tree of Tyrannosaurus RexIn the late 1860s Thomas Huxley suggested that birds descended from dinosaurs. In 1911, Othenius Abel proposed that birds came first and that dinosaurs are descendants from birds. Skeletons of "transitional" bird forms found in the 1990s strengthened the argument that birds descended from dinosaurs. Recent discovery of well-preserved protein from a Tyrannosaurus rex bone has made it possible to analyze the fragments of collagen proteins and determine that Tyrannosaurus rex was definitely related to birds.[1] A chart presented by the scientists shows Tyrannosaurus and Gallus next to each other, which means that Tyrannosaurus and chickens are related.

There are skeptics who doubt that protein from dinosaurs would have remained unaltered for 65 million years, but the analysis of molecular data from long-extinct organisms may have the potential for resolving relationships in the vertebrate evolutionary tree that have been impossible to determine with current phylogenetic techniques.

Not too many years ago, Michael Crichton- wrote the science fiction story "Jurassic Park-", where extinct creatures were brought back to life by replicating DNA from fossils. Although Crichton's idea is far-fetched, the idea of cloning a woolly mammoth using DNA from a frozen specimen found in Siberia has received more serious consideration.

Learn about the Timeline of the Earth

[1] Molecular Phylogenetics of Mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex, Chris L. Organ, Mary H. Schweitzer, Wenxia Zheng, Lisa M. Freimark, Lewis C. Cantley, and John M. Asara, Science 25 April 2008: 499

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Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution Diet

Sweets are not for diabetics

A man recently diagnosed as having Impaired Glucose Tolerance (a precursor to Type II Diabetes) was trying to learn how he could improve his health. He read Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars- and commented that he found terribly depressing the types of food that one is restricted to.

Dr. Bernstein's diet is basically a low-carbohydrate diet which is not too different from the Atkins diet. The diet allows you to eat meat, eggs, some dairy, and non-starchy leafy vegetables such as lettuce. Carbohydrates must be limited to less than 40 grams per day. Dr. Bernstein is a diabetic himself, and he developed the diet after being frustrated by the worsening of his condition using the dietary guidelines of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) which recommends diets with a greater proportion of carbohydrates.

One slice of cake with frosting can have 500 calories. Most of these calories come from refined sugars and white flour which cause an overload of blood glucose and stimulate the pancreas to produce extra insulin. Habitual indulgences in sweets result in obesity that can eventually lead to diabetes. If you are a diabetic, you can have your cake, but you cannot eat it.
Learn more about carbohydrates

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Concern about Bisphenol A in polycarbonate plastics

polycarbonate plastics
Polycarbonate Plastics

Polycarbonate plastics made from Bisphenol A are clear and very tough. Polycarbonate plastics are used for impact resistant glasses, but they are also used in a variety of household products like baby formula bottles, CDs and DVDs, plastic forks, dental sealants, housings for electronics, and resin liners for canned food.

Recently, a report from the National Toxicology Program, an office of the National Institutes of Health, indicated that residual amounts of Bisphenol A in polycarbonate plastics that come in contact with food may pose a health hazard.[1] Bisphenol A, or BPA, has become so common in the United States that it has been detected in the urine of 93 percent of the population over 6 years of age.

Bisphenol A can activate estrogen receptors, leading to physiological effects similar to the body's own estrogens. In essence, Bisphenol A acts like a feminizing hormone. Bisphenol A has been linked in laboratory animals to breast cancer, prostate cancer, and early puberty in females.

Do you remember the now banned insecticide DDT? One of the reasons why it was banned was because it had estrogen-like effects that caused birds to lay eggs with thin shells. The eggs would break before they could hatch. Birds, like the bald eagle, which ate fish contaminated with high quantities of DDT came to the brink of extinction. There have been some studies that concluded that DDT was wrongly blamed for the decline of the eagles because eggshells had been thinning long before DDT was introduced. However, the hormone-mimicking effects of DDT have been substantiated, and it is interesting to note the structural similarity of DDT and Bisphenol A.
DDT Bisphenol A
DDT and Bisphenol A

You can minimize the quantities of Bisphenol A that you consume by not storing food or drinks in polycarbonate plastic containers. Also, do not heat food in plastic containers, as this may release some of the chemicals from the plastic into the food.

The National Toxicology Program is accepting comments to its draft report.[2] The public comment period closes on May 23, 2008.

1. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) Draft Brief On Bisphenol A (BPA)
2. Questions and Answers about the Draft National Toxicology Program Brief on Bisphenol A

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No Artificial Ingredients


Regardless of what a food package says, I always look at the nutrition label and the list of ingredients. I got into this habit trying to avoid products with hydrogenated fats. It is necessary to read the labels to avoid foods with hydrogenated fats and saturated fats that increase cholesterol levels.

In 2006, the FDA required listing the trans fats from hydrogenated oils in nutrition labels because of health concerns. Manufacturers reacted by reducing the trans fats to less than 0.5 grams per serving so that the numbers could be rounded to zero, or by replacing the hydrogenated fats with saturated fats that don't turn rancid, such as palm kernel oil or coconut oil. In some cases, the manufacturers just reduced the serving size without changing the composition of the product to mathematically reduce the amount of trans fat per serving and round to zero.

The problem is that even some "healthy" products can have misleading labels. The Dannon yogurt illustrated here claims to be "All Natural" but contains "high fructose corn syrup".
High Fructose Corn Syrup

There are no natural sources of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This syrup is made from corn starch by a complex chemical process. Also, the words "No Artificial Anything" are just a trademark and not a nutritional statement. The trademark is quite misleading because the words imply that a product bearing the trademark is 100% natural.
Learn to read food labels

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