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Stages of life by decade

Although a lifetime may seem long, it does not seem so when we examine it in terms of decades rather than years. Only one person in 10,000 lives beyond their tenth decade.

First Decade (age 0 to 9) - Age of dependency. Our mothers must feed us and clean us. We learn to walk and talk. We start our education.

Second Decade (age 10 to 19) - Discovery of sexuality. Raging hormones awake our awareness of the opposite sex. We have to learn to channel our primal impulses within the rules of society. Our ability to think logically starts to develop.

Third Decade (age 20 to 29) - Early adulthood. We feel independent. We try to find a comfortable niche within society with our first real job and our own partner and family.

Fourth Decade (age 30 to 39) - The prime of life. We have figured out how the world works. We think that we know what we want. We raise our children, and we plan for our future.

Fifth Decade (age 40 to 49) - Middle age. Although we don't feel old during this decade, the chances of living to twice this age are not very good. We may have a mid-life crisis that forces us to evaluate our life and try to make it better, but it is not easy to change because we have to live within the constraints of our work, family structure, and social environment.

Sixth Decade (age 50 to 59) - Age of biological decline. We become aware of wrinkles, gray hair, arthritis pains, menopause, and decreased libido. We listen more carefully to advertisements about Cialis and Viagra. We become eligible for membership in AARP. We need reading glasses.

Seventh Decade (age 60 to 69) - Retirement age. We become eligible for Medicare. If we are lucky and have planned well, we can stop working and start traveling or doing community service. If we have not saved enough to afford retiring, we have to continue working. If our health is not good, we now take medicines for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Eight Decade (age 70 to 79) - Age of decreased mobility. The little pains of twenty years ago have increased so that now they impede what were normal activities. Visits to doctors become more frequent. We may need a cane, hernia surgery, or cataract surgery. Our age spots are harder to cover. Our circle of friends starts to shrink as they start to die. Heart attacks, strokes, and cancer take their toll.

Ninth Decade (age 80 to 89) - Age of assisted living. Even if we can still take care of ourselves, we may need somebody to help us clean the house, go shopping for us, or prepare our food. Health problems become more severe. We may become incontinent and have to wear adult diapers. Most people will not live beyond this decade.

Tenth Decade (age 90 to 99) - Pre-centenarian. Congratulations! if you have made this far, it means that you have good genes, fewer or less severe health problems than the average person, and good family support. If you are still active, you may live to be a centenarian. The life expectancy at age 90 is 3.8 years, and by age 99 the life expectancy drops to 2.1 years. Every day may be a struggle for life. There can be digestive problems, cardiovascular problems, mobility problems, or immune system problems on any given day.

Learn about Longevity Science

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Why ice cream makes you fat

For dessert, a friend brought a box of four ice cream sandwiches from Trader Joe's made with vanilla ice cream between chocolate chip cookies and rolled in mini chocolate chips. The sandwiches are actually delicious, but if you are used to low glycemic foods, you feel your blood sugar spike for about two hours after eating one of these sandwiches. The portion does not look too big. Each sandwich is about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick, but it is packed with 440 calories.

The nutrition label says that each sandwich has 21 grams of fat, including 12 grams of saturated fat which is 60% of the daily value. In other words, this little ice cream morsel has more than half of the saturated fat that you should eat in a whole day. The amount of carbohydrate is also quite high, 60 grams of carbohydrate, of which 42 grams are sugars. This is more sugar than in a 12 oz (355 ml) can of Coca Cola.

Ice cream is high in fat and high in sugar. It takes one hour of strenuous exercise to burn off 400 calories, and it is a sure bet that you are not going to go jogging after eating an ice cream sandwich with this much sugar. You are going to feel sleepy, you are going to sit down on the couch, and your body is going to store the sugar as fat.

You could limit your calories by cutting a sandwich into quarters with 110 calories each, but who has the discipline to stop after eating four tiny bites? It is too much hassle to put the remainder in a container and back in the freezer, and it would be a waste to let the ice cream melt. So, you have to eat it all before it melts. Right?

These are the reasons why ice cream makes you fat:

Learn how to lose weight

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Optical illusion with three colors

The eye provides us with basic perceptions that are interpreted by the brain. Sometimes, these perceptions differ so much from reality that we understand that our senses are fooling us.

The image above consists of only three colors: a greenish blue (RGB 0, 255, 150), dark orange (RGB 255, 150, 0), and bright pink (RGB 255, 0, 255). When the greenish blue field is overlaid with pink lines, the blue color predominates, whereas the green color predominates when the greenish blue field is overlaid with orange lines. The figure appears to be made of four colors, rather than three.

Patches of color that are physically close to each other are interpreted by the eye as being a single color. This is the principle used for color halftone printing which overlays dots of several basic colors of different sizes to simulate a wide spectrum of colors. The technique is used extensively for cartoon illustrations.

An image of Charlie Brown in the Sunday comics page, when enlarged, reveals the pattern of dots that form the picture. The rows of tiny dots are oriented at different angles to avoid Moiré patterns.

Learn more about optical illusions

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Error C2664 LoadLibraryW cannot convert parameter to LPCWSTR

I recently used Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 to write a simple program to load a dynamic link library (DLL) module and invoke some of its entry points. I did not expect to get the error message C2664 from the simple LoadLibrary statement:

HINSTANCE hinstLib = LoadLibrary("azspellaid.dll");

Error C2664: 'LoadLibraryW': cannot convert parameter 1 from 'const char [15]' to 'LPCWSTR'

There are two ways of fixing this problem. The first one is to cast the quoted string with a Long Pointer to Const Wide String (LPCWSTR):

HINSTANCE hinstLib = LoadLibrary((LPCWSTR)L"azspellaid.dll");

The C2664 error can also be resolved by keeping the original code and changing the character set of the project defaults from "unicode character set" to "multi-byte character set" as shown in this image:

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Lorton meteorite ownership is disputed

On January 18, 2010 a small stony meteorite weighing 308 grams punched a hole in the roof of a doctor's office in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Lorton, Virginia. There was some damage to the office, but nobody was hurt. The doctors, Marc Gallini and Franc Ciampi who were in the adjacent room, thought the noise was caused by a falling bookshelf.

The doctors donated the meteorite to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian officials planned to give them $5,000 dollars in compensation. The Smithsonian planned to display the meteorite, and the doctors wanted to use the money for the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

The owners of the building objected, and said that they were the rightful owners of the meteorite. The landlords informed the museum officials that they were going to take possession of the meteorite with the objective of selling it to pay for the damage to the building. The doctors got a lawyer to bar the museum from releasing the stone until ownership is determined. In the past, U.S. courts have ruled that a meteorite becomes part of the land where it arrives through natural causes, and therefore is the property of the landowner. The Smithsonian is keeping the meteorite until the dispute is settled.

Recent Meteorite Impacts on the Earth

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Yoga inversions may cause inner ear problems

The Upward Bow pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) and other yoga poses that require the head to be inverted may disturb the inner ear and cause vertigo and dizziness. The inner ear has a vestibular system formed by three canals that are approximately at right angles to each other and which are responsible for the sense of balance and spatial orientation. The inner ear has chambers filled with a viscous fluid and small particles (otoliths) containing calcium carbonate. The movement of these particles over small hair cells in the inner ear sends signals to the brain that are interpreted as motion and acceleration. Inversion of the head can cause some of the otoliths to shift position or slip into one of the semicircular canals and induce vertigo and instability, often accompanied by nausea.

The disorientation resulting from changes in position of the head is often diagnosed as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), and is treated by trying to reposition displaced otoliths back to their original position by turning the head in specific ways. The Epley Maneuver, developed by Dr. John Epley in 1980, is often performed by a doctor or a physical therapist and requires holding the head at specific angles, and then turning the head 90 degrees to the other side for specific periods of time to allow the otoliths to settle.

Vertigo is very debilitating because it makes it impossible to perform ordinary activities. The irony of developing vertigo through yoga is that yoga is supposed to help the body and the mind. Many people practice the yoga positions that require inversions without any problems, but unfortunately, it is not possible to predict who will be affected adversely by inverted yoga poses.

The purpose of yoga, and all other exercises, is to improve the body. You have to use discretion in establishing the limits of stress to which you will subject your body in any physical activity. Going beyond your comfort zone may improve your confidence, but it also has the potential of causing temporary or permanent damage.

Learn how to have a safe workout

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Maltodextrin, Soluble Corn Fiber and Resistant Starch


Glucose is a simple sugar that is a constituent of many different types of complex carbohydrates in its ring structural form. Polymers of glucose, like cellulose, are completely insoluble and indigestible. Other polymers, such as starch, are broken down by the enzyme amylase in saliva, and the glucose can then be burned for energy by the body. There are other polymers of glucose, classified as soluble fiber, that are indigestible, but can be broken down by intestinal bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids.[1]

Insoluble fiber just provides bulk, whereas soluble fiber serves important nutritional functions, such as lowering cholesterol by binding to bile secretions and facilitating their excretion in the feces. Soluble fiber also promotes growth of intestinal probiotic bacteria that produce some vitamins and help to maintain regularity. Insoluble fiber has no calories, and soluble fiber has about half of the calories of simple carbohydrates because it is not completely digested by colonic bacteria.[2]

Many food fillers are derivatives of starch. Maltodextrin is a partially hydrolyzed starch frequently used as a bulking agent in sugar substitutes, but it is metabolized like a sugar. Manufacturers have started using resistant starch and soluble fiber derived from corn as filling agents in an attempt to produce lower calorie products. Resistant starch is starch that is not digested in the small intestine and is considered a different type of dietary fiber, as it can deliver some of the bulking benefits of insoluble fiber and some of the benefits of soluble fiber.

Learn more about carbohydrates

[1] Brighenti, Furio et al. "Colonic fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates contributes to the second-meal effect." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 83.4 (2006): 817-822.
[2] Englyst, Klaus and Englyst, Hans. "Carbohydrate Bioavailability." British Journal of Nutrition 94 (2005): 1-11.

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Cherry Juice Sampler Package

CherryPharm Juice Sampler Package

Tart cherries are known to be a good source of antioxidants and phytonutrients with a multitude of health benefits. I recently got a sampler package with three varieties of CherryPharm cherry juices: Natural Light, Natural Health, and Natural Recovery. Unlike many products in the market, the ingredients of the CherryPharm juices are really natural. All three varieties of these cherry juices retain the tartness of freshly picked cherries. The taste reminded me of the sour cherries that I collected when I went to a local farm to gather blueberries.

The ingredients of Natural Light cherry juice are: tart cherry juice, water, and natural stevia extract used as a sweetener. An 8 fl. oz. serving has 90 calories, and the product is labeled as 65% juice which is the juice of 40 cherries.

The Natural Recovery cherry juice has 160 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving and the juice of 50 cherries. The ingredients are: Tart cherries, whey protein (8 grams), water, apple juice concentrate, and vitamins like niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin b12, and maltodextrin.

The Natural Health cherry juice has 130 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving and the juice of 50 cherries. The ingredients are: whole tart cherries, water, and apple juice concentrate. This is the label of the Natural Health cherry juice.

An 8 fl. oz. portion of cherry juice is the equivalent of two servings of fruit. CherryPharm products can be obtained from www.CherryPharm.com, and at some Wegmans and Whole Foods stores.

Comments »

Scott said,
2010-04-17 @ 06:17:25

This looks good. Thanks. I've ordered a sample package too.

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Striped ravioli and multicolored pasta

Striped ravioli and multi-colored pasta

Striped pasta has the same taste as regular pasta, but it is more pleasing to the eye. Multicolored pasta is more celebratory than regular pasta. To show off the colors, it is necessary to serve this pasta with a white sauce, such as Alfredo sauce.

I compared two methods of making striped pasta. In one method, strips of pasta of different colors are arranged side-by-side and then pressed to fuse them into a pasta sheet. In the second method, colored strips of pasta are arranged on top of a sheet of white pasta, and then pressed together. The adjacent strip method produces sheets of pasta where the colors go all the way through the sheet, whereas the overlay method produces pasta with a white side and a striped side.

The picture above shows ravioli made by the overlay strip method. The overlay method is better because the underlying white pasta sheet has a uniform consistency. Variations in the humidity of the colored doughs make it difficult to have sheets with uniform texture using the adjacent strip method. Typically, one color will have more water than the other causing the sheet to stretch unevenly when the sheets are being filled, and this can cause the sheets to tear.

Learn how to make striped ravioli

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Ginkgo Biloba does not improve brain function

Ginkgo biloba

The leaf of the maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba, has been used as herbal medicine in China since the fifteenth century. The leaves were traditionally used for benefiting the brain and for treatment of lung disorders. In modern times, Ginkgo biloba is a popular supplement that is widely used for its potential effects on memory and cognition. A standardized extract is widely prescribed for the treatment of a range of conditions including memory and concentration problems, confusion, depression, anxiety, dizziness, tinnitus and headache.

The mechanism of action of Ginkgo is supposed to be due to components that increase blood supply by dilating blood vessels, reducing blood viscosity, and reducing free radicals, but recent studies show that the purported benefits of ginkgo for the brain are exaggerated and cannot be demonstrated scientifically. One study concludes that Ginkgo biloba appears to be safe in use with no excess side effects compared with placebo, but the evidence that Ginkgo has predictable and clinically significant benefit for people with dementia or cognitive impairment is inconsistent and unconvincing.[1] A second study shows that Ginkgo biloba taken at a dose of 120 mg twice a day was not effective in reducing either the overall incidence rate of dementia or Alzheimer disease incidence in elderly individuals with normal cognition or those with mild cognitive impairment.[2]

The good news is that Ginkgo is not harmful. The bad news is that many people have been wasting their money on an ineffective supplement.

The leaves of Ginkgo biloba trees turn bright yellow in the autumn. The trees are popular ornamental trees which are survivors from the days of the dinosaurs.

Here are some puzzles to exercise your mind

[1] Birks J, Grimley Evans J., Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Apr 18;(2):CD003120.

[2] DeKosky ST, Williamson JD, Fitzpatrick AL, et al., Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia: a randomized controlled trial, JAMA. 2008 Nov 19;300(19):2253-62.

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