Photo overlooking San Francisco Bay

Picture Overlooking Lawrence Hall and San Francisco Bay

Photo taken in the hills above University of California at Berkeley overlooking Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science with San Francisco Bay in the background.  The bridge on the left is the San Francisco Bay Bridge.  And the bridge in the center of the photo is the Golden Gate Bridge.

Some Food Cooking Recipe Blogs

We all know that cooking at home is healthier than eating out.  With so many food cooking and recipe blogs out there, who needs a cook book?
Pick some and try it out.  Here are some In no particular order and not linked.  But you can google them.
  • Nourished Kitchen – reviving traditional foods
  • nom nom paleo
  • Wellness Mama
  • Perfect Health Diet
  • Paleo Plan
  • The Nourishing Cook
  • The Whole Kitchen
  • Health Bent
  • Chow Stalker – we don’t do cupcakes
  • Serious Eats
  • Just One Cookbook – Quick and Easy Japanese Recipes
  • Just Hungry


Why we have the saying “Sweating like a pig” when pigs do not sweat?

Pigs do not sweat because they do not have sweat glands (well maybe just a few).  So where did the saying “sweating like a pig” come from?

The pig in the saying is not the animal pig, but the pig iron in iron smelting.  When the hot iron pigs are dumped into the sand, moisture appears on the iron pigs due to the cooling effect and the air reaching its dew point.

This moisture appearing, known as the pig sweating, means that the iron pigs are cool enough to be moved.


Where did the phrase “The Whole Enchilada” comes from?

As many people know, the phrase “the whole enchilada” means the whole thing.   But no one knows where this phrase originated from.  I mean, why enchilada?   Why not, “the whole kumquat” or something?

I’m usually pretty good at Googling, but this one got me stumped.  If Google don’t know, then no one knows.   The closest I found was this entry on Random Misantrope.  Somehow it has something to do with Nixon tapes — so I don’t want to dig further.

Sorry, don’t know the answer to your question.  You probably had the same question and found this page by Googling.

Fork That Alert You When You Are Eating Too Fast

Eating too fast causes poor digestion and causes us to eat too much.  The remedy is HapiFork by HapiLabs.  It will vibrate if you are eating too fast.

We need to chew our food thoroughly so that we get better digestion and absorption of our foods, especially if we have low stomach acid.  But sometimes we are in such as rush that we do not chew enough and eating too fast.  Well, the Hapifork will measure how fast you are putting food into your mouth.  And how many fork-full of it.  Connect to your phone or your computer via bluetooth or USB.

Gene for Bad Driving?

University of California Irvine neurologist Dr. Steven Cramer did a study that showed that bad driving may have a genetic basis. People with a certain gene variant performed more than 20 percent worst in learning a new driving course in a simulator than person without the gene variant.
29 subjects was asked to learn a new driving course by being placed in a driving simulator and drive 15 laps consisting of difficult curves and turns. The subjects re-did the driving test 4 days later. Of the 29 subjects, 22 did not have the gene variant and 7 of them did. The subjects with the gene variant did worst in both tests. Dr. Cramer said “These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away.”[1]

How a Particular Gene Variant Causes Bad Driving

BDNF is brain-derived neurotropic factor. This protein plays a role in memory and communication between cells. UC Irvine article says “BDNF keeps memory strong by supporting communication among brain cells and keeping them functioning optimally. When a person is engaged in a particular task, BDNF is secreted in the brain area connected with that activity to help the body respond.”
When a person performs a motor-related task such as driving for example, BDNF is secreted to the relevant area of the brain for that activity.

However, people with this particular gene variant known as Val66Met does not secret as much BDNF. They make more errors in the initial learning and they retain less.

The study was published online in Cerebral Cortex on September 10, 2009 was titled “BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism Influences Motor System Function in the Human Brain”.

The study abstract says “A single nucleotide polymorphism for this growth factor, val66met, is common and associated with decreased activity-dependent BDNF release.”[3]

It further says “subjects with the polymorphism showed smaller activation volume within several brain regions as compared with subjects without the polymorphism.” The conclusion is that “subjects with the polymorphism showed greater error during short-term learning and poorer retention over 4 days, relative to subjects without the polymorphism.”[3]

How common is this gene variant? Almost 30% of American have this gene variant. At the time of the study, there are no commercial test for this gene. So it is hard to say who has it.

Limitation of the Study

It is important to note that the study has only a sample size of 29. And the study involves motor-learning skills in driving a new course in simulator. It does not take into account driving experience and attention to driving in real-world automobiles and roads.
In fact Cramer says “I’d be curious to know the genetics of people who get into car crashes … I wonder if the accident rate is higher for drivers with the variant.”[1]


[1] University of California Irvine: “Bad Driving may have genetic basis
[2] CNN: “Blame genetics for bad driving
[3] Cerebral Cortex: “BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism Influences Motor System Function in the Human Brain

Rescued by Facebook and Twitter

You know that social networks have become a dominant part of our society when requests for emergency help are being sent through Facebook and Twitter. In one case, two Australian girls aged 10 and 12 was trapped in a storm drain. They had a mobile phone where updated their Facebook status of their situation. Fortunately one of their “Facebook friend” was online at the time and called for help. If they had a mobile phone why didn’t they called for help themselves?

In another case a man use Twitter to report “Need a paramedic on corner of John Wesley Dobbs and Jackson st. Woman on the ground unconscious. Pls ReTweet.” [see reference] Some of his twitter followers saw his tweet and called emergency help. Why hadn’t he used his phone and make the call instead of tweeting? The man’s reasoning was that his cell phone’s battery was running low and he didn’t want the call dropped while on hold.

Although both cases turned out well, it is not standard nor recommended practice to use social media to request emergency help.  As stated by the firefighter in the first story, “It seems absolutely crazy that they updated their status rather than call us directly.  We could have come to their rescue much faster than relying on someone else being online, then replying to them, then calling us.” [see reference to news article]

It is unclear as to how dangerous the girl situation was. Perhaps they were not in eminent danger.  And it is also unclear whether the girls knew the telephone number for emergency services.   That would have been a phone call to 000 in Australia — the equivalent of 911 emergency call in the United States.  If the girls had a netbook instead of a mobile phone, then perhaps they would not have been able to make the call.  However it does appears that they did have a mobile phone.

Both incidents occurred in 2009 and at the present time of this writing, using social network to request help is not what most people would typically do — at least not yet.  That is why the two stories are still considered newsworthy.

On a lighter note…

In another incident, a person found himself in a public restroom stall without toilet paper.  He tweeted his predicament and got toilet paper in 20 minutes from a twitter user.[ref]

60-mile long traffic jam that lasted 11 days in China

Titled Great Crawl of China, DailyMail reports of an 11-day traffic jam in August 2010 that is 60 miles long in China involving thousands of motorists, some of which played cards, take turns at the wheel, or sleeping.

400 police was dispatched to keep road rage in check. Vendors set up stalls to sell goods and food at inflated prices.

This was dubbed as the “world’s longest traffic” jam at the time by many reporters.