Towse: views from the hill

July 10, 2009

one out of every three cigarettes in the world is smoked in China

Filed under: health — Towse @ 11:35 pm

I’d made a note a year or so ago to check an interesting factoid I’d come across. Was it true?

[SFC 26 Jun 2008] article by Tamara Straus:
one out of every three cigarettes in the world is smoked in China


Here are WHO/Western Pacific Region-Smoking Statistics from 2002.

Among the other stats given:

# Smoking will kill about a third of all young Chinese men alive (under 30 years).
# About 3,000 people die every day in China due to smoking.
# There are more than 300 million Chinese smokers – more than the entire US population. They consume an estimated 1.7 trillion cigarettes per year – or 3 million cigarettes every minute.

WHO. Trusted source. More health-related information available on the site.

June 13, 2009

Smog check?

Filed under: environment,health,photographs,ships — Tags: , — Towse @ 12:33 am

Yesterday morning I took pictures of three ships leaving within a ten-minute-or-so period, all of them spewing crap into the air. We, of course, need to have our cars smog-checked every two years. Ships coming in and out of harbor. Not.


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Why not?

Update: Ah. … A federal appeals court agreed Wednesday [27 Feb 2008] that state air pollution regulators can’t order ships arriving at California ports to reduce their toxic contributions to local smog.” The Court ruled that the State Air Board’s rules couldn’t take precedence over the federal Clean Air Act and the state would have to get a waiver from the EPA to allow its rules to go into effect.

OK. So when is =that= going to happen, now that TPTB at the EPA have changed? Soon? Have we asked?

May 2, 2009

A visit from Carnival Splendor

Filed under: health,life,photographs,ships — Tags: , , — Towse @ 4:38 am

[Blogger wasn't FTPing nicely this afternoon so this post was delayed. ...]

Carl Nolte writes, Flu outbreak diverts Mexico’s cruises to S.F.

The Mariner of the Seas (>1K’ long — displaces 137,276 tons) berthed early this morning at Pier 35.

<PALIN> We can see it from our bedroom window! </PALIN>

(yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that was SNL and not Palin.)

Just now, [well, sometime after lunch] the Carnival Splendor (952′) came into Pier 29 and I took a mess of photographs. Together the two ships have ~ 6800 passengers aboard.

I feel kind of :-((( for the passengers because the weather was grey and drippy today. Rainy a bit and then not a bit and then rainy again. MUCH chillier than the folks on the cruise (who had signed up for Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, &c.) were dressed for. We thought, boy, those folks down by the wharf are probably upping the prices on their fleece jackets and umbrellas.

Seems we’ll have more of the same (cruise ships, that is) for a while now. …

I imagine Butterfly restaurant down at Pier 33 is not the place to go for lunch. Not that we had any plans to do so. We have [had] a Cinco party down at Mercedes – Hair of the Dog Cantina starting at 6p.

[The Cinco was terrific. We walked down (con paraguas), stopping off at the bank to drop off a rent check. Got to the cantina a bit early. No prob. Met some new folks, old friends. Mariachis out front. Folks who weren’t invited to the par-tay were sitting on the benches in the alley enjoying. Music (after the mariachis were done) by Carlos Godinez and his sidemen. We were seated RIGHT THERE. (Literally. We chatted across to them between songs.) Godinez played some Jobim, which made me happy.(Jobim? Cinco music? No, not really, but made me happy.) The spread was terrif. (Munchies followed by buffet. All you can drink vino blanco o rojo, margaritas o Dos Equis o whatever you wish.) I heartily endorse Mercedes – Hair of the Dog Cantina. Owner/staff were swell. We had a good time.]

(and then hoofed it home — sin paraguas … ~2mi total RT)


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We got home to find the cruise ship nestled, all snug in its berth …

The Mariner of the Seas leaves in a half hour or so, but I think the Carnival ship won’t leave until morning. …


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April 26, 2009

Bruce Sterling brings his ray of sunshine to the subject of swine flu.

Filed under: health,news,URL — Tags: — Towse @ 10:22 pm

Practical Tips for Combatting Swine Flu In Your Home | Beyond the Beyond from

There is always some flu around and flu is always killing some people. Even when a raw mutant flu manages to kill off more people than a shooting-war, flu has never ravaged whole cities as cholera or the Black Death can do. As awful pandemics go, flu is like the snotty-nosed little sister of awful pandemics.

I’ve been tracking Twitter and checking what people are twittering about porcine influenza.

We now have multiple Twitter accounts aggregating swine flu news with names like stoptheswine, SwineFlu, SwineFluTweets and more. Someone’s even picked up the domain name

There’s hype hype HYPE! and folks madly re-tweeting such things as How swine flu could be a bigger threat to humanity than nuclear war (something from UK’s Daily Mail Online)

Chill, people. Really.

For up-to-date information go to the CDC site

February 6, 2009

20 Worst Foods of 2009 – 1. The Worst Food in America of 2009

Filed under: culture,food,health — Towse @ 2:25 am

20 Worst Foods of 2009 – 1. The Worst Food in America of 2009 (from Men’s Health)

Baskin Robbins Large Chocolate Oreo Shake
2,600 calories
135 g fat (59 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fats)
263 g sugars
1,700 mg sodium

We didn’t think anything could be worse than Baskin Robbins’ 2008 bombshell, the Heath Bar Shake. After all, it had more sugar (266 grams) than 20 bowls of Froot Loops, more calories (2,310) than 11 actual Heath Bars, and more ingredients (73) than you’ll find in most chemist labs.

Rather than coming to their senses and removing it from the menu, they did themselves one worse and introduced this caloric catastrophe. It’s soiled with more than a day’s worth of calories and three days worth of saturated fat, and, worst of all, usually takes less than 10 minutes to sip through a straw.

The Men’s Health article has twenty of the worst foods in America: worst salad, worst breakfast, worst burger, &c. (Hard to navigate, but interesting. …)

[via Sour Grapes' Google Reader]

December 17, 2008

Every three years …

Filed under: health,life — Towse @ 10:08 pm

Mostly I passed with flying colors, although they’re checking on a couple things. Doc says, though, that from now on I should get checked every THREE years.

Oh, grand.

Colonoscopies Miss Many Cancers, Study Finds –

Filed under: health,life — Towse @ 7:10 am

Colonoscopies Miss Many Cancers, Study Finds –

Did I really want to read this when I’ve just finished my evening prep for tomorrow’s colonoscopy?

As his nibs reminded me, even if colonoscopies only catch 60-70% of cancers in the colon, that’s better than nothing at all, or finding the cancer after it’s already spread to the liver and beyond.

Kaiser’s prep procedure is the one suggested in the article. Evening prep with half the strong laxative, and then morning prep (up at 5A! for laxatives! lucky me!) just a few hours before the procedure.

Twelve hours from now plus another hour or two in recovery and I’ll be set for another five years. … if all goes well. Proper preparation is key, they say, so off to bed and up early to down another liter of laxative.

December 16, 2008

Weird back-ness

Filed under: health,life,photographs,travel — Towse @ 4:57 pm

So I’m back. We flew Air Tahiti Nui from Papeete to Los Angeles, leaving Tahiti at 10P Sunday and arriving LAX around 8:15A yesterday. Time difference only two hours, which is nice.

Checked in through immigration. Picked up our bag at the carousel and checked through Customs with our bag and carry-ons. Easy-peasy. Smoothy-oothy. Got to the Virgin America desk before 10A and saw that they had an SFO flight at 11A. Asked if they could shift us from our 2: something flight to the 11A: flight. The cheery staff said, sure, they’d put us on stand-by. Then they popped us to the top of the stand-by list because we’d joined their frequent flyer program before we flew out.

The flight was delayed because it was raining in San Francisco (which slows the landing pattern to about 1/2 of normal) and they weren’t getting clearance to leave LAX until they had a chance to land at SFO. The plane carried a number of staff deadheading to SFO, but there was still room for us. Together. With a window seat for me.

I dozed off a bit because I hadn’t slept well on the overnight flight from Tahiti and there was cloud cover and nothing to see. I woke up again and enjoyed the last half hour of the flight. Cloud cover had broken. I could see the beaches along Monterey Bay and the wooded hills climbing to the east. I took photos from the window of the sunshine on water,


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Beautiful day coming in. Even with the delays, we arrived at SFO two or three hours earlier than we would’ve.

Got home to a giant pile of mail inside the front door and a week-ago’s Sunday paper lying outside. We can never quite figure how SFC figures out when your “away” start and stop dates start and stop. His nibs thought he’d stopped after Saturday morning’s delivery, but no.

We puttered around. Cleared the stack of mail. Washed the laundry. Downloaded all the photos from the camera. Had ricotta-spinach ravioli tossed with butter, fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese for dinner. Tucked in.

His nibs was off to work relatively early today because it’s been chill and road conditions are weird. He needed to get in to work for a meeting at a certain time and decided to take plenty of time.

We had hail downtown when we were coming in from the airport in the Super Shuttle yesterday afternoon. Snow down to 500-1000′ this morning. Hwy 17 over from Santa Cruz has snow on it. Snow plows in Scotts Valley last night. Colder than we’re used to.

… and I’m … not allowed to eat. No solid food at all. No milk, if I want coffee. Only clear liquids, consistency of water. I don’t think they mean tequila or vodka here. … I guess I’ll subsist on maté until tomorrow.

Tonight at seven I get to drink a liter of prep and tomorrow at five in the morning another liter, to clear out my innards because (yippee!) I check in for a colonoscopy at 9:30A tomorrow. His nibs needs to accompany me home and for the rest of the day I’m not allowed any sedatives or alcohol and I’m not allowed to operate a moving vehicle or heavy or dangerous machinery.

Maybe Thursday I’ll really be “back” and we can get a Christmas tree and start freaking out that Christmas is JUST A WEEK AWAY!

Colonoscopy is no fun. I have to have one every five years, ever since my next older brother was diagnosed with colon cancer (which by then had spread to his liver) in 1998. So 1998. 2003. 2008. 2013. and so on ad infinitum or ad mors or whatever.

He died in June 2001 and I miss him. I see things I think he’d like, weird things [a glass block etched with a DNA pattern] [magnetic wall paint], interesting books, scientific paraphernalia.

The colonoscopy is just another reminder that he’s not here. And why.

Quite the abrupt and bruising return from a short but warm and welcome vac, but there’s only me to blame. I consciously scheduled the appointment for tomorrow, because they couldn’t schedule it back when they’d intended because we had other things happening and I just want to get it over with as soon as I possibly can. Back yesterday. Today for fast and prep. Done tomorrow by noon. Just get the pall and the memories it dredges up over with and carry on.

Thursday. Thursday will be a much better day.

November 30, 2008

The miracles of modern science – notify a partner of possible STD via e-card

Filed under: app,health,technology — Towse @ 5:58 pm

* Choose one of six e-cards (Figure 1),
* Type in recipients’ e-mail addresses (up to six),
* Select an STD from a pull-down menu,
* Type in own e-mail address or send anonymously,
* Type in an optional personal message.

PLoS article on inSPOT: The First Online STD Partner Notification System Using Electronic Postcards

Ah, the wonders of the Web.

September 19, 2008

Google Co-Founder Has Genetic Code Linked to Parkinson’s

Filed under: health,life — Towse @ 5:43 am

Sergey Brin Has Genetic Code Linked to Parkinson’s: [NYTimes article] … found after having his genetic makeup analyzed by 23andMe, a biotechnology start-up co-founded by his wife, Anne Wojcicki.

So, would you want to know? Or not?

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