Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I hate SPAM.

Not the ham in a can type, I actually like that. However, I am talking about the myriad of chain letters, hoaxes, and potporri that tend to waft my way.

Often, I get both ads for cialis and viagra, as well as ads to increase my breast size. In my case, they are missing their target audience.

I am getting mad about the chain letters. If I am told one more time that I will go to Hell if I stop this letter, I am going to find their email server, hack it, and then let them know what hell really is. Well, certainly hell for them. (Ed. note, never piss off an OLD time hacker. I was fiddling about with systems back when modems required you to put the phone handset in the cradle of the modem. Nuff said.)

I also get a veritable blizzard of emails from my mother, a devotee of AOL. Invariably, Snopes gives me the straight skinny, and I send her a link to the appropriate site. This, however, is a double edged sword. My loving wife checks everything out with Snopes. This can ruin something funny - case in point - sent her an email with a picture of a mouse caught in a toner cartridge. My comment was that I'd hate to get called out on that ticket. Mouse apparently survived its tussle with an HP laserjet, and was released. She checked it out, and found it "Unconfirmed." Knowing mice and HP's, I'd call it Plausible.

Sorry so long inbetween blogging, don't give up on me. I have discovered that work tends to take more and more of my time, and with that on top of cub scouts, various husbandly chores, and misc bull puckey, I have had little time to put my thoughts on here. Stay tuned though, I promise to write more tonight.

Until our next.....

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I guess I'm normal... ish.

Found this on Patty-Jo's site. Here's me:

You Are 65% Normal

(Really Normal)

Otherwise known as the normal amount of normal

You're like most people most of the time

But you've got those quirks that make you endearing

You're unique, yes... but not frighteningly so!

I have no idea what that means. Oh well :)

Monday, May 02, 2005

A question I have ALWAYS wanted to know the answer to....

First and foremost... I am not the author of the following article. I wish I was... but I ain't. I found it at Discovery. With that said, here we go. I wanted to know why Asparagus makes your pee stink. (OK, so I need a life worse than most....)

Why Asparagus Makes Your Pee Stink

by Hannah Holmes

"This is of no practical importance," the urologist tells me. "It wasn't part of my training. It's something we contemplated over pizza and beer." When I admit that I have actually timed the arrival of the distinctive odor in my pee after eating asparagus (about 15 minutes), the good doctor suggests, facetiously, that my groundbreaking research might lead to a tenure-track position at a fine university.

It is a sadly neglected field. But I'm not the first to ask.

In 1891 a scientist named "Nencki" had so very little to do that he convinced four guys to eat seven kilograms of asparagus (that's about three and a half pounds each). He collected the pertinent pee, worked some medieval magic on it, and concluded that the smell was due to a metabolite called methanethiol.

So there you go. Nencki claimed that as your body metabolizes asparagus, it produces this smelly chemical, which your discriminating kidneys see fit to dump into the bladder.

This probably doesn't qualify as red-hot science, but it's warm enough to spark differing opinions.

In 1975 a chemist from California claimed in Science that gas chromatography had fingered a different culprit: S-Methyl Thioesters, to be precise. No methanethiol.

Then there's the 1980 reference in the British Medical Journal that simply refers to "metabolites." Another asparagus scholar favors "six sulfur-containing compounds."

I'm voting for methanethiol, partly because the guy who did the gas chromatography left no forwarding address, and partly because the methanethiol entry in my aging Merck Index of chemicals is so interesting.

Methanethiol is composed mostly of sulfur with a splash of hydrogen, plus some carbon, a brew famous for its effect in rotten eggs, cabbages and paper mills. Convincing, no? Merck also notes the asparagus connection and, most intriguing, warns that methanethiol may be a narcotic in high concentrations.

Now if you're scowling at your screen and muttering, "My pee doesn't smell like asparagus," first ask yourself if you eat asparagus.

Even if you do but lack the smell, you're still OK. In fact the fabulously funny book, The ReSearch Guide to Body Fluids (by Paul Spinrad, Juno Books, N.Y., 1994), says just 22 percent of survey respondents experience asparagus pee.

Early investigators thought genetics had divided the world into stinkers and nonstinkers. That was until 1980, when three researchers had the presence of mind to wave pee from the nonstinkers under the noses of the stinkers.

Lo and behold, the problem proved to be one not of producing the stinky pee but of being able to sniff it out.

If you've been deprived of this gift, don't give up hope. To increase the concentration of methanethiol molecules available to your snoot, you could either intentionally dehydrate yourself before you dine (this is unhealthful); or pee into a cup and sniff that. Or eat three and a half pounds of asparagus for lunch.

And if you experience a narcotic effect, you could be looking at a tenure-track position at a fine university.

Hannah Holmes sniffs out answers to life's oddities in Portland, Maine. She's a regular contributor to Discovery Channel Online and also writes for Escape, Outside, Sierra, Backpacker, Eco Traveler and Women's Sports and Fitness. Write her at skinny@online.discovery.com.