Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Donate Blood When You Lose a Life in this Video Game!

Hi ya! How's it going? Thanks for taking time to drop out of cyberspace today for a coffee and a little chat. I see you already edging towards the coffeepot so go ahead and fill your mug. Grab a virtual doughnut, muffin or pastry while you're over there. Say... do you play video games? Well here's a new twist on one that can actually help your community.

Blood Sport (no, I am not talking about the Jean-Claude Van Damme film of the same name) is a new gaming system that’s all set to revolutionize the way we donate blood. While traditional blood donation methods can be ‘draining’ to say the least, the makers of Blood Sport have designed a fun process that involves playing video games. You’ll be so immersed in the game that you’ll hardly notice the blood being taken from you every time you lose a life.

Blood Sport is the brainchild of Canadian inventors Taran Chadha and Jamie Umpherson, who are well-known for gaming-related projects like Shoot the Banker, Surrogaid and Prank House. Now, with Blood Sport, they’re “taking the consequences of the gaming world and having them affect you in real life. So every time you get hit in the game, blood will be intravenously drawn from your arm.”

Their new idea, they say, is stupidly simple. “Nowadays, most video game controllers rumble when you get shot in the game,” they explained on their Kickstarter page, through which they’re trying to raise $250,000 CAD (US $222,700). “That rumbling means that an electrical signal is being sent to the controller to let you know you’ve been hit. All we’re doing is re-routing that same electrical signal and using it to turn on the blood collection system.”

So what that means to me is that you'd better get good at playing Blood Sport or you'll weaken and wither away quickly. I can see different versions of the game popping up, can't you? How about Team Blood Sport where, for instance, a Type AB team is pitted against the Type O negatives. Then later the Regional, Provincial/State and National Blood Sport Championships...maybe even, you know...that international body of games held every four years whose name we are not supposed to use without their permission...but their logo is five linked circles. You know the one...

Don't get me started on possible team uniforms, either...
See ya, eh!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Living with Nature...or...Ewwww -- Gross!

Well, hello there! Thanks for clicking by today. I trust you are in fine fettle and ready for a mugga and a virtual megamuffin. Why not, eh! Say...communing with nature is one thing but we should all keep our own spaces, don't you think? I am sure you have heard the saying that "You are never, if ever, more than three feet away from a spider". Well here are a couple of cases where nature is getting a little too close...

Daniela Liverani, 24, of Edinburgh, Scotland, and British singer Katie Melua recently survived inadvertent, grotesque ordeals hosting, respectively, a three-inch leech and a spider. The leech had found its way into Liverani's nose during an Asian backpacking trip and had poked part-way out several times (though Liverani had assumed it was a nosebleed clot and "sniffed (it) back up"). 

When she finally saw a doctor in October, she said, the leech played peek-a-boo for a half-hour until the doctor grabbed it with tweezers. 

Melua's tiny spider apparently lived in her ear for a week, creating a constant "rustling" noise until her doctor vacuumed it out. She guessed that it came in through old earbud headphones on an airline flight. (Her spokesperson said the singer had no hard feelings and had released the spider into her garden.) [Daily Record (London), 10-12-2014] [The Guardian (London), 11-2-2014] 

Maybe the spider heard her album 'Spider's Web' and just wanted to get up close and personal. Ear! Ear!

See ya, eh!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Oscar, the Nursing Home Cat Who Can Sense Death Coming

Hi there! Glad you could find a few minute to stop by. Coffee's on and there's a fresh array of delectable virtual treats for you to nibble on. Hey...are you a cat person? Well here's one cat you don't want to curl up next to you any time soon!

Meet Oscar, a cat with a supernatural ability to feel when people are about to die. In over 50 documented cases, Oscar, who lives in a nursing home , has curled up beside patients in their final hours, seeing them through to the ‘other side’.

His unique story was revealed by Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor at Brown University, who claims Oscar’s predictions have rarely been wrong in the past six years. In fact, he has even proved medical staff wrong at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island, where he was adopted seven years ago as a kitten.

Dr. Dosa first told the world about Oscar’s rare gift in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007. Since then, the cat has accurately sensed even more deaths, convincing the geriatrician that it wasn’t just a series of coincidences. 

Dr. Dosa eventually wrote a book about his experiences with Oscar at the nursing home. It’s called ‘Making rounds with Oscar: The extraordinary gift of an ordinary cat’.

Might be a tad unnerving, I would think. The folks in the nursing home probably look anxiously out of their doorways before heading out to the dining room or other elsewhere in case Oscar is wandering the corridors.  Don't want him hanging about. No sirree!

See ya, eh!


Source: http://www.odditycentral.com/

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dementia Treated Successfully With Anti-Aging Diet

Hi there! How are you doing today? Fit as a fiddle? Yes but...is it in tune? Pour some coffee into your mug and help yourself to a virtual treat while I tell you about how eating less may be able to help some of our mental fiddles stay in tune longer.

Neuroscientists have shown that a calorie-restricted diet almost stops gene expressions related to aging and dementia.

Dr. Stephen D. Ginsberg, who presented the new study’s results at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, said:

“Our study shows how calorie restriction practically arrests gene expression levels involved in the aging phenotype — how some genes determine the behaviour of mice, people, and other mammals as they get old.”

Mice in the study were fed 30% fewer calories, which likely reduced some of the aspects of aging which can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The life-preserving effect of calorie restriction in animals has been known for some time, but the same effect is not proven in humans.

This study is the first to examine how a calorie restricted diet affects the expression of over 10,000 genes.

Female mice were chosen for this study because, like female humans, they are more susceptible to dementia than males.

The effect of the restricted diet was tested by examining the hippocampal region of the brain, which is one of the first to be affected by Alzheimer’s.

The hippocampus is central to learning and memory, and damage to this area with aging is one of the main causes of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The results showed that the calorie restricted diet almost stopped the natural rise and fall of almost 900 different genes related to memory and aging.
Exactly how this huge range of changes provides a protective effect against the effects of aging is not yet known.

While the results do not point to a “fountain of youth,” Dr. Ginsberg said it does:

“…add evidence for the role of diet in delaying the effects of aging and age-related disease.”

Anything that wards off or slows down dementia is good news in my books. I suppose eating fewer calories is good for us as well but not always easy to do. 

See ya, eh!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Dubai Is So Rich It Pays People To Lose Weight!

Salam wa aleikum (peace be upon you). How's life treating you? If you live anywhere near Buffalo, NY, you are up to your ying-yang in snow. Now those folks are expecting rain! Here? Bright sun and -6 C at the moment though I hear it may even get above freezing with +15 somewhere this week. Positively balmy! Fill your outheld coffee mug and tease a virtual doughnut or muffin onto your plate while I tell you about ‘Your Child in Gold’.

A weight loss contest held in Dubai this summer promised to pay all its participants two grams of gold for every kilogram of body weight lost. The initiative was dubbed ‘Your Child in Gold’ and followed last year’s ‘Your Weight in Gold’ contest organized by the Dubai Municipality. Over 7,500 winners were declared this year, which will collectively be awarded 40kg of gold worth Dh6 million (over $1.6 million).

“This year the priority was given for families as they will get double the rewards that individual participants will when they participate with their family members,” the official Dubai Municipality website declared. “Each family is allowed to participate with two of their children below 14 years old.”

Families that enrolled with their children were given the chance to win double the reward – two grams of gold per kilo of body weight lost. Over 28,000 Dubai residents enrolled in the month of July. Funnily, a lot of them had to be turned down because their kids weren’t actually overweight.

Where can I sign up? I know a number of 'tending towards the obese' children and I'm willing to adopt them to participate in the contest next year, okay? Do we have to move to Dubai? I can stand the desert heat. 45-59C is enough to melt to pounds off by itself. When's the bus leave for the airport?

Here's a thought...what about sending a copy of this post to your local government and asking them to consider a similar contest. "Hey! Keep it down, will ya! I can here you laughing from here!"

See ya, eh. Gotta go. I'm late for my Arabic lesson! "Wa aleikum ah salam (and also peace be upon you).


Source: odditycentral.com

Thursday, November 20, 2014

15-Year-Old Artist’s Notebook Drawings Look Ready to Jump Off the Page

Hey there. I was beginning to wonder where you'd got to, y'know. Thanks for finding time to spiral down out of cyberspace. Soon as you fill your coffee mug and snag a virtual treat or two, I want to tell you about a Brazilian student who, at age 15, is already an incredible artist. 

João Carvalho may be only 15 years old, but his incredible talent more than makes up for his lack of experience. The young artist can completely transform plain paper into ruled notebook sheets with 3D illusions popping out of them.

He starts by drawing blue lines on a blank sheet, but distorts them and adds intense shadows at just the right places, adding depth to his designs and creating the effect of three dimensional shapes that seem to jump off the page.

Some of these shapes include popular characters like Homer Simpson, Scooby Doo, and Jerry the mouse. He also creates effects like ripples of flowing water and wrinkled paper.

This kid has an excellent sense of movement, fluidity, the effects of light and shadow and dimension manipulation. Incredible!

If you have students, kids or grand-kids, show them these drawings.They can look up more of Joao's amazing drawings at http://images.google.com "João Carvalho drawings".

See ya, eh!


Source: http://odditycentral.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2014 Darwin Awards

Well, hi there! Good to see you today. I’m tickled pink that you could find time in your busy schedule to stop by. Got a treat for you today. I mean besides the virtual ones on the treat tray next to the ever-present coffeepot. Speaking of which, help yourself while I relay the nominations for 2014 Dilbert Award.  The winner at the end is just unbelievable.....

2014 Darwin Awards

Nominee 1: [ San Jose Mercury News]: An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former girlfriends windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the gun discharged, blowing a hole in his gut.  

Nominee 2: [Kalamazoo Gazette]: James Burns, 34, (a mechanic) of Alamo, MI, was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police describe as a
"farm-type truck." Burns got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling
noise. Burns' clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns "wrapped in the drive shaft." 

Nominee 3: [Hickory Daily Record]: Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, NC. Awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson 38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear. 

Nominee 4: [UPI, Toronto ]: Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his
shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death.? A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower early
Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the buildings windows to visiting law students. Hoy previously has conducted demonstrations of window
strength according to police reports. Peter Lawson, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association. A person has to wonder what the dimmer members of this law firm are like.
Nominee 5: [The News of the Weird]: Michael Anderson Godwin had spent several years awaiting South Carolina's electric chair on a murder
conviction before having his sentence reduced to life in prison. While sitting on a metal toilet in his cell attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted. 

Nominee 6: [The Indianapolis Star]: A Dunkirk, IN man, using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a muzzleloader, was killed Monday night when
the weapon discharged in his face, sheriff's investigators said. Gregory David Pryo r, 19, died in his parents' rural Dunkirk home at about 11:30 PM.
Investigators said Pryor was cleaning a 54 caliber muzzle-loader that had not been firing properly. He was using the lighter to look into the barrel
when the gunpowder ignited. 

Nominee 7: [Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario]: A man cleaning a bird feeder on the balcony of his condominium apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death. "Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheelchair when the accident occurred," said Inspector Darcy Honer of the Peel Regional Police. "It appears that the chair moved, and he went over the balcony," Honer said. 

[Arkansas Democrat Gazette]: Two local men were injured when their pickup truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38 early Monday. Woodruff County deputy Dovey Snyder reported the accident shortly after midnight Monday. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc, and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock, were returning to Des Arc after a frog-catching trip. 

On an overcast Sunday night, Poole's pickup truck headlights malfunctioned.  The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older-model truck had burned out. As a replacement fuse was not available, Wallis noticed that the ..22 caliber bullets from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering-wheel column. Upon inserting the bullet the headlights again began to operate properly, and the two men proceeded on eastbound toward the White River Bridge. After traveling approximately 20 miles, and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged and struck Poole in the testicles.

The vehicle swerved sharply right, exited the pavement, and struck a tree. Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident but will
require extensive surgery to repair the damage to his testicles, which will never operate as intended. Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released. 

"Thank God we weren't on that bridge when Thurston shot his balls off, or we might be dead," stated Wallis. "I've been a trooper for 10 years in this part of the world, but this is a first for me.
I can't believe that those two would admit how this accident happened," said Snyder.

Upon being notified of the wreck, Lavinia Poole (Poole's wife) asked how many frogs the boys had caught and did anyone get them from the truck?

Though Poole and Wallis did not die as a result of their misadventure as normally required by Darwin Award Official Rules, it can be argued that Poole did in fact effectively remove himself from the gene pool.

These people walk among us, they breed, and vote...

See ya, eh!


Honourable mention:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Beware of Flashlight apps!

G'day to you! Great to see you. Glad you could make it by. Coffee's always on here and our virtual no-calorie megamuffins are bigger than the potholes in cyberspace! I hope your trip through cyberspace today is not fraught with too many potholes but let me tell you about one danger in the cyber sky. Do you have a 'flashlight' app on your smartphone? Thanks to Anthony in Manchester for telling me about this...

On 1 October 2014, cybersecurity company SnoopWall released a "threat assessment report" discussing flashlight apps for Android devices and security threats they may pose. According to SnoopWall (who recommends using their flashlight instead of competitors' apps) the list of

permissions required by most flashlight apps is proof that the apps' makers are harvesting data and sending it abroad to cybercriminals.

It is true that one flashlight app developer settled a complaint with the FTC over data collection policies in 2013. But the current anxiety over flashlight apps appears to have been prompted by the publicity surrounding the release of SnoopWalls' self-promotional report rather than any specific breach of data security: the SnoopWall "threat assessment report" merely stated that some flashlight apps "appear specifically designed to collect and expose your personal information to cybercriminals or other nation states" (including China, India and Russia); it offered no evidence that flashlight apps were actually being used for such purposes.

It is the case that a number of flashlight apps can potentially request or access data on users' cell phones that seemingly has nothing to do with the ordinary functioning of the app. As Wired noted, however, that statement is also true of many other types of apps, and the fact that a given app has access to data doesn't necessarily mean the app is actually using that data:

A mobile phone security operation called Appthority did an analysis of the data that Flashlight can potentially request, and it's pretty scary.

According to Appthority's president, Domingo Guerra, Flashlight is designed to do location tracking, read my calendar, use my camera, gain access to unique numbers that identify my phone, and then share data with a number of ad networks, including Google’s AdMob, iAd, and JumpTap. It may not actually be doing all of these things — Appthority's analysis only shows what the software is capable of, not necessarily what it's actually up to — but the fact that there's such an arsenal of dubious uses should raise eyebrows.

On many phones, several apps want access to information they probably shouldn't, and odds are, that's the case with your phone, too. The lesson here is that when it comes to mobile software, there’s really no such thing as a free app. 
To read SnoopWall's full report on what this 'malware' can do to you, go to: http://www.snoopwall.com/threat-reports-10-01-2014/  
Yikes! Glad I don't have a flashlight app on my smartphone though I must admit that I have used the bright screen on the smartphone itself to navigate around in the dark occasionally. There are some who might say that I am usually in the dark anyway, but...

See ya, eh!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Photomath...Previewing the Future of Math Education

Hi there! How the heck are you? Thanks for clicking by on this snowy day (well it sure is here!). Help yourself to a mugful of arabica coffee and jiggle a virtual jelly doughnut onto your plate, why don't'cha. Say...did you like math in school? Me? Ah...not my best subject. It was a toss up between recess and lunch with lunch getting the edge because it was longer and there was food! Speaking of math though...

More than 6 million students have downloaded the new iPhone app PhotoMath to solve Algebra I and Algebra II problems by pointing the phone's camera at a printed equation. The answer, and the explanation, quickly appear on a screen, as a teaching tool -- or for the students to show "their" work if PhotoMath is used on exam questions. 

The Croatia-based developer told the Quartz website in October that it is working on upgrades for higher-level math equations (though no relief is in sight for those chronically pesky "word problems"). Meanwhile, the debate has been triggered over whether PhotoMath is a dynamic technological advance in education -- or a cheating-enabler. [Quartz, 10-31-2014; CultofMac.com, 11-7-2014] 

The innovative technology company MicroBlink is behind the creation of this awesome tool in solving bane of many students’ existence.  But the company’s CEO Damir Sabol insists that they have only made this app to promote their vision technology which is quite popular among software development kits. Still solving mathematical equations, even if it doesn’t work that often beyond linear equation is pretty impressive.

The CEO has indicated that they are still working to add to their repertoire of mathematical equation which is quite understandable because it has also been known to misread x variable as a multiplier. If you see the image below the answer should be “x = 5” instead of “-369 = 4”. So a lot of work still needs to be done so that this app could be usable in the more complex portion of solving mathematical equations, i.e., for college students too.

But with the technology advancing so fast and even middle schoolers having their own Smartphones now-a-days, there is a possibility that this app can change the complexion of how kids shape up their mathematical concepts. Many parents and teachers must be against the usage of this app, and don’t get me wrong they are part right to think that way, but this app can be used as a learning tool too. When you scan the equation through camera and it provides the answer in real time, you can just push at the forward button and sift through the problem.

This app has the potential to be used as a learning tool in solving mathematical equations, but the temptation might be high for students who are poor in Math to cruise through their 7th Grade algebra.

Okay...one vital question. Where the heck was Photomath when we were in school?

See ya, eh!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Princess, the Hypnodog!

Hey there! Great to see you today. Thanks for clicking by the ol' Virtual Cafe. Just in time, too. Coffee's freshly brewed and there's an array of virtual treats next to the coffeepot that will make both your eyes and mouth water, so dig in! Say...ever been to a hypnotist? Well, sit, stay, and listen to this.

Princess, a four-year-old German Spitz, is supposedly the world’s only hypnodog – a dog that can hypnotize people. She has been showing off her unique skill on stage for the past two years, alongside her owner Krystyna Lennon, a qualified hypnotist.

According to Lennon, Princess is able to make people fall asleep by just staring into their eyes. This might be linked to the primal ability of dogs to hypnotize their prey, but no other dog has ever been able to do it to humans before. “As far as I am aware, she is definitely the only hypnodog in the UK – possibly even the world,” Lennon asserted.

The Leeds-based mother-of-three said that Princess can hypnotize anyone, but some people react more strongly than others. “It is definitely not something that just any dog can do, it is a very specific skill,” she added. “They either have it or they don’t. It’s about their natural ability, it’s all down to the dog. They need to be very well trained and well behaved.”

Holy doggy-do! Can you believe it... instead of The Great Raveen...now we have The Great Fido!  Your eyes are getting heavy...heavier...you are feeling very relaxed...very very relaxed as your eyes grow heavier and heavier.

See ya, eh! I have to go take a nap!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rancher Tries to Bring About the Second Coming of Jesus by Shipping Red Cows to Israel

Hallelulah! You cleared the coffeepot by inches as you spiralled down to a landing on the red VIP carpet. So how are you today? All set for tasty mug of coffee and a virtual treat? Why the heck not, eh! Try a red velvet muffin, why don't'cha? Speaking of red...

Reverend Clyde Lott is a revivalist preacher and cattle rancher from Mississippi, who attempted to hasten the end of the world in a rather unusual way – by shipping red cows to Israel. He took up the challenge in accordance with an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers, which states that without the sacrifice of a red heifer, the Jewish people cannot be purified and enabled to rebuild the Third Temple.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the apocalyptic countdown will play out something like this: Jews would return to Israel after 2,000 years – the Holy Temple would be rebuilt – billions of people would perish during seven years of natural disasters – the antichrist would rise and rule the world – the battle of Armageddon would commence somewhere near Israel – Jesus would return to defeat Satan’s armies and then preside over Judgment Day.

For things to turn out as prophesied, the Holy Temple needs to be rebuilt, of course, and purified with the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer. Some people even believe that the construction of the temple cannot be resumed unless a red cow that fits the description is actually born, signalling the beginning of the end. The heifer in question is mentioned specifically in Numbers 19:2: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish and upon which never came a yoke.”

This post could go on for heifer and heifer...(sorry...I couldn't resist) 

Interestingly enough, I just read a great book by Steve Berry called The Columbus Affair in which Christopher Columbus, whom many people believe was Jewish, reportedly transported several Jewish treasures to the New World for safekeeping during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. These treasures would be needed to bring credence to the Third Temple when it is built. Great read!

See ya, eh!


Friday, November 14, 2014

“Why do some people heal and others don’t?”

G'day to you. Set yourself up for a 'caffo' day today...a little learning and a little caffeine. Couldn't hurt, right? Thanks for clicking by today. I appreciate it. It gets lonely without you here in the great void. Speaking of the great void...did you see the pictures from that comet we (the royal we) just landed on! Amazing, eh! No, we're not talking comets today. But I got another email from my pal, Dr. Al that I want to share with you and he started with an intriguing question. Read on...
Dear Bob,
When I was in medical school I asked a question that none of my teachers could answer.
“Why do some people heal and others don’t?”
Two people can have the identical diagnosis, and receive the same treatment and care. One will thrive and the other will not recover.
Throughout my years of practice, I’ve since found that people who heal have a strong immune system. Yet even then, physically healthy people can get sick. Why should that be?
In my practice I find that one of the biggest non-physical causes of disease is stress. My patients who learn to relieve their stress get sick less frequently and they recover faster.

When you’re stressed your body shifts into “fight or flight” mode. Your autonomic nervous system triggers your body to shift priorities. Blood, nutrients, and oxygen are diverted from your internal organs and your immune system. They rush to your large muscles so you can run faster or fight harder to survive.
Stress tells your body to turn off immunity and repair and maintenance and shift all priority to survival.
But something else happens. Stress also shortens your telomeres. In fact, studies prove that people with a lot of stress have shorter telomeres.
You already know telomeres are like ticking biological clocks. They protect your DNA. Each time your cells divide, telomeres get shorter. Eventually, they’re so short your DNA is exposed. It can no longer make correct copies. New cells are older and weaker.
And that opens you up to all kinds of chronic diseases that are linked to aging. Add to that an immune system shut down by stress and you could have a serious problem.
Unfortunately, our modern world is full of pressures that trigger our stress response.
That’s why it’s so important to learn to handle stress. In a minute I’m going to tell you about an easy way to help your body reduce stress before it starts to take over. And it works even if you’re already feeling anxiety and worry.
Herbs that act as “adaptogens” are one very powerful way to help your body adjust to stress. One of the best is panax (Asian) ginseng. An animal study in India found that ginseng is particularly effective against the kind of relentless stress that’s so common in our fast-paced and high pressured world.
Another herbal adaptogen is ginkgo biloba. Studies show it prevents cells from dying due to stress by protecting telomeres from shortening.3
I recommend taking 200 to 500 mg of panax ginseng and 120 mg of ginkgo biloba daily if you are feeling stressed.
To Your Good Health,
Dr. Sears' Signature image
Al Sears, MD

Try some calming tea...when you wake up, you'll feel relaxed and ready to take on the world. 

Or, just stay the way you are and have another coffee!

See ya, eh!