Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Helps a sore throat feel less like a goat

* This time of year must surely bring the highest sales for cough drops, mustn't it?
* In my pocket, I currently have two "Honey Lemon with Echinacea" cough drops. What's your favorite cough drop flavor?
* Though their name implies that they are used to treat coughs, I'd bet that cough drops are most often used to treat sore throats. Why is the term "cough drop" more common than "throat lozenge"?
* Winter or not, may you be blessed with a throat that feels more like a koala bear than a goat!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Sunrises and sunsets are among its effects

* Can you imagine if the earth did not turn? In some places, it would always be night. In some places, it would always be day. In some places, it would always be dusk. To "see" a sunrise or a sunset, you'd have run very fast around the surface.
* This past weekend, I was at a retreat atop a mountain in West Virginia - a great spot to watch the sunset on Saturday afternoon. The next day, I went for a jog along the ridge and turned the other direction for a sunrise. But it was too early and I had to return to the retreat before the sun actually came over the horizon. (Even before the sunrise, though, there is an exciting glow that signals that the day is coming.)
* The days are getting longer! After yesterday's winter solstice, I am excited to think about how sunrises will be getting earlier and sunsets will be getting later for the next six months.
* The longer days are also an exciting reminder that Christmas will soon be here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Many things in one load requires fewer trips down the road

* Five days ago, I drove a 14-foot truck from Maryland to Tennessee to help my sister move. This 800-mile trip takes a long time. Having a moving truck rather than, say, a minivan or a sedan was very valuable. Otherwise, many more trips may have been required.
* In general, is it better to take more things at once or to take more smaller trips? One time, I tried to carry all of my groceries in a cardboard box in a single trip to my car. I didn't realize that the bottom of the box was not fully secure and halfway down the sidewalk it collapsed. A milk jug exploded, a jar of apple sauce broke, cherry tomatoes rolled in every direction. It may have been the largest mess that I have ever made.
* When you are trying to carry many things at once, how do you improvise? Do you carry multiple bags in a single hand? Do you put things in your pockets? Do you balance things on your head?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Facial protection from every direction

* A woman or even a man may wear a scarf as a fashion accessory. For me, though, a scarf is definitely part of my "winter gear." The other morning, I took a predawn jog in subfreezing temperatures. Having a scarf to fasten around my nose and mouth to block the cold air was invaluable.
* Keeping a scarf fastened throughout the rhythm of a jog can be difficult. But I have developed a trick that usually works well. First, I wrap the scarf around the bottom of my face. Then, I secure the rest by tying the ends around my head, completing a figure-eight pattern. My brother thinks that the top part looks like a turban.
* Scarves can also be helpful substitutes for forgotten hats. In the same way that you'd wrap a scarf around the bottom of your face, you can tie it around your head, covering your ears. This too can be invaluable in the winter.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Even when hacked, they always grow back

* If we cut our hair, it grows back. If our toenail falls off, it grows back. Do we have any other body parts that regenerate on their own?
* In another type of miracle, techniques have been developed to synthetically replace other lost body parts. At the lab where I work, for instance, there is a lot of research on prosthetic limbs which can be controlled directly by the recipient's brain.
* About a month ago, my housemate and I went on a ten-mile hike in the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. It was a very rocky trail and I slammed my big toe time after time. As the blister beneath the nail grew, so did the pain. At last, my toenail snagged on a pair of pants and fell off, gaining significantly improvement.
* During a subsequent visit to the podiatrist, he reassured me, "The rest of the nail is going to fall off. It's perfectly normal and the nail will grow back."Sure enough, I now have a new nail slowly regrowing. Apparently, it takes about six months to grow back in full.

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