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Saturday, September 24, 2011


I am currently hospitalized and recovering from a long, complicated (but successful!) bypass operation. To all my readers, I will be back next week.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vitamin C

I have an arterial by-pass operation in a couple of days and in preparation I have been popping lots of time-release Vitamin C pills. It is necessary for the building of collagen the connective tissue between our cells and for ligaments and tendons. I figure it will be good for the body to have lots of it available for mending the surgical damage I will undergo.

The word ‘vitamin’ means something that the body does not produce itself but needs for its chemistry to work - so we have eat foods with the vitamins we need in them. Sometime in the distant past when we were evolving as a species, we must have lived in an environment where we ate foods that contained lots of Vitamin C so, we didn’t need to produce it in our body like cats and dogs and many other animals do.

Linus Pauling in his book on Vitamin C tested rats and he discovered that they produced so much of the vitamin that, if we could still make Vitamin C like they do, taking into the consideration the difference in our body weights, we would produce up to 18 grams [18,000 milligrams] a day. An orange contains around 10 mg so mostly we don’t get anywhere near that amount.

Pauling himself took 18 grams of Vitamin C for years but if you start supplementing with large amounts like that most of it will be expelled in your urine until the body develops the enzymes to handle the larger amounts. Taking time-release is the best way to make sure your body can handle what you take. There are many other benefits to getting enough Vitamin C. Pauling lived to a healthy 97 and was surprised and disappointed when he got cancer, which took his life. Rie

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Evolutionary Quantum Leaps

I am facing a serious operation this week that there is a more than 10% chance I may not survive. It has sharpened my focus and made the subject of this blog post a priority. 

Ever since I was introduced to PierreTielhard de Chardin's 'Phenomenon of Man', I have been captivated by his revelations about the processes that have taken place in the 4.6 billion years since planet Earth first formed as a huge mass of molten rock. My special interest revolves around finding clues that will help me understand how and why we humans evolved with the hope that this  knowledge will clarify for me our place in the whole grand scheme of things and more particularly why we are prone to behave in the ways that we do.

Interestingly, it appears that the laws of nature are such that evolution has happened in quantum leaps. When you study how it all has progressed, you see clearly that for long periods of time, one kind of process will be getting more and more complex until Boom - there is a new unpredictable, unimaginable and more sophisticated process that emerges - a quantum leap to a new level is reached. 
For example in the beginning, the planet finally cooled down so that the tiny basic fragments of matter were able to come together to form atoms. As the temperature cooled further and the atoms bumped into each other at slower speeds, they often interpenetrated and exchanged or shared electrons making a bond between them. A good example could be Hydrogen gas joining with Oxygen gas to form water - a totally different substance that bears no resemblance to the elements that have reacted to form it.  Boom, that kind of process, Chemistry was a quantum leap from Physics that just deals with matter and the forces that act on it. 

As Chemistry proceeded to become more and more complex, huge new compounds formed and they joined with others in chemical reactions until some systems became so large and interdependent with many self-catalyzing reactions that groups of compounds began to reproduce, and change. Boom, a quantum leap to a totally unpredictable advanced process - life occurred.  Biology is so different from the Chemistry that sustains it - it is recognizable as a quantum leap.

Single celled life forms that we call bacterium first developed and as they became more complex, intercommunicative and interdependent over a long 3 billion years, they finally cooperated and joined together to form multi-celled beings - animals and plants. Over the following 70 or 80 million years during the Cambrian explosion, the rate of evolution accelerated by orders of magnitude and major diversification of all living things occurred including the sprouting of our branch of the tree of life. A few 100 thousands of years later big brained homo sapiens evolved. Boom – a quantum leap to humans who form a whole new Psychological level so like but so different from other animals .

This is pretty broad-brush stuff that could include many more levels. These ideas have arisen from the Earth's fossil records as studied by paleontological scientists. If you are having trouble reconciling the scientific evidence and your concept of a great designer, ‘God’, you could simply change that aspect of your belief to accept ‘God’ as the Creator of the Laws of Nature. Evolution is after all just a playing out of these laws on our very stabe planet.
The sun keeps shining, fueling a push to more complexity and now logically, as we humans communicate, and become more interdependent [it's easy to see our drive and success in doing that] we are the ones pushing toward another emergence or quantum leap, For an overview of those ideas check out the highlighted site.

What can we learn from all this about ourselves and possibly our purpose? To me one of the main messages is that the looming possibility of destroying our beautiful sustaining planet, is a global crisis that we all need to cooperate in preventing. We need to support new 'green' technologies and also cooperate in working toward less adversarial societies that lead to greed and ecological destruction. Unless we support enlightened national leaders I cannot see them ever becoming globally cooperative enough to agree to the measures necessary. Let's hope nature gives us time to smarten up and prevent further global tendencies towards the destruction of our planet.    Rie

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Broken Leg

About a week or so into our month-long travels in China in 1992 we were in Kunming, which had many delights for tourists to explore. One day we decided to take a trip to see the famous ‘Petrified Forest’ about 120 km away and took the local tour bus soon to find we were the only ‘foreigners’ aboard.
After a couple of hours we made a stop to visit one of the huge caves in the area. It was dimly lit with some strings of Christmas tree lights and as I was attempting to videotape the whole scene - without warning - I suddenly found myself falling into a gaping hole. I must have shrieked in fright and pain because I soon found myself surrounded by a group of fellow travelers who pulled me out. One of them seemed knowledgeable and gently examined the bruised and bleeding leg and, with a quick jerk, straightened my ankle. Another burly fellow piggybacked me up the long stairs out of the cave and into the bus.
It was a very long day for us with no way of communicating so I was immensely relieved when we finally got back to our hotel and could talk to the Manager. He sent us by cab to the hospital and I finally found myself on a gurney being wheeled through the halls - an experience in itself!
X-rays revealed I had cracked the big femur bone but the leg was so swollen that, instead of a cast, the Doctor plastered the area with a vile looking paste, splinted and bound it. After a couple of days we managed to charter a small plane to take us to Chengdu where a colleague, who had been a visiting professor at my University, met us.
At that time, all hotels seemed to have Doctors in their service who would come to your room and were paid a small sum for each visit. Our hotel had a retired army doctor who, thankfully, soon took off the plaster poultice that was so itchy it was driving me crazy and proceeded to massage the leg from top to bottom a couple of times every day. It was extremely painful but I figured he had been trained to get wounded soldiers back in the lines to fight again as
soon as possible and that the the poultice and message were to increase circulation to do just that. I was willing to take the suffering to to get back on my feet again and be able to use the rest of our precious time in China to travel.
The Chinese methods worked! Miraculously I was able to walk with crutches without much discomfort in less than 2 weeks and we culminated our trip by walking the Great Wall of China. Fortunately too, I was so mobile we could continue our planned trip around the world that year. I for one am convincedc we could learn much from Chinese methods of treating fractures!! Rie