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Archive for January, 2008

Some interesting exercise news

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

First, people that exercise more have cells that look younger than those that rarely exercise, according to a new study:

Telomeres cap the ends of chromosomes, the structures that carry genes. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When the telomeres get too short, the cell can no longer divide. Scientists believe that aging occurs as more and more cells reach the end of their telomeres and die — muscles weaken, skin wrinkles, eyesight and hearing fade, organs fail, and thinking clouds.
Spector and his colleagues analyzed the telomeres from white blood cells collected from 2,401 twins participating in a long-term health study, examining whether there was a relationship between the subjects’ telomere length and how much exercise they got in their spare time over a 10-year period.

“We’re using telomere length as a marker of our rate of biological aging,” Spector said.

The length of the twins’ telomeres was directly related to their activity levels, the researchers found. People who did a moderate amount of exercise — about 100 minutes a week of activity such as tennis, swimming or running — had telomeres that on average looked like those of someone about five or six years younger than those who did the least — about 16 minutes a week. Those who did the most — doing about three hours a week of moderate to vigorous activity– had telomeres that appeared to be about nine years younger than those who did the least.

And in a related note, it’s hard to get started exercising for a reason:

The substance that allows your muscles to contract is called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Your body has several ways to synthesize it using such materials as creatine, lactic acid, glycogen and a bunch of enzymes, all present in the body. A couple of those methods can be tapped quickly to support an increase in activity — when you pop up the stairs from the company lunchroom, for example, or run a sprint.

However, those initial energy sources can keep pace for only the first few minutes. After that, the body turns to its real energy powerhouse: aerobic glycolysis, a process in which glucose (the basic sugar that the body uses for fuel) is broken down with the aid of oxygen to produce ATP. It’s a very productive system, by some estimates yielding 30 or more molecules of ATP for each molecule of glucose. That’s why it can sustain all those crazy bouts on the elliptical, not to mention a marathon run.

But it takes time to stoke up. In the interim, we suffer.

“[The process] is physiological, but it becomes a psychological issue,” said Walt Thompson, a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “The first half-mile [of a run] is like, ‘I am going to quit.’ . . . But I know exactly where I am going to feel better.”

Carla Sottovia, an exercise physiologist and assistant fitness director at the Cooper Fitness Center in Texas, said those first few minutes of exercise amount to a state of oxygen deprivation, with the body struggling to keep up with the suddenly increased demand, then finally reaching a steady, sustainable state.

It’s a feeling that can be particularly discouraging for beginners, mistaken as a sign of being out of shape (only partially true) instead of understood as a manageable transition into exercise.

Movies I’ve watched, week four

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

5. Cars
Another Pixar picture, which means high standards. Unfortunately anthromorphizing automobiles doesn’t work nearly as well as toys, bugs, stuffed animals or rats (jury’s still out on robots). The story is decent, the cast is good and the animation is brilliant, but something’s missing. B-

6. Hudson Hawk
I don’t know if I could write a fantastic feature like My Year Of Flops, but if I did, this would be on it. This was one of those movies I was curious about, Bruce Willis’ first big movie after Die Hard 1 & 2. I knew it had bombed, but I had heard this was more in his Moonlighting style. It is pretty campy and absurd at times, but fun. I liked the Leonardo da Vinci piece at the beginning, and the cat burglars timing their robberies to songs. It also had a very early appearance by David Caruso as an odd spy. Not brain food, but a mostly enjoyable lark. C

Books I’ve read, week four

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

8. 100 Bullets:First Shot, Last Call
9. 100 Bullets:Split Second Chance
Writer: Brian Azzarrello Artist: Eduardo Risso
The first two collections of the comic book, an intriguing take on revenge: what would you do if you had an untraceable gun and 100 bullets for it? There’s also an overarcing storyline, so it mashes up noir and spy genres. This was a sampler to see if I liked it enough to buy more – I think I will. B+

New TV

Monday, January 28th, 2008

The writer’s strike may still be going on, but there’s a fair amount of TV out there. Episodes of 30 Rock, Moonlight, and Chuck have aired recently, Enterprise and Terminator continue, and several series return soon. Thursday brings Season Four of Lost and the first of six new episodes of Smallville, while in two weeks Season Two of Torchwood on HD.NET (BBCAmerica has already been airing it, but they cut some of the more racy scenes and it looks great in HD) and Jericho start. There was a possibility Saturday Night Live would return, with Roger Waters performing the entire Dark Side album, but apparently it was canceled when news leaked.

Also, here’s Torchwood’s Season One blooper reel.

Belgian brunch

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Friday Jill made it home before me, and was relaxing on the couch when I got home. I changed and heated some wings and potato wedges while I sauteed spinach. Jill was soon in bed, and I was up late with Mario. Saturday was pretty relaxing, watching TV while getting shipping supplies read for my eBay auctions and reading the paper. For dinner Jill had bought some whole wheat pizza dough at Trader Joe’s and I made a pizza with that and some marinara I’d whipped up Thursday night while making meatball subs. Later we watched Cars, it was cute (though not up to the level of the other Pixar pics).

Today I got up earlier and took Illa for a long run/walk before reading the paper. I got ready just in time to go out. Our friends Dave and Hannah repaid our petsitting by taking us out to Brasserie Beck in DC for brunch. We arrived right on time, and got straight to the beer. Jill had a Bacchus and I had a Kasteel Rouge, on tap and the best choices of the day. We shared a charcuterie plate and some shrimp croquettes, and I had a side salad – all good. I had a roasted rabbit loin (marinated in Kriek beer) and Jill had the steamed mussels in a curry & apple broth (with a side of frites, natch). Mine was tender and scrumptious, and I can’t tell you how hers was, because I’m not a curry fan. I skipped dessert but helped Jill a little with her assorted ice cream and sorbets – yummy. Now I’m shipping all those eBay auctions (27 completed successfully) while Jill watches TV.

And while we’re talking about art…

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I love Understanding art for geeks.

47000 Words

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I’ve been a long time fan of the Washington City Paper, but that was as much due to their syndicated columns and comics as their local material. I don’t make it near the city (and thus their distribution range) as much as I used to, and the issue I just picked up seems listless, confimed online they’ve dropped most comics, and crucially cut Robert Ullman’s illos.

That’s disappointing, but I’ve realized they’ve been replaced by dcist.com. Lots of local coverage (Yes, some VA too), and the right attitude in my feed reader. They usually have a photo of the day, and recently ran a “DCist Exposed” contest to choose pictures for an exhibit. But this is the digital age, and you can all 47 picks here, for a considerably different look at the area.

This is my favorite:

Movies I’ve watched, week three

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

4. Vanilla Sky
I consider myself a Cameron Crowe fan, love a lot of his movies. But if you’re going to cast Tom Cruise in a part, perhaps it’s not best if you have him play an unsympathetic rich and handsome guy. Yeah, he’s got problems, but I stopped caring after a while. There’s actually a clever little story here, but the movie runs too long and the rest of the cast (Penélope Cruz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Tilda Swinton) can’t save it. I still haven’t seen Elizabethtown, but now I hope it’s better than this. D

Books I’ve read, week three

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Light again (for me), and no good excuses (other than the kitchen disaster), At least I’m back to the order.

7. Myth-Ion Improbable
Writer: Robert Asprin
I loved the Myth Adventures books in high school, and I picked this up at a booksale unaware he’d started doing them again (writer’s block and IRS problems stopped him). A light caper, not as funny as I remember, but it’s been a while since I’ve read any of them. Still better than the Phule series. He’s put out 6 more, so I’ll check some of them out too. B-

Oh dear

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Click here to see an LOL version of this very blog (Thanks, Josh Rob).