Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Tesco comes good with two great pays d'oc wines

Praise where praise is due...

I like pays d'oc wine and usually buy from Lidl which is not bad but my favourite is JP Chenet Merlot usually bought at Tesco.

JP Chenet has a distinctive bottle known as Josephine.

On looking at the wines in Tesco the other day I noticed another pays d'oc called Louis De Camponac Merlot at £1 cheaper than the JP Chenet so I thought I'd give it a try.

To my unskilled and unrefined palate this is a great wine.

Well done Tesco

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

How to use a magic wand

A magic wand can be anything including a finger. It is both a device and a ritual for focussing and then casting intentions. It can be used for good or evil.  Almost anything can be used as a wand but it is said that a wand chooses the wizard.

A few days ago I was meditating to the music of JoJo Flores. An image of a place in a nearby natural harbour came to mind along with an urge to go there. I went there today and I found an unusual long tube with a metal end laying on the ground beside the backwaters of one of the world's largest natural harbours. I don't know what it is and I was about to throw it away when something told me that it is a magic wand.

This is how to use one. (and this might just work)

Think through the specific intention you want to make real or change. Go into this in as much detail as you can and be very clear about what you want to happen. Picture it in your mind, have internal conversations, make sketches rough drawings take or use photographs. Make it as real as possible in your mind.

The stronger the thoughts, pictures and intentions the better the wand will work.

Rub your hands together for about 10 seconds or do any other ritual your intuition indicates.

Take hold of the wand and bring to mind the intention as clearly as you can.

Write a summary of the intention with the wand. You can do anything your intuition guides you to do. It should involved moving the wand because this will 'cast' the intention into the world through the wand. Be clear and precise with the movement of the wand.

This clear intention will flow out of the wand and it follows the intensity of the thoughts.

It may take several tries and practise improves the skill of casting intentions.

Incantations strengthen the process and add power to the desire.

Incantations are normally sung or chanted but can be spoken or can be any sound that is linked closely to the intention. If you don't want to sing or chant your intentions write a poem and read it out. Send the incantation to the cosmos, to your deity if you have one or to anything you can imagine. This is especially powerful if you send an incantation to something spiritual you believe in.

Use of symbols

Symbols can communicate and even transfer the message or essence of what they represent. The proof of this pudding is in advertising.

Things that lower or stop the power of the wand

Alcohol will block the power for the rest of the day and reduce the power for up to three days.
Cannabis will reduce the power for up to a week.
Any drugs that make you tired or sleepy will reduce or prevent the power of the wand.

Sex will reduce the power for up to several hours.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Paracetamol is not effective at any dose as a treatment for osteoarthritis

(please note that this post is intended for information and is not medical advice, for medical advice on the issue raised see your doctor)
Paracetamol is not effective at any dose as a treatment for osteoarthritis

This is according to a large scale analysis of 58.5 thousand patients by Dr Sven Trelle at the University of Berne and published in the Lancet.

He found that paracetamol was only marginally better than a placebo for osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis with about 8.5 million sufferers in the UK.

Diclofenac was found to be the most effective treatment.

All medications used had some effect but paracetamol did not meet the minimum clinical standards to be classed as effective.

Diclofenac performed better than all other NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatories pronounced n-sayds). Diclofenac out performed Naproxen.

However there are problems with diclofenac. It should only be taken in a short term course of treatment and never with a patient with heart disease.

Dr Anne-Marie Olsen at Copenhagen University looked into the effects of NSAIDS and death from heart attacks.

Heart attack survivors are 45% more likely to die of a second heart attack within a week if they are taking diclofenac and 55% more likely to die within three months. Diclofenac was to worst of the NSAIDS but all but one, including ibuprofen, increase the risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death.

Naproxen was not associated with an increase in death in patients with heart disease and was not found to cause sudden cardiac death.

New(ish) international guidelines discourage the prescribing of NSAIDS to patients with established heart disease. In practise few if any doctors will prescribe diclofenac to people over 55.

Some research is also casting doubt as to the safety of long term use of paracetamol.

Because NSAIDs are effective and because they have been used for a long time they have become the normal treatment. Other non narcotic analgesics have more or less been ignored.

It might be that in the future more doctors will try drugs such as dipyrone. At this time it is not known how dipyrone works. It is thought that it might at least partially work through the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

A partial understanding of the parable of turning the other cheek.

I don't think this parable applies to serious harm or wrongdoing.

I think it applies to the day to day irritations that happen in life.

I was driving home today with a friend along a busy main road in the countryside and noticed a cyclist waiting to join the traffic from a side road.

I thought to myself, "I'd never be daft enough to bring a cycle on a busy, narrow and winding main road like this."

I'd left a reasonable gap between us and the car in front because I hate being tailgated so I don't do it to others.

I said to my friend, "This bike'll pull out in front of us!" And it did. I had to brake and pull into the middle of the road to avoid the bike. (even though I'd anticipated it)

I said to my friend in a passive accepting tone of voice despite the swearword, "It's a f-----g good job I'm alert and not an aggressive driver".

I noticed that the actions of the cyclist didn't bother me at all. Maybe I'm just getting older.

Then it dawned on me, perhaps because my friend is a vicar's son, a possible truth to the parable of

'when confronted with evil turn the other cheek'.

Evil in this context might just be a word for the everyday irritations of life.

I could have gotten angry with the cyclist and shouted at him or made a rude sign. I could have stopped and had a real conflict. I could have justified getting angry.

But on reflection, if I had gotten angry, the biochemistry of anger, even though it might only last a few minutes (or does it?) would have harmed me. If I were to get angry at life's irritations on a regular basis it might equal something like smoking in terms of damage to health and social relationships.

But I just let it slip by as just one of those things.

The net result was zero stress for me.

I think this is something like the essence of the parable.

Other descriptions could be, live and let live, or it's no skin off my nose.

I'm pretty certain that Jesus didn't mean this to apply to serious evil.

Here's a question. If you were being bullied for example, would turning the other cheek be a viable course of action? Personally I don't think it would. If one of my grand children told me they were being bullied at school, I most definitely would not say anything like , "Just ignore it and it'll go away."

So, I'm sorry Jesus but I only partly agree with you and anyway a few days after you said this you went and did exactly the opposite to the extent that you got yourself nailed to a cross.

To which Jesus would reply, "I turned the other cheek knowing that I would pay the ultimate price and a world religion grew from this."

For this parable to work against big evil I think it would require millions - millions of people to turn the other cheek no matter what.

Perhaps they will one day.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

A puzzle about Jesus

I'm a big supporter of Jesus but I do have a puzzle about the fuss made over his resurrection.

Jesus resurrected three people Nain, Luke 7:11-17, Jairus' daughter, Mark 5:21-43 et al and Lazarus John 11:1-44.

On the way to Jairus' house and almost as an aside, and seemingly without stopping, he cured a woman who had been menstruating non stop for 12 years.

After resurrecting the young woman he thanked his father. We must assume his father in this case was either God the Father or the Holy Ghost, and it would seem that while Jesus was in human form he wasn't quite fully God because he needed a bit of help from 'above'.

Although Jesus can be a bit gnostic at times and refer the the 'kingdom' (of God) that is within us all.

He had to travel to Bethany on the outskirts of Jerusalem to see Lazarus and was in danger of being stoned for the things he was preaching.

If he made a regular habit of saying wine becomes my blood at supper time, that would have been enough to get him stoned in those days. Drinking blood, and especially human blood is an abomination to Jews and so would be the blasphemy of all blasphemies. Second only to insulting God itself. God as a male wasn't part of the Jewish belief. There were plenty of male Gods around, Mithras for example, who had wine changed into blood to be drunk at meals. It was later Christians, or possibly Jesus himself who androgenized what was to become the occidental triple Roman God of the West.

His disciples suggested travelling by night but Jesus made a comment with hidden meanings about travelling during daylight. I think this comment means stand up for what you believe to be true even if you will get into trouble. Even to the extent being stoned or burned at the stake. So I think Jesus would have been in favour me writing this koan.

When he got to where Lazarus lived he was met by Mary (Magdalene) who told him Lazarus had been dead for, at least four days, he'd been in a tomb for four days. So he was probably dead for about five days. You were entombed very quickly in those days, there was no laying about on trestles in the front room for a week.

When they got to the tomb, which was a cave, it had a big stone in front of it. Bethany was very close to Jerusalem so it must have been near the tomb Jesus would eventually use. perhaps it was the same one?

It might be worth noting that to have a tomb, even a cave, you had to be quite well off, at least middle class a skilled craftsperson (like Saul) or a professional and upwards. Plebs did't have tombs they just put dead bodies out in the desert or somewhere similar until all the flesh had gone and they could put the bones in an ossuary (or down a hole somewhere that served as an ossuary for the plebs).

So Jesus' friends were middle class at least. Worth mentioning that the middle class did very well under Roman rule. The Romans left the middle class of the empire well alone in a similar way that David Cameron won't let his Rottweiler, Ian Duncan Smith - IBS (sorry IDS) loose on the pensioners of Britain. I digress...

Jesus told Mary to roll away the stone. Mary said there would be a horrible smell. Jesus groaned at her lack of faith. When the stone was rolled away Jesus told Lazarus to come on out; and out he came full of life dressed in his grave clothes.

OK so what's the big puzzle?

Why is there such a big deal about him resurrecting himself when he had already done it three times before. The last time involved a tomb and the rolling of a stone - almost like a dress rehearsal.

It should have been expected that he would resurrect himself...

What do you think?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Do salad and other leaves lose vitamin c when stored in gas filled supermarket bags?

Yves Dupertuis and colleagues at the Geneva University Hospital looked into this.

They found that providing the bags are multilayered and that all the air is removed from inside the bag. Meaning there is no oxygen inside the bag when the leaves are stored, vitamin C can last up to about 68 hours.

Brief summary of the results:

Vitamin C degrades very quickly, within minutes, when stored in ordinary EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) bags. Vitamin C is almost completely degraded after 7 hours in EVA bags.

The same applies if there is any oxygen left in the storage bag.

Vitamin C can last for up to about 68 hours in multi-layered (ML) plastic bags stored at 4 degrees, and about 24 hours stored in ML bags at 21 degrees.

I don't know what type of bags supermarkets use or how long the leaves are in the bags before they go on the shelves. My guess is about 110 hours from field to plate.

As far as I can tell - it's not easy to find accurate information on this subject. Most salad leaves are about 4 days old when they get to the supermarket shelf. So there's a good chance that all the vitamin C will have gone from the leaves.

It does seem that vitamin C degrades very quickly. Once the bag is opened I would guess all the vitamin C will be gone within an hour or two.

On a positive note they found that other vitamins are more stable so these leaves are still good for you.

I don't know if you can find any more information about this?

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Interesting use of virtual reality to treat depression

Researchers at University of London and ICREA in Spain have used virtual reality goggles in an innovative approach to treating depression by helping patients feel more self compassion.

Fifteen patients were involved. They first watch a virtual reality body of themselves.  Then a virtual reality scene where their VR self comforted a distressed child until the child recovered. Then watch a scene where a compassionate adult comforted the VR self until they recover.

Nine of the 15 reported a reduction in depression symptoms and four reported a significant reduction in severe depression.

See bit.ly/1SzjBEl

Friday, 12 February 2016

What was the essence of Gnostic Christian Teaching?

Early Christians were divided between gnostics and orthodox, or literalists.

Orthodox Christianity became the norm via the Catholic Church.

The essential difference between the two groups, I think, is that the gnostics sought to find 'god' within the self whilst still alive and the Jesus story is an allegory.

 The orthodox or literalists taught a need for church guidance to find God after you die and that the Jesus story is historical fact.

Freke and Gandy call this payment in advance with no guarantee.

A summary of the gnostic approach seems to be to step outside of everyday life and observe the soul. The soul in Greek, the language of early Christianity, is the psyche.

A contemporary meditation practise known as 'mindful meditation' or just mindfullness, teaches that we should step outside of ourselves and passively observe our stream of thoughts. Or passively become aware of the world around us without becoming involved. This can be combined with meditation practise such as focussing on the breathing.
(NHS description of mindfulness)

I wonder, what is the similarity between gnostic teaching and mindfulness...
What do you think?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Getting up (in the morning) tips

change your alarm to something you like
Get up early
Biologist Chris Randler claims people who get up early are more proactive. Probably means going to bed early. It does give you time to do enjoyable things before setting off to work. Perhaps routine can be made more enjoyable by being 'mindful'.

Eat a good breakfast
The NHS recommend things like muesli, oats, fruit and beans on toast.

Change your alarm... from the standard buzzer to something you like.

Do some exercise
Gentle or careful stretching is good and can be done sitting on the edge of the bed. OK if a thought that has just popped into my mind has also popped up into yours, it's the perfect excuse to wake up a bit earlier. And it's good for sciatica.

A reflection on a meditation in relation to Gnostic Christianity

Years ago I was taught to meditate by a Buddhist monk.

During a meditation I experienced a 'conjoining' or becoming one with God.

Reflecting back on that experience I realise that it was just a step on the way – so to speak.

Although it was an expansive experience the 'God' I conjoined with was an entity.

If I had continued meditation practise I might have gone beyond physical or imagined entities.

I do occasionally practise mindful meditation. I might argue that this keeps a person at the outer edge of meditative practice.

If you concentrate on one thing – breathing for example and when thoughts intrude just let them slip away, rather than observing them, you (with practise) will move into a deeper state.

This note has come from studying contemporary work (Freke & Gandy et al) on early Gnostic Christianity and puzzling on some of the sayings of the person known as Jesus.

If the writer of the allegorical Jesus story (Who we can still call Jesus as we might refer to a character in a story) was asking us to ponder on the mystical and puzzling sayings, this would be a form of Zen meditation.

But at this stage in my study I don't think s/he is. I think the Jesus/author is describing what happens as you move towards what Buddhists would call enlightenment.

I haven't grasped the process yet but I think it is an occidental mix of mindfulness and oriental Buddhist meditative practice.

Apologies if the words practise and practice r grammatically incorrect – this is a koan in itself.

Friday, 22 January 2016

kippers (and herring in general) might keep you fitter

Oily fish have high levels of a little known compound called cetoleic acid. The role of this fatty acid is not understood. Herring have high levels of cetoleic acid.

Scientists at the Norwegian research centre Nofima think it might be involved in the absorption and or storage of omega 3 (O3). It might also change omega 3 into a long chain form.

The research is being done for commercial reasons to increase the levels of O3 in north atlantic farmed salmon and so increase the price.

Farmed salmon were fed high O3 sardine oil or high O3 herring oil. Those fed with the herring oil had 10% higher levels of O3 than the salmon fed with sardine oil.

Limited research has been done with human liver cells and it seems that cetoleic acid can cause the liver to change O3 from a short chain to the long chain fatty acid.

The results should be published later this year. Early signs indicate herring could be beneficial for human health by increasing the absorption and storage of O3 from other dietary sources.