Monday, November 26, 2012

An experiment to determine the effect of spicy foodstuffs on nasal congestion.


Having suffered several days with a common cold, JTL (hereafter referred to as "Subject") wondered if the effects of a helping of spicy food could relieve him of his nasal congestion. Subject has been coping with nasal congestion and sneezing most of the day; previous days' symptoms have included sore throat and coughing.

Subject also has very spicy Cashew Chicken leftovers in his refrigerator.

Research Question

Will the consumption of spicy foodstuffs help alleviate nasal congestion in a common-cold sufferer?


Many tissues will be used, but there will be no overall net effect on the congestion itself.


  • 1 serving of Cashew Chicken, spiced medium (albeit with abundant dried chili peppers, perhaps more than Subject originally bargained for), from Satay on the Road
  • 1 mid-30s adult male, suffering from a cold (day 4)
  • 1 cup water (approx. 500 mL)


  1. Leftovers were reheated in a microwave oven. Approximate serving size: "enough."
  2. Reheated leftovers were consumed. Despite Subject knowing water has absolutely no healing powers on the effects of spicy foods on the mouth, Subject consumed water as he ate. Thus, Subject is a dumbass.
  • Subject experienced moderate to severe oral discomfort while eating.
  • More peppers were consumed than Subject would normally ever contemplate in a single sitting.
  • Subject questioned his sanity more than once during the process.
  • Much mucous was expunged from the nasal cavity during the consumption, and Subject's eyes watered slightly.
  • After initial increase in mucous output due to the consumption of spicy food, and the removal thereof via tissue, Subject's nasal congestion returned within ten (10) minutes.

There appeared to be a temporary effect on congestion, but this was short-lived and Subject is back to sniffling. Sources of error include inconsistency in the type and size of dried chili pepper, lack of an experimental control, and an overall incompetence on the part of the experimenter.* Subject also wanted to note his concern for the overall state of his gastrointestinal tract in the coming hours.
* I used to put this as the final source of error in every one of my university physics labs.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A collection of little things.

Frequent-former-commenter ECB hand-delivered some kickass homemade chocolate-chip scones to me yesterday. I may have eaten them all in a single sitting today.

Last night a bunch of us got together for a pretty big party, partly in honour of my upcoming birthday, and partly in honour of the just-past birthday of one of the hosts. It was a grand time: cake, booze and deep conversations about the role of race in education abounded.

The Canadian Tire at Leslie and Lakeshore has a Starbucks beside it. This seems like it should not be.

At said Crappy Tire, I went in to pick up a power bar for the office at work, but ended up finding out (a.) they were sold out, (b.) it didn't have surge protection, a necessity for computers, and (c.) there was a differet surge-protected power bar on sale, but not in the flyer, for a similarly good deal. Sometimes you find a little serendipity in the home-electrical section of a store, you know?

This city is in the grips of Grey Cup Fever. I, however, am in the grips of a cold. I hope I infected a lot of people at the aforementioned party.

Speaking of parties, a couple of members of the regular drinkin'-gang (they're housemates) are having a Masquerade Party in a couple of weeks, and masks are suggested. They also live next door to a member of legendary Canadian-rock band Sloan, and I swear if I ever meet him, I will very likely turn into a giggling little fanboy and ask to pose for a picture with him. (I'm normally pretty stoic when it comes to meeting celebrities, but for this one, all bets are off.)

Low-carb beer? C'mon, asshole, accept the fact that you are both an alcoholic and you're fat.

Speaking of beer, I tried Innis & Gunn's "rum finish" beer last night. Honestly, I haven't found an alternate version of their beer which is better than the original, which is next to heavenly.

And that's all for now.

Cough, cough.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Slayin' them dragons.

I'm a bit of a nomad at work: I teach three classes in three separate rooms. (I took one for the team, what can I say.) It's alright, though -- sure, there's a bit of moving-around, but it actually helps me mentally separate my classes from each other.

(Last year I taught two different physics classes in the same room, and I'll be damned if I didn't consistently confuse them. "Wait, did we already cover this? I can't remember," was a particularly frequent refrain.)

Today, my third-period class worked on some ancient computers that we roll from room to room (soon to be replaced with some slick-yet-slightly-used laptops). I was struggling to get my USB thumbdrive to be recognized by one of them, so I had to hang back in the room for the first few minutes of fourth period, which I had off anyway, to try to get the thing to work. (Never did.)

One of the kids in that class, grade 12 biology, must've known I taught physics and posed a question to me.

Her: "Hey, could you answer a question I have about physics?"
Me: "Sure, fire away."
Her: "Well, I take a dance class outside school, and our dance teacher keeps talking about two different kinds of energy -- like, the energy inside you, save your energy for later, and so on, plus he also talks about the energy in the building, in the environment."
Me: "You mean, like some sort of cosmic type of energy that's all around everywhere? And then, talking about the sort of energy you get from your food?"
Her: "Yeah. He talks about them like they're one and the same. He says he did some physics in university, but us in the class, we can't decide if he's crazy or not."
Me: "He sounds pretty crazy to me. Anytime anyone talks about the flow of energy through your body, energy fields in your body --"
Another kid: "You mean like chakras?"
Me: "Yeah, that sort of thing. Anytime they start talking about that, there's your sign that they're nuts."
Her: "We sorta thought so."

A minute later:

Another student: "How about those energy-bracelet things? My aunt gave me one for Christmas last year."
Me: "Total scam. They don't do anything; they've been tested."
Her: "How do they do that?"
Me: "Well, you do a double-blind study: you get two groups of similar people, give one the real thing, and give the other a fake version of that, and you don't tell either group which one they're in. It's like accupuncture: some people reported pain relief from 'real' accupuncture. But the same number of people reported it from 'fake' accupuncture, too. Conclusion? It's all in your head, and accupuncture doesn't do anything. Jabbing needles into our skin makes you think you're better."
Different kid: "Could you be our teacher?"
Kid #4, to kid #5: "I have him for physics next semester."
Me: "Yeah, come take physics. I'll let you in on whether or not the Easter Bunny is real."

It's a tough gig, being this awesome.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Could this BE any more '90s?

(And yes, that's a Friends reference. You'll see why that's appropriate.)

(Oh, Matthew Perry, where have you gone?)

I have an iPod, which means I can store a hell of a lot of music on a little box smaller than my wallet. However, this morning, I got a little more nostalgic for honest-to-goodness music-on-a-medium, so I rooted through my CD collection and found a compilation CD from 1998 which was, oddly enough, given away as part of a Clearnet PCS promotion back in university. (Clearnet was eventually bought by Telus.)

And, holy hell, this thing screams 1990s. Check out the track listing.
  1. Tonic -- Open Up Your Eyes
  2. Pulp -- Common People
  3. James -- Destiny Calling
  4. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones -- The Rascal King
  5. Rusty -- Soul For Sale
  6. Zuckerbaby -- Andromeda
  7. Matthew Good Band -- Everything Is Automatic
  8. Big Sugar -- If I Had My Way
  9. Ashley MacIsaac -- Brenda Stubbert
Seriously... when was the last time you thought about Zuckerbaby? Or Ashley MacIsaac? Or, frankly, any sort of '90s ska-pop like the Bosstones?

Damn. I miss the '90s.

Here we go (again).

If you're reading this, chances are I know you. And I'm fine with that.

I started a blog in 2004, and wrote (more or less) anonymously; people I knew read it, of course, but I didn't go to any great lengths to publicly link my name to the site. I kept it going until 2012, but as that project wound down recently, I figured I should at least have some way to express a thought which wouldn't fit in a Facebook status update.

So, here I am.

I can't say what exactly this will all be about. But if I had to guess, it'll probably be mostly about politics and music, with some extremely vague stories about teaching thrown in there too. It may well veer into the mundane -- for example, I just totally had an amazing banana, hot damn, I think I'll have another!* -- but we'll see, I suppose. The first post, as you can see, deals with music.

I also can't say how often I'll put something here. Every few days? Every couple of weeks? Once every three months? Whenever I feel the need, I'll throw something up here, then probably link to it through my Facebook status.

I also can't promise it'll be amusing. But then again, stranger things have happened: I mean, Julia Roberts was once married to Lyle Lovett, for crying out loud. So I suppose anything's possible.
* This is entirely true. It was a little riper than I'd hoped for, but it totally turned out fantastic. The moral of the story here is that you should never judge a banana by its cover.