Odd Happy Birthday Greeting

Friday, June 27, 2008

This morning as I was opening my mail I found an odd Happy Birthday greeting. Star Gate Worlds, a new MMORPG in development, sent it. I am registered with their forums so I guess it's a polite feature they added. I have been playing MMOs since EverQuest came out 9? years ago. This is the first time any of them have sent me a Birthday Greeting, I found it quite nice of them.

As you can see it's short and to the point, no adds or subtle catches. Just thought I would share as it was an unique experience to receive one like this. For any one who is wondering you can find the game trailer movie here. The game is in development for later this year, and has not yet reached beta.

30 by the Morning

Thursday, June 26, 2008

When I wake up tomorrow morning I will be 30. I look froward to a quiet day with my boyfriend, a good meal and a movie with snacks in the living room. Of course the meal we will eat out, no dishes on birthdays, it's an international law of mine. The following morning we will be going out to the families house to see his mother, It was her birthday last week.

If I don't get another post in before Tuesday, don't be surprised, but I will have all three posts up next week.

Have a great weekend!

Game Review: GTA 4 (PS3)

I'm not a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, the whole idea of shooting police and prostitution was never appealing to me. When my boyfriend bought himself a copy of GTA 4, I rolled my eyes and went on about my day. After a few weeks went by hearing and glancing from time to time at him play, my curiosity got peaked. Eventually I gave in and decided to give it a try, after a short time playing, I was impressed.

The content is still extremely adult, but the game box is rather explicit in emphasizing that it's not for children. The story lines are rich, there are plenty of cut scene, and most unwanted content is optional. I find it to be no worse then a rated R movie Any scene your not interested in you can fast froward threw.

One of the features I like about the game is the ability to change the story line and determine your characters nature by making choices for the character. The fact that allowing some one to live or die has future rolls to play in the game is a nice aspect that gives it good replay ability.

The ability to make and keep friends, gain favors, date, save cars, change clothing, shop, and even use the in game Internet (not real Internet), are interesting side tracks from the daily grind of missions and story line. There is no lack of mini games either, between ramp jumps, side missions, races, and pigeon hunting. They even included some puzzle style video games you can access from the arcade machines.

What I don't like about the game is the countless repetition in missions. I do appreciate the fact they tried hard to make hours of play for content, but doing the same thing 10 ways is some times annoying. The fact that a professional hit man some times tries to do things in irrational ways is some what annoying to me as well.

While some people may enjoy walking in to the middle of a room and gunning every one down, I prefer a little more tactics. If I was going to assassination a person, I would not wait in front of his house then chance him threw the streets in a car. Needless to say, stupid people annoy me and that includes in video games.

There are few bugs to speak of, once in a rare while you get a graphics bug, but nothing game stopping. As far as auto and visual it's a nice game. The occasional camera angle may drive you mad, or completely block your view, but this is the same with all games. Some of the game issues I find discouraging is th lack of customization to the controllers, and weapon swapping.

With the controllers there is only two settings and they are pre-configured. There is no ability to change driving and camera controls. The aiming can be a bit much in some times too, as you have to cycle threw targets with auto aim. As for the weapon swapping, it is again cycling threw the weapons until you get the right one. This is all during active play, you can not pause and do this.

In all I would have to give GTA4 a good review, I am enjoying the game and eager to see how the story plays out. While I am not a fan of games with such violent and adult topics, the labeling is clear and the characters seem to discourage a lot of it.

For more on this game feel free to view some professional game reviews.

Sugar Alcohols: Round Up

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sugar Alcohols are natural occurring chemicals found in foods, most commonly starches and sugars. Their chemical make up closely resembles that of both sugar and alcohol, but the substance does not contain either one. It is technically a group of carbohydrates called Polyols.

Each Sugar Alcohol is different and the pros and cons may vary. The three most commonly used in current food production are: Xylitol , Sorbitol, and Maltitol.

These are often used in combination with each other or with artificial sweeteners. Most often they are used to lower calorie, carbohydrates, or sugar levels in food. This however, is not the extent of their use. Commonly you can find them as flavoring, bulking agents and to add texture to foods.

Below are the good, bad, and some times ugly sides of Sugar Alcohols. Please understand these effects can vary greatly due to the amount used, the kind, and your tolerance to them.

The most common benefits of Sugar Alcohols are:

  1. Lowered Calories
  2. Lowered Glycemic Levels
  3. Lower Net Carbs
  4. Oral Health

Here is a chart from About.com on the sweetness and glycemic index of some Sugar Alcohols.

This chart compares the different polyols.

GI=glycemic index

Cal/g=Calories per gram

Bear in mind that the glycemic index is a range, rather than a fixed number. Different studies yield different results. This chart is mainly sourced by the Livesey research reported in Nutrition Research Reviews, December 2003.

Comparison of Sugar and Sugar Alcohols

  • Ingredient Sweetness GI Cal/g
  • Sucrose(sugar) 100% 60 4
  • Maltitol Syrup 75% 52 3
  • Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate 33% 39 2.8
  • Maltitol 75% 36 2.7
  • Xylitol 100% 13 2.5
  • Isomalt 55% 9 2.1
  • Sorbitol 60% 9 2.5
  • Lactitol 35% 6 2
  • Mannitol 60% 0 1.5
  • Erythritol 70% 0 0.2

Common disadvantages to Sugar Alcohols:

  1. Dehydration
  2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Rectal bleeding
  5. Vomiting
  6. Weakness
  7. Dizziness
  8. Persistent urge to empty the bowel
  9. Flatulence

Real Life Stupidity: Kidnapping for Cleaner Homes

This has to be one of the worst reasons to kidnap some one. (Not that there are any good reasons) Just a little advice, if you going to risk the serious charges attached to a crime like kidnapping, think of a better reason then a clean home.

An Italian man was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend from a pub, taking her home and forcing her to iron his clothes and wash the dishes, police said Monday.

Link: Reuters

It's just amazing what some people do with out thinking it threw.

Sugar Alcohols: Maltitol

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Maltitol, is a polyols made from high maltose corn syrup. It has 90% of sugars sweetness and approximately 3.0 calories per gram. The calories in Maltitol is not much of an improvement from sugars 4 calories per gram, but because it is a polyols, it uses less insulin to digest. This makes it lower in carbohydrates and safer for diabetics to consume. Like most polyols, it does not to promote tooth decay.

All though it is considered the safest of sugar alcohols, excessive consumption may have a laxative effect. Some people have considerable trouble tolerating even small doses of Maltitol. Studies have shown this may be due to the fact that in some people, the digestive process extracts considerable amounts of sorbitol. My friend wrote to me about his encounter with maltitol, and said he was in significant discomfort.

For most people Maltitol in small doses is harmless, how ever it does have a laxative effect close to Sorbitol and other polyols. Low carbohydrate diets are advised to avoid maltiol, due to the low reduction from calories to sugar. While diabetics may find some relief in the lower hypoglycemic levels of maltitol, they should be concerned with the amount ingested.

Reference links

Finally a Break

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Today was my last appointment of the month, with my dentists and his medical appointments June was one busy time. The only task I have left this month is my birthday, and I plan to celebrate that in a relaxed day out with my boyfriend.

I look forward to returning to posting several times a week, and I thank every one for checking back to see if I was still around. I now have my camera and I hope to start adding some photos with my project posts.

Sugar Alcohols: Sorbitol

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol with two thirds the calories of sugar, and 60% of sugar's sweetness. It like many sugar alcohols is not fully absorbed in the digestive process, keeping insulin levels lower then sugar would. It also does not promote tooth decay.

Sorbitol is used as a bulk sweetener, it is often used for the texture or taste it can add to food products. It has been used in a variety of products reduced in calories, sugar, or fat. Sorbital has been used for almost half a century already, it occurs naturally in a wide variety of fruits and berries.

Sorbitol has been declared as GRAS for food product use by the FDA and is approved for use by the European Union and others, including Australia, Canada and Japan. Sorbitol has many other uses apparently, in addition to food products it can be used in medications such as the following.

SORBITOL ORAL - This medication is used as a laxative to treat occasional episodes of constipation.
3% Sorbitol Urologic Irrigating Solution- indicated for use as a urological irrigating fluid with endoscopic instruments during trans urethral procedures requiring distension, irrigation, and lavage of the urinary bladder. It may be used for lavage of an indwelling catheter to maintain patency.

However Sorbitol has some serious down sides and dangers. It has been linked to or believed to be linked to all of, and not limited to, the following.

  • dehydration
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • diarrhea
  • rectal bleeding
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • persistent urge to empty the bowel
  • flatulence

sorbitol in quantities as low as 10g per day causes diarrhea - brought on by the so-called osmotic purge happening in the gut.

Sorbitol is a polyalcohol sugar and is neither digested nor absorbed by the small intestine. It passes through to the colon where it drives an osmotic purge (2). This means it passes through the lining of the intestine causing fluids (mostly water) to pass through in the opposite direction via osmosis. Bowel motions become watery and lead to dehydration and over time, other consequences like malabsorption of nutrients.

Link: http://www.foodintol.com/food_intolerance/hot_ibs.htm

Sorbitol may even be hazardous to diabetics, child development, and may even cause fetal damage in pregnant woman.

It is important to remember that Sorbitol is a NATURAL substance our body uses every day. How ever introducing anything, no matter how beneficial, in large and unnatural amounts is dangerous. It just so happens that sugar alcohols occur in extremely small amounts naturally and increasing them threw artificial means, can be dangerous. This is not to say never use it, I am just trying to say maybe it's better to solve the sweet tooth with natural fruit then with a sugar free cake.

Links: reference

Off to the Dentist Again

Friday, June 13, 2008

If I have to have my teeth poked, prodded, or pried at one more time I think I will run away. For the last few weeks I have been in and out of two separate dentists for a list of procedures. Of course it's my fault, but that doesn't make it any easier.

It's odd for me to have such an issue with my teeth, the only time before in my life when I had to go to the dentist was for my wisdom teeth. When I was in my late twenties I had a wisdom tooth invasion and they all came in the wrong way, I had all but one removed. The one that remained was barely threw but had already broken the tooth in front of it.

They were working on that molar when I came to Spain. I regrettably, never had it finished and spent the last 3 to 4 years with temporary dental work. Now all at once, one of my upper molars broke, the temporary work is ruined, and the wisdom tooth came to reap it's revenge. Thats why I have had limited posts and many adventures in and out of the dentists here in Spain.

I do hope this is the last trip, I am going in for at least 1 root canal today. If they can fix the top tooth and finish the other then I would have completed all the work needed. I don't know, however, if they plan to do only one to both today.

On the up hand this has given me several things to write about when I can grab the time again. It seems simple things like water supplies, diet, and the amount you chew food, can effect your dental health. I plan to write on how to deal with, avoid, and treat dental pain and aliments. Perhaps this will help you all avoid the annoyance of the dental chair.

Sugar Alcohols: Xylitol

Monday, June 9, 2008

Xylitol, can be considered one of the better Sugar Alcohols on the market. It is one of the most common polyols found in our natural food supplies. This Sugar Alcohol is often made from foods like fruits, berries, mushrooms lettuce, hardwoods, and corn cobs.

Our body actually produces some of this substance naturally in digestion and is considered a regular part of metabolism. The human body can even produce up to 15 grams of Xylitol depending on our diet.

Xylitol is also promoted for tooth care, it is believed that regular use of small amounts can help protect your teeth. It has been identified that using gum or candies made with Xylitol can stimulate saliva, witch in turn, helps keep your teeth in good shape. Some even claim that it can kill bacteria in your mouth it's self.

The daily recommendation for Xylitol is 12 to 15 grams. This however INCLUDES what your body makes naturally. Most gums and candies made of Xylitol contain .7 to 1 gram, in it's self.

The real warnings you need to know are simple. DO NOT EXCEED 15 GRAMS A DAY. Failure to comply will cause side effects. It is said that consuming 400 grams would be highly toxic to humans, and there are great concerns on the processing techniques used to mass produce Xylitol.

In lab tests, Xylitol will kill a rat 50% of the time in a dosage of 16.5 grams of Xylitol for every 1000 grams of rat. Medium rats weigh 100-120 grams, or say .25 pounds. That means, to kill a 100 gram rat, you need only to get the rat to consume, 1.65 grams of Xylitol.

There is great debates on the conclusiveness of the published MSDS for Xylitol, critics say they are inconclusive and not been proved safe for consumption. The FDA has however labeled Xylitol as GRAS for human consumption. Please note these concerns are aimed only at the MASS produced versions and not the naturally occurring substance made plants or by your body.

Resources Link: Here

Amazing Photos of Terrifying Natural Events: Flash Floods, Tornados, and More

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I wanted to share a few more pictures of the worlds crazy weather lately. When Mother Nature wants your respect, she commands it threw force. It's hard to think we can put men in space and search for life across the universe, but not master our own planet. We can't even get along with it actually, from the way the environmental news has sounded, maybe this is Earths way of defending it's self.

Then again, maybe it's just freak weather and a lot of pain killers!

Below is the pictures and captions, click the images to go to source page and read articles.

German Flash Floods
That once was a car!

A damaged blue car is seen near Jungingen, southwestern Germany Tuesday, June 3, 2008. Police spokesman Lambert Maute said a normally quiet stream that runs through the Killertal _ which means "killer valley" in German _ in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg became choked with rainwater and morphed into a raging river on Monday evening. Three women were killed and more than 10 people were injured overnight when a severe storm unleashed heavy rains and flash floods on southwestern Germany, police said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Frank Engelhardt)

US Tornado in Oklahoma
This is just a beautiful picture of one of natures most ravaging and deadly forces, I don't know if I should admire it or fear it.

Toxic Town Hit by Tornado, May Pose Health Risks
Murray Evans in Picher, Oklahoma
Associated Press
May 12, 2008

A deadly tornado blew through a heavily polluted former mining town where lead-filled waste is piled into giant mounds, sparking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to check for high lead levels on Monday.

Tornadoes on the Sun
OK so this one isn't on earth, but if tornadoes get your attention, just imagine great big molten, fiery tornadoes!

A solar storm on the sun's surface was shown to twist, like a tornado does on Earth, in images from NASA's STEREO satellite taken on April 9, 2008.

Ethiopia’s Ertale volcano
Speaking of molten and fiery here is a beautiful and deadly photo of lava from Ethiopia’s Ertale volcano.

Lava bubbles and oozes inside a lava lake in Ethiopia’s Ertale volcano. Molten surface temperatures range from 550 degrees Fahrenheit (288 degrees Celsius) to nearly 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (540 degrees Celsius) at the center of the pit.

A Bit More on Sugar Alcohol

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The more I read on Sugar Alcohol, the more I need to look up, here is my basic summaries on what I have discovered so far.

Sugar Alcohol 101

Sugar Alcohols are natural occurring chemicals found in foods, most commonly starches and sugars. Their chemical make up closely resembles that of both sugar and alcohol, but the substance does not contain either one. It is technically a group of carbohydrates called Polyols.

The production of these "Polyols" depend on what form of Sugar Alcohol you want. Some are extracted and some are refined from different assortment of plants and berries. Their common uses include that of bulking agent, flavoring and sweeteners.

Sugar Alcohols, once ingested are incompletely absorbed from the small intestine into the blood. This is why they are considered low carbohydrate and advertised to have weight loss and blood sugar benefits. This slow and incomplete digestion may also lead to diarrhea, bloating, cramps, and gas. This is often effected by the amount eaten and the severity greatly varies from person to person, and by types of Polyos used.

Sugar Alcohols have been determined to not decay teeth, they are considered unfermentable carbohydrates. Simply put, they do not produce the sugar acids that eat away your teeth.

For the most part, Sugar Alcohols seem to be "safe for consumption" due to the fact they are natural substances we eat in common fresh produce and grains. The dangerous part comes when people start to ingest abnormal amounts of them. The more low carbohydrate and sugar free products we eat, the more we add chemicals to our bodies in unnatural amounts.

I still have a whole lot more on this subject, and it would seem that Sugar Alcohols need to be broken down and identified by their subgroups and individually to determine the effects, benefits, and hazards of use. As it seems not all Sugar Alcohols are equal and some are much more hazardous then others.

I hope to have the dieting and blood sugar article done this week, but I will be out of the house and heavily medicated a few days. That may postpone the heavy writing until the week after.

References Link