Sunday, November 28, 2010

Health schedule for men

B efore I start my sporadic series of posts about fighting prostate cancer, I'll generalise and give you my ideal plan for regular health checkups for men (I don't have one for the ladies, sorry). Cut out this list and save it. Think of my list as your Xmas present to yourselves, male readers.

  • Ages 25 through 35 : Ultrasound check of bladder and kidneys. Urine analysis for infections and sugar (diabetes). Blood analysis for blood fat levels, cholesterin and testosteron levels. Costs (in Germany) about 50 Euros.
  • Age 35 onwards : Skin cancer check every 2 years; annually in sunnier climes.
  • Age 40 onwards : Annual blood check for PSA level to catch prostate cancer early. Costs about 20 €. Blood check for Lipoprotein and/or Homocystein every 2 years as an early indicator of heart attacks. Costs about 20 € too. ECG every 2 years to check for a weak heart; costs about 50 €.
  • Age 45 onwards : Annual tactile check of the genitals, tactile check of the associated lymph organs, DRE (digital rectal examination) for prostate enlargement. The latter is IMHO unpleasant but necessary.
  • Age 50 onwards : Check for colonic cancer every 2 years, tactile check of the end section of the colon, card-check for hidden blood in faeces.
  • Age 55 onwards : Endoscopic inspection of the colon for cancer, repeat every 10 years even if there were no symptoms. Quite expensive :-(
  • Age 65 onwards : Neurological check for Parkinson & Alzheimer. Every 10 years.

Comments (1) :
Jenny (Ibiza) quips straight up "You forgot one: Age 14 onwards, nocturnal checks against the onset of ED=erectile dysfunction ;-("

Stu Savory on November 28, 2010 permalink Comments Email

Thursday, November 25, 2010

D minus 155 and counting . . .

L ittle Willy Wales(28) and Kate Middleclasston (still aged 28) have chosen the 29th of April 2011 as their wedding day, we are informed by the obsequiously drooling Brit press.

Is it a good choice or a bad one? The astrologers-royal disagree, as is to be expected of camillatans charlatans. On the plus side, 29/4 is the Feast of St.Catherine** in the religious C of E calendar, probably the reason for their Kate's choice (see footnote). Also positive : it was the day in 1958 that 'My Fair Lady' premiered in London (so I was 13 when I Shaw saw it ;-) AND they will beat Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock to the post, who have chosen the 2nd of July.

On the downside, 29/4 in 1980 was the day Alfred Hitchcock died, 29/4/1972 sore saw the first demo by gays in Germany, and, more to the point, 29/4/1945 was the day Eva Braun got married to Adolf Hitler :-(

Ah well, you can't have all the luck ;-)

** : On St. Catherine's Day, it is customary for unmarried women to pray for husbands, and to honor women who've reached 25 years of age but haven't married -- called "Catherinettes" in France. The French say that before a girl reaches 25, she prays: "Donnez-moi, Seigneur, un mari de bon lieu! Qu'il soit doux, opulent, libéral et agréable!" (Lord, give me a well-situated husband. Let him be gentle, rich, generous, and pleasant!) After reaching the age of 25, she prays: "Seigneur, un qui soit supportable, ou qui, parmi le monde, au moins puisse passer!" (Lord, one who's bearable, or who can at least pass as bearable in the world!") But when - as Kate will be on 29/4/2011 - she's pushing 30, she prays :- "Un tel qu'il te plaira Seigneur, je m'en contente!" ("Send whatever you want, Lord; I'll take it!") ;-)

Stu Savory on November 25, 2010 permalink Comments Email

Monday, November 22, 2010

Look! Skywalker!

T he Kälbersee in the Montafon valley in Austria has a narrow wire footbridge that takes some courage to cross, many people chicken out, but it is perfectly safe. It consists of four wires, the two at the top are independent safety wires. You don a safety harness and attach it via a safety line to a set of rollers on the top wire using a carabiner with the openable side facing forward. The second safety line is attached to a draggable ring around the second safety wire. Its carabiner should (obviously?) face the other way (i.e. backwards).

The lower two bridge wires across the valley act as handrails. From these are suspended independent V-shaped wires holding free-swinging 'steps' each 1 meter apart. The 'steps' are wooden blocks cut from tree trunks, with holes drilled through for the step-wires. This Jacob's Ladder bridge is about 6500 feet up in the Alps.

Just hold onto the handwires, step carefully across from block to block as they swing freely in the mountain winds, and - above all (sic!) - don't look down! ;-)

I recommend you take a spare set of clean underwear with you to celebrate a successful crossing ;-)

And if that doesn't scare you, I can recommend the three wire bridge at Steall across the river in Glen Nevis in Scotland. Two wires are handrails, a bottom wire for you to balance on, don't look down at the raging river below you in the Glen, and NO namby pamby safety harness or overhead safety wires! Been there, done that ;-)

PS: I'm told by my Skye friend Morag that one of the 3 cables snapped on May 26th this year, so the bridge at Steall was closed for repair and you had to ford the river further downstream :-(

PPS : HaggisChorizo confirms that it is now repaired and is back in action :-)

Stu Savory on November 22, 2010 permalink Comments Email

Friday, November 19, 2010

Intertubes 1865 : a steampunk memory :-)

145 years ago yesterday saw the start of the first line of the Berliner Pneumatischen Depeschenbeförderung company. This was a pneumatic mail delivery line, wherein small screwtop cylinders were pushed along pipes using compressed air. A predecessor of modern eMail? Not quite. Regular email uses pull-technology. The endstation client asks the mailserver 'Got anything for me?', the mailserver delivers a maillist, and the client pulls down what it wants, usually deleting anything the server has marked as spam. Note that this implies that the server reads all your mail, ostensibly to check if it can classify it as 'spam'; email is as open as a postcard; encrypting your mails effectively puts them in envelopes, keeping the content safe from prying eyes [except that NSA stands for Not Safe Anyway :-(]

No, the old pneumatic mail was more like the Blackberry system, using push-technology (sic!) to move the mail to the end-client. A bell rang when a cylinder arrived and the user had to remove the cylinder before he could receive another delivery; literally a first-come first-served algorithm.

There were pneumatic switches at each of the stations, the cylinders bearing a destination address. The line was point to point; extension to a ring made sure the user did not have to choose the direction correctly and that he only needed one station. The line connected large businesses and government offices. Obviously a GCHQ/NSA equivalent in the ring could open any cylinder and read the contents, so encryption was needed even back then, probably the Playfair algorithm (in GB) or double columnar transposition (in Germany) ;-)

As an advantage over modern emails, small physical objects (e.g. cash change, receipts, but as rumour has it, one one occasion a baby mouse) could be transported. I don't know whether they ever extended their network topology to become a star network, presumably with pretty girls interchanging cylinders between subnets in the central office? The line length was limited by pressure loss considerations so only a limited number of stations were allowed per subnet (for comparison but for other reasons, Ethernet segments allow only 255 adresses, afaik).

It would be interesting if someone could come up with a steampunk story about implementing internet algorithms for such a pneumatic intertube service. A content provider would need a printing press because he would need to send a physical copy of each webpage upon request. Hmm, this idea needs exploring further; a germ of an idea for a steam pneumatic-punk SF novelette ;-) Bruce Bethke, are you listening ? ;-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Getting it wrong ?

Sometimes you see inadvertantly amusing things in the papers, or even online. Adjacent to a picture similar to the one shown on the left there was an advert which read (my translation from the German) : "Push up Bras, 50% off". Damn near spilled my breakfast coffee ;-)

Then there was the photo of a Brit wearing a patriotic mankini, you may remember the mankini from the Borat film by jewish comedian Sascha Cohen, think of it as a small jockstrap with braces ;-) Apparently these have been adopted by the UK chattering class yobos on vacation on Mallorca. The mankini alone is apparently not enough to attract attention to their tiny genitals, so they add a patriotic national flag for more attention. Not a bad idea, you might think, except that they've got the Union Jack flag upside down ! :-(

Then, in the FAZ newspaper yesterday, there was a photo of a currency note printed by Benjamin Franklin of US fame. But the currency is in pounds, not dollars! Wrong, I thought! But it turns out that I was mistaken. Franklin printed this note at a time (when Britain was limiting the amount of silver money in the colonies) before the US existed, let alone had any dollars. My bad :-(

Maybe the Fed is following his unauthorised and inflationary example? Their bad :-(

Monday, November 15, 2010

Be valiant, Testes!

W hat do you think Sebastian Vettel was thinking when he sat on the Formula 1 starting grid prior to yesterday's Formula One race? He knew that he needed to win and that Alonso be at best fifth, if he (Vettel) was to become F1 World Champion 2010.

He looks very cool and concentrated in this pre-race photo, but he knew he needed to have 'brave balls' to win the race (to use an Austrian idiom). So I'm pretty sure his exact thought was 'Be valiant, testes', if only because that is an anagram I just made up for 'Sebastian Vettel' ;-)

Congratulations lad, youngest(23) F1 champion ever!

Comments (2) :
Janet (UK) wrote "I just love anagrams :-) Did you know that here in the UK F1 driver 'Lewis Hamilton' has the 'Hilliest Woman' ;-) ?" Vivian Burkhardt? Quite a looker; I understand she was voted Miss Granada recently :-)
Fellow pilot Brian (also UK), points out that "Last year's F1 champion, Jenson Button, went for a ride in a Red Arrows' Hawk at lunchtime and lost his lunch in an outside loop - 'Noon jets bunt' ;-) " Nicely constructed explanation, Brian!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I t's becoming a permanent acronym here in our village :-(
YADDA stands for Yet Another Damn Downpour Already, or maybe :
Yesterday Another Damn Drain-blockage Again ? :-(

We live on a hillside at the edge of our village (pop 600). A couple of years ago there was a tremendous thunderstorm over the hill to the south of the village. The runoff flooded all the houses' cellars in our road and the neighbouring 4 roads as well :-(
After a massive civil protest by the villagers, the council built a 3 ft floodwall just behind our gardens (and connected it via a 30cm diameter pipe to the drainage system) and also upgraded the drainpipes under the roads to 1 meter diameter.
With mixed results as you can see here :-(

The floodwall behind the houses of our road contained yesterday's 24 hour massive downpour and lead it to the overflow drain (upgraded to 30cm from 10 cm); said drain could barely cope, a mini-lake 25 cm deep backed up behind the floodwall. The hill road fared less well as you can see from our photos; even the 1 meter diameter drain overflowed and the hill road turned into a muddy river about 10 cms deep. This implies that the hillroad drain should have been a 130 cm pipe to cope, a calculation I had provided to the town council 3 years ago, but they wanted save money, so we're back to having a flooded road again; Yadda! Yadda! :-(

The council had also neglected to ensure that the hillside drains were clear of autumn leaves etc. Thankfully, our own cellar remained dry thanks to the floodwall, but the old folks in the corner house got flooded again. Why did the council not do as we asked? Losers! :-(

Friday, November 12, 2010

Two million visits :-)

Now that's what I call timing! Just returned from cancer rehab therapy after my september operation to find that this site received its two millionth unique visit today ;-) Also, the number of page hits exceeded three million recently too :-) The lucky two millionth visitor hails from Pune, India and uses a URL. Thanks for your visit sir/madam, and thanks to all the other 1,999,999 too :-)

Thanks to my faithful readers for staying with me during the hiatus!

Now that I'm alive, back home and online again, I shall be boring you with my (necessarily) subjective account of what to expect if you or your male spouse is also diagnosed with prostate cancer. The good news is that I'm now rid of it myself and on the road to recovery from the side effects :-)

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Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatently opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, blogger and webmaster living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

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Recent Writings
Men's health plan
D-155 and counting
Look! Skywalker!
Intertubes 1865 ;-)
Getting it wrong?
Be valiant, Testes!
Yadda, Yadda :-(
Two million visits :-)
Infrastructure Day
RIP : Inge Rogge
Nothing said ;-)
Oktoberfest reminder
1984 reloaded :-(
Tony B.Liar's Journey
Not her moniker ;-)
Headwinds prevail :-(
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Bombs Away!
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Oh Crap! :-(
Teaching Geocaching
Classic cars
Shepherds' Warning
FTL walking
Denny Chin, GO!!!
Yesterday :-(
Magic old maths :-)
Half Weigh there ;-)
Figures of speech ;-)
Zuse Z23 and a Cray-2
Multiply on your fingers
Where are the bees?
A cause for cerebration
Procrastination :-(
The wrong choice :-(

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