HashOut: 2008.01
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Know your health, online

The invitation on a website reads: "Use nutrition tools to assess your health risks." Enter your height, weight, waist and hip measurements. And it will tell whether you are overweight or not!

The website, nutritionvista.com, recommends visitors to contact its online dieticians to analyse steps to improve their health parameters.

"You are what you eat," says US-based gatroenterologist and nutritionist Dr Sunil S. Jhangiani, who is the founder of the website. According to him, "a high level of functioning is possible only with better health".

For employers, the website offers online health screenings and suggests proactive measures for 'at risk' employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Linked with Telerad RxDx, a multi-specialty clinic in Bangalore, the website targets corporate clients, and people leading sedentary lifestyle. It offers assessment tools, one-to-one consultation with qualified physicians, web-based 24/7 support, regular follow-up visits and latest information on health and nutrition from around the globe. All for free. Another feature is the list of healthy preparations. A customer is free to send in his recipe. "If required, we will also advice on how to improve the nutritional value of the recipe," says dietician Kanchan Saggi.

The website has the daily exercise planner, community blogs, did-you-knows and food intake analyses. A friendly layout and pleasing colours are added features. Nutritionvista comes with a disclaimer that it "does not intend to create any physician-patient relationship or supplant any in-person medical consultant or examination".
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Duchess of dregs

Next time you drink coffee, don't drain it to the dregs. Leave some behind for Nawal Gani of Bangalore (India) to tell you something about what lies ahead.

44-year-old Gani reads the future from the left overs in a coffee cup, and claims she gets it at least 60 per cent right. "I don't predict. I guide people to know themselves better," she says. The patterns formed on the interior of the cup are mainly Arabic writings or forms of animals, which could be deciphered to suggest future happenings.

"The key is the yawn. If I burp then there is negative energy within the client. I cleanse it by asking my clients to drink water and by chanting prayers," the former policewoman says.

Gani has read the coffee cups of Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Bollywood actors and actresses. But she will not reveal what she saw in them. For, official secrets are meant to be kept! Her common clients approach her with queries on financial and health-related matters -- they say she is 80 per cent right.

She charges 1,000 rupees (22 dollars) for a reading. And for those who want their cup read over the telephone, the amount is doubled as the procedure is more difficult.

"I ask for his or her name and their mother's name. Then I drink the cup keeping their names in my mind and on their behalf.

It comes out pretty accurately," she says.

Coffee cup reading has its origins in China where ancient monks predicted the future by reading patterns left by tea leaves in bell-shaped cups, a process known as tasseography.

Later, Arabs took up the practice but used coffee as a medium.

So, there is more to upmarket coffee than meets the eye -- there's some-thing for the inner eye too.

According to an unofficial source Nawal Gani stays in a house called Egyptian Block on Haines Road, Bangalore. The phone number is 55300310.
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Big events & your memory

When you experience an emotionally-charged event, it's something that is etched into your memory, and now scientists think they know why. In experiments with mice, researchers found that powerful surges of hormone norepinephrine -- surges that occur during emotional episodes -- cause a series of events that strengthen the connections between neurons, sealing these events into memory. "The question is why is it that you can remember some trivial events that occur at a time when there is high emotional arousal," said lead researcher Dr. Roberto Malinow of the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, New York. "For example, everyone remembers where they were when they heard about September 11, even though they may have been in some trivial place."

The researchers found that norepinephrine can modify brain cell-receptors, making them easier to go into synapses -- the tiny spaces between brain cells -- making it easier to learn and form memories, Malinow said. In studies with mice, Malinow's group found that norepinephrine, coupled with emotional stress, plays an important role in lowering the threshold for certain brain cell-receptors called GluR1. This, in turn, causes a boost in memory.

When the researchers put lab mice through behavioural tests, they found that exposure to norepinephrine made normal mice remember events more clearly. But, mice with mutations of the GluR1 receptors that were exposed to norepinephrine did not show improved memory. Norepinephrine is known to play a part in the emotional control of memory. During emotional stress, norepinephrine is released by neurons (brain cells) in many areas of the brain involved with forming emotional memories. Malinow thinks this finding could lead to new treatments for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. One expert sees this study as an extension of similar work, which showed that norepinephrine is involved in the memory of fearful events that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Babies can tell friend from foe

Infants who have not yet learned language can still tell friend from foe. Babies aged around six months prefer people who co-operate, rather than people who hurt. This ability could be the foundation for moral thought and action later in life, say researchers.

Previous studies had showed that babies prefer physically attractive people, but there has been no data on whether babies judge people based on how they behave. Simple experiments were conducted to gauge whether six and 10-month-old infants preferred social individuals (helpers) or anti-social individuals (hinderers). The infant was made to watch a 'climber' (a wood puppet with large eyes glued on to it) repeatedly try to climb a hill. On the third try, the climber was either given help or was pushed back down by a puppet. The babies were then given the chance to reach out and grasp either the helper or hinderer puppet. Very high rates of babies chose the helping character. The authors argue it is something innate, rather than babies learning the behaviour.
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Testing times

Can extra-curricular test mean chastity test, too? The West Java province's plan to carry out virginity tests on female high school students was dropped after a public outcry. The test was planned after a video of two high school students having sex was circulated via mobile phones. » Continue reading

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Sacred fig weds Neem!

People of a village near Sirumuga in Coimbatore district (India) performed an unsual wedding -- they got a 'neem' tree married to a 'pipal' (Sacred fig) tree. The knot was tied in south Indian style in the presence of a priest and amid chanting of hymns and nadaswaram recital in early August, 2007. The ceremony was to protect forests and maintain world peace. » Continue reading

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Tub boats

La Regate des Baignoires or the International Regatta of Bathtubs, Dinant, BelgiumWhat would you pack when going on a vacation to Dinant, an hour away from Brussels? Take a bathtub, by all means. This city on the River Meuse hosts La Regate des Baignoires or the International Regatta of Bathtubs!

The event is open to 'river-worthy' bathtubs of all classes and nationalities. More of a joke than a contest, it allows vessels of any design, but at least one bathtub must be part of the structure. Motors are strictly forbidden, so is the deliberate sinking of a fellow competitor.
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Glass mates

W ILL YOU MARRY ME? LOVE, JOSEPHHeard of proposals during safaris, on airplanes and during candle-lit dinners. Rebecca Savoy was surprised when a huge W popped up on the screen during her vision-test. Then came ILL and the rest followed (in pic). Her boyfriend Joseph Wachtel had roped in the optometrist to help him pop the question. » Continue reading

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Bid Daddy

Daad Mohammed Murad Abdul Rahman, 60, has already married 15 times and has two more brides lined up. He divorced 12 of them to stay within the legal norm of four wives.

The father of 78 is in a bid to reach his target of 100 children by 2015. His eldest child is 36 years old and the youngest, 20 days. The 'extended family' stays in about 15 houses in Ajman (United Arab Emirates).
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Serving her majesty

A 552-year tradition was broken in September last year when Moira Cameron, 42, became the first female Beefeater, taking up her post as a guardian of the Tower of London.

She beat five men to secure the coveted position and has undergone two months of intensive training to learn the 21 separate duties that the Beefeaters perform each day, including guarding the crown jewels, participating in the Ceremony of the Keys and taking visitors on guided tours.

Beefeaters are blieved to have earned their nickname from their daily ration of meat, dating from 1485. Over two million people visit the Tower each year.
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Astronomical off-season rates

Private snow room in Moscow, RussiaRussia may be known for its bitter, long winters but what many people don't know is that its summer can be scorching. That's something wealthy Muscovites don't want to deal with. To cater to their whims is the availability of summer snow, the latest luxury fad. The really lucky ones, however, are the snow-making machine producers who are making hay, sorry snow, while the sun shines. So far, at least half a dozen people have spent over US$250,000 on the latest must-have: a private snow room. » Continue reading

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Clear cutter, before it kills you

Clear cutter, before it kills youIt's called the disease of affluenza. Too much stuff owing to too much affluence. The result is a quagmire of clutter. Living in clutter is more than just a matter of aesthetics. It can be hazardous to your health. According to lifestyle gurus, clutter and disorganisation create a negative home environment that gets the blood pulsing through the body, sending people into a stressful state that sets the tone of the entire day. So clean up your home, and chances are you'll improve your health. Some useful hints:

Bedroom: The bedroom should be a place to relax and shake off the anxieties of the day. If you're surrounded by clutter, it follows that negative energy is going to interfere with relaxation and sleep. A good night's sleep is the basis of good health. Even common items like exercise equipment, paper-work and work-related items can attract the wrong kind of energy and sabotage rest. Everything in the bedroom should be geared to support sleep, and give your mind a chance to unwind.

Closets: People think no one will ever see their closets. So they often leave it overstuffed. An overloaded closet makes a thorough cleaning impossible. Dust can infiltrate the fibres of your clothing, and bring on sneezing fits. A good cleaning reduces environmental exposure to these allergic-triggers.

Family room: 'Packratitis' is a top cause of chronic sinus conditions. When tabletops and floors are covered with toys, magazines and DVDs and other clutter, chances of making a clean sweep are miniscule. People tend to adapt to their environment, and don't recognise their own bad habits. So, retain your eyes to see the dirt. It could change your life completely.

Bathroom: A cabinet full of expired necessities is the hallmark of a dysfunctional bathroom. Old medications and cosmetics can lose their potency or, worse, make you ill. Trash them.

Home office: Inefficient configurations of computers, components and office files won't just hamper productivity. A makeshift chair or a desks that's not properly positioned for a keyboard and mouse (perhaps because of those piles of paper) could wind up being a pain in the neck, and the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome, eyestrain, and headaches are common complaints that manifest when good organisation goes awry.

Kitchen: A disorganised kitchen can lead to poor nutrition, even weight problems. A kitchen in disarray is one you're less likely to spend time in.

That means lots of snack foods and canned foods and lots of eating out that can lead to weight and related health problems.

Organising gurus say they have seen dramatic transformations in their clients' health and well-being once the clutters are removed.
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Pep up your office without burning a hole in your pocket

It's a brand new year. So why not pep up the office (or the home office) for a brand new start. May be you could get some new office furniture, office supplies, a brand new Apple Macintosh or a nice comfortable ergonomic office chair for yourself! Ah, I know what you are thinking about. Don't you worry. You don't need to burn a hole in your pocket.

Just visit OfficeDeals.info to grab thousands of discount coupons, coupon codes and promotional offers from OfficeDepot.com, Staples.com, Office Max, Vistaprint, Apple Store, HP Store, Dell Computer, Best Buy, Stamps.com and hundreds of other stores selling office supplies, discount office furniture and computers.

OfficeDeals.info scours the Internet for new discount coupons, coupon codes and promotional offers and the website is updated on a daily basis.

I would only wish they added an RSS feed, so that I could get the latest discount coupons, coupon codes and promotional offers right in my feed reader, the moment they are published.

OfficeDeals.info might also be useful if your are looking for some useful tips on getting a small business credit card, setting up a home business, benefits of a home business and tips on working from home.
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Well-watered

Those who drink like a fish might be stopped from sailing. Madrid is considering breathalyser tests for inebriated yacht owners. The police found revellers sailing home to avoid being arrested for drunken driving. Spain's drunken driving rate is almost double that of Netherlands and Britain.

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The A'cat'emy

Meow Mix Acatemy - Cat School, New YorkMeow Mix, a cat-food manufacturer, is starting the world's first feline-centred school (above) dedicated to teaching pet parents how to think like a cat. Based in New York, the school will feature a wide range of guest speakers and interactive courses that promise to cover everything from reading a cat's mind to studying the fine art of catnap. There is even a cat-cuisine segment!

Among the visiting faculty are "experts on walking the catwalk; authorities on singing like a cat" and other catty personalities. The fees? Mum... I mean, meow is the word. » Continue reading

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Women on stage? Nothing big

1,200 Mohiniyattam dancers on stageBut Guinness book of records says it's a feat, especially when 1,200 of them are on stage together. The performance was at Kochi (Cochin) on November 28, 2006 at Art of Living Foundation's silver jubilee celebrations. The women, all Mohiniyattam dancers, enchanted not just the over 1,00,000 crowd with the Dance of the Enchantress that Kerala's own art-form is, but the Guinness team, too. » Continue reading

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Poetic pill

Prisoners in Kerala can cheer. They will soon get a 'release' -- into the world of poems, music and literature. Bringing it all to them will be poets, playwrights, novelists and musicians, who will present reading sessions and live concerts in prisons across the state. The first of these 'reform pills' will be 'administered' in the next few months. Poetic justice, indeed! » Continue reading

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Stealthy death

Russian roulette is passé; it is the Rangoon version that is becoming shocking. Thieves here are taking advantage of power-cuts, often lasting more than 20 hours a day, to steal the copper power cables. Sometimes they get unlucky as it is impossible to know exactly when the power is going to be restored. And the end is, predictably, macabre. » Continue reading

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