Sunday, January 27, 2008

I FUGUed...And Survived

After many years of restless anticipation, last week I was finally able to sit down to a meal that could potentially kill me. That's right I ate raw (as in uncooked), possibly poisonous (as in it-kill-you-you-dead), blowfish (as in Hootie and the ___). Why, you ask, would I take my life into my hands for something so trivial as a meal of raw fish? Well I suppose the answer could be summed up by the ancient Japanese saying:
 Those who eat fugu soup are stupid.
But those who don't eat fugu soup are also stupid.

That was real deep, I know, but I swear to you I am not making that up...that's really their
traditional saying on this issue so I'm just gonna go with that. I mean let's face it a culture that's like over 1000 years old must know what their talking about, right...right?

Well according to Wikipedia, fugu contains lethal amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin in the internal organs, especially the liver and ovaries, and also the skin. Therefore, only specially licensed chefs are allowed to prepare and sell fugu to the public, and the consumption of the liver and ovaries is forbidden. However, a number of people die every year from consuming improperly prepared fugu.

This tetrodotoxin stuff makes cyanide look like a Jolly Rancher since it's a whopping 1250 times more potent (more potent than cyanide not the Jolly Rancher...smartass), shoot, one website even claimed that simply touching the fish wrong could kill you. The poison, a sodium channel blocker, paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious, first they experience a numbing of the lips and tongue, then a growing paralysis of the body, headaches, gastric pain, vomiting and convulsions. It's not all bad though, app arently you do get the consolation prize of a "light and floaty " feeling. Then boys and girls, after 4-6 fun filled hours of this, death occurs from asphyxiation.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that there's no known antidote? Hmm...had I known all this before partaking of this murderous meal I may have had some second thoughts. But since ignorance is bliss I happily dug in and ate my fill only to be slightly surprised at the taste...or lack thereof. I mean certainly a food with such an evil reputation would have an equally wicked flavor to go with it...right?

But alas, this was not to be, as the much hyped fugu, in this ignorant gaigin's (Japanese for "foreigner") mind tasted like a chewy piece of...something chewy. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad at all, in fact the sauce which we were dipping it in was great and I was beyond thrilled at finally having the opportunity to partake, but when taken on its own the mighty blowfish deflated on the taste buds.

So then why the attraction? I mean, who is the salesman behind a dining experience which is somewhat bland, expensive, (this stuff goes for $200 a plate in Japan) and potentially fatal? Whoever it is should be selling refrigerators to Eskimos instead of trying to titillate thrill seeking diners in the extreme sports of cuisine. Although, true connoisseurs would be mighty miffed at my take on it being slightly bland I just didn't see it.

Or maybe its something altogether different than the flavor that drives people, myself included, to the fugu's table, possibly the attraction lies in the allure of the poison itself. The possibility, be it ever so minute, that this could be my last meal. The idea of dancing with the devil by the pale moonlight, that sense of staring death dead in the eye...and chewing.

Or perhaps, to quote an ancient Japanese saying, we're all just stupid.

Hozumi and I about to engage in the Russian Roulette of dining.

Homer Simpson Quote of the Day:

(Homer looks over the menu.)
Homer: There’s got to be something I haven’t tried. Huh? Hey, hey, what’s this? Fugu!
Akira: (Gasps.) It is a blowfish, sir. But I should warn you that one—
Homer: Come on, pal. Fugu me!

(Homer, at the hospital after eating some poisoned blowfish.)

Homer: (Imitating Lisa) Try something new, Homer! What'll it hurt you, Homer? (Regular voice) I never heard of a poison pork chop!

OK OK...there's just wayy too many good quotes here...You just GOTTA watch this, at least the first 4 and a half minutes worth, they are truly hilarious, then it just gets kinda stupid...unless you like Todd Sweeney, whoever that is.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What You Think You Saw You Did Not See

I dunno if some of you have seen this thing floating around cyberspace but it's pretty trippy.

If your brain works normally , which automatically rules a few of you out, this is really pretty neat.

This is an example of an optical illusion.

If your eyes follow the movement of the rotating dot, the dots will remain all one color, pink.
(Ok, for some reason this is not working in the blog so you need to right click the picture then open in new window, then follow these directions.)

However, if you stare at the black "+" in the center, the moving dot turns green.

Now, concentrate only on the black "+" in the center of the
picture. After a short period, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will see only a single green dot rotating.

It's amazing how our brain works...or doesn' the case may be... There really is no green dot, and the pink ones really don't disappear. This should be proof enough that we don't always see what we think we see.

Brain Joke of the Day:

Female Brain
Woman's Brain

A man went to the doctor's because he suffered from terrible headaches.
The doctor gave him a full exam and shook his head.
"I'm sorry," the doctor said, " You have an inoperable brain tumour and will need to have a brain transplant immediately. I can operate on you today but you'll need to pick out a brain."
The man followed the doctor into another room to pick out his brain.
"Okay," the doctor said, "the men's brains are over here and cost $100,000. Or you could get a woman's brain, over there, those cost $30,000. Pick which ever one you want."
The man could not help but ask, "Why such a difference in price between the male and the female brain?" "Well," the doctor replied, "you have to take into account that the female brain is used."

Male Brain
Man's Brain

oh yeah...100 points for anyone who can tell me where I got the inspiration for my title.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gettin all Intellectual on ya

I know, it's been two weeks since my last post and I feel really bad about it...really. But in my defense, not only has it been the holidays but, I have also been finishing up the last two classes for my Masters degree in Education from Framingham State College. Ohhh...Ahhh...impressed? Good, you should be, cuz these classes have been kicking my butt for the past two weeks nonstop. My cohort and I had Advanced Teaching Strategies and Research and Evaluation back to back, now talk about writing papers, holy hand cramps Batman, I think my right paw is going to be in traction for the next month. I have never written so many research papers and responses and reflections in both of my lifes combined.

Actually this has made me think of something, how about, just for kicks, I share with you a sample of some of the questions I had to answer before the Research and Evaluation course, just so you can see why I have wanted to give my writing brain a break for a few days.

So here we go, put your thinkin caps on cuz I'm about to pop open a can of intellectual whoop ass. But be forewarned, this is not going to be funny and some of you may think this is some of the most boring load of tripe you've ever read in a blog but others may find those thinking juices flowing and want write a response of your own to which I say "Bring it!".

Question #1:
Can you think of some other ways of knowing besides experience and reasoning? What are they? What, if any, are the limitations of these methods?

My Answer:
  1. I would argue that our emotions to some limited extent help us in our “knowing”. Though emotions can be and really are quite fickle I believe they can nevertheless help us in validating our knowledge of something. For example if we do something which has been agreed upon by humanity in general as wrong, like stealing something which doesn’t belong to us, then we feel guilt over that act then that helps us to verify that this is in fact something that is not right. Even without being conditioned to have ideas of right and wrong we as humans in our innermost beings typically know these things (as in the knowledge of good and evil, to use biblical terminology) and our emotions are the projection of this knowledge.
Question #2:
"While certainty is appealing, it is contradictory to a fundamental premise of science." What does this mean? Discuss.

My Answer:
  1. Well when I think back through the annals of science history we see that many times man has been “certain” of something only to find as the years pass and we advance in our knowledge that what had been deemed “fact” was in actuality complete fiction. Take the belief, or at the time the certainty, that the world was flat for an easy example. All the leading scientists of the time thought for certain that the world was indeed flat and that the sun revolved around the Earth. It certainly made plenty of sense based upon the world as man had always seen it, but of course, we found out later that it this was entirely wrong and we laugh at the utter ignorance of the so called scientists of the time. Only to miss the more important point that for all of our “advancements” in say 500 years what will cause men to look back at us and scoff at the ineptitude of our so called “scientists”?
Question #3:
Is there such a thing as private knowledge? If so, can you give an example?

My Answer:
  1. I believe there is such a thing as private knowledge, as in the knowledge we have about ourselves that no one else can obtain. This is simply because no matter how close someone has been with us they have never been there for every event of our life, and even if they were there they may have interpreted the event different than we did. I think it’s the kind of knowledge which we allude to when we say things like “be honest with yourself” or when we refer to looking into one’s innermost being. It’s the kind of knowledge that I and only I have about myself and how I view the world around me. But it also seems to be a knowledge that is not very often recognized or especially thought out, we just know. feel any smarter? I know I sure do...

Thinking Quote of the Day:

"I'll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it."
-Terry Pratchett

WHOA, OK, so hold up...before anyone tries to accuse me of suddenly taking this blog all high brow here's this:

"Philosophical cat admits he was only trying to think outside of the box"

Hmm...maybe thinking INSIDE the box is not always such a BAD thing...