The Phoenix

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Woman's Brain On Food

A recent study in the UK by Dr. Rudolf Uher of the King's College London Institute of Psychiatry found a significant difference in how men and women react to images of food. Dr. Uher and his collegues studied their subjects' brain reactions using MRI scanning, and they noted a measurable difference between men and women - especially in the occipitotemporal cortex. This region of the brain is responsible for the abstract processing of visual images.

Dr. Uher showed men and women subjects images of food and non-food pictures. They had the participants go through pictures twice - once after fasting after 24 hours and another time after eating as usual.

It didn't matter whether the subjects fasted or not - the women's brains showed a much stronger reaction to the images of food than the men. Both groups obviously had stronger reactions after fasting, but the temporal cortex of women fired up like fireworks on the 4th of July when they viewed pictures of food. Interestingly, when showed non-food images, there was no marked difference between men and women.

So what does this mean? It probably just illustrates that men and women process the idea and images of food very differently. Doctors hope this is a first step towards figuring out why women are far more succeptible to eating disorders than men.

I took the study a step further and tried to figure out what will make a man's occipitotemporal cortex explode with activity. Unfortunately, I don't have it in the budget to scan people's brains with an MRI machine, so I simply observed my subjects' behavior. In conclusion, the following images invoked a strong emotionally response from the men I studied, as compared to the women I interviewed:
Men like ones. One male subject even said..."Wow."

This one's a no-brainer. Half of the guys' jaws dropped. Interestly, my Victoria's Secret catalog disappeared after my study.

Men and toilets. It truly is a man's throne. This one has a luxurious seat, computer, telephone, and TV in the wall.

And finally...
I actually saw three men's thumbs jerk involuntarily. What is it about men and remote controls? I believe it's ingrained in our genes, but that's for another post.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Ghostbuster on a keychain?

There's a lot of neat stuff that can be used as keychains such as: a little remote for your car, tiny flashlights, and laser pointers. In Japan, they've created a new gadget you can hook your keys on...

A ghost detector.

Yup, a real ghost detector that lights up and beeps whenever the presence of a ghost is nearby AND doubles as a keychain for convenient portability. Now when you feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up, or the smell of Grandpa's musky aftershave suddenly waffs to your nose, you'll know if you are just a victim of an overactive imagination or if a spooky apparition is really visiting you.

Not only is this gizmo useful, it's also quite attractive. It comes attached to a nylon strap with some Japanese writing (which is cool) and a little ghost figure that reminds me of a miniature Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. Plus you can get the Mini-Ghostradar in a variety of colors. (Too bad it doesn't come with a proton pack).

So how does the Mini-Ghostradar work?

The VP of SolidAlliance, this little keychain's manufacturer, Yuichiro Saito says, "This detects invisible phenomena and so the system is confidential. This is not a game. This is a measuring device."

Confidential? Hmm... For $18, you might as well give it a try. But it would help to know how such a gizmo detects ghosts.

Many speculate the Mini-Ghostradar detects surrounding magnetic waves. So will this little keychain start going off when I walk by my refrigerator which is covered by little magnets holding up my son's artwork??? I'm beginning to think that maybe this gadget is about as useful as a Petrock or Chia Pet.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and this keychain really works. If so, it could change ghosthunting forever. Now anyone can get confirmation that a ghost is in fact nearby. No need for expensive electromagnetic detectors or ectoplasmic detection apparatus.

So what's next from the Mini-Ghostradar manufacturer?

Gaydar with built-in USB flashdrive.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Phoenix Takes a Detour

I have the privledge of being the guest blogger on Sar's Belle of the Brawl. Her blog is one of my favorites, as it's probably the most interactive site I've ever been to. Between her "Tell Me Tuesday" caption contests, "Word Play Wednesday" posts, and "Friday Fun" Days, you always feel like you're at a party with a bunch of your fellow bloggers.

Thursdays are reserved for guest bloggers, and I was so excited when she asked me. It was a no brainer. Thanks Sar! For my guest post, I decided to take the opportunity to write about something completely outside of my normal subject matter. I hope you find it interesting, thought-provoking, and a nice change-up from what I normally do.

So check it out, and make sure to put Sar's blog on your list of sites to visit often.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Phoenix Podcast, Episode 4: The Avalon Oracle

The Phoenix Podcast explores the world of mysticism and the paranormal in this episode (approximate running time, 27 minutes).

You're heard about psychic readings and tarrot cards...are they real or just a bunch of smoke and mirrors? Is there some truth to what's revealed, or the "psychics" simply scamming you for your money? As a healthy skeptic, I investigate the world of oracle card readings...

I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa of The Avalon Orcacle. She helps others by using oracle cards, similar to tarrot cards. You can visit her website HERE. She gives us some insight into her work, and she even gives ME a reading!

Melissa's explanations shed some light on her gift, and my reading is absolutely AMAZING. Some very freaky and supernatural stuff happens. And you'll hear it all...on The Phoenix Podcast, Episode 4: The Avalon Oracle

Here are the cards I drew. Do these cards reveal profound and personal issues in my life? Or is the reading composed of broad general statements everyone can relate to? Judge for yourself!

Music Credits
Podsafe Music Network
DJ Topshelf "The Edge of Illusion"
Briareus "Archetypcal Desert"
Subtronix "Reason Four"

Call 206-338-2991 to leave me a message and be a part of the show!
Tell me what you think of this podcast episode or anything you want.

To play using Podomatic, click the button below:

Or to use Castpost, click the play button and then hit the pause button right when it begins playing in order to allow it to fully load first. Then you can hit play to listen to the podcast.

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For an Avalon Oracle reading, or for more information, contact Melissa via her website at She offers a FREE one-time three card reading as a gift to you. For those in the St. Louis area, Melissa is available for one-on-one and group readings. For everyone else, she also does online readings. She will send you a picture of your cards and can even send you the audio of your reading.

Experience and explore the Faeries' Oracle.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Let Bahlaqeem Quiet Your Scream

Are you like the millions out there suffering from chronic pain?
Does chronic pain seem to run your life?
Have you sought out traditional medicine, only to have the pain remain?

Have we got a solution for you...


What is Balaqeem?

It's a revolutionary techniquing of curing anyone's pain - regardless of the type - all from the comfort of your own home. There is no doctor to visit and no waiting in some stupid lobby with crying children and old People magazines. You will be cured of your ailment without you even knowing it!

How does it work?

Dr. James Burda of Columbus, Ohio is a traditionally trained chiropractor. However, Dr. Burda has the amazing ability to actually travel back in time to the moment of your injury, and then command the bones and various ligaments to move and place themselves in the correct alignment. That's it!

How much does it cost?

Each treatment is $60. If you require more treatments within a 24 hour period, Dr. Burda will employ the Bahlaqeem technique without chrage. Remember - his goal is to cure you, and to get you moving again without pain.

Have others had success with the Bahlaqeem treatments?
YES! Here's some incredible testimony from very satisfied customers that can be found on Dr. Burda's website:

"Thank you! My ribs really do feel much better, although they still hurt a bit." BW

"I am a 10 year old Bassett Hound and I have been in a lot of pain in my neck area. I would even wake up during the night and yowl from the pain. My owner called Jim Burda and described the way I was moping around and walking with my head down. Over the phone he was able to work on me. He found the area in my vertebrae that was out of place and was able to manipulate it into place. I am feeling much better and I hold my head up high again. There hasn’t been a reason to yelp now for several weeks! Thank you." DaisyMae

And as we all know, Bassett Hounds never lie! Dr. Burda 100% guarantees you will be satisfied, or you will pay NOTHING.

You don't have to live in misery anymore. Call today! Call Dr. Jim Burda at 740-591-9857. Or simply go to

Remember, Bahlaqeem provides PAIN RELIEF ANYTIME ANYWHERE.

*Hurry and make your appointment right away, as the Ohio State Chiropractic Board has accused Dr. Burda of being mentally ill, specifically suffering from Delusional Disorder, Grandiose Type. The hearing is scheduled for May 1st, so ACT NOW before Dr. Burda loses his license, which is doubtful. You might be hearing of Ohio State Chiropractic Board memebers coming down with rickets and rheumatoid arthritis suddenly.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Nose Knows

We train dogs to many different things like fetching a frisbee or even assisting the blind. But canines are most well known for their uncanny sense of smell. We use dogs to sniff out drugs and bombs, find survivors in disasters, and even help catch the bad guys - which is my favorite. I love watching Cops, and the perp is running for his life. The cops release the hoss german shephard, and the crook is brought down, usually begging for them to get the dog's iron-like jaws off of his arm or calf.

Sometimes, man's best friend is capable of sniffing other less obvious cancer.

Steve Werner of St. Louis, Missouri had been going to his doctor, complaining of his ears ringing and nervous panic attacks. Mr. Werner was put through several tests, all which came back negative. A month later, Steve's then 11 year old female golden retriever, Wrigley, would lay next to Steve's ear and sniff...constantly (Steve and Wrigley are pictured right, photo credit St. Louis Post Dispatch).

If it had been me, I would've assumed maybe I needed to clean my ears more often or something. But after nearly a week straight of this strange behavior. Steve suspected otherwise. "I realized she seemed to be focusing on something. At some point, I noticed she was always sniffing at the opening of my right ear. She would set herself up and intently smell my ear," Steve told The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Steve happened to see something on TV about dogs being trained to detect tumors. Actually, I remember that show last year as well. I think it was on TLC. But Steve went straight back to the doctor, and an MRI revealed a nonmalignant tumor that size of a golfball had spread into Steve's ear canal - straight to his right ear. And of course, this was the ear Wrigley had been intent of sniffing for a week. If the tumor had not been detected in time, Mr. Werner could have had a stroke. He had the tumor removed just two months ago and is doing well.

So can dogs really smell tumors? And if so, how?

Scientists are currently training dogs to detect various types of cancer. While the work is still quite new, results are very promising. In 2003 British study, dogs were successful 41% of the time choosing the correct dish with the bladder cancerous cells. This was a far better rate of pure chance scoring at 14%. A dog's sense of smell is 2000 times stronger than a humans. And they can identify one part urine in 1,000,000 parts water. Very helpful when visiting the public pool. The belief is that cancerous cells emit certain chemicals like various alkanes that dogs are able to sniff out.

Last year, 60 Minutes did a report on this as well. Dog trainer Andy Cook worked with Bee, a cocker spaniel and a dog well known to the scientists involved in previous studies (pictured right). On camera, Bee was 60% successful in sniffing out the cancerous cells in a double blind trial.

Other studies include on in California by the Pine Street Foundation, where dogs are being trained to detect lung and breast cancer. Cocker spaniels and breast cells...sounds more like a Masters & Johnson research project. In California, dogs have been 99% accurate in finding lung cancer and 88% successful in sniffing out the breast cancer. And it's a rigorous study, which included 12,295 separate scent trials - each one documented on videotape. And at Cambridge University, researchers are working with dogs sniffing for prostate cancer. I wonder if that involved canines burrying their noses in guy's crotches. Ouch.

This discovering is amazing. Think of the life-saving potential these dogs carry. It makes me look at my own dogs, actually. Now whenever they smell my leg, I'm going to wonder if they detect cancer or something. But reading these studies has made me think more about my doggies and what wonderous abilities they have.

This is Ilsa. Ilsa is my 12 year old basset/beagle mix. She's named after Ingrid Bergman's character in Casablanca. She has the power to swallow little animals whole. I once witnessed her swallow an entire baby rabbit. I screamed for her to stop, but I was too late and I watched in horror as Thumper's little feet was sucked into my mutt's mouth. I have witnessed her also eating a mole, several baby birds, and what I think was a baby squirrel. In addition to her eating and swallowing skills, Ilsa also has the ability to squish and contort her body under tight my fence. Often times, I can be found wandering the neighborhood searching for her, screaming her name. I'm often in a frenzy, imagining her being runover by a car. When I finally manage to find her, she usually has dead animal breath. It always makes for an exciting morning bowel movement.

This is Snoopy. Snoopy is my 11 year old dashund/beagle mix. He is gay. That's what I believe anyway. This little guy has been through a lot, as he was left for dead by his original owner, and he himself had a tumor removed from his side just a couple months ago. Snoopy's uncanny prowess lies with his ability to bring out the beast from even the most docile creatures. Snoopy was torn to shreds by a neighbor's dog, when Snoopy lived with his previous owner, and he had to literally be stitched back together. Then, under my care, he was able to call wild racoons from their hiding places and attack us during an evening stroll. And one morning, he managed to summon TWO opossums and persuaded them to attack him and Ilsa. Although Snoopy has the power to beckon predators, sadly, he does not have the killer instinct himself. Often, he is either getting his ass totally whooped, or he stands idly by while Ilsa takes care of the enemies.

They can both howl very loudly when they hear a fire truck, but alas, I'm not so sure they can sniff out cancer.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Maggot Convention

Over 70 scientists from the U.S., Japan, South America, and throughout Europe are in Manchester, UK right now discussing maggots.

Yup. Maggots.

They aren't discussing a cure for cancer, the avian flu, or the origins of the universe. They're discussing little squirmy, nasty, smelly, maggots. Little larvae that become fruit flies. Those little bugs associated with decomposition and death.


Because maggots are very important to science.

Dr. Matthew Cobb of the University of Machester said: "Scientists have been studying fruit flies for 100 years and they have proven a very powerful tool in our current understanding of how genetics works. The first genes involved in biological clocks that help us know what time of day it is were discovered in fruit flies, as were the genes involved in the biological processes of learning and how organisms grow and develop from that initial single cell. The same basic genes that make a fly also make a human there are huge practical applications here for understanding how humans work."

Huh...who would've thunk it.

They will be discussing how nerves and genes interact within maggots to gain a better understanding of human behavior, activity, and several sensory feats like smell. In addition, they will share vital information concerning how a maggot's nervous system develops as it becomes a pupae. These fascinating topics will hopefully help scientists relate their findings to human studies. Makes you just want to hop on a plaine and head to this convention right now, doesn't it?

"Holding an international conference on fruit-fly maggots might seem like a strange idea but there are major scientific benefits to be had from studying these organisms," said Dr Cobb.

A little strange?

Perhaps in order to gain more mainstream interest and attendance to the Maggot Convention, Dr. Cobb and his associates should adopt education, yet more entertaining events. I'd be more likely to attend this summit if:

They allowed amateur and semi-professional filmmakers to produce great movies with a maggot theme. In the evening, the scientitsts could sit around and enjoy these wonderful and entertaining films. It'd be a great way to portray maggots in many different ways, not just as the nasty flesh eating creatures that they are.

They had merchandising. What's a convention without buying stuff? Maggot hats, maggot shirts, maggot key chains, maggot hoagies, maggot french fries, maggot stir fry, maggot earings (pictured right), maggot corn dogs, maggot ninja costumes. The possibilities are endless.

They had a skit night. Remember skits in boy/girl scout camp? You could divide the scientists into groups, have them draw out several fascinating maggot storylines, and then have them act out their skits. Nothing can be more fun and educational than an impromptu skit competition.

They had an art festival. You think among scientists there are no painters, musicians, or sculptors? The Maggot Convention would be an ideal outlet for these budding artists to show off their love of maggots AND their artistic talents. Imagine maggot paintings, rock songs, and ice sculptures.

There's so much they could do to "jazz up" their Maggot Convention. The popularity would spread like wildfire. I'm thinking in the very near future, there could very well be a Maggotcon near you!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Episode 3: The Avian Flu Special

412 downloads! Thanks so much for listening.
:P fuzzbox was also my 40,000th hit over the weekend.

The Phoenix Podcast
sheds light on the Avian Flu. What is it? What's going on? And what are scientists doing to help prevent the possible human pandemic? Good information, some entertainment, and great music...

Episode 3: The Avian Flu Special (Approx. running time, 14.25 minutes)
-Recent vaccine trials are disappointing
-German cat dies of bird flu
-Interview with Harold, the chicken
-The avian flu facts
-Horse antibodies to save the day?
-Fellow blogger Lon Cohen's thrilling novel, Erosion
-Phoenix Podcast Hotline messages from Lon and Angel Jr.

Music Credits:
Podsafe Music Network:
DJ Topshelf "The Edge of Illusion"
Briareus "Archetypcal Desert"
Monkeyshine "This Dog's Fer You"
Deidre Flint "The Avian Flu"
Subtronix "Reason Four"

C|net Music:
Naked Skin "Emptyness" and "Life After Death"

Call 206-338-2991 to leave me a message and be a part of the show!

To play using Podomatic, click the button below:

To play using Ourmedia, click HERE.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Indigo Children, Or Hyperactive Brats?

There is a New Age movement that believes children born in the last 20 years are incredibly special. In fact, many children born in the last 8 years are what they call, indigo children (or crystal children). These indigo children possess special gifts, and they represent a higher form of evolution for human beings. They are seen as a gift to The Earth, something special to help elevate our global consciousness and begin a New Time in human development.

Sounds pretty far out there, huh?

What is an indigo child? The reason why a special child is labelled indigo is because of the prevailing blue hue their auras have. This represents a highly developed "third eye." Lee Carroll and Jan Tobler are the most visible proponents of the indigo children's existence, have come up with a list to identifiy such special children. Some of their characteristcs include:

- They come into the world feeling like royalty, and often act like it
- They have difficulty with absolute authority
- They won't do mudane things like wait in line
- They are often seen as anti-social unless they are surrounded by other indigo children
- They get frustrated with tasks that require no creativity
- They are not shy in letting you know what they need

I'm going to inject just a little bit of grounded reality for a second. The above descriptions sound like they're describing a creative, outgoing, and independent kid. And if you generalize, those attributes can be related to almost every child.

Indigo children experts say that many of these exceptional kids are misdiagnosed as having Attention-Deficit Disorder or even Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. They also want parents to stop medicating their kids, despite what their medical doctors are telling them. With this, I tend to agree. Having been a teacher, I do believe we medicate too quickly.

So, what are some of these extraordinary abilities indigo children have?

They are highly intuitive. Indigo children apparently have the ability to almost read your mind, and they are very sensitive and empathic of others. They are wise beyond their years, often speaking like adults and finding new and creative ways of doing things. Many indigo children have the ability to heal others. Parents say their indigo child is a natural master, often mastering tasks with incredible ease. Indigo children have also been known to talk about past lives, angels, talking to spirits, and even predicting the future. I feel like hugging a crystal now.

Because indigo children are so gifted, they often have a difficult time in an average school setting. They don't see the point in doing a lot of the school work, they don't take direction too well and often rebel against authority. They are bored at school and have problems interacting with "average" kids. Indigo children are frustrated in the traditional classroom setting, and parents believe that's why doctors label their kids as having ADD, ADHD, or even behavior disorders.

Parents often homeschool their indigo children, and there is a growing number of "alternative" schools out there. The traditional education system has discounted the metaphysical aspect of the indigo phenomena, and instead attribute it more to social trends (i.e. student-centered learning) and having to simply deal with exceptional children that do need to be challenged.

As far as parents who claim their kids are indigo children, I see two main psychological reasons why they might be doing this and getting involved in the indigo movement:

First of all, there is a growing number of people that are breaking away from traditional religious institutions, but keep their spirituality intact. Indigo children come from these "New Age" parents, and Mom and Dad probably encourage indigo-like behavior. For example, a child may have an imaginary friend, but the parents will attribute that to the kid talking to an angel and talk about it with their child as such.

Secondly, what parent wouldn't want their child to be labeled as special - or part of a new evolution of humankind? You've come across doting parents, I'm sure. Their child can do no wrong and everything their little tyke can do it "special."

And if their child is having problems at school, it's preferential to say your child is an indigo, part of a higher consciousness of existance, then to say your kid cannot pay attention in class. Who likes to admit their kid might have ADD or ADHD? It's easier for a parent to say their child is exceptional and gifted instead of admitting their child has a behavior disorder or attention issues.

At this stage, there still has been absolutely no scientific and verifiable piece of evidence to support the indigo children's claims. Educators must provide outlets for exceptional kids - indigo or not. But at the same time, parents must not be so quick to label their own children as mystical and powerful beings either, as much as they'd like to. They must at times concede that their kid, at the very least, is a spoiled brat.

So the next time you're out at the mall or grocery store, and you see some three year old throwing a tantrum on the floor, just keep in mind that they are probably an indigo child...and that even higher beings can throw hissy fits.

Established 2005...

Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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