UNHEALTHY

I was in North America for a few hours recently and I grabbed a quick bite in a food court – avoiding the fast food chains (which is really hard) and getting a scratch made sandwich. I walked down the drink aisle and found it depressing. Pop, a few vitamin waters, high sugar energy drinks – a wasteland of unhealthy drinks and obesity in a bottle.

Just so different to Japan where it is pretty clear that the vending machines are one of those secrets to long life and a low BMI.

Compare.

A North American drink shelf.

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Now Japan. In the country with a vending machine for every 13 people, the diversity is amazing. Coffees, green teas, hot – cold, jasmine tea, sparking water (in many flavors), flavored waters sweetened and unsweetened, this grape drink with aloe cubes and everything in between.

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Sure, you can buy a pop (I still love a cold Coke) or a different fizzy drink, but it makes up a very small percentage of the vending machine real estate.

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Lattes, vitamin C, milk tea, fiber drinks …

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This is a pretty common sight, 4 or 5 vending machines in a row. They are everywhere.

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Here is my current favorite drink, the “Green Shower”. It is humulus lupulus sparkling water – and has an herbal taste to it.

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For those of you who do not know what Humulus Lupulus is (I certainly did not):

Humulus lupulus (common hop or hop) is a species of flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family, native to Europe, western Asia and North America. It is a dioecious, perennial, herbaceous climbing plant which sends up new shoots in early spring and dies back to a cold-hardy rhizome in autumn. Strictly speaking it is a bine rather than a vine, using its own shoots to act as supports for new growth.

Who are the companies that make all of those healthy, amazing Japanese drinks? Ironically, the same ones that delivery very little choice in North America. Or perhaps, they are delivering what the market wants – which is too bad.

THE FAILING WAR ON DRUGS AND DECRIMINALIZATION

 

It seems like I have read a number of articles on the failing “War on Drugs” lately. There is no doubt that addictive drugs are a huge burden on society and as someone who actively avoided drugs, I am personally fine with the ban.

That being said, I really do wonder if other nations have it right and we have it VERY wrong. Most of the news on the failed war on drugs is in the US (although Canada could probably be substituted – just divide all dollar numbers by 10); the border that does not work, tens of thousands killed in the Mexican drug war and tens of thousands before them in Columbia, the ongoing funding that it provides to terrorists, the $20B+ per year that the US spends on the war on drugs which they could divert to education, medical care or debt payments and of course, the fact that the stats prove that it just is not working.

You know it must be failing when Pat Robertson says it is failing and time to consider decriminalization. I have never agreed with anything that Pat Robertson says, he is a nutter. This would be a first.

And the stats prove it all out – just look at Holland versus the US. The US fails on every metric (Canada would similarly fail).

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What prompted this post? An article which created a sickness in the pit of my stomach on how much we spend and how we restrict people’s choice resulting in much higher usage. Human nature revolves around “If I cannot have it, I want it more. Allow me to have it, and I lose interest” and we are driving more people to drugs.

The article: Portugal drug decriminalization policy works (2012). It is not true Holland type decriminalization but a variant that has seen a radical drop in drug usage:

Portugal’s move to decriminalize does not mean people can carry around, use, and sell drugs free from police interference. That would be legalization. Rather, all drugs are "decriminalized," meaning drug possession, distribution, and use is still illegal. While distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense, possession and use is moved out of criminal courts and into a special court where each offender’s unique  situation is judged by legal experts, psychologists, and social workers. Treatment and further action is decided in these courts, where addicts and drug use is treated as a public health service rather than referring it to the justice system (like the U.S.), reports Fox News.

The resulting effect: a drastic reduction in addicts, with Portuguese officials and reports highlighting that this number, at 100,000 before the new policy was enacted, has been halved in the following ten years. Portugal’s drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states, according to the same report.

Too bad our a Prime Minster doesn’t have the leadership vision and strength to take this issue on.

You can read the full report on soros.org here. Very sad that our government will not face the facts and stop wasting time, money and people’s lives.

EVOLUTION

 

A friend fired off a joke ‘Evolution’ email last week with all of the traditional ‘man to ape’ cartoons showing different types of evolutions. One evolution I found particularly interesting was the evolution of the Coke bottle.

Evolution of Coke

As you can see the picture stopped at 1994 and didn’t jump into the other ‘soda drinking options’ that made Morgan Spurlock and Supersize Me famous. Consider these two photos. The ‘King Size’ of old at 12 oz. (which was a jump from the original 8 oz.)

And today, the 8 and 12 oz. has turned into the 32 OZ medium. Via.

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That is a lot of sugar.

20/15

 

I had my last follow-up at Lasik MD and everything is fantastic. I continue to marvel at how profound the change is. In the evening, I keep having the thought ‘Remember to take your contact lenses out’, it is such a weird (and great) feeling.

While in the Doctor’s office, they made sure the corneas are fine and did the standard eye test. Over the last month, I had moved from 20/20 to 20/15 – which is better. But I realized, I do not know why it is better? In fact, I really don’t know what this whole measurement system is all about, so I looked it up:

In the term "20/20 vision", the numerator refers to the distance in feet between the subject and the chart. The denominator indicates the size of the letters, specifically it denotes the separation at which the lines that make up those letters would be separated by a visual angle of 1 arc minute, which for the lowest line that is read by an eye with no refractive error (or the errors corrected) is usually 20 feet.

More:

If a person has a visual acuity of 20/40, he is said to see detail from 20 feet away the same as a person with normal eyesight would see it from 40 feet away. It is possible to have vision superior to 20/20: the maximum acuity of the human eye without visual aids (such as binoculars) is generally thought to be around 20/10 (6/3) however, recent test subjects have exceeded 20/8 vision.[6] Some birds of prey, such as hawks, are believed to have an acuity of around 20/2;[7] in this respect, their vision is much better than human eyesight. This helps them hunt more efficiently.

Using this logic, I probably started at 20/140. So at 20/15, I am somewhere between a normal person and a hawk. Amazing.

Via.

MY LASIK EYE SURGERY EXPERIENCE

It is now 6 days after my Lasik eye surgery at Lasik MD and I remain in awe of the experience with my mind remaining confused by the change. I keep having this flash in the evening ‘take out your contacts’. It truly is life changing.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had walked away from surgery 8 years ago for a host of reasons. This time I went through with it after a very informative initial assessment and conversation with the consultant followed by a host of reading. The internet is full of stories on what it is like, so I thought to post my experience for the benefit of others.

The whole thing starts in an office where they do a very thorough eye exam. You find out if you qualify, if you have potential issues and what level you need to buy. Simply put, if you remain within their norms, you can go for the standard – lower cost option. If you deviate, you need to go to the more expensive custom option. I went with the custom option simply because it offers a life time warranty (i.e. I can get redone if there is an issue) and due to the fact that it takes less tissue off of your cornea (up to 30% less). The last step is selecting your surgeon, which is a unique experience. They give you the credentials on each surgeon including their educational history, specialties and number of surgeries performed. A far cry from the ‘begging for a Doctor’ experience in the Canadian medical system.

On the day of the event, I was nervous. It is, after all, my eyes. The night before I did a little more reading and found an interesting statistic; no cases of blindness have been recorded by the FDA due to Lasik surgery. I am not sure why that had such a significant settling effect on me, but it did. We arrived at 9:30am and went through the check-in steps:  fill out a form (which included a few very scary caveats with regards to the downside potential), go through another eye exam to confirm the readings (very reassuring) and then in to the final consultant to learn about post operative care, to hand over a credit card and to get a tiny little white pill that will relax you (Ativan).

Ten minutes later they call you up and you enter the room. My Doctor was fantastically friendly. He started by asking me if I had any last minute questions or concerns and reiterated a few things about relaxing, taking deep breaths. As I lay back under the machine, I asked him what number I was – how many had he done? This was my way of seeking reassurance but he handled it in a completely unexpected and impressive manner, he said ‘I have a lot of experience but you are not a number to me. This is all about giving you a great experience, right now’. Impressed, it started.

As best I can remember (I was not really in the ‘write it all down’ mood), these are approximately the next steps. They put numbing drops in your eyes. The doctor then tapes one eye closed, the other is taped open. More numbing drops are added to the open eye. He asks you to look into a green light and inserts a clamp into you eye. He mentions that it is about to get dark, at which point another device is lowered onto your eye and you hear the word ‘suction’. It all goes black for a second. Staring up at the green light, he then cuts your eye (I assume that is what he is doing), opening a flap. Everything goes a bit blurry and he asks that you stare at the green light. A big red light appears. It is an odd light as it appears like a hundred little dots making up a big red circle. I was asked to relax and take deep breaths and I assume the laser starts. I say this as I could smell a little burning and heard the nurse call out a few numbers. A few seconds later the light is gone. I believe he flips the flap back in place and rubs your eye with some instrument. The other instruments are removed and voila, you are done. All in all, I would wager it took less than 5 minutes.

He then does the second eye.

When I was getting up the doctor asked me to open my eyes and said it would look like I was underwater, which I found to be an accurate description. I could see quite well, but everything was a bit out of focus. They take you to a couch, administer drops and ask you to relax for a few moments.

Now, how does it feel? I will admit, it felt claustrophobic and very unsettling. I would imagine, how could it not? After all, it is your eyes. But with my entering and leaving in a total of less than 15 minutes, it was surprisingly painless and super quick.

After resting and the nurse administering more drops, you head to the waiting room for an hour where you continue resting. Slowly, my vision improved but I avoided the temptation to try them out and simply rested with sunglasses on. After an hour I was called up to go through an eye test, everything was fine and I was released. In the literature, they say your eyes start to heal after 1 minute.

I spent the day sleeping and resting, as per a friends suggestion. He found that sleeping for a few hours in the afternoon really helped – I would agree. The Doctor reiterated this, sleeping will speed the healing process. Throughout the day I administered drops every two hours, as per the instructions and kept sunglasses on. It is made very clear, you must adhere to the drop schedule to ensure proper healing. Through the day, my eyes felt like there was dirt in them, slowly getting less sensitive.

I slept with the sunglasses that evening (to protect from accidental eye rubbing) and woke the next morning with clear vision. I went in for my check up and was cleared with 20/20 vision, a slight swelling and a prognosis that my vision would get even better through the week. I go in for my next test tomorrow, and I have to say, I expect that I have better than 20/20 vision. Yesterday I sat at the far end of a conference room table and had no problem seeing the screen. All scratchiness is gone.

I will not say that I wished I had done it earlier, because I do not. I finally felt comfortable so the time was right for me. But I can see how this is going to change my life. No more water sports with goggles (I went surfing 2 weeks ago with goggles), no more contact lens issues while playing hockey, tennis or golf. No more fumbling around in the morning after I wake up. It is surreal and I keep smiling every time I look in amazement at something far away and can see it clear as I could with glasses.

We live in an amazing time.

LASIK

It is early Friday morning and I am waiting for the Doctor’s office to open for my follow up appointment. 24 hours ago I had custom Lasik  surgery on my eyes.

I have had many friends undergo the surgery and several described the experience like a miracle. They were asked to look at a clock before lying down and of course it is all fuzzy. Minutes later, they sit up and it is clear. (They didn’t ask me to do that).

It wasn’t quite that cut and dry for me, but close. This morning for the first time in 26 years I woke up and did not need to fumble to the bathroom. The world was crystal clear and I walked around going “wow, I can see that” … “wow, I can see that!”

Probably as close to a medical miracle as I will get. I am still in awe. Amazing.