Absolutely vital customs you need to know before for watching television in Spain:

The true reason why mountain goats live at high altitude!

  1. The default position for all spanish televisions is ON. Whether or not anybody actually watches the program broadcasted at the time is completely irrelevant.
  2. The only time the television is switched off is when EVERYONE in the house is asleep. No exceptions!
  3. The last person to switch off the television has two very special responsibilities: firstly- make sure everyone else is asleep; secondly- ensure that the remote control device is clearly visible in the morning (if you can’t afford a remote control TV, only then are you considered a poor family – that judgement is not something based on what car you drive).
  4. Television is watched from one of two positions, each with an equal proportion time: the sofa and/or the kitchen. Even if you’re a 3-year old kid, the floor is not an acceptable place from which to watch TV.
  5. The practise of renting a DVD is unheard of.
  6. Quality movies are almost never shown on national spanish television.
  7. Suprisingly, there are very few ad-breaks shown during movies and series. (read the next point before you get too excited)
  8. The length of a standard ad-break can be up to half an hour, in same cases more, always shown at the most inappropriate point of the main television program.
  9. The most common advertisements typically depict brand new vehicles on deserted spanish roads, women’s skin-care products, and cheap ever-lasting detergents -in that order.
  10. The standard quality-level of Spanish television commercials is “super cheap and nasty”. Upon creating a new advertisement, producers must ensure that they remain close to the following time-honoured ideal goal: an absolute minimum of effort is involved; a spanish voiceover is almost always present throughout the entire duration of the advertisement; comedy is almost never used to sell anything; neither imagination nor inspiration are permitted; sound dubbing is perfectly acceptable (in fact desirable, as it saves on hiring fake sub-standard actors and actresses). Yes, we’re talking very straightforward ads here.
  11. How Spanish television enthusiasts manage to cope with points 6-10 will never be known, not by anyone, including the Spanish.
  12. When movies are rarely shown, the end-credits are cut even before the first actor’s name scrolls to the mid-point of the screen. My personal theory is that if the first person to be credited reaches the top of the screen, the TV coordinator loses his job. Note that this only applies to foreign films, which in case you didn’t realise, means any movies filmed outside of Spain. On the other hand, whenever a local Spanish movie is aired on national television, the entire list of aknowledgements is then dutifully displayed in full.
  13. There are more missing people in Spain that missing remote controls (see next point)
  14. When the remote-control can’t be found, it’s a level 10 house-wide emergency. Everyone must assume “panic mode” until it is recovered. When it is found, that family member is denoted a hero for at least 5 minutes. The remote control is almost never lost behind the cushions, and almost never in another room (except of course the kitchen).
  15. By far the most famous spanish journalist is Mercedes Milá. This woman has got more balls than a billiard table.

Racism vs Culturism.

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I’ve visited 42 countries in the last 10 years, and I’ve noted their cultures and customs are all very different indeed. An act that is seen as polite in one culture (slurping soup in Japan), will almost certainly offend people here in Spain. Even the many individual island cultures of the pacific are all quite unique from each other.

Cultures are different, by their very definition. Whether you like it or not. Anyone who has travelled outside their own country has surely witnessed that. But it just so happens, that most cultures are divided by geographical barriers – country borders.

It’s generally fair to say that the majority of Japanese people are very reliable & puncutal. Likewise, if I were to say that Tongan people are very friendly, stress-free & relaxed, that comment would also be acceptable to most people. Why are these statements accepted? Because they’re positive cultural observations.

I’ve noticed that the real problem arises when you make a generalised negative comment about a particular culture. What if I said, for example, Tongan people don’t respect time and are usually running late. Or that Japanese people aren’t very flexible with their appointments? [Read more →]

16 reasons to hire a bicycle instead of bringing your own bike next cycling holiday vacations:

Hire a bike next time you come to Tenerife instead of bringing your own and help reduce your carbon footprint!

I’m sure you can think of a few reasons not to hire a rental bike in Tenerife, but here are 16 legimate reasons you should:

  1. Reduce your carbon footprint!! Assuming you take an extra 15kg of bicycle equipment (bike + case) as checked-on luggage, you’ll save between 100~200kg of CO2 emissions for a typical return journey (LGW – TFS is 5800km). To emphasise how much greenhouse gas this represents, 100kg of CO2 gas occupies 50,930 litres at standard atmospheric pressure!! My calculation is based from various sources, statistics and news sources. 
  2. We have all sizes available, and can offer a custom fit service.  
  3. Our bikes are very well maintained, and also provide low-range gearing suited to mountainous terrain. 
  4. Save € by not paying any excess baggage fees for the additional weight of your sporting equipment!
  5. Save $ by not having to buy a dedicated bike case!
  6. It’s obvioulsy more convenient to travel around without a loaded bulky bike case plus all that cycling equipment.
  7. There’s no risk of being refused check-in at the airport through carrying too much luggage.
  8. There’s also zero risk of airport ground-crew damaging your own bike during transport if you leave it at home.
  9. Neither do you need to worry about someone stealing your own highly-prized expensive wonderbike while on holiday!  
  10. There’s no need to spend ages packing your own bike, hence more time to ride on the first and last day!
  11. Should anything go wrong with one of our bikes, we obviously provide free servicing, free spare parts and/or a replacement bike!
  12. We offer a refund for each day that you aren’t able to ride due to mechanical failure.
  13. There’s no need to clean the bike afterwards. Let us worry about it!
  14. Your own super-light weight bike may not actually be as reliable as one of ours.
  15. Make it seem more like a “family holiday” & gain bonus points with your spouse!
  16. Help support our green eco-friendly business and the local economy.

“Diatoms to Dinosaurs: The Size And Scale Of Living Things” by Christopher McGowan.

“Diatoms to Dinosaurs: The Size And Scale Of Living Things” by Christopher McGowan. Book review.

The book is about muscles and skeletons, hearts, fluids and brains. Quite a large chunk of the book is about flight. I found the most captivating chapter was “Tiffany wings and kite strings”. It is all about tiny fliers: microfilm model airplanes and microscopic flying insects. It reveals that the mechanism that insects use to fly is different to birds. After reading this, you may think twice about squishing the next harmless little insect that flies right by you. The section on drag was surprisingly very interesting.

Although it introduces familiar animals, it goes into enough detail to provide substantially new and rewarding information about these creatures, which you almost certainly won’t be aware of. There are loads of great diagrams, which really make this book very enjoyable to read. The book is straightforward and I relished reading it.

A very very similar book is called “Cats’ Paws and Catapults”. It also contains many examples of design, although it is from an engineering perspective, and the focus is on comparing the design of evolution with that of technological invention. I think Diatoms to Dinosaurs is a much more interesting read – it is predominantly concerned with nature, not with technology. This book is simply more profound, but both books are very good.

“Chaos: making a new science”, by James Gleick. A book review.

Mandelbrot set 

This book only touches on what Chaos actually is. I found myself wanting more – NOT because it was a good book, but because I knew it was poorly written book on a good subject.

If you really like the image on the cover, then please do yourself a favour and go and search the internet for the phrase “Mandelbrot set”, and you’ll come up with loads of pictures equally as fascinating (and you won’t have to read all those pages!).

I’m going to explain a few things first in this paragraph so you can understand the way the book is written. If my perception of the book is correct, the concept of Chaos itself, is that at first, an event appears as if it is purely random. But upon closer inspection, the underlying process is ordered, which makes the result only seem random. Chaos is not the same thing as randomness; it is a special type of randomness. Change the parameters only slightly, and the order is revealed. “Order in chaos” is the appropriate phrase that is repeated throughout the book. The other phrase that comes to mind is “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”, which simply means that the outcome of an event is extremely susceptible to the initial circumstances. You could say that our lives are like that. Another easy example of a chaotic system is the weather – it changes all the time, with no apparent direction. Who knows exactly where an individual cloud will be in the sky ten years from now? However, it is all caused by the interactions of the inherently simple processes like evaporation from the sea, gravitational forces from the moon, etc. It looks random, when in reality, it is only /extremely/ complex.

The book takes forever to convey these fundamental ideas, which I’ve essentially explained to you in one or two paragraphs. There are a few nice examples, but overall, I think an unusual topic such as this needs many more real-life examples of chaos at work. This is one of those types of books that introduce all the many people who made this field of study possible. In my humble opinion, James Gleick would have been much better of writing about where chaos is seen in nature.

Perhaps all randomness is in a sense chaotic. I don’t know. I guess it depends on whether or not you think the entire Universe can be described in terms of physical laws. Some people will say that it can, others will say that it can’t. I’d probably say that by its very complexity, there isn’t (and won’t be) a computer, or a mind, or anything, powerful enough to effectively model everything and ultimately tell you what is truly random behaviour and therefore not chaotic.

This book did get me to think for myself a little, which is good, but now I think I’ll go and find another book on chaos or complexity theory, and it won’t be authored by James Gleick.

Grape Harvest Time in Tenerife; small grape farmers suffer a disaster crop!

It's not hard to see which bunches of grapes were salvagedIt's not hard to see which bunches of grapes were salvaged

I just finished helping with today’s “cosecha” way too early…

For those that don’t know, a cosecha is the local name for a grape harvest. The owner of small vineyards in Tenerife usually ask their extended family members to volunteer to harvest (cosechar) all the grapes in a single day. This day normally falls Saturday at the end of September. They’re usually offered some form of small compensation, but on our farm we like to provide a traditional lunch for everyone that participates.

It's not hard to see which bunches of grapes sufferedIt's not hard to see which bunches of grapes suffered

This year there were 21 grape pickers, who collected a total of 68 full crates, for a total harvest of ~1200kg of premium black grapes. For comparison: last year, our farm produced 5000kg of grapes (some 280 crates)!! What caused this year’s disaster crop? Two things happened almost simultaneously:

  1. Some time in mid-June, our vineyard contracted an abnormal sickness, causing many of the grapes to explode before reaching maturity. This was probably the result of an abnormal amount of light rain over this period, over which time the fungal virus spread. The farms that did not bother to spray their crop must now abandon this years harvest.
  2. A severe calima also occurred at the end of July, temperatures skyrocketed to 40°C for 3 consecutive days, and this virtually dessicated the remaining grapes that hadn’t already contracted the fungal virus. I noted that only those grape bunches that were protected by shade seemed to survive.

Insurance companies refuse to insure small farms like ours for such occurences. Neither does the tax office nor the government recognise this year’s unofficial vineyard catastrophy; they never provided any financial aid to small-time growers. Sadly, this isn’t the case for bigger vinyeards (at least five times the size of ours), who are in a position to receive both substantial tax-cuts and other insurance benefits. Even today, many families still depend on their vineyards as a source of income. Unfortunately, even though the majority of grapes in Tenerife are still grown and supplied to wine cellars by small family-run cultivators, they are simply not supported by institutions who provide help to larger vineyards.

Stress linked to violent crime rates

new age violence

The human mind, when submitted to unusual levels of stress, reacts in many different ways. The more unusual cases, such as mental divergence, occur when the mind creates an alternate reality in which the patient can exist, free from the stresses of real-life. Such examples are schizophrenia, split-personality syndrome, schizophrenic psychosis, and dementia praecox. Others minds react with chronic depression, fatigue syndromes, and such disorders which directly affect bodily functions. Another sort of mind, one that seems to have a stronger sense of self and determination to survive, react by aggression. Robbery, rape, assault, murder, and other violent crimes can be directly linked to stress in the subject’s everyday life. Many victims of violent crime are subject to large amounts of mental stress and paranoia, which in turn can increase the chance that they will be the perpetrator of violent crime in the future. Source.

Could it be a big world after all? Debunking the “six degrees of separation” myth.

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The idea that people are connected through just “six degrees of separation,” based on Stanley Milgram’s “small world study,” has become part of the intellectual furniture of educated people. New evidence discovered in the Milgram papers in the Yale archives, together with a review of the literature on the “small world problem,” reveals that this widely-accepted idea rests on scanty evidence. Indeed, the empirical evidence suggests that we actually live in a world deeply divided by social barriers such as race and class. An explosion of interest is occurring in the small world problem because mathematicians have developed computer models of how the small world phenomenon could logically work. But mathematical modeling is not a substitute for empirical evidence. At the core of the small world problem are fascinating psychological mysteries.

The “small world” experiments

Stanley Milgram was an American researcher in experimental social psychology at Harvard University in Boston, USA. Beginning in 1967, he began a widely-publicized set of experiments to investigate the so-called “small world problem.” This problem was rooted in many of the same observations made decades earlier by Karinthy. That is, Milgram and other researchers of the era were fascinated by the interconnectedness and “social capital” of human networks. While it is unknown how directly Milgram was influenced by Karinthy’s work, the similarities between the two authors are remarkable. However, while Karinthy spoke in abstract and fictional terms, Milgram’s experiments provided evidence supporting the claim of a “small world.” His study results showed that people in the United States seemed to be connected by approximately six friendship links, on average. Although Milgram reportedly never used the term “Six Degrees of Separation,” his findings likely contributed to the term’s widespread credence. Since these studies were widely publicized, Stanley Milgram is also, like Karinthy, often attributed as the origin of the notion of Six Degrees. Here’s the latest Small World Experiment, currently in progress.

Theoretical Basis

It is important to realize that “6 degree of separation” is only in the average sense. For example, there may be a secluded population on an island nation which has had little contact with the outside world — or a secluded population which has had little contact with anyone in living memory, although such a hypothesis is almost completely improbable in the 21st century, it is still conceivable. Thus, under the “knows a living person” graph, the path length between someone in that tribe and outside of it is infinity/undefined.

If you assume the world population is 6 billion people, and everyone has the same number of friends or ‘connections’, and that each person is just as likely to know one person as any other person (save for geographic limitations), then measuring the degree of separation only becomes a simple mathematical formula of determining the exponent that will yield the population if you raise the average number of friends of each person by that exponent. In other words,

(average number of friends per person) ^ (degrees of separation) = total population
Let f = average number of friends Let d = degrees of separation Let p = population
f^d = p d * ln f = ln p d = ln p / ln f

Finding the average number of friends can be determined by random sampling. However, since we already have a good idea what the degree of separation is, let’s determine ‘f’ and consider its reasonableness.

f^d = p f = dth root of p

If we take the 6th root of 6,000,000,000, we get approximately 42.

6th root of 6,000,000,000 = 42.628 ln(6,000,000,000) / ln(42) = 6.024

Knowing 42 people is not unreasonable to a person. One class or workplace can contain 42 people. Thus, if 42 of your friends knows 42 other people, and they each know 42 more people, and so on and so on until 6 chains have been formed, then that will encompass 6 billion people.

In fact, if we take the 5th root of 6 billion, we get about 90, which in today’s connected age is not unreasonable for some people. The 7th root is 24. So if we assume that everyone in the world knows between 24 to 90 people each, then we can prove the degree of separation is between 5 and 7.

The reason this works is because as the number of chains increase, the total percentage of the population ‘known’ increases exponentially. For example, if the population is 16, and each person is restricted to knowing at most 2 people, then the degree of separation is 4. 1 person who knows 2 people is 2. If those 2 people know 2 more people, the total is 4. If those 4 people know 2 people each, the total is 8. If those 8 people know 2 people each, the total is 16.

4th root of 16 = 2 2^4 = 16

If the population is split in two groups of 8, perhaps by geographic boundaries, then it would be impossible to ‘know’ the entire population or have a connection between all individuals.

The advent of affordable intercontinental air travel in the 20th century has reduced these geographic boundaries, such that even if one individual does not know someone on another continent, they are likely to know someone else who has been to another continent. The more the population intermixes and comingles, the more even and regular the degree of separation is between any two random people in that population.

“The representation makes no difference between one-way relationships and those that are based on reciprocity. Someone who has all the luminaries on his blogroll but whose contribution for whatever reason is not very visible will seem just as connected as someone else who is widely read and recognized. How could “directions” of relationships be displayed?”

Fighting to Survive, beyond the 21st century.

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Empires fall because of long-lasting wars, rebellions, disease plagues, chemical poisoning, etcetera. Civilisations rise and fall like ocean tides. What makes our civilisation any different? I believe, nothing. I often wonder: what will be our undoing?

Look around at our cities. Look at the concrete. Look at the stress & misdirected violence. The current mental health crisis. We’ve based our entire economy on the assumption that our planet’s resources are unlimited, and so when the fossil fuels run out, watch that stockmarket spiral downwards. There are countless environmental problems (which I don’t even need to remind you about). Basically, things seem to be getting uglier all the time. It’s very hard to retain hope & remain optimistic as society and the environment decays all around us. Blind optimism in the face of a crisis period is certainly not the answer either. And now vast numbers of people are even turning to artificial “virtual-reality” worlds, which I find rather sad. [Read more →]

High-Performance Cycling – a book review.

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It is written/edited by someone with a PhD, in a reporting style which may annoy some people. It is well-referenced, though I think most people will not care less for seeking out the various journal articles. For example, it often starts a paragraph in this manner: “one study shows that…”

A quote: “Our baseline modeling condition has used a coefficient of rolling resistance (Crr) value of 0.0032, which is representative of an average racing clincher tire (Martin et al. 1998). Kyle (1986) has reported the Crr for high-performance road-racing tubular and clincher tires to be 16 percent lower (0.0027) when measured on an asphalt surface. Some road-racing tubular tires, however, exhibit Crr values as high as 0.0059 (Kyle 1986).

Now what is the point of that? The findings (on whether tubulars or clinchers offer lower rolling resistance) seem to be inconclusive. It doesn’t tell us which brand + model tubulars had the higher rolling resistance, so you’d have to look up the article by Kyle if you really wanted to know which tubulars to avoid. At the very least it can be gleaned that the chapter concerning equipment isn’t much help.

This book creates a very small niche for itself, perhaps too small. It seems to be aimed at coaches or deadly serious cyclists. I can’t imagine there are too many of those in the world. But if that is the case, why bother defining the terms “prologue”, “criterium” and “stage race”? [Read more →]

The Bicycle Wheel – a review.

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I don’t know what the others say, but I think the author is an anti-technological stick-in-the-mud. If you are looking for tips & info on how to build your dream lightweight wheelset, then look elsewhere because you won’t find it in this book.

I read the whole book in one sitting. The diagrams are much bigger than neccessary, for example one per page, and you get the idea they’re just added as “filler”. Some of the diagrams are repeated throughout the book, further giving that impression.

All you are going to find here is the standard way to make 36 spoke 3-cross wheels with double butted spokes. [Read more →]

Bicycling Science – a short review.

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I think this is a great book IF you’re a scientist (like me!). Like the other reviews say, it is a little dated – but results are results. There is a wealth of info in this book, most of it is technical, and there is some fascinating things on human powered flight & HPVs. I can’t remember the exact figure that was quoted for the weights of some of the older historical bikes, but I find it hard to believe that there were such lightweights a hundred years ago (like 6kg). Knowing what I know, I just don’t think it would have been feasible. If you are interested, I wouldn’t wait for an updated edition, because they might not make it, and this one is getting pretty darn hard to get.

The Ultimate Bicycle Book – a review.

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If there is only one book about cycling you should own – then this is it!

Everyone who owns a bike should get this, especially if you’re just starting out. It is really what got me started off, now I own my ultimate dream machine and I still refer to it now and then. You see so many riders out there with incorrectly set up bikes. The three things I can notice from about 100 feet away are: their seat is too low; their chain is insufficiently lubricated; and the derailleurs are not adjusted properly. This book will teach you how to set up your bike correctly, and provide you with essential knowledge on cycling.

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This has all the info in it for beginners and intermediates alike. The main sections are: mountain bikes, racing bikes and touring bikes, future bikes and cycle maintenance. Within these pages, you’ll find info about bike set-up/positioning, sizing of frames, clothing, riding techniques, racing and stretching. Plus more info on other specific bike parts, such as: frame construction, types of wheels, gears/brakes, etc. Also specific info about various types of bikes used in: observed trials, the tour de France, criterium races, time-trials, triathlons, track racing (& classic bikes).

The maintenance section is quite extensive, and will generally be adequate for most people’s needs. It covers tools (and there’s a lot!), wheel truing, fixing flat tires, adjustments for comfort, brakes, chains, pedals, derailleur adjustment, and cleaning/lubrication.

There are plenty of good colour photos, it is well written and very informative – what more could you ask for? If you haven’t actually flicked through this book and you’re still having doubts about getting it, go to your local bookshop and just have a look through it, you’ll see what I mean. All in all a very comprehensive guide to cycling – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for youngsters and/or beginners. The only problem is that it is getting quite dated, but if you can live with that, it’s perfect.

Researchers again pinpoint why stress kills:

emotional-stress-kills-research-study.gif(February 9, 2004) As Valentine’s Day approaches, one prevailing argument for marriage may well be that studies show married people are less depressed than their single counterparts. Behind this string of scientific reasoning for matrimony is a proven fact: the prevalence of depression in patients with coronary artery disease (e.g., myocardial infarction and heart failure) is approximately five times that of the general population.

Major depression is a significant predictor of mortality after myocardial infarction. Its predictive ability on subsequent cardiovascular events, for example, myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, ischemia, or sudden cardiac death, is comparable to that of left ventricular dysfunction, previous myocardial infarction, and smoking. Even more alarming is the finding that depression is a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease in patients without a history of heart disease. In other words, the risk for a heart attack or other cardiac disease for depressed but otherwise healthy patients is similar to the risk for patients with established cardiovascular disease.

Gender does play a role. Psychological depression is a common mood disorder affecting 2-3% of males and 5-9% of females. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide (quantified by years lived with a disease) and is exceeded only by coronary artery disease as the leading cause of disability in the United States. So, in addition to all the social and medical costs of depression, the disorder is considered a risk factor for coronary artery disease.

[Read more →]

“Diets sweetened with honey may be beneficial in decreasing anxiety and improving memory”

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PERHAPS Winnie the Pooh knows something we don’t. Honey could soon be marketed as a way to combat the effects of ageing.

Lynne Chepulis and Nicola Starkey of the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, raised rats on diets containing 10 per cent honey, 8 per cent sucrose, or no sugar at all for 12 months. The rats were two months old at the start of the trial, and were assessed every three months using tests designed to measure anxiety and spatial memory.

Honey-fed rats spent almost twice as much time in the open sections of an assessment maze than sucrose-fed rats, suggesting they were less anxious. They were also were more likely to enter novel sections of a Y-shaped maze, suggesting they knew where they had been previously and had better spatial memory.

“Diets sweetened with honey may be beneficial in decreasing anxiety and improving memory during ageing,” says Starkey, whose work was funded by Fonterra, a dairy company interested in sweetening yoghurt with honey.

She suggests the findings may be due to the antioxidant properties of honey, which have previously been demonstrated in humans. The results were presented at the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour meeting at Newcastle University, UK, last week. From issue 2621 of New Scientist magazine, 14 September 2007, page 23. Source

WHO appealing to countries to increase their support for mental health services:

Stress can Kill 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is appealing to countries to increase their support for mental health services. The appeal is part of a series of six reviews on global mental health which has been published this week in the journal The Lancet. All the review papers and commentaries included in The Lancet Global Mental Health Series can be accessed without payment at the following weblink. The Lancet Global Mental Health Series

  • Mental, neurological and behavioural disorders are common to all countries and cause immense suffering. People with these disorders are often subjected to social isolation, poor quality of life and increased mortality. These disorders are the cause of staggering economic and social costs.
  • Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are affected by mental, behavioural, neurological and substance use disorders. For example, estimates made by WHO in 2002 showed that 154 million people globally suffer from depression and 25 million people from schizophrenia; 91 million people are affected by alcohol use disorders and 15 million by drug use disorders. A recently published WHO report shows that 50 million people suffer from epilepsy and 24 million from Alzheimer and other dementias.
  • In addition to the above figures, many other disorders affect the nervous system or produce neurological sequelae. Projections based on a WHO study show that worldwide in 2005, 326 million people suffer from migraine; 61 million from cerebrovascular diseases; 18 million from neuroinfections or neurological sequelae of infections. Number of people with neurological sequelae of nutritional disorders and neuropathies (352 million) and neurological sequelae secondary to injuries (170 million) also add substantially to the above burden.
  • About 877,000 people die by suicide every year.
  • One in four patients visiting a health service has at least one mental, neurological or behavioural disorder but most of these disorders are neither diagnosed nor treated.
  • Mental illnesses affect and are affected by chronic conditions such as cancer, heart and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Untreated, they bring about unhealthy behaviour, non-compliance with prescribed medical regimens, diminished immune functioning, and poor prognosis.
  • Cost-effective treatments exist for most disorders and, if correctly applied, could enable most of those affected to become functioning members of society.
  • Barriers to effective treatment of mental illness include lack of recognition of the seriousness of mental illness and lack of understanding about the benefits of services. Policy makers, insurance companies, health and labour policies, and the public at large – all discriminate between physical and mental problems.
  • Most middle and low-income countries devote less than 1% of their health expenditure to mental health. Consequently mental health policies, legislation, community care facilities, and treatments for people with mental illness are not given the priority they deserve.

Nightmares as a coping mechanism for stress:

Stress symptoms. Dreaming, nightmares and stress
Here’s a recent Abstract from the Scientific Journal “Dreaming”:

The cause of nightmares remains unclear. However, previous research suggests that stress may play a key role and that nightmares may actually serve a beneficial function. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the overall relationship between these two variables and assess the hypothesis that nightmares serve as a coping mechanism for stress. To accomplish these goals, a group of 412 psychology students were separated into low, medium, and high nightmare frequency groups as well as low, medium, and high nightmare intensity groups. Comparisons were then conducted for daily stressors, life stressors, social support, and coping. Most notably, this study demonstrated a positive association between nightmares and coping with stress. The overall pattern seen in the analyses reflect the significant relationship between nightmares and stress, while the finding that nightmares were positively associated with coping bolsters the supposition that nightmares may help to alleviate stress. Source

You Tube Competition “guess where the video was filmed?!” – WINNER ANNOUNCED!!!

To be in the running to WIN A FREE SET OF SPINERGY ROAD SKEWERS, all you have to do is e-mail the correct answer to cycling@tenerife-training.net along with your name and postal address. These came with a Stealth PBO wheelset and are valued at US$30.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

Entrance by Email only! NOTE: This promotion has now been extended 1 more week! The competition winner will be the first sucessful entry drawn at random on the 12th September, 2007. Pictures to follow.

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UPDATE: 20/09/07

…and the winner is… ISMAEL MELENDEZ OF BROOKLYYYN NEEEEEW YOOOOOOORK!!!!! Step forward and take your priiiiiize…

Congratulations Ismael, well done! Really great effort!! You’re new spinergy skewers are already on the way (no they’re not, they actually still sitting on my desk, but when I get round to it, they’ll be posted to you).

Thanks once again for all the particpants that entered this special promotion. (or rather, thanks to the SOLE person that entered… hehehe)

Spanish bike forum. Learn Spanish cycling forum!

Tenerife Cycling ForumIntroducing the new www.Tenerife-Training.net forum! I hope you can take a look, sign up & post something:

The English/Spanish cycling forum is HERE!

It’s primarily dedicated to local Canarian cyclists, but it does have an English forum section and everyone is welcome to sign up and post away. We’re currently a very small community of local bike riders. I’ve put lots of work into and hopefully before too long it’ll be a busy place where we can all chat about bicycles. 😀

Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS). Major Life Events Linked to Stress.

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Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS):

The following instrument is based on the premise that good and bad events in one’s life can increase stress levels and make one more susceptible to illness and mental health problems (Holmes & Rahe, 1967).

1. Death of a spouse 100
2. Divorce 73
3. Marital Separation 65
4. Jail term 63
5. Death of a close family member 63
6. Personal injury or illness 53
7. Marriage 50
8. Fired at work 47
9. Marital reconciliation 45
10. Retirement 45
11. Change in health of family member 44
12. Pregnancy 40
13. Sex difficulties 39
14. Gain of a new family member 39
15. Business readjustments 39
16. Change in financial state 38
17. Death of a close friend 37
18. Change to different line of work 36
19. Change in no. of arguments with spouse 35
20. Mortgage over $ 50,000 31
21. Foreclosure of mortgage 30
22. Change in responsibilities at work 29
23. Son or daughter leaving home 29
24. Trouble with in-laws 29
25. Outstanding Personal achievements 28
26. Wife begins or stops work 26
27. Begin or end school 26
28. Change in living conditions 25
29. Revision of personal habits 24
30. Trouble with boss 23
31. Change in work hours or conditions 20
32. Change in residence 20
33. Change in school 20
34. Change in recreation 19
35. Change in religious activities 19
36. Change in social activities 18
37. Loan less than 50,000 17
38. Change in sleeping habits 16
39. Change in no. of family get- together 15
40. Change in eating habits 15
41. Vacation 13
42. Holidays 12
43. Minor violation of laws 11

SCORING:

Each event should be considered if it has taken place in the last 12 months. Add values to the right of each item to obtain the total score. Your susceptibility to illness and mental health problems:

Low < 149
Mild = 150-200
Moderate = 200-299
Major>300

Essentially, each of these events results in a change to some part of your life. For example- in 2005, I moved to Tenerife as an Australian expatriate during which time I experienced many simultaneous life changes in a very short space of time: new culture, new society, new work environment, new family, new friends, etc.

I can look back and calculate that not long after moving here my score would have been well over 400, shortly before I contracted a severe case of adult chicken pox, nudging the score closer to 500, then immediately followed by my episode of chronic depression, adding another 50 points onto the score. That’s an extreme level of stress, despite none of the top 10 completely life-altering events occurring.

We already know that stress is linked with increased rates of violence, major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer & diabetes, in addition to other mental diseases (chronic depression, ADHD, etc). When you consider the top 10 causes of death in developed nations, stress appears to be the biggest killer of all! So in hindsight, it’s easy for me to ask: why can’t we begin to use the Social Readjustment Rating Scale to predict stress and anxiety levels among the general population in order to prevent or at least reduce the negative health consequences from even occurring?