Tuesday, September 25

SAMe "improves mood in older people"

Because some of my daily work involves product testing, I sometimes get roped in as an unpaid guinea pig. Doctor Bob has asked me to test a safe natural antidepressant, available without prescription.

The pills, called SAMe, are  said to improve mood in older people, without side effects. The US Department of Health's in-depth study of SAMe found that it significantly improves mood in older people with no negative side effects. Over more than 40 clinical trials conducted since the 1970s, SAMe has delivered remarkably consistent results. It is also claimed to reduce chronic pains such as arthritis.

Despite not being an older person, I started taking the pills, initially in addition to my regular bliss pills, but when the effect proved too strong I cut the bliss pills.

First the good news - I suddenly found I couldn't care less about most things. in addition, the usual minor aches and pains seemed absent. 

And there was an increased ability to observe myself with detachment. An example: when I got a wood splinter under a fingernail, extending half way back towards the cuticle, not only was it fairly painless, but I was able to perform minor surgery on myself without suffering pain. I inserted my antique Edinbra scalpel under my fingernail, and cut a channel back through the nail to the far end of the splinter, so I could lift it out with a pin.

There was still pain, but I could simply dismiss it. If this is a generalisable effect, think how it might help oldies with arthritis!

The only bit of bad news - the pills made me so comfortable that I can't be bothered doing anything. It's a wonder I could even be bothered writing this post.

Disclaimer - this blog does not recommend taking or stopping any medication. See your doctor.

all-day walk

Some people suffer from a lack of empathy, while others like me have more than or fair share. When Albert isn't getting on well with Mrs A, I really feel his pain, so yesterday I took off on a walk, not knowing where I was going.

I was passing a library where my card is valid, and borrowed 3 different books, figuring that at least one of them might lift the spirits: a book of quotes by Hitchens; some humour by Sedaris; and one by Eckhart Tolle, a Bavarian who has made a fortune, arguably by repackaging spacey spiritual theories for the Oprah crowd. One book reviewer dismisses his "spiritual mumbo-jumbo", but another reviewer wrote, "Tolle's clear writing and the obvious depth of his experience and insight set it apart".

I stopped a couple of times in cafes, where I read a few pages of the Tolle book, describing ego as an "illusory sense of self" based on unconscious identification with one's memories and thoughts. It may just have been the tea, but suddenly the world was clear and simple again.

Walking on, I got lost a few times, and discovered some areas new to me, including a great park, and a ukulele shop. 

Under blue sky, I crossed the big bridge into the city, where there's another library with armchairs. You can read the daily papers from around the world. What fortunate creatures we are really.

On the bus home, I overheard a young Bavarian couple loudly discussing, in Bavarian, how to find an address they were looking for. So I offered, in Bavarian, to help them with their map. At first they were a wee bit stunned to hear their own language from a New Caledonian, but the conversation got going and I was even a little sad when I had to point out their stop and say goodbye.

Friday, September 21

place names

Auchallater, Birkscairn Hill, Dolphinton, Garvald, Carriden Woods, Keltneyburn, Inchgarth, Pheiginn, Braes of Foss, Catstone, Fadden, Craigengar, Lochcallater, Carn an Tuirc, Tillicoultry, Kinpauch.

The All Year Ramblers, based in Edinburgh, are a continuing source of new place names. This weekend they're going to Edinample. Who would have thought there's such a place?

Their current schedule offers a day's climbing every few days, for a 5-month period, with full details of public transport for each jaunt. I'm impressed that a volunteer organisation can plan, organise and advertise a detailed programme, and so far in advance! It would never happen here, where most folk can hardly manage to plan the next few hours ahead.


Wednesday, September 19

the diary of Mr PF

Albert has given permission for me to tell you this story, as long as I change all the names. It has nothing at all to do with Albert or the pension fund.

The three main people in this story are Alec, Mrs PF, and her long-dead husband Mr PF.

Mrs PF recently caught out one of her chums in a lie, and took delight in lecturing her and making her squirm.

Meanwhile, a posthumous state investigation is going on, into alleged wartime comments by the late Mr PF.

Alec persuaded Mrs PF at last to tackle clearing out her late husband's personal effects, and together they found his wartime diary, documenting his travels across the continent for the Special Scouts. Mrs PF had hoped it would reveal evidence exonerating him - until she came across a sentence along the lines of "we're clearing out these j__s at last". Alec pretended shock that she now plans to destroy the diary. He said innocently "I do hope you won't be prosecuted for withholding evidence from an inquiry".

I get the feeling Alec's going to get some more mileage out of this. In the light of Mrs PF's recent lectures to her friend about dishonesty, he'll innocently enquire - "I wonder what your friend would think about the diary-shredding if she knew".

Sunday, September 9


Glasgow Seb has borrowed a couple of dogs for the weekend, to add to his own two. He sent these photos.

Albert hasn't persuaded the cellmate he needs a dog again. Her reasoning is she wants to keep her new living room carpet hair-free.

Seb seems to have solved the problem by moving the carpet outdoors.


The people who don't know what that means, are the very people who need to know. And vice versa. It all balances up.

Most people don't believe in reading user manuals. When they get into difficulties, they curse and fume before giving up.

I not only use manuals, I read them BEFORE using the product. Sometimes before even BUYING the product.

For example. Thanks to someone who lives with Albert, we need to get a new TV. As the only techno-competent inhabitant, I've been comparing features on consumer websites. And for more precise information I've downloaded several manuals for competing brands.

But I've had to take deferred gratification to new extremes, even for me. The cellmate has commissioned a piece of built-in furniture to house books and equipment, with a big space for a TV. But once the furniture has been installed, it'll be too late to wire up the TV behind it. So I've got the job of visualizing the length and variety of cables, buying them and bundling them, so the furniture guys can insert them now. All before we even know what kind of TV we'll have.

It's good to remember that these are only first world problems. How fortunate I am really.

Tuesday, September 4


Amazing number of people around me getting cancer! Albert was wise to get in at an early age, and get it over with. He's going to live forever now.

Saw a fascinating documentary about the Ukrainian boxing brothers. One of them's even going to run for president. Good luck to him, though I don't think he's enough of a bastard to succeed there.

I had to go to a luncheon for the deifheids last weekend. I took Hotters' advice and used real beer as an anaesthetic. And I had the foresight to arrange to lay concrete in the afternoon, so I couldn't stick around for the conversation.

Saturday, September 1

off air

Since I got back, for various reasons I've had neither the time nor the will to blog, but I'm still reading other folks' blogs when I can.

Things have been challenging here, and I have become uncentred on occasion. On the plus side, I'm developing a great capacity to meet other people's incompetence or hostility with amused detachment.

I hope youse are well. I will get back on top of the blog eventually. I've got some most unusual stories to tell.