September 26th, 2003


Exploding pigeons

theuglyvolvo's recent post regarding her dream wedding reminded me of my sister Jen's wedding.

It was held at the LDS 5th ward church building in Jerome, ID. Jen looked gorgeous in a lace gown, hand-sewn by my aunt Vesta. A faux white trellised arch stood at the beginning of the "bridal path". Relatives from both Kelly and Jen's family sat in chairs on either side. After a brief, but beautiful ceremony, Jen and Kelly stayed for photographs. Everyone else was instructed to take a packet of birdseed and line up outside the chapel doors.

My sister Heather had prepared dozens of small packets of birdseed, wrapped in green paper and finished with a curly yellow ribbon. I passed them out to everyone--Grandma, 5-year old nieces and nephews, bridesmaids, my parents, etc. Heather instructed everyone to open their packets and throw them into the air as soon as Jen and Kelly exited the church.

Finally, Jen and Kelly emerged. We all cheered and whistled. The five-year olds enthusiasticly tossed their birdseed into the air, as did everyone else.

Then it began. First the babies started crying and rubbing their eyes. The five year olds. Then the bridesmaids. Even the groomsman were rubbing their eyes. People began rushing into the church to wash out their eyes.

It was, of course, the birdseed.

I went into the kitchen and found the packages.

The second ingredient?

Cayenne pepper.

We had all been enthusiasticly throwing cayenne pepper into each other's eyes. I learned later that the cayenne pepper was added as deterrent to squirrels and other rodents.

Why birdseed rather than traditional rice? Heather had read somewhere that some pigeons gorged on the rice thrown at traditional weddings. The dry rice then expanded until their stomach exploded and they died. Kindhearted soul that she is, she thought it would be better to substitute rice.

You know, I liked the cayenne birdseed, but exploding pidgeons would be kinda cool too.

Even mid-life diet change can extend life

CRAN, or "calorie restriction with adequate nutrition", is one of the few, if not only, methods of increasing maximum lifespan that has strong scientific evidence to support it. It has been shown to work in everything from nematodes, to fruit flies, to rats. Preliminary studies in monkeys suggest that it will work in primates as well. However, what if you don't start CRAN until middle age? Does it still provide a benefit? Current research suggests that even starting late in life may significantly increase lifespan.

Study: Even mid-life diet change can extend life
WASHINGTON (AP) --It has long been known that laboratory animals live longer
on a low-calorie diet. Now a study suggests that even if sensible eating is
delayed until middle age, health can be improved and life extended.
A study on diet and life in the journal Science dealt only with laboratory
fruit flies, but researchers said some of the same effects may apply to
mammals, perhaps even humans.
In the study, British researchers compared the effects of different
calorie-restricted diets on the mortality of fruit flies. They found that
fruit flies on restricted diets lived about 90 days, twice as long as those
fed on a normal diet.
But the scientists also found that when heavily fed fruit flies were
switched at middle age -- day 14 to 22 -- to leaner diets, then the animals
converted from the shorter life pattern of the overfed to the longer-lived
pattern of flies that had been on a restricted diet all their lives.
The carry-home message from the study, said Linda Partridge of University
College London is that it is never too late to improve health by switching
to sensible eating habits.
"If this works in humans, then it means that from the time a person starts
on a restricted diet, they'll be like individuals of the same age who were
always on that diet," she said. "Their prospects of survival are the same."
Partridge said that although the life-extending effects of short rations
have never been proven in humans, it has been shown in monkeys, mice, rats
and fruit flies that diet restrictions will lead to longer lives.
"There is no reason to suppose it wouldn't apply equally to humans," she
said. "There are diet restriction studies now underway with monkeys and all
the indications appear the same [as with mice, rats and fruit flies]."
James R. Carey, a University of California, Davis, researcher who studies
the biology of aging, said the Partridge study is "important to the field,"
but does not provide final answers about the true effects of restricted
He said that fruit flies and other animals on restricted diets tend to stop
reproducing. In mammals, for instance, the females stop ovulating and,
hence, cannot reproduce.
As a result, Carey said, animals on restricted diets may live longer simply
because they are not expending energy and stress in the rigors of
reproduction. He said studies still need to specifically isolate and prove
that it is the lean diet alone that leads to longer life, and not related