Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The eight-hour myth

Here's an Economist article about the "eight-hour myth"—the widespread belief that we all need eight hours of sleep every night.


The bottom line is: Don't stress if you're getting less than eight hours of sleep each night. A big part of insomnia is psychological: If you think you're getting enough sleep, then you probably are. But if you start stressing about how much sleep you're getting, then that stress can not only create a self-fulfilling viscious-circle prophesy (worrying about sleep keeps us awake, which makes us worry even more about sleep, and so on), but can actually be more damaging than the lack of sleep itself.


To view previous posts about insomnia and other sleep-related issues, click
here.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, May 29, 2006

The art of Hashiguchi Goyo

Today, works by Hashiguchi Goyo "are among the most highly prized of all shin hanga [modern woodblock] prints."





—Mellow Monk


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We have a winner

Mary B is the winner of the contest I announced in a May 25 posting. She was the first to properly identify the source of the snippet of movie dialog I quoted. (The film was "Circle of Iron," a cheesy late-'70s kung fu flick.)


She claims to have "cheated" and used Google to track down the title of the film, but how do I know she's not a closet fan—embarrassed, as so many of us are, to publicly admit having watched it muliple times? Just teasing, Mary!


As the winner, she'll be receiving a free packet of Top Leaf Green Tea.


Congratulations, Mary!


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, May 28, 2006

How to sharpen a samurai sword

Did you always want to know how to sharpen a samurai sword? If so, you're in luck! This page explains the process in English.



—Mellow Monk


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Sounds effects from Japanese manga

Here is a list of sound effects used in Japanese manga and what each means.


The Japanese language is rich not only in onomatopoeia (called giongo), which represent sounds and actions (such as "buzz" in English) but also in what are called gitaigo—mimetic words that primarily represent emotional states. For instance, shun represents a feeling of being lonely or forlorn, whereas niya niya suggests a sly grin. In fact, I've always considered gitaigo to be one of the last hurdles to complete fluency in Japanese.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Never let me go to Coma Island

One of the books by British-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro, who moved to England with his parents at age 5, is Never Let Me Go. The story is similar to the Ewan McGregor film The Island. Both, in turn, are similar to the 1978 thriller Coma, starring Geneviève Bujold and based on the novel by Robin Cook.


Now that the whole "harvest organs from the healthy against their will" theme has been played out, someone needs to add an interesting twist before churning out another version. The idea of harvesting from clones (who don't know they're clones) instead of people intentionally put into a coma was the latest twist. What will be the next?


—Mellow Monk


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"American geeks in Japan" -- this time subtitled

In a previous posting I linked to a video of American geeks pilgrimaging to Japan for animation-related stuff.


That video clip was sans subtitles, but now some kind soul has, out of the goodness of his or her heart, put in subtitles. So, here you are again for your viewing pleasure, but this time with subtitles, and in two parts:








—Mellow Monk


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Friday, May 26, 2006

Play "Frogger" online!

Finally, the news all you old fogies (like me) have been waiting for: You can play the classic arcade game "Frogger" online!


What the heck. It's Friday.




—Mellow Monk


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T-shirts with accupressure points

The New York College of Health Professions has announced it is released a line of clothing called MyChi—clothing with accupressure points marked on them. At each each accupressure point (called a tsubo in Japanese), a pinch of seeds will be sewn into the clothing, for maximum benefit.


You can download a PDF of the press release here.


—Mellow Monk


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Non-drug treatment for asthma

Doctors are testing a new, non-drug treatment for asthma: "snaking wires inside the lungs of asthma patients to essentially burn off some of the tissue that blocks their ability to breathe."





—Mellow Monk


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Meditation at school for kids with ADHD

Schools are beginning to experiment with meditation as a non-drug way for students to deal with attention deficity hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).





—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, May 25, 2006

How a pot of tea could save your life

Drinking tea is good for you in many ways, but here's one way that you may not have heard of: as a means of self-defense.


An 81-year-old lady fought off a knife-weilding attacker with a tea kettle full of boiling water.


This story reminds me of a line from a movie:


A: A fish saved my life once.
B: How?
A: I ate it.

I'll send a free packet of Top Leaf Green Tea to the first person who emails me (contest at mellowmonk dot com) the title of the movie from which the above dialog was taken.


—Mellow Monk


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Grow your own square watermelons

Want to grow your own square watermelon? Essentially all you need is the right sized box, as shown in this photo.


Here is a previous post about square watermelons, a novelty that apparently started in Japan.





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thousand-year-old tea, anyone?

In Korea recently, green tea from a tea bush believed to be a thousand years old was sold at auction. The winning bid? Thirteen million won, or roughly $13,000.


—Mellow Monk


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Your tea, madam

Butler cafes, where a predominantly female clientele is served by waiters dressed like 19th-century English butlers, are a new trend in Japan.





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Simple, convenient filter for loose-leaf green tea

Kitchenware maker BonJour previously marketed its BonJour Smart Coffee Maker as a solution for loose-leaf tea but later renamed it, probably because demand was greater among coffee drinkers.


However, the only change was to the name, and this filter is still an excellent choice for brewing loose-leaf green tea. I've seen it in action at a friend's house, and it's simple, clean, and convenient: You put the tea leaves into the filter and pour in hot water. Once the tea's steeped for 3 to 5 minutes, you simply place the filter onto your mug or cup. The spring-loaded bottom of the filter is pushed up, allowing the tea to drain into the cup by gravity. Once your cup is full, you simply pick the filter up off the cup, stopping the flow instantly, without any dripping. (The only catch is that your tea cup or mug can't be too wide for the base of the filter.)


I highly recommend this to anyone for brewing green tea at home or at the office.





—Mellow Monk


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Monday, May 22, 2006

Float the pain away

Floating therapy is exactly what the name implies: floating in a big tank of water to relieve chronic pain.

The research study shows that individuals suffering from stress-related health problems such as chronic pain, depression, or anxiety are often helped a great deal by floating. The effect remains four months after the treatment period.

Here's why the researchers think that floating therapy has the positive effects that it does:

Stress is largely about how we worry about things that have happened and are going to happen. When an individual, instead, manages to reach a sort of ‘here-and-now’ state, the brain can rest. These researchers believe that floating is a way of achieving just such a state. In a dark and silent floating tank, the patient is cut off from many sense impressions. Besides the rest the brain gets, the muscles also become relaxed.

—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Retiring from Toyota U.S.A.

This is an interesting article about the differences between American automakers and the American operations of Japanese car manufacturers when it comes to their retirees.

All three Japanese companies are anticipating that the ranks of retirees will swell over the next several years. Toyota's American arm, for example, has just 258 retired production workers (G.M., by contrast, has more than 400,000 retirees).


But things will change over the next five years. In 2011 and 2012, a combined 1,700 workers will be eligible for retirement at Toyota — about 6 percent of its current labor force.





—Mellow Monk


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Benzene in soft drinks

A while back an alarm was raised about the possibility of unsafe levels of benzene in "sodas" (the original reports were a little vague). Now it turns out it's not as bad as thought in terms of the number of at-risk products.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rethinking therapy dogs

Previously I wrote a post about studies showing that visits by dogs increased heart attack victims' chances of survival.


Now, another study warns that 80 percent of these "therapy dogs" may carry diseases that are infectious to humans.





—Mellow Monk


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Hookworm infection cures asthma and hayfever

This is an account of one man who traveled to Camaroon to deliberately become infected with hookworm because of one of the disease's documented side effects: it cures severe asthma and hayfever.


Hookworm will never take off as an extreme asthma treatment. Instead, the promise lies in isolating the chemical compounds released by the worm that stop asthma and other auto-immune diseases.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, May 19, 2006

Hard-to-find 800 numbers

Here's a real time saver and stress reducer: a website listing hard-to-find customer-support phone numbers.


The top 5 numbers are for Amazon.com, Ebay.com, PayPal.com, Yahoo.com, and Microsoft.com.


—Mellow Monk


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Space-age tabi sneakers

Asics has created space sneakers for astronauts to wear in the International Space Station.


The sneakers, with a tabi-style split toe for improved balance, are for wearing during the physical training that astronauts perform to keep their muscles from atrophying in the microgravity of Earth's orbit.





—Mellow Monk


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Vitamins: overrated

The National Institutes of Health recently announced they could find little evidence that vitamin supplements work.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sumo bout!

Asashoryu beats Chiyotaikai in this 43-second clip from Day 13 of the spring basho (tournament). The commentary is in English.





—Mellow Monk


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60 years of postwar progress

The Japanese government PR magazine Asia-Pacific Perspectives: Japan+ has an article titled "60 Years of Postwar Progress".

The article's a nice summary of how Japanese has changed in the 60 years that have passed since the end of WWII. There are plenty of pics, such as the one below showing the living room of a typical middle-class family in the late 1950s.





—Mellow Monk


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Brain training, redux

More on the brain training trend in Japanese video games:

And what does Brain Training do? Well, you hold your Nintendo DS like a book (with left and right screens), and you basically use the touchscreen to undergo a wide variety of simple, cleanly-designed, interesting exercises intended to make you smarter. Or, at least, keep your brain sharp and fresh and delicious. At the end of your "fun", the game eventually calculates and reports your "mental age" — often with painful/comedic effect — and tracks your progress over the weeks and months of self-education. And that's about it.

Of course, no video game can take the place of actually going out and doing something.


See previous posts on the topic of brain training here.


—Mellow Monk


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Make your own Japanese flute

For the handy and musically inclined, here are directions on how to make your own yokobue (transverse flute).



—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Green tea in a plastic bottle—say it ain't so!

Here's a Korean TV commercial for a bottled ready-to-drink green tea. The commercial is obviously aimed at young people, and it reminds me of what Mr. Nagata said about the sad trend among young people in Japan today to see green tea as something that you buy in a bottle, not something you brew yourself.


Notice that the plastic bottle in commercial is colored to make the tea look ultra-green. Another thing that the commercial doesn't tell you is that a lot of the polyphenols in green tea start to break down within a few hours of brewing, so that by the time that bottle of tea reaches you, it's lost of lot of its health-promoting "punch".


So don't succumb to the temptation of bottled tea—it's healthier to brew your own. The whole tea-brewing process is also an excellent opportunity to take a step back and relax. Green tea isn't just a drink; it's an experience.





—Mellow Monk


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Animal onomatopoeia

A cat says "Meow" in English but "Nyan" in Japanese. A list of these and other animal sounds in various languages can be found here.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kissing cures hayfever?

According to one study, kissing may alleviate hayfever:

Scientists based at the Satou hospital in Japan found that kissing worked by relaxing the body and reducing the production of histamine – a chemical that the body produces in response to pollen, causing the sneezing, runny noses and streaming eyes that characterise hay fever attacks.

—Mellow Monk


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Green tea shocker? Not really

The F.D.A. announced that a company selling green tea can't promote the tea as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.


But remember: Medical research into the many health benefits of green tea has a short history. It will take a long time to thoroughly study all of the many traditionally accepted health benefits of green tea.


And in almost every other area of green tea research, the news turning up is good: Green tea is good for you in a lot of ways. Just take a look at some of the findings I've posted before about green tea and cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol, just to name a few.


So keep on drinking that green tea. As more and more studies affirm its positive health benefits, you'll be glad you did!





—Mellow Monk


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China to tax its wooden chopsticks

The Chinese government has slapped a 5 percent tax on exports of disposable wooden chopsticks:

The move is hitting hard at the Japanese, who use up a tremendous 25 billion sets of wooden chopsticks a year — about 200 pairs per person. Some 97 percent of them come from China.

And it's only going to get worse:

But pretty soon, some fear, Japan won't even be able to get expensive chopsticks from China: Japanese newspapers Mainichi and Nihon Keizai reported that China is expected to stop waribashi exports to Japan as early as 2008.



—Mellow Monk


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Monday, May 15, 2006

China's teahouses infuse the ancient with the modern

Teahouses that combine the traditional with the modern are making a comeback in China. In short, tea, after years of being highly uncool, is becoming trendy, particularly among the country's young, affluent crowd.


—Mellow Monk


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Faced with a major decision? Sleep on it

It's always interesting when a scientific study proves something we already knew intuitively.

Complex decisions are best left to your unconscious mind to work out, according to a new study, and over-thinking a problem could lead to expensive mistakes.


The research suggests the conscious mind should be trusted only with simple decisions, such as selecting a brand of oven glove. Sleeping on a big decision, such as buying a car or house, is more likely to produce a result people remain happy with than consciously weighing up the pros and cons of the problem, the researchers say.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Meditate for a bigger brain

Meditation not only is a cost-free, drug-free relaxation technique; it can also make your brain bigger.


—Mellow Monk


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What happens to retired sumo wrestlers

Ever wonder what happens to retired sumo wresters? Well, the video below shows Royce Gracie taking on a retired Akebono, Hawaiian-born Chad Rowan, who became Japanese sumo's first-ever foreign grand champion (yokozuna) in 1993. He last wrestled as a rikishi in 2000, retired in 2001, and left sumo entirely in 2003.





—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, May 13, 2006

How to read tea leaves

The Tea Association of the United States has a page on how to read tea leaves, complete with an illustration (see below).


Who knew there was an actual technique to this. I thought tea-leaf-readers and other fortune tellers simply made it up as they went.


.


—Mellow Monk


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Video: Johnny Cash and Charley Pride

Music hath charms to sooth the savage beast ... and to relieve stress, especially when it's good music.


Here's a video of two old-school country music legends, Johnny Cash and Charley Pride, doing a medley of Hank Williams songs on "The Johnny Cash Show." This espisode originally aired on September 6, 1969.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, May 12, 2006

Laughter, the best medicine

Laugh it up whenever you can—it's good for you:

[L]aughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. In doing this, laughter provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility. These stress hormones suppress the immune system, increase the number of blood platelets (which can cause obstructions in arteries) and raise blood pressure. When we're laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses increase, as do Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T-cells, which are a major part of the immune response, and B-cells, which make disease-destroying antibodies.

(Can you tell it's Friday?)


—Mellow Monk


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A punster's paradise

Need a pun fix? Then check out the blog Punderful.com. Here's a taste of what they offer:

hey all you fungis
happy yeaster!

This blog is about a year-and-a-half old and has a sizeable archive to explore, too.


—Mellow Monk


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Cyril's green tea magic

Below is a video of Cyril, an L.A.-born magician who is incredibly popular in Japan lately, performing a couple of magic tricks at a green tea ceremony.


(The audio track is all Japanese, but it's easy to see what the tricks are supposed to be.)


Now, I'm not a big believer in magic, but I thought this clip was interesting because it's representative of what's on TV in Japan.





—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Summary of "Green Gold" posts

Here is a listing of all the posts I've written about the book Green Gold: The Empire of Tea. The book is about the the British Empire's discovery and commercialization of tea, and the impact that business had on the empire.


—Mellow Monk


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Symbiosis between humans and the tea plant

Here's another excerpt from Green Gold:

The early forest dwellers may also have found that rubbing tea on to wounds, or binding up a wound with some ground-up tea inside it, helped healing, and we know from recent accounts that tribesmen in the Naga, Shan, Kachin and neighboouring hills use tea as a medicine in this way. Such vitalising and medicinal properties would have given tea-chewing humans, and tea-chewing monkeys, a competitive advantage. For thousands of years there existed a symbiosis between tea and mammals as the latter, through their consumption and handling of the plants, unconcsciously encouraged widespread growth of the tea tree.

This isn't quite as corny as it sounds (not like saying there's symbiosis between humankind and corn because we plant corn everywhere). As the British discovered in the mid-1800s when they began trying to cultivate wild-growing tea in the Assam region of India, picking tea leaves stimulates the tea plant to grow more vigorously. That, plus the fact that early tea-harvesters probably cleared away other vegetation growing around these wild-growing plants, helped the plants spread more than they would have if left to their own devices.


—Mellow Monk


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Athletes drafted to make green tea macho

Taking a cue from just about every other industry that fears its products don't seem manly enough, a major tea manufacturer has announced the signing of professional athletes to appear in commercials for the company's line of green teas.


The athletes in question are retired NFL star Phil Simms and his son Chris, currently quarterback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Mellow Monk, meanwhile, continues to rely on its simple message: Mellow Monk green tea is good for you, tastes great, and is grown sustainably.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Elementary school grows rice for the needy

Students at an elementary school in rural Kumamoto, Japan, participated in a different kind of project for helping the less fortunate: growing rice. With only a little guidance from the adults, the kids did all the work themselves—preparing the paddies, planting, fertilizing, weeding, harvesting, polishing, and bagging.


The bagged rice will be shipped overseas as part of the government's relief effort. The picture below is of a ceremony commemorating the end of the project and the donation of the rice.


Parents and teachers hope that the project also gives the students a greater understanding and appreciation of a crop that is still important to the local economy: rice.




—Mellow Monk


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Reducing dread

The key to feeling less dead about a future event, according to one study, is simply to distract yourself.


It's interesting how such studies often arrive at conclusions that sound a lot like the sort of commonsense advice you'd get from your grandmother.


The commonsense translation of this study is: "Stop worrying so much! Go out and get your mind off it!"





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Photos of newly discovered deep-sea species

Wired.com has a gallery of photos of deep-sea creatures recently discovered by the Census of Marine Zooplankton.





—Mellow Monk


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Even a perfect parent has to get tough sometimes

The article's title says it all: "Perfect parents need to get nasty [as in tough] sometimes."


The author is calling for a middle ground between extreme permissiveness and prison guard.


They might kick you in the shins when you do it, but your children actually want to be shown where the boundaries of behaviour are set. ... "Because I say so" is not child abuse. It is not always necessary to engage perfect logic to make children behave well. Cicero was probably a lousy dad.




—Mellow Monk


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Arakawa makes her professional debut

Figure skater Shizuka Arakawa—Japan's sole medal winner in the Turin Winter Olympics—made her first apparance since turning pro, skating in an "ice show" in Yokohama on Monday.





—Mellow Monk


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Monday, May 08, 2006

Overworked hubby inspires wife to write blog, then book

Erin Hoffman hardly saw her husband, a video-game programmer who worked 85 hours a week. Upset with what she saw as a "culture of overwork," she began blogging (under the name "EA Spouse") to express her frustrations. The blog struck such a chord that it was wildly successful. Now Erin looking for a publisher for the book she's written about overwork.





—Mellow Monk


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Choo-choo train teapot

Here's a video of a teapot shaped like a steam locomotive. Watch to see what happens when the water boils.





—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cute green tea commercial

Here's a subtitled Japanese TV commercial for green tea. Seems everyone wants Top Leaf.





—Mellow Monk


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Booze + green tea = cancer cure?

Well, it's a little more complicated than that. From this article:

When Natick Labs chemist Ferdinando Bruno began researching potential uses for a component found in green tea, his goal was simple: build an efficient and light plastic battery to power equipment used on the battlefield.


Bruno never dreamed he would instead find a new cancer treatment that may heal patients without the painful side effects associated with most forms of chemotherapy.


His discovery, which is being pursued at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell with collaboration from U.S. Army scientists from Natick Labs, is showing promise in
treating colorectal cancer and cancer of the breast, head, and neck.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Japan may approve matchmaking ads on TV

The Japanese government is becoming so concerned about the country's low birth rate that it's considering letting matchmaking companies run ads on TV, which current regulations forbid.


Hmm... I wonder what's Japanese for "soulmate."


—Mellow Monk


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Livermore's world-famous light bulb

Livermore, California, where Mellow Monk Green Tea is located, doesn't have a whole lot to brag about—no bamboo shoot triplets, for instance—but we do have the world's longest-burning lightbulb. Over 100 years and going strong!


Obviously it was after this bulb was made that light bulb manufacturers hit on the concept of planned obsolescence.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, May 05, 2006

America's newest export to Japan: geeks

What the heck. It's Friday.


From Google Video: a video clip from Japanese TV featuring anime otaku ("animation geeks") from America pilgrimaging to the motherland. Their goal? To buy much-coveted anime products, sing anime-themed karaoke, and attend anime conventions dressed as their favorite characters.





—Mellow Monk


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The caffeine trap

Here's an excerpt of a National Geographic article about caffeine.


A neurologist interviewed for the article describes what could be called "the caffeine trap":


"The principal reason that caffeine is used around the world is to promote wakefulness," [Harvard Medical School neurologist Charles] Czeisler says. "But the principal reason that people need that crutch is inadequate sleep. Think about that: We use caffeine to make up for a sleep deficit that is largely the result of using caffeine."

—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Green tea drinks boost Starbucks revenues

A sign of green tea's growing popularity in the United States: Starbucks (no hissing, please) reports that a strong showing for green tea beverages was a major factor in a 27 percent rise in quarterly profits.


Alright, we all have to feed our sweet tooth once in a while, but I can't resist pointing out the irony of drinking a super sugar-charged green tea beverage "because it's good for you." (Kinda like washing down your vitamin supplements with whiskey. Not that I'd know anything about that.)


Besides, can you even taste the green tea in a green tea latte?


Come out of the darkness and into the light, o drinkers of green tea lattes!


—Mellow Monk


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Bamboo shoots on a slow news day

This is the sort of news you get on a slow news day in a slow town.


The town in question is Japan's Ubuyama (population 1,754), situated not too far from the source of Mellow Monk green tea. The news in question is about—are you sitting down?—three bamboo shoots that a farmer found growing out of a single root node.


Below is a photo of the shoots from the local rag, the Kumanichi.


The farmer who found them, a Mr. Sakai, explained that a node on a bamboo root normally produces only a single shoot, and that it's very rare to find three growing from a single node. Usually, nodes are spaced about a yard apart.


So pleased was Mr. Sakai with his find that he brought it to the local onsen (hot spring bath house), where it was proudly put on display at the entrance to the wonderment of tourists and locals alike.


The entire Mellow Monk staff feels privileged and honored to break this news to the world. Remember: You heard it here first.


(Stories like this one are a sure sign that the first-string reporters and editors are on vacation for Golden Week, Japan's longest string of holidays.)





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fire in the hole! Exploding latte!

A line of self-heating canned lattes branded with the name of a celebrity chef is being recalled due to defects that can cause the cans to overheat or, in rare instances, explode. Those loud popping sounds have also brought out the lawyers.


Lesson 1: When a new technology comes out, wait a year or two for the kinks to get worked out.


Lesson 2: Brew your beverages the old-fashioned way. It's healthier—and safer!


—Mellow Monk


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Japan's teddy bear gun

A recent trend in Japanese weddings has been to toss teddy bears instead of rice. A Japanese company that makes paintball guns hit on the idea of marketing a teddy bear launcher for weddings. It's kind of like a flare gun or party cracker that shoots out a small teddy bear, which floats to the ground via a parachute.





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tea basics

Here is a concise, well-written article that covers all the basics about green tea—where it fits in the tea pantheon, how it's good for you, plus a few recipes.


—Mellow Monk


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Comedic replies to a stress survey

Sometimes we stress too much about being stressed. In keeping with that sentiment, here is one quiz-obsessed writer's smart-allecky replies to a typical stress test.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, May 01, 2006

Green tea and type II diabetes

This study found that "People who were frequent drinkers of green tea (>6 cups per day) or coffee (>3 cups per day) were less likely to develop diabetes than those who drank less than 1 cup of these beverages per week."


—Mellow Monk


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Japanese government pays people to party!

Well, not just any old party, but speed-dating get-togethers. As matchmaking by busybody relatives and bosses goes out of style, and with busy work schedules leaving young people with less time and fewer opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex, dating parties have become more and more popular as a way for the unattached to meet people. In the interest of reversing falling birth rates, local governments are now getting into the act:

[L]ocal governments in Japan are prepared to provide financial support for the businesses that organize dating events as part of its efforts to tackle what it sees as a major social problem.




—Mellow Monk


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