Sunday, December 31, 2006

Green tea and memory

From the BBC, via Kazakhstan (!), comes an article on how drinking green tea can improve your memory.


—Mellow Monk


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Fatherhood: 72 crucial tips

From MSN comes a list of 72 tips for guys on surviving and thriving in fatherhood.


Liberal amounts of humor are injected, but for the most part the advice is dead-on.


38. Children's hobbies to nip quickly in the bud: drums, archery, matchbook collecting.


39. Beware your child's uncles, who will teach your kid dirty words, introduce him to liquor, and give him gifts of drums, archery sets, and possibly matches.


40. It is, of course, your natural right to exert the above negative influences on your siblings' offspring.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cow-pie bingo

To play cow-pie bingo, all you need is a cow, a field marked with grid lines, and cash to bet.





—Mellow Monk


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Make green tea your New Year's resolution

A lot of us make New Year's resolutions, and a lot of those resolutions involve doing something healthy for ourselves. Well, if that's the kind of resolution you had in mind, then I have just the ticket: drinking green tea.


Green tea is a New Year's resolution that is not only healthy, but unlike so many other resolutions, it's easy to keep: Each day, simply brew up some Mellow Monk green tea, kick back, relax, and enjoy the warm, tasty beverage. Make it the centerpiece of daily tea breaks. Do that each day, and you've already gone a long way to adopting a healthy, low-stress lifestyle.


Green tea—easy to brew, good for you, and an easy-to-keep New Year's resolution.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 29, 2006

Panda twins born in Japanese zoo

Mei Mei, a giant panda on loan from China as a goodwill gesture, gave birth to twins at a zoo/amusement park called Adventure World in Wakayama.



Mei Mei with her twins. (In this photo, she's being fed, not muzzled.)


—Mellow Monk


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Green tea + caffeine = negative calories?

The Coca-Cola Company is claiming that its new drink Enviga, whose main ingredients are green tea and caffeine, contains negative calories—by increasing your metabolism, it burns more calories than the drink itself contains.


Claims the company:


The effects of the green tea drinks go beyond those of caffeine-laden zero-calorie sodas, the manufacturers of Celsius and Enviga say. An antioxidant found in green tea - epigallo catechin gallate, or EGCG - significantly increases metabolism, they say. This, in turn, boosts the body's ability to burn fat.

If that's the case, you may as well just drink a lot of green tea, which will boost your metabolism and give you all of the other benefits of green tea but without all of the other chemicals found in bottled drinks like Enviga.



Negative calories? Not so fast, say nutritionists


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Find the way to de-stress that suits you best

There's no one-size-fits-all secret to relieving stress. The trick is to experiment and find what works for you. For instance:

Distraction: See a movie. Go fishing. Stop and smell the roses. Doctors aren’t sure what goes on chemically, but PET scans can measure how it moves your brainwaves into the relaxed alpha state. You’re wide awake but no longer hyper-alert, no longer obsessing about the problem at hand.


Green hair may be part of this woman's stress problems.


—Mellow Monk


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Japan's spoon-feeding robot

As Japan's elderly become a larger and larger portion of the nation's total population, the labor shortage at elder-care facilities threatens to reach a crisis. One response the country is taking is the development of robot technology designed to assist care givers. The latest such technology is a spoon-feeding robot.



The feeding robot


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Green tea and arthritis

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that green tea can help prevent and mitigate arthritis by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown.


—Mellow Monk


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Recovering from post-holiday stress

The run-up to the festivities isn't the only time that the holidays can frazzle our nerves. Post-holiday "disaster relief efforts" can also take their toll on our mental health. This article offers practical tips on how to recover quickly.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Magnet therapy exposed

Magnet therapy is only good for one thing: attracting your money.


—Mellow Monk


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Ruins of modern Japan

Here is a collection of photographs of "urban ruins" in Japan—abandoned hotels, apartment buildings, amusement parks, and whatnot.


Apparently, there are quite a few "fans" of abandoned structures out there.



Reminds me of one of those end-of-the-world movies.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 25, 2006

Man "hibernates" for 3 weeks without food or water

Talk about lucky...


Mitsutaka Uchikoshi disappeared after going to an outdoor barbecue in Japan's Rokko mountains. More than 3 weeks later he was found unconscious, having survived without food or water in what doctors are calling a hibernation-like state.


—Mellow Monk


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Take a news fast

Merry Christmas, everyone!


One stress-busting tip offered by health guru Dr. Andrew Weil is to try a one-day news fast. Take a break from murder, mayhem, and celebrities—read this blog instead!


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Slippers to fight stress

A charity in England is encouraging its employees to wear slippers to work as a way to fight stress.


—Mellow Monk


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Giant squid caught on camera

Japanese researchers have filmed a giant squid alive possibly for the first time ever.


You can view a video here.



This specimen is actually a juvenile—small by giant-squid standards.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Green tea kills bad bacteria but not good bacteria

Tea polyphenols—which green tea has in the greatest abundance—may suppress the growth of harmful bacteria in the human gut, but not the growth of "friendly" bacteria, says a new study.


—Mellow Monk


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Raising a samurai

Here is an interesting article about how Japan's samurai were raised from birth to be proud, fierce warriors.



Off to samurai kindergarten.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 22, 2006

"I'm pregnant" pins on the train

Railway operators in Japan are giving pregnant riders badges that say "I'm pregnant", hoping that this will make other riders more likely to give up their seats to expectant mothers.


There are several factors at work here. One is that pregnant women in Japan are harder to spot nowadays because unlike in the not-too-distant pass, they don't always start wearing baggy maternity outfits the minute they find they're pregnant.


Another factor is the belief that young people today are simply less willing to give up their seats for anyone, but an "I'm pregnant" pin would make the wearer harder to ignore, the logic goes.


Then there's the dietary reality that some Japanese are, ahem, heftier today than in the past thanks to the influx of western-style fast food and whatnot. How's a subway rider to know for sure that a large-bellied woman is really pregnant? A false positive in such situations is highly embarrassing, after all.


Then there's Japan's nation-wide hand-wringing over falling fertility rates. Fewer babies today means fewer workers to pay taxes 30 years from now, and the government is trying all sorts of measures to encourage couples to have more kids. Who knows—for a few women out there debating whether to have a child, improved chances of getting a seat on the train may be a deciding factor.



"Baby on board" is the rough translation.


—Mellow Monk


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Bottoms up, live longer

News that's just in time for the holidays: Italian researchers—bless their little hearts—have found that knocking back a couple of drinks a day will make you live longer. (Note that they said a couple of drinks.)



Mmm. Sure smells healthy.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rare but deadly: tornados in Japan

Tornados are a meteorological rarity in Japan, but last month, Japan's deadliest tornado on record killed nine people in Hokkaido.



A picture of the tornado that tore through the town of Saroma, Hokkaido, on November 7.


—Mellow Monk


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Avoid the stress of holiday shopping

Here is some practical advice that falls under the "holiday stress" sub-category of "how to avoid the stress of holiday shopping." (Does anyone spot a theme in the blog postings of the past few days?)


And of course, when you get home from a gruelling day at the mall, don't forget to unwind with a nice, hot cup of Mellow Monk green tea. (I had to get a plug in there somewhere.)



"Oh no! I forgot the fruitcake for Auntie Em!"


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Green tea fights acne

Forget about expensive ointments and creams: A study presented to the American Academy of Dermatologists has found that ordinary green tea applied directly to the skin works as well as benzoyl peroxide in controlling acne.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Feel better naturally

Alternatives to drugs being investigated by medical researchers include plain old chewing gum instead of antacids, hypnosis instead of anesthesia, and music instead of pain relievers.





—Mellow Monk


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Infrared cooking boosts green tea's benefits

A Korean team of researchers has shown that a tea's concentrations of antioxidants and a host of other desirable chemicals are higher when roasting is done with far-infraread heat lamps instead of using a conventional oven.


The article incorrectly states that "[l]eaves that will become green tea are first roasted to inactivate their enzymes." Actually, green tea is steamed first; roasting is the second step.


Another point requiring clarification: The number-one factor in preserving the antioxidant content of green tea is processing the tea leaves as quickly as possible after harvest. Harvested leaves must be steamed right away to inactivate enzymes (which would otherwise destroy the catechins and other antioxidants) and stop oxidation.


Small-farm green tea like Mellow Monk's is harvested in small batches. Growers harvest only as much as they can steam right away. In contrast, the massive farms that produce what's in your typical mass-market tea harvest tea in large amounts. The sheer weight of the tea alone generates heat inside the pile that speeds up enzyme activity. That, plus the time delays involved in large-scale tea farming, make for lower contents of catechins.


To summarize: The trick to assuring your green tea has lots of catechins is to buy the good stuff—like Mellow Monk Green Tea.



Tea time!


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 18, 2006

The Red Sox learn Japanese

Now that they're going to have Japanese pitching sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka as a teammate, Red Sox starter Curt Schilling and pitching coach John Farrell are learning Japanese.


—Mellow Monk


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American wife of a Japanese politician

Jane Singer Mizuguchi tells what it's like to be the American wife of a Japanese politician [registration is required but free].



"Don't blow this one, honey, or it's going to be a less-than-cheery Christmas."


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sake fights for the right to party

Japanese sake is enjoying increasing popularity outside of Japan, but in the beverage's mother country, brewers are having to fight for market share against the incursions of beer, wine, and other spirits.



Only five bottles of this special sake are allowed to be exported each year.


—Mellow Monk


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Have a green tea party

Some hints for having a green tea party.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 15, 2006

Samurai sword vs. machine gun

This video shows, in super slow motion, a Japanese sword being slowly decimated by machine-gun fire. (Ladies, it's a guy thing.)


As the film shows later on in super-duper slow motion, the first few rounds are actually sliced in half by the sword's sharp, tough edge.


The movie is in Japanese with no English subtitles, but it's pretty self-explanatory.





—Mellow Monk


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Holiday stress and work

The boss pulls you in one direction while your holiday to-do list pulls you in another. What's a dedicated employee to do? This article offers a few hints.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tatami beds

For those of you for whom even the firmest mattress isn't firm enough, you may want to try out a tatami bed.





—Mellow Monk


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Green tea popcorn

How to make green tea popcorn with matcha (powdered green tea).


Hint: To make your own matcha, just put some Mellow Monk loose-leaf green tea in a high-speed food processor and grind it to a powder. (Green tea used in making matcha is grown, harvested, and processed in essentially the same manner as ordinary loose-leaf green tea; the only difference is the powdering process.)



This could easily be Mellow Monk green tea popcorn.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Green Tea Library online

Nadine Taylor, dietitian and author of Green Tea, an excellent little book that summarizes everything you need to know about green tea, has started the website called Green Tea Library. It's chock full of information about the benefits of green tea, including links to studies published online.





—Mellow Monk


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Eating at a sushi restaurant: a how-to video

This very funny (but in a subtle way) video about all the etiquette one needs to know when dining at a traditional Japanese sushiya (sushi restaurant).


I posted this a year ago, but not only is it still funny, but last year's link is broken anyway, so here you are again. The film's in Japanese with English subtitles.


The film pokes fun at real customs, but some of the elements are just flat-out untrue, such as the part about wearing the sushi geta on your feet.





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Green tea and high-fiber cereal: a healthy, filling snack for dieters

Cynthia Herringa rises at 4:30 a.m. and starts her job as a nurse at 6:30 a.m. By 10:30 a.m., hunger starts to set in. So as a healthy but filling snack, she munches on high-fiber cereal while sipping green tea. "It really helps to fill me up," she says.


—Mellow Monk


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Nissan announces plans for hydrogen car

Japanese automaker Nissan has announced plans to market a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered car by the early 2010s.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 11, 2006

Green tea, breast cancer, and estrogen levels

In this study, a group of University of Southern California medical researchers who had previously "provided the first set of human evidence that breast cancer risk is significantly inversely associated with tea intake, largely confined to intake of green tea," investigated one possible reason for the lower incidence of breast cancer among green tea drinkers: estrogen levels in the blood.


The study found that postmenopausal women who drank green tea regularly had a statistically significant lower (13%) level of estrogen in their bloodstream than women who drank tea irregularly or not at all. (Women who drank black tea regularly had 19% higher estrogen levels.)


—Mellow Monk


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Eat slowly, lose weight

A recent study verifies that women who eat slowly tend to lose weight.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Monk is looking for affiliates

I'm looking for webmasters who'd like to become Mellow Monk affiliates. If you're interested, please drop me a line (affiliates at mellowmonk dot com).


—Mellow Monk


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Yoga to overcome stress and pain

Here is the story of a woman who experienced relief from stress and pain with yoga. After knee-replacement surgery, she switched to restorative yoga and got good results with that, too.


—Mellow Monk


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Embarrassment discourages exercise

This is news?


Fitness exports report that a major reason people put off going to the gym is embarrassment.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Green tea improves blood lipid levels

From nutraingredients-usa.com:

Regular consumption of the antioxidant-rich green tea could reduce blood lipid levels and cut the risk of developing heart disease, suggests a small trial from Portugal.

—Mellow Monk


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Tokyo subway riders get their vinegar fix

In Japan, kurozu (black vinegar) is becoming so popular among health-conscious folks that a vinegar bar has opened up in the Shimbashi subway station in Tokyo.


Here is a detailed page on the health benefits of vinegar.





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Beatles slept here" hotel in Tokyo to be demolished

John, Paul, George, and Ringo stayed in the presidential suite of the Tokyo Hilton during their 1966 concert tour of Japan. This summer, to capitalize on the 40th anniversary of the Fab Four's only visit to Japan, the Capitol Tokyu Hotel (as it was later renamed) restored the suite to the way it looked back in '66.


But this past Wednesday was the last day of operation for the 43-year-old hotel, which is slated to be torn down to make way for a 29-story building complex.


Here is a page of pictures and information about The Beatles' 1966 Japan tour.



With the wrecking ball on its way, you can almost hear the old hotel crying "Help!"


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Don't put milk in your green tea!

...if you want to preserve your tea's antioxidant properties, that is.


A study done in Italy found that when mixed with cow's milk, both green and black tea completely lost their antioxidant effects inside the body.


The researchers theorize that this destruction of antioxidant properties is from the proteins in the milk binding to the tea's polyphenols.


Incidentally, it was also found that green tea is six times as potent as black tea when it comes to disease-fighting antioxidant effects.


—Mellow Monk


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"Last Emperor" composer's messy divorce

Ryuichi Sakamoto, called the first Japanese musician to achieve international fame (if you're not counting Kitaro, that is), is known for the soundtrack to the 1987 film The Last Emperor. Now he's making news again in Japan because of a messy divorce from actress Akiko Yano.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 04, 2006

Ease headaches with accupuncture and exercise

Physical therapists in Sweden claim that acupuncture, exercise, and other non-drug therapies can be used to successfuly treat chronic tension headaches.



It's really not as painful as it looks.


—Mellow Monk


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Japanese bureacrats to blog their diets

Two vice-ministers of Japan's Ministry of Health have publicly pledged to lose about 10 pounds and will even blog about their slimming efforts.





—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Japan to get a jury system

After an absence of over 60 years, Japan is planning to institute an American-style jury system to decide criminal cases in the country's courts. (Currently, verdicts are decided by three-judge panels.)


—Mellow Monk


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Green tea helps treat radiation-induced skin damage

A study published in the journal BMC Medicine has concluded that compounds found in abundance in green tea "work as an effective treatment for patients who suffer from damaged skin following radiation treatment for cancer."


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Another green tea vodka

Just in time for Saturday night: Charbay, a "family winery and micro-distillery," has released a green tea vodka.


You can read a review (and get a cocktail recipe) here.


If anyone tries it, please let me know what you think.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 01, 2006

The Zuni-Japan connection

The Zuni language, spoken by a Native American people in New Mexico and Arizona, is considered a "language isolate"—a language that linguistically is completely unrelated to any other known language (or at least no general consensus exists among linguists as to which linguistic family the language in question belongs).


A common explanation for language isolates such as Zuni and Basque is that the prehistoric speakers of the language had originally colonized a much larger area but were later wiped out or assimilated—except for a small enclave—by another people who spoke a different language. In short, the speakers of the language isolate are the descendents of that small surviving enclave.


However, in her book The Zuni Enigma, anthropologist Nancy Yaw Davis proposes a much more radical theory for the Zuni people's linguistic and other differences from surrounding Native American peoples: Their language and culture are the result of a merger with a group of thirteenth-century Japanese pilgrims.


The theory is controversial to say the least, but there you are.


You can read can excerpt of The Zuni Enigma online.


—Mellow Monk


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