Mast debate

A recent BBC Panorama documentary has suggested that wifi Internet might be a major health hazard. Scary quotes about chromosome damage and radiation exposure have appeared all over the Internet. Unfortunately, the documentary’s conclusions are junk science. Let’s start off by noting the inverse square law, a piece of basic physics which applies to electromagnetic radiation exposure. Basically, the strength of a signal varies in proportion to the distance squared.

How to choke on popcorn

Microwave popcorn uses an artificial butter flavoring called diacetyl. Numerous studies have now linked diacetyl fume inhalation to a rare condition called bronchiolitis obliterans, in which the bronchioles of the lungs get blocked by masses of fibrous tissue. The problem has been known about since 1999, but so far federal agencies haven’t done anything. There’s now a bill in California proposing to ban diacetyl by 2010. The Delve Special episode “Food for Thought” just seems more and more relevant as the years go by.

The acceptable face of gentrification?

Done so far: Curtains, rods, holdbacks fitted in living room. Books unpacked onto bookshelves in office. Partial repair to drywall around coax socket in living room, to be completed during the week. Two sets of vertical blinds fitted in office. Today we had a guy spec out a home security system. We’re in what they call a ‘transitional’ neighborhood–while it’s all families immediately around us, a block away is one of Austin’s housing projects, and the kids get the bus from the stop at the end of the street.

The art of toast / toasting the arts

The toaster in the hotel room gave off an interesting flash and a zap noise the other day, and now it only toasts on one side of each slot; the middle element is burned out. It wasn’t a very good toaster to start with, and having to take the bread out and turn it around wait to toast the other side was reminding me of the days before autoreverse cassette decks.

I’m probably the last person to start playing The Sims, but…

I created a Sim Ryan last night, and built him a small one-bedroom apartment with cheap furniture, a computer and a TV. As soon as the neighbors came around to say hi, he latched onto Bella Goth and started chatting her up like crazy, much to her husband Mortimer’s annoyance. After Mortimer stomped off in a huff, it was all going well for SimRyan… until he tried to cook a romantic meal for two, and set fire to the kitchen.

But I didn’t eat it

I knew it was time to go home Friday afternoon, when I found myself standing in front of the microwave waiting for my printout to appear.

The return of ill

Felt better this morning. Went into work. Felt tired by noon, had a splitting headache after lunch. Came home, went to bed. Just woke up, had microwave pizza. Going to work from home tomorrow. Hope I can be well by the weekend.

Shameless consumerism

Never let it be said that I’m not doing my bit to try and prevent a recession. This weekend it was time for a new mobile phone. My old phone is a Bosch World 718. It’s a lovely phone; reliable, good sound, excellent build quality, adequate battery life, and works pretty much anywhere in Europe or the USA because it’s dual-band GSM. The only problem is, it’s 1996 technology, which means it’s the size and weight of a brick compared to today’s phones.

Consumer report

I bought a microwave egg cooker. (Requires microwave oven, not included.) I revel in the technology which allows me to produce a boiled egg in one minute. For breakfast, I had two boiled eggs. Had I had only one, I would have saved almost one minute of my valuable time. (Ignoring the time it takes to wash the microwave egg cooker.)