Gray Hair: Case Closed?

Last night I was looking in the mirror. It had been a few days since I shaved, and I noticed a number of gray hairs in my goatee. Of course my brain did what it always does when when I’m about to get some sleep- it chases down tangents armed with silly questions.

What is the average age a guy (or a girl, for that matter) goes gray? That precise time in Joe Average’s life when the hair goes from salt-and-pepper to white and black mixed in equal parts. Of course I’m probably not Joe Average (somebody has to be, theoretically), but I’d nice to have a ballpark figure. And then there’s the why. Why does hair go gray? Are the resources assigned to mass producing hair color downsized or put to new tasks, say, growing ear hair?

And so the internal dialog went until I decided to write a post on this. But before I got to it I saw that a group of cancer researchers had answered the why question in this article the day before. I think I’ll take this as sign that my delusions of grandeur are not completely delusions. (It’s either that or be mad a cancer researchers for stealing my thunder.)

The simple answer from the article is: “…the loss of hair color to the gradual dying off of adult stem cells, called melanocytes, that provide a reservoir for the renewal of pigment-manufacturing cells.

Ok, that answers the why, but not the when. Googling “when does hair turn gray” returns mostly results for “why does hair turn gray.” Apparently my question isn’t a very popular one. I did however come across the statistic that 50% of Caucasians are 50% gray by age 50 on several web pages. What an unusual statistic. It cleverly says nothing at all but does so in a very quotable way. Ah statistics… I guess that was really all I was looking for anyway.

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Depending on your point of view, at some point or another you will hate reading Infidel, but you need to read it. You need to read it because Ayaan Hirsi Ali risked her life to express the ideas and share the stories in this book.

You will hate it because it will show you things that will surprise and unsettle you; things that you will be hesitant to believe could be possible anywhere in the world. You’ll say things aloud like “No way!” and “Oh my god!” while you stay up late to finish just one more chapter. It’s a fast read (almost breathless by the end), and amazingly it’s not a work of fiction.

Infidel begins with Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s early life in Somalia, her travels between her native home and Saudi Arabia and Kenya as she grows into womanhood and finally her introspective and controversial life in Holland as a refugee, a translator, a student and finally a politician. Along the way you watch her develop her unique point of view as a logical, necessary effect of her experiences. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises or dull the impact of her powerful writing, so I’ll only say that women’s rights, physical and mental abuse, sexism and the role of Islam in the modern world are very thoroughly and satisfyingly analyzed and discussed.

I’ve always liked the phrase “vote with your dollars.” And accordingly, I used my $20 to vote in support of basic human rights and freedom of speech for people regardless of their gender and religious background. (And to help cover the costs of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s security detail!) I encourage you to do so also and buy Infidel.

Sugar? Nope, pass the Miracle Berries.

Miracle Berries

This morning while I should have been driving into the office I was reading a story in the WSJ about a “miracle berry” the Synsepalum dulcificum that somehow enhances your tongue’s sweet receptors so that for a prolonged period of time after eating it (or gargling with it, as seems to be more the way it’s used) everything tastes sweet. Raw lemons, limes, grapefruit, just pick a sour citrus. The most intriguing taste experiment to me was the stout beer + miracle berries = milk shake. I really wanna try that.

Apparently, experiments are underway to harness the power of these berries. All I want to know, is what color will the little packets be? Sugar owns white. Splenda has yellow. Nutrasweet’s got blue. And the controversial Saccharin is all about style in pink.

Check the article out here (membership required, *sigh*).

Want to know a bit more, but don’t want to subscribe? I found this page, and another place that says it sells the seeds. Note: I haven’t verified the information at either site, nor do I endorse the purchase of anything there. Enjoy!

Somewhere Goji berries are secretly plotting their revenge against this upstart star of the berry world.

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How Nerdy Are You?

Just for kicks, I tried out the quiz on after seeing it on a random blog (forget which one… bad Brian!). Here’s my score:

I am nerdier than 61% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I’m not at all surprised by my score, in fact I pretty much nailed it (one of the questions asks you how nerdy you think you are). I’ve always functioned well as a programmer to sales & marketing or programmer to management translator role. (I do program well also, really!) That probably has a lot to do with my success as an independent contractor.

Atlanta’s Snowing Trees

No matter the source, yellow snow is gross. And inhaling it is hard on your sinuses.

Right now, Atlanta is in the midst of it’s annual yellow snow season. Cars that normally look black or blue are looking yellow and green. Storm drains are surrounded by small yellow sand dunes.

Is it a plague? It is if you’re allergic to Oak tree pollen. Yes, Atlanta is literally covered in tree pollen, it happens every year, and until a year or two ago, I would have never, ever believed it. I’ve spent the majority of my life in areas heavily populated by trees- the Pacific Northwest, and to a lesser extent, Malaysia- and I’ve never seen anything like this before. Now I wonder how many locations in the U.S. and around the world “enjoy” a yellow snow season.

UPDATE: My timing on this post couldn’t be any better, Atlanta is experiencing record pollen conditions!

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