Flying story, user notes on Retrograde and the Big Vitamin Battle on the grill this morning…we’ll start with the fun stuff.
See that funny looking instrument off to the right, there?
That’s called an artificial horizon, attitude indicator, and a bunch of other things in aviation.
The idea is simple enough: If you are flying an airplane, and the clouds come along with enough density to block out a view of the ground, you need to know where “Up” is.
Your eyes become useless, the inner ear begins lying to you, and what you think is your “sense of balance” turns out to genuinely suck.
Any second, vertigo will ensue if you don’t have one of these…and that will be that. You’ll either pitch up the nose of the airplane, too far, stall, and come crashing down to the earth.
The artificial horizon gyro platform (vacuum or electric-powered) keeps that from happening if you can read it and “keep coordinated” under instrument conditions.
Or, you’ll drop the nose down and think that you’re flying straight and level when, if you’d look at any number of instruments, you would be able to see instantly that your nose is down, you are increasing airspeed (the air speed indicator is rising), the altimeter is showing you beginning to burn off altitude, and your vertical speed indicator might be suggesting a speed of something line –1,500 feet per minute.
That’s why pilots (at least good ones), are always aware of their instruments.
“How does this relate to Retrograde?” you’re wondering.
When you fly an airplane there’s a checklist you go through, so that when you (not IF) you ever goof up and go inadvertently into instrument conditions, you’ll be able to fly the airplane safely using the “instrument scan” technique.
On serious airplanes, the instruments are arrange in a standard T configuration with this goody top and center of the T. Below is a directional gyro (a gyroscopic compass) and to the left is the air speed while to the right is the altimeter.
So there I was, picking up the old Beechcrate from the Doctor’s office and we were socked in, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and not legal to fly instruments, I did a “high speed taxi” down the runway, “accidentally” lifted off to about 10-feet of altitude, and then dropped back down into ground effect, floated along a few feet over the runway with 15-degrees of flaps in, until, almost a mile later, I was coming up on the north end of the runway, so I settled back down onto the main gear, dropped the nose, raised the flaps and was slowed to way under flying speed before the desired turn-off.
I did the “high speed taxi” and “float in ground effect” because of something I figured out: When an airplane comes out of maintenance is one of the highest likelihood of failures you’ll find.
By keeping the first post-maintenance flight as a “high speed taxi” (where, OK, you might lift off into ground-effect, slow flight) you can check everything and be safely within a few feet of ground which seems to me like a good thing. When possible, I do two of these, before going really flying after maintenance, since I’m a natural-born coward.
Back to the Retrograde part. I noticed in the preflight that my main gyro (attitude indicator) was not erecting properly. It was slightly wonky in the preflight.
Since I was going on a “high speed taxi” it was no issue. I know the airplane like a “second skin” and practicing aborted take-offs is a very good exercise.
By the time I was down at the far end of the field, the attitude gyro was (finally) erected, but on taxi (regular low speed type) back to our hangar, Jeremy the Mechanic looked into the vacuum pump and announced it healthy.
“Most likely, it’s because it’s so bloody cold out…but this is how gyros give notice that they are planning to go out. They take too long to spin up in cold weather.”
Conditions were 33-degrees and the airplane was dead cold when this happened, but I concurred with his assessment: Not normal so it’s another squawk that will be addressed.
The mechanic was also impressed with how slow our VG equipped airplane will almost hover in ground effect. He couldn’t believe how slow it was flying with the nose-high configuration.
Since we were talking about Retrograde the other day, I’m not sure how I’d score this one.
Was this the “going away present” for Mercury going out of Retrograde on the 11th?
I haven’t figured out how to score this one: One side of me figures that Mercury just screwed me out of $600-bucks because it will cost around $500 to rebuild the gyro platform and another $100, or so, for the in and out of the airplane…so that was bad in terms of the checkbook.
But, it might actually be “good” in the sense that whenever possible, I like to “trap errors” in tightly controlled conditions, when flying in ground-effect is: Hitting the ground from 3-feet is a lot different than hitting from 3-thousand, and from ground effect, I can have the aircraft stopped and be out of it in 15-seconds, or so.
So the bottom line to this was to wonder if Retrograde is really all that dangerous. After all, if we have great safety habits, maybe Retrograde is just Nature’s way of telling us what we need to be saving money for, next.
More Adventures in Retrograde…
All this Retrograde talk got reader Kate to wondering about how all this ties in with my recent comments on the “workings of time.,…”
“… the fact of quantum physics that all time exists”
Is this by the same physicists who found the Higgs Bosom and then….. didn’t? I have a hard time believing that we know much of anything (hard facts) about the universe. But we must keep looking…. I suppose. Also, why would Mercury retrograde affect you if all time exists?”
You know, this may see absolutely nuts, but let me roll one out here:
We all know that time-space is deformed by the mass of a planet or other large object, right? And, since other planets go around influencing the subtle nature of our depression in time-space, is it possible that at a deep-down psychological level, we have time expectations than can be tricked, just like the inner ear can be tricked into losing track of where up is, that we were talking about in gyros?
And, if this is the case, could that really be what the “retrograde effect” is all about – a minute variation in space-time which is so small that we don’t notice it because it impacts the whole planet?
Isn’t it possible that we all have forward-directed expectations which could increase the number of people making missteps right when Mercury runs the wrong way?
Long-time Peoplenomics subscriber Kerry sure noticed the effect:
Mercury in retrograde huh ? I must be right in the window. Just got my water bill last Friday. 8000 gallons over normal. Some detective work finds the basement toilet tank fill valve went defective. Can‘t hear water running until the tank lid is off.
Had a fender bender on the way home from work today. My fault. Gonna guess it will cost me a grand or more after all is said and done. Sheesh.
Gonna pay more attention to that god of winged fire.
Like I said, though: I think the jury is out on whether it’s a good thing, or bad.
I’m glad I know my vacuum gyro having “Erectile Dysfunction” (*a gyro coming up in called “erecting” as in figuring out where Up is…) and is due for a rebuild and we can still fly in something other than freezing temps, and even then if we can wait 5-minutes for it to spin up normally.
Good, though, since it makes like predictable and I hate surprises.
Then take Kerry’s basement toilet tank valve: Better to find it now than later?
And what about the fender-bender: Is this going to be the job that puts some body and fender man back on the payroll? Will it be the “last straw” that gets another adjuster added back in to the ranks of the employed?
It’s a long-running debate: When is something nominally bad really something good in disguise? Or, in a closed system (the size of, oh, Earth, for example) is there nothing more than statistical variations from the mean?
And this all gets me to the biggest ponder of the week:
Would people still go to Churches and the like if they taught statistical analysis in parallel with their religious tenets?
Would some reader please outline a simple on-earth experiment to measure the time-space distortion on Earth of passing planet gravity wells?
Red, Red Wine
What do Neil Diamond and a recent scientific note in Nature have in common?
Here’s the old Neil Diamond song…if you can get past the ad pop-up.
And here’s a report from last September:
And that (tip of the hat to Madison Avenue Mike) is something really worth knowing.
Grapes (red is better) and blueberries are good sources. And we’ve got TruNature Blueberry Standardized Extract 1000 mg – 200 Softgels ($21-bucks for 200) in our morning “stacks.”
Me: The Chemistry Set
We’ve talked about this many times; the whole notion of being able to find the best combination of vitamins that will get you where you want in terms of optimum health.
My current morning stack (of pills, it’s a weight training term) consists of the following:
- One Now Foods, ADAM Superior Men?s Multiple Vitamin, 120 Tablets
- One Life Extension Mitochondiral Energy Support W/BioPQQ 120 Capsules
- One Source Naturals Huperzine A, 200mcg, 120 Tablets
- One NOW Foods Alpha Lipoic Acid 250mg, 120 Vcaps
- One or Two Celery Seed Extract 75 mg 60 Caps
- One or Two NOW Foods Black Cherry Fruit 750 mg – 180 Veg Capsules
- One NOW Foods L-carnosine 500mg, 100 Vegetarian Capsules
- One baby aspirin
- Two prescriptions
- One gram of high Omega-3 fish oil
- 15-20,000 IU of quality Vitamin D
- A good probiotic with breakfast later on
And probably, most important of all, I eat one tablespoon of almonds for protein with this, so the stomach has a tiny bit of food to work with. Then, when I get a break in the workflow (flow? chaos is more like it…) I do the conference, client, and personal calls while doing a leisurely walking speed on our treadmill, 2-3 MPH depending on mood, so 10-15 miles of walking per week.
Along with all this, I’m slowly cutting wheat out of the diet, and alcohol use is down to one or two ounces (actually measured) every three or four days. Most other nights, it’s a glass of OJ, cranberry, or apple juice and doing two meals per day. A decent breakfast about 9 AM and dinner about 4-PM with no lunch.
Been doing a lot of reading lately about how many meals is likely bad for you…and the idea to burn fat is to force the body into running on stored energy which doesn’t happen until all the sugar and “easy carbs” have been converted and you move into fat burning mode which is 8-hours later. Which is why the late breakfast with only a bit of protein early in the day.
There is an afternoon stack as well with things like PSS, the other Adam, and gingko…
While it may seem like a lot, it works for me, and that has been the (ongoing) point of all this: Design a set of personal experiments in nutrition (Better: get real nutritional counseling) with your doctor in tow.
The docs may not be really keep on supplements and such, but the “how you feel” is important and, honestly, both of us feel great. The idea is to prolong that, and to the degree supplements help, I figure what the heck.
One Note of Caution on Nutrition
Earlier this week, the NY State Attorney General filed a complaint asking some of the major retailers in the vitamin and supplement industry to stop selling products that didn’t test well for DNA of vitamins or minerals claimed on labels. Here’s that press release:
NEW YORK — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office sent letters to four major retailers, GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, for allegedly selling store brand herbal supplement products in New York that either could not be verified to contain the labeled substance, or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on the labels. The letters, sent Monday, call for the retailers to immediately stop the sale of certain popular products, including Echinacea, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort, and others. Attorney General Schneiderman requested the companies provide detailed information relating to the production, processing and testing of herbal supplements sold at their stores, as well as set forth a thorough explanation of quality control measures in place.
The letters come as DNA testing, performed as part of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, allegedly shows that, overall, just 21% of the test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels — with 79% coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material. The retailer with the poorest showing for DNA matching products listed on the label was Walmart. Only 4% of the Walmart products tested showed DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels.
“This investigation makes one thing abundantly clear: the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry. Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families—especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients. At the end of the day, American corporations must step up to the plate and ensure that their customers are getting what they pay for, especially when it involves promises of good health.”
“As the sponsor of a measure that would require labeling that states whether a product has been evaluated by the FDA or not, and legislation to establish a dietary supplements safety committee, I fully support the Attorney General’s efforts in this area,” said New York State Senator Ken LaValle. “ I will continue to fight for legislation that will provide adequate labeling information for the public.”
“Since 2005, I have sponsored legislation to create a dietary food supplements safety committee,” said New York State Assemblymember Felix Ortiz. “This bill was crafted for the very same reasons the Attorney General is now targeting retailers selling generic supplements that may or may not contain the substances contained on the labels. I support the Attorney General’s efforts and I will continue to push for the passage of my bill (A3548) to help reduce this kind of consumer fraud. We need adequate standards and better enforcement over these dietary supplements so consumers will feel confident knowing what they are buying.”
“The evidence for these herbs’ effectiveness is sketchy to begin with,” said David Schardt, Senior Nutritionist of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “But when the advertised herbs aren’t even in many of the products, it’s a sign that this loosely regulated industry is urgently in need of reform. Until then, and perhaps even after then, consumers should stop wasting their money. Attorney General Schneiderman has done what federal regulators should have done a long time ago.”
The NY AG position countered by the proponents of supplementation.
The American Herbal Products Association, for example, said the AG was off-base:
The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) stated today that the New York State Attorney General used an inadequate and unproven analytical method to test herbal supplement products at the core of the State’s allegations that several retailers are selling adulterated and/or mislabeled herbal dietary supplements. The results of this analysis, therefore, cannot be considered valid.
According to AHPA Chief Science Officer Maged Sharaf, Ph.D., the New York State Attorney General and the laboratory that conducted the analysis relied on an analytical technology that does not have the capacity to reach the degree of certainty represented by the State in its accusations.
“Using DNA barcoding as the only method for identifying ingredients in popular herbal dietary supplements and ignoring all other well-established and valid methods of herbal analysis is a suspect analytical process at best, and likely to provide results that are inaccurate,” Dr. Sharaf said.
“DNA testing is an emerging technology that has the potential to be useful in the future when it has been rigorously tested and validated – the usual course with new analytical methodologies,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin.
“Even after maturity, DNA testing is foreseen by the scientific community to play a complementary role until it is well-established and validated,” Dr. Sharaf added.
Some of the known limitations of DNA barcoding is its inability, in most cases, to identify extracts and highly processed herbal ingredients due to the loss or denaturation of DNA material during processing.
“It appears that many, if not all, of the products the New York State Attorney General tested contained herbal extracts and this processing would likely disrupt or destroy the DNA,” McGuffin said. “If an herbal product manufacturer used this analysis, without any additional confirmation, to prove that an herbal extract is accurately identified, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would almost certainly dismiss this as inadequate to verify identity.”
The failure of the Attorney General to release the full protocols and reports of the analytical data upon which these accusations and requests are based is striking and unusual and lacks transparency.
“It is difficult to evaluate the test results provided by the Attorney General office due to the lack of the study protocol” added DNA botanical testing expert Damon Little, Ph.D., Associate Curator of Bioinformatics at The New York Botanical Garden.
All facilities that manufacturer herbal supplements are required by U.S. law to comply with strict current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) requirements that are enforced by the FDA. These cGMP requirements mandate that manufacturers have proper controls in place to ensure the quality of their dietary supplement products and to help assure consumers that they get accurately labeled and unadulterated dietary supplements. One section of the cGMP requirements directs manufacturers to verify the identity of dietary ingredients, including botanical ingredients, and document the testing used to verify identity. FDA regularly inspects dietary supplement manufacturing facilities to ensure compliance with cGMP requirements and has authority to take action to protect consumers when products are not manufactured in compliance with cGMP requirements and could pose a danger to consumers.
So, is the NY AG doing some political grandstanding, did he miss some science, or does he have the vitamin crowd dead-to-rights?
To be sure, there are many who are skeptical of vitamin supplementation, but in many medical conditions nutrition really is key. So, at a minimum you should consider this note from a PubMed abstract circa 2010 that says, in part:
Starting from a description of the etiopathogenesis and the pathophysiological consequences of cancer-associated malnutrition, the present study provides an overview of the importance of micronutrients for oncological patients. In the case of reduced food intake and/or inappropriate food choice the use of a multi-vitamin-multimineral supplement administered in physiological doses, i.e. nutrient quantities approximately corresponding to the recommended daily allowances, can be generally recommended. However, to enhance postoperative wound healing, it seems that cancer patients require higher amounts of micronutrients than healthy individuals. Because vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in oncological patients, improvement of vitamin D status is of special interest.
And there is a Vitamin D council which has a very good website over here. It appears that vitamin D is quite important, although again, check with your healthcare provider and consider taking a few supplements for “test drives” to see how they work *under doctor’s supervision, of course.
Did I mention creatine is the next one up on my testing list?
Have a great weekend… Tomorrow Peoplenomics takes on the thorny issues of how we are losing control of government and life to something I call “Compu-nism.” You might find that one pretty damn interesting.
Write when you break-even…