My Novels

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Feels like Spring here in the South today -- 70 degrees, windy and periods of rain mixed with sunshine. I went on my long bike ride in the park early, and for once, timed it exactly right: just as I came back home, rain started. It was only a brief shower, hard rain, then sunny again. Riding uphill into the hard wind was exhilarating, though difficult at times. I got sweaty too, since it was an excellent workout.

I was at 88 lbs. this morning, a first. I think the CoQ-10, Chromium Picolinate, and green tea are definitely speeding up my metabolism. All are supposed to help an aging body's ability to metabolize food, convert it into energy. Of course, I take other supplements and try to get enough nutrition, practicing Calorie Restriction. (See my CR Journal link on the sidebar for more on this topic, if you are interested.)

I have some errands to run in town, but wanted to make this update. As I've mentioned previously in this journal, I rarely write fiction anymore. I have various valid reasons for this, but mainly I've just lost interest in fiction writing. After more than 20 novels, I don't seem to have the drive and determination, nor the NEED to write fiction. I do write articles though, and essays, maybe an occasional poem.

Partly I think my attitude--as I've aged--has gotten more cynical, skeptical and fiction requires more compassion and empathy for the human race than I seem to currently have. Also, I suffer from depression occasionally, and find that makes it even more difficult to muster the energy, creativity and inspiration to write fiction. I do read voraciously though, and found this passage in a recent novel I read, which describes exactly my feelings so often these days:

Her whole body ached, her mind ached too. It came on her at moments, this depression, and felt like an enormous, wet, heavy canvas just sinking on top of her. As if everything were useless, as if life were misery for everyone in every place and at every time, and there was simply nothing anyone could do about it. You could delude yourself that you were aiding the cause of humankind by--what?--discovering penicillin, or writing a book. But it was only delusion. A delusion we'd invented, the way we invented the gods, to make things seem bearable. --Marilyn French, "The Bleeding Heart"

Of course, some of the latest news doesn't help my mood either. Like this link/excerpt:

Oil's Not Well on Wall Street

Even if the OPEC oil cartel goes through with its pledge to pump more oil to dampen a war-related jump in prices, the world's tanker capacity has eroded to the point where there aren't enough ships that can transport the stuff to the United States fast enough to avoid a price surge.

For example, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers increased oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day in January. But the oil has still not reached U.S. refineries.

Then there's the issue of hope over reality. The cartel would be hard pressed to raise capacity if Iraq stopped producing because Saudi Arabia and perhaps, the United Arab Emirates, are the only producers with extra output to make more oil available to the world market.

The nation's dependence on foreign oil is frightening. The United States imports more than 11 million barrels a day, or 55 percent of its total consumption.

In its latest weekly update, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, says gasoline prices increased for the ninth consecutive week, and the hike of 8 cents a gallon matched the biggest rise since the EIA started tracking the data in 1990. Heating oil prices are at a three-year peak.

Energy prices are going through the roof at a time when consumers are tapped out.

Consumer confidence, as measured by the University of Michigan, fell in February to the lowest reading since September 1993.

The smart money says it's just a matter of time before the slump in consumer confidence translates into an equally deep drop in spending.

Worth keeping in mind is this: Consumers, who have single-handedly kept the economy from slipping back into a so-called double-dip recession for the last two years, are now exhausted. They're loaded up to their eyeballs in debt.

So an oil-price shock would give the battered U.S. economy -- and the drivers of those gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks -- a very rough ride indeed.

I think I'll just hold onto my small Escort, get the air compressor fixed. It is VERY cheap on gas, and that is what counts right now. I remember so well the gas crisis in the late 70s, but so many seem to have developed amnesia when it comes to that period. Then there's the ones born after that time, who simply can't imagine how bad it could get. They'll learn if they ever have to sit hours lined up at a gas station to get a tank of gas though!


Discovering a Secret of Long Life

LOS ANGELES -- Scientists for the first time have identified a common genetic mutation in people over 100 years old, a finding they say could be a key to discovering a way to avoid the ravages of aging.

In a study conducted at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, researchers found that centenarians were five times more likely than others to have the same mutation in their mitochrondrial DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA, the portion of DNA located in the mitochondria or "powerhouses" of the cell, passes only from the mother to offspring. The mitochondria capture the energy released from the oxidation of metabolites and convert it into energy.

"It is possible that in the process of replication these molecules are less damaged by oxidation, but we don't know that yet," said Dr. Guiseppe Attardi, Caltech professor of molecular biology, and an author of the study.

He said further lab studies are underway to determine the exact physiological effect of the genetic mutation.

Geez, I don't know if I want to live till next year, much less on and on to 100. However, I do eat to live, not live to eat. A good motto, just in case I live longer than I expect.

And finally, I'll close with this one positive quote regarding what I think the WWW and internet is all about:

"Most people live their lives, do their best, and maybe -- maybe -- get 15 minutes of fame. But they're still there, and in the long run they really matter.... It's the same on the internet. There is a silent majority of Web sites that don't cost much and don't make much money, or don't care about making money. They provide a great deal of what makes the Web what it is and what it will become. If the media....ignore that majority, they risk not understanding what's really going on." --Tim Haight

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