TornadoSun, 24th Jun '12, 10:45 pm::

Watching a tornado lift large pieces of wood 40 feet into the air and head directly towards you and your house is pretty scary. Earlier today, Juliet and I were assessing the rising water-level from Tropical Storm Debby when suddenly we noticed huge chunks of wood and debris rise up from behind our neighbor's yard, headed straight for us. I thought it was just a gust of wind till Juliet exclaimed "Honey! It's a tornado!" We rushed into our hallway bathroom and waited till the howling noise was gone.

After a few minutes, I went to check the animals and the backyard. Before the tornado hit, we had stowed away all of our animals in secure carriers and thankfully, they were all fine. The pool, which was previously just overflowing with water but relatively debris-free, was full of broken branches. I ran over to our front yard and found that one of the smaller trees had been snapped in half. The roof appears to be undamaged. All in all, nothing that an hour or two of yard work can't fix. Maybe $50 in labor and material.

However, I still can't seem to shake the feeling of that sudden rush of blood to my head when I saw a real-life tornado just 30 feet away from me, headed straight for my house. The coast isn't clear yet as meteorologists are predicting at least two more days of tropical storm weather. Until then, we're hunkering down and staying safe.

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Sun, 24th Jun '12, 3:15 pm::

Tropical Storm Debby has caused over 5 inches of rainfall in the last 24 hours here in Largo, FL. Our pool is full to the brim and backyard looks like a rainforest. I've been waiting for the rains for months now but I think I've had my fill after this torrential downpour.

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iTunes Match download error - AppleScript solutionSat, 16th Jun '12, 12:45 pm::

This blog entry is for those who are trying to re-download their entire iTunes Match library on OS X for any reason and getting tons of errors like "This item cannot be downloaded: The item you have requested is not available for download", "There was a problem downloading. An unknown error occured (11111). Please check that the connection to the network is active and try again." When the error message pops up, iTunes stops downloading any more files and if you are like me and have thousands of songs queued up to be downloaded, manually having to click the "Ok" button will take weeks or months. Here's my solution to at least downloading the other files:

1. Create a new blank AppleScript and save it to your desktop as "iTunes-Enter.app" via File > Save. Make sure the File Format is set to Application and check the "Stay Open" option. The script will not work without this.

2. Copy-paste the following code into the AppleScript Editor:

on idle
áátell application "System Events"
tell process "iTunes"
if (count of windows) > 1 then
set frontmost to true
key code 36
end if
end tell
end tell
return 2
end idle

3. Save the file and close all windows except for iTunes. Make sure only one iTunes window is open and begin your downloads.

4. Double-click the iTunes-Enter.app icon on your desktop.

5. Sit back and watch as all the iTunes error messages are clicked automatically. I recommend you don't try to multi-task while this is going on because iTunes will be brought to focus any time there is an error message.

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Dietary adviceTue, 12th Jun '12, 11:10 am::

Nutrition science or the study of diet, has the biggest bikeshedding problem that I know of. To paraphrase, if you go before the Board of Directors and ask for 1.5 Billion dollars to build a Nuclear Reactor, no one will review or discuss the details of the plant. They will assume that experts have been over every inch of the plans, and not want to look foolish by asking a silly question. However, if you ask the same group to approve a 30 dollar expenditure for lumber with which to build a bikeshed, then be prepared for a 45 minute discussion about all aspects of the Bikeshed, including the color of the paint.

Nobody tries to argue with a cardiologist about the workings of the heart. Nobody tries to debate a neuroscientist on the function of the hippocampus. But everybody and their mom has an opinion on what a healthy, balanced diet is just because they own a stove and have been eating all their lives. Over the past century, scientists around the world have identified the following foods as both good and bad: coffee, oil, butter, sugar, salt, wine, beer, carbs, cheese, dry fruits, eggs, meat, seafood, and almost everything in your fridge right now. Consequently, nobody can be certain what is healthy to eat, especially when each individual's needs are taken into consideration. This confusion makes it possible for entirely new industries to flourish - diet advice, dietary supplements, nutrition media (books, documentaries, web sites, apps), ready-to-eat meals, weight-loss, and organic food.

Take a step back and realize that if people actually knew what was healthy for them, none of those industries would be booming now. The problem is that everyone involved in these industries is ready to dispense dietary advice along with the purchase of their product. Everyone has an opinion on whether cheese is good for you or bad. The reason scientific research seems to be conflicting is because of poor journalism. No scientist in their right mind would come out and say "Don't eat butter!" What they do say is "In a study of 125 middle-age men with sedentary lifestyles and a history of hypertension, we found that reducing daily consumption of butter for 3 months, lowers blood pressure by 10%." Media gets hold of this research and suddenly we get "Butter is bad for you!" and "Is there something on your toast that will kill you?"

The vague definition of healthy diet that I prescribe to, comes from MichaelPollan: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I avoid almost all discussions about diet beyond that because the specifics vary for every single person. A newborn baby with a genetic disorder might not be able to handle plant fiber. A young adult on the rowing team will need more food, including eggs, salts, and sugar than someone of equal body size and metabolism rate who spends all day relaxing indoors. Sugar has different effect on different people and so does fat, cheese, wine, and every other food stuff. We are all slightly different and so maybe your body needs more potassium than mine. That does not mean the effects are entirely different. If you and I both eat four large pizzas a day for three months, we will both be pretty similarly unhealthy with increased weight, higher cholesterol, and possibly scurvy.

So should you put olive oil in your vegetables or go without? Your wish. Just don't listen to anyone who claims to know the exact answer for your specific needs because they don't. Would you ask someone "should I buy a new sofa?" when they don't know your home layout, existing seating arrangement, bank balance, or lifestyle? Then what gives them the authority to tell you what goes into your belly?

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