Thursday, November 30, 2006

Candy canes

christmas myths
" Candy canes were created to symbolize Jesus, their shape representing the letter 'J' and their colors standing for the purity and blood of Christ... and were started in Indiana "

True or false ?

Candy canes weren't created by "a candymaker in Indiana" who "stained them with red stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received." Candy canes have been in existance long before there ever was an Indiana! They initially bore neither red coloration nor striping -- the red stripes were a feature that did not appear until a few hundred years later, at the beginning of the 20th century. More elaborate Christmas coloration and decoration have been added to these candies in recent years ... for purely marketing purposes.

Mythdigger's advice : More candy for you means more money for your dentist

Christmas superstitions

christmas myths

I've made a list with some Christmas myths/superstitions from around the world. Enjoy!
  • "To have good health throughout the next year, eat an apple on Christmas Eve.
  • "Eat plum pudding on Christmas and avoid losing a friend before next Christmas."
  • "On Chrismas Eve all animals can speak. However, it is bad luck to test this superstition."
  • "The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune."
  • "Wearing new shoes on Christmas Day will bring bad luck."
  • In Ireland it is believed the gates of Heaven open at midnight on Christmas Eve. Those who die then go straight to Heaven.
  • If you refuse a mince pie at Christmas dinner, you will have bad luck for the coming day.
  • If you eat a raw egg before eating anything else on Christmas morning, you will be able to carry heavy weights.
  • "Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green."
  • "Good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season.
  • "Place shoes by side on Christmas Eve to prevent a quarreling family."
  • "A clear star-filled sky on Christmas Eve will bring good crops in the summer."
  • "A blowing wind on Christmas Day brings good luck."
  • In Greece, some people burn their old shoes during the Christmas season to prevent misfortunes in the coming year.
  • In the Swedish countryside, from cock crow to daybreak on Christmas morning the trolls (wicked elves) roam about.
  • In Devonshire, England, a girl raps at the henhouse door on Christmas Eve. If a rooster crows, she will marry within the year.
  • You will have as many happy months in the coming year, as the number of houses you eat mince pies in during Christmas time.
  • "Shout 'Christmas Gift' to the first person knocking on your door on Christmas Day and expect to receive a gift from the visitor.

Mythdigger's advice : Being superstitious only spoils the fun so don't you forget this ... having fun is number one !

Merry Christmas everyone !

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The birdcopter

"American helicopter painted like a bird of prey operating in Afghanistan "

True or false ?

Pictures of a military combat helicopter are circulated with a message that says "our boys" across the water painted it to look like a bird of prey. The message says it's operating in Afghanistan and is "no doubt causing quite a stir."

helicopter myths
airplanes myths

The truth is that the pictures are not of an American helicopter, but of a Russian MI-24 "Hind" assault helicopter. It was used extensively by the Soviets in Afghanistan but this paint-job does not appear to be for combat. We suspect it is for purposes of promotion or public performance. There are some pictures of it on display at an air show at Szentkirályszabadja, Hungary. Whether there are others like it, we don't know ,the only pictures of this paint scheme are all on the same helicopter designated number 117.

Fatal cocktail : rat urine

animals myths
" One can catch a fatal disease by drinking from rat-urine contaminated soda cans "

True or false ?

Well, the story sounds like this ...

It happened in July 1999.

A stock clerk was sent to clean up a storeroom at their Maui,Hawaii location. When he got back, he was complaining that the storeroom was really filthy, and that he had noticed dried mouse or rat droppings in some areas.

Couple of days later, he started feeling like he was coming down with stomach flu, achy joints, headache, and he started throwing up. He went to bed and never really got up. Within two days he was so ill and weak. His blood sugar count was down to 66 and his face and eyeballs were yellow. He was rushed to the emergency at Pali Momi, where they said he was suffering from massive organ failure! He died shortly before midnight.

None of us would have ever made the connection between his job and his death, but the doctors specifically asked if he had been in a warehouse or exposed to dried rat or mouse droppings at any time. They said there is a virus (much like Hanta virus) that lives in dried rat and mouse droppings. Once dried, these droppings are like dust, and can easily be ingested if a person is not careful to wash their hands and face thoroughly,or wear protective gear. An autopsy was conducted to verify the doctors' suspicions. This is why it is extremely important to ALWAYS carefully rinse off the tops of any canned sodas or foods,and wipe off pasta packaging, cereal boxes, etc.

Almost everything you buy in a supermarket was stored in a warehouse at one time or another, and stores themselves often have rodents. Most of us remember to wash vegetables and fruit but never think of boxes and cans. The ugly truth is ... even the most modern, upper-class, superstore has rats and mice. And their Warehouse most assuredly does. Whenever you buy any canned soft drink, please make sure that you wash the top with running water and soap, or if not available, drink with a straw. A family friend's friend died after drinking a can of soda!

A brief investigation by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta discovered the cause. The top was encrusted with dried rat's urine which is toxic and obviously lethal ! Canned drinks and other food stuffs are stored in warehouses and containers that are usually infested with rodents and then get transported to the retail outlets without being properly cleaned.

Whenever you buy a can of coke or whatever, please make sure that you wash the top with running water and soap or, if not available, drink with a straw. A woman died after drinking a can of soda! apparently, she didn't clean the top before drinking from the can. The top was encrusted with dried rat's urine which is toxic and therefore lethal! Canned drinks and other foodstuff are stored in warehouses and containers that are usually infested with rodents and then get transported to the retail outlets without being properly cleaned.

So is this possible?

Is it true or false ? The answer to this question would be absolutely not !

Why, you might add ?

Only two fatal diseases that could be transmitted through rat urine have been in the news recently. One, Hantavirus Pulomonary Syndrome (HPS), is caused by hantavirus and is mentioned in some versions of this story. Leptospirosis is the other one.

While hantavirus is transmitted through rat droppings and urine, it is a respiratory disease that does not show the symptoms described in some versions allegedly occurring in Hawaii and Miami.
Both HPS and leptospirosis are relatively rare (about 100 - 200 cases of leptospirosis occur each year in the United States) and are treatable if properly diagnosed. HPS is contracted by frequently inhaling dust from dried mouse droppings.

Mythdigger's advice : Don't eat mouse droppings, they taste bad :)

Microwaving food in plastic

food myths
" Microwaving food in plastic containers or wrapped in plastic releases dangerous chemicals into the food "

True or false ?

Di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate (DEHA) contained in plastics can contaminate the containing food heated in a microwave.

DEHA is a phtalate, one of many types of 'plasticizers' commonly added to plastics. Most types of plastic, such as polyvinyl chloride, are rigid or brittle, not very useful if you are trying to make cling wrap or tupperware. Plasticizers make plastic malleable and flexible.

Plasticizers in general, and DEHA in particular, don't form a chemical bond with the plastic. While they are not soluble in water, other substances, like oils and fats, can dissolve phthalates out of the plastic. Heating phthalates can turn them into a gas or vapor.

Some types of phthalates have been shown to have health effects, including cancer. Some studies in the late 1990s linked exposure to high levels of phthalates to various health problems in rats and mice. In response to these studies, the Environment Protection Agency(EPA) in the US and European Union(EU) environmental health agencies classified some phthalates, including DEHA, as possible carcinogens.

Recent studies of DEHA and some other phthalates have not shown a link between phthalates and cancer. As a result of these studies, the EPA and EU agencies has reclassified DEHA as not a suspected carcinogen.

Does this mean DEHA is safe? By the current lights of science it is, but DEHA may be found to have health effects on further study.

What's not in dispute is that under some conditions, DEHA can leach out of plastic and into food. Oils and heat can dissolve DEHA into food.

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