To cook or to exercise?
"Taking the time to prepare healthy meals appears to come at the expense of exercise," reports Psych Central. "And, the coin goes the other way, with daily exercise time providing a limitation on time spent on food preparation. Researchers found that a 10-minute increase in food preparation time was associated with a lower probability of exercising for 10 more minutes – for both men and women. The finding applied to single and married adults as well as parents and those who have no children. In the study, researchers analyzed nationally available data on more than 112,000 American adults who had reported their activities for the previous 24 hours."
The power of a sip of beer
"Just the taste of beer, even without alcohol, causes the release of brain chemicals that make us want to drink more and become intoxicated, U.S. scientists say," reports United Press International. "Indiana University school of medicine researchers said the taste, without any effect from alcohol itself, can trigger dopamine release in the brain's reward regions associated with drinking and other drugs of abuse." Study participants tasted their preferred beer – just half an ounce of it – and then Gatorade, over a 15-minute period. The scans showed significantly more dopamine activity following the taste of beer than the sports drink.
Lonely? Try a goldfish
A hotel in Cheshire, England, is offering guests the chance to rent a goldfish to keep them company for the duration of their stay, The Daily Telegraph reports. "The Happy Guest Hotel Lodge in Dutton … charges guests £5 to have the goldfish, unimaginatively named Happy, placed in their rooms. He can be prebooked on the hotel's website in the same way one might reserve breakfast." The hotel owner, Jeff Riley, believes the goldfish can offer guests "unconditional love and a valuable sounding board" when returning to their room following a hard day's work. "Obviously it can't talk back," he said, "but it can wiggle its fins and swim around the tank – it will give guests someone to talk to and unload the troubles of the day."
Not in business for my health
An Australian health food shop is charging customers for "just looking," says The Sunday Times of London. Visitors to Celiac Supplies in Brisbane will now have to pay the equivalent of $5.50 Canadian, which will be knocked off the price if they buy something. The store's owner, who gave her name as Georgina, said about 60 customers a week asked for her specialist advice and then bought elsewhere. "I've had a gut full of working and not getting paid," she said. "I'm not here to dispense a charity service. I can tell straight away who are the ratbags who are going to come in here and pick my brain and disappear."
Itching can be contagious
"Like yawning and coughing, scratching can be infectious," says BBC Focus magazine. "You see someone else scratching and soon you feel itchy yourself. 'Itch transmission' has been investigated by showing people pictures of fleas or ants. This can make them scratch, but watching someone else scratching produces the strongest response. A possible clue as to why this happens may be revealed when a drop of histamine is dropped on someone's skin. This makes them itchy, but they scratch all over, not just where the drop was placed. This suggests a mechanism that makes us hypersensitive to skin sensations and lowers the threshold for wanting to scratch, which may be the cause of infectious scratching. Why do we have it? Other primates behave this way, too. One theory is that it evolved in social species to help them notice and deal with parasitic infestations."
Thought du jour
"Man's most valuable trait / Is a judicious sense of what not to believe."
Euripedes, Greek tragedian (480-406 B.C.)