random linkage

I love that a secret nuclear bunker has a Web site.

There are some indications that the questionable-looking restaurant down the street from me might be a well-kept secret (yeah, it's in the Post, but not on Yelp) as opposed to just a very scary place. They just started selling sushi, too, though, which sort of seems to dilute their non-brand.

Speaking of branding, Apple is going to lose their counter-culture good-guys rep really quickly if they keep making asshole maneuvers.


How that stuff in turkey stopped my migraines

I read this blog post on the NYT site and really wanted to post a comment, but comments are closed. So I thought I'd come here and make a post that I probably should have done awhile ago.

After suffering migraines for several years, I stumbled into l-tryptophan (yes, the stuff in turkey) this year. It was banned from the U.S. market for many years, so it hadn't even been available when I first started getting migraines during graduate school. I took Imitrex on the advice of my very smart P.A., who diagnosed the migraines in the first place, and it was generally successful, but only if I took it right as I felt the migraines coming on. Well, that sounds simple enough, right? Why wouldn't I just take the meds as soon as I felt the slightest twinge of migraine? Well, the side effects are not so great. It caused a strange, almost burning sensation along my scalp, and I felt screwed up neurologically for several hours. It became difficult to do things like type.

So if I missed the narrow Imitrex window, which I sometimes did, or if the headache was really severe, I was stuck with a migraine that lasted anywhere from several days to an entire month. Mine aren't classic migraines -- the lock-yourself-in-a-room-with-a-towel-on-your-head kind, with the aura and everything -- they're more like a sharp stabbing headache on one side of my head, so that isn't quite as bad as it sounds. But walking around with a constant headache for weeks still sucks.

Anyway, as I said, I stumbled in to l-tryptophan this year. It's an amino acid that you're supposed to get through your diet through foods like milk and turkey, but many of us don't get enough. It converts to serotonin, melatonin, and niacin in your body (low serotonin levels are linked to migraines).

Now that it's available in the U.S., I stopped at Vitamin World one day and picked some up. The first few days were kind of difficult — I felt really tired and I got these really bad tension headaches. But that's how I knew I was on to something — I rarely, if ever, got tension headaches after I started getting the migraines (one cause of tension headaches can be when the blood vessels are opened too wide, which is why caffeine helps...migraines are the opposite, where the blood vessels are constricted, which is why caffeine is a disaster).

So I kept taking the tryptophan, and the initial symptoms stopped. So did my migraines. I would start to feel a migraine coming on, but instead of developing into the full painful headache, I felt a tingling sensation down the "path" the pain usually traveled. Eventually (sometimes it took a good night's sleep), the tingling and the pain went away, and there was no headache left.

Speaking of a good night's sleep, it's rare that I don't get one now. I'm assuming that's because I've given my body more of what it needs to make melotonin. Another, slightly more odd thing — I don't crave carbs like I used to. It used to be I couldn't make it through the morning without a bagel. I have read about a carb-serotonin connection, so maybe it's not quite as crazy as it sounds.

I take the recommended dosage, which is about the same amount one should get in one's diet every day. If I'm having a stressful day, I'll take an extra pill (the dosage is three). I don't claim to be a medical professional, or that tryptophan is a good idea or will work for everyone. All I can post about is personal experience, and mine has been very good.


Past pictures

If you check my Flickr account any time soon, you'll find that there are a ton of new old pictures. I have been trying to clean off my hard drive and I decided there was no reason to have a 2 gig My Pictures folder when I pay Flickr money to host my pics.

So there are various trips and weddings posted there now. Odds are many of you have been involved in some of them, or at least know people who were.

Old family pictures may come next. But I'm tired of posting for now.

I'd forgotten about this one...from our first time kicking ass in scavenger hunting.


See the suits

It's not out until October 16, but you can listen to the new Underworld album, Oblivion With Bells at download.com.

First impressions...Underworld has never been a group to play it safe, and this is no exception. There are sounds in here that are like nothing else in electronica, or music in general, new and completely unexpected sounds, and that, above all, is what I've come to expect from Underworld. Songs like Born Slippy and Two Months Off are as far from formula as you can get, and they shouldn't really work, but yet they do, so very well.

Some of the riskiest bits are when it gets downright dissonant — Karl Hyde, who is by no means tone deaf, kinda sorta sounds it at the beginning of Ring Road and Boy, Boy, Boy. They remind me of the vocals in Stagger, off Second Toughest in the Infants, but dialed up another notch. Like any Underworld album, you have to trust in the journey they take you on. And indeed, Ring Road rights itself artfully — it might be my favorite song on the album. It's an album that moves back and forth from harsh, angry sounds to lush, lovely lines, finally closing with my other candidate for favorite, Best Mamgu Ever, a sprawling, Second Toughest-esque epic with big, slow bass and impeccable little guitar bits.

It's always a little scary listening to the new album of a group you like this much. But it's clear Underworld haven't lost anything OR played it safe. Now I must listen to it again and again and get all the little details I've missed.