A couple months ago, I planned to go to the gym after class. However, I forgot my water bottle. So rather than go all the way back home to go to a gym down the street from the college, I stopped at a convenience store and bought a couple of the cheapest bottles of water they had. I didn’t realize at the time that I had purchased “alkalized water” that was “infused with negative ions.”


Yeah, my chemistry professor — the one that studied with the Nobel laureate — had a good laugh about that.

I only used one bottle and the other ended up in the fridge, forgotten until I overheard someone say that alkaline water was so much better for you than regular water, would change the entire pH of your body, and improve your health.

Time for science. To the refrigerator!

So the first thing I wanted to do is see how stable this stuff is. Was it actually alkaline? After spending a couple months on the shelf, was it in fact still alkaline? Thankfully I own a pool test kit, so this was easy to check:


Yup, pH of roughly 8.0, or close enough to it to not matter. At least this stuff is what the label says. This was a pleasant surprise.

But what about the health benefits? Or rather, are health benefits even possible? To answer that question, let’s look at what happens after you swallow this stuff.

First stop is your stomach, which is full of gastric acid: a blend of hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, and salt. If you’ve ever been responsible for swimming pool maintenance, you know it doesn’t take a whole lot of acid to neutralize a whole bunch of somewhat alkaline water. In other words, odds are very good that this stuff is just-plain-water by the time it gets to the intestines. In fact, one of the few research studies I was able to find about alkaline water suggests that a pH of 8.8 would be needed to get any kind of results. Since pH is a logarithmic scale, you’d need water 8 times more alkaline than the stuff in this bottle according to the study. Oh, and before I forget, this study was done in test tubes, not people.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that some of this water makes it past the stomach, past the intestines, and into the blood. Your body has over 5 liters of blood, and this little bottle contains a half a liter. Human blood has a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. It can be hard to maintain a swimming pool pH between 7.2 and 7.6, yet your body maintains a range a quarter that size all day, all night, without you even thinking about it. And it’s bad news if the pH gets out of the normal range! Your body can regulate this with your kidneys, your lungs, and even with normal reversible chemical reactions within your blood. You’re alive, which is evidence that your body is very, very good at this.

So in conclusion: there is little evidence and no logic whatsoever to support alkaline water having any health benefits. And remember that like all bottled water, the stuff that comes out of your tap is better regulated.

In Closing: Moi aussi, je suis Charlie; point of view; more prisons than colleges.

Music Monday: A little late but better than never

Anybody like to guess what kind of day I’ve had?

Why that’s right: A Monday!

In Closing: freakin H-1B visas; anybody really shocked to learn this?; limes; open source seeds; bad idea retracted (hello did anybody think this through at all?); interesting idea (although I’d just as soon see one set of massive third party debates — let them all air their crazy and not-so-crazy ideas!); yeah, probably ought to declare a mistrial since the defendant died; job creation; I’d sooner vote for Chelsea; and thank God this man did not become Pope.

Senseless Tragedy

Time: Sunday, July 21, roughly 7:30 AM

Place: Driving on US Hwy 95, headed north out of Las Vegas and towards Mount Charleston

This is a summary of the conversation and not a verbatim transcript.

Me: I sure am glad the Carpenter 1 fire is under control.

Him: Well, only 95% under control, but they can’t get to where it is and it can’t get out either. I wonder if we are going to see any burned areas.

Me: I don’t think so. It jumped Kyle Canyon Road, but it never got as far as Lee Canyon Road.

Him: It’s going to take a long time to get back to normal. Mary Jane Falls is probably going to be closed for months.

Me: What about Cathedral Rock? I heard the fire got very close.

Him: Yeah, that too. But Mary Jane Falls is a better hike. Harder, and very rocky, but worth it.

Me: So I was watching the news the other day. They were pointing out that up on the mountain, you should be careful in burned areas because trees might fall and ash might cover places you could fall.

Him: Yeah, we were told that in the meeting Friday too.

Time: Monday, July 22, roughly 9 PM

Place: Mary Jane Falls

A hikernot the gentleman in the first part of our story — is stranded on a cliff. The only way to rescue him is by helicopter. In the process, a police officer from an elite search and rescue team falls to his death.


I wasn’t going to cover this as it is mostly “local interest,” but CNN thought it was newsworthy so here we are.

There are a lot of great places to hike around the Las Vegas Valley, and Mount Charleston is a favorite in the middle of summer because it’s substantially cooler up there. In the winter, there is even skiing.

So the short version. This hiker knew or should have known the following:

  • Mary Jane Falls is a tough hike in good conditions, and conditions were not good.
  • It was well publicized that thanks to the recent forest fire, hikers need to be extra vigilant about hazards on the trails.
  • It turns out my companion was mistaken and the trail was open, but extra caution was still in order. I had been going to make a rather tasteless joke about how, like the character in Clerks, he shouldn’t even have been there.
  • I am going to assume the hiker started during daylight, because it would have been incredibly stupid to hike potentially dangerous terrain with an awesome view at night.

Go ahead and come hike around Las Vegas. But for pity sake, use your head. Don’t be like this guy, who got a cop killed rescuing him.

In Closing: Nate Silver; interpreting stats on research papers; read it all before letting your knee get all jerky; glad somebody in the administration has balls; and yoga with cats.

Music Monday: I Love Trash

Thank Jukkou for this one:


In Closing: Must see pictures from Turkey; Always Low Wages; Four Horsemen; Duhpartment of Research shows young people are generally progressive; right, because I totally am going to go to a drugstore for sushi and a makeover</sarcasm>; food stamps are a good thing (heh); tax breaks; I kinda like this lady’s style; and how lazy do you have to be for this to seem like a good idea?



Things I learned


Last night, I completed my first semester of for credit college classes in a couple decades. Over the next few days, I will be sharing a few of the things that I have learned. Let’s start with generalities:

  • This is the sort of college where “admissions requirements” are pretty much “has a valid credit card.” As a result, there is a great variety of students: the fresh out of high school; the “holy crap my parents were right years ago when they told me I needed more education” crowd; more than a few recently discharged Veterans of varying ages; people embarking on an Xth career; etc.. In some ways, the place is remarkably like a less-funny episode of Community.
  • Some have the drive to succeed, and some just don’t. Some have the desire, but not the skill set. Some have the desire, but life gets in the way.
  • An alarming number of my classmates have woefully inadequate reading skills. That is despite the fact that free reading (and math) placement exams are available, and there are plenty of opportunities to improve one’s skills. Without the ability to quickly read and understand things like textbooks, assignments, and tests, a student is doomed.
  • Not surprisingly, the parking lot was much emptier the last week of class than the first week.
  • The irregular attendance of some of my classmates baffles me. They all paid good money for this class; you would think they would at least try to maximize their chance of passing!
  • Not all counseling departments are created equal. Some are there to get you the help you need — this is partly a matter of self-preservation, since that makes the student more likely to continue to pay tuition. Others are there to point out hoops that need to be jumped, come back when you’re done.

Next, we talk about my classes.

In Closing: book; or, we could admit that something that needs wheels is by definition not a carry on; or, we could enforce existing law; yeah I remember those days; blood pressure; what?; is this going to be what reins in drones?; 97% of scientists agree; and truth… Truthdogg.

Trying to Trick Me

It’s important to read labels: IMG_20130512_103726


Hmmm, a whole section of oatmeal! Unless of course you want plain old fashioned instant oatmeal. In that case, enjoy your grits!

In Closing: Crap like this is one of many reasons Congress should read out loud every bill they vote on; I guess the sequester is working =/; for pity sake, do not jaywalk in Vegas (all those pedestrian overpasses are there for a reason!); if I may use a one word answerno; this sucks; Rolling Jubilee is back in the news; and inspirational.

Apples and Oranges

In the wake of Newtown and the failure of Congress to “Do Something Do Anything” about gun laws, various people have suggested bulletproof backpacks or even uniforms for school children, saying  “It’s no different to having a seatbelt in a car.”


No, it’s very different from a seatbelt in a car.

First off, car crashes happen much more often than school shootings. If you live in a major metropolitan area, there was a car crash in your city today. I can almost promise that. I can also almost promise that there was not a school shooting in your city today. School shootings are rare; car crashes are not. It’s reasonable to take a routine precaution against injury for something that is unfortunately an everyday occurrence.

Further, I’d like to point out that we call them automobile accidents. Almost nobody intends to get into a car crash! While accidental shootings happen, nobody accidentally takes a loaded gun to a school. That’s premeditated. Always.

I might have bought “It’s no different from having a fire extinguisher.” After all, school fires are rare, but we’re awfully glad fire extinguishers are there if they happen. Oh, but we aren’t talking about equipping every student with a $269 fire extinguisher, now are we?

Don’t dare get on the “don’t you care about the safety of the children” high horse. If we really gave a darn about the children’s safety, we wouldn’t let schoolboys play football.

Speaking of schools and gun safety, I hope this disabuses anyone of the notion that armed teachers are an answer. I fully support your right to own a gun. I just don’t support your right to have it on campus.

In Closing: gee no kidding; speaking of job creation; To Big To Fail should be Too Big To Exist; empty calories; and Happy May Day.

Music Monday: Inspiration, Part 1

When I was first losing weight and trying to get fit, there were two music videos that I found inspiring. This is the positive one:


Madonna was 40 years old when this was shot, and a new mom. Ok, I couldn’t afford personal trainers and dietitians, but I could watch what I ate and work out.

In Closing: scandal; what about S-Mart?; depressing graphic; some people need to grow up; this could be a problem; history we don’t talk about; and Nipplegate .