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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘Health’

Turn on your bug zappers and stock up on taua taua tea. It’s dengue season.

November 09, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Health No Comments →


Photo of Aedes aegypti mosquito from CNN. Just looking at it makes my skin itch.

Now that my eldest niece is 11, we can have actual conversations. Our common interests are tennis, notebooks, and Greek mythology. Last week she had a persistent fever that turned out to be dengue. Aargh, will we never be rid of this pestilence. (She’s okay. The taua taua tea was a big help.)

I’m fortunate never to have gotten dengue even if mosquitoes adore me. If there is one mosquito in a large room full of people, it will choose me to snack on. During nighttime garden parties, a halo of mosquitoes forms over my head. And then I discovered that they prefer my friend Juan’s blood to mine, so if he’s within five meters I am safe.

I don’t use insecticide at home because strong smells give me congestion, and my nose does not distinguish between stink and floral perfume. (The first thing I do when I get into an Uber or Grab car is to ask the driver to put the air freshener away, those things are lethal. I also avoid shampoos whose fragrance is masangsang, and ask the laundry to hold off on the fabric conditioner.) Also, the feline overlords don’t like it. I’ve tried different kinds of natural/organic insect repellent and candles, most of them citronella-based—sometimes they work, more often they don’t.

Friends recommend those UV mosquito zappers that fry the flying pestilence carriers. Dorski tells me there’s a dengue vaccine now. Lali, who’s had the more excruciating mosquito-borne infection called chikungunya, says there are four varieties of dengue so even if you’ve had dengue you could still catch the three other kinds. Load up on taua taua tea. Be careful out there.

* * * * *

Another anti-dengue measure: Boysen plans to sell a mosquito-killing paint that doesn’t harm humans. (Note: The people who run Boysen are my friends, and they have supported my projects over the years.) This video from their partner explains how it works:

Unfortunately the Food and Drug Administration has turned down their application.

Clear your head by cleaning your house

April 25, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Health, Psychology No Comments →


Migraine illustration by Dave Cutler

I spent all of Sunday in bed with a migraine, and on Monday my head still felt like an egg in danger of cracking, but I managed to go to the bank then to lunch, to buy the week’s supply of cat food, and to record my Trippies voice-overs despite bizarre misunderstandings with two Uber drivers, neither of them could find Glorietta 1—the mall where the airconditioning is as feeble as the dying exhalations of a consumptive mouse—and one of whom attempted to drive to Legaspi Village by way of Alabang. Some of the confusion was due to curious instructions from Waze, which would not have been an issue if the drivers were familiar with the Makati business district, and which were probably due to the faint, faint, disappearing internet connection on their phones. When I got home I tried to take a nap to preempt another headache, but I felt like my apartment was closing in on me like the garbage chute in Star Wars: A New Hope. I was suffocating in stuff. I needed space, air, blankness.
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Back-to-work links: Jerusalem cats, the Pope’s laundry, Salter, trashy movies, old book smells, and Prince’s death anniversary

April 17, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Health, Music No Comments →

Holy Cats! Jerusalem’s strays and their unsung guardian


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Which is the real killer: fat, sugar, or both?

March 31, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Health 6 Comments →

Read Is Fat Killing You, or is Sugar?

Recently a friend of mine was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Usually I do not care about blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, or whatnot, and will eat whatever I want, but this news freaked me out. I’m old, so this shit now affects me. I’ve given up white rice, soda (sob) and those bottled iced teas, which are just sugared water anyway. And I try to eat sensibly, which turns out to be a challenge for people who live on delivery and take-out.

My prescription for everything is still 8-9 hours of sleep a day, and avoiding stress. I quit writing columns because wringing 800 words out of every thought was becoming stressful. (After 20 years of column-writing, I’ve said everything I have to say at least thrice.) Freedom! Being able to watch a movie without reviewing it in my head! Just being!

Also, I’ve edited my newsfeeds because I do not need to hear of developments as they happen. The pronouncements of idiots get enough attention without having mine as well. There’s a difference between staying informed and drowning in breaking news. And a difference between news and stuff that gets spewed for the sake of spewing. Silence creates space for deep thought, and that freaks people out.

Are you drowning? Let me know if you need help editing your life.

If you lack sleep, you overeat.

November 11, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Health 1 Comment →

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Karsten Moran for the NYTimes

Not enough sleep last night? You may overeat today.

That’s the conclusion of investigators after reviewing data on 172 participants in 11 sleep studies. The study designs varied, but tested people after a night of restricted sleep, usually about four hours, and then after a night of normal rest.

The next day, participants were offered a breakfast buffet or scheduled meals later in the day. The scientists tracked calorie intake and energy expenditure.

Read it in the legacy media.

So if I didn’t sleep soundly every night I’d weigh 500 pounds.

Long weekend links: Social media creates angry partisans, how to tell if you’re a jerk, and what earwax is for

October 30, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Health, Language, Psychology, Technology No Comments →

Are You A Jerk? (with attempts at definitions of jerk and asshole)

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Illustration from Nautilus by Jackie Ferrentino

The scientifically recognized personality categories closest to “jerk” are the “dark triad” of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathic personality. Narcissists regard themselves as more important than the people around them, which jerks also implicitly or explicitly do. And yet narcissism is not quite jerkitude, since it also involves a desire to be the center of attention, a desire that jerks don’t always have. Machiavellian personalities tend to treat people as tools they can exploit for their own ends, which jerks also do. And yet this too is not quite jerkitude, since Machivellianism involves self-conscious cynicism, while jerks can often be ignorant of their self-serving tendencies. People with psychopathic personalities are selfish and callous, as is the jerk, but they also incline toward impulsive risk-taking, while jerks can be calculating and risk-averse.

Another related concept is the concept of the asshole, as explored recently by the philosopher Aaron James of the University of California, Irvine. On James’s theory, assholes are people who allow themselves to enjoy special advantages over others out of an entrenched sense of entitlement. Although this is closely related to jerkitude, again it’s not quite the same thing. One can be a jerk through arrogant and insulting behavior even if one helps oneself to no special advantages.

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