Saturday, January 20, 2007

One More For Tonight

You Belong in the UK

A little proper, a little saucy.
You're so witty and charming...
No one notices your curry breath

I love the Romantics

You Are Romanticism

You are likely to see the world as it should be, not as it is.
You prefer to celebrate the great things people do... not the horrors they're capable of.
For you, there is nothing more inspiring than a great hero.
You believe that great art reflects the artist's imagination and true ideals.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Not Arsenic?

My favorite time period---the one I especially studied at university (and before and since)---is the Regency, aka Regency England. During that time, the forces of good (namely the British army, under the great Wellington, for the most part, and the British navy, under command of the brilliant Nelson) were fighting Napoleon and his armies as they conquered Europe (but never England!).

Most people know of this time as the Napoleonic Era, though I think it should be named after Wellington. After all, he did defeat Napoleon twice, most notably at Waterloo.

I could certainly go on and on about this time period, but I'll get to the point. Even though I am quite obsessed with the Regency, as opposed to Napoleon (and the French!), I still find articles, books, etc., about Napoleon interesting. So, of course I must blog about this:

AP: Stomach cancer likely killed Napoleon ---

NEW YORK - Napoleon Bonaparte died a more prosaic death than some people would like to think, succumbing to stomach cancer rather than arsenic poisoning, according to new research into what killed the French emperor.

Theories that Napoleon was poisoned with arsenic have abounded since 1961, when an analysis of his hair showed elevated levels of the toxic element.

But the latest review of the 1821 autopsy report just after he died concludes the official cause of death — stomach cancer — is correct.

The autopsy describes a tumor in his stomach that was 4 inches long. Comparing that description to modern cases, main author Dr. Robert M. Genta of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and an international team of researchers surmised that a growth so extensive could not have been a benign stomach ulcer.

"I have never seen an ulcer of that size that is not cancer," said Genta, a professor of pathology and internal medicine.

Further analysis suggested that his stomach cancer had reached a stage that is virtually incurable even with modern medical technology. People with similar cancers today usually die within a year.
And what evidence indicates this:

The autopsy and other historical sources indicate that the rotund French leader had lost about 20 pounds in the last few months of his life, another sign of stomach cancer. His stomach also contained a dark material similar to coffee grounds, a telltale sign of extensive bleeding in the digestive tract. The massive bleeding was likely the immediate cause of death, Genta and his colleagues concluded.

Historical sources also don't mention many typical signs of arsenic poisoning, such as discoloration of the fingernails, pre-cancerous blemishes on the feet and hands, cancers of the skin, lung and bladder and bleeding from the wall that separates the heart's lower chambers.
But could it still have been arsenic?

"Can we rule out the arsenic theory? I think we have some evidence against it," Genta said. "We cannot exclude it 100 percent, but I think we are pretty confident it's unlikely."

Dr. Steven B. Karch, who has also studied the case, believes Napoleon still could have been killed by arsenic or one of several medicines he received in his final days. Arsenic alone or in combination with other substances can cause fatal heartbeat irregularities, he said.

Napoleon died at age 52 while in exile on the South Atlantic island of St. Helena where he was banished after his defeat at Waterloo.
I think it is fascinating. Two of my oldest friends, sisters, have both been to Elba, where Napoleon was first exiled. I would love to visit some day.

Crossposted at A Lady's Ruminations

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tea Without Milk, Please

If you take milk in your tea (as I do on occasion), you might want to start taking it without:

AFP: Milk destroys health benefits of tea: study---

PARIS (AFP) - Bad news for Britons: adding milk to tea ruins the health benefits of the drink, according to a Germany study.

Tea has complex compounds called polyphenols which are believed to help the arteries to relax or dilate, thus enabling a smoother flow of blood.
[. . .]
The study, which appears online in the European Heart Journal, points the finger of blame at three casein proteins in the milk. These are thought to adhere to a kind of polyphenols known as catechins, preventing them from carrying out their health-making work.

This could explain why Britain, a nation passionate about tea-drinking but where almost everybody adds milk to their cup, fails to make headway against cardiovascular disease, said researcher Verena Stangl.
I suppose it all makes sense. I generally only drink tea with milk when I feel the need for something cozy and very, very comforting in a childlike sort of way.

How do you take your tea?

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Enjoying the Calm of January

While Christmas can be a hectic season, putting away Christmas decorations and taking down the lights once January rolls around is always somewhat depressing. Don't you think the house looks boring and dull when everything is back to normal? I certainly do.

I came across this article and thought it had some lovely ways to enjoy this month:

Five Ways to Love January

In short (the basic ideas are from the article and I have added some of my favorites):

  • Read a classic novel. My favorite: Pride and Prejudice by my favorite author, Jane Austen. Take some hot Earl Grey tea with you, and a warm blanket, and find a cozy spot.
  • Bake bread: not only is it easy and fun, but your house will smell deliciously. Even if the bread doesn't taste as good as you hoped, you will be able to say you made it (and the smell will linger!).
  • Write something: find an empty journal or notebook or write a letter (It is a rare thing, these days, to receive an handwritten letter. Surprise someone!).
  • Take comfort in friends: have some people over for a game night, make dinner together, have a movie night or a knitting party.
I'm looking forward to all of the above.

How do you plan to fight the winter blues?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Happy Twelfth Night!

Tonight is Twelfth Night, the night before Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas. In England, many celebrate (at least in the past) with a lovely party with Twelfth Night Cake, foods, games, and merriment.

You can find history, traditions, recipes, ideas, and games here and here and here and here and here

Happy Twelfth Night!

Penelope is My Favorite JQ Heroine

Which Julia Quinn heroine are you?

Penelope -- What a good girl. You have always been overlooked, and perhaps because of this, you have slipped into a role you are not entirely comfortable with. Do not compromise your needs and wants on account of the expectations of others. Because you never expect to get what you desire, when it finally comes, you do not know what to do with it. (from Romancing Mister Bridgerton)
Take this quiz!


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My favorite Julia Quinn novel: Romancing Mister Bridgerton

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