Are soft drinks making you fat?

The next time someone cites me a study where a mouse has been force fed aspertame to the point of exploding, I will quietly offer up this study.

One of every five calories in the American diet is liquid. The nation’s single biggest “food” is soda.

… sugar-sweetened drinks don’t just go hand-in-hand with obesity, but actually cause it.

Food Fight: Scientists take on soda…


new website – kayaking Baja

mapI just posted a one page summary of how to get your butt into a kayak on Isla Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit Island) off the coast of La Paz, Mexico.

It’s the best single kayak destination in North America, I reckon.

And a bargain if you rent your kayaks rather than sign on for a guided tour.

I plan to expand the site to include diving, fishing, boating and hiking. Then to offer advertising space.

check the site —

travelogue – Antigua, Guatemala

Almost impossibly cute, you will either love or hate Antigua.

… Cobbled streets, mustard and ochre coloured houses with colonial fittings, the leafy central park …

In 1979 Unesco declared Antigua a World Heritage Site.


It’s filled with gringo Spanish students, volunteers and with Guatemalan tourists.

The town is nestled ominously between volcanoes, one still VERY active.


I love it as I do many of the other expat hangouts of the world including San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and Pokhara, Nepal.

It costs about US$1 / hour to ride jammed into one of these buses. Some are “Bluebird” school buses, built in Brantford, Ontario – decades ago sold off as no longer road worthy.


Sure life is easy in Antigua. Certainly it is Western. Enjoy it for a few days while psyching up for the real Guatemala.

See more photos of pretty Antigua by jumping to flickr.


movie budgets will average US$15 million

Leave it to “Star Wars” creator George Lucas to pronounce the death of the Hollywood blockbuster.

“The market forces that exist today make it unrealistic to spend $200 million on a movie,” said Lucas, a near-billionaire from his feverishly franchised outer-space epics. “Those movies can’t make their money back anymore. Look at what happened with ‘King Kong.'”

… “I think it’s great that the major Oscar nominations have gone to independent films,” … adding that it’s no accident that the “small movies” outclassed the spectaculars in this year’s Academy Awards.

… “In the future, almost everything that gets shown in theaters will be indie movies,” Lucas declared.

New York Daily News – Lucas: Big pics are doomed

travelogue – Cobán, Guatemala

The hottest new stop for backpackers in Guatemala is Cobán.

We celebrated surviving a LONG travel day from Belize: van, van, ferry, van. When I say van, I mean 25 people! in an underpowered Toyota.

On a tip from some volunteers, we headed out to a good new hostel called El Sapote near Semuc Champey. One of the many taking advantage of the surge in popularity in this “backpacker’s paradise” destination. We squashed a scorpion and relocated big spiders.


This is the jumping off point for the striking karst limestone mountains of Alta Verapaz. A bizarre landscape is reminiscent of Laos and the adventure tourism activities are the same: underground river walking and swimming (holding a candle!), spelunking, tire tube floating, … We lucked into one of the few sunny days and tried everything.

Adventure 1 -jump off bridge


Adventure 2 – 90 minute cave walk near Lanquin.

Adventure 4 – hike up to view point far above the Semuc Champey pools.

Adventure 3 – float down the river. Ahhh.


Adventure 4 – hike up to view point far above the Semuc Champey pools.


Adventure 5 – snorkel the pools. Until the irate security guard caught up to me. Seems snorkelling is illegal here.hikeAdventure 5 – snorkel the pools. Until the irate security guard caught up to me. Seems snorkelling is illegal here.


When the roads are improved, this spot will be swarming with suitcase tourists off tour buses. I am glad we saw it first.


TV – Andy Rooney

Dana sent me some advice from grumpy old Andy Rooney, the CBS curmudgeon.


Tips for Handling Telemarketers:

1) Three Little Words That Work !!

The three little words are: “Hold On, Please…”

Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt.

Then when you eventually hear the phone company’s “beep-beep-beep” tone, you know it’s time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.

2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end?

This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone.

This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a “real” sales person to call back and get someone at home.

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer !!!

Tips for Handling Junk Mail:

When you get “ads” enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these “ads” with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away.

When you get those “pre-approved” letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope.

Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? … Drop them in the mail empty.