March 23, 2013


The islands of the Lesser Antilles stretch in a gentle curve from the Greater Antilles island of Puerto Rico in the north, down to the coast of South America. Once on European colonies, most of the islands are now independent. However, the background of African, European, and Asian influences has resulted in a vibrant and distinctive culture, highlighted in music and festivals. Bananas, which thrive in the heat and high rainfall, remain a major export, although some producers are at risk from hurricanes, which can devastate the land.


In the past, people and goods were transported by boat between the islands. Today, ships are still the most economic way to move cargo, and ports, such as Castries in St. Lucia, handle the islands’ exports. Most islands have no railroads and main roads are often confined to the coasts, making the interior difficult to reach. Antigua, Barbados, Martinique, and other islands now have large airports capable of handling jumbo jets.


Cricket is the national game of the English-speaking islands. Children learn to play on sun-dried turf that allows the ball to be “bowled” at high speeds. As adults they can play for the West Indies team, drawn from the best players on each island. The team has included many great bowlers and batsmen.


The main industry in the Caribbean is tourism, which provides work for local people in restaurants, hotels, shops, and beach stalls. However the work is mainly seasonal, since most visitors only come to escape cold at home. Also, many hotels are owned by foreign companies, and money does not always remain on the islands. Some local governments are trying to reduce their dependence on tourism.

Food from the land

Because of the shortage of land, most island farms are small. Farmers grow food for themselves, and sell a wide range of crops in local markets, including yams, sweet potatoes, okra, and salad crops, as well as fruits such as mangoes, limes, coconuts, and bananas. They also grow cash crops for export. The main crop varies from island to island, with nutmeg grown in Grenada, coffee in Trinidad, arrowroot in St. Vincent, and sugar and bananas almost everywhere.


The beautiful island of Jamaica is a place of strong contrasts. On the one hand, there is the relaxed attitude of people enjoying the national passions – cricket and reggae music.

On the other hand, there is tension between the few powerful families and the many poor living in violent slums. This side of life is rarely seen by the tourists who flock here each year. In addition to tourism, the mineral bauxite, used to make aluminum, is a valuable source of income. Sadly, the landscape is damaged by the bauxite mines, which leave red mud lakes with an acid content that kills vegetation.


The Rastafarian religion began among the poor of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1930s. Members believe that Haile Selassie, the former emperor of Ethiopia (Ras Tafari), was a god. They also believe that God (Jah) will lead black people back to Ethiopia, the promised land. Rastafarians do not usually eat pork, they are against violence, and wear their hair in long dreadlocks. Their clothes are often green, yellow, and red because these are the colors of the Ethiopian flag.

Reggae Music

The driving rhythms of reggae music can be heard everywhere across the island. Its songs often tell of hardship and political struggle, and are linked to Rastafarianism. Reggae developed in Jamaica from ska, which was a blend of African, European, and South American styles. Jamaican singer Bob Marley (1945–81) made reggae music popular around the world.

Island Industries

A variety of industries bring money to Jamaica, from oil refining to clothes manufacturing. Various minerals are mined, with bauxite being the most important. One rapidly growing industry is data processing, which involves typing data into computers and sending it to companies in the US. Unlike many other Caribbean countries, however, Jamaica’s data processing companies are mostly owned by Jamaicans, and not by large foreign organizations.


Jamaica’s capital city and chief port, Kingston, is one of the largest urban centers in the Caribbean. Founded by the British, the city first grew as a major port for shipping cane sugar to Europe. However, an earthquake in 1907 damaged the city. It has now been rebuilt with modern hotels, banks, and financial offices.

Crowded shantytowns also exist on the western side of the city. Violence frequently breaks out here, connected either to political unrest or to the long-established trade in illegal drugs.

March 21, 2013


Metabolism (from the Greek metabole, which means “change”) is the word for the myriad chemical reactions that happen in the body, particularly as they relate to generating, storing, and expending energy. All metabolic reactions are either catabolic or anabolic. Catabolic reactions break food down into energy (memory tip: it can be catastrophic when things break down). Anabolic reactions require the expenditure of energy to build up compounds that the body needs. The chemical alteration of molecules in the cell is referred to as cellular metabolism. Enzymes can be used as catalysts, accelerating chemical reactions without being changed by the reactions. The molecules that enzymes react with are called substrates.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule that stores energy in a cell until the cell needs it. As the tri– prefix implies, a single molecule of ATP is composed of three phosphate groups attached to a nitrogenous base of adenine. ATP’s energy is stored in high energy bonds that attach the second and third phosphate groups. (The high-energy bond is symbolized by a wavy line.) When a cell needs energy, it removes one or two of those phosphate groups, releasing energy and converting ATP into either the two phosphate molecule adenosine diphosphate (ADP) or the one-phosphate molecule adenosine monophosphate (AMP).

Later, through additional metabolic reactions, the second and third phosphate groups are reattached to adenosine, reforming an ATP molecule until energy is needed again. Oxidation-reduction reactions are an important pair of reactions that occur in carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism. When a substance is oxidized, it loses electrons and hydrogen ions, removing a hydrogen atom from each molecule.

When a substance is reduced, it gains electrons and hydrogen ions, adding a hydrogen atom to each molecule. Oxidation and reduction occur together, so whenever one substance is oxidized, another is reduced. The body uses this chemical-reaction pairing to transport energy in a process known as the respiratory chain, or the electron transport chain.

Carbohydrate metabolism involves a series of cellular respiration. All food carbohydrates are eventually broken down into glucose; therefore, carbohydrate metabolism is really glucose metabolism. Glucose metabolism produces energy that is then stored in ATP molecules. The oxidation process in which energy is released from molecules, such as glucose, and transferred to other molecules is called cellular respiration. It occurs in every cell in the body and it is the cell’s source of energy. The complete oxidation of one molecule of glucose will produce 38 molecules of ATP. It occurs in three stages: glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, and the electron transport chain:

1. Glycolysis

From the Greek glyco (sugar) and lysis (breakdown), this is the first stage of both aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) respiration. Using energy from two molecules of ATP and two molecules of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine di-nucleotide), glycolysis uses a process called phosphorylation to convert a molecule of six-carbon glucose — the smallest molecule that the digestive system can produce during the breakdown of a carbohydrate — into two molecules of three-carbon pyruvic acid or pyruvate, as well as four ATP molecules and two molecules of NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). Taking place in the cell’s cytoplasm, glycolysis doesn’t require oxygen to occur. The pyruvate and NADH move into the cell’s mitochondria, where an aerobic (with oxygen) process converts them into ATP.

2. Krebs cycle

Also known as the tricarboxylic acid cycle or citric acid cycle, this series of energy producing chemical reactions begins in the mitochondria after pyruvate arrives from glycolysis. Before the Krebs cycle can begin, the pyruvate loses a carbon dioxide group to form acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl CoA). Then acetyl CoA combines with a four-carbon molecule (oxaloacetic acid, or OAA) to form a six carbon citric acid molecule that then enters the Krebs cycle. The CoA is released intact to bind with another acetyl group. During the conversion, two carbon atoms are lost as carbon dioxide and energy is released. One ATP molecule is produced each time an acetyl CoA molecule is split. The cycle goes through eight steps, rearranging the atoms of citric acid to produce different intermediate molecules called keto acids. The acetic acid is broken apart by carbon (or decarboxylated) and oxidized, generating three molecules of NADH, one molecule of FADH2 (flavin adenine dinucleotide), and one molecule of ATP. The energy can be transported to the electron transport chain and used to produce more molecules of ATP. OAA is regenerated to get the next cycle going, and carbon dioxide produced during this cycle is exhaled from the lungs.

3. Electron transport chain

The electron transport chain is a series of energy compounds attached to the inner mitochondrial membrane. The electron molecules in the chain are called cytochromes. These electron-transferring proteins contain a heme, or iron, group. Hydrogen from oxidized food sources attaches to coenzymes that in turn combine with molecular oxygen. The energy released during these reactions is used to attach inorganic phosphate groups to ADP and form ATP molecules.

Pairs of electrons transferred to NAD+ go through the electron transport process and produce three molecules of ATP by oxidative phosphorylation. Pairs of electrons transferred to FAD enter the electron transport after the first phosphorylation and yield only two molecules of ATP. Oxidative phosphorylation is important because it makes energy available in a form the cells can use.

At the end of the chain, two positively charged hydrogen molecules combine with two electrons and an atom of oxygen to form water. The final molecule to which electrons are passed is oxygen. Electrons are transferred from one molecule to the next, producing ATP molecules.

Lipid metabolism only requires portions of the processes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Lipids contain about 99 percent of the body’s stored energy and can be digested at mealtime, but as people who complain about fats going “straight to their hips” can attest, lipids are more inclined to be stored in adipose tissue — the stuff generally identified with body fat. When the body is ready to metabolize lipids, a series of catabolic reactions breaks apart two carbon atoms from the end of a fatty acid chain to form acetyl CoA, which then enters the Krebs cycle to produce ATP. Those reactions continue to strip two carbon atoms at a time until the entire fatty acid chain is converted into acetyl CoA.

Protein metabolism focuses on producing the amino acids needed for synthesis of protein molecules within the body. But in addition to the energy released into the electron transport chain during protein metabolism, the process also produces byproducts, such as ammonia and keto acid. Energy is released entering the electron transport chain. The liver converts the ammonia into urea, which the blood carries to the kidneys for elimination. The keto acid enters the Krebs cycle and is converted into pyruvic acids to produce ATP.

One last thing: That severe soreness and fatigue you feel in your muscles after strenuous exercise is the result of lactic acid buildup during anaerobic respiration. Glycolysis continues because it doesn’t need oxygen to take place. But glycolysis does need a steady supply of NAD+, which usually comes from the oxygen-dependent electron transport chain converting NADH back into NAD+. In its absence, the body begins a process called lactic acid fermentation, in which one molecule of pyruvate combines with one molecule of NADH to produce a molecule of NAD+ plus a molecule of the toxic byproduct lactic acid.

March 17, 2013

Anorexia’s Behavioral Traits

If you have anorexia, you probably engage in some or all of the following characteristic behaviors. Because anorexia is progressive, you can expect all of these behaviors to become more pronounced or frequent the longer you have the disorder and don’t seek treatment.

Restricting food intake — severely

The hallmark of anorexia is your refusal to eat, even for basic nutritional needs, in spite of facing starvation and the risk of death. The official criteria consider refusal to eat as anorexia when your weight falls below 85 percent of what is normal for your age and height.

Your food restricting is mostly in the form of calorie counting. Intake of just a few hundred calories a day is not unusual. But you may also cut out entire food groups. Fats, of course, are out. Carbs — that is, starches and sweets — are almost always out. Anorexic restricting is not just dieting. It’s dieting run amok.

Becoming ritualistic

As anorexia develops, your eating habits get a little more precise. Everything related to the food you eat (or don’t eat) comes under the strictest control, and you practice certain rituals related to eating. For example:

·         Only certain foods are eaten.Foods are eaten only in certain combinations, in a certain order, or in certain bite sizes.
·         You eat on a schedule others find strange, and you usually eat in private.
·         You focus excessively on calories. Food accompaniments like condiments and spices get elevated to food group status because of their low caloric value.

And, as quirky as it may seem, you are frequently the family chef. Your interest in food has become obsessive and may lead you to pore over recipes and to shop for and prepare gourmet meals for your family (excluding yourself, or course, except as a test of your willpower to abstain).

Exercising compulsively

In anorexia, your basic drive in life is toward thinness and away from fat. Restricting calories is one major means to this end. Burning them up is another. If you have the restricting type of anorexia, you’re particularly likely to be obsessively devoted to your exercise routines and any other extra motion or exertion that will burn up more calories. You probably feel the same loss of control if you miss your exercise session as you do if you eat more than you meant to. And you probably exercise excessively, maybe for several hours a day, even if you’re ill or injured, or your body is what others consider emaciated.

Feeling hyperactive

As anorexia progresses, you may show a kind of restlessness that seems to be driven from inside. It goes beyond your weight loss strategy and isn’t something you can voluntarily control. Researchers think this form of hyperactivity is probably an outcome of starvation, either in the way starving affects body chemistry or the way it lowers your core body temperature. The hyperactivity is thought to be your body’s instinctive response in an attempt to raise its temperature.


A binge isn’t the amount you eat at the company picnic or even the tub of popcorn you go through while watching a movie. A bona fide binge involves taking in as much as 4 to 5 days’ worth of calories within a short period of time — and feeling desperate about it afterward. The notion that having anorexia means you’re not hungry is a myth. In reality, you’re likely to experience constant hunger (not surprisingly) — you’re starving! What do you do with that hunger? At times, you may do exactly what your body is screaming at you to do — eat! Bingeing is a normal response to starvation.

Using laxatives or enemas to atone

In the purging form of anorexia, you take action to get rid of calories when you believe you’ve eaten too much. Use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics (water pills) and self-induced vomiting are common practices. Purging practices put a severe strain on your body, which is already stressed to its limits by starvation. The outlook for the purging type of anorexia is actually a lot hairier than that of restricting anorexia. Getting better is harder if you purge.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 8:1-11. 

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. 

Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle.  They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?"

They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.  And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him.  Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more."