Archive for November, 2013

A Week Without Hot Water; How I Learned to Love the Basic Luxuries (TheByteWeek Issue 18)

Date: November 10th, 2013

TheByteDaily

A Week Without Hot Water; How I Learned to Love the Basic Luxuries (TheByteWeek Issue 18)

The normal human body temperature is 37°C; limits are +/- 0.5°C, but I must make the point that the average healthy body temperature for every single human on the planet is close to 37°C. This internal temperature exists on a very fine razor’s edge and a few degrees Celsius in either direction is often enough to tip the balance and make an individual incredibly uncomfortable. This isn’t to say that the body can’t handle extreme external heat or cold, because it can, but once the body’s internal temperature changes, life becomes uncomfortable.

Thankfully, because of the inconsistent distribution of humans — a species that literally spans the globe — we’ve all become accustomed to varying levels of external comfort. What we should be able to agree on, however, is the idea that hot water — whether for cleaning or otherwise — is intrinsic to our existence. I write to make the point that no human should ever have to exist without hot water for bathing, cooking, or cleaning, and anyone who argues that water doesn’t need to be That hot hasn’t gone a week without hot water.

In developed nations, the average person spends approximately 10 minutes in the shower. Without taking the environmental repercussions into consideration, 10 minutes in a warm shower can be relaxing, calming, and comfortable. It’s enough time to enter dirty and leave clean, and it’s more than enough time to shampoo, condition, use a loofa, and shave. In those ten minutes, the average person sets their water temperature to 40.6°C, which one will notice is 3.6°C higher than the normal body temperature. One will also notice that 40.6°C is the average hot water temperature, and it’s true that the real number might be higher or lower depending on the person.

In those ten minutes, using water set to a temperature of 40.6°C, humans are decadent. We sing, we dance, we rehearse arguments we’re never going to have, and we clean ourselves. The first three minutes in the shower are safe moments. We wash away the day’s tribulations at night, we prepare ourselves for the day in the morning, we stand still and let the healing properties of water help us overcome our fears and insecurities. Minutes 4-10 are dedicated to cleaning and returning to a state of comfortable zen. Then we’re done.

Cold water showers don’t take 10 minutes.

Cold water showers aren’t set to 40.6°C. Cold water temperature is determined by the outside temperature — it’s water that hasn’t been heated by an internal water heater yet. In cold climates, cold water can be close to freezing; Anchorage, Alaska’s average cold water temperature is 3.7°C. That’s 33.3°C less than the normal body temperature, and is a whole 36.9°C less than the average hot water temperature in developed nations.

I found that my body took 2 seconds to realize that the water was cold; it took 15 seconds for the shivering to become uncontrollable. After half a minute I couldn’t stop shaking, and after 45 seconds I lost feeling in my extremities. At a minute I realized that my heart rate was racing and it then occurred to me that my body thought it was under attack. 15 more seconds and the headache kicked in; the cold water, and the fact that blood was rushing back to my chest to allow my heart muscles to continue pumping caused the amount of blood in my brain to drop substantially.

A minute and a half and the headache became a migraine. I’ll pause and mention that warm clothes, warm milk, medicine, and six hours were all it took to get rid of my headache.

During all of the time in the shower, my breathing was erratic due to the shivering, which ironically only made things worse. Breathing is important for maintaining homoeostasis — the body’s natural increases and decreases — and staggered breathing reduces the amount of oxygen we inhale while messing up the amount of carbon dioxide we exhale.

I was effectively choking myself.

Two minutes after I first entered the shower, my face and head muscles were so constricted that I didn’t realize that I’d gotten cold water in my ear. Normally, water enters your ears regularly throughout much of a shower, but the difference between warm and cold water is the effect it can have on your sense of balance. Hot water doesn’t do very much — it’s effects are negligible to the point that it really can be said to not do anything at all. Cold water, contrarily, if run through the ear canal can lead to headaches, infection, loss of balance, vomiting, temporary hearing loss, and permanent deafness.

Our ears do more than listen. Liquid within the ear works alongside our cerebellum to assist in maintaining balance and posture. That liquid exists at 37°C, and if cold water happens to interact with the ear canal, the liquid’s temperature eventually lowers causing a host of problems that begin with falling over and end with deafness.

After two minutes and 15 seconds, I concluded my shower. In that time, I got wet, used soap, cleaned off the soap, nearly asphyxiated, and I gave myself a migraine that lasted six hours that took careful treatment to rid myself of.

This was on the first day.

Ignoring the obvious physiological ramifications, I found I was soft-spoken, quiet, exhausted, easily irritable, and not at all willing to perform any activities other than curling up with a warm blanket in bed.

It’s true that the human body is resilient; it can acclimate to a variety of different conditions, including cold water, without resulting in serious permanent harm. I also admit that hot water is a luxury, but in no way do I believe that it should be anything less than an expected necessity. Ignoring the future fresh water crisis that the world is going to face, hot water should be a given for every single human on the planet.

Not fulfilling this basic requirement — not allowing one’s fellows the basic luxury of hot water — is and should be tantamount to a universal human rights violation. Hot water is undeniably a luxury, but it shouldn’t be.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-SC(EK)

Byzantium (TheByteScene Review)

Date: November 9th, 2013

TheByteDaily

Byzantium

3 Refreshingly-Different-Vampire-Stories out of 4

Our monsters define every aspect of our existence. Countries, and civilizations fall and rise, they may disagree on their approach to conquest and culture, but our monsters will always define our existence as a species. Vampires, goblins, ghouls, ghosts, and werewolves permeate our stories and feature in our darkest nightmares because these horrific creatures each represent a universal part of our collective psyches. What I’m saying is that I’m not surprised that vampires are so popular in western culture right now because they happen to represent a general fear that features in the hearts of many: Sexual freedom.

Neil Jordan’s Byzantium takes this conversation and combines it with the hypermasculine fear of powerful women. What he creates is a complex, interweaving story about two women clinging together against a world of men attempting to seduce, and slaughter them.

Narrated by and starring Gemma Arterton and Saorise Ronan, Byzantium slowly reveals the stories of Clara and Eleanor Webb, a mother-daughter vampire duo on the run from mysterious men in fashionable suits. Having been transformed over two centuries prior, Arterton’s Clara has only ever known one profession; immortality being what it is, Clara’s forced to use the only skills she has to provide for her daughter whose quest for her own freedom makes up the bulk of the film’s premise.

It’s the classic story about a child ready to leave home and an overprotective parent who knows better except death is far more imminent. That Eleanor falls for a dying boy living along the English country-side is blissfully romantic; that Clara rejects the notion of their “Young” love is more motherly than it is tyrannical.

Sean Bobbit’s cinematography allows for a fluid mix between perverse intimacy and obsessive distance. Scenes between Clara, Eleanor, and The Men They Meet are shot to highlight the bullet points in the conversation on smart people who are very good at selling their bodies. One wonders why savvy men and women of the night don’t apply their marketing skills to other aspects of sales. For Clara, the fact is that she’s very good at convincing men to sleep with her, very good at convincing other women to work for her, and has been practising for over 200 years.

Eleanor serves as Clara’s oft ignored compass; Ronan’s knowing, introspective gaze hides centuries-old wisdom behind her innocent demeanour. She’s a storyteller – rewriting and editing her life’s adventures every time she’s forced to move – and we learn about her past through her literature.

For all of the intense action that’s featured in the film, this is a character driven affair. Make no mistake, this isn’t a vampire movie as much as it is a story about a mother and daughter that happen to be vampires. A sweet film that’s intelligently shot, with random instances of violence that shouldn’t turn off viewers as much as make them question aspects of their species. It’s a film about our monsters and why they make us human. That both vampires and humans are portrayed as equally monstrous is a refreshing alternative.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-SC(EK)

Sociology is Serious Business; Never Doubt That What You Do Makes A Difference

Date: November 1st, 2013

TheByteDaily

Sociology is Serious Business; Never Doubt That What You Do Makes A Difference

Hey man, I need help on a sociology paper. I have to write about four current issues in Canada and I can’t think of anything. Canada’s too perfect!”

You, sir, are in luck. Your country’s a mess and your government is in shambles; your world isn’t fairing much better, but we’re going to start small and see where we end up.

Three people you call senators are under investigation for monetary fraud while one of them is trying to systematically bring down your Prime Minister in what can only be called a revenge-fuelled blaze of glory. Your Prime Minister is denying being involved in any way, shape, or form, even though there seems to be several metric tons of paper trails that lead to him, his office, and the staff staffing his office. On top of all of this he’s got a racist foreign minister and enough people in his hand-picked senate that are unreliable, untrustworthy, or both.

Wonder about the official opposition and realize that your country has five parties to elect as its primary governing body. The party most of your fellows consider as their country’s natural governing body had – in the last federal election – its worst showing in history. For the first time, since the inception of your country, the “Natural Governing Party” has dipped below second place. What’s impressive is that the official majority’s leader is losing global battles regarding intolerance, war, hatred, prejudice, and inequality, while the Liberal Leader is busy trying to figure out whether to legalize or decriminalize pot.

I still genuinely can’t figure out what the official opposition is trying to accomplish – other than the downfall and eventual obliteration of the official majority.

Your country sits on the biggest untapped oil reserve in the world, and is involved in an oil pipeline project that your people have been actively protesting since its ideological inception. Worse yet is that your democratically elected environmental leaders are caught between increasing GDP and decreasing the mindless destruction of an entire ecosystem. Your fellows say no to the pipeline, but yes to the jobs because of an economic recession that they’ve barely overcome – and your politicians are caught in the middle trying to figure out what to do.

There’s a planned mining development in the James Bay Lowlands that will prove absolutely catastrophic to both the surrounding environment and the Aboriginal populations that have done nothing but suffer since the inception of this country’s initial foundations. People will suffer if this idea ever comes to fruition; living things, of all shapes and sizes will have their futures irrevocably altered for a scarce commodity that only guarantees short term profit at the risk of long term devastation.

Regardless of what a corporation might say, it’s in the business game; it’s nothing personal, I promise, but that’s tough to explain to the creatures who will receive no further answer than “Tough.”

You see, your country, just like every democracy, suffers due to the divisive dichotomy between profit and morality.

Sadly, when it comes to a large corporation like a country, it becomes almost impossible to produce an end result that satisfies both the consumer and the ethicist, so we settle for an end result that satisfies neither. The consumer feels the profits are too low, and the ethicist feels the complacency is too high. The environmentalist suffers as the Arctic melts while the oil baron is aghast as to why there aren’t more rigs in the Atlantic. This dichotomy divides both sides of the house, and splits the nation’s attitudes down the middle.

Every aspect of the democratic process is riddled with the bullet holes of profit and the stab wounds of morality. Since democracy is the only mode of government that seems to be equally unfair for everyone, instead of unequally fair for a few, every aspect of a democratic nation is dually torn between Righteousness and Money.

On top of all of this, there’s a heavy-set man overfilling the chair of leader of the biggest city in the country, and the press can’t help but make fun of his numerous public and political failures. The man’s only crime is having a troubled and public private life and being almost entirely ineffectual as a leader, and it seems that the newspapers are intent on asking for both his resignation and utter condemnation.

You, however, are a student getting an education and trying to do the best you possibly can. You’re trying to enjoy the numerous advantages youth provides while simultaneously taking advantage of the glories that adulthood offers in a way that doesn’t result in your dire annihilation.

So where do you fit into all of this?

You’re the future of this country, along with everyone who thinks making fun of Rob Ford is cool, and you’re almost convinced that the problems this country faces are out of your reach and well beyond your limitations.

Don’t let that pressure get to you. Never underestimate the power of a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens; never doubt that what you do makes a difference.

And read a newspaper every now and then man. It’ll do your sense of civic duty some good.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-SC(EK)