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Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes): an alternative for smokers ?

My first and only experience with e-cigarettes was last year because I was very curious in this small device when I first saw it with my friend Joumana. For those of you who do not know, an electronic cigarette (or “e-cigarette”) is an alternative to smoked tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It is a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine by delivering a vaporized propylene glycol/nicotine solution. In addition to nicotine delivery, this vapor also provides a flavor and physical sensation similar to that of inhaled tobacco smoke, while no tobacco, smoke, or combustion is actually involved in its operation.

When I tried the e-cigarette last year, I thought it was cool in the beginning, but turned out to be a hassle in the end. It didn’t give quite the feeling of smoking, and it wasn’t practical at all since I needed a couple of spare batteries for my night out. I am not sure how well they improved these devices, but I recently heard they are becoming more and more popular, and a wide variety of them exists now in the market.

The video below by the Daily Planet talks more on e-cigarettes and their risks:

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Bixi Montreal: Canada’s first public bike system

I’ve been seeing this everywhere in downtown Montreal, so I thought of posting something about it. Bixi is Montreal’s public bicycle sharing system. The $15-million Bixi program was officially launched last Tuesday at city hall, where Mayor Gérald Tremblay took the first ride. It’s the first of its kind to be launched in Canada.

Bixi is a portmanteau word of bicycle and taxi created by Michel Gourdeau. It was conceived and fabricated in Montreal. 3,000 bikes are available for short-term rental from the 300 stations located in Montreal’s downtown core. The bikes, which cost $2,000 apiece, are made of aluminum and are theft-proof, according to their designers. The bikes are very innovative. They contain a GPS chip, and if rented and not returned, they will slow down, and the brakes will lock automatically.

The stations are installed progressively in the spring, starting at the beginning of May, depending on weather conditions. Stations are kept in service until the end of November before being removed from the streets during harsh winter months. Cyclists can subscribe to the service at a cost of $78 for a year, $28 for a month or $5 for a day. The first 30 minutes of each rental are free.

More on the Bixi program in the video below by CTV:

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The nostalgic Bonjus bag by Lebanon’s Sarah’s Bag

Not a single Lebanese have not seen, heard of, or tasted the three-sided pyramid juice Bonjus. This exquisite beverage has become part of the Lebanese culture, and will likely to stay for the many generations to come. But guess what, now not only you can drink it, but also you can wear it! Sarah’s Bag has added a new nostalgic item to its astonishing and fabulous collection of bags: the Bonjus bag.

I have previously introduced Sarah’s Bag in my other post (Sarah’s Bag: Lebanon’s fashionable bags and accessories), but this post is dedicated specifically to this bag since I believe it is an impressive piece of work. Who could have imagined that one day girls would be wearing a Bonjus bag?! In an article published by the daily L’Orient-Le Jour, Sarah’s Bag affirmed that its bag does not contain any liquid, is not explosible, does not come with a straw, but on the other side, it can last for a period more than just a childhood.

If I were a girl, I would have definitely bought this bag.

Bonjus Bag by Sarah's Bag

Bonjus Bag by Sarah's Bag

Lebanese DJs Gunther & Stamina to play in Montreal club Karma on May 29th 2009

This post is an exclusive scoop.

If you’re Lebanese and a raver, then you have definitely heard of Gunther & Stamina. They are two brilliant Lebanese DJs who are famous for their long sets (sometimes up to eight hours) every Saturday at b018, Beirut, Lebanon where they hold a residency every week Thursday, Friday & Saturday as main act. And guess what? They are coming to Montreal on May 29th 2009 to play in club Karma!

Gunther teamed up with Stamina (Elias Merheb) in 2005, and since then they became well known in the Lebanese rave scene. Their long sets are blended with the latest underground music from ambient minimal to deep House, progressive, tribal, tech-house and techno. They hold as well a week-end star residency on MixFM, the official number one station in the middle-east, every Friday from 20:00 till 21:00 (Underground sessions is the name of the show).

Update (May 29th 2009): Quoting unconfirmed sources, the Canadian visa was given late to Gunther & Stamina and the show has been postponed to a later notice.

Contact Address of Karma Club:
4467 boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montréal, QC H2W 1Z8, Canada
(514) 658-5761

Gunther & Stamina - taken from their facebook page

Gunther & Stamina - taken from their facebook page

Second-hand smoke causes breast cancer in young women

Before now, most breast cancers were believed to be related to hormones, but now researchers are looking at tobacco as well. In an new analysis of hundreds of studies and thousands of patient histories, an international expert panel announced a week ago that smoking does increase the risk of breast cancer. The panel looked at second-hand smoke too and concluded that it’s a factor in breast cancer in younger pre-menopausal women, but not necessarily in older post-menopausal women.

CBC’s Nancy Wood has the details in the video below:

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The way you eat an Oreo could say something about who you are

There are countless ways to eat an Oero cookie, but guess what, the way you eat an Oreo could say something about who you are! Krafts Food conducted a survey in 2004 of around 2,000 Oreo eaters, and their findings were surprising. I have checked it myself, and it did apply to me.

Check if it applies to you too in the video below by The History Channel:

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Sarah’s Bag: Lebanon’s fashionable bags and accessories

I first heard of this through Carla from Out of Lebanon blog, and thought that it would be interesting to introduce it to my entourage, even though I’m late on this and many of you must have already known about it. It is called Sarah’s Bag. It is distinctive, vivacious, and elegant with a touch of retro glamour and a street-wise sensibility. It is stylishly aware and socially responsible.

Sarah’s Bag is a Lebanese line of handcrafted, custom-made women’s fashion accessories. It started out in the year 2000 as a collection of handbags, but soon after it has expanded to include beach totes, evening bags, clutches, and satchels, along with shoes, scarves, sashes, belts, bangles, and beaded necklaces. What makes them unique is that they are made by female prisoners and former inmates, and each piece requires 10 to 15 days of meticulous embroidering, beading, crocheting, and hand-stitching to produce. Sarah’s Bag is fast becoming a worldwide brand after many celebrities embraced its line of work, among them are French actress Catherine Deneuve and Queen Rania of Jordan.

The story of Sarah’s Bag began when Sarah Beydoun, a Beirut-based Lebanese sociology student at the time, was writing her master’s thesis on female prostitution and women prisoners in Lebanon at the Université Saint Joseph (USJ). She realized she could combine her interest in improving underprivileged women’s lives with her love for fashion. Sarah decided to set up her company as part of a rehabilitation program, whereby women at risk from economic depravation or the stigma of having served time in prison would learn valuable skills in return for a reliable income and a stable source of pride, dignity, and empowerment. As the company expanded, Sarah teamed up with her friend Sarah Nahhouli.

Sarah’s Bag showroom is located in the neighborhood of Gemmayzeh, a five-minute walk from Downtown Beirut. Other selling points could be found worldwide such as in the Gulf, Africa, and USA. Even though there isn’t any selling point yet in Montreal, I believe this will happen soon due to the company’s fast worldwide takeoff.

For more information on Sarah’s Bag, its showroom and selling points addresses, collection, and press releases, you can visit its website at www.SarahsBag.com.
For pictures of its line of bags, you can visit its Official Facebook Page.

Sarah's Bag Lebanon showroom

Sarah's Bag Lebanon showroom - SarahsBag.com

Diet away your allergies through Mediterranean diet

Since it’s Spring time, many experience seasonal allergies this time of the year. The Mediterranean diet could help those with allergies such as hay fever by boosting their immune system. The Mediterranean diet is chock full of healthy foods like grapes, tomatoes, and nuts. These foods provide the most benefits based on their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are known for their disease-fighting ability. They work to sop-up the so-called free radicals left over in the body as a byproduct of a cell’s day-to-day functions.

In 2007, British scientists surveyed the parents of nearly 700 children in the Greek island of Crete to assess their respiratory symptoms and dietary habits. They found that at least twice a day, eight out of 10 children ate fresh fruit, and two-thirds ate fresh vegetables. The health benefits appeared to be strongest in terms of respiratory problems. Children who followed this healthy diet were less likely to develop air or skin allergies, or asthma symptoms.

Watch the video below by CTV’s health reporter Monica Matys:

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New study shows benefits of Mediterranean diet for heart health

A new study supported by The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health concluded that eating a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables and nuts helps protect the heart. The research, which was led by Dr. Sonia Anand of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, analyzed almost 200 studies, involving millions of people, which were published from 1950 till June 2007. The study was published last Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The Mediterranean diet involves high consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts that are not roasted or salted, cheese or yogurt, whole grains, fish, and monosaturated fats such as olive oil and avocados. The research also confirmed that trans-fatty acids are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Starchy carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and white potatoes that are high on the glycemic index were also linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

More information about this in the interview below by CBC with Dr. Sonia Anand:

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Hilarious camel collapse due to heavy load

This video is so hilarious. You can actually hear the camel screaming lol. When you are too heavy for a camel, I think should consider losing some weight. Watch the short clip below from StupidVideos.com:

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Watch live online the newly re-opened MTV Lebanon (Murr Television)

If you are a Lebanese expatriate and wish to watch MTV Lebanon channel live, you can now do that on my website at www.rabihdagher.com/iptv .

MTV Lebanon (Murr Television) logo

MTV Lebanon (Murr Television) logo

GM and Segway unveil Project PUMA, the urban scooter

Even though bankruptcy for GM (General Motors) is inevitable, its R&D department teamed up with Segway (the company behind the two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle) to roll out an electric two-wheel, two-seat prototype vehicle in New York on Tuesday. Built for use in congested urban environments, Project P.U.M.A. (for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), as the vehicle is called, combines several technologies demonstrated by GM and Segway. Such technologies include dynamic stabilization, electric propulsion, smart battery management, advanced sensing, and many more.

The vehicle is built to carry two seated passengers at speeds of up to 56 km/h. Its 3-hour electric charge would cost about 0.45$, and it can travel over 50 km on a single charge. Energy consumption is estimated to be roughly equivalent to 200 MPG. Pricing wasn’t announced, but Larry Burns, GM’s VP of R&D and strategic planning, said in a statement that it would cost “one-fourth to one-third the cost of what you pay to own and operate today’s automobile”. GM said it hopes to have the vehicle in production by 2012.

You can visit its official page at the Segway PUMA website.
More details about this in the video below by Pat Foran from CTV:

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Canadian embassy in Lebanon now accepts immigration applications

Good news for the Lebanese wishing to apply for immigration in Canada. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced a couple of days ago that as of March 31st 2009, Lebanese nationals applying to immigrate to Canada may select the visa office in Beirut, Lebanon, as their main point of service.

The prelude of these enhanced services started with last year’s announcement which gave immigration applicants from Lebanon the option to have their interviews conducted in Lebanon rather than Syria. But now, applicants have the choice submit their applications to the Canadian embassy in Beirut, and have their files processed there.

But, Federal Skilled Worker applicants will need to submit their application elsewhere – to the Case Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia, which is the process for all applicants in this class. Canadian citizens and permanent residents sponsoring their family will continue to send their applications to the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. On their application form, they will be able to select the office in Beirut as their primary point of service.

Check the press release on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
For a list of FAQ on these enhanced services at Beirut visa office, Click Here.
Visit the embassy website at www.international.gc.ca/missions/lebanon-liban .

Contact Address of the Canadian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon:
First Floor, Coolrite Building, 43 Jal El Dib Highway
P.O. Box 60163
Jal El Dib, Lebanon
Tel.: (011 961 4) 71 39 00
Fax: (011 961 4) 71 05 95 or (011 961 4) 71 05 93
Email: berut@international.gc.ca

Lebanese waiting in front of Canadian embassy - Associated Press

Lebanese waiting in front of Canadian embassy - Associated Press

Scientists uncover how caffeine boosts athletes’ performance

In a study published in Friday’s online issue of the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers from McMaster University Medical Centre found that caffeine tricks an athlete’s brain into delaying the perception of pain and fatigue. More importantly, it also tricks muscles into releasing more of the calcium needed to contract and relax.

“The caffeine is allowing a little bit more calcium to be released into that muscle,” said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky. “It would make that muscle contraction a little bit stronger, so you can actually either run at the same pace with less input, or run at a faster pace for the same input.” Research from the University of Guelph showed caffeine in high concentrations can actually have the opposite effect, which is one of the reasons it is no longer banned at the Olympics.

Ron Charles from CBC talks about it in the video below:

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Exercise program may help migraine sufferers

While physical exercise has been shown to trigger migraine headaches among sufferers, a new study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain describes an exercise program that is well tolerated by patients. The findings show that the program decreased the frequency of headaches and improved quality of life.

The study used a sample of migraine sufferers who were examined before, during and after an aerobic exercise intervention. The program was based on indoor cycling (for continuous aerobic exercise) and was designed to improve maximal oxygen uptake without worsening the patients’ migraines.

After the treatment period, patients’ maximum oxygen uptake increased significantly. There was no worsening of migraine status at any time during the study period and, during the last month of treatment, there was a significant decrease in the number of migraine attacks, the number of days with migraine per month, headache intensity and amount of headache medication used.

An abstract of the publication can be found at the Wiley InterScience website. More about this in the video below by Dr. Rhonda Low from CTV:

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Lots of red meat increases the risk of premature death

Last week, the largest study of its kind published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who ate large amounts of red meat and processed meats faced a greater risk of death from heart disease and cancer. In contrast, a higher intake of white meat was associated with a slightly reduced risk of death over the same period.

The researchers from the US National Cancer Institute, led by Dr. Rashmi Sinha, evaluated more than 500,000 men and women over a 10 year period. For the study, red meat included beef, pork, bacon, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, liver, pork sausage, steak, and meats in foods such as pizza, stews, and lasagna. White meat included turkey, fish, chicken, chicken mixtures, and other meats. Processed meat was either white or red meat that was cured, dried, or smoked, Sinha said, such as bacon, chicken sausage, lunch meats, and cold cuts.

More about this in the video below by Dr. Rhonda Low from CTV:

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A song for you… to chill out

Song: Whispering Wind
Artist: Moby
Lyrics: Included in the video. External link here
Video courtesy of: unknown

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Earth Hour 2009 is today! Save yourself by saving the earth

For those of you who do not know, earth hour is scheduled for today from 8:30 pm till 9:30 pm local time. Earth Hour is an international event organized by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), and held on the last Saturday of March each year, which asks households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness. Even Google’s homepage went “dark” on the day Earth Hour took place.

The last couple of years, the trend has been going towards this “green” campaign and climate change. Companies embrace green technologies, and ads target people urging them to save the earth. But this raises a very important question in my mind: “Is it really the earth that we are saving? or are we saving ourselves?”

Earth will still be here, maybe having a different living environment that is not suitable for us as human beings, but it is us who will disappear! I believe all these ads about saving earth should be modified, to reflect the fact that we are saving ourselves! Maybe this would lead to a higher awareness in the consciousness of people. As for me, I am doing my part in this global campaign, as should each one of you.

Vote Earth 2009- Earth Hour by WWF

Vote Earth 2009- Earth Hour by WWF

Appreciation for the spiritual masters

I cannot but wonder how spiritual masters convey their messages from their higher states of consciousness into the ordinary consciousness of human beings, like me. I sympathize with those who were attacked for their transcendental insights and views, and those who were laughed at, or even crucified for what they claimed for.

We tend to believe that what the spiritual masters are saying is the same as what we are understanding at the moment, but is it really so? Is our awareness really high to be aware and fully understand what they are trying to convey?

Buddha teaching disciples - buddhanet.net

Buddha teaching disciples - buddhanet.net

Zapping spinal cord may alleviate Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain (central nervous system) that often impairs motor skills, speech, and other possible functions. There’s no cure for it yet, but scientists at the Duke University Medical Center are nearing a huge breakthrough in treatment, and it involves zapping the spinal cord.

The scientists believe electricity can restore the spinal cord disruption that causes Parkinson’s. In their research published in the journal Science, they attached tiny wires to the spinal cords of mice and rats whose brains produced so little dopamine that they had the slow, stiff motions of advanced Parkinson’s disease. When the electricity was turned on, the animals became 26 times more active and movement visibly improved in seconds

CTV health specialist Dr. Rhonda Low explains this breakthrough below:

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India’s Tata Motors launches Nano, the world’s cheapest car

When new products hit the marketplace, they’re often billed as bigger and better. But in auto showrooms in India yesterday, a different idea with a very small price tag was unveiled. It’s called the Nano, the world’s cheapest car (priced at around 2,500$), and it’s about to go on the market in a country where an automobile is often considered an out-of-reach luxury. Here are some specifications of the Nano: no air conditioning, no air bags, no power steering, and top speed at around 70 km/h.

More about this car in the video below by CTV News correspondent Tom Kennedy:

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Nanotechnology may offer alternative to radiation for cancer patients

Nanotechnology is the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally nanotechnology deals with structures of the size 100 nanometers or smaller, and involves developing materials or devices within that size.

Nanotechnology is extremely diverse and spans many subfields such as nanomaterials, nanomedicine, molecular self-assembly and nanotechnology, nanoelectronics, and many others. It is already applied in hundreds of consumer products to enhance colour and durability of paints or make socks less smelly etc…

Researchers are now focusing on nanotechnology to develop new cancer treatments that could one day replace radiation and chemotherapy. Scientists can use nano particles, created in the laboratory and delivered deep into the body, that would recognize, target, and kill tumor cells.

More about this in the video below from CBC:

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A review and comparison of tax software

It’s the time of the year to do the income taxes, so if you’re ready to start tackling yours, there’s a number of software tools out there. In the video below, Pat Foran from CTV walks you through some of them that range from free to priced ones, desktop to web-based:

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A trip with the Hubble Space Telescope into a black hole

Interested in black holes? Then you should consider watching the video below shot in 2005 from the Hubble Space Telescope. It zooms in into a supermassive black hole in our neighboring Andromeda galaxy. An explanation about this black hole can be found on the SpaceTelescope.org website.

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