All back to mine

Does anyone remember that show (and CD series) called All Back To Mine where established artists picked and discussed music that had a profound effect on them?

Well, whether you do or not, I’m not particularly famous (although I have been on Sky News for one whole second a decade ago – which might be one second more than many of you, so there!) but I was inspired to have a little fool around with creating and sharing a Spotify playlist. Click here (you’ll need the client installed and a browser that recognises the link.)

I’ve been in a nostalgic mood so I compiled a list of 10 (not chosen with a great deal of thought as that might’ve killed the enthusiasm to make one) songs that were notable in my younger years. Some substitutions had to be made as not all my choices are in the catalogue. The whole thing lasts an hour.

So, let’s discuss it: People know me primarily as a hard rock fan since my early teens and so to admit some of this stuff is a bit like flashing in public, but this is what I grew up with, so I won’t deny it.
I started with ABBA‘s Chiquitita, as an ABBA hits compilation vinyl in the early 80’s borrowed by my father from a public library was one of the first records I remember dancing (i.e. spinning ’til I got dizzy) to. I preferred them over The Beatles, and still do which might be sacrilege to some. ABBA made pop music but it was good pop music. Not the soulless stuff you see now.
The next three I’m not sure which of I heard first but they were all 1987 cassettes when my mother actually purchased albums of my choice (sometimes for reasons like only knowing the lead single or liking the art). I picked Just Good Friends from Michael Jackson‘s Bad as that’s not so over-picked like Man In The Mirror, and a kid in the 80’s had to own an MJ album. The man was in his prime then. I also liked Donna Summer‘s Dinner With Gershwin, and Bee Gees’ You Win Again. The latter song instilled a vague interest in drums, though I didn’t try ’til much later. I just liked the sound of the simple beat. I also purchased Level 42‘s poppy Running In The Family and have the dark ballad It’s Over here. That was an album I picked based on the artwork but fortunately it was a good choice. My mother had to return a few bad choices (I couldn’t stand some band called Odyssey(?)).
I also remember where I got all these records. Not names you’d hear of now: Our Price and Woolworths.

I didn’t purchase any more music until my teens when Metallica came into my radar and made me also pester for a drumkit (I didn’t care for grunge, which didn’t tick with me and even now I only like it to a casual degree), but before I bought one of their albums (tape trading saw me out for a while) I first bought Megadeth‘s Youthanasia. A few of the thrash bands at this point were putting out more commercial material but for me this was an easy way to first get into what I once thought was music for Hell’s Angels and no one else. I liked the lyrics of Addicted To Chaos, so that’s here.

I wasn’t into Britpop, but the one band I did take to heart was The Verve and Bitter Sweet Symphony from an ottherwise uninspired album. If anything I liked their back catalogue more.

Then in my last academic years there was Scottish instrumental band Mogwai (I chose the 16min Mogwai Fear Satan from Mogwai Young Team) who also made me want to play guitar a bit. Depeche Mode‘s Walking In My Shoes is my fave song of theirs of all time which is funny as I had previously made fun of the band but warmed to them when I first met my strayed girlfriend (who I’ve now become cordial with at least).

I end with Public Image Ltd.‘s Disappointed as that’s one of the last songs that feels distant now; I got into them somewhere in ’02 in that archaeological way. The last 6 or 7yrs of music still feels too new to me or is also most likely from the same artists as I don’t seek out new people as much as I used to.

So, yeah, that’s it. It’s perhaps a typical pop to rock trajectory, but that’s how my lot is.
I’m hoping to find other peoples’ top tens as it’s fascinating as well as good in taking me out of my own normal choices.

Thirtynothing

One week from yesterday I’m going to turn 30.

That sounds like such a big deal but then I realise I’ll always be much younger than The Rolling Stones, who in turn will always be even more bigger kids at heart than me. And that makes me happy.

I’m going to write a few things here.

The first is that I have a couple of tracks online at a PureVolume profile. They sound a bit loose but they’re much better than our initial attempts and as they’re not tampered with too much they have that live punk rock feel. I’m hoping to add one or two more before the end of the month.
There’s also a nice suave picture of me in the photos section, taken using my new 10MP FujiFilm FinePix J22 (although it looks a bit blurry).
The J22 is the second digital camera I’ve ever owned, excluding ones on my mobiles. My first was in late ’98 or ’99 (among the first wave) which was also by FujiFilm (a MX1700 Zoom) and connected by serial port rather than the then upcoming USB (so it was very slow in transfer) and took SmartMedia cards.
Still, before the millennium it was magic to see photos appear on the LCD screen.

Yesterday I got given five (via two injections) travel jabs, so I’m now tooled up for a ‘business vacation’ in South Asia for about a month.
This will be my first time out of Europe ever and a rewind back to ancestral origins for me. I’m a bit daunted but also excited.

I’m also going to be abandoning my vitamin D posts for an indefinite period as after I get my vitamin D result there’s not really much for me to add. I’m not statistically significant as just one person. My aim was to show, not tell and let people make decisions based on what I present and whether or not they believe it. But I’m pleased with what I achieved and I do aim to channel this info into consolidated form sometime. When and in what way I will now no longer promise, particularly as my main writing priority is still my novel, which though ‘finished’ needs much work.

People can continue to contact me during October but I will most likely be emailing and posting here less than normal. But I am a bit of a net addict, so I don’t think I’ll be far from a computer and net connection if I can help it!

I’ve had a tough number of weeks (well, when I say tough, I look at others situations and realise that’s just too severe a word) on a personal level but my head is getting back into gear again. Which is good, as I’d only go nuts.

Before I forget…

I’ve seen on the local news reports about promising results of HIV infection reduction in a combined vaccine study. While I hope this is the case and what is known about HIV/AIDS is true, I have doubts. One thing the media hasn’t really put its jaws on is
“This result is tantalisingly encouraging. The numbers are small and the difference may have been due to chance, but this finding is the first positive news in the Aids vaccine field for a decade,” said Dr Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet medical journal.”

What we got was two vaccines that previously were useless and just somehow their use together yielded in 74 people not on the vaccine getting infected and 51 on the vaccine getting infected. While this can be calculated as roughly a third, 74 vs 51 still isn’t a contrast to get excited about.
A vaccine for AIDS was promised to be around the corner in the mid 80’s and it never materialised. In it’s thirty years of public knowledge it’s remained as an elusive disease which might just be mired in lots of politics.

You could argue similarly about my vitamin D intake and my results. However, there are many studies and plain logic to back up the D/cholesterol theory, and the bone effects on D are undisputed. The HIV/AIDS story has lots of black holes in it.

High cholesterol, low vitamin D and its significance pt. 2

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Need a reason to celebrate something? How about, me?

Seriously.

I’d normally add what I’m going to write on this post as a never ending addenda to my most popular post of all time (ego, sorry), but this deserves its own little fresh page as it’s virtually a end point (however, not the end point) – once I graft on my latest vitamin D results this year.

First things first. I’m going to share a little medical evidence. [Download .jpg here] I’ve censored out personal details – just kept. Mr. Mo.. so you know it’s me – and unrelated results.

You don’t need to be familiar with the cholesterol saga to analyse my figures. Basic maths will reveal to you a general decrease from 2007-2009.

There is a reason for excluding 2008; simply due to the fact my cholesterol was wrongly measured un-fasted then, and only my total cholesterol was given. However, my value was 5.4mmol/L, which was still slightly lower than my total fasted cholesterol in 2007 (5.62).

My vitamin D level in 2007 was between 10-21nmol/L – I can’t remember off hand if I started my initial 400IU D2 supplementation before or after my initial cholesterol profile.

Last year my vitamin D level reached 76nmol/L on 5,000IU D3. Since then I’ve been taking 10,000IU (as one 50,000IU capsule per 5 days) and by the end of this month my vitamin D level will be taken again. I forecast it to be in the safer early hundreds.

Whether or not cholesterol itself is a cause of cardiovascular disease, we do know that statins – even with their side effects – have made some data dent in heart disease statistics. But mechanisms for these drugs have never been made clear. Some have hypothesised that statins are an analogue of vitamin D and there are studies showing statins increasing vitamin D levels by up to threefold, as well as showing lipid changes. And of course you know cholesterol is a precursor of D, right?

When I received my results in 2007 I was given a warning about my slightly high profile and told to change my diet (I am slim, fairly active and a non-smoker, so wasn’t given advice on increasing activity). I also got a British Heart Foundation pamphlet to read. Though I was healthy, and still am, I felt that visit to be like visiting a mystic who shook their head at reading my palm. I was dismayed moreso as I think my diet is very balanced.

So I ignored their advice as something about family history of illness and my brother’s then recent vitamin D deficiency led me down this path.

This year, only part of my profile is high and only by a rather paltry 0.7. In any case I still have some dispute with cholesterol ranges, but my cumulative results also yielded a printout which wasted ink for the one line (which I won’t bother to scan but will send to anyone who wants it): Serum lipids [(GP initials)]-Normal, no action.

I am also now below UK total cholesterol averages at 4.95mmol/L (“In the UK, the average total cholesterol level is 5.7mmol/l.”) Most profiles remain unchanged even with diet/exercise changes, as has my father’s for years.

Does this mean I’m immune to heart disease (and other diseases)? Who knows. All it means is maintaining my current profile will prevent my GP from generating a repeat prescription for a drug that at best could be substituted by a gift from nature.

I must stress I still need to post my vitamin D level up, but it cannot be less than 76nmol/L, that’s for sure. I’m just hoping 10,000IU didn’t take me too high, but I haven’t had any ill effects on it and approached it responsibly. I will add my vitamin D (25-D) level here as soon as possible.

Update 1 of 2 (18/09/09): I had vitamin D and calcium blood tests today along with a DEXA scan (recommended to me to every 5yrs since 2004 due to a maternal history of bone disorders). While I wait for the former, the latter has revealed to me an increase in bone density as measured at the hip and spine since my previous, first scan. I had normal T-scores and Z-scores (scroll link for definitions) but they have been been bettered since then, most noticeably in my spine (T from -0.1 to 0.6). This is not unexpected as my last parathyroid hormone (PTH) level dipped as my 25D rose. PTH dipping means less calcium is stolen from my bones as my sufficient 25D handles the job of maintaining blood calcium with whatever I glean from my diet. Although bone health isn’t what I’m focusing on in this topic, it has been shown that brittle bones link to heart disease (at least more strongly for women who don’t have the extra protective effects of male level testosterone) So it did shed valid extra light. And of course we’ve long known about vitamin D’s skeletal effects.

If you’re interested, here’s a portion of my scans. The right graphs show you a significant rise in my spinal reading from 2004 (aged 24)-2009 (aged 29), while on the hip it’s virtually the same (although up a number by data given to me).

Update 2 of 2 (22nd Sep, unfinished): This evening I got my calcium result which is 2.7mmol/L. Now accordingtomy doctor and various online sources that is ungravely high (as in probably not good), although not high enough to typically cause symptoms (which I don’t have and that would typically start at 3+) and not too high out of range(2.2-2.6). My doctor (who gave me these results on the phone; vitamin D is still being processed) seemed unconcerned about this as he believes my albumin (forgive my reliance on WikiPedia tonight) is likely normal (they would contact again if not). The two are used in tandem to indicate a calcium problem. However they can rule out bone leech since my bone mineral density showed a 6% increase since 5yrs ago (a positive outcome here) along with dropping PTH. But while the level could be benign in accordance with my lack of symptoms I may have “increased intestinal calcium absorption (is that all good?), or decreased renal calcium excretion (clearly not good…)”  according to WikiPedia’s Hypercalcemia definition. This is not to say vitamin D has done me wrong (not with my bone density increase and a cholesterol profile that rules me off statins) but I may be on a dose that’s slightly too high than necessary personally. I’ll only know when I get my results. It is also quite possible 2.7 is actually as normal as 2.6 – one document appears to think so – (not that I have the expertise to hedge) due to the fact that ranges are defined by the norm – and the norm is vitamin D deficiency.

One other curious fact though to add is that when I was severely vitamin D deficient my calcium was 2.59. This is virtually upper-end normal according to online sources but both my GP and hospital regard 2.55 (2.15 to 2.55 on our UK health service) as the upper limit, but even then this slightly higher level, perhaps insignificant, didn’t concern them due to not being accompanied with symptoms and perhaps being the norm. But I’m only guessing now. My albumin was also normal (a stock level of 50 g/L).

It would make things simple if the only cause of this is consuming a bit more D than I need. If it’s not, it could imply nothing wrong or possibly being a bit risky. I will have to address this when my level comes within a week or two, but don’t worry (if anyone is!) I’m alright and this is fairly simple to address.

12 November 2009:
I’m really sorry the result isn’t up yet. My hospital neither sent the result to me or my GP so I’ll have to chase it up. One interesting note however, my unfasted total cholesterol result might be as valid as my fasted ones, read this.Update 2.5 of…2.5 (finished!): 141 nmol/L (56.4 ng/ml) is the magic value which I received today.
I had predicted that I would probably reach 132 nmol/L at my upped dosage of 10k per day, so I was just off by 9 nmol/L, showing that for every 5000IU I go up roughly by 65 nmol/L.
Given that revised (if not yet universally accepted) optimal values are between 125-200 nmol/L, I have likely found my personal correct dose.
Of course at 141 nmol/L I exceeded the 128 nmol/L limit defined by my local health authority (who also still insist that from 25 nmol/L upwards is ‘normal’) so I may need to to drop down to 50k every 7 days (just above 7000IU per day) rather than 5 just in the season before my next blood test to keep them sweet.
No further comment was made on my blood calcium level because other markers weren’t pointed out as being risky. So I think my personal dose will remain at 10k per day since I wouldn’t attain any extra benefits by going right up to 200 nmol/L or more, and I also don’t want to risk it.The only future updates to this and perhaps the previous blog post will be just of future result scores to form a long-term result sheet. Any further writing on the topic will be on a dedicated blog. Guaranteed.

13 December 2009 forum announcement:
Until such a time where I do create a dedicated blog, there is now a vitamin D forum. 09 October 2010 update: Please refer to the original ‘pt. 1’ of this post for any further updates.