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Benefits of the Doubt

:: I was just on Cindi’s site, and she’s posted about the return of Andy Kaufman. Yes, you read that correctly. I mean, good feckin’ grief. Turns out, the 20th anniversary of his death from lung cancer was May 16, 2004. Yahoo! – YAHOO! – is running a story saying Kaufman is alive and living on the upper west side of Manhattan; don’t they check their sources? Didn’t they see Shattered Glass? His blog, Andy Kaufman Returns, is up and running. Snopes sez it’s all a hoax. But you can’t help but feel just a wee bit suspicious, knowing that this is something Kaufman would pull off, even from the grave. Kinda creepy, eh? Wait! Maybe Yahoo! DID check its sources. Maybe he IS alive!

:: Earlier today, I visited my physician at the Family Medicine Centre in Edmonton. I do that often, for blood pressure checks, mostly. This visit, however, was because on Tuesday afternoon I noticed, or rather, I could feel that my heart beat was higher than normal. I work out 4-5 times a week, 30 mins on a Precor elliptical cross trainer, and usually get my pulse up to ~160 bpm. I spend 5-7 minutes cooling down on the machine, during which time my pulse drops to ~110 bpm, before finishing my workout.

On Tuesday, near the end of my workout, my heart was was pushing 170 bpm for a couple minutes, and it felt good. However, I noticed that when I cooled down, it was still above 130 bpm. The rest of the evening and all day yesterday, I could feel my heart beating faster than normal. Despite having a physical scheduled for June 1st, I decided to see the doctor today. I had an electrocardiogram done, and the test suggested I have a condition called Sinus tachycardia, meaning a P wave greater than 100 bpm. The ECG also confirmed that my heart is beating normally, i.e., there are no erratic rhythms to suggest other potential problems. As well, I experience ventricular ectopic beats every so often, yet the ECG recorded not one VEB (this is a good thing!)

So what’s the upshot? My heart could be receiving extra stimulation, such as from caffeine, wild sex, or nasal medication with Epinephrine as an ingredient. Well, I drink black coffee, maybe 1-1.5 cups in the morning, occasionally a second cup later in the day, and have one or two lattes on the weekend. Been doing that for 25 years. I’m not using any nasal spray. I gave up wild sex a few weeks ago. But I did change my coffee from a Costco-sold brand to a fresh one-pound supply of Starbucks French Roast about a week ago. Hmmmm. The Starbucks French Roast could be driving up my heart beat. Well, Dr Bell is suggesting I lay off that coffee until I see him again, which is like, a total drag. I mean, I don’t smoke, don’t drink except socially, don’t use drugs, there’s not many vices left, y’know.

BTW, I did work out again tonight, kept it to ~160 bpm near the end, and feel fine. My pulse at the moment is 97 bpm…

:: Last night around 10:15 pm, my doorbell rang. At the door was a man in a baseball cap, maybe mid-30s, holding an inhaler. He told me his name and address, (he lives across the avenue), and said that his wife had the car and his credit cards, etc., and needed to refill his daughter’s inhaler immediately, and had no cash, and that he needed four dollars. I studied him for a moment, told him to wait a minute, retrieved a $5 bill, and handed it to him. I thought, what’s five bucks, and he seemed like a nice guy. He thanked me, I asked him to bring me $5 tomorrow when he had a moment, he agreed, and left. I haven’t seen him since.

I’m still giving him the benefit of the doubt for now. If he doesn’t pay me back, c’est la vie, I suppose. Maybe I have too much faith in the basic goodness of people, I don’t know. But refusing his request at that moment didn’t seem like the correct thing to do, and it was only $5, after all.

:: Here’s something of concern: Robert sent an link to an article about a service about to debut on Monday, called, which will launch Monday, allows anyone to secretly track e-mails they send. You’ll see whether someone opens your e-mail, how long the recipient keeps it open — even where geographically the recipient is reading it.

The ability to track e-mails you’ve sent to others to this degree of detail, without the recipients knowing, will test the limits of e-mail privacy, or should that be the invasion of e-mail privacy:

The service comes from Rampell Software of Cambridge, Mass. will cost $50 a year. You register on the Web site, and then every time you send an e-mail, you add to the end. An e-mail address would look like this:

You can also download software that adds tracking code to all outgoing e-mail.

Next, you go to the Web site, log in, and see a list of all the e-mails you’ve sent through the service. A box shows what time each e-mail was read, how long it was kept open, whether it was read multiple times and the Internet service provider that was used by the recipient when opening it.

In most cases, the site will be able to tell you the city where the e-mail was read — though not the specific address. It can also tell you if the recipient forwarded the e-mail (though not to whom it was sent), and whether it was read by the people to whom it was forwarded.

DidTheyReadIt is invisible to the recipient. It works with any kind of e-mail, including Web-based e-mail such as Hotmail. DidTheyReadIt maintains that it collects no other information about either e-mail senders or the recipients.

An existing service called MessageTag can track whether an e-mail was opened. AOL can do the same for e-mail sent to other AOL users. But neither allows the extensive monitoring of DidTheyReadIt.

It’s 1984 all over again.

15 Responses to “Benefits of the Doubt”

  1. cindi Says:

    Dude. Your paranoid American friend says get a peephole. But I would have done the same thing (except I wouldn’t have answered the door, so there you are). sounds impossible. And creepy. I will have to try it out. Heh.

  2. randy Says:

    Cindi, my friend! In Canada, we don’t lock out doors. Didn’t you see Bowling for Columbine, when Moore goes into Ontario and starts walking into Canadians’ houses? And my inside door was already open, so we could see each other as I went to answer the door. I couldn’t shut it, and then look through the peephole! 😉

    I suppose if I was in the USA, the man at my door might’ve had a handgun or something.

  3. kelly Says:

    My american friend, when he visited, made fun of the fact that not only did I not leave my door open, my family has a house alarm.

    As far as the heartbeat thing, the same thing happened to my father when my mom and dad started drinking the same coffee at Costco. They now are down to maybe one cup of coffee a day, the rest decaf. Incidentally, I watched a CTV report the other day that said one large Second Cup or Starbucks coffee has close to the maximum amount of daily caffeine in it. Be careful! (especially when giving money to strange men who appear at your door)

  4. randy Says:

    Well, the Costco-sold brand I was using was MJB. I bought a pound of Starbucks French Roast a couple weeks ago. I wonder if I should test it again this morning (tempted, so tempted). So I just measured my pulse again (by pressing two fingers against my jugular vein), and it measured 84 bpm, which is like, totally normal. So now what?

  5. gui Says:

    I seem to be the only one who noticed that the Yahoo press release is a press release, from PRWire, which anyone can submit things to. Just FYI.

  6. darcy Says:

    Nooooooooooo… can’t go back to MJB!!! (shudder)

    I’m sitting here, reading your description of your workout schedule and feeling lazy and guilty as hell. I’m going to have to really get with the program before October…

  7. scj Says:

    As the mother of an asthmatic kid, let me tell you what to ask if this ever happens again.

    1. Is the child having breathing difficulties, should I call 911? Do you need some coffee — coffee is recommended as a stop gap when one doesn’t have their inhalor?

    2. If no breathing difficulties, then no immediate need for the inhaler.

  8. randy Says:

    Thanks for the info, Shannon, I wasn’t aware of that. Well, maybe the guy hosed me for a fin – such is life.

  9. tony Says:

    One day last winter I was approached by a young woman who said she needed $20 because she had been unable to pay a cab fare because her abusive boyfriend had emptied the bank account and left her unable to get cash to pay the fare so the cabbie had taken her child’s car seat (and possibly the kid). It was such a creative story, and delivered with such intensity that I rewarded it. I have seen the woman wandering the streets. She once approached me again, but I was able to tell her that I had heard her once and trusted her story once, so she left me alone. She appeared to be well organized, so I doubt that mental illness is the dominant economic handicap, nor did she seem to be an alcoholic. I would have guessed crack or an other urgent addiction.

  10. randy Says:

    Thanks for the comments. I know, D, I love the French Roast. *sigh* What I might do is have it every three days or something, and see if that makes a difference. I just checked my pulse, and it was 76 bpm, which is a great reading for me. BTW, why October? Hmm…

  11. Caffeine Sucks Says:

    Get off the caffeine for a while. Sure, it’s a hard habit to break. Sure, you ain’t gonna enjoy the following couple weeks. But I have to tell you, old guys like you can’t stomach caffeine like they did when they were in their 20’s. See following URL.

  12. tony Says:

    Your coffee story is creeping me out. I haven’t monitored pulse or BP but I have some wellness issues. I like coffee and I don’t want to change my habits, but I’m going to have think about and test some changes. I have a lot of room to reduce the caffeine in my diet. I usually have a couple of large mugs of drip filtered in the morning. I used to get a Fair Trade coffee at a local Greenish store, but my last pound was Starbucks. It sounds like the ground drip is about as intense in caffeine, and that some beans must be worse than others.

  13. cdc Says:

    Caffeine withdrawal is not fun. Headaches every morning for a while, but I am down to 1 cup a day (from 5-6 perday). Caffeine affects your heart but can affect the rest of your body adversly. You should also check you BP.

  14. darcy Says:


    October because that’s when you’re coming to visit me for sunshine, beaches, and margaritas.


  15. Jena Says:

    Had to laugh imagining Michael Moore trying to walk in my door (which is unlocked) and being greeted by 70 pounds of VERY enthusiastic dog. Willow loves people and is sure they’ve all come just to see her, but there’s something about those yellow eyes and gigantic bark all those long white teeth that works even better than a handgun. 🙂

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