Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Too Many Books

Too Many Books
Reading a post a friend made on a writer’s website about paring down the size of her office reminded me of when I had to face this task many years ago. In her post she talked about having too many books, and how disposing of them, would be like saying goodbye to an old friend. However I think books are akin to money, you can never have too much, or too many of either. When it comes to money it is always being recycled in one fashion or another. We earn it, we spend it, and some of it ends up in a bank to be saved. When we spend it, it  finds its way into someone else’s pocket, think of the quarters that someone painted blue and red onetime, they found their way all over the world. The same is true when we bank our money, the bank in one way or another recycles it back into the economy where it finds its way into yet someone else’s pocket. But how about those books, what becomes of them when we are ready to recycle

 My Reply
I had the same problem with books many years ago, and packed up well over 200 and drove them to a sailor's shelter in, Newport Rhode Island. I have often wondered in what parts of the world some of them might have ended up. It also gave me an idea for a short story, one about a particular book picked up by a seafarer, dropped off in another port only to be picked up again and again to continue its journey around the world. Oh the stories that book would have to tell.

What I neglected to mention in my reply was that in many of the books I had added several pages in the beginning as well as in the end, and in each started an entry of one sort or another, as well as adding my name and address in hopes that as the books were passed on from one to another entries would be made charting its course around the world, and that eventually one might find it way home to tell of its journey. Oh yes; what a story these books would now have to tell then.

Although none were ever returned, I was from the beginning left with so many questions as I parted with my old friends. I suppose first and foremost was; would any one of them  ever be picked up and carried off to begin some great adventure? Then the rest of the questions filled my daydreaming head. Who would pick them up? Since their new home was a shelter for traveling sailors, who were they, where did they come from, where would their journey take them from here? Would the new owner speak only English, or as a world traveler would he perhaps unlike me, be multi lingual?

 There is however  somewhat of a happy ending for at least one of my old friends. Several years later I received a letter from a sailor in Singapore that had picked up one of  several copies  of Moby Dick I had donated and he told how he had carried it all over the world with him. That in itself was rather apropos  I thought. In his letter he talked about how with English not being his first language, (ah another question answered) as well as other commitments, it had taken him over two years to complete the book. He also told how he was now going to pass the book onto a friend sailing around the world to begin yet another journey. One can only wonder,  if I wait long  enough might I someday learn of Moby Dicks latest adventures. Perhaps this time filled with additional intrigue, and romance? I guess only time will tell.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hay River Project

An action packed adventure.

In the scientific community a theory existed that Neanderthal man didn’t just die out and was simply replaced my modern man. Some, a few; theorized that the two species, were able to, and did in fact interbreed producing what we now refer to as modern man. In 2010 DNA testing completed on over 2000 individuals from Europe and Asia proved conclusively that at least four percent of the Earth’s population is in fact directly descended from Neanderthal.
However; in September of 2002 a handful of scientists who for lack of concrete evidence opposed this theory and while on an archeological dig in Canada’s Northwest Territories stumbled into a secret world buried deep below the surface where it had remained hidden for over ten thousand years. A discovery that was about to shatter all theories as well as remove all doubt in their minds about where modern man came from. 
Dr. Matthew Prichard and friends would soon embark on the quest of a lifetime, delving into a world they know nothing about, a world whose knowledge could never be disclosed, a world whose knowledge could mean disaster to all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Exercising Our Brains

 As a senior citizen on the downhill side of 70, one would think computers would be somewhat of a mystery. However my curiosity and fascination with computers began in the early 1980’s with the Texas Instrument TI-99, for those of you that don’t remember that particular model, be thankful; because the term, user friendly had not yet been coined. However this article is not about the computers themselves, but rather an area I had never ventured into; computer games, after all, they were something for kids to become totally addicted to, not adults, and especially not senior citizens. As parents and grandparents we are supposed to be the ones with enough wisdom to explain the perils of the time spent at these user friendly machines, rather than having an older daughter tell you; “Dad you spend way too much time playing that stupid game. What kind of an influence do you think that has on the kids?”
And yes, I discovered MMORPG’s, (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games), what a mouth full. MMORPG’s are simply games that one can purchase, download to their computer, and pay a monthly fee to play. The more popular games can be the most expensive to purchase, and cost in the area of $15.00 a month to play. Which one can justify the monthly fee by rationalizing that it’s rather inexpensive when you consider that $15.00 or so gives you 24/7 for an entire month’s entertainment. Hey, you can’t even go to a movie for that today; forget about seeing it over and over for an entire month, anytime of the day or night for that initial free. 
So where am I going with all this? Am I defending the hours, and hours of time spent in front of a computer, playing online games with your online community and friends who can be scattered across the country, and even around the world? Yes I am, or at least I hope I will be able to make some sense out of it as far as senior citizens go.
Computer games range in difficultly to play and master from extremely simple, to extremely complex, so complex that at first you think you would never be able to master them. This is something only kids can master, after all their brains are like sponges and they learn fast. You’re right in that thinking to some degree, as kids we do tend to learn faster, and learn and learn until we hit an age where we simply don’t need, or want to learn any more. We have learned all that we need to take us through the rest of our lives. All the years of learning, all the years of that thinking; we don’t have to do it anymore; well my friends this is the thinking that makes our brains stagnate, and after time learning new tasks becomes much more difficult. It’s no different than becoming physically docile and having our muscles waste away, so we exercise daily to stay in shape and prevent that from happening.  What about our brains? What happens when we become mentally docile? How do we exercise our brains to prevent that from happening? Thinking to our brains, is akin to physical exercise for our muscles. Thinking is how we exercise our brains. Ok; see where I’m headed?
I either write on a daily basis for anyone willing to pay my fee, or can be found working on my own projects, articles and short stories, or one of three novels I have in the works. With the research and reading and actual writing involved in putting an article or story together, one would think that’s a lot of exercise for our brains, and to some extent you’re right. But what about learning new tasks? I may have learned something I didn’t know before, like exactly how high Mt. Washington is, or how deep the Japanese Trench is, however I learned that using skills I have already polished over the years, not by learning new ones.
On the other hand; I am still very involved in computer games, ( yes at 67 years old) and what I’ve discovered is they keep you thinking every second, and the more complex games take a lot more thought and concentration, thus making you exercise that grey matter to its maximum potential. It’s mental exercise; and a lot of it. As I mentioned; computer games keep you thinking, plus there is so much to remember, ah, another key, memory. My memory is as I remember it 25 years ago, (no pun there) and those moments of CRS are for the most part a thing of the past. Can I attribute this all to computer games? Absolutely not, although my day is filled with mental exercise in one form or another, whether it be writing, research, or playing an MMORPG’s. What I’m trying to illustrate here is not that you run out and purchase an expensive gaming computer, but rather find some sort of mental exercise that suits you. Reading a few hours a day, writing if you’re so inclined and yes; if you really want to challenge that grey matter try an MMORPG.  And who knows, as some articles and research show, mental exercise can ward off the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.  We exercise to stay fit and healthy, why not exercise our brains to the same extent?

J. Francis © 2011

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Flying Fool

It was February 1964, I was a young Army pilot recently out of flight school and assigned to Company A Fourth Aviation Battalion out of Fort Lewis Washington. Our sole mission in life was to administer aerial support to The Army’s war games, wherever they happened to be. This in preparation for our eventual deployment to some part of the world where we would be involved in yet another skirmish, but that’s a few other stories down the road. Then word came down we had been invited to take part in a joint, Army, Air Force Maneuver called Exercise Desert Strike, being held in the California Desert. Desert Strike, which history says, was the largest Desert Warfare Maneuver since General George Patton trained his tank forces in the same area in 1942. That in preparation for the invasion of, North Africa. Well we weren’t going to invade Africa, but we did invade the small California desert town of Needles, and in total, an area that covered some 13 million acres spread over California, Nevada, and Arizona. This invasion involved over one hundred thousand military personnel, ninety thousand Army, and ten thousand Air Force. Not to mention 780 aircraft, 7000 wheeled vehicles, and 1000 tanks. And cost the American taxpayer a mere 60 million 1964 U.S. Dollars. Why the desert? It would have made more sense playing the game in the coastal swamp areas of Florid and Louisiana for our eventual deployment to Vietnam, rather than in the middle of the treeless desert. However, who am I to say? We were well received by the local population who I am certain viewed the invading force as a boon to the economy they had not seen since the days of General George Patton. Our unit was stationed adjacent to the runway at the Needles Municipal Airport, where the Army Corps of Engineers carved up the desert sand and laid down perforated metal plates called, PSP, or Marsden Matting, as our runways and helipads. They also constructed a village of tents reminiscent of a scene from Mash. Rather than the 4077, we dubbed it Camp Rickenbacker, after the famous aviator Eddy Rickenbacker, although most of us were too young to remember who he was, but hey; it sounded good. Now as tents go these were the ultimate in comfort. They were big enough to hold up to ten men, they had wooden floors to keep the snakes and scorpions out, (it would have been nice if the snakes, and scorpions had read the manual) and had pot bellied stoves operated by gasoline for heat. And yes, the desert gets cold at night in February. We would wake up in the morning and find ice-sickles hanging from the lister bags. (Canvas water bags hanging from a tripod) While the shower stalls were under construction, (the same type that was seen in many episodes of the 4077) the Army arranged for us to shower at the local High School. And this is where my story begins. Ψ By our fourth day in the desert we were all well aware our need for showers. Even with the freezing temperatures at night, nonetheless by 11:00am, daytime temperatures had already reached the 90’s and would soon top 100 degrees. And running around in that heat, well let’s just say it made you sweat. We were part of the advanced party overseeing construction of our new desert home, and as yet had no command center in place; this made communications with the brass at Fort Lewis just a little slow to say the least. (This was before cell phones and fax machines) It was several days after the invasion of Needles, before we found a note in the latest mailbag from Fort Lewis telling of the arrangements they made for us to shower at the local High School. (Good thing we found it.) The plan was simple, pack as many guys as we could in the back of a ¾-ton pick-up truck and go take our showers. Now you have to remember, most of us especially the younger pilots hadn’t seen the inside of a High School in at least six years, and in the case of the older guys it was many more than that. So believe me when I tell you that we had our reservations. Did it take someone from the Pentagon to negotiate this deal? What did they get us into? First we invade their town, now their High School. Would there be enemy forces waiting to repel our advance? We had no idea what to expect, or how we would be accepted or viewed. However, as some famous President once said. “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” And as we soon discovered, he was right.(that’s probably why he was elected president) By the end of the first night we had made a few new friends, had a gym to work out in, and a place to play basketball. Even if it did end up with the high school students making us look like a bunch of beginners. As they say all good things must come to an end, the night was all too soon over and it was time for us to go back to our desert dwellings, and once again be soldiers and pilots playing war games. But that would give us ample time to plan tomorrow night’s strategy against the Needles High School Basketball Team. We said our goodbyes, picked up our belongings, and headed for the truck, the sight of which reminded us that we were still in the Army. Bill Howell was the first to arrive at the truck, and as he opened the canvas flap to allow access to its bed we were shocked to find there were now more of us than we originally started out with. Were these new recruits? No, much to our surprise several of the High School senior girls decided to take up residence in the back of the truck and were refusing to vacate until we had shown them Camp Rickenbacker. I remember hearing Bill Howell say. “Oh glory” I wasn’t sure at first what he meant by that, but then Bill did have a way with words. The more we insisted they remove themselves the more they refused. It was decision time. Should we destroy the goodwill we had spent all evening trying to establish? Or on the other hand as emissaries of the United States Army, stay in good graces with the locals, and extend to them the courtesy of a personal tour of Camp Rickenbacker. I’m not sure if it was Bill Howell’s “Oh Glory” or what, but the latter won out. “Ooh Glory.” By the end of that evening we had made several more new friends, and I had met the girl of my dreams. She would be my soul mate, the mother of my children and grandchildren; we would grow old together, and comfort one another through all of life’s little trials. Morgan as I will call her for benefit of the story was a Mojave Indian and lived on the reservation where I ultimately ended up spending all of my free time, and was accepted into her family as one of them. (No, she didn’t live in a teepee. I did, remember?) Her father had even given me an Indian name that I discovered many years later, loosely translated to, “that young flying fool.” One of the attributes of Army Aircraft is their ability to land on almost any unimproved surface, In other words, if it looks okay, land on it. Therefore the dirt roads running through the reservation became my own personal landing field. I spent as much time with my L-19 Bird Dog at the reservation giving Morgan’s family and friends free rides and an occasional flying lesson, as I spent playing war games. At one point we were short handed and I needed a bombardier, call it an epiphany or whatever you want, but I flew out to the reservation and picked up Morgan’s dad. With a few minutes of instructions I had him dropping little one-pound flower sacks out of the open side door of the Bird Dog. I don’t know if it was my flying, or his dropping, but the flour sacks were right on target. They hit their designated marks as I flew over the enemy convoy, then the tents in their compound. All the while flying no more than fifty feet over their heads. That’s more than likely where he came up with the Flying Fool. Time was growing short, my unit would be leaving Needles on June 1, Morgan would be graduating from High School in the middle of the month and I wouldn’t be there to see it, so we had to make the best of what time we had left. I had no idea what would happen to our relationship after I went back to Fort Lewis. It was too far to go on a weekend pass, although perhaps I could take some leave time. But for now we just had to take advantage of what time we had left. Then came a surprise, they were sending me to, Blythe California, where I would be living on an Air Conditioned Red Cross train, while representing the U.S. Army in their weeklong Harvest Festival. How would I survive without Morgan for a week? “I wouldn’t.” I thought. The answer was simple. Get her a uniform, put on an extra pair of my lieutenants bars, and make her a nurse, then put her in the L-19 and go to Blythe, and it worked like a charm. We even entered a contest and were crowned King and Queen of the festival, at which point we received all the amenities due a royal couple. However, as I said earlier, “all good things must come to an end.” In addition, by the time the week in Blythe was over, my stay in California was almost over. The following week flew by (no pun intended) and it was time for me to leave for Fort Lewis. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I had ever done in my young life, and I know it was no easier on Morgan, or her family for that matter. I still to this day think I saw a tear in her father’s eye. Which years later he would deny. (Hint hint) It wasn’t long after I got back to Washington, that I received orders for Vietnam. It happened so fast I had no way of contacting Morgan; they had no phone so all I could do was write and explain the situation, and pray she wouldn’t forget me. I knew in my heart that I could never forget her; the whole situation was tearing me apart. While in Flight School, I qualified to fly the Grumman OV-1 Mohawk, which was the Army’s only fixed wing combat aircraft; and as a result this had me all over Vietnam, which made staying in touch with home on a regular basis almost impossible. Consequently I lost touch with everyone. Then what seemed to be inevitable for so many pilots. When I least expected it, I was shot down, and spent the next year of my life in a military hospital. Four and a half months of which I was in a coma, the remaining months in rehabilitation healing from the injuries both physical and mental. The remainder of the time was spent learning how to walk again. Which took all most as long as it did the first time we learn to walk after birth. The difference being the first time I stood, I took off on a run, not so this time. When I was finally released from the hospital I discovered none of my personnel effects had found their way back home from Vietnam, that included Morgan’s address which by this time I couldn’t remember. I guess that’s understandable, with the events of the preceding year I was lucky I could remember my own name and address. As time passed memories faded and I ended up in another relationship that was at best rocky from the start. Looking back, I think at least part of it was my fault. When things got out of hand and more than I could deal with I found myself mentally comparing my wife to Morgan, and Morgan always won out. But then, who can compare to our first love? Another twenty years passed by which time my marriage had ended and I was retiring from the Army. My military career was ending at Fort Lewis; right where it had began all those years earlier. It had come full circle. Or had it? I had one more thing to do before I could get on with the rest of my life. I knew in my mind and in my heart that the effort would be fruitless; nonetheless I made the decision to at the very least, make an attempt to find Morgan. If for no other reason to see where life had taken her, and if successful make some sort of a feeble attempt at explaining my disappearance. Retirement day arrived; I packed a few things in the surplus Mohawk I had purchased and spent the past five years restoring and headed south. It was late in the afternoon when I arrived at the Needles Municipal Airport , and after answering a thousand questions about the Mohawk, and reminiscing well into the evening, the invasion of 1964; I decided to enlist the help of the local pilots in my quest for Morgan. Surely someone could steer me in the right direction. That someone turned out to be a young Mojave Indian pilot who had listened intently to the conversation, as well as asking many questions of his own. What’s more, he had hair as red as mine had been at one time, and he bore the same first name. “Funny coincidence” I thought. “You must be the young flying fool, my mother and grandfather have told me so much about.” Then extending his hand, and with tears in his eyes he said. “I have waited all my life for the opportunity to say this. Hi dad; and how was your day?” As I shared his tears so many thoughts raced through my mind in such a short time I couldn’t keep track of them. The first of which, I had a son. What had his life had been like? As I queried his life, what seemed like a thousand questions followed from the both of us? Among other things, I discovered John had joined the Army after finishing college. He was now home on leave after just completing basic training, and would be leaving for Flight School at Fort Rucker Alabama, in two weeks. “It was destined,” he explained. (A few more tears.) Then the answer to the question that had brought me back to the desert. Morgan was well, and single; she for whatever reason had never married. “Can I see her I asked?” With a smile I wish you could have seen he answered. “I think we could arrange that dad.” Two phone calls and as many hours later, a face appeared that time had preserved just as I remembered it. The next few hours were as tearful as the previous, to say the least. Morgan explained that after not hearing from me for so long they had feared the worst, but never gave up hope that this day would arrive. Several months passed when I received orders from my soon to be Lieutenant son now in Flight School, that I should never leave their lives again. We hadn’t told John yet; but we had come to the same conclusion. And were married on my birthday in December of that year. As I write this we are closing in on our twentieth anniversary, Morgan is still teaching High School history. (She says she will never retire) I still operate a flight school at the airport, and John will be retiring from the Army in a few years, at which time he will take over the family business. We never had additional children, but were blessed with three beautiful, Grandchildren. The oldest, John the third is well on his way to becoming an accomplished pilot and plans to follow in his father, and grandfathers footsteps, as the third generation of young flying fools. The best part of not being perfect, is simply the joy that it brings to others. J. Francis.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Fathers Gift

My first typewriter, a summers work.

As children growing up it was expected my sister and I would help out in the daily routine of running the family business. Somewhere in my mid-teens as school was about to come to a close for the summer months, I expressed an interest in finding a job for the duration. After all I was twelve, and if I could fly a plane, I could certainly hold down a full time summer job. My father; who I think after dwelling over the fact that he was about to lose half of his free labor force, came to me with an offer. “Work for me during vacation and I will pay you at the end of the summer.” He said. “Ah; money in the bank.” I thought. So work I did for nary a dime till summer drew to a close.

A week or so before it was time to go back to school, my father replaced the old typewriters In his office with the brand new style Underwood. As summer drew to a close and the time to return to school had arrived, as well as the long awaited payment for my labor. After finishing up the last day’s work ending my part of the bargain, I was called into his office to receive that long awaited compensation, which my father was holding in his hands. Proudly, if not somewhat reluctantly he passed on his old friend to me, along with a ream of paper, a box of assorted ribbons, paper clips, and my first stapler, well as well as the following statement. “This has served me well, and I know it will be with you for many years to come.”

Needless to say after expecting a pocket full of cash, not my father’s old typewrite; I was a little disappointed to say the least. However as fathers usually are, in his infinite wisdom he was right. His prized possession that could miraculously put word to paper by touching the right combination of keys, somehow without auto correct, or spell check Undy, always knew what I wanted to say, and had found a new best friend in me. Furthermore, as some friends often do she tagged along where ever I went. Undy followed me through High School, College, Flight School, Officers Candidate School, then eventually on to Cambodia and Vietnam, where together we wrote and published our very first articles. Because of the circumstances of war, Undy never made it home, however I hope she was able to find a new best friend and again will be putting words on paper, this time; perhaps in a new language.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Well snails may be slow but given enough time they will reach their destination, and after a start again stop again journey that lasted sixty years; so has the Citroen 2CV Tin Snail. Designed in the 1930’s and ready for production 1n 1939, but because of material shortages due to the 2nd World War, it didn’t see dealers showrooms for almost another ten years. However, from 1948 on it would be produced for some 42 years until 1990, with minimal design changes. During that time several new models were introduced, including a pickup truck, and a four wheel drive version of the original CV2. (You can see photos of both vehicles at the end of this article.)

The vehicle was the brainchild of, Pierre-Jules Boulanger, since the French economy was, and for the most part still is, based on agriculture, his vision was to remove the rural farm peasants from the horse and buggy, and move them into the new age of the automobile, and do it at a price that everyone could afford. After interviewing 10,000 potential customers in what must have been one of the first ever examples of mass market research. Boulanger’s instructions to his engineers were simple. “It had to be able to carry a basket of eggs across a ploughed field, accommodate a tall man wearing a hat and be drivable by a farmer wearing clogs who had little or no experience of maintaining a motor car. As far as image went, Boulanger's memo added: "I confirm to you that the looks don't really bother me."

With a top speed of 37mph, this little gem got something just over 50mpg. I’m not sure if that was with, or without the basket of eggs, but a gas guzzler it was not. And according to, Auto Express UK, their about to do it again.

The redesigned Citroën 2CV, will be ready for the auto shows sometime in 2009, and will likely be a diesel-electric hybrid with high mpg and low emissions.

So you ask? What does all this have to do with the title of this article, The Big Three? Well for one, I simply got carried away with the snail. And two, I have a hard time saying “hello” in less than 350 words or so. However; there is a number three. Yep, You got it; The Big Three. Not so big now, are they? Although Ford seems to be holding its own for the moment, General Motors, and more especially Chrysler are all but finished as being associated with what is the saying? Chevrolet and apple pie? Now it will be more like, Crepes Suzette, and the American Tax Payer. Sound harsh? It is, but it didn’t have to be that way. And if you’ll pardon my French, where the hell are the Lee Iacocca’s when you need them?

There was a lesson to be learned from what Pierre-Jules Boulanger, did with Citroen, in 1949. His little auto for the peasants, bailed out a financially ailing Citroen, and put them in the black. Lee Iacocca did it again in 1979 when he approached The United States Government and asked for a loan guarantee, which he received and was able to repay seven years early than agreed to. Both did this by producing a line of vehicles for the masses. Vehicles that almost anyone could afford. Cheap to buy, and cheap to operate.

So what happened? The economy saw a few years of prosperity, and the lessons learned went by the wayside. Now they’re going to try and save it all by downsizing. Closing plants, laying off what will in the end be thousands of employees, and selling out to foreign auto makers. Why not do as Boulanger did, simply put the question to The American Auto Buyer? Ask them what they want, ask them what they need. They, (The Big Three) may be surprised with the answer. I know it’s too late for General Motors, and Chrysler, at this point if either of them come out of this whole it will be a miracle. And if they do, unless they remember the lessons of Pierre-Jules Boulanger, and Lido Anthony Iacocca, they will only be biding their time.

I don’t propose they build vehicles with a top speed of 37 mph, and canvas tops. But with today’s technology they can produce a car for the masses, cheap to buy, and cheap to operate, just as Boulanger, and Iacocca did. Only this time; don’t forget the lesson.

© 2010 J. Francis All Rights reserved

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Green Tea - Click This Link

I received an email recently giving me the opportunity to either accept, or reject an assignment to write an article on the, Calming Effects of Green Tea. With over a dozen other projects in the works I put it off for a couple of days so I could catch up on the work I already had. I also wanted time to do a little online research to see if it was something I was even interested in writing. But as sometimes happens (and more often than not lately) I waited too long, and someone else beat me to the punch. Lucky them.

However, not wanting to let 30 plus pages, (already printed out) of research go to waste, and having material on what appeared could be a very interesting article, I decided to write the following account, and post it for all to see.


Okay, I know what green tea is. But what is Theanine? (pronounced; tea-anene) To begin with it’s an Amino Acid (Amino acids are critical to life, and play a variety of roles in metabolism. One particularly important function is as the building blocks of proteins,) that is found in all teas; as well as certain mushrooms, boletus badius, (I know what you’re thinking, but these are edible mushrooms, the type you would feed to your family) and is what gives tea it’s flavor. To quote Carolyn Pierini. “It is the predominant amino acid in green tea leaves, giving it it’s characteristic umami, or 5th taste. Besides sweet, salty, acid, and bitter.”

(Carolyn Pierini, CLS (ASCP), Nutritional Consultant CNC, is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist who specializes in Medical Microbiology, the study of microorganisms and their relationship to your health.)

I’m sure if you’re a tea drinker, you are aware of the calming affects tea has, as compared to that of an equal amount of coffee, that’s because of the caffeine, even though they both contain caffeine, (coffee about 80 milligrams per 5 ounce cup, and green tea only 20 milligrams per 8 ounce cup, or one tea bag) tea also contains, Theanine, which counter acts the affects of the caffeine and produces that calming effect. But it doesn’t stop there. According to Wikipedia: Theanine is related to glutamine, and can cross the blood-brain barrier. Because it can enter the brain, theanine has psychoactive properties. Theanine has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, may produce feelings of relaxation, and improves cognition and mood, when taken in combination with caffeine.

I do like tea before bed, but since I am primarily a coffee drinker, and I like it strong, I tend to like tea the same way, strong; so I use two bags per 8 ounce cup, plus no milk or sugar. Although lemon and honey are nice at times, the sugar tends to keep me awake at night, undoing the calming affect theanine would naturally have. For those of you that like a glass of warm milk before bed; try the two together, and watch what happens. I’ve done it as an experiment and trust me, I slept like a baby.

I can also tell you that about mid-day when I have already been writing for six hours or so, and my brain has become somewhat soggy, a half hour break, a double strength cup of green tea, do a few stretches, and a ten minute walk, seems to realign the synapse and wakes me up enough to face the next five or six hours. However, on more than one occasion time has been in such short demand, the walk, and stretches give way to; just the tea, and I am pretty much back to my early morning self. Now I have no idea why it seems to have the opposite effect on me during the day, I’m just grateful it does. None of my experiments would be sanctioned by the scientific community, or the FDA, but green tea by itself, works for me.

Research (Real Research) has shown that it takes anywhere from 30 – 40 minutes after you drink a cup of green tea to see the results. As for myself I seem to fall in that 30 minute range, actually even less, 15 minutes or so and it has me calmed down. But I believe it is all related to our metabolism, and you own personal makeup. Even at my age, (65) yep I’m 65, I am an extremely hyper individual, with an over abundance of energy, so much so that I usually drive everyone around me crazy who is the opposite. Doctors in the past have prescribed various medications to calm me down, and calm me down they did, all of them following the same progression from; somewhat slowed down, to extremely slowed down, to unable to sort out my thoughts, and eventually slipping into a comma and not waking up for the next 10 – 12 hours. Then when I wake from this vegetative state, it takes the next 10 hours or so to regain my senses. Wow; I just lost an entire day. Now suppose for a minute I were to follow the directions on the bottle, I would sleep the entire week away. Needless to say I don’t like, or take prescribed mood enhancing medications, or over the counter for that matter, they all seem to have the same effect on me, so I’ll stick with my green tea, and the world will just have to deal with me as I am.

If you don’t like tea, but would like the calming effects that theanine produces, there are any number of companies producing in it in pill form, and with all the claims substantiated by Wikipedia. If you go to Google, or whatever search engine you use and type in, Theanine, you will get more than enough information, and advertising, which is sometimes difficult to sort out. I will try and give you some information on dosage as recommended by several studies I came across.

Again to quote Carolyn Pierini, “The intended use of L-theanine is that of a mental and physical relaxant that does not induce drowsiness. Although there is no set schedule for taking L-theanine, it may generally be taken at the first signs of stress. Based on the results of the clinical studies, L-theanine is most effective in the range of 50-200 mg, with the effect being felt within 30 minutes and lasting for 8-10 hours. Individuals with high stress levels may increase their dosage of L-theanine to at least 100 mg, with no more than 600 mg being taken in a six hour period. FDA recommends a maximum dose of 1200 mg daily, although the reason for this limit is not clear, due to its demonstrated safety. There are no known adverse reactions to L-theanine and no drug interactions have been reported. L-theanine is not affected by food and may be taken anytime, as needed. Because it has a mild taste, capsules may be opened and dissolved in water. Although it is probably safe for pregnant women and nursing mothers, we discourage its use by them pending conclusive research.”

Other studies say that dosages ranging from 100-200 milligrams are common, while still others recommend dosages from 200 to 400, however; all agree you should not exceed 600 milligrams in a six hour period.

Now at this point it might help to tell you that a cup of green tea from the west, (That’s Us) contains about 10 milligrams of Theanine, whereas a cup of tea from the east, (China or Japan) can contain as much as 5 times the amount. And scientific studies have shown that you need at least 50 milligrams to have a beneficial impact. Check out your local oriental stores, they should carry the higher grade of teas. As I stated earlier, when I make my tea I like it strong and use 2 bags; and also as I said, it does the trick for me. My only suggestion at this point is to experiment and see what works for you.

I hope I have given you enough information that you can decide for you self whether you want the tea, or simply buy the capsules. As I said, myself; I am not a lover of medicine, and prefer the results I get from the tea. Either way, if you need to relax, and calm down, get your daily dose of Theanine.
J. Francis