January 31, 2006

Is Obesity Contagious?

Is it possible that some obesity is caused by a virus?

Wouldn't that make obesity contagious? Seems so. In which case, the traditional advice for those overweight, 'Eat Less/ and 'Exercise More' may now begin to include "Wash Your Hands.'

For a fuller discussion, I point you to the Science Blog and Contagious Obesity? Identifying the human adenoviruses may make us fat.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 PM | Permalink

Kicking the Addiction to Life

Jerry Fensterman I see why others choose to die

I am approaching 50, recently remarried, and the father of a terrific 13-year-old young man. By every measure I enjoy a wonderful life. Or at least I did until April 2004, when I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Surgery was my only hope to prevent its spread and save my life. The discovery of a new lump in December 2004 after two surgeries signaled that metastasis was underway. My death sentence had been pronounced.

Life may be the most intense addiction on earth. From the moment I first heard the words ''you have cancer" and again when I was told that it was spreading out of control, I recognized my addiction to life almost at the cellular level. I have tried since then, as I did before, to live life to the fullest. I also committed myself to doing everything within my power to extend my life.
----
Mine has been a long, difficult, and certain march to death. Thus, I have had ample time to reflect on my life, get my affairs in order, say everything I want to the people I love, and seek rapprochement with friends I have hurt or lost touch with. The bad news is that my pain and suffering have been drawn out, the rewarding aspects of life have inexorably shrunk, and I have watched my condition place an increasingly great physical and emotional burden on the people closest to me. While they have cared for me with great love and selflessness, I cannot abide how my illness has caused them hardship, in some cases dominating their lives and delaying their healing.

Perhaps the biggest and most profound change I have undergone is that my addiction to life has been ''cured." I've kicked the habit! I now know how a feeling, loving, rational person could choose death over life, could choose to relieve his suffering as well as that of his loved ones a few months earlier than would happen naturally.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

January 30, 2006

Taking "Roots" to the DNA level

If you're old enough, you'll remember 29 years back when Roots first came on the air and the country was captivated.

This February, PBS will air a four part series "African American Lives" in which DNA testing is used to trace the African ancestry of nine famous Americans.

Chairman and producer of the series Henry Louis Gates, Chairman of Harvard's Department of African and African American studies was shocked to learn that he was half-European.

''Everybody knew their grandparents, but getting beyond that was quite a voyage for people," he says. ''I cried. I found out my fifth great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution. I didn't know he existed. I now have a real family tree going back to 1750. That's amazing."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

Harlequin Survey

Harlequin, the publisher of romance novels, recently conducted a survey in 16 countries and

asked men and women on six continents about traits they liked or disliked and how they went about trying to meet Mr. or Ms. Right.

Across the world, women put humor on the top on the list and in North America, so did men.

I think this is good news,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:02 PM | Permalink

January 28, 2006

When Gambling May Save Your Life

The safest place to have a heart attack is inside a Las Vegas casino reports the Wall St Journal. Beating the Odds (subscription only)

Medical research shows that casino visitors whose hearts suddenly stop survive at higher rates even than people who happen to go into cardiac arrest while visiting a hospital. "The safest place in America to suffer sudden cardiac arrest is a casino," says Bryan Bledsoe, a George Washington University emergency-medicine doctor and co-author of textbooks for paramedics.

The large casinos have automatic external defibrillators and well trained security officers who have restored the heartbeats of about 1800 gamblers and employees in the past nine years.

About 53% of people suffering a sudden cardiac arrest in a casino survive. Elsewhere the survival rate is under 10%.

Everyone who survived can thank one paramedic Richard Hardman who, upset at coming in too late to save people, worked hard to get defibrillators inside casinos and security officers trained in their use.

Mr. Hardman, still a fire-department paramedic, also now does some consulting for casino industry, which he says earns him less than $10,000 a year. He says he no longer feels haunted by his failure to become a doctor. He was listed as an author on the New England Journal of Medicine study, and doubts that as a physician he could have been involved in anything more important. "To be thanked by people who say you saved their lives -- that's extremely gratifying," he says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 PM | Permalink

January 27, 2006

Saving Our Boys

Boys are finally beginning to get attention. I wrote about Where Have All the Men Gone but it may take some lawsuits to change things.

It's starting in Boston. One schoolboy is suing saying the system favors girls and is biased against boys. Schoolboy' s bias suit.

''The system is designed to the disadvantage of males," Anglin said. ''From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders, and listen to what they say, you'll do well and get good grades. Men naturally rebel against this."
--
You can't expect a boy to buy pink paper and frills to decorate their notebooks," Little said.

Newsweek makes it a cover story, The Trouble with Boys. Boys are disappearing in college where they're now a minority at 44%.

This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, "has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy."
--

"Girl behavior becomes the gold standard," says "Raising Cain" coauthor Thompson. "Boys are treated like defective girls."
--
"One of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school," Newsweek reports, "rests on a single question: Does he have a man in his life to look up to?" It continues: "An increasing number of boys — now a startling 40 percent — are being raised without biological dads. Psychologists say that grandfathers and uncles can help, but emphasize that an adolescent boy without a father figure is like an explorer without a map."

It's astonishing that 40% of our boys today are being raised without their biological fathers. Adolescent boys without a father figure is like an explorer without a map

whether they're breathing down their necks about grades or admonishing them to show up for school on time, "an older man reminds a boy in a million different ways that school is crucial to their mission in life."

We need more mentors and single-sex classes if we are going to save our boys.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:08 PM | Permalink

Elderberry extract effective against bird flu and Oprah

(I just posted this at Estate Legacy Vaults and decided it should go here too)

Now that Oprah has devoted an entire show to avian flu, the need for preparedness has finally hit home. You can hear the "untold story" here.
Her tips

• Stock your cabinets with enough canned goods to last four to five weeks.
• Stockpile your prescription drugs, if possible.
• Speak with city officials to make sure your community has enough chlorine on hand to purify the water, in case shipments stop coming. Many cities only keep enough chlorine on hand to last five to seven days.

Her guest was Dr. Michael Osterholm who said we can learn a lot from the lessons of Katrina. He said we need to be prepared to live without modern luxuries. He also said communities need to have a plan to bury their dead in a timely, respectful way. Nothing got people more upset during Katrina than the dead bodies that lay on the streets for days, sometimes weeks.

Your best all around resource is CIDRAP, the Center for infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota.

For me, the idea that elderberry extract may be effective against the bird flu is the best news I've heard all week. Elderberries were always an old folk remedy against flu and often called the "medicine chest" of the country people.

Now it turns out that an Israeli grandmother Dr. Madeline Mumcuoglu, a world-renowned virologist, has been working on an elderberry extract cure for the past 12 years.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if this "comfortable and grandmotherly" woman has developed the cure for one of humanity's biggest threats?

Technorati Tags:

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:06 AM | Permalink

January 26, 2006

The New Old Age

With demographic pressures increasing, more companies and countries are putting the retired back to work. Newsweek reports.

Whether these changes are good or bad news to workers depends on whether they anticipate retirement with eagerness or dread. In the United States, a full third of recently retired seniors now go on to pursue a second career, reports a new study by Putnam Investments. And according to a survey by AARP, the top U.S. lobbying and advocacy group for senior citizens, half of working-age Americans now expect to work into their 70s, whether by financial necessity or by lifestyle choice. In Japan, 78 percent of baby boomers between the ages of 55 and 59 say they plan to work beyond the official retirement age of 60.
---
If anything, it's surprising that we didn't challenge the popular association of old age and idleness much earlier. After all, the roots of the modern concept of retirement go all the way back to the era of Germany's "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck, who founded the first welfare state in the 1880s. At that time, the average worker toiled in a factory and lived to be 50. Retirement, for those few lucky enough to reach it, was conceived as a small recompense for physical and mental exhaustion. Happily, few of us today associate work with that kind of bodily strain. Instead, it's often a way for older people to stay active and integrated in a rewarding social network. That's the positive side to working longer and retiring later. We may also no longer have a choice.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:11 PM | Permalink

Brain Glimpses

Men appear to get greater satisfaction than women when witnessing retribution. Revenge 'more satisfying for men'.

"This investigation would seem to indicate there is a predominant role for men in maintaining justice and issuing punishment, " said Dr Tania Singer.

The New York Times inexplicably calls this Your Brain on Schadenfreude and so apparently did Nature magazine which published Dr. Singer's research. Now, schadenfreude is a German word meaning pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. Misfortune is bad luck. I don't think what the experiments showed is schadenfreude at all and neither does the author. It's more pleasure at seeing rough justice.

First the experimental subjects watched people playing a game in which some cheated (bad people) and others played fair (good people). Then they watched the same people suffering from a painful stimulus.

The empathy circuits lighted up in both men and women when bad things happened to good people. When bad things happened to bad people, the women in the study were still empathic. But not the men. Not only did they show less empathy toward bad people, but the reward center in the left nucleus accumbens lighted up. All that translates as "Serves him right!"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:54 PM | Permalink

Her Instinct Saved a Young Girl

One good woman, following her instinct, forged ahead when the police ignored her and was instrumental in tracking down the rapist of a 3 year old girl. Instinct told her something was wrong.

Traci Lee Dean said she felt like she was acting crazy but her heart told her to keep going.

Dean said the young girl is still on her mind. "There is no happy ending to this story," she said. "A 3-year-old girl getting raped does not have a happy ending. It may be a better ending, but not a happy ending."

It was not just her heart, but her training in sales.

"In sales, you have to meet eight 'No's' to meet a 'Yes,'" Dean said.
She got her "Yes." And now, she hopes, the little girl will have a chance at life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:06 PM | Permalink

Modestly Yours

Here's a very interesting blog called Modestly Yours by a group of young women whose voices you will never hear in mainstream media. They are "good girls in hiding."

I mean where else will the cable channel Oxygen be called A Breath of Foul Air for its "edgy" entertainment that has most definitely been pornified.

But a considerable amount of the cable channel’s edginess no doubt consists in its unflattering depictions of women for women. Howard Stern does it and it is sexist; Oxygen does it and it is “intelligent.” You’d have to be breathing some pretty thin air to buy that.

Or in Are We All Girls Who 'Cain't Say No'

So there it was again, the "cain't say no" phenomenon. Only in this case it wasn't a simple matter of turning down yet another car pool stint. Grace was thoroughly uninterested in the guy, even a bit repulsed, but still giving him a spin in her bed-- and feeling guilty about getting out of it.

The blog is sponsored by Modesty Zone founded in 2005 by Wendy Shalit who wrote the well received A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue. From a description of the book which I haven't read.

Beholden neither to conservatives who discount as exaggeration the dangers facing young women, nor to feminists who steadfastly affix blame on the patriarchy, Wendy Shalit proposes that, in fact, we have lost our respect for an important classical virtue -- that of sexual modesty. A Return to Modesty is a deeply personal account as well as a fascinating intellectual exploration. From seventeenth-century manners guides to Antonio Canova's sculpture, Venus Italico, to Frank Loesser's 1948 tune, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," A Return to Modesty unfolds like a detective's search for a lost idea as Shalit uncovers opinions about this lost virtue's importance, from Balzac to Simone de Beauvoir, that have not been aired for decades. Then she knocks down the accompanying myths one by one. Female modesty is not about a "sexual double standard," as is often thought, but is related to male virtue and honor. Modesty is not a social construct, but a natural response. And modesty is not prudery, but a way to preserve a sense of the erotic in our lives.

To me, this is edgy and intelligent thinking and writing, even more so, since the authors are young women, looking for what women of my generation discarded too quickly.

UPDATE:
The relentless pornification of our culture goes now goes beyond young girls and women and extends to, as Gail Sheehy calls them, "seasoned women". Ronni Bennett delivers Sheehy a well-deserved lashing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:58 PM | Permalink

January 25, 2006

Out of a Job and an Identity

What happens when a boomer takes a buy out and discovers his passion and creates a legacy. It comes with your fifties.

For the first time, I was experiencing a reward that wasn't supposed to be hung on a wall or placed into my bank account. And it felt good.
----

Not long ago, when someone would ask what I did for a living, I'd say, "I teach, but I once worked in the corporate world." It was as if I was saying, "I used to be somebody, but I'm not anymore." Now, when asked that same question, I simply say, "I am a teacher." That's it. No caveats, no qualifiers, no need to say more.

I Was Out of a Job - And an Identity

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 PM | Permalink

Heart attack at Heart Ball

There's a time and a place for everything, but no better place or time to have a heart attack that at the Heart Ball, packed full with cardiologists and doctors attending a fund-raiser.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:47 PM | Permalink

How to Break in Your Husband

Real Simple on how to break in your husband or boyfriend

Enforce the lessons you learned with siblings and college roommates:
Respect personal space,
do your share of the dishes, and
take good phone messages, says Carolyn Hax, a syndicated advice columnist for the Washington Post."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:38 PM | Permalink

Is Bigger Better ?

We look to studies on mice to see how what is learned will effect humans. Now we have a very interesting study on bats.

For some male bats, sexual prowess comes with a price -- smaller brains.

A research team led by Syracuse University biologist Scott Pitnick found that in bat species where the females are promiscuous, the males boasting the largest testicles also had the smallest brains. Conversely, where the females were faithful, the males had smaller testes and larger brains.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:14 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2006

Pornification

More and more people are concerned about the pornification of America. Don Aucoin writes in the Boston Globe

Not too long ago, pornography was a furtive profession, its products created and consumed in the shadows. But it has steadily elbowed its way into the limelight, with an impact that can be measured not just by the Internet-fed ubiquity of pornography itself but by the way aspects of the porn sensibility now inform movies, music videos, fashion, magazines, and celebrity culture.

Caitlin Flanagan explores how nice young girls got so casual about oral sex in this month's Atlantic. Are You There God? It's Me, Monica (subscribers only).

Nowadays girls don't consider oral sex in the least exotic—nor do they even consider it to be sex. It's just "something to do."
-------
Somehow these girls have developed the indifferent attitude toward performing oral sex that one would associate with bitter, long-married women or streetwalkers. But they think of themselves as normal teenagers, version 2005
----

We've made a world for our girls in which the pornography industry has become increasingly mainstream, in which Planned Parenthood's response to the oral-sex craze has been to set up a help line, in which the forces of feminism have worked relentlessly to erode t
he patriarchy—which, despite its manifold evils, held that providing for the sexual safety of young girls was among its primary reasons for existence. And here are America's girls: experienced beyond their years, lacking any clear message from the adult community about the importance of protecting their modesty, adrift in one of the most explicitly sexualized cultures in the history of the world. Here are America's girls: on their knees.

When sex is completely despiritualized, girls and women become objects. It's even sadder when they become complicit in their own objectification. They have lost the mystery, the radiance, the incandescence of one of our greatest pleasures. How do we, our culture and society, step back from such desensitization that robs us of so much?

Maybe Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical tomorrow will shed some much needed light.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:05 PM | Permalink

Posthumous conception

Just born in Russia is Georgy whose father died nine years earlier.

That's right, posthumously conceived, brought to term using a surrogate womb, Georgy will be raised by his grandmother.

The newborn, named Georgy, is the image of his father, his grandmother told reporters. She said she would be raising the boy by herself and would tell him the story of his birth when he was old enough to understand it.

His mother is apparently not in the picture. I don't understand it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:42 PM | Permalink

Parental Blood Surge

Im reading Zadie Smith's On Beauty and came across this passage

He was having an odd parental rush, a blood surge that was also above blood and was presently hunting through Howard's expansive intelligence to find words that would more effectively express something like

don't walk in front of cars take care and be good and don't hurt or be hurt and don't live in a way that make you feel dead and don't betray anybody or yourself and take care of what matters and please don't and please remember and make sure.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 AM | Permalink

January 23, 2006

Life Gets Better

Overall, Life is definitely getting better.

Households earning > $75,000:
1
890: 1 %; 2000: 23 %

Hours of work needed to buy McDonalds cheeseburger:
1956: 1/2 hour; 2000: 3 minutes

Home ownership:
1900: 20 %; 2000: 70 %

Hours of work needed to buy each 100 square feet of housing:
1956: 16 hours; 2000: 14 hours

Rooms per person:

Europe: ~1; United States: 2.1

Dwellings with central heat:

1930: 15 %; 2002: 78 %

High school graduates:
1940: <50 %; 2000: >80 %

Food spending in restaurants:
1955: 25 %; 2000: 46 %

"White collar" employment:
1900: 21 % men, 20 % women; 2000: 58 % men, 52 % women

Workweek (men only):
1850: 66 hours; 1900: 53 hours; 2000: 42 hours

Women spending 4+ hours/day at housework:
1900: 90 %; 2000: 14 %

Weekly leisure time (men only):
1880: 11 hours; 2000: 40 hours

Waking hours spent working over lifetime:
1850: 50 %; 2000: 20 %

Life expectancy difference between upper and lower class Briton:
1870: 17 years; 2000: 2 years

HT to Carl Frank who took statistics from Gregg Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox who asks if life is getting better why are people feeling worse.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:04 PM | Permalink

The Vulcan Salute

Who knew that the Vulcan salute invented by Leonard Nimoy

  Vulcan Salute

which means 'live long and prosper' had its origins in the Jewish blessing gesture used by the kohanim during the worship service that's performed on certain holy days.

"The special moment when the Kohanim blessed the assembly moved me deeply, for it possessed a great sense of magic and theatricality... I had heard that this indwelling Spirit of God was too powerful, too beautiful, too awesome for any mortal to look upon and survive, and so I obediently covered my face with my hands. But of course, I had to peek." (From his autobiography, I am Spock.)

  Jewish Salute

via Richard Cohen who found out by testing his DNA that he carries the marker of the Kohanim, like 3% of all Jews, and can trace his DNA back to the priests of ancient Israel.

I can make the salute easily, can you?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:26 PM | Permalink

January 21, 2006

Genetic bewilderment.

Is the promise of anonymity forever best for sperm donors? What about the children of sperm donors?

Most of the exotic reproductive technologies are unregulated and private fertility clinics like it that way. Anonymity allows them to escape accountability. After all, who wants to deal with health problems, like diabetes, that may not show up until decades later? Even more troubling is the possibility of inadvertent incest.

Like children anywhere, sperm donor children want to know where they come from. They want a more complete sense of their identity and not just on Father's Day. And there are 40,000 of them born each year

At least one child has tracked down his sperm donor father on the internet.

Britain now requires fertility clinics to register donors in a database the children can access later. But that has resulted in a steep decline in donors. I can understand why after the Swedish Supreme Court ruled that the biological sperm donor father of three children in a lesbian relationship was ordered to pay child support for all three.

The New York Times explores the issue in Are You My Sperm Donor? Few Clinics Say.

With ever more exotic reproductive technologies looming, like cloning and the engineering of traits like eye color and intelligence, some advocates for more regulation say there is a growing urgency to protect these children from what they call "genetic bewilderment." Guaranteeing children access to their genetic heritage, they say, could be the cornerstone of an industry ethics code.
"We need to get it right for donor conception," said Rebecca Hamilton, a law student at Harvard who created a documentary about searching for her donor father in New Zealand, "and use it as the basis for the million weird and wacky decisions coming our way."

Giving sperm donor children a right to access their genetic heritage is one cause I can fully support.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

January 20, 2006

Wine drinkers choose healthier foods

Wine drinkers choose healthier foods - more fruits, vegetables, olives, and cheese - while beer drinkers opt for more soft drinks, sausages and other fast foods according to Danish scientists

More women drink wine. Nuf said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 PM | Permalink

Unprepared

Sounds as if a lot of our college students are not even remotely prepared for the Business of Life.

More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.
That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:28 PM | Permalink

Blind and now can see.

Blind for 25 years, Joyce Urch had a heart attack at 74. When she awoke in the hospital, she could see. She told her husband, "You've got older."

For the first time she could her 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

When Joyce first went blind it made a huge change to our life. Everything seemed to fall away from us. She couldn't do anything.
------
She said: "I love going out now. I can look around and see the trees and squirrels and pigeons."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:24 PM | Permalink

Betrayed by a Parrot

When the African grey parrot said, " I love you Gary' in his partner's voice, Chris Taylor became suspicious.

Ziggy is a mimic and a half, and from his cage in the corner he had heard every bill and coo of a secret love affair.

A chill ran down Mr Taylor’s spine. He turned to Suzy, whose cheeks had flushed to beetroot. As she dissolved in tears she was forced to admit to a month-long fling with Gary, some of their intimacies conducted in Mr Taylor’s home while he was out at work, but Ziggy wasn’t. She could not deny it; every time her mobile phone had rung, Ziggy had piped up in perfect imitation of her: “Hiya Gary.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:30 PM | Permalink

The Men We've Been Looking For

After reading, thanks to Hally, Maryamie Scobel's Ten Reasons Why You Should Date a Geek, I think I'm going to try it.

Women of America. THESE ARE THE MEN WE'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR.

UPDATE on the Do's and Don'ts of Dating Geeks.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:54 AM | Permalink

January 19, 2006

Triplets, 10, 7 and soon

More from this strange, new world where medical advances come faster than our ability to understand the consequences, much less the ethical dilemmas.

Triplets born 10 years apart.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink

Human Breeding Program

We all know the basketball Yao Ming, but we don't know the story former Newsweek journalist Brook Lamer wrote about in his new book Operation Yao Ming.

If what he writes is true, Yao Ming was "knowingly bred for the sport, forced into it against his will and subjected to years of dubious science to increase his height", set up more than 50 years ago under Mao Tse Tung.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 PM | Permalink

Similarity Attracts

A shared history can help make a second marriage work writes Jeff Zaslow in the Wall St. Journal's Moving On column.

Marital history is as crucial in choosing a mate as education, class, religion or race, says Hiromi Ono, a sociologist at Washington State University. She has found that previously married people are twice as likely to marry those with similar marital histories.

It's human nature to gravitate toward people who know what you've been through because they've been there themselves. That's why ex-spouses of alcoholics often find each other, and why groups are created to help divorced parents socialize.

The cliché that opposites attract "is not supported by research," says Terri Orbuch of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. "Similarities attract, and that's what keeps people together for the long term."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 PM | Permalink

What price happiness?

Staying married is a great way to increase your wealth.

Couples who stay married through thick and thin accumulate twice as much personal wealth as people who get divorced or remain single, a new study reveals.

One of the key reasons folks who stay together see their assets grow is that one household is cheaper to maintain than two.

The study by researchers at Ohio State University tracked the personal and marital status of 9055 people from 1985 to 2000.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:05 PM | Permalink

January 17, 2006

Wine ice cubes and Alka Seltzer

More helpful than Heloise are these hints from Sigmund, Carl and Alfred.

Blood stains on clothes? Not to worry! Just pour a little hydrogen peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood. Works every time! (Now, where to put the body?)


Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half, and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces. (Left over wine? What's that?)

Now get out there and buy some Alka Seltzer because you can

Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China.

Clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets.

Polish jewelry. Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes.

Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary).

Unclog a drain. Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of Heinz White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, and then run the hot water.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:57 PM | Permalink

Hot sex treats the common cold

Those Russians always have different and fascinating scientific research. Today, it's how sexual intercourse has a positive effect on the body's immune system. Makes sense to me.

But who knew that hot sex treats the common cold?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

January 15, 2006

Meditation, the Secret Weapon

The best way to exercise those parts of the brain involved in paying attention and concentration is to practice meditation.

Meditation not only reduces stress, it increases attention span, sharpens focus and improves memory.

From Time's Getting Smarter, One Breath at a time

One recent study found evidence that the daily practice of meditation thickened the parts of the brain's cerebral cortex responsible for decision making, attention and memory.

Even better, it improves emotional intelligence.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink

Bathtub, bed and bus

So how do you become more creative? It's working hard at what you love.

From Time's Hidden Secrets of the Creative Mind.

Take risks, and expect to make lots of mistakes, because creativity is a numbers game. Work hard, and take frequent breaks, but stay with it over time. Do what you love, because creative breakthroughs take years of hard work. Develop a network of colleagues, and schedule time for freewheeling, unstructured discussions. Most of all, forget those romantic myths that creativity is all about being artsy and gifted and not about hard work. They discourage us because we're waiting for that one full-blown moment of inspiration. And while we're waiting, we may never start working on what we might someday create.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

January 13, 2006

Aging Makes the Brain Better

More from Time's special report on Tuning up your Brain

More supple and elastic than anyone realized is the aging brain because aging in fact makes the brain better.

"In midlife," says UCLA neurologist George Bartzokis, "you're beginning to maximize the ability to use the entirety of the information in your brain on an everyday, ongoing, second-to-second basis. Biologically, that's what wisdom is."

In fact,

Essentially, the brain spends decades upgrading itself from a dial-up Internet to a high-speed version, not fully completing the job until age 45 or so.
----
It's that talent for reflective thinking that explains the role older adults have always played in the human culture. It's not for nothing that history's firebrands and ideologues are typically young, while its judges and peacemakers and great theologians tend to be older. Not everyone achieves the sharp thought and serene mien that can come with age. But for those who do, the later years can be the best years they have ever had.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 PM | Permalink

Overcome frazzing

Maybe it's just the time of year, but all 3 news weeklies had stuff to note about the Business of Life. Time had a special report on How to Tune Up Your Brain.

My takeaways. apart for learning new words like screen sucking, frazzing, pizzled and doomdart. The best is frazzing defined as "frantic, ineffective multitasking, typically with the delusion that you are getting a lot done. The quality of the work, however, is poor."

Maybe our brave, new world making us all develop Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Millions of people don't prioritize and do what is most important, and so feel distracted, guilty and inadequate because they'll never get it all done.

For staying on track in a world when everyone is multi-tasking, don't be at anyone's beck and call and prioritize ruthlessly Minimize interruptions, the cost of which to the American economy is $588 billion/year. Turn everything off and take at least 30 minutes of downtime every day to think, relax and meditate.

For staying productive. Get a good night's sleep. You'll be more efficient and mentally sharp.

More anon.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 PM | Permalink

January 12, 2006

Unsanitary, Unhealthy, Unfriendly - We All Do It

Yuck!

The typical desk has 100 times as much bacteria as the typical kitchen table, according to a study by University of Arizona researchers. Keyboards and telephones tend to be even dirtier than desks. "You have to clean these surfaces regularly," says Taub-Dix. "You wouldn't eat lunch at a restaurant that didn't wash its tablecloths, would you?

Desktop Dining

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:23 PM | Permalink

January 11, 2006

Fathers of Teenage Girls

One of the more interesting phenomena of growing older is seeing men you knew as boys or as college lotharios become fathers of teenage girls.

Here's Jack Yoest's 10 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter.

Rule Nine:
Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a middle-aged, gray-headed, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and a half acre behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:15 PM | Permalink

Health roundup

It's been a while since I've been through my inbox of medical stories. Here's a selection on carrots, tomato juice, vit D, yoga, overdosing on Tylenol and, of course, my perennial fish oil.

Tomato juice prevented emphysema in mice exposed to cigarette smoke. Will it work to protect human lungs? Wouldn't hurt to try since we know one serving a day of tomato-based foods can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 30%.

Memantine (Namenda) , a drug already approved by the FDA, appears to slow progression of Alzheimers by nearly 50% for up to a year.

Fish oil supplements can prevent airway constriction in asthma.

Moms who take extra vitamin D while pregnant could protect their children from osteoporosis later in life.

Vitamin D may also help you fend off colon, breast and ovarian cancer by as much as 50%. The older you get, the more you need vitamin D so take a supplement if you're over 50.

Eating carrots really does preserve your vision. Antioxidant-rich foods significantly reduces the risk of macular degeneration.

I always had low back pain until I began practicing yoga when it completely disappeared. Now a study finds that yoga is better than exercise or self-help books.

Overdosing on acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Half of those failures are unintentional because people don't realize that acetaminophen is found in more than 100 over-the-counter products. Tylenol is potentially a dangerous drug. 80% of people who develop acute liver failure die of it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:09 PM | Permalink

January 10, 2006

Don't read this if you have a cough

Who knows the placebo effect just may work for you. In which case, you don't want to know that there is no evidence that cough syrups work. In fact, they do little good and may harm children said a panel of experts in new guidelines released on Monday.

They say that adults are better off using the older antihistamines that make you drowsy and decongestants to stop the flow of mucus that causes the cough.

For children nothing beats chicken soup.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:20 PM | Permalink

Human cloning faked

The human cloning heralded by the South Korean and world press turns out to be completely faked.

I view that news with relief.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:49 PM | Permalink

Is a protein responsible for depression?

I must admit I haven't gotten back into daily posting yet, but hold on, I will soon.

Meanwhile on the health front, some very good news from the Wall St Journal which reports that the discovery of a new protein could play a crucial role in treating depression. ( Link for WSJ subscribers only.)

The newly found protein, named p11, appears to regulate how brain cells respond to serotonin, researchers from Rockefeller University and Sweden's Karolinska Institute report Friday in the journal Science.

Such a finding will lead to new treatments and a better understanding why depression happens.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 PM | Permalink

January 5, 2006

Are you worried about the right things?

Do you have confidence in your own civilization? Mark Steyn says that 's what the War on Terror is all about.

In one of the most discussed articles of the past week and will be one of the most important of the year, It's the Demography, Stupid. Here are some choice bits. The question to ask yourself is what would you fight to defend? Are you worried about the right things?

Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.

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That's what the war's about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder"--as can be seen throughout much of "the Western world" right now.

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So the jihadists are for the most part doing no more than giving us a prod in the rear as we sleepwalk to the cliff. When I say "sleepwalk," it's not because we're a blasé culture. On the contrary, one of the clearest signs of our decline is the way we expend so much energy worrying about the wrong things.
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None of these things happened. In fact, quite the opposite is happening. We're pretty much awash in resources, but we're running out of people--the one truly indispensable resource, without which none of the others matter. Russia's the most obvious example: it's the largest country on earth, it's full of natural resources, and yet it's dying--its population is falling calamitously.

The default mode of our elites is that anything that happens--from terrorism to tsunamis--can be understood only as deriving from the perniciousness of Western civilization. As Jean-Francois Revel wrote, "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."
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The idea that progressive Euro-welfarism is the permanent resting place of human development was always foolish; we now know that it's suicidally so.

To avoid collapse, European nations will need to take in immigrants at a rate no stable society has ever attempted. The CIA is predicting the EU will collapse by 2020.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 PM | Permalink

Beheaded for teaching girls

Let's not forget that in many places of the world, the Business of Life can be deadly. Abdul Habib, a high school teacher in Afghanistan was beheaded by the Taliban because he was teaching - --- girls.

May he rest in peace and his killers found.

High School Teacher Beheaded in Afghanistan

The education director of Zabul, Nabi Khushal, blamed the Taliban for the beheading, saying the insurgents had occasionally put up posters around Qalat demanding that schools for girls be closed and threatening to kill teachers, The Associated Press reported. "Only the Taliban are against girls being educated," he said.
The Taliban government was ousted in late 2001, but insurgents associated with the group continue to be active in southern Afghanistan.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:10 PM | Permalink

Grow your own ring

How about bone rings grown from DNA as token of love? It's just the latest in biojewelry from London and costs about $9000. Cells from a fragment of jawbone - yes an extraction is required - are seeded on a ring-shaped scaffold structure where they grow for six to eight weeks.

With this bone, I thee wed

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:05 PM | Permalink

January 3, 2006

A River of Joy

If you could make only one New Year's resolution, improving your attitude towards everything is the best one you can make. The rewards are immediate and the benefits long-lasting. So don't worry, be happy.

Happiness is an upward spiral.

A sunny outlook trumps physical health in keeping folks independent. Attitude is everything in old age.

A review of more than 225 epidemiological, longitudinal and experimental studies of more than 275,000 people suggest that happiness is its own reward. Success and achievement are encouraged by happiness. The Sweet Smell of...Happiness?

Happy people feel more confident, optimistic, energetic and sexier. Happy people are more sociable, have more satisfying marriages, do better in their jobs, are healthier and live longer.

Some people are born genetically equipped to be happier, but everyone can learn how to be happier. Is that good news or what.

That is the great and last legacy of Dr. Martin Seligman who founded positive psychology.

Of course, that's what the great wisdom teachers from Buddha to Jesus tell us too. Don't worry. Be happy.

Live your life from your deepest part and you will be happy. As Rumi said, "When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy."

Improving your attitude towards life is the key to finding that river of joy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:00 PM | Permalink

Arguments dramatically slow wound healing

The stress a married couple experiences during a 30-minute argument can delay their bodies’ ability to heal a wound by at least a day, according to a new study.

And if the couples’ relationship endures routine hostility, the delay can be even longer. There could be important implications for people suffering from chronic wounds, such as skin ulcers.

“We knew that chronic stress causes reduced immunity, but to find that an argument of just half an hour has such a profound effect on wound healing is quite shocking,” says Patricia Price at the Wound Healing Research Unit at Cardiff University, Wales, who was not involved in the study.

Arguments dramatically slow wound healing

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:26 PM | Permalink

Why Cute Rules

It's why everyone loves babies, puppies, pandas and penguins.

The New York Times on The Cute Factor .

Scientists who study the evolution of visual signaling have identified a wide and still expanding assortment of features and behaviors that make something look cute: bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait, among many others.

Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can't lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.

The human cuteness detector is set at such a low bar, researchers said, that it sweeps in and deems cute practically anything remotely resembling a human baby or a part thereof, and so ends up including the young of virtually every mammalian species,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:50 PM | Permalink

Back and Organized

Well, I'm just about settled in my new digs and loving them very much. The next-to-last project was putting my new office together and it looks smashing with a conference table, a computer armoire, bookcases, a supply cabinet and one lateral file cabinet.

It wouldn't work half so well if I hadn't installed large shelves in the basement for old files, boxed files, and boxes of photos, slides, and clothes. Now everything is accessible. I even have a long banquet table - one of those folding ones - so I can sort through old files down there and leave my office uncluttered.

It's a wonderful start to the new year to have everything so organized.
It means this is a year when I'm going to get a lot done.

Best wishes to everyone for a wealthy, healthy, and happy New Year

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink