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November 4, 2009

I’ve Got The Seasonal Flu…Yeah?!

Cough and Sneeze

It started way early this year. Walking around coughing. Runny nose. Deep congestion. Unsettled stomach.  Waking up at 3am and not being able to fall back asleep.  Despite the make-up I was wearing, I looked sick but I didn’t have a severe fever.  Yes I had muscle aches and chills and went from hot to cold in a nanosecond and a temperature higher than 98.6 but I didn’t have a severe fever.

I live in Florida so usually the flu doesn’t hit us until February – not this year; the flu came early.

Everyone who looked at me, and saw me blowing my nose, or coughing, probably thought I had the swine flu. I stopped at a local pharmacy and bought cough drops, aspirin and two different types of flu and cold medicine, as well as a large carton of orange juice. As the cashier saw me approaching, her eyes got big. She began to hesitate — as if she didn’t want me to approach her register. I could tell she thought I had the swine flu.

I tried to comfort her — telling her it was simply a pre-emptive strike. I said I was fine, but simply had a sore throat. I said I wanted to start drinking orange juice early just to play it safe. I doubt she fell for anything I said.

It seems like the different viruses, colds and other bad bug strains out there may be packing a little bit more punch this year. Most folks who get sick now automatically assume they’ve got the swine flu. I did, and it was kind of scary. I even went to the ATM machine and took out money — fearing I could end up in the hospital in a matter of hours.  Don’t ask the logic behind that thinking.

Since we don’t usually see a full blown outbreak of the seasonal flu in Florida until February health officials believe most of the influenza activity we are seeing right now is H1N1, and not the seasonal flu. So we could be looking at a double dose of flu activity this year. Swine flu now and seasonal flu later this winter. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but things are certainly off to a bad start.

It’s starting to look like we are in for a long and rough flu season. I’ve got my hand sanitizer ready. I’m sick now and I have no desire to get sick again.

The 2009 virus circulating the world isn’t strictly swine flu; rather, it’s a mix of swine, avian and human influenza that has never been seen before in humans. In the upcoming months, we’ll be dealt the double whammy of seasonal flu season and a potential second wave of swine flu.

Some people already have enough trouble determining if they have a cold or the flu; the symptoms are similar, although the flu’s symptoms are a bit more intense. But it may be especially difficult to know if you have swine flu or seasonal flu, since the symptoms are extremely similar. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Swine flu patients also report diarrhea and vomiting, not usually present in seasonal flu.

A laboratory test is the only way to confirm a case of swine flu, but few tests have been done as most swine flu cases thus far look like a bout with seasonal flu. Many people recover without needing any medication or hospitalization, and some might not even know they’re ill. The mild nature of swine flu has led some to question why there needs to be any worry, as deaths have been far less than those attributable to seasonal flu.

However, because the current H1N1 influenza is completely new and no one has immunity, public health officials warn that swine flu could eventually cause more complications than seasonal flu does. Not only will there be more complications, they’ll likely be more serious. So far, doctors have reported that swine flu is more likely to result in viral pneumonia, as opposed to bacterial pneumonia often seen in seasonal flu cases; the bacterial version is much easier to treat than the viral kind.

Even if you don’t know if you have swine flu or seasonal flu, head to the doctor if you start to experience symptoms that aren’t part of a typical flu experience; these may be the warning signs of serious swine flu complications. That means everyone needs to remain vigilant about their health in the coming months.

Because swine flu and seasonal flu are transmitted in the same way, everyone should be on watch when it comes to prevention. Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often, stop touching other people’s stuff in the office, don’t touch that door handle, stop talking in other people’s face and stay home when you’re sick. Whether you have seasonal or swine flu, you’ll be doing everyone around you a favor.

I’m GLAD that I don’t have the ‘swine’ — just a bad case of the good old seasonal flu which takes about five to ten days to shake — according to the doctor.

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October 5, 2009

Healthcare: Do Americans Understand? Or Even Care?

Does the average American really know what’s best for the ‘greater good’ of all Americans or do they even care? 

Looking back in history Americans have lamented the passing of many laws because they some how thought that it would impact their community in some conceived negative manner without looking at the long term benefits and how it benefited the majority for the ‘greater good’.

grand-canyon

There are too many  laws to mention that are now celebrated and their authors who were visionaries are now viewed as heroes decades later. But while these laws were before Congress there were those who didn’t have the vision to see their worth and fought tooth and nail to defeat them.  The 19th Amendment (gave women the right to vote), the Social Security Act of 1965, Theodore Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon Game Preserve by proclamation in 1906 and Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908 are just a few – there are sooo many others. Another law which was far-seeing but created battles and brawls was the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservative Act.

Mount Denali

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (or ANILCA) was a United States Federal Law passed in 1980 by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on December 2 of that same year. 

The law provided for the creation or revision of 15 National Park Service properties and set aside public lands for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The act provided for the designation of 79.53 million acres (124,281 square miles) of public lands, a third of which was set aside as pure wilderness area where flora and fauna could thrive in their natural habitat and not be disturbed. The act provided for the creation or expansion of Denali National Park (home of North America’s tallest mountain).

The legislation was initially introduced into Congress in 1974 in several different bills, each outlining a single proposed park, monument, or other area. Several of these, in particular Lake Clark and Kenai Fjords, were quite controversial in Alaska. Little action was taken on any of them, so that by 1975 the National Park Service (NPS) and conservationists conceived the idea of a single bill that would cover several separate areas. The election in 1976 of Jimmy Carter kept afloat hopes that Alaskan conservation would finally get a fair hearing. However, several members of Congress, particularly Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, remained strongly opposed to the absorption of such a large amount of land by the National Park Service — which would take the land off the market and, Gravel felt, damage long-term economic development plans for Alaska. Gravel became the primary opponent to the act.

The Interior Department and NPS became concerned as 1978 dragged on that no action would be taken at all on the “national interest lands” included in the proposals mining and forestry claims, among other issues, were beginning to be levied against the lands and time was running out. The National Park Service and Interior lobbied President Carter to use the Antiquities Act to designate the proposed lands as National Monuments by executive order, which Carter did on December 1, 1978.

Carter argued that he had been forced to use the Antiquities Act by Congress’ failure to act in a reasonable time, but his actions nevertheless caused wide protest across Alaska.

President Carter was burned in effigy (a representation of his person) in Fairbanks. Residents in the Cantwell area undertook a large act of civil disobedience known as the Great Denali Trespass. Alaskan citizens went up into the park, fired off guns, made campfires, and did a number of other things that were officially prohibited by the National Park Service. The towns of Eagle and Glennallen produced official proclamations stating that the towns would not support National Park Service authorities, not enforce NPS regulations — such as not allowing open fires, skydiving, hunting, alcohol, and numerous other formerly popular activities in the parks and monuments — and would shelter and protect individuals who broke the regulations and protesters marched in the streets and called Jimmy Carter a socialist and a communist.

These protests continued for some time, the designation of the monuments broke the legislative opposition to ANILCA. Senator Gravel continued to obstruct passage of the bill, but in the wake of Carter’s proclamations most opponents recognized the need to work toward passage of an acceptable bill, rather than no bill at all.

In early November 1980, Jimmy Carter lost re-election to Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party won a majority of seats in the Senate. Conservationists recognized that if they did not accept the compromise then on the table, they would be forced to begin again in the next Congress with decidedly less support. The bill was passed in late November, and signed into law in December.

Mike Gravel, meanwhile, was blamed in Alaska for forcing Carter’s hand with the Antiquities Act. Though Carter was hardly held blameless for the creation of the new national monuments, Gravel was taken to task for the unpopular decision as well and was denied his party’s nomination for his Senate seat in the 1980 election.

Despite all these past hysterics most Alaskans and Americans and citizens of the world now strongly support the ANILCA, to the point of celebrating its creation, especially within the population center of Anchorage. To them the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act represents a successful example of wilderness conservation for the benefit of future generations.

The same will be said about healthcare reform in the decades to come.  Healthcare reform will be viewed as a humanitarian right that is a quintessential part of what makes America a great democracy and in the future Americans will ask why there was even a debate about healthcare being a right for citizens in the United States.

Sometimes in life, if we are not experts on a subject or if we are not farsighted and resourceful we have to step back, get out of the way and let our visionaries help us do what’s right today for our future and for the  ‘greater good’.

June 18, 2009

President Obama Swats A Fly – It Makes The News Cycle and PETA Protests!

Fly 

Come on now news media!  How ridiculous is it that this is in the news cycle??? It is absurd, foolish, and ludicrous that this even made the news. Just plain dumb!

Once upon a time not so long ago when America had real journalists and we could depend on the news being newsworthy, this “fly-killing” would have be edited out so as not to embarrass the President of the United States whether he was a Democrat or a Republican.  It is preposterous that the news division of CNBC edited this into their broadcast to create news.  This is NOT news.  CNBC should be embarrassed that they no longer have a reputable news team and are depending on insects to create their lead story.  I am dumb founded!

It is even more ridiculous that PETA is protesting the “Killing of the Fly”.  They have just lost any creditability they had with me.  Flies are dirty, germ and disease carrying pests and they all need to be whacked! 

Flies are NASTY by nature and collect pathogens on their legs and mouths when females lay eggs on decomposing organic matter such as feces, garbage and animal corpses.  Houseflies carry diseases on their legs and the small hairs that cover their bodies. It takes only a matter of seconds for them to transfer these pathogens to food or touched surfaces. Diseases carried by houseflies include typhoid, cholera and dysentery.

I am happy to have a President who is a Ninja fly killer!  As a matter of fact, let he or she who has never swatted a fly cast the first rock — um — whack!

April 22, 2009

April 22: Happy Earth Day!

earth-day-logo1

Indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. Toxins like radon, carbon monoxide, mold, and gasoline shuffled in on shoes are all guilty culprits.

But an unbelievable fact is that “cleaning products” are amongst the worst toxins! According to the Clean Water Fund, the average U.S. household uses 40 pounds of harmful cleaning products each year which can cause allergies, headaches and more!

Ironically, cleaning products aren’t required to disclose their ingredients, but those big, bold “danger”, “warning” and “caution” labels might say enough. To be safe, it’s best to switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. Thanks to the boom in “green” living, there are now a number of great products on the market. Here are a few:

earth-day-bon-ami Bon Ami, an earth friendly cleaning powder and polishing powder, is celebrating its 120th year anniversary. The polishing cleanser, which works magic on stove tops, is made from calcite & feldspar mineral abrasives, and biodegradable detergent. It does not contain chlorine, perfume, or dye. The cleaning powder, which will make your tub sparkle, is recommended by allergists because it is gentle. This product is safe to use almost everywhere in your home.

earth-dat-ecover-glass-cleaner  Ecover, founded in Belgium in 1980, makes its earth-friendly cleaning products in a factory with a grass roof for insulation, wooden beams from a sustainable forest, and bricks made from coal mine waste. This glass and surface cleaner has a light floral scent and leaves mirrors completely streak free and clean of residue.

earth-day-7th-gen-shower-cleaner  Seventh Generation Natural Green Mandarin and Leaf Shower Cleaner has real mandarin and spearmint essential oils that masks the odor of hydrogen peroxide — a safe bacteria and fungus killing agent — that also removes stains and impressively whitens bathtubs. (more…)

March 21, 2009

A Garden Grows At The White House

flotus-garden-2    First lady Michelle Obama broke ground on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen with fresh herbs and vegetables for meals.

flotus-garden-3-students-bancroft She was joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project including planting herbs, vegetables and fruits in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year.

flotus-garden-1  “We’re going to get a big one in our back yard, the South Lawn,” she promised the volunteers.

Such a White House garden has been a dream of noted California chef Alice Waters, considered a leader in the movement to encourage consumption of locally grown, organic food. She has been appealing for change through the taste buds since the 1960s.

She organized a series of fundraising dinners in Washington before President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January that served foods purchased from local producers at an area farmer’s market to show how it can be done.

Reached Thursday at her Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Chez Panisse, Waters said she was thrilled by the news.

“It just tells you that this country cares about people’s good health and about the care of the land,” she said. To have this sort of ‘victory garden’, this message goes out that everyone can grow a garden and have free food.”

Victory gardens were vegetable gardens planted during the world wars with encouragement from the government to make sure there was enough food for civilians and the troops. Waters says her family had such a garden.

Waters has been lobbying for a vegetable garden at the White House since 1992. Recent White Houses have grown some herbs and have practiced limited container gardening on the mansion’s roof to supply it with tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. The new garden will be the first on the White House grounds in many decades, Waters said.

She said Michelle Obama always has been receptive to the idea.

“She talks about food in connection with children, and it’s a beautiful thing,” Waters said.

Waters also has pushed the administration to adopt her Edible Schoolyard project in which children plant their own produce to eat in the school cafeteria. Most public schools are serving too much processed food that is contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic which can lead to chronic health issues, she argues.

Alice Waters on 60 Minutes:

 

 

Original post:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090319/ap_on_go_pr_wh/white_house_garden

 

daffodils

 Happy Spring!

March 19, 2009

Health: Marijuana — Legalize it!

Marijuana is a tricky subject in America.

Based on the way our current federal law is written marijuana seems to be the devil of all plants.  It is demonized and believed to be an immoral and destructive drug that should be censored at all costs and by any means necessary to save our nation from destruction!!!

Some of the methods used to control the use of marijuana are very expensive and quite irrational in my opinion.  We, the tax payers, have to pay for extra police officers and other law enforcement officers to monitor marijuana use.  We have to pay correction officers and maintain prisons to punish offenders who were caught with marijuana. We have the high cost of financially supporting citizens who are healthy and in the prime of their lives and should be working, paying taxes and contributing to their families and communities while they sit around in prisons because they were arrested, tried and committed for possessing a minuscule amount of the plant.

From my understanding, hemp, a natural fiber by product of the cannabis plant (marijuana) could be a very positive, practical and valuable fiber if used for industrial purposes.  The cannabis plant, like bamboo, is a very environmentally friendly plant and grows quickly and abundantly.   Hemp requires little or no pesticides or herbicides, controls erosion of topsoil and produces oxygen.  Hemp can also be used to replace harmful products like tree paper which is processed using chlorine bleach and creates a waste product that is carcinogenic (cancer causing).  The strongest chemical needed to whiten hemp so that it can be used as paper is hydrogen peroxide which is harmless.

Hemp can also be used to produce biodegradable plastics (save our land fills!), clothing textiles, rope, canvas, fuel and health food.

Marijuana can also be used for medicinal purposes. The active ingredient in marijuana (THC) and other compounds found in cannabis are legitimate holistic alternatives.

Marijuana and its by-products are suitable for patients suffering from various types of chronic pain, especially those unresponsive to traditional analgesics (pain killers). In addition, cannabis has less negative side-effects than opioids (synthetic/chemical narcotics used to treat pain) – which can be highly addictive – and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which can induce stomach ulcers, bleeding and kidney failure.

Just this past week, HB 648, a bill allowing severely ill patients to grow and use marijuana for medicinal purposes has won a 13-7 vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee in New Hampshire and heads for a full House vote next week.

The bill requires patients to be certified by a doctor before they can grow or possess up to six plants or two ounces of marijuana. They or a caregiver can grow the plants, and a patient is given the option of obtaining marijuana from another certified patient.

In addition to New Hampshire thirteen states have laws permitting medicinal use of marijuana. California is unique among them for the presence of dispensaries — businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services. These dispensaries are legal under California law even though they are still illegal under federal law.

In the past month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal policy will shift, giving states more leeway to pass and enforce their own medical marijuana laws. The Federal government will no longer focus on raids of marijuana clinics but will target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state laws.

That is a departure from the Bush administration, which targeted medical marijuana dispensaries in California even if they complied with that state’s law. California law permits the sale of marijuana for medical purposes even though it’s still is against federal law.

Medical marijuana advocates in California welcomed the news, but said they still worried about the pending cases of those already in court on drug charges.

“Given the limited resources that we have, our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that’s inconsistent with federal and state law,” Attorney General Holder said.

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for national medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said he welcomed Holder’s perspective and that “It signals a new direction and a more reasonable and sensible direction on medical marijuana policy.”

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard of anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana.  Or anyone getting a disease because of marijuana but I have heard of people who got alcoholic poisoning and died; and people who were DWI and killed other people.  

So why not give marijuana the same laws and restrictions as alcohol?  Americans can legally brew beer and make wine up to a certain quantity for personal consumption. So why shouldn’t we be able to grow and possess marijuana up to a certain quantity for personal consumption?

Take it out of the hands of the dealers and let law enforcement concentrate on dangerous drugs.  In fact, we should legalize cannabis and encourage farmers to plant this very eco-friendly plant industrially as a source for paper and other by-products.  Why not?

Additional reading:

http://legalizepot.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/why-is-marijuana-illegal/

 

 

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