Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Healthy Eve...bwahahahahaha


…Keri McDougald, a local realtor (www.movephoenix.com), put out a poop sheet on how to keep the kiddies alive tonight on H’ween--if indeed that is your intent.

…HA is almost ready. She blacks her eyes and puts bleeding wounds on her face to scare the young ones. HA truly is an ass.

…Any-old-how, Keri has some tips for the big night.

…Make sure the costumes are fire-safe and the child can see out of the mask.

…If your porch jack-o-lanterns have candles, make sure they are far from where they could catch a kid on fire.

…If the kid is carrying an ax or big prop, make sure the tips are not sharp.

…Make a spooky dinner (peeled grapes as eyeballs, cauliflower as brains) to fill them up so they won’t lower the world’s candy level too much.

…Remind kids never to get in a car with a stranger and to cross only with an adult or trafffic light, preferably both.

…When the tots get home, confiscate most of the candy to dole out later and hope to heck you remember where you put it.

Quit pumping OTCs into the kiddos

…Jonathan Bor, writing in the Baltimore Sun (Oct 27, 2006), says Maryland’s health mucketies are saying kids should not get over-the-counter nostrums for coughs and colds.

…Even the ones that say “kid-strength” or something similar.

…Even standard kid doses can accelerate their little hearts and suppress their breathing.

…Plus—there is no evidence that all these pills and goos work.

…The FDA has not yet stepped in, although it did say that dextromethorphan, an ingredient in certain cough suppressants, was causing death, brain damage, loss of conscious and seizures in teens that took it to get high.

…Parents want to make their children feel better, but 900 cases of child overdose on this stuff were reported last year in Maryland alone.

…Just suction the stuff out of the kids’ noses, give them plenty of fluids, and use a cool-mist humifier.

…If the kid is miserable with fever, Tylenol or ibuprofen, at the recommended dose, is probably OK.

…Mucus is part of the immune reaction of the body. It may do more good than harm.

…Decongestants can make already small blood vessels get tinier and tinier.

…Wah! Tinier? That doesn’t sound so great.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Teens scorn the out-of-doors


...No one plays outside anymore!

…When HA was a youngster, kids played outside. They came home from school, changed, ate a cookie and ran out until it began to get dark.

…The other day HA was trying to explain to her daughter how she used to try to “trap” animals…you remember, with a box, a pencil holding it up, and a string to pull when the animal went in.

…HA’s daughter was horrified. Why did you do that? HA doesn’t remember, to be honest. She never caught one! No one ever does using that box and pencil!

…This came under the category of playing outside. She also once built a little underground burrow for a chipmunk. No chipmunk ever deigned to move in, of course.

…Pickup basketball games, roaming in woods, throwing cherry bombs in the crabby neighbor’s pond, all that good stuff is gone.

…Kids are losing interest in nature, according to a study done for the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council.

…Parents of California kids from 13 to 17 were surveyed. Of 2,600 contacted, 605 responded.

…70% said access to the outdoors as good or excellent, but 60% said their kids’ interest in going outdoors was declining.

…Less than a third of their kids had been to a park all summer.

…Only 3% said their teens had gone hiking more than 10 times that summer.

…46% said they never went.

…Skateboarding provides one exception—kids will do that.

…If Mom and Dad work out or run and kids are urged to get on sports teams, that helps to make the outdoors more attractive, too.

…Maybe HA needs to take another look at camping.

…Just kidding. Activity from hell, even though it’s outside.

Hire your own kid?

…Writing in the WSJ (Oct 23, 2006), Lucette Lagnado says in Vermont they have a program where the elderly can be taken care of by their offspring—and the state pays the kids a stipend to do it.

…Vermont claims it’s never building another nursing home.

…The elderly would rather be at home, but federal law has not paid out for home care the way it does for institutional care via Medicaid.

…In Vermont, it costs $122 a day in a center, $80 to stay home.

…Now the feds have approved payment for home care in Vermont.

…The article points out that Medicaid allows patients’ Social Security or pensions to be used for their care—but this keeps them in the place, because they don’t have the money to get another residence if they get out.

…One extrremely depressed guy in Vermont got out and the state paid his ex-wife to care for him.

…They say the arrangement works better than their marriage did. The ex makes about $10 an hour caring for her former husband.

…He was able to get a puppy.

…Relatives living with the older person only get a set number of hours paid, not the whole 24.

…The system is not appropriate for those who need around-the-clock care, of course. People have to live, they need to go to the store, and so on.

…If the family caregiver gets sick him or herself? It may be back to the nursing home.

…Eldercare professionals say this aircraft carrier may be turning. It may no longer be a direct “chute,” as one put it, from hosp to nursing home.

…Maybe a relative can be compensated to give up part of his or her own life and time to take care of the person. Sometimes they quit a job to do this.

…Why shouldn’t they do it for free? After all, look at all Mom or Dad did for them.

…The answer is: Because this service is worth something to all concerned. It’s a win-win-win for older people, caregivers or relatives, and the govt.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Healthy Halloween catered by The Coneheads


…Halloween, one of HA’s favorite hols, is nearing and HA always thinks of The Coneheads, who gave out six-packs and fried eggs to trick-or-treaters.

…They may have been from outer space, but they knew how to please people. Funny, too.

…HA makes a yearly excursion to the cheapest candy places in town (read the ads, people) to load up on the obligatory empty cals and teeth-decimating glop.

…At least, she has learned to buy stuff with sticks that she doesn’t like and won’t eat.

…This year, though, six-packs it is!

…Just kidding. But Connie Bennett, author of “Sugar Shock” and self-described Scary Sugar Shrew, suggests the customary fare turns kids into hell spawn. So what to do?

…Bennett suggests glow-in-the-dark insects (these are toys, HA hopes), stickers, colored chalk, rubber worms or snakes, and hair clips might be welcome in the old bag.

…Other suggestions: Whistles, kazoos, key chains.

…Supposedly Yale did a study and half of 284 trick-or-treaters wanted non-candy items.

…If you must give food, try unsweetened almonds. No peanuts, though—a run to the ER is a bad trick for Mom and Dad.

…Or, get this…bottled water. Sure, the snacking makes you thirsty, but bottled water?

…A six-pack maybe.

Video games featuring life, not slaughter

…Had to happen sooner or later—something good about video games. Law of averages.

…Writing in the WSJ (Oct 23, 2006), Nick Wingfield talks about a game called Re-Mission, in which players control a nanobot named Roxxi that gets injected into the body and zaps cancer cells to giblets.

…Real-life cancer patients play it to help their visualization of destruction of the bad cells in their bodies. Ths game comes complete with a stool softener gun, and who could ask for more?

…Another video game called Pulse! Allows professionals to sharpen their emergency med skills. The Navy is even funding it.

…Other games are designed to lessen phobias. For instance, one game is chockful of spiders.

…HA has written about Dance Dance Revolution for WebMD. DDR is an exergame—you have to move to play it. Kinda like Twister on steroids with lots of jumping around.

…Still other ones tease the brain and try to keep our cranky neurons alive. Examples are Brain Age and Brain Age Academy.

…One 11-year-old said playing Re-Mission made him feel like he could defeat his cancer.

…OK, so this is at least a little smart.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Would a kickin' toilet make you think better?


…Is it healthier to be treated like a human, respected, and even pampered a little at work?

…Makes a certain kind of twisted sense, right?

…Then Google must be a pretty hale and hearty joint.

…Writing in the WashPost, Sara Kehaulani Goo, says all the Google johns in Mountain View have heated seats and a bidet and drying doodad.

…To HA, this gives Human Resources a whole new meaning.

…Generous, even quirky perks, Google thinks, keep employees happy and thinking in a creative way.

…The company has 9,000 employees and is trying to push them all “out of the box.”

…Along with painstakingly powdered tushes, there is an atmosphere of fearlessness at Google. They shrug off flops, they buy companies doing things better than they do them.

…Employees eat free meals three times a day (so it's true--they don't get to go home), swim in the outdoor wave pool, visit their tots in the onsite daycare center, and ride private buses to work.

…Engineers spend 20% of their time thinking of their own projects.

…If you are not failing enough, said one Googler, you aren’t trying hard enough.

….That reminds HA of another great phrase she heard the other day, “Where there’s smoke…there’re mirrors.”

…Still, she wouldn’t kick out a fanny dryer.

…Not to mention some respect.

Whole grains...whole grain of salt maybe


…Oh, Newsweek, tell us, what does it mean that all the foods say “whole grain” on them?

…HA needs to know this because she is making her kid get cereals that are whole grain. These, she notes, are kinda not as colorful as the other kind. The Leprechauns must be ticked.

…On Oct 30, Newsweek responded. The feds say eat 3+ servings of whole grains a day (How’s this for a govt slogan: “Make half your grains whole.” The govt needs HA so pitifully badly!)

…Shoveling in scratchy whole grains with husk-like scouring attributes apparently helps us cut our risks of heart disease and maybe even cancer.

…That white flour has the bran and husk stuff refined out. (Remember what cool bread pills Wonder Bread made, so gooey and sticky?)

…Even some kinds of Wonder Bread, wonder of wonders, has whole grains now.

…Supposedly.

…Just saying “made with whole grains” could mean a pinch of something was thrown in.

…”Multigrain” means more than one kind of grain—but it could be more than one kind of refined grain.

…The Whole Grains Council (how could there not be one—www.wholegrainscouncil.org) stamps products with the amt of whole grains they contain.

…But not all products have signed up with the council.and which ones would THOSE be…bwwwahaha.

…So look at the ingredient list. Make sure the first item says whole, not enriched or unbleached.

…100% whole grains is also a good thing to see.

…Oh, and of course, we are reminded that good doesn’t mean good for you. A whole-grain cookie still has cals.

…Yes, Nanny Newsweek.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Even if your pet is not a canary


…Legend has it, they used to keep canaries in coalmines because if the birds fell off the perch dead, it meant the air had gone bad.

…Docs at Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine have announced a surveillance network to check animal medical records to find patterns that might indicate avian flu or another contagious disease has begun to spread.

…Originally designed in cooperation with Banfield, The Pet Hospital, a chain of vet clinics, the programs looked at 10 million pet records between 2002 and 2004.

…40% percent of households have pets. This amounts to 150 million dogs, cats, or birds.

…In the test runs, the scientists discovered a clear association between the number of pets infected with ticks in an area and the number of people who came down with Lyme’s Disease.

…The humans succumbed two months after the surge in pet infestations. Enough time to spray.

…An flu-like illness in cats and similar symptoms in people in Washington DC was noted.

…Banield developed an early-warning system for occurrence of a canine flu that had jumped from horses to dogs. If certain symptoms are tapped into the computer at the vet, the screen flashes an order for the vet to take certain samples.

…This same system could signal avian flu in cats before humans became infected.

…HA’s dog Spencer is off his feed today. Uh-oh…

Should you be in a clinical trial?

…Clinical trials cannot be explained fully in a blog blurb, but HA refers you to the latest issue of CURE.

…This is an excellent magazine on all types of cancer treatments and research, as well as stories on the human side of cancer, such as what to do when you find out you’re going to live a long life.

…CURE is beautifully written and designed. Subscriptions are free from www.curetoday.org.

…Can’t beat FREE, people.

…Clinical trials of drugs are complicated. There are various ways to design a study. Do you compare drug vs no drug or drug vs another drug?

…Can you justify giving people with a bad disease a sugar pill?

…Should you stop an experiment early and give everyone the drug being tested if it seems to be working wonderfully well.

…Should you try it just on women, just on men (women weren’t even included in trials until 1972). How about children? Should they get experimental drugs?

…Should bad results be published? There are websites now with only bad results.

…Trials can test new treatments or drugs, the usefulness of medicines or supplements in preventing cancer, the best ways to screen for and find cancer, the links to genetic makeup, and ways to offer supportive care.

….The lab or univ doing the study probably won’t foot all costs—your insurance will have to pay some. This has to be worked out in advance.

…Only about 4% of cancer patients get involved in trials.

…For more info, you can go to www.clinicaltrials.gov. Another helpful site to find trials is www.centerwatch.com.

…In the meantime, go sign up for CURE.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bet you thought HIPAA protected you


…Theo Francis (WSJ, Oct 21-22, 2006) writes that when you sign those medical records forms on the dreaded clipboard, you probably have no idea what you are getting or agreeing to.

…HA was surprised. He was right!

…Those forms, he says, do not protect your privacy, you silly puppy.

…Instead the forms outline the many ways the doctor CAN give out your info.

…You don’t have to sign, although some doctors may pitch a hiss or fire you if you don’t.

…You can ask where your info has gone since April 2003—that is your right (only some info has to be given to you). And you can view and even change your own medical files.

…But doctors also can give out this info to thousands of places without your consent or even without telling you.

…These would be things that fall under the vague headings of relating to treatment, payment or health care operations. Sound familiar?

….First your symptoms and diagnosis can be freely shared with the pharmacy and with any other doctor you later contact. Along with it can go your whole medical history.

…Your health insurer gets an earful. If you go to collections, so does the bill collector.

…STDs and some communicable diseases are reported to government agencies.

…A marketer may get your name and some details for a patient satisfaction survey.

…A friend of HA’s walked out of the doctor’s office with a breast cancer diagnosis and magically the American Cancer Society called her the next day.

…A health plan could advertise new programs to you.

…Everyone and their dog can see your info—that’s how one expert put it.

…You can ask for additional restrictions, but these will go overboard in a hot second in an emergency.

…One lawyer crossed out the boilerplate and added that nothing could be shared without asking her. Several docs and hospitals said that was “suspicious.” She was afraid she would be labeled difficult.

…People should not have to worry about what they tell the doctor, one expert said.

…Well, they should.

…HA saw a whole one-hour program where Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeon’s partner spilled all about Mike’s nose.

…That’s when she realized the clipboard was a farce.

…HA also does not give her SS number on the chart. Why do they even ask for it? MYOB!

…Some bums also steal medical identities, by the way, having expensive surgery on your nickel and impacting your credit report.

…Then the details—which have nothing to do with you—enter your medical record.

This is your captain spea...zzzzz

…HA hates flying enough already.

…Now she learns from Andy Pasztor and Susan Carey (WSJ, Oct 21, 2006), that JetBlue did a little experiment last year without telling the guinea pigs strapped in the seats.

…They rigged up some pilots (not all) with devices to measure alertness. Then they assigned them to longer than allowable shifts in the cockpit—as much as 12 hours a day.

…Some lower level FAA people knew, but the muckety-mucks didn’t approve it.

…Their hope was to show that pilots could fly longer than allowed with no ill effects.

…The report is not out yet, but people are plenty mad 18 mos later.

…One FAA higher-up even went so far as to say the FAA did not allow experiments with passengers onboard.

…The company, of course, fell back on the old miscommunication gambit.

…People buy tickets and don’t expect to be test pilots themselves, grumped the head of the Air Travelers Association.

…Some pilots argue that long days enhance alertness. By round tripping from LA to NY, they can sleep in their own beds that night and get better rest, according to this argument.

…It saves money, too, and it’s not the passenger’s.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Anti-aging measures questionable


…Have you ever seen a “60 Minutes” or other news report on the anti-aging crowd? They are scurrying around the world getting weird injections of lamb plasma or pounding in the hormones and potions.

…Not to be be mean, but they still look a little wrinkly to HA. Maybe it’s Treadmill Poisoning.

…Even Ponce de Leon croaked, right? That’s how HA got the story anyhow.

…Now some researchers at the Mayo Clinic published a study in the New Eng J of Med that said that DHEA pills and testosterone patches do not retard the aging process.

…HA is not sure about the lamb plasma.

…DHEA is a steroid that breaks down into testosterone and estrogen. It begins to decline in the bod at age 25.

…Testosterone can build strength (and mustaches in women, though it does make them livelier in the sack).

…The NFL has said no to DHEA, and remember that biker Floyd Landis? He got in big troubs behind testosterone.

…Still doctors wondered if these substances might not help older people.

…The Mayo people studied 57 women and 87 men, aged 60 or older.

…Blood samples were taken every 3 mos. Body fat, hormone levels, bone density, and performance on a treadmill, along with other indicators, were also measured every 3 mos.

…Although the DHEA and testosterone levels went up in the men and women who were not given the placebo, there was no effect on physical performance or ability to lower blood sugar.

…No harmful effects were detected, but it does not mean these supplements were safe. The doses were low and there is some indication that higher doses of DHEA and testosterone can worsen risks of some cancers.

…DHEA remains on the shelves of health food stores.

…And…so far there is no evidence that communities of marathon-running elderly are springing up as the tyranny of aging is defeated forever.

What's a joint like this doing in a lady like you?

…Seems kinda obvious now, but they are making artificial knee replacements specifically for women’s bodies.

…The FDA approved these last spring, according to a story by Nancy Young in The Virginian-Pilot (Oct 16, 2006).

…About time. Women get two-thirds of the knee replacements (they tend to get worse osteoarthritis).

…Men’s knee implants differ in shape and angle.

…If you are thinking of one of these implants, which are all the rage these days, ask about getting a gender-specific knee.

…Robot surgery to implant these is becoming more available and can shorten the incision, comfort, and recovery time.

…Has anyone gotten this? Are they available for hips?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Not dead yet


…HA has a friend whose 90-year-old father had a hernia. The doctor blew it off, saying, “Why don’t we let God take care of it?”

…What the heck does that mean? When he dies it won't be a problem?

…The man had surgery and is fine now.

…There was also a story this weekend about how elderly women are often undertreated for breast cancer.

…HA always asks doctors if they treat a lot of elderly people before she commits to them for her mother.

…Writing in the New York Times (Oct 18, 2006), Jane Gross cites a case in which a 97-year-old was about to get some surgery, when a geriatrician noted that older people often don’t high fevers with infections and she might just have an infection. She did.

…Geriatricians are in short supply. They are paid poorly and don’t glom onto the glory in medicine (cardiology, oncology).

…Of 145 med schools in the US, only 9 have geriatrics depts.

…Geriatricians have to manage multiple ailments and multiple drugs in the same patient. Their dementia, so-called, can actually be treatable depression. This is not an easy specialty, yet one such said a pulmonologist he knew used to shake his head when passing him in the hall and say, “What a waste of a mind.”

…The appeal of the job is based on reimbursement in some cases. Gastroenterology became more appealing when Medicare began paying for colonoscopies. One geriatrician joked that they need a geriscope.

…In a lot of cases, the geriatrician‘s job is to not stress delicate systems with unnecessary, just-in-case testing.

…Some geriatricians think the best way to deal with the coming bulge of old people in the health system is to teach core principles to all doctors, because there may not be enough geriatricians to go around.

…HA’s mother was hospitalized once and the nurse apparently did not understand dementia and trussed her up in restraints like a Christmas goose.

…Uh, her catheter was in wrong and it hurt.

...What's more, she probably didn't need one in the first place.

Pop quiz at the doctor's office

…At the Univ of AZ, Barry D Weiss, MD, a professor of family and community medicine, has devised a 3-minute test docs can give to assess your health literacy.

…Will you understand your diagnosis, instructions, and prescription? Will you do what the doctor says?

…The test is based on one of those food labels—this one for ice-cream. Along with the BP check, the nurse would ask you six questions about the label to see how with it you are.

….The test, dubbed Newest Vital Sign, is also available in Spanish.

…The Institute of Medicine has indicated that as many as half of the adults in America have low health literacy.

…Hey, a fifth of adults can’t read at all--much less make sense of terms like dyspnea, hyperplasia, stenosis, and “this prescription is prn.”

…A recent study showed that many people quit taking their heart medication. In some cases maybe it’s not because of side efx, but instead, because the doctor didn’t state clearly that they need to take it the rest of their life.

…The nonprofit Partnership for Clear Health Communication says that health literacy is a stronger predictor of how a patient will fare than income, age, employment status, and educational level.

…Of course, all of this confusion costs gazillions.

…It seems to HA that a couple of other steps might help, instead of slapping a piece of paper in a worried patient’s hand and asking questions about it.

…The doctor could speak English instead of Latin.

…The doctor could take 5 minutes to explain why a test might be a good idea, what he or she is looking for, instead of just sending the patient off to the lab or imaging center (or God forbid, for exploratory surgery).

…The doctor could ask the patient to recap the instructions, instead of saying, “Any
questions? “ (if he or she even says that).

…And if the patient does not speak English, the doctor could get an interpreter or one of those on-the-phone deals to run interference.

…HA is just sayin’.

…She dabbles in the medical stuff, as you know, and the system still kicks her, er...health ass.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Where did junior get that "look"?


…Sometimes HA reads something that sounds new and interesting, then thinks, hey, I knew that!

…Israeli researchers have now discovered that people’s facial expressions can be handed down genetically.

…Serena Gordon, writing in HealthDay, says scientists have even taken this one step further and theorized that they could get those genes to express and provide autistic people with expressions, rather than a flat expression.

…Before, HA guesses, expressions were thought to be emotionally based or picked up from those around you. But haven’t you seen a baby cock an eyebrow just like Dad?

…Evolution-wise (we still are into that, aren’t we?), this is thought to protect the child by making it more like the parent and thus inspiring the parent to keep it alive.

…What they did was study people blind from birth who could not have picked up the expressions subconsciously. Yup, they exhibited the family “signature” expression more than when outside the family.

…So did we sorta know this? Or not?

...P.S. George on the dollar has nothing to do with this, HA just thought it was cute.

ERs store patients in the hall

…At HA’s friendly, neighborhood hospital, there are plaques on the wall in the halls of the ER with numbers. This is where a bed can be parked—like a room number only way different.

…Laura Landro, in the WSJ (Oct 18, 2006), says in many hospitals patients are “boarded” in the halls of emergency rooms, sometimes for days, because there are no beds available in the regular hospital.

…This means getting undressed, using the bedpan…in the hall!

…This also means that people rush by and don’t notice if you’re still alive or not.

…HA has spent 18 hours in the ER on those disgusting hard beds several times, but was only in the hall for a couple of hours at one point.

…Out here in good old AZ, there was some regulation (maybe it was Federal) that you could have no more ER beds than regular beds. So people were put in the halls because those beds didn’t “count.” Some effed-up logic, HA can’t remember the details.

…Apparently the ER docs brainstormed recently about how to fix this garbage.

…One idea was to put the boarders up on the regular floors—in THEIR halls. This would make those nurses take on more patients, but would also encourage them to send people home and stick the boarders into those beds.

…One study showed 20% of boarders in the upstairs halls got a bed in an hour.

…Another hospital worked with General Motors to streamline procedures. (HA is not sure she would pick GM--isn’t it going under?--but she has often thought the military might shuffle people through more efficiently and might be able to help some of these ERs.)

…Some consultants even take hospital staffers to restaurants to show them how people are moved through lines and tables are turned over.

…Other hospitals send ER patients home with a health care worker assigned to come the next day.

…Still other hospitals staffs huddle three times a day to see who’s ready to leave.

…One hospital even sends flowers to people who were boarded.

…Come ON. A real bed and not a leather-covered brick with a sheet over it will be plenty!

…If someone is well enough to ooo and ahhh over some patronizing posies, they don’t even need a bed!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sustainable dance clubs


…HA didn’t even know she was worried about sustainable clubbing. But now she is.

…What if the clubs, you know, sort of went to…er, pot?

…In Rotterdam, there is now a sustainable nightclub, with biological beer (isn’t all beer biological?) and clothes for sale that can be customized. What, no hemp tailored by Woody Harrelson?

…Eventually, the clubs will have floors that store the energy from the dancers, have toilets that flush with rainwater, and walls that change colors with the temperature.

…HA suggests the air be preserved for breathing by cancer patients and other people in pain.

…Floors that capture energy, that’s pretty cool. Where else would that work…maybe airports?

…Check out www.enviu.org.

Floor cleaner so-so drink


…According to Nicholar Bakalar in the NYT (Oct 17, 2006), more than 100 people have helped themselves to a nice glug of Fabuloso, the perfumy floor cleaner.

…We’re not talking little kids, either. Forty percent of the calls to Poison Control were from people over 12.

…Fabuloso (which in the interests of full disclosure, HA uses but does not make Margaritas with) is sold in soda-like bottles and comes in purple, blue, yellow and green.

…According to one doc, it doesn’t taste too terrible. Like soap sorta. (HA is taking his word for it.)

…It’s also not particulary heinous. At worst, you might get a touch of the trots.

…Colgate-Palmolive is adding a big pix of a mop and bucket.

…Which is what you might need if you drink a whole bottle.

…Can we make this more of a literacy deal? Sometimes HA is not wearing her specs and could easily grab a bottle and take a swig.

…The same goes for those who can see, but can’t read the words.

…Even if you can, it sounds seductively…Fabuloso.

…Who could resist?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From Fluffy-Pie's point of view


…Sarah Wilson and Brian Kilcommons wrote an interesting story in the October 15th Parade on how animals see.

…HA always heard dogs see only black & white. In daylight, scientists think, they actually see fuzzy blues and yellows. In dim light, a huge array of grays (many more shades of gray than we can see, which may account for the desire to play all the time).

…Dogs also can’t see well close up.

…Cats can see in dark six times darker than we can. Cats probably see pastels, and miss some colors altogether.

…Birds are the color freaks! The world is a color fest for them. For every color we see, birds can see many shades. Birds can also see UV light, which helps them locate their babies in a shady nook.

…If you laid out human smell receptors, they would cover a stamp. A dog’s would cover a large hankie.

…That’s why dogs get the smelling jobs—drugs, gas leaks, criminals, cancer.

…Yes, some can detect cancer. You may get a dog scan instead of a CAT scan someday.

…That sounds like a good day to HA. At least, dog-wise.

What a waist

…Writing in the Arizona Republic (Oct 16, 2006), Susan Felt says we define our age by where we think our waist is.

…HA was idly looking at a catalog the other day that showed waist locations. Apparently, this is quite negotiable. Who knew?

…HA thought you could wear stuff above the waist or below, but you knew where the waist was or that it was in an agreed-upon place.

…Older women, it seems, point at the space between bust and hip, the narrowest part of it, anyway.

…Youngsters point at belly-button level.

…One kid said the waist is right by the hips.

…A lot of pants manufacturers agree, which has led to older or larger women risking a trip to crack town.

…Rise is the word for waist height. Some pants have only a 7-inch rise, which unless you are a cardboard cutout, does not amount to much.

…Banana Republic has named its rise options Martin, Harrison, Contoured and Ryan.

…Does anyone else think Banana Republic has too much time on its hands?

…We crave change, says one fashion guru, no doubt tugging at her Ryan wedgie as she speaks.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Makes sense, they are watching a painkiller


…Univ of Maryland ER physician David Jerrard tracked 800 regular season college and pro football, baseball, and basketball games in the state and found that there was in uptick in the number of men who showed up at the ER after the games were over.

…50% more men turned up after a football game than during the game itself.

…30%-40% more came in for care after, but not during, a baseball game.

…Are men dopey? This could be the last game they ever see, intones Jerrard.

…HA thinks this correlation is because the excitement of the game allowed them to push those chest pains to the back of their mind.

…When Oprah popped on, owwww.

…This doesn’t answer the question of whether men are dopey, of course.

…By the way, HA has some experience with ERs. If you can wait until shift
change at 7 am, this is prime time to be seen before you expire in the waiting room.

…You won’t miss a game at that hour, either.

Talk about a personal physician

…Paul Levy has been president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, one of the big boys, since 2002. Before that he was executive dean for administration at Harvard Med.

…Now he is putting up a website dealing with medical issues and hospital administration—from the other side of the exam table—and it’s worth a daily gander.

…Go to http://runningahospital.blogspot.com.

…In one entry, he quotes a colleague, Harold Solomon, MD, on Solomon’s decision to quit his Beth Israel practice and become a “concierge” physician.

…Four years ago, Solomon joined a national assn of physicians called MDVIP (why would HA wish that was PTVIP?). This group charges patients an annual fee of $1,500 to get access to the doctor along with a wellness plan. He does take insurance, HMOs, and Medicare (presumably in addition).

…He was surprised that more middle class people joined than he predicted. (Has this guy been to a doctor lately, if he can get in to a doctor?)

…Another surprise. Fewer rich people signed up than he predicted. He said this is because they already know how to get superior care—they donate wings to hospitals. At Beth Israel, he noted, there is a concierge floor, with special treatment.

…His theory is that quality medicine will flow downward. Downward to people with $1,500 a year in addition to their insurance, HA guesses.

…Solomon says he has no problem with two-tiered medicine (those who pay the extra bump for Dr Welby) and those who struggle along. He says we have had a multi-tiered system all along, which certainly can be argued. Out here in Arizona, those on Medicaid get a wider choice of doctors than most people with paid insurance. They have a tier now.

…Can you get into Mayo Clinic on your insurance?

…Levy also recommends a humor book on breast cancer called, “The courage muscle, a chicken’s guide to living with breast cancer,” by Monique Doyle Spencer. Call (617) 667-1899. Proceeds go to Beth Israel’s nonprofit oncology shop.

Friday, October 13, 2006

You are feeling very tight inside


…According to Consumer Reports on Health (Oct 2006), irritable bowel syndrome—IBS--sometimes submits to hypnotic suggestion.

…As most people know, this yucko condition results in pain, bloating, the runs, constipation, you name it.

…People have to eat certain foods and gobble antispasmodics, laxatives, and sometimes antidepressants, but they still pester doctors for relief. So now, the docs have turned to hypnosis.

…Fourteen studies on IBS have shown that hypnotherapy consistently improved symptoms in most patients.

…Better yet, the relief seems to last. A British study done in 2003 showed that 80% of those helped by hypnosis six years before still felt better.

…So IBS is just some hysterical thing? Most sufferers are women, but no, the researchers say, it’s more a matter of the close connection between brain and gut.

…HA sure knows about that connection. One cross word to her and she’s running for the smallest room in the house!

...TMI, sorry.

…To find a hypnotist, go to www.ibshypnosis.com.

…Sometimes you can find a nurse-hypnotist, who should cost less than a psychologist.

Has medical tech outsmarted itself?

…AP reporter Lauran Neergaard writes that some new medical gizmos interfere with others.

...(Wo)man vs machine--is it a tie?

…More than 2 million Americans depend on pacemakers or those internal defibrillators to keep their hearts beating.

…Catch. These are not allowed in MRI machines, which operate using magnets.

…The magnets can heat up some pacemakers and defibrillators and burn the person inside or put out radio waves that can confuse the implants and make them misfire.

…HA believes the words “deadly meltdown” were used, which certainly sounds undesirable.

…Some docs have decided, what the hey, though, and are using shields to partition off the devices while the patient is in the tube.

…The FDA has been asking device manufacturers to make the things MRI-friendly, but in the meantime (apparently this has been a long meantime), Johns Hopkins has scanned 100 people using their shielding ideas.

…Still, they say they can’t guarantee nothing will go…awry. Or should that be a-fry?

…Medtronic Inc is awaiting FDA permission to try its MRI-safe pacemaker on patients.

…The University of Pittsburgh is developing a blanket similar to that thing at the dentist to keep out the harmful rays and waves.

…Work is also going on to develop wires that don’t heat as much.

…We have to quit getting things wrong with us—that’s the only answer here.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The "ewwww" crowd


…Writing in the Washington Post, Annie Groer says many adults have food phobias.

…HA’s kid does. Rice. She can’t even say it, calls it the R-thing. (Don’t ask—bad Chinese as a child).

…HA’s niece and fish? Also not so much. Not from a bad encounter at Sea World, HA is not sure why.

..HA used to date a guy whose son would not eat mushrooms because of the name. Mush, mush.

…Sometimes it’s taste, sometimes texture, sometimes an association.

…Chokey, wads up and won’t go down, chewy, gritty, slimy, smelly.

…Some people must finish all of one item before starting another. HA’s mother used to knock HA for doing that—saying it all gets mixed up in your stomach anyway. Now, HA does not do it, but her mother does!

…Some won’t eat foods that have touched on the plate. HA could get that going with blood from too rare meat, which she doesn’t like anyway. Blood on bread, shut up!

…Normal eaters will chow down on thousands of combinations. Picky eaters may only eat 20-30 foods.

…Naturally, there is a website: http://www.pickyeatingadults.com.

…The owner of the site eats only carrots and celery, french fries, chips, pretzels, peanut butter crackers, cereal, beer and milk.

….He refers to Thanksgiving as Black Thursday.

…The guy who who eats one food at a time? Go ahead and invite him to your house. He will take apart the casserole and eat each item separately.

…By the way, your kids are watching what you do. Don’t put them to shame by being more eccentric than they are.

…HA eats rice at every opportunity to show her daughter that it’s OK. (No reaction yet, but it’s only been 20 years,give it time.)

…She did give up ordering her invention, though—Black Pizza. The anchovy and black olive topping combo turned her family green.

…Probably the smell.

What if you were so rich and famous that...

…That your plastic surgeon had to meet you on the QT at your kid’s soccer game, pretend not to know you, and check out your wrinkles in the stands to see if you need a touchup?

…According to a story by Joan Kron in the Sept issue of Allure, some movie stars are so secretive about having “work” done that they sneak around like thieves.

…Then the fun begins as cutouts and assistants arrange the surgery, sometimes using assumed names and refusing to fill in the clipboard (HA can sympathize there).

…One doctor lost the master list of assumed names and didn’t even know whom he was operating on.

…Some famous ones won’t even get the pre-surgery blood tests. Above that sort of nonsense, you know.

…Then, get this, they think the work is complimentary like an Oscar parting gift or something. How dare the doctor send a bill!

…Some don’t pay when they are billed.

…It’s not like she or he is going to stand on the Red Carpet and say, “My nose? Like it, it’s a Dr. Divine.”

…And when something goes wrong (cough, cough, Star Jones), the spinners lunge into action…exhaustion, dehydration.

…What is the point of this story? No point. Just funny. Kindasorta.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What else do you use to hang clothes?


…Eclectic and fun blogger Majikthise (http://majikthise.typepad.com) took on the emaciated model ban instigated by Spain. This started when models on the catwalk in the Cibeles fashion show had to have a Body-Mass Index of at least 18.

…Majikthise says the state should not interfere with people espousing harmful standards of beauty—and that there was not enough evidence to say such models were encouraging eating disorders.

…But, she asks, what if using ultra-thin models violated their right to a healthy, safe workplace? These designers are employers, after all. If you put on a play with risky stunts, she reasoned, you would need to provide the proper equipment and harnesses.

…Could this become an Occupational Safety and Health issue?

…One guy said, why worry about them when people are living and dying on tiny wages a fraction of what these women earn. Let’s call him Mr. Sensitive.

…Another, safety expert, Jordan Barab, of Confined Space, said it would be difficult for OSHA to enforce this. How could they prove the modeling agency was forcing this—and what would the remedy be, firing the women until they gained weight?

…Another said the Spanish idea—one runway, one show—was more doable and less intrusive. Like a weigh-in for a boxing match.

…Another expert said weigh-ins could be tricky. Would they extend to say, restaurants, where some waitstaff was recently laid off for being too fat?

…So maybe we are once again left with good old uncommon commonsense. Models on the runway need to look like little wire stick things.

…They are human coat hangers.

…HA thinks a nice tuna on rye would not hurt them now and then. The wet Kleenex and cigarette diet with an occasional dose of blow cannot be healthy.

...On Bravo’s “Project Runway,” it came out that there were several model-keeling incidents.

…Splat.

Allergy drugs bad for kids' earaches

…Kids with fluid in the middle ear, which can affect hearing and balance, are more likely to be harmed than helped by antihistamines and decongestants.

…These drugs do the kids no more good than placebo and can have significant side efx.

…(Can’t have those toddlers operating heavy machinery.)

…Otitis media with effusion (goo) affects 9 out of 10 children at least once.

…The idea was that these drugs would dry up the goo. But it didn’t turn out to work. In some cases, hearing loss became worse.

…17% of kids who took the drugs had significant side efx. That figure was 6% for kids who got the placebo.

…Uh, this was first learned in 1994.

…One doctor said the mental image of a eustachian tube drying up was so powerful for some parents that it overwhelms commonsense.

…You are better off doing nothing, snaps one physician.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Na-choo kitties


…According to Elisabeth Rosenthal, writing in the NYT October 6, 2006, an outfit called Allerca in San Diego has bred a non-allergy-causing cat.

…Inquiries are pouring in from 85 countries.

…The cats are $4,000 (me-OUCH) and there is a waiting list of 18 mos.

…The manufactuers of these felines are picky—they even do a home inspection.

…The company claims many people spend at least four grand for shots and air filters.

…Although these fancy pants cats have not been subjected to intense study, one prof at UCLA did expose some allergic people to them and the people didn’t sneeze.

…Most allergies are caused by a specific molecule in a cat’s dander or urine that can theoretically be disabled. In studying this, the docs found that some cats have a modified genes that doesn’t produce as many allergies.

…Voila—breed for that!

…The non-allergy gene is dominant so the cats are neutered before being placed, possibly so they can’t cut into the market and produce more acceptable kitties that would not go for $4,000.

…Really, really , really allergic people, such as those who have been rushed to the ER for a closing throat, may react to these kitties nonetheless.

…HA loves cats. She has three. But $4,000? She suddenly realized her love is conditional.

Blue light special


…Remember those full-spectrum lights people used to pay thousands to sit in front of? (HA’s mother never told her not to end a sentence with a preposition.)

…Well, scientists have decided the blue end of the spectrum works best.

…The Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, has been aiming lights at people for years.

…To prevent winter depression and some sleep disorders, apparently blue light is proving to be more effective.

…Alzheimer’s patients, too, sleep through the night better when they are exposed to blue LED (light emitting diodes) light a few hours before bedtime. Alzheimer’s patients can roam at night and because of this, have to be institionalized.

…People sleep better when their body temperature goes down at night. With the Alz patients, apparently the blue light kept it from going down too early in the evening.

…In a rather charming turn of phrase, a scientist at the Center said, “We are blue sky sensitive.”

…But watch the exposure…blue light can damage the eyes and this therapy takes 30 minutes or less a day—about one-fourth the time you’d sit in front of those full-spectrum boxes.

…To get a blue light box, check with your doctor. Some are bogus. Yes, let’s fake out desperate people who can’t sleep. What a world.

Monday, October 09, 2006

This dog is outsourcing


…Our beloved pets leave a lot of unhealthy calling cards around. Tons.

…Four hundred companies nationwide will do the pickup for you. Doody Calls is one.

…The company started in 2000 with two Univ of Virginia grads, who scooped on weekends.

…Now it’s er, sucking in $1M a year and has 1,500 clients.

…This is truly a luxury item, said one franchiser, perhaps unnecessarily.

…Yet, this vocation has a trade association now—Assn of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (APAWS).

…When you have 40% of the population doing something they don’t want to do, said one waste specialist,this is a business opportunity.

…HA just wants the product naming contract. The president of APAWS? Her company is Yucko’s Poop ‘n Scoop.

…Will the guy come on the morning walk? Maybe trailing behind a few paces?

…That would be worth a coupla bucks.

Color rules

…Ever get up and think, “Big meeting, better wear red”?

…Colors affect your energy, your mood—and the mood of others. They have true power.

…Artist and writer Barbara Garro (artistbarbaragaro@electricvisions.com) reminds us that sexy Samantha in “Sex and the City” had a lot of red in her apartment. On “West Wing,” the president had brown and gold in his office—security and stability.

…Want devil-make-care? Try orange. (HA has heard that is also the favored color of the insane, which stuck with her because orange is one of her favorite colors.)

…Garro said her mother raised her in a green environment. Green exudes power and intelligence. Green is also restful for the eyes. The story goes that diamond cutters have an emerald next to their workstation so they can gaze into it every so often and clear their vision.

…Blues are calming, supportive and peaceful.

…Purples and violets inspire and get others inspired.

…Garro suggests wearing one color for a whole week and seeing if your reality changes.

…For guys, this can be a tie, she adds

Friday, October 06, 2006

Living in easy


…Archie Bunker had his. HA’s dad had his.

…A chair.

…Writing in the Times Union in Albany, NY, Kristi L. Gustafson reminds us that a designated chair, though a throwback to a more 1950s mindset, still exists in many households.

…One guy calls his the command center. His wife sits on the couch to catch his pronouncements, HA assumes.

…This guy Rundle interviewed calls it The Man Chair. “Not too big or small, room for your feet to hang off just enough.”

...Insert Tim Allen grunts here.

…Frazier’s dad’s chair. The two recliners on “Friends.”

…These guys admit it’s a throne thing. Head of household. You’re king.

…Women are more likely to have a room or a "spot" they go to.

…But it won’t be that chair.

…HA suspects the letter Z is often involved. As in “La-Z-Boy.”

…Oh, who is she kidding? She has a twin bed instead of a couch—room for the animals to snooze during TV.

…And no one else better even think of touching it with their gluteus maximimus or minimus!

…La-Z-Girl.

Aesthetic medicine--new specialty

…Botox maker Allergan is out to create a new, household-word medical specialty—aesthetic medicine.

…As they put it in a recent WSJ piece by Rhonda L. Rundle (Oct 5, 2006), they are out to “industrialize” this area of medicine, which includes (industrial-strength?) breast implants.

…Also the tools of the trade—derma fillers (what HA disdainfully calls spackle because she can’t afford it). Allergan has one called Juvederm for the lower part of the face. Botox, the paralyzer is for the upper.

…Good news! People are starting to see their aesthetic specialist (not aesthetician, right?) earlier.

…Smackdown coming between this Juvederm stuff and Restylane.

…As an interesting twist, the company may price Juvederm higher than Restylane, which is $500 a syringe, with treatments running $2,000 a year.

…The Restylane people sniff that Juvederm is a cheap imitation of their spackle.

…Oooo, this is getting good. Cat fight!

…Also in the wings, Sculptura, currently only for HIV patients who have facial wasting.

…But the big one is silicone breast implants. Everyone is vying for those.

…Among the drug companies, that is. Didn’t these use to make women sick—did they clean up the implants?

…Or just the studies?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ode to Happy Hour lost


…HA lost one of her best friends this week. She was 93, not confused or demented, had fun, and lived the way she wanted, despite the usual set of troubles everyone has.

...She was raised in a little town in WV that was so hilly she said her father once fell out of his garden. She was a single mother for more than a decade and worked as a secretary to a prominent, Arnold & Porter level rainmaker in DC (heck, it was Paul Porter). After her daughter Patricia left home, she traveled the world. She was a Friend of the National Zoo and always went to the hot, humid outdoor parties there, loved opera and traveled even to Santa Fe to see performances. She also was a huge fan of football, especially West Virginia football. She never missed the Kentucky Derby on TV.

...She was interesting because she was interested--in everything.

…And, HA might add, just sayin’: Her friend had a few drinks a day, sometimes more than a few, and check it out: 93.

…Yes, it was a long life. But HA figured she had a few decades to go. It’s hard to say good-bye.

…HA won’t see her stationery in the mail ever again.

…Here’s to you, Margaret Cureton.

…(Teeny clink.)

Skeevy driving peeves

…HA has already admitted she doesn’t drive. But even SHE has pet peeves about road behavior.

…She sits in the “suicide seat,” you see.

…Bob Golfen, in his Arizona Republic column, “Traffic Jam,” asked people for their pet peeves about drivers.

…Tailgaters—according to Bob, these are the worst. A company even took a survey.

…According to the Haggerty Collector Network, an insurer of classic cars, the top 10 are: (1) Drivers on cellphones, (2) Slow drivers in fast lane, (3) Tailgaters, (4) Drivers who weave through traffic to gain one of two carlengths, (5) Drivers who speed up tokeep you from changing lanes, (6) Lane changers who don’t signal, (7) Road rage, (8) Motorcyclists who slalom between cars, (9) Women applying makeup or men shaving (eating, turning around to talk to kids, working a laptop, etc), (10) Drivers who leave their turn signal on for miles.

…Golten has a few more: The guy who zooms along with one hand draped limply over the top of the wheel.

…Too many teens in a car.

…HA also has one: Darters. Those are the people waiting to come out of a side street, who inexplicably lunge forward, then brake.

…This happens, of course, just as you are going by the side street.

…Watch for those little cairns of flowers and candles. These mark the victims of someone’s pet peeve.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You deserve a break this week


…HA is a huge fan of HBO’s “The Wire.” Last week, a teacher said Wednesday was the kids’ best day to learn—-farthest from the chaos of the streets on the weekends, either the weekend just survived or the one coming.

…Weekends aren’t what they used to be. We used to look forward to them.

…Now, weekends are a “to-do” list. The evil weedeater is chuckling in the corner. The car has "Wash Me" inscribed in the dirt on the hood.

…Some families are now trying to reclaim the big W. Family Focus Night in Poway, California, for instance. Or Ready, Set, Relax! In Ridgewood, NJ. There are others, too.

…Janie Magruder wrote about this in The Arizona Republic (Sept 17, 2006).

…People don’t talk, don’t take afternoon naps, don’t sit out and blab with the neighbors or soup up a car.

…More than half of Americans, in one survey, say they would prefer four 10-hour days. That’s great, but people work 60-80 hours!

…Some ways to change the pattern? Put the machine on pickup. Cancel some sport or event. Go to a spa. Have friends over for potluck. Rent a movie everyone likes.

…HA likes to watch Book TV on CSPAN. Can this woman party or not?

…And for heaven’s sakes, sleep in! Remember those Sundays—whole day in bed, squirming on crumbs from two meals, the kids, dogs, cats, papers?

…HA made it until 7:30 am one Saturday. You can do it!

Statin side-efx? Start complaining

…For several years, HA has been muttering about the great national drug trial of putting everyone in the country on cholesterol-lowering statins.

…The gist of her mutterings has been, “Sure, try these on everyone, whatEV!”

…Even the TV commercial says potentially serious muscle weakness can be a side effect of Lipitor and its cousins.

…When HA’s (ex-) doctor said, “Time for statins” (not knowing her cholesterol
level), she said, “I won’t want muscle weakness.”

…The doc said, “If you get that, you stop taking them.”

…Yeah? What if HA is crossing an interstate or something? (OK, lame example.)

…The WSJ’s head health scribe Tara Parker-Pope got on this subject in the October 3rd issue.

…Statins are the largest selling drug in the world and have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack.

…The rest is a little vague….Those muscle aches and oh, memory loss, too!

…The Univ of CA-San Diego has now set up a Statin Side Effects Survey site (www.statineffects.com).

…Apparently – funny story—statins were approved without reliable side-efx data.

…The system isn’t perfect. The FDA does have an Adverse Event Reporting System that collects reports from docs, pharmacists, pharmcos and patients.

…Again, funny story, but the reports are dropping due to a procedural change that dropped “nonserious” events off the database.

…Too, men are the largest users of statins, and women are the largest users of “reporting in.”

…The tiredness, aches, and memory lapses may be written off to “aging.”

…In fact, that’s what some docs tell complainers—instead of reporting to the FDA.

…There have been some little studies, At the Univ of Pittsburgh, cognitive functions in some of the 308 adults studied were worse on statins than placebo.

…So far, 60% of those complaining on the new website talk about muscle weakness and half mention cognitive problems.

…Want to help the rest of the country throwing down these pills? Sign up with the Statin Effects Survey site and then spill.

…They say they started the site because doctors were blowing off complaints and many patients wanted to explain how they were faring.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some Boomers don't get it


…What happened to kicking back on the porch, telling the kids to get off your property, and sipping a little Jackie D?

…Retirement, the way it’s being framed these days, sounds like boot camp at Fort Bragg.

…First, they call it “55 or better.” Do bite HA on that one.

…Boomers, one builder says, want high tech offices, jogging trails, big community centers full of gabby neighbors and lap pools, art classes, book clubs, golf, travel (“extreme and supreme,” really slinging the language here).

…What? No skate parks?

…Actually, one senior, gated community had an interesting idea. Why not let in people of all ages?

…You mean, a neighborhood? With kids, teens, hip hop, cars bumping, self-wielded weedeaters gobbling grass?

…At least HA would have a good use for her kid-scattering voice. Not that she squandered it before.

…This is all academic. Writers are already retired. All that remains to them is to fall facedown on the keyboard.

…And it's all she wrote.

Seating without the crying


Even non-Swedes love Ikea, HA thought. She mentioned it to her daughter, though, and the kid said, “Are you kidding? Mike tried to put together one of those things and he almost CRIED!”

…Oh. A guy. They come with Phillips heads already installed in their fingers. Not good.

…But lookee here! It’s Real Simple Furniture.

…Packed flat, it requires only a set of human hands (without male attachments) to put together.

…Real wood, not particle board (or as HA calls it—wood lint).

….Simple, sturdy, even a little chic.

…Chairs, couches, shelving, tables, and desks.

…Go to www.realsimplefurniture.com.

...And dry those tears.

Monday, October 02, 2006

No cupcakes. No CUPCAKES?


…Ah, the class birthday treat. Your Mom is bringing something from you for the whole class. You’re proud.

…Remember the white cupcakes with the rainbow sprinkles, the slathered faces, the giggling?

…”They can bring carrots,” snaps an assistant to the superintendent of one Orange Country school district. “A birthday does not have to be associated with food.”

…May HA say something here? YES, IT DOES, YOU BIDDY.

…The busy little obesity nannies have zeroed in on the birthday cupcake. And parents are fighting back.

…Texas passed a state law called The Safe Cupcake amendment giving parents the right to deliver treats to the classroom on certain occasions. Candy corn on Halloween was mentioned.

…Let’s see Bill O. take on that one.

…Disclaimer. Kids should not live on high frustose corn sugar alone, please give them a green bean once in awhile, blah, blah. But it’s their birthday!

…No cupcakes now, serial killers later?

…Think about it.

Friend trying to have a baby? Zip it

…Isis Waichler, author of Riding the Infertility Rollercoaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire, had a child one month before her 46th birthday.

…When asked what the least helpful things are that you can say if people are not conceiving, she says: “You just aren’t trying hard enough.” WRONG: They are probably doing every thing they can think of.

…”You just need to relax.” How do you relax when you don’t have what want most and are willing to risk anything to get? That’s not relaxing.

…”When are you two going to have a baby?” Ooops—they have been trying for a year.

…”You must come to my baby shower.” Sometimes this is not where the woman wants to be at this moment of her quest.

…”You already have one child.” Having the second child, which at first seems so easy, is a whole area of infertility.

…HA underwent some fertility approaches before having her daughter. She can report that it is an overwhelming preoccupation and you really don’t want to hear about how So-and-so went to Cabo and it just happened.

…If someone has a miscarriage, there are other things they don’t want to hear, such as “This probably meant it was deformed anyway.”

…Or: “It’s God’s will.”

…Or: “Cheer up, when can you try again?”

…Or: "At least it showed you can get pregnant.”

…Better a hug, HA thinks, and not so much palaver, however well intentioned.