Monday, April 30, 2007

Where are we with race-based medicine?


...In 2005, a heart failure drug called BiDil was released as the first therapy for African-Americans only.

…But for years, physicians have known that African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are more susceptible to diabetes and some other ailments.

…Something in their unique racial makeup also makes them respond differently to some meds. One size does not fit all.

…In other words, race is connected to clinical care.

…Some examples: Asthma patients of Puerto Rican heritage may not respond as well to Albuterol.

…African-Americans also may be more prone to lung cancer as a result of smoking than whites, Japanese-Americans, and Hispanics.

…White and African-American girls process salt differently from each other, with black girls eating more salt, but also retaining more calcium, making them less likely to get osteoporosis.

…In 2005, doctors were urged to give Asian-Americans less Crestor to lower cholesterol. Asian-Americans were getting more side effects.

…Whites benefit more from ACE inhibitors than African-Americans.

…Ruling race in or out is good medicine, one doctor remarked.

…Do you think we have the inside track on this and it’s looked at enough? HA is doubtful..

Friday, April 27, 2007

Nail gun control


…Sandra G. Boodman, writing in the Washington Post, warns of the dangers of the nail gun.

…Pewchuu, pewchuu, pewchuu, those babies fire away. Lift it up a little and we’re talking ER.

…Accidents are more likely to happen with weekend warriors who don’t use the guns much, rather than professionals who have a lot of exposure.

…Nail guns er, nailed three times more people in 2005 than in 1991. 96% males, avareage age 35.

…The Centers for Disease Control looked over the stats for a story in its April 13th Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (now there is a peppy pub).

…The guns that allow the user to “bounce fire” nails are more like to cause injuries.

…Mostly commonly injuries are to hands and arms, although eye injuries (ouch!), broken bones, and nerve damage have been reported.

…Six percent of nail victims need to stay in the hospital.

…Typically, consumers have no training in use of these powerful devices. The kind with a sequential trip trigger, which prevents accidental or wild firing, is best. If you already have a bounce fire version, there are kits you can buy to convert it to the safer model.

…What if your kid is standing there watching Daddy work?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Are you earthy?


…Harvard’s HEALTHbeat newsletter takes on Earth Day and tries to combine it with Health Day.

…First, they recommend you go to bed early—it saves on electricity and you lose weight if you sleep 8 hours. Lack of sleep depresses the levels of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain that you are full.

…Turn down the heat and air conditioning. Trying to keep cool or warm revs up your metabolism.. When we are in the thermoneutral zone, mid-70s, your body doesn’t have to burn cals doing much.

…Eat more fish—but be sure it isn’t the toxic or overfished kinds. Go to http://www.oceansalive.org/.

…Switch to energy-saving light bulbs, those weird twisty ones.They use 2/3 of the energy of a regular bulb and last 10 times longer. Each compact bulb keeps half a ton of carbon dioxide out of the air! But—please do not trash them when they do run out—they contain mercury! Call your local govt for instructions.

…Eat local fruits and veggies. Flying in food from Australia and Chile, for instance, uses energy. This is measured in “food miles.”

…Don’t take more meds than you need. Most medication we take is excreted anyhow. Don’t toss old ones down the drain, either. If they are liquids, put in cat litter, pills, put in water, and dispose in the trash.

…Walk, bike, anything but the car. Households with four cars outnumber those with none.

…Support green hospitals. Many are now being built of products that don’t offgas pollutants. Noise is being dampened inside. Many have lots of natural light, which raises patient spirits.

…So sleep, pedal, nosh, and watch the polypharmacy! Can’t hurt.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Flash! Menopause symptom may mean high BP


…Nothing more bracing than waking in the night tangled in soaked sheets kicking madly at the blanket to heave it to the floor!

…Hot flashes. These are considered to be a reaction to the fluctuating hormones around menopause, namely the diminution of estrogen in the body, which can set off the sympathetic nervous system.

…They last 2-30 minutes and in addition to extreme heat are accompanied by rapid heartbeat.

…This is because the flushing fever feeling and spurting sweats are apparently propelled by blood pressure, and a recently study at Weill Cornell Medical College concluded that women who get hot flashes have higher blood pressure than those who don’t.

…Uh-oh. BP can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

…The docs hooked up 154 NYC women from 18 to 65, with no previous cardiovascular disease and either mild or no hypertension, to portable BP monitors. A third experienced hot flashes. Their mean systolic rate (top number, with “normal” being 120/80) was 141 while awake and 129 asleep.

…Women who get a lot of hot flashes are advised to tell the doctor. Because of troublesome findings about hormone replacement therapy, you may or may not be advised to take estrogen.

…Estrogen’s link to better cardiovascular health is now being questioned, but high BP is still a negative factor.

…The battle of the studies. Meanwhile, we sweat stuff big and small.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Target turns pharmacy upside-down


…”@ Issue” is the magazine of the Corporate Design Foundation, lauding the best of industrial design.

…They took on Target’s new medicine bottle—the upside-down one.

…This is a changeup of the old amber pill bottle, with many built-in pluses for the elderly or medically uncertain.

…It was designed by Deborah Adler, as part of her master’s program at the School of Visual Arts.

…She was trying to come up with a project, when her father said her grandmother had accidentally taken her grandfather’s meds. They were on the same medication, but different doses.

…Adler took a look at the bottles and could see how this could happen.

…Hmmm, she looked at the standard bottle. The biggest type was the store’s logo. It had numbers all over it with no explanation.Warning stickers are stuck on top of each other sometimes. Sometimes these stickers are vertical.

…The labels also say weird things sometimes—like don’t take with a nitrate. What is a nitrate?

…The bottle was round—it’s hard to read on a curve.

…The info sheet was another horror—too many words on a line.

…She divided her new label into important on top, less important below. Warning labels go on the back. There is also a slot for a slimmed-down info sheet.

…People in the same household can get their own “color.” Grandma can be green, Grandpa yellow.

…Part of her assignment was to get the thing manufactured, so she learned about molds and costs.

…She also learned her idea was unique—and she got a patent.

…Amazingly, Target did not steal her idea and included her. The clear bottle changed to “Target red” instead of amber to protect light-sensitive medications.

…Along the way, she learned that men are more likely to make medication errors than women and less likely to read the info sheet (too much like asking directions?).

…Almost a third of adults never read that stuff when they get a prescription—10% say it’s incomprehensible. Another 14% say it’s overwhelming.

…She also helped create new icons for usage, such as an ID bracelet for people who should wear a warning that they take the drug or a crossed out wine glass to indicate not to drink on the medication.

…The one with a guy with arrows pointing at him, though, beat HA. Stay away from Native-Americans? That can’t be it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Is your kid a veggie and you're not?


…Kids pick up the darnedest notions, such as wanting to be vegetarians. In the May Working Mother, we learn that 6-10% of kids 6 and older are self-declared vegetarians.

…More and more kids are spurning animal products, says Connie Evers (http://www.nutritionforkids.com/).

…Harvard researchers say this is because they don’t like the idea of killing animals, rather than because vegetarianism is considered healthier.

…Evers suggests parents not get annoyed—and put a positive spin on it. Ask the child what foods should be eliminated.

…Vegetarianism has four levels, Evers says. (1) flexitarian, dairy eggs, and occasionally meat, poultry and fish; (2) lacto-ovo, dairy and eggs, (3) lacto, dairy but not eggs, and (4) vegan, plants only.

…You can serve your family veggie burgers, vegetable lasagna, meatless pasta with tomato sauce, and rice-and-bean dishes (protein).

...Add soy milk or yogurt, if this is OK.

…All this will bring your child closer to the recommendations on the latest food pyramid.

…If the family is going along, this can only be good, right?

...HA must say, though, she is a little dubious of the banana and pepper combo in the picture. Can this be taken too far?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Prom time--plus size or not


…Wendy Donahue of the Chicago Trib acknowledges that being plus-size no longer means you aren’t going to the prom—if it ever did.

…The founder of Sydney’s Closet in St Louis made sure she had plenty of larger sizes in her special-occasion dresses store. For one thing, her own daughter needed a roomier dress.

…HA was a plus teen. She remembers a couple of tear-soaked shopping trips with a mother trying to be nice, but growing short of patience.

…But HA also remembers some beautiful dance gowns—one, in particular, turquoise with silver beads. Thanks, Mom!

…One in five teens is plus-size. Actually, 62% of American women wear a 14 or better.

…Prom shoppers snapped up all the size 20 to 24 dresses at DeBora Rachelle, Donahue writes, so this year, the designer upped the choices to size 32.

…Some girls had even added panels down the sides of her larger sheath dresses (when is the last time you heard THAT term?).

…Another designer Faviana makes special orders such as 14W for stores (14W, in the wacky world of sizes, is actually a 20-22).

…The Size 28 and up dresses are selling out first.

…Sydney’s Closet, in fact, gets calls from girls under size 12 asking about certain larger dresses they have seen in popular teen magazines.

…Not to be mean, but maybe the stores could whisper (as every larger size woman has heard from a sales clerk at one time or another), “I am not sure we carry anything here you can wear.”

…Now—looks like a lot of people are going dancing!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gardening heals


…Kim Painter, in USA Today, talks about the American Horticultural Therapy Association (www.ahta.org).

…Yes, gardening can be therapy.

…Rooting around in the dirt has been shown to lower BP, reduce stress, and even ease pain.

…This is so accepted these days that many hospitals are adding gardens where patients can putter around.

…In Portland, OR, the five-hospital Legacy Health System comes complete with dirt.

…HA once wrote a story on this subject for WebMD.

…Some observations: Gardening can also be good exercise, increasing endurance, flexibility and strength.

…Gardening is something you can do with the kids—and still keep an eye on them. ADHD has been linked to being inside too much.

…Gardening can also help memory retention in the elderly.

…Jeff Restuccio, author of Fitness the Dynamic Gardening Way, recommends alternating light with heavy activities. Rake, then dig, then prune. Change it up.

…Don’t forget to stretch first. …Restuccio also recommends exaggerating the motions to increase range of motion.

…Gardening can burn 100-200 cals an hour.

…Start small, the experts say. A 4x6 foot bed can produce a lot of flowers or herbs. And turning over that much earth can be a project!

…If you are allergic, it does not rule out gardening. Take a Bendryl first, one doctor says.

….Don’t douse on the pesticides and poisons, either.

…This is supposed to be good for you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hot to trot


…It’s starting to heat up, at least out here in AZ.

…Time for the fitness minded to start jogging and sucking in that exhaust.

…Connie Midey, writing in the AZ Republic (Apr 16, 2007), has some tips for not healthening to the point of death.

…You can’t stop exercising just because it’s hot, advises one expert.

…But you also can’t do the same workout at the same intensity.

…Take a yoga or dance class in the hottest months.

…Use tapes inside with the a/c on.

…Buy some tubing and use it to exercise.

…Swim!

…Be sure to drink a liter of water for every hour you work out.

…Dawn Hudnutt, exercise physiologist for Kronos Optimal Health Company in Phoenix, also told Midey people should exercise outside early or late when it’s hot—not at noon. This sounds so obvious—but HA sees people out in midday all the time.

…Eat a few bites first, fruit, a cracker with peanut butter.

…Wear sunglasses.

…Guard against chafing by putting on Bodyglide or a similar product,

…Wear lightcolored, loose clothing, preferably made of wicking material. If your outfit is skimpy, use plenty of sunblock.

…Carry your cellphone.

…Stay on a known route. If you get lost, the extra minutes can add up on a hot day.

…Stay off busy streets—they are dangerous and you are sucking in fumes.

…Wear good shoes and socks and take care of your feet.

…You may need them to come in out of hell.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Designing for Boomer butts


…"@ issue" is a high-end mag for industrial and graphic designers put out by the Corporate Design Foundation.


…Recently, it took on the Universal Seven Design Principles as applied to Boomers.

…Over the next 25 years, the number of people over 65 will more than double. More than 20% of the population will be old.

…Supposedly, this bunch also won’t settle for ugly or inconvenient.

…So people will have to apply the Seven Universal Design Principles.

…Number one is to make it equal to all users. Lots of things are designed to the “norm,” they say. This is thin, 30, and about 5’6” tall. Ooops.

…Number two is minimize physical effort. If you have arthritis, grasping a doorknob can hurt! Older people get tired quicker. Products that cause all users to maintain a neutral position, sitting or standing, but not stooping, and are quick, will be best!

…Number three is to design in adequate size and space. Make sure the wheelchair can fit through the door, turn around and leave. Put a place to hang a cane—they are hard to get off the floor.

…Four, keep it simple and intuitive. One should not have to read a label to open a cap. (HA likes how they put the instructions in raised letters on white. Or—what is up with that stupid little arrow thing you have to line up on pill bottles?)

…Five, allow for flexible use. It does not have to be a right-handed world. How about a way for a seated person to cook? Adjustable showerheads are also good. Or a shower seat.

…Make information perceptible. Try pictures, sound and maybe touch…multiple ways of saying how to use the item.

…And seven, build in error tolerance. Doorbells and kitchen timers can flash as well as ”ting.” Colors and markers can indicate the depth of a stair. Make print bigger, paper glarefree.

…And might I add? No more childproof caps!!! You need to find a kid to open those. And if you are old, you have already chased all the kids off your lawn and way down the block.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hula Hoop redux


…Hoopnotica…According to a guilty pleasure of HA’s called E! News, this thing is “taking Tinseltown by storm.”

…Tinseltown?

…Anyhow, this thing is part exercise, part dance, and all fun, according to its makers.

…This, of course, refers to the Hoopnotic Hoopdance.

…But, alas, it’s hard to travel with a giant hoop, so they made it collapsible.

…For a mere $49.99, you get the hoopdance DVD, and of course, the TravelHoop.

…The faster you hoop, the founder says, the more your endurance improves.

…Supposedly, it also creates a childlike bliss.

…HA was an actual child and not much more blissful than the modern-day HA, and she remembers the Hula Hoop and how it slowed down and finally tangled around your ankles.

…They say, “You cannot remain upset inside your hoop.”

…HA hates to be mean—but she bets ya.

….If, despite Cynical Sue here, you are fixin’ to do you some hoopin’, go to http://www.hoopnotica.com/.

…HA is just joshin’---she remembers the Hula Hoop well. It was fun to see the kids all hooping it up on those green lawns of the 1950s.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Breathe easier


…Everyone is sneezing and wheezing at the moment, but for those with exercise-induced asthma, researchers at the Univ of Indiana say large doses of Vitamin C can stem the cycle of inflammation.

…The dose was 1,500 mgs a day.

…Asthmatics must continue their regular meds, the docs emphasized.

…Another thing that can set off lung problems is spring cleaning. Other Univ of Indiana docs took this on.

…To cut dust and mold, open windows while cleaning and vacuuming.

…Place pillows and rugs outside in the sun to kill dust mites.

…Wash bedding and towels in hot water.

…Beware of smelly detergents and dry cleaning fumes. Some dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (PERC), a known toxic agent. Air all clothes from the cleaners.

…Read labels. Learn what is toxic. Also check out the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/).

…This is commonsense, but if your eyes water when you use a product, you need more ventilation, If your hands get raw, you need gloves.

…Try vinegar and baking soda for some cleaning. Or find some “green” products.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Oooo, your achin' noggin


…The National Headache Foundation invites you to diagnose what type of headache you have.

…You don’t get headaches? You are so lucky. HA used to say that before her eye surgery. Oh, how the worm has turned now, though!

…Headaches are rarely life-threatening, the Foundation notes, but they surely can cut into the quality of life!

…The NHF partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (HA also used to work for them) to talk about migraines. Glaxo makes Imitrex, the injectable migraine-stopper, so keep that in mind.

…More than half of those who probably have migraines have never been diagnosed and take various over-the-counter nostrums.

…More often than not, the pharmco says, people are told they have sinus headaches when they really have migraines.

…Migraines affect 29.5 million Americans. That’s a bunch. Women are three times as likely as men to get them. The throbbing head pain is usually on one side of the head and can be accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound (you don’t always get that weird warning called an aura). Some people get them more than 15 days month!
Migraine triggers include diet, stress, environment, odors, emotions, medications, and hormones.

…Tension-type headaches affect 78% of Americans at some point in their lives. This is a pressing or tightening pain on both sides of the head. They can result from anxiety or depression. Changes in sleep patterns, insomnia, early morning or late-day occurrence of the headache, feelings of guilt, dizziness, poor concentration, weight loss, and fatigue or nausea can accompany these.

…Cluster headaches affect mainly men (90%) and hit 1 million people a year. The attacks, not the pain, are clustered. Sufferers can get a series of these for several weeks or months, and then they disappear for months or years. Spring and early autumn are prime time—thus these headaches are often attributed to allergies. They are usually one-sided, behind the eye region radiating to the face or neck. During a “cluster,” smoking or alcohol can make them worse, though smoking and alcohol don’t seem to bring them on if they are not already occurring.

…Secondary headaches come from another cause, such as tumors, infections, high blood pressure, blood clots, aneurysms, and other bad things. Go straight to a doctor if you experience loss of consciousness or confusion, the worst headache you ever had, or weakness in some part of your body along with the headache.

…Most headaches can be managed with such things as relaxation training, prescription drugs, guide imagery, biofeedback, acupuncture, massage therapy, prescription meds, or even the popular OTC meds.

…That woman in the picture? Could that hairy couch be the problem? The Foundation didn’t mention hairy couches, but HA is wondering. It's pretty hairy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Organic--smorganic?


…Mary Beth Fuller, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, details her family’s one-week experiment with going organic (April 10, 2007).

…She had the best opening line EVER: “Just because I am cheap and lazy doesn’t mean I don’t care about my family’s health.”

…Great line, huh? HA is so jealous.

…Fuller bought organic red peppers, $5.99 a lb, $2 more than regular old red peppers. Strawberries, $3.99 a pint versus $3 a quart.

…She got organic sugar—twice as expensive as granulated.

…Organic chicken breasts…$8.99 a lb (HA would want the chef in the package for that).

…Instead of $200, the bill tacked on an extra $75.

…The main supermarket had a lot of stuff, but she still needed a trip to the specialty grocery.

…Most of the food tasted about the same, she said, though the specialty store had some yummy novelties like squash-filled ravioli.

…Overall, she said she’d stick with some organic foods if it didn’t mean more gas to get to the store. Her daughter was teased for eating weird stuff at school.

…What will stay? The produce—peppers and strawberries use the most pesticides. The O Organics sugar was sparklier. The Kozy Shack pudding was good, but not always stocked in her store.

…The organic chicken might be lower in antibiotics, but it didn’t come in convenient forms.

…The organic breakfast cereal was soggy.

…The organic cream cheese? Let's just say she's stocked up on Spackle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Are your legs turning blue?


….Varicose veins…HA’s Mother had them and she remembers hearing about the ewwwy surgery to strip them out!

…More than 40 million people have these enlarged leg veins…six million workdays a year are lost.

….The veins may look huge and vital, but they are really a superficial system. The real working system returning blood to the heart is deeper inside the leg.

…This means the ugly surface veins can be removed without interfering with circulation.

…The bulging is caused by weak valves holding back blood—this can be genetic.

…Docs say the surgery is not as gross as it used to be. They use a special ultrasound to look into the leg and see what’s what.

…A thin catheter may be put in the vein and the whole vein heated with radio waves, causing it to collapse and eventually reabsorb.

…Sometimes, lasers are used to do the same thing.

…Or a foamy substance is injected to collapse the vein. This is called foam sclerotherapy. Often this is used for the smaller spider veins.

…Avoid sitting with your legs crossed, if you are prone to the “blue map.”

…Pregnant women should elevate their legs for part of the day.

…Walk every hour.

…And, yes, wear support hose.

…Check out http://www.lifeofyourlegs.com/ for socks and hose that won’t make you think of Grandma.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Does your kid have a concussion?


…It’s getting warm and everyone is going outside and playing sports. The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) has some tipsfor dealing with whacks to the head.

…Kevin Guskiewicz, PhD, ATC, is a professor and director of the Sports Medicine Research Lab at the Univ of NC, Chapel Hill.

…Apparently they are unearthing new info on concussion all the time.

…The idea is to formulate set rules for dealing with head injuries on the field.

…First, if an athlete reports a contact to the head and some symptoms, this is at very least, a mild concussion. Funny terms like “ding” and bell ringer” can mask the seriousness.

…The athlete should be looked at and checked for cognitive and stability issues.

…Once symptom free, the athlete should be reassessed to see if the values are normal for that player.

…If an athlete loses conscious or has amnesia lasting more than 15 mins, he or she should see a doctor THAT DAY.

…A team should do this evaluation—trainer, doctor, the athlete.

…Athletes who are out of it for at least 20 minutes, should not be allowed to play that day.

…Younger athletes have brains that are still maturing—they should be managed even more conservatively. Younger athletes (under 18) should never return to play the same day as a head injury.

…Athletes should rest, but not complete bed rest.

…Three concussions—maybe it’s best to terminate contact sports.

…For more info, go to http://www.nata.org.statements.position.concusssion.pdf/.

…Your kid’s head is precious—protect it. He or she might need it later.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The worry experts


…Everyone wants to be good at something—and some people are good at worrying!

…Writing in the East Valley Trib (April 5, 2007), Mike Grady talks about people who are VERY good worriers.

…They leave HA in the shade.

…One of them, Bonnie Burns, has a friend who calls her the CEO of the Worry club.

…So she started a Worry Club—and named herself CEO.

…It’s http://www.theworryclub.com/.

…Their theory is that you only worry when your mind is unchallenged. So the site has games to challenge the mind.

…Ha! HA would worry that she can’t do the games.

…OK, yu can also talk that neurosis over on a hotline. Call (866) 967-7948.

…You can vent for free for five minutes, then it’s $1.99 a minute after that.

…So you can worry about money so Burns doesn’t have to!

…You may end up talking to Bonnie Burns, who has a master’s in Holocaust Studies (speaking of worrying).

…The site gets 11,000 hits a month!

…HA once read that you should write down your worries and check in a week and see how many are still worries and how many had not happened or were not real.

…She tried it for a week and all the same worries were still real—and there were some new ones!

…Still, she often tells others to Get a Real Problem. She has to say it so often, she has shortened it to GARP!

…Now you are probably worried about her.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rookie exercise mistakes (that can hurt)


…Debi Lander, MEd, has some exercise mistakes to avoid.

…Skipping the warmup or cooldown. Those are two. Walk or break a light sweat beforehand and let your heart get back to normal before jumping in the shower.

…Not stretching. Never stretch a muscle without warming it up a little!

…Lifting too much too fast. Gradual, progressive resistance is a safe way to increase muscle strength. Likewise, if you are doing more than 15 reps and have not increased the weight in two weeks, time to up it a little. If you can’t do 10 reps—too heavy.

…Waiting until you are thirsty to drink. When you are thirsty, you are already dehyrated.

….Using bad form is a no-no. Have a trainer show you at first, if need be. If you have to swing the dumbbells to do a curl, this is bad form.

…Resting too much. Allow 30 seconds between toning exercises.

..Thinking more is better. After 60 mins of cardio, risk of injury increases.

…Exercising above your heart rate range is also bad. You can burn fat without stressing your heart this much.
…Don’t use hand or ankle weights during aerobics. They can increase risk of injury.

…Fat burning products are a waste of money.

…Don’t underestimate regular walks and stairclimbing. These are great. Walk a minimum of 30 mins a day.

…Not having a physical before starting a training program can be a mistake. This applies especially if you are over 45, have high blood pressure, or other risk factors such as smoking or extra weight.

...P.S. Parakeets are optional.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Maybe you are creative, not sleepless


…Everyone is whining all the time about how sleep-deprived Americans are. Yet, many big names, such as WC Fields, Marlene Dietrich, Franz Kafka, Teddy Roosevelt, Groucho Marx and Mark Twain were insomniacs.

…HA is a spotty sleeper, up, down. She can count on one hand the nights she slept through. It felt like a coma, alarming, rather than refreshing.

…Writing in the Washington Post, Dennis Drabelle speculates that bad sleepers may be creatives. Or more creative than the coma-bound.

…Yet “common sense,” Drabelle posits, says that it’s easier to do hard math problems with a good night’s sleep, a theory borne out by research.

…Common sense also says that people who sleep less get more done. This is one is not so true. Short sleepers tend to be as productive as long sleepers. It’s genetic, say researchers.

…So what about trying something new, inventing something, creating something? Any difference there?

…A recent study suggests that insomnia and originality may go together.

…Researchers worked with 60 New Zealand children between the ages of 10 and 12. Half were above average on creativity tests, the other half not. Seventeen of the 30 “creative” children reported sleep disturbances. Only 8 of the controls had trouble sleeping.

…What does this prove, if anything. Maybe insomnia is keeping the creatives from being even more creative.

…Or else, they must daydream instead of night dream.

…Or their quirky, febrile little minds are keeping them up, even though there may be side benefits.

…What do you think?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thanks for the eye damage, boss


…Writing for the AP, Julia Silverman talks about some teachers in the Portland, OR, burbs who say their eyesight has been damaged by ultraviolet radiation from a broken high intensity lightbulb in their workplace.

…The kind of bulb in gyms and big box stores.

…Metal halide bulbs. The glass around it protects from UV rays, but if that glass breaks, the bulb keeps burning.

….This can burn the corneas. Docs say many cases may be chalked up to pinkeye. In most cases, the pain goes away with some over-the-counter soothants.

…The four women say they feel like they are chopping onions all the time.

…HA has a stinging eye and can relate.

…The teachers say they were sitting under a broken bulb for hours at a meeting.

…After the meeting one of them rear-ended a car, saying the brake lights were all swimming together.

…The doc said it was like a severe case of snow blindness or welder’s burn.

…Now, they are pouring in the eyedrops and wearing shades all the time.

…The docs have tried a number of therapies, including blood serum, in their eyes.

…The teachers are lobbying for places to use a kind of bulb that turns off 15 minutes after the glass breaks.

…Of course, these cost more.

…An industry group is resisting the replacement, as industry groups so often do.

…This is where children go—gyms—the women say. They are thinking recall.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Divert the stress cascade


…Emily Seftel, writing in the Arizona Republic (March 28, 2007), talks about the small frustrations—customer disservice reps, insurance forms, PINs, clerks, taxes, bad drivers, etc., that steam us daily.

…Don’t sweat the small stuff…remember that phrase? Yeah, HA forgot it, too.

…HA’s heat pump was acting wonky--$600 and the twit tried to waltz her around and tell her it was a bargain (“What do you think we do—make things that work?”). HA took the so-called “bad parts” and asked around. Yes, she got rooked. Oh, look, bad Better Business Bureau rating, too—stroke time!

…Then, she took the bad parts and threw them in the dumpster and went back to her desk.

…According to Seftel, quoting the American Psychological Association, more than half of Americans think they are overstressed.

…Little things, big overall effects. Your body floods with cortisol and is always trying to flee or fight.

…Take three deep breaths.

…Better yet, sit or lie down for 10 minutes.

…See where you are tense—neck, shoulders, tongue, scalp—and release the tension.

…List everything causing stress. See if some can be eliminated.

…Take a break from all things electronic.

…Laugh. This is the only way out.

…Well, a cocktail.

…No, no, no, bad HA! Do not type out loud.