Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hang over (the side)

…”How’s Your Drink?” is a great WSJ column by Eric Felten. On Dec 27, 2008, he ventured into everyone’s favorite subject around New Year’s Eve—hangover cures.

…He starts with a grand story about a 1938 “coming out” party at the Ritz-Carlton with FOUR bars, he said elatedly. One bar was solely for “the cure.”

…The “cure” was chilled Coca-Cola poured into cold milk, a nap, and then you “felt wonderful.”

…Why you got the hangover AT the party was not explained.

…So many people have looked for the grail of how to neutralize alcohol immediately.

…Medicinal “bitter” barks are a favorite.

…A Prairie Oyster is sort of a counter-irritant or distraction—a raw egg yolk with Worcestershire. Bertie Wooster (P.G. Wodehouse) received this elixir from Jeeves and felt like a lighted torch was strolling down his throat, followed by the singing of birds in the treetops.

…Usually, a Prairie Oyster also contained a shot of whiskey. This is called…”the hair of the dog,” based on dog fur being thought (quite wrongly) a cure for rabies.

…One wag even described the recipe: “Take the juice of two quarts of whiskey…” it began.

…Other people described the hair of the dog as putting out a fire with kerosene.

…Still, Jim Morrison recommended a couple of Ramos Gin Fizzes if indisposed.

…Robert Mitchum once gave one of the latter to Frank Sinatra, remarking that it was “mother’s milk.” After that, Sinatra sent Mitchum a card every Mother’s Day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How to drink

…Ha! You thought HA was going to say, “Drink responsiibly,” didn’t ya? Well, she isn't--Real Simple magazine is.

…They point out the upside of alcohol, which is that goodness of red wine for the heart mantra. It’s the resveratrol, you know. And new studies show you get a therapeutic amount from very little red wine.

….Who wants very little red wine?

…But HA digresses. A little wine can also protect your liver.

…Drinking in moderation can also lower cholesterol, some docs think.

…Also, if you like fruit in your drinks, you are a genius—alcohol bumps uo the antioxidant power of fruit. Fresh raspberry margs, yuh-um!

…Sad face. There is also a downside to drinking (see half the movies ever made). Three or more drinks a day may increase your chances of breast cancer 30%. If you already have a 3% chance, that becomes 4%.

…Alcohol can make your skin look crummy. Stretching the capillaries.

…Drinking can lead to overeating. Those nuts and chips.

…Alcohol can also screw up your sleep patterns.

…And, of course, being unable to stop drinking can deplete your bank account, push your family away, cost you everything, and force you to sleep next to a dumpster or kill someone.

…Drink slowly if you do drink. Drink later in the day. Don’t drink in the hot sun—you will get dehyrated.

…Before drinking eat something with a little fat in it. Stick to light or clear drinks. The darker, the more compounds it contains—hey, what about resveratrol?

….Diet soda makes you absorb the alcohol faster—don’t use it in drinks. It’s kinda silly, anyhow.

…Women process alcohol slower than men, so don’t try to match them one for one.

…HA always was a cheap date.

Monday, December 29, 2008

All is not lost if you slip

…HA hates the R-word, resolution. Now, before the New Year even brings these darn things, is the perfect time to recognize you will probably break any you make.

…So, OK, you are a dork. You can’t abstain, refrain, or whatever.

…The experts say this is no reason to throw up your hands (though that would be good exercise) and bag it.

…Just climb back on the wagon and move on, they advise.

…If you are not an exerciser, an expensive health club membership may not be the motivator you think. Just get moving. Walk around the block. Shovel snow.

…Alcoholism is a horrible addiction and it’s so easy to break your will. Don’t let people talk you into “one little one.”

…If you slip up, go to more meetings, call your sponsor. Just take an action.

..If you pig out a few times, start writing down your food for a week or two—get back in synch.

…When you slip during the holidays, it does not mean you are back to Square One. Far from it—you have done the thinking, now make the next moment count to regroup on the actions.

…It is not the end of the world. Not even of YOUR world.

Friday, December 26, 2008

You don't want to give up the finger

…Dana Scarton (NYT, Dec 16, 2008) says losing your pinkie finger seems like small change, but it isn’t.

…First, you lose 50% of your hand strength. Wow—half!

…The author snapped her right pinkie, which soon could not bend. She couldn’t make a fist, hold a tennis racket,or vacuum (don’t laugh, that last could be bad).

…She broke the metacarpal—the bone that extends into the hand. This happens more to the pinkie than any other finger or the thumb. It’s a “border digit”—doctalk for on the outside.

…Sometimes breaks in the pinkie don’t even hurt—yet can take plates and screws to fix.

…This, the author says, is followed by physical therapy—which hurts! You don’t want scar tissue forming.

…Sure enough, after all this, an MRI showed that scar tissue had immobilized the flexor tendon.

…She needed another operation to free it—then more PT. That little finger carried a big punch—thankfully, she can now form a fist.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Budget babies

…HA went through somes trials and tribs achieving her daughter, but never went as far as in vitro. She sure can remember the obsession, though.

...Now, in an upcoming documentary on the work of Julia Indichova, author of The Fertile Female, we learn some possible cost-effective moves that could help you conceive.

…No, it’s not just—relax, it will happen.

…Indichova is no pollyanna and makes no guarantees, but she does hate to see people do the expensive in vitro time and time again and drive themselves increasingly nuts.

…Seventy-five percent of the time, these efforts fail.

…In her Fertile Heart ™--O-V-UM seminar, she gives seven hours of instruction on nutrition, imagery, movement, and dreams.

…She says she sees so many women torturing themselves about how their miscarriages are caused by not having positive thoughts. Allow the truth to rise up, she urges. To censor thoughts can cause “issues in the tissues,” she says.

…The seminars are $195. In vitro can be thousands upon thousands. Maybe in the midst of a downturn is exactly when inconvenient, expensive babies might just decide to arrive.

…You know how perverse kids are.

…Check out

Monday, December 22, 2008

Move in your future?

…The people across the street moved and half their stuff is in HA’s garage to be collected who knows when, but this is, of course, a personal problem.

…Moving is a hugely discommoding health event—up there with death (of someone else) and divorce.

…America has long been known as a Bedouin-like nomadic society, with folks trotting off to soul-less suburbs and leaving friends and family for distant new digs.

…But now we learn that just 13% of the population changed addresses between 2006 and 2007.

…This is the lowest rate since after World War II.

…Six in 10 Americans has moved at least once. Or should that be 4 out of 10 have NOT moved at least once?

…More than a third of us live in our hometowns. Almost 60% of us have never left our home state.

…Yet, this is a little sad, too—a Pew survey showed that of people who lived in two or more places, nearly 40% are not living in their “heart home.”

…What about all these foreclosures? People will be moving whether they like it or not, and HA suspects not.

…At the same time, many people are upsidedown or “underwater,” the new term—and owe more than their houses would sell for. They are trapped, heart home or no.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Even Santa has to fill in a clipboard

…Those larky types at Baylor University Med Center gave even fat old Santa a clean bill of health to pull an all-nighter humping toys, wedging into chimneys, and bolting cookies.

...This guy is what, hundreds of years old?

…Of course, Santa does have a slightly elevated blood sugar, it was pointed out. Blame those cookies.

…Leave him some fruit and veggies, the docs said—hey, aren’t those carrots for bad people?

…Santa underwent a weigh-in, BP check, nutritional counseling and a conversation about family history.

…Santa does not smoke and apparently walks 30 mins a day around the Pole area, so he was in pretty good shape. Fit as a fiddle? That would be stretching it..

…His “bowl full of jelly” can be a problem or indicator of metabolic syndrome—high BP, high cholesterol, and high glucose rolled into one syndrome.

…Baylor also said Mrs Claus made Santa go to the doc—he is a typical jolly male.

…The rubber glove? No mention was made. Thank goodness.

…But yeah, he probably had that, too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Have a...

…Enough with the poison, the hospitalizations, the depression, and let’s talk fruit.

…HA loves bananas. Does anyone seriously hate them? (HA’s mother does—she once went on a banana diet, nuff said.)

…According to health maven Jean Carper (USA Weekend, Oct 17), a study at Tufts shows that older Americans, especially, need to eat high potassium foods—like Chiquita’s delight.

…Muscle mass declines after age 50, they say. Seniors who hit the potassium however, had 3.6 more pounds of lean muscle than those who didn’t.

…Supposedly potassium counters acidic residues in the body, preventing muscles from punking out.

…Vegetables and fruits become alkaline (even the acidic ones like citrus) in the body and neutralize acidity.

…To get more potassium, besides nanners, you can eat dried apricots, cantaloupe, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, legumes, avocado, and orange juice and tomato products.

…HA loves peanut butter and banana sandwiches, all smooshed together, dense, oh, boy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Have yourself a merry little IV

…Denice Foose, a chaplain at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, says any time you can bring a holiday ritual to a hospitalized patient, it’s good.

…Even if you can only afford smiles for patients and staff and a visit—it’s something.

…Obviously you can’t lug in a plasma (though the pun is irresistible), but you can do little things.

…If you or the patient is bummed out (holiday blues PLUS!), talk about it, don’t change the subject.

…Remember, if you duck your home life on the holidays to visit the person, they might feel guilty about it—put them at ease.

…Find a holiday special and watch it in the hospital with visitors.

…Maybe the patient can help write out cards.

…Give a gift to the roommate, too.

…Kids in the hospital at Christmas need special little gifts and fun things.

…If you are in the hospital and your family can’t come, chat with volunteers that do come. Don’t spurn them.

…Hospital stays, even if they coincide with a holiday, are temporary. You want to leave alive, so just put up with it and make the most of the good parts that do come your way.

…Maybe the Jell-O will be red and green. Hold the school kids singing, though. Those high register trilling voices, the little Drummer Kid… Someone might have to code you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deck the halls with deadly poison

…Cincinnati Children’s Hospital poison control center wants you to be afraid, be very afraid. Christmas stuff is poison for little kids. They have smaller systems and cannot handle an exploratory nosh of many Christmas staples. This goes for pets, too.

...Parenthetically—have you noticed that HA does not have a linear mind—HA once had a cat that ate one holly berry and almost died. The vet always called him Mr Holly Berry after that.

…Anyoldhow…First, the hospital warns not to leave half-full alcoholic drinks around. Kids get up early and will get sick if they finish off the dregs.

…Mistletoe can affect the nervous system, blood pressure and heart if you graze on it or let your kids get a hold of it.

...Poinsettias have a huge rep, but probably aren't as harmful as billed--still, don't munch.

…Here we go—holly! There are 400 kinds and some are poisonous. Leaves and berries are both toxic. Buy fake.

…Jerusalem Cherry—HA has not idea what this is, but don’t eat any.

…Cyclamen. This is a houseplant not a salad ingredient.

…Those essential oils—wintergreen, camphor, and so on. These can be very toxic.

…Dry ice. HA used to love dry ice when she was a kid! Well, she is lucky to be alive. It’s carbon dioxide and can burn your mouth if you eat the weird smoky stuff.

…In good conscience, HA must also mention fruitcake. HA loves it. Send her some.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Take two herbs and call a witch

…Scripps Howard’s Maureen Gilmer writes that just like 500 years ago, health care is expensive and people fear creepy or painful procedures. HA sure does!

…So who did they call then? The village healer. This was usually a woman (now it’s a health food store) who knew about recipes and plants that her mother told her about.

…Plants were the source. Today drug companies send people into the rain forest scouring for plants, did you know that?

…Digitalis to regulate heart rhythm was from foxglove, a nice purple flower.

…Yarrow was packed into wounds to stop bleeding.

..Aspirin is from willows.

..Camomile and mint calm icky tummies.

…Echinacea is from a daisy.

…Healers harvested their stock and trade and dried the plants for future use. They made infusions (tea) or ground the plants and mixed with fat to make salves.

…When upheavals came or times were bad, this woman was vilified and called a witch (sort of like saying doctors caused the economic mess with their penicillin). When so-called witches were killed, knowledge died with them.

…Sometimes, though, this info was captured into books, such as the 1931 classic, “A Modern Herbal” by Mrs. M. Grieve.

…You can get these at The contents are also free online.

…HA’s kid once burned her leg on a hot curling iron and HA ran outside and got her some aloe goo out of the yard.

…Otherwise, HA is blame free in the witch department.

…But she will add: Be cautious. Herbs are drugs. Remember the drug company guys looking through the jungle?

Friday, December 12, 2008

TLC at the office

…Most regrettably, HA has no one to give her a seated massage. The pooch is hopeless, and the cats dig in their claws.

…Writing in the East Valley Tribune, Tony Natale says all the political and economic madness is making everyone very stressed. (One for the Big Book of Duh, but thanks, Tone.)

…Some companies bring in masseuses (masseusae?) to unknot the shoulders of freaky workers.

…Chair massages! Fifteen to 30 mins--$15. Recipients say they have a few minutes of peace and it works wonders. (It also helps with survivor guilt—when others get a pink slip and you beat the reaper.)

…Other companies offer yoga and exercise. Even though wellness programs cost a penny or two, more companies do them during hard times than good times.

…Even if the companies don’t pay for the classes, they let people do it on company time.

…Personally HA prefers vodka, but has no nice executive to buy it for her.

…(Just seeing you were paying attention—of course, HA realizes vodka is not a health drink. More’s the pity.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cutting pharm costs

…Stefanie Ferreri, PharmD, and Jena Ivey, PharmD, both pharmacists and assistant profs at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, offer the following tips for cutting medication costs.

…Be sure you aren’t taking more stuff than you need or is good for ya. HA has been telling you this. People sometimes just take stuff and don’t stop and the doctor never looks over the list. Bring in your pills next time and ask about them.

…Go generic, people! The average generic is $34, the average brand-name $119.

…Wal-Mart and others have $4 generics. A recent study of heart meds showed that many of the old, cheaper, off-patent drugs are better than the new ones.

…If a drug clocks in at some heart-stopping rate and has no generic, call the doc and ask for another one that might have a generic. Docs can’t keep track of what’s on every formulary (insurance co drug list), so you have to.

…Go for 3-mo supplies. Even in $4 generics, this can cut costs. (This can be a bad idea if you are not sure the drug will work or agrees with you—you may end up with a lot.)

…Those free samples? When they dry up, you may fall over when you hear what the drug costs. Proceed accordingly.

…See if you can get a higher strength and cut the pills in half. This can backfire if the pills are capsules, time-release, or weird shapes. Use your noodle!

…Your pharmacist can be your pal—talk all this over with him or her. Docs never have time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ah, smells like Christmas

…Did you know your house has a signature smell? (No kitty litter jokes here, pls.)

…It’s Christmasy to get rid of that aroma.

…Samanatha Critchell, AP, says pine, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie, and gingerbread smell like the holidays.

…Fragrance is part of decorating. Of course, you can bake cookies—but why bother when there are candles and sprays?

…Try layering scents—it makes you aware of them longer. Use vanilla as a base, one guy says.

…Make those little clove and orange scent thingies—they keep emitting smells.

..Right before guests come, fire off three blasts from the room freshener can. Or you can boil apples on the stove, low heat.

…Scent is the closest sense to memory and emotion—stringing popcorn may associate that scent with the holidays, but younger people may just think, “Hey, time for a movie.”

…Scented items make good gifts if you stick with things you like and give them to people of a similar age.

…HA once gave scented drawer liners ( to someone. If that person had been a youngster, they would have said: “Dude, what’s the 411?” or something.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh, deer!

...Out here in Arizona, elks get hit by cars. But in most states, it’s deer.

…It’s not like whacking into a hapless possum—this is hundreds of pounds of dense flesh that can take out your vehicle—and you!

…According to a story by Kevin Aldridge in the Cincinnati Enquirer, in nine Ohio counties alone, more than 3,500 deer got hit last year.

…These encounters, if one can call them that, racked up $71 million in insurance claims in 1999.

…October, November, and December are the worst months—it’s mating season and deer and elk generally hold newfangled paraphernalia like roads in disdain and follow their ancestral pathways as if civilization had never arrived.

…Actually, according to this story, deer like this new deal called suburbia, feasting on gardens and fruit trees.

…Bull elk weigh 1,200 pounds. Out here, they are being collared with radio transmitters. Special crossing areas are also being prepared—corresponding to where they want to cross anyway.

…This also keeps various herds from staying on one side or another of a highway and inbreeding.

…When you are out at dusk, heads up. Drive at a reasonable speed. Use your high beams. When you see one deer, others may be following behind.

…They don’t care about your horn and will keep coming anyway.

…HA once did a story on this herself and some places put out lion poop from the zoo to spook the deer. This concept actually spooked HA. Other places built over- or underpasses.

…But the animals are coming through and it’s up to us to accommodate them. Animals are like that. Why do you think people call them “wild”?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Deadly white stuff

…Nah, not THAT.

…According to the govt (ours), 118,000 people were treated in 2007 for injuries sustained while shoveling anow.

…115,000 were hurt blowing snow around with snow blowers.

…Sprains, strains, amputations—all from winter precip.

…Shoveling snow means heavy lifting. Ask the doctor if it’s time to hang up the old shovel and find a teen.

…Dress appropriately—light layers. Mittens, gloves, warm socks.

…Make sure you can see—for blowing wear glasses or safety goggles.

…Warm up your muscles. Then take frequent breaks. You can get dehydrated even in winter.

…Don’t use a shovel that holds too much. Some are specially designed.

…Don’t throw snow to the side…walk where you want it. Lift with your legs.

…When using a snowblower…don’t stick hands or feet in there to clear it—wait until it melts a little.

…Shut it down if you walk away.

…Do not trip over the cord—it can get under snow.

…HA knows this is a toughie—read the manual. Yes, even guys.

…And you’re gonna want to keep up your hot cocoa levels afterward.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good-bye to $7.50 sodas

…Writing in the Arizona Republic (Dec 4, 2008), Dawn Gilbertson says the hotel minibar is going off the cliff.

…Is nothing sacred?

…Minibars are a siren call to kids (and some old kids, too) who want their own stash of salty and wet snacks, no matter what the cost. It’s like a fantasy fridge.

…Two-year-old Pringles. Who could resist?

…The Hyatt and Sheraton chains are taking minibars out—or not building them in.

…Sales have been lacking and the things cost a lot to restock (another industry bites the biggie). Water was the biggest seller by far.

…People have also noticed they can bring in their own snacks. Many hotels offer a plain old fridge—go shopping! Some guests even haul in a cooler presumably full of healthful fruit and veggies.

…Naturally, some hotels are going the other way, making minibars with more bells and whistles. Half of the finer hotels still have them.

…But some companies want them removed from the rooms so they don’t have to pay for those impulse items.

…The hotels swear they are putting their money into fitness centers. Hmmm. Not sure she is buying that one. At any price.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New inhalers scaring some people

…People get so cranky when someone messes with their air.

…At the end of this month, the inhalers many people need to breathe, exercise or just stay alive will go off the market. No more…

….They use a propellant deemed harmful to the environment so must go.

…The new inhalers put out the same medicine but with differences…

…This has not been widely publicized and the time to find out how to use the new method is not when gasping for breath!

…The new inhalers provide a softer spray, leading people to think they are not getting a sufficient jolt. They are also more expensive and need to be cleaned more frequently.

…It also tastes different.

…A generic version of the old inhaler was $22. The new one is $35 and is brand-name,meaning it could carry a higher copay.

…The new system harks back to a treaty about not harming the ozone layer. That’s good, but you also need to breathe the unharmed air.

…The manufacturers are offering some coupons—ask the doc.

…Also, controlling your asthma with exercise and preventive medicine can minimize use of the expensive canisters.

…Always something, isn’t it?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Donning of the green

…We don’t have money, right, so let’s at least have some weird-ass ideas. That’s HA’s motto, actually.

…Jami Lin of says lose the red and hit the green. Green is the color of love, she says. Wear it, decorate with it—and you will be peaceful and create patience in others.

…Lin says green, green, green—tablecloths, candles (green candles also attract money, HA must in all good conscience add). How about green cookies?

….Green gives nature a good name. Have you ever noticed that?

…Green food is good for you (veggies, not pistachio ice cream and absinthe).

…Give green wreaths as gifts (circles denote longevity).

…Here’s an idea—make your gifts if you are lacking in er…green.

…If you get green around the gills, use some red—it energizes.

..Orange inspires play (and is also the favored color of the insane, HA has heard and is fond of repeating).

…Yellow commands confidence. The other day, HA’s sister said, “I hate yellow.” She sounded pretty confident about it, though.

…Blue clears the mind.

…Violet creates inner peace (men tend to hate it, so no purple ties).

…HA once heard that diamond cutters keep an emerald next to their cutting station and when their eyes get tired from studying a diamond, they look at the emerald to clear their vision.

…She likes to repeat that, too, though she is not sure what it means.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Healthy gifts--like socks, you mean?

…Please don’t tell HA fun is being sucked out of Christmas any more than usual.

…She recently got a press release saying hey, forget the cologne and lingerie, give the gift of health.

….Well, go right ahead and buy your wife a new scale, your teen some acne cream, and your husband a universal gym for “that little pot” and see how happy they are.

…Oh, HA is just being her Grinchy self. If you want to drop your sparse bucks on health, go ahead. The Univ of Michigan has some suggestions--and who doesn’t ask them?

…Gifts that reduce stress and food intake might be just the ticket. Give olive oil and fancy vinegar (OK, not terrible), nuts, and healthy soup mixes. (HA is probably the only person on earth who needs a soup mix, but this doesn’t sound too bad—beats a year’s supply of tofu.)

…Comfy walking shoes, sweat wicking socks. Why, just saying “sweat wicking socks” is festive.

…A pedometer could be good.

…How about setting someone up at to get daily nag…HA means, reminders and tips..about walking? and have yearly memberships if you’re flush.

…A reader, Nancy Paull, suggests desktop yoga. It rings a little bell while you’re working—time to stretch. Check out:

…How about waterproof gloves for kids? Or snow boots. (Have these darn kids been at the console so long they don’t own boots? Maybe HA should quit mocking.)

…Dance, Dance Revolution and Apple Wii Fit are games that make kids jump around.

…Or give the kid the satisfaction of knowing you gave their gift to another kid—donate.

…HA donates—and so far, people have been pretty underwhelmed, which just makes her keep it up.

…But you know how she is.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Don't do what she's doing

…Julie Deardorff, Chicago Trib, quotes personal trainer and bodybuilding professional Kristal Richardson as saying there are five exercises women should not do. One of them is sit-ups!

…Women generally have looser joints and doing exercises incorrectly can lead to stiff joints or damage.

In doing a sit-up, you clasp hands behind your head with causes a bend in the spine and can lead to neck pain. In a sit-up you come to 90 degrees. In a crunch, you keep your lower back on the floor.

…Instead of sit-up, try a bicycle crunch. According to Richardson, you lie on your back, place your hands next to your ears, and start a pedaling motion with your legs, lifting the left should to the right, the right to the left, etc.

…Women also should not do squats with a weight bar. This bulks up the rear and thighs---ick. Instead try lunges.

…Behind the neck shoulder presses are also not advised (pix). The little muscle at the top of your shoulder can get inflamed and cause “weight lifter’s shoulder.” Instead try seated shoulder presses. Hold a pair of dumbbells overhead, arms straight, palms. Bend your right elbow and lower your arm until your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Don’t bring your arms down too low.

…Straight leg push ups are also bad for women. Instead do them on your knees like we used to do in PE.

…Women also should not do standing dead lifts. This also bulks up your bottom. Instead face a wall, stabilize yourself and kick back.

….Then take two Tylenol and don’t call HA.

…Kidding on the Tylenol.