Friday, February 13, 2009

Tracking grandma

…HA’s mother can’t remember a lick, but is fully mobile. At one facility, she did get out a locked front door. Should we LoJack her?

…Writing in the WSJ, Feb 10, 2009, Philip Shishkin talks about “search-and-rescue” technology.

…Seriously, LoJack has come up with a radio-based locator for people.

…Some 18,000 people are using a wristband system by a competitor.

…That leaves 5.2 million people with Alzheimer’s and a raft of autistic kids as a possible market.

…The newspapers do occasionally run a story of a kid or old person lost or dying of the cold.

…One sheriff in Illinois even raised money over 5 years to get the equipment for 11 people in his community.

…He says he did it to save time—each search took 10-12 hours.

…Each company says its product is better—no interference from wild animals also wearing a device, one bragged. No interference from TV channels, said another.

…Wild animals near a runaway old person? Hmmmm, this might be worth a gander.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Do you feel lucky? Here comes stevia

…Have you seen the commercial—sprinkle your coffee with something other than guilt?

…The guilt would come from that sugar thing—you know, sugar, ruins your immune system, causes or makes diabetes worse, makes you fat, won’t take out the trash—you know sugar??! The BAD thing.

…Meredith Cohn, Baltimore Sun, Feb 9, 2009, writes about the newest sugar substitute on the block-stevia, marketed as Truvia. It was approved by the FDA in December.

…Stevia comes from a South American plant and has been eaten for decades in Japan, among other places.

…Still, the FDA banned it because they weren’t sure it was safe.

…Then Cargill convinced the feds that they had new tests.

…Just because it’s from a plant doesn’t make it safe—so is belladonna, hemlock, and other poisons.

…Some substitutes, scientists point out, are sweeter, meaning people use less, making them “safer.”

…Like everything else, moderation is key. Would you scarf up some jungle plant like mad?

…HA might eat sugar cane, though—and she uses sugar. Honey is also delish and has been around awhile.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


…There is never a shortage of sucky stuff you can get, is there? The human body in its infinite variations.

…Maye Clinic Women’s Health Source says 10-15% of adults have prolonged ringing, whistling, hissing or whooshing sounds in their ears.

…This is tinnitus. It’s related to age-related hearing loss. Loud noises (remember, sitting by all those speakers?) can also cause it. Earwax can also build up and cause it.

…It’s persistent and hard to treat. But not serious.

…Recently, the New York Times Well Blog did a thread on it—people wrote they had been living with it for decades, in some instances.

…Wearing a hearing aid can help. The brain will process external sounds first.

…Wearing earplugs when operating noisy machines.

…Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and decongestants.

…Turn on a fan or other background noise.

…Use behavioral relaxation techniques to cut stress.

..And, of course, some docs recommend sedatives or antidepressants if the noises are keeping you up.

…HA gets this every so often, like a pause in sounds, then a high-pitched tone for several seconds.

…In her case—no pill.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What if your doctor...

…What if your doctor knew who you were, knew the specialists he or she referred you to, asked what the specialists said or coordinated care with them after you went---HA knows this sounds wildly unlikely to many readers (including her), but what if…

…UnitedHealth Group tried to test such a model in Florida—where your primary doctor was your medical home base—but the doctors said no. They hated United, so no go.

…Now, according to the NYT, in a story by Reed Abelson (Feb 7, 2009), IBM is pushing a new test in Arizona.

…Doctors will get more authority and more money for doing things with no codes, such as following patients who go to specialists, have chronic conditions, or even go to the hospital.

…The idea seems to be that by taking care of the person, extra services can be avoided.

…IBM was not happy with the care their employees were getting—care which went up in price every year.

…The idea is to reward effective care, not just the procedures done.

…Besides the usual payments docs will get a yearly management fee. Details are secret, but this could up the take in a practice by 30%.

…Of course, there are bugs in it—to be worked out by project’s end in 2011. No---not that kind of bugs. Those are the ones they are trying to prevent or cure.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Are you up for ED?

…First, in the interests of full disclosure, HA knew a guy who had a penile implant, though she herself never saw it or could judge its…functionality. He said the surgery hurt a LOT.

…Since Bob Dole started in about erectile dysfunction, men are more open about it.

…More open? Heck, they take baths outside (what is UP with that?) and sing about their virility.

…35 million men take the little blue pill—and others of other hues.

…And they also submit to that surgery, whether they have a wife or girlfriend or not—perhaps hoping to land one.

…Perhaps there is something short of surgery that would help.

…First, stop smoking, the docs say. Diabetes and high BP are the worst for slowing blood flow to the hydraulics, but smoking can also cause unexpected problems. Once you quit, though, don’t break out the bubbly and incense right away—it takes up to two years for things to normalize.

…Keep cholesterol under control—over 240 and you have twice as much chance of an embarrassing moment.

…Fat tissue converts the male hormone testosterone to estrogen—meaning lose weight.

…According to some sources, namely PETA, eating meat can cut performance. Evidence is skimpy.

…If all this fails, maybe porn…

…Joking…joking. Of course, a close, intimate relationship with everything out in the open feelings-wise and much discussion thereof, is preferable.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Home can be terrible place to keep your teen

…Everyone knows teenage brains are only half formed (everyone with a teen, that is). Teens also are contagious—they transmit insanity.

…A recent study at the Univ of Alabama Birmingham looked at the homes of 42 teens.

…29% of those cozy abodes had firearms. 18% of those were loaded.

…31% had alcohol that wasn’t locked up.

…21% had exposed electrical cords (uh., what? Who doesn’t?)

…6% had fireworks.

…Teens often drive recklessly. They try anything they can smoke or swallow.

…More than 30% of teen fatal injuries occur at home!

…And—HA might add—if they make it through the teen years, they may or may not leave—and either way, they cost money and heartache. You’re lucky if it’s just money.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Job hunting depression-style

…Nick Wingfield and Pui-Wing Tam, writing in the WSJ, Feb 3, 2009, say being unemployed in the electronic age is different than in past depr…uh, recessions.

…The great dispossessed sit around in their jammies and play internet games instead of going to the movies as people did in simpler downturns.

…”It’s not soap operas and chocolate,” said one. It’s cheaper.

…Social anesthesia. Escape for those “steeped in anxiety.”

…Online gambling and games—up, up, up.

…Gossip Perez Hilton is swamped with hits. Escape, escape!

…Social sites are also enjoying a lot of traffic.

…People twitter their tiny little elevator pitches.

…People also do blogs about being unemployed—and of course, people who might hire them can read those. Capitalize that MIGHT.

…As a freelancer, HA looks for a job every day of her life. Take it from her—you can’t just post your res on Monster and wait for the offers to cascade in.

…Put a little hustle in it.

…But just in case, keep up your health, say with a certain site.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Good for you and not yucky, too

…When you think of a heart diet, do you think of low-salt, bland? HA is such a goober, she does.

…February is you-know-what month (HA hates those month things). has ponied up 130,000 recipes that are good for your ticker. Or at least won’t swath it in yellow globules and stuff up the pipes.

…Go to the site and enter “heart healthy.”

…You can even sign up for a free e-newsletter to vary your diet.

…If you just like to cook in general (and HA has heard about this), you can search FoodieView by ingredient, type of cuisine, diet program, and tons of other variables. Recipes are ranked by user popularity, too.

…The site also has a huge restaurant guide, which polls food critics and normal people, too.

…It’s all about food, after all. HA means life…not just this site.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Help! Emergency? Now what?

…Our government, in all its brilliance, wants us to get “Ready.” That is the name of a new program…well, new-old, HA has written about having an emergency plan before.

…You are urged to get a kit, make a plan, and be informed.

…Go to

…For instance, in the case of an emergency (earthquake, pandemic, attack and so on), who picks up the kids? Is your kids’ school prepared?

…This site also tells you which disasters are most likely to hit which parts of the country. What if you are in a high rise? A car?

…Several people have died of bird flu around the world lately. That is still around.

…Anything can happen.

…The cave-in of the economy was hardly predicted. No plan for that on this site, though.

...We can't even run for the exits.

...HA is chipper today, isn't she? Still, she believes in believing in the worst.

Monday, February 02, 2009

You look mah-velous

….SpaFinder is riffing about the coming beauty hits.

…We will be broke so we will buy things that serve more than one purpose. Cleanser/toner/scrub mask in one, that sort of thing. (HA uses Maybelline—
blipstick instead of blush--blends in well.)

….Paradoxically, more hotshot facialists will be branding products. Recession, what recession?

…Products will be infused with gold, silver, platinum and gems. The healing energy and all that. (HA is smiling.)

…Antioxidants will be crammed into everything to foil those bad old free radicals.

…Sunscreen is in a cat fight and new studies may emerge. Is it bad for you? Sssssh, stay tuned.

…Laurel sulfate, some goo that makes shampoos suds up, is getting the hairy eyeball, so sudsless shamps may be coming.

…The green stuff, so-called organic products, will also be debated. What’s up with that?

…Hammans are in. This is a Moorish-Mediterranean steam bath…complete with argan oil, myrrh, and black soap. Maybe in YOUR neighborhood.

…Science—meaning studies—will rule when it comes to new products, such as Latisse, approved by the FDA for eyelash growing and a botox competitor called Reloxin.

…And, as ever (from HA, not SpaFinder), hope will trump reality. But it has ever been thus.