Friday, February 26, 2010

You flunk fridge!

Don’t you know how hard the refrigerator people are working to help you? They invented a shelf with so many indentations it can soak up a can of soda or at least keep it from sloshing over the side.

Anali Athavaley wrote about this in the Feb 24, 2010, WSJ.

We are bad at cleaning the fridge out, let’s face it. The average person does it once a year. I can’t even remember when, though I did wash all those weird-shaped dividers and stuff at least once. You can put them in the dishwasher.

One approach has been to put in more lights—as many as 10. I guess if you can see the mess better, you will get going.

First to save money and keep from eating spoiled food, you should organize how to jam things in.

Don’t put meat and soda into crispers! Are you nuts? Wrong temp!

Don’t put milk in the door shelves. Ditto. Too warm.

No one “gets” that cheese cubby. We put the butter in and close the trap door.

Sub-Zero created a video explaining all this.

Do not pack everything in tightly—air needs to circulate.

Clean one shelf at a time so you don’t burn out.

Be esp careful of raw meat goo—can be toxic.

Some manufacturers are putting in positive and negative ion doohickeys to kill bacteria. I am not sure I want some big war going on in there.

I do see through the empty bins that there is some…substance…on the bottom. Oh, why did I ever read this? By the way, if the door is the hottest part—why do my eggs freeze in there and no place else?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ouch--shoulder injuries hurt

While shoulders can go out of joint and have to be wrenched back in, they can also be “thrown out”—injured by too much ball throwing.

In baseball, especially, it’s easy to let youthful exuberance trump training and common sense.

You are not made if iron—even if you take part in Iron Men contests.

The shoulder has 1000 positions. Throwing a ball takes a lot of twisting force, which can tear the four muscles that form the rotator cuff. More than half of all professional and amateur pitchers sustain some sort of shoulder problem each year.

To prepared. Kevin D. Plancher, a sports med guy and associate clin prof of orthopaedics at Albert Einstein College of Med in NY, says to do some weight training to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the shoulder. Don’t use too much weight. Use the downward dumbbell raise or lateral fly and use an incline press, not a military press. Pros do this 3-4 times a week. Allow the body to rebuild in between.

The rotator cuff muscles are weak and small and get tired quickly.

Warm up first with some aerobic activity. Forward and backward arm circles and arm pumps are good.

Don’t overdo—don’t moonlight and pitch in several leagues.

When something hurts, don’t play through the pain. If a pain fails to improve within 24 hours, you hear a popping sound or you experience weakness, swelling, or fever—consult a doctor.

Most rotator injuries go away within 3-4 weeks with RICE. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

If your shoulder should actually dislocate—the horrible pain and weird dented appearance will clue you in. This happened to my mother—awful. It’s ER time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Those supplements can affect your heart

Herbs and supplements are drugs as much as a prescription drug. In fact, some drug companies go to the jungles of the world looking for substances that are then so strong they are available only through a doctor.

Go check on PubMed and you will see that herbal supplements such as Gingko biloba and even garlic can interact with blood pressure, anti-clotting, and cholesterol meds.

If you take the anti-coagulant coumadin (warfarin), avoid alfalfa, angelica (dong quai), bilberry, fenugreek, ginger, and khelia, as well as ginkgo and garlic, or you may be a little too bleedy. Capsicum, ginseng, licorice and St John’s wort can increase BP.

Also watch the grapefruit juice if you take a lot of meds. It can inhibit an enzyme that helps break down drugs, letting the medicine get to toxic levels. The juice can also increase cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure lowering drugs (calcium channel blockers, anyway) and a transplant drug called cyclosporine.

The general take-home here: Herbals actually do something to you, pro and con. Be smart.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Natural cleaners--important to you?

I am not a screaming greenie. I don’t even recycle—I heard it costs the city more to separate it and they were mean to me a decade ago, putting bossy little scoldies on my recycling bin—don’t put in this, don’t give us that, oh sit on a tack!

But I can see that cleaning products could be caustic or have bad chemicals in them. When I first heard that soap was fat and lye, I was horrified. Do they use lye anymore? Don’t know.

Anyway, so many companies started saying their products were “natural,” that the Natural Products Association had to take a look and certify only certain ones.

Natural means derived from renewable resources—plants or animals. We can’t renew the dinosaurs to get more oil.

Natural and organic are different, get that straight right away.

To get the seal of approval, 95% of the ingredients in a home care product must be derived from natural sources. Non-natural ingredients can only be used when natural ones are not available.

This is already the standard for personal care stuff like lip balms. That seal is pictured.

Of course, the Sierra Club says this is meaningless. Always something, isn’t it?

Seventy-three percent of Americans polled said they would rather buy a product certified as “natural.”

Unnatural gets a bad rap, doesn’t it—mutant, wrong, perverted, even evil.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Can't afford your meds?

I don’t want anyone off his or her meds!

Most people who know me know I am not big on taking a bunch of stuff, but if you need to, you need to.

Wal-Mart has helped a lot with its $4 formulary—and other places have followed suit. So that is good.

You can also check the websites of the individual medicines for coupons. I do this for my dry eye goop.

Ask at your local grocery store pharmacy--ask is this the cheapest I can get? My store had a program people had to ASK for, they could not tell us. Much cheaper!

A website called may also be able to help. Someone who tried to sign up told me a screen came up about its Security Certificate—if you get that, email them.

This nonprofit also advocates what it calls Health Plan-Owned Life Insurance. A person’s death benefits would be used to offset what the insurance company paid out—thus lowering premiums.

I would have to think about that one. One company pays another when you die?

Back to the meds—the next time you go to the doctor, see if you are taking anything you no longer need to take.

Also ask if an older, cheaper drug off patent might not be just as good.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Healthy dinner a goal

My Dad worked hard and only ate with the rest of us two nights a week. Thurs and Sunday. I remember dreading those meals—it was when all our wrong doing would be hauled out and discussed. Ick!

We are still not talking Norman Rockwell at my house (he turned out to be an exacting dad, too, I heard). Now, my kid and I are on different schedules—I know this sounds weird, but I eat dinner at about 2 PM. She eats at 10 PM.

Still, Karina Bland (AZ Republic, Nov 5, 2009, says of all the things families can do to stay close and prevent drug use and so on, eating a family dinner is the easiest and best.

Studies show that eating dinner together as a family is linked to less drug use, including alcohol abuse. Eating disorders are less common in families that eat dinner.

Yet—the family dinner is vanishing, and along with it, the bonding conversations and the common ground—everyone knowing what is going on.

Of course, this presupposes Mom and Dad can get home from work at a reasonable hour, or if laid off, are in a decent humor to chitchat over the day’s events.

Ironically, in these crazy times, dinner is more of an oasis than ever. Whose turn is it to set the table?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Worrying can be fatal

If you worry all the time, it keeps sending cortisol into your bloodstream and screwing up your organs. It’s called stress.

So if you are unemployed, or someone is sick, or you are freaking out, concentrate on your breathing for 5 minutes three times a day. Take full breaths—imagine your lungs filling from the bottom (your stomach should pooch out, not suck in).

Step using credit cards if you can. (This is always so hard to do.)

Cut the restaurants. Even fast food is over $20 for a family. It’s usually cold anyhow.

Check out all those coupons you used to toss.

Stop waste—set the thermostat higher.

Try to keep your paws off your 401(k).

If someone owes you money—now’s the time. If they are short, ask if they can make

But above all, don’t just fester every minute. Read the kids a story or even write them one on the computer, take a walk, try out a new cheapster recipe, If you can concentrate, this might even be a good time to improve your sex life.

Worry 15 minutes a day. If panic starts to slip in, say “Detach, detach” and turn to some distraction.

No—not vodka.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chronic illness and this economic mess

Candace Choi, Associated Press, says esp in a recession, absences and taking lots of sick leave can hurt.

But if you have a chronic illness, soldiering on in fear can tip your health over. Talk to your boss. Explain what you need. How many days will you have to come in late or leave early, say for chemo?

Know your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act—

If you have used your sick leave, you may get disability days...maybe at reduced pay. A week to five months is considered short-term disability and usually insurance will be continued.

Under long-term disability, 60% of pay seems to be the norm. You can get laid off during long-term disability, though—your job is not guaranteed. ‘

After 12 months on the job, you qualify for 12 weeks of family leave a year, This is unpaid, but health insurance is continued.

Or you can try for the Big Kahuna—Social Security disability, which is about $1100 a month and takes years and probably an attorney to get.

Still, you have to step up and see what you can do.

This economy does not seem to be in the Recovery Room.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Good fun, good exercise, thanks, Fred

Fred Morrison died at age 90. He invented the flying disk, which he at first called The Whirloway, then The Pluto Platter. (See why companies need product namers, like moi?)

He sold the idea to Wham-O Manufacturing in 1957. They dubbed it the Frisbee, and the toy started on its way to becoming a legend, creating healthy exercise, laughter, and skinnier dogs all along the way.

Richard Burton was a fan, Julie Christie, too. Frisbee Golf arose (we have a course about 3 blocks from here—the disks go into baskets).

Morrison used to sail cake pans on the beach in California. Then he left fo Europe—World War ii, you know. He was, of course, a pilot in the Army Air Corps.

He even wrote his memoirs—Flat Flip Flies Straight—which is also how to throw the thing.

He took the disks to fairs—everyone was amazed.

Then he sold to Wham-O. He said he thought the name was stupid. He also invented a battery-powered tomahawk, which not surprisingly, never took off.

Hats off to you, Mr Morrison. Many hours of pleasure.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Healthy foods no different than crud?

Melinda Beck, who writes the Health Journal in the WSJ, says food manufacturers may be woofing us on what is really healthy—this at a time where people need to withstand stress and still not spend a lot.

The average American, she writes, eats 90 lbs of chicken a year, but a third of that is really pumped with salt water.

If you are trying to cut salt, don’t go to a salt “substitute” without asking the doc—many contain another electrolyte that makes your heart beat—namely, potassium. You want sodium and potassium in balance to stay alive.

If you chew gum, you may save 10 cals on nonsugar gum, but sorbital may give you the runs.

Even products labeled No Trans Fat (ooo, arteries hate this stuff) may contain some—manufacturers can “round down.”

Wheat bread may look wheaty (brown coloring) but if it says “enriched wheat flour,” it ain’t.

Added fiber in those powders may help lower cholesterol and all those other good things—theoretically—but fiber from foods is better.

Yogurt…yipes. Those cultures are supposed to be active—meaning fight diarrhea.

Those "super waters" aren’t swift. Most Americans don’t need the vitamins they contain.

Forget Omega 3 fortification—eat some fish a few times a week.

Guilty--I take a krill oil cap.

Do judge a food by its cover—and by your BS detector.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

You can can!

Ana Campoy, WSJ, Oct 15, 2009, talks about “putting food up” and I was transported into the kitchens of my past, with steaming vats of fruit and sweating grandmas.

Canning food has been going on since Napoleon, when his cooks wanted to tote along provisions.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation—our govt, can’t you tell from the name—is online helping people can.

There was a Canning Across American can-off last summer. And sales of those jars and rubber lids you use are up 30%.

It’s more the health movement than the recession that’s behind this. No preservatives—basically sterilize the food and seal it so no organisms can get in.

You have to be very careful about botulism. You prevent this by heating food to a very high temp in a pressure cooker.

Go to -- and heed! You want to have fun, get some healthy food, and especially—you do not want to die from a pickle.

That would be a sour experience.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Health careers--people will always get sick

Erin Zlonek, Arizona Republic (Feb 7, 2010), reminds us that decrepit and ailing bods will always need some tuning up and looking after.

Growth career fields include…

Dental hygienist and assistant. Half of all hygienists earn between $55,000 and $79,000. Not bad. Usually only a two-yr program is required. Assistants—the ones who sterilize and lay out the sharp little tools (ick) and update records (and joke with the dentist) earn from $26,000 to $38,000.

Medical assistants earn between $23,000 and $33,000. Ten percent make over $40,000. They keep all records, room patients, and deal with insurance. A course can be completed in a year.

Occupational therapy assistants and aides provide rehab services and emotional support to people with disabilities. Half of these make between $39,000 and $57,000.

Physical therapy assistants concentrate less on the life skills and more on therapy such as electrical stimulation of muscles, ultrasound, gait adjustment, and balance. Half of these made mid-30s to high 50-s.

Pharmacy techs. These help licensed pharmacists deal with customers, store and keep track of medicine, and sometimes, count, lick and stick. Figure on $10-$15 an hour.

If you have a strong stomach, can deal with people on their worst day, and like to feel you are really helping and making a difference, get into health care. It’s kind of a calling, not just a job.

Coffee, the original health bev

Melinda Beck, WSJ, Dec 29, 2009) says java is good for you—or most of us.

Of course, no self-respecting health writer would just say something seems to be OK, so here is how it breaks down.

2-4 cups a day, 35% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

At least 6 cups—60% less chance of prostate cancer than those who drink zero cups.

Lower risk of getting colon, mouth, throat, esophageal, and endometrial cancer.

Same for gallstones, cirrhosis, Parkinson’s, and The Alz.

Someone even looked an 100,000 people 20 years concluded the more coffee they drank, the less likely they were to die during that 20 yrs.

Prevents death!

Man, this stuff is the libation of the gods.

Wellll….Here comes Melinda again. It can raise BP, and homocysteine, an amino acid in blood that can raise risk of stroke. Pregnant women who drink 2 cups a day had skinnier babies and more chance of miscarriage.

If also could be bad for older women losing bone.

And of course, people can’t remember how much they drank for these studies—and what does “cup” mean…how many ounces?

Coffee drinkers may also have good jobs and access to health care—they say. I think that one is a stretch in trying to diss these positives.

So…have a cup if you want. Even these scientists said they drink it. And decaf? Can raise LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. Decaf is an abomination anyhow.

Friday, February 05, 2010

That healthy glow

Comedian Jon Stewart was on The O'Reilly Factor and looked pouchy and tired as if he had been hanging drywall all day, instead of turning out witty putdowns. Bill later said Stewart had refused makeup. I am not recommending that men do the Adam Lambert, but for women, makeup can add some zest.

You don't have to spend a lot, either.

First, according to Good Housekeeping, March 2010, forget the dept stores for makeup and cosmetics. Costco, Wal-Mart, the grocery store can meet most of your needs.

Remember what my ex- used to say? He worked in a factory that turned out creams and potions and said some days, the Estee label went on, sometimes Sally Hansen. Basically, the same stuff.

Target is OK price-wise if they are running a two-for-one sale.

Sign up for in-store cards and frequent buyer programs. Of course, the store can zero in on you and your preferences, but sometimes they zero in with bargains. It’s a trade-off.

Some dept store makeup is sorta price-fixed. Try finding a Clinique product, even online, for less.

Speaking of online—eBay is a great place to cruise for makeup.

Or you can find an online bargain—and then pick it up at Nordies or someplace…save on shipping.

Wal-Mart is even online—beauty items ship for 97 cents.

My best tip: Lipstick as blush. Blend well…and spend well.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Older employees--nix the plastic surgery

A 2006 Medtlife survey showed that employees between 55 and 59 blamed age bias in 40% of cases when they didn’t get a job.

Apparently the younguns in HR (see, we use the word youngun) don’t want to hire Mom or Dad.

Of course, the plastic surgeons have great answers for this—lasers, peels, scrapes, tucks, and other spendy solutions.

One job hunter said she was not “shooting for beauty,” but instead a healthier appearance.

Good—they probably don’t want beauty, either. You know how tiresome that is… "Don’t hate me”…etc.

How about getting some sleep, some makeup, a shower, a smile, and don't overdo the cologne—and a great resume and lifelong skills? Just do it—and sell it, babies!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Getting tough on the shorties

Vanessa Fuhrmans, WSJ, June 17, 2009, writes that more docs are not taking Medicaid, lines are gettng longer, states are cutting back—and the kids are getting the worst of it.

Doctors lose money on each Medicaid patient they see.

Kids with long-term disabilities are also losing big.

Hospitals that treat children are cutting work hours for staff—meaning longer wait times for care.

One doc only takes kids born with a defect that needs fixing fast or with other conditions with a small window for the care.

The Shriners may also be closing some of their children’s hospitals.

If we can build all these stupid culverts, save minnows, and build new golf courses and bridges to podunk, why can’t we keep burn units in service. These are little kids!

'Zup in cheap exercise?

The American Council on Exercise comes out with its trends every year, so here goes.

Basically, they say, people are busy and broke.

Cheaper health clubs will gain members.

Group training will be the rage. Zumba—a Latin-type dance workout will be popular.

Workouts will be short and intense—Boot Camps and the like.

Exergaming will be in (video games with movement) and will be offered at health clubs.

The Boomers will get their own routines.

Companies and friends will be emphasizing wellness more.

You may even get a program through your phone or be nagged by a gadget called a Fitbit.

What the patoot is that? Gizmo that you wear all day and night and it tracks your movements and sleep and everything. Then gives you a report.

Nah, not for me. I wonder if it can “see” eyerolls.