Friday, May 31, 2013

Pets freak out from disasters, too

One of the most touching scenes in the OK tornado was a woman talking to a reporter about her dead dog, crying--then the pooch, hearing her, squirmed out from under the debris.

But animals can get very upset when they see chaos and humans upset. They like their world just so, as do humans. Take a dog in thunder. Not good.

Susan Nelson, DVM, a vet and clinical associate professor at Kansas State, says often humans have to go to shelters and pets cannot come with.

Sometimes, though, pets are housed close by. Go over, take the dog for a walk. Give the animal one of your t-shirts to wear so they can smell you.

I have also heard of people giving animals the homeopathic remedy called Rescue Remedy. A few drops in water.

Also, check the animal over--be sure it has no injuries. Animals have the instinct of covering up an injury. Be persistent.

Signs of stress include diarrhea, chewing, shaking, being easily spooked.

Be sure the dog is microchipped.

To help all animals, you could consider donating to the ASCPA or Red Cross.

I like to say animals are people, too--but actual people get really mad at me for this.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How can Superman shave?

I know I should post this to a BIG BANG THEORY fan site, but I don't know one.

So a PR rep from Gillette asked me the other day to ask you: If Clark Kent has a beard in the upcoming movie MAN OF STEEL, how can he shave it if Superman has whiskers of steel and is impervious to everything?

I say a Kryptonite razor--listening, Gillette?

But--in the spirit of fun, which I like, by the way--there is a website where Supie experts weigh in.

Go to

The experts there are Kevin Smith (thanks for CLERKS), Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from TV's MYTHBUSTERS, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Mayim Bialik (yes, from BIG BANG).

They made videos about Superman's facial adornment and you can vote on which is best.

I do know the beard has to go--Superman is no youngster anymore and those ratty beards look awful on middle-aged men. Ben Bernanke, call your service.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Candy is dandy...or at least OK

Finally, a completely believable, wonderful study.

In the April 30 issue of Nutrition Journal, they found that people who eat candy at least every other day are no more likely to be overweight or have increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease than moderate candy chompers (once a week) or less frequent indulgers (less than 3 times a month).

All adults--96%--report eating candy.

They poked and prodded these candy eaters, BMI, waist size, skinfold thickness. Frequency of consumption was not related to overweight. It also did not affect BP, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides or insulin resistance.

Of course--you saw this one coming, didn't you?--this does not mean you can move in with Willie Wonka. Moderation.

They are going to do more research into "the role candy plays in life."

That's a job--where do I sign?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Take a pill, take a pill!

There used to be a show on called FRIDAYS, and it had a mad pharmacist character on it--he would shriek and tear his hair--TAKE A PILL. TAKE A PILL!

It's great to be old and bore people with ancient references no one gets.

But reading a story by Timothy Hay (isn't that a real kind of hay?) in the WSJ, May 21, 2013, made me think of that guy. The article was about how health companies try to make you take your drugs.

After six months, half of all people start screwing up--not taking pills on time or not renewing 'scripts.

Then come the robo-calls (from my health company they concern drugs I was never given, which is reassuring).

Medicare does offer them money if they can make you take as directed.

And they will have fewer hospital visits to pay for, etc.

These companies often profile patients to see which ones are bad at compliance or are facing crappy side effects.

They offer gift cards for compliance.

The pill bottles also are being redesigned to sound alarms or glow if doses are missed.

Some tracking drugs also contain tiny sensors to transmit if they are taken.

One idea--from that famous "idea" joint IDEO--is for the bottle to start to rot like an overripe banana as it passes expiration with pills still inside.

Ew. Get away from me!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We all scream for ice cream

Actually only some people get brain freeze when eating of drinking something cold too quickly. There is a term for this (of course, there is) and it's sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winson-Salem, SC, prefer to think of it as the body's way of telling you to slow down.

Brain freeze is a rapid-onset headache that also goes away rapidly.  The mouth has many temperature receptors--and eating something cold fast does not give the mouth time to adjust and basically your body goes YOW!

The brain itself does not feel pain, but the receptors in the outer coverr called meninges do. When the cold hits, arteries dilate and contract and this comes off as pain.

What if you get brain freeze? Well, I will speak slowly--stop porking in the cold item, step away from the icy treat. Also press your tongue to the roof of your mouth to warm it or drink something tepid.

Notice I did not say no more ice cream, just no more eating ice cream like a piglet.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tricked-out water

I hate Gatorade! It tastes like lime sweat.

But we all know sodas are killah--even the artificially sweetened kind with the medicine aftertaste. So what to do...

Sarah Nassauer, WSJ, May 15, 2013, made the supreme sacrifice and glugged a whole bunch of alternates.

Yoda-like, she asks, "When is water actually soda?" She never answers that, but does point out that 20% of Americans don't like water. Soda also still whips bottled water in sales.

So now we have zero-cal water with flavors. Poland Spring has a fruit essence thing.

Sparkling Ice is made by Talking Rain Company Inc. "Not as boring as water, not as bad for you as soda" is their somewhat iffy tagline--some cals.

We also have liqud "water customizers," meaning flavorings. These use artificial sweetners. Easy, tasty.

I have tried Hint water--watery with a slight fruit overtone.

CitrusZinger is tricky--you put lemon or lime slices in the bottom and squoosh them into the water.

989OnDemand has Himalayan sea salt and minerals ion the top, which go into the water when you twist the cap.

And then, ta-da, we have water. Dasani is the #2 bev in the US. For bubbles, think S. Pellegrino.

[What happened to Perrier?]

Some people react well to carbonation--cooling the tongue, zippy. Others don't like it.

In related non-news, did you know only parts of the NY area and Wisconsin call a water fountain a bubbler?

I am feeling random today. I may be dehydrated.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The buzz on spraying for skeeters

We don't have much malaria in this country, but mosquitoes do carry West Nile and some other diseases you don't want to get.

If you have tried Citronella candles and traps and are still slapping, what about spraying your yard?

The WSJ took this up may 14, 2013.

First, not all mosquitoes die when you spray. Some resist the insecticide.

 The cost can range from $100 to at least a $1000 if there is a large area, woods, pond and other attrractors.

You need to spray monthly.

If the neighbors don't spray--well, theirs will come over to your joint.

If you have water around, even in a flower pot, they can spawn in there. Dump things out. If you have a fish pond, there are fish that can be put in to eat the larvae. We have goldfish in our pond that do the same.

Although commercial sprays are safe for use in a consumer situation, remove toys and pet bowls and keep children and animals in for two to four hours until the chemicals have dried.

Also--sprays can hurt bees and other pollinating insects...sorry, but it's true.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Twist--and scream

Zumba is still hot. But docs and trainers are seeing more related injuries. Ken Alltucker writes about unintended consequences in the AZ Republic, May 17, 2013.

The exercise craze ( combo of calisthenics and salsa--can be hard on the knees and other joints.

One gal who tore a knee cartilage said she felt like she needed to cut o ff her leg.

It's the side to side movement, experts say--and the fact that those over 50 often take it up.

Another drawback is badly trained or inexperienced instructors.

Also, rubber-soled shoes can anchor the body while the joint turns.

Listen to your body, the experts say. If you feel an ankle or knee twinge, back off.

Start slow. Avoid the deep knee bends or lunges at first.

Ask about instructor training.

Wear dance shoes or others that don't grip the floor.

What is the floor made of? Avoid concrete, tile, carpet.

This is a fun way to exercise--you want to keep smiling, not cry.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Here's the memo, cheers!

I once had to wait so long at the eye doctor's that I told the guy he needed to put in a bar.

According to a piece in the WSJ, May 14, 2013, the CEO (Chief Executive Optimist) of the Life is Good Co., a Boston apparel company, the firm is going to put a tavern in the office when they build their new headquarters.

Beer on tap, lounge seating, a big fireplace, and a bar. Also: a stage for live music.

It will be big enough for all 250 employees for company-wide meetings.

He says the company is not fancy--none of those stupid suits, for instance. You can even work in the bar if you want.

What if someone gets shellacked and tries to drive? Well, the CEO intones, that person is probably not going to work out with the company.

I dunno--do you want to go home sometimes, meet with outside friends... But I guess this is a pretty neat idea. The meetings should be way more fun.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Talking jammies

Smart PJ's are kids' pajamas that tell bedtime stories.

These were developed by an Idaho realtor with six kids, named Juan Murdoch. The garments are covered with patterns that can be scanned with an app and trigger the smartphone or tablet.

What the stories are is not made clear.

The idea is that bedtime becomes more intriguing.

How do I see this? (Someone spammed my site the other day saying I should never tell readers to decide for themselves.) Well, I think kids like a story read by an adult--and a snuggle. If the kid is tossed in bed with a scanner, well, it sort of lacks the personal touch, what?

But, of course, parents can join in the fun, too--watch the video.

Watch the video, scan the pajamas...where is all this going?

I can see a kid screaming, "I said the left sleeve!"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Some tiny things to help Mother Earth

No, I am not a Climate nut (although my sister is a Weather nut), but I guess I like nature well enough to want it around (well, water lilies, trees, and tigers, anyway).

Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson run Food Tank (http://foodtank. org).

They think single-crop farms are degrading the soil and creating bad food for people.

So they are all about (buzzword warning) sustainable agriculture.

Some tips:

Eat more colors. Colors denote nutritional richness.

Buy food with less packaging. Packages create one-third of the waste gumming up the world.

Choose seasonal produce.

Maybe go on a farm stay instead of a vacay. Check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.

Cook your own food. Cook in batches and freeze for later.

Be convivial (they are also for positive outlooks). I guess it's OK to laugh and stuff your face with sustainable veggies you cooked yourself. In fact, it sounds almost fun.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I saw this--on 2 BROKE GIRLS!

I laugh at that show despite my better judgment, the Ashton Kutcher TWO AND A HALF MEN, too.

Anyhow, on the show, "Caroline" gets a worrisome symptom downtown and is too embarrassed to show her roommate--so she takes a pix of it with her phone. Hilarity ensues.

Now, in real life, there is an app developed in Sweden for STD Awareness Month that allows the anonymous sending of a picture of one's "problem" to a physician. The doc responds within 24 hours.

Users are asked to provide written info on their medical history, but basically this is optional and the process is anonymous.

It's called STDtriage and can be downloaded free from the app store. The doc's advice is $40.

Check out

In the fictional show, even though Caroline was doing "the herp walk," it turned out to be an allergy to a body wash. The website says 70% of the ailments sent in are not STDs.

I wish I could use the picture they have, but I do have some decency, even though I laughed. I am really quite giddy.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Don't let the wheezies spoil spring fun

My sister is far from a kid, but she is snorting and choking all over the place. Spring pollen! I have been sneezing a few times a day and I don't even have allergies that I know of.

The trees and now the grass are attacking us! Fifty million people have allergies. That's tons of slime (sorry).

The Loyola Health system has some advice for parents of snuffly, miserable children.

But if kids run outside to play (finally!) and get itchy eyes, sneezes, runny nose, coughs, and asthma (tight chest--can't get a breath), allergies are interfering with life.

Parents should get going and check pollen counts. (Twitter@GottliebAllergy). On high days, keep the kids in.

On high count days, keep windows and doors closed to pollen doesn't settle inside. Use the air conditioner.

When kids do come inside, have them wash face and hands or even take a shower and change.

Be sure the child is not suffering from asthma--can't breathe, tightness in chest.

Try to get ahead of symptoms--ask about shots--or now, an oral allergy medicine.

Spring and summer are about fun--not sickness or even worse.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Can you outrun a lion in a wheelchair?

Extraordinary Journeys offers an 11-day Botswana safari available even to those with physical limitations.

In cooperation with Endeavor Safaris and Desert & Delta Safaris, this adventure starts at $6,360 a person, quadruple occupancy (a tent?). Airfare is not included.

The vehicles are handicapable and the trip is wheelchair friendly.

You will go on game drives in several parks straight out of National Geographic and the Animal Channel.

The accomodations are lush, the service attentive. There is even a boat excursion.

Check it out at

I was joking (I think) about the lion checking out your wheelchair. I am sure some studly type with a big gun will be going along.

Pix: Courtesy of Extraordinary Journeys.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Feet, feet, glorious feet

You should see me try to walk with this arthur-itis--Frankenstein. But at least my feet don't hurt.

But plenty of people's feet do hurt by day's end. That is a lot of weight on a little surface area over a lot of time.

Moving your ankles up and down can help recirculate blood. 

Even sitting can hurt feet--a burst of activity followed by sitting can get your calves to tighten up, which in turn can cause heel pain (plantar's fascitis).


Elevating your feet or rubbing them can help. A basic runner's stretch, hands against wall, a couple of times a day can also help.

Some people think Epsom salts in a soak eases pain--but researchers are not sure why.

Heels cups in your shoes can help plantar's fascitis.

High heels can force weight onto the ball of the foot--try going up half a size with a pad under the ball--and doing the runner's stretch.

Feet tend to get bigger over time. See if you still wear the same size you think you do.

If foot pain is not better after a night's sleep or persists over time, you might want to have a doctor check for tendon damage or bunions.

Weight loss is also recommended--isn't it always?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Lash yourself to the mast--health care going into play

A sixth of the US economy is about to plunge into some weird freefall. And if you are sick or even if you aren't, it will be hard to figure out.

One thing is for sure--despite the blatting of the politicians, you may not have the insurance situation you have today, now, this minute.

You will also be paying more. And have to know more and make more decisions for yourself. And even try to stay healthier to get out of the system.


It won't be fun--and probably those famous "uninsured" will not make out the way they thought. Those people are almost an afterthought now, as companies try to find ways to get out of the law or turn their employees over to the tender mercies of the state.

Rick Homans, president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Development Corporation and Dr Stephen Klasko, CEO of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine at the Univ of S Florida, wrote about this for the Tampa Bay Times.

Health care, the two say, is not so much a new industry now as a disrupted and transformed one. And the changes are racing along

One change will be from fee-for-service to fee-for-results.

Emphasis, they say, will be on quality and safety, personalized medicine (matching to each person's genetics), electronic records (not really transformed into anything yet), medical devices (nanotechnology, minimal invasion surgery), and iPadization (online ed, online medical advice).

The robot will see you now. Be brave.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Why are some kids so STUPID?

There is a new designer drug out here in AZ called N-Bomb. It is supposedly a version of mescaline or LSD--except it sends some idiots into a coma and then to heaven.

Or as one cop put it--they become deceased.

See, they think it's LSD and pop it right in, in this case, via nose drops.

One guy thought his friend who took it was tired and drove him around to get fresh air. He was actually dead for several hours in the car before the idea of the hospital arose.

In another case, the docs spent five days bringing some kid out of a coma to see him lapse back into seizures. He lived, but is a wreck.

WITH ANY SYNTHETIC DRUG, YOU CANNOT TELL WHAT IS IN IT! No trials, no tests, just stupid volunteers who decide what the heck.

This stuff is cooked up by amateur chemists trying to get around the laws on various substances. Think BREAKING BAD only with stupider people.

This N-bomb stuff is actually more like meth than LSD--only lasts longer, is worse (fever) and has longer seizures, ending in know.

Or you should know!

The docs and cops are trying to stay ahead of this stuff--they certainly can't count on the commonsense of the average teen.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Is it worth it just to sleep?

All my life, I have been a light, erratic sleeper. Now, I have an aging mutt who gets up for a pit stop and stares at me until I wake up--several times a night. He used to bang on the metal closet doors until I removed them.

So, nights over here are pretty much a circus.

But remember, Michael Jackson having some quack anesthetize him--to death?

Now, other people take Ambien and other drugs with zolpidem. These include Ambien CR, Edular, and Zolpimist.

Since 2005, ER visits because of these have more than doubled. Three quarters of these are people over 45. More women than men have bad side effects.

So the FDA recommends halving the dose for women--and also lowering it for men.

This stuff can also interact with painkillers and other meds. Powerful! In 37% of cases that make it to the ER, other drugs are involved.

There is a program now called "Not Worth the Risk--Even If It's Legal." This refers to many prescription drugs.

Oh, and on Ambien and the others, these can make you do nutty things--such as going out for Italian in the middle of the night and having no clue the next morning.

I have considered a doggy sleeping pill--do they have those?

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Seasonal reminder: Drown-proof everyone

Am I getting bossy? Give the dog water, don't feed bears...and now, please don't let anyone die in your swimming pool? I probably am--I can be a noodge.

Our here in Arizona, according to the public education officer of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona, we lose a classroom full of kids a year to the blue lagoons.

First, NO MORE FLOATIES! These stupid noodles are toys, not floatation devices.

If the kid needs a floatie, put on a life jacket instead. Swimming in a lake or river--life jacket!!

Pools are not the only danger--what about canals. These can have weird currents.

Little tots can also fall into toilets or buckets of water.

Never leave kids in the tub watched by other kids.

And--did you know twice as many adults as kids drown each year? Never swim alone, and don't swim after taking drugs or drinking (including prescriptions).

Swimming after a meal is OK--but it's about the only thing people don't do and they could if they wanted.

Let's not have the worst summer ever. What do you say?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Hot dogs are for eating, not walking

In USA TODAY WEEKEND, Apr 26-28, 2013, some tips for keeping your pooch alive this summer.

First, don't leave darker colored dogs in direct sun--they suck up heat.

If the dog is outside, provide shade and water (duh). Maybe even a kiddie pool.

Walk the dog in cooler hours like early morning.

Don't leave the dog in the car--a 70-degree day can make the car 110 in 15 mins.

If the dog is not used to exercise, don't plan a 10-mile hike on the weekend.

Flat-nosed breeds like English bulldogs have trouble panting. Be especially careful of these.

If your pet does get overheated, slobbering and panting excessively, wet the animal down--be sure the water is not running hot out of the hose.

Never apply ice--it's a step too far.