Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Balls, balls and... balls.

I was browsing Amazon one day and I noticed a product that I was sure had gone the way of the dinosaurs:  Laundry Balls!

Several years ago these were all the rage!  The manufacturers told us we could wash our laundry without using detergent! Just pop your laundry ball (example in the picture) into the washer with the clothing! We could save money! We could save the planet!  We could.... smell badly.  Yeah...  Turns out they don't work.  Sure, sometimes we don't need detergent and swishing around our laundry in water will remove light dirt but if we are dealing with sweat and stains, we need a decent detergent to help out.

I also noticed a different product on Amazon:  Dryer Balls!

For a low, low price, you can purchase plastic balls to put in your dryer (see picture to the right) in place of fabric softener sheets.  They promise to dry your clothing faster and soften without adding chemicals and it's possible they might do those things. Some of them claim to reduce static cling and well...  they won't reduce static cling - one of the major reasons I use dryer sheets in the first place - or provide a clean scent.  So, yeah. You can buy these or you can use tennis balls or clean sneakers for the same benefit. There are also "natural" dryer balls made of wool available.

Since we're on the subject of balls, I wonder if anyone has ever seen a sight like our final picture traveling down the highway.  Yes, you can actually purchase a pair of balls to hang from your vehicle!

They're reportedly easy to install and great fun!  Just watch your rear view mirror at stoplights!

Seriously, people?!?

Well, I know someone is laughing and it's the person who came up with this idea and is selling them for $18 to $25 a pop!  I'm just upset that I'm not that person. Nuts!

Laundry ball image found here
Dryer balls image found here
Truck balls nuts image found here

Monday, May 27, 2013

5 Facts about Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day in the United States.  It is the day we set aside to remember those who died in service to our country.  We decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers, hold parades and remembrance services.

Memorial Day has become the official start of the summer holiday season here in the US.  It is also a popular day for cookouts and gatherings of friends and family members.

Here are some interesting facts about the holiday.  How many of these are you aware of?

1. Memorial Day was once known as Decoration day!  It was a day set aside to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.  It didn't officially become "Memorial Day" until 1967 - though people called it that before it became official.

2. Memorial Day was started as a response to the Civil War.  War widows decorated the graves of their loved ones who died in the war.  This spread throughout the northern states and eventually to the southern states.  We now remember those who fought for the US in all wars on Memorial day.

3. On Memorial Day, it is customary to fly the flag at half staff until noon when it is raised to the top of the staff until sunset.

4. Some southern states have a separate holiday to honor the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.

5. In 2000, Congress passed the "National Moment of Remembrance Act" which calls on all Americans to pause for one minute at 3pm on Memorial Day in remembrance of those died in service to our country.

Image found here.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

You Know What They Say About Assumptions!

[This was supposed to be my Friday post but I didn't get around to finishing it off until today.]

I'm sure that everyone has seen quite enough footage of the devastation left after that nasty F5 tornado went through Moore, Oklahoma on Monday afternoon.  I wonder if most of you have seen this footage, however.  It is CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewing a woman who survived the tornado - along with her husband and small child.  Take a look at the clip, if you haven't seen it.

First off, I have to say that I totally understand that after speaking to person after person in deeply religious Oklahoma, Wolf Blitzer had probably heard tons of them stating that they thank the Lord that they survived. It probably seemed rather safe to ask anyone the question he asked this woman, "Do you thank the Lord?".  Still, I'm not sure it was fair of him to make that assumption.  We know that not everyone holds the same beliefs and in this case he guessed wrong.  Not only did he embarrass the woman he was interviewing but he was embarrassed himself when he realized the situation.  Talk about awkward!  They both recovered quickly and finished the interview but perhaps this points out why we should be careful not to make assumptions about the beliefs of people we don't know.

One thing does bother me is the entire idea of thanking the lord - or any deity, really - when you survive something like this especially when others were not so lucky.  This bothered me a little when I was a believer, too, but I think it disturbs me a bit more now that I'm not.  Let's think a bit more in depth about this.

If you are thanking God for intervening, then you are acknowledging that you believe that God can choose to do that.  In the same breath, you are also saying that, though he chose to intervene to save you, he chose not to save the children in the school who didn't make it or the other people who died.  Aren't you?

So, alright.  I was a believer once.  I know the drill.  We say that, "God needed another angel" or  that "His ways are not our ways and we cannot know his purpose" or even "It wasn't your time so he didn't take you" and so forth.  I would think those thoughts are small consolation to the parents of the children who died before they had much of a chance to live.  I feel the need to point out that they would be no consolation at all to the non-believer.

Perhaps we should be careful not to make the same mistake Wolf Blitzer did.  If you want to console a person who has lost a loved one, it might be best just to say, "I'm sorry for your loss" unless you know for sure what their beliefs are. I think this is just common sense but not everyone has really thought about it.  I think we should try to be as considerate as possible, however, when people are dealing with grief and loss.

That's just my two cents, though.  What are your thoughts?

Saturday Six - May 25, 2013

1. What was your biggest accomplishment in school? I can't say that I really had any great accomplishments. I managed a 4.0 in my first two semesters of college, though so I suppose that was something.

2. Have you ever won a ribbon for any event or competition, and if so, what was it for? The only thing I can remember is when the local fire department had a poster contest for fire prevention mine got 2nd place.  There was a small ceremony with a ribbon and our pictures in the paper.

3. Have you ever been awarded a trophy for anything, and if so, what was it for?  Nope.

4. What award do you feel you’d be the last person to ever win? I certainly will never receive any sort of Nobel Prize - unless they start offering one for mediocrity.  I'd win that one hands down!

5. Do you think it’s truly more important just to be nominated for an award, or more important to win one? I think it would definitely feel better to win but it would be nice to be nominated.  Any recognition has to be better than none.

6. A question from a decades-long grade school debate: Do you believe that everyone who participates in a competition should win something just for participating? Not really.  What is the point of a competition if everyone gets something out of it no matter how much effort is put into it?

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is Detoxification Necessary for Good Health?

I've noticed that a lot of natural health advocates mention detoxification quite a bit.  The thought seems to be that humans are exposed to so many toxins in our current environment that we need to take extra steps to reduce the toxins stored in our bodies.  On the surface, there might seem to be something to this. After all, our ancestors weren't exposed to auto fumes or some of the pesticides and chemicals that we are now. Let's take a closer look at this idea and the detox therapies available.

Toxic substances can occur naturally in nature.  Venom, arsenic and a variety of substances secreted by living organisms are toxins. Asbestos, PCBs, mercury, and like substances can be found in our environment., at least in small quantities.

In the human body, the liver helps to remove foreign substances from the body by working as a filter.  It filters our blood for unwanted substances and releases them into urine.  Companies who market detoxification programs would like you to believe that the liver isn't going to be able to remove all the toxins in our bodies and that we need to use their product or follow their directions to remove the remaining toxins.

There are tons of products available that promise to provide a regimen to remove toxins from your body.  They are either single- or multi-step processes that involve fasting along with the ingestion of various pills or solutions to "clean out your colon" and/or "clear out your liver".  Most of these kits seems to run from $10 to almost $60.  It seems like the more steps involved, the more they cost.

Colon cleansing seems to be a standard goal so let's examine that idea a little.  There was a theory that was widely believed to be true around the turn of the twentieth century called autointoxication.  It was thought that, over time, the walls of the colon would become caked with toxins that could be absorbed back into the body. Doctors thought that this build up would have to be cleared away to avoid problems.  This was refuted later on as surgical observation showed that there was no build up on the walls of the colon and as we learned more about how the digestive tract works.  Turns out that the small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients from the food we ingest into the blood stream, not the colon.  The colon mostly transports waste to the rectum to be eliminated. It seems, therefore, that it is not necessary to cleanse the colon at all as it seems to work fine without intervention for the most part.

There is the idea I hear that we occasionally need a whole body detox.  I'm not entirely sure where this comes from but if I have toxins throughout my body, I think I'd be very ill if not dead! I suppose that there is the possibility that such toxins are, in fact, present in our bodies in smaller quantities that don't make us ill so let's look at how it's supposed to work.  There are two schools of thought - a process involving a diet and drinking large amounts fruit juices and fasting with only water. Sometimes a simple change in diet is all that is recommended and sometimes a visit to a sauna is also part of the regimen. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any scientific studies that show that any of this is effective.  I'm not saying that it won't make you feel better as it might.  There just seems to be no scientific basis to it.

I guess from what I see, there is little to no proof that we need to take steps to remove toxins from our bodies in most cases.  Our livers are excellent at doing this job by themselves provided they are functioning correctly. I guess I see no harm in an occasional fast to remove toxins but I certainly wouldn't be spending money on special herbs or pills to help me cleanse my guts. I would recommend that you check with your doctor before you undertake any major diet changes or fasting just to be sure that you won't do yourself any harm.

I found some information for this post from the following sources
Skeptic North
Sense About Science

I was unable to find a photo to represent detoxification so I chose one that represents cleansing.  Okay, yes. It is Bernardino Mei's Cleansing Of The Temple but it's an excellent representation of the narrative that appears in all four gospels in the Bible and is much more appealing than a picture of a soapy sponge or such.

Monday, May 20, 2013

5 Facts and Myths about Cicadas

Here in the eastern United States, we are awaiting the arrival of periodic cicadas - Brood 2, to be specific.  This particular population comes up out of the ground every 17 years to breed.

These cicadas look like the one in the picture. I don't find them the most attractive insect but I can't say that I like the appearance of most insects.

The cicadas are set to arrive in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia this year.

Here are some facts and myths about cicadas:

1. 17-year cicadas have red eyes.  Most of them do but they can have white, brown, gray, blue or yellow eyes!

2. Animals will eat the cicadas.  This is true! I recommend you watch your dogs if you let them out. Dogs can choke on them because of their rigid bodies so it's best not to let Fido nibble on them!

3. Only male cicadas make the distinctive sound associated with these insects.  This is true! You can see and hear one making the sound here.  It can get really loud when there are lots of them making this sound!!

4. Cicadas drink the sap from trees and can do great harm to them! Well, sort of...  Most trees will be perfectly alright but I suppose a weak branch could be damaged by heavy cicadas landing on them and drinking the sap so I'd recommend you pick them off your young or small trees.

5. Be careful if a cicada lands on you as they could administer a nasty bite!  This is completely false.  Cicadas won't harm you.  I don't like when they fly into me because they are large insects but they won't do a person any harm.

Image found here

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Six - May 18, 2013

1. How many different blogging platforms (i.e., Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.) have you used since you started blogging? Four - Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogger and Glipho.  I still use the last two.

2. What’s the biggest reason you chose the platform you’re currently on? It's owned by Google so it syncs with my preferred social networking site:  Goggle+.

3. What do you like most about your current blog? Ease of use.

4. How confident are you in your ability make changes to the code of your site (i.e., HTML or CSS) if you wanted to make a design or functionality adjustment? Very.  I generally use a free template to start out, then tweak from there if I want to alter it a bit.

5. What would you most like to change about your current blogging platform? If Blogger would have a community set up like Xanga or Glipho, it'd be perfect.  That would change the nature of it, I suppose, so I do the next best thing:  Cross-post most of my Blogger posts to Glipho where there is more of a community.

6. What blogging-related topic would you most like to see discussed? I honestly can't think of one.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place

Friday, May 17, 2013

An Explosion of Anger

Sometimes I get angry.  Sometimes it's something little and insignificant that annoys me and sometimes I get a full rage on.  Sometimes I feel like there are just so many things irritating me that one more thing will cause me to explode.

(Not literally, by the way.  That'd be messy and fatal.)

Here is my list of irritations - minor and major - for the day (Warning:  There will be swearing):

  • The US House is wasting our tax dollars - AGAIN - by attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)  People! That bill WILL NOT PASS.  Stop wasting our time and money!  You know what I think?  I think you are terrified that once it fully takes effect, the public will love it and you will lose your chance to repeal it!  That's what I'm beginning to think! Get the fuck over it!
  • Attention people on social media: If you want me to share something just post it. If I feel that I wish to share it, I will.  If not, I won't!  Don't freaking tell me to share it!  I won't be bullied into sharing something because you think it will make it look like I don't care about your cause!  BULLSHIT! If I really care about something I'm going to do a hell of a lot more than share a post about it on Facebook or Google+!  That accomplishes NOTHING!
  • And what is with all the hatred?!? Why can't we treat human beings like human beings?  How about that?  We should all have the same rights and be treated the same way!  Why is this so complicated?  Didn't we freaking learn this in kindergarten?!?  We all just want to be happy and as long as my happiness isn't causing you harm then what the fuck is your problem with it? I'm sick of it!  And don't even think about telling me that your Bible tells you that you can discriminate against someone while you are sitting there in your cotton/poly blend shirt!!  Just don't! It's just an excuse you use because you are uncomfortable with people who are different.  Grow the fuck up and get over it!
  • Don't like change? Join the club! Now get over it!  Life IS change!  It's the only constant so just grab your nearest life preserver and jump in!  The water is fine! Give it a try! 
  • Lights!  Why the hell do we need so many freaking lights on all the time?!?  We had our blinds up and windows open to allow the fresh air to enter our bedroom last night.  I woke up in the middle of the night and could not get back to sleep! The light streaming in the window was ridiculous!  The neighbors have a dusk to dawn light at the back of their yard that shines in our window. Add in the lights around the perimeter of the elementary school behind our house and it is absurd the amount of light streaming into the bedroom!  I can't stand it!!!
  • Can we please stop calling something a crisis every time we turn around?!?  I don't think that word means what you think it does, folks!  I'm looking at you, media types! I'm sorry if you are having a slow news day but knock off all the hype!  Save it for when a real crisis hits!
  • And finally:  Could we just try to be considerate of others and stop trying to have everything the exact way that we want it?  Example: A coworker listens to her music through headphones so as not to irritate other workers near her who might not appreciate her music and like a quiet room while they work.  One day, her music was loud enough that the woman sitting next to her could hear a little something.  It wasn't loud enough to make out the song or anything but occasionally she heard a sound.  This was soooo annoying to her coworker that she had to ask the first one to turn down her music!  I am not making this up!!!  I mean, come on people!!  Compromise!  The worker with the headphones could have played her music without using headphones but she was trying to be considerate of you!  Can't you even appreciate that?  Honestly!
Image courtesy of Bruce Clay and found here

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

All about Aromatherapy

I never really examined aromatherapy, to be honest.  I thought it had to do with the scents of natural oils and such - at least that's what was implied by marketing agents a couple decades ago who were intent on using the latest trend to sell products. (It is very "new age", you know) Turns out that it is the essence of the oils, themselves, that are reported to help heal, not the scents of the oils.  Seems like aromatherapy could have used a marketing agent to better brand their product, huh?

Let's back up to the origins of this natural therapy. It's older than I thought it was.  The name originated in the 1920s with a French chemist, René Maurice Gattefossé, but the application of oils for healing goes back to ancient times.

While vapors of these oils are sometimes prescribed, most times you rub them on your skin, massage them onto your body or ingest them in tea.  There are quite a few books that will tell you which oils to use for which conditions.  You can also find much of this information online - especially attached to stores which sell the oils.

It seems that most of the healing claims of essential oils have not actually been studied scientifically. Instead, people use personal stories of what worked for them or others and cite them as truth.  For example, if I apply tea tree oil to a sore finger and a couple hours later it feels better, I might attribute the healing to the oil.

Early healers would use oils of all sorts which may or may not have helped their patients.  It's really impossible to know very much with a lack of scientific studies of these substances.  I suppose there is little harm in rubbing different oils on your body provided you don't have a skin reaction to them.  I would be less inclined to ingest such things, however, unless you are positive they are non-toxic.

Personally, I prefer to seek treatments that my medical doctor prescribes as I believe they are more likely to be effective.  I suppose a massage with a scented oil could be pleasant and I'm not going to say that it won't make you feel better.  It's less likely to work for someone like me, however, as I don't believe it will, if you get my drift.

Such therapies will affect your pocketbook, I'm afraid.  Essential oils do not come cheap!  An online store sells lavender oil for $12.29 for 1/2 fluid oz. and tea tree oil for $8.32 per 1/2 fluid oz.  At those prices, I'll stick to my scented candles.

Image found here

Monday, May 13, 2013

5 Fun Facts About Flowers

It's spring in my part of the world and some of my favorite flowers are in bloom:  lilacs, forsythia, tulips, and bleeding hearts! (see the picture if you aren't sure what they look like)

Flowers are certainly beautiful and their function is generally to help with reproduction.  Many flowers emit pleasing fragrances and are brightly colored to attract animals to help them spread their pollen.

I've found some interesting facts about flowers:

1. Roses are related to apples, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, pears and almonds.

2. The largest flower in the world is the corpse flower - which can grow to 10 feet high and 3 feet wide.  The flowers smell like decaying flesh and that's where they get their name.

3. Most of us consider the dandelion a weed but the flowers and leaves are a nutritious treat so, if you don't use pesticides, consider harvesting those leaves for a salad.  The flowers can be breaded and fried in a pan.  Dandelions contain vitamins A and C, iron, calcium and potassium.

4. Moon flowers are unusual as they bloom at night and close during the day.

5. The foxglove gets its name from the belief that foxes slipped their feet into the flowers to sneak up on their prey. That certainly is a humorous thought!

What are your favorite spring flowers?

Image found here

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Six - May 11, 2013

1. What nickname for the bathroom (i.e., “restroom”, “toilet”, etc.) do you use most often? I think I generally call it the "restroom" which, now that I think about it, is one of the silliest names as resting has nothing to do with what goes on in there!

2. What do you normally call the season of the year that follows summer: autumn or fall? Autumn.

3. What nicknames (i.e., “Granny”, “Pop”, etc.) did you use to address your grandparents? I only had one set of grandparents alive when I was born. They were "Grandpa" and "Grandma".

4. What do you usually call the meal you have in the middle of the day: lunch or dinner? Lunch.

5. What do you usually call the meal you have in the evening: dinner or supper? Supper.

6. What do you usually call a soft drink: a soda, a pop, a “Coke” (even it if’s something else) or a soft drink?  I call it a soda.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Please Stand By

I apologize but I don't have a post prepared for today.  I like to post on a regular M-W-F schedule but I've been covering a different job this week at work and I'm just pooped! (It's the position I occasionally complain about having to cover on Google+ that begins 2 hours earlier than my usual job.)

I generally try to have a back log of posts available to use if need be but the coffers are empty right now!  My regular schedule should resume on Monday.

Thank you for your patience!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What is a Biomat?

I've become aware of a new product - or one that is new to me - called the Biomat.

Some reiki/therapeutic massage providers in my area also offer Biomat sessions.  These session run around $20 for 30 minutes and $40 for an hour in my area.

I hadn't heard of the biomat before seeing these sessions advertised but here is what I've found out.

What is it? The Biomat is an electric pad that one is supposed to lay on.  There are also pillows.

What does it do? The company's website explains that it "promotes cellular communication leading to DNA repair and total body wellness". It's supposed to relieve stress,  reduce inflammation, minimize migraines, alleviate allergies, improve memory skills, and strengthen your colon, kidneys and liver in addition to other claims.

How does it work? Apparently there are 3 different elements at work with this pad: Negative ions, amethyst crystals and infrared heat.  Let's discuss each of them individually.

Negative ions: This seems to be quite a popular healing agent.  There are bracelets, filters and even hair dryers that are supposed to produce them to benefit us. They are claimed to help with asthma, depression and stress relief. The problem is that there don't seem to be a lot of studies that prove any health benefits and this is odd as the first studies came out in the 1930s.  The fact that all these "new age" products seem to point to the same studies makes me wonder if there really is a benefit. I'm going to reserve judgement, however, as I can't find enough evidence to determine anything.

Amethyst crystals: The claim here seems to be that amethyst increases the production of hormones and strengthens the "healing organs".  It doesn't say how, though, and I have my doubts.  Crystals are pretty and make lovely jewelry but there is no evidence that they provide any healing power nor do they channel magical energy or any such nonsense.  In short, they are wasted by encasing them in these pads because we can't see them to enjoy them.

Far Infrared heat:  Aha!  Now here is something that we know can help relax muscles, sooth and help us to relax!  I have a heated mattress pad on my bed that we use in the winter to keep warm.  It does that but it also helps me to relax so I am familiar with the soothing properties of heat. Physical therapists will often suggest the use of heating pads to help with soreness.  Note:  Even though "far infrared" sounds out of the ordinary, it is simply a fancy word for heat.

What do they cost?  I suggest you sit down as these are pricey "gadgets"! A massage-table size is $1,450 + $60 shipping and handling. A king-size pad runs $3,840 + $160 s&h.  For comparison, a king size heated mattress pad costs $126 at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Conclusion:  It seems like these are high-priced heating pads that provide no additional benefits except to empty your pockets quickly. There is no credible evidence that there are effective healing properties associated with amethyst or negative ions. I suggest you purchase a regular heating pad or even a heating mattress pad to provide the same benefits at a more reasonable cost.

Image found here

Information for this post was found at the following pages:
The Varsitarian
The Skeptics Dictionary
Wonky Water Weirdness and Quackery

Monday, May 6, 2013

5 Surprising Facts about Whales

I've always been fascinated by whales!  When I was young, I had a recording of humpback whales singing that I used to listen to constantly. (You can listen to this sound here.) Their songs sound so sad and lonely to me but, in reality, it appears that they sing to communicate with each other.

That's a humpback whale in the picture to the left.

Here are some rather surprising facts about whales.

1. The blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived on the earth - including the largest dinosaurs! It's heart is the size of a compact car!

2. The gray whale migrates more than 10,000 miles each year, the longest migration of any mammal.

3. Orcas, which are commonly called killer whales, are actually not whales at all. They are members of the dolphin family.

4. Whales are cetaceans - which makes them mammals not fish.  Dolphins and porpoises are cetaceans, too.

5. Whales rest half their brain while they sleep! One half is awake at all times.  Unlike most mammals, whales are not involuntary breathers so half their brain needs to stay awake to keep them breathing - and to alert them to danger.

Facts were found on the following sites:
National Geographic

Image obtained here

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday Six - May 4, 2013

1. If you had to get up in front of a room of strangers, which of these would you be LEAST comfortable admitting: your true age, your true weight or your true income? My weight.  I've no problem with my age and my income might be laughable but I'm not defined by my occupation.

2. Which of those three would you be MOST comfortable admitting to the same crowd? My age.

3. If you knew when your last meal was going to happen, what would you like to have on the menu? Ooo!  Lobster, scallops and shrimp!  I love seafood!

4. Who are you most concerned about disappointing? Myself.

5. What’s the toughest job you’ve ever had? I worked as a hotel maid when I was a teenager.  It was a lot of work and you had to work quickly but efficiently!

6. What event scared you more than anything else you’ve experienced?  The Three Mile Island disaster in the 70s. We lived about 10 miles from TMI and it was really scary at the time and even more later on when we realized just how close it came to a meltdown!

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm (not) a Believer!

I am an anomaly in my office.  It appears that the vast majority of my co-workers believe in something supernatural or that can not be proven.
  • Co-worker A has seen a chiropractor who "cured" her migraines but now gets therapeutic touch -something to do with energy or such - instead (did the chiropractor not work? I haven't asked...).
  • Co-worker B is has paid for Reiki sessions for her dog and believes in holistic medicine.
  • Co-worker C believes in psychics and that a chiropractor has also cured her migraine headaches. Oddly enough, she won't see her doctor about her insomnia but will try any "natural" remedy she hears about to help get some sleep. 
  • All my co-workers, to my knowledge, believe in a supernatural deity.
It makes me the odd one out, doesn't it?

I wouldn't mind but, instead of taking my advice and investigating some of these things when I express my skepticism, they ignore me and just stop talking about these things in front of me.  They also, I must assume, think that I'm half deaf and don't realize they are discussing these things across the room. I'm not and I do.

I am not rabid or nasty in my criticism.  I realize that some people are set on believing in some things because they simply want them to be true. I get that. I do get a teeny bit upset when I hear of people being bilked out of their life savings by con-artists (psychics or televangelists for example) but I also realize that people can't take advantage of you if you don't allow them to. So, if I hear that a reasonably intelligent person who has the ability to make rational decisions is spending money on some aspect of "woo", so be it!  I just gently mention that there really is no evidence that psychics can speak to dead people or that a particular alternative medicine is going to cure anyone and suggest they look into it.  That's the best I can do.

It does make me wonder why people so easily believe in things that, if you examine them, sound unlikely.

I've been told that I'm no fun - as if to have a good time, one must discard logic and common sense. I really don't understand this but I try to be considerate of other points of view so I have adopted a "live and let live" attitude about most of it.

I think, sometimes, how life would really be if the world was really full of magic and strange rules that needed to be followed (or else!!).  Imagine if you really might ruin your luck by spilling salt and forgetting to throw some over your shoulder or a black cat crossing your path really did indicate disaster. Can you picture yourself consulting your crystal ball to see what you should wear that day or your horoscope to decide whether to go out or stay in?  Can you envision a world where psychics could actually speak to your deceased Uncle Bob? (Seriously?!? If he was unpleasant in life, how crotchety would he be after life?!?) What if the outcome of a sporting event was based not on the actions of the players but on how many of them - or their fans -  remembered to wear their lucky socks? We wouldn't need doctors or medical staff to cure our illnesses as prayer would take care of that.  We'd have to be careful in the woods to avoid encountering Big Foot because who knows what such a beast would do to us if startled!  How absurd would such a world be?  It certainly isn't the one we live in - and thank goodness!

Still... there are times that I just have to wonder if I'm fighting a losing battle - especially when I find some of my atheist friends swear by some alternative medicines, too.  Scientists seem to be leaning toward the idea that we might be hard-wired to believe in the possibility of the supernatural. It seems too early to reach any set conclusions from this research but, if my personal experiences are an indication, there might be something to it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A look at Reflexology

Last week when I was discussing a person who provides certain questionable medical services near where I live, I mentioned that she was also a reflexologist. I only vaguely knew what reflexology was so I thought I'd take a look at it.

The first thing I noticed was that there is no shortage of reflexologists in my local area!  The first several entries from my initial Google search listed at least seven or eight locations near me. The going rate seems to be about  $30 to $45 per hour long session. (and one of my local establishments is "Now excepting Credit Cards" which made me cringe. If you want to be taken seriously, people, have someone check your site over for possible errors. But I digress...)

Reflexology is based on the idea that there are energy zones in a person's body. A person's feet can be mapped out into different zones that correspond to the different energy zones of the body.  Massaging those areas on the foot would help to cure problems with the corresponding body part.  For example, if the big toe is supposed to correspond to the head then, if I had a headache, a reflexologist might concentrate on my big toes on my feet. I believe reflexologists also map the hands similarly but this doesn't seem as popular.

Some reflexologists claim to cure diseases or to help to ease pain while others simply claim to help balance the energy in your body or ease your stress. It seems rather closely related to acupressure but simply concentrates on the feet.

Scientists have done studies that appear to indicate that reflexology is no more effective than fake reflexology. They also tell us that there is no evidence of such energy zones in the body nor are particular areas of the feet connected to particular body parts by energy pathways.

I've no proof but I suspect that some people who claim to benefit from reflexology think that it is helping them simply because they are relaxing and enjoying the massages.  I don't blame them, a foot massage - or any massage - can be pleasant and taking time to relax and unwind can help one feel less stressed.

Neurologists tell us that the area of the brain that connects to the foot is adjacent to the area that connects to the genitals.  There is speculation that there might be a bit of overlapping sometimes and that this is why we find foot massages so pleasurable.  It also might explain foot fetishes.  At the very least, it is something to think about.

In conclusion, I think we can say that paying $40 for an ineffective therapy is silly.  On the other hand, if you really enjoy foot massages I suppose it might be worth something to you.  It's not going to cure you of diseases or make you healthier, though.

Information for this post was found on the following sites:
Skeptics Dictionary

Image obtained here