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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Six - June 29, 2013

1. How old is your microwave oven?  I have no idea, but it is old!  My boyfriend, K, owned it when we met and it was old then (12 years ago) so I've no clue.  It still works, though, so we aren't replacing it!

2. How many television sets do you own? Hmm... Just one, I think.  We used to have a couple that the girls used for their game systems but I think they all died.

3. What type of cell phone do you own? I own a Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket.

4. How much else besides making calls do you use your cell phone for? I use it to tweet on Twitter, for Facebook and Google+, for email and, of course, texting.  I also browse the internet on it if I want to look something up quick when I'm downstairs instead of running upstairs to the desktop.

5. Do you still have a landline in your home? Yes.  We rarely use it but it doesn't cost us much because of bundling so we keep it.

6. Do you have a single-serve coffee maker like a Keurig, or is yours a more traditional multi-cup model? We have both. I don't drink as much coffee as I used to, so I generally use the Keurig. I use my own coffee, though, 'cause I'm cheap.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cheese and crackers - or my latest obsessions

I go in spurts sometimes as far as interests go.  For example, you might remember my obsession over Santa face mugs late last year...

Yeah.  I know I'm weird.

Anyway, right now I seem to be on a baking spree.  Of course this really is the wrong time of the year for me to decide to heat up the house with the oven and it's been so humid that anything risen will be a challenge! But, I want to make things, anyway!!  And so, I will.

A while back I saw a recipe for making your own graham crackers and I became obsessed with making them myself!  I finally found graham flour - which is why I didn't try them right away - so this weekend, I'll be making graham crackers!  I'm so excited!

I keep thinking that then we can have s'mores cooked out at our new fire pit made with homemade graham crackers!

oh... I wonder if I should make my own marshmallows, too! Hmmm...

But, anyway...

Next up is making a cheese souffle!!  I've never made one but, again, I've become obsessed with the idea.  First I need to buy a souffle dish and find a decent cheese.  I found a recipe that I'm going to try - and a video by Alton Brown on them so I think I'll be alright with the how. I was reading the comments on the recipe and folks were saying that you need to use a decent cheese for the recipe and several people talk about going to their local cheese shop to obtain it.

Cheese shop?

Quick quiz:  Where do you live and do you have a cheese shop near you?

Yeah.  I actually had to Google for any near me.  The closest is 25 miles from here.  That's closer than the nearest Wegmans - which also has a fine selection of cheeses - so I'll probably go check it out.  I want a good cheddar for my souffle, after all...

So!  There you have it. All this fuss over cheese and crackers.

What are your latest obsessions?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lemon Bars

I like trying new recipes and sharing what I like with others.  I thought that I'd add a new weekly feature to share some of my favorite recipes with my readers.  I've decided to call it Tasty Thursdays in my head though I'll add that label to these posts so folks can find all of them that way.

I was hungry for lemon bar cookies a while back but I hadn't actually ever made them myself.

I searched the internet and found a recipe for lemon bars that I liked but I tweaked it a little to make it more to my taste.

Lemon Bars

Crust:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt

Lemon layer:
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups  granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Note: the recipe says the juice of 3 lemons will give you this but I've found I usually need 4 or 5 lemons to get this much juice

confectioners sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Blend crust ingredients in a medium bowl.  Press into an ungreased 9x13 pan.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow crust to cool to room temperature.
Mix 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp flour and 1 1/2 cup sugar.  Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.  Pour over the baked crust.
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. The bars will get firm while they cool.
Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.

What's your favorite type of cookie?

Image found here

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cranberry juice and UTIs


Have you ever noticed how, once a belief has been passed down over several generations, we tend to believe that it is true?  For example, my mother used to insist that I bundle up before going outside in winter so I wouldn't catch a cold.  Now, I know colds are caused by germs, not getting chilled, and my mother knows this, as well.  She still repeated this untruth to me, however, and, worse, I found myself repeating the same thing to my own children!  I did catch myself on several occasions and stop but I'm sure I said it a few times without even thinking about it - even though I know it is not true.  It's really rather sad - though interesting how that sort of thing works.

Now science and medicine in modern times are pretty good at recognizing what has basis in fact and what doesn't.  Part of the reason has to do with the scientific method, of course, but I'll not go into details about that.  Suffice it to say that when medical knowledge is updated, you can bet your local family doctor will alter his or her practice to complement the new discovery in most cases.

Our folk treatments and "common knowledge" are different.  Unless we stop and think, we might find ourselves repeating things that really have no basis in fact!

I recently found out that one of these long-held beliefs may simply not be true and I was shocked to discover that I always thought that it was. The truth is that cranberries (and cranberry juice)  may not do anything to help with urinary tract infections.  There is not enough evidence that it helps to prevent them and it does not seem to help cure them.

Here's the scoop:  Ingesting cranberry juice may help prevent E coli. bacteria from adhering to the bladder lining. This may be where the idea it was helpful came from. The thing is, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are rarely caused by the E coli. bacteria!  There is no proof that cranberry products prevent other bacteria from adhering to bladder cells so there may not be a benefit to drinking it to prevent UTIs.

Yes, there was a small study done in 1994 on elderly women that showed that there might be a small benefit to drinking cranberry juice but it was only done on 150 women and they were all elderly so this cannot be used to prove anything for the general population.  It is best to wait and see if any subsequent tests show the same benefit for different groups.

The best treatment for UTIs is still antibiotics and this treatment is very effective.  If you feel you have a UTI, see your doctor for treatment. Left untreated, these infections could get nasty so one shouldn't fool around.

As for cranberry juice, I'll still drink it as I like the taste.  No reason to stop drinking it for that reason!

Information for this post was obtained from the following sources
ABC news
Science-based Medicine
Cochrane Summaries

Image found here


Monday, June 24, 2013

5 Ways To Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

We're looking at a heat wave in my area of the world this week. I am aware that it might not be as hot as some other places are during summer but we aren't used to this sort of heat combined with humidity. It'll be in the upper 80s and low 90s all week and sticky with humidity.  Yuck!

When the weather gets especially hot, we turn on or turn up our air conditioning to compensate.  The question is, what do you do if you don't have air conditioning?

Here are 5 tips that will help you if you are in that situation.

1.  Keep your windows closed.  This sounds counterintuitive but it actually can help!  Close your windows and your blinds during the day to keep the hot air out. When it gets cool at night, open them up to cool down the house.  Then, close them again in the morning before the sun rises!

2. Eat cool meals. Eating a hot meal will only heat you up so try a cool meal on a hot day. Perhaps a salad or sandwich - or try something new like a cold soup!  If you do cook, try to use the grill or the stovetop so you don't heat up the house.

3. Take a cool shower or go swimming.  This seems obvious but it is an excellent way to cool down fast if you are overheated. I would advise against a hot shower, of course, as this will only heat you up.

4. Use fans the right way.  Ceiling fans are terrific at creating a cool breeze that makes you feel cooler so use them if you have them - but turn them off if you leave the room. At night, try putting a fan in a window at one side of the house blowing in to draw in cool air and one at the other side of your house to blow out the warm air. This does wonders!  (but remember to close those windows and blinds in the morning)

5. Turn off the lights. Incandescent bulbs create heat so turn them off if you don't need them! When you buy new ones, try the energy star bulbs that create less heat.  As a bonus, they will save you money, as well!

Image found here


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Six - June 22, 2013

1. Based on celebrities you’ve seen who’ve had plastic surgery, more often than not, do you believe it’s better to have cosmetic surgery or just age gracefully? I think we should just age naturally.  I really feel sorry for celebs who are pressured to keep looking young when they aren't.  We really ought to cut them a break and let them be human.

2. Should there be an age limit for teenagers who want cosmetic surgery for appearance only (in other words, when no legitimate medical issue is involved)? I'm not sure a law should be in place to do this but I feel the doctors themselves should refuse to do cosmetic work like that on a teen.  It seems unethical to do plastic surgery on a young person who has no medical need for it.

3. What part of physical aging do you fear most? Anything that keeps me from being able to do what I want to do.

4. Would you ever consider having Botox injections for cosmetic purposes? No.

5. Would you ever consider a facelift, chin lift or brow lift? Nope.

6. Would you ever consider liposuction, lapband or stomach stapling surgery to combat obesity? No. I should mention here that I don't lump this in with cosmetic surgery and perhaps if I were a lot heavier I would consider this sort of thing.  I guess as long as exercise and watching my diet keep work, I wouldn't consider any such surgeries.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, June 21, 2013

In Which I Try Out Random Blog Topic Generators

As I mentioned last week, I've been having a rough time coming up with something to blog about on Fridays.  This week, I thought I'd see what the interwebs could offer to help me out!

Did you know that there are blog topic generators out there?  Neither did I until I did a Google search!  I thought this seemed like a terrific idea to get the old creative juices running so I thought I'd check them out.

The first one I tried was from Top Mommy Blogs. The suggestion was:  Share a yummy cookie recipe.  Huh. Well, I suppose I could do that as I do have "yummy" recipes but that isn't the sort of thing I do here.

I clicked refresh and got: Your #1 fav baby gadget. Well...  I've not had an actual infant around for quite a while and I'm sure I'm not up on the latest things...

Which reminds me!  I heard yesterday on the news that Maryland has outlawed the sale of crib bumpers! Yes, I can see where they might be a safety hazard, I suppose.  I just find it amazing that any of my children managed to make it out of infanthood alive!  Our crib rails were too far apart, we put them to sleep on their stomachs and used crib bumpers in their cribs to make them look pretty! May as well have let them crawl through broken glass and garbage!  But I digress...

I decided that that particular blog topic generator was geared more toward young mothers so I tried another  one. The next one was from Blogtap and it is a little different. This one offers several different categories of topics to choose or you can get a random topic chosen from any category. I decided to go with that idea and I clicked.  The origin of pi. Wow. I'm speechless.  I'm not sure I know the origins of pi, though I guess I could find out and tell you all about it. I'm not sure that would be entertaining for either of us...

Coincidentally, I do know the origins of the pie that appeared in my refrigerator sometime yesterday:  K's mother. See, K tells her all the time that I don't bake for him - and he's right.  I really don't bake a lot.  I do have a reason, though.  We really don't need extra sweets in the house or we will outgrow the house!  They disagree, however, so she is happy to bake for him occasionally.  This time it was some weird blueberry/peach pie.  K complained that she used a store-bought crust but I figure beggars can't be choosers!  He ate 1/4 of it last night and another 1/4 of it this morning.  At this rate, it'll be gone by noon tomorrow -which is fine as I really don't want to have to look at it as I won't be eating any of it.

Back on topic, I decided to give this one another try. World religion and cult secrets.  (I am seriously not making this up.) As an atheist, I don't think that I really want to delve into that topic. I'm going to try narrowing down the focus by choosing a category.  Health seems safe!

I click and it gives me: Eating greens.  Okay!  I'm game.

Eat your greens.  They're good for you.

The end.

Have a good one, all!

The image today is of a steam driven turbine generator and it was found here. Yes.  A random generator. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Look At Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

There has been a lot of hubbub in the media and online about genetically modified organisms (a.k.a. GMOs) recently.  There are many people and organizations who are concerned about GMOs and whether or not products containing them should have to be labelled to reflect that fact. I really wasn't sure what side I was on in this argument, to be honest, as I don't like to jump to conclusions and I really didn't know very much about GMOs in the first place.   So, I decided to see what I could find out.

Most of us are aware of cross-breeding and cross-pollination which have been used since the mid-1800s.  Our modern day rice, potatoes and corn, for example, are the results of cross-breeding.  These traditional methods take quite a bit of time - 10 to 12 years -  to get the desired results.

Genetic modification can be seen as a shortcut to get the desired results quicker. Scientists first must isolate a particular gene that causes a specific attribute.  They are then able to transfer that genetic material from one organism to another. Unlike traditional cross-breeding, they are not limited to using only related plant genes but can also use unrelated genes, as well.  This creates quite a huge range of possibilities!

So, genetic modification is more time efficient than traditional methods and the method opens up more possibilities but is it safe?

The National Academy of Sciences tells us that genetic transfers between unrelated organisms do not pose any additional risks from those we encounter through traditional cross-breeding methods.  Keep in mind that the transfer of genes between unrelated organisms is only possible because of the similarities of all living organisms.  That is, any given living organism has more in common with any other living organism than it has differences.

The truth is that there are hundreds of studies that indicate that GMO foods are as safe as conventional foods.  Why, then, are people so upset about them?  Let's take a look at some of the objections to GMOs, then.  Here are some that I've seen:

1. Genes from herbicide-resistant crops may cross over into the wild weed population and create "super weeds" that are resistant to herbicides.  The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible for reviewing new plant varieties.  They are careful to allow only plants that are unlikely to cross-breed with weeds to be approved for this reason.  Remember that plants can only cross-breed with related plants in the wild, so this limits the possibilities of this sort of thing happening. We should also keep in mind that weeds are already adapting to become more resistant to herbicides so this is already happening. An herbicide will not kill all the weeds. Some will survive. The survivors will drop seeds that grow into plants that might be more resistant to the herbicide.  Over time, this creates weeds that are more resistant to a particular herbicide. This is why we change up the herbicides we use over the years.

2. Genes from a food a person is allergic to could be added to another food he is not allergic to and this could cause him to have an allergic reaction to the new food. The FDA is responsible for overseeing all new food products. One of their requirements for producers of new food products is that they address whether or not new food allergens have been created during the modification process that may cause a reaction.  If so, the product will have to be labelled as such.

3. Antibiotic-resistant genes could be transferred to bacteria in our bodies during the digestive process.  If an antibiotic-resistant bacteria causes an infection, it could be impossible to treat.  There have been numerous studies addressing this possibility. These studies indicate that the possibility of the transfer of an antibiotic-resistant gene to a bacterium is very low. We should also keep in mind that when we consume fruits and vegetables we are eating antibiotic microorganisms from the soil and this has no adverse effects.

So, should GMO foods be labelled?  Frankly, my conclusion is that it shouldn't be necessary.  In the event that an allergen might be present in a different food, then yes - a label should be created to reflect this. Otherwise, it appears that this food is perfectly safe to consume and therefore I don't think labelling should be required.

Disagree with me?  Think I overlooked something?  Let me know in the comments!

Information for this post was obtained from the following sources:
GMO Compass
Time
Quackwatch
Slate

Image was obtained here.

Monday, June 17, 2013

5 Myths About Depression

I've noticed that, in general, many people now days have a better understanding of depression and other forms of mental illness than they did 20 or 30 years ago.  At the very least, it's not as taboo a subject as it once was so we are able to actually talk about it in "polite company" a bit more.  Still, there are some misconceptions that persist.  Some of these are understandable, to be honest. After all, if you haven't experienced it yourself nor had a close family member or friend suffer from depression, you only have information that you've obtained from the entertainment industry, the media, and/or advertisements.  That's not the best way to get a clear understanding of anything, in my opinion.  So!  I thought we'd take a look at some common misconceptions about depression today.

1. Depression is the result of a chemical imbalance. Pharmaceutical companies will imply that all you need to do is to take their medication to correct the problem and be well.  The truth is that depression is really a complex illness and narrowing it down to a simple chemical imbalance is not possible.

2. Taking an antidepressant will "cure" a clinically depressed person. Depression is not like a physical disease where the correct medication will fix the problem. The best treatment is a combination of medication and psychotherapy.  Medication alone is not going to do the trick and it might take some time to find one that is helpful for a particular individual.

3. Depression is just a deep sadness - like grief. If this were true, a person would get better over time on their own or be able to just "pull themselves together".  Depression is a profound sadness and sense of hopelessness for no reason. It isn't a reaction to a particular situation that will just go away.

4. Depression is hereditary so if one of my parents suffers from it, I will too!  Recent studies seem to indicate that having a relative with depression only increases a person's risk of developing the disorder themselves by 10%.

5. Only women suffer from depression.   This seems to be a persistent myth but it is just not true.  More women are diagnosed with the disorder than men but that doesn't mean that men don't suffer from depression!  In fact, here is a list of some famous men you may not have realized suffered from depression: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Michelangelo, Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, George Patton and Sir Isaac Newton.

The important thing to keep in mind is that depression is not just having the blues.  So if a friend or family member is suffering from this disorder, they can't just cheer up and get over it.

Image found here

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday Six - June 15, 2013

1. Would you have ever dated someone you knew was in a committed relationship with someone else, even if you knew that the other person was okay with the idea? I don't think so.  I'm way too jealous to consider that sort of situation.

2. If you were in a longterm relationship and your significant other gained weight because of a medical issue, would you think less of him/her as a person? No. Not at all.

3. When dating someone, how important is it that you’d communicate with that person every day? No need to smother a person!  I don't think you need to talk every day if you are just dating!

4. If you had to choose one or the other, which is more important in a relationship: dedication or passion? Dedication.

5. Is jealousy healthy or unhealthy in a relationship? I suppose it can easily be unhealthy but an occasional pang of jealousy isn't horrible as long as you keep things in perspective.  You just have to trust your partner.  If you can't, you have a problem.

6. Would you have a problem with your significant other spending a good deal of time with his/her exes if you knew it was completely platonic? No.  Nothing wrong with being friends with an ex.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Random Friday is Random

As many of you many know, the Friday blog topic here is "random".  That is, there is no set topic.  I post whatever I want.  (I call it a Friday Free-for-all in my own head.)

You would think that this would be great!  I can write about anything I want!  Any subject or topic is acceptable!  Easy-peasy!

Yeah, no.  It doesn't seem to work that way.  Without a topic, I'm floundering around like a powerless ship out in the middle of the ocean during a storm.  (How's that for a visual?)

So, yeah.  Clearly I need to figure out a topic to base my Friday posts on but this does not help me today!

So!  We're just going to take stuff off the top of my head (and perhaps the middle and sides if we get desperate) and see how that goes.  I apologize in advance.

**I was going to post about a couple absurd cosmetic surgeries but both of the procedures in question were things I really didn't want to mention on my blog.  Yeah, I know. Hard to create a post around stuff that I really don't want to talk about.  So!  I'm going to place a couple links here and if you really, truly want to know what they are then click away.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  Here is Link One.  Here is Link Two.

**Moving on.... You know the classic Happy Birthday song? (Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you!  etc.) Well, it is copyrighted. Anyone who wants to perform it in public has to pay a royalty fee to use it.  Turns out, the copyright might be invalid and the copyright-holder, Warner/Chappell Music, may have to repay millions of dollars in fees! There is a lawsuit pending and it should be interesting to see the outcome.

**The other day, I was reading another blogger's blog.  She had some very strong opinions about vegetarians, vegans and others who voluntarily limit their diet for reasons other than allergies.  In short, she despises them. She calls them "picky eaters" and thinks that they are inconsiderate of others.  Because they don't eat meat.
Now, as many of you might already know, I no longer eat meat (except fish and seafood) and yes, my decision is voluntary and based on the fact that I just wasn't enjoying eating meat anymore so I stopped.  (and some vague notion that it might be a little healthier but I don't think too much about it)
I don't judge anyone else for what they eat.  That is your own business.  I worry about me and that is that. I don't think in any way that I am better than anyone else because I don't eat meat.
So... if  person is not eating meat but isn't judging those who do, how is that being inconsiderate?  The blogger is not the first omnivore who I've encountered who seems threatened by people who don't eat meat but I really don't get it. Can someone explain to me how my choice of what I eat should bother anyone else?

**I'm going to borrow a phrase from Bill Maurer:   New Rule!  It is time that we learned that it is right to treat another person like a human being - regardless of their race, gender, country of origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion (or lack of...), hair color, eye color, etc., etc.  Just treat others like you would want to be treated and you're golden.  Simple.  Didn't we all learn this in elementary school?  If not, we should have. People are people and we all just want to be happy. Why is this so complicated?

**Yes, yes.  I'm sure, too, that I've stated the previous item before but it needs to be repeated because some of you aren't listening! You know who you are.  Or you might not, now that I'm thinking about it...

**Go.  Read.  The Bloggess has an excellent post about depression up today but you should read her on a regular basis because she is seriously hilarious! (most of the time.  Depression isn't funny, so...)  (and she's real, too, so BONUS!) Buy her book. (This is not a paid endorsement.  I just like to share links to awesome stuff/people when I find it/them.)

**Speaking of books!!!  *bounces slightly in her chair* Neil Gaiman's new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, comes out in 4 days!!  Four! *grins* I'm sooo excited as I have preordered a signed copy and cannot wait to get my hands on it!

**My two latest obsessions:  Making my own graham crackers and obtaining a Roomba (but not paying full price because, seriously!  They are really, really pricey!)

**And.. that's it!  Have a lovely weekend all!  Hopefully I'll get my shit stuff together for next week!

Image found here and used for no particular reason other than that I like it and because I wanted a picture on this post.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Is It Safe To Consume Raw Milk?

A local news story caught my attention a couple of weeks ago. It concerned a dairy that sells raw milk. Customers of the dairy were being advised to discard any raw milk recently purchased from that dairy because of an outbreak of Campylobacter infections associated with the milk sold there.  The same farm had an outbreak of the same bacteria last year.

Raw milk is simply milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. The pasteurization process involves heating the milk to kill off harmful bacteria.

Raw milk is a controversial product. The CDC and other health agencies do not recommend consuming it for health reasons. The sale of raw milk is illegal in 22 states of the United States.  Pennsylvania is one of the states where it is legal. Many countries have outlawed the sale of raw milk entirely.

I know people who purchase raw milk because they say it tastes better.  I also know people who purchase it because they think it is healthier. I won't address taste as that is subjective but we can take a look at nutritional claims and whether they seem to be accurate.

Raw milk advocates claim that the pasteurization process destroys nutrients contained in the milk.  Studies show that heat-sensitive vitamins - vitamin C and thiamine - are affected by pasteurization.  10% to 30% of these vitamins are destroyed when the milk is processed in this manner.  The thing is, milk is not a significant source of either of these nutrients so that doesn't seem to be a great issue.

The main nutrients found in milk are calcium and protein.  These are not affected by the pasteurization process nor are other vitamins in milk besides vitamin C and thiamine.  In addition, pasteurized milk is usually fortified with vitamin D which helps our bodies absorb calcium. Raw milk doesn't contain this addition.

Raw milk contains 4.2% butter fat. By comparison, pasteurized whole milk contains 3.25% butter fat. (3.5% in the UK) So, there is more fat in raw milk - which would be a consideration if you are watching your diet. As a side note, I imagine that the higher fat content might contribute to the better taste people mention when talking about raw milk.

Now let's look at some of the bacteria that could be found in raw milk.  E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and the aforementioned Campylobacter can all be found in raw milk and can make you sick.  E. coli can cause diarrhea and some strains could cause kidney failure or even death. Listeria can cause a fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea and miscarriage in pregnant women. If it goes untreated, it could become dangerous and affect the nervous system. Salmonella can also cause nausea, vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea. Campylobacter can cause infectious diarrhea.  As with any food poisoning, the very old and very young are at the greatest risk of having a serious complications and even dying.

There are other possible bacteria contained in raw milk but I'm not going to mention them as they are less likely to be found or difficult to catch.

In my opinion any possible health benefits of raw milk are minimal and it is not a reason to consume it. The health risks are rather rare but still a possibility. I will not drink it myself as I don't want to take the risk of developing food poisoning.  A healthy adult might consider this a risk they are willing to take for the sake of flavor but this isn't a good reason for me.  I would not ever consider serving raw milk to children, pregnant women or to the elderly because of the possible risks involved.

You might disagree with me and that's fine but make sure that your reasons for drinking it aren't based on misconceptions and be aware of the risks.
-------

The following websites were used as some of the sources for the facts in this post:
Quackwatch
Treehugger
Wikipedia
WebMD
MayoClinic
CDC

Image of Bernardus Johannes Blommer's The Milk Maid found here

Monday, June 10, 2013

5 Myths You Should Know About Tornadoes

There have been some heavy storm systems bringing significant tornadoes so far this year.  Oklahoma has seen the worst of these weather phenomenons but they could appear anywhere at any time of the year and it's important to know something about what to do if one is headed your way.

There are a lot of myths about tornadoes.  I think most of us realize that tornadoes don't target trailer parks. Trailers are just more likely to sustain damage in a storm because they aren't as well constructed as most houses.

What about some of the more realistic sounding myths?  How many of these did you believe?

  1. If you are driving when a tornado approaches, you should shelter under an overpass until it passes.  This is actually a bad idea as the winds can accelerate under them and there is no shelter from flying debris. If you are in your vehicle and there is a tornado close by, it is best to abandon the vehicle and shelter in a ditch.  If it is farther away, then move away from the storm by driving at a right angle to its path. 
  2. Opening windows in a house will prevent it from exploding when a tornado passes by.  No.  There is no truth to pressure changes causing a building to explode. Don't stop to open windows.  Just get to the safest area of your home.
  3. Large cities can't be hit by tornadoes.  Nope!  You're not safer in an urban area.  This is a myth. Atlanta, Salt Lake City, St. Louis and Topeka are all cities that have been struck by tornadoes.
  4. The southwest corner of a building is the safest place in a tornado.  This used to be believed true but has been debunked.  It was based on the idea that most tornadoes travel in a northeasterly direction and presumptions about how debris moves in a tornado.  In any event, there is no truth to this one.
  5. Tornadoes don't strike in winter.  While it may be less likely for a tornado to form in winter as they often require warm temperatures to form, it is not impossible. 

Image found here

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday Six - June 8, 2013

1. Would you rather have your doughnuts hot, room temperature or chilled? Hot or room temperature.  They aren't good chilled, in my opinion.

2. Do you prefer Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts or a different restaurant when you have the doughnut craving? We have a local doughnut shop that I prefer. They aren't a chain.

3. How often do you buy doughnuts? Hardly ever - though I will occasionally get 1 or 2. I never get an entire dozen anymore. I guess once every 2 or 3 months I'll get one.

4. Your favorite doughnut: plain, filled or iced? It depends on my mood.  I like them all, to be honest.

5. If you were in a doughnut frame of mind but your only choice was iced doughnuts, which flavor of icing would you most be likely to choose? Chocolate.

6. The new trend is putting bacon on everything: what do you think about doughnuts topped with bacon? I think they sound good but I don't eat bacon anymore so I wouldn't indulge.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, June 7, 2013

My Favorite Webcomics

I enjoy following online comics.  Over the years, I've found quite a few that I have continued to follow.  I thought this might interest some of you so I'm going to list some of my favorites.

1. Questionable Content - This is a Monday thru Friday comic that follows a group of friends as they live their lives.   Bonus:  All sorts of people are represented here - including a newer transgender character. The artist also sells apparel adorned with his work as well as coffee mugs and such. I own a couple of his t-shirts.

2. The Oatmeal - How can I describe this comic?  I guess you could say that it is an awesome, quirky mix of bacon, cats, coffee and grammar.  Did I mention awesomeness? Just go and look.  You'll see.

3. Zen Pencils - This is updated about once a week.  The artist takes an inspirational quotation and draws a cartoon around it.  Most of them are available as posters so you can purchase some for your walls, too!

4. xkcd - New comics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The tagline says it is "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language" and I think that sums it up nicely.

5. Edmund Finney's Quest to Find the Meaning of Life - This comic is currently on hiatus but if you've not read it before, you have about 4 years worth of pages to catch up on.  I've linked the first page. The comics follow the adventures of Edmund Finney as he travels.  I have several panels I bought from the artist that will adorn the walls of my bedroom as soon as I find proper frames for them!


I read more than five, but I'm going to stop here for now.  Perhaps I'll make another list on another day.

Do you have a favorite webcomic I've not mentioned?  Feel free to mention it in the comments!

image found here

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fluoride: Poison or Miracle?

So, alright.  When I was a child, fluoride was touted as practically a miracle.  We were encouraged to brush our teeth - at least twice a day - with a fluoridated toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.  Fluoride was added to our water supply to help, as well. This was a good thing.

Now?  Well, now I hear folks saying that fluoride is poison!  Some European nations have banned adding fluoride to water supplies! We are told that we need to stop fluoridating our water and use toothpaste that doesn't contain fluoride because fluoride is bad for us!

Of course, this makes me want to find out more about the facts of the controversy so I can decide what I think about it.

Let's start at the beginning. In the early 1900s, dental caries (a.k.a. tooth decay) was extremely common here in the US. There really was no effective treatment other than eventual extraction of the decaying teeth. It was uncommon for a person to reach old age with the majority of their teeth intact.

The short story is that dentists who were based in certain areas of the US noticed that some people in those regions had teeth that were mottled but that these teeth seemed to be resistant to tooth decay.  To make a long story short, it was eventually discovered that the water in these areas had a higher level of naturally occurring fluoride and that this was the reason behind the benefit. Studies were done and it was decided that a certain level of fluoride in water supplies (no higher that 4 ppm) provided the benefit of decay resistance without causing the mottled teeth.  Over time, adjusting the fluoridation level of municipal water supplies became commonplace.

In the 1950s, the first widespread objection to fluoridated water began.  Groups were concerned that it was responsible for an increased risk of cancer, Down's syndrome, heart disease, lowered intelligence, Alzheimer Disease and/or other medical conditions. Many studies have been done over the years and those, as well as studies as recent as 1993, have shown no relation between fluoridated water and these health conditions.

Now, too much fluoride can be toxic and this is where the problems arise.  Drinking over-fluoridated water over years can result in skeletal and dental fluorosis which can result in weakened bones and teeth.  Some people take the argument that since this is something that could happen, we shouldn't take the risk.  That seems to be the argument of the European countries who have forbidden the addition to their water supplies.

Many of the objections seem to be over the range of allowable fluoride in the water and whether that amount is the right amount. Other concerns are the ability of your water supplier to properly monitor the level in the water released to the public and whether there is an acceptable degree of government oversight.

The vast majority of scientific evidence seems to support the adjustment of fluoride in our water to no higher than 4 ppm. Studies seem to suggest that this level will not cause any adverse health conditions.  In order for a person to consume enough fluoride to cause fluorosis, his or her local water supplier would have to exceed the accepted safe level for years and I don't think this is likely.

In conclusion, I think that it is beneficial to add fluoride to our water and I support it.  Your opinion may differ but you should be sure that your reasons are based on facts and not hype.  There is plenty of research available on the subject.

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Information for this post were found in the following websites
National Research Council
CDC
Quackwatch
Discovery - Fit and Health

Image found here

Monday, June 3, 2013

5 Facts about Albino Animals

I came across a picture of an albino alligator a few days ago and it made me curious about albino animals.  I did a Google image search and found quite a few interesting pictures including this albino peacock!  I've never seen one before! Lovely! If you're curious, take a look yourself.  I think they're really beautiful.

I also was able to find out quite a few things about albino animals.  Here are just a few facts about them.



1. Albino animals' bodies lack the ability to produce melanin which would create normal pigmentation so they appear white.

2. You can tell if an all white animal is an albino by looking at its eyes.  True albinos always have pink or red eyes.

3. Albinism is genetic and extremely rare as it is caused by a recessive gene.  Only about 1 in 10,000 animals will be born an albino.

4. Many Native American tribes held beliefs that albino animals were "spirit" animals or had magical qualities. I find this understandable as they do look mysterious.

5. Albino animals in the wild are often easy prey for predators as they can't use their natural coloring to hide in their surroundings.  They have a low survival rate.

Image found here

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Saturday Six - June 1, 2013

1. What’s the last television show you watched? Wow.  This is really embarrassing!  The last show I watched was Wipeout - Boss and Employee Edition (or something like that).  I turned it on because I wasn't familiar with it and there was absolutely nothing else on!  It was like a train wreck!  I couldn't look away! And no - I didn't watch the entire thing and I won't be watching it again.

2. Since we’re in the time of year that most network series air season finales, which show’s cliffhanger are you most looking forward to? Doctor Who - which already aired but I have it taped.  I'm not caught up yet.

3. If you could go behind the scenes on any TV show you watch or have ever watched, which would you choose and why? Star Trek: The Next Generation!  I love Star Trek and the actors on that show were just fabulous!  I would have turned into such a fan girl!

4. Of the people who perform on the show you selected in Q3, which one would you most like to meet one-on-one? Patrick Stewart!  No question about that one!  That man is a class act!

5. If it were up to you, which show would you most like to see go off the air? Two and a half Men.  It's run its course and it's just stupid now.  I can't watch it anymore and I can't imagine why anyone would.

6. Which genre of show (i.e., sitcom, drama, reality, etc.) would you most like to see more of each week? Not reality shows, that's for sure.  Actually, I'd prefer a good news program - like Brian Williams show they just cancelled.  Obviously the rest of the public doesn't agree with me...

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!