Allergies? Asthma? Get infected with hookworms!

What did we do before the internet?

I recommend that you listen to Carl Zimmer’s story on the Radiolab Podcast, preferably during the dinner hour.

Maybe we are just too clean for our own good, our poor immune systems never get a chance to do their thing so they start attacking the body they are supposed to be protecting.

Still, walking barefoot through latrines in Cameroon to pick up hookworms does seem a little extreme.

Men and women are different! It’s all about the hormones

I heard an interesting segment on CNN’s “Sanjay Gupta MD”. Dr Gupta was interviewing Dr Louann Brizedine author of “The Male Brain”. She described the profound effects that sex hormones have on behaviour.

We are different, we think different. This is a good thing.

The transcript may be found here.

Health Care in America

I’m re-posting these comments of my sister in this blog because this is an important subject for discussion (has some dated references). The film in question is Michael Moore’s “Sicko

I have always been very interested in health care issues and am
wondering where the National proposals will go.. I found this movie
helpful to see the testimonies in front of congress, Americans living
abroad attitudes about health care in other places and other points
about the system.. The new surgeon general mentioned some of these
issues about access to health care this week…

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

The Movie Channel, this evening, will be airing the Oscar-nominated
documentary, “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s film about a villain known as
the health insurance industry. With the debate raging in Washington,
D.C. — Republicans trying to scuttle it, the President trying to hang
on to his public option, and nearly a hundred members of Congress
pushing for a single-payer system — showing “Sicko” tonight is very
time……why private insurance companies are never going to side with
what’s best for the American people.

“Sicko” airs on The Movie Channel tonight at 8:00 PM. It’s also
scheduled to air on The Movie Channel on July 27th at 4:05 PM and on
TMC Xtra on August 2nd at 10:45 PM and August 5th at 2:15 AM and 7:30
AM. Click here for showtimes.

Beware of “free” Reversatrol Ultra


I should have known better. After watching a compelling 60 minutes piece on the health benefits of Reversatrol, the magic ingredient in red wine I made the foolish mistake of signing up for a “free” sample. I figured I would give it a try and see if could do undo the ravages of age. I thought I was rather savvy about these things.

After almost a month I don’t feel any better but I don’t feel any worse, at least until today when my credit card statement arrived. There on the page was a charge for $83.18 for a company named EXPRESSBERRY. Those are some expensive berries and I can buy two cases of 2 buck chuck for under $80 and get all my Reversatrol and enjoy it more.

As an elder I am supposed to wise, but they got me in terms of the agreement which I have included for your amusement. I missed this and apparently thousands of other folks have also.

When you go to the site a timer starts and you informed that you only have a few minutes to sign up for the “free” sample. This feature makes it unlikely that you will read the terms of this agreement.  The site has a video of the 60 minute piece, pictures of Barbara Walters or Oprah or someone named Dr Oz (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain).

Maybe Barbara Walters or Oprah can pick up the tab for this since their names are attached to the site.

I won’t provide a link, instead I would encourage you to Google “Reversatrol Ultra Scam” instead. It’s not legally a scam, it’s just devious. I’m sure they have many products like Acai berries and something named Rez Q. But I’m  sure they all have the “free” offer.

I am returning the unopened bottle they sent with a proof of delivery notice and hoping I get a partial or full refund. This was the advice given by my Credit Card provider.

There is no such thing as a free lunch I guess.

Here is a copy of the “terms of agreement”


Free Trial Period

When Customer orders the free trial of Rez Q (the “Product”) and agrees to pay the shipping and processing fee described on the order page, Company will ship Customer a 30-day supply of Product. Customer will have ten days from the date of order (the “Free Trial Period”) to review the Product and decide whether Customer would like to keep it and begin Customer’s subscription or contact Company to return the Product as described below. If Customer chooses to keep the Product beyond the Free Trial Period, Customer does nothing. Company will charge Customer’s credit card $78.23 and Customer’s subscription will begin automatically once the Free Trial Period has expired. As long as Customer’s subscription is active, about every month Company will send Customer a new 30-day supply of Product and will charge Customer’s credit card the same low monthly price plus $6.95 for shipping and processing. If at any time Customer wishes to end Customer’s subscription and discontinue receiving additional 30-day supplies of Product, Customer must contact Company’s customer service department as outlined below. In order to avoid being charged for any subsequent Product, Customer must contact Company before shipment of Customer’s next 30-day supply of Product. Company is NOT responsible for any overdraft fees or other fees resulting from customers using a credit card with an insufficient balance to cover the above costs. It is the sole responsibility of the Customer to ensure funds are available to cover all applicable fees and taxes.

Weird collection of Google ads


As some of you know, Google places sponsored advertisement links based upon the text of search strings and email text. I usually give it a glance to see if the links are relevant or unintentionally funny. I got an email from someone who is following me on twitter. Apparently Google thinks I’m in great physical pain for the ad links are for:

  • Comprehensive eye care
  • Painless Bunion Surgery (I hope so!)
  • Avoid Hip Replacement Now! (hope forever!)
  • Kugel Hernia Mesh Lawsuit (I will look this up)
  • Adhesions Causing Pain? (They are now)
  • Rotator Cuff Surgery (I really want to avoid this)

Plan a Victory Garden for 2009

I’m a great believer in the phrase “Think Globally, Act Locally”. We are facing all types of challenges as a nation.   I’ve been growing a garden for 0ver 35 years, mostly as a means of getting fresh vegetables and learning about plants.

Many of my friends and family grow a garden. In World War II these were called “Victory Gardens” and the impetus came from no less than the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who established a garden at the white house. In 1943 Americans planted over 20 million Victory Gardens and the harvest accounted ofr nearly a third of the vergetables consumed in that year.
I dedicated a bit of the front lawn to tomatoes these last 2 years and realized after a disappointing crop that I need to initiate some crop rotation. I will be ADDING more garden space and REMOVING more useless lawn.
I was heartened to read a great open letter by Michael Pollard describing what the next president can and should do to remake the way we grow and eat our food. The link is “Farmer in Chief”.
Michael Pollan was interviewed on “Fresh Air” and I listened to the podcast. It may be heard a this link “Food As A National Security Issue”

As if being asthmatic isn’t hard enough already….

My cousin SarahD a petition request to the family. To me it seems like a case of a lack of flexibility in matters that have a direct effect on human health and safety. The issue at hand is the banning of Metered-Dose Inhalers (MDIs) that contain ozone depleting propellants.

More infomation may be found at this FDA link:

Here is the text of Sarah’s message:

“Now the gov’t and drug co’s have added another layer of fun to it!! Katie and I both have asthma, and barb mentioned that Jim P does too. I’m interested to find out anyone else’s experience with this. Let me preface by saying that I love the environment and do not want there to be a whole in the ozone layer. HOWEVER, i am very bothered by this….
Ok, so up until recently albuterol inhalers have been made with CFC as the propellant that pushes the medicine out and into your lungs when you push down on the canister (makes the “puff” if you will). The CFC kind of inhalers have been discontinued as of 12/31/08 (because as we know, CFC’s are bad for the ozone), and have been replaced with inhalers that deliver hte same medicine with HFA as the propellant. I found this out at the pharmacy the other day and was NOT happy. I have used the same type of inhaler all my life and it is waht allows me to have a quality of life equal to someone who doesn’t have asthma. It allows to me be as athletic as i am – which is a big thing for me. I’m afraid this switch will impact that.
These are the main problems i have with the switch:
1) NO MORE GENERICS – CFC inhalers have been around long enough for drug co’s patents to expire, allowing generics to be on the market. HFA inhalers are new and have new patents so there won’t be generics on the market anytime soon. In my case, I’ll go from paying $15 per inhaler (roughly per month) to $30 or more. This is mostly an annoyance for me, but what about inner cities where asthma in children is so concentrated and families can barely afford the generic! 😦
2) EFFECTIVENESS – I tried the HFA inhaler the other day before runnign and had to stop mid-run to use it again because my chest was feeling tight. I had to slow my pace way down for several minutes as i waited for the medicine to do it’s job. With the old inhaler i used it before running and could run for a long time without any discomfort. This is really frustrating and disheartening to me because I’m training for a marathon…I better save the remainder of my last old inhaler for race day!
3) THIS:
I’m not sure if this will have any impact – I mean, if CFC’s are banned, they’re banned. But it’s at least worth a shot. Please sign the petition below if you see fit.
Thanks! Sarah “

Please support the fight against stroke

My daughter Emily is going to participate in the Falmouth Road Race this August. Here are the details:

I’m training to run the 2008 Falmouth Race to benefit Tedy’s Team! Your donations mean so much to me!

Through Tedy’s Team, I have a coach, a team, training schedules, and special clinics – and I’m raising thousands of dollars for stroke research and education programs. That’s important, because someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of one every 3.1 minutes. And 29 percent of people who have strokes are under age 65.

I’m asking for your support through your good thoughts and a generous contribution to the American Stroke Association. I am especially proud to run on behalf of many who’ve had a stroke and desperately need our help. You can run with me in spirit.

P.S. Your tax-deductible contribution, sent as soon as possible, is greatly appreciated! Every dollar makes a difference toward stroke research and education. If your company has a matching gift program, please send me the matching gift form along with your check – and potentially double your donation!

Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support ASA – NEA – Boston,MA

Link to my Page

Tai-Chi at Work

One of the benefits of working with computer engineers is meeting a number of interesting individuals from various cultures. When I worked on Spitbrook Road in Nashua, NH for Digital, twice a week we would start our day with a Tai-Chi long form in the parking lot. Tai-Chi is relaxing and strenuous at the same time, it is wonderful. It was great practicing outside as long as the weather cooperated. Later I ended up back in Massachusetts and discovered another lunchtime group that would practice in a conference room. That group was led by Taichun Pan, a software engineer. I knew he was a good teacher but didn’t realize what a good musician he is. It was just a matter of time till he appeared on a YouTube courtesy of a local Boston show “Asian Focus”.


I was sent these links from a co-worker who is also a musician and practitioner of martial arts (with swords no less). On Spitbrook Road we did a brief stint with swords and I got to meet security one morning (Note: The swords are useless as weapons). Enjoy the videos

Temporal Displacement and Vivid Dreaming

One of the joys of being an elder is the opportunity to try new medications. I managed for decades to avoid any prescriptions but finally my borderline hypertension needed some tweaking. After reading about what high blood pressure can do and seeing stroke effects in my own family, I was only too willing to join the rest of my pill popping generation. Thankfully I only need low dosages of Enalapril and Hydrochlorothiazide. Enalapril was developed by clever folks who found a way to utilize Brazilian viper toxin secrets…. that impressed me greatly.

Of course all medication has side effects and as an aficionado of Google I had a great time reading about all the possible side effects of these drugs. Buried deep in the list is something called “vivid dreaming”. I missed this on the first pass, instead developing a psychosomatic “dry cough” which was totally self induced (and quickly dissipated). However my dreaming has taken on a more realistic presence. I’m begging to feel like Billy Pilgrim who became “Unstuck in Time” in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Slaughterhouse Five”. It’s a weird sensation when dreams seem to blend into reality. Since dream time flow differs from waking time, there is a slight time shift. It seems to be a harmless phenomenom because I attempt to live a uneventful stress free life and have uneventful stress free dreams. Or pehaps I may be experiencing a placebo effect. I cannot imagine how either of these drugs can have psychotropic qualities. I like to know how things work.

In a recent episode of ABC’s LOST, our hero Desmond has a few problems with temporal displacement. He had it really bad, and that’s the kind of thing that happens to folks on that island. The show did capture the feeling of jumping into different times and it does give a sense of what vivid dreaming feels like, being here and there at the same “time”.

Why this posting? It’s one in a series of “musings” but perhaps a helpful reader can give me some insight about the biological mechanism. In the meantime I’m hoping to graduate to “Lucid Dreaming”… that would be even cooler!

Pleasant dreams