Archive for April, 2010

Recipe of the Week

This week’s recipe was forwarded to me by Ziegler reader Dave Hutchins.

SWEET AND SPICY PORK STIR-FRY

Yield: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces pork, fat trimmed, cubed

1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

2 potatoes, unpeeled, diced 

1 small onion, diced 

1 cup diced celery 

2 cups shredded green cabbage

Sauce Ingredients:

1 tablespoon cornstarch 

1/3 cup cold water 

3/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce 

3/4 cup ketchup 

2 tablespoons brown sugar substitute

DIRECTIONS

Spray large saucepan with cooking spray; add pork and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until meat is browned. Add carrot and potatoes; cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add onion,celery, and cabbage; cook 5 minutes or until potato is tender. Combine cornstarch and water in small bowl, whisking until cornstarch is dissolved. Add soy sauce, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix well.

Pour sauce over stir-fry and toss to coat.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1/4 of recipe):

Calories: 243, Fat: 5.3 g, Cholesterol: 26.5 mg,

Sodium: 781 mg, Protein: 16.2 g, Carbohydrate: 33.7 g

Diabetic Exchanges: 2 Bread/Starch, 2 Meat

The Unattractive Side of Cosmetic Samples

A biological sciences professor at Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania performed an experiment on sample make-up products found at the counters in department stores.  What she discovered may just serve as another reason to avoid those places altogether, as if you shouldn’t want to already with all that perfume and cologne being sprayed around you.  I swear, every time I walk into those stores there is a smiling teenager who wants nothing more than to blind me or ruin my taste buds for hours by spraying something in my face.  But I digress.

Her study revealed that not some, but all of the samples at every counter she tested contained the bacteria E. coli.  Not only that, others contained strep and staph bacteria strains which can cause herpes and conjunctivitis.  The highest levels of these bacteria were found during the weekend.

“Wherever you can see E. coli, you should just think ‘E. coli equals feces’,” Dr Brooks said.  “That means someone went to the bathroom, didn’t wash their hands and then stuck their fingers in that moisturizer.”

Experts recommend that anyone who does go to these counters use only the squeezable lotion dispensers or disposable applicators in order to avoid using anything that someone had previously used to sample the products.  Even if the employees behind the counter are rubbing things down with alcohol pads and doing everything that they can to prevent bacterial contamination, there is no fool proof way to eliminate everything when so many people are handling the products. 

So not only should you watch out for clouds of haphazardly sprayed perfume samples, you should absolutely make sure that you’re using an individual sample, or one that has only been used with disposable applicators.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1268268/Dangers-make-counter-E-coli-EVERY-tester-beauty-counters.html?printingPage=true

An Unexpected Ride

Jim Rawlinson, a 68 year old surfer, got the ride of his life the other day off the coast of Hawaii.  As he was riding in on a wave, he felt a sudden jerk at the back of his board that slightly lifted him into the air.  As he slid backwards, he soon found himself straddling a huge tiger shark, which had mistaken his board for a bite to eat. 

When Rawlinson realized his precarious situation, he kept his cool, riding the shark for a little way and then releasing his board leash from his ankle and gently sliding off it’s side into the water.  After that, he found his board floating nearby and, remarkably, continued to surf for another 45 minutes with a giant bite taken out of his board.

A marine biologist was actually taking underwater footage just a few yards from where Rawlinson was surfing and saw the whole event.  Apparently, there was a group of turtles that suddenly scattered right near his surf board.  She thinks that the shark was going after a turtle and missed, grabbing a  mouthful of surf board instead.  Once it realized that it wasn’t dining on a tasty turtle, it let the board go.  By the size of the bite mark in the surf board, she thinks that the shark was probably about 14 feet long.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.portfolioweekly.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=MultiPublishing&mod=PublishingTitles&mid=6EECC0FE471F4CA995CE2A3E9A8E4207&tier=4&id=1191B3FB6AF84141A38242A770A93823

Who Should Have a Say About Your Salt?

According to the Institute of Medicine, the FDA should step in and regulate the amount of salt that is allowed to be present in foods because most of the salt that gets into our bodies comes from processed and restaurant food and simply telling us to eat less salt isn’t working.  While the FDA isn’t currently working on any regulations, they are considering the panel’s report.  The question though, is should they be able to regulate salt?

On the one hand, are the health issues.  Increased amounts of salt in one’s diet is responsible for higher blood pressure, kidney failure, and strokes.  Clearly, those are all bad.  By decreasing the amount of salt in our foods, an FDA regulation would, in turn, improve the health of the majority of America.  The FDA regulates many other foods that we eat on a constant basis, why should salt be any different?  What about health insurance?  With more people getting sick because of their poor diets, health insurance premiums will increase across the board.  Aren’t they high enough already?

On the other hand, while the FDA does, indeed, regulate other foods, most of them are to protect us from diseases in the food itself, not diseases caused by the food.  Should beef carrying the virus that causes Mad Cow Disease be treated the same as salt?  Where does this regulation end?  Will they cut back our butter intake because it causes higher cholesterol?  By that same virtue, why not limit the amount of milk that someone over a certain age should drink because it may cause kidney stones?  While it may be true that many Americans haven’t heeded to the warning that a salt-rich diet leads to poor health, should mom and dad government hold our hand telling us how much we can have?  It’s a slippery slope.

While this discussion is ongoing and the FDA has yet to decide whether or not to pursue regulations, what are your feelings about the issue?

To read the original article, please go to http://www.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=USTRE63J0JN20100421

Turning Emissions into Money

A company named Skyonic has devised a new way to scrub the harmful heavy metal elements out of industrial plant exhaust stacks and turn the remaining carbon dioxide into baking soda.  This procedure used to be a pipe dream a few months ago, but thanks to various grants, the first Skymine facility will be mated to the largest cement factory in Texas.  The baking soda output of the process can be used in animal feed, glass products, and even as a growth catalyst for bioalgae.

Not only will this new process seriously diminish the harmful emissions coming from the plant, but it will also become a profitable add-on, as well.  According to the CEO of Skyonics, “The sum of the byproducts of the plant are worth more than the sum of input. Salt, water, and electricity are the only inputs. Hydrogen, chlorine, and bicarbonate products are the outputs.”  They’ll be able to sell the byproducts of the plant processes along with their end product, increasing their profits while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint.  While the Skymine add-on facility will cost nearly 100 million dollars to build, its costs will be offset down the line since it also makes the company money.

Carbon capture facilities are not a new invention, but what sets this apart is that there is no underground storage.  Where other capture systems store the CO2 gasses underground, with Skymine, the remaining carbon is transformed into a useful product, making the process safer and more practical.

 To read the original article, please go to http://www.fastcompany.com/1622160/skyonics-texas-carbon-capture-facility-will-turn-co2-into-baking-soda

Rags to Riches

Chris Shaw is a regular guy.  He holds a job at a convenience store and does what he can to get by.  He also now has the potential to be worth well over 100 million dollars. 

Six numbers have forever changed Mr. Shaw’s life.  11, 34, 41, 49, 55, 20 is all it took to win him the gargantuan 258 million dollar Powerball lottery jackpot.  Which, by the way, couldn’t have come at a better time.  Shaw only had $28.58 in his bank account.

He now has the option of taking the winnings in one lump sum of roughly 120 million dollars, or accept the payment in yearly installments for thirty years.  Regardless of his choice, he’s got a ton of money at his disposal and all the time in the world to change his lifestyle, should he choose to do so.  Though, he still isn’t sure if he’ll quit his job at the convenience store yet.

To read the original article, please go to http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978191626

Contributor Nancy Scott – I’m Almost Old and Already Cheap

It was a warm Sunday in June and Kathy and I were bored. “We need something wild,” Kathy suggested.

“But what could we do that was wild?” I asked, unable to think wildly.

“Let’s go see the Sex and the City movie. I want to see it.” 

I also wanted to see it and, by now, it would be close to the end of its run. “That’s a great idea.” I knew wild when I heard it–wild for us, anyway.

As we pulled into the Regal parking lot Kathy said, “It’s nine bucks for you if you can believe that on a Sunday afternoon, but I’m over 62 so I’m a senior citizen. I get in for $6.75.”

We walked up to buy our tickets. Kathy announced to the teen-age girl in the booth that she could get the senior rate. “What about her?” the ticket-taker asked, referring to me.  Now I hadn’t planned to try for the discount so I said, “Well, I’m close.”  “OK,” the girl said, and charged me the lower price.

“Why do you think she did that?” I asked, surprised. “Do I look that old? Or maybe it’s my cane?”

“She can’t be more than 19,” Kathy explained. “We all look old to her.”

I will be 55 by the time you read this and I’m quite gleeful about my silver-gray hair and whatever else might get me discounts. Also, I’m amazed at how much better I feel after going out to do something unexpected. By the way, one bottle of water at the theater cost three bucks. Can young people afford going to the movies? “If we wanted popcorn,” Kathy theorized, “I’d probably have to write a check.”

Feature Writer John Christie – Cleveland Sight Center Event a Great Success

The Cleveland Sight Center, in conjunction with the Lake Erie Monsters, raised awareness about vision loss and services for people who are blind or visually impaired in February. The agency and its programs were highlighted during and before the hockey game. The event was held at the Quicken Loans Arena. There were 130 people who were in some way connected with Cleveland Sight Center at the game. This is the first year that the Cleveland Sight Center has put on this event.

Koula Callas who is in charge of the Managing, Marketing and Public Relations activities at the Cleveland Sight Center said that the event started when the Lake Erie Monsters contacted them. “They have several games at which they will feature a nonprofit organization so that they can help to educate the community about services in the community,” she said.

There was also part of the event that has to do with a hockey puck. It’s called Chuck-a-Puck. “This is a chance to win a pot of money based on how many people are participating,” Callas said. “You pay a dollar for a rubber hockey puck and you toss it over the protective Plexiglas that separates the rink from the spectators and you try to toss it in to a bucket. If you make it in to the bucket you get to split the pot with the house,” she said. From this hockey puck event, the center made $800.

The Center would like to have this event again next year. “We would just need to find out if there going to be offering the same kind of programming for nonprofits next year which we anticipate they will,” she said. She also said that the event was a great experience overall for everyone.

Op Ed Writer Bob Branco – What Happened to Volunteerism?

I’ve said many times just how hard it is to find people to volunteer their time, when it used to be so easy.  The reason could be that modern society is fast paced, with more and more people in the work force not having much free time to volunteer.  However, after talking to a blind friend of mine last week, it really occurred to me just how much we’ve reached a sad state of affairs.
My friend lives alone in a public housing unit, and he depends on volunteers to help him with his paper work and to go through the mail.  I will not mention who he is because his name is not relevant to the story; only his situation.  What I am about to tell you may shock you, but it’s the truth.  This blind man is having so much trouble finding a volunteer that it’s gotten to the point where his mail is read to him once a month.  Yes,
you read correctly, once a month.  I don’t think I have to tell you the impact of his situation.  It’s true that most of us receive mail that can wait a month to be read, but in a lot of cases it can’t wait that long.  So, here’s the situation as it stands now.  Do we sit back and accept my friend’s situation for what it is, or do we come up with reasonable suggestions toward a better solution to his problem?  I hate to think that many people in his situation have to wait a month for their mail to be read to them, but what if it’s true?
Let’s go further with this.  The only reason why my friend is lucky enough to have his mail read to him once a month is because he happens to have a volunteer visit him for a couple of hours.  What if this volunteer didn’t have time to visit him once a month?  What, in God’s name, would my blind friend do about his mail and the rest of his paper work?
Friends, loved ones, and agencies serving the blind all try to encourage blind people to live as independently as possible, and they are absolutely right.  However, as for reading the mail, it’s not as easy as we think. Some people encourage the blind to go out and buy a scanner to read the mail.  First of all, scanners cost thousands of dollars, and if you’re on S.S.I., it’s impossible for you to get one.  Second of all, as you know, much of our mail is not typewritten, therefore the scanner won’t read it anyway.
If I had my mail read to me once a month, and knew I couldn’t do anything about it, I’d worry every day that my gas, electric, telephone and Cable Television would be shut off because no one’s telling me when to pay the bills.
By this time, some of you probably want to ask me where my friend’s neighbors are and why they can’t read his mail.  I can only tell you that he’s a man of sound mind. I’m assuming he knows his desperate situation well enough so that he could ask his neighbors to help him.  I couldn’t possibly picture a man of his capacity not asking, knowing he’d have to wait a month to have his mail read.  If his neighbors don’t want to be bothered, there’s nothing he can do about it.
In closing, I just want to talk a little about my efforts to obtain such a volunteer to help me with routine business and paper work.  I tried to put in for a volunteer over 10 years ago.  It took 8 years for the agency to find one for me.  This is not the agency’s fault.  It’s a very good agency serving a lot of people, and it does its job very, very well.  So you can’t blame an agency if no one wants to come forward and volunteer for an hour or two a week.  I guess all I can say is that I’m fortunate to have neighbors and friends who want to take a couple of minutes out of their busy day to make sure I’m caught up with everything.  I hope it continues for me, and I hope my friend can have a better situation for himself.

Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Parts of Me

For more than a decade, I could not accept the full impact blindness imposed upon me. I resisted, I mourned. Then, one day, I woke up and decided I wasn’t living, I was only existing. I made some changes, the first of which was working to learn to identify myself as a blind person and accepting my disability. Once I achieved this, once I woke up every day thinking, “I’m blind and I’m still myself,” a truer, more confident attitude became part of me. This is, therefore, the story of my transition.

I was fitted with glasses at age 7 and from that instant, I felt them on my face every waking moment. The glasses were thick and heavy, almost crushing my nose. If I made a sudden move, the glasses would fly off and break. I was Ann-Michelle, the round, sensitive little girl with pigtails and glasses. I loved animals, riding my bike and playing in my pretty pink room. Adding the glasses changed all that; I had to be extra-careful. When, inevitably, I broke my glasses, mom and dad would go on about how to pay for new ones and that made me feel guilty. Since I always broke them during ball games or rough-housing, I stopped. The other kids teased me, called me four-eyes, fat girl who can’t play games. I hated myself for not being ‘normal’, for being different, for having to give up what I loved to appease my parents, who would never know or understand that breaking my glasses was an accident and that for me to promise to never let it happen again meant I had to give up being a kid.

“I can’t do anything about it. It’s taking over and I’m just not ready for it. I want things to stay the way they were, but I don’t have any control over this damn RP. I want to wake up one day and know my sight will stabilize instead of fearing that one day it will vanish. The one thing I want most in the world I can’t have, and never experienced, and that thing is 20/20 vision.  I once stared into my own hazel eyes and asked them why did they have to betray me? Why did they not ever offer me just one moment of the acuity others take for granted?” –Journal entry, June 2006.

I feel ashamed for not being able to see what others can see. The shame has followed me since I was 6 and attending parochial school. The nun sent me to the Mother Superior for “eye problems.” It made me feel like I was being punished. I was taken out of school until I could get glasses. I was heartbroken when, after listening to the ophthalmologist explain what was wrong with my eyes, I felt the first prickle of fear.

Then there was the never-ending barrage of, “Can you see that?” Mostly, it was no. I’d shake my head, afraid that if I spoke, I would cry. I wanted to tell everyone to stop asking me if I could see, that even with glasses, I was still struggling. But I was afraid to tell my parents because they were already upset.

I think this was the beginning of my life as a blind person. I tried to act normally but I was clumsy, myopic and self-conscious. Drawing attention to my vision loss was the last thing I wanted to do so I avoided it. Unfortunately, that meant I had to avoid people, too. The feelings it provoked made me want to run and hide. I wanted to feel like everyone else. I wanted to be able to walk into a room and see all the faces at the table, not just the ones closest to me. My compulsion to hide my poor vision continued into adulthood. The element of shame eventually materialized in negative behaviors. Quite often I felt like no one cared about me. That kind of neglect seeped in to my heart and made it much harder to deal with my vision loss because I didn’t know how to stand up for myself.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I realized I was rapidly losing my sight. I was behind the wheel of the driver’s education training car for the first time; the instructor and two other students were with me. I was doing fine until the instructor, also our soccer coach, told me to make a left-hand lane change because the right-hand lane was closed, a large bucket truck blocking it. I put on the blinker and looked over my shoulder; a red sedan was coming up fast and I hesitated, staying in my lane. Suddenly, the car came to a screeching halt, painfully tightening our seatbelts.

Stunned, I turned to the instructor, ready to apologize. “Didn’t you see that?” he bellowed, his finger pointing to a bright orange flag taped to the end of a long, metal pole protruding from the back of the truck. The pole was mere inches from the car’s windshield. If the coach hadn’t hit the secondary brake I probably would have become a human shish-ka-bob. We sat in an uncomfortable silence for a few heartbeats, then, one of the jocks sitting in the back seat murmured, “Hey man, get your eyes checked.”

The subsequent visit to the ophthalmologist added to my fears. The doctor made no promises about my new prescription helping me to drive. The diagnosis was myopia and severe bilateral astigmatism. I was nearsighted and there was nothing I could do about it.

A few years later, I went back to the east coast, moving in with my father, and his second wife. I got around well, relying on New York’s more reliable public transportation. I walked, rode a bike and hired taxis.

Family members just couldn’t understand why I had no desire to learn how to drive. It was difficult explaining my fear because I wasn’t fully aware of it myself. My father and stepmother were unrelenting about my not driving even though I told them I couldn’t see well enough to drive. They made me go get a learner’s permit anyway.

I took the written test, scoring a 100. When I went up to take the vision test however, the clerk passed me even though I couldn’t read the chart past the second line with glasses. That familiar, cold pang of fear came back and I walked out of the Department of Motor Vehicles vowing never to drive again. I told my father that I didn’t pass the eye test and he dropped the subject. My stepmother, on the other hand, made it clear that she thought I just didn’t want to learn. She insisted I go back to the ophthalmologist to ask about contact lenses.

There were times when I thought it was my vision that was responsible for my stepmother’s disapproval. It wasn’t until years after my diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa that I figured out her criticisms were propelled by ignorance, not spite. Even so, her words and actions hurt deeply, proving to me that she thought my vision loss was more like a character flaw than a medical condition. Sadly, most of my family did not acknowledge my disability. I took their silence as a lack of concern; I thought no one cared.

After finally being diagnosed with RP in 1992, and told I would eventually lose most of my sight, I hit bottom. My depression was so severe that I didn’t speak to anyone for days and only ventured outside when I knew my son needed the fresh air and sunshine. I didn’t have any friends and distanced myself from my side of the family.

My husband and his family were kind to me but they didn’t know how to help me, treating me as if I had something wrong that shouldn’t be discussed, especially if I was in the room. So, I tried to live like a sighted person until the stress from living the lie bore me into deep despair.

My recovery from the depression was slow but empowering. Eventually, I could no longer deny that I was going blind and had to acknowledge that in order for me to move ahead, I must find help. One thing that truly helped was the unconditional acceptance I received from a therapist, whose belief in my potential never wavered even as this person developed a full understanding of what I had experienced. I then took the risk of letting some people into my life who showed me how to regain my independence. Thirteen years after I agreed to meet with a vision rehabilitation counselor, I earned a master’s of science degree in family therapy. It was worth every step. Education was the most important part of my rehabilitation. As I progressed through a GED program, a four-year bachelor’s program, and finally a three-year graduate program, most of the misinterpretations of my youth were debunked.

As an adjunct to my new self-awareness, my husband and other family members cheered me on, supporting my efforts with encouragement, transportation and childcare. My appreciation for life and its gifts continues, expanding and enhancing my perception of the world and the people with whom I come into contact.

I remind myself that living with a progressive illness sculpts the way in which I view the world. Sometimes I view the world as my pearl and at other times I view it more like a burr under my saddle. At one time I viewed my blindness as a horrific nightmare that buried me in fear, anger and rejection. Once I got proof that I wasn’t alone, that other blind people got out from under the bad dream, I found the way out of mine, too. Meeting other disabled individuals helped me understand that my burden was manageable. I felt better and my self-esteem increased. Improving my blindness skills made me more confident. Computer skills enabled me to reach out to others via the Internet. Becoming involved with blindness organizations gave me a chance to learn more about disability rights and I learned to be an advocate for my needs and the needs of others like me. Now, I accept every part of me.