Friday, November 30, 2007

Right Brain or Left Brain? Check it out!

So here's a fun little visual test to determine whether you are more Right Brain or Left Brain oriented. I'm not sure how it works, but it's certainly interesting:

Right Brain V Left Brain Test

And for a written test go to:

Hemispheric Dominance Inventory Test

Not surprisingly, I am Right Brained!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Too Much Meat Equals Trouble

Too much of anything is not a good thing. If we all practiced a little moderation, we would be much healthier for it. But most of us have a tendency to overindulge in our favourite foods, in spite of knowing certain excesses can cause major problems in the future. In some cases, it's lack of knowledge, in others it's a deliberate choice. Either way, we should educate ourselves about what we ingest and how it can adversely affect our health. And then, at least, we have no-one to blame but ourselves when we do get sick.

For those of you who eat red meat, and lots of it, you should be aware that too much can cause a plethora of problems from heart disease to a higher risk of colorectal cancer, at which point, you have to decide whether it's worth the risk or not.

Heart Disease:

According to a Harvard Nurses' Study, women with Type 2 Diabetes who ingested too much Heme Iron from meat, increased their risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease over a 20 year period by a whopping 50%.


A group of 21 experts from around the world spent 5 years evaluating 7,000 cancer studies to determine what increases or decreases the risk of getting cancer. They concluded, among many other things, that eating too much meat can definitely increase that risk. Sir Michael Marmot, a Professor from University College London and chair of the panel of experts, claims there is a definite link between excess meat consumption and colorectal cancer, and halving the amount from the recommended 900 grams of red meat per week to 500 grams (equivalent to 2- 8 oz steaks) can substantially decrease that risk. He also recommends totally avoiding processed meats including smoked, salted or cured, like bacon, ham and salami. I would add hot dogs to the list.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

In a study by researchers at the University of Manchester, England participants who ate the most red meat doubled their risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. Those who ate other meats in addition to red meat had the same risk factors. As someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I can guarantee you that juicy T-Bone is not worth the risk.

Bone Loss:

A study, at the University of California in San Francisco, of more than one thousand 65 to 80-year-old women found that after a period of 7 years those women who had the highest intake of protein from animal sources (like meat and cheese) had 3 times the amount of bone loss and 3.7 times the rate of hip fractures.

Then you have the extremely remote possibility of contracting Mad Cow Disease, but I won't get into that.

None of the studies are recommending people give up meat altogether (although I would suggest that) they are merely asking you to limit your intake. As the saying goes: "Everything in moderation." If you must eat 16 ounces of meat per week, try adding some fish to your diet and cooking up several veggie meals the rest of the week. Get a good vegetarian cookbook, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks! A day to reflect upon all our blessings. And, as Americans, we are extremely blessed to be living in one of the greatest countries in the world. So we're not perfect. Which country is?! We have our many problems, no-one denies that, but in spite of all our shortcomings, and as often as foreigners vehemently claim to hate and despise us, the U.S. is the country most people dream of coming to. That's why this country is overflowing with legal and illegal immigrants, because this is the "land of opportunity"

where, with a little effort and sometimes no effort at all, anyone can be anything they choose to be,

Where education is encouraged for both men and women.

Where a woman can do a man's job and vice versa.

Where a woman can drive a car, a bus, a truck, a plane or even fly into outerspace.

Where women can wear what they want without being beaten and stoned for showing their ankles, arms or a tuft of hair.

Where we can criticise our government and politicians without being thrown into jail and tortured or killed.

Where our politicians are (usually) held accountable and we can vote, in or out, for whomever we choose, and we do and have.

Where we can demonstrate, if we choose to, against or about pretty much anything we choose to.

Where we have access to the internet and news that is not censored.

Where we can worship in a temple, church, synagogue, mosque or wherever we choose to commune with God, or not worship at all.

Where we have access to alternative medicine, and our supplements and herbs are not rigorously and overly regulated.

Where we can travel, without restriction, throughout this country and abroad.

Where life is what you make of it, and you can make anything of your life.

Where we don't live in fear of daily suicide bombings, or being killed because we happen to be a different religion than our neighbour.

This is what freedom and democracy are all about. The freedom to choose what we want for our lives. Not to have those choices dictated by militant religious or political dogma. This is the "land of the free" and "the home of the brave."

God Bless these United States of America and those brave men and women who serve in our armed forces who fight to maintain the freedoms that we have!

We have much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Email Virus alert: Zapchast Trojan Virus in Hallmark E-Cards


With the holiday season fast approaching spammer reprobates are at it again. As I was perusing tonight, I noticed an alert regarding the latest attempt to infect your computer with the Zapchast Trojan Virus via Hallmark E-Cards. Hallmark has some very good recommendations on how to determine if it's a legitimate E-Card or not, and how to report the abuse.

I've posted all the relevant information on my other blog.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Ten "Other" Commandments to Live by

Not sure who to attribute this to, but these 10 "commandments", of sorts, are truly worth trying to apply to our daily lives.

1. Thou shalt not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.

2. Thou shalt not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.

3. Thou shalt not cross bridges before you get to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing that.

4. Thou shalt face each problem as it comes. You can handle only one at a time, anyway.

5. Thou shalt not borrow other people's problems. They can take better take care of them than you can.

6. Thou shalt not take problems to bed with you for they make poor bed fellows.

7. Thou shalt not try to relive yesterday for good or ill- it is gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life today.

8. Thou shalt count they blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one.

9. Thou shalt be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It's very hard to learn something when you're talking.

10. Thou shalt not become bogged down by frustration, for 90 percent of it is rooted in self pity and it will only interfere with positive action.

If anyone knows who wrote this, please let me know. I'd like to give credit, where credit is due.

A relative of mine gave this to me with the title "My Ten Commandments by: Rabbi Eckstein", but google came up empty, so still not positive.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Other Use for Vodka

I learned this handy dandy little tip in the theatre. During a performance week there is usually neither the time nor the money to dry clean those costumes that happen to require dry cleaning. Our Union requires that all skins (those pieces that are in direct contact with your body like socks, bras, slips etc) be washed daily. The costumers will also kindly wash anything that is washable, as well, but that leaves some other very smelly unwashable clothes to be worn for the week, until they can be cleaned. That can be up to 9 performances. Not very pleasant for anyone involved.

So what they do is spray the costumes, particularly the malodorous spots under the arm with undiluted vodka (the cheaper the higher proof the better). Some will use Febreze, but the Vodka seems to work better, and is a more environmentally friendly alternative, I would think.

So, next time you can't wash a particular item and it needs a little freshening up, try some vodka. Seems like that might be a good travel option, when you are traveling light and are unable to wash every day.

Honey for Insomnia

Having trouble with your nightly zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs?

Found this recommendation in the October 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times:

Before bed dissolve 2 tsp of honey in a cup of warm water. Drink.

"Honey relaxes the nervous system and muscles, making it easy to drift off to sleep."

Sounds good, but for those of us with small bladders, drinking a cup of warm water with honey might help us fall asleep quicker, but we'll be waking up in the middle of the night to rid ourselves of that liquid.

I've had troubles with sleep most of my life, and have yet to find a solution. I will keep looking.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Keys to happiness- Carol Holmes quote

So who is Carol Holmes, you ask? I hate to admit it but I've no idea- she's not even listed in Wikipedia, not that that means anything, but I love this quote attributed to her.
A happy life is made up of little things-

a gift sent, a letter written, a call made, a recommendation given, transportation provided, a cake made, a book lent, a check sent.

Whoever Carol Holmes is, she has it right. We garner more happiness from doing things for others than for ourselves. It's in the spirit of giving and of service that we are truly able to step out of our self involvement, and by doing so we gain more than we could possibly imagine. Particularly for those prone to depression, doing things for others allows us to stop focusing on self which can prolong the depressive state.

So, go do what Carol Holmes, whoever you are, recommends. Spend some time with a Veteran, or a home-bound neighbour, send a card to a friend in need, donate to your favourite charity. You'd be surprised what happiness karma you'll accrue.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Caffeine Withdrawal Considered a "Mental Disorder"!

I was reading an old issue of Vegetarian Times and saw a short mention about a study by John Hopkins School of Medicine (published in their 10/04 issue of Psychopharmacology) which categorizes caffeine withdrawal as a "mental disorder".

According to Roland Griffiths, PhD (professor at John Hopkins),"Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily." "The latest research demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating. They may even feel like they have the flu with nausea and muscle pain."

And it seems that the more you drink, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms will be.

According to an article on the John Hopkins website, some common symptoms include:

1. Headache

2. Fatigue or drowsiness

3. Dysphoric mood including depression and irritability

4. Difficulty concentrating

5. Flu-like symptoms including nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and/or stiffness

Any or all of the above-mentioned symptoms can occur anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after cessation of caffeine, intensifying between 24 and 48 hours, and lasting from 2 to 9 days after stopping. The severity of symptoms increases, incrementally, according to the amount of caffeine imbibed. In other words, the more you drink, the worse it will be.

And I certainly can attest to that!! Hello, my name is Incognito and I'm a recovering caffeine addict. Prior to quitting I was probably a 20 plus cup-a-day-er. I started off my day with a pot of coffee and ended it with another one- not to mention the many cups I drank throughout the day. I loved coffee. Loved the taste, loved the aroma. Still love the aroma. I also happened to be addicted to nicotine. I smoked 3 plus packs a day. As with caffeine, I started my day and ended my night with a cigarette. So it was a truly hideous experience when I decided to quit both at the same time, cold turkey. Not only was I dealing with caffeine withdrawal, I also had to suffer through nicotine withdrawal , as well, and it was not a pretty picture. I think I suffered from all of the above listed symptoms and more, including my head spinning for several days. I was what you could call a witch with a capital B. The major hell lasted from 3 to 4 weeks, but I overcame the caffeine addiction easier than I did the nicotine. I struggled with the latter for years after I quit. However, I have never picked up a cigarette (or anything caffeinated) in 20 plus years. But I have to admit, up until a few years ago, I was still having cigarette dreams. Nightmares, really. I would dream I had started smoking again and wake up in a panic, wondering if I actually had, and being profoundly relieved that I hadn't.

It turns out that coffee is one of the most popular drinks in this country. Apparently, 80 to 90 percent of the North American population drinks- no - is addicted to caffeine, and just one cup of coffee per day can get you addicted.

This article (and many others) recommend the best way to quit is to slowly wean yourself off of caffeine, which is what I would and should have done, had I known. Actually, I would never have started drinking coffee had I known how addictive it was. So, for those of you who might be contemplating kicking the habit (and I encourage you to do so) here are some interesting facts:

Nutritional Value of Caffeine? Zippo

Pros: Not many, other than giving you an extra added zip. Though it never did me, because I developed a tolerance to it, I suppose.

Cons: Causes major addiction. Interferes with the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, B Vitamins and magnesium. Because it's a diuretic, if taken with food, most of the nutrients will be flushed out of your system. It taxes the liver, because it has to work harder to rid the body of all the chemicals and toxins. Can cause insomnia. Affects your REM sleep, which is when the body does its resting and repairing. Forces the adrenal glands to work overtime, which can lead to inflammation and immune system troubles. (I have to wonder if all my health issues might somehow be related to my overuse of caffeine and nicotine).

Anyway, the list goes on. For more information check out a book by Dr. Stephen Cherniske called "Caffeine Blues".

Bottom line, there's really nothing redeeming about coffee, or using caffeine in any form, for that matter. There are plenty of coffee substitutes that are palatable enough if you really crave something hot and java-like.

Coffee Substitutes: Postum. Bambu. Cafix. Pero. Teeccino. Roma. Inka. Raja's Cup. All of these are grain beverages and I've tried most, although Pero and Roma are my favourites.

I now exclusively drink Sleepytime tea, but once in a while I crave a cup-a-joe, and I settle for one of the above. They are also great to bake with.

For more info than you'd ever care to know about coffee can be found here.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chamomile Relieves Menstrual Cramps

For those of the female persuasion, that dreaded "time of the month" can often be very painful, even crippling, at least for those who experience severe cramping. I usually have some discomfort for the first few days, and several days prior to getting my period, but (thankfully) I left behind those tear-inducing cramps in my 20s.

For those who aren't allergic to ragweed, there's some very good news: In a fairly recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (January, 2005) Chamomile was found to be very beneficial in relieving menstrual cramps, among other things. Researchers at Imperial College of London discovered that volunteers who drank 5 cups a day of German chamomile tea for two weeks showed elevated levels of both glycine and hippurate in their urine. Glycine has the benefit of relieving muscle spasms and relaxing the uterus, which would account for its efficacy with regard to menstrual cramping. The higher levels of hippurate (which has anti-bacterial properties) would explain why chamomile is also great for fighting infections; however that's another post.

The wonderful thing about chamomile is that the levels of hippurate and glycine remained high for at least 2 weeks after the study participants stopped drinking the tea, which indicates that drinking chamomile tea has positive, long-term healing affects.

I drink tea with chamomile for other reasons, but I think I might up my intake next month!

I will post about the other health benefits of chamomile soon.

Caution: Please do your research before starting any herbal regimen. As mentioned, those allergic to ragweed should avoid chamomile, as should those on warfarin (blood thinning medication).

Friday, November 2, 2007

Virtual Flowers for Butterfly Wife

I don't know Butterfly Wife, but she's the proud spouse of one our brave military men, and is in need of some support. So these are for you!! Sending you and your family many blessings!
It is due to the courage and fortitude of our military personnel that the world remains free!
God Bless them all!

Cranberries- for health and taste

I love cranberries! Maybe because my favorite kind of fruit is tart and sweet, I always look forward to the Fall season when those fresh, round berries flood our supermarkets, and we can treat ourselves to home-made cranberry sauce, or luscious desserts that prominently feature the beauteous red berry.

And when one of your favorites happens to be full of health benefits, to boot, it makes it even more appealing.

Cranberries are chock full of healing properties. Most of us are aware of the benefits of cranberry on urinary tract health, but I had no idea about some of the other benefits. According to the Cranberry Marketing Committee, cranberries are also potentially beneficial for dental health, heart health and have anti-cancer and anti ulcer properties.

Urinary Tract Health:As we all know, drinking cranberry juice every day aids in prevention of bladder infections. I know of one person who remained infection free after starting a daily regimen of 2 teaspoons of frozen cranberry juice concentrate per day. Harvard researchers in a 1994 study found that women who drank 300 ml of juice a day had a 58% reduced chance of infection. A Rutgers University follow-up study discovered the anti-adhesion properties of the cranberry which "prevents microorganisms from adhering to cells of the urinary tract."

Heart Health: The flavonoids (polyphenol compounds) found in cranberries may "also help prevent the progression of atheroscleroic plaques that lead to cardiovascular disease." A University of Wisconsin study "has already shown that the properties of cranberry juice that could contribute to inhibiting blood clotting, promoting blood vessel diameter and preventing clogged arteries are equivalent to those of red wine."

Dental Health: A 1998 Tel-Aviv University study "determined that the same "anti-adhesion" properties that prevent bacteria from forming in the urinary tract prevent bacteria from forming in the mouth. By creating a "bacteria-inhibiting" effect, cranberries might reduce the formation of harmful plaque that leads to gum disease."

Anti-Cancer: The flavonoid and anti-oxidant properties in cranberries could be beneficial in cancer prevention. See here for more info.

Anti-Ulcer: Research has found that the tannins in cranberries can prevent bacterial adhesion in the stomach lining, including the infamous H. Pylori (Helicobacter pylori bacterium) which causes that nasty Peptic Ulcer.

There are also indications that it has anti-aging properties as well. Check out the Cranberry Institute for more information.

All of this from a bunch 'o berries. It's obviously worth adding more of them to our diets.

Tip On Cooking Cranberries:

Found this little tidbit in Vegetarian Times.

In a saucepan of water, over medium heat, cook the berries for 10 minutes until they "pop". This, apparently, helps lose the tartness. Cooking any longer, however, will make them bitter.

by Ocean Spray Test Kitchen

sliced tart apples 5 cups

cranberries 1 1/2 cups

sugar 1/3 cup

flour 1/2 cup

brown sugar 1/2 cup

cinnamon 1 teaspoon

butter or margarine 1/4 cup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking pan. Pare and core apples. Layer apples and cranberries in pan, sprinkling with sugar as you layer. Mix flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Work in butter until light and crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples and cranberries. Bake 45 minutes or until apples are tender.

For other cranberry recipes click here.