Health and Environmement

Meet Your Meat and Drop the Torture

I read an article, Zuckerberg: Just go Vegetarian Already, the other day about Mark Zuckerberg and meat-eaters. The author, Jake Richardson,talked about Mark Zuckerberg and his personal challenge that led him to kill animals by himself for meat, instead of letting a slaughterhouse or butcher do it. “CNN quoted him as saying he has learned a lot about sustainable farming and raising animals,” which I believe great.

Yoga For the Mind, Body and Spirit

Our daily lives are constantly plagued with mounds with stress. The majority of us find ourselves working ourselves to the grave just trying to become successful and please everyone. We spend our days running around in pure panic like a chicken with its head cut off when we really should take some time out for ourselves.

In comes the ancient practice of yoga. It has been around for more than 5,000 years, and currently, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits and making yoga far from some hipster trend.

Most Westernized yoga classes focus on learning physical poses, which are called asanas. They include some form of breathing technique and meditation techniques as well. Some yoga classes are designed purely for relaxation, but there are styles of yoga that teach you how to move your body in new ways. Choosing one of these styles of yoga offers the greatest health benefits by enabling you to develop your flexibility, strength, and balance.


Styles of yoga, such as ashtanga and power yoga are more vigorous and helps improve muscle tone. Iyengar yoga, which focuses on less movement and more precise alignment in poses, can provide strength and endurance benefits. The diversity of asanas can strengthen a variety of muscles throughout the body.


Contrary to belief, you don’t have to be able to stretch like a gymnast to take a yoga class. The whole point of yoga is for you to learn about your body and how you can become more flexible over time. Participants of all ages can improve their flexibility just by safely stretching your muscles with asanas.

Stretching releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and that causes stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. It increases the range of motion and the lubrication in the joints and provides a sense of ease and fluidity throughout your body.

Slouching or hunching over causes bad backs and unsightly seating positions. With increased flexibility and strength in yoga comes the fix for better posture. Most of the standing and sitting poses develop core strength because you're counting on your deep abdominals to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you're more likely to sit and stand correctly by increasing your body’s awareness.

Concentration and mood

Breathing exercises help calm and relieve all of the added stress that you accumulate throughout the day and you can practice deep breathing exercises anywhere at any time. Deep breathing boosts oxygen levels to the brain and ultimately puts you in a better mood.

You can essentially practice yoga anywhere. Taking a deep breath to calm yourself after a stressful situation is just one of the many ways to squeeze in a little extra yoga throughout your day. It’s amazing to find out just how much better your mind, body and spirit will feel after practicing yoga every day.

The Most Important Start to Your Day

When you’re running late in the morning, the last thing on your mind is eating a proper breakfast, but just taking a few extra minutes to pour a bowl of Cheerios would benefit you more than you think.
Here are some of the reasons why eating breakfast is valuable to your health.
You get your essential nutrients.
Skipping meals only guarantees that you will not get all the necessary nutrients that you will need to function throughout the day. Many of us already do not meet the essential vitamins and minerals needed daily, and skipping breakfast surely doesn’t help.
Eating Breakfast gives you a better attention span.
If you find yourself zoning out in class or at work, a small breakfast can help you focus on the task at hand. You gain more strength and endurance, and studies on those who do not eat breakfast before work are unable to work as hard until lunchtime. Studies on children reveal that they are unable to complete school work. Eating a healthy breakfast has also been linked to better learning ability and memory functions.
You can maintain a healthy weight.
Skipping meals is always a no-no if you are ever trying to lose or maintain healthy weight. People who skip breakfast are shown to choose less nutritious and convenience foods to curb their ravenous appetite by the time lunch creeps around. Poor eating habits lead to eating at awkward times, like throughout the evening. Those people end up storing extra calories during the evening hours as the metabolism slows down and end up weighing more because of it.
It puts you in a better mood.
Eating breakfast can reverse the effects of fasting, which are irritability and fatigue, which hints the name “break-fast.” Being in a crappy mood can last up to 16 hours, and no one really wants to feel bad all day or be around someone that feels like they want to rip your head off.
It helps you maintain good health.
Eating breakfast in the morning can lower cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease, increase your metabolic rate, and prevent obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Research has shown that people who eat breakfast consume less dietary cholesterol than people who don’t eat breakfast. The people who skip breakfast also have a metabolic rate four to five percent below normal, which may lead to an expected weight gain of eight pounds per year (one pound every seven weeks).
As long as you avoid the processed and fatty foods at breakfast you’ll be good to go. Omit the breakfast sandwiches and you will prevent yourself from consuming 560 calories and an extra 32 grams of fat. Oatmeal, cereal, fruit, eggs or even a natural smoothie would suffice for a great tasting breakfast. You’re just better off in the long run if you choose to participate in the most important meal of the day.

Growing Fuel in Our Backyard

Imagine producing fuel that powers planes, trains and automobiles with the same elements that makes your lawn grow. Well in Cambridge Massachusetts, a biotechnology company says it can do just that.

A genetically engineered organism, invented by Joule Unlimited, secretes diesel fuel or ethanol wherever it finds water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide. The company claims that it can manipulate the organism to produce the renewable fuels at extraordinary rates, and can do it in both larger and smaller facilities at costs equivalent to the most economical fossil fuels.

This is a great short-term solution until we find something more “green” that lowers our energy emissions even more so after it’s used. This is a positive step in the right direction toward being energy independent.

According to Joule Unlimited’s website, the company claims to be able to produce 15,000 gallons/diesel and 25,000 gallons/ethanol per acre per year. The company claims that the diesel that they produce is different from biodiesel, but that they have “developed and patented a highly-efficient process for converting waste CO2 directly into liquid hydrocarbons, requiring no processing, cracking or refining.”

The company says by doing this they “cut out the middle man” of having to derive their fuel from vegetable, animal or algal oils and fats that depend on raw material feed stocks, costly harvesting and downstream processing making everything more affordable.

Obviously many are skeptical of Joule Unlimited’s claims, but further research into this subject can iron out all of the details. I’m also usually not a fan of synthetic biology or genetically engineered products, but if these claims are true and further research and development is done to further this technology, we can solve so many of our problems and stop the constant worry over severing ties with foreign oil.

On Feb 23 oil prices rose to their highest levels since September 2008 due to worries from traders that protests in Egypt and Libyan unrest could spread across the Middle East.

The rise in prices has been driven by violence in Libya, where rebels and forces loyal to the North African nation's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, continued to escalate.

Even the most recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by B.P. has had U.S. citizens and government officials crying out for alternative energy plans.

The Deepwater Horizon Spill that was a result from failed safety measures from BP had an estimated 62,000 barrels per day, and later a tapered spill with 53,000 barrels, of oil flowing from the sea floor for three months after a wellhead explosion.

Images of tar balls washing up on the shores of the Gulf, oil sheen trails seen in the wake of fishing boats, wetlands marsh grass remains fouled and dying along with oil covered marine life and speculations that the recently dead baby dolphins washing on shore in the same area also had something to do with the devastating spill plagued the minds of America and started to make us think about other possible energy sources.

Even if this Mass. based company’s idea falls short of what it says it could be, I think that it’s at least worth a shot to look into it.

The Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Put a pot of coffee on and grab your favorite mug. That cup of Joe in the morning isn’t as bad for you as you think. Here’s something to combat those comments that say coffee is harmful to your health.
If you’re anything like me, taking a thermos of the good stuff to work in the morning is almost essential for your day. In fact more than half of adults in the U.S., or 54 percent, are habitual coffee drinkers, according to the National Coffee Association. 146 billion cups of coffee are actually consumed in the U.S. each year. That’s nearly three times more than tea.
According to an issue of the Harvard Health Letter, coffee drinkers may be at lower risk for blood pressure, cancer, cholesterol, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.
Coffee also contains antioxidants and in 2009, two coffee studies suggested that coffee-drinking men seemed to have a lower risk of advanced or lethal prostate cancer than other men. Middle-aged people who drank moderate amounts of coffee — three to five cups a day — had the lowest risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life compared to less (or more) frequent drinkers.
Sadly with all of these benefits that come along with sipping that steaming cup of java, there are still some downsides to coffee
According to the web site, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, adding the extra trimmings will really cost you. A 6-ounce cup of black coffee contains just 7 calories, but dare I say add some half & half and you’ll get 46 calories.
If you favor your cup of Joe with a liquid nondairy creamer, that will set you back 48 calories. A teaspoon of sugar will add about 23 calories, and I don’t even want to get started about the extra calories in your favorite Frappuccino from Starbucks.
If you consume a lot of coffee, you may head to the bathroom more often. Caffeine is actually a mild diuretic which make you urinate a little more than you would without it. Coffee also contains acids that can make heartburn worse.
Unless you are caffeine sensitive, and you don’t mind the extra bathroom trip, drinking two or three cups of coffee a day is fine. It stimulates mental alertness, it has become a big part of American life, and to be honest, I just think it tastes good.

Baby Dolphins Killed By Oil Spill?

Scientists trying to determine the death of baby dolphins

60 baby Bottlenose dolphins have been found dead along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and because the average gestational period for the bottlenose dolphin correlates with the massively devastating BP oil spill in the same area, it’s easy to assume185 million gallons of toxic oil spilledinto the ocean had something to do with it.

The decomposing dolphin fetuses have been washing up along the coast since Jan. 1, and some scientists are expecting this trend through May.

It’s also not just the dolphins that have possibly suffered from the tidal wave of spewing oil from BP’s offshore drilling, a recent study of the area around the spill by University of Georgia scientist Samantha Joye found dead corals, found dead crabs and sea stars scattered on the sea floor, along with strings of bacterial slime that created what she called an "invertebrate graveyard."

Research is obviously still being conducted to find out if BP is to blame for the horrific graveyard scene scattered along the Gulf’s beaches, but the shear unusually large amount of dead baby dolphins located where the oil spilt pushes me to guess that maybe BP did have something to do with this situation.

Surely more than four months of oil spilling into the ocean will do some type of damage to the oceanic life in the Gulf of Mexico, and although federal officials and BP have scaled back the cleanup, Louisiana officials say they're still seeing oil washing ashore.

There are a number of people who were exposed to the toxic chemicals in the Gulf that have ended up seriously ill. Some of those people will also suffer long term affects from their contact with the oil during the spill. Further research is being conducted on this subject too, but all of these deaths and illnesses can’t all be coincidence can they?

Cutting Planned Parenthood

On Feb. 17 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to bar Planned Parenthood health centers from all federal funding for birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other lifesaving care. 

Why should you care?

Planned Parenthood works to advance women's reproductive health and rights. If they cut the funding to Planned Parenthood, three million women, men, and teens will be at risk of losing access to basic care.

This issue is not an abortion debate as abortions account for only a small fraction of the services provided by Planned Parenthood and no tax payer money goes toward abortions. The organization mainly provides contraception, screening for cancer and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Many of the clients are low-income women with few other options for non-emergency health care.

The majority of the services provided by the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate are spent on contraception. In 2008, it was reported that contraception constituted 35 percent of total services, STI/STD testing and treatment constituted 34 percent, cancer testing and screening constituted 17 percent; and other women's health procedures, including pregnancy, prenatal, midlife, and infertility were 10 percent. Two percent to three percent of visits involve abortions.

Planned Parenthood loosing federal funding would be devastating for many families. Other clinics are already overflowing with lower income families that have no other way besides Planned Parenthood for health care and contraception. They have no doctor of their own to go to, and they often go without any knowledge about their sexual health.

Cutting federal funding to this organization will not help any conservative pro-life cause, but it will wreck havoc on the people who depend on Planned Parenthood for health care and sex education.

Watch the video from ABC about Congresswoman Jackie Speier sharing her experience with abortion.

Let’s Talk About Sex

So you feel guilty for all of the chocolate that you ate on Valentine’s Day and now you’re looking for a way to get back on track and stay in shape. Why not have sex?
Seriously, a special jaunt with your significant other to the bedroom can benefit your health in so many ways. Here are some excuses for bringing sexy back all over again.
It relieves stress.
Make up sex anyone? There’s a reason why you end up on cloud nine after a special rendezvous. That extra pep in your step is the brain releasing endorphins during and after sex. The neurotransmitters create a feeling of euphoria while masking all of that stress you completely just forgot about.
It helps you lose weight.
Thirty minutes of exercise a day can burn off 85 calories and that exercise can also include sex. Like any other form of exercise, sex can help you lose weight and stay in shape.
It’s actually good for the heart.
Intercourse is a great form of cardio-exercise. It gets your heart pumping faster and helps it stay in shape. Research has also found that sex can lower your blood pressure and help keep your heart healthy.
It can boost your immune system.
Setting aside the possibilities of contracting a few sexually transmitted diseases, sex between healthy partners can actually boost your immune system. Research has shown that sex, two times a week can increase the levels of immunoglobulin A or IgA, an antibody which helps protect you from respiratory diseases like the cold and flu, in our body. Sex three or more times a week on the other hand showed results of the lowest levels of antibodies though.
It helps you sleep.
During that crazy work out your body generates oxytocin which actually helps you sleep better. Sex definitely relaxes you, promoting deeper and more restful sleep.
Just remember to be safe while engaging in sex. You can reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease by using condoms regardless of if it’s vaginal or anal intercourse.

Where’s the Beef?

Somewhere in the country a scientist is growing meat in a laboratory. No, this is not the opening line to a popular science fiction novel. Vladimir Mironov, a scientist at the Medical University of South Carolina, has been working for about a decade to grow meat artificially.

First off, I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t have a problem with this at all. Mironov wanted to solve world hunger in an energy efficient way that didn't involve harm to any animals. Other non-vegetarians on the other hand, are disgusted at the idea that their meat has went from the Petri dish to their plates.

The thing about the non-vegetarian’s opinion is that they shouldn’t be disgusted with artificially grown meat because of all the unnatural and genetically modified foods that the majority of them already consume.

This idea of artificially growing meat seems a little weird at first, but after thinking about it, I’m not really surprised that it has come to this. To put it simply, the majority of people in America do not care what they eat as long as it’s cheap and it tastes good. Why else would people deliberately munch on fast food despite all of the constant warnings from nutritionists and the FDA not to?

Genetically modified food isn’t a new concept. The majority of the population eats genetically altered food already. Typically, soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil have been genetically modified since the early 1990’s. So eating genetically modified meat wouldn’t be such a big deal, right?

Various organizations such as “Climate Crisis,” “Hungry For Change,” and “Take Part” have tried to inform the public through different films, websites, books, and even A-List celebrities for years about the side of the food industry that everyone knows about but doesn’t really want to hear.

Different organizations have warned people for years about the negative effects that genetically modified and fast food had on their bodies, but the majority of the population doesn’t want to hear it.

Films like, “Fast Food Nation,” “Super Size Me,” “Food Inc.,” and “Our Daily Bread” have been shown to people of all ages, races and creeds across the country, and McDonalds still serves47 million customers every day around the world. They have more than 32,000 restaurants in 117 countries. In the United States, there are more than 14,000 restaurants according to their website.

The majority of the American population doesn’t bother to care what they are eating or if it bad for them. People are not waiting in the drive thru at Taco Bell for high quality food. They eat fast food because it’s cheap and it’s quick. They rather risk their health for convenience.

Recently a lawsuit involving Taco Bell and its "taco meat filling," which is how the lawsuit says Taco Bell should advertise its “seasoned beef,” alleges that the product contains mostly substances other than beef.

The “other than beef” part of that statement is what has me wondering what’s actually in it, butsales of Yum Brands, the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell fast-food chains, are still growing and lines at Taco Bell haven’t diminished since the claims.

"Obviously you know it's not 100% organic food," said Taco Bell customer Bethany Weis, 23, of Chicago in an article printed in the L.A. Times. "I know it's not good for me. I still like it."

If people were really opposed to the idea of artificially grown food more people would protest it, buy locally grown organic food at their farmer’s market, question where they are actually getting their food sources from, and actually read the labels on the back of their food products. It really isn’t difficult to do, but the majority of the popularity doesn’t want to put in the small bit of extra effort. They rather sit back, learn all about the problem, and then do nothing about it.

Would you?

Watch the Food Inc. trailer here.

Watch the full episode. See more POV.

Watch the full episode. See more POV.

February Is American Heart Month

The month of February is used to spread awareness about your heart as well as the problems that can associate with it. Events likeNational Wear Red Day on February 4, and otherGo Red For Women campaigns helps fund-raise to save lives and gets people to start thinking about their heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States as of 2007. Every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and every minute one person will die from one. Heart diseaseaccounts for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States, but the majority of those deaths can be prevented.

You can reduce your chances of developing coronary heart disease by taking the necessary precautions in your health, and you can help reduce heart disease related deaths by knowing the signs and symptoms of heart attack.

Here are some symptoms that you should look for when identifying a heart attack or a stroke.

·         Chest Discomfort
·         Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
·         Shortness of breath
·         Breaking out into cold sweat
·         Nausea
·         Lightheadedness

·         Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
·         Confusion
·         Trouble speaking or understanding
·         Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
·         Trouble walking, dizziness
·         Loss of balance or coordination
·         Severe headache with no known cause

These symptoms can occur in both men and women, and although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a "man's disease," it is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States, as women account for nearly 50% of heart disease deaths.

Heart disease is often perceived as an "older woman's disease," because it is the leading cause of death among women aged 65 years and older. However, in reality, heart disease is the third leading cause of death among women aged 25–44 years and the second leading cause of death among women aged 45–64 years.

You can prevent heart disease in both men and women by opting to not smoke or use tobacco, eating healthy, exercise for 30 minutes, maintain a healthy weight, and get regular health screenings.

Heart disease may be a leading cause of death, but it doesn't mean that you have to accept it as your fate. Some risk factors such as family history, sex or age will always affect your chances of contracting heart disease, but there are always ways to lower your risk and stay healthy.

U.S. Aims to Make School Lunches Healthier

Sloppy Joe Fridays and tater tot Tuesdays could be a thing of the past as more attention gets drawn toward school lunches. Studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have revealed that school lunches are leading kids on the path towards obesity. The USDA now wants to chuck 15 years of mystery meat Mondays and start cutting salt and fat and adding more fruits and vegetables to the cafeteria menu.
New guidelines have been proposed recently in the attempt of making school lunches healthier and fight the growing child obesity epidemic.
The new guidelines would give school meals calorie limits and salt would be cut by half over the course of 10 years. Most trans fats would be banned and more fruits and vegetables would be incorporated in each meal. Other guidelines such as only serving low-fat or nonfat milk, and increasing the amount of whole grains in each meal would also be seen in the cafeterias across America.
The USDA study, which was published in the Journal of Human Resources, followed more than 13,500 students and found that participation in the national school lunch program. It found that a there was a significant increase in the probability of a child becoming obese by the third grade.
According to the CDC, obesity in children ages 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. And obesity is adolescence ages 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0 percent to 18.1 percent.
The guidelines at this point remain a proposal. It could take several years before schools are really required to make changes to the lunches, but there is hope that schools will start making the necessary changes now.
Recently President Barack Obama has signed the child nutrition bill, which will help schools pay for the healthier foods, and while the president helps fight the obesity epidemic through the signing of a bill, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Lets Move initiative, is also attempting to fight the rapid spread of obesity. The campaign advocates eating healthy and being physically active, both of which also help stop the rapid spread of obesity.
Obesity has already been known to cause increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and breathing problems. It is possible to slow down and eventually reverse the trend of childhood obesity.
By changing the eating habits of our nation’s children during school lunch, we are giving the next generation a better chance at a healthier life. It’s not only the children’s future that we are worried about, but ours as well. For the first time in 200 years, the current generation may have shorter life expectancies than their parents, and we can change this. All we have to do is continue to make the small changes like providing healthier school lunches.
Reposted via Surf Bakersfield Magazine.

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Kill The Stress Before It Kills You

You procrastinated and you have a 20 page report on Shakespeare due tomorrow, you just realized that they don’t serve the espresso truffle anymore at Starbucks and you’re pulling out your hair because you think your dog may have the flu. Just calm down and count to three. Hyperventilating over your barfing puppy won’t make the poor thing any better.
Stress usually creeps up on us when the going gets tough. But what no one considers while they’re yelling at the barista behind the counter is what that high level of stress can do to your health.
Stress can cause painful headaches, sleep problems, decreased immunity and even heart problems if you really let the stress get to you. It’s a silent killer and it wrecks havoc on your life which is why it’s best to nip it in the bud before it becomes out-of-hand.
Here are some tips on how to tackle some of the stress that is piling up in your life.
Exercising is probably the best way to relieve stress from a hard day’s work. Walking, biking or taking fun classes such as Yoga and Pilates has been proven to have beneficial effects on a person’s mental and physical state.
Cut down on the caffeine.
I’m notorious for over doing it on the caffeine. No matter how bad you think that you need it, instead of the 3 extra shots of espresso in your mocha, why not cut it down to a regular cup of Joe. It probably won’t make you twitch anymore and your friends and family will thank you.
Just say no.
Don’t say yes to everything. Volunteering at the shelter and hanging out with the cats is a wonderful thing to do when you have time. But when Fluffy comes before sleep it’s probably best to just say no and start cutting your hours.
Try delegating your responsibilities at work, or sharing them if you can. It’s better to have a less stressed worker than one who is slowly becoming neurotic because of all the extra duties that you took on at the office.
Take a breather
Take a deep breath and slow down. Setting aside time for you to relax and catch your breath does wonders in relieving stress. Try picking up a book, reading an article online or something else that’s entertaining. You could even try talking with your friends or colleagues after work just to vent and talk about your day.
Always keep in mind that it is better to take some time out for yourself than to let the evils of stress tear you down. Relieving that stress can only help you in the long run.

Five Tips To Kick A Cold

Someone sneezes and three days later you’re trying to stop the fountain on your face that was once your nose. You have to go to work hacking up a lung and you know that you can never remember to take that Dayquil at lunch.
So how do you get over a cold quickly without the use of medications? It’s possible. All you have to do is follow these few tips.
1. Blow your nose.
I know that you’re not five, and I shouldn’t have to say this, but blowing your nose rather than just sniffing that nasty mucus back into head is, not only disgusting, but it’s the easiest way to re-infect your system with the germs that your body was trying to get rid of.
You should make sure that you don’t blow too hard because pressure can cause earaches. The best way to blow your nose is to press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other. And remember to wash your hands after blowing your nose. No one wants to shake hands with someone who looked like they just high fived Flubber.
2. Get some sleep.
Want to kick that cold’s butt? Your body’s immune system does a great job on its own to search and destroy the invading cold virus. Just grab a blanket and hit the snooze button because resting is the best way to direct your body’s energy toward fighting that annoying cold.
3. Drink hot liquids.
This is a great excuse to drink some hot green tea. Just add a little honey and you could knock that cold out of the park. Drinking hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, help prevent dehydration, and can soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat.
4. Take a steamy shower.
Steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages and relax you and they’re a great way to unwind after a day battling that cold. Just remember not to fall asleep in there, because that wouldn’t be as relaxing to deal with when you do wake up hours later.
5. Don’t fly unless necessary.
Flying is not very much fun to have to deal with in the first place, but when your nose is threatening to go over the 3-ounce liquid limit that you’re allowed onto the plane then you should really just think about rescheduling that trip to Acapulco.
Added stress to your respiratory system and the change in air pressure can hurt your eardrums during takeoff and landing. But if you must fly, use a decongestant and carry a nasal spray with you to use just before takeoff and landing. Chewing gum and swallowing (not the gum) frequently can also help relieve pressure.
Just take it easy and give your body what it needs. And that goes the same for the flu as well. There may not be a cure for the common cold, but you don’t have to keep the same cold for a month. And remember that staying healthy is far more beneficial to you than deliriously talking to inanimate objects because you running a high fever. It’s funny for everyone else watching, but sparking a nervous chuckle from a friend shouldn’t substitute your health and well being.

Becoming Aware of Your Cervical Health

The Food Safety Bill That Doesn’t Help Everyone

It is no surprise that the concernregarding the safety of our food has risen recently. Over the past few years foods like meat, peanut butter, spinach and eggs have become tainted with food borne illnesses and undergone nation-wide recalls. So when the U.S. Senate passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (SB 510) on November 30, 2010, we all assumed that it was a step in the right direction--right?

The answer is both yes and no.

On the one hand this bill will regulate standards and requirements to limit food safety risks. 
Safety guidelines would be put in place and farmers would be encouraged to use environmental conservation practices on their farms in order to reduce the likelihood of contamination with food-borne pathogens.

All of which is according to the Senate committee.

SB 510 would also allow the FDA to mandate that a company recall a food product it suspects is infected.  And when each year approximately 75 million illnesses, including approximately 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths, occur because of tainted food, more regulation in the food industry seems like a great idea.

But what the bill fails to do is fueling opposition with small farms and raw milk producers.

Groups in opposition of this bill complain that the Tester/Hagen Amendment that was recently added to the bill excludes small farmers and farms making less than $500,000 annually.

They argue that the bill will give the FDA too much power and that eventually they will abuse it. The bill threatens to exclude local and organic farms as well due to its one-size-fits all policy.

SB 510 still has to be voted on in the House. But with this many discrepancies regarding certain farmers, I believe that this bill should undergo more revisions to include the groups of people that they have seemed to have left out.

World AIDS Day 2010

Every year December 1st is observed asWorld AIDS Day (the first of which was observed in 1988). World AIDS Day is devoted to raising awareness of theAIDS epidemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and chooses to do so by choosing annual themes

This year’s theme, Lights for Rights, is encouraging cities and towns all over the world to leave the lights on and breakdown some of the needless stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS. The World AIDS Day campaign is encouraging people to go out and get involved in promoting awareness.

What is HIV/AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. HIV spreads by way of bodily fluids and it can be contracted by sexual intercourse without using a condom with someone living with HIV, sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment or from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that affects the human immune system which is caused by HIV.


According to the CDC, an estimated 56,300 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year. And according to the The World Factbook, 33,000,000 were predicted to be living with HIV/AIDS in the year 2007.

A recent report from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has brought news that fewer people are becoming infected with HIV than 10 years ago, and those who have already acquired the virus are living longer. But every day 7,397 people contract HIV at a rate of 308 people every hour.

In the year 2008, 2.0 million people died from AIDS. And since it was first recognized in 1981, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.


Because HIV can be transmitted by having sex, through someone’s blood, or from a mother to child, the best ways to reduce your risk is abstain from sex and wearing condoms consistently and correctly.

Other ways of preventing transmission is to use shared needles and to take antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy and labor as well as administering the medication to the newborn baby to reduce the chances of the child becoming infected.

Remember for you and your partner to get tested for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases to further stop the spread. It is one of the major ways to reduce the increase in cases of those with HIV.

And though, abstinence greatly reduces your chances of becoming infected with HIV, educating the public about safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases can help more people in the long run. Having the information to protect yourself and others from harm is very important.

HIV is preventable when caution is used. ONE, a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization, is already advocating for a world where no child is born with HIV in 2015. Hopefully this and other campaigns can rid the world of new cases of people contracting HIV. And I also pray that one day we will have a cure for those who already have the virus.

Reposted via Surf Bakersfield Mag.

Madonna narrates the video, "I Am Because We Are."

Home of the Fast Food Junkies

Americans are obsessed with their fast food. It’s quick, easy and convenient. It’s so much more enticing to just drive through a drive through and grab a cheap meal for you and your whole family instead of sending that extra time after work cooking something at home. And it also just tastes good even though we really over do it on the Big Macs.

Last week was just another testament to our fixation with fast food. The McRib sandwich returned to the McDonalds restaurant, and I heard about it all over the news as much as I heard about the midterm elections. Web searches on the artery clogging sandwich went well over 600% during the week that everyone should have been wondering who was in charge of leading our nation.

Our deadly worship of drive through eateries has even gotten to the point where we had to stop enticing burgers to kids by slipping in a shiny toy. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors lit up headlines and probably angered some kids when they had to approve a prelimary ban on toys in McDonald's Happy Meals. They probably assumed that it’s bad enough that all of the adults are incredibly obsessed over junk food.

According to the Healthy Eating Guide, It’s already estimated that Americans are now spending over $140 billion on fast food each year. And now there are over 25,000 fast food chains in the country, which is an increase of more than 1,000% since the year 1970.

And when two thirds of Americans are now either overweight or obese and one-third of U.S. adults may have diabetes by 2050, our unhealthy over indulgence of juicy burgers and salty fries needs to be knocked down a bit.

Instead of sliding through taco bell for that steaming pile of Nachos Bell Grande everyday at lunch and munching on an order of 20 piece Chicken McNuggets for dinner after work, you should try limiting your fast food intake to once a week.

And when you are stuck with the option of zipping through a drive through, keeping tips in mind like avoiding items that are deep or pan-fried or covered with heavy creams and sauces. Instead, order dishes with more vegetables and choose leaner meats when it’s possible.Remember to never supersize your portions, add salt to your already high in sodium meals, and resist the temptation of overeating by avoiding buffets.

Avoiding fast food whenever possible will benefit you and your family’s health. And we can ultimately reverse the rate of obesity and the diseases associated with it when we do so. The grim projections of the rise in diseases associated with obesity can be proven wrong as well if we learn to consume fast food in moderation. America is the home of the fast food junkies, but we can change when decide to make healthier choices.

One-Third of U.S. Adults May Have Diabetes by 2050

As it stands, one in 10 Americans has diabetes, but this could double -- or even triple -- by 2050 if current trends continue.

Here’s something that caught my attention the recently. According to the CDC, one in three adults will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050. And with obesity and the rate of consuming processed and fast foods are on the rise, the number doesn’t seem to surprise me.

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of increased thirst and hunger. There are three main types of diabetes that include Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes

The number of new diabetes cases a year has been predicted to increase from 8 per 1,000 in 2008 to 15 per 1,000 in 2050 via the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2050, between one-fifth and one-third of all adults could have diabetes -- with virtually all the increase attributed to type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable.

The projections are due to an aging population, an increase in minority groups at higher risk for diabetes, and the fact that diabetes patients are living longer. But obesity is also plays an important role in the increasing rates of type 2 diabetes as it is a major risk for acquiring it.

The typical American lifestyle also takes a partial of the blame for this awful trend. And although Type 1 diabetes can't be prevented, the same healthy lifestyle choices that help treat prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can help prevent them.

Prevention tips: 

Eating healthy foods is a great way to prevent diabetes. Opt for foods low in fat and calories by focusing on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A vegetarian diet is a great way to stay healthy and keep diabetes at bay. Strive for variety to prevent boredom and to obtain all of the required vitamins and nutrients.

Another way to beat the statistics is to participate in physical activity. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day like a brisk daily walk, riding your bike, or swimming laps can help you stay in shape. If you can't fit in a long workout, break it up into smaller sessions spread throughout the day.

Finally, because research has shown that there is a correlation between obesity and diabetes, losing excess pounds can lower your risk as well. If you're overweight, losing even 5 percent of your body weight can reduce the threat of diabetes. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.

For those who may have diabetes: 

No matter what type of diabetes you have, make a commitment to managing your diabetes by learning all you can about diabetes. Remember to make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Establish a relationship with a diabetes educator, and ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.

Taking care of your teeth is also a big thing to remember. Diabetes may leave you prone to gum infections, so brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, and if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, schedule dental exams at least twice a year. Consult your dentist right away if your gums bleed or look red or swollen. Diabetes is a serious disease, but following your diabetes treatment plan are worthwhile as careful management of diabetes can reduce your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications.

Get The Facts About Breast Cancer

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month makes October the month to think pink. It’s the month dedicated to settling rumors surrounding breast cancer. And while this month is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Web site is a year-round resource for breast cancer patients, caregivers, survivors, and the general public.

What is Breast Cancer?

According to, Breast cancer is a type of cancer that originates from a malignant tumor that invades the surrounding breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. The disease usually occurs almost entirely in women, but men can also get it, too.

Do you only get breast cancer if it runs in your family?

Here’s the truth, scientists and researchers still don’t know what really causes breast cancer. And in fact only 5 to 10% of cases are due to defective breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
According to the American Cancer Society, women who have a family history of breast cancer may get it not specific due to gene mutations, but, rather to a combination of shared lifestyle factors and genetic susceptibilities.

How can I find out if I have breast cancer?

If you feel a change in how your breast or nipple feels or looks; like a lump, pain and swelling, or thickening in or near the breast, then you should schedule an appointment with your doctor for a mammogram. Mammograms have been known to detect breast cancer in its early stages reducing deaths among patients by about 16%. It's actually pretty important that all womenhave an annual breast exam performed by a health care provider after the age of 18 and pay close attention to their own bodies to spot potential changes as early as possible.

A great way to pay close attention to your breasts is by performing a self examination at home. Just use the tips of your three middle fingers to feel for lumps or thickening of your breasts. You can either cover the breast in a circular motion, moving in an up and down motion or moving outwards from the center in a wedge motion. Do it the same way every time and it will help you to make sure that you've gone over the entire breast area.

How could I reduce my chances of breast cancer? 

Simple ways to reduce your chances include; regular exercise, that lowers our levels of estrogen which is linked to breast cancer and eating healthy. Limiting your alcohol intake, according to the National Cancer Institute, shows that women who have one or two drinks daily increase the risk of the most common kind of breast cancer by 32%—and those who drink more hike their risk by 51%. And while a glass of wine has been known to have other health benefits, experts recommend no more than a glass a day. 
But most of all, don’t stress about breast cancer. If you follow these suggestions, you are doing all that you can to minimize your risk. Use these tips as reminders to take care of your body, but don't get hung up on them. You just being aware of your body will help you.

October Is Vegetarian Awareness Month

Vegetarian Awareness Month is kicked off on October 1st by World Vegetarian Day, the first of which being designated in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society. Vegetarian Awareness Month dedicates the month of October to promoting the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle and sharing how delicious vegetarian and vegan food can be.

Why should you go vegetarian?

There are many reasons why people all over the world become vegetarian. Whether it’s for health, environmental, religious or ethical reasons, people of all ages, races, religions and social statuses find a preference in the compassionate lifestyle. And being a vegetarian isn’t just for the hippies anymore, as it is becoming more popular with the main stream.

You can stay healthy and maintain your weight.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”-Albert Einstein 

A typical American diet consists of disastrous fast-food stops, super-saturated sugar and fat-filled junk food, and an intake of fruits and vegetables circling well below the daily recommended amount. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and a department of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, an overwhelmingly 65 percent of adults and 15 percent of children are usually overweight and are generally at threat of weight-related health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and also diabetes.

But by maintaining an appropriately planned vegetarian lifestyle you have a lower chance of becoming obese. The vegetarian diet is recognized by many, including the American Dietetic Association, as being nutritionally adequate, and providing healthful benefits in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.

You can help the environment.

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.” -George Bernard Shaw 

According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, animal protein demands tremendous expenditures of fossil-fuel energy—about eight times as much for a comparable amount of plant protein. About 70 percent of the amount of U.S. grain is fed to farm animals as nearly 7 pounds of corn and soy are required to produce just one pound of pork. And while 14 gallons of water is used to produce a pound of wheat, 441 gallons is needed to produce a pound of meat. And of all the water used in the United States, more than half of it goes to livestock production.

You can help save lives. 

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” -Paul McCartney 

The majority of farm animals, excluding those in “free range farms,” are kept in environments like windowless sheds, tiny crates, wire cages, and other confinement systems integral to what is now known as "factory farming." The majority of farmed animals are confined to the point that they can barely move, denied veterinary care, mutilated without painkillers, and finally slaughtered -- often while fully conscious. The average vegetarian spares the lives of over 100 animals each year.

I actually became a vegetarian for all of these reasons. And as a poor college student, I’ve saved money on grocery bills by not purchasing meat. I also have been introduced to new healthy and delicious foods like soy, quinoa, and spelt which provide large amounts of iron, calcium and protein, and have become a healthier person because of it. And because it’s Vegetarian Awareness Month, now is the time to try out this healthy, compassionate and eco-friendly lifestyle for the rest of the month of October. As for the rest of the year, going vegetarian on Meatless Mondays can still contribute to better health and the environment.

The Affects of Proposition 23

Smog settling over Los Angeles skyline.

Bad air quality days, lungs filled with smog and asthma attacks that could land you in the hospital. California has been known to have some really unclean air. And over the past 20 years with the help of global warming regulation laws California has cleaned up a little. Those regulations that were enacted to help reduce emissions in our golden state of pollution, helped cut down on the rain of acid that aided in the corrosion of our cities. But come November, lawmakers and big oil companies are hoping to pass a law that would rid our state of those very same regulations in order to save them money.

If passed, Proposition 23 will suspend a state law that requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, until California's unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. And knowing that unemployment won’t drop to that amount any time soon (especially not without jobs that could be created form clean energy projects) big oil companies are pouring money into the campaign in support.

Not cool.

Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, was signed in 2006 to reduce greenhouse emissions in California. The bill was designed to indirectly reduce numerous air pollutants by restricting carbon emissions, making California's air all around healthier. But instead of blue skies, we should just thank the oil companies in advance for making our grey tinged air be brown.

So when November rolls around, I hope California takes it in to consideration that there is no connection, whatsoever, between greenhouse gas emission reduction and the loss of jobs. In fact, green energy projects have been known to create more jobs. We can revitalize our economy, continue California's progress toward clean energy and save our environment by voting no on Prop 23. Will you?

Seriously, Stop Messing With My Food

I have never recalled waking up in the morning thinking to myself, “wow I could really go for some genetically engineered food right now.” But what if you didn’t know that the breakfast you were craving was genetically modified?

It’s unnatural and disturbing not to know what you’re eating, and according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post, a lot of other people agree with me. An overwhelming majority of people would rather know if they are dinning on Frankenfood. But ignoring the public opinion, the FDA is actually thinking of approving GE salmon that grows twice as fast as the conventional fish and not labeling it as GE product.

So far the FDA claims that they have been researching the “Frankenfish” for 10 years now. But many say that Frankenfish could cause allergies in humans and eventually destroy the already endangered wild salmon population.

No one should have to fear what they are eating. But the way this disaster is turning out, Frankenfish could potentially be the tip of the iceberg to a genetically engineered Frankenfarm. Did someone rip a page out of the novel Brave New World? Way to go FDA, tomorrow the country could be chewing remnants from a lab somewhere and we’ll never know it.

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

It's unnerving not to know what's going on with your food
behind closed doors.

Imagine your standing in a room with barely any light. The smell of feces fills your nostrils as you inhale a breath of oxygen. You look around and you notice that you are buried in piles of manure stacked up to eight feet tall. Mice scurry all around you and disease runs rampant. These are the conditions inside the hen houses at the two egg farms suspected of causing a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness.

Federal investigators made their horrific discover public of Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, two massive egg producers who have recalled nearly 500 million eggs since Aug 13.

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And if the manure wasn’t enough, the investigators also found dead maggots live flies and the Salmonella bacteria in the water used to clean the eggs as well as the food used to feed the hens.

Holes in building or gaps in structures, which allowed rodents pidgins and other wild animals to enter the hen houses lined the surrounding of where the hens were contained. The FDA has said that the agency will begin inspecting 600 egg-production facilities over the next 15 months to make sure they are complying with new federal rules.

But shouldn’t these inspections have already happened? Why haven’t we mandated these inspections in federal law? We do the same in restaurants, but why not do it where our food comes from?

Sick of Tainted Food

It seems like every time I turn around there is another recall on some food item. Do we have to play Russian roulette with our food choices, or shouldn’t there be more concern over the safety of our food.

More than 170.4 million eggs were recalled from stores in as many as 14 states nationwide due to a recent widespread salmonella scare that has impacted the lives of more than half a billion people. The FDA announced on July 9 that it had new safety rules for large-scale egg producers, but the new rules came late in the game as they apparently appeared after the salmonella outbreak began. 

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But what concerns me is that all this could have been prevented in the first place. Jack DeCoster, who leads Wright County Egg, in June, pleaded guilty to 10 civil counts of animal cruelty over his company's treatment of its chickens. DeCoster and his company agreed to a $25,000 fine and made a $100,000 payment to reimburse the state for future monitoring of the facility.

Allegations included too many birds in case, injured chickens not being treated, dead animals not being promptly removed from cages and improper euthanization. But then we wonder why every year something new is recalled.

But this isn’t the first time we had a major country-wide food scare. Anything from beef to tomatoes has been put on a list at one point of tainted foods. Experts say that food-borne illnesses cost the country around $152 billion a year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures there are about 76 million illnesses in the U.S. each year, landing about 325,000 people in the hospital. And about 5,000 people probably die from the illnesses in the U.S. each year. If this doesn’t spark anyone’s interest to make a change in food safety and regulations, then I don’t know what will.

Girls Hit Puberty At Younger Age

New research shows that girls are entering puberty at a younger age. Many people suspect the recent rise in obesity and the additives of chemical hormones in packaged foods. And if there wasn't a reason to eat organic and stay healthy, then now is the time. Experts say that girls who begin the "big change" at an earlier age are at a higher risk for breast cancer later on in life.

According to a study published in pediatrics, a team of researches examined about 1,200 girls aged 7 to 8 in cincinnati, New york and San Francisco. They measured breast development to determine which girls started puberty and they suggested that being an overweight child makes them more likely to enter puberty earlier.

Researches suspect that the increase in fat that obese girls contain also give rise to an increase in estrogen. Hormone latent food also played a factor in the increase in earlier puberty for thinner girls. Many assume hormones in packaged foods could be related to the increase in hormones needed for puberty.

The increase in earlier puberty is definitely a problem. Not only are the girls of this current generation at a higher risk for breast cancer, but because of the increase in obesity they are at a higher rate for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, infertility, liver disease gallstones, respiratory problems and other cancers.

Phycological problems including depression, and problems related to an eleven-year-old being mistaken for a seventeen-year-old could also pose some problems on the street. Which is just another couple of reasons why you should probably be a little healthier. I'm just saying.

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Oil Spill Ceases; Clean Up Still Ahead

After three months of oil gushing into the oceanic waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the oil company British Petroleum finally figured out a way to stop the incredible disaster that they had created. On Friday, a new containment cap appeared to be holding with no signs of oil leaking. But BP is still conducting pressure tests to determine if the cap can stop the Gulf oil spill indefinitely, without damage.

The best engineers in the game dropped a dome over the leak, shot junk into the assembly from which the oil was gushing and stuck a siphon into a leaky pipe. They poked around for months trying to stop or slow the ecologic catastrophe that they had created.
In a way the Gulf oil spill has recast how companies will respond to future deep-sea accidents. Many experts say that we have learned our lesson as far as limiting the risk of future disasters like this, but in a way we really haven’t.

No one declared that we stopped off-shore- drilling. And no one really seems serious about limiting our dependency of oil. Sure we all say that we need to, but I still see people buying brand new Hummers.

For months I have seen pictures of dead animals in and around the gulf. I’ve seen tar covering the sands of our beaches and fisherman suffering from loss of business. Have we really learned our lesson, or have we just “covered up” the problem (pun intended).

And as we clean up the mess that we have made from our dependency of oil, I would like for you to keep in mind that eventually we won’t have oil available to spill into the ocean. We eventually need to find a source of renewable energy, not only because we are killing everything in sight or because it is expensive and cannot be reused. We need to find another solution because eventually there will be no more oil. We either change our ways or we’re stuck. And I just hope we choose to change soon before something like this ever happens again.

When Can a Fetus Start to Feel Pain?

According to an Associate Press story, a repot done in the UK reveals that fetuses before 24 weeks are unable to feel pain. This study instantaneously brings up thoughts concerning abortion, human rights and morality, and it rightly does so. The legality of abortion and whether or not the procedure is morally right has plagued the world for years.

For years our two major political parties helped defined their objectives and beliefs with abortion on their minds, the Democrats are Pro choice while the Republicans are Pro life. It has always been a controversial issue since abortions began. But findings like this will the divisive debate over the matter end?

Obviously some doctors disagreed with the findings of the study and lowered the limit of the fetus’ inability to feel pain to 20 weeks in the US state of Nebraska. And on the other side, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said it knows of no legitimate evidence that shows a fetus can experience pain. According to them, a fetus' brain begins its final stage of development between the 20th and 40th weeks of pregnancy, and that certain hormones that develop in the final trimester also must be present for it to feel pain.

It’s a big subject that continues to divide the world. But it’s a subject that is a matter of life and death. Court cases like the infamous Roe v. Wade has incorporated the rights of the woman as well in to the complex equation.

But in the end, we really won’t know for sure if the baby can feel pain because we can’t just go in and ask it. And for now we are just stuck with our own opinions behind the party lines on the issue of abortion.

How Devastating is the BP Oil Spill?

Aquatic animals and plants that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico are being killed off by the black liquid of death that we commonly call oil. The oil spill by the company British Petroleum (or BP) has caused a rush to stop the gushing hazard from further killing our ecosystem.

Plans to use the 'top kill' procedure failed to stop the voluble oil leak in the Gulf, BP moved on to its next plan to try to cap the well with a containment structure.

The Washington Post reports that the BP managing director Robert Dudley said it is possible the oil flow will not completely stop until sometime in August when the relief wells are ready. But according to the presidential adviser Carol Browner said on CBS's Face the Nation, the U.S. is preparing for the worst and acknowledged that the new containment cap strategy comes with big risks, the New York Times reports. It could increase the flow of oil by as much as 20 percent.

Many compare this disaster to Hurricane Katrina during George W. Bush's presidency in 2005. Many fishermen along the gulf's coast have been deprived of work as all the native seafood has been killed off from the oil. Tar balls are washing up on the gulf's beaches effecting tourism.

The sad thing about this disaster is that there is still a hole in the Earth, crude oil is still spewing from it and there is still, excruciatingly, no end in sight. And with the Atlantic hurricane season beginning Tuesday, this whole situation is looking even worse.

Scientists from several universities have reported large underwater plumes of oil stretching for miles and reaching hundreds of feet beneath the Gulf's surface, though BP PLC CEO Tony Hayward on Sunday disputed their findings, saying the company's tests found no such evidence of oily clouds underwater. But even if there wasn't oil covering the ocean's floor, using government figures, if the leak continues at its current pace and is stopped on Aug. 1, 51 million to 106 million gallons will have spilled.

I have no doubt that this is probably the biggest environmental disaster we've ever faced in this country, and I view this as a wakeup call to America. It makes you wonder whether off-shore drilling is the best way to go. And I'm assuming that alternate energy sources wouldn't do the damage that we are experiencing off our nation's shore at the moment. At least solar energy seems to be a bit more of a bright idea unlike the oil drilling that surges in its wake a leak so awful that it leaves us with no end in sight.

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Really Ok to Eat?

You see the commercials all the time now. Someone mentions that high fructose corn syrup is bad for you, and then someone else steps in to tell them that it's pretty much the same as sugar and that it's fine in moderation. But is what these commercials say really true? That's exactly what I tried to find out.

High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is primarily any group of corn syrups that have been refined by converting its glucose into fructose and then mixed with pure corn syrup for its sweetness. HFCS is usually used as a sugar substitute in a variety of processed foods and beverages. But recently many people have been attributing HFCS as "a toxic chemical concoction" which is aiding in the US's obesity epidemic.

The truth is, high fructose corn syrup is cheaper to use and it is fine in moderation. But it's being used in almost everything we buy as consumers.

Recently the Corn Refiners Association has been trying to change the way people view HFCS with their commercials. Their message says that "it's made from corn, doesn't have artificial ingredients, and like sugar, it's fine in moderation." But according to the Consumer Report Health Blog, this message may actually be a little misleading.

The fact that it's made from corn is actually true, but it is a little misleading. It doesn't have any of corn's nutritional benefits, and it's actually chemically derived from corn. HFCS isn't really all natural, it is actually manmade and it uses the synthetic agent glutaraldehyde, but it is fine in moderation; it's not any healthier than sugar though.

The reports concerning that HFCS is actually the root of obesity is actually both true and not true. HFCS isn't the sole reason why the health of America has been flushed down the toilet, but it is part of the problem.

Because HFCS is added in almost everything we buy today, people end up consuming more than they think they are in the long run. I even checked the labels of all the food and beverages in my house and noticed HFCS in everything but my bottled water and my fresh fruit and vegetables. I was surprised to even see it in the label on my canned soup.

And when high fructose corn syrup is added almost anything that we buy, it becomes difficult to consume it in moderation. And because of this more people are attributing diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease according to the Mayo Clinic.

It seems the only way to get around this dilemma is to buy organic, finding foods that don't have HFCS on the ingredient list (which is few but still in existence)and to avoid or limit eating foods with preservatives and consume more fruits and vegetables instead. And it won't kill you to eat foods with high fructose corn syrup in it, but just keep in mind eating too much of it can.

Benzene In The Water Supply

An Associated Press review has found that an environmental contractor considerably underreported the level of a cancer-causing chemical found in tap water at Camp Lejeune, then omitted it altogether as the Marine base prepared for a federal health review.

According to recently disclosed studies, the Marine Corps had been warned nearly a decade earlier about the treacherously high levels of benzene, which was traced to massive leaks from fuel tanks at the base on the North Carolina coast.

There has been an unusually high amount of cancer cases at the camp. A test done in 1984 first picked up the high levels of the toxic substance in its original report. But by 1992, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, showed up at the base to begin a health risk assessment. That's when a third contractor, the Michael Baker Corp., released a draft report on the feasibility of fixing the overall problem.

Apparently the 1984 level was on the well of 380 parts per billion and it had changed to 38 parts per billion. The company's final report on the well, issued in 1994, made no mention of the benzene. And the reports of the benzene levels just got worse overtime.

According to the EPA Benzene, a carcinogen is a natural part of crude oil and gasoline. Drinking water containing high levels of it can cause vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and death and long-term exposure damages bone marrow, lowers red blood cells and can cause anemia and leukemia.

It’s just sad to see that those trying to serve and protect our country are being treated this way with absolutely no respect for their health and safety.

But today former Marines and Camp Lejeune residents continue to fight for a compensation program and to fund a mortality study that would determine if Marines and sailors who were exposed to these contaminants suffer from a higher death rate. The Senate passed legislation in September backed by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., preventing the military from dismissing claims related to water contamination pending completion of the several studies, including the mortality study.

What Is All This Hoki Stuff?

One of the most popular fish on the market today is the hoki, or whiptail, a bug-eyed specimen found far down in the waters around New Zealand This fish has transformed into a major export. McDonald’s alone at one time used roughly 15 million pounds of it each year. 

I guess this answers the eternal mystery of what makes up a Filet-O-Fish sandwich. This well known sandwich turns out to involve an ugly creature from the sunless depths of the Pacific, whose bounty, it seems, is not limitless.

The hoki may be extremely unattractive, but when it reaches the consumer it’s just fish cut into filets and sticks or rolled into sushi. It's moist, slightly sweet and very tasty and the hoki fishery was thought to be sustainable, providing New Zealand with a reliable major export for years to come.

But the arguments over managing this resource are flaring not only between commercial interests and conservationists, but also among the environmental agencies most directly involved in monitoring and regulating the catch. 

And without formally acknowledging that hoki are being overfished, New Zealand has slashed the allowable catch in steps, from about 275,000 tons in 2000 and 2001 to about 100,000 tons in 2007 and 2008 — a decline of nearly two-thirds, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The scientific jury is still out, but critics warn that the hoki fishery is losing its image as a showpiece of oceanic sustainability.

Hoki rose commercially as orange roughy fell over the recent years. Its shorter life span (up to 25 years) and quicker pace of reproduction seemed to promise sustainable harvests. And its dense spawning aggregations, from June to September, made colossal hauls relatively easy despite the decline in the fish' population. But what bothers me the most is that most Americans have no clue that hoki is often what they’re eating in fried-fish sandwiches despite chain restaurants using hoki included McDonald’s, Denny’s and Long John Silver’s.

And even though most American restaurants have lowered their fishing of this particular species of fish, ominous signs of overfishing, mainly drops in hoki spawns, still occur. All I ask is for the government to regulate this shady type of industry better.

Didn't your mom ever teach you to wash your hands?

So today I walk into the bathroom on campus to fix my hair. Several seconds later I see a young lady walk into the bathroom and quickly enter the stall. When she is finished she unlocks the stall and marches straight out of the bathroom touching the door knob that have to touch on the event of me leaving the public restroom.

All I have to say is ew! First of all I have to point out that everyone should wash there hands after EVERY time they use the bathroom. Communicable diseases are shared frequently because people either forget or choose to froget about washing there hands. Communicable diseases are those illnesses that can be spread from person to person, or from another infected medium to a person. So please wash your freakin hands!

Hand washing with any kind of soap is most effective when hands are scrubbed vigorously for at least 30 seconds. So don't just run your hands under the faucet either! Throughout the day you accumulate germs on your hands from a variety of sources, such as direct contact with people, contaminated surfaces, foods, even animals and animal waste.

If you don't wash your hands frequently enough, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. And you can spread these germs to others by touching them or by touching surfaces that they also touch, such as doorknobs!

So how do you wash your hands properly? Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available and rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces of your hands. Continue rubbing your hands for 15-20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice through to a friend. Rinse your hands well under running the water. Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer and if it's possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

And remember to please wash your hands after every trip to the bathroom, it's disgusting not to.

Can I trade my future for some gas in the tank?

Good Lord! Do you dare wish to know the average price for gas in California at the moment? Well for all those brave souls out there, the current average is $2.891, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of filling stations. It's up 13.5 cents, and because it's the season of summer road trips, prices will raise even higher. 

Now I know it's not as bad as the mind boggling $4.00 a gallon that we all had to endure last year, but what pains me to say is that we are all wasting our money that is putting our nation into further political turmoil.

So what do I propose? Well you should already know the answer. Lying in the midst of a breakthrough is the use of alternative fuel. 

Hello, we already have hybrids and just recently I've seen the new Prius with a solar powered air conditioning system. So don't tell me that we don't have the technology when we do. We all just actually need to start using it.

Other alternatives for those with diesel engines are bio diesel and filtered vegetable oil, vegetable oil being very easy to make and use. And there are plenty of different other options out there as well. 

My point in being, we all need to just try something different than continuing our dependency on oil. Again if not for the ailing environment, do it for yourself and your children. The only way we can fix this problem is to actually go out and fix it.

Hey! Where have all the fish gone?

Today, Monday, June 8, is recognized as the first U.N.-sanctioned World Oceans Day. According to CNN, "the U.N. reports that 75 percent of seafood species are maxed out or over exploited. Catches of nearly a third of these species are less than 10 percent of what they once were. Ninety percent of the big fish -- sharks, tuna, swordfish -- are already gone, according to a 2003 study in Nature."

I don't know about you but I feel as though we should be a little alarmed upon the matter.

"The chemistry of the oceans is changing as they absorb 11 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, and scientists say the acidifying waters will make it impossible for coral reefs, the nurseries of the sea, to grow. At the current rate of acidification, corals, sea snails and other calcium-carbonate-requiring life forms could begin to dissolve by the middle of the century, with potentially catastrophic results. Shellfish and fish will be in deep trouble as well. This is all happening on our watch" says Danson of CNN.

So what can we do about this?

Recycle. Recycling is one of the first things you can do about this situation. Every year, about 300 billion pounds of plastic is produced around the world, and only a fraction is recycled according to Greenpeace. The majority ends up in landfills, but some finds its way into our oceans. Plastic is valued for its resistance to degradation, so its life span can be hundreds of years. When plastic reaches our oceans, it eventually breaks down due to the action of the sun, wind, and currents, into small, literally bite sized pieces that wildlife confuse with food.

These clumps of trash and debris has been directly blamed for the death of a wide range of animals including albatrosses and sea turtles. This massive amount of trash can trap thousands of creatures, there are also concerns that even the smallest pieces of plastic may pose a problem, as plastic often accumulates in the digestive tract, many animals essentially choke on plastic intake.

And if you can't recycle (or just choose not too) you can just throw away trash you see lying on the ground. This trash can get carried away into our water system and eventually can get swept off into the ocean.
And even if this appears to be too much for you, you can at least try to watch your consumption of wasteful products. Try buying things that have more recyclables in the package at the store, or at least buy the package with the lesser amount of plastic.

Being green is not all that hard. In fact you'll even find your wallet to come out a little heavier in that back pocket of yours. So if not for the well being on the planet that you live on and the health and safety for the plants, animals and your fellow human beings, be more environmentally conscious for the future of you and your children.