Monday, April 20, 2015

A Good Way to Know When to Say When!

How do you know when it is time to "hang up the car keys"? 

 I say when your dog has this look on his face! 

 A picture is worth a thousand words!

(Photographer Unknown)

(Thanks to Bob A for forwarding this to us. The photographer was not identified. If anyone knows who he or she is, please let us know so that we can give credit.)

Young People In Your Circle of Loved Ones? Be Aware of These Apps.

We are always alert to dangers in the lives of the young people that we love.

 Now, so many of them have cells, ipads, kindles, nooks, other tablets  and computer internet access.  And apps are readily available to anyone using this technology.
There are seven apps that you should be aware of and be concerned if you see them on your young person's technology device.  Five are reviewed by Kim Komando, America's Digital Goddess. And two additional apps are reviewed by Stacia Naquin in "3 Apps Parents Should Find Out if Their Kids Are Using"(Arizona Republic, March 18, 2015)

Basically, Komando lists 5 apps that could be dangerous for our young loved ones.

1.)  Snapchat:  This app allows users to send and receive photos that disappear in 3 seconds.  So the photos-no matter how risqué-seem safe because they disappear so quickly.  But they aren't safe because another person can take a screenshot of the photo and save it in the 3 seconds before it's deleted. So a young person who posts a photo that he/she thinks will be private and destroyed quickly may find that photo posted somewhere else by someone who has taken that screenshot and saved it.

2.)  Tinder:  No young person should be on this app.  It is a location-based dating app.  The user could come across predators, scammers, or other undesirable people.

3.)  Vine:  This app is dangerous because of peer pressure.  Komando says that the best way to be accepted here is to do something really outlandish.  Komando points to a popular post in August that encouraged users to set themselves on fire.

Komando's advice?  "Keep track of kids' social media profiles. You'll know if they're running with the wrong  Twitter or Vine crowd if you keep track of their presence on the website."

4.)  Whisper:  This is an app that is designed to promote the spreading of  rumors and secrets.  It allows postings to be anonymous, and it can be shared with everyone who is geographically close to the posting person.

Komando notes that apps with GPS tracking to bring users together can facilitate cyberbullying.  She comments that "Cyberbullying from someone next door" can be especially hurtful to the victim.

5.)   9Gag:  All types of photos and pictures can be posted  without any moderating for appropriate content.  The content could come from users that you don't want your young people to be connected to, and the content itself could be objectionable, content that you don't want your loved one to see.

Komando notes that cyberbullying occurs on 9Gag and that most "swatting" occurs on 9Gag. Swatting can mean to strike a sharp blow.  But  in internet terms, swatting can be a prank in which the user calls 911, trying to trick an armed response on someone's house.

Naquin also lists Whisper plus two more:  Yikyak and Kik.

Yikyak  functions as "a local bulletin board" for people in a geographic local.  The danger?  Naquin says "It has led to cyberbullying and teacher bashing in schools."  How bad is it?  " It has been banned by numerous colleges and has been removed from Google app store listings."

Note:  Many are offered free through other well-known app stores which could also be a problem for parents since children might be able to download them with no charge.

Finally, Kik allows information to be shared with usernames only.  So it seems safe because of anonymity.  Because of complaints about "harassment and inappropriate content, the Kik company has installed tools "to prevent child exploitation. 

It is heartening that app developers may be taking steps to prevent the dangers listed above,  but parents, grandparents, relatives and other concerned adults really need to check out the apps that their young people have been using.

(All content is taken from Komando's article, "5 Dangerous Apps You Don't Know Your Kids Are Using" in and the Naquin article cited above. )

The Doctor's Office Mixup

Kevin had shingles.

Those of us who spend much time in a doctor's office should appreciate this!

Doesn't it seem more and more that physicians are running their practices like an assembly line?

Here's what happened to Kevin:

Kevin walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had. Kevin said: 'Shingles.' So she wrote down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat. 

Fifteen minutes later a nurse's aide came out and asked Kevin what he had....

Kevin said, 'Shingles.' So she wrote down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told Kevin to wait in the examining room. 

A half hour later a nurse came in and asked Kevin what he had. Kevin said, 'Shingles..' So the nurse gave Kevin a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, and told Kevin to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.

An hour later the doctor came in and found Kevin sitting patiently in the nude and asked Kevin what he had.

Kevin said, 'Shingles.' The doctor asked, 'Where?'

Kevin said, 'Outside on the truck.'

(Thanks to Diana R who forwarded this web story, a funny yet all-to- possible doctor's office experience.  Original author unknown) 

The Use of Therapeutic-Grade Essential Oils for A Variety of Benefits

Not just for massage and aromatic spa atmosphere anymore-therapeutic-grade essential oils are used in complementary/integrative medicine. Tori Rodriguez writes  "6 Scents That Have the Power to Heal" for ABC News Digital.

She cites Dr. Brent Bauer, M.D., who is the Director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine program at Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Bauer discusses the value of using these oils, but he also emphasizes that  we should speak to our doctors before using any essential oil aromatherapy, and that we need to be sure not to  use essential oil aromatherapy for more that 15 to 60 minutes at a time.  Staying within the 60-minute limit can be very beneficial while longer exposure could lead to cardiac problems.

  He notes, "Whatever is powerful enough to exert a beneficial effect in the body is powerful enough to exert a negative effect." And please choose carefully.  Many  products available may not be the real essential oils.

Dr. Bauer points out that the essential oils that most of us think of as being used for massage and relaxation in the spa atmosphere are actually capable of promoting our well being and health in the long term and can actually help to alleviate the symptoms of common ailments.

What can they do?  Dr. Bauer indicates that therapeutic-grade essential oils can help to
"lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and quell cravings and nausea. They have been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells" ( Rodriguez, "6 Scents That have the Power to Heal"  ABC News Digital,  June 14, 2014.) 

So which therapeutic-grade essential oil is good for what?  As listed in Rodriquez's article,
1.  Sage:  Blood Pressure Reduction
2.  Peppermint:  Stress Relief
3.  Orange:  Lessening of Anxiety
4.  Rosemary:  Enhancing Brainpower
5.  Cinnamon:  Improving Focus
6.  Lavender:  Relaxation, Relieving PMS

The possibility is that our doctors aren't very informed about the therapeutic uses of essential oils. We can direct them to Rodriguez's article citing Mayo Clinic's  Director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine.

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed.

In addition to the 50+ studies listed in PubMed, and the information from Mayo Clinic's Dr. Brent Bauer, we can also find information at the National Cancer Institute's website.

(Thanks to Diana R for a discussion of therapeutic-grade essential oils that pointed us in the direction of research on the subject.)

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

It's led the best-seller list for weeks.  So many readers must have already read The Girl On The Train and have decided whether it was or wasn't worth the read.

We sometimes think that the Best Seller Lists are great guides as to what we should read next. Apparently, many reviewers feel that this novel is right where it should be. 

William O'Connor of headlines this novel as "The Fastest-Selling Adult Novel in History" (April 20, 2015) and cites Gwyneth Paltrow,  Stephen King, and Reese Witherspoon as "fans of the newest thriller dominating best-seller lists." characterizes it as "A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives."  The review portrays the novel as "A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparison to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep."

So, here's a purely personal opinion.  My  questions are these:  Why did I not see the value in this debut novel?  What made other people turn the pages compulsively while I yawned through it.  Not once did I feel compelled to turn the pages in anticipation of what comes next.  One reason might be that I enjoy a finely crafted plot and like to watch the character development as the story progresses.

The novel seemed to me a portrait of a sad, young woman living vicariously through the strangers that she sees in the houses near the train tracks as she travels past.  Her pain is evident each time she sees the house that she and her husband lived in when they were married and before he divorced her. Many reviewers describe this book as the story of a young woman who has mysteriously disappeared.  I found the focus to be much more on Rachel's angst with the disappearance as a secondary event.  So many authors use multiple points of view and /or unreliable narrators, and I love reading all of the twists, turns, and revelations.  Not so with Hawkins' story.

True, the surprise is that Rachel's ex turns out to be the murderer.  And Rachel does rouse herself sufficiently to understand that he had manipulated her into thinking that the failure of their marriage rested with her.  And she does stop him from murdering again.

 Yes, Rachel does show a glimmer of wanting to change at the very end when her mother gives her some funds so that she can get back on her feet, and she does have hope now of a job.

 Bob A writes, " I did read, or attempted to read, The Girl on the Train. I did not care for it all. I found none of the characters likable and could not empathize with their plight or misfortune. For me, it was simply not a compelling read. However, I know I’m probably in the minority here given all the favorable reviews.

When I asked others who had read Hawkins' novel, I received more negative comments.  Some were swayed to purchase the book because published reviews had noted that those of us who liked Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn would want to read this novel as well.  I enjoyed  Gone Girl, too, so that comparison was one that swayed me.  I was very disappointed. 

Others have said they liked the story at first but that it bogged down in the middle.  Still others termed it "OK" and said they were prompted to read it because of the great reviews. So what have we missed?  In my opinion, tight plot structure and weak character development. And that was coupled with a  blurry focus on the murder victim, loose ends, and too much pathos. 

My view -as one of our group also said- is not falling into the majority opinion.  Don't get me started on Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread

Sigh, I seem better off reading fiction suggested by people who cross my path than by using one of the Best-Seller Lists as a guide.

 That being said, here I go again.  I just ordered Baldacci's Memory Man-sure to be listed.  I'm hoping to enjoy it as I have other Baldacci works.  And will I read another Hawkins' work?  Yes, especially if someone I know has recommended it.

(Thanks to Joan H, Bob A, John C, and Erin C for sharing their opinions with us.)