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May 15th

Anne Boleyn began her trial for treason and adultery on this day.


She was framed.

Grab Bag Too Much of a Good Thing:

A published study in Molecular Cancer Research Journal last October found that cancer cells (in vitro) that had been “wounded” by radiation actually survived BECAUSE OF increased levels of a protein called Hsp-27… and one of the main stimuli for Hsp-27 in the body is intense exercise. 

Oops. This small study flies in the face of other research that shows exercise is beneficial for cancer treatment.

Suggestions are offered that it may be a good idea to keep exercise quite moderate a few days before, during and after radiation cancer treatments. Seems reasonable. More research is certain to follow.

Grab Bag Minute Help:

Online Volunteering

Is that minute, as in 60 seconds, or minute, as in tiny? Well, it’s both.

We all know that big accomplishments are just a culmination of a lot of small efforts. The brilliant folks at Sparked have found a way to tap into the extra minutes we all have that could be harnessed into something bigger, and for good causes. Putting a few minutes into something important can be part of a big success:

Sparked helps us donate our time to worthy causes, even when all we have is a few spare moments. They match your skills with needs from non-profit to create small tasks you can do right from your desk.

They call it “microvolunteering.” It’s the idea that while you might not be able to donate an entire afternoon, you could totally use a few minutes of your “Late Afternoon Facebook Time” to help others.

You can lend a hand with everything from design to web development to tweeting. Breaking down the needs of non-profits into smaller tasks lets entire projects be crowdsourced to microvolunteers like Team Netted.

Everything you do brings us a tiny step closer to solving huge problems.

Grab Bag Salmon Quandary:

Recently listed in Sunset magazine’s Top 100 Cultural Trends Shaping the West:

#28: Eat salmon without the guilt

For many of us Westerners, dinner doesn’t get any better than a buttery side of rich pink salmon. Plus, it’s our heritage fish, a centuries-old food for all who have lived along the Pacific. But order it from a waiter or at a fish counter these days, and the person next to you might hiss. That’s because stocks in certain areas of the Pacific are crashing, and farm-raised salmon are tagged as polluting and disease-spreading. What’s a salmon lover to do?

At risk of getting the fish-eye ourselves, we’re here to tell you that you can eat salmon without fear of social ruin. For a start, always go with wild over farmed: All salmon fisheries off the West Coast are responsibly managed, so any salmon from these waters is sustainably caught. Wild salmon stocks from Alaska are particularly healthy and strong, and Oregon salmon from north of Cape Falcon (on the coast roughly west of Portland) are doing well too. So are salmon fished off of Washington.

Take one of these wild fish home, grill it until it’s crispy on the edges, and savor it with a good glass of Pinot—and a clear conscience. Because the West doesn’t taste any better than this.

… And don’t forget… market price will drive availability. Wild salmon will always be more expensive…. and may get prohibitively so should stocks begin to drop dangerously low. That’s our economic version of “natural selection” 🙂

Photo by Joel Sartore for National Gepgraphic

Grab Bag Shoe Savior:

Awhile back I posted about the potential damage done to knees by high heels. I think we can safely assume that feet, ankles, hips and back are included in that concern.

But there’s a side to many women that isn’t ready to wave the white flag on fashionable footwear.  Can comfortable feet and healthy spines co-exist with good looking shoes? 

That’s what Scarpasa aims to do. Their website is all about mid to low heels and flats… and searching the globe for just that. Here’s what they say about themselves:

At Scarpasa we do the work for you, scouring the world for quality flats and low and mid-heeled shoes. We curate an international collection of the hottest wearable footwear from independent designers so you can look good and feel good while doing what you do best.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by many of their offerings when I looked at their site. They also make it easy to narrow down just what you’re looking for:

So here’s hoping you can look like Manolo but feel like Nike, and rescue your gorgeous musculoskeletal structure in the process 🙂

Grab Bag Listing Agent:

Never used Craigslist? You don’t know what you’re missing. This king of internet want ad sites can help you buy, sell, rent, or give away anything you want.

BUT, Craigslist is not fancy. Noooo…. it’s not even very good at making it easy to find what you want. It’s just HUGE and somewhat organized. Definitely could be improved.

So along comes Craiggers, tidying up what the original lacks. Just go to Craiggers.com and search for the item, the category and the location, and Craiggers provides a MUCH better interface.

After you enter your search, a list of your items, in your specified neighborhood, pops up. When you see something of interest, click on it and an additional column pulls out on the right, showing the description and any picture attached.  

Thanks to the smart kids at Craiggers…. a vast improvement on the original.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Typing random letters… a good deal more difficult than real words… sharpens observation and coordination.


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

This one has spread over the internet like wildfire, but in case you haven’t seen it….

You like food? Huh? Yes?



And…. a fine compilation of years of feline faux paws 🙂

Have something to say? Love to hear it. Click the word “Comment” below and leave yours 🙂

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Grab Bag Knee-d to Know:

The knee is one of those long-suffering body parts… much like the thumb… who does a lot for us and is WAY under-appreciated ….. until something goes terribly (but usually slowly) wrong. And THEN we’re sorry. Let’s work to avoid the all-too-ubiquitous knee replacement.

I hope I have your attention now. Yes… that is a real knee, replacement in progress 🙂

Here are sound strategies from RealAge.com to keep the knobby little knaves in good working order:

The way you stand, walk, and move can have a tremendous impact on the health of your knee joints. Taking time now to evaluate some basic choices, such as your stance, your shoes, and your level of overall health and fitness, may help you side-step debilitating knee conditions like osteoarthritis and help keep your knees healthy, inside and out.

1. Are you carrying extra weight? Every extra lb. you carry translates to 3 lbs. when you walk and up to 10 when you run. In a study reviewed by the National Institutes of Health, overweight people who lost an average of 11 pounds cut their risk of osteoarthritis in half.

2. Are you exercising wisely? Certain exercises can build strength in the leg and knee and help to avoid knee issues. Focus on low-impact activities that build stamina, strength, and flexibility, such as yoga, pilates, t’ai chi, walking, biking, swimming, and weight lifting. One study revealed that a relatively small increase in quadriceps strength (20%–25%) can lead to a 20%–30% decrease in the chance of developing knee osteoarthritis. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.

3. Are you wearing out your welcome? You should avoid repetitive strain on muscles and joints. For example, repeatedly engaging in the same activity — whether for work, recreation, or exercise — may loosen tendons or damage cartilage and eventually lead to injuries and possibly even arthritis. When you feel pain or discomfort during or after exercise, household chores, or other activities, don’t ignore it. Take a break and consider ceasing the activity altogether until you can perform it without pain. In the meantime, stay active by focusing on other activities that do not stress the injured joint. If the pain does not go away in 2 weeks, see your healthcare provider. To help avoid overuse injuries, spend 5–10 minutes warming up before you exercise and another 5–10 minutes cooling down afterward.

4. Posture, posture, posture! Just as driving a car when the wheels are out of alignment causes the tires to wear irregularly, the same principle holds true for your knees. If your body is not properly aligned, your muscles, joints, and ligaments take more strain than they are able to endure healthfully.

Here are some general principles of correct standing posture:

  • Your back is straight. Don’t slump forward at the shoulders or waist.
  • Your knees are slightly bent – they should not be locked.
  • Your abdominal muscles are tight – gently suck in your stomach.
  • Your head is centered over your body. Check yourself in the mirror from side to side.
  • Your weight is evenly distributed between your feet. Do not jut one hip out to the side.

5. It starts from the ground up. So let’s take a look at your shoes. Shoes that cause your body weight to be unevenly distributed place extra stress on your knee joints. In addition to avoiding obviously uncomfortable or impractical shoes that can throw your stride off and stress your knees, you also should consider a visit to a specialty store if you have special anatomical considerations.

And…. ladies….. high-heeled shoes might add to the risk of osteoarthritis or other knee problems: A Harvard University study found that women who wear high heels have stress across the part of the knee where osteoarthritis usually develops.

So sit down at that cocktail party and swing your beautiful Blahniks for all to see… just don’t walk around in ’em too much 🙂

Take care of your knees now… it’s a lot easier than getting a retread down the road.

Grab Bag Who Knew?

You think those coffee filters are just for for the java?? N’est-ce pas, mes amis.


Forget those paper towels….here are a list of 25 things coffee filters are better for:

• I would highly recommend using unbleached filters… most likely found at health-concious stores or here online •

1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.

2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome…  Coffee filters are lint-free so they’ll leave windows sparkling.

3.  Protect China by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.

4.  Filter broken cork from wine.  If you break the cork when opening a wine  bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.

5.  Protect a cast-iron skillet.  Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.

6.  Apply shoe polish.  Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.

7.  Recycle frying oil.  After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.

8.  Weigh chopped foods.  Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a  kitchen scale.

9.  Hold tacos.  Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.

10  Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot.  Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through  the drainage holes.

11.  Prevent a Popsicle from dripping.  Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.

12.  Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows?  Use strips of coffee filters..

13.  Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them..  It soaks out all the grease.

14.  Keep in the bathroom.  They make great “razor nick fixers.”

15.   As a sewing backing.  Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.

16.  Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.

17.  Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.

18  Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.

19.  Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills.

20.  Can use to hold dry ingredients when baking or when cutting a piece of fruit or veggies..  Saves on having extra bowls to wash.

21.  Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.

22.  Use them to remove fingernail polish when out of cotton balls.

23.  Use them to sprout seeds.  Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a zip-lock plastic bag until they sprout.

24. Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers.  Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in phone book..

25.  Use as a disposable “snack bowl” for popcorn, chips, etc.

Thanks to reader Jeannie P. for these!

Grab Bag H₂Ohhhhh:

“Water, water, everywhere and nary a drop to drink.”


First, I hope we can agree that the quality of our drinking water should be one of the most important things we address. This is one of those things we hopefully consume A LOT of, so shouldn’t we afford it a commensurate amount of consideration?

We all need to be proactive about this issue, as tap water, by necessity, is becoming filled with more chemicals to keep it “clean“. Our heretofore default, bottled water, is not necessarily “fresh, spring water” (it’s often filtered tap water), and carries with it the environmental INSANITY of manufacturing legions of plastic bottles, transporting water thousands of miles around the country, and disposing of huge piles of those same plastic bottles.

We have to stop THAT madness, AND……

We have to drink lots of clean, healthful water.

So what ARE we to do?

Filter our own tap water, that’s what.

Let’s cut out the middle man on all that bottled water we consume!

I think Dr. Mercola’s site has covered the options well here:

The most economical and environmentally sound choice you and your family can make is to purchase and install a water filter for your home, and make certain it is NSF certified. This addresses all of the chemicals found in well water or an urban water supply, along with any lead that might leach into the water if you have old plumbing.

I recommend three different types of water filters and weigh the pros and cons of each. Let’s take a brief look below.

Reverse Osmosis Filter


In addition to removing chlorine, inorganic, and organic contaminants in your water, an RO filter will also remove about 80 percent of the fluoride and most DPBs. The major drawback is the expense of installing an RO filter as most need a plumber to get up and running.

Ion Exchange Filter


Ion exchange is designed to remove dissolved salts in the water, such as calcium. This system actually softens the water or exchanges natural-forming mineral ions in the water with its own ions, thereby neutralizing their harmful effect of creating scale build-up.

Granular Carbon and Carbon Block Filters


These are the most common types of counter top and under counter water filters. Granular carbon filters and carbon block systems perform the same process of contaminant removal, adsorption (no…. that’s not a typo), which is the chemical or physical bond of a contaminant to the surface of the filter media.

Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals. However, one of the downfalls of granular carbon filters is that the loose material inside can channel–the water creates pathways through the carbon material, escaping filtering.

Carbon block filters offer the same superior filtering ability but are compressed with the carbon medium in a solid form. This eliminates channeling and gives the ability to precisely combine multiple media in a sub-micron filter cartridge. By combining different media, the ability to selectively remove a wide range of contaminants can be achieved.

Consider Both… or Take Shorter Showers

Ideally, if you can  afford it, you’ll want to consider both a whole house filter and a point of use filter on your kitchen tap. This covers all the bases for protecting your appliances from harsh chlorine and chlorine byproducts, protecting your lungs from airborne water contaminants that come from the shower, and protecting your tap water from all contaminants that both arrive at your house and are added by your own plumbing.

Unfortunately, adding both of these filters may be cost prohibitive for some families. In that case, you may actually want to consider limiting the duration of your shower, as a seven-minute hot shower will expose your body (through your lungs and skin absorption) to more toxins than drinking a gallon of unfiltered tap water.

That said, ensuring a safe, pure, supply of drinking water for your family should be at the very top of your list.

In addition, Mercola recently shared specificties on water sources and an interesting drinking water option:


In choosing the right type of water for you and your family, you want to aim for pH balance. Distilled water is too acidic and alkaline water is too alkaline. The ideal pH of your water should be between 6.5 to 7.5, which is neutral.

Mountain spring water is in this ideal range. It is some of the healthiest water on the planet because it is “living water”.

Now, when I mention mountain spring water, I don’t mean the two-gallon jugs you see sitting on your grocery store shelf. I’m talking about water you bottle yourself from a gravity-fed spring. There’s a great website called FindaSpring.com where you can find a natural spring in your area. This is a great way to get back to nature and teach your children about health and the sources of clean water.

The best part is that most of these spring water sources are free!

It is important to bring either clear polyethylene or glass containers on your trip to collect the water so no unsafe chemicals can contaminate your pure drinking water on the way home. If you choose to use glass bottles, be sure to wrap them in towels to keep them from breaking in the car.

If you want to see spring water collection in action, check out these videos.

Grab Bag Global Stunner:

Available to ship in about a month, BBC’s Human Planet is one of those must-see DVDs. You can pre-order now (I did) and be ready to be thrilled with the homo sapiens who shape the little planetary speck we call home. Here’s a teaser:

Thanks to meine Schwester, Shelley G., for this.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Which flag where?

WORLD FLAGS QUIZ

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

I’m sure it will surprise no one to observe that these clips involve exclusively males.

It would be even more hilarious if I didn’t have a grandson who, I am certain, will nurture the seeds of questionable judgement that will surely come creeping under the shadow of testosterone in a dozen years or so.

Sigh.


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Remember… if you want the type bigger and easier to read, hold down the Apple (command) key (Mac) or Control key (PC) while hitting the + key or rolling the scroll wheel on your mouse to enlarge the type.

How will YOU push yourself this week? How about dance lessons? A hike? Dust off the bike… it’s FALL! Try something new or something you haven’t done in a long time this week. Rest. Repeat. 

Tuesday Trivia Grab Bag: (Quick! Submit your answers in Response section below)

Fill in the blanks.

1) A fingernail takes about ___ months to grow from base to tip.

2) A healthy human releases ___.5 oz. of gas in a single flatulent emission.

3) Babies are born with ___ bones, but by adulthood we have only ___ in our bodies.

Tuesday Help Tip:

Get Rid of Ants

Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it “home,” & can’t digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially If it rains, but it works & you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed. (I haven’t tried it… let me know if it works.)

Tuesday Health Tip:

I am sure many of you have suspected this from your own experience. I know I have long believed this to be true, and now there’s some scientific backbone to it:

It burns fat, fends off disease, strengthens our bones, and improves our mood — and now studies suggest it may even suppress our appetites.

What’s this miracle of modern medicine? Actually, it’s pretty old-school. It’s exercise. Although the jury’s still out, new research suggests it may inhibit people’s munching.

Exercise More to Eat Less?

You’ve heard the expression “work up an appetite.” The reverse might actually be true. Overweight people in a study actually ate less — and dropped some body fat to boot — after 3 months of regular on either a treadmill or a bicycle.

A Chemical Reaction

Researchers suspect there may be something chemical about exercise that helps increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) — a blood protein known to curb appetite. The higher the BDNF, the fewer calories the study participants consumed, and the more weight they lost.

And…. once again, I will tout iTrain as a way of getting more enjoyment and effectiveness from a workout on your own than you normally would.

Tuesday Fun Stuff:

An oldie, but always fun to see again…

 

Tuesday Blog Review:

OK… I am becoming rather obsessive with Cosmeticsdatabase.com. My reasoning? Even if there ends up being no serious medical effect from using these chemicals in cosmetics, it is definitely a better idea not to produce these chemicals at all. And, like virtually every environmentally friendly change we make, you must ask…. WHY NOT?

I’ve been sifting through all the products I use for everything Cosmeticsdatabase.com covers, and been pleasantly surprised by some and really disappointed with others. As that pertains to this forum, some products I have mentioned here need updating as to recommendations.

Cover Girl Volume Exact mascara gets a nasty 7 rating…

while another, newer favorite, Maybelline Colossal Volum’ Express, gets a 4…. So that’s my mascara of choice for now.

Nailtiques is a product I had mentioned in passing, and I used it for years. It gets a 7 on Cosmeticsdatabase.com.

But my newer discovery, Sally Hansesn’s 4-in-1 base coat/top coat treatment gets a 4, so the Nailtiques went in the garbage.

Lots of other products did, too, as I am replacing products with a healthier rating. Let me know if you have products you love that get great ratings (if your product isn’t listed you can have the Database analyze it for you). Ideally I would like all products I use to rate a 3 or under… that’s not happening yet, but I’m working toward it. Here’s to healthier skin, eyes, nails, lips, planet…

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