Virus

Many years ago, I remember being on a plane reading Richard Preston’s THE HOT ZONE, a  gritty book that traces the sources of Ebola and Warburg virus and their terrifying effects. This book stuck with me, and now many years later, hearing about the problems being faced in Africa during the most recent outbreak of Ebola, I’m tempted to read it again, if only to re-educate myself about the subject.

The_Hot_Zone_(cover)(Maybe I’ll stick a Post It note in the front of this book, for anyone in our library interested in finding out more!)

If you haven’t read this, or would like to find out more information about Ebola, we have a variety of books in the library that you might want to take a look at. Feel free to search our online catalog, or drop in to find out what’s on the shelf. The World Health Organization has plenty of information online to help inform and keep you safe if you’re traveling to that part of the world soon, so please make sure to drop by their website and read up. They have fact sheets about the disease, diagnostic information and numbers you can call if you’ve been in that area and think you might have been exposed. Caution is best, as always.

While there is no need for widespread panic at this point, staying informed is your best route to staying healthy.

Published in: on August 8, 2014 at 3:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Vegetables, Schmegetables!

I’m not a fan of vegetables. I blame this on my mother who, bless, mostly fed us green things that came in a can or were previously frozen. Her preparation methods included throwing them into a huge pot of boiling water, or…wait, that was pretty much it. No wonder my aversion to the green stuff carried over into adulthood.

I must say that my husband has done wonders to turn my hatred of produce into something closer to toleration. I’ll probably never love vegetables, but I’ll eat them when they’re steamed, broiled, sauteed or roasted. It turns out, the way you make them really changes how they taste.

Lately, I’ve been trying to add more veggies to my diet for a variety of reasons. But sometimes, when I’m in the grocery store, I see vegetables I either don’t recognize or I have no idea what to do with the ones that seem vaguely familiar.  I’d like to expand my repertoire (I’m sure my husband wishes for that, too), so I’m going to take out a bunch of magazines and cookbooks to find some inspiration. We have plenty of great items at the library to look through.  Maybe someday I’ll even be able to claim that I “love” veggies. Cross your fingers.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in knowing more about in-season vegetables, I came across a great website that has everything clearly laid out. And Then We Saved not only shows you what to buy right now, but to understand that by buying in season, you’ll save money!

veggies

Now, if I could have someone come to my house to make everything for me!

What Really Happened?

into

What really happened to Chris McCandless, the subject of Jon Krakauer’s book called INTO THE WILD, and the subsequent movie? Twenty years later, someone has finally figured it out.

Krakauer did a great job depicting the life of twenty-four year old Chris McCandless, who got rid of most of his worldly goods and took off for the wilds of Alaska in search of himself and a life woven into nature. Four months after leaving for the remote spot, moose hunters found his body near the rusted out bus where he’d been living. He’d lost more than half his body weight and left a strange note taped to the door of the bus.  Even after an autopsy revealed that he died from extreme starvation, many were left wondering what had happened to this “lost” young man.

There were claims that he was ignorant of how difficult it would be to live in such remote wilderness, and even more claims that drugs might have been a big factor in his death.  But no one could say for sure. Even the detailed journals he left didn’t tell the entire story, and so Krakauer did his best to piece together the events.  His book, however, was subject to quite a bit of criticism after Krakauer made claims that he was pretty sure McCandless had died of some kind of poisoning.  It seems that a lot of people just didn’t want to believe that, instead proclaiming his “back to nature” lifestyle and lack of preparation were the only things that led to his death. In essence, the only person they felt needed blame was McCandless himself.

Krakauer never felt satisfied with this conclusion, however, and had many studies done with his poison theory in mind. His biggest idea came from the abundance of wild potato in the area where McCandless lived. It is very difficult to distinguish from wild sweet pea—a plant/seed that is quite poisonous—and Krakauer and many others believed maybe McCandless had eaten the wrong thing and perished because of it. His extreme weight loss might have been explained by his poor diet of squirrels, nuts and berries etc., but it couldn’t be proved that a poisonous plant had been his downfall. And so the mystery remained for more than twenty years.

But then a paper written by author Ronald Hamilton seemed to change everything. Hamilton was well versed in research done on a particular concentration camp in Germany where they fed prisoners bread made from wild pea seeds as an experiment. As it turns out, the seeds were especially toxic to young men who did hard physical labour, who were extremely thin, and whose diets were very deficient in vitamins and minerals—all things that were found in that concentration camp, and which applied to McCandless at the time of his stay in Alaska. Once the concentration camp prisoners got this seed into their digestive systems, it broke down their nervous systems in a way that specifically paralyzed their legs, forcing them to use crutches and eventually, crawl.  There was no turning back once they had the problem, either.  Hamilton believed McCandless became a victim of this same type of amino acid, which would later also be found in the wild potato seed that he was eating plenty of during the last months of his life.  Hamilton claims McCandless probably became paralyzed, and then eventually just couldn’t get around in order to collect food, and eventually died of starvation.

In some ways, this was welcome news. It showed that yes, maybe the young man was ignorant in how difficult his life in the North would be, but it wasn’t really his lack of being resourceful that killed him.  He honestly was poisoned. The results are important because the wild potato plant grows in abundance in Alaska, and identifying a problem with it might make others more aware of its toxicity when presented to the wrong subject. But it also takes the onus off McCandless. He wasn’t just careless or young or clueless. Scientists couldn’t figure this out. It was a mystery as to how he died and took decades to solve.

You can read the fascinating article Jon Krakauer wrote about the problem right here.  And Ronald Hamilton’s research and eventual solution to the problem can be read in his article here.

Flu Shot Clinics

Are you getting a flu shot this year? Working with a lot of children and the general public means most of us (if not all of us) at the library will get a flu shot.  If you live in Lanark County and you’re looking for a flu shot clinic in the area this fall, here is a list of dates.  Of course, you can also get a flu shot at your family doctor’s office or at many of the pharmacies in the area.

Click on the poster to make it larger.  See you at one of the clinics!

Published in: on October 15, 2012 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cravings? Eat this.

Diets. No one likes them (even if you try to be sneaky and call it a “lifestyle change”), and we often have cravings when we’re on them. Or maybe that’s why we need to diet in the first place. But did you know that many of our wants or cravings are actually a result of some deficiency? Multi-vitamins might help, but if you’re feeling like you need something, maybe you just need a healthy substitute.

I must say that although the idea sounds easy enough (I want those chips SO bad, but hey, I’ll just have some turnip greens instead. YUM!), it probably isn’t something that everyone will be able to do. Making changes to your diet to be healthier or lose a few of those winter pounds is something that takes dedication. You can’t change overnight.

If you’d like to know more about quitting a bad habit, we have lots of great books in the library about health, wellness, diet and exercise. We even have a few on cravings, such as:

and….

(okay….now I want a chocolate sundae)

Stop in and browse our aisles for a few ideas to help get ready for spring. It’s time to start something new!

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 10:39 am  Comments (7)  
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Need a little Speleotherapy?

This post has nothing to do with spelling, but the word “speleotherapy” is a new word for me. If you’re wondering just what the word means, I’ll give you a hint: it has something to do with salt, and salt-mines in particular.

Back in the 1950’s it was discovered that salt miners rarely suffered from tuberculosis or other respiratory diseases. Working with that idea, they came up with a treatment called speleotherapy which puts asthma patients into abandoned salt mines to breathe in the cool, salty air. And apparently, it works.

Patients ensconced in the Solotvyno Salt Mines in the Ukraine

For decades, doctors have lined up patients  in the tunnels of the Solotvyno Salt Mines where the airborne salts kill off respiratory bacteria and make it easier for the patients to breathe.  The salt mines lie hundreds of meters below the surface and the tunnels are considered dangerous, but that hasn’t stopped researchers and patients from making their way there year after year.

An interesting idea and possibly a new way of looking at therapies.  You can read the full article here and view more photos of the salt mines (which I must say, looks to be VERY primitive and slightly scary).  Your challenge for today is to work this new word into regular conversation!

Published in: on September 9, 2010 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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