Saturday, May 23, 2009

Got Nothing...

By Diana Hsieh

I've been working ten-plus hour days editing the dissertation this whole week, so I've got nothing in my queue. And I can't possibly spare the time required to write anything. So consider this an open thread on food.

Here's the question: What delectable food have you discovered lately?

For me, it's pastured eggs scrambled in coconut oil with goat cheese.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Proper Technique

By Diana Hsieh

Speaking of communicable respiratory diseases, I highly recommend watching this hysterical video about the best way to sneeze and cough if you are ill. You'll not only prevent the spread of your germs, you'll also be less gross!

Here's the introduction:

Many diseases are spread by poor coughing and sneezing techniques. Most people put their hands in front of their mouths and noses to stop germs from getting into the air. Unfortunately, this technique puts the germs on their hands. The germs are then spread to telephones and doorknobs and many other surfaces from which they are then picked up by the next user. This is how colds spread quickly through schools and workplaces, and how the flu spreads quickly through entire cities. It would be very easy to cut this mode of infection drastically by simply getting people to cough and sneeze properly.
And here's the video:



I've known about the in-elbow technique for a while, but I've used it inconsistently. Why? Because, alas, it just seemed gauche. However, now I'll use it with confidence, knowing that it makes me super-cool. Plus, I'll be a benefactor to humanity! That is, I'll use the technique if I ever get sick again. I plan to avoid doing that, if possible.

(Via Kevin MD)

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Sickness Begone!

By Diana Hsieh

I'm delighted to report that I have successfully warded off some kind of illness -- a cold or the flu -- with Vitamin D. Or so I have good reason to believe.

I began to get sick on Tuesday afternoon. My throat was sore and itchy, my nose was stuffy and sneezy. I was feeling icky. When I woke up around 2 am on Wednesday morning, I was sure that I was coming down with something. I felt downright miserable. In every other case when I've felt that bad, I've gotten sick.

I took some extra Vitamin D on Tuesday evening, then I took a large dose on Wednesday morning -- about 15,000 IU, I think. (If I recall correctly, up to 50,000 IU is safe.) I also sat in the sun for a good while that Wednesday morning, with lots of skin exposed. I also spent about two hours in the sun that afternoon. By Wednesday afternoon, I felt perfectly fine.

A few months ago, Paul and I took a hefty dose of Vitamin D when we both developed scratchy throats. Neither of us got sick. However, in that case, the prospect of a cold/flu wasn't quite so obvious as in my recent brush.

So, despite spending three days per week at Boulder for the past few months -- including through a particularly nasty flu season -- I did not get sick. In the past, I've gotten sick at least once per winter. Last year, I got sick three times, once quite badly. This fall, winter, and spring, I've been perfectly healthy -- even though I've been far less concerned to avoid sick people than I have in the past.

My personal findings integrate nicely with what I've read on the effects of Vitamin D, most notably this medical report: Epidemic Influenza And Vitamin D.

In addition, I've had no allergies this year whatsoever. A few years ago, I developed allergies for the first time around late March. They mostly disappeared for a few years. Last year, I had them very badly for a full month. I was miserable. This year, happily, nada.

Of course, certainty in such cases requires attention to long-term trends. However, I do think the preliminary data looks darn good.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Swine Flu

By Diana Hsieh

Admittedly, I tend to be a bit of a worrier. While I can always articulate my reasons for worrying about something, I can be lead astray by my worries. Consequently, to counteract that tendency, I'm always very interested in to arguments that something isn't really much cause for concern. However, I do need facts and reasons, not merely claims like "don't worry about that" or "nothing bad happened last time" or "this other thing is even more worrisome." I want to understand the issue, not to be placated.

Hence, I was very interested to read this LA Times op-ed on why the swine flu isn't likely to cause a pandemic. Much to my delight, the reasons not to worry integrate quite nicely with my basic knowledge of evolutionary theory, including the relative success of the common cold relative to the failure of ebola. I won't quote any portion, as the whole op-ed should be read.

If only someone could do the same for my worries about the prospect of hyperinflation.

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