2010/07/31

Health and Fitness for Sunday August 1, 2010

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Your Health: Seeking Shelter in Summer Storms Saves Lives

If your work or play takes you into the great outdoors this summer, there's a good chance that you may find yourself seeking shelter in a storm -- and the lightning that accompanies it. In the U.S., lightning is the second most common storm-related cause of death, exceeded only by floods.

Lightning, defined as an atmospheric discharge of electricity, can travel from a thundercloud to the ground at speeds greater than 130,000 miles per hour. It can heat the air in its immediate vicinity to temperatures that are three times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Lightning can zap vulnerable people and objects with millions of volts of electricity. That's considerably more than the 110 volts supplied by the electrical outlets in your home.

In spite of its awesome power, lightning isn't always deadly. A flash can come and go in a millisecond, and this brief duration is what allows many of its victims to survive.

People with minor lightning injuries are typically stunned and confused, and often don't remember being struck. Headaches, weakness and temporary loss of vision or hearing may linger afterward, but most victims recover fully.

People who experience major lightning injuries suffer far more serious complications. The skin can be severely burned by melting metal and rubber from zippers and shoe soles, and by moisture from rainwater when it is instantly vaporized to steam.

A lightning strike often causes the eardrums to rupture and may lead to the formation of cataracts on the eyes within days of the injury. Some victims suffer permanent paralysis or brain damage.

Lightning strikes can be devastating, but the good news is that you can take steps to avoid being struck in the first place. It's always best to stay indoors when a storm is brewing, but if you're caught off guard when you're outside in the elements, you may need to take emergency measures.

If you can hear thunder, lighting is close enough to strike you. The sound of thunder should be your cue to immediately stop what you're doing and head for a safe shelter, which includes a substantial building or the inside of an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle.

As you dash to safety, drop any objects that may serve as lightning rods, such as golf clubs, fishing poles and umbrellas. Once you reach shelter, it's wise to stay put for at least a half hour after you hear the last clap of thunder.

If you're in the water when a storm approaches, get out immediately and move as far away as possible. If you're stranded in an open area with no safe shelter in site, you can reduce your risk of injury by moving to the lowest point in the land and by staying away from single trees, towers or poles.

You'll know that you're in grave danger if you feel your hair standing on end, hear crackling noises or if objects around you appear to be surrounded by blue haloes. These are signs that lightning is about to strike, and it's time to hit the deck -- now!

You can make yourself less of a target by squatting in a tucked position, with only the balls of your feet touching the ground.

When lightning strikes, you may not be the only one in danger. Although most lightning fatalities involve a single person, it's not uncommon for several victims to be struck at once.

If you're unscathed when others are injured, you can be a lifesaver. If there's a phone in your immediate vicinity, call 911.

Contrary to popular belief, lightning victims aren't electrically charged, so they don't pose any threat to their rescuers. Although it may seem counterintuitive, you should first try to help anyone who appears to be dead, and start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if necessary.

After a lightning strike, a person's heart may stop beating and respiration may cease, at least temporarily. In many cases, the heart will resume beating on its own in a matter of moments.

The ability to breathe takes much longer to return, and without respiratory assistance, oxygen deprivation may lead to death. When rescue breathing is given until the victim is able to breathe alone, the chances of survival increase dramatically.

Although it's entirely possible to survive lightning-related injuries, most people would agree that it's far better to avoid them in the first place. Seeking shelter in a storm will reduce your risk of being struck by lightning, and it might even save your life.

========

Rallie McAllister, M.D. is a family physician, speaker, and co-founder of www.MommyMDGuides.com, a website featuring child-raising tips from trusted doctors who are also moms. To find out more about Rallie McAllister, M.D., and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2010 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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Rick Steves' Europe: Navigating Europe in the Digital Age

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Travel
For Indiana
Sunday August 1, 2010


Several years ago, I was invited to Amazon.com headquarters. It was turned on. While I consider myself a paper guy, I can see the advantages to ebooks. Of course, ebooks have their problems.

Navigating Europe in the Digital Age

By Rick Steves, Tribune Media Services

Several years ago, I was invited to Amazon.com headquarters. After signing a legal promise of secrecy, I was taken into a special room. Someone came in carrying a package containing Amazon's secret weapon ... the Kindle.

It was turned on. And from the second I held it, so was I. It felt like I was holding the future. Since then, the ebook market has taken off. The Kindle has worthy competitors, including the iPad, Sony Reader, and Nook.

While I consider myself a paper guy, I can see the advantages to ebooks. An ebook reader is smaller and lighter than a guidebook. You can effortlessly carry hundreds of ebooks, which is great for long, multi-destination trips. And with built-in wireless, you can buy books from anywhere, convenient for spur-of-the-moment detours.

Of course, ebooks have their problems. Though they work well for novels, they remain clunky for guidebooks. It can be difficult to find the information you're looking for; flipping from page to page can be awkward; and maps -- often designed to run across two pages -- don't always appear correctly. An ebook reader is expensive, and if you lose it, you're out hundreds of dollars. Still, ebooks are here to stay, and they'll only gain in popularity.

Ebooks are just one of the latest technologies changing the way we travel. Email, blogging, Facebook, and Twitter have usurped postcards. Public pay phones are nearly obsolete now that cell phones, international phone cards (sold in Europe), and calling over the Internet offer easy and cheap alternatives. After a busy day of sightseeing in Berlin, you could go back to your hotel room, download a movie, and watch the serious "Das Boot" or the funny "Good Bye, Lenin!"

An audio tour you can run on your iWhatever is the one technology I'm excited about. More and more tourist offices and museums are offering these for free or at low cost. For instance, the tourist information office in Italy's Padua has MP3 tours covering five walking routes. You can download these for free from their website (www.turismopadova.it), or just borrow one of their MP3 players when you're there. Bath's tourism office has a downloadable Jane Austen walking tour that includes a printable map (http://visitbath.co.uk). Free audio tours for London's National Portrait Gallery, Prague's Charles Bridge, and other sights are available at www.acoustiguide.com. I just launched Audio Europe, an extensive free online library -- containing audio tours of Europe's major sights and interviews with travel experts -- organized by destination. Choose whatever interests you, and download it to your iPod, smartphone, or computer at www.ricksteves.com or iTunes. Before you leave for Europe, it's worth checking online to see what kinds of digital content you can find to enhance your trip. Using Google or the iTunes store, search for sights and cities you'll be visiting.

Some places are going beyond audio. At Chateau de Chenonceau in France's Loire region, pictures and videos accompany the audio narration, cluing you in to what you're looking at. You can rent an iPod there or run the tour on your own device (www.chenonceau.com). Versailles' free app for iPhones uses GPS to sense where you are and pops up related videos, narration, and slideshows (www.chateauversailles.fr).

While paper guidebooks are still selling well, map sales are being hit much harder by techie alternatives, such as Google Maps and GPS. To be honest, I'm still somewhat of a holdout when it comes to GPS (then again, I was probably the last writer in America to cling to WordPerfect). To me, part of the fun of being immersed in Europe is navigating. If you want to connect with locals, ask for directions. By being engaged, I learn and internalize the lay of the land.

If I do use a GPS, I make it a point to also have a road map handy and at least a vague sense of my route. One time, driving from St. Moritz to Lugano via Italy's Lake Como, I realized my GPS had just directed me past the Lugano turnoff. Hitting the brakes and checking my map, I figured out it was aiming to send me on the freeway, then on a ferry across the lake. I stuck with the "slower" roads on the quieter side of the lake ... and got in an hour earlier. The lesson: GPS is most useful in conjunction with a good map and some common sense.

That's the bottom line with most technology. They can lead you in the right direction -- to that small town in the hills or through an overwhelming museum like the Louvre -- but the rest is up to you.

========

Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ricksteves.com.


(c)2008 RICK STEVES DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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Cat Seizures - What Owners Need to Know

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Cats & Dogs
For Indiana
Sunday August 1, 2010


Cat Seizures - What Owners Need to Know
By Michael Podgoetsky

Cats suffering from different neurological problems are usually known as cat seizures. This problem is often found in cats and can be caused by several factors. Cat seizures are also known as convulsion and they possess characteristics like loss of consciousness, slimming of the pet's body, unintentional problem of urination and changes in the behavior of the cat. If you observe any of these symptoms, do not forget to visit your nearest veterinary doctor.

Three distinct stages of cat seizure are described below:

Stage 1 - Pre-Ictal Phase: It is the initial phase of the seizure and you will start observing the symptoms which I have already discussed above in your cat. You might feel your pet getting nervous, restless or salivate and such a situation can vary from seconds to few hours.

Stage 2 - Ictal Phase: It is the actual seizure phase. You might notice your cat's muscles getting contract and it can even fall or get paralyzed by shaking. It is possible that your cat may also pass urine or salivate. Such situations may last for few seconds to few minutes. It is surely a pain for the cat owner to see such a pitiful condition of his pet.

Stage 3 - Post-Ictal Phase: It is last phase of seizure and your cat might have the feelings of getting confused and at complete loss. It might feel restless and suffer from brief feelings of blindness. During the cat seizure's phase please avoid to put your finger near or into the mouth of your kitten.

Whenever you observe the seizure in your pet, make a visit to your vet and have a detailed discussion on it. He can take blood tests to cross-check the disease or can provide it with anti-convulsion therapy to get rid of seizures.

========

Michael Podgoetsky advocates pet health and vitality through his avid research on products that ensure immunity boosting effects and disease-fighting features. You may access his findings at Your Cat's Health and Cat Seizures


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For Indiana
Sunday August 1, 2010

Was My Marriage All a Lie?

Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn:

After 22 years of (what I thought was) a storybook marriage, my husband confessed to me that he had been secretly pursuing his latent sexual attraction to men. I was devastated, but determined to make sure our divorce was amicable and respectful. We have since both been kind and generous to each other and have made our split comfortable for our two children.

Though he has a steady, public "friend," he has chosen to be elusive and not publicly come out, and this has left our friends asking me well-intended questions in their efforts to support me. I feel like my past marriage was a lie for so long, and I never want to have to lie to others again. I need the support of my friends. His own family was very hurt and confused and ready to blame me, and I had to tell them in order to save my relationship with this family I loved and was losing.

I know I'm not supposed to care about what other people think, but it's also important to me that I not lie to friends and family members. How obligated am I to keep his secret?

-- Conflicted


You're not. Many of your obligations are things that, by your account, you've already done: You looked out for your children, you worked hard to keep the divorce amicable, you were sensitive in letting your husband set the pace for going public with his homosexuality.

But enough is enough.

You have feelings, too, and your now-ex-husband owes you as much sensitivity to your needs as you showed for his.

Especially now that your ex is appearing publicly with a steady male companion, you are more than entitled to tell the truth about why your marriage dissolved.

I say that, though, with two caveats: First, it can't be even remotely about payback. That doesn't seem to be what you're after, however, it's easy for someone who feels wronged -- and you were indeed wronged -- to derive a sense of satisfaction from saying, "It wasn't me, it was his fault."

So tell your innermost circle and leave it at that. This is about securing needed support and removing the weight of secrecy, not about setting the record, er, straight. Your husband's public appearances and the adding of 2-plus-2 will disseminate the truth naturally anyway.

The second caveat: You don't need his permission, but you do owe your ex a courtesy call before you drop your end of the veil. Explain that you've gladly given him time to emerge at his own pace, and will continue to have his back -- but, now that he seems to have emerged just fine, you're going to answer questions truthfully instead of evading them.

I only wish you had gone with the courtesy call before you told his parents, to give him a chance to level with them himself. In what appears to have been a disciplined response to this unwelcome challenge, that may be the one time you flinched. Your husband deceived you awfully, yes, but it still wasn't fair to risk his relationship with his family just to save your own.

========

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.


Copyright 2010 Washington Post Writers Group

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