Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another rattlesnake

Killed another rattlesnake last night, at dusk. That is the fifth one in 10 days. This one was crossing the open ground between the shed and one of the chicken yards. A bigger one than we have been seeing too. Scary. Sam heads for the house as soon as you say "SNAKE", but dumb Robin just doesn't get it. The only thing to do with her is scoop her up and keep her out of the way until it is killed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rattlesnakes everywhere

In the last week we have killed 4 rattlesnakes, 3 of them right around our shed and one in a chicken yard. The one killed (we hope) under the shed has been there for weeks, rattling away whenever there was any activity around the recycling barrels but staying back where he couldnt be reached with a shovel.. Dh finally got tired of it, and shot the .410 under there twice, silencing him the second time. Hopefully that is the end of the problem, although they probably hatched a whole nest of them under there and this will keep happening for years. Perish the thought!

Layout of postage stamp

A terrible picture, but this is how far I am on the postage stamp quilt. I need to make 4 more blocks of 16 small blocks each. I am so burned out on this project.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Bloglines - Test your knowledge of cosmetics safety: 8 myths debunked

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more about cosmetics

Environmental connections to public health

Test your knowledge of cosmetics safety: 8 myths debunked

By Lisa Frack

skindeepguide_inset.gifThe new Story of Cosmetics video explains why personal care products in the United States contain untested and downright dangerous ingredients.

The (very) good news is the U.S. House of Representatives just introduced a bill to fix all that. But in the meantime (until they pass it!), make sure you don't fall prey to these common myths:

1. Myth: If products are for sale at a supermarket, drugstore, or department store cosmetics counter, they must be safe.

Fact: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require companies to assess ingredients or products for safety. FDA does not review or approve the vast majority of cosmetic products or ingredients before they go on the market. The agency conducts pre-market reviews only for certain color additives and active ingredients in cosmetics classified as over-the-counter drugs.

2. Myth: The cosmetics industry effectively polices itself, making sure all ingredients meet a strict standard of safety.

Fact: In its more than 30-year history, the industry's safety panel (the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, or CIR) has assessed fewer than 20 percent of cosmetics ingredients and found only a handful of ingredients or chemical groups to be unsafe. Its recommendations are not binding on companies.

3. Myth: The government prohibits dangerous chemicals in personal care products, and companies wouldn't risk using them.

Fact: Cosmetics companies may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances (such as vinyl chloride and cow parts), without government review or approval.

  • More than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain ingredients banned in cosmetics in Japan, Canada or the European Union.

  • Nearly 100 products contain ingredients considered unsafe by the International Fragrance Association.

  • A wide range of nanomaterials whose safety is in question may be common in personal care products.

  • 22% of all personal care products may be contaminated with the cancer-causing impurity

  • 1,4-dioxane, including many children's products.

  • 60% of sunscreens contain the potential hormone disruptor oxybenzone that readily penetrates the skin and contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans.

  • 61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead.

4. Myth: Cosmetic ingredients are applied to the skin and rarely get into the body. When they do, levels are too low to matter.

Fact: People are exposed by breathing in sprays and powders, swallowing chemicals on the lips or hands or absorbing them through the skin. Studies find evidence of health risks. Biomonitoring studies have found cosmetics ingredients - like phthalate plasticizers, paraben preservatives, the pesticide triclosan, synthetic musks, and sunscreens - inside the bodily fluids of men, women, children and even the cord blood of newborn babies.

Many of these chemicals are potential hormone disruptors that may increase cancer risk. Products commonly contain penetration enhancers to drive ingredients deeper into the skin. Studies find health problems in people exposed to common fragrance and sunscreen ingredients, including elevated risk for sperm damage, feminization of the male reproductive system, and low birth weight in girls.

5. Myth: Products made for children or bearing claims like "hypoallergenic" are safer choices.

Fact: Most cosmetic marketing claims are unregulated, and companies are rarely if ever required to back them up, even for children's products. A company can use a claim like "hypoallergenic" or "natural" "to mean anything or nothing at all," and while "[m]ost of the terms have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products to consumers, dermatologists say they have very little medical meaning."

An investigation of more than 1,700 children's body care products found that 81 percent of those marked "gentle" or "hypoallergenic" contained allergens or skin and eye irritants.

6. Myth: FDA would promptly recall any product that injures people.

Fact: FDA has no authority to require recalls of harmful cosmetics. Furthermore, manufacturers are not required to report cosmetics-related injuries to the agency. FDA relies on companies to report injuries voluntarily.

7. Myth: Consumers can read ingredient labels and avoid products with hazardous chemicals.

Fact: Federal law allows companies to leave many chemicals off labels, including nanomaterials, contaminants, and components of fragrance. Fragrance may include any of 3,163 different chemicals, none of which are required to be listed on labels. Fragrance tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage.

8. Myth: Cosmetics safety is a concern for women only.

Fact: Surveys show that on average, women use 12 products containing 168 ingredients every day, men use 6 products with 85 ingredients, 35 and children are exposed to an average of 61 ingredients daily. The large majority of these chemicals have not been assessed for safety by the industry-funded CIR safety panel.

References are available when you download the pdf here.

Bloglines - A personal response to the President's Cancer Panel Report

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Scary stuff

Environmental connections to public health

A personal response to the President's Cancer Panel Report

By Lisa Frack

MyPicture - small for EB.jpgSpecial to Enviroblog by Heidi Hutner, Associate Professor of English and Women's Studies at SUNY Stony Brook.

The 2009 President's Cancer Panel report, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, What We Can Do Now," confirms what Rachel Carson articulated in Silent Spring and what Sandra Steingraber argued in her book, Living Downstream.

Toxic chemicals in our bodies, in random combinations based on exposures starting before we're born, are "linked to genetic, immune and endocrine dysfunction that can lead to cancer and other diseases."

Translation: many toxics cause cancer. The authors of the latest President's Cancel Panel Annual Report cannot say this outright because of the way scientific studies work and because our country has not invested nearly enough money in studying the relationship of toxics to human health (cancer specifically). We don't yet have complete enough national databases and precise enough methods of measurement to draw definitive conclusions.

But the authors of the President's Cancer Panel report certainly come up with a clear case, and they offer many examples of how and where we exposed to dangerous toxics and what needs to be changed. We do know enough, they suggest, we've studied enough, to be able to say that the evidence all points to the fact that our bodies are full of toxic junk that can cause cancer and, often, premature death.

Women's bodies tend to have larger amounts of these toxins, and they are passed to their unborn children through the placenta and later through breast milk. Children are born with their bodies already full of toxics. Their umbilical cord blood tells us this. Their little bodies are at special risk because of their smaller body mass and rapid physical growth, both of which make them more vulnerable to carcinogens.

I have waited for this official report for years.

There is a whole lot of cancer in my family on both sides. None of it seems to make sense. In 1994, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. I was 35. My mother was diagnosed with lymphoma when I was 32, and my father died from melanoma when I was 28. My paternal first cousin, who never smoked, died from lung cancer at 45. Two of my maternal first cousins have had early stage melanomas. My mother's younger sister died from breast cancer.

Recently, I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. The latter is a minor cancer, but it is cancer nonetheless, and with my father's fatal melanoma history, I don't go outside much in the daylight anymore. These cancers seem unrelated and random, and thus potentially a result of environmental rather than genetic history: melanoma is on opposite sides of my family (father and maternal cousins), and lung cancer is on opposite sides of my family as well (paternal cousin, maternal aunt)--so there does not appear to be a genetic connection there, and in my own immediate nuclear family--my mother, father, and I had three different types of cancer.

To top it all off, I am at high risk for secondary cancers because I have had more than 11 CAT scans as part of my Hodgkin's treatment and follow-up. The President's Cancer Panel report tells us:

"People who receive multiple scans or other tests that require radiation may accumulate doses equal to or exceeding that of Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors. It is believed that a single large dose of ionizing radiation and numerous low doses equal to the single large dose have much the same effect on the body over time."

Let me repeat, I have had 11 of these tests. Did the benefits of that many tests outweigh the dangers posed? Was I informed about the dangers of such tests at the time they were given to me? Would I have had so many CAT scans had I known what I know now?

No, no and no.

Unfortunately, I'm not the only one -- that's for sure. Forty-one percent of all Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Twenty-one percent will die from it. My neighbor across the street -- a 40-something father of two -- is dying of lung cancer. I used to hear him playing basketball with his 12-year-old daughter. He has tried every cancer treatment available, including experimental protocols, but the prognosis is grim. I don't hear the sounds of basketball anymore.

Two women in my immediate neighborhood have had their breasts removed. Several other immediate neighbors have passed away from breast and other cancers. These people are all in their mid-40s and younger. The story of my neighborhood is the story of every neighborhood, and cancer doesn't just strike adults. I know several children who have had it. Some survived, some did not. Today, this is everyone's story.

So the report is out. It comes from on high. We can fight the invasion of the body-snatcher toxins and radiation as individuals to some degree -- if we have the knowledge and economic means -- by eating organic food, using nontoxic cosmetics and cleaning products, avoiding unnecessary X-rays and CAT scans and working in relatively safe environments. Still, private and individual acts of prevention are not enough.

The authors of the President's Cancer Panel report argue that our nation needs a comprehensive strategy for eliminating cancer-causing environmental exposures. Poison often knows no borders -- it can travel and bio-accumulate -- wreaking havoc on the health of all species. Cancer strikes people of all genders, classes, ethnicities, and races. The poor, people working and living in environments with toxic and hazardous materials, and women and children are the hardest it, but we are all vulnerable to carcinogenic pollution.

Will our government (and all governments) make the radical changes called for in this study? Senator Frank Lautenberg's proposed Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 is an important first step.

As Americans, we need to ensure this act passes, and many more like it. It is time for us to follow the wise precautionary principle that has been adopted by the European Union.

As citizens, we must mobilize to ensure that our government enacts preventative measures to protect the health of our children and all living beings.

Will we do so? We must.

Ms. Hutner teaches and writes about ecofeminism, environmentalism, women writers and film. She is a mother and a cancer survivor who blogs here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

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How to be Insanely Productive and Still Keep Smiling

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Another great column

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Its a Start!

My Armenian cucumbers are growing on the left. You cant see here but they are flowering merrily away. No baby cukes yet, though. I think it is too hot to
set fruit yet. My chinese pole beans, 2 of them, are trying to grow on the right but not tall enough to tie to the trellis yet by any means.
The trellis is the wrought iron from an old security door we had found here on the property and should work very well. When I take out the logs and fill up the other side of the tank with dirt, I will just leave the trellis in place and the dirt on both sides will hold it up. Good plan.
Yesterday I transplanted some sweet basil seedlings to the center front and ensalada tomato seedling in the center middle. I have cut off clear plastic bottle/jars over them to keep the humidity up around them and protect them from the worst of the excess sun. They are doing well so far, and since I gave up on the other peat pots ever sprouting anything, I noticed this morning that seeds have sprouted in both the patio pot tomatos and the early girl. So those will be moved up to the stock tank garden in a few days.
I also ordered several different kinds of heirloom tomato seeds from Seed to plant, so I should have lots of tomato plants by the time it cools enough for them to set fruit. Cant wait. Iwant to can and can tomatoes in jars so that I never have to use canned tomatoes with the Bisphenol-A lining again.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Bloglines - Why You Should Cancel Your Cable

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Threw away the whole darn thing in 1989. Maybe a few people are finally beginning to figure out why.

The Greenest Dollar
Learn easy tips to save money and go green!

Why You Should Cancel Your Cable

By heather on Simple Living

Just think about this statistic a moment:

CNN reports American TV watching is at an all time high. We watch, on average, 151 hours of TV per month. That's over 5 hours per day.

So what's that got to do with the environment? Well, a lot, actually. Just give me a minute.

First, I read a really fascinating article over at Treehugger today. What about?

Well, it was a good news/bad news kind of article. The good news? World populations are declining pretty rapidly as more people, even in developing countries, have fewer children. For the environment, this is good news.

The bad news? Our increasing thirst for consumption is a much bigger problem than we're realizing.

Here is author Fred Pearce's take on the issue:

Virtually all of the remaining population growth is in the poor world, and the poor half of the planet is only responsible for 7 percent of carbon emissions.
The carbon emissions of one American today are equivalent to those of around four Chinese, 20 Indians, 40 Nigerians, or 250 Ethiopians.

This are some sobering statistics to be sure.

So What Does Cable TV Have To Do With It?

Think about what happens when we watch cable TV.

Usually, we see these things:

  • Ads for products we want
  • Ads for products we didn't know we wanted
  • Ads for products we need
  • Ads for products we didn't realize we needed

You can see where this is going. We see a lot of ads that make us want to buy a lot of things. Even if we don't realize it at the time, that seed is planted. That yearning, the wanting, is there. But, ads aren't the whole problem. Even the shows we watch fuel this yearning for consumption.

Think about shows like The Bachelorette or Desperate Housewives. These people are wearing beautiful clothes, driving fantastic cars and living in beautiful houses. We don't live lives anything like the shows we watch on TV. This means we end up, even subconsciously, comparing our lives to what we watch. And it seems as if most people find their own life lacking when they stop and compare it to this fantastical dream existence.

Or, think about all those home improvement shows on HGTV. We see people redoing their homes and yards to make them more beautiful and amazing. They buy paint and drywall and new couches and new refrigerators to make it a design masterpiece.

And what happens? Well, we'd sorta like to redo our kitchen or bedroom too, right?

It's an endless cycle. We see the new top of the line running shoes, and suddenly our current running shoes "aren't good enough". We see the new Dyson circular fan, and suddenly our little tabletop fan is too "unsophisticated".

Everything we currently own and use just fine pales in comparison to the new, the beautiful, the fabulous we see on TV. And, this just adds fuel to the fire for our consumption for more.

Stats to Chew On…

It's not just TV's propensity to compel us to consume more that has me worried.

It's also TV's effect on us.

Take a look…(all stats come from the Center for Screen Time Awareness):

  • According to the Center for Screen Time Awareness, a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that simply having the TV on in the background can stifle interaction between parent and child, decreasing the number of words spoken and possibly slowing the development of a baby's language skills.
  • In a detailed look at nearly 30 years of research on how television, music, movies and other media affect the lives of children and adolescents, a new study released Monday (December 1, 2008) found an array of negative health effects linked to greater use. The report found strong connections between media exposure and problems of obesity and tobacco use. Nearly as strong was the link to early sexual behavior.
  • In addition to the revelation that consumers in the 45-54 age group average the most daily screen time (just over 9 1/2 hours), the VCM study found the average for all other age groups to be "strikingly similar" at roughly 8 1/2 hours – although the composition and duration of devices used by the respective groups throughout the day varied.

Why I Don't Miss Cable

I canceled my cable years ago. And, the only time I miss it is during football season. But it's not worth it to me to sign back up, not even close.


Because I don't see those endless ads. I rarely, if ever, get the urge to go "buy something" at a store or mall. That yearning just isn't there anymore, and I truly believe it's because I'm not watching all those ads, and all those beautiful people, telling me that my life is lacking because I don't have "this or that".

It's funny, but when I'm in a restaurant or at someone's house where the cable TV is on, it's SO NOISY now. The ads just grate on my nerves, and if I have to listen to it too long I get really irritable. It's easy to see why the TV is called a "squawk box". To me, that's exactly what it sounds like.

So, does this mean I never watch TV? Well, I sure don't watch network or cable TV. My TV is used almost 100% for watching movies, apart from the occasional "Antiques Roadshow" on public television. I get to choose what I watch, and I don't have to put up with any annoying commercials telling me what I've got to have to feel/look/act more successful in life.

Save Money and the Environment By Cancelling Cable

I know that the thought of cancelling cable can be a bit scary. And there's no doubt that it would free up a ton of time for you and your family.

But think about this. Not only would you save the $30-$100 per month on your cable. Think about how much you'd save by not shopping so much.

I'm telling you, over time you will buy less by not watching so much cable television. I'm living proof that this will happen. You can't want what you can't see. You can't yearn after something you don't know you're lacking (and the majority of the time, you're not really lacking it anyway).

It's simple.

Anyway, I'd love to hear what you guys think about this. Do you have cable? If so, would you consider cancelling it?

If not, do you feel like you buy less since you stopped paying for cable?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bloglines - Tips And Tricks For Food Satisfaction

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Food for Thought, haha

Zen to Fitness

Tips And Tricks For Food Satisfaction

By Chris on Simplicity

eastern market 8.23.08 - 3770
laura padgett

At one point I am sure we have all heard about "foods that fill us up" or tricks to not eat as much in one sitting. This seems to be becoming more and more important in the quest for health as foods or tricks that satisfy us earlier are usually the foods that have been used for thousands of years and by our ancestors in order to regulate appetite and trigger the "full" switch in our brains.

Can it really have a significant effect though? can the way we approach food psychologically as well as what we eat have an effect on how much food we end up eating in one sitting. I myself was once sceptical but now believe there is a definite connection.

What got me thinking about this topic was a recent study which I read suggesting that if people think they are eating a big portion or a poriton that is "the right size" they are more likely to be satisfied and reach fullness quickly.

"The extent to which a food that can alleviate hunger is not determined solely by its physical size, energy content, and so on. Instead, it is influenced by prior experience with a food, which affects our beliefs and expectations about satiation. This has an immediate effect on the portion sizes that we select and an effect on the hunger that we experience after eating,"

"Labels on 'light' and 'diet' foods might lead us to think we will not be satisfied by such foods, possibly leading us to eat more afterwards," added Dr. Brunstrom. "One way to militate against this, and indeed accentuate potential satiety effects, might be to emphasize the satiating properties of a food using labels such as 'satisfying' or 'hunger relieving'."

So it looks like our perceptions of what we are eating as well as the word associations we combine with a food can dictate how satisfied a meal will make us feel. Take for instance fiber rich foods like:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Grains, Legumes and Tubers

All examples of natural foods which we usually associate with being healthy or at least "filling" and the truth is when we eat these foods in abundance fullness seems to kick in and stay in place for far longer than for instance having a cookie or a piece of cake which has more calories but is devoid of nutrients and fibre, plus we know it is not a filling food…..

This is why I find it is important to read up on all foods and know what their medicinal properties are and what unique benefit they all give. It is fascinating how many whole foods have unique benefits that if we know about not only makes them more satisfying to eat but gives us more pleasure as we learn why these foods are good for us.

Take for example an apple which amongst its thousands of phytochemical's and vitamins contains a unique fibre called pectin which has benefits over other sources of fibre. Apple Pectin creates a gel like substance in the gut protecting and soothing the stomach, it also contains certain properties which short-circuit the development of colon cancer and gall stones.

By having knowledge about what we are eating in this way allows us to understand why apple's are filling and satisfying in a way few other fruits or vegetables are. It is thanks to their unique fibre which expands and lines the stomach making for a perfect snack in between meals. So what other ways can we cause satiation?

Smaller Plates- When I first read about this I was sceptical. How could using a smaller plate trick me into eating less, I would surely just fill it up again once the food was gone. Little did I know how dissatisfying it can be to eat food from a plate which is half empty. Recently I have been using smaller plates and bowls but filling them to the brim, as oppose to using bigger bowls/plates and having them half filled. It is weird but this has a definite effect on giving more satisfaction when eating.

You have probably noticed that the asians always seem to eat from smaller bowls but they are filled right up. There is something nice about eating from a full bowl or plate. Give it a try I am sure you will find it beneficial in regulating your eating habits.

Slowing Down- This is something I have spoken about before but feel is worth mentioning in this post. Satiety from food takes a certain time to kick in – Our hormone Ghrelin which is released in the stomach to signal to our brains that we need to eat, is counterbalanced by Leptin which rises as we eat and sends a signal of fullness. In order for these hormones to balance out it takes time, slowing down to eat your food will allow these hormones to kick in and for you to realise that you are actually full and don't want any more food.

Eat slowly and chew your food properly and you will give your body a chance to detect the rising Leptin levels which give you a feeling of fullness. This is also why I suggest layering meals starting with raw vegetables and salad before moving onto the main course.

Avoid Light and Diet- This is for two reasons, firstly light and diet products are normally sugar laden and "fake" foods filled with chemicals or artificial ingredients. The second reason is that when we see the word "light" or "diet" we automatically think that we can eat more of these foods without consequence and this usually leads to overeating, or eating a bigger portion that we would normally. Many of the best foods to eat are naturally light or "low fat" anyway and don't need fancy advertising or packaging to get the message across.

Satisfaction seems to come down to a few key factors that we can all attempt to implement into our day to eating habits:

  • Eat High Fiber foods
  • Learn why certain foods are more filling than others
  • Use smaller plates or bowls, which you fill up
  • Slow down eating speed and chew well
  • Avoid foods marketed as "light or low fat"

Pretty simple really. It would be great to hear any tips from readers for getting more satisfaction from the food we eat, these are things we sometimes learn ourselves as time passes and we experiment with different foods or eating stlyles…..

If you enjoyed this article, please checkout my book A Simple Guide to Eating Well and you also can follow me on Twitter.

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The elements of change

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ANother good post by Leo B

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Food for Thought from

Why Democrats will almost always win (even if they lose badly in November)
The Democratic Party may lose dozens of seats in November, but every demographic trend still favors the left.
By Joe Conason

The warnings for Democrats in national polling data remain bleak and unmistakable, from a demoralized progressive base to a revitalized hardcore right, with disenchanted independents veering Republican. With employment trending poorly and no second stimulus in sight, the current question is not whether the Democratic Party will be beaten in the midterm but just how badly.
Before Republicans start to dream again of Karl Rove’s hundred years of GOP domination, however, they might consult the latest working paper by political demographer Ruy Teixeira, who predicted the return of the Democrats back when things looked worst for his party during the early Bush era. According to Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, every long-term trend in population, occupation and education still portends a Democratic America in the 21st century.
By now many Americans are aware that the United States is becoming "majority-minority" within the next few decades, a change that Teixeira predicts will occur by 2042. Between now and then, the strongly Democratic orientation of minority voters -- African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans -- will continue to shape electoral results in most states. At the same time, the share of conservative white working-class voters, who tend to vote Republican, is declining:
Heavily Democratic minority voters (80 percent for Obama) increased their share of votes in U.S. presidential elections by 11 percentage points between 1988 and 2008, while the share of increasingly Democratic white college graduate voters rose 4 points. But the share of white working-class (not college-educated) voters, who have remained conservative in their orientation, has plummeted by 15 points.
By 2050, the country will be 54 percent minority as Latinos double from 15 percent to 30 percent of the population, Asian Americans increase from 5 percent to 9 percent, and African Americans move from 14 to 15 percent.
But the Republicans face severe alienation among other growing demographic cohorts as well:
The Millennial generation (those born between 1978 and 2000) is adding 4 million eligible voters to the voting pool every year, and this group voted for Obama by a stunning 66-32 margin in 2008. By 2020—the first presidential election in which all Millennials will have reached voting age—this generation will be 103 million strong, and about 90 million of them will be eligible voters. Those 90 million Millennial eligible voters will represent just under 40 percent of America’s total eligible voters…
Professionals are now the most Democratic and fastest-growing occupational group in the United States, and they are a huge chunk of the burgeoning white college graduate population. They gave Obama an estimated 68 percent of their vote in 2008. By the middle of this decade, professionals will account for around one in five American workers….
Democrats also generally do better among women than men, and they do particularly well among growing female subgroups such as the unmarried and the college educated. Seventy percent of unmarried women voted for Obama, and an estimated 65 percent of college-educated women supported him. Unmarried women are now 47 percent, or almost half, of adult women, up from 38 percent in 1970, and college-educated women are an especially rapidly growing population. Their numbers have more than have tripled in recent decades, from just eight percent of the 25-and-older female population in 1970 to 28 percent today.
Finally, growing religious diversity favors Democrats as well, especially rapid increases among the unaffiliated (75 percent of whom voted for Obama). Unaffiliated or secular voters—not white evangelical Protestants—are the fastest-growing “religious” group in the United States… Looking even farther down
the road, white Christians will be only around 35 percent of the population by 2040, and conservative white Christians, who have been such a critical part of the Republican base, will be only about a third of that—a minority within a minority.
Although he is certainly a Democratic partisan, Teixeira says the party could easily forfeit all of its advantages:
[The Democrats’] chief challenge now is governance, which is daunting in its own right. They have an ambitious agenda in areas such as health care, financial reform, education, energy, and global relations that they are having some success in pursuing. If these policies have their intended effects and make serious progress toward remedying problems in these areas, Democrats will be in very good shape indeed and will solidify their support among emerging demographics while destabilizing what is left of the GOP coalition.
Conversely, if the Democrats fail to produce—whether through ineffective programs, fiscal meltdown, or both—even an unreformed GOP will remain very competitive despite the many demographic changes that are disadvantaging the party. The next few years will tell the tale.
Governing, of course, will become even more difficult with smaller majorities in the House and the Senate, a prospect that requires a toughness yet to be displayed in the Obama White House or on Capitol Hill.

Illegal aliens really do cost much more than they contribute

Illegal Immigration a $113 Billion a Year Drain on U.S. Taxpayers

FAIR Releases First-of-its-Kind Comprehensive Study of Federal, State and Local Costs of Illegal Immigration

(Washington, D.C July 6, 2010) A new study released today by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates that illegal immigration now costs federal and local taxpayers $113 billion a year. The report, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers, is the most comprehensive analysis of how much the estimated 13 million illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children cost federal, state and local governments.
The cost estimates are based on an extensive analysis of federal, state and local spending data. The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers examines dozens of government programs that are available to illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children, both legally and fraudulently. The report provides detailed analysis of the impact of illegal immigration on education, health care, law enforcement and justice, public assistance, and other government programs.
The report also accounts for taxes paid by illegal aliens about $13 billion a year, resulting in a net cost to taxpayers of about $100 billion. However, the study notes that government at all levels would likely have realized significantly greater revenues if jobs held by illegal aliens had been filled by legal U.S. residents instead.
Federal spending on illegal aliens amounts to $29 billion, finds Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers. The lion’s share of the costs of illegal immigration is borne by state and local taxpayers an estimated $84.2 billion. In 18 states, expenditures on illegal aliens exceeded the size of those states’ budget deficits in FY 2009.
Among the key findings of The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers:
The $113 billion in outlays for services and benefits to illegal aliens and their families represents an average cost to native-headed households of $1,117 a year. Because the burdens of illegal immigration are not evenly distributed, the costs are much higher in states with large illegal alien populations.
Education for the children of illegal aliens represents the single largest public expenditure at an annual cost of $52 billion. Nearly all of that cost is absorbed by state and local governments.
The federal government recoups about one-third of its share of the costs of illegal immigration in the form of taxes collected. States, which bear a much greater share of the costs, recoup a mere 5 percent of their expenditures from taxes paid by illegal aliens.
Granting amnesty to illegal aliens, as President Obama and others propose, would not significantly increase tax revenues generated by current illegal aliens. However, over time, amnesty would dramatically increase public costs as newly-legalized aliens become eligible for all means-tested government programs.
Arizona’s annual cost of illegal immigration is $2.5 billion.
“The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers provides a definitive response to the question of whether illegal aliens are a net benefit or a net drain on government coffers,” stated Dan Stein president of FAIR. “The report examines virtually every federal, state and local government program to determine the impact of illegal immigration on the bottom line. That bottom line $113 billion a year, and growing makes our nation’s failure to control illegal immigration one of the largest preventable burdens borne by American taxpayers.”
“If political leaders in Washington and state capitals want to understand why the American public is demanding enforcement of our immigration laws, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers, provides 113 billion good reasons,” Stein concluded.
Read the report.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bloglines - 10 Simple Changes to Your Day

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Words to the wise

Zen to Fitness

10 Simple Changes to Your Day

By Chris on Simplicity

Time For Change
David Reece

Sometimes changing your life can be really simple, as simple as taking baby steps to better health through small lifestyle changes that you can implement as you go……

Success comes from taking the initiative and following up… persisting… eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life? -- Tony Robbins

1. Ditch the White Stuff -- White sugar, White bread and processed foods in general can be detrimental to your health. The first step in a path to health is to ditch white sugar and refined grains. Don't ditch the white vegetables though, things like potatoes and turnips are full of goodness….

2. Move Everyday -- Live like escalators don't exist. Move as much as you can even if you have a sedentary job. Take walks and stretch or get off the bus one stop early. That extra movement will not only improve your health but make you feel better. After dropping processed food this is definitely the next best thing to implement.

3. Balance your 3 main meals -- If you can balance your 3 main meals everyday, as in Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner they will keep you full and your blood sugar stable for hours to come allowing you to avoid the blood sugar highs and lows associated with eating unbalanced snacks and meals. Simply try to include some Protein, Good Carbs and Fat in each of you main meals.

4. Buy the right stuff Organic -- Check out the dirty dozen, a list of 12 fruits and vegetables you should always buy Organic if you can. This will reduce your toxin intake and leave you feeling fresher and more energetic as your body doesn't need to detox from all the pesticides.

5. Stop using Chemicals -- This mainly applies to body products we all use daily, from shampoo to hand and body wash. These things are simply not worth using when you can avoid them, it will leave your skin softer and less dry. Try and pick up some natural toothpaste and body wash on your next shop……

6. Practice Gratitude -- By simply taking the time each day to write down or think about what we can be thankful for can have a profound effect on our mood and wellbeing. I like to jot down 5 things each day that I am glad happened, this takes no longer than a few minutes but has a huge impact on the way I feel.

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart

7. Relax and Slow Down- With everything you do, this includes eating and living in general. Pay attention to what you are doing whether it be eating, walking or cleaning. You will not only enjoy the activities more but develop a habit of mindfulness.

8. Cook the next meal yourself- It is sometimes too easy to eat out or order some takeaway after a busy day or even at the start of the day. How about a Healthy Cooked Breakfast as demonstrated below by the very entertaining Barry from My Virgin Kitchen.

Not only will you save money but you will avoid many of the nasty oils that restaurants use when cooking food. Anyone can learn to cook with some time and effort….

9. Get Outside- This is especially important for those with a sedentary job in an office environment. Before you know it the day has gone by and you have spent very little time getting outdoors. Simply spending a bit of time outside each day will rejuvenate you especially if you can get some Sun and Fresh Air.

10. Ten Minutes of Deep Breathing- This takes some effort but it is a great habit to build. Lying down for 10 minutes each day and doing some deep rhythmic belly breathing can calm your mind and strenghten your nerves leaving you with a clear head and more able to cope with stress. Breathe………

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Bloglines - What Makes You Come Alive?

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The Art of Great Things
Better Ways to Live, Work, and Change the World

What Makes You Come Alive?

By Jeffrey Tang on Mindset and Inspiration

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Jen Smith of Reach Our Dreams.

There is a lot of talk these days about finding our passion and pursuing our dreams.

I think this is great; after all, we are here to enjoy life and reach our potential. However, where do we start? It can be a big, overwhelming question, in my experience. Even those people that find their passions can get stuck at times wondering where to go next.

Maybe the pursuit of our passions and dreams is part of the problem. The pursuit of anything separates you from it. We then have somewhere to get to, something to find. Of course on a practical level, finding our passion does involve trying new things, finding what we like and don't like, and a certain amount of searching.

I am beginning to think, however, that a better question might be: "What makes you come alive?"

Do you know what makes you come alive?

Ever since I can remember, I have loved reading about personal development. If I enter a bookshop, the first thing I do is head to the personal development section.

For a long time, I pursued my love of personal development by reading, attending courses and trying different techniques. But because I didn't really know how I could make this into a job, I used to describe it as a hobby and think that I hadn't found my passion yet.

When I discovered that my passion for personal development was my thing, the thing that made me come alive, I stopped worrying so much and just pursued it. Ironically, when I started to take personal development more seriously, I actually started making it into my job – I became a coach and mentor.

I am not saying that you have to turn what makes you come alive into a job. The important lesson I learned was to value what makes you come alive and pursue it even if you don't know where it might lead.

Keep Track

A great way to start identifying what it is that makes you come alive is keeping track of your daily activities and assessing your feelings about what you do. This gives you a chance to be honest with yourself about why you are drawn to some things and not others. If you start to realize that going out with a certain group of friends always leaves you feeling drained, then it is a good indicator that something needs to change.

An example from my own life is that I used to do both group and one-to-one coaching. Although both are in the personal development area I so love, I find one-to-one coaching natural and easy, whereas group coaching never seems to come as naturally to me. I realized a few years ago that one-to-one coaching is what really lights me up; since then, I have offered only this service to clients.

Reduce Your Tolerance

Since I started really getting on track with what makes me come alive, I have noticed my tolerance decreasing rapidly for things I don't want to do. We are here to experience joy, not to force ourselves through things that don't light us up. Reduce your tolerance for things that don't light you up and, as Joseph Campbell said, "Follow your bliss."

Stop Listening

One of the stumbling blocks to realizing what lights us up can be society's expectations and other people's opinions. However well meaning these opinions and expectations may be, it does us good to switch them off so we can listen to our own voice.

"What makes you come alive?"

You are the only person that can answer the question. Other people can offer feedback or suggestions, but ultimately it is a personal journey. Stop listening to others and start listening to yourself.

Jen is a Life Coach and personal development blogger who can be found at Reach Our Dreams. You can connect with Jen on Twitter @reachourdreams – or, if you liked this article, why not subscribe to her RSS feed?


New tablecloth, continued

Last night I did manage to take down the flannel sheet from the wall and wash it. I am definitely going to use it for the batting in the tablecloth, as it is the only flannel I have in the house, and I am trying to use what I already have whenever possible.
I sewed two of those light blue blankets together and pinned them up in place of the flannel sheet. I think they will work out very well, as the surface is very felty and blocks should stick pretty well even without pins. They werent sticking to the previous sheet anymore, as it is getting old and the surface was wearing off.

Fwd: zen habits: The Clean-Slate Guide to Simplicity

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: zen habits <>
Date: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 6:04 PM
Subject: zen habits: The Clean-Slate Guide to Simplicity

zen habits: The Clean-Slate Guide to Simplicity

The Clean-Slate Guide to Simplicity

Posted: 09 Jul 2010 09:40 AM PDT

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Jeffrey Tang of The Art of Great Things.

When we think about simplifying, we usually think about subtraction. Getting rid of excess stuff. Clearing away obligations. Deleting old emails.

We simplify by paring away the layers of something until we find the core. Too many books on the shelf? Give them away, one by one, until you're left with a manageable number of the volumes you really enjoy.

But decluttering this way is hard. For example:

Do you really want to pull dozens of books off the shelf one by one, trying to decide whether to keep or sell each one?

Do you have the time to go through hundreds of backlogged emails, choosing which to save and which to delete?

And there's another obstacle. When you're forced to choose to keep or discard something, uncertainty rears its ugly head. "Can you really afford to throw this away?" it whispers. "Are you sure you won't need it eventually? Sure, you're on a simplification kick now – but will you regret it later?" Playing the willpower game with uncertainty gets exhausting.

Simplifying Backwards is Easier

If you're having trouble deciding when to hold on to something and when to let it go, try doing things backward. Learn to add responsibly instead of subtracting.

I call it the clean-slate approach to simplifying. Here's how it works, in three steps.

Step one: Take all the clutter you're facing, useful or not, and put it away. All of it. Put the pile of clothes in a box; put the old emails in a hidden folder. Now you have a "clean slate" to work with, but you don't have to throw anything away. Yet.

Step two: Go about your business as usual. As you discover a genuine need for something (genuine being the operative word), take it out of storage with a clear conscience. No more agonizing over what to keep. Life will show exactly which things you actually need, and which things you only thought you needed.

Step three: When you're ready, sell, donate, or throw away the stuff in storage. It's easier now, since you've had weeks or months to overcome your attachment to it.

And here's a bonus: if you develop the discipline to only put stuff back in your life when you absolutely, positively need it, you'll find it easier to keep from buying, collecting, or accumulating unnecessary stuff in the first place.

4 Ways to Simplify with the Clean Slate Method

How can you put this method to use? Here are a few ideas:

1. Clean Out Your Email: If you're staring hopelessly at an inbox full of read and unread messages, email drafs, and spam, consider declaring email bankruptcy.

If you use Gmail, the archive feature lets you easily move all the mail out of your inbox and into a separate folder. Instant inbox zero. If you use a desktop mail client like Outlook, you can export your mail data to a separate folder, then clear out your active inbox.

Worried about missing obligations to friends or customers? Send an email to your important contacts explaining your email bankruptcy and asking them to remind you of anything vitally important.

And now? Go about your business. If you need an old email, move it from your archive folder into another, active folder. Simple. Don't stress, don't agonize – just go with the flow.

2. Pare Down Your Library: Clear off your bookshelves and put all the books in a box. Now you have empty shelves to work with.

If you discover you need a book to read or reference, pull it out of the box and put it back on the shelf. Books that you need and love will naturally come back into your life; books that were just nice to look at or think about reading will stay out of your way. This also works well with DVDs, CDs, or cassette tapes, if you have them.

Eventually, you may feel ready to donate or sell that box of old books entirely.

3. Reformat Your Computer: The easiest way to do this is with a secondary hard drive or USB flash drive. Take all your files and programs and copy them to your secondary drive. Then reformat (wipe) your primary hard drive and reinstall your operating system of choice.

Going forward, only allow yourself to download a file or install a program if life shows you a genuine need for it. Try to avoid overlaps: do you really need that fancy word processor – or is the simple text editor you already have enough?

On the other hand, when you do find a genuine need for a new program, you can install it without feeling guilty.

4. Simplify Your Closet: Take all your clothes and put them aside. Most items can go in a box or a drawer. If you're worried about your nicer garments, just push them to one side of the bar or use a placeholder hanger to divide your "storage" section from your "useful" section.

You may also want to commit to a regular laundry schedule – waiting three or four weeks to do laundry is a sure way to fall right back into a cluttered closet.

After a while, you'll develop a cycle or routine of clothing that shows you exactly which clothes you actually need, and which clothes are just closet eye candy.

Setting a Purge Deadline

To really make the clean slate method work for you, it's helpful to set a purge deadline. This deadline is how long you allow yourself to keep all your old stuff in storage before you get rid of it for good.

When you set the deadline is up to you. You might decide to eliminate anything you haven't found a need for within 60 days, or 90 days, or a month. Whatever your number is, it's a good idea to commit to it in advance, so there's no second-guessing yourself later on.

The clean-slate method is just one way to simplify your life and your stuff, but it's worked very well for me. If you find it difficult to simplify the "normal" way, give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Jeffrey writes about simplicity, great work, and lifestyle leadership over at The Art of Great Things. Read more by subscribing to his feed or following him on Twitter.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

New tablecloth

I will use a piece of flannel for batting as I want it to be flexible but just a little padded. I was going to use one of those blue blankets from the ER, free for the taking after one use, but they are really too thick. I may put them up on the design wall and use that flannel for my tablecloth.
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Friday, July 09, 2010


There's a small rattlesnake living under the shed next to our recycling bins, which means close to everything we do there. Close to the chicken feed, close to the stock tank garden, way too close to what we do everyday. And he is proving to be very hard to kill. He just lays under there and rattles whenever anybody comes around, then retreats back under the shed, which is only a couple of inches off the ground. Cant exactly stick the shotgun under the shed and blast away, although that is beginning to look like the only thing to do. A shovel doesnt even fit under there.
In the meantime, I am just grateful that he is nervous enough to keep rattling when we or the dogs get near. So much better than having one lie in wait quietly, waiting for you to get close enough to strike. Perish the thought.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

View from the north

When I was walking this AM, I happened to look over and see this view. It was so nice I took a cell phone picture. I will have to go back and try to take one with a real camera some other morning.
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Saturday, July 03, 2010

See the back of Laurene's Legacy

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Laurenes's Legacy

Finally, I finished quilting this Laurene's Legacy quilt, started in a class with Carrie Nelson long ago, even before Laurene's cancer diagnosis if I remember correctly. Carrie always said, and so did I, that we were going to quilt it with continuous curve quilting following the diamonds and so I have. I free-motion quilted in the green diamond background. The actual quilting took months, as just manipulating it under the needle, using the walking foot was labor intensive and I couldnt do it for long without serious back pain. But now it is finished. I wish I had an email address for Carrie; I would send her a photo.
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FW: Nourishing News: July 2010

N O U R I S H I N G    N E W S
  July 2010
In This Issue
This Months Pick, Strawberries
Client Spotlight- A New Beginning
Quick Links
Debbie (Sarfati) Steinbock , HHC

Guided Health Food
 Store Tour

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Next Date: TBA

A guided and educational tour, offering detailed explanations of the nutritional benefits of foods and demystifying many food-fictions. Learn how to shop for fresh seasonal produce, read nutrition labels, select home and body care products, get money saving tips for shopping, and so much more.

View class information and details.
Natural Foods Cooking Classes
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Next Date: TBA

Learn to cook nourishing meals that are easy to prepare and taste delicious! Recipes focus on seasonal vegetables and foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. All classes are hands-on so you can learn just how fun and simple healthy cooking can be!

View class information and details.

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Dear AJ,

Welcome to Nourishing News, a free monthly newsletter designed to help you live life more deliciously!

I love this newsletter on Composting and find it helpful to pass it along at this time of year.

Thanks for reading! As always, if you like this newsletter, please forward it to anyone you think will enjoy or benefit from it.

Yours in health,
Debbie (Sarfati) Steinbock, HHC  
The Whole Scoop
Composting is essentially nature's recycling system where living or once-living materials are broken down into a rich soil. Composting is a convenient, economical, and sustainable way to handle your yard and food waste-right in your own backyard.

Building your Pile
Designate an area of your yard for your pile. Mine resided in the far corner of my yard, and I chose to partition it off with a little wire to keep it contained. If you'd prefer, you can also start your pile in a compost bin. To have a successful compost pile, you need to have a mixture of "greens" and "browns". Greens include grass clippings, garden trimmings, fruit and veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and manure (from plant eaters).  Browns include hay, straw, dry leaves, leaves, sawdust, shredded newspaper, and finely chopped wood or bark. (Avoid: bones, oils, infected plants, meat or fish scraps, and dairy products. These can attract animals and transmit disease.)The greens and browns provide the food for the compost critters (worms, bugs, and other microorganisms) that break down your compost materials into a lush soil.
Start your pile with approximately a 4-6 inch layer of browns, then a 4-6 inch layer of greens, water, mix and repeat. As your greens and browns accumulate on top of your pile, it will need to be "turned" periodically (about once a week), which mixes all the materials together resulting in a dark and crumbly soil. Once your compost materials have been broken down (about 6 to 8 weeks or until it is about half its original size), the soil can be used to pot plans, start a garden, etc.

Yard waste makes up 20-30% of the solid waste of most municipalities throughout the United States, while food waste makes up another 8-9%. The cost of collecting, hauling, and handling yard waste is often a large part of the budget associated with many municipal solid waste management programs, averaging 20% of the budget and increasing to as much as 50% when grass clippings and leaves are handled.

Yard and food wastes are also major factors in the production of methane gas and acid-liquid drainage in landfills. Incinerating yard wastes is a major source of air pollution. Although municipal composting is an environmentally preferable alternative for handling yard and food wastes, processing these wastes at the source reduces the major costs of collecting and has a positive effect on the environment.

Additionally, by composting you grow healthier lawns and gardens that require less water and fewer chemicals. When our vegetables are grown in composted soil, they have a higher content of vitamins and minerals, partially from the rich soil that they grow from.
With composting, nothing goes to waste. The end of one meal is the beginning of your next. By nourishing our soil we are helping to nourish our bodies as well as the environment.

More Information:
Not Ready to Compost 
For those of you who are not yet ready to begin an outdoor compost, at least start to make better use of your veggie scraps! A friend once taught me to make a "compost soup". For weeks we would collect the peelings, steams, and other discarded scraps of vegetables. We stored it all in freezer bags and added to it daily. Once we collected a few bags we would dump all the scraps into a large pot, add enough water to cover the scraps, and simmer it for a few hours. Strain the veggies and the result is one of the most delicious and nutritious soups you can make. The beauty of "compost soup" is that it comes out different every time. (My favorite is one with beet scraps; you get a lovely red soup!)
Healthy Bites
This Month's Pick: Strawberries

The strawberry is the most popular type of berry fruit in the world. As strawberries are very perishable, they should only be purchased a few days prior to use. Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mold, and which have a shiny, deep red color and attached green caps. Since strawberries, once picked, do not ripen further, avoid those that are dull in color or have green or yellow patches since they are likely to be sour and of inferior quality. Medium-sized strawberries are often more flavorful than those that are excessively large.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

  • Add sliced strawberries to mixed green salad.
  • Layer sliced strawberries, whole blueberries and plain yogurt in a wine glass to make a parfait dessert.
  • Mix chopped strawberries with cinnamon, lemon juice and maple syrup and serve as a topping for waffles and pancakes.
  • Blend strawberries with a little bit of orange juice and use as a refreshing coulis sauce that goes well with poached pears.
  • Add strawberries to breakfast shakes to give them a more vibrant taste and texture.
Source: WHFoods

Food For Thought
Client Spotlight-A New Beginning

I loved our first session this morning.  Thank you so very much for what you do!  I am looking forward to a healthier, more energy balanced life!  You are very easy to talk to and learn from.  Thank you!

          Debbie (Sarfati) Steinbock, HHC
          Whole Nourishment

            Whole Foods
~Whole Living~Whole Nourishment

Please Note: The information provided in this newsletter is presented for educational purposes only. This information is not intended as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a licensed professional.