Friday, October 29, 2010

Win The War On Germs

The following is from Prevention Magazine, and may actually keep you and your family healthier:

You may scrub your toilet and countertops until they shine, but these ten scary new bacteria breeding grounds require just as much attention.

Germs (the catchall name for bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms) are everywhere--at home, in the office, even in your car. Luckily, about 99% of them can't harm us. But the other 1% can be annoying, uncomfortable, or downright scary: Most of these pathogens are either viral or bacterial and can cause everything from a runny nose to a potentially life-threatening infection.

You may think you know the obvious places that germs propagate--the doctor's office, the soles of your shoes--but many more germ-friendly locales are completely unexpected yet no less dangerous. We uncovered a host of surprising new spots where germs like to lurk, and offer easy solutions to keep you and your family safe and healthy.

That metal aeration screen at the end of the faucet is a total germ magnet.
Running water keeps the screen moist, an ideal condition for bacteria growth. Because tap water is far from sterile, if you accidentally touch the screen with dirty fingers or food, bacteria can grow on the faucet . . . . Over time, bacteria build up and form a wall of pathogens called biofilm that sticks to the screen. Eventually, that biofilm may even be big enough to break off and get onto your food or dishes.

Keep It Clean: Once a week, remove the screen and soak it in a diluted bleach solution--follow the directions on the label. Replace the screen, and let the water run a few minutes before using.

2. Garbage Disposal
Bacteria from last night’s dinner could end up on today’s food and utensils if you’re not careful.
In fact, there are often more than 500,000 bacteria in the kitchen sink--about 1,000 times more than the average toilet has. Although the metal part of the disposal produces ions that can help kill germs, they still love to grow on the crevices in and around the slimy rubber stopper. That means your disposal can become party central for bacteria, contaminating whatever touches it--dishes, utensils, even your hands.

Keep It Clean: At least once a week, clean the disposal's rubber stopper with a diluted bleach solution--soap and water aren't enough.

3. Welcome Mat
It serves to greet not only your guests but also all the bugs on the bottoms of their shoes.
In fact, one study found that nearly 96% of shoe soles had traces of coliform, which includes fecal bacteria. The area near your front door is one of the dirtiest in the house. Once bacteria plant their stakes in your mat, anytime you walk on it, you give them a free ride into your home.

Keep It Clean: Spray the doormat once a week with a fabric-safe disinfectant (such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray). Leave shoes at the door, and avoid resting bags and groceries on the mat, too

4. Vacuum Cleaner
It’s all in the bag—including spreadable germs.
Vacuums--including the brushes and bags--are like meals-on-wheels for bacteria. You suck in all this bacteria and food, creating an atmosphere for growth. In a study, 13% of all vacuum cleaner brushes tested positive for E. coli, which means you could spread it around the house each time you use the appliance.

Keep It Clean: Change your vacuum bag frequently, and do so outdoors to avoid the cloud of bacteria that filters into the air. (Vacuum bags that feature antibacterial linings are best, and are available for many major brands.) Clean the cavity of a bagless vacuum with diluted bleach and let it air-dry.

5. Dish Towel
You know a sponge can harbor nasty germs, but dish towels are just as dangerous.
A recent study of hundreds of homes across the United States found that about 7% of kitchen towels were contaminated with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), the difficult-to-treat staph bacteria that can cause life-threatening skin infections. Dish towels also rated tops for dangerous strains of E. coli and other bacteria. We often use towels to wipe up spills, says Reynolds, then reuse before washing them, which spreads germs.

Keep It Clean: Stick to paper towels to clean countertops, and save the dishrag to dry just-washed pots and plates. Change towels or launder at least twice a week in hot water and bleach.

6. Car Dashboard
This is your vehicle's second-most-common spot for bacteria and mold.
Here’s why: When air—which carries mold spores and bacteria—gets sucked in through the vents, it's often drawn to the dashboard, where it can deposit the spores and germs. Because the dashboard receives the most sun and tends to stay warm, it's prime for growth. (The number one germ zone? Food spills.)

Keep It Clean: Regularly swipe the inside of your car with disinfecting wipes. Be more vigilant during allergy season—about 20 million Americans are affected by asthma, which is caused in part by an allergic reaction to mold.

7. Soap Dispensers
About 25% of public restroom dispensers are contaminated by fecal bacteria.
Soap that harbors bacteria may sound ironic, but that’s exactly what a recent study found. Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grows as the soap scum builds up. And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there's a continuous culture going on feeding millions of bacteria.

Keep It Clean: Be sure to scrub hands thoroughly for 15 to 20 seconds with plenty of hot water--and if you have an alcohol gel disinfectant, use that, too.

8. Restaurant Ketchup Bottle
Those condiments on the tabletop are grimier than you think.
It's the rare eatery that regularly bleaches down condiment containers. And the reality is that many people don't wash their hands before eating, says Reynolds. So while you may be diligent, the guy who poured the ketchup before you may not have been, which means his germs are now on your fries.

Keep It Clean: Squirt hand sanitizer on the outside of the bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it. Holding the bottle with a napkin won't help--they're porous, so microorganisms can walk right through, says Reynolds.

9. Refrigerator Seal
Do you scrub the inside of your fridge? It’s not enough.
A University of Arizona survey of 160 homes in three US cities found that the seal around the fridge tested positive 83% of the time for common molds. The mold can spread every time the refrigerator door opens--exposing anyone who's susceptible to allergies and potentially contaminating the food.

Keep It Clean: Wipe fridge seals at least once a week with a diluted bleach solution or disinfectant.

10. Cell Phone
Drop your cell any place that’s convenient? Read this first.
Several studies on cell phones and PDAs found that they carry tons of bacteria, including staph (which can cause skin infections), pseudomonas (eye infections), and salmonella (stomach ailments). Many electronic devices are sheathed in leather or vinyl cases, which provide plenty of creases and crevices for germs to hide.

Keep It Clean: Use a disinfecting wipe a few times a week, and be conscious of where you rest personal items

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Try Opening a Can with Your Teeth?

I have a theory that nobody on the planet ever opens a can of food of any kind any more with a can opener. (Cans with poptops may have made can openers obsolete.)

That’s why the art of making a good can opener is a lost art.

I once had an excellent can opener. It worked great. In other words, it opened cans without much effort on my part. I took it for granted. When other people complained that their can openers didn’t work, I suggested that maybe they needed to get a new one. More often than not, those folks would claim that it WAS a new one! I was skeptical.

And then, one day in a moment of cavalier optimism, I gave away my trusty can opener to someone who needed one. I then happily went out and got a new one for myself. I bought a generic, inexpensive model. When the new one operated in a stiff manner, I gave it a shot of oil. I was disappointed when it never quite limbered up…. Or successfully cut open a can on the first try. Or the second try, or …. I decided it was defective. You get what you pay for, you know. So I bought another new can opener—a name brand—at a higher price. It performed no better than the cheap one! I strained and worked up a sweat while trying to open a mere can of tuna. But, mostly I began to avoid opening cans. This high class model was as defective as the cheap one.

That’s when I came to the conclusion that no one was opening cans any more. If people really wanted and needed to open a can with a can opener, and the can opener didn’t work, they would complain to the manufacturer, they’d complain to the Better Business Bureau, they’d scream and yell for a congressional investigation, they'd at least return it to the store they got it from—right? Apparently none of that happened.

Of course, there always was a possibility that somewhere good can openers still existed. But, I already knew that they didn’t sell them at WalMart or Bed, Bath, and Beyond!

As I contemplated starving to death while staring at a pantry full of canned goods or opening a can with my teeth or a hammer and chisel, I decided to try one last time to find a can opener that actually opened cans. I went to the nearby restaurant supply store and bought the one they carried.

I held my breath as I used it for the first time. I feared that all of the can openers on the planet were defective. WOW! It was like magic! A child could have used it—or an old woman with arthritis in her hands! It almost worked by itself! I have probably opened at least a dozen cans since buying it a week or so ago. And every time I get the same thrill. This morning Em used it for the first time. She turned to me with an amazed, ecstatic expression: WOW! she said. She couldn’t believe the difference.

Anyone need a new can opener? I’d be happy to pick one up for you and spread the joy around. :D

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

“Bill and Ted’s Joke and Spencer’s Big Lie”

In 1989, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” hit the movie screens across America. If I recall correctly, it was an instant favorite among American teenagers. I, however, was horrified with it because even though I recognized that the movie was a huge joke about two impossibly stupid American teens, I knew that fans of Bill and Ted would end up mimicking the two stars—in other words, making the movie a “how-to” cult flick upon which to pattern their own behavior. I was in despair when my own teenagers became addicted to Bill and Ted’s favorite word, “dude.”
Bill: Be excellent to each other.[room murmurs appreciatively]Ted: Party on, dudes![room approves]
Bill: [to Ted]
Good one, dude.
[Bill and Ted are in Ancient Greece]
Bill: [approaching Socrates]
How's it going? I'm Bill, this is Ted. We're from the future.
Socrates: Socrates.
[whispering to Bill]
Now what?
Bill: I dunno. Philosophize with him!
[clears his throat, to Socrates]
"All we are is dust in the wind," dude.[Socrates gives them a blank stare]
Bill: [scoops up a pile of dust from the basin before them and lets it run out of his hand]
Dust.[he blows the remainder away]Bill: Wind.
[points at Socrates]
Dude.[Socrates gasps]
At that time, I naively attempted to ban the use of that word in my presence by my own children. Alas, to no avail. It was a lost cause. Now, twenty years later, “dude” still has not died a natural death. Unfortunately, to this day, when anyone in my presence punctuates his conversation with, “dude,” I still shudder involuntarily, and the specters of Bill and Ted, the two most clueless teens who ever lived, flash across my mind.

“Imitation is the sincerest flattery,” goes the famous quote. I wonder: what did the kids really admire in Bill and Ted? It couldn’t have been how smart they were. Did kids imitate them because they were basically harmless; essentially good guys; dumb but lovable?

Now, I am similarly puzzled by the popularity of the “Psych” TV series. Season five is due to begin in November. Last night, I decided to watch a past episode to see if I might like to join its crowd of fans. I watched only the first 10-15 minutes of the first episode of season four. I quit watching at that point because I felt intensely uncomfortable with the main character, Spencer. Everything he did was in support of the big lie that he was a psychic. How could I endorse that? In order to keep the lie alive, he has to keep manipulating the truth. One lie leads to the next one and on and on. In real life, eventually but inevitably, the truth will come to light.

My thought was, why doesn’t Spencer just become a real detective and get some respect for his powers of observation? Yes, I know that if he confesses the lie there will be a price to pay. So, this show justifies a continuing lie because the anticipated punishment would not fit the crime. So, the premise of the show essentially teaches that lying is necessary and harmless if it’s for a good cause. All’s well that ends well. Is this a true principle?

Another thought I had was, “why is this program about a guy scamming everyone now in its 5th season?” What does that say about the audience? Do they like the idea of purposely (and semi-successfully) attempting to deceive other people? Do they envy him? Do they wish they could be him? What is it that they admire and want to imitate? What happens to us and our sense of right and wrong when we hope that a character “wins” by cheating? Is watching this show “harmless” fun?

Monday, October 18, 2010

When the bright lights go out....

I just learned that incandescent bulbs will be banned in the US when the lights go out on December 31, 2013. All we will have then is those annoying florescent bulbs that start out dim when you turn them on, and then take a minute to warm up to slightly brighter than dim. Poor old Thomas Edison is spinning in his grave. He’s spinning so fast he looks like one of those silly twirly florescent bulbs.

About a month ago, I became so annoyed at the dim light cast by a twirly bulb in a table lamp, that I unscrewed the dumb thing and threw it in the trash and replaced it with a 60 watt incandescent bulb. I have rejoiced every day since then when I’ve turned on the light and had instant bright light flood the room. I have even felt smarter and more alive and happier as a result of the brightness.

After January 1, 2014, the cartoon of a guy with an incandescent light bulb over his head will undoubtedly be used to suggest that the guy is old and stuck in his ways, not that he just had a stroke of brilliance. On the other hand, the 2014 cartoon of a guy with a twirly florescent bulb over his head will not convey brilliance, but, rather, confusion. Terminal confusion. I think confusion is what occurred in Congress when they passed this silly law. I can picture the Senators and Congressmen all with twirly bulbs over their heads on the day that they passed this legislation into law, congratulating one another for saving the planet from Edison’s invention. And things are getting dimmer and dimmer by the day back there in Washington DC.

Back in the 70s, Jimmy Carter saved the planet with a nationwide 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. We had to suffer with this annoying law for 20 years. Will we have to suffer with twirly bulbs for 20 years before someone decides that enough is enough? *sigh*

I wonder if stock-piling soon-to-be contraband incandescent bulbs will be punishable by law? What about buying or selling them on the black market? No worries: No punishment could be worse than living with twirly bulbs!

I wonder how many incandescent bulbs I will need to stockpile to keep me feeling smarter, more alive, and happier for the next twenty years….

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Seen Any Good Flicks Lately?"

A week or so ago in the Deseret News, there was an article in the entertainment section about the Catholic Church’s movie rating system. I was especially interested to read the article because many years ago—probably when they first began reviewing movies—I accidentally stumbled across a book of their movie ratings at a bookstore, and bought it. I used the book to evaluate movies that we might rent from the nearby (“Now and Then”) video store in Simi. However, when newer movies appeared in the video store, I needed an updated book to continue to advise me on family-friendly films. And, although I have often browsed in bookstores to find such a book, I have never again serendipitously stumbled across one. Of course, where one door closes, another one often opens. And in this case, I was extremely pleased to find an excellent substitute for the Catholic movie reviews: Focus on the Family’s “Plugged-In” online movie reviews. “Plugged-In” quite strictly critiques the content of available films.
(See: If you are concerned about whether a movie meets the 13th Article of Faith criteria of “virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy,” this website is definitely useful.

Getting back to the Deseret News article, I was happy to learn that the Catholic Church movie reviews can also be accessed online through their website: Their reviews are another point of view and not in any way carbon copies of the reviews appearing on “Plugged-In,” so it is worth your time to check both sites to determine if you really want to watch any particular film. What I especially liked in the Catholic website was their lists of “Top Ten Movies” of the year and “Top Ten Family Films.” Currently online are their lists for 2009 and extending as far back as 1965.

Their top ten picks of “family films” for the year 2009 were:
1. Astro Boy
2. Bandslam
3. A Christmas Carol (animated, Jim Carrey)
4. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
5. Hannah Montana the Movie
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
7. Monsters vs. Aliens
8. Ponyo
9. The Princess and the Frog
10. Shorts

Their more “adult” or general selections for Top Ten movies of 2009 included:
1. The Blind Side
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
6. Invictus
7. Julie & Julia
8. Star Trek (the prequel)
9. Up
10. Where the Wild things Are

Did you raise your eyebrows, as I did, at some of their selections or their classifications? For instance, why did “Harry Potter” end up on the OK for kids list, and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Up” on the better for ‘adults’ list? Noticing such odd or puzzling decisions on their part, I decided that, when in doubt about their evaluations, it probably would be wise to check “Plugged-In” too, just to be on the safe side, or to get a second opinion.

The primary reason I was interested in the Top Ten lists is The Knight rarely takes me to the movies. We only go if I insist on it—which I rarely do. Instead, The Knight likes to buy DVDs. And the ones he buys, sad-but-true, are frequently unappealing to me. So, potentially, I’ve missed a great many “good” movies. I also think DVDs are vastly overpriced. I personally cannot justify spending $10-$20 on a DVD as long as the Dollar Theater is still operating down in Provo. AND, I recently discovered that movies are available to rent for a week at a time for $1.00 from the public library!

So. Armed with my lists of Top Ten Movies, I have begun checking out movies from the public library. None of the movies I’ve brought home have been movies that The Knight would have selected, so I’ve resigned myself to watching them by myself. Some of the Top Tens that I’ve watched so far:

—Julie &; Julia
—The Visitor
—I Am David
—Au Revoir Les Enfants (French film)
—In America
—Secret Lives (a documentary on The Holocaust)
—The City Ember
and, next on the docket is “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.”

Amazingly, I actually cajoled The Knight into watching “The City Ember” with me on Friday night. He was surprised that he’d never heard of it, since it was science fiction. I was pleased that there were no offensive words, nor suggestive scenes, nor gratuitous violence. Happily, The Knight mostly liked it, too, even though it “started out slow”—I think what that means is nothing blew up in the entire movie! LOL

Monday, October 4, 2010

Implications from Conference

Saturday morning when President Monson announced 5 new temples to be built, my first reaction was “Whoa!!!— That must mean that the Church has not been hit too hard by the recession!” I had been wondering lately about reduced tithing funds because of people out of work—surely, I thought, the Church will have to cut back on building projects. Obviously, I was greatly mistaken.

I also thought that the locations of the new temples were interesting. Indianapolis was fun to hear of. I’m sure that people we know in West Lafayette were cheering: no more need to plan trips to the Chicago Temple! When we lived there, we had to travel to the Washington DC Temple—a 13-hour trip. Tijuana was interesting to me because the San Diego Temple is so close to Tijuana. Now there will be no more need to cross the border which is a huge hassle. The new one in the Philippines will be their third temple—that is amazing! The one in Portugal means no more need to travel to Madrid. The one in Hartford Connecticut means no more need to travel to Boston. I can’t help but contemplate the causes of future limited travel abilities. I also recognize that the Saints in each of those locations have to be sufficiently numerous and faithful to merit a temple. Wow! “The Caravan moves on!”

Speaking of temples . . . and temple work, I have lots of names ready and need lots of proxies—let me know if you can do some. Thanks! :D

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Continue in Patience

Can anybody get too much of President Uchtdorf? If so, I've not met them. His Conference messages of yesterday and today have resonated with everyone I've spoken to.
The above video is the most recent of the postings in "Mormon Messages" on Hooray for President Uchtdorf!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

General Conference--HOORAY!

I am excited to listen to Conference to hear the Word of the Lord! It's an absolutely glorious October morning in the mountains.