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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Killing ourselves with an unhealthy lifestyle

Miss Baby will enjoy good homemade food.
First, I'm not going to spend much time on this as Miss Baby is stopping by; I have a small child with whom to discuss art. She may be only five-months-old but she communicates better than some adults. Marcel Marceau has nothing on her.

Plus, she has a pretty positive outlook. I've always thought nothing improves a woman's looks more than a smile. Miss Baby knows how to look beautiful. I think it's in Miss Baby's genes as her grandmother knows a thing or two about dressing up the face with a smile.

Killing ourselves with an unhealthy lifestyle

Paul Berton, editor-in-chief of The London Free Press, wrote about our unhealthy lifestyle in the Saturday paper pointofview column. (And yes it is spelled pointofview in the paper. Cute, eh?)

My wife making her own pasta.
Paul writes, "we're killing ourselves with an unhealthy lifestyle." He's right but he quickly goes way off track. The tone seems to be --- It's us. Foolish us. --- "We'd rather use a food processor than a knife," Paul writes.

Stay out of my kitchen, Paul, because you'd confuse apples and oranges. Food processors are not knives. My wife uses both a food processor and a large stand mixer. They help her to quickly make good food from good ingredients.

The other night she made pasta using durum semolina flour bought at Arva Flour Mills. The pasta was quick to make and (she'll hate me for revealing this) her arthritic hands did not ache afterwards, thanks to the pasta maker attachment driven by her stand mixer.

The soup for salt addicts.
Ross Feldman, a researcher at the Robarts Research Institute, was right on target when he told you, Paul, governments can do more to regulate the amount of sodium in our foods.

This "Hearty Favourites" has 700 mg of sodium (salt) in 125 ml of the condensed soup or 1590 mg of sodium for the entire can. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend an upper limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams for the middle-aged and older. That's the upper limit!

Paul tells us, "We need to do something about this ourselves. . . We can't afford . . . to ignore it any longer."

It is interesting to note that Paul is just being gracious when he says "we." Paul must be in his fifties, but he is a young fifty something. He is tall and not obviously overweight. In the past, he rode a bike to work and not a fancy and efficient multi-speed lighweight; Paul rode a good, sturdy somewhat heavy old-fashioned two-wheeler.

Admittedly there is a lot to be done in improving our North American lifestyle which is quickly becoming a global lifestyle. But all is not lost, trust me, Paul. All the attempts to make us aware of our shortcomings have not "clearly been a failure." Just check the mirror. You're living proof.

Now, back to that Campbell's soup. Why 125 ml of condensed soup should have such an incredible amount of salt is simply beyond me. It is time to vote for better food, less salt and no transfats --- in fact, less fat of all kinds --- by voting with our pocketbooks and not buying the obviously questionable products and by voting with our feet by walking to the store, if possible, and by making our own soup with using our food processors.

I'm lucky; I live in a suburban home surrounded by grocery stores and all within walking distance and come spring there will be asparagus and strawberries and other good, fresh stuff available from a stand just a short walk away.
This post corrects the spelling of Robarts Research Institute. The institute was named in honour of John Robarts, a former premier of Ontario.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

More Boomer Bunkum

According to Quebecor Media Inc. (QMI), ". . . boomers, frustrated with Detroit's poor quality, fell in love with Toyotas because they rarely broke down . . . Now that trust is in danger."

Don't you read stuff like this and think, "How do they know?"

According to CNW Marketing Research, a darling of the American car industry after their release of the report entitled "Dust to Dust" in which they trashed the green image of the Prius while praising the Hummer H2, the average age of new-vehicle buyers at the end of 2007 was the fine boomer age of 48. These folk, born in '59, were boomers by anyone's definition.

CNW claims the average age of shoppers choosing a domestic vehicle was 49.4 years old in 2007 — older than the average 42.5-year-old buyer of Asian cars but younger than the 50.6-year-olds choosing European nameplates. (It is interesting to note that all the ages given are boomer ages. But the Asian buyers are just barely boomers as they were born mid-way through 1964, the last year of the baby boom according to BabyBoomers.)

The oldest average shoppers were looking at the Ford brands, at 54.3 years. GM shoppers averaged 48-years-old, while Chrysler shoppers came in at 44.

The average age of Toyota shoppers was 46.6-years-old. Toyota buyers were younger than GM's and a lot younger than the shoppers for Ford brands.

It is thought that when times are tough, and they've been tough for the young and the middle class for a good decade in the States, and when the choice is between making a mortgage payment or a car payment, the house wins out. Many of the young are simply not in the market for a new car.

There does not seem to be any reason to claim that boomers were enamoured with Toyota, anymore than they were attracted to GM or Ford.

Now, I admit that these numbers are suspect as the source, CNW, is suspect but where does QMI get the figures to support its claims?
I just must do a post on this whole boomer foolishness. It is all so downright silly. Boomer talk reveals an erroneous way of looking at the world, divided and categorized and mythologized.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rides stationary train according to Sun Media

This is one of those quotes without comment posts.

When I read the news report from QMI, Quebecor Media Inc., I was startled at first and then I smiled. It concerned a fellow who had hopped a train which, instead of slowing down, sped up as it left town. The fellow was forced to cling to the cold steel grab rails at the end of the freight car and pray he wouldn't freeze in the cold Prairie night. He wasn't dressed for the train ride. QMI reported:

" . . . he noticed a stationary train and decided to jump on, believing it would slow down . . . "

Huh? A train can't go much slower than stopped. Man, you must be really drunk to hop a stationary train and hope to get anywhere. Then  again, maybe the world was already spinning fast enough for our novice train hopper as he spontaneously decided to ride the rails. (In the end he used his cell phone to call for help; The train was stopped and he was taken from the train to the hospital suffering from hypothermia.)

CBC reported:
"I was going to back where we started originally, and I seen the train slowly going by and I thought I could save myself five blocks … "
A check of other news reports all had the fellow hopping a slowly moving train with the intention of hopping off after a few blocks. As I said, the train sped up and derailed his plans.

So, what was our QMI writer drinking? (Maybe QMI could use an editor. There are lots available in Canada. And with years of experience, too.)
More laughs --- this time at my expense.

I, too, could use an editor. The morning after posting this I noticed that I had, in my haste, spelled stationary wrong in my title. Stationery refers to writing paper or writing materials; Stationary, with the 'a', means stopped. I also hang my head over pray. To pray is to make devout supplication; Prey, with the 'e', refers to hunted animals.

If this blog proves anything, it is that many of us need editors. (. . . and that my mind doesn't work perfectly at the best of times, let alone at one in the morning.)


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tommy Smothers more impressive

Recently I reminisced about the yo-yo man who would stop twice a year at my public school in Canada. This was decades ago and I must admit that I thought the yo-yo was essentially dead.

Nope! It has gone hi-tech, or sure looks it from this video from England. This chap may be trying to set a world record but Tommy Smothers has it all over this dude. See my original post.


Taking the blog on the road

On blogging: When I started blogging I said I wasn't going to do any belly button gazing but it's been a little more than a year since I took the buyout from The London Free Press and a lot has happened.

First, I got to blog about a lot of stuff that is important to me and I've met a lot of people who have opened my eyes to a world I had only an inkling existed. It's been a year of growth.

When I check my e-mail in the morning I may find a message like this: "Have a wonderful day,
greetings from Paris." It is a very pleasant way to start the day and I like it.

On photography: I have taken pictures all my life; It was how I earned my living. Now I take pictures for fun and I do it with just a simple point and shoot camera. No zoom lenses. No motor drive. But I get pictures. I am now moving my favourite shots over to Artwork Portfolio where keen amateur shooters make helpful comments on my work.

I have had as much fun taking pictures for my blog as I had shooting for the paper. Check out my portfolio, think about the camera I use (a simple point and shoot), and get out and shoot some art. You can do it. If you have any problems, drop me a line. I'll try and help.

On my sister: A number of you have asked about my sister: She's coming along quite nicely, thank you. It has been three weeks since she took a tumble in her kitchen, breaking her hip. The operation was a success with the surgeon finding good solid bone. The break is knitting well and she is up and walking about with assistance. Today she's leaving the rehab centre and heading home.

Her family rallied beautifully to the crisis with her five children taking turns returning home to assist their dad and spend time each day visiting their mom. A broken hip is always a disaster for older women but somehow the loving reaction of my sister's family muted the pain. I'd even go so far as to say their actions washed a heart-warming patina over it all.

On newspapers: When I worked at the paper, I was always upset at what I perceived as decisions that weaken the franchise. Stuff like the ad on the right.

This is the Nov. 21 2001 ad introducing zero interest purchase financing. The claim is made that you will pay no interest. The interest will be 'Null', 'Nada', 'Zero', 'Zilch', 'Nothing' -- "0%."

I tried to buy a Pontiac with a 0 percent loan. The dealer would not do it; McMaster Pontiac Buick on Wonderland Road refused to sell me the car for the advertised price unless I paid cash. The advertised price was the cash purchase price. If I wanted the car at 0% financing, I had to pay $1500 more.

Not only would the editors at the paper not run a story on this scam, they ran articles on how the loss of interest income was damaging the automobile industry. Huh?

Later ads carried small print giving the equivalent interest rate. This was calculated by looking at how much more it cost car buyers to buy a car with a "zero interest loan" over what they would have paid for the same car if they had paid cash. (In some cases it was cheaper to pay the cash purchase price and take out a bank loan, rather than taking the 0% interest deal from the car company. My wife bought her car that way and saved a bundle.)

The paper continued to run stories on zero interest loans for years as if all these offers were on the up and up. (I slid in the word all as there were a few offers that actually delivered as promised.)

Forgive me, but when editors-in-chief like Paul Berton run what amounts to lies in their paper simply because they are paid it brings to mind a famous remark often attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

Shaw, according to the story, asked a woman at a dinner party if she would go to bed with him for a very large sum of money. She gave it some thought and said yes, for that kind of money she would. Shaw then asked if she would go to bed with him for what amounted to spare change. Shocked, she sputtered that she was not a common prostitute. Shaw replied, "Madame, we have already established what you are. Now we're just haggling over the price."

The newspapers don't even haggle over price.

Since leaving the paper I've finally been able to tell the other side of the story. And it feels good. It feels the way it should feel when one is working for a newspaper. Ah, for the days of Gord Sanderson, backed as I recall by Sue Greer. This team was responsible for The London Free Press Sound Off column for many years.

Today the paper runs the ads for Miracle Heaters rather than running the Sanderson/Greer-type consumer warnings. The paper leaves it to bloggers to warn the public.

It has been a busy year. But this one will be just as busy if not busier.

Come late May, this blog is hitting the road. I'm taking my little camera, a notebook computer and my 40-year-old Morgan and heading off for California with my wife. I just have to run Highway 1, the Pacific coast highway south of San Francisco. If I wait, it will be too late, they are closing a small part of the famous highway to automobiles in 2011. If you want to run the whole route, you've got to do it now.

Judy and I will be seeing small town U.S.A. as we are taking scenic, two lane roads most of the way. We'll hit some tourist attractions like Yellowstone Park and Mount Rushmore but we'll also do some small stuff like seeing the twistiest street in the United States as we did five years ago.

Just so you know, the twistiest street is not in San Francisco, California, but in Burlington, Iowa. That is Snake Alley on the left. And that's the Morgan enjoying the run.

Sorry about the belly button gazing; We'll try and keep it to a minimum.


I have problems with "it" and "they." A company is an "it." If a company does something, "it" does it. The pronoun "they" must refer back to people. I must watch my antecedents.

I received an e-mail correcting me. The e-mail read: Back a few items ago, on your attempt to buy a Pontiac, you said: "Not only would the paper not run a story on this scam, they ran articles on how the loss of interest income was damaging the automobile industry." The "they" is incorrect. The proper pronoun is "it," referring to the newspaper. Had you referred to the editors, "they" would have been correct. Is this clear?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Visit Menton

Years ago my wife and I spent a day in Menton in Provence. In fact, one of the table cloths that we use daily came from Menton.

It is one of the warmest places in all of France, nestled into a little nook in the coastal mountains just a short distance from Italy. Menton is famous for its lemons and once a year actually celebrates them with a Fete du Citron. (Now where did I place those French accents?)

I'm off to visit my sister in the hospital where she is recovering after breaking her hip - thank God for the Canadian medical system. You should visit the Menton Daily Photo site and if you're still curious about Menton you should check out the official Web site.

If you're ever in Provence, and trust me you should make it a goal, be sure to spend a little time in Menton relaxing with a nice bottle of Rose and whatever cool food you can find. (I was introduced to pissaladière one night in Provence, and what a night that was . . . ah, the memories, the food, the good people, someday I'll blog on that night.)

Must go,

. . . and les villages perches: Roquebrune, Gorvio, Sainte-Agnes . . . If you've got the time, Google these. I had one of the best omelets of my life in a little restaurant hanging over a mountain village. Go in the off season and meet the folk who actually live in the little towns and I guarantee and great time. These people know more about "placemaking" than all the pompous city planners hired by London, Ontario, where I live.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

If you're interested in English...

I have one visitor to my blog who teaches English and I have a few others who are newspaper editors. Oh, they're retired editors but once an editor always an editor. I have learned from one and fixed some embarrassing errors thanks to a couple of others. (When talking about a company I have learned do not say 'they' when referring to the company; You must say 'it'.)

I found a copy of CP Copy Talk while cleaning my basement this afternoon. It's an old copy but an entertaining read nevertheless. Finding it got me to wondering, is CP Copy Talk still in production? And the answer, amazingly enough, is yes!

CP, Canadian Press, is in trouble. The all-important member papers are leaving. CanWest left over a year ago, I believe. You know the CanWest newspaper chain. It made news itself recently when it came out of the closet to reveal that it was bankrupt, and this time it's money they're lacking and not ideas.

Quebecor, CanWest's competitor, is taking all the SunMedia and Osprey papers out of CP sometime this year. That explains the QMI credits running in these papers. QMI stands for Quebecor Media Inc.

It's a shame to see the once strong Canadian news service rendered almost impotent. But that is a post for another day. But all cannot be lost if CP Copy Talk is still going. Something is right with the world.

There was a time when newsrooms were filled with folk discussing word usage. I can recall going for a beer after work and sitting quietly listening and drinking (and drinking, and drinking) as a couple of editors and a reporter engaged in a heated exchange over the use of a word or phrase in the day's paper.

The people who work at papers still care but their bosses don 't.

From the Dec. 2009 Copy Talk

Eagle-eyed reader Michael Boulet caught a mistake in a Canadian Press story that used the word barter to describe negotiations by travellers who had to pay their own hotel bills when their travel company went bust. Barter "does not mean negotiate, it means to trade goods or services for other goods or services. Therefore, unless the Canadian tourists abandoned by Conquest Vacations in Mexico were attempting to pay for their stay at the Golden Parnassus with goats or back rubs, they were not in fact 'trying to barter down the charges.' "

I didn't believe it, nor did my wife, but I checked and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary agrees that this is correct and this fact is not open to barter.

Would you believe that it is not accurate to refer to the Yukon Territory? Joanna Lilley, senior communications adviser for the Yukon government, pointed out that the territory's official name has been, simply, Yukon since 2003.

From the February 1997 Copy Talk I found in my basement.

A CP editor Ross Hopkins spotted the word parametres in a story. It is parameter, derived from the Latin; not to be confused with metre, derived from French. Hence the spelling difference.

And then I came across this in the October 2008 Copy Talk: Canadian spelling takes a blow. It seems that Oxford University Press announced it was laying off the entire staff of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Future editions will be published with the assistance of freelancers and the lexicography department in Oxford, England.

Our one truly Canadian dictionary is done. It is back to reprints of U.K. or American books, with a few changes added for a Canadian audience.

If you've gotten this far, please go on. You can explore the Copy Talk PDFs without me. I'm going to go and crack open a Brick beer in memory of retired editors, bought out reporters and laid off Canadian lexicographers.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Children have fingertips severed!

In an attempt to make as many people as possible aware of the recall, and to alert folks to potential serious injury, I've posted to the Digital Journal Health Canada's recall affecting baby strollers.

Five children in the States have had fingertips amputated after catching them in the canopy hinge.

If you have a Graco stroller or any stroller from Elfe Juvenile Products of Toronto/Montreal, please click on the Digital Journal link above.

This is the appearance of the hinge in question.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What is happiness?

I was raised in the Anglican Church in a parish in Canada. As a teen I taught Sunday school. But the Anglican Church was not for me. When I left my teens, I left the church. (Although I did return for a number of years when I discovered that the young man who had been a curate at my original church was now the minister of a local Anglican church. When he left, retired, I left, also retired.)

Last year I attended a Buddhist ceremony in a temple about ten minutes from my London home. I find Buddhist koans and Christian parables have a lot in common. Each Christmas, kind of odd when you think about it, my wife gives me a small Zen Buddhist gift - a book of koans, for instance.

Now that my granddaughter of four months is starting not only to smile but to laugh with little shrieks of pure joy, it makes me think of the story of Han Ong.

Today's post is inspired by a talk given by Zen Master Seung Sahn entitled: What is Happiness, What Is Sadness?, given in London in 1978. This talk has become quite famous. My version will never be so well known or oft quoted.

What is Happiness, What Is Sadness?

Han Ong was a student of Zen Master Ma Jo. Everyone, on learning that Ong's master's was Ma Jo, would tell Han Ong, "You're lucky; You must be happy." He would reply, "What is luck? What is happiness?"

Han Ong had a horse which he rode every day and everyone said, "You're so lucky." He'd reply, "What is luck?"

One day the horse was stolen and everyone said, "You're so unlucky." They asked, "Are you unhappy? Are you sad?" Han Ong replied, "What is luck, or happiness or sadness?"

Everyone agreed, "This man has no feelings.''

A week later Han Ong replaced his lost horse with a much better steed for which he paid a very fair price. Everyone said, "You're lucky; You must be happy." He replied, "What is luck? What is happiness?"

Han Ong's son also liked the horse and he rode it every day. Then one day the horse balked and threw Ong's son hard to the ground, badly breaking his leg. Everyone said, "We're sorry your son broke his leg. How unlucky." Han Ong only shrugged his shoulders.

Soon after this, there were a string of wars between North China and South China. All the young people joined the army but for Han Ong's son who had a lame leg after having broken it so badly. He could not go; He had to stay home and help his parents. His leg was not so bad that he couldn't work in the garden and help his parents. Everybody said, "You're so lucky. You must be happy." Han Ong replied, "What is luck? What is happiness?"

But many who heard his words thought they saw a smile --- a twinkle in the old man's eyes --- as he turned and rode away on his horse, his son holding on tightly behind him.

I've messed with this story but then I'm not a Buddhist. For an accurate telling try the blog, Handful of Sand and scroll down to A Day of Mindfulness.

Little Fiona is only four months old. She still has a clean little mind, unencumbered with language and the labels that come with language. She appears to feels happiness and sadness. But she doesn't appear to have much memory.

She seems to take life as it comes. If it's good, she makes the most of it. She doesn't let the horrors of a recent bath sully the quiet pleasure of being held in grandpa's arms. She lives in the present.

And they asked Fiona, "Are you happy?" The little girl couldn't reply but many thought they saw a smile - a twinkle in the little girl's eyes.

And they were right; She was laughing at the question and thinking: "Happy? What's happiness?"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Destroy that old crib!

If you have a young child using a crib which was made before September 1986, destroy it.

Crib design has changed a lot since '86. Even with the improvements one still hears of recalls of poorly designed or poorly made cribs.

What is wrong with the picture on the left? The side bars on the crib are too far apart. The maximum space allowed by law is 6 cm (2 3/8 in.). Also, it is possible for an infant to trap a small hand in the space between the bottom and the side.

Health Canada has a crib safety booklet online. If you have a baby, or a crib in your home for that matter, please take the time to read this booklet.

You have to very diligent when it comes to buying products for a young child.

Consider the Amby Baby Motion Bed which Health Canada is advising parents and caregivers to immediately stop using. This is a hammock advertised for use with infants up to 12 months of age.

Health Canada and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC) are aware of two infants suffocating in the United States while using these products. In the United States, along with the two fatalities, there have also been three other incidents reported.

The product's inclined sleeping surface increases the risk of the infant rolling and becoming wedged in a position where they can no longer breathe.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The yo-yo man

Sunday evening I caught a PBS special on the evolution of comedy in the United States over the past decades. There was Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and others, such as the Smothers Brothers. This sent me to YouTube searching for a Smothers Brothers clip. I found one of the brothers doing their yo-yo man routine.

Did the yo-yo man visit your school when you were a kid? Yes? No? If no, that's too bad, a shame.

In the '50s the yo-yo man would wander school yards at recess, but only once or twice a year, performing those oh-so-impossible yo-yo tricks. He made it all seem so easy; Anyone could do them: Walk the dog, rock the baby, round the world. Ah, the memories . . . and the frustrations.

We all fell for the yo-yo man's spiel, year after year. He was just so cool with pockets bulging with yo-yo's. The girls always bought pink yo-yo's circled with rhinestones. The boys favoured the black yo-yo's or the dark blue ones. At first the yo-yo's seemed to work. We all could make them sleep; waking them up was another matter. We could all walk the dog, but only a few of us could make rover return.

Soon all our yo-yo's had tightly tangled strings. If you could get your yo-yo to drop to the end of the tangled mess, it would simply sit at the end of the extended string and slowly twirl. Its yo-yoing days were over. Some of us would buy replacement strings but they too would soon fail.

We all took responsibility for the destruction of our yo-yo's. We never blamed the yo-yo or, even more unthinkable, the yo-yo man.

Now, watch this YouTube video of the Smothers Brothers doing "Yo-Yo Man." (It takes a moment to get into the fun but be patient. Tommy is one heck of a yo-yo man. He could have performed in my school yard anytime.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Food recalls

While I search for more answers on the food we eat, how about some food for thought?

As I searched the Web for stuff on food, a pattern emerged. There are an awful lot of recalls. Today I am going to start this post and then add to it until it contains the food recall information I have bookmarked in my Internet travels.

3 --- Perfection Packers

This is not a recall and so technically should not be here. On January 4, 2010, Perfection Packers Inc. pleaded guilty to labelling meat in a misleading manner. The use of the meat inspection legend is approved for persons who are licensed to operate registered establishments with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Perfection Packers Inc. is not licensed but used an official symbol or something that was likely to be mistaken for one. Perfection Packers was fined $24,000.

Perfection Packers: What's in a name?

2 --- Company: Eat More Spouts

On January 10, 2010, Eat More Sprouts recalled two different products for E. coli 0157:H7 contamination: mung bean sprouts, and certified organic bean sprouts. Isn't it interesting that one of the products being recalled is certified organic.

This is a class I recall indicating that there is a high risk that eating or drinking the product will lead to serious health problems or death. The CFIA issues a public warning for all Class I recall when the product is available for sale or could be in the consumer’s home.

1 --- Company: Olymel l.p.

Olymel l.p. is a leader in the slaughtering, processing and distribution of pork and poultry meat products in Canada, with facilities in Québec,Ontario, and Alberta. The company employs more than 10,000 persons and exports nearly half its production, mainly to the United States, Japan and Australia as well as some sixty other countries. Its sales stood at $2 billion this year, with a slaughtering and processing capacity of 160,000 hogs and 1.7 million poultry every week. The company markets its products mainly under the Olymel, Lafleur, and Flamingo brands.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued the following "Expanded Health Alert" on January 5, 2010. It warns that "Certain processed meat products may contain listeria monocytogenes." The manufacturer, Olymel S.E.C., Montreal, QC, is recalling affected products.

Pregnant women particularly at risk: According to the CFIA, food contaminated with Listeris monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria may cause listeriosis, a foodborne illness . . . Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, however, infections during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

It must be noted, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these recalled meat products: Olymel cooked ham extra lean, Olymel cooked ham extra lean family pack, Olymel mock-chicken meatloaf family pack, Royal bologna and mock-chicken meatloaf duo pack, Royal chopped cooked ham and mock-chicken meatloaf duo pack (two sizes of packaging), Lafleur cooked ham extra lean and Roma pepperoni family pack. For more info to this link to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency bulletin.

Friday, January 15, 2010

One dead every one hour and 46 minutes!

According to a 2005 post, Foodborne Illness, by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States) there were 37 people hospitalized in the States every hour, with one person dying from food poisoning every one hour and 46 minutes when this report was released. 76,000,000 Americans were being made ill every year from foodborne pathogens.

Those numbers would be unbelievable if they were not from the CDC.

I'm not a vegetarian. I eat meat. I like meat or should I say I used to like meat. I'm having second thoughts. As I continue my investigation of our food supply I am shocked to discover that it is not just meat that can carries pathogens.

Today a Nestlé USA plant in Danville, Virginia, which was producing cookie dough was closed after the Toll House product tested positive for E. coli bacteria. Flour is the suspected source of the contamination.

It is important to note: The tainted dough did not leave the factory; No recall was necessary.

This was not the story last June when Nestlé issued a huge recall of the refrigerated, ready-to-bake cookie dough. It was linked at the time to an outbreak of foodborne illness in which at least 72 people in 30 states became ill after it is believed they ate raw dough.

All this made me think about sprouts, a food that I loved for decades. Then in 1996 an outbreak of foodborne illness in Japan sickened 6000 and killed 17 after they had eaten radish sprouts contaminated with E. Coli O157:H7. The same bacteria was also implicated in outbreaks involving sprouted seeds in several U.S. states between 1997 and 2004.

Sprouts! When I first read about contaminated sprouts, I thought how is this possible? According to Health Canada, Risks Associated with Sprouts:
"Scientists believe that the most likely source of contamination is the seeds that are used to grow the sprouts. Seeds may become contaminated by animal manure in the field or during storage, and the conditions required to grow sprouts (e.g, warmth and humidity) are ideal for the rapid growth of bacteria."
Since many sprouts, such as alfafa sprouts, are only eaten raw, they are not exposed to the high cooking temperatures necessary to kill dangerous bacteria if present. But even sprouts, such as mung bean, that are cooked are not heated sufficiently. An outbreak of salmonellosis in Ontario in 2005 was linked to lightly-cooked, stir-fried mung bean sprouts.

Health Canada takes this problem so seriously that it  has a site devoted to Sprouted Beans and Seeds.

What initially attracted my interest in doing a take on food was a couple of articles in The New York Times examining a little know ingredient in much of the ground beef sold in the United States - ammonia.

It seems a rather creative fellow, Eldon Roth, devised a way to turn fatty slaughterhouse trimmings into what a U.S.D.A. microbiologist, Gerald Zirnstein, called 'pink slime.' Roth's product is used as a ground beef filler in much of the hamburger sold throughout the United States. It was, at one time, even found in Big Macs.

As I read the article, I wondered, "What's in Canadian ground beef?" The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) lists Canada as the second biggest consumer of American beef and veal.

And I found this on Smart Brief:

"Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) has ground beef down to a science. A top US provider of boneless lean beef, the company grinds more than seven million pounds of meat a week. Its customers include fast-food chains, restaurants, food service operators, meat packers, food processors, and the USDA's school lunch program. Its 60-pound blocks of frozen meat chips are used in hamburger patties, ground beef, hot dogs, beef snacks lunch meat, sausages, meatballs, and frozen entrees. The company touts food safety as a priority. It uses two metal detectors to scan beef before and after processing at its Sioux City, Iowa, manufacturing facility. Outside of the US, Beef Products' customers are located in Canada, Mexico, and Japan."

As the lawsuits concerning some of the food products mentioned mount, I have edited all my posts on food and food production.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I visited Monsanto in St. Louis

Years ago John Miner, a fine reporter at The London Free Press, and I flew to St. Louis to visit the Monsanto plant. They were still developing their genetically modified seed at the time. We were there to investigate FrankenFood.

There have always been questions about the safety of the Monsanto product and now two online papers are carrying stories casting serious doubt on the safety of the Round-up Ready corn seed. At least, I believe this is the corn seed under question.

The two online new sources are: The Huffington Post and the Digital Journal.

I wonder if The London Free Press will be able to find the staff to investigate this latest FrankenFood story?

I would write more but I have no time. My little sister, she's older than I but I always had a protective brotherly attitude towards her, has taken a fall and broken her hip.

She fell last Thursday evening and was taken to the nearby hospital in the big city - my sister lives in a small town. Friday they operated. Now, she is in a facility focused on rehab. Why some Americans are so against a Canadian-style medicine is beyond me.

I joked with my sister that she is lucky the death panels didn't refuse her treatment on account of her age. Sarah Palin would be surprised.

Stay away from ground beef if you're a Yank,
We may all have to worry about corn,
And carry a cane if you totter,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Experimenting with a kerfuffle causer

I'm playing with the "citizen journalist" stuff that seems to have the MSM all in a kerfuffle. The other day I posted a story on Digital Journal and now I am sitting back and seeing how it does. I'm counting hits and checking its earnings.

I had to make two trips to the UWO to gather the information, conduct the interview and obtain some art. This cost me at least four litres of gas and more than four dollars in parking. It will be interesting to see if I even break even on the story.

The story concerned research at the UWO calling into question the way foot injuries are handled. If you injure a shoulder, the physio does not tell you to brace the injured joint, refrain from using the affected muscles and do this indefinitely. No, you exercise the muscle and joint and encourage healing with strength and mobility.

But with foot injuries, it is another story. We bind them up in shoes, fit othotics to brace and support them, and we prevent the foot muscles and joints from moving freely. We weaken the feet; We don't strengthen them.

The above, by the way, is a much better summary of what is being done than what I wrote in my Digital Journal piece. (Maybe I can do some rewriting later.)

One difference, out of many, between the DJ and the MSM, say a paper like The London Free Press, is that the reporter can add images to the story itself. If something would be best illustrated with a photo, a graphic, or some other piece of art, it is easy to do. No separate from the story slide show.

Also, going back and changing info is easy. Notice an error after publication and click, click and you have corrected it. I notice that errors made in the paper make their way to the online site and then stay there forever. I find this very odd.

If the talented people who gather the news for the MSM today ever found a way to write for an online paper that could pay them adequately for their work, the debt-heavy monsters ruling the news roost now would be plucked.

The monthly food budget is back!

It's late and I'm going to bed. But first a quick note. We spent too much at Christmas and my wife is on her monthly food budget kick. She says she can get through the month on less than $150 for the two of us. (She may have a harder time this year as I've already bought some organic ground beef. It was sold by folk who had never heard of Cargill and I liked that.)

It looks like I'll be eating a lot of stuff like the pizza on the right.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The LFP, Sun Media and Quebecor are letting down the team.

Media companies like The London Free Press, Sun Media and Quebecor love to take credit for the work they publish. I think we can all understand that, but in truth the publisher only publishes. Without the work of an excellent staff, they would have nothing. Their presses would sit silent.

I think it's a safe bet that Pierre Karl Peladeau knows nothing about Robert Vanier and Onco, nor should he. PKP's job is to supply the best possible paper in which to bundle the news. The actual news is the responsibility of the thousands of journalists toiling daily for him in the trenches.

At this point I had to look up the special report on the ex-Onco boss. I went to The London Free Press online page and found nothing. This story is yesterday's news and so is no longer anywhere on the homepage. Not a mention. Not a link. Nothing.

Oh well, I typed "onco" into the search field and got the result shown below.

I clicked on the first linked page. I immediately found myself back at today's Free Press homepage, the one I had just left, the one with nothing on Onco. I hit the back button.

I clicked on the second link. I noted that this link appeared to take me to: http://www.lfpress.com/home.html. I thought this is going to take me right back to today's homepage; The one with nothing on Onco. I was right. I hit the back button.

I clicked on the third link. I noted that this link appeared to take me to: http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2010/01/08/12397921.html. This took me to another Chip Martin story but not the Special Report. I hit the back button.

This time I looked for a link with special report in it. I found it. This looked good. This must be the link to Chip Martin's Special Report on Onco.

Nope! I got a special report on school cash shortages. I clicked on the big blue words "Special Reports." Nothing. I clicked on "Full series." This gave me the full series on the high cost of school incidentals.

I gave up.

Which bring me right back to my original premise. The publisher provides the wrapper for the news. If they provide a great wrapper - an enticing wrapper - one that attracts readers, then they are doing their job and can take a small bow.

So far our publisher is failing miserably. But, this is online. As Dan Brown the senior online editor at The London Free Press likes to point out this is a stodgy old company with its feet placed firmly in the past. I'm sure they do better with their old paper product.

Well, hold onto your money - unless you're about to bet against the house. The Free Press is not doing much better with their paper wrapper. Take the comics.

Starting late last year the comics started appearing as grey on grey rather than black on white. It was very hard to read the dark grey words printed on a dark grey background. The paper got complaints.

At the end of December a letter to the editor said about the change, "I have poor vision and it is very difficult for me to read them now. It's not clear to me (pardon the pun) why you would make such a change."

Days later the paper was still running these hard to read comics. A St. Thomas reader wrote in to say, "I'm not a senior yet but I had been skipping over some of my favourite comics because they were just too difficult to read."

But the comics are not all The Free Press can't print.

Check out this image, right, from the London paper.

To save money, certain news pages are being done centrally by Sun Media in their Centres of Excellence and delivered electronically in a press-ready state to all company papers. Some of the pictures are no more than black rectangles on a page.

My guess is the pictures are being prepared for publication by a computer running some automatic image toning software. I ran tests on some software for the paper years ago. The results looked horrid - rather like the stuff now being run by the paper. On the plus side, a publisher can use this software and reduce the payroll by laying off some expensive pre-press people.

Chip Martin did his job. He supplied the paper with a great story. The kind of work that sells papers and keeps the citizen journalist wolves at bay. He can take a bow.

My premise for this post was: Newspapers are a cooperative effort with news the main driver behind the success of a paper. Reporters, like Chip Martin, supply the paper with the all important quality journalism. No journalism; No paper. In return, the newspaper is supposed to supply Martin with a professional looking paper in which to package his work.

Martin is keeping his end of the bargain.
Since writing this the London paper has gone back to printing the comics with the usual contrast. The comics are again legible.

And the bright pictures that accompanied Martin's story - why so bright? My guess is the staff at The Free Press did the toning for those images.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A really funny commercial_Do these come as dual-flush?

This ad from Europe is a few years old, you may be familiar with it if you keep abreast of popular stuff on the Web. Me? I just saw it for the first time the other night and thought it was quite witty and would like to share it with you.

(My wife wasn't as positive as I. She thought the little video made snorting coke seem glamorous and everyday all at the same time. She wasn't sure if it was only promoting clean toilet seats. She saw a subtext)

Oh well, can't please everyone. Wonder how this has influenced sales?



Saturday, January 9, 2010

CanWest newspapers seek bankruptcy protection

There were at least a couple of big media stories this weekend.

In the States, the LA Times cut 80 jobs. Read about it in the Digital Journal.

Closer to home, CanWest Global Communications - a media giant - put most of their newspaper business under bankruptcy protection. Well respected papers such as the Ottawa Citizen and the Vancouver Sun are among the papers affected. The new kid on the block, the National Post, is not included in the bankruptcy filing according to a story in the Globe and Mail.

An interesting twist to this story is that this move by CanWest may make the Scotiabank Canada's biggest publisher. Read all about it in the Globe and Mail online.
This all comes as no surprise to those of us who believe many of the giants in today's newspaper business got there on too much borrowed money and not brilliant media acumen.

I called my take on this whole thing: Too big to succeed. My other post that dove-tails nicely with TBTS is: Michael Moore on the State of Newspapers.

The big question on the lips of many of us, who once worked for media giant Quebecor, is how long till PKP's media mess collapses. One year? Five years? A decade? How deep are PKP's pockets.

A symbolic icon for mediocrity

What makes a newspaper great? And being great is very important today as even great doesn't always cut it and mediocre quickly will be history.

It is the staff.

At the end of the month one of Canada's finest papers, at least it was once one of Canada's finest papers, is again suffering the loss of some excellent staff members - four from editorial and more from advertising. The ones in editorial took voluntary buyouts; the others got pink slips and separation payments to ease the financial pain.

Sue Bradnam, the paper's chief photographer, will be gone by the end of the month. She is a talented photographer and will do just fine but the paper will miss her. Behind the scenes, she was a constant, quiet fighter for her department.

In the new world of the Internet, Sue could have been an amazing addition to the team. She always has neat ideas and with the unlimited room offered by the Web, many of her ideas could have been put into practice. The reality of newsprint, with its set physical size, contained imaginative people like Sue. With the might of Sun Media and Quebecor behind her, pushing her on, supporting her, rather than pushing her out the door, she might have developed a unique but large following for her work. Just think of the ads that could have been attached to her work . . .

Speaking of ads, Jill Worthington of the Special Sections department has been dismissed. The work will be done off site, as I understand it. Now, if we had linked Jill and Sue together maybe we would have created a money machine. A coupling that might have been an Internet dream team, but we will never know.

Editors Tom Bogart and Ralph Bridgland are leaving the paper. Two more editors gone. Fire up the spell check. Reporter Joe Matyas is also leaving after decades covering the news for Londoners. Joe is such a keener about all things web-based that he has actually taken courses in writing code for the Web.

He uses his talents to run his church's website. At one time Joe's code was better than the code being used by The Free Press; I could load Joe's pages quicker than those of the mighty Free Press. The London Free Press is losing a forward looking talent in the loss of Joe.

There is a painting of a newsboy hanging on the wall at the paper. Paul Berton, editor-in-chief, uses it as the icon accompanying his online work. (Paul's unretouched icon at left.)

The painting originally had a rich, black background - not the grey and washed out look appearing on the Web. Maybe Berton is trying to tell us something with his symbolically fading icon. Are you Paul?

Just for fun, I set a black and a highlight for Paul's icon. It took but seconds to give it the rich, punchy look of the original art. What was it that I said about mediocrity at the beginning of this post?

[You don't want to be too much of a smart aleck when you write this stuff. This post corrects an error this old, blogging geezer would have thought impossible to make. A former editor at The Free Press alerted me to my error. Thank-you! I have always admitted that I needed an editor.  )-:  ]

Friday, January 8, 2010

Champion. Made in Canada. Not!

If you haven't read my post on Champion graders, please check it out.

This grader was clearing snow. The Champion name was clearly visible at the back of the unit, along with the words "Made in Canada." The Champion name had quite a run in Canada - over a century - but a month ago the last Canadian made grader was shipped from the plant in Goderich, Ontario, just a little more than an hour north of London. But that grader did not carry the Champion name; It was a Volvo. Read my post on the whole sad Champion story.

Read what the readers of the NYT said about ammonia in beef.

A few years ago The London Free Press reporter Jonathan Sher made us all aware of the amount of lead dissolved in London, Ontario, tap water. At the time I thought, this is why we need newspapers and good journalists.

Now, the New York Times is making me again aware of the importance of newspapers with their investigation into ammonia treated ground beef in the States.

If newspapers ever decide to charge for their online information, I for one would consider buying The New York Times.

If you have read this far but are not sure what this is all about, please read my post asking, "What's in Canadian ground beef?"
Here is the link to more of the comments on the NYT site in response to their ammonia in ground beef article.

When I read about burger fixings described as: "a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips" made of "trimmings 'typically includ[ing] most of the material from the outer surfaces of the carcass' and contain[ing] 'larger microbiological populations'", which have been processed by "turning fatty slaughterhouse trimmings into usable lean beef [by] liquefying the fat and extracting the protein from the trimmings in a centrifuge" I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Zirnstein's assessment of the result as "pink slime."

New Year's resolution: Vegetarianism.

I realize that most NYT readers may not even know a farmer and I am sorry for you. I have the luxury of raising my own meats on my farm. This article reinforces my reasoning for rejecting the corporate industrialized thinking that has hijacked our food system. Animals and the life-sustaining food they can provide us are no longer treated with respect, only viewed as a commodity. The idea that a silver bullet technology (ammonia, irradiation, whatever) or some government agency is going to make this flawed model wholesome and safe is delusional. You consumers and the animals you eat will continue to be abused until you rise up and demand real changes in the entire system.

Oh my God, this is truly sick! First they raise the animals in shockingly miserable conditions while pumping them full of hormones, antibiotics, and dirty feed, and then they inject the meat with AMMONIA?!


This only strengthens my commitment to veganism. How any intelligent person can eat this putrid poison is beyond me.

Some years back, it became popular to say that corporations' only responsibility was to make money for their investors. And oddly, that became some sort of conventionally accepted idea. But that was really a new, and very dangerous, idea: that these private companies owed nothing to their customers/"consumers"; that they owed nothing to their employees; that they owed nothing to their communities or nation.

No one "owes nothing" but to make a profit. The ills that proceed from such a pernicious belief are many, and this situation with our food is one.

I wish this last person could have a chat with an online editor I sometimes mention who likes to babble on about capitalism. Today's capitalism is not the capitalism that I knew as a boy.

I blogged on this awhile back: Capitalism: the best system?


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's in Canadian ground beef?

 Update -- 2019 -- Disney "pink slime" lawsuit settled for whopping $177 million.

From the linked article: "Five years after an infamous ABC News report describing "pink slime" in ground beef created a national uproar, the network's corporate parent Walt Disney (DIS) has settled a defamation case brought by the food company that created the product for more than $177 million, the most ever in a corporate legal case of its kind.

"Meat processor Beef Products Inc. filed suit in 2012 charging that ABC's coverage of its product -- officially called "finely textured beef" -- misled consumers into thinking it wasn't safe to eat."
 The above puts a whole new spin to the story, eh?

Some time back, the New York Times did a piece on ammonia being used to make meat and fat trimmings from the cutting room floor safe for human consumption. This ammonia treated meat, some call it "pink slime", is used in the manufacture of ground beef in the States. As I read the article I thought, "Is this stuff in Canadian ground beef?"

Add: This post has been hit thousands of times. It is time for an update. First,  pink slime isn’t used in Canadian burgers – this is the word from Health Canada, which says it hasn’t ruled on the product because no one has asked. 

The other name for this product is lean finely textured beef or LFTB. LFTB is made in Canada but it does not use ammonia gas for sterilizing the mix. Read the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations for FTB (Finely Textured Beef) or check the chart I've reproduced below

The American product, made with ammonia, may not be being used in Canada but Beef Products, Inc. states quite clearly on their Internet site: "Outside of the US, Beef Products' customers are located in Canada [bold type added], Mexico, and Japan." Maybe it is not the ammonia treated product that is being shipped north to Canada.

One must be careful what one says, especially when the stuff one is writing is being read in Canada, a country famous for "libel freeze"the filing of libel lawsuits with the goal of silencing critics. As a retired senior I don't need the hassle.

Recently Jamie Oliver made public calls for fast food restaurants to abandon the use of "pink slime." Possibly because of his involvement and the accompanying publicity a number of fast food restaurants have stopped using the product.

A Huffington Post article reported:

McDonald's announced it is no longer using the controversial ground beef additive known as "pink slime" in its hamburger recipe. Taco Bell and Burger King have also reportedly dropped the "slime" from the menu.

So, what else can I add as an update to this post? Well, read what BPI says on its own website. This info refers to meat sold in the States, of course, and not Canada.

"Beef Products, Inc. [is] the world's leading manufacturer of boneless lean beef. . . . "BPI's products are found in the majority of all ground beef produced in the United States. Current production of over 7 million pounds per week, makes BPI the world's largest manufacturer of boneless lean beef in the world. Eating a hamburger from a Quick Service Restaurant or buying ground beef from your local retailer, the chances are you'll be eating product produced by BPI."

Now, read the company description on Hoovers:

"Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) has ground beef down to a science. A top US provider of boneless lean beef, the company grinds more than seven million pounds of meat a week. Its customers include fast-food chains, restaurants, foodservice operators, meat packers, food processors, and the USDA's school lunch program. Its 60-pound blocks of frozen meat chips are used in hamburger patties, ground beef, hot dogs, beef snacks lunch meat, sausages, meatballs, and frozen entrees. The company touts food safety as a priority. It uses two metal detectors to scan beef before and after processing at its Sioux City, Iowa, manufacturing facility. Outside of the US, Beef Products' customers are located in Canada [bold type added], Mexico, and Japan."

Finally, is there any evidence that ammonia is still playing a role in the production of BPI "boneless lean beef"? The BPI site itself make direct reference to the use of ammonia in the  production of their popular product. BPI has an entire section of their online site dedicated to "The use of ammonia compounds in food processing." I had a link to a Canadian producer who used citric acid but the link is now broken.

My wife has stopped buying ground beef. She buys large, intact cuts of beef and grinds them herself, with my assistance. It is easy to do, quick and the final ground beef tastes much better than what we had been buying. Plus, it saves us money! The large cuts of beef sell, on sale, for less than ready-to-use ground beef.

What's wrong with what we eat.

The following is a talk that I found on TED: Ideas worth spreading. I believe it is fine to share this with you as TED supplies embedding code.

Mark Bittman, food writer for the New York Times, gives his views on what's wrong with the way we eat: too much meat, too few plants and too much fast food, too little home cooking about sums it up.

The talk is a little long and has periods where it drags a bit. But, it is a talk given by an adult. I often think that newspapers and the media in general should spend more time being adults. It's fun. It's rewarding.

And it may sell newspapers; then, it may not. But better to go down being an adult than succeed being a Glenn Beck.

Are you knowledgeable or just another know-it-all?

Paul Berton, the editor-in-chief, of The London Free Press recently wrote a piece titled, "Are you knowledgeable or just another know-it-all?"

Yesterday Berton ran a piece on the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest structure. Paul wrote:  "The Burj Dubai, in the city-state that may be the very definition of excess in a modern world, is finally complete. Stretching more than 800 metres into the desert sky, the office tower dwarfs even the world's second tallest structure, Toronto's CN Tower."

Interesting. Just two things that I'd like to add. One: the building was renamed the Burj Khalifa  in honor of the president of the United Arab Emirates. You do recall that it was the UAE that bailed Dubai out of last year’s debt crisis?

So sorry Paul, but you got the name wrong. (I'm sure you're in good company but a fast Google lap didn't turn up any other news organizations making the same error. But, it is a big world and I am sure you are not alone.)

And oh, the world's second tallest structure is not the CN Tower in Toronto; It's the KVLY-TV tower located three miles west of Blanchard, North Dakota. If you want to play the tallest game, you have to call the Toronto tower the second tallest "freestanding" structure. The freestanding is very important as without that word the CN tower would never have been able to make its claim; The Warsaw Radio Mast was hundreds of feet taller but it was a guyed affair and not freestanding.

Oh well, look on the bright side. You can do another column in the are-you-knowledgeable-or-just-another-know-it-all vein and you can take a more generous and forgiving approach this time. Your view will now be tempered with the wisdom of someone who has been-there-done-that.

Maybe, just maybe, you should have kept those editors you let go at Christmas.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Safe Sleeping for Baby

SIDS: "Back to Sleep" Campaign
Cut SIDS Numbers by 50 percent!

SIDS: Back to SleepAll parents of a young child fear Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Crib death is a big reason for the sale of thousands of high tech monitors with loud alarms to alert parents a sleeping baby is in distress.

Now, there is a suitably named campaign aimed at cutting the risk to sleeping infants and babies: The Back to Sleep campaign. Amazingly, simply placing babies on their backs to sleep reduces the risk from SIDS dramatically.

Thirteen years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first made its recommendation that all healthy infants be placed on their backs to sleep, thus reducing the risk of SIDS. Since then, the percentage of infants placed on their backs to sleep has increased dramatically, and the rates of SIDS have declined by more than 50 percent. 

I know this sounds incredible. My wife says that it is not what she was told when she was a young mother. Yet, shortly after the AAP recommendation, the following groups all joined with the AAP: the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the SIDS Alliance (now First Candle/ SIDS Alliance), the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of HRSA. All these groups have launched their own Back To Sleep campaigns to inform parents and infant caregivers about the importance of infants and older babies sleeping on their backs.

Here are the rules.

  • Lay your newborn down on her/his back, not on the baby's stomach. Research indicates this position lowers the risk of SIDS.
  • Avoid covering your baby with a blanket. Instead, put her/him in a sleeper suit to keep baby warm without blankets. The blankets themselves are a problem and babies should not be allowed to get too warm.
  • Provide proper bedding: a firm infant mattress free of pillows, stuffed animals or comforters that could block the baby's airway. Crib bumper should be securely fastened or not used at all. (The public health nurse advised my daughter to completely remove the bumpers from her baby's crib.)
  • Check with your pediatrician about alternate sleeping positions if your baby was a peemie who experienced respiratory distress or if your baby has a gastroesophageal reflux. Also check with your pediatrician before introducing your baby to a newborn sleep pillow used to prevent your baby from rolling from her/his side or back onto her/his stomach.allowed to get too warm.

And don't fear the pacifier.

Several studies have found that infants who used a pacifier when going to sleep had a lower risk of SIDS compared with infants who did not. There may be as much as a 60% reduction in SIDS risk with pacifier use at bedtime.
    Sleeping on back safer than side
    If a baby insists on sleeping on her/his side, position the baby's arms to make turning onto the stomach less likely. Strive to train your baby to sleep on her/his back.

    Good luck,

    My granddaughter Fiona, above, is fighting the Back to Sleep advice but she is kept off her stomach when sleeping and luckily she hates the prone position at all times.

      My take on swine flu gets more support

      I mentioned the other day that my take on swine flu has been getting a steady flow of hits. Well, today the Huffington Post carried a piece that adds support to my original post.

      See: Flu Season: Factory Farming Could Cause A Catastrophic Pandemic

      "So far, only thousands of people have died from swine flu. Unless we radically change the way chickens and pigs are raised for food, though, it may only be a matter of time before a catastrophic pandemic arises."

      Then read my post and learn where many people believe the present swine flu originated.


      Monday, January 4, 2010

      Still working on the real post....

      I spent some time working on my post on food but it will not be ready until sometime tomorrow. So, please smile at this; Hey, you won't smile at the food post.

      Forgive me. I know; I know. It's just a baby picture.

      And yet I love the way this little girl is so obviously interested in the puzzle on which her grandmother is working. The little girl went to the doctor for her check-up earlier in the day and the doctor said, "This kid is bright." I'd say he was a bright doctor, very observant.

      Note: If you have a SLR digital camera, or any camera that allows the setting of the f/stop, use a large one. Something like f/2 or f/2.8 would be good with a 28mm lens. This will help to throw the background out of focus. I am using a simple, old point and shoot and so do not have this control. I must take what the camera gives me and that is far too much depth of field.

      Before shooting this picture I turned off the incandescent ceiling light to prevent having a yellow cast staining the image. I also wiped the little girl's mouth as she is quite into bubble blowing and it does not add to her carefully managed image.

      Ken (Rockinon)