Showing posts from December, 2013

Dogs recognize pictures of their owners

A young girl whose family had one dog and two cats asked her mother, a college graduate and wife of a college professor, "Mommie, do animals have feelings?" Mommie answered, "I don't know dear. Science hasn't discovered that yet." That was a true episode overheard directly by this author.

Now, science is figuring out if dogs recognize photos of their human masters apart from photos of other human faces. A study conducted in Helsinki, Finland, entitled "How dogs scan familiar and inverted faces: an eye movement study" determined that facial recognition among dogs is probable.

Hooray for science. Tell us more! (Sarcasm implied.) The study was recorded in the journal Animal Cognition just recently, December 2013.

According to the study abstract, they understood that dogs seem to be able to use facial cues from their masters. The researchers took 23 pet dogs and eight kennel dogs for their experiment. They applied facial inversion effects (…

10 Worst New Year’s Resolutions and How to Make Them Work

New Year’s resolutions have been around a long time. Some of us make them half-heartedly, some of us do it with great purpose. Few of us actually achieve our goals by the end of the year. Maybe it’s because making resolutions just after the holidays is particularly bad timing, what with our tendencies to overindulge, overspend, and generally let the chips fall where they may. Or maybe it’s because we are completely unrealistic or entirely too vague with our resolutions.
The good news is that even some of the worst resolutions can work if we eliminate broad statements and boil them down to specifics.
10 Worst New Year’s Resolutions and How to Make Them Work1. Join a Gym
Ah, the January gym membership. We all know how that one turns out. Gyms are brimming with activity in January, but no so much come April. It’s an expensive lesson.
If you really want to exercise, make a long-term plan. Begin with walking or other easy or moderate exercises that you can do in you…

The Weird Thing a Guy Does When He’s Into You

So this is why they insist on a late-night stroll after dinner
Men can be so hard to read—especially in the beginning, when you’re trying to suss out if they’re feeling you or not. Here’s one strange sign that may help you figure it out: Men tend to walk slower with you when they’re into you, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers measured the walking pace of 22 men and women as they circled a 400-meter track. Whenever a man was walking with his female S.O., his speed dropped to match his partner’s pace. There was no significant speed change when men walked with a male or female friend, though. Study authors suspect that walking slowly may help boost a couple’s intimacy.

Of course, this means you have to actually meet up with the guy in-person if you’re trying to get a handle on his feelings (or lack there of) for you—there’s unfortunately not a text message equivalent right now.

5 Ways Christmas and Hanukkah Co-Opted Paganism

My favorite church in Italy is a beauty called the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, or “Mary on Top of

Minerva.” Around 1280 Christians built the church right on top of the site of a temple to Minerva, the pagan goddess of wisdom, medicine — and war. (Important note: Professor Minerva McGonagall of Hogwarts is the goddess’s namesake.)

Maria sopra Minerva illustrates the way religious traditions evolve, taking from other traditions what they like, and also what they need to draw in the followers of those traditions.

You won’t find Christmas trees or Santa Claus in the New Testament — they and other Christmas customs evolved over time, sometimes passively influenced by pagan traditions, and sometimes deliberately co-opting and replacing those traditions. Many other Christmas traditions may come from rituals surrounding the winter solstice, which marks the shortest day and longest night of the year.Enough Christmas traditions arise from the solstice and other pagan sources that …

12 Surprising Uses for Orange Peels

It’s citrus season, and, chances are, orange lovers have overloaded their compost bins and garbage cans with peels. But that’s no place for these workhorses — there are plenty of creative ways to use the peels around the house. Read on for surprising ways to use orange peels.
But first, a word of warning. Try to buy organically-grown oranges when reusing the peels whenever possible, especially if you plan to eat them or use them on your body. The peels of conventionally grown oranges are usually sprayed with pesticides and are not always safe to eat. If you can’t but organic oranges, wash the fruit under cold water to remove as much of the pesticides as possible.
Earlier: 5 Surprising Benefits of Exercise

1. Remove Water Stains. Unsightly water stains on your metal fixtures? The oils in orange peels naturally removes them. Just rub the peel on the fixtures to polish them right up.
2. Shine Wood. The white side of the peel can also polish dull-looking wood furniture.…

5 Animal Idioms Explained

Animals have always had a place in idiomatic language. But do you ever stop to think about why the heck we say some idioms in the first place? Why are family members called black sheep or politicians lame ducks? Why do we cry crocodile tears, or think the hottest days of the year are the dog days of summer? Read on for the background on some of the most common, and most interesting, animal idioms.
See Also: 8 Bad Pet Parent Behaviors

1. Dog Days of Summer.
The phrase, “dog days of summer,” which is used to refer to the hottest days of the year, can be traced back to the astronomers of Ancient Rome. Each July, Sirius, also known as the “Dog Star” appears in the night sky. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, and the ancient Romans mistakenly believed that the grueling heat of late July and August was because of this star.
Also Check Out: 12 Surprising Uses for Orange Peels

2. Black Sheep.
Once upon a time, well before all of the industrial manufacturing we know today, sh…

16 Ways to Breathe Easier

The colder weather can aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions.  To make matters worse people spend more time indoors in their homes and office, which tend to have poor air quality.  To help you breathe a bit easier this season here are 16 ways to improve your breathing:
Eliminate air fresheners—The Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) conducted a study of “air fresheners,” “air sanitizers,” and other related products.  They found toxic ingredients like acetone, butane (yes, that’s lighter fluid), liquefied petroleum gas, propane, and formaldehyde (among many others), all of which are linked to respiratory problems.  Open a window and let in some fresh air rather than resort to toxic chemical sprays or plug-in products.
Dont forget the car air fresheners—They contain many of the same ingredients and are equally damaging to household air fresheners.
Skip the perfume—Perfumes can contain up to 400 different ingredients, 95% of which are chemicals used in…

5 Ways to Stop the Holiday Blues

If you are feeling less than cheerful this holiday season, you have a lot of company. There’s a lot going on. I am finding more people are on edge, quicker to get irritated and uncertain about the future. Add the holidays on top of that, when we’re supposed to be feeling more joy, and it’s easy to understand why we could be feeling depressed.
In my last article, I shared 4 Key Tips to Prevent Holiday Stress. If we don’t manage stress during this time of year, it can lead to the holiday blues. Studies show that depression peaks during and after the holidays, especially for those prone to it. Unmet expectations, missing a loved one, excessive spending, even too much to eat or drink can bring on the blues. Trying to join in holiday cheer and not being able to do so can make anyone feel out of step, and add to a feeling of isolation.
Research shows that depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. However scientists aren’t exactly sure wh…

3 Illness-Causing Mistakes to Avoid While Preparing a Holiday Feast

From piping-hot poultry to peppermint-infused drinks, food is second only to family on the list of things to look forward to during the holiday season.
During the traditional festivities, it may be OK to let go and let out your waistband, but you should never let your guard down when it comes to proper food safety.
Indeed, family gatherings can be breeding grounds for bad habits and food-borne bacteria alike.
Ruth Frechman, R.D., a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association offers her tips on three mistakes to avoid if you don’t want to unwrap the unwelcome present of food poisoning during your holiday celebrations:
Careless cross-contamination: It’s early in the morning and you’re busy stuffing the 20-pound turkey that’s going to be the highlight of the evening’s feast. Various family members trickle into the kitchen, seeking breakfast and coffee. You set out a bowl of fresh fruit to quiet their rumbling stomachs until you’ve fired up the pancake griddl…

Celebrate With Healthy Foods This Christmas

Healthy food can be fun and yummy!
One big bonus of enjoying healthy food is it helps prevent your immune system from crashing with a flu or cold. Every year flus and colds peak after the holiday season. Let’s not be one of those statistics.
Another bonus is you may actually lose weight instead of gaining it!
What will keep you healthy and strong during the holiday season?
Healthy food can be fun and good looking! 1. Eat Real Food! Our bodies were designed to digest real food.
Real Food is whole food in its most natural state. It is unprocessed or with very little processing. Real food does not need a label or fancy packaging. A lemon is a lemon. An onion is an onion. Real Food is a whole food that is life sustaining and nourishing. “My passion is to help everyone get real food into their bodies!”
A healthy salad is often ruined by drenching it with a highly processed salad dressing from the super market that is filled with artificial flavorings, colorin…

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercise

We all know that exercise will tone your muscles and keep you fit. It might even help your heart or keep your blood pressure in check. But there are many, many other reasons to hit the gym or the trails regularly. From healthy skin to a sharper mind, read on to check out some of the most surprising benefits of exercise.

1. Boosts Brainpower & Productivity.

Hitting the gym doesn’t just strengthen your muscles, it can also strengthen your brain. Study after study has linked regular exercise to everything from better grades in school to a stronger memory. Other studies have shown that working out can help improve concentration, boost creativity and help with your productivity in the office. Seniors can especially see benefits in regular exercise, because it keeps your mental capacity in shape and aids in lowering the risk of dementia.

2. Improves Skin.
Working out can actually help you look younger. When you break a sweat, your circulation increases; the more blood that r…

Why Baked Potatoes are Among the Healthiest Foods You Can Eat

My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.
Oprah Winfrey. Potatoes are essentially a synonym for comfort. And baked, these earth vegetables are simply divine. It is wonderful that one can feel virtuous after eating a big baked potato, because it comes loaded with so many wonderful health benefits. Take a look:

They are among the most potassium-rich foods. Consider this: the guidelines released by the Institute of Medicine encourage Americans to aim for 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day. That’s because potassium blunts the harmful effects of too much sodium and keeps blood pressure in check. Now here’s an impressive piece of information: eight ounces of baked potato contains 1000 mg of potassium! Browse any list of top potassium resources, and a baked potato is sure to be on it.

With the skin on, they are a high dietary fiber food. One baked potato provides about 12% of an adult woman’s daily fiber needs, and 8% for an adult male. Fiber, …

8 Common Medical Tests You Shouldn’t Let Your Doctor Perform

Medical studies can befuddle even the most conscientious and well-informed person.
Does a daily baby aspirin hurt or help? Can men skip the prostate exam? Should primary care doctors examine patients’ skin for cancer? One study says one thing, the next says the opposite. Maddening.
Enter an obscure hero: the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). It is “an independent panel of non-Federal experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine” that “conducts scientific evidence reviews of a broad range of clinical preventive health care services (such as screening, counseling, and preventive medications) and develops recommendations for primary care clinicians and health systems.” Its recommendations apply to screening patients for maladies they have no symptoms of.
In other words, USPSTF reviews medical studies and draws conclusions about the pros and cons of various preventative and diagnostic medical procedures. It makes recommendations about which are worth it and …

Shocking 47 Ingredients in a McRib

People around the internet are comparing a photo of a frozen McDonald’s McRib patty to housing insulation.  The photo, shown below, was allegedly taken by a McDonald’s employee somewhere in Quebec, Canada, although this isn’t confirmed.
Frozen McRib Looks Like Industrial Housing Insulation

After checking the composition of the McRib as listed on McDonald’s own website, some of the different ingredients sound like something that might be more suitable for insulating houses than for food.
Under McDonald’s “Transparency Campaign” they’ve listed the ingredients of their products on their website.  At first glance, the McRib looks like it is comprised only of a “homestyle bun, McRib patty, McRib sauce, pickle slices, and slivered onions.”  That doesn’t sound so bad. But here are the combined 47 ingredients (after accounting for duplication between items) you’ll find in every McRib:

Homestyle bun: enriched wheat flour, water, glucose/fructose, yeast, salt, vegetable oil (canola o…

The Best Gift You Could Give Your Family? Nothing.

You might think that someone who goes “gift-free” at Christmas might have fallen on hard times. Or you might think this person might simply be a scrooge who has forgotten about the spirit of Christmas. But Heather Greenwood Davis, a Toronto, Canada writer and mom and her family are neither. Together with her husband and two children, she decided to skip the presents in favor of getting back to family—for the second year.
She claims that after a year of traveling around the world with only one bag each, her family realized how few things they actually needed. Changed by the experience they chose to bring that mindset back to their home life in Canada.
The family is still decorating a tree, baking cookies, going bowling, spending time snuggling, hosting dinner, and spending lots of quality holiday time together. They’re just not buying gifts for each other or others on their former Christmas lists. Heather Greenwood Davis explains that they are choosing to live …

Do You Remember Me? It’s Me, Nelson!” – Memories of Nelson Mandela

Written by Sharon Gelman; above photo: ©ANSA and Peter McKenzie
These days, my thoughts are frequently with Nelson Mandela. I am praying for his healing and also hoping we’ll all find the strength to let him go with grace and dignity when he is ready to depart this world.
For the past 22 years, I’ve headed Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA), formerly Artists for a Free South Africa (AFSA). When AFSA was founded in 1989 by Alfre Woodard, Danny Glover, Mary Steenburgen, Blair Underwood, CCH Pounder and friends, we didn’t think we’d live to see apartheid fall nor did we dare dream that Nelson Mandela would one day be president. We just knew supporting the fight against apartheid was the right thing to do. However, scarcely a year later, I found myself at a church, waiting for Madiba’s release from prison. We sang and danced through the night until he finally appeared on the TV, walking free after 27 years. He was dignified and unbowed and his face was full of joy.
Soon aft…