Health, Science, Tech

Cast of Thousands

English: Fig 57 on Page 190. A broken arm in a...

English: Fig 57 on Page 190. A broken arm in a splint Flickr data on 2011-08-17: Tags: public domain, copyright free, illustration, drawing, image, Points in Nursing, 1910, Emily A. M. Stoney License: CC BY 2.0 User: perpetualplum Sue Clark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People are always saying “oh, you’ve just got to do this before you die” about so many things; seeing the sun set over the Kalahari, visiting Thailand, touring Italy, bungee jumping, and so on.  Breaking your limbs, however, not so much of a must-do and, call me insane if you must, personally I’ve avoided the experience as much as possible.  So far I’ve only managed to crack a clavicle.

One thing I would dread is the cast – the ugly lump of white plaster, er, plastered around your limb getting progressively grubbier and inevitably itchier with every passing day, getting in the way of normal clothes, making it awkward to sleep, bathe, eat and so on.

Well a solution may be on the horizon – Jake Evill, a Victoria University of Wellington graduate, has designed a concept for a modern replacement utilising the current wonder-tech of 3D printing.  While home 3D printers let us make little plastic models this concept spits out something very neat – a lattice-work structured, washable, hence hygienic and non-itchy, cast created using x-rays of the limb fracture which can concentrate its strength and rigidity where it’s needed most around the break.  It would be assembled and fitted together with permanent fasteners to prevent it being taken off prematurely or accidentally and would then later be sawn off in the same was as a conventional cast.  Another advantage is the plastic could potentially be recycled.

Once the current print time of 3 hours reduces this could be the more comfortable and less obtrusive future of broken limbs – just, as Gizmodo’s article points out, without the friends’ decorations.

[Gizmodo / Dezeen]

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Health, Nature, Science

Ditching the Pills?

This image shows a whole and a cut lemon.

This image shows a whole and a cut lemon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we face more snow, it always seems to snow on my birthday these days, which is nice, and America is getting more than its fair share too, the folks at Gizmodo UK asked for the commenters’ DIY cold remedies.

The kind of cold and flu pills and powders you find in pharmacies seem to all be variations on the same drugs – pain killers, antiinflamatories, decongestants, lemon or blackcurrant flavourings – and many people are trying traditional methods instead, though many still use some medicines too.

Some, myself included, mix the powdered hot lemon drinks with honey – for its antibacterial properties; some make a honey and lemon drink using fresh fruit juice and take a paracetamol with it; others swear by whiskey.  Hot baths and wrapping up well are always popular, as is staying in bed although for many of us that’s not a viable option.

Finally a good hot curry was offered along with other drinks recipes.  I can agree with the curry option for one because you can at least taste it even if it doesn’t clear you out.

[Gizmodo UK]

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Health, Psychology, Random, Society

Slip Sliding Awaaaay

Snow Dawn (©2012 by Andy Vickers)

Snow Dawn (©2012 by Andy Vickers)

I don’t mind the cold, I like snow and I feel the chill later than most people I know but sometimes I see other people who make me shiver.  During the recent bad weather I have still seen numerous men out during the day in the snow, and more recently gale-force winds and stinging rain in just jeans and t-shirt, or often, football shirt.  The epitome of image over health.

You can see they’re trying to look like they’re not bothered but you can see them straining not to visibly shiver.  “I’m ffffine, it’s not ccccold at all”.  It’s not just men though, I see many women who do the same.  It’s not too bad if you’re only going out in the cold for a couple of minutes, say from one warm pub to the next on a Saturday night, but walking to or from work, going shopping where you’re outdoors more than inside?  I don’t think so.  As any experienced walker, climber or Arctic explorer will tell you layering is important, getting layers of insulating fabric and air between you and the atmosphere, as well as keeping dry.  Hypothermia can set in remarkably quickly and isn’t pleasant.

But it’s not just protection against the cold, people seem to choose odd footwear for the snow and ice too.  The number of people I see slithering around on icy paths in slick soled shoes and trainers is astounding, admittedly nothing’s going to work on sheet ice for goodness sake people you can get basic walking trainers with chunky, rough grippy soles for next to nothing these days, fashion isn’t worth ending up flat on your backside for.  Though at least if you have a decent thick coat on your landing would be a bit softer.

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Health, Nature, Outdoors, Psychology, Science, Society

Everyday Dangers

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Jared Diamond of The New York Times provides an interesting lesson about how people in the modern world perceive dangers.  After witnessing friends in New Guinea refusing to sleep under an old, dead tree due to the risk of it falling he realised that people have begun to worry more about the bigger, more unlikely risks such as terrorist attacks, nuclear radiation, plane crashes and so on and be less vigilant towards smaller risks that are taken or encountered very often – risks that are ignored because people think “that’s not a problem, I’m careful” while often not being.

I personally have this “hypervigilant attitude towards repeated risks” or “constructive paranoia” – I watch what I’m doing when I’m descending the long flight of stairs outside, I wear well treaded shoes on snow and ice and I’m particularly careful when handling sheet glass; which can literally be lethal, or at least painful as the scars on my hands from unavoidable accidents attest.

As the article states, with access to emergency services and the assumption that help is only moments away the awareness of real dangers has become diminished and unlikely ones exaggerated.

Have a read of the full article, then be careful out there.

[NYT]

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Health, Society

Exercising Confusion

English: Exercising outdoors is healthier than...

English: Exercising outdoors is healthier than working out indoors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are often told that in our society today we don’t exercise enough and don’t eat healthily.  Much of our dietary tradition is still tailored to when people carried out more physically demanding work during the day.  People drive to work or take public transport, often because of the distances involved.

But it seems that the advice is becoming confused, particularly regarding exercise, research now shows.  Guidelines advising regular exercise were seen as not particularly clear and some studies were uncertain as whether those taking part saw any benefit at all, such as in cardio-vascular health.

So now new guidelines have been published including specific advice for different age groups.  The department of health said “Being active can help protect against heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer which is why we have guidance on physical activity tailored to each age group.”  It is also meant to provide benefits in terms of mental health and happiness too.

I’ll remind myself of that when I arrive home after walking two miles from work, in the rain.  Nevermind, it’s for the best.

[BBC]

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Health, Psychology, Society

Depression in Young Adults

December 14 2007 day 64 - Depression

December 14 2007 day 64 – Depression (Photo credit: DeathByBokeh)

The Prince’s Trust’s annual survey of 16 to 25 year-olds has found that one in ten young people can’t cope with daily life, with those not in work, education or training twice as likely to feel depressed.

The pressures of life can be overwhelming for many and although the survey has shown slight changes in overall confidence and happiness it it often a lack of a support network that can cause a downward spiral as feelings of hopelessness, that things can’t be any better take an ever deeper hold.

[BBC]

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Health, Meta, Random

Longfellow Has Been Unwell, Again

English: Promethazine-codeine cough syrup

English: Promethazine-codeine cough syrup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m just about over a nagging cold that has had me not wanting to do much after work other than sip hot lemon and watch tv for the last week and a bit.  I have only ever said it was a cold but I was still asked (by men, I might add) “you got the man flu?”

Then the best one, a new one on me: “got a dose of Manthrax?”

I must have looked bad that day.

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Health, Psychology, Society

57 Channels and Nothing On

WATCH TV

WATCH TV (Photo credit: Martin Ritter)

Today’s talk is about 21st century distraction, and repeats on tv – two for the price of one.  Ok, settle down, stop checking your notifications.  Oh, for goodness sake.  Thank you, now…

Ooh, an email…

It’s too easy today, you get home, put on some food, put on the tv for some background noise while you eat and bang, before you know it you’re laid on the sofa watching a repeat of Top Gear, Man vs Food, Mock The Week, Letterman (your country/mileage may vary).  You start to feel a bit tired because of the meal you’ve eaten and think I don’t have time to do what I’d intended to do.  The thing is though that when the UK first got digital terrestrial tv it seemed to offer so much, so many new channels, so much choice for everyone.  What we’ve got is occasional new content but mostly repeats and we watch them anyway.  How right Bruce was.

I don’t read or listen to music as much as I used to and for me the reason is that with only five channels there were large chunks of time when there was nothing remotely interesting to me on, so I had to go and find something else to do.  Now there’s always something I can watch even if it’s a repeat, and that’s the lazy, easy option.  Often the tired feeling vanishes when I start something more interesting.

But it doesn’t end with dragging yourself away from Mountain Pies and Aston Martins, I sit down here to write a post and there’s other enticing options – my mouse drifts towards Hot UK Deals, the National Lottery, shopping sites, other blogs, for you it may be Twitter or Facebook, iPlayer or YouTube, comics or news sites.

So think “am I really tired or is it boredom, how much more satisfied will I feel if I get on with a bit of that project, how will I feel if I just sit here for the next three hours?”  Sometimes the answer will be “I’ll feel fine with that, thankyou for asking” in which case grab a cuppa and stay put, else just get up and do something, you’ll feel better for it.

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Health, Psychology, Society

Being Yourself, Being Happier

Cherai Couple

Cherai Couple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These days we are bombarded with imagery and articles telling us we should look a certain way, wear certain things, use certain perfumes or aftershaves and act certain ways to find love.  Most of this only makes people feel inadequate and depressed because they can’t achieve these ideals.

As this article by Ken Page describes trying to be someone who you just aren’t is emotionally exhausting and will either attract the kind of partner who won’t really be right for you or will put everyone off altogether.  You also need to be patient and not obsessed with “not being single”.

The most important thing to do is to respect and encourage your authentic self to surface, some people won’t like you doing that but being true to yourself is more important than keeping everyone happy.  Once you accept your gifts and flaws then your let your authentic self out you will feel more relaxed with yourself, will feel happier and can then attract the right kind of partner, one will be in harmony with you.

[Psychology Today]

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Health, Society, Work

Longfellow Has Been Unwell

Example of dark circles

Example of dark circles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What happens when you combine frequently disturbed sleep, daily exercise involving cycling – usually against the wind, two weeks of work where you have been unusually busy so that you’ve barely sat down never mind had a proper half-hour lunch break all the while dealing with multiple tasks at once where you can’t quite get one done before the next walks through the door expecting to be dealt with immediately?

What you get is fatigue, and if you’re me a blog that looks abandoned.

Normally I balance things nicely, get enough rest but even then I still often find it difficult to sit down and write a blog post; I know what I want to say but just can’t get into the right frame of mind.  The last two weeks have been an exploration of the effects of fatigue and what I consider was probably mild compared to what some people have to deal with was eye-opening.

Each day I went to work (and these two weeks I volunteered to work Saturdays to cover a holiday) so woke up early, cycled in, stood up all day, went home full of good intentions and…

…collapsed onto the sofa with a microwave dinner and the TV remote.  During this time I felt too tired to do anything and could summon up no enthusiasm for anything either.  Nothing mattered – not even tidying up my apartment; I felt that nothing ever would; I didn’t want to talk to anyone; the slightest things going badly annoyed me; I certainly couldn’t put together an article on the joys and perils of 21st century life.  As such I was irritable frustrated and I didn’t feel like I was even in the real world.

The contrast was striking with the week off I enjoyed at home three weeks ago where I got lost of sleep (though still woke up at the same time) got lots of projects done and even managed to squeeze out a couple of posts for this site.

Today I’ve felt much better following a couple of quiet days at work, and some good nights sleep.  The things that fatigue us are cumulative if you don’t have a chance to properly slow down and recuperate.

It’s often difficult or even impossible to get sufficient breaks at work and sleep at night but I’ve found that it’s really important to aspire to getting both.

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