A study in London showed that chocolate is a more effective cough medicine than those terrible-tasting syrups, and has fewer side effects. Patients in the study were given theobromine in amounts equivalent to two cups of cocoa, or codeine, or a placebo. Codeine, traditionally used to suppress persistent coughs, was only slightly more effective than the placebo, but the theobromine excelled. The next questions: Is more better? Is less just as effective? Since milk chocolate contains less theobromine than dark chocolate, do I need to eat more M&M's than chocolate chips for the same result? <Ahem>, <ahem>, excuse me while I go nip this cough in the bud....
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 at 1:41 pm | Edit
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Worried about putting on extra pounds with upcoming holiday feasting? Remember what your mom always told you, and be sure to get enough sleep! A study by Columbia University researchers shows a strong inverse correlation between the amount of sleep people receive and their tendency toward obesity. Compared with those who slept seven to nine hours per night, people who slept less than four hours a night were 73% more likely to be obese; those who got five hours of sleep were 50% more likely, and those who averaged six hours were 23% more likely.

Sleep—the new weight loss program!
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 22, 2004 at 8:31 am | Edit
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One year ago today we were basking in the sun of an unusually warm November day, and in the healing joy of the birth of a beautiful, healthy baby boy. This has truly been a Year of Thanksgiving.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 18, 2004 at 10:01 am | Edit
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A technique for protecting premature infants, developed in Colombia because of a shortage of incubators, is proving so effective that Colombian doctors are urging more affluent nations to adopt it as well. Called "kangaroo mother care," the therapy begins when the child no longer needs special medical support, and ends when he is able to regulate his own temperature, typically at the time he would normally have been born. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 13, 2004 at 12:43 pm | Edit
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Microsoft is challenging Google with its new search engine, now in beta form. I'll admit to a prejudice against Microsoft because it is so big and monopolistic (though Google isn't exactly small), but I decided to check it out. "Msnbot" keeps sniffing around my sites, and I wanted to see what it had found. Lo and behold, "Lift Up Your Hearts" returns this blog in the #2 spot, and "Linda Wightman" finds the Sursum Corda Home page at #1. The descriptions seem to be more useful than Google's. I was really impressed when I typed in "Warren Langdon" and found his book reviews from the Sursum Corda site, although I later discovered that I can also find them through Google; I just hadn't tried before.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 11, 2004 at 5:13 pm | Edit
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There are many ways to serve one's country besides military service, but today we honor those who have given the extraordinary service of laying their lives, health, and future on the line for us, especially those who gave "the last full measure of devotion." (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 11, 2004 at 7:17 am | Edit
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I know this will not impress you Northerners, but I'll tell the story anyway. When I jumped into the pool today, I thought that the water was a tad on the chilly side. After doing my 10 warm-up lengths, I checked the thermometer: 67 degrees, a drop of six degrees since Friday. It was actually quite pleasant, after a lap or two, though I'm sure it's colder than the Maggie P. in summer. Probably not colder than Lake Bomoseen, however. My goal is to keep swimming until Thanksgiving. This time it was easy, as I had no idea before I stepped in how cold the water was. The real test of my determination will be the next time I venture in.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 7:32 pm | Edit
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An Austrian study of the benefits of walking is both encouraging and perplexing. During the four-month study, 45 healthy adults walked 600 meters, three to five times per week. Each participant walked uphill for half of the study, and downhill for the other half, taking a cable car for the opposite trip.

It's not surprising that the walkers benefitted from their exercise; what is peculiar is the distribution of their improvements. Both uphill and downhill walkers experienced a decrease in their LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Uphill walking also lowered triglyceride levels and increased the body's ability to handle fat. Downhill walking significantly increased the body's ability to handle sugar. Walking uphill did not help with sugar, nor downhill with fats. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 8:28 am | Edit
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Florida is being labeled as an unhealthy state, ranking 42nd in a study by the United Health Foundation. On looking further into the study, I discovered that the risk factors they considered were far different from the ones I would have chosen to get a picture of how living in a certain state might be a health risk or benefit. I would have asked questions such as: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 9, 2004 at 7:37 am | Edit
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Homeschooling is legal in Pennsylvania, but the regulations imposed on homeschooling families are among the strictest in the nation. Recently, one family decided to sue the state on grounds that the rules impose an unreasonable restriction on their freedom of religion. Reading that article, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's editorial in response, reminds me that we must never, never become complacent about our rights, nor take our freedoms for granted. The Post-Gazette wonders,

To us, the requirements seem rather minimal. Parents must submit an annual affidavit to the local school superintendent outlining their educational goals. They must turn in a log at the end of the year showing what subjects were taught and when. A neutral, certified teacher reviews the work and interviews the child. Standardized tests are required at several grade levels.

What is the problem with that?

One problem is that such an attitude betrays appalling ignorance of what homeschooling is all about. It is not about taking the philosophies, methods, systems, procedures, and materials of school and trying to squeeze them into one's living room. Rather, homeschooling liberates children and families to pursue learning in creative ways that are not possible when subjected to classroom-mentality restrictions. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 6, 2004 at 4:57 pm | Edit
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Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital found yet another health benefit of breastfeeding, this time for mothers. Women in the study who breastfed their children for a total of one to two years experienced a 20% lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis later in life. For those who breastfed for at least two years, the risk was cut in half.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 4, 2004 at 2:35 pm | Edit
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It appears that Boston could not have two big winners this year. If they could have chosen, I wonder how many would have traded the Red Sox World Series win for a Kerry victory?
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 1:59 pm | Edit
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John Kerry has conceded, and President Bush is expected to declare his victory. That speech will be the first critical act of his second term. It needs to be humble, conciliatory, positive, respectful, encouraging, and unifying. These are not attitudes that Bush's speeches project very well. Whether the fault is in him or in his speechwriters, the ultimate responsibility lies with the one who speaks the words, and he needs to change his attitude and/or find himself some better speechwriters. Kudos to Kerry for having the grace not to subject the country to weeks of agonizing legal battles. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 11:55 am | Edit
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Cast your vote, then "cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22). As close as this election is, we can be sure that half of the people in this country will be disappointed with the results. Nonetheless, for the health of our country, we all need to look toward the future with hope and enthusiasm.

For our country—and for ourselves, also. It is appropriate that today's news includes a Dutch study confirming the positive health benefits of optimism. The nine-year study of nearly a thousand men and women between the ages of 65 and 85 found that an optimistic personality contributed significantly to reduced mortality. The effect was most dramatic when cardiovasculary mortality alone was considered. (The above link takes you directly to the Archives of General Psychiatry where the research was published. As might be expected, unfortunately, the news stories circulating differ vastly in accuracy, with some reporting the opposite of the true cardiovascular results.) (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 2, 2004 at 9:44 am | Edit
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Thus far I have tried to remain fairly nonpartisan in my political commentary, but the time has come to take a stand. I have been a Democrat all my voting life, although I’ve been gradually coming to realize that the party I thought represented compassion and liberty acts in reality as if it cared no more—and in many ways less—about such things than the Republicans.

George W. Bush has sufficiently disappointed and embarrassed me that the Democrats probably could have saved my vote by putting forth a moderate candidate who would present himself as a positive alternative. Instead, they chose John Kerry.

Without detailing the intellectual and visceral internal debate behind my voting choices, I include some brief comments on the issues both candidates seem to think paramount, based on their advertising rhetoric: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 1, 2004 at 8:07 pm | Edit
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