A study of premature infants suggests that delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord can reduce the need for blood transfusion in babies who are born too soon. A delay of only 30 seconds to two minutes was sufficient to provide significant benefit.

This news led me to search out a much more exhaustive discussion of umbilical cord issues, covering everything from conditions where immediate separation is necessary, to cord blood collection, to the "lotus birth," in which the placenta stays attached until the cord falls off the baby. Parents, midwives, and a few doctors speak out on issues that I had no idea were issues when I gave birth a quarter of a century ago. The concensus of this group is that delayed cord cutting is beneficial for full term babies (and their mothers) as well. Most of the debate seems to be between cutting the cord after the placenta stops pulsating, and waiting until the placenta is delivered.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 at 7:35 pm | Edit
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With the nonchalance of season passholders, we spent the day at EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival. The park was not crowded by their standards, but it was by ours; we prefer to go when time spent waiting in line is minimal. Today, however, we found ourselves in line again, and again, and again…each time at a small booth with a long queue, that featured a different country’s food and drink. Portions were appetizer-sized, and prices were Disney-sized, but the idea was great. If the portions had been any larger, we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy so many tastes. It helps to have a partner in this situation: you wait in this line, I’ll wait in that one, then we’ll meet and share the food. It was a strategy that worked well.

Waiting in line was a social event, too. Floridians seem to have made an easy transition from exchanging hurricane preparation tips while in line at Home Depot, to exchanging food recommendations while waiting at EPCOT. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 16, 2004 at 8:55 pm | Edit
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We went to a high school football game tonight. It was a great night for it, cool enough for long pants and a sweatshirt, our first cool weather in months. We actually went to see the halftime show, which I understand is pretty good despite the efforts of four hurricanes to thwart practice. But there was no halftime show: the Marching Patriot Band played their music from the stands. Why? I'm not sure, except that it's technically Fall Break, and a significant portion of the band was elsewhere. (Why the sports teams, band, cheerleaders, and associated people should be deprived of their Fall Break time is another issue.) Even so, it sounded pretty good. Too bad those people at the gate thought we paid our $12 to see the football team.

Ah, well, it was a fun night anyway. We had friends to talk with during the first half, and the second half had several exciting plays, exciting even to me, whose interest in football is something less than one of those mathematical epsilons.... Besides, there's nothing quite like a Band Booster hamburger.

This is the first year there is no one in the band who was there when we were involved. Some siblings, though. And they still play the same songs.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 15, 2004 at 11:02 pm | Edit
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Finally, researchers are beginning to pay serious attention to the frightening rise in allergies and asthma among children. For too long it has seemed to me to be something that was just accepted and dealt with. We can ban peanuts from airplanes and peanut butter from school snacks; we can turn once again to the drug companies in our search for relief for our children's problems; but better than palliative measures would be to discover and eliminate the cause of this scourge.

What has changed for children, that their immune systems are compromised? Why has peanut butter, that staple of childhood, suddenly become deadly? Could it be pollutants in their environment? Side effects of the greatly-increased number of childhood vaccines? The lack, for so many children, of the immune system boost provided by breastfeeding? Hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals unnaturally introduced into our food? The rise of day care and preschool, exposing infants and young children to a barrage of disease germs? Or—the "hygiene hypothesis"—is our children's environment too clean, too sterile, for proper development of their immune systems? (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 15, 2004 at 5:44 pm | Edit
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I have been working on a project that involves gluing two sheets of cardstock together, then laminating the result with clear contact paper. It's a bit of work, but seemed more reasonable than purchasing a $200 laminating machine.

Maybe not. I had been pleased with the results, but noticed that the rubber cement seal was coming apart in some places. No problem, I thought, I'll just slip in a little extra rubber cement. That appeared to be a fine solution, until I returned to my work an hour later and discovered that the solvent from the rubber cement had apparently penetrated the card stock and dissolved the adhesive on the contact paper, leaving a mess of wrinkles and bubbles. :(

Time to figure out Plan B. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 14, 2004 at 7:11 am | Edit
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Research by a team of Italian researchers suggests a genetic link between homosexuality and fertility.

A study of 98 homosexual men, 100 heterosexual men, and their relatives (4600 people) indicates that female maternal relatives of homosexual men tend to have more children than female maternal relatives of heterosexual men. This was not true of female paternal relatives.

The lead researcher, Professor Andrea Camperio-Ciani, of Padua University, attributed to his 15-year-old daughter the idea that there is a genetic factor linked to both homosexuality and high birth rates. This, she suggested, could help explain the anti-intuitive persistence of genes, such as the so-called "gay gene" (Xq28) that apparently contribute negatively to the production of offspring. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 at 8:23 pm | Edit
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I'm experimenting with different colors and styles for my blog, so don't be shocked if it feels a bit like a boat in rough seas for a while.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 12, 2004 at 5:13 pm | Edit
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Category Computing: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]
No Christian can rule out the possibility that he may be called upon to be a martyr. Be that as it may, I don't believe any of us is called to be a masochist.

In today's sermon we learned that God intends worship to be—among other things—fun. I'm not quarrelling with that, only mentioning it to make the point that I do not, in general, consider pain to be fun. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, October 10, 2004 at 1:56 pm | Edit
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That's not how I customarily describe our houseguests, but this one is a friend from Rochester, NY whose purpose in visiting is primarily to work for the success of the man I would like to see defeated in the upcoming presidential election. Are we "giving aid and comfort to the enemy"?

 

Well, an opponent does not need to be an enemy, and I have to admire our friend's willingness to work for what he believes in, giving up his vacation time to boot. I haven't actively campaigned for someone since I worked for the Humphrey-Muskie ticket, and that was before I could vote. That's a little embarrassing, since we have a friend who ran for the U.S. Senate, but it's the truth. We vote, we talk, we provide financial support—but Don's actually down there at headquarters, working. You have to respect that.

And the dinner-table discussions are definitely stimulating!

 (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 9, 2004 at 1:29 pm | Edit
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It looks as if this will be the first season in over 10 years that we won't get our flu shots. We started the habit long before flu immunizations were recommended to the general public. One year there was a particularly nasty strain that was sidelining its victims for about two weeks. We looked at our schedules, particularly those of our children, and decided that we didn't want to deal with the consequences of losing that much time. We considered my father—elderly and with respiratory problems, and thus vaccinated—who had been our regular February visitor since we'd moved to Florida. We'd get sick; he'd stay healthy. Seemed like an obvious choice to us. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 9, 2004 at 7:30 am | Edit
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I suppose we should be watching the presidential debates tonight. But I already know how I'm going to vote on that race. (We need to have debates for the local races, where I'm not yet convinced.)

Nonetheless, Porter—after a grueling week of work—was in the mood for a mystery story. I checked out Blockbuster online to see what we might expect, and found a good assortment of Agatha Christie, Inspector Morse, Rumpole of the Bailey, P.D. James, even a couple of Dorothy Sayers. (Alas, no Father Brown stories, nor Ngaio Marsh.) Thus encouraged, we paid a visit to our local Blockbuster store.

What a shock! They've remodelled since we were there last, and their movie stock has been considerably diminished. More than half the store is now given to game rentals and movies for purchase. There is no longer a "mysteries" section. When I asked the clerk for help, he told me that any mysteries would be scattered around, probably in "drama" or "action." There is no way to browse for a good mystery. Next I asked if they had any Agatha Christie movies in stock, only to learn that there was no way for him to answer that question, as his computer only allowed him to look up movies by title! "You mean," I said, disbelieving," that unless I come into this store knowing exactly what it is I want to rent, you can't help me?" Apparently. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 8, 2004 at 8:37 pm | Edit
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I can't find an official Baldo website to advertise with a link, but today's comic says a lot about some folks' attitudes toward grading:

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 8, 2004 at 11:25 am | Edit
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We have been found. Try typing "sursum corda" wightman in Google and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky." If you just type "sursum corda" we're 5th on the list. Now I really need to clean up the pages so it says something intelligent in the description....
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 7, 2004 at 10:10 am | Edit
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As Floridians, we've had to endure too many jokes about Florida's elections. I challenge any state to stand up to the scrutiny Florida received after the last presidential election. Many states simply couldn't have done a recount, because they have no permanent record of individual votes. I've voted in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, and Florida's system holds up well in comparison. Even after the 2000 election, we found that it would have been easy to cheat in Massachusetts, if we had wanted to. I'm not going to complain about their system, because it was nice to feel trusted. But it was certainly a surprise not to have to provide any form of ID when we voted.

I also like Florida's paper ballots. (We had paper ballots in Massachusetts, too.) We've used both the punch-card ("hanging chad" style) and the fill-in-the-circle (standardized test style) ballots, and despite what you've heard on the news, they are not hard to understand! I'm old fashioned enough to think that someone too clueless to understand the simple ballots, or too lazy to take the time to make sure he has filled his out correctly, or unwilling to ask for help if needed, probably shouldn't be voting anyway.
 (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 7, 2004 at 8:24 am | Edit
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Here's a particularly appropriate excerpt from my father's as-yet-unpublished autobiography (to give a fancy name to the project he and I were working on when he died):

There was no kindergarten in the Pullman School system and I started first grade at the age of five, my sixth birthday coming before the new year and in time to let me start. I went to the Franklin Elementary School, which was about a half dozen blocks away. This gave me a rather short walk compared with that of many of the students. There were no school busses to the elementary schools in those days. I do not remember much about my first four years in school, although in 1980 I did find it easy to remember that one of my teachers had said that Mt. St. Helens was an extinct volcano.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 1:22 pm | Edit
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