Sunday, September 16, 2018

10 Weird Allergies

Allergies are caused by the body's defense system overreacting to some substance it comes in contact with. We're all familiar with the allergies to everyday things such as mold, pollen, specific foods, and animal dander. There are 40 to 50 million Americans allergic to these common bad guys. But you'd be surprised at the uncommon allergies people can develop.

Here's a list of 10 (in no particular order) weird and unusual allergies.

1)  Water Allergy
Water is absolutely mandatory for our survival, but there are those rare people who get the hives from water. The hives and itching usually go away in 15 to 30 minutes and antihistamines will relieve the symptoms.

2)  Exercise Allergy
This type of allergy has only been officially reported in medical journals about 1000 times since the 1970s. Of course, unofficially is a different story…at one time or another I imagine most of us have professed an allergy to exercising. :)  In mild cases the result is hives. But in more severe cases it can lead to anaphylaxis, a dangerous condition where the blood pressure drops suddenly and there is difficulty breathing. This is the same type of reaction as severe food allergies and is treated as a medical emergency, usually with injections of epinephrine.

3)  Sun Allergy
Solar exposure can result in hives with the itching and stinging symptoms relieved with antihistamines, but not prevented. Sun allergy is very rare. The hives appear within 30 minutes of exposure to the sun and will clear up within minutes of getting out of the sun. Needless to say, avoiding the sun can prevent this reaction.

4)  Electricity Allergy
Those who claim to suffer from electro sensitivity say they are sensitive to electric fields generated by products such as cell phones, microwaves, computers, and power lines. The symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears and fatigue among other complaints. The experts say this is one type of allergy that you don't have to worry about because it doesn't exist. There have been several studies done and almost all of them have come up empty.

5)  Shoes Allergy
A poison ivy-type rash on your feet after you've worn leather shoes could be allergic reaction to the chemicals used in the leather tanning process. This type of allergy is known as contact dermatitis and can be diagnosed with a patch test. Contact dermatitis is somewhat of a catchall term for a common skin condition resulting from contact with many possible irritants. The solution to shoe allergy? Wear socks or shoes made from something other than leather.

6)  Allergy to Money
Another type of contact dermatitis can be an allergic rash on your hands after handling coins. The culprit would most likely be the nickel metal in coins, also an alloy found in the manufacture of jewelry, zippers, and eyeglass frames among other things. The best treatment is to avoid the substance. Good luck with that one.  :)

7)  Allergy to Touch
This is known as dermographism and is another form of hives. The literal translation is skin writing and was named because with this type of allergy a person can write his name on his skin using nothing more than the pressure from a fingernail. That pressure on the skin causes an itchy hive reaction. This reaction can also be the result of tight clothing or even toweling off after a hot shower. The resultant itching can be controlled with antihistamines.

8)  Cold Allergy
This allergy is very rare, but potentially dangerous. It can be life-threatening if a person with this allergy is suddenly exposed to extreme cold, such as diving into very cold water. This can cause a massive release of histamine, which can severely drop the blood pressure. Handling this kind of allergy is to focus on prevention such as avoiding exposure of large areas of skin to the cold.

9)  Allergy To Pollinated Fruit
Millions of Americans have allergies to pollen and some of them could also experience a type of allergy known as oral allergy syndrome. This happens when someone allergic to pollen eats a fruit that contains the same protein as the pollen. This is a cross reactivity and can happen between such things as ragweed and bananas, grasses and tomato, and birch trees with apples, plums, or peaches. The symptoms are itchy mouth and throat and sometimes swelling of the lips and will go away if you swallow or spit out the fruit with treatment usually being unnecessary.

And finally…talk about weird allergies:

10)  Semen Allergy
This is an extremely rare type of allergy in women. Symptoms are hives and swelling in the vaginal area after sexual intercourse. The best treatment is to use a condom. For women who want to get pregnant, there are shots to treat semen allergy.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

10 Things You May Not Know About Vikings


So…you think you know all about the Vikings?  Those seafaring Scandinavians who raided and settled coastal sites in the British Isles and beyond between the 9th and 11th centuries?  You've watched the movies and television shows, have been exposed to the caricatures and stereotypes.  But I'll bet there's a lot about the Vikings you don't know.

1)  Vikings Didn't Wear Horned Helmets
Forget all those Viking warrior costumes you've seen in those movies, television shows, and pictures seen with the characters wearing those elaborate horned helmets.  Descriptions from the Viking age don't mention it and the only authentic Viking helmet ever discovered is horn-free.  This concept seems to have originated with painters in the 19th century, possibly inspired by ancient Norse and Germanic priests who wore horned helmets for ceremonial purposes long before the Viking Age.

2)  Vikings Were Known For Their Excellent Hygiene
What with all that boat rowing and decapitating their enemies, the logical assumption would be that Viking men must have stunk.  However, excavations of Viking sites have revealed tweezers, razors, combs and ear cleaners made from animal bones and antlers.  Vikings also bathed at least once a week, much more often than other Europeans of that time period.

3)  Vikings Used A Unique Liquid To Start Fires
The Vikings collected a fungus called touchwood from tree bark and boiled it for several days in urine then pounded it into a substance similar to felt.  The sodium nitrate in urine allowed the material to smolder instead of burn.  This gave the Vikings the availability of taking the fire with them on the go.


4)  Vikings Buried Their Dead In Boats
The Viking's boats were very important to them so it was a great honor to be buried in one.  It was believed that the vessels that served them well in life would see them safely to their final destination.

5)  Vikings Were Active In The Slave Trade
Many Vikings became rich through human trafficking.  They captured and enslaved women and young men while rampaging through Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Slavic settlements then sold them in giant slave markets in Europe and the Middle East.

6)  Viking Women Enjoyed Some Basic Rights
Viking girls married at age 12 and took care of the household while their husbands sailed off on adventures.  However, they had more freedom than other women of their era.  They could inherit property, request a divorce and reclaim their dowries if their marriage ended.

7)  Viking Men Spent Most Of Their Time Farming
Most Viking men swung scythes rather than swords.  True, some were callous pirates who only left their boats long enough to burn villages but most planted crops and raised cattle, goats, pigs and sheep on their small farms.

8)  Vikings Skied For Fun
Scandinavians developed primitive skis approximately 6000 years ago.  By the Viking age, Norsemen regarded skiing as an efficient way to get around and a popular recreation activity.  They even worshiped Ullr, the god of skiing.

9)  Viking Men Preferred Being Blond
Brunette Vikings, usually men, used strong soap with a high lye content to bleach their hair and in some regions also their beards.  These treatments also helped with a health and hygiene problem—head lice.

10)  Vikings Were Never Part Of A Unified Group
They probably didn't even call themselves Vikings.  The term simply referred to all Scandinavians who took part in overseas expeditions.  During the Viking Age, the land that is now Denmark, Norway and Sweden was a patchwork of tribes that often fought against each other…when they weren't busy creating havoc on foreign shores.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

10 Warning Signs Of Midlife Crisis


The silver-haired 55-year-old suddenly trading in his life in the suburbs, his wife of 30 years and his sensible car for a Harley motorcycle and a 21-year-old girlfriend is certainly the stereotypical image of midlife crisis.

Obviously every period of doubt or depression that occurs in middle age is not connected with the panic about getting older. But how do you know if what you are experiencing is actually the anxiety of midlife crisis or not, especially in today's youth obsessed society?

I recently read an article about ten warning signs that say you might be going through midlife crisis. I'd like to share them with you here.

1)  You have a growing sense of regret over unattained goals.

2)  You have new feelings of being self-conscious around more successful colleagues.

3)  You now place a new emphasis on remaining youthful when the effort previously seemed unimportant.

4)  You desire to spend more time alone than previously, or with certain peers who could be characterized as youthful or as those who are comfortable in their own skin.

5)  You have developed a new tendency to abuse alcohol.

6)  You place a new importance on acquiring unusual or expensive items when the same purchases were previously considered frivolous or impulsive.

7)  You are experiencing a sharp increase in self-criticism with a corresponding decline in self-compassion.

8)  You now obsess over your physical appearance in areas where you previously didn't pay that much attention because everything was okay.

9)  You place an unusual amount of pressure and stress on your children to excel in a variety of fields.

10)  You enter relationships with younger partners than previously considered viable.

Even though midlife crisis is usually and traditionally associated with middle-aged men, it certainly applies to women, too. Now, where did that 25-year-old bronzed stud of a lifeguard disappear to (she asks as she slowly rakes her gaze across the men on the beach)?

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Endangered Languages From Around The World


There are nearly seven thousand languages spoken throughout the world today. The majority of these are predicted to be extinct by the end of this century. Half the world's population speaks the top twenty world languages. Mandarin, Spanish and English, in that order, are the top three. Most linguists point to globalization as the main cause for the rapid decline in many languages.

Unfortunately, when a language dies so does much of the knowledge and traditions that were passed on by the people speaking that language. This list was composed of data from the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity.

Irish Gaelic: Despite the fact that the government requires Irish students to learn this language and it currently has an estimated forty thousand native speakers, it is still classified as vulnerable.

Rapa Nui: The mother tongue of Chile's famous Easter Island has less than four thousand native speakers, and is quickly being taken over by Spanish.

Seneca: There are approximately only one hundred people in three reservation communities in Western New York in the United States who speak this Native American language, with the youngest being in his 50s.

Yaw: Most young people living in the Gangaw District of Burma understand but do not speak this critically endangered language that has less than ten thousand native speakers.

Kariyarra: Although there are many people who have a passive understanding of this aboriginal language, there are only two fluent Kariyarra speakers left in Western Australia.

Franco Provençal: There are only about one hundred thirty thousand native speakers of this language, mostly in secluded towns in east-central France, western Switzerland and the Italian Acosta Valley.

Yahgan: This indigenous language of Chile purportedly has only one remaining native speaker. Others are familiar with the language, but it will most likely disappear soon.

Patuá: Derived from Malay, Sinhalese, Cantonese and Portuguese, less than fifty people in Macau, China, speak this language. It is now the object of folkloric interest among those who still speak it.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The English Language--part 2 of 2


As pointed out in last week's blog, the English language (or at least the American branch of the language) is often confusing even to those who were born here with this being the only language they speak.

Here is a list of 20 common errors. Some are spelling/using wrong spelling of word with same pronunciation, some are different pronunciations of words spelled the same way, and others relate to literally using the wrong words in popular phrases.

1)  It didn't phase me, should be: It didn't faze me.

2)  For all intensive purposes, should be: For all intents and purposes.

3)  He has another thing coming, should be: He has another think coming.

4)  Escape goat, should be: Scape goat.

5)  One in the same, should be: One and the same.

6)  Given free reign, should be: Given free rein.

7)  Low and behold, should be: Lo and behold.

8)  Case and point, should be: Case in point.

9)  Peak your interest, should be: Pique your interest.

10)  Hunger pains, should be: Hunger pangs.

11)  Suppose to, should be: Supposed to.

12)  Should of, should be: Should have.

13)  Nipped that problem in the butt, should be:  Nipped that problem in the bud.

14)  Mute point, should be: Moot point.

15)  Piece of mind, should be: Peace of mind.

16)  Beck on call, should be: Beck and call.

17)  On accident, should be: By accident.

18)  Expresso, should be: Espresso.

and tied for most commonly misused:

19)  I could care less, should be: I couldn't care less.

20)  Irregardless, should be: Regardless.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The English Language—part 1 of 2


The English language (or at least the American branch of the language) is often confusing even to those who were born here.  I can't imagine learning it as a second language.  Where other languages seem to have set rules, English has rules that are filled with exceptions and sometimes even those exceptions have exceptions.

A good example is the spelling rule for the order of i and e within a word. 'i before e' is the rule. 'Except after c' (exception to rule), 'or when sounded as a, as in weigh' (exception to the exception).

We'll begin with a box and the plural is boxes, but the plural of ox became oxen, not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice, yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men, why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet, and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose. And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren.

The masculine pronouns are he, his and him, but imagine the feminine as she, shis and shim.

Some reasons to be grateful if you grew up speaking English rather than learning it as a second (or even third) language. Imagine needing to figure out the differences in pronunciation and meaning of these identically spelled words:

1)      The bandage was wound around the wound.
2)      The farm was used to produce produce.
3)      The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4)      We must polish the Polish furniture.
5)      He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6)      The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7)      Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to         present the present.
8)      At the army base, a bass was painted on the head of the bass     drum.
9)      When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10)    I did not object to the object.
11)    The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12)    There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13)    They were too close to the door to close it.
14)    The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15)    The seamstress and the sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16)    To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17)    The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18)    After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
19)    Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20)    I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21)    How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
22)    I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

How many of you had to go back and read any of those 22 examples a second time to get it right?  :)

Let's face it – English is a crazy language.  There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.  English muffins weren't invented in England.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.  And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it, an odd or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?  Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell?  How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

If dad is pop, how come mom isn't mop?

Are you totally confused yet?  Check back next week when I continue with the eccentricities of the English language in part 2.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

10 AWESOME MUSEUMS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Museums…those public and private repositories of anything and everything that might be of interest to someone, collections open to the public to enjoy and that educate.  They encompass a wide variety of interests such as fine art, items showing the natural history of a region, or something as specific as a hair collection.

I recently found a list of 10 very specific museums/collections with a common thread—they are not open to the public.

CIA Museum
Needless to say, one of the most secretive agencies in the entire United States government (and the world) wouldn’t just throw the doors of their archives open for everyone. The Central Intelligence Agency’s internal museum is one of the most thorough collections of intelligence memorabilia on Earth with over 3,500 items. The collection includes documents from the OSS [Office of Strategic Services created in WW II, the forerunner of the CIA], spy weapons and equipment, and even an AK-47 rifle that belonged to Osama Bin Laden. The only public aspects of the Museum are three showcases at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. And that building isn't easy to get into, either. [not to be confused with the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., which is open to the public]

International Museum And Library Of The Conjuring Arts
If you’re looking for a community of people who like to keep secrets, the CIA isn't the only place to look.  Professional magicians are right up there, too. Considering that their careers hinge on being able to fool people, magicians aren’t crazy about opening up to the public. David Copperfield has used his vast fortune to amass a collection of over 150,000 pieces of magic history from practitioners like Harry Houdini and hundreds of others.  It’s located in a 40,000 square foot Las Vegas warehouse that has a fake hat shop in the front. [I saw a television special about Houdini including an auction of items from his career with David Copperfield being one of the major successful bidders on several items]

MIT Museum Of Espionage [in Turkey, not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology :) ]
The United States isn’t the only nation that keeps its intelligence archives in a private museum. Turkey’s MIT spy group has been amassing an impressive collection of memorabilia from top-secret operations for years. Stored at the group’s headquarters in Ankara, the museum’s glass display cases contain such spy craft relics as a shoe wedge designed to store a hidden microphone, hollowed-out objects for secreting code books, and bugging devices discovered in Turkish embassies abroad during the Cold War. A Turkish newspaper requested access to the museum and was allowed in for one day, but that’s the only time the Museum of Espionage has ever been seen by the public.

Canadian Museum Of Making
It is possible to get inside the doors of the Canadian Museum of Making, which is located on a private ranch near Cochrane, Alberta, but it’s not easy. The museum’s owner, Ian MacGregor, is very picky about who he allows through the doors. From the outside, you’d never know that the 20,000 square foot museum is even there, because he constructed the complex entirely underground. Inside is one of the world’s most extensive collections of mechanical objects from between 1750 and 1920. Every once in a while, MacGregor will open the doors to select people, but it's a rare occasion.

El Museo del Enervantes
Intended for use in the training of military staff waging Mexico’s seemingly endless war against the drug cartels, El Museo del Enervantes, located in Mexico City, is a private museum that chronicles every aspect of the world of narcoterrorism. In-depth exhibits illustrate the manufacturing process involved in making cocaine, heroin and other drugs. A huge display case shows off dozens of handguns confiscated from drug lords, many encrusted with gold and jewels. There is also a plaque commemorating all the Mexican soldiers who died on duty since 1976.

The Honda Secret Museum
Many automakers rent out space to spotlight important moments in their history, but Honda defies the trend by making their history museum closed to the public. Assembled by company veteran Lou Staller, it’s a collection of almost 50 cars and motorcycles that commemorate Honda’s successes and failures. Included in the collection is a Honda N-600 from 1970—the first passenger car the company sold in the States—and the 1997 EV Plus, the very first electric vehicle to be marketed here. The museum is only accessible to Honda employees, and the vast majority of them have never been there, making it a treasure trove for car enthusiasts.

Musée d'Anatomie Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière
The Musée d'Anatomie Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière permanently closed its door to everyone—public and invited only—in 2005. Prior to that time, it was the largest and most complete anatomy museum in France. The Museum’s collection began in 1794 and expanded steadily over the years to include upwards of 5,800 anatomic items from humans and other animals. Some of the coolest stuff on display includes casts of the heads of executed 19th century criminals, comparative anatomy displays of reptiles and birds, and skulls of deceased mental patients. It occupied the eighth floor of the Descartes University’s school of medicine, and access was granted only to the medical elite.

The Black Museum
Scotland Yard, one of the most famous crime-fighting institutions in history, has amassed some serious items. If you want to see them, they’re kept in the Black Museum. Located at police headquarters in London, this collection of evidence from some of Scotland Yard’s most notorious crimes includes the pots serial killer Dennis Nilsen used to cook his victims and a taunting letter from Jack the Ripper. Also on display is a vast array of weapons used in the commission of crimes, including some cleverly disguised tools of mayhem. There is a current discussion about finally making the museum open to the public, but as of now it’s still police only.

The U.S. Secret Service Museum
It appears that taxpayer money is supporting a disproportionate number of museums that aren’t open to the public. Located in the nondescript office building that houses the Secret Service headquarters is a small private museum that’s only open to invited guests. Inside the one-room museum are artifacts from some of the most shocking crimes in American history—assassination attempts on Presidents. Among these artifacts is the bullet-scarred window from Ronald Reagan’s limousine on the day that John Hinckley attacked and the assault rifle that Francisco Duran used to spray bullets into the White House in 1994.

The Zymoglyphic Museum
The Zymoglyphic Museum in San Mateo, California, is open to the public—but only for two days out of every year. The museum's creator houses his collection in a small outbuilding off of his garage, down a nondescript suburban cul-de-sac. Inside is the world’s largest assemblage of animals and artifacts from the Zymoglyphic Era…a period in Earth’s past that never existed. The dioramas, housed in aquarium tanks, are well thought out and executed with incredible attention to detail.