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Archive for November, 2014

Pets can become stressed for several different reasons. From new roommates to fireworks to long travel hours, dogs react to changes in their environment similar to how we do.

Many types of canine anxiety problems exist. Separation anxiety can occur when a dog is left alone for long periods of time. When dogs become fearful of loud noises, like thunderstorms, they are experiencing noise anxiety. Motion sickness and travel anxiety are possible for dogs, too, and you may think twice before keeping your dog in a crate as their frustration can lead to confinement anxiety.

Because dogs are sensitive to their physical and emotional settings, they may engage in repetitive or displacement behavior during times of stress. Agitated dogs may stop barking, chew on furniture and shoes, eat their own poop, or be aggressive toward others.

When these behaviors happen, don’t misjudge the situation and punish your dog. Punishment will not address the root cause of the problem. In fact, pain will only increase their levels of stress leading to more unwanted behavior.

Fortunately, with the right plan of action, you can help your pet overcome anxiety. Every dog responds differently to certain methods. Therefore, if your pet doesn’t respond to one technique, consider trying another. Here are five possible solutions for anxiety in dogs:

1. Use Medication
First, always consult a veterinarian before administering medication. Giving your dog Benadryl is one popular option for relief. It’s a light, over-the-counter antihistamine with sedative properties. Your pet can take the medicine in different ways. You can put the tablet in small pieces of food, or the liquid gel capsules can be mixed into a treat.

2. Choose a Healthy Diet
As they say, you are what you eat, and a healthy diet leads to healthy behavior. Hyperactive dogs need a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to monitor what you feed your pets (or what they randomly decide to eat). Discuss the best dietary options with your vet.

3. Exercise
Physical exercise is a great way to soothe your dog’s anxiety. Schedule a daily routine for your dog to be active. If it’s too cold for outdoor fun, experiment with indoor exercises and stretches. Also, make it enjoyable. Play games to associate positive emotions with typically stressful activities like car rides.

4. Give a Massage
Who said massages were just for people? Massaging is a great calming technique for an anxious dog. Not only does it heal the body, but also the mind. Connect with a certified canine massage therapist in your area. They can teach you multiple ways to relax your pet through touch.

5. Create a Predictable Environment
Dogs can sometimes get flustered, especially if their daily routine changes. Reduce stress by creating a predictable environment with fixed activities. It’s important to set expectations for your dog. In return, both owner and pet will be happy.

Dogs are man’s best friends; they share many of our emotions and can experience anxiety just like us. It is normal for a dog to become nervous when life changes occur. So instead of punishing innocent behavior, seek out help to relieve their stress. In the end, everyone will be grateful.

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5 health benefits of cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of my feel-good foods. The scent reminds me of fall, my favorite time of year, and brings back memories of making apple pies with my mom, and celebrating the holidays.

While I’ve always been a fan of its flavor and aroma, as a nutritionist, I’m also thrilled to spread the news about cinnamon’s health benefits. For example, one teaspoon of cinnamon packs as much antioxidant potency as a half cup of blueberries, and cinnamon’s natural antimicrobial properties have been shown to fight strains of E. coli, as well as Candida yeast. Also, while technically not sweet, “sweet spices” like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger have been shown to boost satiety and mimic sweetness, which allows you to cut back on sugar in nearly anything, from your morning cup of Joe to a batch of homemade muffins.

Pretty impressive, but that’s not all. Here are five more potential health benefits of spicing things up!

Better heart health
In a recent study from Penn State, researchers found that a diet rich in spices, like cinnamon and turmeric, helped curb the negative effects of downing a fatty meal. After a high-fat meal, levels of fats in your blood known as triglycerides rise, and chronically high triglycerides raise the risk of heart disease. In this small study (in just six overweight but otherwise healthy men between 30 and 65) the results of adding spices were significant. On two separate days, volunteers added two tablespoons of spices, including cinnamon, to a fatty meal, which was tested against an identical control meal without spices. Blood samples drawn after meals revealed that in addition to 13 percent higher blood antioxidant levels, the spices reduced triglycerides by about 30 percent.

Blood sugar regulation
In research led by U.S. Department of Agriculture, scientists found that antioxidant-rich cinnamon extract helped reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease. In the study, 22 obese volunteers with prediabetes were divided randomly into two groups. One was given a placebo, the other a dose of dried water-soluble cinnamon extract twice a day, along with their usual diets. Fasting blood samples collected at the beginning of the study, and after six and 12 weeks revealed that the cinnamon extract improved antioxidant status, and helped reduce blood sugar levels.

RELATED: 10 Easy Ways to Slash Sugar from Your Diet

Diabetes protection
Cinnamon has been shown to slow stomach emptying, which curbs the sharp rise in blood sugar following meals, and improves the effectiveness, or sensitivity of insulin. A University of Georgia study also found that cinnamon can prevent tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar. When blood sugar levels are high, sugar bonds with proteins to form compounds called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. AGEs activate the immune system, which triggers the inflammation and tissue damage associated with aging and diabetes. In the study, researchers found a strong and direct link between the antioxidant content of common herbs and spices, including cinnamon, and their ability to prevent AGEs from forming. This effect also further decrease the risk of heart damage, since AGEs contribute to hardening of the arteries.

RELATED: 14 Biggest Myths About Type 2 Diabetes

Better brain function
Research shows that just smelling cinnamon enhances cognitive processing, but consuming it significantly ups brain function. Scientists at Wheeling Jesuit University asked volunteers to complete computer-based tasks while chewing no gum, plain gum, or gum flavored with cinnamon, peppermint, or jasmine. Cognitive processing was boosted the most in those given cinnamon, which sped up visual-motor responses and improved attention scores. This aromatic spice may also help the brain heal. One study from scientists at the Agricultural Research Service found that cinnamon extract prevented brain cells from swelling in the ways typically seen after a traumatic brain injury or stroke.

RELATED: 12 Ways to Improve Your Concentration at Work

Parkinson’s protection
In animal research supported by grants from National Institutes of Health, scientists found that after ground cinnamon is ingested, it’s metabolized into a substance called sodium benzoate, which enters into the brain. In mice with Parkinson’s, the positive effects included neuron protection, normalized levels of neurotransmitters, and improved motor functions.

Plus, 10 ways to use it
To take advantage of cinnamon’s potential benefits, incorporate it into more meals. One of the things I love about this spice is how versatile it is. I use it in both sweet and savory dishes, and I feel like I’m always finding new ways to add it to meals, snacks, and beverages. Here are 10 easy ideas:
• Sprinkle cinnamon into your coffee, or add it to your coffee grounds before brewing.
• Add a dash or two of cinnamon to hot oatmeal, overnight oats, or cold whole grain cereal.
• Fold cinnamon into yogurt, along with cooked, chilled quinoa, fresh cut fruit, and nuts or seeds.
• Freeze cinnamon in ice cubes to add zest and aroma to water or cocktails.
• Season roasted or grilled fruit with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
• Stir cinnamon into almond butter, or any nut or seed butter, and use as a dip for fresh apple or pear wedges or a filling for celery.
• Add a pinch of cinnamon to lentil or black bean soup, or vegetarian chili.
• Season roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, spaghetti, and butternut squash with a pinch of cinnamon.
• Sprinkle a little cinnamon onto popped popcorn.
• Stir a little cinnamon into melted dark chocolate and drizzle over whole nuts to make spicy ‘bark’ or use as a dip or coating for fresh fruit.

NOTE: While cinnamon is healthful, just be sure not to overdo it. Don’t take cinnamon supplements unless they have been prescribed by your physician.

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http://www.thestreet.com/story/12964955/1/the-10-most-socialist-states-in-america.html?puc=yahoo&cm_ven=YAHOO

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http://www.cbsnews.com/news/china-turns-to-drastic-measures-to-avoid-water-crisis/

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The “Potsdam Gravity Potato” Shows Variations in Earth’s Gravity

The Earth’s gravitational model (aka the “Potsdam Potato”) is based on data from the LAGEOS, GRACE, and GOCE satellites and surface data. Credit: GFZ

http://www.universetoday.com/116801/the-potsdam-gravity-potato-shows-earths-gravity-variations/

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Blu-Ray-Disc-and-Solar-cells

Researchers at Northwestern University have accidentally discovered that Blu-ray discs technology could be used to make vastly improved solar cells.

Blu-ray discs were introduced as a means to store high-definition video content. However, the quasi-random nanostructures found within those discs, could provide solar cells with better conductivity.

Researchers were comparing the techniques behind the working of both Blu-ray discs and solar cells, when they realized that quasi-random nanostructures are used by both devices, but with different methods.

The discovery was led by researchers Jiaxing Huang and Cheng Sun. They foun that transferring a Blu-ray disc’s strings of binary code, 0s and 1s (embedded as quasi-random nanopatterns of pits and islands), on the polymer cell surface, increased the amount of light absorbed by the cell.

Solar cells absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. Researchers found that “If the cell surface is textured, it absorbs light more strongly, thanks to light scattering, which helps the light travel longer distances through the cell before exiting it.” That process happens across the whole range of solar spectrum wavelengths.

Quasi-random structures are the best means for creating better solar cells, however, they are usually hard to create and are expensive to mass produce. By discovering that the patterns in Blu-ray movie discs fulfill this purpose really well, the cost and difficulty in creating the quasi-random textures have been removed from the equation.

Researchers discovered their ground-breaking research by first taking off the protective coating on a Blu-ray movie disc, and then using an elastomer to copy and move the patterns on a polymer solar cell with the help of a specialized imprinting technique.

Further research is still needed, but it appears at least on the surface, that stronger solar cells may be on the way courtesy of Blu-ray discs.

It’s fun to think that the copy of Scarface sitting on my shelf might house the technology needed to lead our future towards better power management.

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Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a move that was unprecedented at the time and remains unmatched by succeeding administrations. He announced a War on Poverty, saying that its “chief weapons” would be “better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities.”

So starting in 1964 and for almost a decade, the federal government poured at least some of its resources in the direction they should have been going all along: toward those who were most in need. Longstanding programs like Head Start, Legal Services, and the Job Corps were created. Medicaid was established. Poverty among seniors was significantly reduced by improvements in Social Security.

Johnson seemed to have established the principle that it is the responsibility of government to intervene on behalf of the disadvantaged and deprived. But there was never enough money for the fight against poverty, and Johnson found himself increasingly distracted by another and deadlier war—the one in Vietnam.

Although underfunded, the War on Poverty still managed to provoke an intense backlash from conservative intellectuals and politicians.

In their view, government programs could do nothing to help the poor because poverty arises from the twisted psychology of the poor themselves. By the Reagan era, it had become a cornerstone of conservative ideology that poverty is caused not by low wages or a lack of jobs and education, but by the bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles of the poor.

Picking up on this theory, pundits and politicians have bemoaned the character failings and bad habits of the poor for at least the past 50 years. In their view, the poor are shiftless, irresponsible, and prone to addiction. They have too many children and fail to get married. So if they suffer from grievous material deprivation, if they run out of money between paychecks, if they do not always have food on their tables—then they have no one to blame but themselves.

In the 1990s, with a bipartisan attack on welfare, this kind of prejudice against the poor took a drastically misogynistic turn. Poor single mothers were identified as a key link in what was called “the cycle of poverty.” By staying at home and collecting welfare, they set a toxic example for their children, who—important policymakers came to believe—would be better off being cared for by paid child care workers or even, as Newt Gingrich proposed, in orphanages.

Welfare “reform” was the answer, and it was intended not only to end financial support for imperiled families, but also to cure the self-induced “culture of poverty” that was supposedly at the root of their misery.

The original welfare reform bill—a bill, it should be recalled, which was signed by President Bill Clinton—included an allocation of $100 million for “chastity training” for low-income women.

The Great Recession should have put the victim-blaming theory of poverty to rest. In the space of only a few months, millions of people entered the ranks of the officially poor—not only laid-off blue-collar workers, but also downsized tech workers, managers, lawyers, and other once-comfortable professionals. No one could accuse these “nouveau poor” Americans of having made bad choices or bad lifestyle decisions.

They were educated, hardworking, and ambitious, and now they were also poor—applying for food stamps, showing up in shelters, lining up for entry-level jobs in retail.

This would have been the moment for the pundits to finally admit the truth: Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money.

For most women in poverty, in both good times and bad, the shortage of money arises largely from inadequate wages.

When I worked on my book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I took jobs as a waitress, nursing-home aide, hotel housekeeper, Wal-Mart associate, and a maid with a house-cleaning service.

I did not choose these jobs because they were low-paying. I chose them because these are the entry-level jobs most readily available to women.

What I discovered is that in many ways, these jobs are a trap: They pay so little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a second job. And in many of these jobs, even young women soon begin to experience the physical deterioration—especially knee and back problems—that can bring a painful end to their work life.

I was also dismayed to find that in some ways, it is actually more expensive to be poor than not poor. If you can’t afford the first month’s rent and security deposit you need in order to rent an apartment, you may get stuck in an overpriced residential motel. If you don’t have a kitchen or even a refrigerator and microwave, you will find yourself falling back on convenience store food, which—in addition to its nutritional deficits—is also alarmingly overpriced. If you need a loan, as most poor people eventually do, you will end up paying an interest rate many times more than what a more affluent borrower would be charged. To be poor—especially with children to support and care for—is a perpetual high-wire act.

Most private-sector employers offer no sick days, and many will fire a person who misses a day of work, even to stay home with a sick child. A nonfunctioning car can also mean lost pay and sudden expenses. A broken headlight invites a ticket, plus a fine greater than the cost of a new headlight, and possible court costs. If a creditor decides to get nasty, a court summons may be issued, often leading to an arrest warrant. No amount of training in financial literacy can prepare someone for such exigencies—or make up for an income that is impossibly low to start with. Instead of treating low-wage mothers as the struggling heroines they are, our political culture still tends to view them as miscreants and contributors to the “cycle of poverty.”

If anything, the criminalization of poverty has accelerated since the recession, with growing numbers of states drug testing applicants for temporary assistance, imposing steep fines for school truancy, and imprisoning people for debt. Such measures constitute a cruel inversion of the Johnson-era principle that it is the responsibility of government to extend a helping hand to the poor. Sadly, this has become the means by which the wealthiest country in the world manages to remain complacent in the face of alarmingly high levels of poverty: by continuing to blame poverty not on the economy or inadequate social supports, but on the poor themselves.

It’s time to revive the notion of a collective national responsibility to the poorest among us, who are disproportionately women and especially women of color. Until that happens, we need to wake up to the fact that the underpaid women who clean our homes and offices, prepare and serve our meals, and care for our elderly—earning wages that do not provide enough to live on—are the true philanthropists of our society.

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