Archive for August, 2005

Family Budgets Will Be Strained By New Gas Prices

If you haven’t heard the news already, gas prices are expected to rise into the $4/gallon range. Although families with SUVs will most certainly feel the pain at the pump, many other families who are on very limited budgets will feel it the most. In many cases, there are families that will have to either forgo travel, or not be able to pay their utilities or buy food.

If you’re in a position to give financially, now might be a good time to be looking out for those who need financial assistance. There are literally thousands of single moms out there who need their vehicle to transport their children, buy groceries, and to get to work (in order to pay for everything). It literally means the world to someone in that position to not have to worry about being delinquent on payments, and knowing that they’ll be able to provide food and shelter for their kids.

Sometimes, the best gift is an anonymous gift to someone you know who is in need. Another way to help out families in need is to contact local charities or churches, and to make a donation to a fund that goes directly to these families.

Posted in Finance, Vacation and Travel | No Comments »

Contacting Family And Friends After A Disaster

In light of hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross has released tips on how to best contact friends and family after a disaster. They recommend people follow these tips to help ensure that friends and family know that you’re safe.

Posted in Lifestyles | No Comments »

A Little Pregnant - One Woman’s Public Struggle With Infertility

Julie is in her thirties, and lives in a small town in New England. Julie has fertility problems, which have included several IUIs and four rounds of IVF, which ended in an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, a negative, and a current pregnancy respectively.

When Julie started to try to get pregnant, she started a personal journal. As the days wore on, it became clear to her that she wasn’t going to have an easy time conceiving. She spent a lot of time scouring the Internet to learn more about what was happening to her, but she wasn’t always able to find the kind of information that would have helped her.

This led her to continue her journal in a more public way. She offered insights into procedures, and also expressed the emotional turmoil that accompanies them. She didn’t know how popular her website was going to be. All she knew was that she wanted her experience to be public, and that it would hopefully help others who might be going through the same thing. As it turned out, there were a lot of people who were going through the same thing, and she began to gather a large community of women that began to follow and discuss their experiences on her website.

Her blog chronicles much of her struggle with infertility. She allows comments on her website, which allows visitors to respond and communicate with Julie and the other visitors. You can visit her blog at http://www.alittlepregnant.com/.

Posted in Pregnancy, Infertility | No Comments »

Can Eating Less Make You Live Longer?

Ever since scientists began to understand the relationships between metabolism and caloric intake, many people have theorized that eating less can help you live longer. The idea is that slowing down the rate that one burns calories, will slow down one’s metabolism, and will subsequently slow down aging.

Recent research from UCLA has found that there’s some truth to this, but not as much as many might think.

Severely restricting calories over decades may add a few years to a human life span, but will not enable humans to live to 125 and beyond, as many have speculated, evolutionary biologists report.

“Our message is that suffering years of misery to remain super-skinny is not going to have a big payoff in terms of a longer life,” said UCLA evolutionary biologist John Phelan. “I once heard someone say caloric restriction may not make you live forever, but it sure would seem like it. Try to maintain a healthy body weight, but don’t deprive yourself of all pleasure. Moderation appears to be a more sensible solution.

So, as usual, moderation wins out over extremity. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to your health, it’s often best to steer near the middle of the road. Otherwise, if you go to far to the right or left, you may find yourself stranded on the side of the road.

Full Story

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating | No Comments »

New Study Suggests No Link Between Stress And IVF Success

WebMD is reporting on a new study from Sweden that suggests stress doesn’t play a role in the success or failure of conceiving through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Researchers assessed stress levels among women undergoing their first in vitro fertilization treatment and found similar pregnancy rates in women reporting high levels of anxiety and depression and women who did not…

…Of the 139 women who had embryos available for transfer, 58 became pregnant and 81 did not. The researchers show there was no difference in the emotional status during treatment in women who became pregnant and those who didn’t.

Although the research may give hope to those going through IVF treatment, the President of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) had this to say:

“Some of the studies are reassuring while others suggest that stress may be detrimental to IVF success rate…One of the problems is that it is difficult to measure the impact of stress with the tools we have.”

Full Story

Posted in Pregnancy, Infertility | 1 Comment »

New Research Sheds Light On Dangers Of High Cholesterol

Research by a Michigan State University cardiologist published in the September edition of Clinical Cardiology has shed new light on the role that cholesterol plays in causing heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events in humans.

The work of George Abela, a professor in MSU’s Department of Medicine and chief of the department’s cardiology section, finds that cholesterol that has built up along the wall of an artery and crystallized from a liquid to a solid state can expand and then burst, sending material into the bloodstream.

It is this chain of events — the expansion of the liquid cholesterol as it crystallizes into a solid — that kick-starts the body’s natural clotting process which, unfortunately in this case, works against the body, essentially shutting down the artery.

“As the cholesterol crystallizes, two things can happen,” Abela said. “If it’s a big pool of cholesterol, it will expand and just tear the cap off the deposit in the arterial wall. Or the crystals, which are sharp, needle-like structures, poke their way through the membrane covering the cholesterol deposit, like nails through wood.”

It is the presence of the cholesterol crystals and other debris material released by the plaque rupture into the bloodstream that activates the clotting mechanism.

“What the clotting system is doing is reacting to an injury in the artery,” he said. “Once a rupture or erosion of the surface of the artery occurs, then the clotting system is activated to do its job.”

Abela compared the crystallization of the cholesterol to putting a plastic bottle of water into a freezer. Over time the water freezes and expands, pushing its way out of the bottle or breaking the bottle altogether.

What this work also means is that physicians and other health care providers now have another weapon in their arsenal against cardiovascular disease.

“So far, treatments have not been focused on this process,” Abela said. “Now we have a target to attack with the various approaches we have. In the past, we’ve treated the various stages that lead to this final stage, rather than preventing or treating this final stage of the condition.”

Abela stressed that it remains imperative that people use diet and exercise to keep cholesterol levels low.

“This really drives the point home how important cholesterol control can be,” he said.

Until now, scientists had thought that inflammation of the wall had caused the breakdown of the cap that kept the cholesterol in the arterial plaque from rupturing. Abela said his findings don’t necessarily discount the inflammation theory, but rather add another dimension to it.

“As the crystals form, they dig their way through the wall of the artery, and that may be a trigger for the inflammation,” he said. “Inflammation is a normal mechanism, one that kicks in to repair the damage. That is why it is common to see inflammation at the site of these events.”

The research was conducted in Abela’s lab, research that he said was “as simple as science can get.”

Essentially, Abela and colleagues took varying amounts of cholesterol, reduced it to a liquid form, and then watched it expand as it solidified. In doing so, it tore through thin biological membranes.

“After the cholesterol crystallized, its volume was about 45 percent larger than what we started with,” he said. “And the entire process took all of about three minutes.”

Posted in Health | No Comments »

Good Writers Are Hard To Find

FamilyResource.com has many different and broad categories, because family life is diverse. Although I have a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, and Counseling Psychology (with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy), there are many areas where my knowledge simply bottoms out.

Fortunately, I met Will Sherman a few months ago at a Meet the Google Engineers party at WebmasterWorld’s conference in New Orleans. Although our meeting was brief, he told me about how his company, The Content Writer, helps content-based websites create high quality, original content for areas of their website that they need help on.

Since then, I’ve used Will’s company to write several high quality articles for my Lifestyles and Finance sections. His articles were not only affordable, they were also very well written, and designed to help users find my content through search engines. If you’re looking for an excellent content writer for your website, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with Will. For more information, visit his website at http://www.thecontentwriter.com/.

Posted in Lifestyles, Writing | No Comments »

Help Keep Wikimedia Alive

Wikimedia, the organization behind Wikipedia.org and Wikibooks, which I wrote an article on recently, need public support to keep going.

Did you know that Wikipedia.org alone gets 800 million hits a day? I sure didn’t, but it makes sense. Wikimedia believes that knowledge is power, and that it should be free. That’s exactly what services like Wikipedia.org do. In fact, whenever I want to look something up, or need to know what an obscure acronym means, the first place I go is Wikipedia.org.

If you find Wikimedia’s services helpful in your daily life, and you believe in making knowledge freely accessible to everyone, then please consider donating some money to keep their projects going strong.

Make a donation

Posted in Technology, Websites | No Comments »

Is Soy Good For Your Diet? Yes…Sort Of…Well We’re Just Not Sure

An evidence review, conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), found surprising results in their study on the daily consumption of soy. Although they found that soy contributed to a small reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and tryglyceride levels, they couldn’t find evidence of any other benefits.

The study found that much of the research conducted on the benefits of soy consumption were limited in number, of poor quality, or their duration was too short to lead to definite conclusions. This means that even though many nutritionist and scientist believe that soy is good for you, they still can’t prove it.

The purpose of releasing the report was to encourage researchers who are studying soy to better address the complex relationship between health and food components, including how variations in the diets, lifestyles, and health of participants might affect the results. Such studies should also be of better quality, include larger numbers of participants, and be of longer duration, the researchers said. In particular, studies that substitute practical amounts of soy products into people’s diets would better address the question of whether people should make the effort to include more soy in their diet.

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating | No Comments »

What Is RSS (Really Simple Syndication)?

I felt inspired to do a post on RSS feeds, because FamilyResource.com uses extensive use of RSS feeds, but a new survey on RSS claims that the majority of the public has no clue what RSS feeds are. This post is my attempt to explain RSS feeds in plain English.

There are millions of websites on the Internet. As you surf the Internet, you will occasionally come across a website that has interesting content. How do you remember that website? How do you know when there are new articles on that website? Many people will bookmark the website, but bookmarks quickly become huge and unwieldy, and before you know it, you ignore your bookmark list altogether. Bookmarks also can’t tell you if there’s new content available, and if there is, what the new content is.

The idea behind RSS is to give the ability for any user on the Internet to easily subscribe to content, on any website (that’s supports RSS), and to be updated when new content is available. There are a couple ways to subscribe to and use RSS feeds.

First, you can use an RSS reader. An RSS reader is either an application or website that allows you to add RSS feeds. You add a RSS feed by copying the RSS feed link (similar to a regular web address for a bookmark), and then adding it to your reader. Once the RSS reader has the feed, it will automatically, and systematically check for updates. When you open your RSS reader application, or view your web-based RSS reader, you will be presented with all of the new content for the websites you’re subscribed to.

A second way to use RSS feeds is to use a browser that support RSS feeds as bookmarks. For example, Firefox and Safari web browsers support the ability to add RSS feeds as bookmarks. The only difference is that the browser will look for new content on your RSS feeds, and display a number next to the RSS feed bookmark (the number designates that there’s new content). This isn’t an ideal way to use RSS feeds, but some people prefer the simplicity of this feature.

The easiest way to subscribe to feeds is through a web-based RSS reader. There are several to choose from, and most of them are free. Below is a list of the most popular web-based RSS readers:

Web-based RSS readers keep you inside your web browser, so you don’t have to worry about switching between different applications. Another advantage to using web-based RSS readers is that many sites, like FamilyResource.com, will have easy link-buttons that will automatically take you to your web-based RSS reader, and subscribe to the RSS feed for you. I take full advantage of this feature, and have put these link-buttons on almost every page of FamilyResource.com to make it easier for users to subscribe to our RSS feeds.

Once you start using RSS feeds on a regular basis, you’ll start to wonder how you ever got along without them. They do exactly what the name says — really simple syndication. I check my RSS reader (Bloglines) throughout the day, and am able to sanely keep up with the websites and content that I’m most interested in.

Check out Wikipedia for more information on RSS

Posted in Technology, Websites | No Comments »

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