Monday, March 31, 2008

PSA: Cellphones may be more dangerous than asbestos or smoking

Two years ago, a coworker stopped using her cellphone. Just like that. She called the phone company and quit. She had said that she was afraid of the radiation. I admired her courage. She began carrying a little phone list and a pocket full of quarters. And, it turns out, it was doable. Now, it seems, she was right!

Mobile phones 'more dangerous than smoking'

Brain expert warns of huge rise in tumours and calls on industry to take immediate steps to reduce radiation

By Geoffrey Lean
Sunday, 30 March 2008

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.

He admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes that "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours". He believes this will be "definitively proven" in the next decade.

Noting that malignant brain tumours represent "a life-ending diagnosis", he adds: "We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation." He fears that "unless the industry and governments take immediate and decisive steps", the incidence of malignant brain tumours and associated death rate will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by which time it may be far too late to intervene medically.

"It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking," says Professor Khurana, who told the IoS his assessment is partly based on the fact that three billion people now use the phones worldwide, three times as many as smoke. Smoking kills some five million worldwide each year, and exposure to asbestos is responsible for as many deaths in Britain as road accidents.

Late last week, the Mobile Operators Association dismissed Khurana's study as "a selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual". It believes he "does not present a balanced analysis" of the published science, and "reaches opposite conclusions to the WHO and more than 30 other independent expert scientific reviews".

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I wish I could wake up one day knowing Kung Fu!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"If there's ever the slightest bit of a chance..."

I read this story from the AP a couple of days ago and it reminded me of something I had told my wife a while ago... "if there's ever the slightest bit of a chance of me surviving, don't pull the plug." Slightly selfish? Perhaps.

I like to think of it as hopeful. As long as there's hope, and there are people praying for me, I believe there's a chance. Zach Dunlap got his chance. He's back and I hope he gets to kick some butt. It's not often you get a second chance. Read on:

OKLAHOMA CITY - Four months after he was declared brain dead and doctors were about to remove his organs for transplant, Zach Dunlap says he feels "pretty good."

Dunlap was pronounced dead Nov. 19 at United Regional Healthcare System in Wichita Falls, Texas, after he was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. His family approved having his organs harvested.

As family members were paying their last respects, he moved his foot and hand. He reacted to a pocketknife scraped across his foot and to pressure applied under a fingernail. After 48 days in the hospital, he was allowed to return home, where he continues to work on his recovery.

On Monday, he and his family were in New York, appearing on NBC's "Today."

"I feel pretty good. but it's just hard ... just ain't got the patience," Dunlap told NBC.

Dunlap, 21, of Frederick, said he has no recollection of the crash.

"I remember a little bit that was about an hour before the accident happened. But then about six hours before that, I remember," he said.

Dunlap said one thing he does remember is hearing the doctors pronounce him dead.

"I'm glad I couldn't get up and do what I wanted to do," he said.

Asked if he would have wanted to get up and shake them and say he's alive, Dunlap responded: "Probably would have been a broken window that went out."

His father, Doug, said he saw the results of the brain scan.

"There was no activity at all, no blood flow at all."

Zach's mother, Pam, said that when she discovered he was still alive, "That was the most miraculous feeling."

"We had gone, like I said, from the lowest possible emotion that a parent could feel to the top of the mountains again," she said.

She said her son is doing "amazingly well," but still has problems with his memory as his brain heals from the traumatic injury.

"It may take a year or more ... before he completely recovers," she said. "But that's OK. It doesn't matter how long it takes. We're just all so thankful and blessed that we have him here."

Dunlap now has the pocketknife that was scraped across his foot, causing the first reaction.

"Just makes me thankful, makes me thankful that they didn't give up," he said. "Only the good die young, so I didn't go."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Caption this!

I'm not sure what to make of this. Don't even know where it is - though from the spelling of "cheques" I imagine it's across the pond. Your assignment: Come up with the best caption. Best caption wins a prize.

Thanks to American Papist for this picture.

Monday, March 24, 2008

to Lent or not to Lent

After 40+ days of no television or take out, Wendy and I gave in like the closeted gluttons we have been yesterday. We watched a few hours of television and ordered take out from our favorite local Chinese restaurant.

The food didn't taste as great as I remembered and there was nothing to watch on TV.

By mid-afternoon I was feeling dizzy and had a headache. My stomach didn't feel great last night.

Then, pain woke me up this morning. Bad stomach pains. Not sure if I just had a bad batch of Chinese Food or if my stomach couldn't handle junk after 40 days. In any case, I have no appetite and I still feel my intestines cramping.

As painful as it is, this will hopefully diminish our craving for junky food. Lent works!

Thank God I don't have to do this again 'til next year :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You are Rock!

As you can probably tell, I've been watching a lot of online videos recently. It has to do with giving up TV for Lent. Next year I'm going to have to give up the internet - but please don't quote me on that.

Recently I found this video on

I think it's a great ad. "We are the Catholic Church!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Bridge.

I watched this about six months ago and it made me cry then. Just watched it with Wendy and we both teared up again. Make sure you have the tissues handy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saved by Love

The cheese is about to hit the fan...

Last night, Wendy and I went to try and meet up with her cousin who is performing at Calvary Baptist Church tonight. Unfortunately we missed her by a few minutes but are working hard at getting a lot of work done so that we can go and enjoy her performance tonight.

Well, we went to the movies and dinner - a date night! At dinner we were recounting the story of the hand (see yesterday's post). I told her about my attempt to put my wedding ring back on but it being too painful. We talked about how lucky I was that I basically had a tiny bit of swelling and a bruise-like pain, when I thought, I wonder if my wedding ring saved my hand?

I took my wedding ring off and placed it on the restaurant table. I studied it closely and what had been a perfect circle just a few weeks ago was now very slightly oval. Actually, a little more like almost imperceptibly flatter on two opposite sides. I think the ring took some of the "hit."

There were a number of things that had to go right in order for me to walk away with very little damage:
1- Bob's car has rubber liners on the door frame.
2- My ring probably took some of the impact and protected my fingers.
3- My body is unbreakable. *

Considering that the door was pulled closed, was completely closed, latched closed, there were some things that had to work out just right for me to just walk away with pain. Today, the pink is even gone though my fingers are still slightly swollen and it still hurts when I try to put my wedding ring on.

My hand was saved by my wedding ring. I was saved by love. [Insert crowd, "Aww" here]

* This claim is under review by the SuperHeroes Guild of America. Results will not be published.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Holy #*(&!

Father Stewart, the Pastor at St. Brendan's, often reminds us that when death looms near, people are often not in the mindset to make their peace with God. As he says, as the motorcycle is crashing into the pole, the driver rarely has the time to think of God. Instead, they're probably thinking, "Oh ....!"

It's his way of reminding us that every day is our time to make our peace with God. Cuz you never know.

Yesterday I had an "Oh ....!" moment. Granted, it came nowhere near to being a near-death experience. However, I found that in my time of pain and distress I did not think of God or ask for His help. Instead I simply felt pain and cursed out loud and ran and laughed and cried.

Just yesterday afternoon, I had pulled out my Magnificat, a prayer guide, and read in Psalm 18: In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried out to my God; From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

About two hours later I was getting into my friend Bob's car, on our way up to an evening of dinner and games with friends. Bob sat in the driver's seat, my wife Wendy scooted into the back seat behind him. As I dropped my backback in the space next to Wendy, I used the open door frame of the front passenger side as support as I made my way in. Unfortunately for my hand, I didn't realize that Ciara, Bob's girlfriend, had already taken her seat in the front and was preparing to close her door. And then she did.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" I stood straight up and and screamed.

From inside the car I heard yells of, "What? What's going on?"

"Holy #*(&!" I continued. Seeing as the pain seemed to intensify with every millisecond and my hand was still stuck, I tried, in vain, to use my right hand to pull open the door. Door stuck hard, my brain processed.

Inside the car, Wendy finally realized what was wrong when she saw my four fingers wiggling inside the car and the front passenger door completely closed. She somehow managed to tell Ciara to open her door and my beautiful, fragile hand was released. The whole thing couldn't have lasted more than five seconds but in those seconds I experienced pain and desperation. When my hand was released, there was more pain.

I doubled over, my eyes tearing, as Wendy, Bob, and Ciara tried to assess how bad it was and what they had to do for me. I briefly looked at my hand and saw pink and holes. The pain felt worse and I took off running down the street, right hand cradling the left. I don't know if it was the tears in my eyes or the pain, but as I ran I realized the world was a blur. I couldn't see. Had it not been for that I might've run from Harlem to Times Square and back. Wendy called for me to stop and I did, still bouncing, crying, and now laughing from the pain. Ciara yelled at Bob to be a man and help me with my broken hand. He asked to see my hand but I could only hold still for a second, I still felt the need to keep my body moving.

After another minute or two of bouncing, I was calm enough to stop and really assess the hand trauma. Luckily what I saw as pink was just my skin reacting to being stuck in a door. The holes I saw were deep dents from where my hand had contorted to the door and frame edges. I tried moving my hand and managed a slight wiggle of fingers. When Ciara told Bob to get me to a hospital, I told them I thought I'd be OK, nothing broken. Though there was still lots of crying and laughing.

Ciara had the wisdom to tell me to take my wedding ring off so that my finger wouldn't swell around it. The fingers swelled slightly but thankfully nothing monstrous.

We made our way to our friend Bill's apartment who was waiting for us with two ice packs and Advil. I was in pain last night, but still enjoyed a great night of vegan dinner and Scattergories with friends. This morning the hand and fingers are lightly pink, still slightly swollen and the top of my hand is tender to the touch. Running water feels like millions of needles. But, I can move my hand.

I thank God now that I know how lucky I was. It's the smallest bit of a miracle that my hands aren't purple, broken, or bloody. It was a gift that I was still able to enjoy the great company of friends last night. In the laughter of friendship there is no pain.

I can see, as Father Stewart said, that when you're suffering your first thoughts aren't always about God. But, as Psalm 92 reminded me this morning: It is good to give thanks to the Lord.

I can't turn back time, and to be honest, I wouldn't want to, but looking forward there's a lot to be grateful for.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Extreme Room Makeover for Sick kids

From the Des Moines Register:

For six years, Nancy Berg of Waukee couldn't get the idea out of her head.

In 2002, she read about an Ohio-based nonprofit that redecorated bedrooms for sick kids. Since then, the mother of three kept revisiting the concept, believing a similar project was her purpose in life.

A tragic accident finally put her dream into action.

Berg initially contacted the Ohio group after reading about its work, but discovered starting a nonprofit is cumbersome. She needed a business plan and a foundation, and the Ohio nonprofit wanted a share of her proceeds.

Still, she held the idea.

"I'd bring it up every two or three months to somebody," said Berg, who works in public relations. She wanted to help, not only children with illnesses but also those who had been injured in an accident or who were dealing with disabilities.

"I just have a passion to do something better and do something for the community where I live, and I'm good at organizing and love decorating and painting," she said.

"Kids are my passion and going over the top for their bedrooms is my little pet project."

Finally, her friend, Amy Brown, decided to help. She said the words that kicked Berg into action: "Let's find a project."

Berg said she thought about a recent e-mail she'd received about a teacher who had been in a car accident. Berg realized she already knew the family who might benefit.

They decided to call their new organization Project Dream Space.


Before April 11, 2007, the Julseth family of Earlham had plans to move to a different house, a home where each of the children could have a bedroom.

A car accident changed that.

Jacy, then 6, was in the hospital for nearly a month afterward, healing in a full-body cast. Robin, his mom, a Waukee elementary school teacher, was in the hospital for more than a month.

"Jacy lacerated his intestines, groin, liver, and broke his back and had multiple fractures," Robin said. "I had multiple fractures to my hip. I was trapped under the dashboard. ... I broke my ankle and heel. ... They had trouble getting my foot out. And I have tons of nerve damage."

Suddenly, the family had new plans to follow: a long schedule of surgeries.

They had a pile of hospital bills and Robin was confined to a wheelchair. A new house was nowhere on the agenda. Instead, she and her son were literally stuck in their old house. He wasn't allowed to go outside and her injuries kept her in the chair.

"Just getting outside and enjoying the sunlight was not something we could do," she said.


Berg arranged to meet the Julseths in May.

"Amy and I walked through the door and Jacy said, 'Are you here to paint my room?' " Berg said.

Berg had hopes for an even bigger improvement. She had mentioned the project to a builder, D.J. Schad of Destination Homes. Their sons played on the same soccer team.

"I approached (Schad) and I said, 'I have three plans. Plan one is to build a bedroom.' And the builder said, 'Done,' " she said.

Berg's to-do list grew longer from there.

They repainted the house, resided the exterior, added landscaping, replaced the windows and turned the porch into an entryway and closet.

"Jacy loves science and space, so they gave him his own little laboratory with a sink and a fridge where he can do experiments," Robin said. Project Dream Space decorated the room with a picture of Einstein and his famous discovery, "E=mc."

His sister, Addison, received a room makeover, too. The team painted her room with a woodland princess scene.

While the accident disrupted life for months, Robin said the family has been blessed, not only with the makeover but also with support from friends and family who helped keep the household in order while Robin was recovering.

Living in the improved space has eased the stress of adjusting to the accident.

"It's wonderful," Robin said. "Because of the accident, it takes a couple of years to settle the insurance.

You have to wait until the surgeries are done until you get a settlement. So there would be no way we could move.... And (paying for) all my equipment, the wheelchair, ramps, bathroom shower chair.

"We were thinking, 'this is how it will be for two years, and it'll be tight.'"

Instead, their old home feels almost like a new one.

"It's wonderful," Robin said. "It was a load off our heads. It looks like a brand new house on the inside.

"We're at home now."

Which is more than Berg had hoped to achieve with her first project. She's now fundraising and seeking kids to help with Project Dream Space. She is also seeking people to form a board of directors for the organization and leadership team.

She hopes to eventually expand the organization to tackle projects throughout central Iowa.

"I want a stash of funds for the accidents and sudden situations that come up, so we're able to help a child immediately," she said. "I also want to have some funds on hand where we can help children that are new to a wheelchair or have a long-term illness."