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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pets Remain Priority for Displaced Californians Fleeing Homes From Wildfires
By Sara Bonisteel

Sara Bonisteel/
A kitten enjoys some attention at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, Calif.

DEL MAR, Calif. — Troyann Chappell needed help this week when she evacuated from Spring Valley to flee the fires. Not only did she have to get her 92-year-old friend Adele MacAdam out, she also had to take with her 14 cats, two dogs, three rats, a cockatoo and a parakeet.

Hers was a plight facing many displaced Californians who couldn't bear leaving home without their pets. What they found were shelters willing to accommodate the animals along with the people.

"It was quite a variety," said Amy Maher, the board chairwoman of Noah's Wish, a pet charity that sent 30 personnel to Qualcomm Stadium Monday night. "People evacuated everything: chickens, ducks, dogs, cats, horses, llamas, goats. We had a lot of birds."

Noah's Wish, which has provided assistance for other natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, offered shelter for around 200 animals at the stadium and provided food, water and veterinary assistance for evacuees and their pets.

Maher said evacuees heeded the warning that if it's not safe for them, it's not safe for their pets.

"A lot of people took that to heart and got them out of there which is a really good thing," she said.

Veterinarian Dr. Richard Tramp took in about 40 horses and their owners at his horse breeding business, Exclusively Equine Reproduction in Valley Center, Calif.

"People had gone through it before and just knew it was time to move," Tramp said.

In San Diego County, the nation's most horse-populated county, moving the equines to safety was a priority.

Del Mar Fairgrounds, which doubles as a racetrack, stabled around 1,900 horses with many of the owners bunking in the jockey quarters.

"As of Monday afternoon, for the first time ever in history, we started taking human evacuations with their domestic pets – dogs, cats, all kinds of things," said Kina Paegert, a spokeswoman for the fairgrounds.

Though many had gone home by Friday, Paegert expected several hundred new equine evacuees from San Clemente in Orange County Saturday.

That's where Chappell bunked Friday night with her pets – including 7-week-old kittens she hopes to give up for adoption, her daughter and MacAdam. The group had traveled north from Qualcomm when it closed Friday.

At Del Mar, the humans lounged on cots next to the animals, which slept in cages donated by Noah's Wish.

"They're doing pretty good," Chappell said of her pets. "I'm sure they would like to be out. Every time I open the door to feed and water 'em they want to get out. I hold them and pet them and try to give each of them a few minutes."

They'll return, she said, once they get the all-clear.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Alzheimer's: Mementos help preserve memories
Alzheimer's steals away memories, but tangible mementos can help people remember their past.

Your life is like a tapestry, woven from your memories of people and events. Some threads are dark, while others are bright. Your individual tapestry shines vividly in your mind, reminding you of who you are, where you've been and what you've done.

Alzheimer's disease gradually robs people of the memories that make up their tapestries. You can help mend these holes by creating a tangible repository of memories — in a scrapbook, videotape or audiotape.

"Caregivers become the memory for their loved one with Alzheimer's disease," says Glenn Smith, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. "By gathering memories, you can bring important events and experiences from your loved one's past into the present. You're the link to his or her life history."

Store memories externally

Memories can be preserved in many ways. You can:
Write them in a journal
Create a scrapbook with photos, newspaper clippings, letters and postcards, greeting cards, sketches, poetry and musical verses
Store mementos in a special box or chest
Create a video or audio recording of personal stories

Interview your loved one

You may want to start by interviewing your relative or friend about his or her family history, nationality, heritage, traditions and celebrations. Ask about favorite sports, books, music and hobbies. You may want to ask about cultural and historical events. Go all the way back to childhood. Childhood games, homes and pets are good starting topics. As Alzheimer's progresses, your loved one will be less able to remember more recent events.

This is a great opportunity to reminisce, an activity that most people with Alzheimer's enjoy tremendously. Depending on the status of your relative's or friend's memory, you may also want to interview neighbors, co-workers, old friends and other family members and record their memories of your loved one.

Documents also help

Other sources of information can include old documents, important papers or personal correspondence. You may want to make copies of precious photos and documents so that they won't get lost or ruined. These types of scrapbooks typically get a lot of use.

"By creating a life story, you affirm for your loved one all the positive things he or she has done in life and can still do," says Dr. Smith. "Even after your relative's memories start to fade, creating a life story shows that you value and respect his or her legacy. It also reminds you who your loved one was before Alzheimer's disease."

Experts Sound Off on Workout Grunting
Some gym members object, but these noises may boost fitness
By E.J. Mundell,
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Jane Ross, a 42-year-old Boston area gym buff, is honest about it: When exercising, she sometimes grunts.

"I think it's part of going to a gym -- I grunt during a workout, and I think that most people do," said the mom and former personal trainer. "When you are exerting yourself, it's a release."

But not everyone is so accepting of those loud fitness club exhalations.

Late last year, Albert Argibay, a Wappinger Falls, N.Y., bodybuilder and state correction officer, was escorted by police out of the Planet Fitness gym he was a member of, after another member complained to management of his loud grunting during weightlifting.

Planet Fitness, a national chain, has a solid "no-grunting" policy in place and Argibay's noisemaking -- along with a resulting verbal tussle with management -- cost him his membership, The New York Times reported.

The story spawned headlines and much debate, with the grunt-prone lined up on one side and annoyed non-grunters on the other. The former say grunting boosts their workouts, while the latter claim it's just so much hot air.

Each side has its advocates.

Dennis O'Connell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and professor and chairman of physical therapy at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. He has led two studies assessing grunting's ability to maximize exercise output.

During the research, O'Connell had a variety of people lift a heavy dead weight and pull that weight upward until they straightened their bodies into an upright position. Participants were told to either grunt or stay quiet during the lift.

"Very experienced lifters that normally grunted when they lifted did have about a 1 percent improvement with grunting," O'Connell said.

That pattern was repeated with the other lifters who grunted, he added. "A group of college football players -- they, of course, also lifted weights fairly regularly -- showed a 2 percent improvement. And the untrained group -- graduate students in physical therapy -- had about a 5 percent increase," he said.

When these improvements were spread across the total group, they did not reach statistical significance, O'Connell noted, so there's no firm conclusion that grunting will always boost a gym-goer's performance.

"But, for some people, there was actually a small percentage increase when they grunted, in terms of the force produced," O'Connell said. For that reason, "I wouldn't be trying to tell people not to grunt," he said.

Just how these loud vocalizations might improve force output remains unclear. O'Connell said studies done elsewhere have suggested one theory -- that grunting quiets inhibitory nerves cells in the spinal cord. Those cells would normally impede the ability of muscles to contract and generate force, he said.

But other experts aren't sure any of that holds water.

"As far as anything going on physiologically [with grunting], I'm not aware of any data or studies that have revealed that," said Larry Birnbaum, an exercise physiologist based in Duluth, Minn.

"The only thing I can think of is that it's a psychological thing," he said. "But psychology is very important in sports in general -- if you think you can, it raises the possibility that you can."

Belisa Vranich, a sports psychologist for Gold's Gym Fitness in New York City, believes that for the average workout fan, grunting is probably unnecessary.

"Some people grunt to give others the impression that [the grunters] are doing a lot of work. It's just like flexing and strutting, trying to attract attention," she told the Orange County Register. "The other reason is a more physical one -- they're not breathing properly. In order to grunt, they have to hold their breath and exhale forcefully."

O'Connell said there might be a means of ending fitness-club feuds linked to grunting.

"I think that [gym goers] might look at deep breathing in and out without necessarily the vocalization," he said. Instead of that loud burst of sound, "they may try and practice giving a little less 'auditory stimulation' for the rest of us," O'Connell advised.

But Ross believes people should lighten up and accept the occasional grunt as part of the gym experience.

"I'm kind of in my own world when I'm at the gym, and I think most people are like that," she said. "So, between songs or if your iPod breaks, you're sometimes aware that people are grunting. And that's just the deal."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

5 fun, un-Halloween dates
By Margot Carmichael Lester

Since the 15th century (and perhaps even before that), some Christians have avoided celebrating Halloween because it glorified devils, goblins and witches. That wasn’t such a big deal when Halloween wasn’t one of the largest holidays going. But today, with American consumers spending $51 million on costumes, candy and decorations, it’s harder and harder to ignore.

But just because you don’t observe the holiday doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a different kind of trick or treat. To get you started, we came up with a list of festive ideas for doing your own thing the night before All Saints Day:

1. Focus on treats. Ask your single friends to bring another single person (not as a date, though) and copies of their favorite baked good or snack item. Then have everyone exchange recipes. “It’s a great way to start a conversation,” says Libby Langdon, lifestyle enthusiast, interior decorator and expert commentator on HGTV’s Small Space, Big Style. “Anyone who loves food and meets another person who shares that love will have plenty to talk about.”

2. Host a costume party. “Just because we’re down on Halloween doesn’t mean we’re down on parties,” notes Bitsy Morrell of Phenix City, AL. “Each year, we host a costume party of Biblical proportions. We invite people to dress up as their favorite character from the Bible. We even get some couples coming as animal pairs from the Ark. It’s great fun and keeps the holiday focused on something good.” Tip: Invite only your single friends and pass two hats: One for guys, one for gals. In each hat put the name of each Ark animal on two strips of paper. Each person picks one and has to find the person of the opposite sex who has the same species.

3. Get out of town. With the leaves turning and apples in harvest, why not leave the goblins and devils behind and head out of town for a very brief, middle-of-the-week mini vacation? “Look for destinations within an hour or two of your hometown,” counsels Sacramento-based travel agent Arik Anderson. “You’ll spend less time driving and have more time to walk in the woods, soak in the sights and have fun together.” Perhaps you want to plan a day trip to do some mission work to celebrate your faith in earnest. Working together on a religious mission can really strengthen your bond.

4. Attend a Bible study. “Our singles ministry holds a Bible study mixer with another church on Halloween that’s followed by a party,” says Daniel Bobbit of Denver, CO. “It’s a nice way to mix and mingle with other unattached people while everyone else in town is going nuts, and it virtually ensures you’ll meet at least a few eligible singles who share your religious views and values.” So your church isn’t planning anything? Take the lead and create a committee. That’ll make it easier to pull off, and you might meet someone nice in the process.

5. Go out to dinner. “Most nice restaurants are graveyards on Halloween,” says inveterate punster Patty Phillips of Seattle, WA. “It’s a great night to have a quiet dinner date and avoid the revelers and raiders who’re getting smashed or ringing your doorbell looking for candy handouts.” Why not plan a progressive evening: Have dinner at one place, dessert at another. Stretching out the evening is very romantic. And get dressed up—not in costumes, but in your Sunday best.

With these ideas, you’ve got plenty of fun and festive options for the 31st that allow you to celebrate the season in your own way.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Golden retriever nurses stray kitten
The Associated Press

Precious, right, a 6-week-old kitten, gets a meal from Honey, a 7-year-old dog Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2007 in Stephens City, Via. The golden retriever _ had not given birth in 18 months, but after her owner, Jimmy Martin, brought home the kitten, she suddenly found herself playing the role of mother. Honey began producing milk for the little feline after hearing its cries. (AP Photo/The Winchester Star, Scott Mason)

STEPHENS CITY, Va. --A stray kitten has found a new mother in a golden retriever, who began producing milk for the gray tabby after hearing its cries.

The hungry kitten, found in an old tire at a concrete plant, refused to drink from a bottle and her rescuers feared she would die. That's when Honey, the family dog who hadn't given birth in 18 months, stepped in with her motherly instincts.

"She started licking her and loving her. Within a couple of days, Honey started naturally lactating," said Kathy Martin, whose husband, Jimmy, brought the kitten home six weeks ago. "The kitten took right to her."

Initially, the family worried such a big dog would be too rough for the tiny feline named Precious. But Honey showed her elation at Precious' presence, wagging her tail and prancing all over the house.

Precious now sometimes plays with dog bones, and Honey lets the kitten gnaw on her like a puppy.

"She thinks she's a dog," Kathy Martin said. "She's really fit right in."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Good and the Grief
'Peanuts' creator Charles Schulz emerges as insecure and an emotionally distant father and husband in a new biography and documentary.
Web exclusive
By Sharon Begley

John Burgess / The Press Democrat-AP
Schulz, in a file photo from 1997

Oct. 7, 2007 - In the weeks before he died on Feb. 12, 2000, Charles Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” had been reading a new biography of the American illustrator N. C. Wyeth. Wyeth’s son Andrew, the American realist painter, was a fan of Schulz’s, and once sent him a drawing of his dog; Schulz returned the compliment by “hanging” (with pen and ink) a Wyeth in Snoopy’s doghouse. So when the author of a Wyeth biography, David Michaelis, called Schulz’s widow, Jean, to ask for her cooperation in a full-length biography of the man everyone called Sparky, she agreed. For seven years Jean “unlock[ed] doors in the world of Schulz,” recalls Michaelis, but left “me free to my own discoveries and conclusions.” Virtually everyone Schulz touched—from his first wife and his five children, who provided Michaelis with family papers and encouraged Schulz’s old friends and extended family to share their memories, to fellow cartoonists and the (real) Little Red Haired Girl who broke Charlie Brown’s and Schulz’s heart—cooperated with Michaelis. The result is the sweeping 655-page “Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography,” published next week. Later this month, PBS will air the documentary “Good Ol’ Charles Schulz” as part of its "American Masters" series.

The film is kinder to Schulz than the book, but anyone expecting a Schulz in “happiness is a warm puppy” mode will likely be disappointed. NEWSWEEK's Sharon Begley spoke to Michaelis last month in his second-floor brownstone apartment overlooking a quiet street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You essentially lived with Schulz for seven years. Did you wind up liking him?
David Michaelis: “Good grief” is the answer. There is a part of Sparky I like beyond like—I love and admire him. I love the boy who decided he would become a comic-strip artist—and did. He is Gatsby-esque in recognizing an extraordinariness in himself; he is surrounded by ordinariness [while growing up in Minnesota in the years before World War II] but sees in himself this spark of greatness and refuses to be swayed [when his early cartoons are repeatedly rejected]. Plus, the guy got up every morning, and gave his life to his work. He did a brilliant thing, recognizing his role in the world and sticking to it.

You write that Schulz created a myth of his childhood as one where no one noticed the “bland, stupid-looking kid,” as he described himself, but in reality “the authority figures of his childhood recognized Sparky as exceptional.” Why did he cling to the myth?
For a boy who grew up as he did [the son of a barber] to achieve what he did ... Ordinariness is how he lived his life. He had to back it up, including by telling everyone he was a loser. So he created this myth that he’d been put down, misjudged.

Another myth Schulz created about himself was that as a child, as he put it, “I don’t know what it was, but I certainly was not happy and carefree.” He also remembered that it was “almost impossible to go to the playground and enjoy yourself without some older, bigger kid coming and spoiling it,” and he talked about “kids that push you down and knock you over.” But none of his childhood friends back that up.
I just couldn’t find it. No one remembered any bullying. But with Sparky, it’s a sense of being abandoned, a fear of abandonment, that he’s talking about. When he rode the streetcar with [his mother] Dena, he was afraid that as more and more people got on at the stops, and crowded in between her and him, that she would get off without him. He struggled all his life with a package of anxiety, a sense of abandonment and of not being loved. His expression of that aloneness was continual, and in interviews he often said he felt alone—which is a strange remark for someone with five children. But for Sparky, it was a powerful myth, and very effective. Everyone I talked to said he was fun and funny, that he loved life, but it was complicated because he’d draw close to someone and then pull away. His children talk about how he never hugged them. On his honeymoon [with his first wife, Joyce Halverson, in 1951], he said to Joyce, “I don’t think I can ever be happy.” It wasn’t so much a prediction as a choice.

You put Schulz on the analyst’s couch, writing, “He thought of himself as a thwarted innocent, a lonely, misunderstood, good-hearted kid who wanted only to earn a little recognition for the things at which he was somehow masterful”—namely, his drawing. His perception that he never got that recognition gave him, you write, “an energizing sense of injury.” And you go into what I felt was excruciating detail about his affair and how that was reflected in the strip.
It was time, historically, for the shrine to Charles Schulz to at least have an audio guide, to say there was more to him than what you’d guess from the [18,977] Peanuts strips. It was time to explain how the Joyce [Schulz’s first wife]-Sparky dynamic was fuel for the Lucy-Charlie Brown dynamic, and how the Sally-Charlie Brown relationship mirrored that of his later life with Jeannie ... Even at the end of his life, he hadn’t resolved the central issue of his life—“am I loved?” I wanted him to embrace some part of the love he received from his wife and children. Even friends were disappointed that he wasn’t more accepting and grateful, but I think he did accept that he was beloved [by fans].

But the bitterness and competitiveness are striking. Early on, when one of his fellow art school instructors—Charlie Brown, as it happens—told Schulz that he himself was giving up his cartoon ambitions, Schulz replied, “Good. That will make one less cartoonist I have to compete with.” Even later, when Peanuts reached $1 billion a year in 1989 and he was making tens of millions of dollars every year in the 1990s, he felt so competitive toward another cartoonist that he threatened to draw a Peanuts strip so that “everybody will worry about Snoopy, and nobody’s going to read your stupid story, and I’ll get more publicity than you will! So there!”
I wished for him that, in his 60s and 70s, he would come to grips with some of this, the competitiveness and bitterness, his use of misery as a strategy. I asked friends, “Did Sparky ever grow up? Did he become the man he could be and fulfill himself in an Aristotelian sense?” I felt Charles Schulz never transcended himself as the boy from Minnesota and the barber’s son.

What does the family think of the book? [Reached later by NEWSWEEK, Schulz’s daughter Meredith declined to discuss the book: “I have absolutely nothing to say. No comment.”] You have an awful lot of negative stuff that will likely come as a shock to Peanuts fans—how he was a completely non-involved parent, leaving to Joyce all the unpleasant tasks of discipline and limit-setting, rarely kissing Joyce hello or goodbye, not kissing his children goodnight, having an affair with a woman decades his junior beginning in 1970, proposing to her while still married to Joyce ...
“The family” is not a single entity. Craig [Schulz’s son] said, “I guess we were expecting vanilla, but we got rocky road.”