Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Amazing Eagle Story - Freedom & Jeff

I got it in my email. It's verified as true by Snopes.com:


Freedom and Jeff

Freedom and I have been together 11 years this summer.
She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings.
Her left wing doesn't open all the way even after surgery,
it was broken in 4 places.
She's my baby.

When Freedom came in she could not stand
and both wings were broken. She was
emaciated and covered in lice. We made the
decision to give her a chance at life, so I took
her to the vet's office. From then
on, I was always around her. We had her in a
huge dog carrier with the top off, and it
was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to
lay in. I used to sit and talk to her,
urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay
there looking at me with those big brown eyes.
We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still
couldn't stand. It got to the point where the
decision was made to euthanize her
if she couldn't stand in a week. You know you don't
want to cross that line between torture and
rehab, and it looked like death was
winning. She was going to be put
down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in
on that Thursday afternoon. I didn't want to go
to the center that Thursday, because I couldn't
bear the thought of her being euthanized;
but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone
was grinning from ear to ear. I went
immediately back to her cage; and there she was,
standing on her own, a big beautiful
eagle. She was ready to live. I was
just about in tears by then. That
was a very good day.

We knew she could never fly, so the director
asked me to glove train her.
I got her used to the glove,
and then to jesses, and we started
doing education programs for schools
in western Washington .
We wound up in the newspapers,
radio (believe it or not) and some
TV. Miracle Pets even did a show
about us.

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I had stage 3,
which is not good (one major organ plus
everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of
chemo. Lost the hair - the whole
bit. I missed a lot of work. When I
felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey
and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would
also come to me in my dreams and help me fight
the cancer. This happened time and time again.

Fast forward to November 2000

the day after Thanksgiving,
I went in for my last checkup.
I was told that if the cancer was not
all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last
option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they
did the tests; and I had to come back Monday for
the results. I went in Monday, and I was
told that all the cancer was gone.



So the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and
take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty
and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her
up, and we went out front to the top of the
hill. I hadn't said a word to
Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me
and wrapped both
her wings around me to where I
could feel them pressing in on my back
(I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she
touched my nose with her beak and stared into my
eyes, and we just stood there like that
for I don't know how long . That was a
magic moment. We have been soul mates ever
since she came in. This is a very special bird.

On a side note: I have had people who
were sick come up to us when we are out, and
Freedom has some kind of hold on
them. I once had a guy who was
terminal come up to us and
I let him hold her.
His knees just about buckled and he
swore he could feel her power course through his
body. I have so many stories like that..

I never forget the honor I have of being so close
to such a magnificent spirit as
Freedom.

Hope you enjoyed this!

     

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The Science of Tsunamis and Earthquakes

Japan earthquake, other tectonic surprises left science in a mess
What happened last March 11 wasn't supposed to be possible. The seismic hazard maps didn't entertain the idea of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the Tohoku coast of Japan. But the Earth paid no heed to scientific orthodoxy. A massive slab of the planet's crust lurched 180 feet to the east.

It rose about 15 feet, lifted the ocean and tipped the Pacific's waters onto the Japanese coast.

The quake and the resulting tsunami killed about 20,000 people, wiped out entire towns and triggered power outages and then meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

It also humbled the scientific community.

Since 2004, earthquake scientists have been caught off guard, or to some extent consternated, by huge killer earthquakes in the Indian Ocean, Haiti, China, Japan and New Zealand.

Now the geologists are in a state of soul-searching. They want to do better, get smarter and help save lives on a shaky planet. But they feel chastened by what happened in Japan and are reexamining their basic assumptions about earthquakes.

[...]

Seismic hazard maps typically show where earthquakes are most likely to occur over a certain period of time, and the expected maximum intensity. But critics say these maps merely describe what has happened before and have virtually no predictive value. They call it "Texas sharpshooting" - shooting the side of a barn and then drawing a bull's-eye around the bullet hole.

Defenders of the maps argue that they are better than nothing. Policymakers have to decide where to put resources. Which locations have older buildings that are most in need of seismic retrofitting? How high should a tsunami wall be?

Public officials may say, in effect, we know this map is probably wrong, but we still need it for planning purposes.

If there's one obvious change in attitude among geophysicists since Japan's 3/11 disaster, it's a recognition that huge earthquakes can potentially happen on any subduction zone - any of the places where one tectonic plate is diving beneath another.

As Thorne Lay, a seismologist at the University of California, noted in a commentary in the journal Nature: "We must allow for the possibility of larger quakes in regions where we thought that potential did not exist." [...]

Thus, Tsunami inundation and evacuation maps the state of Oregon have been putting out, are positing a worst-case scenario, in order to avoid under-estimating the potential for an event, as happened in Japan.

But I wanted to know more, to find out what science was used in creating these maps. So I attended one of the "Tsunami Roadshow" meetings, where the state geologists explain their findings and answer questions. Much of the information at their presentation can be found in this PDF file: The 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami: Lessons for the Oregon Coast.

More information for Oregon can be found at the link below:

Oregon Tsunami Clearinghouse/Resource Library


Also see:

On NW coast, potential for tsunami waves up to 100 feet now seems possible
     

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"On a moonless night in a dark place, you can see your shadow in Venusian light"

Venus, Jupiter, crescent moon meeting up this weekend
[...] The last four weeks or so have been a spectacular time for stargazers, or, more precisely, planet-watchers. Venus and Jupiter have had a conjunction, and on March 13 passed so close to each other in the night sky that they could have exchanged business cards. Throw in the moon on Sunday and Monday nights and it’s a must-look situation.

“When you get a configuration like this, people who don’t normally look up above the horizon find that their eyeballs are being hijacked,” said Alan MacRobert, an amateur astronomer and senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.

More news is on the horizon: On June 5, Venus will transit the sun, the last such transit until 2117. With a safe solar filter, the tiny black dot of Venus will be visible as it gradually moves across the sun’s face.

[...]

What’s unfolding Sunday and Monday nights is a reprise of what happened Feb. 25 and 26, when the crescent moon slipped past Jupiter and Venus. The two planets have a conjunction like this about once every 24 years, said Geoff Chester, spokesman for the U.S. Naval Observatory.

This is what’s known as an evening apparition of Venus (it can be a morning star or an evening star), and it has been particularly sublime because the planet is relatively high in the sky. The second rock from the sun is near its greatest “elongation” — as far as it ever gets from the sun as seen from Earth — and so it’s up in the sky for a long time before it sets.

It’s also preposterously brilliant. Its magnitude is almost at the maximum for Venus — minus 4.4. (The lower the magnitude, the brighter the object.) On a moonless night in a dark place, you can see your shadow in Venusian light, Chester said.

“The circumstances for this evening apparition are about as good as they get,” Chester said. “Then you throw Jupiter into the mix, which is usually the second brightest planet, then you’ve got a couple months when the moon is playing footsie with them. And that’s what makes it particularly interesting.”

Those unfamiliar with such things should be warned that planet-watching is a subtle pleasure, enhanced by the right attitude. Not much actually happens. The planets don’t zoom around. Nothing collides or explodes. There are no cameo appearances by comets. The moon and planets will drop below the horizon by late evening and some people may feel the need to find an after-party. [...]

I have seen them on the few cloudless nights we've had recently. I thought it was dramatic.

     

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A So-Called "RINO" Tells it the Way It Is

Frustrated Senator Olympia Snowe Gives Obama an ‘F’
If there were ever a Republican for President Obama to work with, it was Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. She was one of just three Republicans in the entire Congress to vote for his economic stimulus plan in 2009 and even tried to work with him on health care, but in an interview with ABC's Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl, Snowe makes a remarkable revelation: She hasn't had a face-to-face meeting with President Obama in nearly two years.

Snowe said that if she had to grade the President on his willingness to work with Republicans, he would "be close to failing on that point." In fact, Snowe, who was first elected to Congress in 1978, claims that her meetings with President Obama have been less frequent than with any other President.

When she announced suddenly in February that she was not going to run for reelection - after three terms in the US Senate and a previous 14 years in the House of Representatives - colleagues and commentators alike were stunned.

"I think a lot of the frustration frankly in our party, in the Tea Party challenges or even Occupy Wall Street is really a reflection of our failure to solve the major problems in our country," said Snowe. "It's become all about the politics, and not the policy. It's not about governing, it's about the next election."

So has this Congress failed the country on those critical questions?
"Absolutely," Snowe asserted. "You have to sit down and talk to people with whom you disagree," said Snowe." And that is not what is transpiring at a time when we desperately need that type of leadership."

Sen. Snowe admitted that her party has changed since she entered politics, and that she is a rare moderate in the Republican caucus. That said, she is adamant that her core beliefs are as Republican now as they ever were.

"I haven't changed," she said. "I represent what I think is a traditional Republican… a limited government, fiscal responsibility, strong national defense, individual freedom and liberty."

THAT is the old-fashioned, traditional kind of New England Republicanism I admire. But sometimes it seems that nowadays, the GOP is being dominated by "Dixicrats", former Democrats who have made a conversion to Republicanism that is only skin-deep. They want to re-make the party into their own image, and "drum-out" anyone who won't conform to that image. Their favorite tool is the "RINO" label. It's enough to make Reagan turn over in his grave.

There is a video of the complete interview with Snowe at the link. She goes into more detail, such as how Ronald Reagan used to talk extensively and often with Tip O'Neil and other Democrats who opposed him, and how that was one of the things that made him a great president who was able to accomplish things.

When asked about wether she would support a candidate such as Santorum, if he is nominated, she said that, despite disagreeing with him on a number of issues, that of course she would support him if he's the candidate, because she's a Republican.

It's worth watching the whole interview, I was quite proud of her. I am so SICK of this talk about drumming RINOS out of the Party. A certain shrill, intolerant core of the Republican party wants to turn the GOP into the "Incredible Shrinking Party", drumming out divergent opinions with various "litmus tests". It's a loosing plan, given that the majority of voters are non-ideological swing voters, who are not particularly ideological. THEY will decide the election, not UBER Conservatives.

The GOP needs to build a coalition of various kinds of Republicans (like Reagan once did), and build a platform with planks that most of us can agree on, and that is also wide enough to accommodate and have appeal to swing voters.

I've always been willing to compromise with fellow Republicans with some different views than mine. And I have. The problem is, I seem to often be waiting for that consideration to be RECIPROCAL. Without it, there is no coalition. And no hope of winning enough to make a difference.
     

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Aquariums with Live Plants can Lack Sufficient Oxygen at Night for the Fish

Low KH
In tanks with a low KH value, say under 2-3d (35.7-53.6ppm), the respiration of the plants or animals at night (CO2 production) can cause large pH shifts which harm and eventually kill aquatic animals. This is called pH shock. It is due to lack of water buffering.

KH is consumed by nitrifying bacteria 24/7 so either your substrate generates more, you perform water changes to supplement it or you add chemicals to add KH to your aquarium as otherwise it causes a pH crash/shock.

Tip: get up just before the tank lights (or sun light) come on and measure the pH and observe the animals for stress. It may be substantially different than it is during the middle of the day. [...]

This is the first time I've had an aquarium full of live plants with my fish. This has been part of the "learning curve". I keep a bubble stone providing aeration at night, to avoid this problem.
     

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Popcorn as Health food? Maybe.

Popcorn Packed With Antioxidants
Study: More Antioxidants in Popcorn Than in Some Fruits and Vegetables; Other Experts Say More Study Needed
March 25, 2012 -- Popcorn, already known to be a good source of fiber, has higher levels of healthy antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables, according to new research.

"Based on fiber, whole grains, and antioxidant levels, popcorn is the king of snack foods," says Joe Vinson, PhD, professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton.

But he isn't suggesting that anyone scrap fruits and vegetables in favor of popcorn. It's not yet clear how much of popcorn's healthy antioxidants get absorbed by the body.

Vinson and Michael Coco, Jr., a chemistry student at the university, analyzed four commercial brands of popcorn, including two air-popped and two microwave varieties.

They evaluated antioxidants known as polyphenols. These compounds are found in a wide variety of plants. Antioxidants undo the damage that can be done by unstable molecules known as ''free radicals."

"Everyone knows plant foods have antioxidants," Vinson tells WebMD. "But nobody has even looked at what is in popcorn with respect to these compounds."

Vinson and Coco ground up the hull and the ''fluffy stuff," Vinson says, and checked the polyphenol levels.

Most of the polyphenols -- about 90% -- were in the hull, Vinson says.

The four brands tested had slightly different serving sizes, from a little under an ounce to a little over. The antioxidants per serving ranged from about 242-363 milligrams (mg).

In comparison, they found that a serving of many fruits has about 160 mg of polyphenols.

Popcorn's polyphenols are not as diluted with water as those are in fruit, Vinson says."Popcorn starts out about 15% water and ends up a couple percent."

He calls popcorn "a wonderful high-fiber snack," but like other experts, he warns that adding too much butter and other oil can quickly ruin popcorn's healthy image. He presented the study, which was partially funded by Weaver Popcorn Company, today in San Diego at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting.

The study is a good first step, but it wasn't designed to measure health benefits, says Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University and senior scientist and director of Tufts' Antioxidants Research Laboratory.

The next step is to figure out how much of popcorn's polyphenols get out of the hull and into your gut, Blumberg says. [...]


     

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Windows 8 to be released later this year


Here is a preview review:

Windows 8 first impressions: It's a game changer
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The PC needs saving. With Windows 8, Microsoft believes it has the magic cure.

It just might. I've been testing a consumer preview version of Windows 8 for the past week, and it's unlike anything I've ever seen in a PC operating system.

The stunning "Metro" interface just begs you to touch and interact with it. Beautifully designed apps, ultra-simple navigation, and instinctive commands make it hard to believe Metro came from the same company that brought us Windows Vista. Interactive, "live" tiles and an intuitive app store simplify the PC. Windows 8 is as easy to use as the iPad.

That's exactly what Microsoft intended. As PC sales slump amid a surge in tablets (okay, iPads), Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) is creating an operating system that lets hardware makers reimagine the PC for a tablet world. The software is slated to go on sale later this year.

But let's be clear: Under the veneer of its redesign, Windows 8 is still very much a PC operating system. It features the familiar desktop and taskbar you've learned to love -- or hate -- over the years, and it works just as well with a keyboard and mouse as it does with a touchscreen.

[...]

The iPad is the simplest entry point to what Apple calls the "post-PC" world, but PCs haven't outlived their usefulness just yet. Most people still go to their PCs for tools like Microsoft Office and more complex content creation tasks

That's where Microsoft sees uncharted territory. It wants Windows 8 to power each user's primary device, which can be as portable and intuitive as the iPad but also be able to perform all the intricate tasks that today's tablet users flock to their PCs for.

Microsoft does that by making the desktop itself into an app. The PC boots to the Metro interface, which serves as the "start screen" and main backdrop for Windows 8.

Metro is ideal for everyday tasks like Web browsing, e-mail, photo sharing, social networking, and casual gaming. But when you need to manage files, edit a document, or do anything else you wouldn't typically try on an iPad, a tap or click on the desktop app launches what looks and feels like the Windows 7 interface.

Is Windows 8 a perfect solution? Not quite, but it's getting closer. [...]

Read the whole thing for the "likes" and "don't likes" in the reviewer's opinion.
More technical details can be seen at Windows 8 on Wikipedia.
     

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Dick Cheney has a Change of Heart

Literally:

Former Vice President Cheney has heart transplant
[...] Cheney, who served as vice president under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009, suffered his first heart attack when he was 37. In 1988, Cheney underwent quadruple-bypass surgery. He also had two artery-clearing angioplasties and had a heart-monitoring device implanted. The device was removed in 2007.

In 2005, Cheney had six hours of surgery on his legs to repair a type of aneurysm, and in March 2007, doctors discovered deep venous thrombosis, or blood clot, in his left lower leg. An ultrasound a month later showed the clot was getting smaller.

In July 2010, Cheney announced that a small left ventricular assist device (LVAD) had been implanted to help treat congestive heart failure. The device, which included an external system controller, required two rechargeable batteries to help pump blood throughout the body. A few months later Cheney appeared noticeably thinner at the groundbreaking for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Texas.

“The [heart pump] technology was originally developed to provide a transition,” Cheney told NBC News in an interview in August, “to take somebody who’s reached the point where they needed a transplant, but a transplant wouldn’t immediately be available, so they put this in as a temporary measure.”

Cheney said in the interview that he hadn’t decided whether to seek a heart transplant. [...]

The article said the Cheney's don't know the identity of the owner, but they will be forever grateful. Will the press press to reveal the doner? We shall see.
     

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Unpredictable Variables of Solar Storms

About the solar storm that ended last Friday:

A Strong Backhand Slap From End of Solar Storm
[...] The latest storm started with a flare on Tuesday, and had been forecast to be strong and direct, with one scientist predicting it would blast Earth directly like a punch in the nose. But it arrived Thursday morning at mild levels — at the bottom of the government's 1-5 scale of severity. It strengthened to a level 3 for several hours early Friday as the storm neared its end. Scientists say that's because the magnetic part of the storm flipped direction.

"We were watching the boxer, expecting the punch. It didn't come," said physicist Terry Onsager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's space weather center in Boulder, Colo. "It hit us with the back of the hand as it was retreating."

Forecasters can predict a solar storm's speed and strength, but not the direction of its magnetic field. If it is northward, like Earth's, the jolt of energy flows harmlessly around the planet, Onsager said. A southerly direction can cause power outages and other problems.

Thursday's storm came in northerly, but early Friday switched to the fierce southerly direction. The magnetic part of the storm spent several hours at that strong level, so combined with strong radiation and radio levels, it turned out to be the strongest solar storm since November 2004, said NOAA lead forecaster Bob Rutledge. [...]

Apparently, we can only find out about the composition of the magnetic field of these flares headed toward Earth, when they come in contact with our ACE satellite which is a million miles out, monitoring this for us:

Our only solar storm warning satellite ‘could falter soon’
Washington: A US satellite that offers the only advance warnings of incoming solar storms is more than a decade past its expected orbital lifetime and is possibly on its last legs, researchers say.

Stationed around 1 million miles from Earth, NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer satellite, nicknamed ACE, cautions about incoming high-energy particles from the sun which can wreak havoc on radio, GPS, satellite communications that are now embedded in modern life.

“It would be a very bad day for us if that spacecraft was not working,” the Discovery News quoted William Murtagh, program coordinator for NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., as saying.

“When an eruption occurs on the sun, there are still quite a few question marks as to if it’s going to hit the Earth and when it’s going to hit the Earth,.”

Until the sun’s free-flying and highly energetic outbursts, known as coronal mass ejections, hit the ACE spacecraft, forecasters are not acquainted with the orientation of their embedded magnetic fields.

Depending on the polarity, or alignment, Earth’s magnetic shield will either peel away, giving the highly charged particles more freedom to disturb electrically sensitive equipment and communications, or rebuff the particles, like what happened during this week’s outburst. [...]

The aging ACE spacecraft is scheduled to be replaced by the Triana spacecraft, which has a target launch date of June 2014. Lets hope the ACE spacecraft can last for us until then.
     

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Happy Places in America

More specifically, happy states:

Top 5 Happiest States in the U.S.
Feb. 28, 2012 -- People who live in Hawaii are the happiest in the U.S. and have the most positive outlook, according to this year’s Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

It’s the third year in a row the survey has ranked Hawaii as the No. 1 state for well-being. North Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, and Alaska rounded out the top five happiest states.

West Virginia scored lowest on well-being, but did slightly improve from last year.

The Well-Being Index score for the nation as a whole is the lowest since tracking began in 2008.

The rankings are based on daily surveys conducted from January through December 2011. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where a score of 100 represents ideal well-being. Hawaii’s score of 70.2 wasn’t perfect, but it topped the list.

Staying consistent with the trend for the past four years, Western and Midwestern states notched nine of the 10 highest well-being scores, while Southern states claimed half of the bottom 10 scores.

What Makes a Happy State?


The Well-Being Index is calculated based on six key areas:

Life Evaluation: Alaskans ranked their lives as “thriving,” giving them the highest ranking in this category with a score of 60.2, while West Virginia residents ranked lowest on this scale at 41.1.

Emotional Health: Hawaiians were the most likely to say they smiled or laughed a lot “yesterday” and were the least likely to report daily worry, stress, or depression, scoring at 83.3. Kentucky ranked lowest in emotional health with a score of 75.5.

Work Environment: North Dakota workers said they have the most positive work environments, including job satisfaction and trust, and can best use their strengths while performing their job. This gave them the highest ranking in this category at 54.3. Delaware ranked lowest in job satisfaction at 40.6 and had the worst workplace perception for a third year in a row.

Physical Health: Minnesota ranks at the top of this category -- which includes the percentage of obese residents, disease, and other health problems and daily ailments -- with a score of 79.9. West Virginia ranks lowest at 69.9, in part because it has the highest obesity rate.

Healthy Behaviors: Hawaii ranks at the top of this category also, with a 68.9. The Hawaiians’ good eating and exercise habits, along with their lower smoking rates, gave them the top spot. Oklahoma ranks lowest with a score of 59.1.

Basic Access: Massachusetts residents rank highest in this category for a second year in a row, with an 86.6. This high rating is a result of the high percentage of residents who have health insurance along with access to basic necessities and satisfaction with one’s community. Mississippi ranks lowest in this category, as it did in 2010, with a 77.6. [...]

Oregon was ranked #15. Read the rest of the article for the full list of states.
     

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The problem of "C. Diff"

C. Diff on the Rise: Is Your Doctor to Blame?
Not Just a Hospital Problem: Deadly C. Diff in Doctor's Offices, Clinics
March 6, 2012 -- America's deadly C. diff epidemic is spreading not just in hospitals, but in doctor's offices, clinics, and other health care facilities, a CDC study finds.

C. diff -- short for Clostridium difficile -- are spore-forming bacteria that cause diarrhea. Severe cases can result in a life-threatening condition called toxic megacolon. There's an ongoing epidemic with a particularly nasty, especially toxic C. diff strain.

C. diff kills about 14,000 Americans each year. Half of infections are in people younger than age 65. But 90% of deaths are in people 65 and older.

Cases have tripled over the last decade. Why?

"Traditionally, C. diff infections were thought to be mostly a problem for hospitals. But today's report shows that these infections are a patient safety concern in nursing homes and outpatient care settings as well," Ileana Arias, PhD, CDC principal deputy director, said at a news conference.

There's been a lot of worry about C. diff spreading in the community. But the CDC study finds that nearly all C. diff infections -- 94% -- are linked to medical care. About 75% of C. diff infections first show up in people recently cared for in doctor's offices, clinics, or nursing homes.

[...]

How C. Diff Spreads

Here's how it works. In a typical scenario laid out by the CDC:

You go to the doctor's office and get a prescription for an antibiotic.

A month later, you break your leg and go to the hospital.

A health care worker forgets to wear gloves while caring for a C. diff patient in another room. You get a C. diff infection.

Two days later, you go to a rehab facility, where you come down with diarrhea. You are not tested for C. diff. Your nurse doesn't know you are infected and doesn't wear gloves while treating you.

Another patient gets infected.

You finally get diagnosed with C. diff and properly treated -- ironically, with antibiotics.

McDonald says that this constant interplay between different kinds of health care facilities keeps C. diff in circulation. Half of cases diagnosed in hospitals are in patients already infected when admitted to the hospital.

"That means hospitals are partly at the mercy of surrounding facilities," McDonald says. "Because patients often transfer back and forth, an infection in one place can easily become a problem in another. This points to strict need for prevention across all facilities." [...]

The article also advises what patients and care givers can do to stop C. diff.
     

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Recent X5-class solar flare

Sun unleashes huge solar flare; possible Earth-bound solar storm
Between 7 and 8 p.m.Tuesday night, the sun spit out a large, X5-class solar flare. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center called it “one of the largest solar flares of the current solar cycle.”

X class flares are the strongest category of solar flares. According to NASA, they can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.

These flares are often complemented by phenomena known as coronal mass ejections (CME) which are essentially bursts of solar wind. If a CME is directed towards the Earth, a geomagnetic storm results that can interfere with the Earth’s magnetosphere.

NOAA said predictions for this particular flare/CME event “are still being refined.”

SpaceWeather.com wouldn’t draw any conclusions about where the CME might go.

“First-look data from STEREO-B are not sufficient to determine if the cloud is heading for Earth,” it said.

Its “best guess” was that CME probably won’t directly head for Earth, but rather produce a “glancing blow” on March 8 or 9. [...]

So we wait and see.

UPDATE 03-07-12 9:am

Full Halo CME heading straight for Earth on Thursday, strong effects forecast
(TheWeatherSpace.com) - A sunspot nearly the size of Jupiter; AR1429, has unleashed a powerful X5-Class eruption from the Sun and it could cause geological effects, according to one.

Even though it was not directly squared at our planet, model predictions have put Earth in the center of the blast zone, with 800 k/m + solar wind coming toward our geomagnetic fields on Thursday.

It will hit at 09:00 UT on Thursday, March 8th 2012. This means that it will hit during the United States aurora oval hours tonight when the oval extends down into the country. Will it spark bright auroras into the mid-latitudes?

TheWeatherSpace.com Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin has studied space weather effects and geological triggers for many years post 1999. Martin has some chilling information to give.

"I'm a meteorologist, but I know patterns and numbers well and the last strong X-event that hit our planet on this scale "coincidentely" triggered the Japan quake and tsunami last year," said Martin. "Geomagnetic storms could very well be a trigger for these quakes as they react deep within the crust and mantle where magnetic rocks lie. There are things we just cannot ignore even if we cannot see them."

NOAA expects a major geomagnetic storm with this arrival. Already a Kp-Index of 6 (Strong) is in progress across the planet due to an X1-Class this past weekend. This X5-Class has yet to impact and is coming — straight for us at 800 km/sec.

Most scientists say there is no proven link between flares and earthquakes. But others argue that, there are lots of "coincidences".
     

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