Friday, April 18, 2008

Chicago to test water for drugs

CHICAGO, April 18 (UPI) -- Chicago water officials said they're testing Lake Michigan drinking water for the presence of pharmaceutical drugs and other unregulated chemicals.

The announcement Thursday came on the heels of a Chicago Tribune report that found trace amounts of prescription drugs and other chemicals in local drinking water, the newspaper reported.

The Tribune, which hired an independent lab to test tap water, found very small amounts of a prescription anti-seizure drug, a common painkiller, a nicotine byproduct, caffeine and two chemicals used to make Teflon and Scotchgard.

Following publication of the story, Water Department Commissioner John Spatz said the city decided last month to conduct its own studies.

"This is an important environmental issue that has been brought to light," Spatz said. "We should be monitoring and making sure it isn't getting in the water. And we need the health agencies to figure out if there is anything to be worried about."

Original here

Cure for acne found, say scientists

Scientists believe they have found a breakthrough treatment for acne.

  • Drinking alcohol accelerates onset of Alzheimer’s
  • They claim that the drug, SMT D002, can reduce the flow of sebum - an oily substance produced by the skin and believed to be a significant cause - by 90 per cent.

    At present, the drug is in pill form and is used to treat a condition other than acne but a pharmaceutical company plans to turn it into a cream for easier use.

    Researchers believe it could become as effective a treatment as retinoic acid - a form of vitamin A - which is currently used to treat moderate to severe cases.

    However, Roaccutane, the most widely used formulation of retinoic acid, has been linked to suicides among acne sufferers.

    SMT D002 produced no significant side-effects when volunteers took it in pill form. Around three in every 10 patients taking retinoic acid do not respond to the drug, leaving many sufferers without an effective treatment.

    Richard Pye, of Summit Corporation, based in Oxford, said the company was turning the drug into a cream because it was likely to work more quickly.

    For commercial reasons Summit would not reveal the name of the existing drug form that they are developing their new acne treatment.

    Richard Storer, the company's chief scientist, said: "It is a major drug, but we cannot reveal its name or the condition it currently treats."

    Original here

    5 Proven Strategies to Simplify Your Life

    Align Your Life

    Look over your priorities and see what is really important to your work, your family, and your life. Pare down everything else.

    1. Dump the 24/7 Stuff. On call to managers, kids, husbands, neighbors, friends, and sometimes even complete strangers who break down on the road, most of us are on the move from the second we open our eyes. No wonder we can't sleep. Even if we manage to drop into bed for the six hours researchers claim most of us spend there, our minds are full of what-ifs, why-did-we's, and what's-on-the-agenda-tomorrows. This type of rumination and agitation ignites stress hormones that keep us in a state of perpetual arousal. So even if we do manage to fall asleep, chances are we'll wake later, wake early, or not be able to reach the deeper levels of restorative sleep we need. That's why most of us should make a serious attempt to simplify our lives, says Cecile Andrews, Ph.D., a pioneer in simple living and author of Slow Is Beautiful: New Visions of Community, Leisure, and Joie de Vivre. Draw up a list of what's important, then draw up a list of what you have to do the next day and compare the two. What's important to you -- the sense of purpose that guides you, the values that you use in making decisions, how you affect the world around you, and whether or not you actually do things you think are important -- will slowly become very clear. "It's really about aligning life with values," adds Rebecca Gould, Ph.D., an associate professor who studies simple-living practices at Middlebury College in Vermont. "There never is a perfect alignment. But to what extent can you bring your life and your values together?" That's the challenge. The second step is to take a big breath and start crossing things off your to-do list, says Dr. Andrews. It's a bit humbling to realize, but few of us are so unique that there isn't someone else out there who could perform the same tasks just as well.

    2. Put your Job in its Place. Sleep-stealing on-the-job stress has reached off-the-wall proportions, according to a Canadian health report. And it points a finger at the fact that the workplace no longer has any boundaries. More than half of all employees take work home, 69 percent check their work e-mail from home, 59 percent check voice mail after hours, 30 percent get work-related faxes, and 29 percent keep their cell phones on day and night. Not surprisingly, 46 percent feel this work-related intrusion is a stressor, and 44 percent report "negative spillover" onto their families. The problem, however, is not just the fact that work is intruding into familial life, it's also that it's actually interfering with the most effective buffer to workplace stress -- the family -- as well as active leisure activities, exercise, hobbies, and social activity. A joint study of 314 workers conducted by the University of South Australia and the University of Rotterdam found that workers with higher levels of these activities were able not only to bounce back from workplace stress better than their always-on-the-job coworkers but also that they slept significantly better.

    Cut the Stress

    3. Manage the Electronics. This is tough. Few of us can survive for more than 30 minutes without being hooked up to a cell or Black Berry at the very least. But the technological innovations that were supposed to give us more leisure time have instead made it easier for us to work all the time. The issue is that by their very nature, they create stress by forcing what Rockefeller University's Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., calls "a wholly artificial sense of urgency" on us. The minute your cell phone rings, you tense. And if your phone rings often, you never get to un-tense. That makes it difficult to wind down at night and get to sleep. The thing is, we don't have to do without our electronics to cut stress. All we have to do is control them. Answer e-mail three times a day instead of every 30 minutes, and turn off the instant notification feature. Moreover, turn off your cell after 6:00 P.M.

    4. Don't stay late at Work. The prevailing thought is that you have to stay late to get the job done, says Margaret Moline, Ph.D., former head of the sleep disorders center at Weill Cornell Medical College in White Plains, New York. But working right up until bedtime is bound to disrupt your sleep. So go home at a reasonable hour. The truth is that it's better to go home and go to sleep, then comeback and do more work in the morning. Studies show that after a good night's sleep, your increased ability to concentrate means that you can work faster -- and more accurately.

    5. Don't Check Your E-mail. At least, not before bed. Researchers at Stanford University have found that the light from your monitor right before bed is enough to reset your whole wake/sleep cycle -- and postpone the onset of sleepiness by three hours.

    Original here

    The delicate line between genius and madness

    Channel Seven executive Adam Boland, who has bipolar disorder: "When you are on a high, you feel you can do anything."
    Photo: Tim Bauer

    WHERE do you draw the fine line between brilliance and madness? That is the question raised by hotshot television producer Adam Boland, who has spoken for the first time about his diagnosis with bipolar disorder.

    Bipolar disorder is the mental illness characterised by huge swings in mood and energy levels.

    "When you're on a high, you feel you can do anything," says Boland, 32, director of morning television at the Seven Network. "Things that would normally take a week get done in an hour. There's no stopping you. It's an exciting state to be in."

    Boland has been a key player in propelling Seven to number one in the ratings and is widely regarded as Australia's most talented young TV executive. In an interview to be published in Good Weekend tomorrow, he talks not only about the disorder, formerly known as manic depression, but his decision to stop taking mood-stabilising drugs.

    "The question of medication is a really tricky one," he said yesterday. "It makes you normal, and while that shouldn't be seen as a bad thing, I have an issue with just being normal."

    Essentially, Boland believes the drugs blunt his creative edge.

    He now has counselling instead of taking tablets and accepts that, along with the highs, he is subject to bouts of debilitating depression. "You have to trade off the downside because the upside is so good."

    Boland's illness was diagnosed by Professor Gordon Parker, executive director of the Black Dog Institute, who estimates that about 600,000 Australians have bipolar disorder. According to Professor Parker, it is more common in high achievers than in the rest of the population.

    This week, both NSW Treasurer Michael Costa and rugby league star Tim Smith revealed that they have the disorder.

    For most people diagnosed with the condition, medication is the best option, Professor Parker says. "There will be a drug or drugs that will work for you. It's a suck-it-and-see process."

    Original here

    One Man's Hand-Built Supercar

    An Italian gearhead constructs a sportster of his own design entirely by himself over four years

    he Uragano Hand-Built Supercar:

    What's in Northern Italy's water that leads industrious people to spend great portions of their lives building race cars? Who knows. Maybe the FIA’s been pumping diolefin-rich racing fuel into Emilia-Romagna’s reservoirs, thereby insinuating Formula One into the local tortellini Bolognese.

    Whatever it is, Modena’s favorite son, the late Enzo Ferrari, had nothing on 47-year-old Filandri Moreno. He’s the guy who hand-built this Uragano (Hurricane) supercar. It took him four years; Moreno outsourced almost none of the job, fabricating the body, frame, suspension, brakes and steering systems entirely by hand da solo. One part he didn’t build was the engine (you think he had all decade?). For that he turned to his neighbors across the Brenner Pass. Moreno incorporated a 4.2-liter V8 from a ten-year-old Audi A8 sedan into the Uragano’s central engine compartment.

    Some carbuilders create such works as concept cars to attract backing for their dream of starting their own specialty marque. Moreno just did it because he wanted to. Now that’s Italian.

    Click here for more photos.

    Via [translated]

    Original here

    Do Not Piss Off The Garbage Men

    We've got no context on this set of pictures, but whatever the owner of that VW Golf did, it must have been a fair to middling level of piss off the garbage man offense. Let's be honest here, boxing the car in with a set of dumpsters is probably the tamest thing a garbage man can do as revenge. We're imagining everything from a nights worth of Indian restaurant leftovers parked on top of the car to the remnants of a stomach flu out break at the daycare in the front seat. While this is amusing, we think the owner should probably reform their ways before something much, much worse happens.

    The Garbage Mans Vengence