Sunday, August 3, 2008


We've moved further into the Dog Days of a Hot August Night! Helpful Buckeye and Desperado have been braving the heat and humidity of western Pennsylvania the last 10 days and we only need to survive that combination for 2 more days. The visit has been a lot of fun, seeing members of the family...both close relatives and several of the extended family. This issue of the blog will necessarily be a little shorter than normal due to time constraints. Next week's issue should get us back into the normal pattern of blogging. As you dig into this shorter morsel (mostly hors d'oeuvres), enjoy listening to Neil Diamond as he performs Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show (be sure to catch the first words of the song...then look back at this week's title)...:


If you've been a faithful reader of the blog, you remember our discussion of the "Smoking Gun" concept a few weeks ago. Well, the CDC has finally announced the discovery of the elusive culprit for the nationwide Salmonella infections. Notice the words in the headline:

'Smoking Gun' Found in Salmonella Case


WASHINGTON (July 30) - The salmonella strain linked to a nationwide outbreak has been found in irrigation water and in a sample from a batch of serrano peppers at a Mexican farm, federal health officials said Wednesday.

Dr. David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration's food safety chief, called the finding a key breakthrough in the case, as did another health official.

Federal health officials said Wednesday they have had an important break in the hunt for the source of a nationwide salmonella outbreak. The same strain has been found in serrano peppers and in irrigation water at a farm in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. "We have a smoking gun, it appears," said one official.

"We have a smoking gun, it appears," said Dr. Lonnie King, who directs the center for foodborne illnesses at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Acheson said the farm is in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Previously, the FDA had traced a contaminated jalapeno pepper to a farm in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Both farms shipped through a packing facility in Nuevo Leon, raising the possibility that contamination could have occurred there.

The FDA advised consumers to avoid raw serrano peppers from Mexico, in addition to raw jalapeno peppers from Mexico, and any foods that contain them.

Jalapenos and Serranos are fairly similar in appearance:

There was an interesting story out of New Jersey this week about an extremely large feral cat that was living in the area around a local humane society facility. The cat, after being "captured," was weighed and found to be 44 lbs!!! Look at the video as well:

This is "only" about 20 lbs. more than the heaviest cat Helpful Buckeye ever had to pick up! She has been adopted by the animal shelter and will be going on a diet, don't you think?


--Adjective; an animal having either escaped from or set free from domestication and returned, partly or completely, to its wild state. Due to the vast number of feral cats in the USA, there are now more cats than dogs in our country...and that makes for a bunch of cats! This will be a subject for an upcoming issue.


1) On July 22, 1822, Gregor Mendel was born in Brno, in the Czech Republic of Austria. He went on to study the breeding combinations of peas during his time as an Augustinian monk. He grew his peas in a courtyard at the monastery and has become known as "the father of genetics."

2) Also on July 22, 1947, Don Henley, one of the founders of the Eagles, was born. Helpful Buckeye and Desperado favor the Eagles as their all-time favorite musical group.

3) On July 27, 1909, Orville Wright set a world record by staying aloft in a plane for 1 hour, 12 minutes, and 40 seconds. Helpful Buckeye and Desperado are counting on our plane this coming Tuesday being able to stay aloft for at least 4 hours!!!

4) On July 27, 1921, Canadian Scientists Frederick Banting and Charles Best, of the University of Toronto, isolated the hormone insulin for the first time. This discovery allowed physicians to start controlling diabetes. Diabetes will also be a topic for discussion in an upcoming blog issue.

5) On July 27, 1986, Greg LeMond of Sacramento, CA, became the first American to win cycling's toughest and most prestigious contest, the Tour de France. Helpful Buckeye often is teasingly called Greg LeMond or Lance Armstrong by his friends...the only similarity here is that we all ride a bike!!!

6) On July 29, 1914, the first transcontinental telephone linkup was completed between San Francisco and New York City.

7) In a related story to #6, less than 95 years later, we get this news about the next generation of telephones, the cellphone (take a few minutes to read this...make up your own mind on this one):

CANCER DOC warns about cellphone risks…7/24/08

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The head of a prominent cancer research institute issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday: Limit cellphone use because of the possible risk of cancer.

The warning from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is contrary to numerous studies that don't find a link between cancer and cellphone use, and a public lack of worry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science and he believes people should take action now — especially when it comes to children.

"Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later," Herberman said.

No other major academic cancer research institutions have sounded such an alarm about cellphone use. But Herberman's advice is sure to raise concern among many cellphone users and especially parents.

In the memo he sent to about 3,000 faculty and staff Wednesday, he says children should use cellphones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing.

Adults should keep the phone away from the head and use the speakerphone or a wireless headset, he says. He even warns against using cellphones in public places like a bus because it exposes others to the phone's electromagnetic fields.

The issue that concerns some scientists — though nowhere near a consensus — is electromagnetic radiation, especially its possible effects on children. It is not a major topic in conferences of brain specialists.

A 2008 University of Utah analysis looked at nine studies — including some Herberman cites — with thousands of brain tumor patients and concludes "we found no overall increased risk of brain tumors among cellular phone users. The potential elevated risk of brain tumors after long-term cellular phone use awaits confirmation by future studies."

Studies last year in France and Norway concluded the same thing.

"If there is a risk from these products — and at this point we do not know that there is — it is probably very small," the Food and Drug Administration says on an agency website.

Still, Herberman cites a "growing body of literature linking long-term cellphone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer."

"Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cellphone use," he wrote in his memo.

A driving force behind the memo was Devra Lee Davis, the director of the university's center for environmental oncology.

"The question is do you want to play Russian roulette with your brain," she said in an interview from her cellphone while using the hands-free speaker phone as recommended. "I don't know that cellphones are dangerous. But I don't know that they are safe."

Of concern are the still unknown effects of more than a decade of cellphone use, with some studies raising alarms, said Davis, a former health adviser in the Clinton Administration.

She said 20 different groups have endorsed the advice the Pittsburgh cancer institute gave, and authorities in England, France and India have cautioned children's use of cellphones.

Herberman and Davis point to a massive ongoing research project known as Interphone, involving scientists in 13 nations, mostly in Europe. Results already published in peer-reviewed journals from this project aren't so alarming, but Herberman is citing work not yet published.

The published research focuses on more than 5,000 cases of brain tumors. The National Research Council in the U.S., which isn't participating in the Interphone project, reported in January that the brain tumor research had "selection bias." That means it relied on people with cancer to remember how often they used cellphones. It is not considered the most accurate research approach.

The largest published study, which appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2006, tracked 420,000 Danish cellphone users, including thousands that had used the phones for more than 10 years. It found no increased risk of cancer among those using cellphones.

A French study based on Interphone research and published in 2007 concluded that regular cellphone users had "no significant increased risk" for three major types of nervous system tumors. It did note, however, that there was "the possibility of an increased risk among the heaviest users" for one type of brain tumor, but that needs to be verified in future research.

Earlier research also has found no connection.

Joshua E. Muscat of Penn State University, who has studied cancer and cellphones in other research projects partly funded by the cellphone industry, said there are at least a dozen studies that have found no cancer-cellphone link. He said a Swedish study cited by Herberman as support for his warning was biased and flawed.

"We certainly don't know of any mechanism by which radiofrequency exposure would cause a cancerous effect in cells. We just don't know this might possibly occur," Muscat said.

Cellphones emit radiofrequency energy, a type of radiation that is a form of electromagnetic radiation, according to the National Cancer Institute. Though studies are being done to see if there is a link between it and tumors of the brain and central nervous system, there is no definitive link between the two, the institute says on its website.

"By all means, if a person feels compelled that they should take precautions in reducing the amount of electromagnetic radio waves through their bodies, by all means they should do so," said Dan Catena, a spokesman for the American Cancer Society. "But at the same time, we have to remember there's no conclusive evidence that links cellphones to cancer, whether it's brain tumors or other forms of cancer."

Joe Farren, a spokesman for the CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for the wireless industry, said the group believes there is a risk of misinforming the public if science isn't used as the ultimate guide on the issue.

"When you look at the overwhelming majority of studies that have been peer reviewed and published in scientific journals around the world, you'll find no relationship between wireless usage and adverse health affects," Farren said.

le="font-style: italic;" class="inside-copy">Frank Barnes, who chaired the January report from the National Research Council, said Wednesday that "the jury is out" on how hazardous long-term cellphone use might be.

Speaking from his cellphone, the professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder said he takes no special precautions in his own phone use. And he offered no specific advice to people worried about the matter.

It's up to each individual to decide what if anything to do. If people use a cellphone instead of having a land line, "that may very well be reasonable for them," he said.

Susan Juffe, a 58-year-old Pittsburgh special education teacher, heard about Herberman's cellphone advice on the radio earlier in the day.

"Now, I'm worried. It's scary," she said.

She says she'll think twice about allowing her 10-year-old daughter Jayne to use the cellphone.

"I don't want to get it (brain cancer) and I certainly don't want you to get it," she explained to her daughter.

Sara Loughran, a 24-year-old doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh, sat in a bus stop Wednesday chatting on her cellphone with her mother. She also had heard the news earlier in the day, but was not as concerned.

"I think if they gave me specific numbers and specific information and it was scary enough, I would be concerned," Loughran said, planning to call her mother again in a matter of minutes. "Without specific numbers, it's too vague to get me worked up."


As this issue is being written, The LA Dodgers are playing the D'Backs, trying to get a split in this 4-game series. We'll either be 1 or 3 games out of first place tonight. We did make a couple of big acquisitions this week...Casey Blake, a pretty decent 3rd baseman, and Manny Ramirez, a so-so outfielder and a great hitter. They both contributed big-time to our win last night over the D'backs. Addendum...the Dodgers won and Manny was 4 for 5 batting...maybe the acquisition will be a big plus?

It has been refreshing to spend a few days amongst the Steeler Nation here in western Pennsylvania...we've already lost our punter to a torn ACL the first day of training camp. If the offense does well enough, perhaps we won't have to punt very often?


1) Here I am (Helpful Buckeye), sitting in a Panera Bread, putting this issue together, and across from me sits Dick Hoak, former Steeler player and coach for 45 years! How lucky get a guy get?

2) Helpful Buckeye and Desperado were able to visit the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh this past week and tour the newly renovated Dinosaur Exhibit. This is a "must see" for anyone interested in dinosaurs!

3) Helpful Buckeye was really lucky this week. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to meet (through my Uncle Drew) and have a nice visit with Harold Betters. For those of you who don't follow jazz, you probably haven't heard of him, but...Harold Betters has been playing the trombone (Hello...Casey!) in the Pittsburgh area for a lot of years. Helpful Buckeye and Desperado fondly remember him from some of his gigs in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh back in the late 1960s. I even got a few autographed CDs from him yesterday!!! If you can find any, I think you'll enjoy his music!

4) One of my all-time favorite movies finally made it to DVD this week...Serial. My VCR tape of Serial was getting a little frayed, so this is just in time. For an entertaining look at life in Marin County, CA in the 1970s, give this one a try.

Helpful Buckeye has gotten a lot of positive comments this week about the blog and some very helpful input for future ideas. Please don't hesitate to send any comments you have to:

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Helpful Buckeye, you have spent a lot of time on dogs and not very much time on cats. Any chance for us cat lovers getting more info?

    Karla, Iowa