22 September 2007


The other day, I saw some Tiger Repellant Spray on sale at the hardware store. I bought it and brought it home. Later, I sprayed it all over my back yard. Ever since then, there have been zero tigers in my Houston, TX., back yard. This proves that the Tiger Spray is an effective repellant of tigers.
An Old Story

Last week, there was an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show dealing with autism. Oprah's guest brought up the topic of infants and the Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The drift of the show was that there are sufficient grounds for worry about the MMR vaccine causing autism that parents should not allow their children to receive this vaccine.

Looking into the available, professional, published literature, from a large number of trustworthy and peer-reviewed sources, this fear appears to be scientifically groundless.

There are many amateurs and lawyers out in the world that are doggedly pursuing this issue but none that I can find have any proper science on their side.

Measles, mumps and rubella are all serious childhood illnesses. Fear of MMR, creating a wave of parents refusing the inoculation, caused an outbreak of rubella in the U.K. this summer that had multiple fatalities. It doesn’t seem like the risk of getting these diseases is outweighed by any evidence of MMR dangers – in fact, there is “no contest.”


I do take issue with the preservative still used in a few vaccines that might be injected into your children (and you.) The chemical in question is usually called thimerosal which is (unbelievably) the scientific name for Merthiolate – the antiseptic banned from over-the-counter uses in 1990. Thimerosal was formerly used in the MMR vaccine and there was some inconclusive investigation that it was thimerosal, and not the MMR vaccine, that was causing autism. After looking into this angle, I’m going to say, “Probably not,” but I sure don’t like thimerosal for other reasons.

As you can see from the following link, the U.S. government has pretty much decided that thimerosal is safe and not that bad; but, then they’ve simultaneously pushed to have it removed from most children’s vaccines. Huh?


I’m going with my own interpretation. Thimerosal is a super-poisonous mercury salt. Mercury is bad in your system. Nobody REALLY knows what mercury might trigger nor do they know what human conditions or weaknesses might be particularly susceptible to mercury’s actions. So, a). bad shit; b). unknown dangers; c). give it to infants?


Bottom line -- I’m not concerned about the MMR vaccine, as long as it is a modern batch that does not contain thimerosal.

And, I’m going to ask any doctor about to inject flu vaccine or hepatitis vaccines to certify that they do not contain thimerosal (many of those still do.)

Isn’t it amazing how little we know about things, even in 2007?

Have a pleasant day.

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"Telenovelas" or TV Soap Operas in Spanish

Our Spanish instructor reminded me of a technique for expanding one's vocabulary by watching soap operas on television in Spanish. I had forgotten what a great tool this can be. I relied on Costa Rican television when I first moved there to get used to listening to Spanish. The overly dramatic soap operas or telenovelas (think, television novels) give you the ability to associate tone, voice inflection and the gestures on screen to the words you are hearing.

As a result of her suggestion, we started to "Tivo" all the episodes of "Salomé". John has really been enjoying the commercials because they frequently have written words that he can associate with the sound. The story of "Salomé" is overly complicated, so I do step in and translate a word or two when it looks like he has trouble grasping the gist of the conversation.

The amazing thing about this technique is that you don't even realize how much you're learning, because your brain is just soaking it up the same way we learned to speak English when we were two years old. Eventually the day comes when you can actually start saying some of the words and phrases you've heard in a conversation with someone. John is doubtful that this will actually happen for him, but I know that it will, just like it did for me so many years ago.

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14 September 2007

Spanish Lesson #1

Classes started Monday evening and we have about 20 students. Our "profesora" is from Argentina.

Her name is Myrna and I think she will be a better instructor for John than I can be. It quickly became apparent to her (and a couple of other students) that I'm a "ringer" and already speak Spanish.

This class is a college level course and its really geared to speaking the language. Myrna gave us some tips on a great web site tool at the University of Iowa. This actually shows the anatomy of the mouth and vocal cords as vowels and consonants are spoken.

I did learn an interesting bit of trivia from Myrna. The double "LL" in Argentina is spoken like the soft "G" in English, such as found in the word mirage. So instead of pronouncing "silla" as "see-ya" for the English word "chair", she says "see-sha". She did promise to try and pronounce the double "LL" like a "y" since this is what we will hear most often in the Spanish speaking world.

Today is Friday so I'm going to have to push John to start his homework this weekend.

Como siempre, les deseo "Pura Vida" mis amigos,

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